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Best General of WWII?

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  • #91
    Of course it's not a clean story. Montgomery had written to Eisenhower on 12 July: "Grateful if you will issue orders that the whole weight of the airpower is to be available on that day to support my land battle.... My whole eastern flank will burst into flames on Saturday. The operation on Monday may have far-reaching results...." Sets up some expectations, especially when Eisenhower and SHAEF staff received Dempsey's operational order of 13 July which a Falaise was an original objective.

    A revised order was issued by Second Army on 17 July, which had dropped Falaise as an objective. A copy of the order never reached SHAEF. As the date for GOODWOOD drew near, SHAEF still believed that the main object of the operation was to capture Falaise. As one historian (D'Este) notes, "Even though Montgomery was suggesting breakthrough to SHAEF, there had never been any misunderstanding between Montgomery and Dempsey over what the Second Army commander was to accomplish, nor did Dempsey need reminding that it would be impossible to establish an armoured division in Falaise area without first capturing Bourguebus Ridge."

    So at 0200 hours, 18 July, expectations were varied: Dempsey foresaw an opportunity for a complete breakthrough; Montgomery had refused to commit himself beyond the capture of Bourguebus Ridge; and SHAEF was confidently expecting big results.

    By 1100 hours, the 11th Armoured Division had been unable to capture any new ground--the initiative had been lost. Before meeting Dempsey at 1800 hours on the evening of 18 July, Monty two hours earlier sent Brooke at SHAEF a "grossly" misleading signal that was opposite of the lost initiative and general situation. Monty wrote, "Operations this morning a complete success. The effect of the air bombing was decisive and the spectacle terrific ... situation very promising and it is difficult to see what the enemy can do just at present. Few enemy tanks met so far and no (repeat) no mines."

    D'Estse observes, "While false hopes were being raised at SHAEF and in London, Dempsey seems to have been the only senior commander to sense that the battle was far from decided and that the fleeting opportunity for a breakthrough had vanished."
    Leadership is the ability to rise above conventional wisdom.

    Comment


    • #92
      Originally posted by R.N. Armstrong View Post
      Of course it's not a clean story.
      It's pretty clean once you recognise Shaef as at best a nuisance and at worst a positive menace to the battle.

      Go back to Montys operational directive M505 of 30th June.

      " 1. My broad policy, once we had secured a firm lodgement area, has always been to draw the main enemy forces in to the battle on our eastern flank, and to fight them there, so that our affairs on the western flank could proceed the
      easier.

      <>


      Plan in Outline

      7. To hold the maximum number of enemy divisions on our eastern flank between Caen and Villers Bocage, and to swing the western or right flank of the Army Group southwards and eastwards in a wide sweep so as to threaten the line of withdrawal of such enemy divisions to the south of Paris. The bridges over the Seine between Paris and the sea have been destroyed by the Allied air forces, and will be kept out of action; a strong Allied force established in the area Le Mans-Alencon would threaten seriously the enemy concentration in the Caen area and its "get-away" south of Paris.


      Second British Army

      8. Tasks as follows:


      (a) To hold the main enemy forces in the area between Caen and Villers
      Bocage.


      <>

      First US Army

      14. On reaching the base of the peninsula at Avranches, the right hand Corps
      (8 Corps) to be turned westwards into Brittany and directed on Rennes and St Malo.
      This Corps to consist of three intantry divisions and one armoured division.


      15. As regards the remainder of the Army.
      Plans will be made to direct a strong right wing in a wide sweep, south of the
      Bocage country, towards successive objectives as follows:
      (a) Laval – Mayenne.
      (b) Le Mans – Alencon. . . .



      normandy_aug_1_13_1944.jpg

      Spooky, eh?
      Attached Files

      Comment


      • #93
        If not spooky, but the long way around. At the operational level, certainly, looks like amateur night. In the beginning, Dempsey sold the idea of a breakthrough to Monty. Monty told him to work up the plans. Once he saw the plan, Monty, as a conservative risk taker, got cold feet and adjusted the objectives nearer and asked higher for all the airpower for his operation--yet gave an expectation to the higher command of something "far reaching".
        Leadership is the ability to rise above conventional wisdom.

        Comment


        • #94
          Originally posted by R.N. Armstrong View Post
          If not spooky, but the long way around. At the operational level, certainly, looks like amateur night.
          Seriously? The battle for Normandy works out exactly according to Montys plans resulting in the destruction of much of the German armies in the West and you think that is amateur? Ridiculous assessment.

