Michael Kenny wrote: ↑
15 Sep 2011 20:21
More Newspaper articles.
Allied Expeditionary Force
Paris, Jan 5
Field Marshal Sir Bernard L. Montgomery has been commanding the United States First and Ninth Armies and all forces north of the German bulge into Belgium for more for more than two weeks, with Lieut. Gen. Omar N. Bradley commanding forces only on the southern flank, Supreme Headquarters disclosed today.
The quick change of commands was ordered by Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower when the German offensive threatened to split the allies in two
Colorful, confident Marshal .Montgomery personally took command in the north at midnight Dec. 20, and rushed to the front to direct the American blows that halted the German plunge toward Liége and now are hitting southward at the German salient, a field dispatch from Wes Gallagher, Associated Press correspondent, said. The British Second and Canadian First Armies already were under his direction, so Marshal Montgomery now is leading four armies. General Bradley, whose Twelfth Army Group had included the American First, Ninth and Third Armies, took the southern command, directing the Third Army’s assault northward against the German penetration. General Bradley’s new command also includes one Division of the United States Seventh Army.
Two American air groups also come under Marshal Montgomery’s command by the shift. He and General Bradley are still directly responsible to General Eisenhower.
While Mr. Gallagher said Marshal Montgomery took over on Dec. 20- 21 during the most critical stage, Gen. George C. Marshall, United States Army Chief of Staff, in Washington said the British leader assumed charge on the second night of the German offensive, which was launched Dec. 16. Supreme Headquarter's announcement said simply: When the German penetration through the Ardennes created two fronts, one substantially facing north and the other south, by instant agreement of all concerned that portion of the front facing south was placed under
command of Field Marshal Montgomery and that facing north under command of General Bradley. By this change, there still would be coordinated self-contained armies in the north and south if the Germans had won a complete break-through, it was explained.
Marshal Montgomery has raced about the front, personally giving instructions, visiting Lieut. Gen. Courtney Hodges of the First Army and Lieut. Gen. William H. Simpson of the Ninth Army and all corps commanders, fixing the northern defenses to his own tastes and planning counterblows. He was well received by American troops and officers. Some Ninth Army divisions helped oppose the German push at the start. Some British forces were thrown in as long as a week ago. It was the first time since the burst out of Normandy, when General Bradley assumed equal status with Marshal Montgomery as an Army Group Commander
that the Briton, who won a brilliant reputation in Libya, has had any sizable American forces under his direction.
Devers’ Group Not Changed
Lieut. Gen. Jacob L. Devers’ Sixth Army Group farther south, which includes the American Seventh Army and the French First Army, remained unchanged in this shuffle. The high tide of German reconquest began to recede the day after Marshal Montgomery took charge on the north. He mapped out the counterblows. He is used to planning operations in detail, leaving little to the judgment of Army commanders or other subordinates and he followed this policy in directing his enlarged command. Prime Minister Churchill, General Eisenhower and Gen. Charles de Gaulle conferred at Supreme Headquarters last Wednesday, in a session that presumably determined greater participation by the French Army on the Western Front. Mr. Churchill and General Eisenhower were said to have assured General de Gaulle that the French would be helped to form a large army. No details were disclosed officially by London or Supreme Headquarters. The German Christmas onslaught carried the gravest threat to Allied communications. By the change, putting the First and Ninth Armies under Marshal Montgomery, there still would have been a coordinated force in northern Belgium and the Netherlands even if the Germans had smashed on to the Channel. It would have been supplied through Antwerp.
In the south the Third Army of Lieut. Gen. George S. Patton-—the only army left under General Bradley’s former command-—also was a self-contained unit, linked with General Devers’ Sixth Army Group on its flank. Had the Germans achieved complete success, General Eisenhower still would have had three self-contained forces ready to continue the fight. For the same tactical reasons, the United States Twenty-ninth and Ninth Tactical Air Commands, which supported the Ninth and First Armies, were placed under control of the British Second Tactical Air Force, which operates with Marshal Montgomery’s British-Canadian Armies. The Twenty ninth and Ninth Tactical Air Commands are two or three fighter·bomber components of the United States Ninth Tactical Air Force. The Nineteenth Tactical Air Command of the Ninth Air Force supports the United States Third Army. Marshal Montgomery had control of American Armies on the Western Front until August, when he relinquished control to General Bradley, when Americans began considerably to outnumber British forces on the Western Front. Since then small force of one or two American divisions have been under British Second Army or Canadian First Army control for short periods in cases of emergency. Some British units, particularly flame-throwers, have been working for months with American infantry and armor on the Western Front.
