The AUK - Claude Auchinleck

Discussion in 'North Africa & the Med' started by Gen.Horrocks, May 5, 2008.

  1. Gen.Horrocks

    Gen.Horrocks Discharged

    Hello all,Do you think Gen.Aukinleck,got a raw deal from Curchill?iam Tom by the way,a newbie you might say.Tom.
     
  2. Gerard

    Gerard Seelow/Prora

    Hello Tom. Well I think Claude Auchinleck did get a raw deal, given that he fought the Germans to a standstill at El Alamein.
     
  3. Mark Hone

    Mark Hone Senior Member

    Auchinleck was treated badly by Churchill considering his military achievements (see C. Barnett 'The Desert Generals). However, there were allegedly dark corners of his personal life, an aspect completely overlooked in Phillip Warner's biography of the Auk. This was supposedly the root of some officers' (e.g. Montgomery's) dislike of him. I won't go into detail here but see 'Empire and Sexuality' by Ronald Hyam.
     
  4. urqh

    urqh Senior Member

    I believe Dorman Smith one of the players if you like at that time, actually got a retraction from Churchil, before he completed his Hinge of Fate volume of the 6 ww2 classic histories, of Churchills version of events.
    Dorman Smith was a fascinating man in his own right and big supporter of the Auk. His later history regarding the Irish troubles is indicitive of an old soldier who wont lay down.
    As fir Auk, my own opinion and purely personal maybe not factual, is that he spent too much of his time at HQ doing his job, maybe thats not the wrong thing, but in an era of media generals, he would never be a match for the likes of Alex or Monty etc.
     
  5. airborne medic

    airborne medic Very Senior Member

    I would agree he got a bit of a rough deal...but Churchill needed a victory from somewhere and it is probably fair to say it was only going to come from North Africa and I think at the time of Churchill's visit to review the situation Auk was both GOC Middle East and GOC 8th Army......and Churchill came to the opinion that the Auk wasn't up to it any more and was going to get a new commander for both jobs....Alexander for one and Gott as GOC 8th Army...but of course Gott never managed to take up his job and the rest is history......
    I think also Auk doesn't get enough credit for setting up the defensive line that Montgomery used to stop the German attack soon after he took over......
     
  6. Gerard

    Gerard Seelow/Prora

    I think also Auk doesn't get enough credit for setting up the defensive line that Montgomery used to stop the German attack soon after he took over......
    Point well made AM. I think that 1st Alamein was a hugely important victory. Unfortunately the outcome was a standstill rather than a German defeat which is what sealed his fate. As VP has pointed out I did make a rather polarised viewpoint about the Auk being the one who stopped Rommel. I should quantify this by saying that although Monty ultimately defeated him, it was 8th army commanded by Auchinleck who halted the Afrika Korps at Alamein. and whilst Monty has reaped the rewards of history (and in most cases rightly so) Auchinleck tends to be forgotten about and his achievements forgotten about too.
     
  7. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    Rather polarised view there Ger.
    It would surely be fairer to say that both (among others) were instrumental in 'stopping' Rommel, but one does not often get the full credit he deserved.
     
  8. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    It should also be noted that while the Auk had a raw deal - so did Wavell - point was that the Auk had a bad record in appointing commanders and thus had to take over the 8th while they were in full flight from Gazala before Rommel ran out of steam at first El Alamein - Monty then took over a dispirited army - rejuvenated it - and organised some better layouts to the Auk's defences at Alam El Halfa before delivering the beating in which Rommel complained to Kesselring that - "the swine did not come out" - which told Rommel that he had been caught out on his tactics of allowing the British Armour to chase him onto his array of 88mm's - The British Armour was very badly led at that time and didn't get really organised - by Monty - until El Hamma in March '43... then we were winning but it took three commanders to do it - the first two were always under the gun with too much to do and not enough wherewithal to do it with !
     
  9. airborne medic

    airborne medic Very Senior Member

    I agree in fact all points relevant and I suppose you could add a general is only as good as the number of troops and quality that he has under his command.......
    Before this develops into an argument.....I'd suggest the early days in the Western Desert...was it O'Connor and about 30,000 Britsh and Comomnwealth troops caused huge problems to a much larger force of Italians?????
     
  10. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    No arguement on that one as it was indeed Gen O'Conner at Beda Fomm with much less troops - by that time - to take on a vastly superior Italian Arrny led by Grazziani- it was also just after Beda Fomm that the 4th Indian Div. was sent down to Ethiopia to deal with an equally large Italian Army of the Duke of Aosta - by Wavell who was then shattered by a ridiculous demand by Churchill - egged on by Eden to save Greece from the Italian invasion - the Kiwis were sent in thus leaving Wavell with very little - then Rommel entered the fray !.... and therefore it was ALL Wavell's fault and he was replaced with the Auk...then he lost Tobruk ... so it was ALL his fault - thus entered Monty !
    BUT - it has to be noted well - that the Italians were not the soldiers that the Germans were - with the possible exception of their Artillery - they were a poorly led and fed bunch !
    Cheers
     
  11. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    Of course Richard O'Connor would have had the top job had he not been captured.

    As it was, there had been so many sackings by Churchill that the candidates for the job were wearing thin.When Monty was appointed, he must have realised Churchill's predicament and was determined to meet the enemy under his own terms for engagement. Monty intention was not to be rushed by the politicians but the fight Rommel when the odds were in favour of an Allied victory which came to pass.

