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SenatorChickpea

The Most Kiwi Aussie of them all
Patreon supporter
Pronouns
he/him
Commander-in-Chief Combined Allied Forces Command, Western Europe

October 1939 - March 1940: Edmund Ironside (UK) [1]
March 1940 - August 1940: Maurice Gamelin (France) [2]
August 1940 - January 1941: Victor, Baron van Strydonck de Burkel (Belgium) [3]
January 1941 - June 1941: Maxime Weygand (France) [4]
June 1941 - July 1941: Bernard Montgomery (UK) [5]
July 1941 - December 1941: Jan Smuts (South Africa)
December 1941 - May 1942:
May 1942 - May 1943:
May 1943 - October 1943:
October 1943 - November 1943:
November 1943 - November 1944:
November 1944 - April 1945:

[1] Desperate to learn the lessons of the last war, France and Britain agreed to forgo separate higher command groups for the Second War in the West and created Combined Allied Forces Command (CAFCOM) for troops of all allied nations serving in France under its jurisdiction. It's first C-in-C was British general Edmund Ironside. Initially sceptical of his new command, Ironside knew that he would be better use to the war effort in France than as Chief of the Imperial General Staff in London. Both London and Paris saw him as an acceptable candidate for the job for his work with the Poles in the run up to war: Ironside was also keen to add limits to his own office, laying down the precedent that a C-in-C of CAFCOM should only spend 6 months in the job, unless circumstances allowed an extension or early removal. As the Phoney War stretched on however, Ironside lamented the resolve on French commanders to prepare for total war, and he consequently began sacking French generals he deemed to 'lack the stuff'. Besides this, Ironside's main contribution to the Allied war effort was the creation of the Allied Armoured Reserve, a concentrated force of British and French tank units meant to counter the German panzer divisions. When his 6 months were up, Prime Minster Chamberlain sent Ironside to the Middle East Command, to keep him out of the way.

[2] A Frenchman had to be Commander CAFCOM to placate Paris after all the sackings Ironside had done. Gamelin was viewed as a powerhouse of a general and acceptable to all, and began preparing to meet the Germans in Belgium - he also wanted to meet them in the Netherlands, at Breda, but his staff generals argued it down. When Germany attacked in May, they crashed against a powerful Allied force. Unfortunately, the Germans had planned a 'sickle cut' through the Ardennes and pushed through into France until the Allied Armoured Reserve could grind them to a halt, and the Netherlands fell. As the ground offensive stalemated, heavy Luftwaffe bombing began across French soil (though most of Paris was deliberately spared) from out of Dutch bases, and Gamelin was frustrated that the air part of the battle was mostly out of his hands; he threw ad-hoc Allied Kommando units of British, French, and Free Dutch & Norwegian soldiers across the border to prick these airbases. By August, the Germans were scaling back their efforts and it was safe to replace Gamelin.

There is ferocious debate about Gamelin's plans and the compromises made. A prevailing theory is that if the 'Breda variant' had been carried out, at least part of the Netherlands could have been saved and the Blitz of France, with its thousands of lost lives, prevented.

[3] Primarily a political appointment to shore up Belgium's will to resist, Baron van Strydonck de Burkel surprised Allied Command with his grasp of logistics and leadership abilities. His successful defence of Liege had done much to stiffen Belgian resolve and been enough to persuade the French and British that he would be a solid commander regardless of the political considerations.

This trust was put to the test in November 1940 when a large German force advanced on Bastogne. The Allies were caught flat-footed, successful Germany espionage had convinced the French (ignoring Strydonck de Burkels intuition) the attack would be towards Metz and Nancy. Instead Belgian defenders were left to face the Blitzkrieg alone.

What followed was one of the finest moments on Belgian military history as their outnumbered and out-gunned forces held off assault after assault. Burkel had been wise enough to retain some forces from the defence of Metz and used his reserves to grind the Germans to a halt, allowing time for the French and British to redeploy and throw the Germans back across the border.

The Belgians were acclaimed for their tenacity and fighting spirit, indeed Prime Minister Eden praised them in the House as "fiercer than Spartans". Strydonck de Burkel was lauded for his foresight and preparation and while the rest of his term was quiet he had inflicted a severe blown upon the Reich, throwing the initiative firmly back to the allies. The alliance itself was no longer a duopoly, Belgium had decisively allowed itself to be considered one of the "Big Three".


[4] Another respected figure from WW1 and other battles beside, Weygand had been the initial head of Middle East Command. When he took command of CAFCOM, Burkel had seen Germany fall back from French soil, the Blitz was dying out, and most of Belgium was saved - Europe was now a static front, and attention shifted to other theatres, including (as Italy had been cajoled into joining the war by lies of an easy storm to Egypt) by the dynamic Middle Eastern theatre. Weyygand proved an unpopular leader, complaining he was being "wasted" and being openly critical of the generals at MEC. After several months, he pitched Operation Croix: a 'Blitz' style attack on occupied Belgium, to throw the Germans out the same way they'd entered.

This was approved and led to ten days of grinding slaughter, as Weygand had overestimated how integrated his forces were and how accurate Allied bomber planes were. After initial gains, the Allied forces had to retreat back over the Axis lines. While the Germans were badly mauled too and it was, in all honesty, a no-score draw, they could at least claim victory. Weygand finished the rest of his term in seething silence, while the 'Big Three' looked elsewhere for a general who might be able to lead an offensive plan...

[5] Initially hoped to be the exact offensive general that the Allies were looking for, 'Monty' had been Eden's poster boy and the French liked for his record in 1940, where his division had held the pivot for the French to counterattack into the Ardennes, though some of them didn't appreciate his questioning the sexual health of French women. Eden had him personally transferred to the Middle East, where Ironside wielded him like a hammer against the Italians, leading the Commonwealth forces advance into Libya as far as Benghazi before Germany lit the Balkans tinder box.

Feeling the time was right for another big offensive while the Germans were tied down in Yugoslavia and Greece and Weygand was on the way out, Monty was given CAFCOM, however it wasn't to last. While engaging in an inspection of newly arrived Canadian units, a flight of Stukas came over head. Trying to take personal direction of the Canadian's anti-air guns, Monty was caught in an explosion and tore up by shrapnel which killed him. Eden gave a personal address to the Commons lamenting his general 'who had fought to the last'. Consequently, morale among the Canadians shrank and Belgian, Free Dutch and Norwegian units soon referred to them as jinxed. Disheartened by the tragedy, Command fell to Monty's deputy.

[6] Jan Smuts had resigned the Prime Minister's office in early 1941 to act as the unofficial coordinator of the Dominion armies. By 1941, relations between Britain and her colonies leadership were breaking down under the strain of what appeared to be a repeat of the terrible attrition of the Great War. In Quebec, in Melbourne and in Johannesburg questions were openly being asked about whether another generation of young men would be expected to leap into a meatgrinder in Flanders come the 1960s. The overall command structure was being increasingly threatened by the demands for Imperial troops to have a voice in the decisions being made by Britain and France; finally Churchill tried to get ahead of the problem by appointing Smuts as the de facto Dominion representative- which, given his closeness to Winston, satisfied the colonies not one bit.

Smuts was an intelligent man and knew that his appointment would be short-lived. He made the decision to spend the summer of 1941 on dispensing with the clunky, ad hoc command structure that had so far characterised the Allied war effort. He encouraged the integration of the continental militaries into a single structure, eroding Belgian military independence in exchange for the over representation of their officers on staff commands throughout the entire theatre. He enjoyed far less success with his own Imperial peers- Canada and Australia in particular refused to sacrifice any autonomy for the proposed Imperial Staff, and when the Nehru-Jinnah Commission demanded Indian representation it became clear that this was now a political and diplomatic crisis more than a military one. Jan Smuts resigned in December 1941, to take up command of the thrust into Salazar's colonies.
 

Charles EP M.

Well-known member
Published by SLP
Commander-in-Chief Combined Allied Forces Command, Western Europe

October 1939 - March 1940: Edmund Ironside (UK) [1]
March 1940 - August 1940: Maurice Gamelin (France) [2]
August 1940 - January 1941: Victor, Baron van Strydonck de Burkel (Belgium) [3]
January 1941 - June 1941: Maxime Weygand (France) [4]
June 1941 - July 1941: Bernard Montgomery† (UK) [5]
July 1941 - December 1941: Jan Smuts (South Africa) [6]
December 1941 - May 1942: Harold Alexander (UK) [7]
May 1942 - May 1943:
May 1943 - October 1943:
October 1943 - November 1943:
November 1943 - November 1944:
November 1944 - April 1945:

[1] Desperate to learn the lessons of the last war, France and Britain agreed to forgo separate higher command groups for the Second War in the West and created Combined Allied Forces Command (CAFCOM) for troops of all allied nations serving in France under its jurisdiction. It's first C-in-C was British general Edmund Ironside. Initially sceptical of his new command, Ironside knew that he would be better use to the war effort in France than as Chief of the Imperial General Staff in London. Both London and Paris saw him as an acceptable candidate for the job for his work with the Poles in the run up to war: Ironside was also keen to add limits to his own office, laying down the precedent that a C-in-C of CAFCOM should only spend 6 months in the job, unless circumstances allowed an extension or early removal. As the Phoney War stretched on however, Ironside lamented the resolve on French commanders to prepare for total war, and he consequently began sacking French generals he deemed to 'lack the stuff'. Besides this, Ironside's main contribution to the Allied war effort was the creation of the Allied Armoured Reserve, a concentrated force of British and French tank units meant to counter the German panzer divisions. When his 6 months were up, Prime Minster Chamberlain sent Ironside to the Middle East Command, to keep him out of the way.

