General Montgomery

Discussion in 'General' started by Joe Perkowski, Dec 30, 2005.

  1. adamcotton

    adamcotton Senior Member

    (jimbotosome @ Dec 30 2005, 07:12 PM) [post=43791]Adam,

    You quoted a very popular but equally fallacious principle that timidity saves men. Patton claimed the opposite was true that only attack can save men’s lives. Call it counterintuitive if you wish, but it appears axiomatic as well.
    [/b]

    It dosen't appear at all axiomatic to me, Jimbo.

    As ways of waging war, timidity and lack of it each have their adherents, but it's hard to quantify which works best. It's easy to trot out statistics showing how Patton lost X amount of men while Monty lost Y, but I belong to the Mark Twain school of thought on the validity of raw stats. There are many other variables to be considered in assessing the efficacy of each approach, such as each commander's tactical situation at the time and the war materiel at his disposal. In order to determine which approach is truly the best, one would need to artifically create a situation where all the real world variables were made equal - but, of course, that is impossible!
     
  2. Gibbo

    Gibbo Senior Member

    (adamcotton @ Dec 30 2005, 06:34 PM) [post=43788]I have heard it expressed that Wavell's earlier victory at El Alamien (the first Battle of El Alamien) was the more significant and skillfully won. Wavell was relieved of his command because of personality clashes with Churchill, and a disinclination to run the desert campaign the way the latter wished, but the mercurial Monty can hardly have been easier for the Prime Minister to get along with!
    [/b]

    I think that that's an accurate description of why Wavell was removed from command in the Western Desert & sent to the Far East. It happened a little earlier in the war, however, & it was Auchinleck who won the First Battle of El Alamein.

    As I've said before, I don't understand why it has to be Monty or Patton rather than both. Both were excellent commanders who mobilised the resources available to them in order to defeat the German Army. My understanding of their relationship is that they didn't like each other but were sufficiently professional to stop their personal antagonism from getting in the way of their working relationship. Today I saw, but didn't buy (I thought that 11 new books for Xmas is enough for now) a book called Monty and Patton that, according to its dust jacket, argues that both were great generals but doesn't try to decide who was the greater.
     
  3. adamcotton

    adamcotton Senior Member

    (Gibbo @ Dec 30 2005, 07:53 PM) [post=43795](adamcotton @ Dec 30 2005, 06:34 PM) [post=43788]I have heard it expressed that Wavell's earlier victory at El Alamien (the first Battle of El Alamien) was the more significant and skillfully won. Wavell was relieved of his command because of personality clashes with Churchill, and a disinclination to run the desert campaign the way the latter wished, but the mercurial Monty can hardly have been easier for the Prime Minister to get along with!
    [/b]

    I think that that's an accurate description of why Wavell was removed from command in the Western Desert & sent to the Far East. It happened a little earlier in the war, however, & it was Auchinleck who won the First Battle of El Alamein.

    As I've said before, I don't understand why it has to be Monty or Patton rather than both. Both were excellent commanders who mobilised the resources available to them in order to defeat the German Army. My understanding of their relationship is that they didn't like each other but were sufficiently professional to stop their personal antagonism from getting in the way of their working relationship. Today I saw, but didn't buy (I thought that 11 new books for Xmas is enough for now) a book called Monty and Patton that, according to its dust jacket, argues that both were great generals but doesn't try to decide who was the greater.
    [/b]
    Oops! You are quite right - it was indeed Auchinleck! Sorry - too much scotch left over from Xmas!!!
     
  4. jimbotosome

    jimbotosome Discharged

    (adamcotton @ Dec 30 2005, 02:50 PM) [post=43794]It dosen't appear at all axiomatic to me, Jimbo.

    As ways of waging war, timidity and lack of it each have their adherents, but it's hard to quantify which works best. It's easy to trot out statistics showing how Patton lost X amount of men while Monty lost Y, but I belong to the Mark Twain school of thought on the validity of raw stats. There are many other variables to be considered in assessing the efficacy of each approach, such as each commander's tactical situation at the time and the war materiel at his disposal. In order to determine which approach is truly the best, one would need to artifically create a situation where all the real world variables were made equal - but, of course, that is impossible!
    [/b]
    I wish you would trot out the statistics of what Patton lost and what Monty won. I think they would both be very brief. From Monty's point, I can't find a single tactical or strategic operation that he had that put one over on the Germans. I sincerely believe that there are a lot of men British, Canadian and American that lay in their graves because of Monty's complete inexperience in how to execute attack warfare and his insatiable appetite for getting to Berlin first while he was constantly bogged down by troops he should have on the dead run like Patton did. Give me something tangible that counters that, not some braggadocios hype made to make Monty look competent as a field commander. It may be that both Patton and Monty had egos, but only one backed his ego up.

    Looking at Patton, consider the nature of his “flaws” and mistakes. I don’t think the slapping incidents are significant because they are overblown. Chasing out malingerers in war time is not demoralizing to troops. Slapping them with a glove to tell them to quit crying in the midst of men with their legs and arms missing, chests and faces blown off while giving out purple hearts is quite a difficult thing to face for a man that has such honor for courage. Quite frankly Adam, I believe you and I would have done the same if we were responsible for men’s lives. It is such an insult to those that were injured that he was right, in that these men should not be kept in the same ward with brave men.

    The only significant mistake Patton made is very controversial even to this day, and that is Landsberg prison where he tried to free the 5000 PW officers who had been moved several times. When you read about this in his diary you see that Patton cannot be faulted with the failure of that mission. It was a failure not because it did not cost the Germans dearly but because it did not complete its objective completely (some did escape, some went back when they saw the task force begin to lose). Bradley would not let Patton use a combat command. He limited him to a small task force of about 15 tanks. There were no major German groups in the area but Bradley wanted to let Seventh Army do it in their run to Nurenburg. Patton objected to this because the Germans merely move the PWs when a force is approaching by normal movements, only a surprise attack could free them. Since this incident was not long after Malmedy and other PW murdering incidents, Patton believed these men had a good chance being officers of being machine gunned when Seventh Army approached a week later. It was only 40 miles away from where Eddy was at the time.

    The question is, as an American general, should you risk 300 men to save 5000, 1500 of which are American? In the process these 15 tanks destroyed an entire tank destroyer battalion and got a full surrender of the German infantry division with them that prevented these men from meeting US forces north of Landsberg two weeks later. It was on the way back where reinforcements were sent cut off their retreat by 2nd Panzer sent because a German spotter plane saw they were such a small force. Had that have been the full combat command that Patton wanted to dispatch in the first place, they would have easily destroyed 2nd Panzer and 2nd Panzer would probably have never been sent in the first place, and the 5000 officers would have been free with possibly 2 armored divisions and one infantry division destroyed.

    It was true that Patton suspected his son in law was in the prison and that did weigh in on his insistence of freeing the PW camp. But that was not the only reason. Who amongst us would not make that same decision? Patton was not reckless. That’s simply rhetoric placed on him to try to diminish his unprecedented accomplishments that he could and did go anywhere he set his face to and that faster than the “German” blitzkriegs went in France.

    Gibbo asked “why does it have to be one or the other”. The reason I would say this is important is because the incompetence of Monty was hurtful, not only having the affect of diminishing Patton’s tremendous offensives, saving many Germans from quick annihilation, but also to the lives of brave men who deserved better. It might be a moot point at this point in time, but for the people on this forum who go ballistic when there are historical distortions in print or by Hollywood in things like U-571, etc then this issue of inflating Monty and diminishing Patton is more of a travesty to history than anything Hollywood could possibly do.

    For you British that take the accusations against Monty personal, I want to say this. Monty’s “paper tiger” exaltation is also an affront to the British soldiers who served the Crown. It makes it look like the British history buffs are trying to “cover-up” something and possibly why all kinds of baseless accusations against the British fighting men are levied. There are so many contributions to WWII that the British have made in all aspects of the war, the innovations, the great aircraft, the incredible inventions, and the gall above all nations to stand up against the Germans first. To detract from these vital contributions by exalting Monty who has so many dubious decisions in his brief military record and an ego that exacerbates this dubiousness, seems to be an evil thing to do, not just to Britain, but to the many commonwealth nation’s contributions that were so critical to the success of WWII. There are many things the British were so much better than the US at in WWII, but field command was not one of them so to try to make it one causes the necessity of a barrage of apologetics to be required to qualify why Monty is viewed so favorably by the British. There is a complaint that the folks in the US know so little about the contribution of the other allies WWII, perhaps a good part of this is because of the transparency of this exercise in futility that makes it look like the British are trying to manufacture their glory in WWII as though the needed to do so. An analogy to this would be like the British exalting the Swordfish airplane and calling it the greatest aircraft in the war. Of course other countries would look at the RAF with a great deal of undeserved disdain and it would greatly detract from the fame of the Spitfire that it really deserved. To me inflating Monty does this very same thing. This is not 1943, we don’t need the image of a hero to inspire us.
     
  5. mattgibbs

    mattgibbs Senior Member

    Ultimately it doens't really matter who was the greatest, they both did their job, some of it good, some bad, to debate this endlessly over the years has certainly fuelled a lot of authors and publishers egos and profits, but it won't bring back the lives of those who died. They were both respected in their time, by their men. Whether they were a bore at the table or made the mistake of mis-judging a man's right to hospital treatment for psycological problems is all simply academic now. I think it seems to come down to who personally likes the history of who and decides that he is the one for "them" based on 60 odd years distance and personal interpretation of the facts.
    I've learned a lot by a bit of background reading but I think there are lesser known Generals worthy of more time and research than these 2.
    Regards
    MG
     
  6. adamcotton

    adamcotton Senior Member

    I would just add that, personally, I do rate Patton the better field commander. But to label Monty as "incompetent" is going way too far! He was flawed, for sure, but he nonetheless was extremely capable. Erwin Rommel certainly thought so!
     
  7. Exxley

    Exxley Senior Member

    (Colonel Gubbins @ Dec 31 2005, 10:16 AM) [post=43818]Ultimately it doens't really matter who was the greatest, they both did their job, some of it good, some bad, to debate this endlessly over the years has certainly fuelled a lot of authors and publishers egos and profits, but it won't bring back the lives of those who died. They were both respected in their time, by their men. Whether they were a bore at the table or made the mistake of mis-judging a man's right to hospital treatment for psycological problems is all simply academic now. I think it seems to come down to who personally likes the history of who and decides that he is the one for "them" based on 60 odd years distance and personal interpretation of the facts.
    I've learned a lot by a bit of background reading but I think there are lesser known Generals worthy of more time and research than these 2.
    Regards
    MG
    [/b]

    I cant agree more with you MG. Same applies to German commanders as well.
    But anyway, since the topic is Monty, I still have to read anything that should disqualify him as a good and competent commander.
     
  8. adamcotton

    adamcotton Senior Member

    "Looking at Patton, consider the nature of his “flaws” and mistakes. I don’t think the slapping incidents are significant because they are overblown. Chasing out malingerers in war time is not demoralizing to troops. Slapping them with a glove to tell them to quit crying in the midst of men with their legs and arms missing, chests and faces blown off while giving out purple hearts is quite a difficult thing to face for a man that has such honor for courage. Quite frankly Adam, I believe you and I would have done the same if we were responsible for men’s lives. It is such an insult to those that were injured that he was right, in that these men should not be kept in the same ward with brave men"

    Just to clarify, in reality Patton slapped two soldiers on two seperate occasions; the single incident portrayed in the movie is an amalgam of those two incidents. Similarly, Patton subsequently apologised to each of the soldiers in private meetings, not in parade ground fashion as depicted in the movie.

