Discussion in 'Leaders of World War 2' started by Patton phpbb3, Mar 24, 2007.
Wasn't Bergonzolis nickname "Electric Whiskers"?
I have recently been pondering on Monty in the desert. The universal telling of the story is:
8th Army dispirited. Monty revives morale, builds strength, successfully defends, then builds up. Grinds through the German defences and then misses a big opportunity by not advancing fast enough (and thus kicks off his reputation as being 'over-cautious'.
However, is that justified? Remember that the previous years in the desert were marked by fast advances followed by equally fast retreats when logistical problems reared their ugly head. Surely a prudent Commander (whatever else, Monty was thorough) would have noted this and learned from it.
So my basic point is... was Monty being overly cautious or was he merely ensuring that the 8th Army didn't outrun their supplies yet again?
In other words, was he the first commander in theatre to actually think through the consequences of an overly rapid advance in a landscape with few roads, few ports and no railways
Monty has been discussed numerous times here, you might want to go to WW2Talk to see how his compatriots feel. Never the less it's always good to remember that it was a World War and a Unified effort.
Supply was certainly a concern, but Montgomery was also acutely conscious that 8th Army had allowed itself to be outmaneuvered and outfought in previous battles despite having sufficient combat power to defeat Rommel. Crusader and Gazala show a consistent pattern of British brigades being chewed up one at a time by the concentrated power of the Afrika Korps. All-arms coordination was lacking, and senior officers often failed to exercise effective control. Much of Montgomery's innovation was simply insisting that the army stop making foolish mistakes, and events demonstrated how effective they could be under his leadership.
Previous campaigns had also demonstrated Rommel's ability to snap back when given an opportunity, even with weak forces. Monty refused to give him a chance.
Of your list I would have to pick Zhukov. While I despise Doug-out Dug, I think that he would be second on the OP's list. He was highly efficient and effective. But then he needed to be; he was fighting his own private war which which just happened to coincide with the US needs. Island hopping was a great idea, but I would think that that strategy would have been recognized by a major...
I think that Bradley should be on the list. How can you ignore Eisenhower or Marshall? Ike was the best administrator of the war, keeping together the most fragile of alliances and and administration is the job of senior leadership? Ike, was wise enough to know both what he knew and what he didn't know. What he didn't know he knew how to delegate. Marshal knew to depend on Ike to run the day to day business of the war in Europe.
Rommel was quite clever and enjoyed a good run, but eventually he failed because he bit off more than he could chew, and he supported a very flawed leader. Rommel would have made a better major general than field marshal; The Peter Principle caught up with him, before the executioner. Patton was much like Rommel, except he ended up on the winning side; his biggest failure was not knowing when to keep his mouth shut; and that probably eventually cost him his life. It is hard to take away Patton's tactical abilities, but I try to find a way.
Monty shouldn't even make the short list, he was not a good general and was an insufferable, insubordinate prig. Eisenhower should have sacked him, but I understand why he didn't. Montgomery's failure as a senior commander should have been evident with the failure to take his D-day objectives, which were, in my opinion, within his reach. He sealed the "loser" deal with the Market Garden fiasco. Montgomery was as valuable to Hitler as a panzer division! It is a toss up whether Montgomery or De Gaulle were biggest problems that Ike had to deal with; they both competed for the honor. Monty was the opposite of Rommel, Rommel didn't know when to defend and Monty didn't know when to attack.
I am slipping on my asbestos drawers now, so, by all means, bring it on!
Did he win?
Did he come out with a largely intact army?
Did he (and allies) drive a disordered enemy completely from the continent?
He (they) did.
"The end of the beginning."
The answer to the thread is still Alanbrooke & Marshall.
Without those chaps, almost everything else re. 'Staff' is an irrelevance.
The Germans produced no such personalities, with that dry understanding of what 'strategy' means in a world war. Or maybe more accurately gave nobody the means to apply such thoughts in their Hitler-dominated deliberately competitive viper's pit.
Of course he won in Africa with a huge advantage in numbers of men and weapons. Did he win at Caen or Market Garden? Market Garden alone should be enough to have him confined to the dustbin of history.
Monty sounds a lot like Gen. McClellan.
Yeah, he cheated. Yes, he did win at Caen. Last I heard the Germans did not win the battle of Normandy. Yes he did lose the MARKET GARDEN battle but to a large degree that was dud to piss poor planning by First Allied Airborne Army, the I British Airborne Corps, and the 1st British Airborne Division rather than because of any overall errors in Montgomery's concept of operations. He was let down by his team in that case but as a good general took responsibility.
Market Garden was his baby from start to final humiliation. It was a stupid plan that would not have been launched by a PFC that had read Sun Tzu. He did not take his D-day objective on D-Day or D+1 but on D+33 and you want to call that a win? Sure the Germans lost Normandy, but but it was not because of Monty's brilliant leadership. Bernie Montgomery was all hat and no cattle.
G.C. Marshall would be very high ranked for me. His reputation as a tactical commander is nothing next to Patton or McArthur, but he easily makes up for it by his ability to turn a peace time American Army into a fighting force.
In my opinion he made some tough decisions by firing a lot of senior officers (many were generals) who he knew did not have the stamina to fight a war. He knew that putting the Pacific campaigns as a second priority would not be popular, but we did not have the resources to equip both fronts yet.
He had to fight tooth and nail with the whole chain of command (from the President on down) for resources to build and fight an Army.
He was painfully anti-political. He was truthful and did not solicit favors. He had to strong arm a nation that wanted nothing but Isolationism into a nation that could fight and win a world war.
The concept of operations was Montgomery's. MARKET was the "baby" of the commanding generals and staffs of the First Allied Airborne Army, the 1 (British) Airborne Corps, and their assigned and attached divisions and units. Garden was the "baby" of the command and staffs 2d British Army, 30 British Corps, and their assigned and attached divisions and units.
Essentially no one took all their D-Day objectives on D-Day or D+1. Blaming Montgomery is about as reasonable as blaming his hat or cattle. Were Gerow and Collins all hat and no cattle? Eisenhower? Bradley? Well maybe yes on Bradley. Huebner? Taylor? We could go on and on.
You are allowed the hero of your choice, but Monty is not one of mine.
I absolutely agree that Monty had far more ego than grace, but frankly so did many of the top commanders of the time. McArthur, Patton, Mark Clark, just off the top of my head. Honestly if those guys had chosen to work together properly imagine how much that would have improved the Allied war effort. And reduced the stress on poor Ike. That guy deserves big plaudits for keeping everything together
Um, where did I say he was my "hero"? Of choice or otherwise? Making heroes of generals is silly the age of heroic generaling pretty much died in the 20th century. Generals still got killed in action but not typically by being heroic and leading from the front while carrying the flag. Anyway, I was commenting on your characterization of Montgomery as a general, not a hero.
Time for a little levity. In my opinion General Motors Corp. was the best general of WW2. Truck,tanks(Cadillac), and various other items.