Was General Montgomery really overrated in WW2? - Page 16




 
--
 
May 4th, 2005  
redcoat
 
 
Here's a follow on post by richto90 that maybe of interest:

Montgomery orders to Second Army and in turn the orders from Second Army to 8 Corps and the 8 Corps operational plan make it very clear that GOODWOOD was never intended to be a "strategic breakout."

Second, the 11th Armoured Division did not suffer "huge" losses. Its losses on 18 July were actually recorded as 333 men, a rate of 2.3 percent-per-day, not inconsiderable, but certainly not "huge" (GD Pz-Div suffered greater numerical losses during the battle of Kursk on three of the first five days of the battle and much higher rates have been suffered by division-size forces on many occasions). Tank "losses" were higher, with only 137 operational at last light on 18 July as compared to 296 the preivous evening, but replacement tanks were readily available. By last light on 20 July the division had 178 operational and 269 by 28 July. Neither were losses in the total force committed to GOODWOOD excessive by standards of the day.To summarize, UK forces began with approximately 139,000 men, 1,369 tanks, and at least 732 artillery pieces. Losses were 4,120 men (2.97%) (844 KIA, 2,951 WIA, 325 MIA) and 493 tanks (35%). But only 361 of the tanks were "knocked out" - that is, they were either written off or were so damaged as to require long-term repair, 132 were damaged - that is, they required less than 24 hours for repair. At the end of the battle tank strength was 1,047.

Third, the objective of the 11th AD was not "Falaise" it was - initially - the line Bras-Rocquancourt-Beauvoir Ferme. Neither was the 8 Corps or GOODWOOD objective "Falaise." The actual objectives were given as:

"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."

At 0300 hours 16 July the 8 Corps Operations instruction was issued. The intention laid down in the instruction was:

"On 18th July, 8 Corps will debouch from the existing bridgehead east of the River Orne with a view to:
(a) Dominating the area Bourgebus-Vimont-Bretteville-sur-Laize.
(b) Destroying any enemy armour or other forces encountered en route to this area.
(c) If conditions are favourable, subsequently exploiting to the south."

On 17 July Dempsey issued the following summary to all of his corps commanders:

"Second Army Operations
Commencing on 18th July
....
4. 8 Corps will establish armoured divisions in the areas:
(a) Vimont
(b) Garcelles-Secqueville
(c) Hubert-Folie-Verrieres.
The task of these three divisions will be to get their main bodies so established that there can be no enemy penetration through the ring, to destroy all enemy troop concentrations and installations in the area; to defeat enemy armour which may be brought against them.
Vigorous patrolling and exploitation will be carried out to the east and south-east to the line of the Dives-to the south in the direction of Falaise-to the south-west as far as the River Orne at Thury Harcourt.
Main bodies of the three divisions will not be moved from areas (a), (b) and (c) without reference to me."

It may be fairly asked if those objectives were met. In general, the answer would be - with a few exceptions - yes. Most of the objectives on the ground were reached by the end of the operation and all German counterattacks were either repulsed or contained. And in its primary purpose of "writing down" German armor and strength in general, the objective was most definitely achieved. Overall German forces engaged may be estimated as about 79,750 men, 325 tanks, assault guns, and SP AT, and 291artillery pieces (not including infantry guns), 160 heavy Pak (including at least 51 8.8cm Pak 43/41), 56 8.8cm Flak (note that the generally accepted "144" 88's on Bourgebuis Ridge may include both the Pak 43/41 and an exaggeration), and about 230 Nebelwerfer.

Fragmentary loss reports indicate that total German losses were about 6,500 men (8.15%), 86 tanks, assault guns, and SP AT (26.5%), and at least 72 Nebelwerfer, Pak, and artillery pieces (9.77%). So German personnel losses in both numerical and percentage terms were greater than the British, while the percentage losses in armored vehicles "knocked out" were probably about the same. And, unlike the British losses, it appears that almost none of the German personnel or equipment losses were replaced before the Germans began their withdrawal from Normandy.

Was it a British "victory"? Tactically at least in a very narrow sense - no. Operationally and strategically - yes. Did Rommel have much to do with it - yes, in the sense he directed the forces to be concentrated there, which was pretty much a "no brainer." But the German tactical success was a product of good terrain, a sensible and efficient defensive doctrine and high quality equipment rather than Rommel's influence.

Thanks to richto90
May 5th, 2005  
melkor the first
 

Topic: Goodwod(AGAIN)


Carlo D'Este 'Decision in Normandy' p.362"..SHAEF'f optimism was intensified by the receipt of Dempsey's operational order on July 13, which assigned the following tasks to 8 Corps -On 18 July will cross R. Orne North of Caen, attack southwards and establish an Armd. Div. in each of the following areas:-BRETTEVILLE SUR LAIZE-VIMONT-ARGENCES-FALAISE." On July 15, Montgomery went to O'Connor's HQ and wrote out a personal directive which changed theobjective to establishing all # armored divisions inthe area of the first 3 mentioned and Falaise not mentioned except for armored cars to push south. This new directive wasconfined to those involved and a copy destined for SHAEF never arrived. Later D'Este write that there were only 2 copies of this order(p391),one given to Dempsey and Monty kept the other. BUT(p399 fn)Monty on July 14 sent Brooke a letter in which he wrote:The time has now arrived to deliver terific blows,designed to "write off" and eliminate the bulk of his holding troops. I doubt if can collectmore troops to write us off again in the west, and it is in the west that I want territory,i.e. I want Brittany...The general aim in this battle will be to destroy all possible enemy troops in the general area Caen-Mezidon-Falaise-Evrecy". He appended a map which showed the Desert Rats as having seized Falaise. D'Este notes "despite his change of heart barely twenty-four hours later, Montgomery left Brooke in no doubt whatsoever that his territorial aim for Goodwood was Falaise. The operational orders sem to be limited so that there was a plausible deniability if the long awaited breakthrough did not come(If it came ,the orders left room for that). Despite his protests that his strategy was too subtle for Ike, it seems that no one misunderstood what he intended and did not deliver. Best JWC(
May 5th, 2005  
Shaan14
 
he was a good general but h may have been overrated somehwat
--
May 27th, 2005  
Lord Londonderry
 
Monty seems to have got a lot of the blame for problems that happened during the Normandy campaign. Not all of it was fair.
June 10th, 2005  
Young Winston
 
 
Yes, I agree.

The Americans have been critical of Monty. Some of it was justified.

He had his faults but didn't most military leaders?
June 20th, 2005  
Ashes
 
Is Monty overated?

He was one of the most inspirational military commanders of World War Two,
and his defeat of the Germans at El Alamein, was the first they had experienced.

Winning the battle of El Alamein and driving the Germans 2,000 miles across Africa into Tunisia the allies were eventually able to destroy 320,000 Axis troops and to bag 275,000 of them in Algeria and use North Africa as a springboard to successfully invade Sicily and Italy.
Winston Churchill was convinced that the battle of El Alamein marked the turning point in the war, as he said later [perhaps exaggerating slightly]

"Before Alamein we never had a victory, after Alamein we never had a defeat."


He helped formulate the invasion plan for France, and in the Normandy campaign and he was supreme field commander of all ground forces until Aug., 1944, And his taking on the main bulk of the German Panzer forces at Caen, enabled the American Twelfth Army Group to breakout from Normandy and move deeply into France.

Then pushing through the low countries, Montgomery’s 21st Army Group crossed the River Rhine on March 24th 1945. He accepted the formal surrender of the German military at Luneburg Heath on May 4th 1945.

I cant think of any other British or American commander, [with the possible exception of Patton] with as good a Resume as his. Among the Allied forces it would be just the Russian commanders like Zhukov and Vasilevsky winning the huge battles like Stalingrad, Kursk, Bagration and Berlin that could be placed ahead of him.

