Who was the worst Brit general of WW II

4(T)

LE
Loss of all BEF Artillery, Tanks (Save maybe 2 or 3) All motor T is hardly a victory. The material was mostly repaired and added to Wehrmacht stocks and used to kill British, Russian, troops

.
And was the landing of those troops ultimately a success or were they in their own POW camp basically?


Yet those "Old Duffers" forgot to plan to bring out the guns, hardly a victorious plan eh?


- No one claimed Dunkirk as a victory;

- Landing troops in western France was a desperate attempt at government level to keep France in the war, so part of the political butchers bill. Note how this also cuts across the anglophobic myth of the Brits deserting the French;

- A huge volume of war materiel was evacuated from the Channel ports long before the final evacuation at Dunkirk. however, the BEF naturally had to keep its weaponry and the bulk of its combat supplies.
 
Loss of all BEF Artillery, Tanks (Save maybe 2 or 3) All motor T is hardly a victory. The material was mostly repaired and added to Wehrmacht stocks and used to kill British, Russian, troops

.
And was the landing of those troops ultimately a success or were they in their own POW camp basically?


Yet those "Old Duffers" forgot to plan to bring out the guns, hardly a victorious plan eh?
As I recall, that would have required either safe port facilities to load heavy equipment, which there were none, Landing Ships for re-embarkment (not yet available) and above all, time. About the only way that Britain could have held the perimeter and secured command of the air long enough to achieve this was by putting at immense risk the balance of the Home Fleet and the remaining fighter strength of the RAF, and even then with at best an evens chance of success.

Indeed, when the boot switched to the other foot, even the immensely powerful Wehrmacht realised that it would struggle to get its heavy equipment across the channel under opposed conditions, and abandoned the effort.
 

syrup

LE
I'll just throw this in here as an aside. 15/19H mobilised on (iirc) 1 Sep 39. Hundreds of reservists rolled up.

15/19H had not got rid of their horses until 1938. By 1939 the regiment had barely converted to tanks. All their reservists turned up with their kit. Peace Time Unitorm, riding boots, spurs, etc.

IIRC the Colonel Blimp Character was created by David Low after he heard two cavalry officers arguing whether Spurs should be worn inside a tank.
Many Cavalry / Armoured units still used horses in peacetime thinking tanks were only for war.
 
Loss of all BEF Artillery, Tanks (Save maybe 2 or 3) All motor T is hardly a victory. The material was mostly repaired and added to Wehrmacht stocks and used to kill British, Russian, troops

.
And was the landing of those troops ultimately a success or were they in their own POW camp basically?


Yet those "Old Duffers" forgot to plan to bring out the guns, hardly a victorious plan eh?
Im impressed you've managed to completely miss the context of my comments

But just for you

1) Nobody disputes that the retreat to Dunkirk and the fall of France was a Disaster - The argument is that it isn't down to a poor showing of the BEF or indeed French forces in Belgium - It was a Disaster for the British* it wasn't a British disaster.
Dunkirk evacuation itself is only a victory in terms of denying the enemy and achieving what was thought impossible - IIRC the aim was to get about 30 000 off that's what was needed anything else was a bonus.

Not sure what point you think your making by citing the Germans succeeded in using some captured equipment -

2) Ultimately the 2nd BEF was evacuated - but again France surrendered when it was expected to fight on - the return was a political decision hardly a disaster that lies with British army performance

3) ref bringing out the guns and assuming you're referring to Dunkirk - I think you've confused failed to plan with accepted it wasn't a realistic prospect

*More so because it knocked tank development back a year or 2 and delayed the introduction of the ready for service 6pdr by several months -


I can only assume you are confusing my challenging a common perception with both rebuttals and mitigations** for the early years with the argument that come mid war they were on a par with everyone else as some sort of jingoism.
The same argument holds for all the allied powers -

**eg massive expansion and lack of experience hobbled it,

Edit If perhaps im still not clear consider the Sherman was crap and US command were idiots not replacing it with pershings sooner argument
To challenge you have to explain that*
A) The Sherman could stand up to everything but the extremely rare and frequently inop tiger
B) It was never US Doctrine tanks wouldn't fight tanks + a hundred other myths Ronson etc
C) The US fielding Pershings or even M60A1 (or the UK Comets / centurions) in Normandy will make little or no difference owing to conditions .
D) Limited space and resources in shipping
E) Fire support was more important than straight out AP performance - The UK went with the 75 on Cromwell despote the 6pdr being the better gun for anti armour work - why because most anti armour stuff it faced was PAK 40 etc and RPGs not Tanks.

