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Relieving Monty
no-neck
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Posted: Wednesday, January 20, 2010 - 11:27 PM UTC
Would the battle of Normandy gone any differently if Monty had been removed after the Epsom attack?
Halfyank
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Posted: Thursday, January 21, 2010 - 06:11 AM UTC
The overwhelming thing you've got to ask is: who did they have that was any better? I've been doing some reading about Monty, Bradley, and Patton the last few months and I've come to the conclusion that Monty was conceited, egotistical, and no where near the military genius that he thought he was, but he had his good qualities and he was the best commander for his troops at the time.
AJLaFleche
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Posted: Thursday, January 21, 2010 - 07:09 AM UTC
I, too, have been reading about that period...Jeff Shaara's WWII trilogy (about half way through the third installment...Great read, btw.) It does indeed appear Monty was a legend in his own mind, a master chess player of a strategist, planning and over planning every move. He was not well liked by the Americans and Shaara strongly suggests by Churchill as well. But he seems to have been revered by his troops and the British public. Ike's removing him would likely have had a seriously negative impact on the British soldier and public and a deleterious effect on US/British relations.
armouredcharmer
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Posted: Thursday, January 21, 2010 - 07:26 AM UTC
I read a book once on famous quotations where Monty (a famous self publicist),Winston Churchill and King George VI were at party.Winston Churchill was heard to say to King George VI "Do you know,i think that man is after my job".King George was heard to reply "Thank God for that - i thought he was after mine !"
Thought i`d add that to give you a smile !
GSPatton
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Posted: Thursday, January 21, 2010 - 08:37 AM UTC
There is much debate on Monty's effectiveness - or lack of. Not only could he not keep on schedule after the D-Day landings - Caan was to be taken on the second day - it took much longer and more whining from Monty.

Market Garden was another Monty brilliant move - NOT. It was over-ambitious, poorly planned - XXX Corps goes all through Holland on a single two lane road? Airborne dropped miles from the target and eventually cut off and chewed up by the Germans.

Monty was a legend in his own mind.



Actually, if Patton had been there on 6 June 1944 - the 'What Ifs' are endless....
Hohenstaufen
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Posted: Thursday, January 21, 2010 - 10:21 AM UTC
I'm not a great fan of Monty, but it has to be said that he was his own worst enemy. He wanted to give the impression that the Battle of Normandy went the way he planned right from the start. This was patently untrue, and in fact he was doing himself down; it would have reflected much better if he had acknowedged that in fact he was prepared to change the original plan to suit the circumstances. He was hopeless at the "PR" side of things, he even managed to alienate his own press corps at briefings following the start of "Goodwood" let alone American press men.
However he can take the credit for increasing the original scope of D Day to five beaches and eight assaulting divisions (3 airborne); the original plan was smaller in scope which may have been easier to contain for the Germans.
Other factors also need to pointed out. American accounts frequently criticise Monty for lack of progress in Normandy, while the US forces fought their way through the Bocage. What is frequently forgotten is that the Commonwealth forces faced by far the greater number of elite, effective German panzer divisions. There were up to 7 on their front: 1SS, 12SS, 9SS, 10SS, 9Pz, 2Pz, 21 Pz and most of the Tigers; with the exception of the Mortain offensive, US forces faced around 2 and a half: Pz Lehr, 2SS and 17SS (the only PzGr Div committed). The German infantry divisions counted for little in Normandy, immobile and less lavishly equipped, they quickly burned out in the mainly close quarters fighting. The German commanders continued to underestimate the abilities of the US forces, and most reinforcements went to the Commonwealth front; moreover this made tactical sense, since the Germans would need to withdraw to the east, so it was necessary that this side was secure. One can only speculate what would have happened if these positions had been reversed.
Monty was keenly aware of the fact that 21st Army Group was a diminishing resource; his tactics were being determined by the fact that he (but not the US) was running out of men.
I suspect very few American readers are aware of hard fought battles such as Hill 112 (the objective of Epsom). These actions showed that despite Allied air supremacy, significant casualties and lack of reinforcements or replacement equipment, the Germans were more than capable of holding their own.
Monty was, in fact, not the first choice for command in Normandy. Some of the British High Command favoured Alexander, who got on well with Americans, and was therefore the antithesis of Monty, or a little known but very capable general called Paget. Tedder, Ike's deputy, and Leigh-Mallory (both RAF), were distinctly anti Monty. Moreover, Monty had not even been first choice for command of the 8th Army in the desert, but the first choice was killed in an air cash. Monty's appointment as ground commander in Normandy wasmore or less dictated by public opinion, being the only victorious, high profile British commander, given that the increasing dominance in the alliance of the US dictated that the Supreme Commander had to be an American.
McIvan
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Posted: Thursday, February 18, 2010 - 04:14 PM UTC
I can't think of a better Army Group commander in the ETO than Monty, so things would certainly not have improved if he had been replaced.

