Montgomery Controversy

Discussion in 'General' started by merdiolu, Dec 12, 2013.

  1. Steve Mac

    Steve Mac Very Senior Member

    Hello merdiolu,

    I have no information about McCreery's involvement, but would like to clarify an apparent assumption...

    Although Operation Supercharge was executed in the 2nd New Zealand Division's sector of the Alamein line and ostensibly by that division, the two assault brigades that made the initial breach in the Axis defences on 2 November 1942 were the 151st Infantry Brigade, 50th (Northumbrian) Division and the 152nd Infantry Brigade, 51st (Highland) Division; who were both under the orders of the 2nd New Zealand Division for Supercharge. The 9th Armoured Brigade, 10 Armoured Division, provided tank support and had a very rough time.


  2. bexley84

    bexley84 Well-Known Member


    Sorry to interject into a most interesting debate and sharing of information, but just a short note on your reference to Richard McCreery:

    If you have the biography written by Richard Mead and published in 2012, you would be able to read about the various ups and downs of McCreery's relationship with Montgomery after the war. Clearly there remained a number of issues between the two from the prior period.

    For instance, in April 1959, McCreery wrote a ten page article entitled "Reflections of a Chief of Staff".. some "sound bites" from the article included:
    " In my opinion Monty made a great tactical mistake over the conduct of the battle (Alamein)".
    " It is no reflection on General Montgomery to say that the wearing of a black beret, even with two badges on it, does not make one a tank expert."

    Brooke apparently responded to the article and concluded with the comments:
    "... Monty was most certainly not always right, but in the majority of cases was not far out, thank heaven!".

    No doubt someone has had access to a copy of the 1959 McCreery article to read the full text.. doesn't look like it's in the Liddell-Hart Centre papers.

  3. 17thDYRCH

    17thDYRCH Senior Member Patron

    The fiasco at Dieppe has been thoroughly examined on this forum. Forum member Wills ( who can find a needle in a haystack ) supplied clips of Monty being interviewed by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in 1961. Monty did not approve of Dieppe for a variety of reasons and would not have consented to the raid. The assault troops took a beating...including numerous Brits.

    Why would the Canadians complain about the Sheldt?
    I will pass on the debate. I have too much respect for the British members here.
    The emoticon above will suffice.

  4. 17thDYRCH

    17thDYRCH Senior Member Patron

    First Canadian Army losses on the Scheldt totalled 12,873, killed, wounded or missing. Of this total, 6.367 were Canadian.
    You can do the math...
    I do not know what koolaid you are drinking when you state "liberating Holland was done by British and Polish Divisions.
  5. belasar

    belasar Junior Member

    Hate to burst your bubble, but Brits tended to be minorities in their own armies such as the famous 8th and far too unheralded 14th.
  6. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran


    It would appear but we STILL have a problem with language English Vs American et al inasmuch as MY interpretation of the word minority is that of

    "being lesser than a majority" inasmuch as you now claim that 'but Brits tend to be minorities in their own armies such as the famous 8th and far too

    unheralded 14th "

    So let us have a swire shufti at the OOB of that famous 8th Army - at El Alamein for example….where I find that Britain's contribution to the Oct 23rd

    Battle was in fact 6 full Divisions plus 3 Armoured Brigades - 2 New Zealand - 1 Australian - 1 South African - ( 1 - Polish came later ) 1 Greek bde - 1

    French bde

    Now that looks like a Majority of Brits to Commonwealth…..

    This majority continued even unto Sicily and Italy whereas we lost both Xth to the AMERICAN 5th Army and XXX corps to the UK but were augmented

    by 2- Canadian and 3- Indian and the Polish division….However we still had 78th Div -1st and 6th Armoured - 4th Brit - 1st - 5th - 46th - 56th - 21st TB - 25th

    TB - 4th and 7th AB - 23rd AB - 5 armoured car regiments- PLUS 7 Recce Regiments.

    I might also mention that the 5th US army ALWAYS had our Xth Corps..and after Rome we also sent our X111 Corps to 5th Us which was again

    augmented by a Brazilian Division and Japanese Division….

    So let us announce to all and including sundry that the British Army was NEVER in a minority position in their own Armies ...

  7. Steve Mac

    Steve Mac Very Senior Member

    Monty had four ADC's (personal dogsbodies) in NW Europe that accompanied him on all trips.

