Friday, October 21, 2005

Ike and Monty

To the Big Tent Universe:

Can anyone (Stephen, Tom, etc.) summarize for me how Ike and Monty viewed one another during the Second World War? Which books would be best to explore / trust on this subject?

Thanks in advance.


Grant Jones said...

First and foremost, Monty thought he should have gotten Supreme Commander, SHAEF instead of that upstart American who had never led troops in battle.

It's been quite a while since I've read Crusade in Europe, so I can't say much about Ike's feelings. Although, I'm sure he was circumspect in stating them.

Stephen said...

Eisenhower was fairly cautious in public, but in private he let loose quite a bit. Back at OU I ran across something in the Ryan papers. In an interview he really let Monty have it. If memory serves, the interview was from around 1960. If you just want the quick version, you can check Ambrose. He has a few sentences on it. The Carlo D'Este bio of E has a little more. Both are fine.

Tom said...


I think the best you will do is to go to Ambrose's "The Supreme Commander." Basically Ike thought Montgomery was a prima donna (like Patton) and over-cautious (unlike Patton), and said so in private and later, but, as Ambrose writes, "His patience with the field marshal was enormous and he allowed Montgomery to carry every argument to the bitter end." (533)

As Ambrose notes, there was one fairly large exception. In Sept-Oct 1944 when Monty's beloved Market-Garden started to go to pot, the Field Marshal got a bit too harsh in his criticisms of Ike. Eisenhower responded with a pretty harsh letter, especially for him, that got the point across about who was in charge. The whole letter is in the published papers of Eisenhower, the War Years, volume 4, pgs. 2221-2225. And really the best place to go is Ike himself. The published papers are a bit weighty, so I would suggest Crusade in Europe and a couple of the entries in The Eisenhower Diaries, edited by Robert Ferrell. Both have excellent indexes.