Notwithstanding the extremely hypocritical whining from some historians with an agenda, the Normandy campaign ended up as one of the most sucessful in WWII, and Montgomery was in full control of his subordinates Dempsy and Bradley from start to finish. He should by any standard of fairness get the credit for the outstandingly sucessful outcome as well as the criticism, but too often it seems to be one way traffic because of personal dislike. Any hugely complex endeavour against a determined opponent is going to produce setbacks and reversals. So the early stages were slow against a flexible and determined enemy in difficult terrain....what of it? By D+90 both armies were well ahead of schedule, a quarter million Germans and 500 tanks had been dealt with, and the Brits were outpacing Patton.

If I had a dollar for every time I heard the "and Caen was supposed to be a first day objective!" sour grapes I'd be a rich man. You never hear the Brits ungracious and mean spirited enough to point out that long after they'd taken Caen the US was still struggling to take their day TWO objective in St Lo. Perhaps because it would be a contemptible criticism of brave men? Some could learn a bit from that.

I shudder to think what would have happened had Patton been available to plan and command the landings...not his area of expertise at all. Basically the German army was a very capable machine and, as in virtually every other theatre in WWII, had to written down by attrition to breaking point before any breakthrough could occur. At that point we wanted Patton, as the war's foremost exploitation and pursuit general, and boy did he deliver.
m4sherman
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Posted: Sunday, February 21, 2010 - 11:36 AM UTC
Could the situation have been different if Monty had been relieved? Yes, but different good or different poor we will never know. I do not think he was the best battle commander. His plans were too rigid, and the expectations he had of the men had this inherent rigidity in them. All it took was one or two snags and the plans would fall apart. As the German army was very good at making snags... As is often said, the men were better than their leaders and suffered for it.

Could Patton, or Hodges, or Bradley have done any better? Maybe not, but I don't think they would have done any worse. As I see it the problem was we needed a Marshal in the ETO, and we had an Ike.
no-neck
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Posted: Tuesday, March 02, 2010 - 09:29 PM UTC
I have to agree with majority opinion. Monty was in place and fighting. Bringing in someone else (Alexander ?) would have upset the public. At least in England. But still, Montgomery and MacArthur had some large problems on their resume's and they remained the fair-haired boys in the public eye. Were they "too big to fail"? Ignorance? Censorship? I realise I have the luxury of Monday-morning-quarterbacking, but , being aware of their respective track records, I just don't understand the almost mythical stature of these two generals.
casailor
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Posted: Monday, March 08, 2010 - 11:47 AM UTC
I think that if you put Monty in the Normandy bocage country he never would have gotten out of it. On the other hand if you Patton and the Third Army on that nice level tank country that he Brits had he would have been long gone. Monty was a "straight ahead" general, he never quite caught on to the idea that if the enemy was strong in front of you go around him. Monty was very casualty averse since the Brits were running out of manpower and he had been criticised for the losses incurred in the Alemein head on attacks. Patton was willing to spend lives to get into the German's rear areas where armor could run wild. This saved lives in the long run as our airpower limited the German's mobility. If Patton had been running down that two lane road in Market Garden his armored units would have just soaked up the German's firepower, taken casualties and kept going depending on the followup infantry to clean up the bypassed German units.
russamotto
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Posted: Monday, March 08, 2010 - 04:08 PM UTC
From what I have read Monty was popular with his troops, which made his presence a morale builder. He was cautious with his resources because, as has been mentioned, he didn't have replacements available, but he was reportedly fair handed with his commanders and insisted on cooperation and mutual support among the units under his command. He did face heavy opposition against elite German forces in a congested geographical area. Market Garden was a failure because of the refusal by the planners to involve Dutch military officers in the operation. Every one of them was required as part of their officer candidacy testing to plan their own invasion of Holland and all of them knew that using a narrow, elevated, restricted roadway would not work. The timetable left no room for delay. It was a desparate move. Monty dreamed it up, but Ike approved it. Who didn't consider the plans? Monty was certainly fighting for the limelight, but so were the other generals. I'm not a fan of Monty, but he made some significant contributions to the war. I don't think its fair to put him in the same class as MacArthur, Fredendall, Burnsides and Haig.

Bradley was unimaginative. He didn't devise strategy. He attacked and attacked again. Devers was so disliked by Eisenhower that Ike avoided him at all costs, which meant there was no chance of support or cooperation there. As for Patton, I don't pay much attention to what he said. Most of what was attributed to him was probably exagerated anywhay. I look at what he did. He led from the front, by example, was keenly aware of what was going on and what was needed. Most US soldiers never saw anyone over the rank of major at the front lines, but in the 3rd Army leaders were expected to lead. 3rd Army actually had the lowest casualty rate for US Army groups in the ETO, captured the second highest number of German soldiers (contrary to comments by Patton that they would kill them all) and covered more ground in less time than any other force.

In short, I think Monty's instinct was for his men. He may have husbanded his divisions somewhat but they still did a lot of bitter fighting and pushed forward. Patton had an instinct for the battle, and what the enemy was going to do. He had room to manuver, went around the Germans, cut them off, and drove forward. Ike couldn't bring himself to commend or congragulate Patton. Bradley liked shiny things, and watching his men run into walls.

After the war, various generals ranked their peers. Both Eisenhower and Bradley failed to list Patton in their top five. They named mainly their friends. I think The Germans listed Patton at the top, and didn't list Bradley. The Germans regarded the British as top fighters, and I imagine it is their opinion that matters most.
DutchBird
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Posted: Tuesday, March 09, 2010 - 12:03 AM UTC

Quoted Text

I think that if you put Monty in the Normandy bocage country he never would have gotten out of it. On the other hand if you Patton and the Third Army on that nice level tank country that he Brits had he would have been long gone. Monty was a "straight ahead" general, he never quite caught on to the idea that if the enemy was strong in front of you go around him.



I think this is rather an unfair criticism of Montgomery for El Alamein and Normandy. On both occasions, the nature of the terrain and logistical constraints prevented either side from 'going around the enemy,' as you so aptly put it.

In El Alamein he had the Mediterranean on his right flank, and on his left he was limited by the terrain that was impassable for tanks and other vehicles. And even if it had been passable (it was not), it would have been impossible for him to supply his troops on his left flank. It was a logistical impossibility.

Normandy posed similar problems: going around the left was impossible because of the terrain, and if he tried, it would have hopelessly exposed his supply lines. Going around the right would run him straight into the bocages...



Quoted Text


Monty was very casualty averse since the Brits were running out of manpower and he had been criticised for the losses incurred in the Alemein head on attacks. Patton was willing to spend lives to get into the German's rear areas where armor could run wild. This saved lives in the long run as our airpower limited the German's mobility. If Patton had been running down that two lane road in Market Garden his armored units would have just soaked up the German's firepower, taken casualties and kept going depending on the followup infantry to clean up the bypassed German units.



Patton would have been as hampered as Montgomery. First of all there was NO way that Patton could have done much better. On many an occasion, the road was blocked by the the leading vehicle being shot, and no possibility for the traffic following to bypass, due to the terrain. Much of the road of Market Garden was akin to the infamous Villers-Bocage' road where Wittmann shot up an armoured column, only ten times worse: no way to get off the road (or turn around), in widely exposed country. It was about as perfect a hunting ground as the German anti-tank gunners manning an 88mm could have wished for: little to no cover for enemy armour, and nearly unobstructed fields of fires where they could make excellent use of the range and fire-power of their guns, while themselves being out of range of allied fire.

Most of the Allied delays were of the following nature: (1) Bridges being blown up, making crossing impossible. (2) Lead vehicle being shot up, which then needed to be pushed of the road first. Of course the Germans then aimed at the engineering vehicle. (3) The head of the column being cut off, which meant that contact had to be established first, otherwise the isolated spearheads would have been destroyed. (4) The heavy fighting in Nijmegen, where a combination of a well-placed 88mm, some good soldiers and the obvious direction of attack caused great delays.