    The film also makes no mention of what so nearly became a defeat for Patton when trying to take Metz with 3rd Army; having crossed the Meuse on 30 August, he found the town heavily defended and his troops took heavy casualties. It didn't fall until 13 December. (The movie depicts him racing toward Germany on a steam roller of endless success).

    Patton didn't arrive in France until the start of August, 1944, but his troops quickly overran Brittany. However, it is often forgotten that it was Monty and his troops that drew the main strength of the German army, which enabled Patton to make good progress and take Le Mans on 8 August before turning north and heading for Argentan.

    It may be argued, from the foregoing, that Mony and Patton were complimentary to one another. Patton, however, firmly believed that the war could be brought to an end by the close of 1944, and it was this belief that fuelled his "dash" across France and Germany. A more cautious commander may not have moved on Metz when Patton elected to.

    Joining up with Alexander Patch and the 7th Army Patton and his troops crossed the Rhine at Oppenheim on 22nd March 1945. He then sent a task force to liberate the Hammelburg Prison Camp, which did indeed house his son-in-law, John K. Waters. Patton continued to advance deep into Nazi Germany and eventually crossed into Czechoslovakia but was forced to withdraw after protests from Joseph Stalin and the Red Army.

    What resonates clearly for me is how driven by personal ambition was Patton; Monty was afflicted with the same malaise, but perhaps tempered his with greater concern for the safety of his troops. And what the slapping incidents illustrate to me is not only how unaware of the concepts of battle fatigue and shell-shock was Patton, but how truly in love with warfare he was. As he said himself, "God, I love the smell of battle"!

    After the war Patton was made governor of Bavaria. He was severely criticized for allowing Nazis to remain in office and at a press conference on 22nd September 1945, Patton created outrage when he said: "This Nazi thing. It's just like a Democratic-Republican election fight." I think that remark perhaps illustrates even more that Patton was motivated not so much by a patriotic urge to vanquish an evil foe, but by a desire to go to war with someone, anyone!
     
  9. jimbotosome

    jimbotosome Discharged

    (adamcotton @ Dec 31 2005, 09:54 AM) [post=43834]"Looking at Patton, consider the nature of his “flaws” and mistakes. I don’t think the slapping incidents are significant because they are overblown. Chasing out malingerers in war time is not demoralizing to troops. Slapping them with a glove to tell them to quit crying in the midst of men with their legs and arms missing, chests and faces blown off while giving out purple hearts is quite a difficult thing to face for a man that has such honor for courage. Quite frankly Adam, I believe you and I would have done the same if we were responsible for men’s lives. It is such an insult to those that were injured that he was right, in that these men should not be kept in the same ward with brave men"

    Just to clarify, in reality Patton slapped two soldiers on two seperate occasions; the single incident portrayed in the movie is an amalgam of those two incidents. Similarly, Patton subsequently apologised to each of the soldiers in private meetings, not in parade ground fashion as depicted in the movie. [/b]
    If you look at the quote you highlighted you would note that the slapping incident is "plural". But you did ignore my claim that you and I might have very well have done the same thing. In war time, the media becomes the enemy of the nation that “supports” it in the field. Part of this comes from having to sell your soul to enter the field of reporting. That had not changed since reporters have been embedded, even today.

    (adamcotton @ Dec 31 2005, 09:54 AM) [post=43834]The film also makes no mention of what so nearly became a defeat for Patton when trying to take Metz with 3rd Army; having crossed the Meuse on 30 August, he found the town heavily defended and his troops took heavy casualties. It didn't fall until 13 December. (The movie depicts him racing toward Germany on a steam roller of endless success). [/b]
    That’s because the Metz was taken in a few days initially (seems like a steam roller to me). He was forced to withdraw from it so Monty could have his fuel and ammo to have some American and British soldiers killed in Holland. When forced to give the Metz up because he did not have enough fuel and ammo to hold it he cussed and cussed Monty as he watched German divisions move in and reinforce the Metz. They were down to 7 rounds of artillery a day. Not even Patton could attack without ammo and fuel. He did manage to capture some fuel and did have some limited success while being forced on the “defensive”. It was absolutely ridiculous to stop him driving into Germany within 10 days of the Siegfried Line. He had them on a dead retreat and this was why he was slaughtering them and why nothing the Germans were doing everything they could to slow him down and why he was certain he could be in Berlin before the end of the year. All he needed was Antwerp opened. Monty knew that and had no interest in doing it even though ordered to do so. Patton loved war. His aggression was an obsession to win. Not because of an ego but because it was his personality. This is what you want in a general. Who wants to sit in a hole and wait to be attacked? He was worried that peacetime would kill him. He did not want to rest on his laurels but wrote letter after letter for a combat command in China even as a lower officer. You can call it ego, but then again that is just rhetoric that he’s not here to challenge. Rhetoric is cheap. That’s what you hear against Patton. Never any “tactical” or aggression mistakes, merely anti-Patton rhetoric.

