Polemics & Exchanges

Laudas Me, Culpant Me

Christopher Sandford’s laudatory biographical article on Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery (“The Soldier’s Soldier,” Biography, October) concentrated mainly on Montgomery’s victory at the Second Battle of El Alamein.  It does not mention that Britain’s Eighth Army outnumbered the Axis forces almost two to one, 220,000 versus 115,000 troops, and 1,100 to 559 tanks.  In addition, the Eighth Army had overwhelming air superiority and much shorter supply lines.  Even with all those advantages, it took 11 days to break through the Axis defenses, and then the British did not exploit this victory sufficiently.

Unfortunately, Mr. Sanford does not include any of Montgomery’s less successful operations in his article.  The objective of Montgomery’s forces for the first day of the Normandy invasion was Caen.  It was not captured for another 47 days.  However, Montgomery’s worst mistake was Operation Market Garden, which, in his words, was supposed to “end the war in Europe by Christmas.”  This was a massive airborne operation to secure all the bridges in Holland leading to the bridge over the Rhine at Arnhem, allowing the British XXX Corp to enter northern Germany.  It was an ill-conceived and poorly executed operation that resulted in excessive casualties...

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