Of course one cannot dismiss the incredible ability of the Germans to improvise...


I highly doubt that Patton would have been more successful than Montgomery in either Normandy or Market Garden. In fact, Patton might have played right into the German hands with his aggressiveness, leading to his armoured spearhead being cut off and destroyed (something the Germans tried to do often). Part of Patton's success is the result of him rarely if ever facing first rate German armour in good shape...


In general, I think that, at least in Normandy, few generals could have done better than Montgomery, all other factors being the same. If anything, replacing him might have severely affected morale of the men, inter allied relationships (Monty's army was far from homogeneous, in contrast to the Americans) etc., with adverse results as a whole...
Flivver
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Posted: Saturday, March 20, 2010 - 06:14 AM UTC

Quoted Text

I'm not a great fan of Monty, but it has to be said that he was his own worst enemy. He wanted to give the impression that the Battle of Normandy went the way he planned right from the start. This was patently untrue, and in fact he was doing himself down;

..........snipped.............




Patton once said something to the effect that once the battle starts, plans become fluid, or essentially subject to change without notice.

Frankly, it's always easier to criticize a leader for any apparent mistakes after a crises then to be in his shoes in the first place.

As far as ego's, Monty and Patton were evenly matched.

From the stand-point of those who served under them, overall u.s. Troops preferred Monty to Patten because he was more cautious and not as reckless with their lives.

Both of these men served in WWI and came out with opposite philosophies.

Monty saw the drug-on carnage and the total senseless waste of men in the futile gridlocked trench warfare, whereas Patton came in later with the U.S. troops when the Germans were about the breaking point, simply from attrition and chronic shortages at home.

And remember, Patton was a horse calvary man at heart, using his armored divisions likewise, if not recklessly, whereas Montgomery was more of a field commander, seeking to keep his divisions in coordination, instead of allowing them to radically act on their own initiative.

Ed
acav
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Posted: Saturday, March 20, 2010 - 07:04 AM UTC

Quoted Text

I can't think of a better Army Group commander in the ETO than Monty, so things would certainly not have improved if he had been replaced.

Notwithstanding the extremely hypocritical whining from some historians with an agenda, .snipped for brevity



Thank you for that. well argued and well put.
I tuned into this thread, fully expecting another American-led bout of Monty bashing and I wasn't disappointed.

History is history, what happened happened and no amount of revisionist thinking can change the facts, which you stated so well.

Thanks for that.

acav

casailor
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Posted: Wednesday, May 05, 2010 - 10:21 AM UTC
If Patton would have been running the ground element of Market Garden, The Germans would have knocked out the lead vehicle in a column, The US forces wold have blanketed the treeline with artillery, immoblising the defenders while the dead vehicle wass pushed out of the way and the Americans would have run right by them, leaving the bypassed Germans to be policed up by the follow-on infantry forces. Patton's focus on spending lives to penetrate defensive lines was the correct action. Our airpower eliminated the mobility of the defenders. After the armored columns bypassed them their only choice would have been surrender. A military leader has to be willing to expend his men. After all, they are assets like tanks, or ammunition. What he can't do is what Monty would do- waste lives on failed attacks, then feed more men into the same meatgrinder. War is murder and destruction, plain and simple, you just need to tilt the scales towards your own men and make your opposition die.
trickymissfit
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Posted: Wednesday, May 05, 2010 - 05:58 PM UTC

