The Many Mistakes of Bernard Montgomery

General Sir Bernard Montgomery talking to Company Sergeant Major Kelly of Aldershot during a visit to 2nd Battalion, Royal Ulster Rifles near Portsmouth in the run-up to D-Day.

Bernard Montgomery

General Bernard Montgomery was facing incredible danger in the battles following the Normandy landings, as the Allies suffered heavy losses in their mission to continue pushing their way inland. Because the situation was so dire, it was common protocol to engage the enemy from a distance, relying on heavy artillery shelling. Unfortunately, despite his cautious hesitation, Bernard Montgomery was to lead many of his men into certain death.

One of the greatest sites of battle was the French city of Caen. It was originally to be one of the first cities taken after the Normandy landings, with a projected inland movement that would take the Allies to Paris within a week. This estimate was far off, however, and the battle in store was long and difficult. Bernard Montgomery was unable to overtake the German forces as quickly as he had estimated. Eventually, attacking from a distance no longer seemed to him the best option and he decided to take a more direct approach to fighting the enemy.

In some ways, this was a sensible decision. Many Germans were gunned down as a result of the frontal assault. Unfortunately, many British were to fall as well. Even worse, somehow General Bernard Montgomery did not account for the destruction that Allied bombing had caused to the city. This meant that tanks found it hard to advance due to rubble and ruin amid the city streets. Around two hundred tanks were destroyed, and far more men were killed, the Mail Online reports.

The Germans proved to be better prepared than the Allies had expected. The British waged a slow advance with barbed wire, flamethrowers, and rocket launchers blocking the way. When they reached the top of the hill during their advance, the troops of Bernard Montgomery met an even crueler fate at the mercy of German machine guns. Over half of one platoon in particular was completely annihilated. While the British were ultimately successful, they paid a much heavier price than any had anticipated.

General Bernard Montgomery was not necessarily an incompetent man, but in the heat of a tense war he neglected to take into account all aspects of his surroundings, including the fact that the Allies themselves had recently bombed the area. Due to these mistakes, the bulk of the men who served under Bernard Montgomery were met with cruel and gruesome death, only winning once the Germans ran out of munitions. Despite months of planning for the Allied invasion of France, neither side was prepared for the grueling battle waged on both sides.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE