To What Extent Was General Eisenhower Responsible For The Allied Success Of D-Day

Submitted By Gareth-Hollywell
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To what extent was General Eisenhower personally responsible for the Allied success of D-Day
General Eisenhower’s involvement in D-Day has been widely debated as Stephen E. Ambrose once said “the operation will forever be linked to one name, Dwight Eisenhower1”. Eisenhower will always be linked with the success of D-Day as a result of him being the Supreme Allied Commander; however he was not the only general or even individual who played a part in its success. The main factors for consideration are Eisenhower’s leadership and Eisenhower’s strategy and tactics.
Many historians argue that Eisenhower’s personal leadership was the reason for the success of D-Day. Anthony Beevor says that “Eisenhower’s ability to keep such a disparate team together was an extraordinary achievement2” Stephen E. Ambrose wrote “Eisenhower tended to seek out words and phrases that would appease3.” These historians agree that Eisenhower’s political awareness in regards to the handling of his generals was the reason for success; Eisenhower was plagued by generals who did not respect him due to his lack of experience. Eisenhower however was experienced, he was the Commanding General of the European Theatre of Operations and he was the SCAEF of the North African Theatre of Operations. For example Dr Andrew Gordon wrote “Eisenhower, and his chief of staff General Bedell Smith, had worked and won with these officers from as far back as TORCH4” Professor Samuel J Newland agrees “D-Day is the prime example of the power and synergy that can be created by a strong alliance.5” Eisenhower recognised this and he realised that for the allies to win the war they had to be a single unified front in their decisions. Newland also wrote “Roosevelt sensed early on that Eisenhower held unique abilities to work within an alliance structure.6” This is ultimately why Eisenhower was chosen to be Supreme Commander because unlike many others of the American generals at the time (such as Patton) he had the ability to compromise and appease, he used this ability in the invasion of Sicily and Italy which he commanded. Where he divided the army in to two groups the East and West group, the east being led by Montgomery and the west by Patton. This can be supported by other historians such as Beevor who wrote “One has to acknowledge the huge achievement in keeping such a disparate alliance together with such conflicting characters.7” Many people underrate Eisenhower’s ability to compromise as simply a way for him to appease the leaders of the Allied nations, but as we can see, many historians do believe him to be a very effective commander and be a great leader of the allied forces.
However some historians argue that Eisenhower’s personal leadership was not the reason for the success of D-Day. Joseph Balkoski wrote “for most of 1943, virtually no one, including President Roosevelt and Prime Minister Churchill, considered Ike the leading candidate to command that momentous operation.8”, Balkoski is not the only historian to question Eisenhower’s credentials Ambrose wrote that “in his first combat experience Eisenhower had been unsure of himself, often depressed, irritable, liable to make snap judgements on insufficient information, defensive in both his mind and tactics.9”.This shows us that Eisenhower’s leadership was not as strong and convincing as many Americans would have us believe Eisenhower lacked combat experience, he did not have the respect of his colleagues given to those who served in battle such as Patton and Marshall, this is supported by Eisenhower’s own note that he wrote in which he accepted personal failure for the landings had they failed. Furthermore Eisenhower could barely control the men underneath him, Beevor wrote “He (Eisenhower) was well liked by Field Marshal Brooke and Montgomery but neither rated him as a soldier....Brooke wrote in his diary”, “but it is equally clear that he knows nothing about strategy and is quite unsuited to the post of supreme