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'Captain Sobel hates us, sir.'


They did, as I recall, give tacit credit to Sobel for making them tougher. I think that Winter benefited from Sobel being a dickhead because it contributed to his sharing along with the men, the misery of being under Sobel in E Company. The men liked Winters better, and likely much faster than if Sobel was not present to be the bad guy.
 
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Originally posted by jhe888:

Another thought is that by the time it is an HBO series, the series is less a historical record than a drama. Dramas need good guys and bad guys, and the writers will write the story to suit the needs of an HBO series, and historical accuracy is not the primary goal, at least at some level. It may have been an inaccurate, and, therefore unfair, portrait of Sobel, but it is also somewhat unfair to apply a rigorous historical scholarship standard to an HBO script.


Great points.

Another thing to consider is the reputation of the author of the book the series was based on; Stephen Ambrose. I just finished my Masters program in Military History, and I made sure to NOT cite Ambrose for any of my papers or my thesis. We had quite a bit of study and discussions about vetting authors and analyzing sources. Some are better than others, and it is the responsibility of the academic researcher OR the casual reader to not take everything at face value, unless the author has developed a certain reputation for authenticity and prudent research/analytical skills.

I have read at least three of Ambrose's books (Band of Brothers, The Wild Blue, D-Day) and own at least one other that I haven't read yet (Pegasus Bridge). He was a skilled writer and I consider the books I have read to be excellent.

HOWEVER,

Ambrose has a reputation for plagiarism (a strict taboo in the field of scholarly literature). Basically, I treat his books as more 'pop history' than 'real' history (like Bill O'Reilly's Killing Lincoln, Killing Reagan, etc - entertaining books but not something I would ever cite in a paper).

I don't know if this invalidates his portrayal of Lt Sobel, but it does cast serious doubts upon Ambrose's authenticity and reliability of his works.

Source for plagiarism claims: https://slate.com/news-and-pol...giarism-matters.html



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Originally posted by jhe888:
...it is also somewhat unfair to apply a rigorous historical scholarship standard to an HBO script.
I asked a question. I'm not applying anything to anything. It was merely a question. I created content in this forum- something for members to discuss. You should try it sometime.

And thanks for letting us know that the essence of drama is conflict. I didn't know that. I was also unaware of the dramatic license taken by Hollywood. In all the movies I've seen, they've always been 100% accurate up until now. Color me shocked.
 
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Originally posted by parabellum:
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Originally posted by jhe888:
...it is also somewhat unfair to apply a rigorous historical scholarship standard to an HBO script.
I asked a question. I'm not applying anything to anything. It was merely a question. I created content in this forum- something for members to discuss. You should try it sometime.

And thanks for letting us know that the essence of drama is conflict. I didn't know that. I was also unaware of the dramatic license taken by Hollywood. In all the movies I've seen, they've always been 100% accurate up until now. Color me shocked.


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Do you know why, jhe? It's because you have a maddening penchant for stating the obvious.

I don't come into this forum muttering to myself "that damn jhe888..." No, I am merely reacting to what. you. post.

And I don't know who is Elsa, but you might want to let her read some of your stuff before she jumps in.

All that aside, you will always be welcome in this forum, just remember that.
 
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This is one of the reasons I love this place so much!

This thread has the type of info I love to read. The history and facts of characters from BOB. I find it all fascinating!

How sad about Mr. Sobel, though. It sounds like he was a good father and husband. I wonder what went wrong. I wonder why his boys never came to see him later in life?
 
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by pretty much all accounts he was a supreme jackass. (don't have the printed material in front of me...)

what many would refer to as a 'petty tyrant' about stuff he didn't need to be.

should you be a hard-ass to prepare your men for combat? absolutely. but a lot of what he did was said to be over the top.

was Easy a good unit because of it? who knows. but put another way -- there were a lot of other units that did not suffer that silly type of abuse that fought just fine. hazing / harassment type 'training' just isn't necessary. you can make training VERY challenging without it.

and the portrayal of Blithe was really bad. to mention him BY NAME but get his account so wrong was really sad IMO.

the 'remembrances' of these events is always interesting. 10 of us could get together and experience the exact same event. ask us questions about it 20 years later and you'll likely get 10 different versions.