          In the beginning, Dempsey sold the idea of a breakthrough to Monty. Monty told him to work up the plans. Once he saw the plan, Monty, as a conservative risk taker, got cold feet and adjusted the objectives nearer and asked higher for all the airpower for his operation--yet gave an expectation to the higher command of something "far reaching".
          Dempsey was temporarily 'off-message' before Goodwood. Understandable that an army commander might get tunnel vision. Monty put him straight.
          It shows just how dysfunctional Shaef was that they had to receive 'promises' before giving their full support to the ground forces.

          Comment


          • #95
            All I can say is that is my perspective based on multiple readings of other historians' perspectives, the historical evidence, as well as personal experience on General Staffs with higher HQ relationships and the behavior characteristics peculiar to Generals. Additionally, the study was later honed into a What Next General article for ACG on Dempsey's Operation Goodwood (November 2013 issue).

            Parenthetically, I enjoyed doing the article because to develop two alternative courses of action to the historical course. I used Konev's and Zhukov's operational approach for two other distinct plans.
            Last edited by R.N. Armstrong; 23 Jun 20, 07:56.
            Leadership is the ability to rise above conventional wisdom.

            Comment


            • #96
              Originally posted by R.N. Armstrong View Post
              All I can say is that is my perspective based on multiple readings of other historians' perspectives, the historical evidence, as well as personal experience on General Staffs with higher HQ relationships and the behavior characteristics peculiar to Generals. Additionally, the study was later honed into a What Next General article for ACG on Dempsey's Operation Goodwood (November 2013 issue).
              I hope that doesn't mean you aren't willing to learn anymore.

              Parenthetically, I enjoyed doing the article because to develop two alternative courses of action to the historical course. I used Konev's and Zhukov's operational approach for two other distinct plans.
              I suggest their operational approach if presented with this



              would be to attack elsewhere!

              Comment


              • #97
                Originally posted by R.N. Armstrong View Post
                Additionally, the study was later honed into a What Next General article for ACG on Dempsey's Operation Goodwood (November 2013 issue).
                https://www.historynet.com/next-gene...dwood-1944.htm

                Yes, well there are some problems with that article.
                Allied intelligence has identified a mix of German infantry and armored forces defending Operation Goodwood’s targeted area. In the center sector is 16th Luftwaffe Field Division (German airmen fighting as infantry) backed up by 21st Panzer Division in Caen’s southeastern suburbs. Guarding the flanks of the German line are 346th Infantry Division in the northeast, near your bridgehead, and 272d Infantry Division southwest of the city. Two additional panzer divisions, 1st SS and 12th SS, are also in the vicinity, although their combat status and ability to reinforce Caen’s German defenders are questionable. Intelligence has determined that the depth of German defenses is no greater than 5 miles. Including potential enemy reserves, the forces confronting your attack consist of several thousand infantrymen, 330 panzers and assault guns, 150 anti-tank guns, and 350 mortars and artillery guns of various calibers.
                The defensive belt is actually far deeper, at near 10 miles:
                • infantry in the frontline
                • immediate Panzer reserve of 21st Panzer, and Tigers
                • along the Caen-Vimont railway line - village defensive zone each with a company of infantry and several anti-tank guns
                • Gun-line with 90 flak guns, field guns and nebelwefer (total of flak and field guns some 550)
                • Infantry battalions of 1SS in villages on the ridge
                • Reserves 5 miles further bank consisting of 1 battalion of 1SS tanks, and 2 battalions of 12SS
                The attack frontage is some 12 miles, defended by 2 infantry divisions, a panzer division, a Tiger battalion and 2 SS panzer divisions.

                Some other issues
                • the flanking infantry attacks are on diverging axes, with 3 British extending the flank
                • the British minefields are IIRC unrecorded and so difficult to lift
                • 3 armoured divisions are being funelled through a gap at most 2 miles wide
                • artillery cannot reach most of the German defences due to the layout of the battlefield and congestion of the jumpoff zone
                Your option 2 requires a 3 mile infantry advance before the armour is unleashed - this is simply too far given the depth of the German defences and available reserves.

                Your option 3 seems to require bridging a river during the attack to bring an armoured division into battle.

                Goodwood was a horrible operation, attacking into the heart of the German defences without surprise (probably the only one of Montgomery's that didn't achieve surprise) but necessary due to the constraints of the battlefield and as a pre-requisite for Cobra.

