MHO Home   Forum Home   Help   Register   Login
 
 
Welcome to MilitaryHistoryOnline.com.
You are not signed in.
The current time is: 10/19/2017 5:50:22 PM
 (1939-1945) WWII Battles    
AuthorMessage
Page 1 of 3 (Page: 1  2  3 )
anemone
DONCASTER S. YORKS, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 5952
http:// 82.44.47.99
British Army Generalship in WW2
Posted on: 6/15/2017 5:01:10 AM
The study of generals in a war, but in this case- particularly in the Second World War, is largely the study of "who managed to cope with what level of responsibility". There were two Army Groups 15th and 21st,five Armies-BEF,1st,2nd,8th and 14th ans fair number of Army Corps.

To make a start let us start at the beginning- 15th AG commanded by FM Sir Harold Alexander.Earl of Tunis-a decorated Guards officer of the Great War.A man of great personal charm, Alexander was a handsome man, self-possessed, modest and distinguished in appearance.
Quote:
Field Marshal Alan Brooke, Chief of the Imperial General Staff, said Alexander was always "completely composed and appeared never to have the slightest doubt that all would come out right in the end.


In Italy 1943 -45 as an Army Group Commander-his prime responsibility was to oversee the operations of British 8th Army and US 15th Army.Here IMO think his suave urbanity let him down and he was given the "run around" by Mark Clark GOC US 5th Army- by coming off Anzio beach and making for Rome- ignoring Alexander's order to engage the fleeing Germans from Cassino- for he felt he was a law unto himself and disdained Alexander's seeming weakness and got away with it. Most strange-as everybody liked Alex; (perhaps not Monty-another prima donna) but he was IMO fatally flawed-he was just too nice.

Regards

Jim
---------------
Pro Patria Saepe Pro Rege Semper

BWilson

top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 3307

Re: British Army Generalship in WW2
Posted on: 6/15/2017 9:06:15 AM
Jim,

 Forgetting 11th Army Group in the India-Burma operations ?

Cheers

BW
---------------
With occasional, fatigued glances at life's rear-view mirror from the other side of time.

Society's righteous paranoia lows profoundly. -- random wisdom of a computer

Phil andrade
London, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
Moderator
Posts: 2476

Re: British Army Generalship in WW2
Posted on: 6/15/2017 9:07:08 AM
Jim,

Interesting take on Alexander of Tunis.

I have read that he was so languid as to be virtually lazy.

One anecdote tells of his habit of throwing messages in his " In " tray directly into the " Out " tray, in the serene assumption that if it was sufficiently important to warrant attention, it would turn up again in good time and would then be dealt with !

Perhaps his smooth manner made people jealous....there is an equally emphatic view that he was a very effective and accomplished operator, who just had the ability to make difficult things look easy.

He was, apparently, a man who had a very artistic approach and relaxed by painting watercolours of his favourite birds....maybe I'm confusing him with Alanbrooke, or did they both share the same hobby ?

IIRC, Alanbrooke rated Alex as " nice but dim ".

Alanbrooke was Anglo Irish. So many of British military heroes have been from that culture...Wellington, Monty, Gough and a good many more.

What is it about that place that produced this bellicose caste ? Frontier syndrome of the British Empire ; a kind of religious,racial, social and political front line ?

The greater part of British generals 1939-45 had served a traumatic apprenticeship 1914-18, and I wonder how far this impinged on their performance at high command level.

Regards, Phil

---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

anemone
DONCASTER S. YORKS, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 5952
http:// 82.44.47.99
Re: British Army Generalship in WW2
Posted on: 6/15/2017 9:39:22 AM

Quote:
The greater part of British generals 1939-45 had served a traumatic apprenticeship 1914-18, and I wonder how far this impinged on their performance at high command level.


Frankly I think that depends greatly on how the Great War impinged itself on the individual-a)what had each learned- vis a vis the dos and don'ts in action b)As a career soldier he would have put into practice what he had learned during the Inter Bellum and c)On most occasions would be fit for command in 1939.

An exception- I would venture to say was Lord Gort-who was as fit to command 2nd BEF as French was for 1st BEF..Old habits die hard in the military hierarchy. Alanbrooke should gave been in command IMO-he did not trust Gort's judgement and it showed.Alexander and Montgomery also saw active service between the wars.

NB I still have not found any evidence that Mark Clark's deliberate disobedience of Alexander's direct order to engage the retreating Germans- met with any sanction from
his boss.Perhaps no such order was made?????


Quote:
Eisenhower called him "broad-gauged," meaning that he worked on an Allied rather than a narrowly nationalistic basis.
.Was this the answer to Mark Clark getting away with disobeying orders???

Regards

Jim
---------------
Pro Patria Saepe Pro Rege Semper

Phil andrade
London, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
Moderator
Posts: 2476

Re: British Army Generalship in WW2
Posted on: 6/16/2017 12:55:56 AM
Jim,

Mark Clark's disobedience of orders in this episode seems breathtaking in its defiance.

