The War Illustrated No. 228, Vol. 9, March 15th 1946

i/u sis Monty's /Vew JoS When Field -Marshal Viscount. Mont-- gom ery ofA lam cin overtakes the appointment of Chief o f the Imperial General Staff in June 1946 the demobiliza­tion o four wartime army will be practically complete, but it is obvious that docs not mean the Army will have assum edits normal peacetime shape. A d hoc ex­pedients arc necessary to enable us to deal with immediate post-war commitments, and the Government has announced its short­ term jplans to meet the existing situation. Under these plans it is hoped by the end o f this year to reduce the numbers o f trained men in the three Services to 1,100,000 plus 100,000 under training. In order to fill the places o f men becoming due for demobiliza­tion o r discharge, the call-up o f young men under the National Service Act will be continued without prejudice to final decision as regards the adoption o f a permanent system o f National Service. The length of service required from new entrants will be fixed as soon as possible, but much depends on the orate f intake o f voluntary recruits to the regular Services and on progress in the liquidation of post-war commitments. Nevertheless, it is clearly essential to formulate and inset motion long­ term plans for the formation o f the Army we shall permanently need. That, subject to Government de­cisions, is probably the main task that will confront the new C .I.G .S. There can be no question, as happened after the First Great War, o f the Army resuming its pre-war shape nor, I think, would it be practicable or advisable to aim at producing a miniature copy o four wartime army. TDROBLEM of Finding Men to Fill New Arm y’s Ranks In someways the problem of giving us a new-type army is simpler than it was in 1919. Then the new weapons produced in the war had all been designed to meet trench warfare conditions and were unsuitable for mobile operations. They suggested lines on which armaments would develop, but clearly along period of experiments and redesigning was necessary before weapons o f more general utility could be produced. Premature rearmament would have only resulted in costly replacement of obsolescent types. Experiments were initiated and considerable progress was made until financial stringency ended the experiments and made drastic rearmament out of the question. The Government's assurance that no major war could occur without ten years’ warning, and disarmament policy (in­cluding proposals that weapons should be limited to defensive purposes), did little to encourage invention and relegated the Army to police functions. We have now learnt our lesson and the War has carried experiments to completion. The majority o f weapons seem now to have approached final shape, although rockets, controlled projectiles and air transport may lead to further developments. Field-M arshal Montgomery should therefore encounter few difficulties in providing his new army with suitable weapons. Moreover, there seems no reason why wartime armaments not required for the normal peacetime army should not, for a considerable period at least, be stored in reserve to meet the needs of possible expansion instead o f being scrapped. The problem o f finding men to fill the ranks o f the new army will this time be much more difficult than that o f armaments. Presumably, the C .I.G .S.will remain re- B y MAJ .-GENERAL SIR CHAR LES G WYNN K .C.B .S.O..,D sponsible for advising as to the strength o f the army we need for our own special com­mitments, and the military staff o fU.N .may.O make supplementary demands. That we are bound to have a professional regular army voluntarily enlisted is universally admitted, but will improved conditions of pay and terms o f service produce the number o f recruits it will require ?Improvement of conditions is long overdue, both injustice to the men and for the credit o f the State as an employer but unavoidably long periods o f foreign service and the fa ct,th a t the Army cannot offer a life-long occupation, are probably the factors that limit the intake o f recruits rather than the scale o f pay. Enlistment for short service at home (including some European stations) may attract additional rccruits, but it tends to reduce the numbers willing to accept the longer engagement required to maintain a foreign service force. Although the Govern­ment has not yet decided to continue, com­pulsory service indefinitely, if voluntary enlistment does not produce necessary num­bers, it is to be hoped that some compulsory training will be adopted to facilitate the rapid expansion of the Army in times of crisis. T n addition to recruiting problem sit is certain that during Field-M arshal Mont­ gom ery’s term o f office the strength o f foreign service garrisons and the location o four strategic reserves will be under constant review. Development in India may produce anew situation, and our War experience alone clearly indicates the neces­sity o f reconsidering our other commitments. The War at least has made it clear that air forces cannot replace land forces as at onetime it was argued might be possible :but, PAGE 708 on the other hand, the new spirit o f co-operation that exists between the R.A .F. and the Army may materially affect the latter. Under our existing system the C .I.G responsible jointly with the heads o f the other Services for reviewing, and advising the Government on, our military policy and commitments in the widest sense. Whether that system will be maintained o r changed, as some have advocated, by the appointment o fan overall Chief o f the Staff we do not yet know. But whatever system is adopted we can, I think, rely on the disappearance of the inter-Service rivalries and conflicting claims which regrettably existed in the inter-war period. Certainly there has been no stronger advocate o f the necessity o f intimate co-operation between the Army and R.A.F. and o f overpowering air strength than Field- Marshal Montgomery he has also, had exceptional experience o f co-operation with the Royal Navy, and has paid tribute to the importance o f sea communications in what­ ever enterprise the Army undertakes. There will therefore be no lack of problems beyond those that affect our peacetime army to which Field- Marshal Montgomery will be able to apply his brains, great experience and energy. Surely he will have a say in formulating plans for the expansion o f the Arm yin case of war, and I can hardly think that he would be content with an indefinite ruling such as the Government gave after the First Great War that the Territorial Army would in future provide the sole basis o f expansion. A ruling which certainly left many Territorial officers uncertain as to the role o f theT.A. T~\OMINIONS’ Contribution to ^the New Defence Set-up Again, although the Dominions have free choice as to whether they would take part in a war or not, it is clearly desirable that the closest touch should be maintained with their military staffs and the fact that Canadian. Australian, New Z ealand and South African troops have all fought under his command ensures that Field-M arshal Mont­gomery appreciates the great con­tribution the Dominions can make to the new set-up o f Commonwealth defence. There is, in fact, little that the experience o f the new C .I.G .S. does not cover, either in commando r as a Staff officer. In addition to his War service he has served in India and Palestine, [has been on the staff o f a Territorial Division, a student at the Imperial Defence College and been on the Staff o f both the Cam berley and Quetta Staff Colleges. It is curious, however, that he has never held an appointment inside the walls o f the War Office. Will he find that a handicap ?For War Office procedure and the workings o f financial control take some learning and may prove irksome. Yet it maybe that afresh mind will be more valuable than experience. The War Office has always been accuscd o f being a slave 10 precedent and with so many new departures to be made, search for precedent might well interfere with the working o f clear common-sense thought. Tt is certain that the nation will expect much from Field-M arshal Montgomery, for it has realized the importance of the Army to its very existence. He will com­m and its good wishes and confidence, but it must be clearly realized that he cannot make bricks without straw. Parsimony in defence expenditure has surely h finally proved to bethe worst form o f economy. Field-Marshai Viscount MONTGOMERY OF ALAMEIN, of Hindhead in the County of Surrey, G.C.B., D.S.O. From a portrait by Janus Gunn, by permission of the artist
Add Names


We have sought to ensure that the content of this website complies with UK copyright law. Please note however, that we may have been unable to ascertain the rights holders of some items. Where we have digitised items, we have done so with items that to the best of our knowledge, following due investigations, are in the public domain. While the original works are in the public domain we reserve all rights to the usage of the digital works.

The document titled The War Illustrated No. 228, Vol. 9, March 15th 1946 is beneath this layer.

To view this document now, please sign up as a full access member.

Free Account Registration

Please enter your first name
Please enter your surname
Please enter a valid email address
Please enter your password, it must be 8 or more characters

Already a member? Log in now
Small Medium Large Landscape Portrait