Brooke or Mashall as supreme commanders instead of Eisenhower

Brooke was offered the post as Supreme Commander for Overlord. The 'deal' was that a US would command Med offensive and a Brit would do Overlord.

US went back on this 'agreement' and Eisenhower got put in place.

Marshall was also a contender.

Here is the What IF:

Brooke got the top job.
Would Monty still have been land force commander?
Although Brooke was not convinced about Patton's strategic thinking he did admire his drive. But could Brooke have controlled Patton?
Brooke was convinced that the war could have been finished in 1944 with the right focus. He was surely not impressed with Eisenhower's 'everybody fights somebody all the time'. Monty was rather sarcastic about that as well.
Would Brooke have been the great unifier (as Eisenhower was after all)?
Eisenhower was really the 'chairman of the board' until September. Brooke might have been a bit more hands-on general.

Marshall got the job:
How well grounded was Marshall in big strategic things?
Could it even have worked out?
 
Brooke was offered the post as Supreme Commander for Overlord. The 'deal' was that a US would command Med offensive and a Brit would do Overlord.
Never was going to be FDR allowed.
US went back on this 'agreement' and Eisenhower got put in place.
When was FDR ever going to agree to that suggestion?
Marshall was also a contender.
FDR would never allow this.
Here is the What IF:

Brooke got the top job.
Would Monty still have been land force commander?
Brooke and Montgomery had their differences, but if Brooke really opposed Montgomery, then Montgomery would not have been Land Forces Commander.
Although Brooke was not convinced about Patton's strategic thinking he did admire his drive. But could Brooke have controlled Patton?
I do not see why not. Bradley managed to "control" Patton when Eisenhower sicced him on Patton. Bradley was nowhere near the manager that Brooke was.
Brooke was convinced that the war could have been finished in 1944 with the right focus. He was surely not impressed with Eisenhower's 'everybody fights somebody all the time'. Monty was rather sarcastic about that as well.
Montgomery was disabused of this error during Market Garden when he took the blame for that fiasco. He still wanted to try after the weather cleared, but he knew it would be March 1945 before the weather cooperated. Brooke might have believed the war could be ended in 1944, but he did not know the logistics as well as Eisenhower did.
Would Brooke have been the great unifier (as Eisenhower was after all)?
No. Brooke did not have the Foch touch to handle a coalition. Eisenhower or NOBODY.
Eisenhower was really the 'chairman of the board' until September. Brooke might have been a bit more hands-on general.
And we would have a political schism and a Wally disaster as happened under Joffre.
Marshall got the job:
How well grounded was Marshall in big strategic things?
Are you kidding? Scharnhorst and Gniesenau, the great reformers, were amateurs compared to him. The closest land strategist to him was Zhukov. Flip a coin as to who was better among the Allies.
Could it even have worked out?
With Marshal in charge, he would need someone like Fox Conner as a deputy. The nearest he got was Eisenhower and Bedell-Smith, which turned out to be just good enough.
 
Last edited:
One of the big problems for the US/UK generals was that they never commanded big armies (neither in the past or in WWII).

USSR and Germany had plenty of experience in doing very big armies. Brooke only had command of II Corps in 1940. Eisenhower - nothing. Marshall Brigades and then admin.

Brooke was in awe of MacArthur, but what that really says about his judgment is another thing.

It also highlights one thing: what was required of the supreme commander? command experiences or admin expertise?
 
Here is the What IF:

Brooke got the top job.
First issue is command structure. OTL was more in-line with US practice than UK.

It makes it much more likely that at the top is a joint services committee chaired by Brooke.
Below this a separate Land Commander (Montgomery), Tactical Air Force (Leigh Mallory?), Naval (Ramsey)
Below this national army groups, air forces etc.
Bomber barons to report into the joint committee.

Problems with this include where US Army Services report into, and how to get visible US representation, especially as British did not emphasise Deputy Commander roles. Result is likely to include a large amount of fudge.

Montgomery would probably be very tolerant in his handling the forces under his command, he just tended to compete with his peers and challenge his superiors but Brooke could handle him.

The US Army command structure does not have a clear solution. It is likely whoever is chosen to lead US Army Group will be channelling his inner Pershing. Best commander may be Truscott but it is a challenge to get him into place.

Marshall got the job:
Have a look at some of the discussion that happened when Marshall was being considered. IIRC it was suggested he should command ALL allied forces fighting the Germans ie ETO and MTO.
 
