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Rommel vs Montgomery

Discussion in 'North Africa and the Mediterranean' started by donsor, Oct 17, 2011.

  1. Don Juan

    Don Juan New Member

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    Oh, they do exist, and I'm not someone with an anti-Monty bias, so wouldn't feel the need to invent them.

    Part of one of the interviews is here, just not the bit I previously mentioned: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uzACUPW5bFc
     
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  2. belasar

    belasar Court Jester

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    Deranged Lunatic reporting for duty sir!

    Though I seem to be carrying the critic side this does not mean that I claim Montgomery was a 'bad' general, on the contrary he was thoroughly competent one, or to use his own words from Don Juan's video clip Le Bon General Ordinaire rather than the Gran Chef as he thought himself to be.

    Bradley's attitude did not show him in a favorable light, but it is somewhat understandable, and becomes more so when we remember that Montgomery did not let loose of US 9th Army until after the conclusion of the Rhineland Campaign, and then most reluctantly. How would Monty have reacted if he was shorn of 1st Canadian Army for a similar period of time?

    For me two things stand out in a superior Field Commander, the ability to think on your feet and win a battle where the odds are even or don't favor you is the mark of a 'Great Captain' ,or Gran Chef as he calls it, and I can see none of that in his record as a Army or Army Group commander. The other is an understanding of not only what is needed in victory, but your part in achieving it and doing nothing to hinder or risk it.

    You don't need to be submissive, and there is nothing wrong in giving your superior your opinion, even if he did not ask for it, but telling your C.O. that for the benefit of the war they needed to step down so that you can fix his blunders goes beyond vanity, beyond arrogance, beyond being impolitic, it is down right subversive.

    Montgomery during the war, and until the day he died, thought he should have had Eisenhower's job, and had something happened to Ike after D-Day till the break out, its not inconceivable that he might actually have gotten it. In America, often during a Presidential race the suitability of a Vice-President becomes an issue being "a heartbeat away from the Oval office" and can turn an election.

    I shudder to think if the Alliance could have survived him in command of 4 US Army's.
     
  3. m kenny

    m kenny Member

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    Then you should blame Eisenhower who made the decision. It had nothing to do with Montgomery.
     
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  4. m kenny

    m kenny Member

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    I can find no example of any other Allied General who disposed of some of his forces in order to 'have a fair fight' .
    Maybe you could show me one who did?
     
  5. m kenny

    m kenny Member

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    Explain why you think it would have gone wrong
     
  6. m kenny

    m kenny Member

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    That clip says absolutely nothing at all.
     
  7. scipio

    scipio Member

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    Agreed - and I have seen it before.

    Monty gave a series of lectures on BBC TV about certain of his battles including Normandy and El Alamein. I remember seeing viewing them as a boy. The BBC seems to have "lost" them. Perhaps if anyone "finds" them could they post them on this site?

    There is an important dimension that this has not been mentioned so far - managing a retreat in the face of an enemy with overwhelming superiority.

    Monty's performance at Dunkirk was top class - his closing of the 20 mile gap to the sea left by the Belgian Surrender was exemplary.

    American generals were lucky they never had to prove themselves good at this most difficult of actions.
     
  8. merdiolu

    merdiolu Member

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    Actually he pulled a similar feat during Battle of Bulge , ordered evacuation of entire St. Vith - Vielsam salient , pulling entire 7th Armored Division what remained of 28th and 106th Divisions ( one regiment each ) and 9th Armored Division B Combat Command. Despite 18th Airborne Corps commander Matthew Ridgway's objections (he assumed all the troops in this vulnerable salient can hold out and supplied from air despite awful December weather. He thought St Vith - Vielsam area would be a valuable counter attack area and did not listen counter arguements of commanders on ground. 7th Armored B Combat Group commander Bruce Clarke said area is not worth one nickel. 7th Armored commander Bob Hasbrouck said his entire division would be wasted on that ground. Montgomery agreed and insisted evacuation of salient. This operation executed perfectly despite bad weather conditions , terrible roads , short daylight in December and constant pressure from 2nd SS Panzer Corps and Fuhrer Belgait Brigade , saved 25.000 US soldiers , pulled them safe behind Allied lines and created a valuable reserve for later use. His battlefield judgements were mostly correct on that type of operations.

