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What was the best unit during WWII?

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posted on Aug, 14 2005 @ 03:59 PM
As a former member of the Royal marines with 8 years service and 4 medals to my name and still in my 20s i could quite easily sing their praises and say the marines are the best but i wont.

You have to remember that everyone who fought in world war 2 was a hero and was the best at what they did. There is a lot of young people on this site with no previous military service who talk all day about the best units, The best fighter aircraft, The best weapons etc etc. I think you all forget that any unit is worthless without the help of Signals units, Logistics units, Intelligence units.

You all seem to forget that there is no such thing as any special unit that carries out all its own intel, Logistics, Medical, Signals, etc etc. Even 22 SAS has people attached from regular units to do that work for them. So realistically its all about team work and battles are won when a good team from all fields of the military give 100% effort into acheiving the objective.

In my eyes every soldier including the enemy was a hero in any war and was the best at what they done. The Nazis had some excellent trained men as did we.

David Stirling was an intelligent man with a very excellent idea that worked pretty well however dont forget that the long range desert group were out there before the SAS was even born. Infact if it wasnt for the LRDG the SAS would not exsist these days as it was with their help the SAS was born and recognised by the goverment as a formiddable fighting force.

posted on Aug, 14 2005 @ 07:18 PM
If you're going to bring Lord Slim up then I'm nominating Orde Wingate's Chindits, a force Slim had no idea how to use properly and who's glory he first tried to steal and then deride, and with no Wingate around it was easy pickings.

Hell, Orde Wingate should be far more venerated the David Stirling when it comes to success and imagination in irregular warfare. But one died (in an aircrash) and one survived, and one appeared to fit the establishment's picture of what an officer, even a special forces officer, should be and the other definitely did not.

Wingate was just the Lawrence of WW2, but without the movie to push his reputation.

I totally agree about Patton. Him and Macarthur were a matched pair of egomaniacs.

The Germans definitely did not have the best equipment. The paratroopers had no control over their parachute and their weapons went down in separate containers. If they could have steered and had their rifles available on landing they might not have got slaughtered in such numbers on Crete.

posted on Aug, 14 2005 @ 07:40 PM
Wingate's an odd one. A strange character; Zionist, manic-depressive and failed suicide attemptee. Churchill was much taken with him but Winnie always had a taste for the cavalier. Slim thought him 'dangerous'.

Chindits certainly proved the Japanese could be beaten in the jungle but his expeditions tied up massive resources, achieved little and resulted in c. 50% casualties - even those troops who made it back were often unfit for further service. Wingate also had wierd plans to use his force to establish a jewish homeland after the war - despite official policy at the time.

General Slim single-handedly turned a divided, scared and running army into one that stood and fought the Japanese to a standstill and then went on the offensive all the way to Rangoon.

A superb man-manager and tactician he turned the Army in Burma around (literally!) mainly just by his superb communication & calm presence - he got little help and very few extra resources from London and was continually undermined by Mountbatten who tried to steal all the glory.

Somewhere I have an original copy of Slim's farewell order to 14th Army as they were disbanded - the warmth and humanity shine through even after 60 years.

Never met the guy but on that bit of paper alone I'd fight for him! Our best WW2 fighting general and possibly the best of the war

Uncle Bill RIP

posted on Aug, 14 2005 @ 09:40 PM
OMG what is up with all the British and American BS about good units? So you decide to just disregard the massive amount of facts that point to the Germans in WW2?

posted on Aug, 15 2005 @ 12:46 AM

Originally posted by horten229v3
OMG what is up with all the British and American BS about good units? So you decide to just disregard the massive amount of facts that point to the Germans in WW2?

Read my original post.

posted on Aug, 15 2005 @ 12:58 AM
Not to get into a slanging match here, I certainly respect Slim for the job he did at Imphal and on the road to Mandalay, but Colonel, later Major General, Orde Wingate proved his theories in Africa when he took (not alone, but then neither was Lawrence) Ethiopia from the Italians and gave it to Haille Selassie.