Non of which means you think the Sherman is the bestest tank ever - you are simply challenging a misconception with relevant facts and justifications for decisions.

*Applicable to Cromwell as well
 
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AlienFTM

MIA
Book Reviewer
IIRC the Colonel Blimp Character was created by David Low after he heard two cavalry officers arguing whether Spurs should be worn inside a tank.
Many Cavalry / Armoured units still used horses in peacetime thinking tanks were only for war.
Any desire to mechanise cavalry went in 1919 when
  1. it was realised that there was an empire to police
  2. the country couldn't afford any tanks
  3. there were no tanks to buy
  4. the world believed they'd been through a war to end wars.
They were very few cavalrymen or officers left in cavalry regiments by 1919 (although 15H swept across Ireland from Dublin to Belcoo flushing out the IRA). Certainly by the twenties, more young men were joining cavalry regiments to learn to take tractor driving skills back to the farm than to muck out horses day and night.

One or two very senior old officers were Blimps.

Edit. 15/19H didn't get rid of their horses until 1938 because
  1. there were still no tanks (and the order of mechanisation was down to juniority of unamalgamated regiments — and operational feasibility. Having been one of the first amalgamated regiments after 17/21L and 16/5L, they ought to have been antipenultimate for mechanisation, but regiments like the Greys in the Middle East ended up last in 1942)
  2. they'd spent most of the interwar years policing Egypt.
 
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You're correct of course. An interesting question for this thread is why he failed to deliver the similar sort of results in 44/45 that he delivered in 40/41
Hmmm.

- 40/41, O'Connor is in the largely open to manoeuvre Western Desert fighting the grossly undersupplied and pretty poorly-equipped Italians, who aren't really interested in being there anyway.

- 44/45, O'Connor is in the complex terrain of NW Europe fighting the superbly-equipped, if logistically fragile Germans, who already have the attitude of 'enjoy what's left of the war, because the peace will be terrible.

A comparison between apples and orangutans.
 
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That may be full numbers in mid-late ‘18 but I shouldn’t think the US had more than very low double figures engaged at any one time, if that. All assistance gratefully received of course but there’s no equivalence between the US and British/French/German experience of WW1.
Sorry we had a good number of divisions in place in France in 1918 and more in the USA not the 4 or 5 hell

I get why the typical British poster want to minimize any US contribution to the War effort but every one of these units actually fought in France (Less 83rd whose infantry fought in italy) some of the divisions fought alongside and attached to the British Army (27th, 28th, 30th, 33rd) in fact the first US casualties were men of the 11th railway engineers* with the British 3rd Army in 1917 @ Gouzeaucourt.

Meuse- Argonne 15 US divisions fought
2nd battle of the Marne 8 US divisions 4British, 44 French
Saint-Mihiel 14 US divisions


*
11th Engineers displayed great bravery and fortitude in the face of an intense German counterattack. On 20 November, the British Army attacked toward Cambrai with over 300 tanks in the lead. The Germans counterattacked and penetrated toward Gouzeaucout, where the 11th Engineers were building a rail yard.

Engineers working on the rail yard joined British forces, took up rifles, or helped dig foxholes. Some engineers were captured and others scattered into nearby fields. Seven officers and 265 engineers armed with rifles reported to the headquarters of the British 20th Division. They acted as a reserve and dug in new positions. When the British attacked the Germans in the afternoon engineers from the work site went with them and helped free a number of their comrades captured earlier. The British army recognized their contribution in an official communication to the AEF.


“I desire to express to you my thanks and that of the British forces engaged for the prompt and valuable assistance rendered, and I trust that you will be good enough to Colonel Hoffman and his gallant men how much we all appreciate his and the prompt and soldierly readiness to assist in what for a time was a difficult situation,” -Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig

in a letter to General of the Armies John J. Pershing regarding the 11th Engineers.
 
**Edit to ask did West African troops go through this - having been recruited in jungle regions -
I've seen accounts from white British NCOs who volunteered for service with West African regiments which suggest that they did, although I must confess that without digging into my library - that which doesn't remain in my office and thus probably inaccessible until late May - I couldn't swear to it, although I suspect that they did, even if only to familiarise them with the way the Japanese operated.
 