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Originally posted by Patriot:
Incredible….

Without him being a dick, would Easy have turned out the same?


Actually, in Winters book he addresses this topic head on. He had a strong feeling that the unit and the noncoms would not have been the band of Brothers without him and what he put them through. It was an obstacle that made them stronger.

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It's an interesting thought. You can say "He knew he had to be extra tough on his men to prepare them for combat." Based on what? All his combat experience at that point?
Some people don't handle authority well.


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Petty authoritarians are universally despised, in my experiences, and youngish officers (the military's version of Middle Management) is full of them, as is most every industry I've ever seen. Humans with power are turds and most are exceptionally ill suited to lead. Far too many confuse motivation and leadership with assholeism or worse.

Those people do and should get thrown overboard at the first opportunity, so to speak. No quarter.
 
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Originally posted by cas:
It's an interesting thought. You can say "He knew he had to be extra tough on his men to prepare them for combat." Based on what? All his combat experience at that point?
Some people don't handle authority well.


Exactly. Sobel had no direct combat experience on which to base his attitude and training regimen regarding those under his command.

I've served under a few superiors that were supreme assholes and were hated by everyone but, unlike Sobel, these men knew their job inside out, backwards and forwards, and because of their knowledge and skill we would have followed them even without the UCMJ. Think of Dr. House vs. Dr. Friendly-but-incompetent.

Then there were a few other superiors that were kind and also outstandingly competent at their jobs. These were the leaders we would have done whatever they commanded without question because we trusted them to do what was right and necessary.

Basically, too many people think being an asshole is a requirement to being a good leader when really their assholiness is nothing more than a cover for their insecurities and inadequacies. This was Sobel.




 
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It is simple to speculate that "Easy Co was better because of the hardships that Lt Sobel put them through" (I have asked this very question years ago). However, this theory can NOT be tested.

Another, and equally valid theory is "Lt Sobel killed a lot of Easy Co soldiers because he did not train them adequately for the conditions they would face in combat."

Sure, he was tough on physical training. That's fairly easy - ANYBODY can demand that his people run up a hill every night or go on 20-mile rucksack marches when everybody else is on liberty.

However, Sobel was a clueless idiot who knew very little about actual combat. Many have stated that had the NCO's not revolted and Sobel had not been removed from command prior to D-Day, he likely would have gotten the entire Company killed. Specifically, taking out the guns in the Brecourt Manor Assault on D-Day.


So, MAYBE his lousy leadership forged Easy into a tight Company. There were plenty of other units that had VERY tight comradeship and high morale WITHOUT the abuse Sobel put them through.

I've suffered through lousy leadership (at one unit, the Commander, Deputy Commander, Superintendent, AND First Sergeant were ALL petty tyrants, the SNCOs had no idea how to use their authority, and most of the junior officers micro-managed everybody to death). Maybe this was not as bad as Sobel, but I do know what it is to be in a unit where everybody hates their leadership. It sucks (and I blame this bad leadership for the woman in that unit who committed suicide shortly after I left).

From what I've seen, Sobel violated the trust the govt placed in him, and violated the position of leadership he had over those men.



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Hound Dog, that was perfectly said.
 
