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A rather critical article on Monty.

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by lwd, May 30, 2018.

  1. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    I have never been a fan of Montgomery but in recent years have come to appreciate him and his approach to things much better than I did a few decades ago. I just ran across an article about him in the Armor Magazine linked below. From reading just the first few lines it is very negative and perhaps overly so. I'm wondering what the rest of you think about it.

    http://www.benning.army.mil/armor/eARMOR/content/issues/1992/MAY_JUN/ArmorMayJune1992web.pdf


    Moerators if you thing there's a better place for this PLS move it there.
     
  2. harolds

    harolds Member

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    While I don't think that many of the things the author of this article said were wrong, I do think it was very one-sided. Monty had his strong-points too, such as training, organization, and inspiring his troops. All generals have their strengths and weaknesses including Patton, Rommel, Eisenhower, etc. It's just that with Monty, what he did well, he did very well, while his weaknesses were equally glaring. Also remember, that his article was written from an armored officers perspective.
     
  3. RichTO90

    RichTO90 Well-Known Member

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    When he started describing Montgomery changing the plan for JUBILEE is when I stopped reading. JUBILEE was an adaptation of RUTTER and its planning was the responsibility of McNaughton and Crerar. For RUTTER, the British Chiefs of Staff were presented with two options: the direct assault on the town or the flanking operation mentioned by Mr. Craig in his article. It was the Chiefs of Staff who decided on the first option, not Montgomery. In any case, the flanking option was simply an enlargement of the actual flanking landings, plus armor, on the beaches at Puys and Pourville, neither of which was more successful than the main attack. Nor is there any reason to believe that simply landing tanks there would have changed much, both flanking beaches were dominated by high ground, the beaches were tiny and steep, although not as shingled as at the port, while the River Scie ran to the sea between the Pourville beach and the port.

    All in all, a pretty good example of what happens when you write your conclusion and then do the research to support it.
     
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  4. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    The initial language seemed very .. intemperate. I don't know enough of the particulars to be certain so wanted a more knowledgeable read on it. As I said above I'm still not a fan of Monty but I also think in many ways he did the job that the British needed him to do at the time.
     
  5. JJWilson

    JJWilson Well-Known Member

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    Your last sentence there sums up my feelings on Monty perfectly, I do agree that the article was a little over the top in criticism at points and was most certainly one sided, but the criticism is deserved. When I was a kid, I thought highly of Monty because of his victories in North Africa and his genuine leadership qualities, but once I watched a A Bridge Too Far, and learned more about Monty's involvement and stupid comment saying Market Garden was "90% successful", the admiration abruptly ended. The same goes for Churchill in my mind, he was what the U.K and commonwealth needed, but there are many times and moments he had in WW2 that seriously lower my respect and liking towards him.
     
  6. RichTO90

    RichTO90 Well-Known Member

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    Okay, so I'll go through the rest.

    Luck regarding the halt order at Dunkirk is nonsense...he wasn't there (7. Panzer Division was between Arras and Lille 25-31 May) and he had little or no idea what the conditions were for an attacker or defender at Dunkirk. Pretty much the entire second paragraph is rubbish.

    I covered his nonsense regarding Dieppe, so lets move to the next section and North Africa. There, he first rightly praises the Auk, been then seems to infer that the Auk's relief was in order to put Monty in his place, which is also nonsense - Monty was an afterthought, chosen after the successor first chosen by Churchill and Brooke, Gott, died in a plane crash. :rolleyes:

    He then criticizes Monty as a "typical staff officer from the First World War"...whatever that might be. Note Monty's first stint in the war was as a platoon commander until wounded on 13 October 1914. He then became brigade major of the 112th and then 104th Brigade, which made him roughly equivalent to an American regimental S2/S3, although in the British system he also supervised the brigade adjutant (S1) and supply officer (S4). Then in 1916 he became a divisional and corps GSO. Why exactly all that is bad is apparently covered by "he was an advocate of set-piece battle and attrition warfare", which of course was exactly the point...Craig's effusive praise of the Auk's tactical innovation where he supposedly "abandoned the traditional format of infantry forward with armor in support to one of armor and “lorried infantry attacking together in tandem" is utter rot. It simply ignores that the fault was with the organization, training, and doctrine rather than the way the commanding generals were employing the troops. The lorried infantry brigade was an organizational change to the armoured division beginning in February 1942, but Auk's idea of operating the armour lorried infantry brigade in tandem was never successfully employed until late July and early August 1944. Monty realized the army he had was simply incapable of such sophistication in the fall of 1942...and he was right.

