who was the best Allied general?

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Michael Kenny
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Re: who was the best Allied general?

Post by Michael Kenny » 08 Sep 2011 23:29

Tom from Cornwall wrote:BTW I think that is what he was trying to say at the infamous press conference, and of course, in typical Montgomery fashion, "I told you so!" :lol:
If you read the reports of it that appeared in the US Newspapers you have to wonder exactly what all the fuss was about.
The almost pathological US 'hatred' (I put it that strongly) of Monty appears to have no basis in reality.

—Field Marshal Sir Bernard L. Montgomery Sunday said Allied team work and especially the inherent “courage and good fighting quality” of American troops has halted the German drive into Belgium.

The battle is “far from over,” he asserted, but the Germans “have been halted, then sealed off, and we are now in the process of writing them off,” with the initiative in Allied hands.

At his first press conference in months, the colorful Briton, commanding four armies north of the German bulge told how Field Marshal Karl von Rundstedt’s thrust developed, and how he moved to meet it.

Time and again he stressed that above all it was the fighting ability of American doughboys and their “tenacity in battle that makes a great soldier” that has really saved the situation by the stands at St. Vith, Bastogne, and south of Monschau.

He singled out two American armored divisions, the 2d and 7th, and two United States airborne division, the 82d and 101st, and the 106th infantry as doing a great job. He also lauded the United States 7th corps, and praised Gen. Dwight Eisenhower’s leadership.

“What was Von Rundstedt trying to achieve? I don’t know,” Marshal Montgomery said in an hour-long talk. “The only guide we have is his order of the day which told his soldiers they must go all out on this last big effort.
“One must admit that he has dealt a sharp blow and he has sent us reeling back, but we recovered and he has been unable to gain any great advantage. He has therefore failed in his strategic purpose, unless the prize is smaller than his men were told.

“Von Rundstedt attacked on December 16,” he said. “He obtained a tactical surprise. He drove a deep wedge into the center of the 1st army and split American forces in two. The situation loomed as if it might become awkward. The Germans had broken right through the spot and were heading for the Meuse.

“As soon as I saw what was happening, I took certain steps myself to insure that if the Germans got to the Meuse they could certainly not get over that river. And I carried out certain movements so as to provide balanced dispositions to meet the threatened danger.”

Marshal Montgomery at the time had command only of the British 2d and Canadian 1st armies, and on his own he shifted some troops south to meet the threat.

“Then the situation began to deteriorate, but the whole Allied team rallied to meet the danger. National considerations were thrown overboard; General Eisenhower placed me in command of the whole northern front.”

“I employed the whole available power of the British group of armies. This power was brought into play very gradually and in such a way that it would not interfere with American lines of communications. Finally it was put into battle with a bang, and today British divisions are fighting hard on the right flank of the United States 1st army . . This is a fine Allied picture.

“We have halted the Germans, sealed them off, and are now writing them off. German divisions have suffered heavily, but I say this about a battle. It is a very great mistake to think it is over. The worst parts are over, but a great deal more must be done.

“There are two main reasons why Von Rundstedt was sealed off from achieving what he was after, The first of these is the good fighting qualities of the United States soldier, and- the second is Allied teamwork.

“I formed a very high opinion of the American soldier in Italy and Sicily,” Marshal Montgomery con¬tinued earnestly. “I have spent my life with the British soldier and I love the British soldier, but I have formed a great affection for the American soldier, who is a very brave fighting man who has that tenacity in battle which makes a great soldier.

He is basically responsible for stopping Von Rundstedt from what he set out to do. “He held out at Elsenborn there south of Monschau (the 1st, 2d, 99th and 30th infantry divisions) when the great blow hit him and he stopped those SS panzer divisions.

“At St. Vith many United States troops were cut off and isolated but in little groups they fought and held on to those vital road junctions, forcing the Germans to halt. It was a very fine perform¬ance that the 7th armored division and the 106th infantry division borne division at Bastogne which put up a great performance.

“On December 20-21, I consulted General Hodges (Lieut. Gen. Courtney Hodges, United States 1st army commander) and suggested we must get those fine fighting men out of the St. Vith area and back in our lines

“The 82d American airborne division moved forward and got in contact with these elements and we pulled them back behind our lines. Then we ordered the 82d back to better positions but they did not want to come and they protested, but I assured them they had accomplished their mission and could withdraw with honor.

I take my hat off willingly to such men.”

Discussing Allied teamwork, Marshal Montgomery said, “It was to me a remarkable thing how in the time of danger the Allied team rallied together. This thing of Allied solidarity is terribly im¬portant. Teamwork wins battles and battle victories win wars.

“On our team the captain is General Ike. I am devoted to him. We are great friends. We are all in this fight together and we must not allow any wedges to be driven between us. As an illustration of our friendship, the other day my plane was damaged, and I asked Ike for another, and he sent his own at once.”
In questions after the conference, Marshal Montgomery said the Germans still were “fine soldiers” and formidable enemies. He cited the January 1 attack of the Luftwaffe on Allied airfields as an example of German potentialities, saying “the enemy pulled a fast one on us.”
But this does not mean the German has air superiority, he continued, and “the biggest terror of the German soldier is our air force. On good days they shoot up every¬thing behind the German lines.”
The field marshal, in contrast with his press conferences last summer, declined to go into any predictions as to how long the war would last, or to estimate German capabilities.
But “in the balance, I don’t see how Von Rundstedt has gained very much.” he said

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redcoat
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Re: who was the best Allied general?

Post by redcoat » 09 Sep 2011 20:25

="Michael Kenny]If you read the reports of it that appeared in the US Newspapers you have to wonder exactly what all the fuss was about.
The almost pathological US 'hatred' (I put it that strongly) of Monty appears to have no basis in reality.
Bradley and a number of senior US officers were so upset by the fact that Ike had given Monty control of the US forces in the Northern part of the Bulge, that he could have just read out a weather report, and they would have taken offense. :roll: :lol:

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Re: who was the best Allied general?

Post by Delta Tank » 09 Sep 2011 20:48

redcoat wrote:
="Michael Kenny]If you read the reports of it that appeared in the US Newspapers you have to wonder exactly what all the fuss was about.
The almost pathological US 'hatred' (I put it that strongly) of Monty appears to have no basis in reality.
Bradley and a number of senior US officers were so upset by the fact that Ike had given Monty control of the US forces in the Northern part of the Bulge, that he could have just read out a weather report, and they would have taken offense. :roll: :lol:
When I get time I will check what Ambrose, Pogue, and D'este have to say about this incident. It is amazing that he never had time to go see Ike, but he time to do a press conference.

Mike
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Re: who was the best Allied general?

Post by Delta Tank » 09 Sep 2011 21:16

Michael Kenny wrote:
Tom from Cornwall wrote:BTW I think that is what he was trying to say at the infamous press conference, and of course, in typical Montgomery fashion, "I told you so!" :lol:
If you read the reports of it that appeared in the US Newspapers you have to wonder exactly what all the fuss was about.
The almost pathological US 'hatred' (I put it that strongly) of Monty appears to have no basis in reality.

—Field Marshal Sir Bernard L. Montgomery Sunday said Allied team work and especially the inherent “courage and good fighting quality” of American troops has halted the German drive into Belgium.

The battle is “far from over,” he asserted, but the Germans “have been halted, then sealed off, and we are now in the process of writing them off,” with the initiative in Allied hands.

At his first press conference in months, the colorful Briton, commanding four armies north of the German bulge told how Field Marshal Karl von Rundstedt’s thrust developed, and how he moved to meet it.

Time and again he stressed that above all it was the fighting ability of American doughboys and their “tenacity in battle that makes a great soldier” that has really saved the situation by the stands at St. Vith, Bastogne, and south of Monschau.

He singled out two American armored divisions, the 2d and 7th, and two United States airborne division, the 82d and 101st, and the 106th infantry as doing a great job. He also lauded the United States 7th corps, and praised Gen. Dwight Eisenhower’s leadership.

“What was Von Rundstedt trying to achieve? I don’t know,” Marshal Montgomery said in an hour-long talk. “The only guide we have is his order of the day which told his soldiers they must go all out on this last big effort.
“One must admit that he has dealt a sharp blow and he has sent us reeling back, but we recovered and he has been unable to gain any great advantage. He has therefore failed in his strategic purpose, unless the prize is smaller than his men were told.

“Von Rundstedt attacked on December 16,” he said. “He obtained a tactical surprise. He drove a deep wedge into the center of the 1st army and split American forces in two. The situation loomed as if it might become awkward. The Germans had broken right through the spot and were heading for the Meuse.

“As soon as I saw what was happening, I took certain steps myself to insure that if the Germans got to the Meuse they could certainly not get over that river. And I carried out certain movements so as to provide balanced dispositions to meet the threatened danger.”

Marshal Montgomery at the time had command only of the British 2d and Canadian 1st armies, and on his own he shifted some troops south to meet the threat.

“Then the situation began to deteriorate, but the whole Allied team rallied to meet the danger. National considerations were thrown overboard; General Eisenhower placed me in command of the whole northern front.”

“I employed the whole available power of the British group of armies. This power was brought into play very gradually and in such a way that it would not interfere with American lines of communications. Finally it was put into battle with a bang, and today British divisions are fighting hard on the right flank of the United States 1st army . . This is a fine Allied picture.

“We have halted the Germans, sealed them off, and are now writing them off. German divisions have suffered heavily, but I say this about a battle. It is a very great mistake to think it is over. The worst parts are over, but a great deal more must be done.

“There are two main reasons why Von Rundstedt was sealed off from achieving what he was after, The first of these is the good fighting qualities of the United States soldier, and- the second is Allied teamwork.

“I formed a very high opinion of the American soldier in Italy and Sicily,” Marshal Montgomery con¬tinued earnestly. “I have spent my life with the British soldier and I love the British soldier, but I have formed a great affection for the American soldier, who is a very brave fighting man who has that tenacity in battle which makes a great soldier.

He is basically responsible for stopping Von Rundstedt from what he set out to do. “He held out at Elsenborn there south of Monschau (the 1st, 2d, 99th and 30th infantry divisions) when the great blow hit him and he stopped those SS panzer divisions.

“At St. Vith many United States troops were cut off and isolated but in little groups they fought and held on to those vital road junctions, forcing the Germans to halt. It was a very fine perform¬ance that the 7th armored division and the 106th infantry division borne division at Bastogne which put up a great performance.

“On December 20-21, I consulted General Hodges (Lieut. Gen. Courtney Hodges, United States 1st army commander) and suggested we must get those fine fighting men out of the St. Vith area and back in our lines

“The 82d American airborne division moved forward and got in contact with these elements and we pulled them back behind our lines. Then we ordered the 82d back to better positions but they did not want to come and they protested, but I assured them they had accomplished their mission and could withdraw with honor.

I take my hat off willingly to such men.”

Discussing Allied teamwork, Marshal Montgomery said, “It was to me a remarkable thing how in the time of danger the Allied team rallied together. This thing of Allied solidarity is terribly im¬portant. Teamwork wins battles and battle victories win wars.

“On our team the captain is General Ike. I am devoted to him. We are great friends. We are all in this fight together and we must not allow any wedges to be driven between us. As an illustration of our friendship, the other day my plane was damaged, and I asked Ike for another, and he sent his own at once.”
In questions after the conference, Marshal Montgomery said the Germans still were “fine soldiers” and formidable enemies. He cited the January 1 attack of the Luftwaffe on Allied airfields as an example of German potentialities, saying “the enemy pulled a fast one on us.”
But this does not mean the German has air superiority, he continued, and “the biggest terror of the German soldier is our air force. On good days they shoot up every¬thing behind the German lines.”
The field marshal, in contrast with his press conferences last summer, declined to go into any predictions as to how long the war would last, or to estimate German capabilities.
But “in the balance, I don’t see how Von Rundstedt has gained very much.” he said
Michael,

Source? I did not see it if you posted it. Is this the entire transcript of the entire press conference?? What did the British Press print? Commentary in the British Press? Winston Churchill's reaction to the press conference/what the British papers printed?

Mike
Last edited by Delta Tank on 09 Sep 2011 21:39, edited 1 time in total.

Michael Kenny
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Re: who was the best Allied general?

Post by Michael Kenny » 09 Sep 2011 21:32

Delta Tank wrote: When I get time I will check what Ambrose, Pogue, and D'este have to say about this incident. It is amazing that he never had time to go see Ike, but he time to do a press conference.

Mike
He declined to meet Ike just before Paris was occupied as well. In the end Ike had to 'drop in' to see him instead on his way to Paris.

Eisenhower diary for Aug 26th 1944(Written up by his driver)

"Leave C.P. 8 am to visit Gen. Bradley at Chartres. On the way we visit the Falaise Pocket + make trip round it. Chambois + Auby (le Panthou?) were simply lttered with German dead-unfortunately a lot of horses also-never have I seen so much equipment littered everywhere. We certainly caught the Germans with his pants down + in complete disorder. The press came along (as usual?).
Arrive at Gen Bradley's HQ's 6:15. B was at Brest but arrived back about 7. In the meantime (Gen Siebert?) had just arrived late from Paris where he had spent Friday night. E+B decide to go to Paris. Message sent to Monty but he declined to come. On the way to Chartres we call in at Monty's HQ's at (Gase?)"



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Michael Kenny
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Re: who was the best Allied general?

Post by Michael Kenny » 09 Sep 2011 21:41

Delta Tank wrote:

Source? I did not see it if you posted it. Is this the entire transcript of the entire press conference??
I have had to alter the format slightly to avoid deletion by the copyright police but the 2 sources are major US News Agencies.

.

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Re: who was the best Allied general?

Post by Michael Kenny » 09 Sep 2011 21:50

Second US Article:

Field Marshall Sir Bernard L. Montgomery today declared allied teamwork, and especially the inherent “courage and good fighting quality” of American troops, had halted the German drive into Belgium.
The battle is “far from over”, he asserted, but the Germans “have been halted, then sealed off, and we are not in the process of writing them off”, with the initiative in allied hands.
Time and again in telling how Field Marshall Karl von Rundsedt’s thrust developed, and how he moved to meet it, Montgomery stressed that above all it was the fighting ability of American Doughboys and their tenacity in battle that makes a great soldier, and that has really saved the situation by the stands at St. Vith, Bastogne and south of Monschau.
He singled out two American armored divisions, the Second and Seventh, and two United States airborne divisions, the 82nd and 101st, and the 106th Infantry as doing a fine job, and praised Gen. Eisenhower’s leadership.
“What was Von Rundstedt trying to achieve ? I don’t know,” Montgomery said.
“One must admit that he has dealt a sharp blow and he has sent us reeling back, but we recovered and he has been unable to gain any great advantage. He has therefore failed in his strategic purpose.”
“When the situation began to deteriorate,” Monty said, “the whole allied team rallied to meet the danger.
“The battle has been the most interesting and tricky battles I have ever handled, with great issues at stake.”
Formed Offensive Army Corps
“I formed an offensive army corps—the Seventh — under the very fine American Gen. Collins (Maj. Gen. S. Lawton Collins) and had to decide where to put it. It turned out that where I put it was not a bad place, although it was a large part luck.
Although he had placed the Sev­enth Corps there for offensive purposes, Montgomery revealed, Von Rundstedt tried a powerful left hook up the Manse towards Liege and ran right into the power of the American Second Armored Division under Maj. Gen. Ernest N. Harmon. In a furious battle this division nearly wiped out Von Rundstedt’s spearhead—the Second Panzer Division.
“This changed plans and I bad to reform the corps again for an offensive and this time it was good business and the Seventh Corps now is attacking. You can’t hurry these things. You must get well balanced and have a tidy show.
We have halted the Germans, sealed them off and are now writ­ing them off. German divisions’ have suffered heavily, but I say this about a battle. It is a very great mistake, to think it is over. The worst parts are over, but a great deal more must be done.”



The are lots of claims the offending version of this 'Press Confrence' was a doctored German version. I have never seen any proof it was but..............................

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Re: who was the best Allied general?

Post by redcoat » 10 Sep 2011 00:21

A US view of the press conference

“He clarified much that was obsure about this great conflict in the Ardennes, revealing how a broken line is mended bit by bit, stabilized and finally flung once more into offensive actions.”

“No handsomer tribute was ever paid to the American soldier than that of Field Marshal Montgomery in the midst of combat.”-The New York Times

ps: Do you really want to know what really offended Bradley and Patton.... while he heaped praise on Ike and the regular GI's , he didn't mention them. :roll:

pps: Though to be fair, it should be noted that in the press conferences Bradley held before Monty's, he somehow failed to mention that Monty had been given control of his Northern forces. :lol:

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Re: who was the best Allied general?

Post by Steen Ammentorp » 10 Sep 2011 08:11

The articles which Michael refers to can be found here http://www.indianamilitary.org/106ID/Ar ... spaper.htm
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Steen Ammentorp
The Generals of World War Two

Tom from Cornwall
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Re: who was the best Allied general?

Post by Tom from Cornwall » 10 Sep 2011 09:54

To be fair though the following statement by Montgomery was slightly exaggerated:

“I employed the whole available power of the British group of armies. This power was brought into play very gradually and in such a way that it would not interfere with American lines of communications. Finally it was put into battle with a bang, and today British divisions are fighting hard on the right flank of the United States 1st army . . This is a fine Allied picture."

