Montgomery Controversy

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

  1. merdiolu

    merdiolu Junior Member

    yeah I read about him. Commanded 9th Armored Brigade attached to New Zealand Div. and almost sacrificed its brigade (only 24 out of 130 its tanks remained intact at night of 2nd Novemver ) to open a gap in Axis defences at Operation Supercharge during El Alamein. Montgomery said about this brigade

    If the British armour owed any debt to the infantry, the debt was paid by 9th Armoured in heroism and blood.
  2. belasar

    belasar Junior Member


    Bradly did assume command of II Corps in April and May 1943 during the endgame of the Tunisian campaign, with Patton moving back to work on the planning of Operation Husky. Nor was he "sent" by Washington to "watch" Patton. He was requested by Patton and "sent" by Eisenhower (in Tunisia) to "watch" Patton.
  3. mapshooter

    mapshooter Senior Member

    That is the man. Let me add a few more Gunners who played a big part

    Sidney Kirkman - sent out with Montgomery. Instilled the centralisation of command of artillery in 8th army, reversing the policy of decentralisation. Commanded 50th Diviison and XIII with diustinction.

    Hetman *Hatchet" Jack Parham. BRA 1st Army. Whaever faults may be found with the 1st Army its artillery fire control was not onr of them - nor was its use of Air OPs, based on the idea that itr was easier ot train gunners to fly than train pilots to interpret the land battle. The "Lessons learned" from North Africa Tunisia are those the army applies in the rest of the war.

    There are short bios of Campbell, Kirkman and Parham at (plus some other interesting ones - Note Adam's alleged heresy!)
  4. TTH

    TTH Senior Member

    "Patton fans," I love that phrase. Look, isn't this all rather silly? Generals aren't football players. The question is not 'who's best,' the question is DID HE DO THE JOB OR NOT? Well, most of the time Montgomery did the job, and most of the time Patton did the job too. Both of them contributed mightily to the final Allied victory. So, of course, did the man who bossed both of them, Eisenhower. He got fed up with their egos and the controversies the two of them stirred up, and I feel the same way. I don't understand why people write silly books full of hero worship about one or the other, and I don't understand why 'fans' of certain generals soak up time and space arguing about said books. We are still learning many things about WWII, vast areas remain little known and are crying out for new research, but many people prefer to remain stuck in sterile, pointless controversies about personalities that have gone on for over 60 years. I suppose that sort of thing still sells.
    Steve Mac, merdiolu and belasar like this.
  5. m kenny

    m kenny Senior Member

    You completely miss the point. 'Staying with the status quo' means we accept the petty vindictive denigration of Montgomery. You should be asking that this stops and then we will have a level playing field.
    I hate to keep repeating myself but you can find dozens of site where US based 'experts' distort the
    facts to peddle their vile inventions. Want another example?

    I think it is appropriate to sum up Monty's command by stating that he rarely had the right answer for the situation he found himself in. His close-run victory at El Alamein cemented his reputation as a great military leader prematurely. All of his subsequent battles went overly slowly or were outright failures.

    This is the man:

    Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost
    University of Northern Iowa

    PhD August 1997, University Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Political Science. Dissertation: "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: The Politics of Tobacco Policy." Dissertation committee chair: Kenneth J. Meier
    MA December 1994, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Political Science. Masters paper:
    "The Politics of Tobacco Taxation in the United States and the United Kingdom, 1900-1990."
    BA June 1993, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis. Major: Political Science.
    Academic Positions
    2003-present, Associate Professor of Political Science, University of Northern Iowa.
    2001-2003, Assistant Professor of Political Science, University of Northern Iowa.
    1997-2001, Assistant Professor of Political Science, State University of New York at Binghamton.
    Leadership and Administrative Positions
    Aug. 2010-present: Associate Provost for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Graduate College
    Duties as Associate Provost: Oversee curriculum development and program review processes; serve as Accreditation Liaison Officer to Higher Learning Commission; provide leadership to improve retention and graduation rates, particularly of minority students; support development of interdisciplinary programs and research; support Provost in decision making, communication, and administration; enforce undergraduate academic regulations; provide guidance and leadership for offices that report to me: Office of Academic Advising, Office of Academic Assessment, Academic Learning Center, the Honors Program, and the Liberal Arts Core Director.

    Hardly the ramblings of the uneducated.

