FIGHTING THE BATTLE
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FIGHTING THE BATTLE book
The Normandy campaign, though conforming generally to the overarching plan envisaged by Montgomery and his staff, deviated from the patterns of battle imagined in Allied command and planning prior to the invasion. Indeed, although the strategic vision largely remained intact, the methods and nature of combat were such that criticism began then, and has continued ever since, of the battlefield craft displayed by the Allied forces, and 21st Army Group in particular. The supposedly crude tactics of mass employed by the Allies served to demonstrate their lack of acumen and guile, while simultaneously illustrating the tactical superiority of German troops. On an operational level it is contended that battlefield opportunities and possibilities were eschewed and that commanders and troops failed to exploit advantages when offered. Consequently, the campaign dragged on when drive, dash and opportunism might have expedited victory. Two of the three tenets upon which this view is founded – inadequate operational art and questionable morale – are discussed in other chapters, but a third measure of failure, the lack of tactical ability and dynamism, remains. Moreover, such criticism has cast a shadow over the achievement of the Allies in the summer of 1944 and resulted in the prevailing view that victory was achieved through artillery, air power and overwhelming logistical support.