Was General Montgomery really overrated in WW2? - Page 15




 
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April 1st, 2005  
Young Winston
 
 
Monty's big problem after November 4th, 1942 was that he was too over cautious.

He was terrified that Rommel was going to turn around and "bite him" even though Monty had overwhelming firepower and resources compared to Rommel.

Blaming the weather on November 7th was a cop out. A very poor excuse. The die had already been cast before the 7th.
April 24th, 2005  
Strongbow
 
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by redcoat
Quote:
Originally Posted by Strongbow
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Originally Posted by redcoat
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Originally Posted by Strongbow
Axis forces in Africa were made up of about 10% German around the time of Al Alamein.
Nonsense.
The Axis forces at El Alamein consisted of 200 German and 300 Italian tanks, and 53,000 German and 55,000 Italian troops.
Well redcoat!! I'm going to take back the "50%" and give you just 34%.

This is from "Hitler" by Norman Stone. p.186 paperback edition.

[[b]By mid-October, Montgomery had assembled enormous weight. He attacked the El Alamein lines on 23 October, with 230,000 men to 80,000 (27,000 Germans), 1440 tanks to 540 (260 German) and, 1500 aircraft to 350.
Sorry, but my figures are from the book.
'Pendulum Of War, The Three Battles of El Alamein' by Niall Barr. (a book about the actual battle, not a study of AH)

For the 23th October 1942
His figures are;
British Commonwealth forces.
220,476 troops

1,029 serviceable tanks (170 Grants, 252 Shermans, 216 Crusader II's, 78 Crusader III's, 119 Stuarts, 194 Valentines)

Artillery 892 guns

A/T guns 1,451.

Axis Forces
108,000 troops (53,736 German)

548 serviceable tanks (249 German- 31 Mk II's, 85 Mk III's, 88 Mk III Special's, 8 Mk IV's, 30 IV Special's)

Artillery 552 guns

A/T guns 1,063.





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The British Grant tanks were supplemented by Shermans that the Germans could knock out only at very close range.
I suppose over 2000 meters is very close range for an '88'
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The book goes on to describe how Monty used a battle of attrition to wear Rommel down.
This is often claimed for Monty, however its not correct. The battles Monty fought were in Rommels own words 'battles of Material'. Monty used his overwelming firepower, not brute numbers. to wear down the enemy. In fact Monty is famous for his caution when it came to risking the men under his command.

Quote:
It was hardly an even fight.
A good general always makes sure it isn't.

war isn't a video game
This just to add to the record.

Following figures are from Alamein by Stephen Bungay (June 2002)


50,000 German & 54,000 Italian (104,000 in total).

500 tanks (206 German & 279 Italian)

8th Army (195,000 men)

900 tanks & 2300 guns.

Most of these men were involved in logistics.

The front line soldiers were, 8th Army- 86 battalions (60000 men).

The Axis- 70 battalions (42 Italian & 28 German all up about 45,000 men)

The ratios 8th Army to Axis were 2:1 equipment and 4:3 fighting men.
April 24th, 2005  
melkor the first
 

Topic: Overrated by who?


The mark of a great general is not invinceability or we would not include any German Generals at all, so it is not just the results of the battles fought that are used to find the measure of the great commanders. I've seen Max Hastings' Overlord mentioned butI want to quote Armageddon by the same author "He possessed a shrewd understanding of what could,and could not be realistically demanded of a British citizen army.But he had done nothing on the battlefield to suggest that his talents,or indeed those of his troops, deserved eulogy. The British had fought workmanlike campaigns in North Africa, Italy and France since their victory at El Alamein in November 1942. But their generals had nowhere shown the genius displayed by Germany's commanders in France in 1940, and in many battles since(p26-7)". Montgomery has been regarded as the masterof the set-piece battle but I don't believe that holds up to scrutiny as much as Monty's defenders like to believe. His initial plan at El Alamein failed and he had to alter it (something which he was loath to admit- his battles ALWAYS went just as he planned) and the Normandy campaign was only made a successs by Bradley's breakout- not his plan. The strange inertia of the British troops who failed to capture Caen on day one- one of the key objectives- continued through the disaster of GOODWOOd and later throgh the failure to capture the Scheldt which led to MARKET-GARDEN. There can be a tendency to under-rate a general who was tended to plod and win through less than brilliant campaigning. Hastings observes that Monty's troops loved him because he did not demand of them the sacrifices that Zhukov did. It is fairly clearthat the British Army of 1944-5 was not the force that history has left us, nor could it be. This country had been bled white during the first world war and had been fighting since 1940 (well, 1939, but let's be serious).Monty's single thrust idea was ludicrous if anyone really believed that he should have led it(Liddell-Hart thought it a good idea but that Patton should have commanded). Monty was the best of the ETO British commanders and should probabaly be rated as highly as Zhukov who afterall won through attrition and overwhelming strength and had his own MARKET-GARDEN , but worse by far, in OPERATION MARS. My personal feeling about El lamein has been that,although saddled with air superiority. supplies, a numerically inferior foe and overwhelming superiority in armor as well as intelligence and fuel, Monty was still able to pull out a victory.(Oh, yeah, his main opponent wasn't there either.JWC
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April 30th, 2005  
Young Winston
 
 

Topic: Re: Overrated by who?