There have been several episodes of generals disobeying orders in military history, and they're sometimes seen as justifiable ; or, at least, sufficiently understandable to allow for a degree of sympathy. Smith Dorrien at Le Cateau might be cited as such, and, albeit even more controversially, Sickles at Gettysburg.

But this business in Italy transcends. Is there a single redeeming feature in Clark's conduct here ?

It does, indeed, leave one wondering whether it implies something was fundamentally weak in Alexander's grip on his subordinates.....OTOH, it might suggest that the man's achievement was all the more remarkable , given the bickering array of prima donnas that he had to contend with.

Editing now : I just had to cite this comment from Andrew Roberts, from his book STORM OF WAR :

....the increasingly bitter contests between the prima-Donna generals who were to dominate the next stages of the western war, primarily Montgomery, Patton, Omar Bradley and Mark Clark. Squabbling school - girls could hardly have been as petty and bitchy as these senior Allied commanders . ( Harold Alexander and William Slim were men of different temperaments....).

Regards , Phil
---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

anemone
DONCASTER S. YORKS, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 5952
http:// 82.44.47.99
Re: British Army Generalship in WW2
Posted on: 6/16/2017 5:28:18 AM
D'Este in his book"Fatal Decision is extremely critical of Clark's decision to stop the attack for the Valmonte gap in Italy 1944 and turn US forces towards Rome instead of trying to cut off the German army which was trying to withdraw from the Monte Cassino area. Clark was quite open about what his thoughts were at the time:-

[Quote]"One thing I knew was that I had to take Rome and that my American army was going to do it. So in all the circumstances I had to go for it before the British loused it up...I did not want any accident of planning or interference from Alexander's staff to stop me from taking Rome. We Americans had slogged up all the way fro Solerno and I was not going to have this great prize, the honour of taking Rome denied to me and my GIs by anyone. We had earned it, you understand".

The mind boggles at the such blatant braggadocio and an alienation of the real purpose for fighting this war.A British Army General would most certainly have been removed from command had he dared to do what Mark Clark wilfully did for self glorification. Amen to that.

Even British arch egotist Bernard Montgomery would never have stooped so low.However- he too held a certain hidden for Alexander but not out and out disobedience of orders-he no doubt- without much grace- complied with Alex's order at Tunis; when he parted with some of his best divisions to support Anderson's 1st Army. 8th Army being stuck fast at Enfidaville south of Tunis-much to Monty's chagrin.


Regards

Jim

---------------
Pro Patria Saepe Pro Rege Semper

Phil Andrade
London, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
Moderator
Posts: 2476

Re: British Army Generalship in WW2
Posted on: 6/16/2017 9:19:32 AM
Blimey ! Would you Adam and Eve it ?

I've just read that Alexander was of Anglo Irish provenance too !

I hope Theresa May knows what she's up against with her DUP partners!

Regards, Phil
---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

anemone
DONCASTER S. YORKS, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 5952
http:// 82.44.47.99
Re: British Army Generalship in WW2
Posted on: 6/16/2017 9:41:46 AM
Blimey squared- the Army is full of them

Alan Brooke was born in 1883 at Bagnères-de-Bigorre, Hautes-Pyrénées, to a prominent Anglo-Irish family from West Ulster with a long military tradition.

Montgomery was born in Kennington, Surrey, in 1887, the fourth child of nine, to an Ulster-Scots Church of Ireland minister, The Reverend Henry Montgomery, and his wife, Maud (née Farrar). The Montgomerys, an 'Ascendancy' gentry family, were the County Donegal branch of the Clan Montgomery.

Miles Dempsey was the descendant of a powerful clan in Offaly and Laois in Ireland with a very long history. His ancestor Terence O'Dempsey was clan chieftain.

Regards

Jim
---------------
Pro Patria Saepe Pro Rege Semper

anemone
DONCASTER S. YORKS, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 5952
http:// 82.44.47.99
Re: British Army Generalship in WW2
Posted on: 6/16/2017 10:08:56 AM
Field Marshal Montgomery's "high handed" approach to his superiors and "strange" behaviour may have been an indication that he had Asperger's Syndrome. He was once described by Dwight Eisenhower as a "psychopath", showed signs of the condition in the way he misjudged situations,people and false imaginations.

Despite this seeming psychological flaw his generalship was not quite flawless in North Africa-because he was a complete autocrat- brooking little argument from his immediate subordinates IMO.

A typical example was his spat with Lt. Gen. Lumsden GOC X Corps- who said it was said that the plan for assaulting Mitinya Ridge would result in failure and heavy losses-Lumsden was ordered to carry out the plan -it did fail and Lumsden was sacked-guess why???

Regards

Jim
---------------
Pro Patria Saepe Pro Rege Semper

phil andrade
London, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
Moderator
Posts: 2476

Re: British Army Generalship in WW2
Posted on: 6/16/2017 11:31:42 AM
Lumsden's comment on this has entered British military folklore :

I've just been sacked ; there isn't enough room in the desert for two shits like Monty and me.

