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Britain's Greatest GeneralBritain's Greatest General


Philip Beddows
28 January 2011, 1.03pm

Without the Auck's victory in

Without the Auck's victory in the critically important defensive (first) battle of Alamein, where the 8th Army stopped Rommel dead in his tracks, the later Battle of Alamein could not have been achieved. The first battle at Alamein was gruelling but vital, and led on to the second. His achievement was understandably overshadowed by the uplifting victory of the 8th Army under Montgomery, but hopefully history will give 'The Auck' due credit for laying the ground so well for Monty.

jack dixon
16 March 2013, 4.04am

The more I read about the

The more I read about the Second World War and about the desert campaign, the more I have come to despise Churchill and Montgomery. They were both monstrous egotists whose main concern was their own
triumph, despite all the evidence. The real victors of the desert war were Wavell, O'Connor and Auchinleck.

12 October 2013, 12.30am

Agreed.. if not for the ill

Agreed.. if not for the ill conceived intervention in Greece.. the desert army probably would have dealt with Rommel early in 1941.... had that happened, Britain would have been in much better shape to take on the Japanese in the far east. I always wondered why Wavell and Auck didnt receive more credit for their actions in the desert.

31 January 2014, 8.51pm

How people can reverie

How people can reverie Montgomery "A bridge too far" and Churchill " Norway " & " Gallipoli " : and then criticise General Sir Claude Auchinleck " stopping Rommel TWICE " as not fit to command is beyond me.

I think this man knew what he was talking about.
"Your achievement in stopping the rot in a beaten army, in restoring morale so speedily, in wresting the initiative from a triumphant enemy, and inflicting on him crippling losses, will one day be recognised."

Bobby B
15 February 2014, 1.33pm

I think you might want to

I think you might want to read a little more into Corbett's history before valuing his words too highly. Thomas Corbett was sacked from his job as Chief of staff Middle East at around the time that the Auk was also sacked. FM Alanbrooke was particularly disparaging about him (Corbett), I also think his words on the Auk are the most insightful: "Auchinleck, to my mind, had most of the qualifications to make him one of the finest of commanders, but unfortunately he lacked the one most important of all - the ability to select the men to serve him. The selection of Corbett as his chief of staff, Dorman Smith as his chief advisor and Shearer as head of his intelligence service contributed most of all to his downfall." (Alanbrooke's war diary entry 30 Jan 1942. P225).

In addition to this I believe the Auk's previous experience in Mesopotamia and India, where he had mostly fought using infantry and horse cavalry(!), did not serve him well. The fluid, armoured battles of the Middle Eastern campaign were well beyond him and as previously stated, he did not have the advisors to back him up. He allowed Richie to disperse the armour and artillery when it should have been concentrated.

Other than that, he was a great General and I would thank him heartily for his service if he were alive today!

Stuart W
13 December 2015, 1.30am

In answer to Bobby

In answer to Bobby B.

Auchinleck did not always pick poor subordinates, Francis de Guingand for example was a very good choice, and was Montgomery's chief of staff, on one memorable occasion he saved Montgomery from being sacked by Eisenhower.

Auchinleck also had the problem that as an Indian army officer, he did not know the capabilities or otherwise of most of the officers in the British army.

Eric Dorman-Smith was un orthodox, it's fair to say that he provided the qualities that the conformist, clubbable British army officer class lacked. Not afraid to make enemies of brother army officers by pointing out their pedestrian abilities, he nevertheless provided ideas which enabled the 8th army to win 1st Alamein.

His enemies took revenge when Auchinleck was replaced, and he was shabbily treated, in much the same way as Stanislaw Sosabowski was after Arnhem, for daring to point out the truth.

Auchinleck in the end was unfairly treated, he stopped Rommel twice when it really mattered, no other British General did that.

Montgomery fought an unnecessary battle at 2nd Alamein, as after the Torch landings Rommel would have had to retreat anyway.

On the basis of that battle (and denigrating Auchinleck and his achievements), Montgomery made his name.

Even with overwhelming material superiority and Ultra intelligence Montgomery made hard work of beating Rommel, and failed completely in his pursuit of him when the Afrika Korps was at its weakest.

Yes Claude Auchinleck deserves to have his reputation and achievements re-assessed, like Wavell his predecessor, who fought under handicaps that Montgomery did not have to contend with, and that too should be taken into account.

NameRichard W
23 July 2016, 9.11am

Watching the WW2 on TV, gives

Watching the WW2 on TV, gives no account of what really happened in that battle, we are led to believe that all the predecessors to Montgomery were sacked for lack of leadership. Reading some of these comments leads you to think that is not the case, and that Montgomery is not the hero the media make him out to be

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