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 (1939-1945) WWII Battles    
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Phil andrade
London, UK
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Re: British Army Generalship in WW2
Posted on: 6/19/2017 7:11:12 AM
Fergal Keane's book ROAD OF BONES is well worth a read.

I remember thinking to myself : Oh dear ! This is going to be another polemic account from a left wing luvvie from the BBC !

Not at all.

This description of the Kohima fighting, along with the concurrent Imphal battles , made a deep impact on me.


He gives a candid account of Slim's generalship, not glossing over how ruthless he could be, and gives a deal of attention to the performance of those subordinate commanders at divisional and brigade level.

Recommended.

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

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Posts: 3296

Re: British Army Generalship in WW2
Posted on: 6/19/2017 7:39:34 AM
 All this talk of Burma made me look up what became of American General Frank Merrill. Died in 1955 (apparently) of a heart attack, only 52 years old. Oddly, he and Stilwell were called upon in 1946 to employ two platoons of U.S. Marines to suppress an uprising at Alcatraz Penitentiary.

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

BWilson

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Posts: 3296

Re: British Army Generalship in WW2
Posted on: 6/19/2017 7:41:44 AM
 11th Army Group seems an inflated outfit -- mostly it was only the 14th Army, although the "Ceylon Army" (not much there) also was subordinated to it. Commanded by George Giffard (who ?) and Oliver Leese. I have the impression that Leese was "promoted upstairs" for an average performance in Italy -- or am I being harsh ?

Image: 11th Army Group flash


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
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Re: British Army Generalship in WW2
Posted on: 6/19/2017 9:55:20 AM
Leese muddies the water in Burma 1945


Quote:
Slim had turned the Fourteenth Army into an effective military force and had commanded a highly successful campaign from the relief of Imphal to the recapture of Rangoon and the destruction of the Japanese forces in Burma.

Leese believed that Slim was very tired (he had asked for leave once Rangoon had been taken) and proposed to the Supreme Commander South East Asia, Louis Mountbatten and the Chief of the Imperial General Staff (CIGS), Field Marshal Sir Alan Brooke, that he should be replaced by Philip Christison, who had experience in amphibious warfare and so would be well suited to leading the army in the planned seaborne landings in Malaya, leaving Slim to take over the new Twelfth Army, with the less demanding task of mopping up in Burma.[

Leese misread the reactions of Brooke and Mountbatten and having then met Slim to discuss the proposals, came away believing Slim had agreed to them.[41] In fact, Slim reacted by telling his staff he had been sacked and wrote to Leese and General Sir Claude Auchinleck, the Commander-in-Chief India, to say he would refuse the new post and resign from the army in protest. Once the news circulated within the Fourteenth Army, mutinies and mass resignations of officers were threatened.

Leese was obliged to reinstate Slim when Mountbatten refused to support him, even though he had authorised the original proposals. Mountbatten subsequently approached Alan Brooke (who had always doubted Leese's suitability for the role) and they agreed that Leese should be removed. He was succeeded by Slim.
Wikipedia

Regards

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

anemone
DONCASTER S. YORKS, UK
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Re: British Army Generalship in WW2
Posted on: 6/19/2017 2:11:47 PM
IMO-Claude Auchinleck was one of the most interesting generals of the Second World War. Many would claim he was one of the most under-rated.

Auchinleck did some brilliant work in the North African campaign. Foremost amongst his efforts was that he twice fought Rommel’s army to a standstill, despite each time taking over what looked like a defeated army at the last minute- to achieve such stunning results.

His Tactical ability during Crusader and First Alamein is the foundation for the claims that he was an extraordinary battlefield general. Yet he was replaced--Why was that.????

Regards

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

Phil andrade
London, UK
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Re: British Army Generalship in WW2
Posted on: 6/19/2017 6:23:54 PM
Jim,

Have you seen that wonderful authentic film footage of Churchill's visit to the HQ 8th Army ?

There he is, large as life, sitting in a tent eating his lunch, with Auchinlek chatting with him....you can almost sense Winston's exasperation ; partly attributable to the physical discomforts of the Auk's spartan quarters ; Churchill seems somewhat dismayed by the flies buzzing around, and by the fact that he's been given beer to drink, rather than his beloved champagne .

It was shortly after this that Auchinlek was sacked, to be replaced by Gott.

An edit : another vignette comes to mind when I think of that film of Churchill in Auchinlek's tent : eighty years earlier - in circumstances that were in some ways analogous - a photograph was taken of the US C-i-C sitting facing his army commander across a table in the soldier's tent : I refer, of course, to Abe Lincoln and Little Mac ; the picture was taken in October 1862. Shortly afterwards McClellan was sacked.

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
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Re: British Army Generalship in WW2
Posted on: 6/20/2017 3:44:09 AM
All that I can say here Phil-is that Auchinleck could have been one of the greatest Allied generals of the war, IF he had been given other roles. Unfortunately his personality was not suited to making the best of the roles he was given.

So he must be judged him by what he actually did. Which means- sadly- that the best assessment that I can make of him--is to say of him- that he a failure as an "operational theatre commander"

NB. This state of flux permeated our theatres of war from 1939-1942-after which it remained fairly settled- following Montgomery and El Alamein but before leaving this period we must take a look at the wretched Percival and try to understand hat made him tick


Regards

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

MikeMeech
UK
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Posts: 303

Re: British Army Generalship in WW2
Posted on: 6/20/2017 4:56:50 AM

Quote:
 11th Army Group seems an inflated outfit -- mostly it was only the 14th Army, although the "Ceylon Army" (not much there) also was subordinated to it. Commanded by George Giffard (who ?) and Oliver Leese. I have the impression that Leese was "promoted upstairs" for an average performance in Italy -- or am I being harsh ?

Image: 11th Army Group flash


Cheers

BW
--BWilson


Hi

Giffard had great confidence in Slim and Slim had great confidence in Giffard to support him. The latter fell out with Mountbatten (who had rather less confidence in Slim at the time). Giffard appears in almost every book on the Burma campaign, especially in Slim's 'Defeat into Victory', other books (as well as the Official History of course) that cover him to a greater or lesser extent are:

'Burma - The longest war 1941-45' by Louis Allen.
'The Unforgettable Army' by Michael Hickey.
'Slim' by Ronald Lewin.
'Phoenix from the Ashes' by Daniel P Marston.
'Military Economics, Culture and Logistics in the Burma Campaign, 1942-1945' by Graham Dunlop.
'War in Burma 1942-1945' by Julian Thompson.
'Orde Wingate and the British Army 1922-1944' by Simon Anglim.

That was just a quick look through some of the books in my library, so hardly a 'forgotten' or 'unknown' General and relatively easy to find information on.
He also has some pages on him in 'Churchill's Lions' (pages 165-168).

Mike

anemone
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Re: British Army Generalship in WW2
Posted on: 6/20/2017 5:19:46 AM
Many thanks Mike for your usual very lucid post and itinerary of books -which I have three- maybe four.The word "Forgotten" was coined during WW2 for Slim's 14th Army- due so far as I am aware- to its seeming remoteness from UK. Would very much appreciate your opinion on what appeared to be an underhand move by Leese to oust Slim-mentioned previously.

Regards

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

Phil andrade
London, UK
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Re: British Army Generalship in WW2
Posted on: 6/20/2017 6:49:01 AM
A whole book could be devoted to the legend of " The Forgotten " in the history of warfare.

Forgotten armies ; forgotten fronts.

Dickie Mountbatten is supppsed to have blurted out to troops of the 14th Army :

You're not forgotten. Nobody's bloody well heard of you ! That's all going to change !

The currency of being forgotten....

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

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Posts: 3296

Re: British Army Generalship in WW2
Posted on: 6/20/2017 8:48:50 AM
Phil,

 I'll go out on a limb and make a broader comment about British military historiography of the Second World War: it has its gaps. I noticed this when I went looking for basic, if not particularly important, aspects of British military organization. Things that I easily found on the internet for other countries were not present in terms of information regarding the British. I eventually found what I was looking for after I purchased some pricey, self-produced books from a specialist. I wondered if there was an unspoken rule about not undercutting, by publishing on the internet, the people who author works for sale on these topics. And for as many books I have examined, I have to determine the quantity and type of explosive charge used in the Second World War 2-inch mortar high explosive shell -- that data appears to still be most secret

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

BWilson

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E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 3296

Re: British Army Generalship in WW2
Posted on: 6/20/2017 8:51:04 AM
That was just a quick look through some of the books in my library, so hardly a 'forgotten' or 'unknown' General and relatively easy to find information on.

Mike,

 Thanks for your reply. This may be a thing where something well-known to Britons is not particularly well known to scruffy foreigners like myself. I also have to say the 11th Army Group is practically an unknown entity; certainly when compared to the 21st or even the 15th Army Groups.

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: 2475

Re: British Army Generalship in WW2
Posted on: 6/20/2017 8:57:12 AM
The earlier allusion I made to the analogy between Churchill's meeting with Auchinlek and Lincoln's with McClellan has a resonance in regard to how ( IMHO ) Churchill perceived his role and that of those commanders that he kept hiring and firing.

I'm sure that Churchill was profoundly influenced by the American Civil War. He mentioned it a lot, both in his writings and in his conversation .

The history of the ACW was predicated quite a lot on Lincoln's search for a general.

Winston recoiled from the excess of slaughter that he had witnessed 1914-18 ; he wanted so much to avoid a repeat. And yet, while he implied that the British commanders of WW1 had been too fond of fighting, it seems as if he lamented that some of their WW2 counterparts were too reluctant to press home the battle.

Was Churchill looking for a Grant, or a Sherman ?

