Discussion in 'Western Europe 1943 - 1945' started by squidly the octopus, Feb 27, 2015.
To be joined by the 150+ Tiger tanks of SS 101,SS 102 and Heer 503.
This thread seems to have become a review of Montgomery's career. While some of that career is relevant to consideration of Market-Garden, the diversion of this thread into the details of Montgomery's Normandy operations exemplifies the tendency of so many Market-Garden discussions to deteriorate into fruitless controversies about personalities.
John Buckley (British Armour in Normandy) devotes a whole chapter to Market-Garden in his recent Monty's Men. Buckley's latest book is a scholarly examination of the methods and performance of 21 Army Group in Northwest Europe, and his chapter on Market-Garden should be read by all interested in the subject. I had not read that chapter when I posted earlier about Market-Garden, but Buckley's view of the operation is similar to my own and he adds some additional criticisms. Buckley is British and his assessment of Montgomery and 21 Army Group's other operations is generally favorable, as is my own.
The German were assembling the 7 Panzer Division for an attack to the beaches. They hoped to split the Allies and roll up the flanks. Because of EPSOM all these divisions were battered by being forced to react to Monty. The II Panzer Corps offensive that was launched during EPSOM was the Germans last hope and it failed utterly. From then on they knew it was just a matter of time. Montgomery kept up his attacks in order to prevent any regrouping of the panzers. It worked out really well for the Allies.
Monty said he would serve but he and Brooke spent too much time worrying about the job. They could or would not understand it made no sense to not use all of your troops, I asked earlier what would prevent Germany from concentrating on just one part of the front also so Monty proposed thrust is already invalid because the correlation of forces would change. If Bradley had been made commander and decided to not use Monty's command do you really think he would have accepted that quietly??. Because it was a multi national force the overall commander had to have both ground and political decision making. How could Ike make a political decision and then enforce it as a military order???
. What evidence do you have that he had no intention of sticking to his word?
Operation Epsom: Daglish in 2007 wrote that while the original concept of Epsom had failed, the offensive was a strategic success. By withdrawing the 11th Armoured Division across the Odon and then into reserve, the 21st Army Group had re-created the threat of an offensive near Caen. By the end of June all German armoured forces in Normandy were concentrated on the Second Army front.
Shulman had written in 1947, that with the defeat of its second armoured counter-attack in June, the German command had thrown away its most effective troops and Reynolds wrote that while the operation was costly for the British, it caused grievous losses to the Germans.
In the VIII Corps history, Jackson in 1945 wrote that Epsom failed in its overt goal but that "when seen as part of Montgomery's series of rapid and consecutive blows against the German Army in Normandy, the importance of Epsom becomes more apparent and there is little doubt that it did play a significant part in the Allies' eventual success in the region."
In 2013 Buckley wrote that by 1 July, there was a stalemate in which the British were established south of the Oon but had retired from Hill 112 in what may have been a premature decision. The Germans had maintained a continuous front but only by using reserves which made it impossible to begin the counter-offensive planned by Panzergruppe West which made the offensive a considerable Allied success as part of a strategy of attrition based on organised fire power. Looked on as an attempt to break through and force the Germans out of Caen the operation failed but in terms of Montgomery's strategy it was a costly victory. The German defence of Normandy never recovered from the damage inflicted during Epsom, the initiative was lost and German counter-attack tactics used failed in the face of Allied fire power with even greater cost than that inflicted on the British; the German command structure and assumptions on which the defence was based were undermined.
In the aftermath, the Supreme Allied Commander, General Dwight D. Eisenhower expressed his concern that a breakout was unlikely. Montgomery differed; the tenacity of the German defence was no barometer of its longevity. Field Marshal Erwin Rommel mentioned to Lieutenant-Colonel Caesar von Hofacker that the front-line in France could only be held for another three weeks.
The serious losses sustained in maintaining a static defence during June led to fractures in the German high command. On 1 July, Panzer Group West commander Leo Geyr von Schweppenburg had been replaced by Heinrich Eberbach, following disagreements with Hitler over how the campaign should be conducted. Gerd von Rundstedt, soon followed.
The costly battles in and around Caen and Saint-Lô convinced both Eberbach and von Kluge that their predecessors had been correct. The Germans had suffered heavily, leading Hitler to order Army Group B to temporarily abandon all major counter-attacks and go over to the defensive until more reinforcements could arrive to bolster the front.
Not quite, it breathes still.
Though I do hope that someone will take it outside soon, and give it a quick burst to put it out of its misery.
But then, it keeps being buried and disinterred again; like the unfortunates in ‘Pet Sematary’ the reincarnations are never like the original.