They weren’t generals, just mere RAF wallahs, mediocrity is expected.
Leigh-Mallory enlisted as a private in the Kings (Liverpool) Regiment and was comissioned into the South Lancashire Regiment, before joining the RFC.

Arthur Harris joined 1st Rhodesia Regiment before joining the RFC.
 
As far as best Navy is concerned, nothing comes close to the US effort in the Pacific - the sheer logistics involved were beyond the RN. The Americans were also up against a first class navy, not a collection of submarines and surface raiders struggling for the attention of their High Command.
It can of course be a bit of a waste of time comparing various forces in some sort of fantasy league because if you do so you could end up with the US on top of everything simply through sheer weight of numbers of men and equipment and logistical supplies without which they might not compare so well.

The Finnish Army cited above could appear to be "worse" than the Red Army because through sheer volume of numbers the latter eventually won, but no one for a moment would ever suggest that.

So without in any way decrying the phenomenal achievements by the USN in the Pacific I still say the Royal Navy comes out top for the sheer scale of its achievements. The RN pretty much knocked out not one, not two but three first-class navies, the French first, the Italians later (in the Med the Italians were no slouches) and then the Germans, it also played a role (very much secondary of course) in knocking out the Japanese.

Again not wishing to denigrate in any way the magnificent job done by the USN in the Pacific it was given one job and performed it brilliantly, and it was able to do so with a huge unbombed arsenal and shipyard at its disposal turning out whatever it needed as fast as humanly possible.

The RN on the other hand had a multiplicity of tasks, all over the world, with ships that often dated from the previous war and with limited and frankly outdated production and repair facilities in a narrow little island that was being bombed every night and on the brink of starvation.

And all the time the key battle in the war, the one that meant victory or defeat for the Western Allies, was fought almost entirely by the RN with its barely trained but nonetheless superb cousins in Canada.

No, I think we have to say, in the naval war, one navy stood out above all others.
 
The second film appears to show either 1st Leicesters, or 2nd East Surreys who were part of 11 Indian Division of III Indian Corp tasked with the defence of Northern and Central Malaya. The film appears to have been taken just before the Japanese landings in December 1941. They could be preparing for Operation Matador - the pre war plan to invade Southern Thailand which did not go ahead.

Operation Matador

The Operation which did go ahead though was Operation Krohcol.

Operation Krohcol

1st Leicesters were stationed in Peking pre war until August 1940 when they moved to Singapore and in February 1941 to Northern Malaya.

2nd East Surreys were stationed in Shanghai until August 1940 when they moved to Singapore and then in February 1941 to Norrthern Malaya with the Leicesters as part of 11 Indian Division.

Both battalions were moved from China when the Japanese occupied Peking and Shanghai. It was thought that they could be better employed in the defence of Singapore and Malaya. Both battalions would have had a good look at the IJA during that time.

1 Leicesters suffered heavily at the disaster in Jitra. 2nd East Surreys at the battle of Gurun.

They were then amalgamated to form 'The British Battalion'

They fought in the Battle of Kampar, where over 4 days in December 1941/January 1942 the Japanese army received a severe drubbing until they could outflank the British position by a seaborne landing further south at Telok Anson.

Battle of Kampar

In the Battle of Batu Pahat in Johore with the fighting in Muar with the 8th Div AIF as part of 53 British Infantry Brigade with 5 and 6 Royal Norfolks, 2nd Cambridgeshires and 2 Loyals, they were surrounded by the Japanese were they fought there way to the coast where they were picked up by HMS Dragonfly, HMS Grasshopper, and HMS Scorpion, former river gunboats from Hong Kong and taken to Singapore.

They fought in the final battles of Singapore until the surrender on 15 February 1942.

One of the best personnel accounts that I have read about the battle of Malaya and Singapore is;

Singapore The Inexcusable Betrayal by George Chippingham.

Self published in 1992 to coincide with the 50th Anniversary, the author was a 21 year old raw 2nd Lieutenant posted to 1 Leicesters in Northern Malaya just before the Japanese attack he describes the actions from Jitra at the starrt of the campaign until the final surrender in Singapore.
 

Chop

Clanker
Percival, for all his faults didnt leave his men and run for safety, Bennett did
Bennett was also responsible for causing division within the commanders on the ground leading up to the invasion, spurred on by his own ego and how he wanted the perception of him to to look like from the outside; lot of bluster but no substance. and yes, he was the only commander in singapore to leg it.

Percieval was crap though. incidentally an old boy of Rugby School... whose ORs also include Chamberlain.... a couple of dubious reputations.. (depending on your point of view).
 