One of the big problems for the US/UK generals was that they never commanded big armies (neither in the past or in WWII).
The Russian generals who served Stalin had less command experience then the Wally generals. Exception was Zhukov and maybe Koniev.
USSR and Germany had plenty of experience in doing very big armies. Brooke only had command of II Corps in 1940. Eisenhower - nothing. Marshall Brigades and then admin.
The Germans had the same experience of WWI the Wally generals did. Eisenhower had a lot of practical experience handling the Philippine Defense Problem and THAT stood him in good stead. See next.
Brooke was in awe of MacArthur, but what that really says about his judgment is another thing.
It says that he was specifically an incompetent judge of MacArthur's demonstrated strengths ( competent at tactics and grand strategy) and weaknesses (Judge of people's characters and a any political acumen when it came to Americans. MacArthur was a complete ninny.). It says practically nothing else as far as I can tell about him, because to me at least, Brooke seems to have been fair to good at peer assessment when it came to other generals. I may think he vastly underrated Eisenhower and did not understand Marshall or the American army at all, but he was mostly right about Bradley as incompetent, had a fair assessment about Patton as a good cavalry tactician, but poor at the set piece battle and at least was fair about Mark Clark as an apple polisher and egomaniac who also never lost a battle, and knew Montgomery would always get the job done the methodical way, if not exactly as Brooke would have wished.
It also highlights one thing: what was required of the supreme commander? command experiences or admin expertise?
Supreme command required a good staff grounding and the ability to smooth down allies' ruffled feathers when Patton, Bradley and Montgomery got into one of their three cornered fights like at the Bulge.

Eisenhower played it both as a general and a politician.

1. He let Patton handle the southern backhand at the Germans and the actual main fight after he took it away from Bradley.
2. He let Montgomery harden up the north shoulder and straighten Bradley's messed up communications across the breach and allowed Sir Bernard to preen a bit in the press while doing it, because Eisenhower was not about "nationalism" but stopping the Germans.
3. He told Bradley to shut up, sit down, and let Patton and Montgomery clean Bradley's mess up.

a. A lot of good basic unspectacular West Point taught generalship went into it; to get the vise into place to squeeze the shoulders of the salient shut.
b. A lot of the people skills to manage two cantankerous and touchy egotistical generals who hated each others' guts, to get them to cooperate together in their parts and roles assigned in his, Eisenhower's, concept of operations to clean up the mess Bradley created: was originally Eisenhower learned as MacArthur's chief of staff. One had to learn very good people skills and demonstrate acute command ability with a guy like MacArthur as the boss; because if the chief of staff was no good (Eisenhower's drunken bribe-taking mistress on the side banging successor, Sutherland would be the proof of what happens to MacArthur, when a general does not have Eisenhower's people judging skills to shield him from his own errors.) .
c. A lot of staff experience (See b.) and POLITICAL acumen (See 1=>3) and knowledge of how armies actually work and how to make those dissociated functions help rather than hinder the central goal and cause, which was to beat the Germans makes Eisenhower the general or Marshall the general you want running the ground war.
 
First issue is command structure. OTL was more in-line with US practice than UK.
1. With good reason. The Americans were used to theater commander = success by Overlord and were not about to have another ABDA fiasco.
It makes it much more likely that at the top is a joint services committee chaired by Brooke.
2. See 1.
Below this a separate Land Commander (Montgomery), Tactical Air Force (Leigh Mallory?), Naval (Ramsey)
3. More like Downfall. Three juniors reporting to one senior. The Americans may have accepted the British in naval command and land forces OIC, but the senior theater commander and the STAFF chief would have been American. FDR insisted on it and he would not budge.
Below this national army groups, air forces etc.
4. See 3.
Bomber barons to report into the joint committee.
5. See 1.
Problems with this include where US Army Services report into, and how to get visible US representation, especially as British did not emphasise Deputy Commander roles. Result is likely to include a large amount of fudge.
6. Unacceptable to the Americans. Chain of responsibility had to be linear and unified and it was so ordered.
Montgomery would probably be very tolerant in his handling the forces under his command, he just tended to compete with his peers and challenge his superiors but Brooke could handle him.
7. Not from the way he handled Gatehouse. Very American. See 8. Incompetents tended to get fired when Montgomery generaled. I would have expected Bradley to get the heave ho under him as SHAEF; instead of being babysat with a minder as Eisenhower eventually handled Bradley and Monty.
The US Army command structure does not have a clear solution. It is likely whoever is chosen to lead US Army Group will be channelling his inner Pershing. Best commander may be Truscott but it is a challenge to get him into place.
8. It actually does. Unity of the chain of responsibility was and is clear in the RTL. so when the manure rolls/rolled downhill it stains/stained the right people. Hence the ferry run of general after general who was sent home, when they did not get with the SHAEF program. Eisenhower extended the principles Marshall put into place, which was ruthless relief of non-performers and streamlined chain of command. The Americans tended to purge their commands, but they let the senior military (Marshall and Eisenhower) and not the politicians make the judgment call on who should be fired as incompetent. See 7.