    As far as the Metz, the last soldier was removed from the Metz on November 22, 1944. Patton was held from attacking the Metz because of Monty and the weather until November 8th. The Metz was a fortress almost completely underground. Patton in talking about it said it was the most impressive fortress he had ever seen and said it was reinforced from lessons learned in WWI. The reason it took two weeks to destroy the “second” time was that it had been reinforced and because the Moselle had flooded and they were in a marsh thanks to the fact they had been forced to sit there three months. The Metz fell with 12 days of bloody fighting and that by Walker’s XX Corps alone. The other two days they surrounded the fortress deciding whether to pour gasoline in it and set it on fire or wait for the Germans to surrender. The rest of Patton’s corps were crossing the Moselle and fighting on other fronts. They could have been approaching Berlin if Monty had not had his way. Monty-ites should NEVER bring up the Metz, especially since they seem to know very little about the actual campaign. They wouldn’t say three months as Patton took it in three days the first time and two weeks the second time and was sitting in a defensive posture for three months having his supplies stripped. This incensed him and to act like it was his idea or something he did by “choosing” not to attack is an affront to facts but also adding insult to injury, especially in the context of defending Monty of all people. As you can see, the Metz is the single most over-exaggerated battle in the entire war. It comes up only as Montyites are grasping for something to fault Patton for. The two slapping incidents must be a godsend to them.

    (adamcotton @ Dec 31 2005, 09:54 AM) [post=43834]Patton didn't arrive in France until the start of August, 1944, but his troops quickly overran Brittany. However, it is often forgotten that it was Monty and his troops that drew the main strength of the German army, which enabled Patton to make good progress and take Le Mans on 8 August before turning north and heading for Argentan. [/b]
    Patton arrived in Normandy on July 7th. He notes that in the meeting in the “war tent” on the 7th Monty was explaining in “great detail” why he had not met his D-Day objective Caen. There is no doubt in my mind that Patton would not only have taken Caen in the first few hours but would have been attacking on the other side of it and it would not have had to have been demolished by air. Not even the slightest doubt. But, the delay of Patton arriving in France was two-fold. First they thought that he might have to be sent to Italy to bail out Clark. The Chiefs of Staff said that only Patton could do that and Ike said it might have been a mistake not to give it to Patton in the first place. The second one is unlike the British, the Germans knew the threat of Patton and that he was not just “another” general. He was a dangerous killer. They claimed he would show up at unexpected times with coordinated attacks that drove them to flee. Patton was the one and only reason that FUSAG worked. It illustrates how incredibly terrified the Germans were of Patton. They were not afraid of Monty. He was a “paper tiger” to them. They were so terrified of Patton that they chose to all but ignore the massive invasion at Normandy. They simply couldn’t risk Patton surrounding them. They did not pull the troops until they found out that the rapid movement of the Third Army was actually Patton and they had been duped.

    It is true that initially Monty drew the Germans. This is because Caen was so critical. Then COBRA took advantage of that. Ike, Bradley and Patton knew that Monty was not going anywhere despite his constant boasts. But eventually, these same Germans that held Monty to a stalemate were drawn away to try to stop Patton’s break out as well as divisions moved from Germany. Even after these divisions moved, Monty still crawled. By late fall, Patton was facing the brunt of the German armored divisions because they were trying to keep him from Berlin. That was more important than keeping Monty on the away from a conquered Paris. In the breakout the Monty-ites here seem to imply that Patton met no resistance that it was open field. I would expect that reaction, I don’t doubt that Monty pushed that idea as well. But reading battle accounts, you quickly see that the forces held in Pas de Calias when into the path of the breakout to try to stop it. Not only was this more armor but also the crack German divisions. Also keep in mind that Third Army capture over 600,000 German prisoners in the 9 months it drove to Germany. That’s one army! Only one army of the six armies in Normandy. The dash was a dash of death and destruction for the Germans, not a joy ride on a quiet French road. You really need to look into this. I suggest you read The Patton Papers. The day-to-day operations are well chronicled in his diary.

    (adamcotton @ Dec 31 2005, 09:54 AM) [post=43834]It may be argued, from the foregoing, that Mony and Patton were complimentary to one another. Patton, however, firmly believed that the war could be brought to an end by the close of 1944, and it was this belief that fuelled his "dash" across France and Germany. A more cautious commander may not have moved on Metz when Patton elected to. [/b]
    The reason Patton could “dash” across France and Germany is because he attacked constantly. He would drive his men because as he said they did not want to face the Germans dug in. When his men needed rest and maintenance, he would rotate in the reserves. He was obsessed with never putting his army in a situation like he saw in WWI. He believed that the only safe way to exist in the midst of your enemy is to keep him on the run where he was easy to destroy. Patton keeping the Germans moving exposed them to TAC air. You and I know what that means Adam. We have had many debates on that subject alone. Patton knew how to use his forces extremely well, better than any general on either side. Allowing the enemy to dig in was suicide. There were several commanders of other divisions that requested to Ike and Bradley to be transferred under Patton because they knew they could be effective if they got under a general that would use the divisions properly.

    (adamcotton @ Dec 31 2005, 09:54 AM) [post=43834]Joining up with Alexander Patch and the 7th Army Patton and his troops crossed the Rhine at Oppenheim on 22nd March 1945. He then sent a task force to liberate the Hammelburg Prison Camp, which did indeed house his son-in-law, John K. Waters. Patton continued to advance deep into Nazi Germany and eventually crossed into Czechoslovakia but was forced to withdraw after protests from Joseph Stalin and the Red Army. [/b]
    Patton’s 4th Army reached the Rhine on March 7, 1944. Bradley did not allow Patton to cross it. He made him wait on Patch’s Seventh Army. After begging Bradley, he also managed to attack Andernach with 11th Army and captured 8000 prisoners with 11th Armored. Two days later with two armored divisions ready to cross, he still had to wait for Patch before crossing the Rhine. This goes contrary to Patton’s philosophy that you never stop short of a river or city. Devers wanted him to wait on an air bombardment which would take 10 days. He didn’t want to wait and decided to cross and found 15th Panzer “in bed” as he said it.

