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Old 04-26-2018, 05:19 PM
Velocity Velocity is online now
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Examples of defenders who gave up too quickly or easily in wartime

Could use some help:

I am writing an article and looking for examples of nations (or tribes, or forts/castles, or other such entities) who were well-off and well-armed and could have very well defeated their invading enemies, and yet gave up too soon and easily because they underestimated their own strength and overestimated that of the enemy's. Does Holland's surrender to the Germans in WWII count, or were the Dutch really totally out-gunned, for instance?

I am not referring to defenders who were deceived by a clever ruse of the enemy's, but rather, defenders who knew full well what numbers they were going up against, yet simply flat-out underestimated their own ability and assets for fighting off the enemy, or thought the enemy would conquer them much more easily than they would, and gave in.
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Old 04-26-2018, 05:25 PM
Velocity Velocity is online now
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Best, too, if such examples are in the modern era (1900s and after)
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Old 04-26-2018, 05:45 PM
Colibri Colibri is online now
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I'm not sure if this is exactly what you want, and its not modern era, but at the Battle of Cajamarca the Inca army, who outnumbered Pizarro's forces 45 to 1, could easily have overwhelmed them despite the guns and horses of the Spanish if they had just attacked them en masse. But they were shocked and terrorized by the capture of the Emperor Atahualpa and the massacre of his mostly unarmed retinue and fled without trying to engage them.

In many other engagements during the Conquest, the Spanish won as much by intimidating much larger native forces as they did because of their horses, guns, and armor.

Last edited by Colibri; 04-26-2018 at 05:46 PM.
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Old 04-26-2018, 06:28 PM
Tim@T-Bonham.net Tim@T-Bonham.net is offline
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Possibly the USS Yorktown at the battle of Midway would count.

The ship had been struck by Japanese bomb, had lost power and was listing heavily (26 degrees) when the captain ordered it abandoned. However, the ship neither sank nor capsized, and the next day, a salvage crew was put back onto the ship and was making progress toward recovery. However, a Japanese submarine was able to shoot a torpedo, sinking the covering destroyer, and hitting the ship again. So again, Yorktown was abandoned. And again, she continued to stay afloat for another day and night, eventually sinking on June 7th, 3 days after the battle of Midway, and about 60 hours after first being hit by bombs.

So the 12 hours after she was first abandoned may be critical -- had the crew stayed aboard and kept working at recovery, she might have been saved. Might be an example where they gave up too quickly.

(Not that we can blame the captain for this. A 26 degree list and complete loss of power is generally reason to abandon ship. At that time, it wasn't know just how much punishment those american carriers like Yorktown & Lexington could take & survive.)
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Old 04-26-2018, 06:41 PM
Tamerlane Tamerlane is offline
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A couple off the top of my head:

The Fall of Singapore has often been taken to have been an unnecessary failure or at least the scale of failure could have been minimized. Percival and company didn't exactly shower themselves with glory.

In the 1971 Indo-Pakistani War, it has been argued that despite the fact they were getting their clock cleaned in the early going and were outnumbered, the Pakistani military command in the east surrendered far too hastily. They could never have won, but could have held out in strongpoints for awhile. This would have affected the inevitable peace negotiations after the war bogged down in the west( as it somewhat did and was always likely to ).

Last edited by Tamerlane; 04-26-2018 at 06:42 PM.
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Old 04-27-2018, 03:21 AM
AK84 AK84 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tamerlane View Post
A couple off the top of my head:

The Fall of Singapore has often been taken to have been an unnecessary failure or at least the scale of failure could have been minimized. Percival and company didn't exactly shower themselves with glory.
The enemy had complete Naval superiority. No chance of relief. Would have delayed the inevitable.
Quote:

In the 1971 Indo-Pakistani War, it has been argued that despite the fact they were getting their clock cleaned in the early going and were outnumbered, the Pakistani military command in the east surrendered far too hastily. They could never have won, but could have held out in strongpoints for awhile. This would have affected the inevitable peace negotiations after the war bogged down in the west( as it somewhat did and was always likely to ).
Ditto, and unlike the Singapore example, they had been in combat more or less continiously since March and were at the end of their tether.
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Old 04-27-2018, 03:24 AM
AK84 AK84 is offline
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Also, looking at the military situation without looking at the overall startegic one is misplaced. In 1918 the German Army surrendered while still inside France and Belgium. Yet, the Germans were screwed regardless.
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Old 04-27-2018, 07:10 AM
Jackmannii Jackmannii is offline
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The enemy had complete Naval superiority. No chance of relief. Would have delayed the inevitable.
No doubt the British comforted themselves after losing Singapore with that thought. They still were defeated by much inferior ground forces, giving up far sooner than necessary.
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Old 04-27-2018, 07:44 AM
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Would Sgt. Alvin York ( wiki ) count? During WWI, he singlehandedly captured a lot of enemy while also destroying notable amounts of their eqpt, etc. From that link: He received the Medal of Honor for leading an attack on a German machine gun nest, taking 35 machine guns, killing at least 25 enemy soldiers, and capturing 132. York's Medal of Honor action occurred during the United States-led portion of the Meuse-Argonne Offensive in France, which was intended to breach the Hindenburg line and force the Germans to surrender.

