50 Div in Normandy. A Critical Analysis of the British 50th by L-Cmdr Ethan R. Williams

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By L-Cmdr Ethan R. Williams

In past due 1943, the British military ordered the veteran seventh Armored, 51st (Highland), and fiftieth (Northumbrian) Divisions to come back to the good Britain to supply strive against skilled troops for the invasion of northwest Europe. On D-Day, the fiftieth department accomplished the majority of its ambitions. by way of mid-June, even if, the fiftieth held positions just a couple of miles past its ultimate D-Day positions. the plain disasters of the veteran divisions in later operations led many senior leaders to think that those divisions had turn into a legal responsibility. This thesis will assessment the functionality of the fiftieth department in Normandy by means of first interpreting the interval ahead of the invasion to figure out the 50th's readiness for warfare, British military doctrine, and guns. The 50th's previous strive against stories and pre-invasion education could be analyzed to figure out the impression that earlier wrestle had at the department. eventually, this thesis will review the functionality of the fiftieth department in particular wrestle engagements in Normandy.

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51} While the British continued to struggle with infantry-armor cooperation, infantry-artillery cooperation improved significantly after Arras. The success at Alamein of the 151st Brigade showed that infantry, without armor support, could take objectives provided the attack was at night, there was overwhelming artillery support, and commanders were willing to sustain tremendous casualties. In theory, this reliance on overwhelming firepower reduced losses and maintained the morale of the attacker, but in reality the slow pace of a rolling artillery barrage was not congruent with maneuver warfare.

In March, 1943, the 8th Army ordered the 50th back to the front for the assault on the Mareth Line. Built by the French to defend Tunisia from the Italians in Libya, the Mareth Line was a series of strong points located on the edge of a deep and wide wadi. Bordered by the Mediterranean to the north and the Matmata Hills to the south, the line presented a significant obstacle to the 8th Army. Fresh from their rest and re-fit, 50th Division attacked directly into the line, attempting to form a bridgehead while fixing the German defenders in place.

Should war on the continent come, Britain planned to contribute with its air and naval forces while continental allies fought on the land. {22} With this basic defense strategy, it follows that the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force received the majority of the intellectual effort and defense spending as Britain bolstered its first line of defense. The army’s role in the interwar period, however, was not as grand. Holding numerous colonies throughout the world, the British army served as the constabulary for the Empire.

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