who was the best Allied general?

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USA_Finn
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Post by USA_Finn » 16 Jun 2004 19:17

Andy H wrote:
Consider this. The 'millions saved' is not a wild exaggeration. Just one example makes the case. How many lives would have been saved without the Dresden fire bombing had the war ended in 1944?


Maybe I'm mising your point but what has this to do with Montgomery. Are you suggesting that Montgomery had the power to end the war by the end of 1944?

Yes, Monty was the CO at those critical and decisive junctures. These include: 1- North Africa after El Alamien. 2- Normandy, early on when Caen should have been captured and was not. 3- Normandy, not closing the Falaise, noose 4- Market Garden. Strategic blunder where Ike is culpible and Monty for strategy through command. Important but less decisive was the Antwerp & the Scheldt estuary fiasco.

The comparision of Patton's attacks at the West Wall to Monty's monumental failures is laughable, in the big picture. The Germans lucky enough to get out of Falaise would agree


The reason for this tentative anology was to show that all 'great' Generals have there Arnhem's so to speak. Everyone remembers Pattons dramatic dash across France, the drive to Bastogne etc but they 'forget' his plodding and inept campaign in the Lorriane area which cost thousands of US soldiers lives.

True to form, he plodded in Africa and failed to press forward for the complete victory, the total destruction of the German African Army, immediately after El Alamien.


Unless I'm mistaken the Allies did win a complete victory in North Africa. Are you assuming that if Montgomery had been more aggressive the campaign in North Africa would have been over earlier. If so where's your proof?.

Andy H


No proof exists. Informed opinions abound on both sides of this matter. Off the cuff, good reads about Montgomery's generalship include:

Desert Generals Barnett
Decision in Normandy DEste
Citizen Soldiers Ambrose


I know some of the German generals had some things to say about Monty and will take a look see at those books when time allows.

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USA_Finn
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pile on Monty II

Post by USA_Finn » 17 Jun 2004 02:46

The book 'Kesselring ' by Ken Macksey details the desperate state of the German African Army after El Alamein. Later in Italy, how the German defense turned Monty’s battlefield timidity and predictability against the British Tommies. Kesselring attributed the steady rate of British casualties to Monty's "unispired obstinacy of his methods." Withdrawls were timed to extract maximum punishment to the Brits because the German's correctly read Monty's mind for his "prestige offensives." Kesselring nailed it. And Monty saved soldiers lives? General Mark Clark was equally bad. His incompetence must not be ignored as well.

I tried and failed to estimate the rate of non-combatant death in 1945. I am not up to the task of even a wild estimate. If conservative or liberal, the murder tally alone is gruesomely large. For example, Simon Wiesenthal Center estimates the civilian count at 10.8M for the war. This accounts for all European fatalities in German controlled areas as a direct result of Nazi racial policy alone. Another is the rate of Jewish only deaths in Nazi extermination camps. This varies greatly, but during the years 1943 – 1944, the average is around 200k per month. Another measure is an estimated 3.M Jews, targeted for death, that, against odds and time, survived the war while living under the National Socialist regime.

Propose another angle on the Monty cost lives debate. How many lives were saved on account of the decisive victory at Midway in 1942? The number is impossible, again, for me to guess but it is without doubt immense. At Midway, unlike North African or Normandy, Nimitz and his commanders proceeded on the principle of the "calculated risk” and that the war would never be won by commanders who never took a chance. Just don't take foolish chances was Nimitz approach. Monty held all the cards in North Africa and later starting, in July, in France. These include strength, detailed intelligence of enemy intentions, momentum, and a second front. Nimitz was at a complete disadvantage save that of intelligence at Midway. Nimitz and Spruance used this single advantage and, at once, turned the tables against Imperial Japan. They earned their rightful place in our hearts and as heroes. Monty, on the other hand, failed despite his stacked hand. Kesseling is correct. Montgomery excelled at "prestige offensives." Yet today some tell us ‘Saint Monty’ is not accountable for failure. As the Senior Commander in Normandy, North Africa, Italy, and over Market Garden he gets a pass for the obvious blunders and the disputed failures.

This very logic demands that Nimitz and Spruance step aside. Admiral King and Secretary of War Simpson deserve the credit for success at Midway.

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genstab
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Re: Slim Smith

Post by genstab » 22 Jun 2004 20:02

USA_Finn wrote:Field Marshal William "Slim" Smith must be named among the finest. Seems the further a commander is away from central command or if he commands a secondary theater, the greater the chances are of success due to the freedom this provides.


I heartily agree- you're the first to mention a Pacific general but I was thinking Slim all along- he fought against impossible odds and won. He didn't have the overwhelming manpower,supplies or weapons Patton had.

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Genstab

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genstab
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book on William Slim

Post by genstab » 22 Jun 2004 20:17

kordts wrote:Englander, I learned about "Uncle Bill" while reading about the Marauders. The author praised him while excoriating Stilwell. I read other books and it was always the same, Slim was greatly admired by the men under his command, yet was unknown. Can you reccomend a biography?