Very badass and lopsided win...
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Old 04-27-2018, 08:28 AM
Fotheringay-Phipps Fotheringay-Phipps is online now
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Possibly the ISIS conquest of Mosul, in which ~1,500 ISIS fighters overwhelmed ~60,000 defenders. Though the reasons for the outcome are more complex than simply an incorrect assessment of the attacker's strength.
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Old 04-27-2018, 08:34 AM
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Originally Posted by AK84 View Post
The enemy had complete Naval superiority. No chance of relief. Would have delayed the inevitable.


Ditto, and unlike the Singapore example, they had been in combat more or less continiously since March and were at the end of their tether.
The Malaya-Singapore campaign was lost in Malaya, when the British force in addition to being larger than the Japanese one was no less well supplied. The sinking of the two British capital ships in Dec '41 foreclosed the possibility of British naval power cutting off the Japanese from their supply, but it didn't actually cut off the British from theirs. Considerable reinforcement and supply arrived in Singapore after that with minimal losses to shipping.

By the time the IJA force was across Johore Strait from Singapore by the end of January 1942 resupply from outside had become impossible. But the British force still had plenty of supplies and was still much larger than the Japanese force.

At the moment the British decided to surrender with the Japanese already on the island and having seized its reservoir, it could be argued it wasn't 'too soon' to give up, but that's shared with the moment of defeat in lots of campaigns where one side was badly outfought by the other.
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Old 04-27-2018, 09:07 AM
Malthus Malthus is online now
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How about the Allies facing the Germans during the "phony war" period in WW2? They utterly surrendered the initiative to the Germans (who were busy consolidating their gains in Poland) because they vastly overestimated the German military might facing them - had they called the Nazi bluff and invaded, history may have been very different.

Instead, they waited - giving the Germans time to reorganize their forces and invade them, successfully.

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At the Nuremberg Trials, German military commander Alfred Jodl said that "if we did not collapse already in the year 1939 that was due only to the fact that during the Polish campaign, the approximately 110 French and British divisions in the West were held completely inactive against the 23 German divisions."[16] General Siegfried Westphal stated that if the French had attacked in force in September 1939 the German army "could only have held out for one or two weeks."[17]
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phoney_War#Inactivity

Thus, whatever one thinks of the Fall of France, a major Allied failure was failing to take the initiative ASAP. Caused in part by over-estimation of the might of the enemy.
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Old 04-27-2018, 09:10 AM
Loach Loach is offline
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Originally Posted by Luke who's here View Post
The first in my mind is the Iraqi ground forces in Desert Storm, although the Iraqis did mount offensives in various forms.
I donít get that at all. The coalition side had the advantage in front line troops and superior equipment if not overall numbers. The air attack preceding ground operations decimated many units. Those that werenít hit had their logistics train destroyed and communications distrupted. Many units were isolated and alone. Then the coalition tanks rolled in and engaged and destroyed at ranges greater than the Iraqi army could hope to. The Iraqi army had no chance.



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Originally Posted by Fotheringay-Phipps View Post
Possibly the ISIS conquest of Mosul, in which ~1,500 ISIS fighters overwhelmed ~60,000 defenders. Though the reasons for the outcome are more complex than simply an incorrect assessment of the attacker's strength.
That is a prime example. A superior force fled a vastly inferior force.
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Old 04-27-2018, 09:42 AM
Really Not All That Bright Really Not All That Bright is offline
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Originally Posted by Tamerlane View Post
In the 1971 Indo-Pakistani War, it has been argued that despite the fact they were getting their clock cleaned in the early going and were outnumbered, the Pakistani military command in the east surrendered far too hastily. They could never have won, but could have held out in strongpoints for awhile. This would have affected the inevitable peace negotiations after the war bogged down in the west( as it somewhat did and was always likely to ).
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Originally Posted by AK84 View Post
The enemy had complete Naval superiority. No chance of relief. Would have delayed the inevitable.

Ditto, and unlike the Singapore example, they had been in combat more or less continiously since March and were at the end of their tether.
What AK84 said. The Pakistani units in East Pakistan/Bangladesh were not only exhausted from massacring civilians putting down the local uprising, they simply weren't supplied or otherwise prepared for pitched combat against an equal (much less superior) force.

It would be like US infantry regiments engaged in occupation/peacekeeping in Iraq suddenly discovering that half the Russian army had arrived and started lobbing shells at them. They might be better equipped, they might be better trained, and they might even be better led,* but that may be irrelevant when something they're not prepared for shows up.

That's especially true since they would be fighting both the Iraqis and the Russians, while the Russians only had to contend with them. The Indian Army was welcomed by the nascent Bangladeshis, for the most part.

*I'm not saying the Pakistani army was any of these things in 1971, though the Pakistani propaganda of the day commonly held that each of its troops were worth as much as several Indians.

Last edited by Really Not All That Bright; 04-27-2018 at 09:43 AM.
  #15  
Old 04-27-2018, 09:59 AM
Velocity Velocity is online now
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Originally Posted by Luke who's here View Post
The first in my mind is the Iraqi ground forces in Desert Storm, although the Iraqis did mount offensives in various forms.
What? The Coalition forces were much superior.