To a degree, the British were spared the need for a Grant - let alone a Haig - in 1939-45, because Zhukov and co did that job for them.

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
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Posts: 5939
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Re: British Army Generalship in WW2
Posted on: 6/20/2017 9:12:22 AM
Arthur Percival was very much "a square peg in a round hole"-totally unfit to have command of the so called Fortress Singapore-although he was a well liked decorated junior officer in the Great War-he had greatness thrust upon him by his mentor Sir John Dill,despite being quite unsuitable for high command; and when the chips were down-I don't think he knew what options he had-he was too concerned with the citizenry and not enough concern to the host of soldiers he commanded.He was easily bullied by the wily Yamashita (whose troops were short of ammo) who talked him into surrendering- by offering false promises.


Regards

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

Phil andrade
London, UK
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Posts: 2475

Re: British Army Generalship in WW2
Posted on: 6/20/2017 11:24:36 AM
Never judge by appearances, we are told.

But - By Jove ! - that poor fellow Percival was distinctly unfortunate in his physical characteristics .

He looks like the old playthings from a century ago I used to find in granny's cupboard : a sad and spindly little toy monkey, with all its fur plucked out, and a most forlorn look on its face.

I feel he deserves some rehabilitation ....but when I see his face, all I see is those disgraceful vignettes of the Union Flag being cast down in surrender.

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
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Posts: 5939
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Re: British Army Generalship in WW2
Posted on: 6/20/2017 12:13:04 PM
Percival had lost Wavell’s vote of approval for his command style. On January 20, 1942, Wavell met with Percival on Singapore to plan for the island’s defence since the outcome of a battle on the mainland appeared to be a foregone conclusion.

This meeting was prompted by Percival’s unwillingness to plan for a withdrawal of Commonwealth forces from Johore to Singapore despite communiqués from Wavell.

Once the decision to evacuate to the island fortress was made, there was further disagreement between Percival and Wavell, with the former opting for defence on the northeast coast and the latter acquiescing.

Numerically, the defenders had more than enough strength on the island to repel the invasion, particularly as it came where Wavell had expected it.

I am of the opinion that Wavell ought to have puled rank on Percival and ordered Percival to pull back sufficient troops back to the bottom of the mainland; and there construct a strong Double Defence Line guarding the water supply to the Island.

Regards

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

MikeMeech
UK
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E-5 Sergeant
Posts: 303

Re: British Army Generalship in WW2
Posted on: 6/20/2017 5:05:22 PM

Quote:
That was just a quick look through some of the books in my library, so hardly a 'forgotten' or 'unknown' General and relatively easy to find information on.

Mike,

 Thanks for your reply. This may be a thing where something well-known to Britons is not particularly well known to scruffy foreigners like myself. I also have to say the 11th Army Group is practically an unknown entity; certainly when compared to the 21st or even the 15th Army Groups.

Cheers

BW
--BWilson

Hi

The basic information on both Giffard and the 11th Army Group are available on Wiki and I don't want to just repeat what is available from that source. Basically the 11th Army Group should have had NCAC commanded by Stilwell should have also been under its command but he did not want that. However, when the 11th Army Group was re-titled ALFSEA then NCAC (without Stilwell) was under its command until NCAC was disbanded. 11th AG and ALFSEA also controlled other units including various Indian Ocean garrisons. The command system in SEA appears to have been rather convoluted (probably due to 'political' reasons) and I don't think Mountbatten was the best of 'managers'.

Mike

MikeMeech
UK
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Posts: 303

Re: British Army Generalship in WW2
Posted on: 6/21/2017 2:45:49 AM

Quote:
Many thanks Mike for your usual very lucid post and itinerary of books -which I have three- maybe four.The word "Forgotten" was coined during WW2 for Slim's 14th Army- due so far as I am aware- to its seeming remoteness from UK. Would very much appreciate your opinion on what appeared to be an underhand move by Leese to oust Slim-mentioned previously.

Regards

Jim
--anemone

Hi

I don't think it was an 'underhand move' by Leese, it turned out to be an 'error of judgement', however, I agree with historians that no-one came out of the episode very well (including Slim). It is covered well in many books, however, Leese felt that Slim was tired after a long period of combat, which was true, Slim had already asked for leave (home leave in the UK). From then on it became all rather mismanaged and it appears that everyone was rather 'confused' after meetings at what had been decided. Interestingly Mountbatten again appears to have failed to manage people well, it also appears that he wanted to get rid of Leese (there appears to be a theme of trying to get rid of the commanders of 11th AG/ALFSEA, with Giffard previously). Brooke back in the UK 'lost confidence' in Leese, the former had also not wanted Giffard replaced and at the time and later thought his sacking a mistake, so Brooke must have been rather fed up with the problems coming from Mountbatten's command. Again I think Mountbatten was a poor manager of his senior personnel in many ways, although he had his 'good points', he appears to have had a good relationship with the Americans. He was successful in getting rid of two senior commanders and I suspect he did not want anyone but himself in command over these forces or at least someone that always agreed with him, that is despite the wider responsibilities of his position, but that is just an opinion.

