And even today people are reluctant to acknowledge, in a way that knowing soldiers like Field Marshall Lord Carver, whom I used to spend many hours talking to about this, that although bits of the British Army in World War 2 got pretty good towards the end, the British Army as an institution was a disaster in World War 2. It was the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force that earned most of the laurels.
"I saw my enemies in Munich, and they are worms."
"There has been too much glorification of the campaign, and too little objective investigation".
Max Hastings, the brilliant British historian, is ruthlessly honest when he says the poor nature of American and British commanders and also the lack of fighting qualities in the general soldier were the reasons.
The Allied soldiers were unwilling to risk their lives. Their motto: "Let metal do the job rather then flesh." In other words, massive artillery bombardment to reduce enemy positions to dust then move forward. Also consider the fact that in 1944 and 1945, the Luftwaffe was no where to be seen and Allied planes ruled the skies.
The conclusion. Poor leadership and poor quality and motivational levels in the soldiers of American and British armies. Why else did it take so long to defeat Germany on the western front?
Max Hastings has dealt with subject in two of his books, Armageddon and Overlord.
David Irving (War Between The Generals) has given some more reasons for the delay in defeating the Germans.
From David Irving's "War Between the Generals"
Earlier in the war Alan Brooke (A senior British commander) wrote gloomily, "half of our corps and divisional commanders are totally unfit for their appointments. If I were to sack them, I could find no better! They lack character, drive and power of leadership.
From D-Day By Antony Beevor (Page 237)
There was a saying in WW2
When the Germans shoot, The British duck
When the British shoot, the Germans duck
When the Americans shoot, everybody ducks.
Max Hastings reminds the reader that "it has been the central theme of this book (Overlord) that the inescapable reality of the battle for Normandy was that whenever Allied troops met Germans on anything like equal terms, the Germans nearly always prevailed." This was because "The Allies in Normandy faced the finest fighting army of the war, one of the greatest the world has ever seen. This is a simple truth that some soldiers and writers have been reluctant to acknowledge."
In comparison to his admiration for the military qualities of the Wehrmacht, Hastings is much less enthusiastic about the leadership and fighting power of the Allies. He acknowledges Eisenhower's managerial and diplomatic skills, common sense and willingness to take responsibility, but has a low opinion of his abilities as a strategist. Montgomery was, Hastings believes, a superb organizer but an uninspired battlefield commander. Patton, the most creative and aggressive of the lot, had been disqualified from high command by his personal failings. Hastings convincingly argues that the Allied generals' most serious failure was not some individual blunder like the disastrous Arnhem campaign but rather their persistent inability to exploit Germany's military weakness. The result was a six-month stalemate in the west that prolonged the war and greatly enhanced the Soviet Union's strategic advantage in the east.
Hastings recognizes that the generals' failure to knock Germany out of the war in late 1944 reflected the kind of armies they led as much as their own deficiencies as leaders. The British and American armies were composed of citizen soldiers, who were usually prepared to do their duty but were also eager to survive. ''These were,'' Hastings writes, ''citizens of democracies, imbued since birth with all the inhibitions and decencies of their societies.'' Such peacetime virtues are not easily transformed into military effectiveness. James Gavin, whose airborne division was among the finest units in any army, filled his diary with harsh comments about the average soldier's military quality. ''If our infantry would fight,'' he wrote in January 1945, ''this war would be over by now. . . . Everybody wants to live to a ripe old age.'' When Winston Churchill complained to Montgomery about the British Army's lack of initiative, Montgomery replied by recalling the carnage on the Western Front during World War I: ''It was you, Prime Minister, who told me that we must not suffer casualties on the scale of the Somme.''
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
MORE FROM MAX HASTINGS.....
Overlord: The Battle of Normandy by Max Hastings (Pages 144, 150)