    Oh, boo hoo, the 2d Battle of Alamein resulted in 13,500 Commonwealth casualties. First, let's never mind that Craig seems to think the battle lasted from October 1942 to May 1943, before later correcting himself to "11 days". The casualties for the battle, which extended to 4 November, were actually 14,970...less than half those of his German and Italian opponents. He also lost 150 tanks...his opponents 597. He lost two artillery pieces. His opponent at least 1,000. The problem with critics of attrition is they often simply refuse to understand that attrition works.Craig's numbers on the battle are simple farcical. The British had 1,064 tanks (324 light) and lost 150 of them. The German-Italian Army had 613 (50 light) not "200". It's also notable that while the Auk's position at Alamein was good enough to "thwart" Rommel's tank thrusts it wasn't good enough to justify Rommel using the same advantages to force a war of attrition onto Monty. No, some unexplained magical Auk-inspired use of tanks would restore maneuver warfare...and ignore the hundreds of thousands of mines emplaced there. So the advance into the minefields was "needless"? What was the alternative? Flying over them? :rolleyes:

    Sicily? Ah, yes, Craig somehow manages to compare the British in the Boer War to Patton's performance in Sicily... Meanwhile, the difference in British and American performance in Sicily was primarily a consequence of terrain, not to Patton landing his tanks "early" at Gela and Licata (the 1st Canadian Armoured Brigade, the primary armor force with the British, landed at the same time. Again, the numbers are wonky, but yes Seventh U.S. Army suffered less casualties than Eighth British Army...primarily because the terrain they faced facilitated maneuver initially, but less so later. When facing similar terrain and concentrated defenses the Americans suffered as badly as the Commonwealth during the latter stages of the campaign.

    D-Day...so the weather only affected the British on D-Day? News to me. The British decided to land later apparently at the last minute according to Craig...which in fact was a decision made in March, when the landing plan was finalized. He seems unaware that the tide tables vary from west to east along the Norman coast...the British landed later so as to achieve the same relative tide as encountered by the Americans to the west...the nonsense about SWORD "normally 30 yards wide" being "30 feet" is painful. Any reading of almost any primary source material would have shown his assumption (apparently based upon photos from high tide) to be the twaddle it is. :rolleyes:

    So "the early capture of Caen" was the "key" to a successful Normandy campaign? So then it was unsuccessful? Meanwhile, there are very good reasons that Monty's audacious armor coup de main did not succeed, which Craig was apparently unaware of. :rolleyes:

    GOODWOOD? There are a lot of very bad accounts and assessments of that battle, but this is possibly the worst. Yet again, von Luck and four magical appearing and disappearing Flak 88 defeat the British... :rolleyes:

    Well at least the egregiously bad account of GOODWOOD is matched by at least as bad a one for MARKET-GARDEN, so at least he was consistent. :rolleyes:

    No, I guess not, because Craig's conclusion is possibly worse. I might point out that he, as an American infantryman, had even less exposure to accepted armored doctrine and tactical thought than Montgomery... :rolleyes:
     
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  7. RichTO90

    RichTO90 Well-Known Member

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    It helps if you look into what lies beyond the carefully edited movie version. Yes, Montgomery actually said much later that it was "over 90 percent successful", which seems silly and self-serving. However, he also said, "in my - prejudiced - view, if the operation had been properly backed from its inception, and given the aircraft, ground forces, and administrative resources necessary for the job, it would have succeeded in spite of my mistakes, or the adverse weather, or the presence of the 2nd SS Panzer Corps in the Arnhem area. I remain Market Garden's unrepentant advocate."

    Monty's wasn't a "stupid" comment at all, but was factual...and also directly placed the blame for the mistakes on himself. MARKET-GARDEN as conceived and executed could not have succeeded under any commander, but that was not known until after the fact.
     
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  8. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

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    Well, the author's biography explains he had a BS degree in history -and the article illustrates what BS history looks like. He was probably one of Stephan Ambrose's students and you may recognise the start with your prejudices and search for evidence.

    I couldn't get further than the assertion that Dieppe was Montgomery's fault because he failed to see the potential for landing an armoured force on either side of Dieppe. So geography wasn't one of Craig's strong points.
     
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  9. JJWilson

    JJWilson Well-Known Member

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    Thank you Rich for pointing that out, that is not the soul reason why I'm not fond of him, and I watched the movie for the first time when I was seven, and that's the conclusion I came to......when I was seven. There are other incidents and moments throughout Monty's career that don't shed a good light on him, but when I was young that was the first time I learned Monty wasn't the perfect commander I thought him to be, I just thought his comment was ludicrous and offensive when I was kid.
     
  10. RichTO90

    RichTO90 Well-Known Member

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    I understand, Monty's was not a nice personality by any stretch of the imagination...but it was light years better than Alexander the Great's and any one of a number of other Great Captain's I could name.

    The problem I have with war movies in general and ABTF in particular is that they so happily look at things with hindsight...and then pretend they don't. In ABTF the whole business of dropping the "bridge too far" remark at the end of the movie bothers me. Having Browning reminisce about saying it at the 10 September planning conference makes them all look like idiots - "well shit, we KNEW ahead of time it was a bridge too far". Instead, they all expressed their reservations in advance, knew it was a risk, and took it. That's the way war really works.
     
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  11. RichTO90

    RichTO90 Well-Known Member

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    Given Ambrose was made Butler Professor at University of New Orleans the same year Craig's MA was conferred, I think it highly likely he was one of Ambrose's students. Sadly, Ambrose was one of the first to gain recognition via the Mythtry Channel and its spawn. Given that he seems to have cribbed even his first claim to fame - the "hundreds of hours of special access to Ike", which turn out to have been three meetings totaling five hours - it is embarrassing that he still has a modicum of credence.

    Yep... :D
     
  12. JJWilson

    JJWilson Well-Known Member

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    I completely agree, a lot of what makes up ABTF is based on hindsight, and that is expressed in a subtle way throughout the movie. I can understand how that ruins the movie for you, among others.
     

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