Mike

BWilson

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Posts: 3296

Re: British Army Generalship in WW2
Posted on: 6/21/2017 3:40:34 AM

Quote:

Quote:
That was just a quick look through some of the books in my library, so hardly a 'forgotten' or 'unknown' General and relatively easy to find information on.

Mike,

 Thanks for your reply. This may be a thing where something well-known to Britons is not particularly well known to scruffy foreigners like myself. I also have to say the 11th Army Group is practically an unknown entity; certainly when compared to the 21st or even the 15th Army Groups.

Cheers

BW
--BWilson

Hi

The basic information on both Giffard and the 11th Army Group are available on Wiki and I don't want to just repeat what is available from that source. Basically the 11th Army Group should have had NCAC commanded by Stilwell should have also been under its command but he did not want that. However, when the 11th Army Group was re-titled ALFSEA then NCAC (without Stilwell) was under its command until NCAC was disbanded. 11th AG and ALFSEA also controlled other units including various Indian Ocean garrisons. The command system in SEA appears to have been rather convoluted (probably due to 'political' reasons) and I don't think Mountbatten was the best of 'managers'.

Mike
--MikeMeech


Mike,

 Heh, I felt "proud" that I even recalled one of the army groups had not been mentioned. From the American side of the pond, the account of the British in India and Burma during the war centers around 14th Army, Slim, Wingate, and less mentioned, Imphal. (For my generation ... I use Wikipedia on occasion but what I mention here is what was commonly known among history buffs in the USA decades ago.) It was another one of those filters that distort how a given society understands historical events.

 Thank you for the comment on the command structure. The American side of what we called the CBI Theater seems to have had more than its share of competing egos and national agendas. For a guy who had lost the most productive parts of his country to the Japanese, old Chiang was pretty choosy about how he opted to work with allied nations.

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: 5939
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Re: British Army Generalship in WW2
Posted on: 6/21/2017 3:47:55 AM
Thank you Mike for your clarification of what appeared to me to be some sort of conspiracy mainly involving Leese-whereas "many fingers were in that oie"

However I still do not understand why Leese -a new;y promoted
Lt Gen.-newly arrived in another organisation ie 11th AG-would comment on the GOC of 14th Army ie. Slim who was a full General-"a fine kettle of fish" What had Slim's tiredness got to do with Leese.???

Regards

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

BWilson

top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 3296

Re: British Army Generalship in WW2
Posted on: 6/21/2017 5:50:52 AM

Quote:
I have wondered and searched for with no solid finding yet, on a good read of British Generals/Brigadiers at the Division/Brigade level.
--dt509er


 May be helpful:

Delaney, Douglas E. (2011). Corps Commanders: Five British and Canadian Generals at War, 1939–45. Vancouver: UBC Press. ISBN 9780774820905.
Mead, Richard (2007). Churchill's Lions: A Biographical Guide to the Key British Generals of World War II. Stroud: Spellmount. ISBN 978-1-86227-431-0.
Smart, Nick (2005). Biographical Dictionary of British Generals of the Second World War. Barnesley: Pen & Sword. ISBN 1844150496.


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

George
Centre Hastings, ON, Canada
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
Posts: 5285

Re: British Army Generalship in WW2
Posted on: 6/21/2017 6:10:47 AM

Quote:

Quote:
I have wondered and searched for with no solid finding yet, on a good read of British Generals/Brigadiers at the Division/Brigade level.
--dt509er


 May be helpful:

Delaney, Douglas E. (2011). Corps Commanders: Five British and Canadian Generals at War, 1939–45. Vancouver: UBC Press. ISBN 9780774820905.
Mead, Richard (2007). Churchill's Lions: A Biographical Guide to the Key British Generals of World War II. Stroud: Spellmount. ISBN 978-1-86227-431-0.
Smart, Nick (2005). Biographical Dictionary of British Generals of the Second World War. Barnesley: Pen & Sword. ISBN 1844150496.


Cheers

BW
--BWilson


Delaney is quite good. This book is fairly fresh. I think that it came out maybe 5 years ago.

Horrocks, Burns, Crocker, Simonds, and Foulkes are the 3 British and 2 Canadian Corps commanders in his book. It is a biographical approach.

Another Delaney book that I have not read but will is about the man who has been rated as the top Canadian divisional commanders of the war and one of the best of the British forces.

The book is entitled, "The Soldiers' General: Bert Hoffmeister at War". Hoffmeister led the CDN 5th Armoured Division which was involved in the Italian campaign and later in NW Europe.


For those who are interested in specific battles of WW1, Delaney has written, "Capturing Hill 70: Canada's Forgotten Battle of the First World War."