Some of the Chindits problems in Burma ('though not by a long shot all) were of Slim's makings. He also very falsely claimed to be the man who advised Wingate on the need for planning revisions on the airfield prior to jumping off after it was descovered by late recon ops that the Japanese had sown some of the proposed landing grounds with sleepers, apparently to prevent glider landings. With no Wingate to disprove him, no Churchill in office and no loyal subordinates still in the forces and thus with access to records to defend Wingate it was easy.

Why this need to steal someone else's glory?

And while we're at it I'll be totally inconsistent and quote Slim.

"Never let it be forgotten that it was the Australians who first broke the myth of Japanese invincibility."

posted on Aug, 15 2005 @ 10:08 PM
Lets see, i read your post and i got a bunch of UNVERIFIED FACTS. I posted like 7 links showing that the German special forces is the best, AND that it did many more important and big things than other Special forces units. YET you refuse to even debate my post or even go into it, you just talk about British SAS and blah blah BS about the brits being "Good" and "the best" its a load of crap that needs to be flushed out of your head, Now debate my post or just keep saying BS about british and US units.

posted on Aug, 16 2005 @ 01:47 AM
Ah! a former Green Lid speaks. Good to have you on board, Saint.

I was on about 1 SAS not 22 SAS and the Special Boat Squadron not Special Boat Service.

True the LRDG were involved in the transportation of SAS personnel on raids, but this was only in the very early stages of their development. (Many LRDG and indeed Bagnold himself, were the only expert desert navigators BUT their primary task was road watching)

Many posters have cited massive military organisations. What I was trying to get across to the viewer - albeit very badly, was for size, organisation and effect on the enemy, what was the most cost effective unit during WWII.

Whilst units like the 'Big Red 1', 82nd Airborne, Polish Guards Parachute Brigade and indeed the RM Commandos are all very fine units, by their very nature thay are regular units under regular army control.

What I was after I suppose, and perhaps I should have asked was, 'What was the best 'Irregular' unit during WWII?'

So, does anybody have any details on 'Popski's Private Army'?

posted on Aug, 16 2005 @ 02:44 AM
I have his autobiography, unfortunately it is in storage in Australia.

Vladimir Penniakoff was a white Russian by way of Belgium who enlisted in the British Army while in Egypt. He didn't much like the way his superior officer was organising and treating a "native" batallion and got a transfer as soon as he could. He got into the LRDG, loved what they were doing and then applied to set up his own unit under their organisational chart.

"Popski's Private Army" was their official unit name! Their badge was an astrolabe, used for navigating in the desert. They served in North Africa and Italy. Never more than two squadrons in strength. That was Popski's desire, he also told officers not to bother applying for transfer unless they were prepared to return to their actual rank, he woud not employ them at their hostilities-only temporary rank.

They favoured jeeps armed first with .30 and .50 cals but changed to 20mm Bredas when captured supplies became available.

Popski had great disdain for the SAS and their cavalier, cowboy attitude to planning and operational secrecy.

Anybody disagree with my precis or can supply a link?

edit: sp

[edit on 16-8-2005 by HowlrunnerIV]

posted on Aug, 16 2005 @ 02:47 AM

Originally posted by HowlrunnerIV
Probably the SS Panzer Grenadiers.

You were taught to read by a bat, perhaps?

And I freely admit that when it comes to special forces I can only refer to Western Allies. But what did the Germans do that equals the raid on St Nazaire? Eben Emael doesn't come close.

posted on Aug, 16 2005 @ 02:47 AM
I would have to say the 1st Marine Division. Specifically the 5th Marines Regiment.

posted on Aug, 16 2005 @ 03:09 AM
This a quote from the book ' Brandenburgers ' by Ian allen.