    (adamcotton @ Dec 31 2005, 09:54 AM) [post=43834]What resonates clearly for me is how driven by personal ambition was Patton; Monty was afflicted with the same malaise, but perhaps tempered his with greater concern for the safety of his troops. And what the slapping incidents illustrate to me is not only how unaware of the concepts of battle fatigue and shell-shock was Patton, but how truly in love with warfare he was. As he said himself, "God, I love the smell of battle"! [/b]
    The man and the general are inseparable. Some people parachute off buildings, antennas, bridges, and cliffs to get a rush. Patton loved the fight more than the praise. He was a warrior, not just a general. This is why his kill ratio was 12:1. Patton proved that a good defense is a good offense. Much of what Monty did not face was what Patton, destroyed killed or captured. His tactics moved him fast no matter where you placed him. He was a master strategist, tactician and leader. If you read his diaries he was terrified that stopping the attacks would get more of his men killed. Patton would often appear at the very front of the battle with shells around him and pull his pistols and fight beside the front line men. He would go out of his way to praise them because he said that the only thing a soldier needs to follow you into hell is a leader that gets victories and constant praise for their efforts and accomplishments. He was the only general that made regular visits to the field hospitals to spend time with the men. They absolutely loved him. The “blood and guts” reputation was not given to him by his men but by the media and it was more of a reputation for what he caused than what his men received as the records show. He would rarely appear with his subordinate commanders because he did not want to interfere with their execution of his orders and pressure them with his presence. He often talked about how curious he was as to the situation with a certain group but said unless he got info that said something was going wrong he was not going to discourage his leaders or steal their confidence by showing up and pressuring them.

    (adamcotton @ Dec 31 2005, 09:54 AM) [post=43834]After the war Patton was made governor of Bavaria. He was severely criticized for allowing Nazis to remain in office and at a press conference on 22nd September 1945, Patton created outrage when he said: "This Nazi thing. It's just like a Democratic-Republican election fight." I think that remark perhaps illustrates even more that Patton was motivated not so much by a patriotic urge to vanquish an evil foe, but by a desire to go to war with someone, anyone!
    [/b]
    Patton comments on this and why he said it. In speaking of the SS, he said that originally they were brutal and skilled monsters but as time went on they ran out of these monsters and had to fill them with draftees. This is why he made the analogy that not all Nazis were bad, some where just in the party like Democrats or Republicans join their party. As far as employing Nazis, the only ones he employed were non-military ones because the cities were in chaos and he need qualified people to run the public services so he used Nazis until they got him some replacements that could run the transportation or other operations that took some know-how. Patton hated Nazis, particularly officers. He captures two different officers, an SS General (Dunckern) and a Wehrmacht Colonel (Meyer) at the Metz when they are deciding what to do. He treats the SS General with great disrespect and brow-beats him and hands him over to the French. Then they bring in the Colonel who he treats with great respect and honor as a soldier. He questions him about how to get the men trapped inside the Metz out without killing all of them. Patton said he could have had the facility destroyed. The Colonel said they knew that and were surprised that this didn’t happen. He had the Colonel kept in a different place and treated good for the night they kept them both. The Colonel thanked Patton that he was not put in with the SS General.


    I find virtually all denigrations of Patton to be based more on an "amalgum" as you say of the movie Patton and a pro-Monty envy, than a specific knowledge of the man and the details of his fighting. If you want to know the truth, read his letters and his diary. One does not lie about tactical operations and reasons for it in their diary as it is a personal book documenting history for later review. There is no reason to put on a show for ones’ self. The Patton Papers has letters and diary entries and explains the contexts that Patton comments on. They are highly detailed.

    Reading these accounts I began to realize that Monty’s incompetence cost the Allies many, many men. But I don’t blame Monty, I blame Ike. Ike as a weak-kneed individual that spent his time trying to please the British and they walked all over him. His political aspirations were visible at that point and his self-interests are more to blame than anyone else’s. Had Patton been commander of all ground forces and allowed to execute his plans, there is not the slightest doubt in my mind that WWII in Germany would have ended well before the end of 1944 and we would never have had the sorrows of Market Garden, Caen and Bastone, and that Caen would have fallen on early D-Day. Timing is crucial in warfare. Not in any arena on any front did the Germans ever even slow Patton down. The fact his wide open attack method caused him to walk over Germany and the “cautious” and meticulous methods of Monty kept him bogged down most of the war prove that Patton’s strategy was correct and Monty’s was not. Monty-ites are grossly unaware of how often Patton's divisions were stripped from him to go help Monty get moving. Like I said, there are PLENTY of things to “tip your hat” to the British on in WWII. Monty was not one of them.


    (adamcotton @ Dec 31 2005, 05:47 AM) [post=43823]I would just add that, personally, I do rate Patton the better field commander. But to label Monty as "incompetent" is going way too far! He was flawed, for sure, but he nonetheless was extremely capable. Erwin Rommel certainly thought so!
    [/b]
    I have read the Rommel Papers as well. Rommel did not revere Monty at all. He claimed he was "over-cautious". It was the RAF that caused him heartburn in Africa.
     
  10. Glider

    Glider Senior Member

    Jimbo
    I agree with a lot of what you say although the temperature is a bit high. One question what do you see as Pattons weaknesses?
     
  11. jimbotosome

    jimbotosome Discharged

    (Glider @ Dec 31 2005, 02:26 PM) [post=43840]Jimbo
    I agree with a lot of what you say although the temperature is a bit high. One question what do you see as Pattons weaknesses?
    [/b]
    Patton had many weaknesses. Fortunately, few of them affected his ability as a combat leader. The sum total of Patton’s weaknesses was that he was no good for a supreme commander because he had very few diplomatic skills when enduring the weaknesses of others. He was as apolitical as you can get and had little patience for bureaucracy. He was too critical of other officers as he believed they had to be like him to match up but most of that was in private.