Regards, Phil
---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

BWilson

top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 3307

Re: British Army Generalship in WW2
Posted on: 6/16/2017 12:09:09 PM
 Lumsden fell in action:


Quote:
Lumsden was killed by a Japanese kamikaze plane while on the bridge of the United States Navy battleship USS New Mexico in Lingayen Gulf observing the bombardment of Luzon on 6 January 1945, becoming the most senior British Army combat casualty of the Second World War.
(source: Wikipedia)

Cheers

BW
---------------
With occasional, fatigued glances at life's rear-view mirror from the other side of time.

Society's righteous paranoia lows profoundly. -- random wisdom of a computer

anemone
DONCASTER S. YORKS, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 5952
http:// 82.44.47.99
Re: British Army Generalship in WW2
Posted on: 6/16/2017 12:27:35 PM
Thanks for that Bill--as Michael Caine is wont to say- "Not a lot of people know that".

After his sacking by Montgomery--- Lumsden was heard to comment, "I've just been sacked because there isn't room in the desert for two "cads"? like Monty and me"

Another casualty of another Monty spat-this time over Operation Supercharge


Quote:
Montgomery was urging Gatehouse to make faster progress. Gatehouse eventually succeeded in getting some armoured units on a forward facing slope opposite the enemy.

At first light, these units were destroyed by the guns of the Afrika Corps. Montgomery's next move was to relieve Gatehouse of his command.

Military historians have debated the wisdom of this decision over the years, and the general opinion is that Montgomery was wrong.

Gatehouse started his armoured warfare in 1916, when Montgomery was an infantry officer. He was the most experienced tank officer in the Western Desert.

A brave soldier, he was concerned for the welfare of his men. He would stand up in a battle when his staff officers would have preferred to have taken cover.


After El Alamein, 10th Armoured Division was no more, its two brigades moving to other commands. Gatehouse went to Moscow to join a military mission, but he never forgave Montgomery.
Letter to the Telegraph

Regards

Jim
---------------
Pro Patria Saepe Pro Rege Semper

anemone
DONCASTER S. YORKS, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 5952
http:// 82.44.47.99
Re: British Army Generalship in WW2
Posted on: 6/16/2017 1:59:40 PM
Along came Brian Horrocks who said of Montgomery :-
"I knew him well by reputation. He was probably the most discussed general in the British Army before and during the war, and – except with those who had served under him – not a popular figure….

He was known to be ruthlessly efficient, but somewhat of a showman. I had been told sympathetically that I wouldn’t last long under his command, and to be honest, I would rather have served under any other "divisional" commander.”

Regards

Jim
---------------
Pro Patria Saepe Pro Rege Semper

Phil andrade
London, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
Moderator
Posts: 2476

Re: British Army Generalship in WW2
Posted on: 6/16/2017 3:53:10 PM
Wavell, Slim and Auchinlek need to get a mention here, also " Straffer" Gott, who was the man chosen above Montgomery...his horrific death denying him the chance.

Our discussion needs to include the Commonwealth commanders : Canadian, Australian and New Zealand generalship being so very important. I must not forget the South Africans.

Did the British Army ever really " shine " in WW2 ?

In 1918, it had, arguably , been the spearhead of Allied victory.


Its performance 1939-45 does not compare.

Perhaps we ought to acknowledge Slim as the best British general of that war.

More instructive, perhaps, would be a survey of opinions from other Allies : the Americans had enough contact with British generalship to appreciate the best and worst ; what did the enemy have to say ?

Regards, Phil
---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

MikeMeech
UK
top 30
E-5 Sergeant
Posts: 303

Re: British Army Generalship in WW2
Posted on: 6/16/2017 4:41:32 PM

Quote:
The study of generals in a war, but in this case- particularly in the Second World War, is largely the study of "who managed to cope with what level of responsibility". There were two Army Groups 15th and 21st,five Armies-BEF,1st,2nd,8th and 14th ans fair number of Army Corps.

To make a start let us start at the beginning- 15th AG commanded by FM Sir Harold Alexander.Earl of Tunis-a decorated Guards officer of the Great War.A man of great personal charm, Alexander was a handsome man, self-possessed, modest and distinguished in appearance.
Quote:
Field Marshal Alan Brooke, Chief of the Imperial General Staff, said Alexander was always "completely composed and appeared never to have the slightest doubt that all would come out right in the end.


In Italy 1943 -45 as an Army Group Commander-his prime responsibility was to oversee the operations of British 8th Army and US 15th Army.Here IMO think his suave urbanity let him down and he was given the "run around" by Mark Clark GOC US 5th Army- by coming off Anzio beach and making for Rome- ignoring Alexander's order to engage the fleeing Germans from Cassino- for he felt he was a law unto himself and disdained Alexander's seeming weakness and got away with it. Most strange-as everybody liked Alex; (perhaps not Monty-another prima donna) but he was IMO fatally flawed-he was just too nice.