I the early summer of 1942 virtually the whole regiment was deployed to the Ukraine to spearhead the twin proinged drive to the Caucasus and toward Stalingrad....
Once again the various companies were usd in the Spearhead role to seize vital bridges, especially across the Don River, when the offensive began on the 28th of June. One of the most important was that undertaken by 3rd Battalions 8th Company in upport of the push by 5th SS Panzer Division ' Wiking ', the 16th Motorised Infantry Division and the 13th Panzer Division to take the city of Maikop on the Kuban Steppes in the Northern Caucasus in August.
The Brandenburgers had 2 detachments involved. ONe was the 63 man team, including many fluent Russian speakers, under Lt Baron Adrian von Foelkersam. It was to precede the attack by a long range mission to Maikop, while a short range mission led by Lt Ernst Prohaska, was tasked with seizing a bridge over the Bjelaja River across which the regular forces had to pass.
The Foelkersam detachment moved first. Dressed in NKVD ( KGB forerunners )unifoems they crossed the frontlines near Alexandrovskaja under cover of darkness, a week before ( the 2nd ) the main attack opened and successfully reached Maikop, where they were greeted warmly by the local NKVD commander and given billets. Over the following days, Foelkersam was taken on guided tours of the city's main installation and laid plans for a takeover. On the day of the attack his force split into 3 groups. One severed telephone and telegraph lines from Maikop to the frontline units and occupied the central telegraph office, answering any calls with the ' official ' order that the city had to be abandoned. A 2nd group under Foelkersam himslef took over a strongpoint and issued false withdrawl orders to Red Army units in the immediate vicinity, whilst the 3rd group succeeded in preventing the destruction of all but one of the city's oil storage tanks. On the 9th Prohaska led his team. also dressed in enemy uniforms and mounted on Red Army trucks, across teh Bjelaja Bridge. The appearance of apparently retreating Soviet troops sowed panic amoung the defenders of the bridge and they fled, the Brandenburgers then disarmed the demolition charges which had been primed to destroy the bridge. A spearhead from the 13th Panzer crossed safely and Maikop fell the same day. Foelkersam and Prohaska were both awarded Knight's Crosses for the operation, the latter posthumously.

Maikop ( spelled Maykop on the map ) is located in the SE portion of the map.

[edit on 16-8-2005 by rogue1]

posted on Aug, 16 2005 @ 04:28 AM
The best in my opinion without any doubt is FAF (Finnish Air Force). They didn't have the modern technology or manpower that the Soviets did, but they still fought, survived and made life alot easier for ground troops. Only when Finland got it's first Me-109's from Germany we had modern fighters to use, till that point the best was the brewster against mig's, p-39's, il-2's and such. Big thanks goes to Lento-Osasto Kuhlmey who provided the decisive blow against Soviet armor and supply lines in the battle for Karelia.
Without these flying boys we'd be speaking Russian, they did helluva job

[edit on 16-8-2005 by PsykoOps]

posted on Aug, 18 2005 @ 11:00 PM
The unit i would like to mention is a regular army unit.
however i have one quote which i feel justifies their inclusion.
Field marshal Erwin Rommel said about the 2nd New Zealand Division in North Africa.......
"give me a couple of Divisions of Kiwi's and i will take over the world"
now obviously he wasnt seriously suggesting that a mere "couple of divisions" could take the world.
it was only a statement of his own personal opinion of the standard the Kiwi's had during that time.
my own personal opinion is that they still hold that same standard to this day.
mind you, im kinda biased on that last point.
i myself am a member of the RNZIR.
the thing is though.
there is no such thing as the best unit, regular or otherwise.
there are only personal opinions on the matter.
and one point to the fellow who thought that most of us were neglecting to think about the quality of the german forces,
that is the most idiotic statement i have ever heard.
of course we are not suggesting that.
the idea that the best unit is not german merely tells us that such levels of soldiering were required to defeat the germans.
of all WW2 vets that i have talked to over a beer on ANZAC Day, not one of them has expressed anything but respect for the germans they fought against.
just as we respected the courage of the timorese militia we fought.
we had no respect for their skills, they had none.
but to be willing go up against us and the australians they must have been either incredibly brave or just downright ignorant!!!