He is said to have made this quote after the American involvement in Vietnam........

"The U.S. has broken the second rule of war. That is, don't go fighting with your land army on the mainland of Asia. Rule One is don't march on Moscow. I developed these two rules myself."


Wise man.
June 20th, 2005  
Charge 7
 
 
He also wrote a book of memoirs in which he claimed to have single-handedly have won the war in Europe himself. After that none of his former colleagues among the Americans and more than a few of the British, would ever talk to him again. Not that wise a man.
June 20th, 2005  
Doppleganger
 
 
I don't know if I could ever call Monty 'inspirational'. He was a solid, competent commander who tended to err on the side of caution. He did not give the impression of ever totally understanding the role and breakthrough ability of armoured spearheads for example.

As for the comments he made about his two rules of war, they hardly transform Monty into some kind of latter-day Sun Tze. The first one being bloody obvious (in hindsight) and the second one meaningless unless it was taken out of context.

For the record, the first defeat the Germans experienced was at the gates of Moscow, not El Alamein. Monty never faced the core strength of the Wehrmacht, namely its Panzerarmees with Luftwaffe CAS, on anything like equal terms. The Western German Army he faced in 1944 was gutted, desperately short on trained manpower, had almost no mobility and virtually no air cover or CAS. I wonder how well he would have done had Monty been in charge of a Red Army Front on the Ostfront, facing the best legions of the Wehrmacht. Not so well I'm thinking.

I've not read the book that Charge mentioned but if he truly claimed that he won the war in Europe single-handedly then not only a man who has an inflated view of himself in world history, but also a misguided and arrogant one too.
June 22nd, 2005  
Ashes
 
Charge wrote_____________________________________________ ___________________________________

He also wrote a book of memoirs in which he claimed to have single-handedly have won the war in Europe himself. After that none of his former colleagues among the Americans and more than a few of the British, would ever talk to him again. Not that wise a man.
__________________________________________________ __________________________________________


Gee Charge, I dont think Monty would have given two hoots about getting a few American and fellow Brits noses out of joint.
Unlike you I haven't read his memoirs, but in the few [ memoirs ] that I have read, they always seem to put themselves in the best possible light, and blame others for any failures, [ both Axis and Allies ] which is just human nature I guess.

But I think Monty's record speaks for itself.




************************************************** *******************




Doppleganger wrote __________________________________________________ _______________________

I don't know if I could ever call Monty 'inspirational'. He was a solid, competent commander who tended to err on the side of caution. He did not give the impression of ever totally understanding the role and breakthrough ability of armoured spearheads for example.
__________________________________________________ __________________________________________

You tell that to the men of the 8th army.
He took a beaten and dispirited army, and gave it self belief, turning it in to a winning unit. Unlike many senior officers of the day, he went out of his way to meet the soldiers under his command. He lived a lifestyle that was not typical of a general, putting his mens well being first.

He just calmly went about the job of defeating the Germans and winning the war.


Doppleganger wrote __________________________________________________ _______________________

As for the comments he made about his two rules of war, they hardly transform Monty into some kind of latter-day Sun Tze. The first one being bloody obvious (in hindsight) and the second one meaningless unless it was taken out of context.
__________________________________________________ __________________________________________


Don't know if anyone was saying it made him a genius, but they were both good rules.


Doppleganger wrote __________________________________________________ _______________________

For the record, the first defeat the Germans experienced was at the gates of Moscow, not El Alamein.
__________________________________________________ __________________________________________



I think Churchill meant the British army.
And I believe the the Battle of Britain was Germanys first defeat.