    Although Bradey seemed to hold grudge against Montgomery because of his campaign to be appointed as a Single Allied Land Commander (Bradley considered it as an insult to his record , a vote of non-confidence to himself and a demotion though Montgomery never named himself and content to work under Bradley ) even Bradley acknowledged Montgomery's skills in large scale operations , he never denies it in "A Soldier's Story" his own memoirs. Montgomery's personality ego problems is another matter. As I said his worst non excusable features were on that issue.
     
  9. merdiolu

    merdiolu Member

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    Actually Montgomery commanded 9th US Army very well during Rhineland Campaign (Operation Veritable-Grenade) and crossing Rhine (Operation Plunder ) He worked with General Simpson commander of 9th US Army just fine neither had much complaints about each other. 9th US Army returned to Bradley after crossing of Rhine to envelop and encircle Ruhr and German Army Group B then Ike's decision to shift weight of US advance on Central Germany. Advance of 21st Army Group became flank protection of front just like 6th Army Group in south.
     
  10. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

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    In fact,Montgomery got Eisenhower's job till september 1944:Eisenhower was also commander of the ground forces,but,Monty replaced him till september.Of course,the secret hope of Monty was that he would remain ground commander .
     
  11. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    Not sure if your wording was ambigous or if it was worded as intended, but the other two regiments of the 28th ID folded back to south and remained with 12th AG.
     
  12. merdiolu

    merdiolu Member

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    Sorry what I meant was 112th Infantry Regiment of 28th US Division which retreated to St. Vith perimeter then evacuated from Vielsam salient along with 7th Armored Division and single remaining regiment of 106th US Division.
     
  13. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    That's a bit of a straw man isn't it. Where did he say anyone had done that. With the exception of Dunkirk Monty simply didn't find himself in that situation. My interpretation of what he was saying then would be that Monty was unproven in that regard. He might or might not rate being considered a "Great Captain" but by those standards you simply can't say.

    Monty was hardly known for being a diplomat. He may have been a supperior general in other ways to Ike but I don't think he came close to him in that regard. What was needed in Ike's position was a very skillful diplomat.
     
  14. m kenny

    m kenny Member

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    Ther is no straw man here. I have been around this block many times and I know exactly what the detractors who brings this point up are getting at.
    I have never heard anyone claim (for example) Bradley was bound to break out during COBRA just because of the overwhelming advantage he had.
     
  15. m kenny

    m kenny Member

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    Compared to Patton Monty was a shrinking violet. Bradley cultivated his 'humble man' image but the way reacted to the loss of one of his armies during the Bulge gives a lie to this fiction. In short they were all big-headed egotist.
    Why pick one man out for special criticism?
    I say it again.
    The transatlantic hatred for Monty is so ingrained that those brought up with the tradition can not understand why others can not see what is obvious to them.

    No doubt I will be said to be claiming Monty was god's representitive on earth but all I say is he was no better and no worse than any other Allied General.
     
  16. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    Yes it was a straw man. Belasar's comments made it quite clear he didn't consider Monty a poor general but one whose real skill is hard to assess. That others consider Monty a poor general is irrelevant and to imply that Belasar does is uncalled for. I suggest that you are overly sensative to this issue perhaps in part because you have been "arond this block many times".

    Was he? That rather depends on just what you are looking at and when from what I've seen. Of course Patton and MacArther do rank right up there with Monty in that regard.

    Or not. A single incident in a rather during a rather emotional time hardly constitutes proof of such. Indeed Bradley may have had plans for that division and its removeal required some adjustment at a time when more such events were not needed. I'll wait until I've taken a closer look at those events before I make any judgements.

    Reptition is no guarantee of accuracy. You have obviously run into some who think that way but stating it he way you have above rather implies that you have a lack of vision as well.