MikeMeech
UK
top 30
E-5 Sergeant
Posts: 303

Re: British Army Generalship in WW2
Posted on: 6/21/2017 6:33:47 AM

Quote:
Thank you Mike for your clarification of what appeared to me to be some sort of conspiracy mainly involving Leese-whereas "many fingers were in that oie"

However I still do not understand why Leese -a new;y promoted
Lt Gen.-newly arrived in another organisation ie 11th AG-would comment on the GOC of 14th Army ie. Slim who was a full General-"a fine kettle of fish" What had Slim's tiredness got to do with Leese.???

Regards

Jim
--anemone

Hi

Leese arrived in November 1944 and the proposed replacement of Slim was in May 1945, so hardly just arrived. As the 14th Army was one of the formations under the command of Leese at ALFSEA, then it was his job. As it was Slim's job when he replaced Scoones at IV Corps by Messervy, due to the former being tired. The context of the 'replacement' of Slim was the proposed forthcoming invasion of Malaya, which was to be an amphibious operation which is why Leese had Christison lined up for 14th Army command as he had experience in that type of operation. Slim was to be given command of a new 12th Army to mop up in Burma (when he returned from leave). However, when the dust settled Slim was given command of ALFSEA in place of Leese (Slim was in the UK on leave when informed of this). Of course this may have been the post that Slim had wanted all along? But that is just speculation.

Mike


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


Posts: 5939
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Re: British Army Generalship in WW2
Posted on: 6/21/2017 6:44:18 AM
As usual Mike -you have "hit all the nails squarely of the head"-I am grateful for your erudition and patience in dealing with my query-I am now fully informed-thanks again to you.

Regards

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

MikeMeech
UK
top 30
E-5 Sergeant
Posts: 303

Re: British Army Generalship in WW2
Posted on: 6/21/2017 6:52:33 AM

Quote:

Quote:

Quote:
That was just a quick look through some of the books in my library, so hardly a 'forgotten' or 'unknown' General and relatively easy to find information on.

Mike,

 Thanks for your reply. This may be a thing where something well-known to Britons is not particularly well known to scruffy foreigners like myself. I also have to say the 11th Army Group is practically an unknown entity; certainly when compared to the 21st or even the 15th Army Groups.

Cheers

BW
--BWilson

Hi

The basic information on both Giffard and the 11th Army Group are available on Wiki and I don't want to just repeat what is available from that source. Basically the 11th Army Group should have had NCAC commanded by Stilwell should have also been under its command but he did not want that. However, when the 11th Army Group was re-titled ALFSEA then NCAC (without Stilwell) was under its command until NCAC was disbanded. 11th AG and ALFSEA also controlled other units including various Indian Ocean garrisons. The command system in SEA appears to have been rather convoluted (probably due to 'political' reasons) and I don't think Mountbatten was the best of 'managers'.

Mike
--MikeMeech


Mike,

 Heh, I felt "proud" that I even recalled one of the army groups had not been mentioned. From the American side of the pond, the account of the British in India and Burma during the war centers around 14th Army, Slim, Wingate, and less mentioned, Imphal. (For my generation ... I use Wikipedia on occasion but what I mention here is what was commonly known among history buffs in the USA decades ago.) It was another one of those filters that distort how a given society understands historical events.

 Thank you for the comment on the command structure. The American side of what we called the CBI Theater seems to have had more than its share of competing egos and national agendas. For a guy who had lost the most productive parts of his country to the Japanese, old Chiang was pretty choosy about how he opted to work with allied nations.

Cheers

BW

--BWilson

Hi

As my father served in the Theatre, first with 2 Div. then 36th Div I have some interest in the subject. The 36th Div. was commanded by Festing known as 'Front Line Frankie' (short biography by Lyall Wilkes 'Festing - Field Marshal', and 'Churchill's Lions' pages 138-141), the division replacing the Chindits with NCAC. My father spent six months of his time flying as an air despatcher with the USAAF 3rd Combat Cargo Group that was air supplying the division (as well as other formations). In my father's memoirs he mentions that:

"I did see the famous American General 'Vinigar Joe' Stilwell once, this was when we landed at Ledo, which was near his headquarters. On landing we were taken to the US Red Cross van for coffee and doughnuts while waiting to fly out. While waiting there a plane landed and this was followed by Stilwell, with some other officers, walking by. Then Military Police roared up on their Harley Davidson motorbikes and these escorted Stilwell and his entourage in their jeeps away."

Mike

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Re: British Army Generalship in WW2
Posted on: 6/21/2017 1:46:13 PM
A. E. Percival Continued

Arthur E. Percival’s surrender to the invading Japanese Army permanently destroyed Britain’s military and colonial prestige in the Far East. Percival "thought" that he got the best terms from the Japanese, thus refusing to participate in any “last stand” heroics, he failed to meet Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s standard as a military commander.

Although Percival was humiliated in both the surrender ceremony and as a prisoner of war, analysis of his prewar assessment and plans for the defence of Singapore demonstrates that he was not entirely culpable for the Singapore garrison’s defeat.