Quoted Text

I'm not a great fan of Monty, but it has to be said that he was his own worst enemy. He wanted to give the impression that the Battle of Normandy went the way he planned right from the start. This was patently untrue, and in fact he was doing himself down; it would have reflected much better if he had acknowedged that in fact he was prepared to change the original plan to suit the circumstances. He was hopeless at the "PR" side of things, he even managed to alienate his own press corps at briefings following the start of "Goodwood" let alone American press men.
However he can take the credit for increasing the original scope of D Day to five beaches and eight assaulting divisions (3 airborne); the original plan was smaller in scope which may have been easier to contain for the Germans.
Other factors also need to pointed out. American accounts frequently criticise Monty for lack of progress in Normandy, while the US forces fought their way through the Bocage. What is frequently forgotten is that the Commonwealth forces faced by far the greater number of elite, effective German panzer divisions. There were up to 7 on their front: 1SS, 12SS, 9SS, 10SS, 9Pz, 2Pz, 21 Pz and most of the Tigers; with the exception of the Mortain offensive, US forces faced around 2 and a half: Pz Lehr, 2SS and 17SS (the only PzGr Div committed). The German infantry divisions counted for little in Normandy, immobile and less lavishly equipped, they quickly burned out in the mainly close quarters fighting. The German commanders continued to underestimate the abilities of the US forces, and most reinforcements went to the Commonwealth front; moreover this made tactical sense, since the Germans would need to withdraw to the east, so it was necessary that this side was secure. One can only speculate what would have happened if these positions had been reversed.
Monty was keenly aware of the fact that 21st Army Group was a diminishing resource; his tactics were being determined by the fact that he (but not the US) was running out of men.
I suspect very few American readers are aware of hard fought battles such as Hill 112 (the objective of Epsom). These actions showed that despite Allied air supremacy, significant casualties and lack of reinforcements or replacement equipment, the Germans were more than capable of holding their own.
Monty was, in fact, not the first choice for command in Normandy. Some of the British High Command favoured Alexander, who got on well with Americans, and was therefore the antithesis of Monty, or a little known but very capable general called Paget. Tedder, Ike's deputy, and Leigh-Mallory (both RAF), were distinctly anti Monty. Moreover, Monty had not even been first choice for command of the 8th Army in the desert, but the first choice was killed in an air cash. Monty's appointment as ground commander in Normandy wasmore or less dictated by public opinion, being the only victorious, high profile British commander, given that the increasing dominance in the alliance of the US dictated that the Supreme Commander had to be an American.



I will confess that I'm not a big fan of Monty as well, but I also see some other things in him. At the time he was placed in North Africa the folks in Britian so deseratly needed a national hero that was bigger than life. Monty kinda fit the bill. Yet I can think of a couple other generals on the British Staff that could have gave him lessons. I think that all Armies had a few that could have done better (how about Mark Clark? or Howlin' Mad Smith?). My British heros were Jonnie Johnson and Douglas Bader (was he South African?)
gary
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Posted: Wednesday, May 26, 2010 - 07:55 PM UTC
I don't want to seem like I am slamming Monty. Ithink he would have been a fantastic defensive general. He showed that in North Africa. He was smart enough to fall back to a position where Rommel couldn't turn his flanks and dig in to bleed Rommel dry. At Alamein he had no choice but to attack directly into the faces of the Germans, but in Europe he operated the same way. I think he was an infantry general in an armor war. The Brits had several better generals in North Africa, but they either had bad luck, or were sacked before they could begin to operate effectively. Monty was at the right place at the right time. If he had taken over out past Tobruk Rommel would have run over him like all the rest.
DutchBird
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Posted: Thursday, May 27, 2010 - 03:39 AM UTC

Quoted Text

If Patton would have been running the ground element of Market Garden, The Germans would have knocked out the lead vehicle in a column, The US forces wold have blanketed the treeline with artillery, immoblising the defenders while the dead vehicle wass pushed out of the way and the Americans would have run right by them, leaving the bypassed Germans to be policed up by the follow-on infantry forces.



Nice theory, but completely impossible during Market Garden.

This is exactly the tactics that were followed as long as the spearhead was in range of the artillery. One problem - the spearhead was out of range of artillery support halfway through day 1. Then the problem arose that the artillery had to be brought forward along the same single road which had to be used by the armoured columns and the engineers with the bridges. Since it is physically impossible for multiple objects to occupy the same space, the tactics you suggest would definitely fail. On many locations it was barely even possible to bring forward the engineering vehicles needed to clear the road (unless you put them in the lead of the column, exposing them even more to German fire).

Second, the landscape was perfect for the Germans to use their guns at maximum ranges against the Allied columns.

The only way to make up for the lack of artillery - which was inherent to the operation - was by using air support, exactly as planned by Monty and co. Of course that part failed for multiple reasons pretty much outside of Monty's control - and it would have equally failed Patton.


Quoted Text

Patton's focus on spending lives to penetrate defensive lines was the correct action. Our airpower eliminated the mobility of the defenders.



Of course this is exactly what Montgomery planned to do and initially did during Market Garden, until he outran his artillery, and his air support was either grounded in Britain or unable to make contact with the forces on the ground. For various reasons, it could not (at least not during Market Garden).