Regards

Jim

--anemone


Hi

According to Richard Mead (Churchill's Lions, page 11) the British had about 777 'Generals' during WW2 (that is Major-General and above), his book contains short biographies of 125. All were engaged in various command and organisational roles, so it has to be said that 'Generalship' covers a large 'scope' during WW2 as it did in a larger form during WW1.

Mike

redcoat
Stockport, UK
top 30
E-5 Sergeant


Posts: 213

Re: British Army Generalship in WW2
Posted on: 6/16/2017 7:58:34 PM

Quote:

Perhaps we ought to acknowledge Slim as the best British general of that war.

Sorry, but 'we' are not prepared to do that.

Phil andrade
London, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
Moderator
Posts: 2476

Re: British Army Generalship in WW2
Posted on: 6/17/2017 1:15:01 AM

Quote:

Quote:

Perhaps we ought to acknowledge Slim as the best British general of that war.

Sorry, but 'we' are not prepared to do that.

--redcoat


Many of us are.

As for me, I haven't made up my mind.

Perhaps you might help me to do so.

Regards, Phil .
---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

anemone
DONCASTER S. YORKS, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 5952
http:// 82.44.47.99
Re: British Army Generalship in WW2
Posted on: 6/17/2017 3:15:11 AM
William Slim, who commanded the 14th British Army in Burma during the Second World War, may not be one of Britain’s most famous "warrior", but he comes mighty close-could be Freyburg VC etc. who takes that accolade; but he was arguably- one of its most effective army commanders.

Slim turned a badly mauled British army into a formidable fighting force, and in the long run, routed a much larger Japanese army, marching victoriously into the port of Rangoon in 1945.

Even more impressive is that Slim’s "Forgotten Army operated on a shoestring budget; it is fair to say that Burma was the least of Britain’s concerns during WW2.

Slim’s war memoir, “Defeat Into Victory,” has become a staple in military reading lists. It stands in marked contrast to many of today’s war memoirs, often written by disgruntled officers, hell-bent on settling old scores.

Slim has nary a harsh word for anyone, despite being saddled with intractable subordinates like “Vinegar Joe” Stilwell and Orde Wingate but ne persevered and part won them over in time .

I think he was "Best of Show" in the Second World war

Regards

Jim
---------------
Pro Patria Saepe Pro Rege Semper

phil andrade
London, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
Moderator
Posts: 2476

Re: British Army Generalship in WW2
Posted on: 6/17/2017 5:07:00 AM
Jim,

Thanks for your comments on Slim.

Was the Japanese army much larger ?

And was Vinegar Joe actually a subordinate ?

Stilwell hated the limeys even more than Mark Clark.....am I right ?

One of the best war films I've seen was PATTON Lust for Glory.

IIRC, the opening scenes depicted American POWs in cages after Kasserine, with Rommel walking past.

Rommel's sidekick says - and I paraphrase - What a joke ! American soldiers led by British generals ! .

Rommel admonishes Let me remind you that Montgomery has pushed us all the way across Africa ; and, as for these Americans, we underestimate them at our peril....

WW2 gives us such rich pickings for caricature and drama on screen.

Regards, Phil



---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

anemone
DONCASTER S. YORKS, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 5952
http:// 82.44.47.99
Re: British Army Generalship in WW2
Posted on: 6/17/2017 6:15:57 AM
Phil-in 1942 the British/Indian forces numbered c 150,000 and the Japanese numbered c.350,000.

By 1943 the numbers were about equal; but thereafter Japanese losses were not replaced- whilst British/Indian forces increased.

By 1945 Allied forces numbered c.1,000,000 whilst the Japanese had dwindled to c.125,000.

On reflection Phil-I now think Stilwell's relationship with Slim was not as a subordinate; but was obliged to cooperate with Slim in his prosecution of the war; and this caused a great amount of friction-he was- as you say- by nature Anglophobic-which made him nigh impossible to work with.

Slim-very sensibly placed the oddball Wingate and his Chindits under Stilwell's command much to Vinegar Joe's displeasure.Slim was however ably assisted by excellent Corps commanders such as Scoones and Messervy IV Corps and Stoppard and Christison at XXXIII Corps Indian Army-all knighted with other decorations-a rich panoply of talent.

Where Now???The Dominions???

Regards

Jim
---------------
Pro Patria Saepe Pro Rege Semper

anemone
DONCASTER S. YORKS, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 5952
http:// 82.44.47.99
Re: British Army Generalship in WW2
Posted on: 6/17/2017 10:21:45 AM
One Dominion General Officer who deserves to be part of this appreciation of Generalship in WW2 was Lieutenant-General Guy Granville Simonds CC, CB, CBE, DSO, CD a senior Canadian Army officer who served with distinction during World War II.

He commanded the 1st Canadian Infantry Division.1st Canadian Corps in Italy and II Canadian Corps in NW Europe.

In 1951, at the age of just 48, he was appointed Chief of the General Staff, the most senior member of the Canadian Army, a post he held for four years.