Poor planning of the defensive aspects of the island- coupled with an underequipped garrison to fight a modern battle with tanks and suitable aircraft- ultimately may have been more related to the surrender than Army leadership.

One is left to ponder whether Percival was a convenient scapegoat for a wider failure of British leadership and ultimate responsibility.?????

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Jim
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RuudSp

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Re: British Army Generalship in WW2
Posted on: 6/21/2017 4:07:51 PM
I see no mention of John Vereker, 6th Viscount of Gort, who was responsible for the Miracle of Dunkirque in 1940 and the defense of Malta from 1942 until 1944. I'd say he didn't do too bad.

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Re: British Army Generalship in WW2
Posted on: 6/22/2017 3:12:08 AM
Ruud-Gort was given mention in the opening posts
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anemone
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Re: British Army Generalship in WW2
Posted on: 6/22/2017 5:07:28 AM
Miles Christopher Dempsey, GBE, KCB, DSO, MC (15 December 1896 – 5 June 1969) was a senior British Army officer who served in both World Wars and GOC British 2nd Army in N W Europe.


Military historian Carlo D'Este said of him:

"A career infantryman, Dempsey was an ardent student of military history and during the interwar period had frequently visited Europe to study its battlefields firsthand.

Blessed with an active and incisive mind, a phenomenal memory and a unique skill in reading maps, Dempsey would soon leave his army staff in awe over his ability to remember everything he saw on a map, to bring a landscape literally to life in his mind even though he had never actually seen it.

This talent proved particularly important during the crucial battles around Caen in June and July 1944. Dempsey was considered the Eighth Army's best expert in combined operations and, as he grew in experience, Montgomery soon recognised his potential for army command.

The two men shared many qualities, including a disdain for paperwork and a determination, based on their First World War experiences, never to waste their soldiers lives."

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Jim
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Re: British Army Generalship in WW2
Posted on: 6/22/2017 8:51:25 AM
On 15 October 1944, during a visit to the Second Army, King George VI knighted Dempsey on the battlefield. Because of the fast and successful advance over more than 200 miles in a week Dempsey received the nickname of "Two Hundred Miles" Dempsey.

Second Army's XXX Corps (now commanded by Lieutenant General Brian Horrocks) took part in Operation Market Garden, the failed attempt to secure an early crossing of the River Rhine in September 1944, which Dempsey believed could not succeed;and how right he was, he openly questioned this matter with Montgomery but no avail.

Further he was too bright tom continue being a figurehead and he decided to this matter up with Montgomery-whose tactics had not been particularly productive.Dempsey wanted to propose a viable alternative and the means he chose to do so- took place during Operation Goodwood. He recognised there was little that he could do about Montgomery's dictum
and so he continued to pin the German Panzer force around the Caen sector.





Regards

Jim
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Re: British Army Generalship in WW2
Posted on: 6/23/2017 8:45:26 AM
POSTSCRIPT

Part of Slim's continued legacy in contrast to Monty's somewhat tarnished one is that Slim was not in Europe and was not dealing with the American Generals like Bradley.

Where as Montgomery has had every little mistake he ever made since taking command in Africa scrutinised and critised hundreds of times over to such a level that he is considered by many to be one of the worst generals of the entire war despite having one of the best win/loss records of any general and (with the exception of Market Garden) achieving all of his objectives and usually before the time he predicted he would, Slim and his career has been left alone for the most part.

And this is not because he made few mistake or because he admitted those mistakes it is because he never got on the bad side of the Americans.

Omar Bradley for example hated Montgomery and went out of his way after the war to place as much of the blame for anything that went wrong in Europe on Monty's shoulders instead of taking some of the blame himself. It largely through Bradley's influence that Monty is blamed for dawdling in Normandy in the British sector when in fact Montgomery was not in charge of the British sector but, following the deployment of the troops on the beaches, was in command of all Allied Ground Forces throughout the whole of the Invasion of Normandy and so deserves both a share of the blame and praise in both the British and the American sectors.

If any other general of the war from the British, American, German, Russian, Japanese or any other army had their WWII career examined as thoroughly as Monty's has been over the years then none of them would come out of it looking like they were great or even good commanders.

There is no doubting that Slim was a very good general and was definitely one of the best of the war but, in all honesty, I wouldn't called him the best of the war but probably the best of the Asian theatre by a large margin. One main reason for this is because, while Japan was a major threat, the European theatre was the main theatre of operations and Slim, to my knowledge, was never tested there.

Slim was sucessful in parts of Africa (though never against the Germans), the Middle-East (Against Vichy-France) and India and Burma (against the Japanese). He was never tested against the Army considered by many to be the best of the era, the Germans, and never commanded in the main theatre.

He is the WWII equivalent of Isaac Brock, a man considered a great commander but never got the chance to prove it in the main theatre and was always in the secondary theatres, however important that theatre may have been in hindsight.