Quote:
Originally Posted by melkor the first
The mark of a great general is not invinceability or we would not include any German Generals at all, so it is not just the results of the battles fought that are used to find the measure of the great commanders. I've seen Max Hastings' Overlord mentioned butI want to quote Armageddon by the same author "He possessed a shrewd understanding of what could,and could not be realistically demanded of a British citizen army.But he had done nothing on the battlefield to suggest that his talents,or indeed those of his troops, deserved eulogy. The British had fought workmanlike campaigns in North Africa, Italy and France since their victory at El Alamein in November 1942. But their generals had nowhere shown the genius displayed by Germany's commanders in France in 1940, and in many battles since(p26-7)". Montgomery has been regarded as the masterof the set-piece battle but I don't believe that holds up to scrutiny as much as Monty's defenders like to believe. His initial plan at El Alamein failed and he had to alter it (something which he was loath to admit- his battles ALWAYS went just as he planned) and the Normandy campaign was only made a successs by Bradley's breakout- not his plan. The strange inertia of the British troops who failed to capture Caen on day one- one of the key objectives- continued through the disaster of GOODWOOd and later throgh the failure to capture the Scheldt which led to MARKET-GARDEN. There can be a tendency to under-rate a general who was tended to plod and win through less than brilliant campaigning. Hastings observes that Monty's troops loved him because he did not demand of them the sacrifices that Zhukov did. It is fairly clearthat the British Army of 1944-5 was not the force that history has left us, nor could it be. This country had been bled white during the first world war and had been fighting since 1940 (well, 1939, but let's be serious).Monty's single thrust idea was ludicrous if anyone really believed that he should have led it(Liddell-Hart thought it a good idea but that Patton should have commanded). Monty was the best of the ETO British commanders and should probabaly be rated as highly as Zhukov who afterall won through attrition and overwhelming strength and had his own MARKET-GARDEN , but worse by far, in OPERATION MARS. My personal feeling about El lamein has been that,although saddled with air superiority. supplies, a numerically inferior foe and overwhelming superiority in armor as well as intelligence and fuel, Monty was still able to pull out a victory.(Oh, yeah, his main opponent wasn't there either.JWC
Monty kept his "balance" during the El Alamein battle. The Axis were crumbled away as Monty put it. His performance after November 7th, 1942 was "very ordinary".

A positive point we could say about Caen was that Monty kept the weight of the main German Armour away from the Americans while they were building up towards the breakout, Operation Cobra.
April 30th, 2005  
Sea_Cadet
 
My two cents: Yes he was absorbed with his own legend, as was Patton, but Patton was not a politicion, Montgomery was.
May 1st, 2005  
redcoat
 
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sea_Cadet
My two cents: Yes he was absorbed with his own legend, as was Patton, but Patton was not a politicion, Montgomery was.
No.
Monty was a professional soldier, at no point did he ever serve or seek a political role.
May 1st, 2005  
redcoat
 
 

Topic: Re: Overrated by who?


Quote:
Originally Posted by melkor the first
and the Normandy campaign was only made a successs by Bradley's breakout- not his plan.
Operation Goodwood wasn't Montys plan either, but he gets the blame for it because he was the Allied Ground Commander, just like he should get a least some of the credit for Cobra, as he was still Bradleys boss at the time as well.

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.Monty's single thrust idea was ludicrous if anyone really believed that he should have led it(Liddell-Hart thought it a good idea but that Patton should have commanded).
Monty believed in the single thrust so much, that he stated that it should be undertaken even if Bradley or Patton was commanding it.
May 1st, 2005  
Strongbow
 
 

Topic: Re: Overrated by who?


Quote:
Originally Posted by redcoat
Quote:
Originally Posted by melkor the first
and the Normandy campaign was only made a successs by Bradley's breakout- not his plan.
Operation Goodwood wasn't Montys plan either, but he gets the blame for it because he was the Allied Ground Commander, just like he should get a least some of the credit for Cobra, as he was still Bradleys boss at the time as well.