    I didn't see anyone here makeing that claim (which would also be a straw man) indeed my impression is that most rate Monty above average. Certainly sayiny "he was no better and no worse than any other Allied General" is a long way off the mark though. As we have discussed in this thread there were some who were worse in just about every way. Argueably there were some that were better in many and perhaps most ways. If you can't see that then I suggest it's time you step back from things and take time to take a longer look at what was said and perhaps cool off a bit.
     
  17. m kenny

    m kenny Member

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    For years I kept silent whilst all sorts of ill-informed rubbish and downright invention was posted about Montgomery. Not any more. Anyone can post whatever they see fit but if it is in any way insulting or derogatory then I will respond in kind.
    You may feel the original comment was neither 'insulting or derogatory' but I say that the years of exposure to this way of thinking has induced a prejudice that you are simply not able to see.
    I do not know if you caught it but over on AHF a few days back a very well referenced US poster of long standing saw fit to post his real views on Monty. It was a long litany of profanity and character assassination and it was deleted by a mod fairly soon afterwards.
    When the well-read think that way then yes there is a deep seated problem that needs addressing.
     
  18. Don Juan

    Don Juan New Member

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    I didn't suggest it did, other than showing that Montgomery gave some informal television interviews during the 1950's.

    Now, I have stated that some of the comments he made during one of the interviews he gave were anti-American in tone. I said this because I have seen said clips.

    However, the clips aren't available at the present time from any site I can link to.

    Therefore, you are perfectly entitled to presume said clips don't exist. That is a perfectly reasonable position for you to take. You don't know me, and have no reason to take my word as Gospel.

    I will therefore make no further mention of them, unless I find a place where they are available. If I do, I will start a new discussion thread with any such clips linked and playable.

    In the meantime, I apologise for wasting your or anyone else's time.

    I genuinely adimire your tendency to back up what you say with respected sources, and will endeavour to do the same in future.
     
  19. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    Sounds good.
     
  20. belasar

    belasar Court Jester

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    I am deeply troubled by a perception that some personalities must be treated as sacred cows that can not be challenged because they have attained a mythic status. If this forum does become such a place then there is little point to continue, but so long as it remains a place where ideas can be exchanged, debated, and contested in a rational manner, then it retains a bright and viable future.

    Passion for a subject has a place here and is most welcome, the need to seek redress for perceived past insults to ones sensibilities or for such on other forums serves little purpose here and remain an unproductive path.

    That being said, I will try to restate my position in a concise way.

    My first post (no. 43) in this thread (back when it was a comparison of the relative abilities of Montgomery and Rommel) was to posit that in many historical situations that the most skillful commander is not always the victor in a battle and a effective way to judge one against the other is to reverse the position of each and then speculate how a battle fought by the two might have been resolved. As Rommel's bolder nature and ability to sense confusion or weakness in an opponents position is fairly well documented, then it is reasonable to speculate that his pursuit of a retreating Montgomery (in command of DAK) would have been more vigorous and could have led to a more decisive victory.

    This is not an insult to Montgomery's memory but an assessment of each persons nature, and as I said, an opinion.

    When I re-entered the debate in post no. 63, and again in post 82, I stressed that Montgomery was a competent and effective battlefield commander, but that I remained unconvinced that his ability was equal to the exalted level that he and and others maintained, both during and after the war.

    There seems to be general agreement that Montgomery had some serious personality flaws, but less consensus on how to view these in respect to his abilities.

    Montgomery professed during the war and well after that it was a grave allied mistake not giving him command of all Allied armies in northwest Europe, and the failure to do so was tantamount to forcing a prolonged war and greater Allied casualties. Neither he or any of his supporters offer substantive proof of this theorem, but he does use repeated claims of mediocrity, incompetence or bias of his peers as his basis for his claims.

    If a person is blind to their own limitations, yet insists that they are better suited for position that requires abilities above and beyond these limitations, as Eisenhower's demanded, then I feel in my opinion it is reasonable to place a question mark next to their abilities relative to his peers.

    For the record I tend to rate Montgomery and Bradley as near enough equals in ability to be indistinguishable between the two. Both were competent and effective leaders of their respective Army Groups.
     

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