I look forward to some comments about this distinguished soldier.I was most surprised to mote that he was not honoured with a Knighthood !!?? Particularly in view that British Corps Commanders in NW Europe and Burma were so honoured.

Regards

Jim
---------------
Pro Patria Saepe Pro Rege Semper

George
Centre Hastings, ON, Canada
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
Posts: 5297

Re: British Army Generalship in WW2
Posted on: 6/17/2017 11:39:33 AM
Simonds was born in the UK and came to Canada at the age of 8 or 9. Educated in Canada and at the Royal Military College he is known as the best field commander that Canada produced.

There are a lot of historians who feel that Crerar was unappreciated because he lacked dynamism. He was an excellent manager of his army however.

Remember that Crerar led the Canadian Army for a good deal of the war, as a replacement for WW1 hero, Andy McNaughton.

Crerar also had a dual role, army commander and national commander. By that I mean that he was also the representative of the Canadian government. In the two short periods that Simonds was in charge, he managed to avoid the political role with which Crerar was saddled.

Simonds was considered innovative and aggressive. He brooked no fools and was quick to criticize his divisional commanders for failures that were not always their fault.

He had his share of failures and audacious success in Sicily as CDN 1st div. commander. And notably in France, in battles like Operation Spring, one of 3 major battles on the way to taking Falaise, the Canadians stumbled. On the other hand he could adjust and innovate and achieve results with a battle like Totalize, shortly after.

He was not one to accept the blame for failure and he felt that his plans for Operation Spring were sound. He wrote this afterward:


Quote:
I would prefer to make no statement on the subject for I dislike even suggesting criticism of those who lost their lives, but if a statement is required from me as a matter of record, I consider that the losses were unnecessarily heavy and the results achieved disappointing. Such losses were not inherent in the plan nor in its intended execution.



He is considered the inventor of the allied APC when he felt that the speed of attack was critical during Tractable and a means to reduce infantry casualties.

Perhaps Canada's best divisional commander, Bert Hoffmeister of the 5th Canadian Armoured Division, could not stand to work with Simonds.

He could be tough and hard to understand. Officers who were in the field and were fatigued and who watched their men die, would be summoned to HQ to be told that Simonds was prepared to take 70% casualties to achieve victory. He didn't win friends when he did that but I am sure that he didn't consider his role to be to win friends at all.

He would sack anyone who was underperforming including protegés like General George Kitching, commander of 4th CDN Armoured Division that had a rough time in their first combat during the struggle to close the Falaise Gap. Oddly, Kitching, ever the good soldier, refused to blame Simonds for his sacking, acknowledging that in the heat of battle he had failed to press the advantage.

Some saw him as a micro-manager who would give orders in battle, that at times did not consider what was going in front of the divisional commanders.

Simonds has been considered to be as technically competent as any commander in Europe. Some also consider that he lacked the human touch.

Most commanders under him said that he could synthesize information quickly and break down the intelligence and then explain in clear terms what the objectives of the battle were and the assignments for each division.

Cheers,

George

anemone
DONCASTER S. YORKS, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 5952
http:// 82.44.47.99
Re: British Army Generalship in WW2
Posted on: 6/17/2017 12:40:07 PM
Gosh!! George- I do admire your skill in putting over the written word-I thoroughly enjoyed the whole piece.I thought you were very even handed in your appreciation of Guy Simonds-warts and all.

A lone wolf martinet with a brilliant brain but as stated- lacked the "human touch".Is it your opinion that commanders in the field in a war can afford such a sentiment-I honestly do not think so.

However looking at his statement on a failed operation which I thought was fair until I got to--"Such losses were not inherent in the plan nor in its intended execution" then I sensed "covering his ass" What did you think ??

He made CIGS in later life-a great honour I am sure; but why was he not Knighted?

I do agree that the very steady Crerar did a remarkable job of running an Army and handling all the BS from the Artful Dodger-FM Montgomery who boobed heavily going for Arnhem and the Rhine- instead of the Scheldt and Antwerp-piling more pressure than was necessary on the Canadian Army- via the delay brought about by the Arnhem fiasco/

Regards

Jim
---------------
Pro Patria Saepe Pro Rege Semper

Phil andrade
London, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
Moderator
Posts: 2476

Re: British Army Generalship in WW2
Posted on: 6/17/2017 12:51:27 PM
The Australians produced Morshead - " Ming the Merciless " - who, like his Canadian counterpart, Currie, had been a teacher ; the Kiwis gave us Kippenberger, who had started off as a lawyer.

The name Freyberg is forever associated with the Kiwis, although he had a British provenance. (?)

I reckon that the British generals of 1939-45 had to put up with more political interference than their American counterparts.

Churchill, especially, was a pain.

I wonder how many of the generals felt that they were getting the Cinderella treatment.

Such a far flung war, so multi dimensional, fought very intensely in the air and at sea, too many fronts, and too many competing demands.