                A better option, recognising the strength of the defences, might have been to have less distant objectives, stop the counterattack, then 1-2 days later repeat.

                Comment


                • #98
                  Originally posted by Aber View Post

                  The defensive belt is actually far deeper, at near 10 miles:
                  • infantry in the frontline
                  • immediate Panzer reserve of 21st Panzer, and Tigers
                  • along the Caen-Vimont railway line - village defensive zone each with a company of infantry and several anti-tank guns
                  • Gun-line with 90 flak guns, field guns and nebelwefer (total of flak and field guns some 550)
                  • Infantry battalions of 1SS in villages on the ridge
                  • Reserves 5 miles further bank consisting of 1 battalion of 1SS tanks, and 2 battalions of 12SS
                  The attack frontage is some 12 miles, defended by 2 infantry divisions, a panzer division, a Tiger battalion and 2 SS panzer divisions.
                  That sort of density of troops is really only elsewhere to be found amongst troops that are attacking. I can't think of anywhere the Germans had such density on the defensive

                  Comment


                  • #99
                    Originally posted by Aber View Post

                    https://www.historynet.com/next-gene...dwood-1944.htm

                    Yes, well there are some problems with that article.


                    The defensive belt is actually far deeper, at near 10 miles:
                    • infantry in the frontline
                    • immediate Panzer reserve of 21st Panzer, and Tigers
                    • along the Caen-Vimont railway line - village defensive zone each with a company of infantry and several anti-tank guns
                    • Gun-line with 90 flak guns, field guns and nebelwefer (total of flak and field guns some 550)
                    • Infantry battalions of 1SS in villages on the ridge
                    • Reserves 5 miles further bank consisting of 1 battalion of 1SS tanks, and 2 battalions of 12SS
                    The attack frontage is some 12 miles, defended by 2 infantry divisions, a panzer division, a Tiger battalion and 2 SS panzer divisions.

                    Some other issues
                    • the flanking infantry attacks are on diverging axes, with 3 British extending the flank
                    • the British minefields are IIRC unrecorded and so difficult to lift
                    • 3 armoured divisions are being funelled through a gap at most 2 miles wide
                    • artillery cannot reach most of the German defences due to the layout of the battlefield and congestion of the jumpoff zone
                    Your option 2 requires a 3 mile infantry advance before the armour is unleashed - this is simply too far given the depth of the German defences and available reserves.

                    Your option 3 seems to require bridging a river during the attack to bring an armoured division into battle.

                    Goodwood was a horrible operation, attacking into the heart of the German defences without surprise (probably the only one of Montgomery's that didn't achieve surprise) but necessary due to the constraints of the battlefield and as a pre-requisite for Cobra.

                    A better option, recognising the strength of the defences, might have been to have less distant objectives, stop the counterattack, then 1-2 days later repeat.
                    Good observations.

                    From a historical point, the Allies had an intelligence failure in the depth and consistency of the German defense.

                    Option 2, the infantry could be supported by artillery/air and a detachment/augmentation with armour to complete the penetration. The shortage in infantry was a factor at Goodwood.

                    Option 3 was routinely done on the eastern front, to include the Berlin Operation over the Oder River by the different Fronts.

                    Less distant objectives was Monty's touch to Dempsey's original plan. How else would you have done it?

                    Normally, in the What Next General articles, I could find one or two alternatives that had been considered by the staff/commander during the operational planning stage.
                    Leadership is the ability to rise above conventional wisdom.

                    Comment


                    • Originally posted by R.N. Armstrong View Post
                      Option 2, the infantry could be supported by artillery/air and a detachment/augmentation with armour to complete the penetration. The shortage in infantry was a factor at Goodwood.
                      My point (sorry if it was not clear) was that relying on infantry to make the penetration makes the attack far too slow, and that it gives time for German reserves to deploy and seal off any penetration attempt.

                      From a historical point, the Allies had an intelligence failure in the depth and consistency of the German defense.
                      In particular IIRC it missed the arrival of 272 Infantry division and the withdrawal of 1SS into reserve.

                      Option 3 was routinely done on the eastern front, to include the Berlin Operation over the Oder River by the different Fronts.
                      The Oder river is obviously a special case.

                      Again a bridging operation (river is only c 20m wide so ferrying is really pointless) would take too long, be too exposed during daylight, and allow time for German reserves to deploy.

                      Less distant objectives was Monty's touch to Dempsey's original plan. How else would you have done it?
                      On an operational level, launch Cobra first.

