Monday, June 13, 2005

Major-General Percy Hobart

Correlli Barnett criticizes Major-General Percy Hobart as the source of the mistaken idea that "tanks should fight other tanks". That was not the German way, although they often did fight other tanks, at least on the Eastern Front and later, on the Western Front, after there was one. Rommel used the "Sword and Shield" approach where armour was the sword and the shield was his anti-tank weapons. The 88mm FLAK36 was his key weapon in the shield, although the 50mm PAK38 was also highly effective, at least against the British cruiser tanks that Rommel's forces faced.

But Percy Hobart was a maverick and a champion of mechanized warfare. I would treat him better than Correlli Barnett. He was tossed out of the British Army by Archibald Wavell, after Hobart's commanding officer wrote an "adverse report" about him. When confronted on this incident later, Wavell could not adequately explain his dismissal of Hobart. This was the same mindset that later forced out Eric Dorman-Smith, another mechanized warfare expert.

Through the efforts of Winston Churchill, Hobart was returned to the army, although only in an organizing and training role, for which he was well-suited.

Trevor Constable has a paper about Hobart in the Journal of Historical Review. I have drawn upon that, as well as Correlli Barnett, in my discussion here.

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