[2] A Frenchman had to be Commander CAFCOM to placate Paris after all the sackings Ironside had done. Gamelin was viewed as a powerhouse of a general and acceptable to all, and began preparing to meet the Germans in Belgium - he also wanted to meet them in the Netherlands, at Breda, but his staff generals argued it down. When Germany attacked in May, they crashed against a powerful Allied force. Unfortunately, the Germans had planned a 'sickle cut' through the Ardennes and pushed through into France until the Allied Armoured Reserve could grind them to a halt, and the Netherlands fell. As the ground offensive stalemated, heavy Luftwaffe bombing began across French soil (though most of Paris was deliberately spared) from out of Dutch bases, and Gamelin was frustrated that the air part of the battle was mostly out of his hands; he threw ad-hoc Allied Kommando units of British, French, and Free Dutch & Norwegian soldiers across the border to prick these airbases. By August, the Germans were scaling back their efforts and it was safe to replace Gamelin.

There is ferocious debate about Gamelin's plans and the compromises made. A prevailing theory is that if the 'Breda variant' had been carried out, at least part of the Netherlands could have been saved and the Blitz of France, with its thousands of lost lives, prevented.

[3] Primarily a political appointment to shore up Belgium's will to resist, Baron van Strydonck de Burkel surprised Allied Command with his grasp of logistics and leadership abilities. His successful defence of Liege had done much to stiffen Belgian resolve and been enough to persuade the French and British that he would be a solid commander regardless of the political considerations.

This trust was put to the test in November 1940 when a large German force advanced on Bastogne. The Allies were caught flat-footed, successful Germany espionage had convinced the French (ignoring Strydonck de Burkels intuition) the attack would be towards Metz and Nancy. Instead Belgian defenders were left to face the Blitzkrieg alone.

What followed was one of the finest moments on Belgian military history as their outnumbered and out-gunned forces held off assault after assault. Burkel had been wise enough to retain some forces from the defence of Metz and used his reserves to grind the Germans to a halt, allowing time for the French and British to redeploy and throw the Germans back across the border.

The Belgians were acclaimed for their tenacity and fighting spirit, indeed Prime Minister Eden praised them in the House as "fiercer than Spartans". Strydonck de Burkel was lauded for his foresight and preparation and while the rest of his term was quiet he had inflicted a severe blown upon the Reich, throwing the initiative firmly back to the allies. The alliance itself was no longer a duopoly, Belgium had decisively allowed itself to be considered one of the "Big Three".


[4] Another respected figure from WW1 and other battles beside, Weygand had been the initial head of Middle East Command. When he took command of CAFCOM, Burkel had seen Germany fall back from French soil, the Blitz was dying out, and most of Belgium was saved - Europe was now a static front, and attention shifted to other theatres, including (as Italy had been cajoled into joining the war by lies of an easy storm to Egypt) by the dynamic Middle Eastern theatre. Weyygand proved an unpopular leader, complaining he was being "wasted" and being openly critical of the generals at MEC. After several months, he pitched Operation Croix: a 'Blitz' style attack on occupied Belgium, to throw the Germans out the same way they'd entered.

This was approved and led to ten days of grinding slaughter, as Weygand had overestimated how integrated his forces were and how accurate Allied bomber planes were. After initial gains, the Allied forces had to retreat back over the Axis lines. While the Germans were badly mauled too and it was, in all honesty, a no-score draw, they could at least claim victory. Weygand finished the rest of his term in seething silence, while the 'Big Three' looked elsewhere for a general who might be able to lead an offensive plan...

[5] Initially hoped to be the exact offensive general that the Allies were looking for, 'Monty' had been Eden's poster boy and the French liked for his record in 1940, where his division had held the pivot for the French to counterattack into the Ardennes, though some of them didn't appreciate his questioning the sexual health of French women. Eden had him personally transferred to the Middle East, where Ironside wielded him like a hammer against the Italians, leading the Commonwealth forces advance into Libya as far as Benghazi before Germany lit the Balkans tinder box.

Feeling the time was right for another big offensive while the Germans were tied down in Yugoslavia and Greece and Weygand was on the way out, Monty was given CAFCOM, however it wasn't to last. While engaging in an inspection of newly arrived Canadian units, a flight of Stukas came over head. Trying to take personal direction of the Canadian's anti-air guns, Monty was caught in an explosion and tore up by shrapnel which killed him. Eden gave a personal address to the Commons lamenting his general 'who had fought to the last'. Consequently, morale among the Canadians shrank and Belgian, Free Dutch and Norwegian units soon referred to them as jinxed. Disheartened by the tragedy, Command fell to Monty's deputy.

[6] Jan Smuts had resigned the Prime Minister's office in early 1941 to act as the unofficial coordinator of the Dominion armies. By 1941, relations between Britain and her colonies leadership were breaking down under the strain of what appeared to be a repeat of the terrible attrition of the Great War. In Quebec, in Melbourne and in Johannesburg questions were openly being asked about whether another generation of young men would be expected to leap into a meatgrinder in Flanders come the 1960s. The overall command structure was being increasingly threatened by the demands for Imperial troops to have a voice in the decisions being made by Britain and France; finally Churchill tried to get ahead of the problem by appointing Smuts as the de facto Dominion representative- which, given his closeness to Winston, satisfied the colonies not one bit.

Smuts was an intelligent man and knew that his appointment would be short-lived. He made the decision to spend the summer of 1941 on dispensing with the clunky, ad hoc command structure that had so far characterised the Allied war effort. He encouraged the integration of the continental militaries into a single structure, eroding Belgian military independence in exchange for the over representation of their officers on staff commands throughout the entire theatre. He enjoyed far less success with his own Imperial peers- Canada and Australia in particular refused to sacrifice any autonomy for the proposed Imperial Staff, and when the Nehru-Jinnah Commission demanded Indian representation it became clear that this was now a political and diplomatic crisis more than a military one. Jan Smuts resigned in December 1941, to take up command of the thrust into Salazar's colonies.


[7] Taking advantage of Smut's reforms, Alexander - who had been part of the European forces since the start and felt he knew it like the back of his hands - spent three months organising CAFCOM for the political leader's big hope, the liberation of the Netherlands. (An intelligence operation convinced Germany this was a build-up aimed at Germany itself, through Belgium) In mid-March, Alexander led a massive, integrated blitzkreig-style strike through north Belgium into Zeeland, while a Marine/naval/air-carrier force captured the Hague. It was a humiliating route for the Germans and a huge win for the Allies.

That was the first few days. It took a few more to push through to get close to Amsterdam and three weeks to finally liberate the city, after extremely savage combat and to find the SS had massacred thousands of people. The second front through North Brabant similarly bogged down. The Luftwaffe staged bombing attacks on liberated towns and had to be engaged. By early May, most of the country was now liberated but a swathe of the east, protected by rivers, were still under German control and the Allies decided to leave it for now. Alexander was now internationally famous as a liberator, the Axis had lost many lives and equipment, and German focus on the Dutch front meant abandoning the Italians in Greece, which the Allies also won in; but however much the political leaders shook hands with Alexander they feared how bloody his successful plan had been and what this meant for invading Germany and Italy themselves. Could the price be born??
 

Time Enough

European Pollution Police Force
Pronouns
He/Him
Commander-in-Chief Combined Allied Forces Command, Western Europe

October 1939 - March 1940: Edmund Ironside (UK) [1]
March 1940 - August 1940: Maurice Gamelin (France) [2]
August 1940 - January 1941: Victor, Baron van Strydonck de Burkel (Belgium) [3]
January 1941 - June 1941: Maxime Weygand (France) [4]
June 1941 - July 1941: Bernard Montgomery† (UK) [5]
July 1941 - December 1941: Jan Smuts (South Africa) [6]
December 1941 - May 1942: Harold Alexander (UK) [7]
May 1942 - May 1943: Bernard Freyberg (New Zealand) [8]
May 1943 - October 1943:
October 1943 - November 1943:
November 1943 - November 1944:
November 1944 - April 1945:

[1] Desperate to learn the lessons of the last war, France and Britain agreed to forgo separate higher command groups for the Second War in the West and created Combined Allied Forces Command (CAFCOM) for troops of all allied nations serving in France under its jurisdiction. It's first C-in-C was British general Edmund Ironside. Initially sceptical of his new command, Ironside knew that he would be better use to the war effort in France than as Chief of the Imperial General Staff in London. Both London and Paris saw him as an acceptable candidate for the job for his work with the Poles in the run up to war: Ironside was also keen to add limits to his own office, laying down the precedent that a C-in-C of CAFCOM should only spend 6 months in the job, unless circumstances allowed an extension or early removal. As the Phoney War stretched on however, Ironside lamented the resolve on French commanders to prepare for total war, and he consequently began sacking French generals he deemed to 'lack the stuff'. Besides this, Ironside's main contribution to the Allied war effort was the creation of the Allied Armoured Reserve, a concentrated force of British and French tank units meant to counter the German panzer divisions. When his 6 months were up, Prime Minster Chamberlain sent Ironside to the Middle East Command, to keep him out of the way.

[2] A Frenchman had to be Commander CAFCOM to placate Paris after all the sackings Ironside had done. Gamelin was viewed as a powerhouse of a general and acceptable to all, and began preparing to meet the Germans in Belgium - he also wanted to meet them in the Netherlands, at Breda, but his staff generals argued it down. When Germany attacked in May, they crashed against a powerful Allied force. Unfortunately, the Germans had planned a 'sickle cut' through the Ardennes and pushed through into France until the Allied Armoured Reserve could grind them to a halt, and the Netherlands fell. As the ground offensive stalemated, heavy Luftwaffe bombing began across French soil (though most of Paris was deliberately spared) from out of Dutch bases, and Gamelin was frustrated that the air part of the battle was mostly out of his hands; he threw ad-hoc Allied Kommando units of British, French, and Free Dutch & Norwegian soldiers across the border to prick these airbases. By August, the Germans were scaling back their efforts and it was safe to replace Gamelin.

There is ferocious debate about Gamelin's plans and the compromises made. A prevailing theory is that if the 'Breda variant' had been carried out, at least part of the Netherlands could have been saved and the Blitz of France, with its thousands of lost lives, prevented.

