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Old June 6th, 2013, 09:38 PM   #101

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Haig has a claim to be the greatest British General ever, none before had to face his problems, none had to use such a large army, none had to create that army from almost nothing, none had to face the changing technology,
Yes ok, but he still blundered like an idiot. He greatly overestimated the ability of artillery to destroy barbed wire, believed that cavalry was more useful than tanks, but worst of all he made his soldiers walk slowly towards the enemy trench instead of running. This gave the Germans time to set up their machine-guns and decimate the advancing British. The first day of the Somme was the costliest day in British military history. Then after the failures of the Somme he goes and tries the same thing at Passchendaele.
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Old June 15th, 2013, 01:02 PM   #102

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Maybe not the worst, but I feel the need to include (or at least mention) Bernard Montgomery just based off the fact of how incompetent he was sometimes. From what I've read, his inability or desire to move quickly allowed many German armies to escape defeat and probably prolonged WWII a little longer than needed.
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Old June 15th, 2013, 01:07 PM   #103

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Originally Posted by HISTORYbuff427 View Post
Maybe not the worst, but I feel the need to include (or at least mention) Bernard Montgomery just based off the fact of how incompetent he was sometimes. From what I've read, his inability or desire to move quickly allowed many German armies to escape defeat and probably prolonged WWII a little longer than needed.
He was a practitioner of force concentration.
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Old June 15th, 2013, 01:14 PM   #104

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Originally Posted by HISTORYbuff427 View Post
Maybe not the worst, but I feel the need to include (or at least mention) Bernard Montgomery just based off the fact of how incompetent he was sometimes. From what I've read, his inability or desire to move quickly allowed many German armies to escape defeat and probably prolonged WWII a little longer than needed.
Please explain how a general who won the vast majority of his battles deserves a mention in a topic about the worst general


Worst generals don't win battles
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Old June 15th, 2013, 01:20 PM   #105

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Please explain how a general who won the vast majority of his battles deserves a mention in a topic about the worst general


Worst generals don't win battles
Whoa, whoa, whoa. How am I beating a dead horse here? Please explain that. If you had actually read my post you would of said that I mentioned how incompetent Monty was sometimes when it came to fighting battles. How a lot of times, he was almost too cautious when the time called for an aggressive form of action. You might not agree with, I don't really care. But there's no question that Bernard Montgomery made a lot of questionable decisions.
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Old June 15th, 2013, 01:32 PM   #106

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Whoa, whoa, whoa. How am I beating a dead horse here? Please explain that. If you had actually read my post you would of said that I mentioned how incompetent Monty was sometimes when it came to fighting battles. How a lot of times, he was almost too cautious when the time called for an aggressive form of action. You might not agree with, I don't really care. But there's no question that Bernard Montgomery made a lot of questionable decisions.
But the thread is about the worst general in history, not which general you think could have done better.
The fact is with one major exception Montgomery won his battles, his tactics weren't pretty and they weren't exciting, but they were effective.

'When Monty came to the desert, the war stopped being a game'-Rommel

Rommel is often listed as one of the greatest generals, but he never won a battle against Monty
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Old June 15th, 2013, 02:00 PM   #107

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Montgomery wasn't either a genius or a greatest general, he was often too cautious and all criticism moved to him, but surely he can't be included in this thread.
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Old June 15th, 2013, 05:48 PM   #108

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Originally Posted by HISTORYbuff427 View Post
Whoa, whoa, whoa. How am I beating a dead horse here? Please explain that. If you had actually read my post you would of said that I mentioned how incompetent Monty was sometimes when it came to fighting battles. How a lot of times, he was almost too cautious when the time called for an aggressive form of action. You might not agree with, I don't really care. But there's no question that Bernard Montgomery made a lot of questionable decisions.
Outside of Market Garden, what decisions were questionable?

A questionable decision is one that leads to defeat or carries major risk of defeat. Montgomery, as with most of the Western Allied commanders was a very methodical commander. It was not in his nature to take risks, and thus most of his decisions were not questionable because when he attacked, he did so with the bulk of the men and material behind him and hold a major advantage OVER the Germans.

