Richard O'Connor, assessment

pugsville

Ad Honorem
Oct 2010
9,247
#11
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ill equipped his forces were) the decision was made to send troops to Greece in the belief that these troops would have been replaced by fresh troops from the UK before there was a renewal of fighting on this front.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.
Reading book on Wavell right now (Wavell in the middle East - Raugh) Some units were diverted in prepration well before actual deployment to Greece (the Greek said if sening so few then "No:), but partculr support units withdrawn reduced logistically ability. There were also uits deployed to Crete, (support units AA which would otherwise been used at Benghazi, and Battalion that otherwise would have been in Malta)

The Book definitely says O'Conner wanted to advance and the major reason for no allowing to was the upcoming deployment to Greece, not solely there were logistical issues, and O'Cooner owuld have need significant naval logistical support. But the framework the decision was made in was either Greece or Tripoli, and put to Churchill in those terms. (but there is also teh factor the Generals were firmly gainst Greece, so may have presented it that fashion even if it were not entirely the case)

But the book makes a bit of the withdrawal of the 4th Indian and replacement with Australians causing a delay earlier in the campaign, and given the timeline the book sort of says that the 4th inidan was withdraw and sent to east africa to prevent it's deployment to Greece (but only sort of)
 
Dec 2012
129
#13
He escaped. acouple of times unsuccessfully, but gott away in the end to be available for Normandy. being held by the Italians probably helped.
O'Connor was captured by an Axis patrol (some say it was German, some say it was Italian) during the very first Rommel offensive. With italian capitulation in 1943 he was free again. But, please, I'd like some clarification about what happened in 1944 and 1945, the not-glamorous part of his career....
 
Mar 2015
1,427
Yorkshire
#14
Sometime ago I read the book "Hill 112" which at the moment is priced at only 99p Amazon Kindle - worth the money!

Hill 112 was described as the key to Normandy and Richard O'Connor's Corps VII was tasked with taking it and opening up the Odon valley South West of Caen for the Armoured Divisions to breakthrough into open country -Operation Jupiter part of Operation Epsom.

The German generals wanted to abandon the area and retreat to the Sienne but Hitler squashed any discussion and instead reinforced the area with 4 Divisions complete with Tigers.

O'Connor got the blame for the the perceived failure of this the third time Montgomery had tried to find a way around Caen. The British advance with two Divisions was on too narrow a front and although they managed to take Hill 112 they were thrown off it. The whole lot turned into a slugging match. O'Connor was criticised for continuing with a frontal attack despite mounting losses.

O'Connor's years in captivity, according to those who knew him, seemed to have diminished him - technology and techniques had vastly changed since the desert war.

I go the impression that he was not comfortable with this sort of battle - a bit like the way Patton was a dashing commander until he ran into the Metz and the West Wall.
 
Likes: sparky
May 2011
13,938
Navan, Ireland
#15
It can be very easy to blame a commander/general they are often dealing with difficult situations that may seem simple with hindsight. For instance S Frank Messervy was removed from his command in the desert for it was considered repeated failures. However posted to Indian not only was he instrumental in getting 'heavy' tanks to the Burma front (he wanted Sherman's but actually got Grant/Lee's) and commanded his division and the Corps with distinction in Burma.

Frank Messervy - Wikipedia
 
Mar 2015
1,427
Yorkshire
#16
It can be very easy to blame a commander/general they are often dealing with difficult situations that may seem simple with hindsight. For instance S Frank Messervy was removed from his command in the desert for it was considered repeated failures. However posted to Indian not only was he instrumental in getting 'heavy' tanks to the Burma front (he wanted Sherman's but actually got Grant/Lee's) and commanded his division and the Corps with distinction in Burma.

Frank Messervy - Wikipedia

Horse for courses, as they say.

Richie was a complete disaster at Gazala, where he made all the same mistakes as the Italians had done earlier against O'Connor. However, employed by Montogomery in the North West Europe Campaign, he performed well in Operation Varsity.

Then we have Cunningham the victor of the Abyssinian campaign and the difficult and decisive battle at Keren (described as the last Colonial War). In North Africa, he had a nervous breakdown in Operation Crusader which was only salvaged by his boss, Aukinleck taking over.

I think it might make a good book, examining why these (plus Messervy) commanders could perform so differently in different theatres.