It would have made more sense in the thread question if the Coalition forces surrendered to inferior Iraqis.
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Old 04-27-2018, 10:03 AM
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Lee could have marched into Washington after Chancellorsville but didn't. The South might very well have won the war if he had.
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Old 04-27-2018, 10:20 AM
Malthus Malthus is online now
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I've got a good one, from the War of 1812 - the surrender of Detroit.

Brock and Techumseh used deception and bluff to convince a numerically superior force of Americans under General Hull entrenched within fortifications to surrender without a fight (allegedly, the British and Native casualties amounted to ... two wounded).

2,500 Americans were taken prisoner; more than the attacking force (nearly double!); the British and Native forces consisted of 600 Native warriors, 330 British regulars, and 400 Canadian militia.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siege_of_Detroit

Edit: also a rare example of good coordination between allies - both British and Native leadership proved decisive; each supported the other in playing on American fears.

Quote:
At Amherstburg, Brock immediately learned from Hull's captured despatches that the morale of Hull and his army was low, that they feared the numbers of Natives which might be facing them, and that they were short of supplies. Brock also quickly established a rapport with Tecumseh, ensuring that the Natives would cooperate with his moves. Brock and Tecumseh met for the first and only time shortly after Brock arrived at Amherstburg. Legend has it that Tecumseh turned to his warriors and said, "Here is a man!" Brock certainly wrote shortly afterwards, "... a more sagacious and a more gallant Warrior does not I believe exist."[16]

Against the advice of most of his subordinates, Brock determined on an immediate attack on Detroit. The British had already played on Hull's fear of the Natives by arranging for a misleading letter to fall into American hands. The letter asked that no more Natives be allowed to proceed from Fort Mackinac as there were already no less than 5,000 at Amherstburg and supplies were running short. Brock sent a demand for surrender to Hull, stating:


The force at my disposal authorizes me to require of you the immediate surrender of Fort Detroit. It is far from my intention to join in a war of extermination, but you must be aware, that the numerous body of Indians who have attached themselves to my troops, will be beyond control the moment the contest commences…

Last edited by Malthus; 04-27-2018 at 10:24 AM.
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Old 04-27-2018, 10:44 AM
puddleglum puddleglum is offline
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During the Battle of Guadalcanal, the Japanese Navy won the Battle of Savo island and the American fleet withdrew. This could have given the Japanese fleet the ability to attack the beachhead on Guadalcanal and destroy the transport ships in the area. Instead they were afraid that the American carriers were going to attack them in the morning and left the area. Because of this the Americans were able to resupply their troops on the island, defeat the counterattack and win the battle.
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Old 04-27-2018, 11:44 AM
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This one is debatable, but many people maintain that Czechoslovakia could have held off the German army in 1938 when Hitler annexed the Sudetenland. (a quora.com thread about that) The Czechs had significant fortifications, a sizable military given the size of their country, and the Germans were not as ready for war as they would be a year later.

So it's conceivable that Czechoslovakia gave up the Sudetenland when it could have defended it - an interesting alt-history note that we are unlikely to really figure out the answer to.
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Old 04-27-2018, 12:08 PM
Lemur866 Lemur866 is online now
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Originally Posted by Luke who's here View Post
The first in my mind is the Iraqi ground forces in Desert Storm, although the Iraqis did mount offensives in various forms.
In what alternate universe were the Iraqi ground forces superior to the attacking coalition forces? Could they have made the coalition forces pay a higher price during the attack? Probably not even that. Iraqi units that tried to fight back were just wiped out by overwhelming firepower, often with absolutely no way to shoot back effectively.
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Old 04-27-2018, 12:14 PM
gnoitall gnoitall is online now
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During the Battle of Guadalcanal, the Japanese Navy won the Battle of Savo island and the American fleet withdrew. This could have given the Japanese fleet the ability to attack the beachhead on Guadalcanal and destroy the transport ships in the area. Instead they were afraid that the American carriers were going to attack them in the morning and left the area. Because of this the Americans were able to resupply their troops on the island, defeat the counterattack and win the battle.
Another World War II US Navy example: the Battle off Samar in the Battle of Leyte Gulf.

Japanese Admiral Kurita, commanding Imperial Japan 2nd Fleet Force "A" ("Center Force") were in a position to blow past a US Navy Task Unit (Taffy 3, a dozen very light escort-type warships) and bombard the landing beaches of the American landings on Leyte. Their largest vessel -- Yamato -- by itself outweighed the entire US force it caught by surprise. 4 battleships, 8 cruisers, and 11 destroyers ambushed 6 "jeep" carriers, 3 destroyers, and 4 destroyer escorts.

The American response was to charge. Aircraft on the escort carriers, fitted with weapons unsuited for attacking warships, launched and bombarded Japanese ships with HE bombs (useful in ground attack, worthless against armored warship), depth charges, and even just machinegun fire. (Or, once all weapons were discharged, "dry" attacks designed to waste Japanese anti-aircraft fire against unarmed aircraft.) Destroyers and DEs began hopeless attacks to try to drive off the Japanese force, and succeeded beyond any rational expectation. Kurita gave confusing attack orders and apparently mis-identified his opposition as battleships, cruisers, and fleet carriers. The Japanese command saw what they were afraid of -- that the Northern Force's decoy action hadn't succeeded and Center Force was facing the battle line and fleet carriers of the US 3rd Fleet -- instead of what was really there. Somehow, they didn't recognize that the actual enemy before them was one they should be able to curbstomp in passing.

