Clash of Arms: How the Allies Won in Normandy

Clash of Arms: How the Allies Won in Normandy

Clash of Arms: How the Allies Won in Normandy

Clash of Arms: How the Allies Won in Normandy

Synopsis

Clash of Arms examines how the Western Allies learned--on the battlefield--to defeat the Nazi war machine.

Excerpt

Defining operational effectiveness and determining how it is established are once again among the central questions of military history. Temporarily eclipsed by a focus on the general social, cultural, and economic factors of warmaking, the issue of combat performance is increasingly recognized as the sine qua non of armed forces, even those with a domestic, constabulary orientation.

That subject is particularly vital in the context of World War II. Since 1945 a virtual cult of the Wehrmacht has emerged among its former enemies. Books, magazines, and films pay tribute to its fighting power. Even when acknowledging its weaknesses at the levels of strategy and policy, even when accepting the role of Nazification in its effectiveness, this school continues to praise in particular the German Army's virtuosity at operational and tactical levels. At times it seems as though the German generals allowed the Allies to win the war out of kindness. Allied military performance is generally treated condescendingly. The British and American armies in particular are dismissed as lacking fighting spirit, tactical skill, and operational virtuosity, depending on numbers and material superiority to win victories by the low common denominator of attrition.

Recent challenges to this paradigm fall into three categories. One approach, exemplified by Ken Tout's narratives of the fighting in the Anglo-Canadian sector, stresses the difficulties of conducting offensive operations, going so far as to argue that the normal result of attacks is either defeat or a too-costly advance, and that the outcome of battle should be judged against an expectation of failure. A second perspective, illustrated by the work of Stephen Ambrose, proffers anecdotal arguments that Allied soldiers were in fact motivated to fight, and fought well throughout the northwest Europe campaign. The focus of the third challenge is expressed in the title of one of its best-known examples. Keith Bonn's When the Odds Were Even argues that under conditions when their air and artillery superi-

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.