Cheers, Jeff.


Get "Slim: The Standard Bearer" by Ronald Lewin.

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USA_Finn
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Re: book on William Slim

Post by USA_Finn » 22 Jun 2004 21:04

genstab wrote:
kordts wrote:Englander, I learned about "Uncle Bill" while reading about the Marauders. The author praised him while excoriating Stilwell. I read other books and it was always the same, Slim was greatly admired by the men under his command, yet was unknown. Can you reccomend a biography?




Cheers, Jeff.


Get "Slim: The Standard Bearer" by Ronald Lewin.


My first job, out of high school, was that of a tugboat deckhand on the Columbia River. My primary skipper was Joe Smith.

Joe spent the war as a Chindit ground thumper from start to end. Long hours involved much time together and Joe's war stories. He held General Slim Smith in high esteem. This type of praise is, IMO, quite unusual coming from any common foot soldier. Needless to say, Joe was a tough and confident man too.

Matti

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kordts
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thanks to Genstab

Post by kordts » 22 Jun 2004 22:42

Genstab, I will look for that book. Thanks alot.




Cheers, Jeff.

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Jack Nisley
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Slim

Post by Jack Nisley » 22 Jun 2004 23:17

Kordts,

"Defeat into Victory" which is Slim's personal account of the Burma Campaign is also excellent.

Jack Nisley

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kordts
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Post by kordts » 23 Jun 2004 02:19

Thanks Jack. That's one more book my wife can nag at me for buying! :D :(






Cheers, Jeff.

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genstab
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how to get books

Post by genstab » 24 Jun 2004 14:38

kordts wrote:Thanks Jack. That's one more book my wife can nag at me for buying! :D :(


Cheers, Jeff.


Kordts-
She's gotta have something with a similar monetary value she's really into- make a deal with her. Gotta have our books!

Best regards,
Genstab

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USA_Finn
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Post by USA_Finn » 29 Jun 2004 16:42

USA_Finn wrote:
Andy H wrote:
Consider this. The 'millions saved' is not a wild exaggeration. Just one example makes the case. How many lives would have been saved without the Dresden fire bombing had the war ended in 1944?


Maybe I'm mising your point but what has this to do with Montgomery. Are you suggesting that Montgomery had the power to end the war by the end of 1944?

Yes, Monty was the CO at those critical and decisive junctures. These include: 1- North Africa after El Alamien. 2- Normandy, early on when Caen should have been captured and was not. 3- Normandy, not closing the Falaise, noose 4- Market Garden. Strategic blunder where Ike is culpible and Monty for strategy through command. Important but less decisive was the Antwerp & the Scheldt estuary fiasco.

The comparision of Patton's attacks at the West Wall to Monty's monumental failures is laughable, in the big picture. The Germans lucky enough to get out of Falaise would agree


The reason for this tentative anology was to show that all 'great' Generals have there Arnhem's so to speak. Everyone remembers Pattons dramatic dash across France, the drive to Bastogne etc but they 'forget' his plodding and inept campaign in the Lorriane area which cost thousands of US soldiers lives.

True to form, he plodded in Africa and failed to press forward for the complete victory, the total destruction of the German African Army, immediately after El Alamien.


Unless I'm mistaken the Allies did win a complete victory in North Africa. Are you assuming that if Montgomery had been more aggressive the campaign in North Africa would have been over earlier. If so where's your proof?.

Andy H


No proof exists. Informed opinions abound on both sides of this matter. Off the cuff, good reads about Montgomery's generalship include:

Desert Generals Barnett
Decision in Normandy DEste
Citizen Soldiers Ambrose


I know some of the German generals had some things to say about Monty and will take a look see at those books when time allows.

The just out MHQ: The Journal of Miltary History Summer 2004 magazine holds a must read article on Antwerp and the Sheldt fiasco.

The author (name forgotten) makes the case that of the three A's: Arnhem, Antwerp and Ardennes, Antwerp is the most critical in terms of lost lives and extending the war.

The article goes on to make the case that the war could have been won in 1944 and thus saved many lives. An example used for lives saved is no Dresden bombing. Smart guy!

The net net is both Eisenhower and Montgomery are of equal blame.

Andreas
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Post by Andreas » 29 Jun 2004 17:33

Whitaker made that case a long time ago in 'Tug of War - the Canadian Victory that opened Antwerp' :)

BOOK LINK

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Andy H
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Post by Andy H » 29 Jun 2004 18:30

The just out MHQ: The Journal of Miltary History Summer 2004 magazine holds a must read article on Antwerp and the Sheldt fiasco


Thanks for the heads up, I'll go get a copy-Thanks

Andy H

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Wm. Harris
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Post by Wm. Harris » 29 Jun 2004 21:00

USA_Finn wrote:The just out MHQ: The Journal of Miltary History Summer 2004 magazine holds a must read article on Antwerp and the Sheldt fiasco.

