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For All Nails Nr 45 - A Different Definition of Success

After the less than stellar success of the hurriedly-mounted CNA operation 
in Puerto Rico, a number of collections of documents were put together by 
the Confederation Armed Forces Higher Command and Staff College to provide 
an account of certain aspects of that operation. The following represent a 
tiny proportion of the whole.

Extracts from documents in the personal possession of Lt Colonel Richard 
Hurley-Pugh (H-P) CSC Royal Marines, British Observing Officer, Operation 
FAST BOWLER [1], made available by him in holograph. The documents have 
been certified as accurate replications by the Ministry of War, London.

Source Document: Private letter H-P to Mrs Marian Hurley-Pugh, written 
from Prince William of Derby Barracks, Jacksonstown, Georgia, SC, 
21 January 1973:

"...you should not be concerned. I have no intention whatsoever of putting 
myself more in harm's way than necessary during this adventure. I have 
scant confidence in the ability of my hosts, whose enthusiasm is 
untempered with judgement, to perform the ambitious task they have set 
themselves and will thus take measures to minimise the exposure of my 
party [2] to hostile action...."

Source Document: Operation FAST BOWLER GREEN Op Order 1.3 Friendly Forces 
[3]:

"...Tps depl on Op FAST BOWLER will form 3 Prov Asslt Div:

1 Regt RCMC [4]
2 Regt RCMC
14 Asslt Bn RVR (FS) [5]
1 AR [6]
3 TARLETON [7]
2 Fd Regt RCA [8]
1 Regt RCHA [9]

Add assets depl in advance of S-time FAST BOWLER GREEN:

600 Prov Bn [10]"

Source Document: Operation FAST BOWLER GREEN Op Order 1.2 Enemy Forces:

"...elms 77 GREEN [11] Inf Regt in likely bn str depl area MOCA. Possible 
involvement of BROWN [12] 611 Mech Bn depl AGUARDILLA..."

Source Document: Operation FAST BOWLER GREEN Op Order 3.1 Execution - 
Summary:

"...3 Prov Asslt Div will asslt MOCA, PUERTO RICO by simultaneous sea and 
fs coup-de-main from Task Force CORNWALLIS [13], RCN. 2 Prov Asslt Div 
will take and hold the towns of MOCA, VICTORIA and AGUADILLA until 
withdrawn (expected NLT 23JAN1973). Local assets (600 Prov Bn) will take 
and hold sus GREEN missile positions 1 mile NE MOCA until relieved by adv 
elms 14 Asslt Bn RVR."

Source Document: Post Action Report by H-P to Admiralty, 16 February 1973:

"Initial disembarkation was difficult for the lead assault echelons of 1 
Regt RCMC, which was transloaded into assault craft from the Task Force 
and moved onto the beaches (as noted, fully overlooked by cliffs) across 
rough sea. A degree of disorganisation was noted and it was clear that a 
number of junior leaders at the company commander level found it difficult 
to exercise control over their troops...."

"The fallscreen assault by 14 Asslt Bn RVR was catastrophic. The battalion 
jumped from low-flying transport airmobiles, directly on the town of Moca. 
At the time of the jump, the irregulars of 600 Prov Bn had not 
concentrated in the area (having had up to 100 miles to cover in a covert 
manner). 14 Asslt Bn had taken significant casualties from ground fire 
before leaving their airmobiles (estimated at 25%, including all organic 
heavy weapons teams, which were concentrated in single chalks) and 
suffered significant further loss when landing, under fire, in the town 
(Perhaps as high as another 25%). An immediate counterattack on the 
landing area by a scratch company-size unit of German administrative and 
logistic personnel drove the survivors of 14 Asslt Bn out of Moca. It was 
only at this stage of the battle that the irregulars of 600 Prov Bn joined 
the action, mounting a series of very keen assaults on the town. It was 
unclear why the town was selected as the target of the action, rather than 
the missile site, which was some way outside - it is my surmise, based on 
interviews (summarised at Annexe DD), that 600 Prov Bn found itself sucked 
into the battle for Moca by inertia and found it impossible to disengage.