9. Truscott? No. Jacob Devers.
 
Last edited:
Eisenhower extended the principles Marshall put into place, which was ruthless relief of non-performers and streamlined chain of command. The Americans tended to purge their commands, but they let the senior military (Marshall and Eisenhower) and not the politicians make the judgment call on who should be fired as incompetent.
Eisenhower didn't sack Fredendall, covered up for Patton in Sicily; was stronger with commanders in Italy. Bradley went the other way and tended to sack early and often.

Not from the way he handled Gatehouse.
Reference to Montgomery's handling of non-British units under his command. British officers were required to fall into line.

And below Devers in the US structure?
 
Last edited:
Eisenhower didn't sack Fredendall, covered up for Patton in Sicily; was stronger with commanders in Italy. Bradley went the other way and tended to sack early and often.

And below Devers?
Fredendall was sacked on Eisenhower's recommendation after Harmon complained to Andersen and the British general failed to act. Eisenhower did Andersen no favors either after Kasserine Pass, though I think Montgomery was the one who put the boot in on that man with Brooke as Eisenhower was too politic to meddle when the British were knifing their own incompetent general for him. Eisenhower saved Patton because he correctly knew that Patton was the best cavalry general the Americans had. Bradley sacked subordinates to cover up his own fiascos.

Collins, Truscott, Eichelberger, Hobbs, Rose, Wedemeyer, Krueger, Patton, Clark, Harmon of course. Gerow, Milliken, Patch, Hodge? and maybe Ridgeway despite numerous paradrop fiascoes.
 
Brooke was offered the post as Supreme Commander for Overlord. The 'deal' was that a US would command Med offensive and a Brit would do Overlord.

US went back on this 'agreement' and Eisenhower got put in place.

Marshall was also a contender.

Here is the What IF:

Brooke got the top job.
Would Monty still have been land force commander?
Although Brooke was not convinced about Patton's strategic thinking he did admire his drive. But could Brooke have controlled Patton?
Brooke was convinced that the war could have been finished in 1944 with the right focus. He was surely not impressed with Eisenhower's 'everybody fights somebody all the time'. Monty was rather sarcastic about that as well.
Would Brooke have been the great unifier (as Eisenhower was after all)?
Eisenhower was really the 'chairman of the board' until September. Brooke might have been a bit more hands-on general.

Marshall got the job:
How well grounded was Marshall in big strategic things?
Could it even have worked out?
All 3 men were in the right place IMO

Brooke as CIGs (Winston tried to get other Generals to take the job but they all declined and said it must be Brooke) and his other job - sitting on Winston

With regards to Monty, Brooke had been his boss several times during his career and Monty respected him and more importantly Brooke could manage him.

Marshall was IMO the most important General of WW2 - it was through him that the US army was stood up so quickly and successfully and the armament industry was ramped up so quickly and to such an extent.

And Ike was the Chief Herder of cats - he did the job magnificently

Patton was compared to those men very junior and a number of US Generals would have been above him with regards to being the Normandy land commander if not Monty.

I am sure that Brooke and Marshall would have been excellent CinCs but IMO they had more important jobs to do.
 
...Brooke was in awe of MacArthur, but what that really says about his judgment is another thing...

That was largely because he didn't have to deal with MacArthur personally. If he'd spent a while working alongside him then Alanbrooke's high opinion of MacArthur would not have lasted long.
 