So without in any way decrying the phenomenal achievements by the USN in the Pacific I still say the Royal Navy comes out top for the sheer scale of its achievements. The RN pretty much knocked out not one, not two but three first-class navies, the French first, the Italians later (in the Med the Italians were no slouches) and then the Germans, it also played a role (very much secondary of course) in knocking out the Japanese.

Again not wishing to denigrate in any way the magnificent job done by the USN in the Pacific it was given one job and performed it brilliantly, and it was able to do so with a huge unbombed arsenal and shipyard at its disposal turning out whatever it needed as fast as humanly possible.

The RN on the other hand had a multiplicity of tasks, all over the world, with ships that often dated from the previous war and with limited and frankly outdated production and repair facilities in a narrow little island that was being bombed every night and on the brink of starvation.

And all the time the key battle in the war, the one that meant victory or defeat for the Western Allies, was fought almost entirely by the RN with its barely trained but nonetheless superb cousins in Canada.

No, I think we have to say, in the naval war, one navy stood out above all others.
I think both Navies divided up the theatres well between them. The RN with is expertise in ASW in the Atlantic and Artic together with the RCN and the USN and USMC with their Carrier Operations and Amphibious Island hopping. Not forgetting the USN Submarines operations which sank 60% of Japanese ships including most of their Merchant fleet, with American submarines patroling off the coat of Japan blockading Japan from its food and raw materials including oil from its colonies and captured possesions.

However it did not do well at the start of the war (for them, late as usual)

Operation Drumbeat
 
Any desire to mechanise cavalry went in 1919 when
  1. it was realised that there was an empire to police
  2. the country couldn't afford any tanks
  3. there were no tanks to buy
  4. the world believed they'd been through a war to end wars.
5, now that lot is over (the Great War) we can get back to some real soldiering.
 
Sorry we had a good number of divisions in place in France in 1918 and more in the USA not the 4 or 5 hell

I get why the typical British poster want to minimize any US contribution to the War effort
You are confusing ignorance with Malice

Consider how much do you know of British campaigns in WW1 - how much does the average American

To the average brit thanks to school history
Germany attacked - They were stopped - Britain spent the next 3 years telling its men to walk in neat lines at German lines - (ignoring every other nations tactical brilliance) whilst the generals drank champers safely in the rear. A few battles will be mentioned such as the Somme where the 1st day is hammered home and its implied that this is representative of the whole offensive and its sneeringly added that Haig considered this a success.
In 1918 The Germans attacked the brilliantly innovative Germans attacked Britain's poor copy of their defensive tactics and chased them to the channel where they were forced to stop through lack of supplies. The arrival of large numbers of US troops made the German government give up and so the unbeaten German army went home.

As you can see its long been fashionable to dismiss the British contribution as an ineffective pointless waste of lives.

Furthermore the US contribution to British sectors was minor - in terms of numbers -( tactical or indeed strategic significance on the day not withstanding).
The Bulk of US forces were committed to the French sector - with good reason. Since were barely taught about British battles beyond Blackadder level, it should come as no surprise that the extent of US involvement in the "French" battles is unknown.
 
5, now that lot is over (the Great War) we can get back to some real soldiering.
Something of a myth

In reality - the wars over theres no money to re-equip so you will have to muddle along as you are - there will be no war for 10 years etc - stifled development of new kit.

A few out of context comments from Haigs detractors and self serving auto biographies by politicians and the seeds are set to blame the Donkeys for the UK falling behind the curve** and the politicians can nicely side step their responsibility.

The same applies to the Navy - which focused on battle ships between the wars and ignored the all important escorts - unless you look at the figures in which case its clear that escorts made up a greater part of the fleet increasingly from 1920 -


**You can add to that the myth of Blitzkreig
 
British generalship was not particularly good in World War 2, from the comfortable vantage point of the armchair historian.

I have read two facts by way of explanation that seem quite convincing.

1. The losses of World War 1 fell most heavily on the junior officer cadre, limiting the pool from which future generals would be drawn. It is probably down to luck that Slim and Montgomery survived the encounters that left them severely wounded.

2. British generals and their staff had no training in the control of large formations, unlike their German and Soviet counterparts.

Neither reason can explain the loss of Malaya and Singapore!
Pedant mode on, Singapore was part of the Malayan (not Malaysian) Federation prior to 1965. Pedant mode off.
 

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