posted on Aug, 19 2005 @ 04:43 AM
I realise it's not particularly PC but most units that actually opposed them in combat widely credit the German Fallschirmjager (Paratroops) as the best and bravest (and unusually honorable) fighters they came up against. In terms of bravery to a man they certainly outclass Skorzeny who got Mussolini pretty much on his own and his units performance cannot be credited so highly in battles such as the Bulge.

posted on Aug, 19 2005 @ 09:42 AM
I guess you cant say for sure what is the best, it's like arguing over a taste issue. I love the FAF for the reason that they were a huge factor in defending what later became my home country. I wouldn't be very happy talking Russian

posted on Aug, 19 2005 @ 09:53 AM
the best unit in my opinion would be the Japanese American unit the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, aka the Purple Heart Battalion or "Go For Broke" Regiment.

Most Japanese Americans who fought in WWII were Nisei, second-generation Japanese Americans born in the U.S.. Nevertheless, shortly after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, Japanese American men in the mainland U.S. were categorized as 4C (enemy alien), non-draftable, and they and their families were removed to internment or relocation camps.

In Hawaii, a large proportion of the population were of Japanese descent: internment was not practicable, so curfews were imposed instead. General Delos C. Emmons (commanding general of the U.S. Army in Hawaii) decided to discharge Japanese Americans from units of the Hawaiian Territory Guard and National Guard. Many volunteered to continue in non-combat roles, until, on June 5, 1942, a special unit of 1,300 Japanese Americans, the Hawaiian Provisional Battalion, sailed for training on the mainland. They landed at Oakland, California on June 10, 1942 and became 100th Infantry Battalion two days later (the "One Puka Puka") and were sent to Camp McCoy.

The 100th performed so well in training that, on February 1, 1943, the U.S. Government reversed its decision on Japanese Americans serving in the armed forces. President Roosevelt announced the formation of the 442nd Infantry Regimental Combat Team (the "Go For Broke" regiment), famously saying "Americanism is not, and never was, a matter of race or ancestry". Nevertheless, families of the regiment's members remained interned.

The 100th landed at Salerno on September 26, 1943. After obtaining its initial objective of Monte Milleto, the 100th joined the assault on Monte Cassino. The 100th fought valiantly, suffering many casualties. It sailed from North Africa with 1,300 men on September 22, 1943, but by February 1944 could only muster 521. The depleted unit joined the defense of the beachhead at Anzio until May 1944, and then added momentum to the push for Rome, but was halted only 10 miles from the city. Some believe that the 100th was deliberately halted to allow non-Japanese soldiers to liberate Rome.

The remainder of the 442nd (other than the 1st battalion, much of which had already been sent as replacements for the 100th, and the remainder of which remained in the U.S. to train further replacements) landed at Anzio and joined the 100th Battalion in Civitavecchia north of Rome on June 10, 1944. The 100th Battalion was allowed to keep its unit designation in recognition of its distinguished fighting record. The combined unit continued in the push up Italy, before joining the invasion of southern France, where the 442nd participated in the fight to liberate Bruyeres in south France, and famously rescued "The Lost Battalion" at Biffontaine. Pursuant to army tradition of never leaving soldiers behind, over a five-day period, from 26 October to 30 October 1944, the 442nd suffered over 800 casualties, nearly half of its soldiers, while rescuing 211 members of the Texan 1st Battalion of the 141st Regiment which had been surrounded by German forces in the Vosges mountains since 24 October.

The 522nd Field Artillery Battalion remained in France, and joined the push into Germany in late 1944 and 1945. Scouts from the 522nd were among the first Allied troops to release prisoners from the Dachau concentration camp. The remainder of the 442nd returned to Italy to continue the fight against the Gothic Line established by German Field Marshal Kesselring in the Apennines.