Given the terrain constraints in the 2nd Army Sector of Normandy ALL assualts and attacks were going to be costly affairs where the attacking force was attrited far more than the Defenders. I have walked a lot of these battlefields and as a former proffessional soldier, am amazed at with what was arrayed against them they succeeded at all in the time they did. Yes, they didn't take CAEn on schedule but in his OP Orders that was clearly a possibility. However that failure caused the Germans to flood the sector with available forces and thus tied nearly all of Rommels Armour and his elite forces directly on the 2nd Army front. Without that the Cobra and Penninsula battles could not have succeeded. Montgomery served in the trenches in most of WW1 and had seen the real carnage and futility of stalemate battles unlike any of the US generals who came in right at the end and never really saw the horrific campaigns of the mid war period. He was well iked by his troops and demonstrated quite clearly when taking over a defeated and demoralised 8th Army in North Africa then driving Rommel out of North Africa that he was indeed a great commander. He had his faults with his ego but most of the hatreed I see leveled at Montgomery is based on the slanderous and grossly made up version of him many see in the Movie Patton. This deliberately set him up as a martinet and egotisctically driven General and portray scenes to amplify this that just did not happen such as the meeting in Sicily.
Al, good point on the defend v attack costs...but it seems like he could find no other way....kept rushing straight forward...like putting your hand in the fire constantly..of course it's not so simplistic..and I give the Germans great praise for their defensive measures, weapons, discipline, etc....
Actually it was opposite of that. In several limited offensive operations of 2nd Army and 1st Canadian Army on Caen sector during Battle of Normandy German casaulties (defending side) usually , not always but usually heavier. On top of that there was even more vital fact. German casaulties especially losses of Panzer divisions during Caen battles were irreplaceble. On July 12th 1944 Rommel himself sent a last a report to Berlin summarzing that under that pressure and rate of attrition German front would collapse in a few weeks , no replacements or reinforcements were arriving. ("we lost 397 tanks but got 17 replacements so far" was Rommel's quote) Attrition was in favour of 21st Army Group in Battle of Normandy and Montgomery always had to keep his own casaulties in check in offensive operations due to lack of manpower in British Army and morale issues. That's why Montgomery initiated an attack , advance as much as possible in face of hardening enemy resistace , stop and cease offensive once casaulties began to outweigh gains , pause gain breath , collect all resources and pieces and try again in same or different sector again (meanwhile if lucky provoke Germans to a series of costly and failed couter attaks to seal gaps and retook ground) This is standart "bite and hold" tactic on static fronts to wear and tear down enemy and divert and fix its reserves on a particular sector. (in this case all panzer divisions main counter attack arm of Germans were concentrated in Caen sector or right flank to stop British Canadian attacks) It was developed in World War I and countless times WWI tactics worked also in World War 2 but it is impossible to tell that of course to reporters war journalists and post war writers who were dazzled with Blitzkrieg cavalry tactics and advances. That kind of fast cavalry type mechanized advances work only if your enemy cooperates and could not prevent your breakthrough properly. (like French who were paralyzed in 1940 , Russians in 1941 and later Germans in 1944 in both Eastern and Western Front AFTER their front was collapsed since they wasted all of their reserves especially most of their elite panzer divisions in Caen battles )
Where exactly was Montgomery supposed to execute a 'flanking' attack on the Germans in Normandy. Do you know how long his front was?
As I think I've said before I'm not great fan of Monties but I haven't seen anything to indicate that he was wasteful of the lives of his troops, indeed the opposite comes across time after time. Which is likely why many of them held him in some esteem.
Just what other other way was there? If he had sat there as he is accused just holding the line the Germans could easily have pulled back there reserves to counterattack any offensive in the western sectors thus allowing the Germans to keep the Allied Army bottled up.. The area around CAEN is a natural defensive paradise and offers no room for manouvres and many sizeable rivers covered by High ground and impenetrable Bocage. narrow frontal assuals were about it. The German Defence having learnt on the russian front layered their defence in great depth (out of range of the Massed Firepower which could never keep up once any penetration was made) with the Pz's held to pinch of any penetrations. As bad as the strategy looks with many years of hindsight later there was no real alternatives to that which was pursued. Even Bradley had to struggle through the same thing to get to St Lo and this was against a much smaller opposition.. The German Army after many years preparing for war and the experience of the Eastern Front and Italy were masters of the defensive battle and the local counterattack. The Allied Armies were only know beginning to learn the offensive battle and less than 6 mths later they had achieved what a flexibility in there force structure that no other Army possesed. or had possessed during the preceeding 6 years
What I find strange is thet Monty's most succesful tactic (go straight for the throat of Germans)is being portrayed as a failing!
If not reaching the Rhine is considered a major failing, I personally think the operation did pretty well. Many problems like SS-units in the area and massive German defence against the forces that were meant to liberate the paras.