Quoted Text


What he can't do is what Monty would do- waste lives on failed attacks, then feed more men into the same meatgrinder. War is murder and destruction, plain and simple, you just need to tilt the scales towards your own men and make your opposition die.



Except that on various occasions, the meat grinder is the better option (like it or not), if anything to allow for a breakthrough elsewhere. And this has forever been the case. And as far as making the enemy die faster than them, the Americans by and large failed or succeed just as much as the British.
Hohenstaufen
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Posted: Saturday, May 29, 2010 - 12:21 PM UTC

Quoted Text

I think that if you put Monty in the Normandy bocage country he never would have gotten out of it. On the other hand if you Patton and the Third Army on that nice level tank country that he Brits had he would have been long gone.


There was bocage on the British front as well. BTW Goodwood was an attempt to use "that nice level tank country". Unfortunately for three British armoured divisions it suited the Tigers, Panthers and "88s" also.
casailor
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Posted: Tuesday, June 01, 2010 - 04:38 AM UTC

Quoted Text


Quoted Text

If Patton would have been running the ground element of Market Garden, The Germans would have knocked out the lead vehicle in a column, The US forces wold have blanketed the treeline with artillery, immoblising the defenders while the dead vehicle wass pushed out of the way and the Americans would have run right by them, leaving the bypassed Germans to be policed up by the follow-on infantry forces.



Nice theory, but completely impossible during Market Garden.

This is exactly the tactics that were followed as long as the spearhead was in range of the artillery. One problem - the spearhead was out of range of artillery support halfway through day 1. Then the problem arose that the artillery had to be brought forward along the same single road which had to be used by the armoured columns and the engineers with the bridges. Since it is physically impossible for multiple objects to occupy the same space, the tactics you suggest would definitely fail. On many locations it was barely even possible to bring forward the engineering vehicles needed to clear the road (unless you put them in the lead of the column, exposing them even more to German fire).

Second, the landscape was perfect for the Germans to use their guns at maximum ranges against the Allied columns.

The only way to make up for the lack of artillery - which was inherent to the operation - was by using air support, exactly as planned by Monty and co. Of course that part failed for multiple reasons pretty much outside of Monty's control - and it would have equally failed Patton.


Quoted Text

Patton's focus on spending lives to penetrate defensive lines was the correct action. Our airpower eliminated the mobility of the defenders.



Of course this is exactly what Montgomery planned to do and initially did during Market Garden, until he outran his artillery, and his air support was either grounded in Britain or unable to make contact with the forces on the ground. For various reasons, it could not (at least not during Market Garden).


Quoted Text


What he can't do is what Monty would do- waste lives on failed attacks, then feed more men into the same meatgrinder. War is murder and destruction, plain and simple, you just need to tilt the scales towards your own men and make your opposition die.



Except that on various occasions, the meat grinder is the better option (like it or not), if anything to allow for a breakthrough elsewhere. And this has forever been the case. And as far as making the enemy die faster than them, the Americans by and large failed or succeed just as much as the British.

My point was that Monty was predictable. He tended to attack in the same place the same way. When you do that expecting different results is insane. Yes, sometimes you have to hold an enemy's attention while you attck elsewhere, but you do it in a way so as to minimize casualties, not full-fledged attacks. Americans are not any better than other nations at tilting the playing field, that was a general comment on the necessity of "cheating" in warfare.
grom
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Posted: Tuesday, June 01, 2010 - 08:25 AM UTC
If Patton was that good why did Eisenhower leave him twiddling his thumbs in England ?
casailor
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Posted: Tuesday, June 01, 2010 - 08:48 AM UTC

Quoted Text

If Patton was that good why did Eisenhower leave him twiddling his thumbs in England ?

Because Patton had a big mouth and wasn't a politician like Ike was. Ike was a politician, Bradley was a military manager and those two are the genesis of the modern military officer. Less attention is paid to leadership skills and battlefield ability than to staff ability.
McIvan
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Posted: Sunday, June 13, 2010 - 04:08 PM UTC

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I think that if you put Monty in the Normandy bocage country he never would have gotten out of it. On the other hand if you Patton and the Third Army on that nice level tank country that he Brits had he would have been long gone. Monty was a "straight ahead" general, he never quite caught on to the idea that if the enemy was strong in front of you go around him. Monty was very casualty averse since the Brits were running out of manpower and he had been criticised for the losses incurred in the Alemein head on attacks. Patton was willing to spend lives to get into the German's rear areas where armor could run wild. This saved lives in the long run as our airpower limited the German's mobility. If Patton had been running down that two lane road in Market Garden his armored units would have just soaked up the German's firepower, taken casualties and kept going depending on the followup infantry to clean up the bypassed German units.