The 442nd is commonly reported to have suffered a casualty rate of 314 percent (i.e. on average, each man was injured more than three times), informally derived from 9,486 purple hearts divided by some 3,000 original in-theater personnel. U.S. Army battle reports show the official casualty rate, combining KIA (killed) with MIA (missing) and WIA (wounded and removed from action) totals, is 93%, still uncommonly high. The purple heart figure, though representing a broader range of wounds including those which may not have removed a soldier from action, is disputed by some researchers.

Fighting in the European theatre, the 442nd became the most decorated unit in U.S. military history for its size and length of service, earning it the title, the "Purple Heart Battalion." The 442nd received 7 Presidential Unit Citations (5 earned in one month), and its members received around 18,000 awards, including:

1 Medal of Honor (awarded posthumously to PFC Sadao S. Munemori, Company A, 100th Battalion, for for action near Seravezza, Italy, on April 5, 1945
52 Distinguished Service Crosses (20 of which were upgraded to Medals of Honor in June 2000)
1 Distinguished Service Medal
560 Silver Stars (plus 28 Oak Leaf Clusters for a second award)
22 Legion of Merit Medals
15 Soldier's Medals
4,000 Bronze Stars (plus 1,200 Oak Leaf Clusters)
9,486 Purple Hearts

The troops of the 442nd Regiment fought in eight major campaigns in Italy, France and Germany, including the battles at Belmont, Bruyeres and Biffontaine. At Biffontaine, the unit fought perhaps its most famous battle, the "Rescue of the Lost Battalion". In this bloody confrontation, the 442nd unit lost more than 800 troops to rescue 211 members of the Texan 1st Battalion of the 141st Regiment. There were also numerous accounts of individuals who displayed incredible valor while attempting to advance their positions and rescue wounded comrades.

even though all the servicemen and women from past and present and for the future all have my respects. these guys have my respect and more.

posted on Aug, 21 2005 @ 06:11 AM
Horten my friend, I have always had a sneaking admiration for the Waffen-SS. This admiration has led me to be labelled a 'right-wing-fascist', whilst I served in the Royal Air Force - I used to have a picture of the Britisches Freikorps on my wall in my room, with the question, "Traitors or Realists?" below it. The CO was not impressed and ordered me to take it down!

Bravery awards for the Waffen-SS were almost unobtainable. For instance, if you were put forward for the EKI, it was rumoured that you had to have had been wounded at least twice, carried out acts of outstanding bravery whilst under fire - more than once and it was also rumoured that you had to have been turn down for the award on more than one occasion. Once you were awarded the EKI, it was apparent that your social standing rose above those around you. You were considered an elite within the elite.

For me, the Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler was the premier fighting force within the Waffen-SS. Apart from (allegedly) receiving the best arms and equipment, it took part in many campaigns as the 'spearhead' unit and suffered the consequences.

For pure tenacity and bloody single-mindedness, bravery or heroism (call it what you will) in the face of certain death and destruction, the French Charlemagne division stands out above all the units defending the Reichstag in Berlin at the end of the war.

12th Waffen-SS Panzergrenadier Division 'HitlerJugend'

For me, perhaps, the 12th Waffen-SS Panzer Division, the Hitler-Jugend personifies the elan of the Waffen-SS. This division was staffed by 16, 17 & 18 yeard old boys from the Hitler Jugend youth movement, hurried into uniform and rushed off to the basic training at WEL Camps.

By the 1st July '43, 8000 boy/men had passed out with another 8000 just about to start training and by September, the HJ Division stood at 16000 full strength. Added to these boy/men, were a cadre of Leibstandarte, Das Reich, Totenkopf and Wehrmacht officers and Snco's. Their first CO, was Fritz Witt, a former HJ officer cadet. The division deployed to Hasselt in Belgium, where it was held a mobile reserve. When the Allies invaded France on 6th June, the HJ was rushed the area around Caen, where they were to reinforce 'Panzer Lehr'.

