Why Was General Richard O'Connor's Command in Northwest Europe Less Effective Than Expected?
Monograph rept. Jun 2010-Mar 2011
ARMY COMMAND AND GENERAL STAFF COLL FORT LEAVENWORTH KS SCHOOL OF ADVANCED MILITARY STUDIES
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General Richard OConnor was the British VIII Corps commander in Normandy 1944. Previously he forged an outstanding reputation as a large unit commander in the desert of North Africa and this form suggests his command in Northwest Europe would be faultless. However, this was not the case. Some historians explain his pedestrian performance in Normandy by pointing to his two and a half years as a prisoner of war in Italy. This monograph challenges this narrative suggesting instead that OConnors command style was not suited to the context of war in Normandy. General OConnor had a wealth of relevant military experience. The crucible of World War and his experiences commanding the Western Desert Force in North Africa created in him a style of command that was best suited to independent operations, on ground that facilitated effective maneuver, and with conditions that enable the achievement of the element of surprise. Yet in Normandy 1944, the context in which General OConnor commanded did not allow for any of these conditions. Rather, a constrictive chain of command, narrow fronts, restrictive terrain, and the difficulty of achieving surprise all combined to provide a context in which General OConnor was a less effective corps commander than expected.
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