[3] Primarily a political appointment to shore up Belgium's will to resist, Baron van Strydonck de Burkel surprised Allied Command with his grasp of logistics and leadership abilities. His successful defence of Liege had done much to stiffen Belgian resolve and been enough to persuade the French and British that he would be a solid commander regardless of the political considerations.

This trust was put to the test in November 1940 when a large German force advanced on Bastogne. The Allies were caught flat-footed, successful Germany espionage had convinced the French (ignoring Strydonck de Burkels intuition) the attack would be towards Metz and Nancy. Instead Belgian defenders were left to face the Blitzkrieg alone.

What followed was one of the finest moments on Belgian military history as their outnumbered and out-gunned forces held off assault after assault. Burkel had been wise enough to retain some forces from the defence of Metz and used his reserves to grind the Germans to a halt, allowing time for the French and British to redeploy and throw the Germans back across the border.

The Belgians were acclaimed for their tenacity and fighting spirit, indeed Prime Minister Eden praised them in the House as "fiercer than Spartans". Strydonck de Burkel was lauded for his foresight and preparation and while the rest of his term was quiet he had inflicted a severe blown upon the Reich, throwing the initiative firmly back to the allies. The alliance itself was no longer a duopoly, Belgium had decisively allowed itself to be considered one of the "Big Three".


[4] Another respected figure from WW1 and other battles beside, Weygand had been the initial head of Middle East Command. When he took command of CAFCOM, Burkel had seen Germany fall back from French soil, the Blitz was dying out, and most of Belgium was saved - Europe was now a static front, and attention shifted to other theatres, including (as Italy had been cajoled into joining the war by lies of an easy storm to Egypt) by the dynamic Middle Eastern theatre. Weyygand proved an unpopular leader, complaining he was being "wasted" and being openly critical of the generals at MEC. After several months, he pitched Operation Croix: a 'Blitz' style attack on occupied Belgium, to throw the Germans out the same way they'd entered.

This was approved and led to ten days of grinding slaughter, as Weygand had overestimated how integrated his forces were and how accurate Allied bomber planes were. After initial gains, the Allied forces had to retreat back over the Axis lines. While the Germans were badly mauled too and it was, in all honesty, a no-score draw, they could at least claim victory. Weygand finished the rest of his term in seething silence, while the 'Big Three' looked elsewhere for a general who might be able to lead an offensive plan...

[5] Initially hoped to be the exact offensive general that the Allies were looking for, 'Monty' had been Eden's poster boy and the French liked for his record in 1940, where his division had held the pivot for the French to counterattack into the Ardennes, though some of them didn't appreciate his questioning the sexual health of French women. Eden had him personally transferred to the Middle East, where Ironside wielded him like a hammer against the Italians, leading the Commonwealth forces advance into Libya as far as Benghazi before Germany lit the Balkans tinder box.

Feeling the time was right for another big offensive while the Germans were tied down in Yugoslavia and Greece and Weygand was on the way out, Monty was given CAFCOM, however it wasn't to last. While engaging in an inspection of newly arrived Canadian units, a flight of Stukas came over head. Trying to take personal direction of the Canadian's anti-air guns, Monty was caught in an explosion and tore up by shrapnel which killed him. Eden gave a personal address to the Commons lamenting his general 'who had fought to the last'. Consequently, morale among the Canadians shrank and Belgian, Free Dutch and Norwegian units soon referred to them as jinxed. Disheartened by the tragedy, Command fell to Monty's deputy.

[6] Jan Smuts had resigned the Prime Minister's office in early 1941 to act as the unofficial coordinator of the Dominion armies. By 1941, relations between Britain and her colonies leadership were breaking down under the strain of what appeared to be a repeat of the terrible attrition of the Great War. In Quebec, in Melbourne and in Johannesburg questions were openly being asked about whether another generation of young men would be expected to leap into a meatgrinder in Flanders come the 1960s. The overall command structure was being increasingly threatened by the demands for Imperial troops to have a voice in the decisions being made by Britain and France; finally Churchill tried to get ahead of the problem by appointing Smuts as the de facto Dominion representative- which, given his closeness to Winston, satisfied the colonies not one bit.

Smuts was an intelligent man and knew that his appointment would be short-lived. He made the decision to spend the summer of 1941 on dispensing with the clunky, ad hoc command structure that had so far characterised the Allied war effort. He encouraged the integration of the continental militaries into a single structure, eroding Belgian military independence in exchange for the over representation of their officers on staff commands throughout the entire theatre. He enjoyed far less success with his own Imperial peers- Canada and Australia in particular refused to sacrifice any autonomy for the proposed Imperial Staff, and when the Nehru-Jinnah Commission demanded Indian representation it became clear that this was now a political and diplomatic crisis more than a military one. Jan Smuts resigned in December 1941, to take up command of the thrust into Salazar's colonies.


[7] Taking advantage of Smut's reforms, Alexander - who had been part of the European forces since the start and felt he knew it like the back of his hands - spent three months organising CAFCOM for the political leader's big hope, the liberation of the Netherlands. (An intelligence operation convinced Germany this was a build-up aimed at Germany itself, through Belgium) In mid-March, Alexander led a massive, integrated blitzkreig-style strike through north Belgium into Zeeland, while a Marine/naval/air-carrier force captured the Hague. It was a humiliating route for the Germans and a huge win for the Allies.

That was the first few days. It took a few more to push through to get close to Amsterdam and three weeks to finally liberate the city, after extremely savage combat and to find the SS had massacred thousands of people. The second front through North Brabant similarly bogged down. The Luftwaffe staged bombing attacks on liberated towns and had to be engaged. By early May, most of the country was now liberated but a swathe of the east, protected by rivers, were still under German control and the Allies decided to leave it for now. Alexander was now internationally famous as a liberator, the Axis had lost many lives and equipment, and German focus on the Dutch front meant abandoning the Italians in Greece, which the Allies also won in; but however much the political leaders shook hands with Alexander they feared how bloody his successful plan had been and what this meant for invading Germany and Italy themselves. Could the price be born??

[8] A man dubbed the 'Salamander' by Prime Minister Eden for his skills under fire, Freyberg had been a leader of New Zealand forces in the Middle East and Africa of the course of the last several years and was known for being a brilliant Division tactician and commander, despite all of that his appointment was mainly political, showcasing that Imperial Commanders would be making decisions. But he wasn't just a puppet for the political higher ups, he had also learned a number of lessons from dealing with Italian fortifications in Africa, the German defences in Greece and the mobile warfare of the Middle East. Freyberg's plan to deal with German and Italian forces in Europe was often called Sledgehammer tactics, as in 'to crack a Walnut with'.

He would spend the first 4 months, shoring up Dutch defences, reorganising the CAFCOM Air Forces to prepare for his Sledgehammer plan and to prepare for the assault on Italy. After a number of months he would unleash his tactics on to the Italian islands of Sicily and Sardinia. Using a huge force consisting of French, British, Anzac, Indian and Free forces, gigantic bomber raids and using new Allied tanks the September Invasions would be the first use of Freyberg's Sledgehammer tactics as Axis forces would experience huge waves of bombings, shellings and then overwhelming armoured forces within very small sections. These tactics would be successful with low casualties and large gains but take a long time with Sardina and Sicily being liberated by early November 1943, which for many in the Allied political spheres was too long. Still Freyberg was allowed to stay on as he created plans for the invasion of Italy for early 1943. However in Winter 1943, German forces would try and Blitzkrieg though the Netherlands and whilst turned back (with Freyberg's multilayered defences withstanding the attack well) had shaken many in the Allied command. Freyberg would request in early spring 1943 that he be transferred to the Asian front to take his skills there which was agreed by the CAFCOM higher ups.
 

neonduke

Inspector Paolo Germi
Commander-in-Chief Combined Allied Forces Command, Western Europe

October 1939 - March 1940: Edmund Ironside (UK) [1]
March 1940 - August 1940: Maurice Gamelin (France) [2]
August 1940 - January 1941: Victor, Baron van Strydonck de Burkel (Belgium) [3]
January 1941 - June 1941: Maxime Weygand (France) [4]
June 1941 - July 1941: Bernard Montgomery† (UK) [5]
July 1941 - December 1941: Jan Smuts (South Africa) [6]
December 1941 - May 1942: Harold Alexander (UK) [7]
May 1942 - May 1943: Bernard Freyberg (New Zealand) [8]
May 1943 - October 1943: Claude Auchinleck (UK) [9]
October 1943 - November 1943:
November 1943 - November 1944:
November 1944 - April 1945:

[1] Desperate to learn the lessons of the last war, France and Britain agreed to forgo separate higher command groups for the Second War in the West and created Combined Allied Forces Command (CAFCOM) for troops of all allied nations serving in France under its jurisdiction. It's first C-in-C was British general Edmund Ironside. Initially sceptical of his new command, Ironside knew that he would be better use to the war effort in France than as Chief of the Imperial General Staff in London. Both London and Paris saw him as an acceptable candidate for the job for his work with the Poles in the run up to war: Ironside was also keen to add limits to his own office, laying down the precedent that a C-in-C of CAFCOM should only spend 6 months in the job, unless circumstances allowed an extension or early removal. As the Phoney War stretched on however, Ironside lamented the resolve on French commanders to prepare for total war, and he consequently began sacking French generals he deemed to 'lack the stuff'. Besides this, Ironside's main contribution to the Allied war effort was the creation of the Allied Armoured Reserve, a concentrated force of British and French tank units meant to counter the German panzer divisions. When his 6 months were up, Prime Minster Chamberlain sent Ironside to the Middle East Command, to keep him out of the way.

[2] A Frenchman had to be Commander CAFCOM to placate Paris after all the sackings Ironside had done. Gamelin was viewed as a powerhouse of a general and acceptable to all, and began preparing to meet the Germans in Belgium - he also wanted to meet them in the Netherlands, at Breda, but his staff generals argued it down. When Germany attacked in May, they crashed against a powerful Allied force. Unfortunately, the Germans had planned a 'sickle cut' through the Ardennes and pushed through into France until the Allied Armoured Reserve could grind them to a halt, and the Netherlands fell. As the ground offensive stalemated, heavy Luftwaffe bombing began across French soil (though most of Paris was deliberately spared) from out of Dutch bases, and Gamelin was frustrated that the air part of the battle was mostly out of his hands; he threw ad-hoc Allied Kommando units of British, French, and Free Dutch & Norwegian soldiers across the border to prick these airbases. By August, the Germans were scaling back their efforts and it was safe to replace Gamelin.