Taffy 3's suicidal attack charge reinforced this misunderstanding -- the US force didn't act like they were completely outclassed and defeated. So after a confusing melee, Kurita ordered his force to withdraw.

The US lost 2 escort carriers out of 6; 2 destroyers out of 3 (and the third damaged); 1 destroyer escort out of 6 plus two damaged; and about 1500 sailors. The Japanese lost 3 heavy cruisers (either to torpedo attacks during the main fight or follow-up air attacks as they withdraw), plus the other three heavy cruisers damaged.

Center Force could have pushed through and attained their objective after swatting away Taffy 3's resistance. The 11 Japanese destroyers would have made the difference; as peers to the US destroyers and DEs, they were in the best position to oppose them. (The Japanese capital ships' big guns became useless against the US counterattack once USN destroyers and DEs got close enough that the big guns couldn't depress to aim at them.) In general, they were the ships that finished off the US ships that were sunk, other than the carriers (which were sunk with long-range main gun fire or kamikaze attack.)

Kurita withdrew because he didn't believe he could win against the phantasm main battle fleet he imagined he was facing. He quit when every rule of logic says he should have won, big.

Last edited by gnoitall; 04-27-2018 at 12:17 PM.
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Old 04-27-2018, 12:23 PM
gnoitall gnoitall is online now
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Another World War II US Navy example: the Battle off Samar in the Battle of Leyte Gulf.
Too late to ETA: this is an example of an attacker who gave up too soon. Don't know if that makes a difference to original premise.
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Old 04-27-2018, 12:34 PM
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Going to echo the posters citing the British collapse at Singapore. Not only were the British forces superior in number, but the Japanese forces were rapidly running out of supplies (having outrun their supply trains) at the time the British capitulation. Furthermore the Allied myth that the Japanese were superior jungle fighters is untrue -- many of the Japanese troops involved were new, recently having been civilians, and had no special training in jungle warfare. The British notoriously defended the roads and left their flanks unguarded in the jungle, a classic blunder.

The most plausible explanation for the capitulation has always seemed to me that the steady tide of Japanese successes elsewhere panicked the British command (Slim mainly) and led to a very warped mental picture of the situation.

This was the worst defeat of the British empire and it came against inferior numbers, completely humiliating in a military sense.
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Old 04-27-2018, 12:44 PM
Sailboat Sailboat is offline
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For naval battles, the "Battle off Samar" is a classic:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_off_Samar

TL, DR version: during the huge Battle of Leyte Gulf, the Japanese willingly suffered crippling naval losses for the express purpose of trying to slip battleships past the American defenders and hit the landing forces invading the Philippines. Surprisingly, the sprawling Japanese battle plan worked, and giant Japanese battleships and cruisers descended on the landing area with only a tiny antisubmarine flotilla in their way. They then proceeded to be damaged and panicked into retreat by said grossly underpowered American flotilla.

Considering that the Imperial Japanese navy (thinking realistically for once) never intended to survive the battle intact, and was willing to take heavy losses for the chance to hit the US transports, the failure of nerve is extraordinary. The IJN never again mounted a serious attack -- they had to know this was their last shot -- and were suicidally willing to stand up to the Americans throughout the war. With success in sight after such great cost, why turn back? What were they saving the ships for?
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Last edited by Sailboat; 04-27-2018 at 12:44 PM. Reason: oops, when I started this, Samar hadn't been mentioned
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Old 04-27-2018, 12:46 PM
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Too late to ETA: this is an example of an attacker who gave up too soon. Don't know if that makes a difference to original premise.
Well, tactically the Japanese were attacking, but strategically they were trying to defend the Philippines.
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Old 04-27-2018, 12:51 PM
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Perhaps a classic, if we go back a ways, is how Bonnie Prince Charlie took his rebel army and marched within 60 miles of London, then gave up and turned around. London was in a panic, national bonds were selling at firesale prices with the anticipation that the government would fall (and they wouldn't be repaid). Some say Charlie realized he was not getting the local support he expected to toss out the German usurpers, but whatever the reason, he gave up too easily.
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Old 04-27-2018, 01:03 PM
Malthus Malthus is online now
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Originally Posted by Sailboat View Post
The most plausible explanation for the capitulation has always seemed to me that the steady tide of Japanese successes elsewhere panicked the British command (Slim mainly) and led to a very warped mental picture of the situation.

This was the worst defeat of the British empire and it came against inferior numbers, completely humiliating in a military sense.
I believe you meant Percival.

Slim was a successful WW2 British commander who eventually defeated the Japanese.
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Old 04-27-2018, 01:04 PM
Malthus Malthus is online now
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Originally Posted by Sailboat View Post
For naval battles, the "Battle off Samar" is a classic:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_off_Samar

TL, DR version: during the huge Battle of Leyte Gulf, the Japanese willingly suffered crippling naval losses for the express purpose of trying to slip battleships past the American defenders and hit the landing forces invading the Philippines. Surprisingly, the sprawling Japanese battle plan worked, and giant Japanese battleships and cruisers descended on the landing area with only a tiny antisubmarine flotilla in their way. They then proceeded to be damaged and panicked into retreat by said grossly underpowered American flotilla.
This is a good example.
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Old 04-27-2018, 05:33 PM
Tamerlane Tamerlane is offline
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Originally Posted by AK84 View Post
No chance of relief. Would have delayed the inevitable.