                      Normally, in the What Next General articles, I could find one or two alternatives that had been considered by the staff/commander during the operational planning stage.
                      Which is why Goodwood is such a horrible, but necessary, operation.

                      The operational level alternatives only work if Montgomery has authority over the air forces, so he can demand repeated strikes, or over 12th Army Group so that he can accelerate their preliminary operations.

                      Comment


                      • Originally posted by Aber View Post

                        My point (sorry if it was not clear) was that relying on infantry to make the penetration makes the attack far too slow, and that it gives time for German reserves to deploy and seal off any penetration attempt.


                        In particular IIRC it missed the arrival of 272 Infantry division and the withdrawal of 1SS into reserve.


                        The Oder river is obviously a special case.

                        Again a bridging operation (river is only c 20m wide so ferrying is really pointless) would take too long, be too exposed during daylight, and allow time for German reserves to deploy.



                        On an operational level, launch Cobra first.



                        Which is why Goodwood is such a horrible, but necessary, operation.

                        The operational level alternatives only work if Montgomery has authority over the air forces, so he can demand repeated strikes, or over 12th Army Group so that he can accelerate their preliminary operations.
                        First, point it was possible to artillery and air to isolate penetration sector from German reserves.

                        Second, yes on 272 and an underestimation or miss of the wide band of 88's.

                        Third, 20m is quite doable, and again, thinking combined arms, arty for smoke screen and protecting a bridgehead while also using air.

                        Fourth, Cobra was the long way around through more enemy, better to cut closer and force them to retreat. Plus your alternative COA was outside the scope of Goodwood operation. It was tough to come up with two alternative courses given the situation and the terrain.

                        Leadership is the ability to rise above conventional wisdom.

                        Comment


                        • Originally posted by R.N. Armstrong View Post
                          Fourth, Cobra was the long way around through more enemy, better to cut closer and force them to retreat.
                          Cobra was 30 miles from Goodwood - that's not far at the operational level.

                          Third, 20m is quite doable, and again, thinking combined arms, arty for smoke screen and protecting a bridgehead while also using air.
                          Completion time, even for a small Bailey bridge, is given as 3 to 4 hours under ideal conditions, which these will not be. Do you start the bridge overnight alerting the defenders, or wait until the start of the air attack and so delay the intervention of the armoured division?

                          Comment


                          • Originally posted by R.N. Armstrong View Post

                            First, point it was possible to artillery and air to isolate penetration sector from German reserves.

                            Second, yes on 272 and an underestimation or miss of the wide band of 88's.

                            Third, 20m is quite doable, and again, thinking combined arms, arty for smoke screen and protecting a bridgehead while also using air.

                            Fourth, Cobra was the long way around through more enemy, better to cut closer and force them to retreat. Plus your alternative COA was outside the scope of Goodwood operation. It was tough to come up with two alternative courses given the situation and the terrain.
                            Technically Churchill Arks were already in use in July 1944, which means many 20m rivers are doable with one or two of these machines in minutes. Unfortunately, Ark II's were only used in Italy at this time.

                            One General who should NOT be considered great, not even in his own army, is Montgomery. He didn't really understand the use of tanks. He thought they were merely a means of manoeuvering firepower around the battlefield, and should designed as such. He did want a 'universal' tank, but that was for logistic purposes.
                            How to Talk to a Climate Skeptic: http://grist.org/series/skeptics/
                            Global Warming & Climate Change Myths: https://www.skepticalscience.com/argument.php

                            Comment


                            • Originally posted by Nick the Noodle View Post
                              Technically Churchill Arks were already in use in July 1944, which means many 20m rivers are doable with one or two of these machines in minutes. Unfortunately, Ark II's were only used in Italy at this time.
                              Good idea, but I'm not convinced - some river pictures here

                              https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fleury...r-Orne_en_1944

                              Last edited by Aber; 25 Jun 20, 04:00.

                              Comment


                              • Originally posted by R.N. Armstrong View Post
                                Fourth, Cobra was the long way around through more enemy, better to cut closer and force them to retreat.
                                There was far less enemy facing Cobra - that was rather the point.

                                USA-E-Breakout-IV.jpg
                                https://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/USA...eakout-12.html

                                Little depth to the German 7th Army positions too.

                                WWII is littered with examples of Allied forces failing to force the Germans to retreat. And that with far superior force ratios than that between 2nd British Army and Panzer Group West.

                                Comment

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