WI: In 1942, General Gott Had NOT Died & Had Taken Command of the 8th Army?

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by UCB79, Sep 10, 2019.

  1. UCB79 Bookworm, 1st class

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    In August, 1942, despite having defeated Rommel @ the 1st Battle of El Alamein, British 8th Army
    Commander Claude Auchinleck was summarily relieved of his command by Churchill. He was replaced by the commander of the 13th Corps, General "Strafer" Gott. He was a veteran of the North Africa theater, having been fighting in the desert since the start of the campaign in 1940. He
    thus seemed well-qualified for his new position. But he never lived to take it. En route to Cairo, the plane Gott was on was shot down, & he was killed. The replacement was himself replaced by a
    Lieutenant General named Bernard Montgomery.

    What, though, if Gott had lived? How would that have changed the future course of the war in North Africa? And later, the future course of the war in Europe? Most importantly, would Gott's
    survival have butterflied away the career Montgomery had IOTL? If no Montgomery @ all(or @ least if he had not played the prominent role he actually did)how is the war in Europe changed?
    Seems to me I feel the wind of many butterflies! But what does everyone else think?
     
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  2. Derwit Well-Known Member

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    I've read several histories that imply that Gott was tired which might not bode well for 8th Army. Also much of the problems with the 8th Army's performance was down to senior officer (including Gott) needing to have a conference among themselves before doing anything. They then tended to do their own thing anyway. This effectively allowed Rommel to run rings around their formations often destroying them piece meal.

    Monty brought in a centralised command style that if slow and cautious solved the main weakness in the 8th Army. I'm not sure if Gott would be able to do this. However the writing was on the wall for Rommel and the Africa Corps once his mad rush for the channel ended at 1st El Alamein. you just can't win against logistical reality in the face of a more powerfull opponent (and getting more so by the day).

    If Gott takes over would expect him to bow to political pressure and launch 2nd El Alamein earlier than OTL. This probebly takes longer and costs more in lives and equipment. However it's going to be a win eventually. Gott is then more rash than Monty in OTL (it's hard not to be) and gets stung by Rommel several times during his retreat.

    Monty is coming. He was a favourite of Alan Brooke so once Gott doesn't get the job done effectively enough Monty steps in. However in this senario Monty hasn't really defeated Rommel so doesn't have this boost to his reputation which allowed him to escape criticism later in the war. So Monty either learns to reign in his arrogance with veryone (especially the Americans) or gets the sack. Of course by then the wars outcome isn't in doubt so little of great magnitude changes.
     
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  3. Carl Schwamberger Well-Known Member

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    Along with Monty came changes in signals intelligence, artillery tactics and operations, tank tactics and operations, logistics operations, ect... While Monty instigated some of that and encouraged it all much of the initiative for that change and the changes themselves predated Monty. that is to say Monty was a part or symptom of change rather than the causation. Much of this reflected how things were being done in the UK, either recent alterations, or doctrine that had been in place for some time there. How well Gott would have dealt with 'Experts' from afar intruding on the turf of a 'Old Desert Hand' i can't say. Maybe he recognized the 8th Army needed shaken up, maybe not.
     
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2019
  4. Cryhavoc101 Well-Known Member

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    My understanding is that he was part of that 'trade union' type culture which stymed the Desert army so I am not convinced that he would bring as much change as Monty 'an outsider' did.
     
  5. Gannt the chartist Well-Known Member

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    The key change is Alexander, Gott is probably overpromoted and tired, he had been on campaign as a field officer from 40 on and it will show. Basically what happens is in 42 Alexander and Montgomery impose actual British doctrine on 8th army rather than half understood Percy Hobart fantasies and poorly trained ( at higher level) commonwealth formations and ad hoc British formations merged from colonial garrisons become well trained. Alex is going to do that anyway, Gott is either going to shape up or be shipped out. Alex is perfectly capable of managing down hard. He did it in North Africa later, at Salerno and for Diadem. He just did it politely.
     
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  6. GTStinger Well-Known Member

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    With Gott in Egypt, Montgomery is in charge of Torch instead of Richardson. Torch suffered from coordination issues advancing into the countryside after the original landings. It seems likely Monty would be better managing the units on the map than Richardson.

    If he changes the invasion plan for earlier capture of a port east of Algiers, things could change a lot. Those details might have been set in stone by the time Gott was shot down.

    If Tunis or Bizerte can be captured before the rainy season, then there are huge butterflies for North Africa. Tripoli might fall from the west instead of the east.
     
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  7. Tibi088 Well-Known Member

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    I dont think you really appreciate the opportunity: if Rommel and the germans won even once, they would have defeated Gott himself: Gott is God in german. Would make for some great and really interesting propaganda material, like: Even if Gott (God) himself comes against us, we will fight, fight and win. Or something along that line. Or: The english sent Gott against us. It wasnt enough.
     
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  8. Aber Well-Known Member

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    And Montgomery STILL captures Tunis. ;)

    The major difference is likely to be earlier at Alam Halfa where Auchinleck was planning to fight a "modern mobile defensive battle". If Gazala's performance is repeated then this could turn into a catastrophic loss.
     
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  9. GTStinger Well-Known Member

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    If Gott does pull off a victory; think of the British leaflets getting dropped on the German army.
    "You have angered Gott and he will crush you like the pagans of old."
    "Read your Bible. It is not wise to oppose Gott!"
    "The armies of Gott have quite a history in Egypt."
     
