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Why was General Montgomery never sacked as better generals than him had been sacked
on 9 April 2015
In writing about the performance of the British and Canadian forces the author ignores two key questions. Why was General Montgomery never sacked as better generals than him had been sacked? The other question is Why was he ever appointed in the first place?. This is not the place to go into these questions, just to note that the author ignores them.
The good part of the book is a good description of the fighting ability of the British and Canadian armies in the Second World War. True, it did not reach the extraordinary standards of the Wehrmacht, but then no other army did. There is a belief that the British Army was defeated at Dunkirk. It was not.The French and Belgian armies on either side of the British Army broke, and Lord Gort defied a direct under from Churchill in order to rescue the British Army. There followed an very skilful withdrawal under Generals Alan Brooke, Bernard Montgomery, and Harold Alexander. The army was rescued, but lost all its equipment. Had Churchill bowed to reality, and allowed an earlier withdrawal, much of that equipment could probably have been saved. As it was Churchill remained in office and Lord Gort was never again given a field appointment.
The equipment of the army was good, and better than most.It had lorried infantry, while the panzer divisions with tanks armed mostly with machine guns, and horse-drawn artillery and with marching infantry performed the miracles of the Blitzkrieg. But Britain maintained a very high standard of training and equipment production which owed little to Montgomery
Yet Montgomery as commander of the invasion force performed a service of immense value to the Allies, but not one he would appreciated.
The Germans recognised early on that Montgomery was a slow-thinking, methodical and utterly predictable second-rate general. The Americans soon came to the same conclusions. The only general the Germans considered as first-rate was George Patton. When it was announced that General Montgomery would lead the invasion force on D-Day they immediately concluded that the Normandy landings were a feint, and that the real invasion would be led by Patton at the Pas de Calais. So they held the bulk of their formidable panzer divisions with new heavy-weight tanks there instead of using them to crush the landings in Normandy.
Had Eisenhower been a more ruthless general he would have adopted the single thrust into Germany, allocated it to Patton, and telling Montgomery firmly that Patton had first priority and it was Montgomery's role to keep him supplied. This would be the reverse of Montgomery's idea
It is shortcomings like this that spoiled an excellent book.