And here's something that I find hard to put into words properly, so I struggle to be articulate.....was there an innate lack of confidence in the British army, from top to bottom, in WW2 ?

In WW1, the Germans had put on record their astonishment at the bravado and confidence of the British prisoners they had captured. They were sure that the British Empire would win. Was this cocksure element of the men of 1914-18 something that evaporated in the inter war years, or was it shattered by the dreadful litany of defeats suffered by the British armies in France, the Mediterranean and the Far East in the first half of WW2 ?

This is something that Monty recognised, and was determined to rectify.

That lack of confidence was pernicious , and might have engendered a bloody minded, " trade union ", demarcation kind of attitude that permeated.

Chindits, Commandos and paratroopers were perceived as a kind of antidote to this, leaving the more prosaic plodders of the British army behind.

Elite formations, the darlings of the media then and now, are all very well ; but they came at a cost to the general standard.

Regards , Phil




---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

anemone
DONCASTER S. YORKS, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 5952
http:// 82.44.47.99
Re: British Army Generalship in WW2
Posted on: 6/17/2017 1:23:24 PM
Phil-you have opened a Pandora's Box above-the short answer to your questions has to be Yes to lack of confidence pre El Alamein in October 1942-ie. almost three years.

Pre that date- it was all failure on failure-beginning with the BEF ,then North Africa,Greece and Crete;then Hong Kong and the rise of the Japanese Empire; and the losses in SE Asia. Many sackings of army and corps commanders resulted.

All the while that very busy brain of WSC was thinking what can I throw into the pot next-Ah Yes- Special Forces-oodles of them-that's the ticket-that will win us the war.

Well IMHO- the Special Forces all did their bit for sure; but Special Forces did not win the war-the regular forces on land, at sea and in the air did.BTW most Special Forces
has become attached to Regular Forces by late 1944.

Phil-I will continue to mull over what you have propounded.

Regards

Jim
---------------
Pro Patria Saepe Pro Rege Semper

richto90
Bremerton, WA, USA
top 25
E-6 Staff Sergeant
Posts: 396

Re: British Army Generalship in WW2
Posted on: 6/17/2017 2:48:34 PM

Quote:
I reckon that the British generals of 1939-45 had to put up with more political interference than their American counterparts.


Marshall, Arnold, and King would have a good laugh over that line I think...

Roosevelt's various off the cuff pronouncements regarding aircraft, ships, and armor production created havoc with the already primitive American mobilization planning...such as it was.

anemone
DONCASTER S. YORKS, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 5952
http:// 82.44.47.99
Re: British Army Generalship in WW2
Posted on: 6/17/2017 3:23:32 PM
Churchill's Main Aides were:-

Imperial General Staff

Chairman, Chiefs of Staff (COS) Committee
Dudley Pound (1939-1942)
Alan “Brookie” Brooke (1942-1946)

Chief of the Imperial General Staff
Edmund Ironside (1939-1940)
John Dill (1940-1941)
Alan Brooke (1941-1945)

/Chief of Air Staff
Cyril Newall (1940)
Charles Portal (1940-1945)

Admiral of the Fleet/First Sea Lord
Dudley Pound (1939-1943)
Andrew Browne “ABC” Cunningham (1943-1946)

Chief of Combined Operations
Roger Keyes (1940-1941)
Louis Francis Albert Victor Nicholas “Dickie” Mountbatten (1941-1943)

Regards

Jim
---------------
Pro Patria Saepe Pro Rege Semper

George
Centre Hastings, ON, Canada
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
Posts: 5297

Re: British Army Generalship in WW2
Posted on: 6/17/2017 4:22:05 PM

Quote:
He made CIGS in later life-a great honour I am sure; but why was he not Knighted?


The Dominions have long struggled with the concept of British titles bestowed upon their citizens.

In 1919, immediately after the war, the Canadian government passed a resolution, not a law, requesting that the King not bestow titles upon Canadians.

And generally the crown has complied with the request.

It has to do with our struggles with the concept of nationalism and what it means to be Canadians. It was not until 1947 that Parliament passed a law to declare Canadian citizenship as a distinct status separate from that of British citizen or subject.

The resolution of 1919 has been called the Nickle Resolution as it was proposed by MP William Nickle.

This resolution set the precedent and formed the basis for laws governing the acceptance of foreign honours and which were passed much later in the 20th century.

Now one of our PM's, R.B. Bennett, decided that it would be fine for the King or Queen to grant titles to Canadians. He held office from 1930-35.

W.L. Mackenzie King was back in as PM in 1935 and led the country throughout the war period. He reinstated the Nickle Resolution and that has been the policy ever since.

The resolution was cemented in law in 1968 by PM Lester Pearson and once again in 1988 by PM Brian Mulroney.


And so after all of that, I am suggesting that the reason that General Simonds was not knighted is because he was Canadian and his government would have disapproved.

Other Dominions may not follow the same policy.

Cheers,

George

George
Centre Hastings, ON, Canada
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
Posts: 5297

Re: British Army Generalship in WW2
Posted on: 6/17/2017 5:47:12 PM
I find Simonds to be a fascinating character in that he was both competent and arrogant.