Doppleganger wrote __________________________________________________ _______________________

I wonder how well he would have done had Monty been in charge of a Red Army Front on the Ostfront, facing the best legions of the Wehrmacht. Not so well I'm thinking.
__________________________________________________ __________________________________________

Well we're getting into the realms of hypotheticals here again, but if Zhukov, Vasilevsky, Chuikov, Vatutin ect.ect. could beat the best legions of the Wehmacht, I think Monty may have been able to as well.
But of course, we'll never know for sure will we?


Doppleganger wrote __________________________________________________ _______________________

I've not read the book that Charge mentioned but if he truly claimed that he won the war in Europe single-handedly then not only a man who has an inflated view of himself in world history, but also a misguided and arrogant one too.
__________________________________________________ __________________________________________


As I mentioned in answering Charge, i've never read it either, so I guess we'd have to see some quotes from it to see where he says that he "single-handedly" won the war in Europe.

I know Monty didn't beat around the bush with some of his claims, but that seems somewhat of an exaggeration.
And of course many of the commanders exaggerated their own exploits, and overestimated the numbers against them, as well as shifting blame to others for their mistakes, both Axis and allied commanders.

Summing up, Monty simply did what he had to do, which was to continually beat the Germans and help win the war.
June 22nd, 2005  
Doppleganger
 
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ashes
Doppleganger wrote __________________________________________________ _______________________

I don't know if I could ever call Monty 'inspirational'. He was a solid, competent commander who tended to err on the side of caution. He did not give the impression of ever totally understanding the role and breakthrough ability of armoured spearheads for example.
__________________________________________________ __________________________________________

You tell that to the men of the 8th army.
He took a beaten and dispirited army, and gave it self belief, turning it in to a winning unit. Unlike many senior officers of the day, he went out of his way to meet the soldiers under his command. He lived a lifestyle that was not typical of a general, putting his mens well being first.

He just calmly went about the job of defeating the Germans and winning the war.
One thing that Monty did do very well was to be concerned for the welfare of his men. Perhaps this explains some of his cautiousness for which he is to be applauded. However, the fact remains that as a commander he was solid rather than inspirational and he did not appear to fully understand how to exploit the use of armour.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ashes
Doppleganger wrote __________________________________________________ _______________________

For the record, the first defeat the Germans experienced was at the gates of Moscow, not El Alamein.
__________________________________________________ __________________________________________


I think Churchill meant the British army.
And I believe the the Battle of Britain was Germanys first defeat.
I was referring to Germany's first defeat of her armies, which were more significant than the Battle of Britain for the future outcome of the war. Technically, Germany's first defeat was suffered at the Battle of the River Plate (I believe) but I think it really doesn't matter for the debate at hand.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ashes
Doppleganger wrote __________________________________________________ _______________________

I wonder how well he would have done had Monty been in charge of a Red Army Front on the Ostfront, facing the best legions of the Wehrmacht. Not so well I'm thinking.
__________________________________________________ __________________________________________

Well we're getting into the realms of hypotheticals here again, but if Zhukov, Vasilevsky, Chuikov, Vatutin ect.ect. could beat the best legions of the Wehmacht, I think Monty may have been able to as well.
But of course, we'll never know for sure will we?
Yes, they did, but only when the odds were stacked heavily in their favour and because mistakes by both the German General Staff and Hitler meant that the Germans misused the forces they had at hand. I don't think Monty was as daring as most of the commanders you mentioned and undoubtedly most were far more attuned to fast-paced mobile warfare than Monty was.

Monty in many ways harked back to the WW1 school of Generals. Had he faced the Wehrmacht on even terms he would have been out-maneuvered, out-generaled and out-fought. Monty was fortunate that as a commander he enjoyed material, logistical and air superiority over his protagonist. Generally, he used those well but in the light of the nature of his advantages and the nature of the gutted opponent he faced in 1944 I must agree he was overrated. But, then again, so are many of the other senior commanders of the Western Allies. We as victors of WW2 were able to somewhat write the history of what happened. We've given ourselves too much credit and given the Soviet Union not enough for winning WW2 in Europe.