There was no question as to whether or not he would win at El Alamien. The region was a bottleneck where Rommel's tactics of going around an undefended flank could not and would not work. He HAD to go straight at Monty there, and Rommel made a major mistake in advancing to the Alamien positions when he knew that the men and material he needed to break the position were being committed to Stalingrad. As such Monty's decisions in Africa were not questionable. He won and won decisively.

The other big battle was Normandy in 1944, again against Rommel. Here, Rommel tried to rectify his mistakes in Africa by building up the defenses to prevent the Allies from landing on the beaches and establishing any sort of beachhead. He knew that if Monty could get men and material ashore, the Allies would ultimately win because they had the men and material to win the battle. Here, Rommel ends up in arguments with Hitler and von Rundstedt on how to defeat the Allies, both of which go against him, leaving him very limited resources with which to implement what he feels is the only way Germany can win in Normandy... to make matters worse, Rommel makes the wrong judgment as to when the Allies will land and leaves France to see his wife and is absent when the Allies land.

Without Rommel there, the one division he has to counterattack the Allies while they are still getting off the boats fails to actually land a blow and is forced to withdraw by naval gunfire. And in the end, Rommel's prediction becomes truth. The fighting in Normandy becomes a battle of attrition that Germany can not become engaged in, and ultimately loses... and when the lines in Normandy break, German retreats from Normandy all the way to Germany. In fact, the Allies reached Monty's stated objectives for the Normandy campaign three days AHEAD of the schedule that had originally been set for the campaign. Again, a decisive victory for Montgomery and against Rommel, who is forced to commit suicide after the July 20 plot to kill Hitler.

His only questionable military decision was Operation Market Garden, which was born out of the end of the Battle of Normandy and leading into the last campaigns on the Western Front. Trying to use the idea as a springboard from which to launch a single narrow thrust (and thus lay claim to winning the war) Monty proposed the operation as a rapid and daring operation, which in a sense was out of his methodology of battle, and that is what ultimately cost him. Unlike generals like more aggressive generals, who generally operated under very loose plans that would require massive improvisation once the battle began, Monty's very methodical approach failed him in Market Garden as things went bad and he was ultimately defeated by Walther Model.

The greatest criticism of Monty, militarily, was that his style was a very slow and methodical way of attacking. He didn't move until he outnumbered his opponent and had him beat in the supply stockpiles. To more aggressive generals, this seemed as though Monty was wanting to be a stick in the mud rather than an attacker. However, it must still be remembered that more aggressive generals, like Patton for instance, commonly depended on the opponent not being able to make a stand. Patton had one of the most dramatic races across France in 1944, but he was stopped dead by German held/made and French improved fortifications around Metz. Patton was still fighting around Metz when Monty was much further north and east fighting to get into Germany, and doing better than Patton was...

As such, militarily, while Monty may not have been as aggressive as Patton or Rommel, his methodical command carried an almost guaranteed outcome that he would win, where as with Patton and Rommel, their battles were a role of the die. They might win, but they'd also stand a real chance of losing.

The one criticism that Monty deserves is that like Patton, MacArthur, and many other Generals, he had a huge ego and a massively enlarged sense of self importance. The victory at El Alamien and the American defeat at Kasserine Pass gave many in the British army the interpretation that the American army and command was second rate... after all, Monty beat Rommel at the peak of his strength. Rommel's badly mauled army completely routed the Americans from the field. Logically, the Americans were bad soldiers, and Monty held this firmly.

This lead to Monty having great resentment of Eisenhower being placed above him in the Allied command structure. Up until Operation Cobra, Monty consented himself to being the Allied #2, which would make him important...but then the Allies establish three army groups in France. One is under Monty's command, another is under Devers command landing in the South of France, and the third is next to Monty's under Bradley's command. As such, Monty's power and influence within the Western Allies is now weakened and shared between 3 different generals.