Quote:
.Monty's single thrust idea was ludicrous if anyone really believed that he should have led it(Liddell-Hart thought it a good idea but that Patton should have commanded).
Monty believed in the single thrust so much, that he stated that it should be undertaken even if Bradley or Patton was commanding it.
Yes, very good points redcoat. I am sure aussiejohn would agree as well.
May 3rd, 2005  
melkor the first
 

Topic: Goodwood


The initial plan was Lt Gen Dempsey's but Monty bought into it, ovesaw it, sold it to Ike and Churchill and changed some of the directives.There is little to mitigate Monty's involvement and actually doing so sounds more like Monty himself.As the commander of the Allied forces in France, Monty conducted a campaign that was ultimately successful, even beating its own deadlines for clearing France of the German Army.
The big however in this is that the forces under the British command(Monty)failed signally in several offences and while they tied down German forces, the plans were to do more than wasaccomplished. There is no question that Monty sold Goodwood as a plan to break out ti Ike and in paricular the Air Chiefs. The resulting furor among the Allied commanders demonstrstes just what the plan was meant to do, not what Monty claimed. Best JWC
May 4th, 2005  
redcoat
 
 

Topic: Re: Goodwood


Quote:
Originally Posted by melkor the first
. There is no question that Monty sold Goodwood as a plan to break out ti Ike and in paricular the Air Chiefs. The resulting furor among the Allied commanders demonstrstes just what the plan was meant to do, not what Monty claimed. Best JWC
While Monty may have 'oversold' Operation Goodwood, there is no evidence that he claimed it was the planned break-out.

Here's a post I found on the Axis History Forum by a US poster Richto90 which h covers the facts about Goodwood far better than I could.

The myth that GOODWOOD was intended by Montty to be a "strategic breakthrough" first started a few days later and originated with AEAF commander Air Chief Marshal Sir Trafford Leigh-Mallory, a bitter enemy of Montgomery. All "sources" that parrot this nonesense usually use Leigh-Mallory (or the other Monty-basher in the RAF and SHAEF, Air Chief Marshal Sir Artheur Tedder) as a starting point for their disinformation.

Here's Monty's instructions to 2nd Army before Operation Goodwood:

"Notes on Second Army Operations
16th July-18th July

1. Object of this operation.
To engage the German armour in battle and 'write it down' to such an extent that it is of no further value to the Germans as a basis of the battle.
To gain a good bridgehead over the River Orne through Caen, and thus improve our positions on the eastern flank.
Generally to destroy German equipment and personnel.
2. Affect of this operation on Allied policy.
We require the whole of the Cherbourg and Brittany peninsulas.
A victory on the eastern flank will help us to gain what we want on the western flank.
But the eastern flank is a bastion on which the whole future of the campaign in North West Europe depends; it must remain a firm bastion; if it became unstable the operations on the western flank would cease.
Therefore, while taking advantage of every opportunity to destroy the enemy, we must be very careful to maintain our own balance and ensure a firm base.
3. The enemy.
There are a lot of enemy divisions in the area south-east of Caen:
21 Panzer Division 16 GAF Field Division
1 SS Panzer Division 272 Infantry Division
12 SS Panzer Division
Another one [116 Panzer Division] is coming and will be here this week-end.
4. Operations of 12 Corps and Canadian Corps - 16th and 17th July.
Advantage must be taken of these to make the Germans think we are going to break out across the Orne between Caen and Amaye.
5. Initial Operations 8 Corps.
The three armoured divisions will be required to dominate the area Bourgebus-Vimont-Bretteville, and to fight and destroy the enemy.
But armoured cars should push far to the south towards Falaise, and spread alarm and dsepondency, and discover 'the form.'
6. 2 Canadian Corps.
While para 5 is going on, the Canadians must capture Vaucelles, get through communications and establish themselves in a very firm bridgehead on the general line Fleury-Cormelles-Mondeville.
7. Later Operations 8 Corps.
When 6 is done, then 8 Corps can 'crack about' as the situation demands.
But not before 6 is done.
8. To sum up for 8 Corps.
Para 5.
Para 7.
Finally.
Para 6 is vital.

B.L. Montgomery
15-7-44"

Paragraph 1 is quite clear, nowhere is the idea of a "strategic breakout" bruted about. What is also noticeable is that GOODWOOD itself is actually embodied in paragraph 5, which also does not mention a "strategic breakout" - armoured cars "pushing south" hardly constitutes such a plan. Note also that paragraph 7 - the "cracking about" by 8 Corps - which is the only element that can even be possibly construed as a condoning an attempt at "strategic breakout" is actually only to occur once paragraph 6 is accomplished. That is important in that paragraph 6 actually describes operation ATLANTIC, the follow-on to GOODWOOD. And it was setbacks in that operation - not GOODWOOD that cancelled the "strategic" elements embodied in such vague form in paragraph 7.

Was the possibility that GOODWOOD could result in a "strategic breakthrough" considered? Yes. Was it counted on to do so? No