Loyalty among senior officers involved in TIDAL WAVE turns out to be a major part of the story, based on what I’ve uncovered during my research. I urge you to read the article at the link below to get a similar story that you’ll be able to relate back to TIDAL WAVE when you see my documentary.
If you personally have served as a military officer in any service in any country you’ll know instantly what I’m talking about because this loyalty has always existed everywhere men fight and you’ll have observed it or even been involved . . . for good or not. At a certain point it’s simply not avoidable. If you’ve served in an enlisted capacity you’ll also have a clear sense of what this is and what it means, especially because the same kind of loyalty has always existed everywhere at the non-officer levels too.
An obviously strong tendency is for troops to respect and even venerate their commander. If you’ve been around long enough, and/or experienced or read enough military history, you will have noticed this loyalty often tends to increase over time. Patton is a great example. While he commanded the Third Army he was frequently not loved and even hated by men under his command. But in the years after the war it was unusual to find a Third Army veteran who described “Old Blood & Guts” Patton in anything less than reverential terms.
It is nearly universal for senior officers to avoid publicly criticizing their commanders and peers. What’s said behind closed doors is another thing entirely. General Jacob Smart’s son recalls that whenever his dad’s fellow TIDAL WAVE participants visited they retreated behind closed doors and did not discuss the mission in front of him or other non-senior participants or outsiders. When General Leon Johnson personally told me “what really happened at Ploesti” (his exact words) when he was long retired and I was an Air Force captain researching TIDAL WAVE and the 44th Bomb Group, he did so only after making me promise I would not reveal what he said until after he had passed away.
Yeah, yeah, there’s always open warfare like the public fights between Montgomery and Patton, but it should be easy to see their professional relationship was entirely different from, for example, the relationship between the senior officers involved in TIDAL WAVE (from Gen George Marshall all the way down to the individual bomb group commanders).
You can always chalk public criticism up to “sour grapes,” and you’ll form your own opinion when you read the article linked below. This is as it should be.
I strongly recommend you read this article, entitled “Officer breaks rank over the Battle of Crete,” to get a sense of how loyalty among senior officers worked back then, and before that, and certainly even today. If this is new information to you I think it will quite revealing and maybe even stunning. If you’re already clear on the phenomenon I think you’ll find it a breath of fresh air.