Harold Rupert Leofric George ALEXANDER, KG GCB OM GCMG CSI DSO MC CD PC PC(Can) Colonel Irish Guards

Discussion in 'The Brigade of Guards' started by Gerry Chester, May 5, 2005.

  1. Gerry Chester

    Gerry Chester WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

  2. Jaeger

    Jaeger Senior Member

    What does the people here think of Alexander? We seem to have the ability to discuss Monty or Patton till the end of time, but having done a quick search for Alex, I've found nowt.

    Other forums frequently portray him as a dud. A charming gentleman that really didn't bring much to the table.

    A shining reputation from WWI and the only superior that managed to keep Monty happy. Liked by both Brits and Yanks.

    What do you make of Alex?
     
  3. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Member

    Having read a fair number of books in which Alex figures ( but not - yet - Nigel Nicholson's 1973 biography ) I tend to go along with your summing-up ( although I think 'dud' is maybe a little too strong ).

    There is an interesting character assessment in Alanbrooke's 'War Diaries' ( 2001, pp 646-7 ). An exceptionally calm, confident and attractive personality. 'One could not help being fond of him'. But with a 'deficiency of brains and character'. Alanbrooke felt that talking to Alex was like looking in a mirror ie he would reflect the person to whom he was talking and who was dominating him. 'I was always angry that the other side of him did not live up to (his) charming exterior'.

    Personally, I think it would have been a total disaster if Eisenhower's job went to Alex instead.....
     
  4. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    I've got his autograph.
    Posted it before on this thread.
     
  5. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran Patron

    Hi Owen

    Now come on lad........ you can do better than this !

    A liitle brightness on the image would do wonders :)

    Ron

    ps
    Still a very good souvenir and thanks for sharing
     
  6. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    OK, Ron, here goes.
    [​IMG]
     
  7. Gerard

    Gerard Seelow/Prora

    I always thought that Alex got a bit of unfair press. Charismatic, Brave, able to get on with any commander that he served with (including Montgomery and Stilwell) he was an able commander but unfortunately Montgomery and Brooke did not seem to rate him highly so his reputation suffered. I always rated him.
     
  8. 4th wilts

    4th wilts Discharged

    a yes man.yours,4th wilts.
     
  9. Gerard

    Gerard Seelow/Prora

    a yes man.yours,4th wilts.
    How so Lee?
     
  10. 4th wilts

    4th wilts Discharged

    monty says,you should take from 8th army;201st gds bde group,7th armd div,4th indian ind div,horrocks and pip roberts,brilliant armd generals ,and give it to british first armys v corps.alex says yes,a great idea.yours,lee.
     
  11. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Lee, are you referring to the moves to out-flank the very strongly heald Enfidaville positions and finish off the Tunisian campaign?
    Those units were moved to attack in more favourable terrain.
    Why batter yourself head-on against strongly held lines when an attack somwhere else would work better.
    So , "Yes" was the right decision. IMHO.
     
  12. Gerry Chester

    Gerry Chester WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    monty says,you should take from 8th army;201st gds bde group,7th armd div,4th indian ind div,horrocks and pip roberts,brilliant armd generals ,and give it to british first armys v corps.alex says yes,a great idea.

    Hi Lee,

    Not true:

