Richard O'Connor, assessment

Dec 2012
133
I know little about this general. He was vastly successful against the Italians in 1940-41, after a stint as a POW commanded tank forces in Normandy but if I understand correctly this time he was not so good and was removed from active command. In later high ranking positions he didn't distinguish himself.

Is this correct? Does someone want to give an assessment on this military leader?

Thank you.
 

royal744

Ad Honoris
Jul 2013
10,748
San Antonio, Tx
He very nearly rolled up the whole axis presence in North Africa. Why did he halt his advance?
 

Lord Fairfax

Ad Honorem
Jan 2015
3,445
Changing trains at Terrapin Station...
He very nearly rolled up the whole axis presence in North Africa. Why did he halt his advance?
Churchill ordered MidEast command to send units to Greece.
The 6th Australians,some veteran squadrons and the superior brigade of the 2nd Armoured were withdrawn, leaving the 8th Army in Libya with a single worn out armoured brigade, a couple of Indian brigades and the raw & untested 9th Australian division.

The loss of much of the air power, motor transport and most of the functional tanks eliminated any possibility of further offensives in the spring of 1941
 
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Chlodio

Forum Staff
Aug 2016
4,741
Dispargum
At that point in the war the British had no ambitions to take all of Libya. They only wanted to defend the Suez Canal. Their ambition in Libya was only to establish a defensive buffer zone in the Benghazi-Tobruk region, what Churchill liked to call Cyrenaica. To occupy all of Libya would have taken more men and supplies than the British had available. Compare the two orders of battle. The Italians greatly outnumbered the British, even before the Greek diversion. In 1941, the British just didn't have the manpower to control all of a hostile Libya.

O'Connor also stopped because he had outrun his logistics, something that happened quite often in the war to all armies - a big advance was always followed by a halt until the supply lines caught up.
 

redcoat

Ad Honorem
Nov 2010
7,900
Stockport Cheshire UK
Churchill ordered MidEast command to send units to Greece.
The 6th Australians,some veteran squadrons and the superior brigade of the 2nd Armoured were withdrawn, leaving the 8th Army in Libya with a single worn out armoured brigade, a couple of Indian brigades and the raw & untested 9th Australian division.

The loss of much of the air power, motor transport and most of the functional tanks eliminated any possibility of further offensives in the spring of 1941
The advance had stalled to logistic difficulties before any forces were sent to Greece. It was because the advance had halted and it appeared from Ultra intercepts that there would be no Axis offensive action for a number of months (Rommel was telling his High Command how ill equipped his forces were) the decision was made to send troops to Greece in the belief that these troops would have been replaced by fresh troops from the UK before there was a renewal of fighting on this front. Unfortunately for the Allies, while Rommel had been busy telling the HQ in Germany how unfit for battle his units were, he had decided to launch on offensive anyway, which caught the British and Commonwealth forces totally off guard.
 
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Dec 2012
133
Thanks for the answers folks BUT I was interested in his later career. Brilliant against the Italians of Gen. Graziani, O'Connor gave a lackluster performance in Normandy. Or someone powerful didn't like him maybe? Montgomery gave support to him initially, but later he gave not. O'Connor was removed from active command and relegated to dignified but less important posts. How this can be?