    His ADC's were Capt. Johnny Henderson (12th Lancers), Capt. Noel Chavasse (1/7th Middlesex Regt) and Capt. Ray BonDurant, an American who had been wounded fighting under Patton in Sicily.

    His superior ADC (personal assistant) was Lt-Col. Trumbull Warren (48th Highlanders), a Canadian that had served on Monty's staff in England in 1942. Trumbull Warren had returned to staff college in Canada prior to Monty taking over command of the 8th Army, but rejoined Monty in the Western Desert after the 2nd Battle of El Alamein.

    Trumbull Warren's corps commander at the time he was set to rejoin Monty in the Western Desert was General Crerar. Crerar had warned him not to take the job on the grounds that every general sent to Africa had failed, that Monty would be no exception and that he would fail with him. Trumbull Warren replied:

    "I am not a regular officer, have nothing to lose and I worship the guy."

    -A somewhat different Canadian perspective.

    Source: Warren unpublished transcript.

    The PBI always like to blame someone for their lot and they/all Divisions believe that they are doing more than anyone else. I have today read exactly the same comments about Monty/their lot from Fifty Div units, which was confirmed by personal testimony from a Fifty Div veteran. It doesn't make what they say right.
  8. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Now that I have obtained a new keyboard as I have somehow worn out some letters of the old one - I shall now try to console GPO's son whose Father
    served with the 5th Canadian Armoured Division and both Italy and NWE..

    GPO -
    we have done this particular subject to death some years ago….and I have NO intention in stirring is up once more suffice to say that I do know when Monty left Italy and it was BEFORE the combined Armoured and Infantry of 5th Cdn got their acts to-gether in January in order to start fighting in a two day scuffle beyond Ortona….NEVERTHELESS - a small party of Infantry did insult the Seaforths during the Ortona battle which infuriated Monty who called for their dismissal as he was teed off at having been inflicted with an Corps HQ instead of More infantry which he needed badly...

    I am sure that your father was aware that that contrary to the idea that 1st Cdn was worn out by Ortona - it should be recalled that ONLY 2nd Bde was involved in that battle - and mainly Seaforths and Loyal Eddies - PPCLI were scouting around the outskirts as were 1st and 3rd Bdes - all having casualties..

    This Gunpoint takeover of the bridge by 6th Armoured sounds a bit hilarious as 6th Armoured were bereft of all supplies owing to the massive traffic jam
    and so came back to find a gas station - bumping into 5th Cdn on the way back - 5th Cdn also bumped into an AGRA trying to reduce their distances as they damned near bumped into the 21st TB coming out of Presenzano...

    your other point about having to fight for 7 days days off roads etc becomes obvious that you know little about what Armoured war is all about...

    as 1st Cdn was made into an assault division when your 5th ARMOURED division came into the fighting and thus both the 1st Cdn AB and th Brist 4th AB were redundant and 21st and 25th British( assault)Tank Bdes took over at Lucera in april '44 ready for the assault on the Hitler line in May - thus when the Hitler line was pierced by 25th Tank bde - it was the turn of your Father's 5th Armoured Div to pour through the hole made by 25th TB and exploit
    to create mayhem in the forces beyond the main defences - that is what war is all about ….6th AD obviously saw that something was amiss and tried to correct the newcomers to fighting...

  9. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Old Hickory Recon

    Japanese Division?
  10. Recce_Mitch

    Recce_Mitch Very Senior Member

    Meaning Japanese Born Division, but were actually born in America and were actually 442nd Regimental Combat Team
  11. belasar

    belasar Junior Member

    Noticed you forgot 14th Army which according to my reading and research (those fancy books :)) had vastly more Indian troops than British and there also seem to be more African troops than British.

    When 8th Army was formed my OoB show:
    British, 7th Armored Div, 70th Inf. Div, 22 Gds. Amd Bde., 2nd Army Tank Bde.
    South Africa, 1st and 2nd Div's.
    Indian, 4th Div.
    New Zealand, 2nd Division
    Poland, Carpathian Bde.

    So we have the BEF which was "British" but didn't last all to long and came to a bad end. 2nd Army that also was almost exclusively 'British". *8h Army which sometimes wasn't and usually no more that 2/3rds "British" and without non-British troops would not actually be an army during much of its history. 14th Army which was an Indo-African army with token "British" component.

    Bottom line on the three final combat armies formed, One was, one sometimes was and sometimes not, and one that wasn't.

    I exaggerated, but not by much.