There is ferocious debate about Gamelin's plans and the compromises made. A prevailing theory is that if the 'Breda variant' had been carried out, at least part of the Netherlands could have been saved and the Blitz of France, with its thousands of lost lives, prevented.

[3] Primarily a political appointment to shore up Belgium's will to resist, Baron van Strydonck de Burkel surprised Allied Command with his grasp of logistics and leadership abilities. His successful defence of Liege had done much to stiffen Belgian resolve and been enough to persuade the French and British that he would be a solid commander regardless of the political considerations.

This trust was put to the test in November 1940 when a large German force advanced on Bastogne. The Allies were caught flat-footed, successful Germany espionage had convinced the French (ignoring Strydonck de Burkels intuition) the attack would be towards Metz and Nancy. Instead Belgian defenders were left to face the Blitzkrieg alone.

What followed was one of the finest moments on Belgian military history as their outnumbered and out-gunned forces held off assault after assault. Burkel had been wise enough to retain some forces from the defence of Metz and used his reserves to grind the Germans to a halt, allowing time for the French and British to redeploy and throw the Germans back across the border.

The Belgians were acclaimed for their tenacity and fighting spirit, indeed Prime Minister Eden praised them in the House as "fiercer than Spartans". Strydonck de Burkel was lauded for his foresight and preparation and while the rest of his term was quiet he had inflicted a severe blown upon the Reich, throwing the initiative firmly back to the allies. The alliance itself was no longer a duopoly, Belgium had decisively allowed itself to be considered one of the "Big Three".


[4] Another respected figure from WW1 and other battles beside, Weygand had been the initial head of Middle East Command. When he took command of CAFCOM, Burkel had seen Germany fall back from French soil, the Blitz was dying out, and most of Belgium was saved - Europe was now a static front, and attention shifted to other theatres, including (as Italy had been cajoled into joining the war by lies of an easy storm to Egypt) by the dynamic Middle Eastern theatre. Weyygand proved an unpopular leader, complaining he was being "wasted" and being openly critical of the generals at MEC. After several months, he pitched Operation Croix: a 'Blitz' style attack on occupied Belgium, to throw the Germans out the same way they'd entered.

This was approved and led to ten days of grinding slaughter, as Weygand had overestimated how integrated his forces were and how accurate Allied bomber planes were. After initial gains, the Allied forces had to retreat back over the Axis lines. While the Germans were badly mauled too and it was, in all honesty, a no-score draw, they could at least claim victory. Weygand finished the rest of his term in seething silence, while the 'Big Three' looked elsewhere for a general who might be able to lead an offensive plan...

[5] Initially hoped to be the exact offensive general that the Allies were looking for, 'Monty' had been Eden's poster boy and the French liked for his record in 1940, where his division had held the pivot for the French to counterattack into the Ardennes, though some of them didn't appreciate his questioning the sexual health of French women. Eden had him personally transferred to the Middle East, where Ironside wielded him like a hammer against the Italians, leading the Commonwealth forces advance into Libya as far as Benghazi before Germany lit the Balkans tinder box.

Feeling the time was right for another big offensive while the Germans were tied down in Yugoslavia and Greece and Weygand was on the way out, Monty was given CAFCOM, however it wasn't to last. While engaging in an inspection of newly arrived Canadian units, a flight of Stukas came over head. Trying to take personal direction of the Canadian's anti-air guns, Monty was caught in an explosion and tore up by shrapnel which killed him. Eden gave a personal address to the Commons lamenting his general 'who had fought to the last'. Consequently, morale among the Canadians shrank and Belgian, Free Dutch and Norwegian units soon referred to them as jinxed. Disheartened by the tragedy, Command fell to Monty's deputy.

[6] Jan Smuts had resigned the Prime Minister's office in early 1941 to act as the unofficial coordinator of the Dominion armies. By 1941, relations between Britain and her colonies leadership were breaking down under the strain of what appeared to be a repeat of the terrible attrition of the Great War. In Quebec, in Melbourne and in Johannesburg questions were openly being asked about whether another generation of young men would be expected to leap into a meatgrinder in Flanders come the 1960s. The overall command structure was being increasingly threatened by the demands for Imperial troops to have a voice in the decisions being made by Britain and France; finally Churchill tried to get ahead of the problem by appointing Smuts as the de facto Dominion representative- which, given his closeness to Winston, satisfied the colonies not one bit.

Smuts was an intelligent man and knew that his appointment would be short-lived. He made the decision to spend the summer of 1941 on dispensing with the clunky, ad hoc command structure that had so far characterised the Allied war effort. He encouraged the integration of the continental militaries into a single structure, eroding Belgian military independence in exchange for the over representation of their officers on staff commands throughout the entire theatre. He enjoyed far less success with his own Imperial peers- Canada and Australia in particular refused to sacrifice any autonomy for the proposed Imperial Staff, and when the Nehru-Jinnah Commission demanded Indian representation it became clear that this was now a political and diplomatic crisis more than a military one. Jan Smuts resigned in December 1941, to take up command of the thrust into Salazar's colonies.


[7] Taking advantage of Smut's reforms, Alexander - who had been part of the European forces since the start and felt he knew it like the back of his hands - spent three months organising CAFCOM for the political leader's big hope, the liberation of the Netherlands. (An intelligence operation convinced Germany this was a build-up aimed at Germany itself, through Belgium) In mid-March, Alexander led a massive, integrated blitzkreig-style strike through north Belgium into Zeeland, while a Marine/naval/air-carrier force captured the Hague. It was a humiliating route for the Germans and a huge win for the Allies.

That was the first few days. It took a few more to push through to get close to Amsterdam and three weeks to finally liberate the city, after extremely savage combat and to find the SS had massacred thousands of people. The second front through North Brabant similarly bogged down. The Luftwaffe staged bombing attacks on liberated towns and had to be engaged. By early May, most of the country was now liberated but a swathe of the east, protected by rivers, were still under German control and the Allies decided to leave it for now. Alexander was now internationally famous as a liberator, the Axis had lost many lives and equipment, and German focus on the Dutch front meant abandoning the Italians in Greece, which the Allies also won in; but however much the political leaders shook hands with Alexander they feared how bloody his successful plan had been and what this meant for invading Germany and Italy themselves. Could the price be born??

[8] A man dubbed the 'Salamander' by Prime Minister Eden for his skills under fire, Freyberg had been a leader of New Zealand forces in the Middle East and Africa of the course of the last several years and was known for being a brilliant Division tactician and commander, despite all of that his appointment was mainly political, showcasing that Imperial Commanders would be making decisions. But he wasn't just a puppet for the political higher ups, he had also learned a number of lessons from dealing with Italian fortifications in Africa, the German defences in Greece and the mobile warfare of the Middle East. Freyberg's plan to deal with German and Italian forces in Europe was often called Sledgehammer tactics, as in 'to crack a Walnut with'.

He would spend the first 4 months, shoring up Dutch defences, reorganising the CAFCOM Air Forces to prepare for his Sledgehammer plan and to prepare for the assault on Italy. After a number of months he would unleash his tactics on to the Italian islands of Sicily and Sardinia. Using a huge force consisting of French, British, Anzac, Indian and Free forces, gigantic bomber raids and using new Allied tanks the September Invasions would be the first use of Freyberg's Sledgehammer tactics as Axis forces would experience huge waves of bombings, shellings and then overwhelming armoured forces within very small sections. These tactics would be successful with low casualties and large gains but take a long time with Sardina and Sicily being liberated by early November 1943, which for many in the Allied political spheres was too long. Still Freyberg was allowed to stay on as he created plans for the invasion of Italy for early 1943. However in Winter 1943, German forces would try and Blitzkrieg though the Netherlands and whilst turned back (with Freyberg's multilayered defences withstanding the attack well) had shaken many in the Allied command. Freyberg would request in early spring 1943 that he be transferred to the Asian front to take his skills there which was agreed by the CAFCOM higher ups.

[9] With Freyberg going one way the "Auk" came the other, his smooth handling of Dominion forces seemingly making him the ideal candidate to lead a large multinational military command. Dusting off Freyberg's plans for the push into the Italian mainland Auchinleck proposed a two phased operation, with a feint into the remaining occupied Dutch areas to throw the Germans off the scent with a main thrust into Italy at Anzio. Contact had been made with elements of the Italian Establishment and armed forces who were prepared to switch sides upon the Allied landings with the plan to cut Italy in two, trapping German forces in the "boot" and expedite a quick dash to Rome where the Allied Free Italian forces could form a new Government.

The operation went off as planned, albeit with extremely heavy losses in the Dutch feint attack. However in Italy the trap was successfully snapped shut with 200'000 German troops caught behind the new Allied lines. In spite of fierce counterattacks on both flanks the line held and the German defenders were slowly whittled down. In Rome the the Free Italian forces and Allies were welcomed as liberators although they were too slow to capture Mussolini, who was spirited North to form a German Client State in North East Italy. However a great majority of the Italian army swapped sides and Italy was secured for the Allies just north of Florence. As the Autumn neared the French pushed South West into Italy while the Allied forces in the South pushed North West, hoping to meet in the middle before years end.

While Auchinlek was being lauded in the press and there were talks of extending his 6 month period of command he was suddenly informed that he would not proceed past October. The Auk did not take the news well and lashed out at subordinates and made some choice accusations at the French, who he blamed for a whispering campaign against him. It was not till many years after the war and the release of official records that the real reason for his removal from the was revealed. The supposed feint into Holland was actually sold to the various national Governments as an equally relevant operation and one that would open up both Germany and Italy simultaneously. Its descent into a killing field, disproportionately affecting French and Belgian forces was politically and militarily untenable. To preserve harmonious relations among the big Three these events were covered up and Auchinlek was allowed to return to a senior posting in China, although he remained a bitter and disillusioned individual long after the war ended.
 

