Monday, March 10, 2008

A Morale dilema

Yet another essay, this time on the morale of troops in Italy. The first objective, to define morale and the factors that either contribute to or detract from it. Sun Zsu, Clausewitz and many others all state that high morale is important to win battles and a prime objective is to destroy the enemies morale. For example for the period prior to Alamein the British morale was low and they were loosing battles whilst the Afrika Corps morale was high. So why in Italy was this turned on its head? In their well sighted and built defended positions, the Germans exhibited high morale right until their defeat in 1945. The Allies on the other hand, exhibited signs of low morale such as high numbers of deserters, yet they won (all be it, on some occasions after a number of attempts) all their battles!
And then the factors that influences morale - as yet I have been unable to find a definitive list. But the more I research the more I have come to the conclusion that there is not one because each man is different and something that will affect one will not affect another. I have been talking to a respected subaltern of late (who had gained a medal for leading a bayonet charge), and when we discussed the effect of news of the Normandy landings on his men, he says they were pleased that the troops in the UK were getting stuck in. He did however talk about the low morale in tank crews and on more than one occasion found himself lacking armoured support because of a '88 phobia that had developed. In one instance a troop even getting themselves deliberately bogged down in a marsh rather than travel up a road that possibly had an '88 round a bend. Something that is little discussed!

1 comment:

Ali Hollington said...

I was part of a group giving a paper on discipline and morale recently, the basis of it can be seen on my blog.