I think you'll find that the British sector was fully 50% bocage.

I'm pretty confident that Patton would have acheived an epic slaughter of American manpower had he been tasked to launch set piece offensives against the unattritted preponderance of 88s and Panzer Divisions all lurking about the British sector. His record in frontal assaults in Tunisia, Sicily and Metz is not really a good one. If there's one common denominator in WWII it's that the Germans needed to be worn down by brutal attrition before you could get a breakthrough and have Hitler's silly no-retreat orders could turn it into a decisive victory.

Good point re the British manpower.

Monty often went "around". Brit offensives after the first few days in Normandy were based on going around Caen, because there was no point getting sucked into an urban meatgrinder with forces in Normandy still building up. In the end they had to flatten Caen and take it by infantry assault, but that wasn't his first option. Another example is Monty sending the NZ Corp to flank the Germans holding the Mareth line, which was very sucessful. One last example would be using Goodwood to hit and suck German strategic reserves into the line so that Bradley could break out in the west.

Patton didn't take command until his troops were already in the enemy rear areas courtesy of VII corps, so he could hardly expend troops to get there. I don't really think he was a great set-piece general.

Dunno about Market Garden......like you I would have chosen Patton for sure as the best chance of pulling off Hell's Highway, but in the end I don't think it was feasible. It should never have been attempted, but because Eisenhower didn't want to do the "narrow" (40 divs isn't really narrow, but that's what it seems to be called) thrust, it was th best plan he could get Ike to agree to; basically because it required almost no supply lift to be taken off anyone else.
McIvan
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Posted: Sunday, June 13, 2010 - 04:13 PM UTC

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If Patton would have been running the ground element of Market Garden, The Germans would have knocked out the lead vehicle in a column, The US forces wold have blanketed the treeline with artillery, immoblising the defenders while the dead vehicle wass pushed out of the way and the Americans would have run right by them, leaving the bypassed Germans to be policed up by the follow-on infantry forces. Patton's focus on spending lives to penetrate defensive lines was the correct action. Our airpower eliminated the mobility of the defenders. After the armored columns bypassed them their only choice would have been surrender. A military leader has to be willing to expend his men. After all, they are assets like tanks, or ammunition. What he can't do is what Monty would do- waste lives on failed attacks, then feed more men into the same meatgrinder. War is murder and destruction, plain and simple, you just need to tilt the scales towards your own men and make your opposition die.



I think you're a bit overe-optimistic here. Thre was nothing at all wrong with the Brit artillery which was extremely responsive - anyone could call down the biggest strike without needing anyones say so. The Brit tactical airpower was also just as good as the US tactical airpower.....Typhoons and Thunderbolts with rockets or bombs, 4x20mm cannon or 8x.50 cal; not much to choose between em.

It wasn't the fixed defences causing the trouble; it was the rapidly re-organised kampfgruppes flooding in from the flanks and cutting the supply lines. You've got Pattons forces bypassing and heading up the road...to me that just ends in your tanks out of gas and ammo with the road thoroughly cut behind them. You suggest that after the armoured colums bypassed the defenders their only choice was surrender....well the reality is that the armoured colums DID bypass them, and they didn't surrender.
McIvan
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Posted: Sunday, June 13, 2010 - 04:20 PM UTC

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If Patton was that good why did Eisenhower leave him twiddling his thumbs in England ?

Because Patton had a big mouth and wasn't a politician like Ike was. Ike was a politician, Bradley was a military manager and those two are the genesis of the modern military officer. Less attention is paid to leadership skills and battlefield ability than to staff ability.



I would also say that Patton had shown no particular aptitude for the level of planning required in an operation as immense as Overlord.

However, as he outranked Bradley in Sicily, it made sense for the Germans to think of him as the senior US battlefield commander, so he did very useful service as commander of the phantom army about to invade up the coast.

I thought, in the end, that Patton was used perfectly. He was one of the best pursuit and exploitation generals....so land in Normandy, make the breakthrough, and then set him loose. Perfect.