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Monty's Men: The British Army and the…
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Monty's Men: The British Army and the Liberation of Europe

by John Buckley

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A really excellent synthesis of the New Operational Military History as it relates to the way of war in 21st Army Group, in which Buckley concludes that this field force "...matched resources with objectives, developed proficient fighting power sufficient to overcome the enemy, and delivered a victory to the British state that has for too long been downplayed by the passage of time."

If Buckley has a particular mission it is to place the undeniable errors and systemic problems of the British Army into proper context and call out a wide range of critics (Liddell Hart, Cornelius Ryan, Max Hastings, etc.) who had political and professional agendas to pursue and in doing so misrepresented the real achievements that were accomplished in victory. If nothing else it's another sign that the legacy of Cold War military historiography, where it was politically convenient to exaggerate the performance of the German military (thus overlooking its professional and moral failings), is being rapidly left behind.

Still, Buckley also leaves one with the sense that much of the animus that has been directed at the British Army and its way of war is due to the resentment and anger that Bernard Montgomery's incompetence (there is no other appropriate word) at social engineering left in its wake, and which has fed into a "black legend" of arrogant poseurs leading unwilling donkeys. ( )
1 vote Shrike58 | Jul 18, 2014 |
.. Buckley's previous work "British Armour in Normandy" was the sort of wonderful eye-opening re-appraisal of the British Army's performance post-D-Day that Max Hastings' 'pro-German' treatments had always warranted. It is thus easy to agree with Buckley in this new work that the reputation of the British Army has suffered through a " disturbing" and very unflattering comparison with the German Army. You see it all the time on the net and in the literature - there is a sort of 'fan-boy' admiration for the German Army and its 'flamboyant' commanders - despite the ideological motivations, despite the racial and criminal undertones, despite harsh 'internal' terror - which is ultimately based on a very narrow definition of what constitutes military 'effectiveness'. Buckley argues that this image of German 'superiority'- largely based on the 'Blitzkrieg' of the early war years - conceals and ignores many many shortcomings and deficiencies on the German and almost toally ignores those areas in which the British were much stronger - artillery firepower, logistical competence etc etc. By repeatedly attempting to mount ad-hoc and unsupported operations post-1941 the German Army delivered some short-term success but lived under constant threat of potential near-disaster. As Buckley argues the British conduct of operations predicated on firepower and logistics were not inferior to the Germans; if anything these kinds of operational methods were more sophisticated, requiring as they did, greater integration of the various operational constituents to achieve the desired affect.

No doubt Allied armies "Citizen soldiers" may have seemed lke 'amateurs' compared to German veterans skilled since 1939 - but 'amateurishness' - or at least what some commentators see as such - was a part of the Allies military culture. They were fresh. Free to experiment. Unlike the Germans post- D-Day who were scraping the bottom of barrel, sending Volksturm and Luftwaffe Field Divisions into battle, worn down by six years of constant conflict and intense brutal ground warfare. Manpower concerns were a prime Allied consideration. Another British misfortune after September 1944 was they were fighting on terrain which was best suited to defence. The Dutch-German frontier area is broken by canals , rivers and full of woods.

From the British perspective, morale and manpower were key issues affecting the British 'style' of waging war. Another was command and leadership style - leadership,morale and unit cohesion, rather than racial or political doctrine, were the central tenants in the production of fighting power. When the British recognised the potential fragility of the morale of the men deployed on the ground, Montgomery and other senior commanders sought to develop an operational method that developed fighting power that achieved objectives. The Germans from the First World War through the Second World War had little understanding of theses levels of war as Buckley makes clear and woefully underperformed in this respect. There is some truth that at the smallest unit level the Germans were better than the British, however, this was of little use if it could not be translated into operational or strategic effectiveness. Integration of firepower and movement was a much more 'mature' military philosophy, which ultimately saw Montgomery accepting German surrender on the Baltic less than one year after the landings in Normandy.. ( )
2 vote FalkeEins | Feb 20, 2014 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0300134495, Hardcover)

Historian John Buckley offers a radical reappraisal of Great Britain’s fighting forces during World War Two, challenging the common belief that the British Army was no match for the forces of Hitler’s Germany. Following Britain’s military commanders and troops across the battlefields of Europe, from D-Day to VE-Day, from the Normandy beaches to Arnhem and the Rhine, and, ultimately, to the Baltic, Buckley’s provocative history demonstrates that the British Army was more than a match for the vaunted Nazi war machine.
 
This fascinating revisionist study of the campaign to liberate Northern Europe in the war’s final years features a large cast of colorful unknowns and grand historical personages alike, including Field Marshal Sir Bernard Montgomery and the prime minister, Sir Winston Churchill. By integrating detailed military history with personal accounts, it evokes the vivid reality of men at war while putting long-held misconceptions finally to rest.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:06:36 -0400)

"Historian John Buckley offers a radical reappraisal of Great Britain's fighting forces during World War Two, challenging the common belief that the British Army was no match for the forces of Hitler's Germany. Following Britain's military commanders and troops across the battlefields of Europe, from D-Day to VE-Day, from the Normandy beaches to Arnhem and the Rhine, and, ultimately, to the Baltic, Buckley's provocative history demonstrates that the British Army was more than a match for the vaunted Nazi war machine. This fascinating revisionist study of the campaign to liberate Northern Europe in the war's final years features a large cast of colorful unknowns and grand historical personages alike, including Field Marshal Sir Bernard Montgomery and the prime minister, Sir Winston Churchill. By integrating detailed military history with personal accounts, it evokes the vivid reality of men at war while putting long-held misconceptions finally to rest"--… (more)

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