Monty’s Men: The British Army and the Liberation of Europe, 1944–5 by John Buckley - review by Alan Allport

Alan Allport

Battle Basics

Monty’s Men: The British Army and the Liberation of Europe, 1944–5


Yale University Press 370pp £20

It is strange to recall that on the eve of the Allied invasion of Europe in spring 1944, almost five years into the Second World War, very few soldiers in the British Army had actually fired a shot in anger against the Germans. The campaigns in North Africa and Italy, though certainly ferocious, had involved relatively few troops. Most of the great conscript army that the British had painstakingly mobilised, equipped and trained since the Dunkirk debacle of 1940 had spent the entire war so far in the United Kingdom. Its servicemen, the overwhelming majority of them ordinary civilians who had been temporarily conscripted into the armed forces, were almost wholly untested. It seemed ominous to consider how these well-meaning but amateur warriors might fair against the battle-hardened veterans of the Wehrmacht and the Waffen-SS. The chief of the Imperial General Staff, Alan Brooke, was not alone in privately fearing that D-day could result in a humiliating bloodbath in which his

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