It was at this point, with 14 Asslt effectively down to 30% or fewer 
effectives and the light infantry irregulars of 600 Prov Bn similarly 
damaged, that the armoured locomobiles of  611 Mech Bn and 
I/Infanterieregiment 77 mounted their attack on the Moca Road and 
eliminated the Moca Assault Force. The enemy took up their positions 
blocking the Victoria-Moca road, from which it fell to the Marines to 
dislodge them, at such a cost..."

"...while the dash and elan of the individual CNA soldier and Marine was 
all that could be expected, the quality of planning, individual and unit 
training and command and control was poor. A number of fundamental errors 
were made, ranging from a very complicated plan which depended upon a huge 
number of space, time, distance and personal variables, to a failure to 
maintain the aim of the operation - the elimination of the German missiles 
- to a failure by commanders at all levels to maintain a grip on the 
operation (especially when going badly adrift) and of their units. 
Particularly notable was the poor appreciation for the quality of the 
likely opposition. The odds mustered against what proved to be a 
full-strength German infantry regiment and a Puerto Rican mechanised 
battalion 
were barely 2:1 overall; at no time did the CNA forces achieve tactical 
superiority against an enemy far better trained and deployed. The lack of 
ammunition resupply as a result of the decision to land further troops 
rather than stores was a significant factor in this."

"...of particular concern was the decision by the commander of TF 
CORNWALLIS to cease close air support during the enforced withdrawal phase 
and the resultant teleson argument, which was audible to most friendly and 
enemy troops, as it was conducted in clear speech on the unencrypted 
command channel..."

"...the colours of 1 Regt RCMC, which were brought from the beach by the 
Regimental Serjeant Major as the regiment stayed to cover the evacuation, 
have been laid up in the Corps Chapel at Bayonne...."

"...I should particularly like to commend my Deputy, Major Peter de 
Gruchy, 1st Foot Guards, for his gallant rescue of two wounded CNA Marines 
under fire during the rapid withdrawal to the beaches after the 
dislodgement from the Victoria position. A full account is despatched 
under separate cover..."

"...in summary, it was a gallant effort by the troops, of whose personal 
courage and dedication there can be no doubt, but a disastrous showing by 
their commanders, who were unprepared, in almost every respect, for 
offensive operations against a modern Power's forces.

I remain, My Lords,
Your obedient servant,

Richard Hurley-Pugh
Lieutenant Colonel, Corps of Royal Marines"

Source Document: The London Gazette 1 June 1973

"His Majesty is graciously pleased to assent to the award to Lieutenant 
Colonel R Hurley-Pugh, Corps of Royal Marines, of the Conspicuous Service 
Cross for gallantry in an operational theatre..."

"Promotions: Royal Navy: Corps of Royal Marines: Hurley-Pugh, R., CSC, to 
be Colonel, Brevet Brigadier, with date of rank 1 January 1974"

Source Document: Report to the Governor-General "Casualties Incurred 
during Operation FAST BOWLER" dated 6 February 1973

"...Casualties in this operation were not disporportionate to the scale 
and risk of the undertaking and should be viewed in that context. The 
following chart breaks down by major unit the numbers killed, injured and 
missing plus unit strengths on recovery to Georgia:

        Strength        Killed  Injured Missing Strength 
        22 Jan 73                               28 Jan 73
        
RCMC

1 RCMC  3112            1899    312     784      117
2 RCMC  3075             612    577     651     1235

C ARMY

14 Asslt 811             433    161     106      111
1 AR     803              54     53       8      688
3 TARL   432              16     29      36      361
2 Fd     610              38    104      12      556
1 RCHA   411              64    221      39      151
Div Tps 1307             155    234     211      707
600 Prov 363             277      -      86       -

GROUND FORCES TOTAL

        10924                                   3926

RCN/RCAF

RCN                      102     411     29
RCAF                      34       6     12

OTHER

CBI                        7       2     11
Conf Police                1       1     -

TOTAL                   3692    2111    1985"

Source Document: Minutes of CNA General Staff Chiefs' Committee 8 March 
1973:

"...CoS Army reported that diplomatic efforts were ongoing to establish 
the status of the nearly 2000 troops still missing on Puerto Rico after Op 
FAST BOWLER. Reconnaissance overflights had suggested the construction of 
camps in the uplands behind San Juan was ongoing; analysis of imagery 
gives a theoretical maximum capacity of all guarded camps combined of 
under 1000."