    Patton was also bull headed. He was truly a master at warfare more so than anyone I have ever seen. He was genuinely obsessed with it, almost possessed with it. He could train a division up to an expert level in no time at all because he understood the concepts and tricks to leveraging position and strengths, the amplification of one’s strength by constant attack (which takes an incredible amount of nerve) as well as analyzing the weak points in enemy positions and points on a map. This is why he crossed the Siegfried Line in three places simultaneously. But this had a downside too. This meant he was very dogmatic about his way. Since he was so expert in tactics this rarely hurt him. When I played football (American football), I played on the defense and we would attack offenses who are trying to score. Defensive coaches are typically very aggressive and want to see a lot of violence because it confuses the other team and causes turnovers. I was always taught that when you make a mistake on the football field, go with it. In other words, don’t try to correct a mistake in the middle of the play as there is rarely time since it is such a quick game so do as much damage as you can with what you chose to do. This means that if you fell for a fake (feign) to a fullback and the quarterback kept the ball, destroy the full back so he is thinking about you on the next play.

    When I read Patton’s teaching to his generals on warfare it makes me think of that training I received. Make even mistakes cost your enemy dearly. He was constantly trying to instill the killer instinct into them so they wouldn’t be reserved. This made his divisions dangerous and mean. Patton was convinced his divisions were far superior to even the SS troops and offered to attack SS anywhere anytime. Patton had the relentless viciousness of a Marine but had the technical know how to always exploit his enemy. An attitude like that is absolutely contagious to subordinate officers and men. If you were a soldier in a foxhole, would you want a commander that turned you and your fellow soldiers into wild badgers and put you in a position to go nuts on your enemy that they fled they sometimes fled the area at the reputation of your group, or would you want to sit in the fox hole obsessed with fear and doubt as to whether you were better than the enemy you would face.

    Patton’s worst weakness was his lack of discretion when in front of the press corps. Having few political/bureaucratic/diplomatic skills meant he could say things that were easy to take out of context or he just didn’t give a crap what people thought about them. The press with their insolence toward the well being of the allied soldier were merciless on him. In the period after the Knutsford incident where the press made up a story about him excluding the Russians he decided not to speak to the press for about six months. Incidentally, the movie made it seem like he said it. Only one press member there claimed he did, the other claimed he mentioned the Russians as did the ladies putting on the breakfast signed affidavits claiming he had included them as well as Gay his deputy. Patton was so afraid this was going to turn Ike against him (it was shortly after the slapping incidents) that he offered to attack with an army separate from the rest in Northern France just to draw the Germans away from the real invasion. This was motivated out of fear of being relieved and the request was where Beetle Smith got the idea of the Calais ruse using Patton as bait because the Germans were convinced that Patton would lead the invasion thinking that the slapping of two soldiers would never cause them to send home their greatest general. The number one issue on the German’s minds during the invasion period is “where is Patton?”. Even the press was kept in the dark (you might as well telegram Berlin if you told them).

    Patton admitted in his diaries that there were times where he was caught by surprise in that he didn’t see an attack coming that could have been a disaster but because he was executing an attack at the time it would foil the German attack. The thing to remember about Patton is that he was the real deal when you saw him. There was no pretense. He was good and believed he was the best. While this seems arrogant it was hard to dispute it because from FDR down to Bradley, his superiors always claimed that no matter where he would be placed he would break out and have the Germans on the run in short order. They were astounded by it especially in comparison to First Army and Sixth Army that moved so much slower than he did with the same supplies and resistance.

    I don’t know if you know what an idiot-savant is but it is someone that has seemingly superhuman skills in one specific area and is inept in others. If you were going to classify Patton, you would say he was one of these where his exceptional skill was in the execution of combined arms warfare and was inept in all social graces as a general. This why everybody believed the absence of war would kill him. It was all he was about. It simply was not an act.

    As far as the temperature being high, I don’t blame you for thinking that, because I probably sound like a Patton-o-holic. But I really am not. Go read my posts. I tend to greatly downplay ground warfare choosing to the sole determining factor to the outcomes of war as air supremacy. But reading The Patton Papers exploded tons of myths about him and pointed out how understated other myths really were.
     
  12. Exxley

    Exxley Senior Member

    The number one issue on the German’s minds during the invasion period is “where is Patton?”.

    Funny thing is that Patton is hardly mentionned in any of von Rundstedt's post war talk. I suspect Patton's "stellar" performance in Lorraine has something to do with it.
     
  13. jimbotosome

    jimbotosome Discharged

    (Exxley @ Dec 31 2005, 09:26 PM) [post=43846]The number one issue on the German’s minds during the invasion period is “where is Patton?”.

    Funny thing is that Patton is hardly mentionned in any of von Rundstedt's post war talk. I suspect Patton's "stellar" performance in Lorraine has something to do with it.
    [/b]
    Funny but Von Rundstedt called Patton the Allies' "best". It was probably Patton's unthinkable drive to Bastone that broke Von Rundstedt's back and tore him a new you know what that probably impressed him the most.

    Of course I realized you didn’t know anything about the campaign when you said that. In the Lorraine campaign (actually the Saar Campaign), Patton was still halted for Market Garden and the lack of Antwerp being opened long enough to get supplies and it allowed Hitler to specifically order Von Runstedt to build up armored forces in front of Patton as he was out of fuel and ammo. The worst part though was the weather. It rained from the middle of November to the middle of December (it finally stopped on Dec 15) and the land had turned into liquid mud. The Saar River was six times is normal size having long since flooded the area. Neither side could move and neither side had fuel. In December Patton finally got fuel and ammo restored and immediately began to drive against the amassed armor to the Siegfried Line. For two weeks he inflicted heavy casualties on the Germans driving them all the way to the Siegfried Line. Patton was ready to drive across it and then the Ardennes Offensive (enabled by Market Garden) occurred through Bastone. We all know what Patton did there. Von Rundstadt was no exception. Patton coming to Bastone was a disaster for Von Rundstedt. He was driven wherever Patton pleased just like the other generals that opposed him. But at the start of the Saar campaign, in early September, being within 60 miles of Germany with the Germans on the dead run in when Patton was in position to blow through the Siegfried line undefended, being halted by Market Garden saved Berlin for another six months.