Charles EP M.

Well-known member
Published by SLP
Commander-in-Chief Combined Allied Forces Command, Western Europe

October 1939 - March 1940: Edmund Ironside (UK) [1]
March 1940 - August 1940: Maurice Gamelin (France) [2]
August 1940 - January 1941: Victor, Baron van Strydonck de Burkel (Belgium) [3]
January 1941 - June 1941: Maxime Weygand (France) [4]
June 1941 - July 1941: Bernard Montgomery† (UK) [5]
July 1941 - December 1941: Jan Smuts (South Africa) [6]
December 1941 - May 1942: Harold Alexander (UK) [7]
May 1942 - May 1943: Bernard Freyberg (New Zealand) [8]
May 1943 - October 1943: Claude Auchinleck (UK) [9]
October 1943 - November 1943: Raoul Daufresne de la Chevalerie (Belgium) [10]
November 1943 - November 1944:
November 1944 - April 1945:

[1] Desperate to learn the lessons of the last war, France and Britain agreed to forgo separate higher command groups for the Second War in the West and created Combined Allied Forces Command (CAFCOM) for troops of all allied nations serving in France under its jurisdiction. It's first C-in-C was British general Edmund Ironside. Initially sceptical of his new command, Ironside knew that he would be better use to the war effort in France than as Chief of the Imperial General Staff in London. Both London and Paris saw him as an acceptable candidate for the job for his work with the Poles in the run up to war: Ironside was also keen to add limits to his own office, laying down the precedent that a C-in-C of CAFCOM should only spend 6 months in the job, unless circumstances allowed an extension or early removal. As the Phoney War stretched on however, Ironside lamented the resolve on French commanders to prepare for total war, and he consequently began sacking French generals he deemed to 'lack the stuff'. Besides this, Ironside's main contribution to the Allied war effort was the creation of the Allied Armoured Reserve, a concentrated force of British and French tank units meant to counter the German panzer divisions. When his 6 months were up, Prime Minster Chamberlain sent Ironside to the Middle East Command, to keep him out of the way.

[2] A Frenchman had to be Commander CAFCOM to placate Paris after all the sackings Ironside had done. Gamelin was viewed as a powerhouse of a general and acceptable to all, and began preparing to meet the Germans in Belgium - he also wanted to meet them in the Netherlands, at Breda, but his staff generals argued it down. When Germany attacked in May, they crashed against a powerful Allied force. Unfortunately, the Germans had planned a 'sickle cut' through the Ardennes and pushed through into France until the Allied Armoured Reserve could grind them to a halt, and the Netherlands fell. As the ground offensive stalemated, heavy Luftwaffe bombing began across French soil (though most of Paris was deliberately spared) from out of Dutch bases, and Gamelin was frustrated that the air part of the battle was mostly out of his hands; he threw ad-hoc Allied Kommando units of British, French, and Free Dutch & Norwegian soldiers across the border to prick these airbases. By August, the Germans were scaling back their efforts and it was safe to replace Gamelin.

There is ferocious debate about Gamelin's plans and the compromises made. A prevailing theory is that if the 'Breda variant' had been carried out, at least part of the Netherlands could have been saved and the Blitz of France, with its thousands of lost lives, prevented.

[3] Primarily a political appointment to shore up Belgium's will to resist, Baron van Strydonck de Burkel surprised Allied Command with his grasp of logistics and leadership abilities. His successful defence of Liege had done much to stiffen Belgian resolve and been enough to persuade the French and British that he would be a solid commander regardless of the political considerations.

This trust was put to the test in November 1940 when a large German force advanced on Bastogne. The Allies were caught flat-footed, successful Germany espionage had convinced the French (ignoring Strydonck de Burkels intuition) the attack would be towards Metz and Nancy. Instead Belgian defenders were left to face the Blitzkrieg alone.

What followed was one of the finest moments on Belgian military history as their outnumbered and out-gunned forces held off assault after assault. Burkel had been wise enough to retain some forces from the defence of Metz and used his reserves to grind the Germans to a halt, allowing time for the French and British to redeploy and throw the Germans back across the border.

The Belgians were acclaimed for their tenacity and fighting spirit, indeed Prime Minister Eden praised them in the House as "fiercer than Spartans". Strydonck de Burkel was lauded for his foresight and preparation and while the rest of his term was quiet he had inflicted a severe blown upon the Reich, throwing the initiative firmly back to the allies. The alliance itself was no longer a duopoly, Belgium had decisively allowed itself to be considered one of the "Big Three".


[4] Another respected figure from WW1 and other battles beside, Weygand had been the initial head of Middle East Command. When he took command of CAFCOM, Burkel had seen Germany fall back from French soil, the Blitz was dying out, and most of Belgium was saved - Europe was now a static front, and attention shifted to other theatres, including (as Italy had been cajoled into joining the war by lies of an easy storm to Egypt) by the dynamic Middle Eastern theatre. Weyygand proved an unpopular leader, complaining he was being "wasted" and being openly critical of the generals at MEC. After several months, he pitched Operation Croix: a 'Blitz' style attack on occupied Belgium, to throw the Germans out the same way they'd entered.

This was approved and led to ten days of grinding slaughter, as Weygand had overestimated how integrated his forces were and how accurate Allied bomber planes were. After initial gains, the Allied forces had to retreat back over the Axis lines. While the Germans were badly mauled too and it was, in all honesty, a no-score draw, they could at least claim victory. Weygand finished the rest of his term in seething silence, while the 'Big Three' looked elsewhere for a general who might be able to lead an offensive plan...

[5] Initially hoped to be the exact offensive general that the Allies were looking for, 'Monty' had been Eden's poster boy and the French liked for his record in 1940, where his division had held the pivot for the French to counterattack into the Ardennes, though some of them didn't appreciate his questioning the sexual health of French women. Eden had him personally transferred to the Middle East, where Ironside wielded him like a hammer against the Italians, leading the Commonwealth forces advance into Libya as far as Benghazi before Germany lit the Balkans tinder box.

Feeling the time was right for another big offensive while the Germans were tied down in Yugoslavia and Greece and Weygand was on the way out, Monty was given CAFCOM, however it wasn't to last. While engaging in an inspection of newly arrived Canadian units, a flight of Stukas came over head. Trying to take personal direction of the Canadian's anti-air guns, Monty was caught in an explosion and tore up by shrapnel which killed him. Eden gave a personal address to the Commons lamenting his general 'who had fought to the last'. Consequently, morale among the Canadians shrank and Belgian, Free Dutch and Norwegian units soon referred to them as jinxed. Disheartened by the tragedy, Command fell to Monty's deputy.

[6] Jan Smuts had resigned the Prime Minister's office in early 1941 to act as the unofficial coordinator of the Dominion armies. By 1941, relations between Britain and her colonies leadership were breaking down under the strain of what appeared to be a repeat of the terrible attrition of the Great War. In Quebec, in Melbourne and in Johannesburg questions were openly being asked about whether another generation of young men would be expected to leap into a meatgrinder in Flanders come the 1960s. The overall command structure was being increasingly threatened by the demands for Imperial troops to have a voice in the decisions being made by Britain and France; finally Churchill tried to get ahead of the problem by appointing Smuts as the de facto Dominion representative- which, given his closeness to Winston, satisfied the colonies not one bit.

Smuts was an intelligent man and knew that his appointment would be short-lived. He made the decision to spend the summer of 1941 on dispensing with the clunky, ad hoc command structure that had so far characterised the Allied war effort. He encouraged the integration of the continental militaries into a single structure, eroding Belgian military independence in exchange for the over representation of their officers on staff commands throughout the entire theatre. He enjoyed far less success with his own Imperial peers- Canada and Australia in particular refused to sacrifice any autonomy for the proposed Imperial Staff, and when the Nehru-Jinnah Commission demanded Indian representation it became clear that this was now a political and diplomatic crisis more than a military one. Jan Smuts resigned in December 1941, to take up command of the thrust into Salazar's colonies.


[7] Taking advantage of Smut's reforms, Alexander - who had been part of the European forces since the start and felt he knew it like the back of his hands - spent three months organising CAFCOM for the political leader's big hope, the liberation of the Netherlands. (An intelligence operation convinced Germany this was a build-up aimed at Germany itself, through Belgium) In mid-March, Alexander led a massive, integrated blitzkreig-style strike through north Belgium into Zeeland, while a Marine/naval/air-carrier force captured the Hague. It was a humiliating route for the Germans and a huge win for the Allies.

That was the first few days. It took a few more to push through to get close to Amsterdam and three weeks to finally liberate the city, after extremely savage combat and to find the SS had massacred thousands of people. The second front through North Brabant similarly bogged down. The Luftwaffe staged bombing attacks on liberated towns and had to be engaged. By early May, most of the country was now liberated but a swathe of the east, protected by rivers, were still under German control and the Allies decided to leave it for now. Alexander was now internationally famous as a liberator, the Axis had lost many lives and equipment, and German focus on the Dutch front meant abandoning the Italians in Greece, which the Allies also won in; but however much the political leaders shook hands with Alexander they feared how bloody his successful plan had been and what this meant for invading Germany and Italy themselves. Could the price be born??

[8] A man dubbed the 'Salamander' by Prime Minister Eden for his skills under fire, Freyberg had been a leader of New Zealand forces in the Middle East and Africa of the course of the last several years and was known for being a brilliant Division tactician and commander, despite all of that his appointment was mainly political, showcasing that Imperial Commanders would be making decisions. But he wasn't just a puppet for the political higher ups, he had also learned a number of lessons from dealing with Italian fortifications in Africa, the German defences in Greece and the mobile warfare of the Middle East. Freyberg's plan to deal with German and Italian forces in Europe was often called Sledgehammer tactics, as in 'to crack a Walnut with'.