Source Document: Georgia Examiner, 30 January 1973. Page 1 Headline:

"TOP GENERAL SHOOTS SELF, "COULD NOT LIVE WITH SHAME"

[1] FAST BOWLER was the all-arms operation, involving the Royal 
Confederation Navy, the Confederation Army and the Royal Confederation Air 
Force, to seize and destroy the German missile site on Puerto Rico. H-P 
was one of the British Observing Officers, from all arms, attached to the 
CNA forces as an adviser and observer. At the time of FAST BOWLER, he was 
serving as an integree in 1st Regiment, RCMC, as the Second-in-Command of 
the Regiment.

[2] H-P, together with a group of other observing officers and a small 
communications team, was the Ground Forces Observing Officer. This small 
team, of no more than 20 officers and men, between them gained 3 CSCs, 5 
Military Medals and 20 Mentions-in-Despatches, plus an award of the 
Confederation Cross to H-P himself, for their actions during FAST BOWLER.

[3] FAST BOWLER GREEN was the ground forces component of FAST BOWLER.

[4] 1st Regiment, Royal Confederation Marine Corps - 1st, 2nd and 3rd 
Battalions, each of approximately 800 men, plus an artillery battery, an 
anti-armour battery and an engineer company. 2nd Regiment identical.

[5] 14th (Assault) Battalion, The Royal Vandalian Regiment (Fallscreen) - 
analogous to OTL parachute battalion, roughly 700 light infantry with 
limited anti-armour capability.

[6] 1st Battalion, the American Regiment - mechanised infantry, equipped 
with the wheeled Wolfhound armoured personnel carrier (think OTL BTR-60). 
800 men, organic anti-armour capability.

[7] 3rd Regiment, Tarleton's Legion - light armoured locomobile unit (OTL 
US battalion strength) - 60 Coyote wheeled AFVs (65mm cannon + 2 11.2mm 
HMGs)

[8] 2nd Field Regiment, Royal Confederation Artillery - 24 109mm towed 
gun/howitzers

[9] 1st Regiment, Royal Confederation Horse Artillery - 18
self-propelled (on Wolfhound chassis) 109mm gun/howitzers

[10] 600th Provisional Battalion - 350 or so Spanish-speaking 
Confederation troops, hurriedly trained to a covert role as "insurgents". 
The first part of the plan was that these should assault the German 
missile site and thus give some cover for the CNA assault under the 
pretext of restoring order and preventing the capture of nuclear weapons 
by "terrorists". This element of the plan failed first.

[11] GREEN - Coverterm for German Army. 77 Infantry Regiment was a 
full-strength Category 1 unit, consisting of three mechanised infantry 
battalions, each of 900 men, in Brummbaer tracked APCs, with an organic 
artillery battalion of 16 120mm howitzers and an armoured company of 12 
Einhorn AFVs. The CNA intelligence appreciation substantially underrated 
this fine unit, assessing it as being an understrength and scratch 
two-battalion "leg" infantry unit.

[12] BROWN - Coverterm for Boricuan "Loyalist Army". 611 Mech Bn was a 
composite unit of two mechanised rifle companies in German-supplied 
Brummbaer APCs, an armoured company equipped with the Lancero wheeled AFV.

[13] Task Force CORNWALLIS - Capital ships included the assault landing 
ships HMCS Crocodile, Alligator, Caiman and Gharial, the airmobile 
carriers HMCS Burgoyne, Philadelphia and Albany and the battleships HMCS 
Raleigh, Drake and Grenville.