    Monty claimed the Rhine could only be crossed at Cologne and wanted all Allied forces under a single Ground Commander (guess who he thought that should be). Monty also told Ike and Bradley that when he controlled the ground forces they were successful but when Ike took it over it became a stalemate. Patton could not see why they didn’t relieve Monty and send him back to England. Exx, you better stick with the slapping incidents. They are your only chance to get a lick in on Patton. Patton’s not a real easy target to snipe when you have the details of his campaigns. Better still you should go after Devers or Patch or some other American commander. They are much easier targets.
     
  14. Exxley

    Exxley Senior Member

    Funny but Von Rundstedt called Patton the Allies' "best".
    The exact quote from Rundstedt would be appreciated, rather than some copy and paste from the Net.

    It was probably Patton's unthinkable drive to Bastone that broke Von Rundstedt's back and tore him a new you know what that probably impressed him the most.
    Rundstedt could hardly care less since he wasnt involved in the operational conduct of the Battle of the Bulge.

    Of course I realized you didn’t know anything about the campaign when you said that.
    You didnt prove you knew anything about it either. See below.

    In the Lorraine campaign (actually the Saar Campaign), Patton was still halted for Market Garden and the lack of Antwerp being opened long enough to get supplies and it allowed Hitler to specifically order Von Runstedt to build up armored forces in front of Patton as he was out of fuel and ammo.
    Hardly so. Manteuffel's Fifth Panzer Army had been refitting since the end of August, quite some time before the decision for Market Garden was taken.

    The worst part though was the weather. It rained from the middle of November to the middle of December (it finally stopped on Dec 15) and the land had turned into liquid mud. The Saar River was six times is normal size having long since flooded the area. Neither side could move and neither side had fuel. In December Patton finally got fuel and ammo restored and immediately began to drive against the amassed armor to the Siegfried Line.
    And one has to wonder why no mention of the Third Army november's offensive is made. How about the fact that Patton was hardly at its best, while facing 3 depleted Volksgrenadier Divisions and 1 Pz-Division ?

    For two weeks he inflicted heavy casualties on the Germans driving them all the way to the Siegfried Line. Patton was ready to drive across it and then the Ardennes Offensive (enabled by Market Garden) occurred through Bastone. We all know what Patton did there. Von Rundstadt was no exception. Patton coming to Bastone was a disaster for Von Rundstedt. He was driven wherever Patton pleased just like the other generals that opposed him.
    Like I said above, Rundstedt was hardly involved in the operational conduct of the Battle of the Bulge.

    But at the start of the Saar campaign, in early September, being within 60 miles of Germany with the Germans on the dead run in when Patton was in position to blow through the Siegfried line undefended, being halted by Market Garden saved Berlin for another six months.
    Given what we know of Knobelsdorff's First Army strenght from August to September, the claim that the Siegfried line was undefended is total rubbish to say the least.

    Exx, you better stick with the slapping incidents. They are your only chance to get a lick in on Patton. Patton’s not a real easy target to snipe when you have the details of his campaigns. Better still you should go after Devers or Patch or some other American commander. They are much easier targets.

    I'd suggest you to read anything about the Northwestern campaign in Europe outside of Patton's memoirs. The november offensive in Lorraine was hardly an impressive feat.
     
  15. adamcotton

    adamcotton Senior Member

    "I find virtually all denigrations of Patton to be based more on an "amalgum" as you say of the movie Patton and a pro-Monty envy, than a specific knowledge of the man and the details of his fighting. If you want to know the truth, read his letters and his diary. One does not lie about tactical operations and reasons for it in their diary as it is a personal book documenting history for later review. There is no reason to put on a show for ones’ self. The Patton Papers has letters and diary entries and explains the contexts that Patton comments on. They are highly detailed."

    Jimbo, it is rather naieve of you to state that diaries, by their nature, do not lie! You are obviously unaware that Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig (commander of the BEF) kept meticulous day-by-day diaries during the First World War. He subsequently edited and re-wrote these before publishing them for public consumption after the war - I wonder why?
     
  16. Max (UK)

    Max (UK) Member

    </div><div class='quotemain'>

    You better stick with the slapping incidents. They are your only chance to get a lick in on Patton.

    If you want to know the truth, read his letters and his diary.

    [/b]

    You've obviously done extremely limited and biased reading on Patton/Monty, "Jimbo".

    If I felt it was worth the time, I would join in this argument. Alas, I don't.

    That line about his letters and diary is a classic. :D Hilarious !!
     
  17. angie999

    angie999 Very Senior Member

    (jimbotosome @ Jan 1 2006, 02:10 AM) [post=43844] Patton had many weaknesses. Fortunately, few of them affected his ability as a combat leader. [/b]

    What abilities would they be? He was good at rapid movement in undefended territory, often ignoring logistics in the process, but no better than average in actual battle. Of course, he though he was the best, but then he would.
     
  18. Glider

    Glider Senior Member

    Trying to look at this impartially I would suggest that Patton is the better attacking General. There is no doubt that Monty missed opportunities that Patton would have exploited.