Regards

Jim
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redcoat
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Re: British Army Generalship in WW2
Posted on: 6/26/2017 3:22:34 AM

Quote:


Second Army's XXX Corps (now commanded by Lieutenant General Brian Horrocks) took part in Operation Market Garden, the failed attempt to secure an early crossing of the River Rhine in September 1944, which Dempsey believed could not succeed;and how right he was, he openly questioned this matter with Montgomery but no avail.

Further he was too bright tom continue being a figurehead and he decided to this matter up with Montgomery-whose tactics had not been particularly productive.Dempsey wanted to propose a viable alternative and the means he chose to do so- took place during Operation Goodwood. He recognised there was little that he could do about Montgomery's dictum
and so he continued to pin the German Panzer force around the Caen sector.





Regards

Jim
--anemone

Enlighten us.
What did Dempsey, one of the two main planners of Goodwood along with O'Conner, propose to Monty at this time.

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Re: British Army Generalship in WW2
Posted on: 6/26/2017 4:08:30 AM
Dempsy's plan for Goodwood was essentially to go for the much needed breakthrough with armour-this plan was vetoed by Montgomery who wanted
a Limited Bite and Hold Operation- this was- as we all know- a failure
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George
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Re: British Army Generalship in WW2
Posted on: 6/26/2017 6:24:38 AM
Jim, the Germans committed a lot of their strength to the Caen sector.

Preceding Goodwood were other operations to encircle the city and to seize Carpiquet airport. These too were costly operations.

Goodwood was a large tank battle and costly, admittedly.

But may we concede that the US breakout during Cobra was partly facilitated by British and Canadian action at Caen including Goodwood.

The Germans had begun to move troops to the west to counter the American initiatives there.

Monty saw this as problematic.

On July 10, Monty said:


Quote:
"It is important to speed up our advance on the western flank; the operations of the Second Army must therefore be so staged that they will have a direct influence on the operations of the First Army, as well as holding enemy forces on the eastern flank."



In defence of Dempsey at Goodwood:

1. He decided to go with an all armour attack, something that Monty had found to be futile in North Africa.

2. British and Canadian casualties to the time before Goodwood were over 37,000 since the landing. There were insufficient reinforcements to maintain the infantry divisions at strength.

3. The British and Canadians could not afford to lose more infantry but they had plenty of tanks.

The Sell

Monty was under pressure from SHAEF to get moving. He knew that the approaches to the Bourgébus Ridge to the south of Caen where armour could function well were compromised by the narrow passage across the Odon. There were only 6 bridges to cross and armour would have to amass, ready to cross at the last minute.

There was insufficient room to make use of the troops available.

So Monty may have oversold the plan so that Ike and others expected a breakout which was impossible using armour alone.

Ike was pretty excited by Monty's plan for Goodwood which Monty presented on July 12.


Quote:
'I am viewing the prospects with tremendous optimism and enthusiasm. I would not be at all surprised to see you gaining a victory that will make some of the "old classics" look like a skirmish between patrols.'


He then wrote Alan Brooke and said:


Quote:
the time has come to have a real "showdown" on the eastern flank'.





Change of Plans

After speaking with Ike, the very next day, July 13, Montgomery gave a new directive to Dempsey.

He told him to advance from the Orne beachhead about 1/3 of the way to Falaise and then to pause and assess.

Some historians say that this was a realistic goal but that is not how the Americans would perceive it and despite participation in the great attritional battles in the Caen sector, the Canadians and Brits were seen as slow plodders.




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Re: British Army Generalship in WW2
Posted on: 6/26/2017 6:50:05 AM

Quote:
Change of Plans

After speaking with Ike, the very next day, July 13, Montgomery gave a new directive to Dempsey.

He told him to advance from the Orne beachhead about 1/3 of the way to Falaise and then to pause and assess.

Some historians say that this was a realistic goal but that is not how the Americans would perceive it and despite participation in the great attritional battles in the Caen sector, the Canadians and Brits were seen as slow plodders.


As i said briefly above-Dempsey was for the breakthrough from the outset-Monty changed all that and showed his 21st AG as "slow plodders".It was Monty at his worst-excluding Market Garden.However-despite all this shillying and shallying- the Brits and Canadians did facilitate Operation Cobra.

BTW -was it Monty who allowed the Americans to bypass Falaise or was it Ike who sanctioned this move????

Regards

Jim

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Michigan Dave
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Re: British Army Generalship in WW2
Posted on: 6/26/2017 8:14:27 AM
Jim,

It sounds like you have your reservations about Monty's generalship in this situation!?

Regards,
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Re: British Army Generalship in WW2
Posted on: 6/26/2017 8:29:31 AM
I am of the opinion Dave- that Monty made too many mistakes in NW Europe.

regards

Jim
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Re: British Army Generalship in WW2
Posted on: 6/26/2017 9:50:26 AM
George,

You allude to the 37,000 British and Canadian casualties sustained by the time Opertaion Goodwood was launched.