Last edited:
If Alan Brooke becomes Supreme Allied Commander then he will **not**simultaneously be Commander Land Forces as Ike was. It will be an American.
Frankly, I think Alan Brooke as Commander Land Forces would be a more workable setup than OTL. It would have freed up Ike to overseas strategy and unlike Monty, Alan Brooke's man-management was very good.
 
Patton was compared to those men very junior

He had also had an evaluation from McNair after the maneuvres of 'Good, Division probably his ceiling' Simpson gets 'Untried should do well' btw


Eisenhower is kinda accidentally inevitable. He is a major player in the US mobilisation plan especially in industrial mobilisation then in early 42 heads War Plans, prior to that had been the lead army player in an attempt to set up a joint army navy command in the Gulf which fails on Navy intrasigence, goes to London to evaluate ETOUSA which is the US command organisation for the ETO, and gets the job shortly thereafter. Goes to command North African invasion, which has to be an American because of Mers ek Kebir and is replaced as ETOUSA by Frank Andrews who is killed in a plane crash, and then by Devers. then comes back as ETOUSA which becomes SHAEF.

As ETOUSA he also has to manage the USAAC/F which is by far the biggest component most of the time.

In the interim The Med Theatre is created with Eisenhower which is in part a rejection of the idea of a common Bomber force and Pointblank, which requires an 'Independent Air Force' which means that as the US ground troops are in the Med and the Air forces in England are doing their own thing ETOUSA is sort of redundant.

And everyone who matters in Europe and the Med gets on with him and can work with him which is essential. Once he is there there is actually noone better. Tedder, Morgan, Gale, Robb, Ramsay, Vandenberg and Smith are all in on Torch or its immediate aftermath so its less Eisenhower's appointment as the appointment of an entire and proven command team with initially Montgomery as land force commander but he has worked with them all for a year or so as well. Leigh Mallory and the AEAF starts working onpre invasion prep in 1943.

Ikes job is not operations its HR, logistics and managing up to the CCS Committee and politicians. He has Army Group commanders and they army and corps commanders and Naval Air Force equivalents to do the rest. When he does get involved in 'operational' decisions he is either sanctioning what his subordinates have proposed or wrong, and smart enough to realise that quickly. This is different from the Pacific Theatres which are much smaller and less continuous operations at scale.

Neither Brooke or Marshall is an obvious alternative as they have global wars to run and better things to do and dont have the relationships with everyone else involved.
 
Ikes job is not operations its HR, logistics and managing up to the CCS Committee and politicians. He has Army Group commanders and they army and corps commanders and Naval Air Force equivalents to do the rest.
The flaw in this approach (Army Groups North, Centre, and South) is the implicit assumption that each Army Group commander is responsible for their own areas of operation, and that delineating boundaries, co-ordinating attacks and allocating logistical resources does not need active or urgent management.

However there is a significant change between the lack of co-ordination in the autumn of 1944, and the cascading attacks of the Rhineland campaign in 1945.
 
Brooke would be a disastrous choice to put in charge. He wanted to delay D-Day into 1945 in the Spring of ‘44...
The Russian generals who served Stalin had less command experience then the Wally generals. Exception was Zhukov and maybe Koniev.

Yeah, you don’t know what you are mouthing off about, as usual. Most Russian generals in service in mid-‘44 has tons more command experience by virtue of having to lead units in combat nigh-constantly from mid-1941 onward. That’s three years straight of non-stop, high intensity battle amidst multi-million man armies. There’s no Western General in service by mid-‘44 who can say they’ve commanded on that level for so long.

The Germans had the same experience of WWI the Wally generals did.

They actually had a bit more since they also had to deal with the Eastern Front if WW1, which gave them better insight on how to maneuver multi-million man armies which the largely static First World War experience precluded.
 
Last edited:
Eisenhower is kinda accidentally inevitable. He is a major player in the US mobilisation plan especially in industrial mobilisation then in early 42 heads War Plans, prior to that had been the lead army player in an attempt to set up a joint army navy command in the Gulf which fails on Navy intrasigence, goes to London to evaluate ETOUSA which is the US command organisation for the ETO, and gets the job shortly thereafter. Goes to command North African invasion, which has to be an American because of Mers ek Kebir and is replaced as ETOUSA by Frank Andrews who is killed in a plane crash, and then by Devers. then comes back as ETOUSA which becomes SHAEF.
If one believes that Eisenhower did not stage manage and politic for those assignments, then one does not really understand Eisenhower.
 
Last edited:
Top