He would spend the first 4 months, shoring up Dutch defences, reorganising the CAFCOM Air Forces to prepare for his Sledgehammer plan and to prepare for the assault on Italy. After a number of months he would unleash his tactics on to the Italian islands of Sicily and Sardinia. Using a huge force consisting of French, British, Anzac, Indian and Free forces, gigantic bomber raids and using new Allied tanks the September Invasions would be the first use of Freyberg's Sledgehammer tactics as Axis forces would experience huge waves of bombings, shellings and then overwhelming armoured forces within very small sections. These tactics would be successful with low casualties and large gains but take a long time with Sardina and Sicily being liberated by early November 1943, which for many in the Allied political spheres was too long. Still Freyberg was allowed to stay on as he created plans for the invasion of Italy for early 1943. However in Winter 1943, German forces would try and Blitzkrieg though the Netherlands and whilst turned back (with Freyberg's multilayered defences withstanding the attack well) had shaken many in the Allied command. Freyberg would request in early spring 1943 that he be transferred to the Asian front to take his skills there which was agreed by the CAFCOM higher ups.

[9] With Freyberg going one way the "Auk" came the other, his smooth handling of Dominion forces seemingly making him the ideal candidate to lead a large multinational military command. Dusting off Freyberg's plans for the push into the Italian mainland Auchinleck proposed a two phased operation, with a feint into the remaining occupied Dutch areas to throw the Germans off the scent with a main thrust into Italy at Anzio. Contact had been made with elements of the Italian Establishment and armed forces who were prepared to switch sides upon the Allied landings with the plan to cut Italy in two, trapping German forces in the "boot" and expedite a quick dash to Rome where the Allied Free Italian forces could form a new Government.

The operation went off as planned, albeit with extremely heavy losses in the Dutch feint attack. However in Italy the trap was successfully snapped shut with 200'000 German troops caught behind the new Allied lines. In spite of fierce counterattacks on both flanks the line held and the German defenders were slowly whittled down. In Rome the the Free Italian forces and Allies were welcomed as liberators although they were too slow to capture Mussolini, who was spirited North to form a German Client State in North East Italy. However a great majority of the Italian army swapped sides and Italy was secured for the Allies just north of Florence. As the Autumn neared the French pushed South West into Italy while the Allied forces in the South pushed North West, hoping to meet in the middle before years end.

While Auchinlek was being lauded in the press and there were talks of extending his 6 month period of command he was suddenly informed that he would not proceed past October. The Auk did not take the news well and lashed out at subordinates and made some choice accusations at the French, who he blamed for a whispering campaign against him. It was not till many years after the war and the release of official records that the real reason for his removal from the was revealed. The supposed feint into Holland was actually sold to the various national Governments as an equally relevant operation and one that would open up both Germany and Italy simultaneously. Its descent into a killing field, disproportionately affecting French and Belgian forces was politically and militarily untenable. To preserve harmonious relations among the big Three these events were covered up and Auchinlek was allowed to return to a senior posting in China, although he remained a bitter and disillusioned individual long after the war ended.


[10] To placate the French and Belgians after the losses in Holland, one of their own had to be in charge and the French already had command of Balkans CAFCOM so de la Chevalerie got the nod. He'd only recently been promoted to this rank and while his service over the last three years was respected, there were mutterings (correctly) of politics. He was determined to prove otherwise, preparing his command for the expected link-up with the Balkan forces - the Germans were being routed across there and a big push into "the Republic of Free Italy" was soon to happen.

Nobody expected the German's rocket program to be expended on the Maginot Line, blasting a hole for the Germans to pour through and rip apart the French reserves. De la Chevalerie flew from Italian HQ to Europe CAFCOM as the Germans rushed to Paris, hoping for a knockout blow to swing the war. In an attempt to restore morale and discipline, he personally took command at the ad-hoc Paris defences and succeeded in preparing it for the German's first attacks. Unfortunately this meant the first attack saw a sniper take him out, leaving his deputy in charge of the Second Battle of France.
 

Bonniecanuck

RIP Hong Kong 1841-2020
Location
Hong Kong, now and forever home
Pronouns
she/her + they/them
Commander-in-Chief Combined Allied Forces Command, Western Europe

October 1939 - March 1940: Edmund Ironside (UK) [1]
March 1940 - August 1940: Maurice Gamelin (France) [2]
August 1940 - January 1941: Victor, Baron van Strydonck de Burkel (Belgium) [3]
January 1941 - June 1941: Maxime Weygand (France) [4]
June 1941 - July 1941: Bernard Montgomery† (UK) [5]
July 1941 - December 1941: Jan Smuts (South Africa) [6]
December 1941 - May 1942: Harold Alexander (UK) [7]
May 1942 - May 1943: Bernard Freyberg (New Zealand) [8]
May 1943 - October 1943: Claude Auchinleck (UK) [9]
October 1943 - November 1943: Raoul Daufresne de la Chevalerie† (Belgium) [10]
November 1943 - November 1944: Władysław Anders (Poland) [11]
November 1944 - April 1945:

[1] Desperate to learn the lessons of the last war, France and Britain agreed to forgo separate higher command groups for the Second War in the West and created Combined Allied Forces Command (CAFCOM) for troops of all allied nations serving in France under its jurisdiction. It's first C-in-C was British general Edmund Ironside. Initially sceptical of his new command, Ironside knew that he would be better use to the war effort in France than as Chief of the Imperial General Staff in London. Both London and Paris saw him as an acceptable candidate for the job for his work with the Poles in the run up to war: Ironside was also keen to add limits to his own office, laying down the precedent that a C-in-C of CAFCOM should only spend 6 months in the job, unless circumstances allowed an extension or early removal. As the Phoney War stretched on however, Ironside lamented the resolve on French commanders to prepare for total war, and he consequently began sacking French generals he deemed to 'lack the stuff'. Besides this, Ironside's main contribution to the Allied war effort was the creation of the Allied Armoured Reserve, a concentrated force of British and French tank units meant to counter the German panzer divisions. When his 6 months were up, Prime Minster Chamberlain sent Ironside to the Middle East Command, to keep him out of the way.

[2] A Frenchman had to be Commander CAFCOM to placate Paris after all the sackings Ironside had done. Gamelin was viewed as a powerhouse of a general and acceptable to all, and began preparing to meet the Germans in Belgium - he also wanted to meet them in the Netherlands, at Breda, but his staff generals argued it down. When Germany attacked in May, they crashed against a powerful Allied force. Unfortunately, the Germans had planned a 'sickle cut' through the Ardennes and pushed through into France until the Allied Armoured Reserve could grind them to a halt, and the Netherlands fell. As the ground offensive stalemated, heavy Luftwaffe bombing began across French soil (though most of Paris was deliberately spared) from out of Dutch bases, and Gamelin was frustrated that the air part of the battle was mostly out of his hands; he threw ad-hoc Allied Kommando units of British, French, and Free Dutch & Norwegian soldiers across the border to prick these airbases. By August, the Germans were scaling back their efforts and it was safe to replace Gamelin.

There is ferocious debate about Gamelin's plans and the compromises made. A prevailing theory is that if the 'Breda variant' had been carried out, at least part of the Netherlands could have been saved and the Blitz of France, with its thousands of lost lives, prevented.

[3] Primarily a political appointment to shore up Belgium's will to resist, Baron van Strydonck de Burkel surprised Allied Command with his grasp of logistics and leadership abilities. His successful defence of Liege had done much to stiffen Belgian resolve and been enough to persuade the French and British that he would be a solid commander regardless of the political considerations.

This trust was put to the test in November 1940 when a large German force advanced on Bastogne. The Allies were caught flat-footed, successful Germany espionage had convinced the French (ignoring Strydonck de Burkels intuition) the attack would be towards Metz and Nancy. Instead Belgian defenders were left to face the Blitzkrieg alone.

What followed was one of the finest moments on Belgian military history as their outnumbered and out-gunned forces held off assault after assault. Burkel had been wise enough to retain some forces from the defence of Metz and used his reserves to grind the Germans to a halt, allowing time for the French and British to redeploy and throw the Germans back across the border.

The Belgians were acclaimed for their tenacity and fighting spirit, indeed Prime Minister Eden praised them in the House as "fiercer than Spartans". Strydonck de Burkel was lauded for his foresight and preparation and while the rest of his term was quiet he had inflicted a severe blown upon the Reich, throwing the initiative firmly back to the allies. The alliance itself was no longer a duopoly, Belgium had decisively allowed itself to be considered one of the "Big Three".


[4] Another respected figure from WW1 and other battles beside, Weygand had been the initial head of Middle East Command. When he took command of CAFCOM, Burkel had seen Germany fall back from French soil, the Blitz was dying out, and most of Belgium was saved - Europe was now a static front, and attention shifted to other theatres, including (as Italy had been cajoled into joining the war by lies of an easy storm to Egypt) by the dynamic Middle Eastern theatre. Weyygand proved an unpopular leader, complaining he was being "wasted" and being openly critical of the generals at MEC. After several months, he pitched Operation Croix: a 'Blitz' style attack on occupied Belgium, to throw the Germans out the same way they'd entered.

This was approved and led to ten days of grinding slaughter, as Weygand had overestimated how integrated his forces were and how accurate Allied bomber planes were. After initial gains, the Allied forces had to retreat back over the Axis lines. While the Germans were badly mauled too and it was, in all honesty, a no-score draw, they could at least claim victory. Weygand finished the rest of his term in seething silence, while the 'Big Three' looked elsewhere for a general who might be able to lead an offensive plan...

[5] Initially hoped to be the exact offensive general that the Allies were looking for, 'Monty' had been Eden's poster boy and the French liked for his record in 1940, where his division had held the pivot for the French to counterattack into the Ardennes, though some of them didn't appreciate his questioning the sexual health of French women. Eden had him personally transferred to the Middle East, where Ironside wielded him like a hammer against the Italians, leading the Commonwealth forces advance into Libya as far as Benghazi before Germany lit the Balkans tinder box.