He was also a professional soldier and rising star having graduated from Canada's Royal Military College as the 2nd best student I believe.

He attended British officer school at Cambly for two years and graduated with distinction.

Historian Terry Copp has written and interesting book entitled, "Guy Simonds and the Art of Command".

This isn't an examination of specific battles but of Simonds style of command. It makes liberal use of Simond's written communications and views on command. He had strong views on training methods and operational control

Simonds fought in Sicily and for a short time in Italy has the commander of 1st Div. He was transferred to the 5th Armoured because he needed experience with an armoured division to prepare him for Corps command.

Simonds led his Corps in Normandy and assumed temporary command of the army later in 1944.

He was commander during the Scheldt battle and in NW Europe, he reverted to his command of 2nd Corps.

Copp's short book is an interesting study of the complexities of command whether we care to study Guy Simonds or not.

Here it is then:

[Read More]


Cheers,

George

Phil andrade
London, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
Moderator
Posts: 2476

Re: British Army Generalship in WW2
Posted on: 6/17/2017 6:35:52 PM

Quote:

Quote:
I reckon that the British generals of 1939-45 had to put up with more political interference than their American counterparts.


Marshall, Arnold, and King would have a good laugh over that line I think...

Roosevelt's various off the cuff pronouncements regarding aircraft, ships, and armor production created havoc with the already primitive American mobilization planning...such as it was.

--richto90


Did FDR's pronouncements equate to the same direct interference as WSC's attempts to influence actual conduct of operations in the field ?

Regards, Phil
---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

anemone
DONCASTER S. YORKS, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 5952
http:// 82.44.47.99
Re: British Army Generalship in WW2
Posted on: 6/18/2017 3:06:42 AM
The task of clearing the Scheldt was allotted to the Canadian Army =commanded by Lt Gen Guy Simonds-- General Crerar being ill necessitating his return to England. Guy Simonds was an outstanding general-a star among Corps Commanders.Maj Gen Foulkes took over command of Canadian II Corps.

1st Canadian Army-with many great difficulties and all the hallmarks of an epic- cleared the Scheldt in seven weeks-taking 64000 POW's and killing a substantial number of Germans at cost of 17000 Canadian casualties in those bleak autumn days,in which 3000 Canadians had lost their lives.

Regards

Jim
---------------
Pro Patria Saepe Pro Rege Semper

Phil andrade
London, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
Moderator
Posts: 2476

Re: British Army Generalship in WW2
Posted on: 6/18/2017 3:24:32 AM
....layer upon layer of fossilised shit....

That's how David Stirling, founder of the SAS, described the command structure of the British Army that he encountered in his efforts to get his ideas accepted.

Regards , Phil
---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

anemone
DONCASTER S. YORKS, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 5952
http:// 82.44.47.99
Re: British Army Generalship in WW2
Posted on: 6/18/2017 4:26:05 AM
No doubt Phil- but David Stirling was an adventurer and another oddball
who wanted things done quickly to satisfy the urge of getting to grips with enemy HIS way-which was covert sabotage; and his sneering remark would only come out in frustration at a hard pressed Army- not particularly keen on his way of doing things in the North African desert.Sure the SAS lives on; but today only 22 SAS Regiment exists-Sic Transit Gloria.

Regards

Jim

---------------
Pro Patria Saepe Pro Rege Semper

anemone
DONCASTER S. YORKS, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 5952
http:// 82.44.47.99
Re: British Army Generalship in WW2
Posted on: 6/18/2017 5:46:48 AM
Lieutenant General Sir Bernard Cyril Freyberg, 1st Baron Freyberg, VC, GCMG, KCB, KBE, DSO & Three Bars (21 March 1889 – 4 July 1963) was a British-born soldier and Victoria Cross recipient, who served in both World Wars; and as the 7th Governor-General of New Zealand from 1946 to 1952.

Biographical Details of WW1 Service (NZ Archives)


Quote:
Freyburg on hearing of the outbreak of the First World War in August he immediately left for England to volunteer. He secured a commission in the Royal Naval Division's Hood Brigade. By September 1914 he was on the Belgian front.

Freyberg was awarded numerous honours for his actions during the First World War. Early in the Gallipoli campaign he won a Distinguished Service Order (DSO) for swimming ashore and setting flares at Bulair (Bolayir). It was the evening of 24 April 1915 and the intention was to divert Turkish attention from the main landing.

By 1918 he had added two bars to his DSO, won the Victoria Cross through ‘splendid personal gallantry’, and been appointed a Companion to the Most Distinguished Order of Saint Michael and Saint George (CMG). He was mentioned in dispatches on several occasions and wounded nine times.