The author (name forgotten) makes the case that of the three A's: Arnhem, Antwerp and Ardennes, Antwerp is the most critical in terms of lost lives and extending the war.

The article goes on to make the case that the war could have been won in 1944 and thus saved many lives. An example used for lives saved is no Dresden bombing. Smart guy!

The net net is both Eisenhower and Montgomery are of equal blame.


Incidentally, they ran a very similar article back in their autumn 2000 edition, if anyone is interested in ordering back issues.

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USA_Finn
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Post by USA_Finn » 08 Jul 2004 17:48

Andy H wrote:
Consider this. The 'millions saved' is not a wild exaggeration. Just one example makes the case. How many lives would have been saved without the Dresden fire bombing had the war ended in 1944?


Maybe I'm mising your point but what has this to do with Montgomery. Are you suggesting that Montgomery had the power to end the war by the end of 1944?

The comparision of Patton's attacks at the West Wall to Monty's monumental failures is laughable, in the big picture. The Germans lucky enough to get out of Falaise would agree


The reason for this tentative anology was to show that all 'great' Generals have there Arnhem's so to speak. Everyone remembers Pattons dramatic dash across France, the drive to Bastogne etc but they 'forget' his plodding and inept campaign in the Lorriane area which cost thousands of US soldiers lives.


True to form, he plodded in Africa and failed to press forward for the complete victory, the total destruction of the German African Army, immediately after El Alamien.


Unless I'm mistaken the Allies did win a complete victory in North Africa. Are you assuming that if Montgomery had been more aggressive the campaign in North Africa would have been over earlier. If so where's your proof?.

Andy H[/quote]

Patton's heavy handed offensive in Lorraine probably, net, saved lives.

The upshot of the Allied offensive in Lorraine was that two panzer-type divisions scheduled for Wacht am Rhein became irretrievably embroiled in the losing battle being waged by Army Group G. In addition the American attack in Lorraine would cost the Hitler offensive an entire Volks artillery corps, two panzer brigades, and two heavy antitank battalions.

Further south, the aggressive XV Corp Higher Vosges offensive would impact the Germans. Against Hitler's orders, von Runstedt/Manteuffel took Panzer Lehr out from reserves to counter-attack the flank in an attempt to slow or stop the offensive. Lehr was mauled by the 44th I.D. and delayed for deployment in the bulge and with much reduced capability.

Smart risks taking combined with an aggressive spirit wins battles and wars. The British Royal Navy has proven this over and over again.
Source: THE ARDENNES: BATTLE OF THE BULGE by Hugh M. Cole

Matti

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Re: Monte

Post by Polynikes » 09 Jul 2004 04:01

USA_Finn wrote:is amoung the worse. To be frank, Monte cost millions of lives in Europe, Britian, the US, and yes in Germany. Monte prolonged the war through incompetence and egotism.

Just a sample of his abilities include: Monte stopped Patton with his half cooked Market Garden plan. Shame on Ike for saying yes. Monte let the Germans escape from Falaise. Monte failed to capture Caen when it was wide open to easy capture. Monte came very close to splitting the Allies, one of Hitler's Ardennes objectives (below).

http://44thdivision.efour4ever.com/generals.htm

I do admit to holding a deep dislike for the man.


That's because you've bought completely into the Saving Private Ryan etc propaganda myth.

Monty was not Britain best commander of WWII - that was Slim but he was better than any US commander (with the possible exception of McArthur). Both had personaility traits that made them difficult to work with.

Patton and Stillwell were not exactly well known for their engaging personalities either.

Montgomery abhorred the senseless slaughter of his men having been an eyewitness to the slaughter of WWI. You're talk of his "failure" to capture Caen is, I'm afraid, wrong. It was not "wide open" for capture at any time.
If you want to talk about taking wide open towns, talk about Clark's obsession with taking Rome rather than taking Germans prisoner. At least Montgomery's caution was to protect the lives of his troops and not to seek personal glory.

If you'd been a soldier in an allied army in Normandy, you'd want to be under Montgomery's cautious command rather than the gung-ho antics of Bradley who ignored the advice of his own army's experts on the need for shore bombardment and support armour in amphibious operations.

You want to talk about useless slaughter of men? Talk about Omaha beach!

How you get your "millions" is a mystery; Montgomery SAVED lives not squandered them. He conserved effort and he was right - Eisenhower's political fudge of a braoad advance prolonged the war - there is where your countless (though not millions) lives lie.

Eisenhower was a political go-between. A clerk, a political appointee with no grasp of tactics.

Market-Garden was a failure. But worth attempting - it was poor execution and bad luck that did for it. It seems you favour calculated risk when it works, and damn it when it doesn't.

Any fool can be agressive with armies - Hitler and Zhukov for example (or Haig in WWI), it takes a general to win with minimal cost. I would take anything written by a German general with a healthy dose of salt.

I would've liked to have seen Bradley take Caen with American lives against the 12 SS Pz Div etc in the Bocage and XXX corps swing round to the South....

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