Feeling the time was right for another big offensive while the Germans were tied down in Yugoslavia and Greece and Weygand was on the way out, Monty was given CAFCOM, however it wasn't to last. While engaging in an inspection of newly arrived Canadian units, a flight of Stukas came over head. Trying to take personal direction of the Canadian's anti-air guns, Monty was caught in an explosion and tore up by shrapnel which killed him. Eden gave a personal address to the Commons lamenting his general 'who had fought to the last'. Consequently, morale among the Canadians shrank and Belgian, Free Dutch and Norwegian units soon referred to them as jinxed. Disheartened by the tragedy, Command fell to Monty's deputy.

[6] Jan Smuts had resigned the Prime Minister's office in early 1941 to act as the unofficial coordinator of the Dominion armies. By 1941, relations between Britain and her colonies leadership were breaking down under the strain of what appeared to be a repeat of the terrible attrition of the Great War. In Quebec, in Melbourne and in Johannesburg questions were openly being asked about whether another generation of young men would be expected to leap into a meatgrinder in Flanders come the 1960s. The overall command structure was being increasingly threatened by the demands for Imperial troops to have a voice in the decisions being made by Britain and France; finally Churchill tried to get ahead of the problem by appointing Smuts as the de facto Dominion representative- which, given his closeness to Winston, satisfied the colonies not one bit.

Smuts was an intelligent man and knew that his appointment would be short-lived. He made the decision to spend the summer of 1941 on dispensing with the clunky, ad hoc command structure that had so far characterised the Allied war effort. He encouraged the integration of the continental militaries into a single structure, eroding Belgian military independence in exchange for the over representation of their officers on staff commands throughout the entire theatre. He enjoyed far less success with his own Imperial peers- Canada and Australia in particular refused to sacrifice any autonomy for the proposed Imperial Staff, and when the Nehru-Jinnah Commission demanded Indian representation it became clear that this was now a political and diplomatic crisis more than a military one. Jan Smuts resigned in December 1941, to take up command of the thrust into Salazar's colonies.


[7] Taking advantage of Smut's reforms, Alexander - who had been part of the European forces since the start and felt he knew it like the back of his hands - spent three months organising CAFCOM for the political leader's big hope, the liberation of the Netherlands. (An intelligence operation convinced Germany this was a build-up aimed at Germany itself, through Belgium) In mid-March, Alexander led a massive, integrated blitzkreig-style strike through north Belgium into Zeeland, while a Marine/naval/air-carrier force captured the Hague. It was a humiliating route for the Germans and a huge win for the Allies.

That was the first few days. It took a few more to push through to get close to Amsterdam and three weeks to finally liberate the city, after extremely savage combat and to find the SS had massacred thousands of people. The second front through North Brabant similarly bogged down. The Luftwaffe staged bombing attacks on liberated towns and had to be engaged. By early May, most of the country was now liberated but a swathe of the east, protected by rivers, were still under German control and the Allies decided to leave it for now. Alexander was now internationally famous as a liberator, the Axis had lost many lives and equipment, and German focus on the Dutch front meant abandoning the Italians in Greece, which the Allies also won in; but however much the political leaders shook hands with Alexander they feared how bloody his successful plan had been and what this meant for invading Germany and Italy themselves. Could the price be born??

[8] A man dubbed the 'Salamander' by Prime Minister Eden for his skills under fire, Freyberg had been a leader of New Zealand forces in the Middle East and Africa of the course of the last several years and was known for being a brilliant Division tactician and commander, despite all of that his appointment was mainly political, showcasing that Imperial Commanders would be making decisions. But he wasn't just a puppet for the political higher ups, he had also learned a number of lessons from dealing with Italian fortifications in Africa, the German defences in Greece and the mobile warfare of the Middle East. Freyberg's plan to deal with German and Italian forces in Europe was often called Sledgehammer tactics, as in 'to crack a Walnut with'.

He would spend the first 4 months, shoring up Dutch defences, reorganising the CAFCOM Air Forces to prepare for his Sledgehammer plan and to prepare for the assault on Italy. After a number of months he would unleash his tactics on to the Italian islands of Sicily and Sardinia. Using a huge force consisting of French, British, Anzac, Indian and Free forces, gigantic bomber raids and using new Allied tanks the September Invasions would be the first use of Freyberg's Sledgehammer tactics as Axis forces would experience huge waves of bombings, shellings and then overwhelming armoured forces within very small sections. These tactics would be successful with low casualties and large gains but take a long time with Sardina and Sicily being liberated by early November 1943, which for many in the Allied political spheres was too long. Still Freyberg was allowed to stay on as he created plans for the invasion of Italy for early 1943. However in Winter 1943, German forces would try and Blitzkrieg though the Netherlands and whilst turned back (with Freyberg's multilayered defences withstanding the attack well) had shaken many in the Allied command. Freyberg would request in early spring 1943 that he be transferred to the Asian front to take his skills there which was agreed by the CAFCOM higher ups.

[9] With Freyberg going one way the "Auk" came the other, his smooth handling of Dominion forces seemingly making him the ideal candidate to lead a large multinational military command. Dusting off Freyberg's plans for the push into the Italian mainland Auchinleck proposed a two phased operation, with a feint into the remaining occupied Dutch areas to throw the Germans off the scent with a main thrust into Italy at Anzio. Contact had been made with elements of the Italian Establishment and armed forces who were prepared to switch sides upon the Allied landings with the plan to cut Italy in two, trapping German forces in the "boot" and expedite a quick dash to Rome where the Allied Free Italian forces could form a new Government.

The operation went off as planned, albeit with extremely heavy losses in the Dutch feint attack. However in Italy the trap was successfully snapped shut with 200'000 German troops caught behind the new Allied lines. In spite of fierce counterattacks on both flanks the line held and the German defenders were slowly whittled down. In Rome the the Free Italian forces and Allies were welcomed as liberators although they were too slow to capture Mussolini, who was spirited North to form a German Client State in North East Italy. However a great majority of the Italian army swapped sides and Italy was secured for the Allies just north of Florence. As the Autumn neared the French pushed South West into Italy while the Allied forces in the South pushed North West, hoping to meet in the middle before years end.

While Auchinlek was being lauded in the press and there were talks of extending his 6 month period of command he was suddenly informed that he would not proceed past October. The Auk did not take the news well and lashed out at subordinates and made some choice accusations at the French, who he blamed for a whispering campaign against him. It was not till many years after the war and the release of official records that the real reason for his removal from the was revealed. The supposed feint into Holland was actually sold to the various national Governments as an equally relevant operation and one that would open up both Germany and Italy simultaneously. Its descent into a killing field, disproportionately affecting French and Belgian forces was politically and militarily untenable. To preserve harmonious relations among the big Three these events were covered up and Auchinlek was allowed to return to a senior posting in China, although he remained a bitter and disillusioned individual long after the war ended.


[10] To placate the French and Belgians after the losses in Holland, one of their own had to be in charge and the French already had command of Balkans CAFCOM so de la Chevalerie got the nod. He'd only recently been promoted to this rank and while his service over the last three years was respected, there were mutterings (correctly) of politics. He was determined to prove otherwise, preparing his command for the expected link-up with the Balkan forces - the Germans were being routed across there and a big push into "the Republic of Free Italy" was soon to happen.

Nobody expected the German's rocket program to be expended on the Maginot Line, blasting a hole for the Germans to pour through and rip apart the French reserves. De la Chevalerie flew from Italian HQ to Europe CAFCOM as the Germans rushed to Paris, hoping for a knockout blow to swing the war. In an attempt to restore morale and discipline, he personally took command at the ad-hoc Paris defences and succeeded in preparing it for the German's first attacks. Unfortunately this meant the first attack saw a sniper take him out, leaving his deputy in charge of the Second Battle of France.


[11] To say that Władysław Anders was an unlikely option for CAFCOM would not be too far from the truth. Having been a headache for the Polish government-in-exile housed in Paris, Anders was nonetheless popular for his successful efforts to help escaping Poles regroup as the country had fallen to occupation. This made the general notable for his modus operandi, which was described as being grounded in humanitarianism alongside military utility. Against the reservations of his supervisors, he was put in command of the main body of Polish forces which participated in the Allied counterattacks into Belgium and the Netherlands. From there, his popularity among not just his fellow Poles but Allied troops and officers who fought with him led him to take command of the Polish Armed Forces in exile, and subsequently deputy to de la Chevalerie before his untimely death.

Anders wasted no time organising a defence as well as preparing plans for evacuations. Although broadly cautious, he still took extraordinary risks in trying to bait the Germans into extending their supply lines as they thrust into France. However, the strategy paid dividends as the Germans soon found themselves overextended and eventually cut off and surrounded. Much of the success of the encirclement has been attributed to the use of troops from the occupied nations of Central Europe, namely Czechoslovakia, Romania, and of course Poland, whose troops were more than motivated to fight knowing that the fate of their homelands could be decided if Paris fell. In the end, though, the City of Lights was saved, as by the end of summer 1944 the Allies repulsed the last of the Germans from the west. The Poles in particular were acclaimed by Parisians as continuing the legacy of Napoleon.

Nonetheless, the costs of the Second Battle of France prevented Anders from being able to follow up and launch a massive counterattack immediately. Instead, Anders made small but substantial gains over the rest of 1944, as in France the Germans were pushed back into Alsace-Lorraine, again with the Poles being at the forefront, while in the Low Countries Groningen and Aachen had been captured, ending the last German hold on the Netherlands and placing the industrial cities of the Rhineland under Allied artillery. These were much less than the grand offensives planned by the Allies before the Second Battle of France changed everything, but were substantial for morale, as was the fall of the Salazar regime by a coup headed by Generals José Norton de Matos and Humberto Delgado, who promptly brought Portugal into the Allies. It was expected that as the winter set in, Anders would be the one to oversee the preparations for the final push into Germany, particularly as the Germans were by now exhausted and depleted, and their industrial and logistical capabilities were growing weaker thanks to the naval blockade and bombings. However, internal machinations from within the Polish government-in-exile forced CAFCOM to avoid renewing his role as C-in-C, and Anders returned to commanding his troops in the field, a posting he seemed to feel more at home with due to his greater aptitude as a field commander.
 