Ditto, and unlike the Singapore example, they had been in combat more or less continiously since March and were at the end of their tether.
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Originally Posted by Really Not All That Bright View Post
What AK84 said. The Pakistani units in East Pakistan/Bangladesh were not only exhausted from massacring civilians putting down the local uprising, they simply weren't supplied or otherwise prepared for pitched combat against an equal (much less superior) force.
I did say "it has been argued" . Without necessarily disagreeing strongly, but just to play Devil's Advocate, the counterargument is that delaying the inevitable was a goal in of itself in the east. The Pakistanis may have been substantially outnumbered and the fight effectively lost, but my understanding is that many of their major combat units were still largely intact. The Indian offensive had been a strategic maneouver victory. Stubbornly holding out( or trying to )in Dacca and other strongpoints may have resulted in a more favorable peace treaty if they were able to bleed India on two fronts for an extended period of time. Bowing to the inevitable just meant more pressure available to apply to Pakistan on the western front.

Or possibly not. But I know the idea has been floated, because I didn't come up with it .
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Old 04-27-2018, 05:59 PM
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Labeling attacker and defender is susceptible to where you draw the lines. One possible option is the Battle of Maritsa in 1371.

The two Serbian leaders went on the operational offensive with 20,000-70,000 troops estimated. They were faced by an estimated eight hundred troops of the Ottoman Empire. The Ottomans chose the tactical offensive. They raided the Serb camp at night. Waking to throats being slit, the Serbs routed. Serb casualties were heavy including several thousand troops that drowned trying to escape across the Maritsa River. The Serbs also lost both of their monarchs. The remainder of the Serb army didn't surrender but the defeat did end their campaign.
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Old 04-28-2018, 04:04 AM
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Originally Posted by Lemur866 View Post
In what alternate universe were the Iraqi ground forces superior to the attacking coalition forces? Could they have made the coalition forces pay a higher price during the attack? Probably not even that. Iraqi units that tried to fight back were just wiped out by overwhelming firepower, often with absolutely no way to shoot back effectively.
This One

<Sample of half of it>

SPOILER:

[Text deleted for copyright concerns]


[Moderator Note: Text deleted for copyright issues.]

Last edited by Colibri; 04-28-2018 at 02:19 PM. Reason: Copyright issues
  #32  
Old 04-28-2018, 05:44 AM
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The Spartacus army was apparently breaking up even when they were numerically much superior, and therefore probably actually superior, if they stayed together. The command had them break up and sent about third to cover a way to retreat.. This cost them and they were routed and hunted down and exterminated. It was a mistake as they were besieged... retreat was retreat to nowhere. They needed to remain together and take over a port so that they could feed the entire army....and then perhaps slowly evacuate by boat or something.


Spanash Amada goes to invade England via the English Channel.. . Rather than holding the mouth of the Thames and sending a few boats to ferry soldiers over from France, they all go over to the France to collect them.. And the soldiers weren't even there to collect.


So the Brits send out the Navy, and catch the Amada off guard. Ok, thats a major stupid thing.. Invate the enemies waterway.. THEN go and sit still in a huddle just a few hours away.

Then, when startled, the Amada took off north. Apaprently that was disasterous, they weren't ready for the North Sea.. and the vast number of hazards around the islands on that side of Britain. They would have been better to do a suicide run southward.. safer than north.. Or they might have even won. But they tried to run north..
  #33  
Old 04-28-2018, 08:18 AM
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May not be exactly what the OP is looking for, but I love this story about Rothenburg ob der Tauber Germany (very cute town).

Basically, in WWII Americans had surrounded the town and it was lightly defended. If the Germans did not surrender, the town would be hammered into dust by artillery. Both the Americans and Germans knew about the historic importance and beauty of Rothenburg. Six Americans hiked in under a white flag to negotiate a surrender to save the town from destruction. The German commander agreed ignoring Hitlers orders to fight to the death.

I love that little town. It's touristy now of course, but much of it's long, long history remains intact because a few men decided to not be fools.
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Old 04-28-2018, 09:41 AM
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The Siege of Detroit in 1812 is perhaps the most wonderful example.

General Hull's force defending the Detroit outpost was 2,000 strong and could have resisted any attack the enemy could have mustered. Hull was, however, about as defeatist and pessimistic a man as has ever worn the uniform of the United States Army, and he was becoming convinced he was doomed long before anyone was actually ready to attack him. The British/Canadian/Indian force was commanded by Sir Isaac Brock and Tecumseh, who were, by comparison, excellent officers.

Anyway, Brock knew from intelligence sources that Hull was ready to give up, so he engaged in a variety of deception techniques to convince Hull he had something other that the smaller ragtag force he did. At one point Brock and Tecumseh literally had their men march in sight of American lookouts, duck back into the forest, run around back and march past them again. He sent a letter to Hull saying he demanded immediate surrender and implying his Indian forces might go crazy if a surrender wasn't forthcoming, though Tecumseh's men would have done no such thing.