No sooner had they entered the area, than they were subjected to an almost continuous arial and artillery bombardment. Nonetheless they took their place in the front line facing the veteren forces of the Canadian armour and infantry.

In their first engagement with the Canadians, the HJ destroyed 28 tanks for (only) 6 HJ soldiers died. Whilst the HJ fought with a determination belying their age and experience, they were to suffer 60% casualties - 20% dead, 40% wounded or missing. This happened, mainly in the Falaise Pocket where they were tasked to hold the 'back door' open for the encircled units to escape. That they did this is beyond question, but what is not generally known is that after a particularly harsh battle, even the ex-LSSAH men were stunned to see their young 'veterens' pick up their brass and hand it in to their quartermaster stores.

Unfortunately, their commander Fritz Witt was killed when the Canadians
'DF'd' the Regimental CP and called naval gunfire in support. He was replaced by the legendary 33 year old Kurt 'Panzer' Meyer. By the end of September 1944, the HJ was reduced to just 1500 - 3000 troops, many of which were wounded. They had lost all their heavy and support weapons and only one Mk IV tank survived.

Although the Hitler Jugend was formed from a youth movement, hurriedly trained and rushed off to battle with a seasoning of combat veterens, their outstanding bravery in the face of hopeless odds was recognised by the fact that they were awarded no less than 15 Knight's Cross.

The Brandenburg Regiment

It was almost doomed to faillure from the outset because, like the idea of Stirling's to raise a body of men to operate behind the enemy lines using hit and run tactics (like the much vaunted TE Lawrence), the crusty old Prussian Generals were appalled by the very idea.

The 'Brandenburg' Regiment was actually the 'Lehr und Bau Kompagnie z.b.V 800'. It was raised by Theodor von Hipple, under the command of Admiral Canaris' Abwehr and inherited it's unofficial title because of the nearby town.

Their exact order of battle and actions will never be fully known because, even now, next to nothing is known about them.

One of their most daring raids however, was the capture of Maikop. After the Nazi invasion of Russia in 1941, it was soon recognised that the German forces would need oil and very quickly!

A very small detachment of Brandenburg men (about 75 Slavs and Germans) led by Baron Adrian von Folkersam, penetrated deep behind Russian lines. Disguised as Political and NKVD Officers, they even persuaded a group of Red Army deserters to join them and when within site of their target, they threw grenades to simulate an artillery bombardment. Rushing forward, von Folkersam and his men managed to pursuade the local Red Army unit to retreat, thus enabling he and his men to capture the Maikop oilfields without a shot being fired.

This must surely go down in history as one of the most successful
'commando' raid of all times, by any armed forces throughout the Second World War.

posted on Aug, 21 2005 @ 07:38 AM

Originally posted by fritz

A very small detachment of Brandenburg men (about 75 Slavs and Germans) led by Baron Adrian von Folkersam, penetrated deep behind Russian lines. Disguised as Political and NKVD Officers, they even persuaded a group of Red Army deserters to join them and when within site of their target, they threw grenades to simulate an artillery bombardment. Rushing forward, von Folkersam and his men managed to pursuade the local Red Army unit to retreat, thus enabling he and his men to capture the Maikop oilfields without a shot being fired.

ummm rather than make up things about the operation why don't you read what I quoted, from a reliable source. Because what you have described bears no relation to anything that really happened.

As in the 1941 campaign, the Brandenburgers were also used as the spearhead to capture bridges for the 42 summer offensive.

Also in 1942 a detachment of Branderburgers operating from Finland infiltrated 100 miles behind Russian lines to destroy 3 rail bridges on the Leningrad-Murmansk line. They dropped 2 but the sentries on the 3rd prevented its destruction. Well another of their accompishments, I could go on but.... lol.

posted on Aug, 21 2005 @ 02:56 PM
and the brandenburgers did that all by themseves?
Didn't they have some Finns to guide and help them, from ErP4 maybe?
If i recall it correctly?

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