Friday, October 06, 2006
Eric Dorman-Smith was an Irishman who served in North Africa from 1940 until August 1942. Basil Liddell-Hart liked him very much, and heaped praise on him. He was originally on General Wavell's staff, and was involved in planning in support of General O'Connor's offensive in late 1940 and early 1941. He became a close advisor to General Auchinleck, by 1942. When Auchinleck was removed in August 1942, Dorman-Smith was removed, as well. He was apparently not liked by the establishment soldiers. Dorman-Smith seems to have been best suited as a staff officer, not a commander in the field. He eventually failed at field command, at the brigade level, when he was forced into that role. I have wondered how much of his difficulty was created by prejudice against the Irish, but more likely, it was prejudice among the "good old boys", like Neil Ritchie, against "geeks" (although that term probably had not been invented, yet). For Eric Dorman-Smith was a "geeky" guy. He was very intellectual and creative, rather than so much as "man of action". Wikipedia has a page about him. He is also well-treated in Correlli Barnett's book, The Desert Generals.