Despite being told by his subordinates that he was being had, Hull panicked and surrendered. There is evidence he may have been drunk. He was court martialed and sentenced to hang for his cowardice, though it was dropped to being tossed from the Army.

The battle was a disaster for the USA. Natives throughout the northern USA rose up to support the British, and Canadians rallied to the cause. the war swung widly in Britain's favour and much of Michigan and New York might today be Canada except that Brock and Tecumseh got themselves killed shortly thereafter and were replaced by vastly less competent generals, while the Americans replaced their inept generals with capable ones.
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  #35  
Old 04-28-2018, 09:43 AM
nachtmusick nachtmusick is offline
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Going to echo the posters citing the British collapse at Singapore. Not only were the British forces superior in number, but the Japanese forces were rapidly running out of supplies (having outrun their supply trains) at the time the British capitulation. Furthermore the Allied myth that the Japanese were superior jungle fighters is untrue -- many of the Japanese troops involved were new, recently having been civilians, and had no special training in jungle warfare. The British notoriously defended the roads and left their flanks unguarded in the jungle, a classic blunder.

The most plausible explanation for the capitulation has always seemed to me that the steady tide of Japanese successes elsewhere panicked the British command (Slim mainly) and led to a very warped mental picture of the situation.

This was the worst defeat of the British empire and it came against inferior numbers, completely humiliating in a military sense.
I wouldn't call the fall of Singapore an example of giving up too soon or too easily. The Malaya campaign lasted for two months during which the British fought as well as they were able to, but were still outfought. The battle of Singapore itself lasted a week and was pretty fierce. The British could have held out longer, but without control of the air or sea the prospect for victory (or even of not getting slaughtered) was remote.

I'd say the main mistake the British leadership made in Malaya and Singapore was underestimating the capabilities of the Japanese, not overestimating them.
  #36  
Old 04-28-2018, 10:11 AM
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No doubt the British comforted themselves after losing Singapore with that thought. They still were defeated by much inferior ground forces, giving up far sooner than necessary.
I am not versed in military history so could you explain the "sooner than necessary" part? If the outcome to be was indeed read correctly then why would taking a longer path with more death and destruction by both sides not be something best avoided?

I can imagine such could be the case if prolonging an inevitable loss in a battle served a role in greater war, such as causing a greater degree of enemy losses even if the one battle's defeat, or allowing for some other goal to be achieved ... Would such have been the case here?
  #37  
Old 04-28-2018, 10:33 AM
Corry El Corry El is offline
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I wouldn't call the fall of Singapore an example of giving up too soon or too easily. The Malaya campaign lasted for two months during which the British fought as well as they were able to, but were still outfought. The battle of Singapore itself lasted a week and was pretty fierce. The British could have held out longer, but without control of the air or sea the prospect for victory (or even of not getting slaughtered) was remote.

I'd say the main mistake the British leadership made in Malaya and Singapore was underestimating the capabilities of the Japanese, not overestimating them.
I don't disagree. I just think it points to how the question is purely subjective. The Malaya-Singapore campaign was deeply humiliating to the British/CW. You can IME see that down to today in the attitudes of many Brit/CW'ers interested in military history. It's only natural for them to think in terms of the better military performances and higher capability of British Empire forces (particularly later) in WWII, compared to which it might be said the British command 'underestimated' the capability of their forces. But the equally valid subjective interpretation is that with the forces actually at hand relatively quick defeat (even the whole Malaya campaign, 2 months but a whole of advance in 2 months by the Japanese) was the best they could do against the IJA even with a 2:1+ numerical advantage.

And that applies no matter where you consider the Japanese superiority to have resided, whether at command level or the rank and file soldier (but the latter is again a quite sensitive topic down to the present). However the idea the British failure was preordained day 1 of the Japanese landings in Malaya/Thailand because British were 'cut off from resupply' is simply not true. Eventually, most of the way to giving up a 650 mile advance from northern Malaya to Singapore in less than two months, the British force could no longer add to its months of remaining supplies, though against a Japanese force at the end of its logistical tether as has been pointed out. But the campaign was over in a few weeks from that point.

"Amateurs talk strategy [or tactics depending on version of the quote]. Professionals talk logistics" applies less than usually to this campaign. The basic British problem was being outfought consistently tactically. Which extends actually to the RAF fighter force being eventually wiped out by Japanese Army and Navy fighters therefore subjecting the British field army to the nuisance (which is all it was generally to WWII field armies) of operating under enemy air superiority. Mainly, the Japanese fighters just shot down more British ones than they lost in almost every engagement. Logistics would have sealed British defeat if they'd held out a lot longer, but not in the actual campaign.

So again with the Japanese on Singapore island and making key breakthroughs there was no point in continuing resistance, like the moment of defeat in most battles/campaigns where the defeated side does not have a 'fight to the death regardless' ethic. Whether over the larger campaign the British command 'underestimated' the (assumed) high capability of their forces, or whether the (arguable) incompetence of that command meant it wasn't an underestimate, or whether the rank and file forces were as potentially capable as some like to believe based on later British successes*, that's all pretty fuzzy IMO.

