On this day in 1942, General Bernard Montgomery assumed command of the British Eighth Army, in North Africa. The 8th, with lots of support from New Zealand and South African forces, had stopped the Afrikakorps at the First Battle of el Alamain just two weeks before. Churchill had hand picked William Gott to take over the 8th Army and Sir Harold Alexander to be CinC of the area; and had offered another position, regarding Persia, to the old leader of the 8th, Claude Auchinleck (who refused it). Gott, however, was killed in an attack on his air transport by a German fighter. Monte was next in line. Not, in my book, a great general, he did give the Nazis their first major defeat a few months later, after the minor Battle of Alam Halfa, at the Second Battle of el Alamain.
That's the general in a silly black hat in the turret of the terrible Grant tank. See the screws holding things together? Other parts were riveted together. When a shell hit the tank or even close to it, the ends of the screws and rivets ricocheted around the interior of the tank like deadly metal bees. We quickly replaced these with the slightly better, all welded Shermans, which were outclassed by the less numerous Panzers 5 and 6 for the remainder of the war.
Labels: WWII history; European theater; North African Front