Lorraine 1944 Patton vs Manteuffel Campaign series Paperback – 18 Aug 2000
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About the Author
Steven J. Zaloga was born in 1952, received his BA in history from Union College, and his MA from Columbia University. He has published numerous books and articles dealing with modern military technology, especially armoured vehicle development. His main area of interest is military affairs in the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe in the Second World War, and he has also written extensively on American armoured forces. Tony Bryan is a freelance illustrator of many years experience after initially qualifying in Engineering and working for a number of years in Military Research and Development. Tony has a keen interest in military hardware - armour, small arms, aircraft and ships - and has produced many illustrations for partworks, magazines and books, including a number of titles in the New Vanguard series.
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Top Customer Reviews
Note : 6 Jan 2009: Since writing the orginal review I have now read 'Patten at Bay'. In retrospect I would now only give the Osprey book three stars as Zaloga only covers 20% of the campaign and focuses too much on the armour battles. The real story is a slow grinding slugging match in which the Americans are generally fought to a standstill by the Germans around the city of Metz.
Note 2 : In March 2012 Osprey will publish a new Campaign title covering the Metz battles. Hopefully this should address all my concerns about this title not providing complete and balanced coverage.
Does miss firsthand accounts as all Osprey books and just follows unit numbers in to battles, that seem to flash by in numerological terms only participants would understand completly.
Okay book, just to expensive for what you get.
I've knocked a star off because an extra map or two with a bit more detail wouldn't have gone amiss - often towns and villages are mentioned in the text which aren't depicted on any of the maps included. Also there is a rather odd chapter on wargaming at the end for both proffessionals and amateurs - although the suggestions for how to make it more realistic for the participants have a grim humour about them.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
As in all the Osprey Campaign series, the volume starts with a section on the opposing strategic plans. In assessing Allied strategy, Zaloga conforms to conventional wisdom in suggesting that if only Patton's 3rd Army in Lorraine had been accorded logistical priority in September 1944, then perhaps the year might have ended very differently. This is actually the voice of Patton glorifiers/Montgomery bashers. This conveniently ignores the logistic bottlenecks back at the beaches: even if Eisenhower had given Patton the bulk of available supplies, the Redball Express could not have supplied Patton very much further east at that time. The Allied armies were consuming vast quantities of fuel in their pursuit across France and they needed a deep-water port like Antwerp in September 1944 far more than a tenuous foothold across the Rhine. Finally, does anyone seriously believe that Patton's 3rd Army - which only had 8-10 divisions at the time - could have mounted a serious invasion of Germany with minimal support from the other Allied armies? Zaloga ignores the vast manpower and material resources that were still available to Hitler in September 1944. Despite widespread condemnation by many armchair strategists, Eisenhower's "Broad Front" strategy was the best course of action under the circumstances.
The section on commanders is a bit odd because the majority of the space is devoted to well-known higher-level commanders, including Hitler, Model, Bradley and Patton. The corps and below leaders who actually fought the battle are barely mentioned - the two US corps commanders receive one sentence each. Major General Wood, commander of the exemplary US 4th Armored Division, is barely mentioned anywhere in the text. Given the local nature of the armored battles in Lorraine, it is probably inappropriate to describe this series of actions as "Patton versus Manteuffel". These were battalion and brigade-level fights.
As expected from a technical expert, the sections on the opposing armies are quite good. In particular, Zaloga makes very good points about the US edge in battlefield communications. However, one major item lacking here is a discussion of tactical organizations: what did German armor battalions look like in comparison to their US counterparts, particularly in terms of scouting assets, support weapons and maintenance capability? As a former armor officer, I can attest that maintenance capability is much more critical in sustaining armored combat than is often appreciated. Unfortunately, Zaloga leaves this vital area blank and instead tells us that the Germans committed about 616 tanks and assault guns against 1,280 US tanks and tank destroyers.
The sections covering the actual campaign are quite good, starting with the destruction of the 106th Panzer Brigade on 8 September 1944 and progressing up to the final battles around Arracourt on 25-29 September. While the 3-D maps are quite good, the standard 2-D maps leave much to be desired since key phases of the battle are not depicted. There is no map depicting the German offensive that led up to the Arracourt battles, so it is difficult to determine how the Germans coordinated all their units. This tends to make it look like the panzer brigades were committed with support from other units.
The section on wargaming the battle is ridiculous as it usually is in Osprey books. With the availability of superb computer simulations of the Arracourt battles such as Talonsoft's WEST FRONT and OPERATIONAL ART OF WAR (which are never mentioned in this section on war gaming), it is absolutely ludicrous to read a discussion of a "war game" where the players "wear personal stereos, playing deafening music to recreate the effect of motor noise within the crew compartment. Players could also wear cardboard spectacles, with narrow slits to simulate the view through a periscope or vision port..." and so on. Please stop. Given the existence of Avalon Hill's SQUAD LEADER series and the Talonsoft products, which adequately cover the Arracourt battles, this section is a gross insult to serious wargamers.
Nevertheless, Zaloga's book is a useful campaign summary to keep on the bookshelf. Certainly the organization of the material is more interesting than the actual subject, for this overly-covered campaign was certainly not one of the epic struggles of the Second World War. The US 3rd Army was winded after a long pursuit and at the absolute limit of their logistical chain. Although beaten in Normandy, the Germans were starting to regroup but the Lorraine campaign offers one of the very few times in the Second World War that they fought poorly on the offense. Most of all, the strategic stakes were low in Lorraine. If the Germans won, they might have hurt 3rd Army a bit but they would probably only have bought themselves a few weeks respite. On the other hand, the US achieved a tactical victory but so what - the campaign still ended in stalemate for logistic reasons and the weather. This is a key factor ignored by Zaloga and most other writers on the Lorraine campaign: yes, the 3rd Army defeated the German spoiling attacks but how did this translate into a strategic success? The fact is that the strategic circumstances of September 1944 prohibited 3rd Army from inflicting a decisive defeat on the Whermacht, no matter how much tactical skill they demonstrated on the battlefield.
What makes this book better than most is that it does not get lost in the details of the military movements. It does a fine job of explaining the whys and the hows. Not an easy thing in the limited space avaliable. The most interesting part of the book focus on the German commanders, fresh from the Russian front, fighting the American military with the same Eastern font tactics. As explained, the American use of artilery and close air support made the tactics a disaster.
Great resource for those lost engagements of the post Normandy period.
Enthusiasts of armored warfare will especially like this volume as it presents a vivid picture of one of the true tank against tank battles the United States Army fought in NW Europe at Arracourt. Also presented quite nicely is the tank battle at Dompaire, where the French 2nd Armored Division trumped the Wehrmacht decisively.
The maps presented along with the text, however, are difficult to reference as one reads. I found myself flipping from the text to three different maps to follow the various engagements described. It was distracting, to say the least.
Nevertheless the true value of this book illustrates well how an army of determined, well trained fighting forces can defeat an enemy having equipment of superior technology and a fearsome reputation.
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