*the British-led Allied campaign in Burma 1944-45 v the Japanese was highly successful, but the Allies often outnumbered the IJA even more heavily in that campaign than they had in Malaya.
  #38  
Old 04-28-2018, 12:01 PM
DrDeth DrDeth is offline
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Perhaps a classic, if we go back a ways, is how Bonnie Prince Charlie took his rebel army and marched within 60 miles of London, then gave up and turned around. London was in a panic, national bonds were selling at firesale prices with the anticipation that the government would fall (and they wouldn't be repaid). Some say Charlie realized he was not getting the local support he expected to toss out the German usurpers, but whatever the reason, he gave up too easily.
And how horrible it would have been if he had won. More religious persecution, and likely no British colonies in North America, leading to a really weird Alt Hist with no USA.
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  #39  
Old 04-28-2018, 12:30 PM
dtilque dtilque is offline
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And how horrible it would have been if [Bonnie Prince Charlie] had won. More religious persecution, and likely no British colonies in North America, leading to a really weird Alt Hist with no USA.
Considering that the first colonies were established during Queen Elizabeth's reign (about 100 years earlier), I have trouble imagining how the British would have no colonies because Charlie won. Admittedly, the subsequent events in the colonies would have been different, so possibly no USA, but they still would have had colonies.

Last edited by dtilque; 04-28-2018 at 12:34 PM.
  #40  
Old 04-28-2018, 02:21 PM
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This One

<Sample of half of it>

SPOILER:

[Text deleted for copyright concerns]
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  #41  
Old 04-28-2018, 08:39 PM
Tim@T-Bonham.net Tim@T-Bonham.net is offline
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I'd say the main mistake the British leadership made in Malaya and Singapore was underestimating the capabilities of the Japanese, not overestimating them.
I'd say another mistake was underestimating the brutality of the Japanese toward POWs.

The British might have done better to keep on fighting, even if they couldn't win. Dying in a hopeless battle might be preferable to dying from torture or starvation in a Japanese POW camp.
  #42  
Old 04-29-2018, 12:52 AM
nachtmusick nachtmusick is offline
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Yes, but they couldn't have known that then.

The bulk of the British army in Malaya consisted of formations of poorly trained Indian soldiers who were not willing to commit to defending the British colonial empire. There were still insurrections fomenting in India against Britain when the Japanese attacked. The Indians might have fought well enough if things had gone well for the British, but when the Malaya campaign started going poorly they saw no reason to sacrifice themselves in a foreign land on behalf of a foreign overlord.

But when the Japanese treated the tens of thousands of Indian POW's as poorly as they treated everyone else, the Indians figured out which side of the world war they were really on. The Indians fought a lot harder from then on, not just in Burma but in Africa and Italy as well.
  #43  
Old 04-29-2018, 08:58 AM
Corry El Corry El is offline
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1. Yes, but they couldn't have known that then.

2. But when the Japanese treated the tens of thousands of Indian POW's as poorly as they treated everyone else, the Indians figured out which side of the world war they were really on. The Indians fought a lot harder from then on, not just in Burma but in Africa and Italy as well.
1. I agree here. The surrendering Allied forces didn't know how prisoners would be treated and Western prisoners died in Japanese captivity at rates in the 20's-30's% range (differing figures, differing nationalities, etc). As no excuse for Japanese behavior, that wouldn't by itself make it attractive to fight 100% to the death. Soviet prisoners of the Germans died at a distinctly higher rate than that, but again not very plausible to say they therefore all should have fought to the death. It's just not how it works.

And again, the British problem in Malaya-Singapore campaign wasn't surrendering once the Japanese were established on Singapore with control of the water supply. It was the many tactical defeats at the hands of a numerically inferior Japanese force that led to that point. Those defeats weren't caused by insufficient fear of being captured by the Japanese.

2. But I don't buy that. There are AFAIK no authoritative figures for the death rate of Indian POW's of the Japanese, but the majority taken at Singapore initially joined the Indian National Army on the Japanese side. Many of them eventually reverted to being POW's, but the overall death rate of Indians might well have been lower than Westerners, both from that political aspect and the aspect seen for example with British prisoners of Turkey in WWI: Indian soldiers from typically harsher backgrounds survived better than European soldiers in deprived conditions of imprisonment.

And, many of the most horrific stories of Japanese mistreatment of Indian POW's (using them as target practice, even as food) only came to light much later, recently even. Again we don't even know now what % of Indian prisoners perished. Mistreatment of Western prisoners by the Japanese was only widely known in any detail from early 1944 (publishing of account of US Army prisoners who escaped from the Philippines in 1943). The realization that the Allies would probably win surely had far more effect on Indian morale in the British Army than real known facts about treatment of Indian POW's by the Japanese.

Last edited by Corry El; 04-29-2018 at 08:59 AM.
  #44  
Old 04-30-2018, 01:46 AM
TokyoBayer TokyoBayer is offline
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I am writing an article and looking for examples of nations (or tribes, or forts/castles, or other such entities) who were well-off and well-armed and could have very well defeated their invading enemies, and yet gave up too soon and easily because they underestimated their own strength and overestimated that of the enemy's. Does Holland's surrender to the Germans in WWII count, or were the Dutch really totally out-gunned, for instance?
My bolding.