    Here you see Neilands snap and bite back:

    To the Editor:
    I would refer to Mr. Lawrence Briskin's letter in the JMH of July 2002. I note that Colonel d'Este has declined to reply, probably because a proper answer would either take a whole book or be a total waste of time. However, as a British military historian, perhaps I could take Mr. Briskin up on just a couple of points, General Montgomery and the matter of tea.
    The British drink tea. So too do the Americans; today iced or hot, historically like the British—has Mr. Briskin never heard of the Boston Tea Party?
    To really enjoy a cup of British Army tea, Mr. Briskin might like to try the following. Load up with sixty to eighty pounds of kit, plus a personal weapon, a couple of grenades, some mortar bombs and two hundred rounds of rifle ammunition. Then march twenty miles over rough country, preferably at night. It should be raining, but snow or a tropical downpour will do. Someone ought to be shooting at him—I could do that—but at least there should be sporadic shelling. Then, when all this has been going on for far too long, some hero hands Mr. Briskin a pint of tea, piping hot, sweet and full of condensed milk. I venture to suggest that Mr. Briskin would find that mixture, at that time, close to nectar and ambrosia.
    I have before me an account from a Guards officer who found a young American lady dispensing hot coffee to U.S. troops close to the Volterno river in Italy in 1944. In a previous book I heard of U.S. troops getting coffee and doughnuts, served by "a real American girl," close to the front in North West Europe in 1945.
    When I tell that to British veterans their reaction is "Good luck to them" or "We wouldn't have minded a bit of that ourselves." Unlike Mr. Briskin, they do not see their American comrades enjoying a hot drink as an excuse for cheap sneers.
    And so to General Montgomery. Could someone please explain the reasons for this on-going hostility among U.S. historians to Monty? Montgomery only commanded U.S. troops for ninety days in a six-year war—well, three and a half for the U.S.A.—during the Battle of Normandy and then at one remove, General Bradley being the First Army commander. And yet we have had nearly sixty years of continuous denigration of this senior Allied Commander, almost exclusively from the U.S.A. What exactly is the problem here?
    During the Second World War Montgomery commanded Australian, British, Canadian, French, Greek, Indian, New Zealand, Polish—even Italian soldiers. For my current work, a history of Eighth Army, I have contacted soldiers from all these nations. They are united in their praise of this commander but from the U.S.A. we get nothing but this on-going whine, all too often based on a careful selection of the facts.
    For example, why is it that when Bradley's First Army took a month to cover the last five miles to St. Lô this is attributed (correctly) to the bocage and the enemy but when the British Second Army took as long to cover the six miles into Caen that is attributed to Monty's "timidity," "caution," and "slowness"? The presence of seven German panzer divisions in front of Caen is usually left out of this equation.
    It is said that Monty was vain; so he was, but that accusation might be balanced in the U.S.A. by thinking of those three blushing, retiring, American violets, Generals Patton, Clark, and MacArthur, men not noted for modesty though all three had much to be modest about. The implication that only Monty had a super-ego is at variance with the facts.
    It is alleged that Monty tried to hog the credit for the defeat of the Germans in the Bulge, an allegation based on his speech to the press on 7 January 1945. The evidence here is scanty and partial. The full text of that speech gives ample praise to the "fighting qualities of the American soldier," and to "the captain of our team, General Eisenhower" but this speech was picked up by the Germans, edited, and rebroadcast to the Allies. This edited, propaganda version has been used ever since to smear Monty; when it comes to denigrating Monty—and the British—even Dr. Goebbels comes in useful.
    It would be possible to go on but surely the point is made? No one is obliged to like the British—there are times when I am not too keen on them myself—and no army is above criticism but the rampaging Anglophobia that permeates Mr. Briskin's letter should be seen for what it is. Nor is he alone in this, as anyone reading U.S. accounts of Allied affairs in the Second World War soon becomes aware; Anglophobia is rife. I can confidently assert that Mr. Briskin and his ilk will loathe my current book on the Battle of Normandy which disputes many popular allegations and examines closely the actions of all the Allied Armies in Normandy, not just the British. Incidentally, there already is a complete history of the British Army in the Second World War, David Fraser's And We Shall Shock Them, published by Hodder & Stoughton 1983 and Cassell Paperbacks in 1999.
    There is a serious, current point here. Our countries may be about to enter another war. If Mr. Briskin removes his head from the dark place it currently occupies and looks around, he may notice that the U.S.A. is not all that popular in the world at large and the British are the only reliable ally the Americans have.
    Mr. Briskin's rant, childish and ill-informed though it is, does no service either to scholarship or the mutual respect that Allies should have for one another when their fathers and brothers have shared the burden of one hard war and the current generation might be about to fight another. If all we can expect afterwards is cheap sneers from the likes of Mr. Briskin, perhaps the British should stay out of it this time? People on this side of the Pond are running out of cheeks to turn over this constant carping.
    Finally, I have had the pleasure of corresponding with many hundreds of American veterans over the last thirty years. Not one of them has ever had a hard word to say about their British comrades; front-line soldiers are too wise and too decent to indulge in smear tactics and some American historians have much to learn from their example. And now, having got that off my chest, I think I will go and have a cup of tea.

