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History’s best industrial warfare generals: Bernard “Monty” Montgomery

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Here’s a contribution from GringoLost reader Ralph. This is Ralph’s second entry into the series on greatest industrial warfare generals, his first was on Helmuth Von Moltke.

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Field Marshal Bernard “Monty” Montgomery was Britain’s Army commander during World War II.  He was the British version of Patton, an inspiration for his troops and the allies.  Beginning with El Alamein, he would push the Nazis back to the Rhine.

Montgomery makes the list of 8 best industrial warfare generals because he exemplifies the truism that success occurs not only because of the skills of the military leadership but also by the circumstances of the time and the competence of their political counterparts – and the industrial production capabilities they have at home.

There would be no Helmuth Von Moltke without Otto Von Bismarck, no Vo Nguyen Giap without Ho Chi Minh, and no Montgomery without Winston Churchill. Additionally, their victories relied on the successes of blockades and the harnessing of industrial war production. For example, Montgomery’s victorious North Africa campaign would not have happened if the allies had not deciphered Erwin “the Desert Fox” Rommel’s coded war plans and choked his supply lines. This combined with aerial bombing contributed to the allied victory.

Montgomery had a great ability to build morale when prepping his troops for combat. His compassion for them was first rate. He would explain the allies war aims in a way that gave the common soldier an understanding of why he fights. He would listen to their complaints. *He even set up a  brothel for them in Tripoli. Tactically, Montgomery would develop master plans which utilized force flexibility to counter unexpected enemy movement.

Critics said he was too cautious against enemy forces, but his contributions outweigh these criticisms. His command and control of the British military and his skill on the general staff contributed to turning the Nazi’s back in North Africa and taking Northern Germany. He was also an effective organizer working collaboratively with other allied commanders.

Here are some righteous quotes and circumstances which reflect Montgomery’s personality and astute leadership style.

  • Speaking to officers while in command of the 8th Army in North Africa, Montgomery said “I have cancelled the plan for withdrawal. If we are attacked, then there will be no retreat. If we cannot stay here alive, then we will stay here dead.”
  • After repelling an attack from Erwin Rommel at Alam el Halfa, Montgomery attacked the Germans at El Alamein on October 23rd 1942 while still waiting for resupply. This victory turned the war in the Allies favor. “Before Alamein we never had a victory,” said Winston Churchill, “after Alamein we never had a defeat.”
  • Relying on the might of the Allied industrial base behind him, Montgomery led forces to push the Desert Fox out of Africa, invade Sicily, get a “toehold” on the boot of Italy, and, post-Normandy, force the Nazis to surrender Northern Germany to him personally on May 4th 1945.

Despite some post-WWII political disagreements with other allied commanders and some questionable actions later in life, Montgomery command style fit well with the Allied war plans. He was able to utilize the resources he had, including the fighting man, with great skill to drive a large portion of one of the greatest armies the world has seen to surrender. While some may contend that once the US entered the War a Nazi defeat was inevitable, it would be hard to envision this victory without that ole’ chap Monty.

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Written by gringolost

June 21, 2010 at 2:14 pm

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