Saturday, April 16, 2005

Montgomery followed General Auchinleck's plan at Alam Halfa

In 1948, the former theater commander, Alexander wrote that he had accepted Auchinleck's and Dorman-Smith's plan to fight at Alam Halfa, as it was a natural strong point. Montgomery executed that plan after he assumed command of the 8th Army from General Auchinleck. Part of the political need for Churchill to make a change was to relieve both Auchinleck and Eric Dorman-Smith, he chief-of-staff. The German assault was expected to follow Rommel's usual tactics, which were to try to go around the Southern flank and strike for the coast. In the past, that had been sufficient to panic the less capable British commanders. Churchill wrote of this period that he was at his weakest, politically, of any time during the war. He needed Auchinleck to make some gesture that would shore up his political situation. When that was not possible, Churchill needed to show that he was taking action, so he relieved Auchinleck. The Desert Generals, despite being old, tells the story well from an Auchinleck partisan view.

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