Discussion in 'North Africa & the Med' started by paulyb102, Feb 18, 2005.

  1. paulyb102

    paulyb102 Member

    This subject has puzzled me for a while, was Monty just a General in the right place at the right time, and would any other British General have fared as well as Monty, given the large numbers of supplies getting through to the allies as he took over the 8th army.


  2. Gerard

    Gerard Seelow/Prora

    I would be of the opinion that Montgomery was quite fortuitous alright. Auchinleck had already laid the groundwork having halted Rommel in the First Battle of El Alamein. He was facing an enemy starved of supplies and without it leader, Rommel having had to return to Germany due to Illness just before the launch of the British Offensive.

    I have no doubt that his arrival and his tireless travelling around Eighth Army before the Alamein had a very positive effect on morale and his ability to inspire is above reproach.
  3. Compo

    Compo Member

    I think "luck" should be viewed from today with careful consideration given to the role of military intelligence.
    The myth of luck and exagerated military competence were often covers for "Ultra" intelligence, the British had broken the German top code but were not letting on that they had done so.
    At El Alamein the British had succeeded in turning a German spy operation in Cairo codemaned Kondor and were feeding false intelligence to Rommel, so they knew both Rommel's strategic moves and were feeding him false tactical information.
    Monty's troops were in the right places by design, not luck.
    It also has to be said that he was the best British General and believed more than the other Allied generals in realistic and extensive training which, coupled with his sucesses, resulted in raising the morale of the 8th army so that it believed in itself once again;an essential element to victory.
    He was not so lucky in western europe where his d-day left flank was opposed by Panzer troops and tanks in numbers hugely greater than Patton's right flank with resulting less apparent success.
    At Arnhem he was unlucky that yet another crack panzer corps was resting in the town unknown to the Allies. Had this left hook into Germany succeeded he would have shortened the war and appeared quite brilliant, so perhaps not so lucky there.
  4. Kiwiwriter

    Kiwiwriter Very Senior Member

    Montgomery was also a very capable administrator, trainer, and morale-booster. He was not good at dealing with other people, particularly immediate staff or senior officers, nor was he very good at writing his memoirs or holding press conferences, which probably infuriated the Americans more than his meticulous, set-piece approach to battles. I'm not sure he had a good grip on highly mobile battles, which went against his set-piece and meticulous nature, but I agree with Carlo D'Este, who calls him one of the most consummately professional officers in Britain's history.
  5. Juanra

    Juanra Junior Member

    He was a Prima Donna and a braggart but he was a good commander.
  6. Friedrich H

    Friedrich H Senior Member

    All generals are… But Lord Montgomery was, by far, the best British commander in Europe. He was an excellent and realist strategist, a man who thought simple plans but cared about detail. He was someone who understood all the very basic laws for war.

    At El Alamein he outthought and outfought the enemy astonishingly. He understood things better and he did things better. Monty won the duel in the desert not because Rommel was undersupplied, but becuase he fought better.
  7. Pte1643

    Pte1643 Member


    But the British DID know about the German strength at Arnhem. But British intelligence chose to ignore the information they were given, believing them to be inexperienced troops, and not the crack force they were warned about.
  8. angie999

    angie999 Very Senior Member

    To describe this Corps as a crack force is rather misleading. After taking a very severe mauling in Normandy and the subsequent retreat, they were way below strength, particularly in armour, and many of the replacement troops who were arriving were totally inexperienced and barely trained.

    However, by the time XXX Corps was across the river at Nijmegan, its fighting spearhead was rather small and the German armour available was sufficient to prevent them approaching the Rhine in time to relieve 1st Airborne.

    And the SS troops in the Arnhem area were able to form the core of ad-hoc battle groups with other forces available locally in sufficient strength to contain 1st Airborne at both Arnhem and Oosterbeek.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 24, 2021

    HUBSCHRAUBER Junior Member

    i dont think he was a great general. the only reason anyone thinks hes so good is because he won a few battles against the germans. everyone knows the germans were superior in every angle of war. if the average german general were put up against him with equal number of troops and equipment he would have lost fair and square.
    and the italians were a horrible fighting force that was a humiliation to germany. everytime italy would make an offense it would fail and they would call on germany to crush them for them.

    HUBSCHRAUBER Junior Member

    hahahaha what a joke, he won because the germans were exhausted from fighing, lack of supplies and there force were far greater than that of the germans.
  11. halfyank

    halfyank Member

    You're entitled to your opinion of course, but if the Germans were "superior in every angle of war" why did they lose two world wars? Yes, they were very good, but they weren't supermen. They were frankly lousy at sea, except for the U-boats, they weren't nearly as good at intelligence or deception, and for all their technical expertise they weren't as advanced in manufacturing. This was an army that relied on horses for most of it's transport for goodness sake.

    I'm not taking anything away from the Germans, but they weren't the be all and end all of military thought.

    Rommel himself praised the Italian soldiers. They weren't supported very well by their superiors, either in leadership or supplies, but properly equipped, fed, and led, they were very good fighters.

    I believe Monty was at least the match of the "average German general." There were better generals out there, but Monty was the right man, at the right place and time.
  12. colinhotham

    colinhotham Senior Member

    General Bernard Law Montgomery was without doubt the best allied commander of WW2, closely followed by General George S. Patton. Both were flawed, but so have been many commanders down the years. Once again I must use my favourite phrase, " the Allies won world war two!". Yes we won, the proof of the pudding etc.

  13. Gerard

    Gerard Seelow/Prora

    I would agree with you Angie about the state of the SS Panzer Corps, but Arnhem was a battle quite unlike anything that Montgomery had planned previously. For such a meticulous Commander, Market Garden was taking a huge risk. Consider this against Alamein where Montgomery resisted pressure from Alexander and Churchill to launch an offensive because he felt 8th Army "wasnt quite ready". and yet he was quite willing to plan and launch an offensive within a fortnight even though the risks were immense.

    From a psychological perspective Monty was important, being the first British General to defeat the Germans in a major offensive. He was hailed as a saviour and a master strategist and indeed he instilled a self-belief in his troops that was legendary.

    Personally I have my reservations about Montgomery's ability to exploit an opening and follow through on it.

    Personally I would nominate Slim as a more able Commander, but that is a personal Choice. I've always felt Monty was overrated by the British, just as they overrated Rommel in the Desert
  14. angie999

    angie999 Very Senior Member

    I agree with you about Market Garden, which is why I think it was important to correct the impression given about the state of German forces in the Arnhem area. The operation did not fail due to German strength, although they had improved their defences a lot in the previous couple of weeks, but because both 1st Airborne and XXX Corps after Nijmegen lacked strength. There were obviously many other factors in play as well though, including out and out errors in the plan.

    I think that Monty was a better general than many believe, but he - and Eisenhowever among others - did get carried away by September 1944 with the idea that the Germans could not recover in time.
  15. Friedrich H

    Friedrich H Senior Member

    A few battles? How come? El Alamein, the break through the Mareth Line, the Tunisian campaign, Sicily, Italy, Normandy, the thrust into Belgium and Holland and then into northern Germany…

    everyone knows the germans were superior in every angle of war.

    This is simply pure crap. First, it's insulting. Second, it's absolutely FALSE.

    everyone knows the germans were superior in every angle of war.

    Not really. German generals were inflexible and put everything on brute force. None of them were very able when facing attrition and set-piece battles. Their disregard for general strategy and logistics doomed them in both world wars.

    and the italians were a horrible fighting force that was a humiliation to germany. everytime italy would make an offense it would fail and they would call on germany to crush them for them.

    True to some extent… though, at Cephallonia a German mountain division was humilliated in defeated by the Italians… :rolleyes:

    he won because the germans were exhausted from fighing, lack of supplies and there force were far greater than that of the germans.

    Not at all. The difference in numbers and matériel at El Alamein was important but not overwhelming. And it was product of Montgomery's strategy. A good strategist forces his enemy to fight where he chooses, when he chooses and the way he chooses. Rommel was a mediocre strategist, inflexible and stubborn, who couldn't cope with a situation 'not his way'. At El Alamein, Monty played the pipe and Rommel danced.

    They were frankly lousy at sea, except for the U-boats,

    Pretty good at them. But the U-boat strategy was flawed and it was a strategy for defeat.

    hey weren't nearly as good at intelligence or deception

    No, they were plain stupid at intelligence. All their intelligence throughout the entire war was deceived again and again, and its arrogant officers never accepted they were doing wrong.

    The Germans, never putting their money on physical condition and endurance for their war machine, just on brute force, didn't have the capability to crush and defeat any of the three main Allies one by one, let alone the three at the same time.

    The Germans lost because they couldn't win, because they HAD TO, and because they didn't do things right. Their enemies were either too strong or too intelligent. Or the two.
  16. Cheshire Yeomanry

    Cheshire Yeomanry Junior Member

    he won because the germans were exhausted from fighing, lack of supplies and there force were far greater than that of the germans.

    So when earlier British offensives failed when they enjoyed numerical superiority it was due to what in fact then?
  17. James Colvin

    James Colvin Member

    Hi, have just published (by Helion) 'Eighth Army V. Rommel: tactics, Training & operations in N Africa 1940-42 - seems well liked by those who have read it !
    James Colvin
    Chris C likes this.
  18. Archaepon

    Archaepon Member

    My Dad served with Monty, he was in Field Security at El Alamein.
    Chris C likes this.
  19. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian

    Good to see you here, James!

  20. Archaepon

    Archaepon Member

    My Dad helped supply the intelligence for that, he was FSS.

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