How could the Dutch have underestimated their strengths? From wike
Quote:
Dutch strength:
9 divisions
700 guns[1]
1 tank
5 tankettes
32 armoured cars[2]
145 aircraft[3]
Total: 280,000 men 22 divisions
German strength:
1,378 guns
759 tanks
830 aircraft[4]
6 armoured trains[5]
Total: 750,000 men
And
Quote:
The myth of the general German equipment advantage over the opposing armies in the Battle of France was in fact a reality in the case of the Battle of the Netherlands. Germany had a modern army with tanks and dive bombers (such as the Junkers Ju 87 Stuka), while the Netherlands had an army whose armoured forces comprised only 39 armoured cars and five tankettes, and an air force in large part consisting of biplanes. The Dutch government's attitude towards war was reflected in the state of the country's armed forces, which had not significantly expanded their equipment since before the First World War,[36] and were inadequately armed even by the standards of 1918.[37]
There simply wasn't any way that the Dutch could have resisted the Germans. Once the Germans started bombing the Dutch cities, it was over.

Last edited by TokyoBayer; 04-30-2018 at 01:47 AM.
  #45  
Old 04-30-2018, 10:22 AM
md2000 md2000 is offline
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And how horrible it would have been if he had won. More religious persecution, and likely no British colonies in North America, leading to a really weird Alt Hist with no USA.
Quote:
Originally Posted by dtilque View Post
Considering that the first colonies were established during Queen Elizabeth's reign (about 100 years earlier), I have trouble imagining how the British would have no colonies because Charlie won. Admittedly, the subsequent events in the colonies would have been different, so possibly no USA, but they still would have had colonies.
Yes, considering that it was only 30 years before the Revolution, I don't think it would have significantly impacted American settlement. More interesting, would the Seven years' War (French-Indian War) of 1759 have happened with a monarch more friendly to France? No conquest of Canada, no expensive army to be billeted in American houses, no tea tax, no large resentment of the crown, etc. My uneducated guess is that many of the economic and political pressures were already there and unlikely to change much with the King.

Plus, at that point it probably would have been difficult to change basic politics. A king of any persuasion would have to listen to parliament or be run out of town all over again. From what I've read - this was Charlie's issue - he didn't see the groundswell of opinion, so nobody wanted him. He would simply be a replacement figurehead, and being an outsider would probably have even less say on what parliament would do. The days of monarchs ruling England by dictatorship were long gone. Perhaps.

Last edited by md2000; 04-30-2018 at 10:23 AM.
  #46  
Old 04-30-2018, 12:38 PM
Sailboat Sailboat is offline
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I believe you meant Percival.

Slim was a successful WW2 British commander who eventually defeated the Japanese.
Egad, thanks for the correction! No slander to Slim intended. That's what I get for name-dropping.
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  #47  
Old 04-30-2018, 01:15 PM
Malthus Malthus is online now
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The Siege of Detroit in 1812 is perhaps the most wonderful example.

General Hull's force defending the Detroit outpost was 2,000 strong and could have resisted any attack the enemy could have mustered. Hull was, however, about as defeatist and pessimistic a man as has ever worn the uniform of the United States Army, and he was becoming convinced he was doomed long before anyone was actually ready to attack him. The British/Canadian/Indian force was commanded by Sir Isaac Brock and Tecumseh, who were, by comparison, excellent officers.

Anyway, Brock knew from intelligence sources that Hull was ready to give up, so he engaged in a variety of deception techniques to convince Hull he had something other that the smaller ragtag force he did. At one point Brock and Tecumseh literally had their men march in sight of American lookouts, duck back into the forest, run around back and march past them again. He sent a letter to Hull saying he demanded immediate surrender and implying his Indian forces might go crazy if a surrender wasn't forthcoming, though Tecumseh's men would have done no such thing.

Despite being told by his subordinates that he was being had, Hull panicked and surrendered. There is evidence he may have been drunk. He was court martialed and sentenced to hang for his cowardice, though it was dropped to being tossed from the Army.

The battle was a disaster for the USA. Natives throughout the northern USA rose up to support the British, and Canadians rallied to the cause. the war swung widly in Britain's favour and much of Michigan and New York might today be Canada except that Brock and Tecumseh got themselves killed shortly thereafter and were replaced by vastly less competent generals, while the Americans replaced their inept generals with capable ones.
Great minds evidently think alike (post 17)
  #48  
Old 04-30-2018, 01:19 PM
Malthus Malthus is online now
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Egad, thanks for the correction! No slander to Slim intended. That's what I get for name-dropping.
Heh, no problem - it was an obvious slip of the mind, I do that sort of thing all the time!

It's an amusing one, though, because Slim was arguably one of the best generals the Brits produced in WW2, while Percival arguably the worst.
  #49  
Old 05-01-2018, 11:54 AM
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Can't find a citation at the moment, but I vaguely recall in the US Civil War that Nathan Bedford Forrest bluffed a strongly-held blockhouse (a type of fortification) into surrender. Not sure about the composition of forces off the top of my head, but what I read implied the position should have been held.

edit: might it have been this?

Carter's Creek Station
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Last edited by Sailboat; 05-01-2018 at 11:55 AM.
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