    Robin Neillands
    Marlborough, Wiltshire, England

    So the problem is very deeply ingrained. In fact I see here that many just do not see it as a problem at all. Perhaps 50 years of snide remarks like 'stopping for tea' has done its job and they (deep down) agree with the fiction anyway?
    Combover likes this.
  6. willers

    willers Member

    i understand via Wiki that Robin Neillands was working on a biography of Montgomery when he passed away in 2006 .... btw IMO his Normandy book was particularly good ...
  7. belasar

    belasar Junior Member

    With respect, I do not think so, or at least not any point worthy of merit.

    In effect you submit that because someone we have never met, do not know, has not posted in this thread, and said/wrote something we have not read/heard, somewhere we have never felt worthy of much note, something you find offensive, that we, present and future members of this forum, have an obligation to remain silent about any possible criticism of Montgomery actions or orders as a wartime commander to insure a fair treatment of Montgomery's legacy.

    Can you give us a timetable when this Fatwa might expire?

    You also submit that this condition is an American conspiracy, yet on this thread at least two Brits, one Turk and one lonely American (me) has offered measured opinions of Montgomery, praising his virtues and noting his shortcommings (as we understand them to be). Only one comment I can recall was below the belt, one about his sexual orientation, one that was made by a British poster and one none of us listed above supported or endorsed.

    I have no doubt that you can find many absurd opinions of Montgomery posted on the internet by Americans. Then again since there is 5 times as many Americans as there are Brits in the world today, you are going to find 5 times as many wingnuts in our population as in yours. That isn't a conspriacy, just demographics.

    You are correct about this, much of the contraversy surrounding Montgomery is due to ingorence and intolerance, but you can not counter it by insisting upon more ignorence by vitrue of self imposed silence. It is only by debate and the intellectually free exchange of ideas that we can counter the dreck that threatens to derail a balanced appraisal of Montgomery.

    Reason, not censorship should be our weapon of choice.
    A-58 and merdiolu like this.
  8. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake All over the place....

    Not quite, As documented by Carlo D'Este in Bitter Victory Bradley was originally sent to the front by Eisenhower as an "observer." Patton who had never met Bradley before, liked him but refused to countenance "one of Ikes Goddamned spies" so he engineered him to have a proper job - in Patton's chain of command. Patton appreciated Bradley (more than the feeling was reciprocated) and recommended him to take command of II Corps.

    I may have taken a cynical view of intra service politics, but Patton was a good soldier and a good judge of men. He recognised Bradley's qualities and reacted positively to what may have been a threatening interloper. My original point that Eisenhower might have picked some of the other untested American officers hanging around at the time. Woulkd the course of the war have been better had Clark, Lucas or Dawley been sent to "observe" Patton?
  9. belasar

    belasar Junior Member

    Sheldrake, I am sure you have the more correct reccolection on who sent whom where and when. :)
  10. Wills

    Wills Very Senior Member

    Montgomery pops up in many critiques, as do all commanders from all periods. Post world war two - the 'wash ups' began Staff College presentations by Horrocks, Templer, de Guingand, Roberts and others pulled no punches Horrocks was scathing on the lack of proper training prior to D day, Roberts tried to get Montgomery to change his mind on using 'experienced' divisions - Roberts - 'they were deserting in high numbers, the sickness rates were high and they were insolent and knew it all' when of course they had no training in close country whereas at least some of the 'new divisions did'. Roberts claims the fresh divisions fought better - this under command of Montgomery had been a very good trainer of soldiers - why had this deserted him? Churchill said of the Americans (a half member of the club) that the Americans always get it right after they have tried everything else. Reading through the reports by the Americans on their own performance in Tunisia you can see the difference in culture - they are scathing of their own commanders, some read criticism as some form of witch hunt - let's get Monty or AN Other. Books? Prefer the contemporary reports - where I can at least read the raw content - you may disagree with what I am saying -so why should anyone select a book or author and assume that it is unbiased fact. That some of the criticism is reserved for British commanders is much the same - to learn from mistakes or from events unforeseen. Easy to cherry pick - within the US Tunisia report heavy criticism on the inability for Americans to use the ground - dead ground to hide and use camouflage and concealment with sloppy personal discipline reflective surfaces etc; Yet it suggests that the British were as bad if not worse (later backed up by German reports) if I became an author I may wish to pick out that the British were bad and leave out the Americans or the reverse. Lt Col B Light Infantry gave a lecture on the British Army and it's retreats - delete retreat insert Battle Honour. Yes there were cavalry generals with their new bowler hats sat in the club moaning about the 'little upstart from an unfashionable infantry regiment'. Despatches have always been written by commanders post theatre - and individual performance reports sent to the War Office - Montgomery did plenty of that - why should this be suspended for him? The boy's own hero stuff and the false reporting is just that and can easily be separated out - although this has to depend on another human trait - facts mean different things to different people. I will end with - if I could ask my father what happened at Hornchurch on day one of the second world war, he would offer. 'how the heck would I know I was at Tangmere'. If he could offer a report - where would he get it - from later reading? Was Montgomery a good commander - yes of course - but not above criticism - the more his failings are denied the more shine is taken from his undoubted triumphs.