Posts: 3334 | Location: St.Louis County MO | Registered: October 13, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Originally posted by Hound Dog:
However, Sobel was a clueless idiot who knew very little about actual combat. Many have stated that had the NCO's not revolted and Sobel had not been removed from command prior to D-Day, he likely would have gotten the entire Company killed. Specifically, taking out the guns in the Brecourt Manor Assault on D-Day.
I've read this a couple of times in this thread. Not picking on you, Hound Dog...you just happen to be the last person to voice this opinion before my post. Smile

If everyone recalls, CPT Sobel was replaced by LT Meehan. Had COL Sink NOT made that replacement (along with the NCO's actions and other chain of events leading up to Sobel's removal as Company Commander), the result at Brecourt Manor would have probably been the same, as it would have been CPT Sobel that was shot down and died on D-Day instead of LT Meehan. LT Meehan, then, would have been in charge of the assault on Brecourt Manor with the assistance of LT Winters. Remember that it was the individual officers, such as Meehan and Winters, that were training their Squads and Platoons for the eventual invasion; Sobel wasn't training EVERYONE. Those men under Sobel's command on D-Day would have received another, probably more competent, combat leader after the landings and upon discovery that CPT Sobel had not made it.

The same successful outcome of the assualt on Brecourt? I'm gonna say probably, because Meehan and Winters would have collaborated pretty well, as was displayed in the show when Winters and Meehan discussed a training run and Winters had carried a compass. They concluded, quite correctly, their attack point was going to be Normandy.

My conclusion with respect to everything that happened to Easy Company after D-Day and Brecourt Manor would probably have been pretty close to the same with the exception that Damian Lewis would have been playing the part of MAJ Thomas Meehan instead of MAJ Dick Winters. We CAN say that LT Meehan's demise was a direct result of CPT Sobel's lack of combat experience, though. Would EVERYTHING have played out like it was discussed in the books of Ambrose, Winters, et. al.? Probably not, but I'm of the opinion things would have turned out much the same.

JMHO.....



"If you’re a leader, you lead the way. Not just on the easy ones; you take the tough ones too…” – MAJ Richard D. Winters (1918-2011), E Company, 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne

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Originally posted by erj_pilot:
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Originally posted by Hound Dog:
However, Sobel was a clueless idiot who knew very little about actual combat. Many have stated that had the NCO's not revolted and Sobel had not been removed from command prior to D-Day, he likely would have gotten the entire Company killed. Specifically, taking out the guns in the Brecourt Manor Assault on D-Day.
I've read this a couple of times in this thread. Not picking on you, Hound Dog...you just happen to be the last person to voice this opinion before my post. Smile

If everyone recalls, CPT Sobel was replaced by LT Meehan. Had COL Sink NOT made that replacement (along with the NCO's actions and other chain of events leading up to Sobel's removal as Company Commander), the result at Brecourt Manor would have probably been the same, as it would have been CPT Sobel that was shot down and died on D-Day instead of LT Meehan. LT Meehan, then, would have been in charge of the assault on Brecourt Manor with the assistance of LT Winters. Remember that it was the individual officers, such as Meehan and Winters, that were training their Squads and Platoons for the eventual invasion; Sobel wasn't training EVERYONE. Those men under Sobel's command on D-Day would have received another, probably more competent, combat leader after the landings and upon discovery that CPT Sobel had not made it.

The same successful outcome of the assualt on Brecourt? I'm gonna say probably, because Meehan and Winters would have collaborated pretty well, as was displayed in the show when Winters and Meehan discussed a training run and Winters had carried a compass. They concluded, quite correctly, their attack point was going to be Normandy.

My conclusion with respect to everything that happened to Easy Company after D-Day and Brecourt Manor would probably have been pretty close to the same with the exception that Damian Lewis would have been playing the part of MAJ Thomas Meehan instead of MAJ Dick Winters. We CAN say that LT Meehan's demise was a direct result of CPT Sobel's lack of combat experience, though. Would EVERYTHING have played out like it was discussed in the books of Ambrose, Winters, et. al.? Probably not, but I'm of the opinion things would have turned out much the same.

JMHO.....


Yes, you are probably right except for some reason in the military it seems that God/Fate/Devil saves the incompetent so they can be inflicted upon others. Which means Sobel would have survived and it would have been Meehan and Winters plane that was shot down. Look, God/Fate/Devil protected Sobel so well, he couldn't even commit suicide right (his suicide attempt resulted in him being blind).
 