    "Capture of the enemy occupied Longstop Hill, dominating the Medjerda Valley and the road to Tunis, was a prerequisite to the implementation of Alexander's 1943 plan of assault, summarised as follows: "Two infantry divisions - 4th British and 4th Indian - will attack side by side at 3 am on 6 May on a very narrow 3,000 yard front astride the Medjez-Tunis road. They will be supported by 650 guns with about 350 rounds per gun and by every aircraft the Tactical Air Forces can sensibly use. The 25th Army Tank Brigade in Churchills will give them close tank support and Scorpions will be available to help breach the minefields. As soon as adequate breaches have been made the two British armoured divisions - 6th and 7th - will pass through heading at speed for Tunis." 5
    Longstop Hill, having been cleared of the enemy by 78th Division, supported by Churchills of the North Irish Horse:"At 0430 hours on 6th May the big attack started. The 4th British Division was on the right and 4th Indian Division, supported by 142nd R.A.C., with N.I.H. C squadron vice their A squadron, and 145th R.A.C., were on the left. 145th R.A.C., supported 5th Indian Brigade and 142nd R.A.C. the 7th Indian Brigade. C squadron N.I.H. passed through the Gab Gab Gap and moved forward to an assembly area. By 0600 hours the first phase of the attack had proved successful and 142nd R.A.C. pushed through the Gap at about 0800 hours. C squadron N.I.H., whose role was to protect the left flank, formed up behind Souissi but the advance was slightly delayed by the infantry, who were late. By 1000 hours 7th Indian Infantry Brigade were on their first objective and immediately afterwards they pushed right on to Aoud Zriga. During this action C squadron captured six 88 mm. anti-tank guns, two of whose crews did not fire a shot.
    As C squadron reached the final objective the leading elements of 7th Armoured Division were starting to pass through the hole which had been punched. At the same time 6th Armoured were streaming through on the right. The timing of the whole operation was extraordinarily good and the work of the artillery against enemy anti-tank guns extremely effective and splendidly executed. Only five enemy tanks were seen and they were engaged as they moved away from the final objective which was immediately converted into a firm base by our infantry and anti-tank guns."6
    General B.G. Horrocks:"By mid-day we were through the crust and the tanks were grinding their way forward down the valley towards Tunis. It was a most inspiring sight to see these two well-trained and experienced armoured divisions being used for the role for which armoured divisions were specifically designed—to exploit a break-through deep into the enemy's heart. They worked like efficient machines, aircraft, guns, tanks, infantry and vehicles each fitting into the jigsaw of battle in its proper place. 7
    Regrettably, Montgomery completely ignored the lesson learned and continued to belittle the Churchill even to the extent of saying so to the Prime Minister. Looking back, pique on Monty's part probably had a lot to do with it. Prior to the final stages of the campaign, in a signal to Alexander verging on impertinence he wrote, as recorded by General Sir William Jackson:"I suggest a decision is required as to who plays the major part in the final assaults on the enemy's last positions, There seems to be two alternatives:
    A. Eighth Army does it. In this case I must move forward using all my divisions and face up to a real battle on the Enfidaville position. In this case I would have to have at my disposal all the resources in Northern Tunisia.
    B. First Army does it. In this case I could sit tight and merely exert pressure. On no account must we split our effort and launch two or more thrusts none of which can be sustained. Presumably you will decide if it is to be A or B."
    Alexander's response was short and very much to the point."Main effort in the next phase will be by First Army. Preparations already well advanced for attack earliest date 22 April. Most suitable area for deployment armour is in the plain west of Tunis so require 7 Armoured Div and 1 Armoured C Regt to join IX Corps [1st Army] from you as early as can be arranged, Hope you can develop maximum pressure against Enfidaville position to fit in with First Army attack." 8
    Cheers, Gerry
     
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  13. Gerard

    Gerard Seelow/Prora

    Like i said I think Alex was a better leader of men than he was given credit for, especially by Montgomery.
     
  14. Paul Reed

    Paul Reed Ubique

    Must say I have never met an Italy vet who speaks badly of him; my own father has nothing but praise for Alexander, something he rarely does for any officer!
     
  15. 4th wilts

    4th wilts Discharged

    monty was no fool.alex visits monty,who offers transfer of said units,officers etc.alex then orders attack on first army front.yes man but a nice man as well.yours,lee.
     
  16. 4th wilts

    4th wilts Discharged

    alex,s plan for assault in 1st armies front,looks a lot like montys attack behind mareth too.new zealand and 1st armd div,while 50 div assaulting mareth itself.yours,lee.
     
  17. freebird

    freebird Senior Member

    Having read a fair number of books in which Alex figures ( but not - yet - Nigel Nicholson's 1973 biography ) I tend to go along with your summing-up ( although I think 'dud' is maybe a little too strong ).

    There is an interesting character assessment in Alanbrooke's 'War Diaries' ( 2001, pp 646-7 ). An exceptionally calm, confident and attractive personality. 'One could not help being fond of him'. But with a 'deficiency of brains and character'. Alanbrooke felt that talking to Alex was like looking in a mirror ie he would reflect the person to whom he was talking and who was dominating him. 'I was always angry that the other side of him did not live up to (his) charming exterior'.

    Personally, I think it would have been a total disaster if Eisenhower's job went to Alex instead.....
    In Eisenhowers job in N. Africa as supreme commander politics played a large part, {sorting out the French problems} so Alexander probably would have done well, Monty would have had trouble

    I always thought that Alex got a bit of unfair press. Charismatic, Brave, able to get on with any commander that he served with (including Montgomery and Stilwell) he was an able commander but unfortunately Montgomery and Brooke did not seem to rate him highly so his reputation suffered. I always rated him.

    Compared to the Military mind of Alan Brooke, most commanders looked like mental pygmies! :p By the time that Alexander took over in the desert, it was too late for a "knockout blow" {like O'Conner's campaign} but the point was to avoid a disaster on your own side. The Desert/Med campaign had quite a few "duds" {Fredenall, Lucas etc} but Alexander doesn't come to mind in that capacity
     
  18. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    Field Marshal Harold Rupert Leofric George Alexander, 1st Earl Alexander of Tunis KG GCB OM GCMG CSI DSO MC CD PC PC(Can) (10 December 1891 – 16 June 1969)

    From The Times, 10 May, 1985
    Screenshot2010-08-17at164748.png


    Photo I took a few years back when visiting Guards Museum at Wellington Barracks

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2019
  19. gmyles

    gmyles Senior Member

    27 Dec 1944 - 127th Light Field Ambulance, Athens, Greece. "Visit by Field Marshall Alexander (Supreme Allied Commander Mediterranean) who spoke to the patients and left them 2000 cigarettes".
     
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  20. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    bexley84 likes this.

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