    Incidentally just reading a few notes of my cousin's husband who served in the NZ 22nd Wellington Battalion and fought the Germans in Greece, Crete and North Africa.He was captured in the desert when the NZ infantry was attacked by 40 plus German tanks.In his note, he records "riflles are no match against tanks.We were placed in an oven,a terrible place called Bardia,in a small cramped yard in the open,horrible conditions and little food for approximately 5 weeks.We were then relieved by South African troops".He was then transferred to an Anti AA Regiment equipped with Bofors and saw out the rest of the North African campaign as a gunner.At this stage he was sent back to NZ when he was declared to be unfit for further service in 1944 when it was discovered that he had picked up TB during his service.

    Just a short note but relates his experience of his service 1940-1944.Apparently his battalion was sent to England after being diverted from Egypt "as the German Army was preparing to cross the Channel"
     
  12. spidge

    spidge RAAF RESEARCHER Patron

    =Harry Ree;144744]Of course Richard O'Connor would have had the top job had he not been captured.


    During the withdrawal to Tobruk in April 1941, Morshead was the only general officer of Cyrenaica Command to avoid capture. That his division reached Tobruk almost exhausted but still an organized force and eager 'to have a go', was a commendable performance.

    Fate is a strange thing. Had Morshead been captured as well and the 9th division not a fighting force when it reached Tobruk, what would have been the result for the desert campaign at that crucial time.


    Just a short note but relates his experience of his service 1940-1944.Apparently his battalion was sent to England after being diverted from Egypt "as the German Army was preparing to cross the Channel"

    Australia also had a brigade there until the danger was over from Sealion!

    On 13 October 1939 Morshead (Tobruk commander) was appointed to the A.I.F. and given command of the 18th Brigade which sailed for Britain in May 1940. He spent five months training the 18th and leading it in operations while Britain came under attack by the Luftwaffe and faced the threat of invasion.
     
  13. spidge

    spidge RAAF RESEARCHER Patron

    I have this in my RAAF graves piece for Morocco cemetery and thought it would be interesting to post Auk's last resting place here also.

    Ben M'Sik European Cemetery in Morocco contains 38 Commonwealth burials of the Second World War. The Commonwealth plot also contains two war graves of other nationalities and seven non-war burials. Among the latter is the grave of Field Marshall Sir Claude Auchinleck who held a number of commands during the Second World War. He died in 1981 at the age of 96, and is buried alongside Galley Boy Raymond Steed, who at 14 years of age was the youngest known Commonwealth casualty of the Second World War.
     
  14. airborne medic

    airborne medic Very Senior Member

    Spidge thanks for the info on his burial place....presumably as he was a FM he was allowed to be buried close to a CWGC cemetery as I note it says 'in a non-war burial'....
     
  15. Mark Hone

    Mark Hone Senior Member

    Auchinleck lived in Morocco in his latter years. Various reasons are given for his settling there, the version my lecturer at Cambridge put forward is connected with the 'dark corners' of his private life I refer to in an earlier post.
     
  16. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Mark -
    one of the dark corners of the Auk's life was the fact that he married a Native Indian girl - which was a no-no in Army life and caused him to be shunned by many other of his peers- consequently he did not know the British Cadre of up and comers too well and caused his bad judgement - he had untold rows with Monty when he was Corps Commander over Monty in the U.K. - this in turn caused Monty to takeover 8th army a couple of day earlier than the Auk had planned - aways a fine soldier but owing to this he settled in Morocco - Dorman Smith was also partly shunned - another fine soldier but was involved with another officer's wife - that was another no-no in those days - so the two of them soldiered on together - in India mainly !
    Cheers
     
  17. The Auck

    The Auck Junior Member

    I know I'm a wee bit biased but read the book called Auchinleck by Philip Warner and was interested that there was this jealousy between Auchinleck and Montgomery which went back to their days at Sandhurst. Auchinleck was always the achiever with Montgomery in second place. When Auchinleck was given the South East Command, Montgomery was to take it over when Auchinleck moved to North Africa. So it continued and as far as I can make out the only time that Montgomery didn't follow Auchinleck's routes was Norway and Europe. But I'm not an expert at all so could be wrong, I'm just a supporter of the only General to stop Rommel!!
     

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  18. The Auck

    The Auck Junior Member

    My dad is third from the left behind Auchinleck. Beside Auchinleck is Colonel Timmons.
     
  19. Kuno

    Kuno Very Senior Member

    No arguement on that one as it was indeed Gen O'Conner at Beda Fomm with much less troops - by that time - to take on a vastly superior Italian Arrny led by Grazziani

    I fully agreee that O'Connor's victory at Beda Fomm is more or less forgotten somehow. But I would not say that the Italian army was superior to the Commonwealth forces. The had much more soldiers, no doubt. But if the equipment is not good, the supplies not granted and the army is largely built of infantry and not motorized units (at low spirit as well), then I would not see them as superior.
     
  20. Bodston

    Bodston Little Willy

    I always found Dorman-Smith a fascinating character. As Auck's GOC1 he was in effect the ideas man of the first battle of Alamein.
    Really must read his biog.
    Chink, A Biography by Lavinia Greacen
     

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