This is probably what leads to Monty's push for Operation Market Garden and a pencil thin push into Germany coming solely from the British sector of the Allied lines. If Monty is the only general to go into Germany, he is the only Western Allied general who can claim the credit for the victory. And despite the defeat in Market Garden, Monty continued to push that HIS way was the best way. This politicking on Monty's part became worse when he claimed credit for the victory in the Battle of the Bulge when Monty himself did very little, if anything, in the battle. His actions did secure the northern flank, but the bulk of the fighting that won the battle was secured on the southern flank, and Monty didn't keep command of the American units north of the bulge for long. Yet, Monty claimed full responsibility for the victory, and nearly brought about Eisenhower's resignation.

His ego was a problem, just as Patton's and MacArthur's, BUT that does not make Monty a candidate for "Worst General in History."
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Old June 15th, 2013, 08:56 PM   #109
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My vote goes to whoever the Jin general was at the battle of Badger Mouth. The story goes that he had half of the empires troops (500,000) men and was able to pick the spot of battle, while being on the defensive, against a much smaller Mongol army of about 60,000 men.

Now, at first this seems bad, but not too bad because its the Mongols. But in depth it looks disasterous. First his cavalry charges a much smaller force of foot archers and manages to get defeated. Then while the battle is in full swing at the front lines, apparently their are thousands of Jin troops resting at the rear of the army who get slaughtered because they were flanked. Once the front line collapses the entire army is sent into chaos and the entire army is then slaughtered.
So in one day he managed to get half the empires army killed, which is impressive by itself. Then, he couldnt even kill enough Mongols to stop their invasion (this was about 2/3 of the entire mongol army) . Then, in one final stroke of genius to prove how great a general he is, he returns to the capjtal, where he assassinates the emperor.
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Old June 16th, 2013, 12:26 AM   #110

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Sam-Nary's #109 post on Monty is a reasonable and well thought out view on Monty with which I agree with mostly, but there is a point I would like to clarify.
Quote:
Logically, the Americans were bad soldiers, and Monty held this firmly
No he didn't. Monty might have stolen the credit for the success's achieved by American generals whenever he could, but he was never highly critical of the US soldier. The worst he ever said about the US soldier was about their performance at Sidi-Bou-Zid and the Kasserine Pass when he wrote

" It was the old story; lack of proper training , allied to no experience of war, and linked too high a standard of living. They were going through their early days, just like we had to go through ours. We had been at war a long time and our mistakes lay mostly behind us".

There are also the remarks Monty made about the US soldier in the infamous press conference after the Battle of the Bulge when Monty made these comments;

"I first saw the American soldier in battle in Sicily and formed then a very high opinion of him. I knew him again in Italy. And I have seen a very great deal of him in this campaign. I want to take this opportunity to pay a public tribute to him. He is a brave fighting man, steady under fire and with the tenacity in battle that stamps the first class soldier. All these qualities have been shown in a marked degree during the present battle"
.
"I have spent my military career with the British soldier and I have come to love him with a great love. I have now formed a very great affection and admiration for the American soldier. I salute the brave fighting men of America I never want to fight alongside better soldiers".

Quote:
This lead to Monty having great resentment of Eisenhower being placed above him in the Allied command structure
It wasn't because he was an American, it was because Monty saw him as a 'Staff officer' with no experience in fighting battles or commanding forces in combat.
The thing to remember about Monty was that with the exception of Alan Brooke, he got on as badly with senior British officers every much as American officers.

Monty spent his whole career being insubordinate to his senior officers, here are two examples;

In 1933 during a formal inspection of the battalion he commanded, he was informed by his garrision commander " Colonel Mongomery, you are not positioned properly in front of your men. You are six paces too far to your right. Please take up your correct position now". Monty saluted and then gave the order "Royal Warwickshire. Six paces right close. March"

In May 1940 there was act of insubordination which would have an important effect on the Dunkirk evacuation.
Monty was with his division at Dunkirk when he heard that Lord Gott had given command of the pocket to General Barker, Monty was appalled at this and asked for a private word with Gott, where he informed Gott that Baker was in a 'unfit state to be left in final command' he then recommended his friend Alexander, the commander of 1st infantry division, for the role. Amazingly Gott agreed and gave Alexander command of the pocket.
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