    How do we form views? - In my case - everything I did in the army was a mix of praise and criticism, from NCOs cadre on. It got much worse at the higher levels - you were deemed to be in the know and understand why criticism was necessary. In the early stages it upsets and you spend time thinking the world hates you - praise is great, criticism improves - in most cases!
  11. idler

    idler GeneralList

    Perhaps Montgomery's fault was prioritising 'winning the war' over politicking? I came across the following whilst doing something else and thought it would be worth posting as an insight to the man himself, and as a balance the more strident claims of egotism (not from this thread, I should add):

    Monty's diary notes, 20 Feb 1944, from Montgomery and the Battle of Normandy: A Selection from the Diaries, Correspondence and other Papers of Field Marshal The Viscount Montgomery of Alamein, January to August, 1944 edited by Stephen Brooks
  12. merdiolu

    merdiolu Junior Member

    Another factor in unbalanced US reviews of Monty I think US pre dominance at the end of war (as if proclaiming "we finished the war with our way and resources not yours ) and more than that flamboyant US commanders like Patton or easily offended humble Bradley appearing as if they have beaten Germans in their own game in fast mobile mechanized blitzkrieg style warfare with headline friendly results like gaining lots of ground and POWs. Monty's sometimes vain , arrogant and all knowing behavior in public and press did not help either maybe. To the contemporary amateur strategists especially from US Monty and British style of attritional style warfare , slow/cautious advances were thing of past and costly in wasting lives , resources. Whenever British tried something bold they seemed not sucessful (most notorious Market Garden) while Patton made headlines by reaching besieged US Paratroopers in Bastogne during Battle of Bulge just in time , played US Cavalry saving settlers role and made headlines. I know it was never as simple as that but that seems like contemporary review above anything else.
  13. morrisc8

    morrisc8 Under the Bed

    Just thought i would put a photo of him. post war from my collection.

    Attached Files:

  14. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    Your Idi Admin has sat down with a bottle of Absolut & finally perused this thread.
    And has decided; It is a good thing.
    Grown-up stuff.
    I like.

  15. Wills

    Wills Very Senior Member

    The views of Günther Blumentritt and Heinz Guderian on Patton - they rated him very highly. 'The American Guderian' Who came closest to their own use of armour. Yet only rated him as 'average' against their best commanders. Criticism it is claimed is like pain in the body it indicates something is wrong.
    canuck likes this.
  16. idler

    idler GeneralList

    Hmm... but who were they working for at the time?
  17. Wills

    Wills Very Senior Member

    What? Tennis for 'cherrypickers' my serve! 'who were they working for?' Well having given praise they also said he was average - a perfect example of how books are often written by selection.
  18. merdiolu

    merdiolu Junior Member

    Patton had its own failures too. 2nd Corps inability to advance to Gabes after repulsing 10th Panzer Division at El Guettar in March 1943. (They were opposed by just one Italian-German combat group positioned at El Guettar hills) Patton had to wait Monty to break out Mareth and Wadi Akarit to reach him at Central Tunisia. And his constant wasteful assaults on Metz Fortresses at Lorreine to break out Saar in October-November 1944 which caused heavy casaulties among US infantry and got nowhere. He even said once he was willing to sacrifice all troops in 5th Infantry Div. to break out Saar. It was easy for him to say things like that. Montgomery was scraping bottom of barrel to find manpower at that stage and breaking out existing divisions. And let's not forget Hammelburg raid to save his son-in-law at March 1945 at the end of war.
  19. canuck

    canuck Closed Account

    There is enough difference of opinion to go around in simply evaluating Monty on his own record. If we begin comparing him to other officers, then we will surely descend into the depths of hell. It is almost impossible to make a worthwhile side by side comparison of one general to another as the time, circumstances and variables offer almost infinite possibilities. Shall we go back to looking at Monty alone and avoid the inevitable, "mine is bigger than yours" debates?
  20. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    would go along with your thinking BUT - distortions HAVE to be rectified first - Merdiolu 158…..the main reason Patton failed at Gabes was the fact the US2nd Corps was clobbered by the

    retreating 10th Panzers from their clobbering by Monty at Medenine and again at El Hamma - now it has to be known that 10th Panzers were at probable half strength 7,500 men whereas Patton's

    2nd Corps had been reinforced to it's original 88,000 men….the failure at Gabes meant that Monty had to fight hard against both 15th and 21st Panzers at Wadi Akirit and Enfidaville..when 8th Army

    might have been resting for Sicily...


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