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The attempt of Sobel to court martial Winters over the latrine pretty much seals for me that Sobel was not a leader - something Easy Company knew well before that.
--------------------------------------------
Winters:
We were in England to prepare for war,.... Captain Sobel continued to perform poorly in the field, further exasperating the platoon leaders and the men. He remained as tyrannical, inflexible, and paranoid as he had been at Toccoa. Tension was building within the company, particularly among the officers who bore the primary responsibility for preparing the men for combat.

Nowhere was the pressure more apparent than on Sobel himself. Whereas the punishment he administered in the States was often mean and degrading, in England the punishment passed the point of normalcy to outright cruelty. If a man was late getting back to camp, instead of extra kitchen police (K.P.) duty, he had to dig a six-foot-by-six-foot pit with his entrenching tools at night after the day’s training. When the soldier was finished, Sobel would tell him “to fill it up.” Our commander’s inability to make decisions, coupled with his tactical incompetence, continued to alienate both officers and men alike. While Sobel was partially effective in matters where he controlled everything, he would be utterly helpless in combat where adaptability and initiative were keys to survival. The noncommissioned officers soon began grumbling and dissension spread throughout Easy. While such talk is always detrimental to the discipline in any unit, Sobel was simply not cut out to be a combat leader. While the men could tolerate a tough taskmaster, they were simply afraid to have Sobel lead them into combat. Within two months of arriving in England, things boiled over and I found myself in the middle of it. The ensuing confrontation between Captain Sobel and me brought out the best and worst qualities of leadership within Easy Company.

On October 30, Lieutenant Colonel Strayer was scheduled to inspect Easy Company. Sobel issued me orders to inspect the latrine at 1000 hours, one hour before Strayer was due to arrive. At 0930 hours I also received orders from battalion headquarters to censor the enlisted men’s mail. I completed that chore and at 1000, I promptly entered the latrine. To my surprise Sobel was already there, making his own inspection. Without uttering a word, he exited the latrine, walked by me without acknowledging my presence. Behind him walked Private Joachim Melo, the latrine orderly, wet mop in hand. Melo was soaking wet, dirty, in need of a shave, hair uncombed. He looked (and I am sure felt) like a man who had just finished doing a dirty job. Sobel left without saying a word. I proceeded with my personal inspection and found that Melo had done a superb job. When I walked to company headquarters forty-five minutes later, 1st Sergeant Evans handed me a typed document that demanded my reply by endorsement whether I desired company punishment for failure to inspect the latrine at 0945 hours as instructed by the company commander or whether I requested a court-martial. I immediately proceeded to Sobel’s office to clear up the misunderstanding.

This was too much for me—just another example of the chickenshit that characterized Sobel’s tenure as Easy Company’s commanding officer. Captain Sobel was now questioning my integrity and my sense of duty. I could not care less that my punishment was the denial of a forty-eight-hour pass until mid-December. Preferring to stay home with the Barneses where I studied my manuals, I very seldom left Aldbourne anyway. Principle was now at stake. Immediately following Strayer’s inspection, which Easy Company incidentally passed with flying colors, I returned to Sobel’s office and demanded trial by court-martial.
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Blithe- that was the kid who had a spell of hysterical blindness, right? In what way was he portrayed inaccurately?


Here’s some information on Blithe and more…

https://wikiofbrothers.fandom....torical_Inaccuracies
quote:
The end of episode three states that Albert Blithe never recovered from the wounds he received in Normandy, and that he died in 1948. Fellow Easy Company Currahee veterans interviewed while writing the mini-series Band of Brothers had thought that Blithe did not recover from his wounds, which they mistakenly recalled as a neck wound (in actuality he was shot in the right shoulder), and had died in Philadelphia in 1948. Albert Blithe remained on active duty, was awarded the Silver Star for gallantry in combat, served in the Korean War and achieved the rank of Master Sergeant, married with two children. He died in December 1967 of complications of surgery for a perforated ulcer after attending a memorial ceremony in Bastogne and was buried in Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors.

I remembered Dick Winters commented on this very subject, and I finally found it:

 
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