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  10. Starslayer_D Well-Known Member

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    Der Wüstenfuchs trifft den Wüstengott
    (Desert Fox vs. Desert God)
     
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  11. Gannt the chartist Well-Known Member

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    Well by then Auk is fired as commander middle east and replaced by Alexander. He was acting down as 8th Army commander. After Gazala two things will happen. Auckinlek will be replaced by Alex and an 8th army commander appointed. Gott is the man on the spot but apart from that he is really noones first choice. If Alex decides Gott is too inexperienced or too tired, both of which are probably true, he will get recalled and replaced with either Wilson or Montgomery. But the basic issue is the same. Alex will restore order and start fighting doctrinally sound and successful corps level battles.
     
  12. Aber Well-Known Member

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    Alexander was great as a leader of men, but less convincing as a commander - he needed a good operational staff.
     
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  13. Cryhavoc101 Well-Known Member

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    As Gannt and Carl have said there was more to increasing battlefield success than individual commanders

    Britain decided that it needed to stand up a 32 division strong force (6 Regular Divisions plus the 13 TA Divisions doubled to 26 and brought up to full TO&E strength) in 1939 following Germany's occupation of the rest of Czechoslovakia and that process as well as the modernisation of Indian and other commonwealth armies - beset by a number of setbacks was pretty much complete by the end of 1942 and what we are seeing in the 2nd half of 1942 is the full proper evolved British doctrines being cascaded fully across the commonwealth armed forces.

    For example there had been a propensity in 1941 and early 42 in the desert to form independent Brigade commands (which was seen at Gazala with the independent Brigade Boxes) which flew against the desired premise of a Division fighting as a whole.

    I imagine that this was partially due to the 'come as you are' nature of the Desert army as it formed from multiple nations, took losses and had units swapped out etc given the large number of tasks it faced and that at the time many of the Divisional sized formations were not yet fully trained up / experienced enough to fight as a whole.

    I expect that many of the later units that arrived in theatre had trained as Divisions in the UK and that is how they would be expected to fight.

    So whoever takes the job is going to have in later 42 - better trained Divisional staff officers and Divisions that can fight effectively 'as Divisions'.

    It's just up to the senior commanders to make sure that the army evolves and take those 'learned doctrines' on board and has the ability to bench those commanders that do not

    I do not know enough about Gott to say if he would be that leader or not?
     
  14. History Learner Well-Known Member

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  15. Peg Leg Pom Well-Known Member

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    Expect the British to make an issue of this.

    [​IMG]
     
  16. UCB79 Bookworm, 1st class

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    Thanks a lot History for this- it seems I’m far from the only person to have had Mr. Gott on his mind(I really think that his death sets up
    a little-known, but most fascinating “What-
    if?” which is why I started this thread).
     
  17. Carl Schwamberger Well-Known Member

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    This is huge. I am unsure if the Monty master of preparation can overcome Kesslring the master of improvisation in the chaotic operational environment of Tunisia November-December 1942, but if he does...

    First the Allies now have the all weather airfields near Bizerte & Tunis. Allied fighters and medium range bombers can dominate the central Med 2-3 months earlier. Tripoli & the rest of the overextended Axis supply route is hammered yet harder than OTL. The RN was able to operate in the Sicilian Strait & central Med as soon as the Tunisian airfields were operational OTL. So, sometime in January the last Axis cargo ship reaches Tripoli of Benghazi?

    Second the African disaster & mass PoW event comes months sooner for the Axis. A lot less than the 200,000+ of OTL, but substantial.

    Third the Joint Chiefs, at the SYMBOL Conference of January 1943 had recommended a March 43 amphibious operation against the Italian territories. Sardinia was the specific proposal, tho that was situational. The operation was scheduled for after Tunisia was secured, which Eisenhower predicted for May 1943 after 4 months. Were Tunisia & its airfields secured in December, the March operations agains Sicilly, Sardinia, or wherever are now practical.
     
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  18. McPherson McPherson; a guy who needs a shave.

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    I'm not a fan of Monty, but that is such an excellent observation about what positives he could bring to Torch that it deserves a good hard think. Kudos!
     
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  19. McPherson McPherson; a guy who needs a shave.

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    Was the specialized assault shipping even on scene yet? I think they were short?
     
  20. Carl Schwamberger Well-Known Member

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    They were always short. Op TORCH had three assault divisions with a corps in immediate follow up for each. The proposed Sardinian operation of March never had a detailed plan but was to be run by the British 1st Army. The Italians considered the place indefensible & never kept more than a reinforced corps there, mostly second a third rate formations. Sicily was similar until December 1942 when reinforcements not destined for Africa started showing up. There probably would have been a more substantial field army on Sicily by March. Absent the larger losses in Tunisia.

    The initial assault of Op HUSKY rivaled that of Op NEPTUNE with five assault divisions. The difference between the two were in the much larger follow up forces, those were unnecessary for the Sicilian campaign, so the fewer landing craft and transports were not missed. The Allied commanders always wanted more amphib craft, incessantly complained they did not have enough, and had to make some tough choices vs doing everything they wanted. Churchill never really understood the limits, which was one reason the underserved SHINGLE operation was forced forward over the objections of the local commanders.