    However I believe that if you were fighting a defensive battle then Monty would be your man. In defence you need that attention to detail, careful allocation of resources and the ability to motivate your troops to believe that after reverses that they can win.
    Whilst both could motivate their troops, Patton wouldn't have had the patience needed for that kind of battle. His reliance on offence could easily have seen him expose his troops and led to defeat. As Jimbo pointed out its a problem that Patton saw in himself but he had been able to attack in another area and impose himself on the enemy. In a true defensive battle such as the Germans faced in Russia he probably wouldn't have had that luxury.

    The Diaries are illuminating but diaries from anyone by there nature, tend to have a bias, as do a persons history when written by that person. For example to blame the Battle of the Bulge on Market Garden is pushing things a bit. Market Garden was stopped by the troops in place, the problem being that Monty didn't believe that they were there.
    It should also be remembered that Monty's actions during the Battle of the Bulge were spot on and I don't feel that he is given enough credit for that. What he said and the impression that he gave that he personally saved the day were way off mark, but his actions in the heat of the moment were good.

    It should be remembered that Market Garden was a gamble worth taking. If the final bridge had been relieved and secured there was a significant chance that the war would have been shortened considerably. The tragedy is that these two generals wouldn't/couldn't work together. We all know that the releiving forces were little more than a day late. If Patton had been given charge of the relieving forces its my belief that they would have got there in time even if he had been forced to kick them all the way personally.

    The original thread was about Montgomery and was he a liability. In summary my view is that he wasn't a liability but he wasn't as exceptional as he was made out to be.
     
  19. jimbotosome

    jimbotosome Discharged

    (angie999 @ Jan 1 2006, 08:02 AM) [post=43861](jimbotosome @ Jan 1 2006, 02:10 AM) [post=43844] Patton had many weaknesses. Fortunately, few of them affected his ability as a combat leader. [/b]

    What abilities would they be? He was good at rapid movement in undefended territory, often ignoring logistics in the process, but no better than average in actual battle. Of course, he though he was the best, but then he would.
    [/b] Angie, the inference here is a common one and comes mainly from the those with a favor for Monty. The inference is that Hitler didn't care if Patton destroyed Germany and conquered Berlin quickly as long as he could keep Monty tied up at Caen. In doing this he never moved any armor to stop the breakout and he was satisfied with holding Monty at bay while his empire fell to Patton. Even you have to admit that argument is not only unfactual but a tad irrational.
     
  20. jimbotosome

    jimbotosome Discharged

    (Exxley @ Jan 1 2006, 06:02 AM) [post=43855] Funny but Von Rundstedt called Patton the Allies' "best".
    The exact quote from Rundstedt would be appreciated, rather than some copy and paste from the Net. [/b]
    Never read his book. Also never thought it was a question that the Germans generals believed Patton to be the most feared of the Allied generals.

    (Exxley @ Jan 1 2006, 06:02 AM) [post=43855]Rundstedt could hardly care less since he wasnt involved in the operational conduct of the Battle of the Bulge. [/b]
    You really need to do a little more study of the attack on the Battle of the Bulge and the counterattack of Patton.

    (Exxley @ Jan 1 2006, 06:02 AM) [post=43855]In the Lorraine campaign (actually the Saar Campaign), Patton was still halted for Market Garden and the lack of Antwerp being opened long enough to get supplies and it allowed Hitler to specifically order Von Runstedt to build up armored forces in front of Patton as he was out of fuel and ammo.
    Hardly so. Manteuffel's Fifth Panzer Army had been refitting since the end of August, quite some time before the decision for Market Garden was taken. [/b]
    The Germans ahead of Patton were not refitting they were running and abandoning armor that could not get away fast enough. The fact they were moving in retreat made them prey to fighter/bombers.

    (Exxley @ Jan 1 2006, 06:02 AM) [post=43855]And one has to wonder why no mention of the Third Army november's offensive is made. How about the fact that Patton was hardly at its best, while facing 3 depleted Volksgrenadier Divisions and 1 Pz-Division ? [/b]
    Didn't you just say that "Manteuffel's Fifth Panzer Army had been refitting since the end of August"? Make up your mind Exx. Was it the complete German army there or no one at all? Geez...

    (Exxley @ Jan 1 2006, 06:02 AM) [post=43855]Like I said above, Rundstedt was hardly involved in the operational conduct of the Battle of the Bulge. [/b]
    Like I said, you don't know what you are talking about. Von Runstedt led the breakthrough in the Ardennes and got stopped at Bastone where Patton decimated his forces. You better start at the beginning Exx.

    (Exxley @ Jan 1 2006, 06:02 AM) [post=43855]But at the start of the Saar campaign, in early September, being within 60 miles of Germany with the Germans on the dead run in when Patton was in position to blow through the Siegfried line undefended, being halted by Market Garden saved Berlin for another six months.
    Given what we know of Knobelsdorff's First Army strenght from August to September, the claim that the Siegfried line was undefended is total rubbish to say the least. [/b]
    The Germans were in retreat. Even after reinforcing it Patton's (Walker's) XX corps moved up to the border of it. The Germans knicknamed Patton’s XX Corps “the Ghost Corps”.

    (Exxley @ Jan 1 2006, 06:02 AM) [post=43855] Exx, you better stick with the slapping incidents. They are your only chance to get a lick in on Patton. Patton’s not a real easy target to snipe when you have the details of his campaigns. Better still you should go after Devers or Patch or some other American commander. They are much easier targets.

    I'd suggest you to read anything about the Northwestern campaign in Europe outside of Patton's memoirs. The november offensive in Lorraine was hardly an impressive feat.
    [/b]
    The “late” November-early December offensive of Patton’s caused a fall of the reinforced Metz in 12 days and drove the Germans 60 miles back across the Siegfried Line in 36 hours with tremedous losses to the Germans. They were held up from crossing the Siegfried line and driving to the Rhine by the impressive drive to Bastone. Exx, I suggest you quit surfing and start reading some books on the Northwestern campaign in Europe.
     

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