Although the British units certainly helped, and several did take part in severe fighting, to say that anything like "the whole available power of the British group of armies" was employed is over-egging the pudding somewhat, IMHO. I do agree, though, that if Montgomery had just read a weather forecast out he would have been criticised by some of his American colleagues. :lol:

Mike,

According to the British style of command, as the Field Commander it was Eisenhower's job to go forward, not Montgomery's to come back. Obviously someone will point out an exception, but I'm not sure that, after landing in France, you will find one example of a formal 21 Army Group conference, but you will find many examples of Montgomery turning up at subordinate HQs to find out 'the form'.

Regards

Tom

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Re: who was the best Allied general?

Post by merdiolu » 10 Sep 2011 11:25

To Montgomery's credit he tried to calm things down. Unfortunetely on this regard he did not get any help from British press. On the contrary British press started an unofficial campaign to appoint him to Supreme Land Commander or Allied Forces and somewhat unjustly critical of both Eisenhower and Bradley during Battle of Bulge. So I think whole disagreements and bitter feelings between U.S. Commanders and Monty was also somewhat a byproduct of a bickering between British and US press and editors

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Re: who was the best Allied general?

Post by Aber » 10 Sep 2011 17:48

Tom from Cornwall wrote:To be fair though the following statement by Montgomery was slightly exaggerated:

I employed the whole available power of the British group of armies.
What else was available?

Not an exaggeration as such, but some very heavy spin. :D

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Re: who was the best Allied general?

Post by Delta Tank » 10 Sep 2011 23:55

Tom from Cornwall wrote: Mike,

According to the British style of command, as the Field Commander it was Eisenhower's job to go forward, not Montgomery's to come back. Obviously someone will point out an exception, but I'm not sure that, after landing in France, you will find one example of a formal 21 Army Group conference, but you will find many examples of Montgomery turning up at subordinate HQs to find out 'the form'.
Regards
Tom
Tom,
It was also US Army style, but he would not even come to a commander's conference!! He always sent "Freddie", why? I just finished reading "Monty, The Lonely Leader, 1944-1945" by Alistair Horne, and with David Montgomery. After reading that book, the only thing I can say is he was a very "odd duck".

Mike

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Re: who was the best Allied general?

Post by Delta Tank » 11 Sep 2011 00:07

To all,

The following comes from "The Supreme Command" by Forrest C. Pogue. You can read it here:
http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/USA/USA ... me-20.html

After Montgomey gave his weather report "that he could have just read out a weather report, and they would have taken offense", the Prime Minister felt obligated to give a speech in the House of Commons to correct the "weather report".

page 389
Prime Minister had already done his best to set the record straight. On 18 January, in summarizing for the House of Commons the state of Allied fortunes throughout the world, he paid a great tribute to the U.S. commander and the U.S. forces in the Ardennes. Part of his statement follows:

I have seen it suggested that the terrific battle which has been proceeding since 16th December on the American front is an Anglo-American battle. In fact, however, the United States troops have done almost all the fighting and have suffered almost all the losses. They have suffered losses almost equal to those on both sides in the battle of Gettysburg. Only one British Army Corps has been engaged in this action. All the rest of the 30 or more divisions, which have been fighting continuously for the last month, are United States troops. The Americans have engaged 30 or 40 men for every one we have engaged, and they have lost 60 to 80 men for every one of ours. That is a point I want to make. Care must be taken in telling our proud tale not to claim for the British army an undue share of what is undoubtedly the greatest American battle of the war and will, I believe, be regarded as an ever famous American victory.91

After describing the manner in which the battle had been carried on, Mr. Churchill sternly warned: "Let no one lend himself to the chatter of mischief-makers when issues of this momentous consequence are being successfully decided by the sword." Despite his generous words and timely warning, the shift in command during December continued to rankle in the minds of the U.S. commanders. General Eisenhower could scarcely have ignored this factor in the debates which followed relative to making the main drive on Field Marshal Montgomery's front and on the question of placing additional U.S. troops under 21 Army Group command.
So what was printed in the British Press?

Mike

Michael Kenny
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Re: who was the best Allied general?

Post by Michael Kenny » 11 Sep 2011 00:21

Lets get down to basics.

Has anyone got an account where the so called disparagement of US Soldiers/Leaders/Generals/Tactics/US anything
can be read?

Instead of tilting at Windmills I submit that that we wait until we see such 'dispragement 'before making any more comments.
If no such evidence exists (and I have never ever seen any) then the matter is a dead duck.

It is up to the 'haters' to prove the case and 60 odd years is enough time to find the dirt-if any exists.

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