He ended the war as a Temporary Brigadier with the 29th Division but soon ‘settled into peacetime soldiering’ with staff appointments at the headquarters of the 44th Division (1921–5), Headquarters Eastern Command (1929), Southern Command (1931–3) and the War Office (1933–4). In 1934 he was promoted to the rank of major general, and the following year was appointed a Companion of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath (CB)


[Read More]

NB.This man was undoubtedly a warrior of some magnitude-his war service in WW1 proves this and there is more of him in WW2. A great leader and as brave as a lion.His life story would be a fascinating read

Regards

Jim
---------------
Pro Patria Saepe Pro Rege Semper

anemone
DONCASTER S. YORKS, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 5952
http:// 82.44.47.99
Re: British Army Generalship in WW2
Posted on: 6/18/2017 7:08:10 AM
Phil told me that the Bombing of Monte Cassino Monastery was agreed by Freyburg after a spate of complaints from GOC 4th Indian Division Francis Tuker and hereunder is what Alexander stated to General Harding
who recorded this message :-

"General Alexander has decided that the Monastery should be bombed if General Freyburg considers it a military necessity.He regrets that the building should be destroyed but he has faith in General Freyburg's judgement.If there is any reasonable probability the building is being used for military purposes General Alexander believes the destruction is warranted"

Source-Cassino by John Ellis

And thus it was converted into an unapproachable fortress !!!Another DSO for Freyburg. The decision taken proved to be an awful mistake; but the Indians and the Kiwis had suffered badly in trying to take the Monastery.

Regards

Jim
---------------
Pro Patria Saepe Pro Rege Semper

Phil andrade
London, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
Moderator
Posts: 2476

Re: British Army Generalship in WW2
Posted on: 6/18/2017 7:12:56 AM
Freyberg's life would make a wonderful theme for a movie.

He was an athlete, and even entered into prize fights in order to earn money to pay for his passage back to Britian.

His swimming feats were legendary : he emulated the heroic mythical swim of Leander at the Hellespont in 1915.

Freyberg strikes me as the British Commonwealth equivalent of Pat Cleburne, although his origins were rather more endowed with privilege .

Regards, Phil
---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

anemone
DONCASTER S. YORKS, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 5952
http:// 82.44.47.99
Re: British Army Generalship in WW2
Posted on: 6/18/2017 7:43:02 AM
"On January 2, 1864,Maj.Gen. Cleburne made his most controversial decision ever. He gathered the corps and division commanders in the Army of Tennessee to present his proposal. The Confederacy was unable to fill its ranks due to a lack of manpower.

He stated that slavery was their “most vulnerable point, a continued embarrassment, and in some respects an insidious weakness.” Cleburne’s proposed solution was for the Confederacy to arm slaves to fight in the army.

In time, these soldiers would receive their freedom. The proposal was not well received at all. In fact, Jefferson Davis directed that the proposal be suppressed."

Source-Cleburne Obit

Regards

Jim
---------------
Pro Patria Saepe Pro Rege Semper

richto90
Bremerton, WA, USA
top 25
E-6 Staff Sergeant
Posts: 396

Re: British Army Generalship in WW2
Posted on: 6/18/2017 1:07:56 PM

Quote:
Did FDR's pronouncements equate to the same direct interference as WSC's attempts to influence actual conduct of operations in the field ?


Of course, because his pronouncements with regards to production affected force structure, both in terms of manpower and equipment, which in turn affected what operations could be undertaken. In a sense, FDR's meddling was more dire than Winnie's, since FDR was affecting strategic planning decisions rather than operational planning as was Winnie's want.

dt509er
Santa Rosa, CA, USA
top 20
E-7 Sgt First Class


Posts: 457

Re: British Army Generalship in WW2
Posted on: 6/18/2017 2:32:38 PM
I have wondered and searched for with no solid finding yet, on a good read of British Generals/Brigadiers at the Division/Brigade level.
---------------
"American parachutists-devils in baggy pants..."

I take offense to your perception of being offended!

“If your experiment needs statistics, you ought to have done a better experiment.” Lord Ernest Rutherford

anemone
DONCASTER S. YORKS, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 5952
http:// 82.44.47.99
Re: British Army Generalship in WW2
Posted on: 6/19/2017 2:42:29 AM
Finding the best British General in the 20th Century,IMO probably the leading candidate would have to be Field Marshal Slim. Very underrated during the war, certainly until 1944-45, and he did suffer from the problem of being an Indian Army General; but he showed an acumen that Montgomery did not have.

Perhaps the best epitaph to Slim comes from Max Hastings:


Quote:
“In contrast to almost every other outstanding commander of the war, Slim was a disarmingly normal human being, possessed of notable self-knowledge. He was without pretension, devoted to his wife, Aileen, their family and the Indian Army.

His calm, robust style of leadership and concern for the interests of his men won the admiration of all who served under him … His blunt honesty, lack of bombast and unwillingness to play courtier did him few favours in the corridors of power. Only his soldiers never wavered in their devotion”.


Regards

Jim

---------------
Pro Patria Saepe Pro Rege Semper

 (1939-1945) WWII Battles    
Page 1 of 3 (Page: 1  2  3 )
 Forum Ads from Google