ROOSEVELT EXPLAINS SHIFT
Jan. 5—President Roosevelt made it clear today that Field Marshal Sir Bernard L. Montgomery’s new command over American troops was no infringement on Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower’s Supreme Command, and Gen. George C. Marshall backed this up by asserting that it was a “normal" action necessitated by the battle crisis in the west.
In addition to these on-the-record statements by the Commander in Chief and the Chief of Staff of the Army, it was authoritatively learned that the official view of the War Department concerning the transfer of the major part of Lieut. Gen. Omar N. Bradley’s command to the British leader can be summed up in four words: "Don’t sell out Bradley." There was a strong implication in War Department circles that inall probability the reduction
of General Bradley’s command would be temporary rather than permanent. At least, that is what responsible sources here profess to think. There also was a reassertion of the War Department atti- tude that any British effort to lessen General Eisenhower’s command would meet with strong opposition.
At his news conference President Roosevelt was questioned about the transfer of command of the American Ninth Army and the major portion of the First Army north of the German Ardennes salient to Marshal Montgomery. The switch, the President asserted, does not mean that Marshal Montgomery has become Deputy Commander to Eisenhower. The appointment of a British Deputy Commander to assist General Eisenhower in carrying out his tremendous responsibilities has been the subject of considerable agitation in Britain. British sources have suggested that Field Marshal Sir Harold L. G. Alexander, who was second in command to General Eisenhower in the North African campaign, with the then General Montgomery as third man in the successful triumvirate, be moved up to a similar position in the European campaign.
Eisenhower Directed Shift
President Roosevelt went on to say that General Eisenhower had directed the transfer, and that it was a regular field operation. Asked if it should be considered a promotion for Marshal Montgomery, he replied in the negative. Then the President said that he was in Washington, not in Europe, and that further information should come from General Eisenhower’s headquarters. General Marshall was at the White House to attend a medal presentation and later to confer with the President. He disclosed that the transfer of command took place on the night of Dec. 17, the second day of the German offensive. Announcement had been withheld, he stated, because "we did not want to convey to the Ger- mans" what had taken place.
Neither President Rossevelt nor General Marshall discussed General Bradley’ status, but other sources said that the War Department did not view the command shift as a slap at him.- It was suggested that General Bradley organized the details neccessary to back up General Patton's smash into the German salient at Bastogne and that he was engaged in protecting the flanks of General Patton’s spearhead. It was asserted that the War Department view was that General Bradley would not diminish in stature.
London Press Hails ‘Monty’
Saturday, Jan. 6-
The news that Marshal Montgomery had received command of all Allied forces, including two American armies north of the bulge created in the Western Front by Marshal von Rundstedt’s offensive was hailed joyously by the London press. At the same time the papers expressed regret because the official announcement that British troops were helping Americans destroy the German salient under the Field Marshal’s command was held up until after its premature publication in the United States and broad hints from the German radio that that was what the "regrouping" meant.
The British press has been giving some broad hints in the past few days. There have been stories from correspondents at the front suggesting that the defensive tactics being employed against Marshal von Rundstedt had the “Monty touch" and there have been many editorials declaring that what General Eisenhower should do in the crisis was to call on the hero of El Alamein for aid and advice.
The Daily Mail, praising General Eisenhower for the "moral courage" he showed in giving the British field marshal such vast authority at such a crucial time, said it was "perhaps a little unfortunate that the change had to be made at a time when signs are not lacking of nerves on edge between Britain and America" But it expressed confidence that the American people, with characteristic "justice and common sense," would approve.
Fake ‘BBC’ Hails Montgomery
LONDON, Jan. 12 -The fake German "BBC station" was back on the air tonight praising Field Marshal Sir Bernard L. Montgomery for "behaving wonderfully" during the uproar that the false station created earlier this weék when it pretended to be the British Broadcasting Corporation.