    You are correct about US 5th Army, but then again US Command really didn't want any troops there anyway and did their best to keep their number as low as possible, rather than a shortage of warm bodies.

    Japanese Division?

    Flat Wrong.

    The 442 Regimental Combat Team was a Brigade sized force (not a Division), made up of American's of Japanese descent.
  12. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran


    So you exaggerated and I was flat wrong - well gee whillikins - if you go back far enough in the desert you will probably find that we had little more than the 11th Hussars to do the fighting until the BEF was wiped out - this was the peace time Army and had to be extended in weeks rather than months -BUT by the time
    El Alamein happened the British outnumbered the others - as even you MUST admit…..I didn't check the 14th Army as I thought the 8th Army made the point well enough in the Desert- Tunisia - Sicily and Italy…..even 2nd Army had four corps( 12 Divisions ) of British troops as well as two and finally 5 Canadian Divisions - 2 polish and assorted Dutch - Belgian brigades

    As I noted that you admit that the American Staff didn't want to be in either Sicily nor Italy as that is very old news to those who were there at the time - and I take the liberty of writing on behalf of Gerry and Ron on this particular subject….and why we had to send in firstly Xth Corps and also later X111 Corps as at the change for the Gothic Line - Clark was stamping his foot as he had lost some troops to the idiotic South of France landing….and were reinforced by the Brazillian Division and the RCT of the Nissei - the Japanese- Americans 442's mainly from Hawaii - the 10th Mountain Division and - not sure but also an Afro- American Division or Brigade...
  13. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran


    my apologies for Calling the Niseii RCT 442 a Division - they fought very well as we had good accounts of their tasks as they arrived in Time for the latter half of the Gothic Line and the spring push to Bologna to end the war on the River Po…..

    Books returned in good order and thank you for your book - which gives me now five to plough through this winter…Many thanks

  14. mapshooter

    mapshooter Senior Member

    Of course Indian divisions were nowhere near 100% Indian, 1/3 of the infantry and all the artillery was British (except Indian mountain btys), although the amount of Indian artillery increased and in Burma the shortage of British manpower meant an increasing proportion of Indian infantry, and most of the armd regts were also Indian. IIRC the African divs had entirely British officers and a proportion of British NCOs.

    If you look at the KIA stats, 46% Indian ORs, 28% Brit ORs, 6% African ORs, 7% Offrs, 11% unspecified ORs, 2% Burmese.

    Another point to remember is that above divisional level most units were British, not forgetting the AGRAs and AA Bdes. In 8 Army logistics in the field above divisional level was almost entirely in the hands of British units. You also have to be careful with 8 Army divisions, it depends on date. Until end 41 there was an Australian corps which had its own corps troops. The S Africans managed to lose a division at Tobruk.

    At Alamein 8 Army had 1, 7, 8 & 10 Armd Divs, 44, 50, 51 Inf Divs, 4 Ind, 9 Aust, 2 NZ, 1 SA Divs, 1 Armd Bde, 23 Armd Bde, 1 Tk Bde, 2 AA Bde, 12 AA Bde, 21 Ind Inf Bde. 50 Div incl a Greek Bde, XIII Corps incl a couple of FF Bde Gps, NZ Div incl 9 Armd Bde.

    In Italy 8 Army had 5 AGRAs (6 before one moved to NWE) and umpteen AA Bdes.
  15. sol

    sol Very Senior Member

    It is true that majority of the force in XIV Army was Indian, but large number of British troops served in Burma during the war, more than African units (not that I trying to downsize their contribution, just a fact). More than sixty British infantry battalions served there between 1942 and 1945 which is equivalent of infantry of about seven divisions. Off course not all were there at the same time. Also about half of the artillery in Indian divisions and all heavy artillery units on Corps and Army level came from the RA. British contributed with large number of officers in Indian and African units, and in African units all senior NCO were also British. Not to mention some logistic and support units.
  16. belasar

    belasar Junior Member

    Gentlemen, I am not trying to imply that anyone wasn't pulling their weight, merely pointing out to the poster who made a less than charitable comment on ratio of Canadians in 'their' army, that this was often normal in Commonwealth field armies.

    I regret any other impression given.
  17. LRusso216

    LRusso216 Member

  18. LRusso216

    LRusso216 Member

    See above. My mistake.
  19. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran


    "see above - my mistake " is that to be taken as an apology …?

  20. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran Patron

    Have just bought the Kindle version of Montgomery's memoirs.

    If anyone needs a look-up I am happy to oblige.


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