IIRC, American casualties by this time were in the order of sixty thousand ; that ratio of five to three seems to have held good throughout the Battle of Normandy.

It makes me wonder how the Americans must have felt when they heard the British claim that they were engaging the main strength of the enemy round Caen.

Were British generals perceived as being too fastidious about committing to battle ?

Regards , Phil

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Re: British Army Generalship in WW2
Posted on: 6/26/2017 10:48:55 AM
Hello Phil,

Were the American divisions up to strength as Cobra began?

I think that we also have to look at the geography of France in the Caen sector. The approach from Caen to to Bourgébus Ridge to the south was open but first you had to funnel armour and troops across the Orne.

That proved to be disastrous for British armour.

Once out of the bocage, did the Americans face a similar narrow neck in which to move troops and armour?

The Canadian 2nd Corps was tasked with securing the area over the Orne to the south and West of Caen. This they did and they thought that they were finished.

But then they were ordered as the last part of Goodwood, to take Verrière Ridge.

But so damaging to British armour had been the initial phase of Goodwood that the Canadians were attempting to take the ridge without sufficient armoured support.


I don't know that the British and Canadians deserved to be characterized as slow plodders given the type of fighting that they endured from the beaches to Caen and then the breakout from Caen to Falaise.

The Germans did move armoured divisions to the Caen sector and we need to remember the battles of June 7,8 and 9 when the Canadians and British stopped the Germans from throwing the invasion into the sea.

The subsequent battles to take Caen were not well managed but the fault does not lie with the foot soldiers.

Mistakes were made for sure but many of our historians are taking a fresh look at the actual combat that took place. Much of the historiography that criticizes the Canadians anyway stems from a single statement made by Stacey, the official historian. He has said that he now regrets making a single negative comment that was used by so many other historians to unfairly slag the Canadians.

Two things to note about Goodwood, costly as it was:

The Germans no longer held the Caen sector. After Goodwood, Caen and the Orne River were behind the British.

If this part of the battle was attritional and I think that it was, the German forces had been substantially reduced.


A couple of quotes from historians"

Ford, Ken, Caen: Montgomery's Breakout Attempt, (2004)


Quote:
The slow nature of British Second Army`s progress in Normandy has attracted a lot of criticism, but what should not be overlooked is the equally slow progress achieved by US First Army. After the capture of the Cotentin Peninsula on 29 June, (General) Bradley was ordered to prepare for his big break-out battle, Operation Cobra. Just as (2nd Army) could not capture Caen to gain room to manoeuvre, (1st Army) proved equally unable to seize St. Lô. (American) forces were attacking through particularly thick areas of the Normandy bocage and enemy resistance there was fierce. Montgomery set the ambitious date of 3 July for (the) launch (of) Cobra, but this soon proved to be out of the question. On 10 July, Bradley told Montgomery that he could not start until 20 July. Montgomery responded to the delay by launching the attacks along the Odon...on 15 July and Operation Goodwood on 18 July, in order to keep enemy armour away from the Americans. In the event, it was not until 25 July that Bradley finally made his attack



And Canadian, Terry Copp's summary of Goodwood


Quote:
Operation "Atlantic" and its parent Operation "Goodwood" came to an end on July 21st when the Black Watch restored the line. But no one told the enemy, so the counterattacks continued, but now it was the Germans who were taking the heavy losses including precious tanks. Second British Army claimed to be pleased with the progress made in three days of fighting. VIII Corps had advanced 10,000 yards, enabling II Canadian Corps to capture Vaucelles and exploit south. Two thousand prisoners were captured and a like number of enemy killed or wounded. The British army had lost a considerable number of tanks but they could easily be replaced; its human losses had been low in proportion to the troops engaged. Canadian casualties had been heavily concentrated in the last day of fighting when operations were supposed to be winding down



It seems to me that Canadians and Brits who study Normandy are too quick to don the hair shirt.

The Germans, even with the pounding that they took on the approaches to Caen, were still a formidable opponent who understood defensive strategy.

So if the progress was not what was expected, what were the reasons?

Did the Americans, by comparison, seize the initiative where the British did not and if the answer is yes, then why? Better soldiers?


Cheers,

George


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Re: British Army Generalship in WW2
Posted on: 6/26/2017 11:48:33 AM
Daily Mail blog

"Those British officers who fancied that Goodwood would be ‘a day at the races’ were wrong. On the contrary, it proved to be a ‘death ride’ in which thousands of lives were thrown away to little purpose.


One reason for this was a failure in military intelligence. The ‘crystal- gazers’ (as the intelligence officers were known) concluded from looking at photo-reconnaissance that the enemy’s defences were less than three miles deep. In fact, there were five lines going back more than six miles.


The tank crews about to lead the charge were briefed that, as one put it, there was ‘only a thin crust ahead of us, and once through it we could just bum on’.

In the event, they were hurling themselves against brick walls."

Regards

Jim
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