TheHatMan98

Well-known member
Commander-in-Chief Combined Allied Forces Command, Western Europe

October 1939 - March 1940: Edmund Ironside (UK) [1]
March 1940 - August 1940: Maurice Gamelin (France) [2]
August 1940 - January 1941: Victor, Baron van Strydonck de Burkel (Belgium) [3]
January 1941 - June 1941: Maxime Weygand (France) [4]
June 1941 - July 1941: Bernard Montgomery† (UK) [5]
July 1941 - December 1941: Jan Smuts (South Africa) [6]
December 1941 - May 1942: Harold Alexander (UK) [7]
May 1942 - May 1943: Bernard Freyberg (New Zealand) [8]
May 1943 - October 1943: Claude Auchinleck (UK) [9]
October 1943 - November 1943: Raoul Daufresne de la Chevalerie† (Belgium) [10]
November 1943 - November 1944: Władysław Anders (Poland) [11]
November 1944 - April 1945: Alphonse Juin (France) [12]


[1] Desperate to learn the lessons of the last war, France and Britain agreed to forgo separate higher command groups for the Second War in the West and created Combined Allied Forces Command (CAFCOM) for troops of all allied nations serving in France under its jurisdiction. It's first C-in-C was British general Edmund Ironside. Initially sceptical of his new command, Ironside knew that he would be better use to the war effort in France than as Chief of the Imperial General Staff in London. Both London and Paris saw him as an acceptable candidate for the job for his work with the Poles in the run up to war: Ironside was also keen to add limits to his own office, laying down the precedent that a C-in-C of CAFCOM should only spend 6 months in the job, unless circumstances allowed an extension or early removal. As the Phoney War stretched on however, Ironside lamented the resolve on French commanders to prepare for total war, and he consequently began sacking French generals he deemed to 'lack the stuff'. Besides this, Ironside's main contribution to the Allied war effort was the creation of the Allied Armoured Reserve, a concentrated force of British and French tank units meant to counter the German panzer divisions. When his 6 months were up, Prime Minster Chamberlain sent Ironside to the Middle East Command, to keep him out of the way.

[2] A Frenchman had to be Commander CAFCOM to placate Paris after all the sackings Ironside had done. Gamelin was viewed as a powerhouse of a general and acceptable to all, and began preparing to meet the Germans in Belgium - he also wanted to meet them in the Netherlands, at Breda, but his staff generals argued it down. When Germany attacked in May, they crashed against a powerful Allied force. Unfortunately, the Germans had planned a 'sickle cut' through the Ardennes and pushed through into France until the Allied Armoured Reserve could grind them to a halt, and the Netherlands fell. As the ground offensive stalemated, heavy Luftwaffe bombing began across French soil (though most of Paris was deliberately spared) from out of Dutch bases, and Gamelin was frustrated that the air part of the battle was mostly out of his hands; he threw ad-hoc Allied Kommando units of British, French, and Free Dutch & Norwegian soldiers across the border to prick these airbases. By August, the Germans were scaling back their efforts and it was safe to replace Gamelin.

There is ferocious debate about Gamelin's plans and the compromises made. A prevailing theory is that if the 'Breda variant' had been carried out, at least part of the Netherlands could have been saved and the Blitz of France, with its thousands of lost lives, prevented.

[3] Primarily a political appointment to shore up Belgium's will to resist, Baron van Strydonck de Burkel surprised Allied Command with his grasp of logistics and leadership abilities. His successful defence of Liege had done much to stiffen Belgian resolve and been enough to persuade the French and British that he would be a solid commander regardless of the political considerations.

This trust was put to the test in November 1940 when a large German force advanced on Bastogne. The Allies were caught flat-footed, successful Germany espionage had convinced the French (ignoring Strydonck de Burkels intuition) the attack would be towards Metz and Nancy. Instead Belgian defenders were left to face the Blitzkrieg alone.

What followed was one of the finest moments on Belgian military history as their outnumbered and out-gunned forces held off assault after assault. Burkel had been wise enough to retain some forces from the defence of Metz and used his reserves to grind the Germans to a halt, allowing time for the French and British to redeploy and throw the Germans back across the border.

The Belgians were acclaimed for their tenacity and fighting spirit, indeed Prime Minister Eden praised them in the House as "fiercer than Spartans". Strydonck de Burkel was lauded for his foresight and preparation and while the rest of his term was quiet he had inflicted a severe blown upon the Reich, throwing the initiative firmly back to the allies. The alliance itself was no longer a duopoly, Belgium had decisively allowed itself to be considered one of the "Big Three".


[4] Another respected figure from WW1 and other battles beside, Weygand had been the initial head of Middle East Command. When he took command of CAFCOM, Burkel had seen Germany fall back from French soil, the Blitz was dying out, and most of Belgium was saved - Europe was now a static front, and attention shifted to other theatres, including (as Italy had been cajoled into joining the war by lies of an easy storm to Egypt) by the dynamic Middle Eastern theatre. Weyygand proved an unpopular leader, complaining he was being "wasted" and being openly critical of the generals at MEC. After several months, he pitched Operation Croix: a 'Blitz' style attack on occupied Belgium, to throw the Germans out the same way they'd entered.

This was approved and led to ten days of grinding slaughter, as Weygand had overestimated how integrated his forces were and how accurate Allied bomber planes were. After initial gains, the Allied forces had to retreat back over the Axis lines. While the Germans were badly mauled too and it was, in all honesty, a no-score draw, they could at least claim victory. Weygand finished the rest of his term in seething silence, while the 'Big Three' looked elsewhere for a general who might be able to lead an offensive plan...

[5] Initially hoped to be the exact offensive general that the Allies were looking for, 'Monty' had been Eden's poster boy and the French liked for his record in 1940, where his division had held the pivot for the French to counterattack into the Ardennes, though some of them didn't appreciate his questioning the sexual health of French women. Eden had him personally transferred to the Middle East, where Ironside wielded him like a hammer against the Italians, leading the Commonwealth forces advance into Libya as far as Benghazi before Germany lit the Balkans tinder box.

Feeling the time was right for another big offensive while the Germans were tied down in Yugoslavia and Greece and Weygand was on the way out, Monty was given CAFCOM, however it wasn't to last. While engaging in an inspection of newly arrived Canadian units, a flight of Stukas came over head. Trying to take personal direction of the Canadian's anti-air guns, Monty was caught in an explosion and tore up by shrapnel which killed him. Eden gave a personal address to the Commons lamenting his general 'who had fought to the last'. Consequently, morale among the Canadians shrank and Belgian, Free Dutch and Norwegian units soon referred to them as jinxed. Disheartened by the tragedy, Command fell to Monty's deputy.

[6] Jan Smuts had resigned the Prime Minister's office in early 1941 to act as the unofficial coordinator of the Dominion armies. By 1941, relations between Britain and her colonies leadership were breaking down under the strain of what appeared to be a repeat of the terrible attrition of the Great War. In Quebec, in Melbourne and in Johannesburg questions were openly being asked about whether another generation of young men would be expected to leap into a meatgrinder in Flanders come the 1960s. The overall command structure was being increasingly threatened by the demands for Imperial troops to have a voice in the decisions being made by Britain and France; finally Churchill tried to get ahead of the problem by appointing Smuts as the de facto Dominion representative- which, given his closeness to Winston, satisfied the colonies not one bit.

Smuts was an intelligent man and knew that his appointment would be short-lived. He made the decision to spend the summer of 1941 on dispensing with the clunky, ad hoc command structure that had so far characterised the Allied war effort. He encouraged the integration of the continental militaries into a single structure, eroding Belgian military independence in exchange for the over representation of their officers on staff commands throughout the entire theatre. He enjoyed far less success with his own Imperial peers- Canada and Australia in particular refused to sacrifice any autonomy for the proposed Imperial Staff, and when the Nehru-Jinnah Commission demanded Indian representation it became clear that this was now a political and diplomatic crisis more than a military one. Jan Smuts resigned in December 1941, to take up command of the thrust into Salazar's colonies.


[7] Taking advantage of Smut's reforms, Alexander - who had been part of the European forces since the start and felt he knew it like the back of his hands - spent three months organising CAFCOM for the political leader's big hope, the liberation of the Netherlands. (An intelligence operation convinced Germany this was a build-up aimed at Germany itself, through Belgium) In mid-March, Alexander led a massive, integrated blitzkreig-style strike through north Belgium into Zeeland, while a Marine/naval/air-carrier force captured the Hague. It was a humiliating route for the Germans and a huge win for the Allies.

That was the first few days. It took a few more to push through to get close to Amsterdam and three weeks to finally liberate the city, after extremely savage combat and to find the SS had massacred thousands of people. The second front through North Brabant similarly bogged down. The Luftwaffe staged bombing attacks on liberated towns and had to be engaged. By early May, most of the country was now liberated but a swathe of the east, protected by rivers, were still under German control and the Allies decided to leave it for now. Alexander was now internationally famous as a liberator, the Axis had lost many lives and equipment, and German focus on the Dutch front meant abandoning the Italians in Greece, which the Allies also won in; but however much the political leaders shook hands with Alexander they feared how bloody his successful plan had been and what this meant for invading Germany and Italy themselves. Could the price be born??

[8] A man dubbed the 'Salamander' by Prime Minister Eden for his skills under fire, Freyberg had been a leader of New Zealand forces in the Middle East and Africa of the course of the last several years and was known for being a brilliant Division tactician and commander, despite all of that his appointment was mainly political, showcasing that Imperial Commanders would be making decisions. But he wasn't just a puppet for the political higher ups, he had also learned a number of lessons from dealing with Italian fortifications in Africa, the German defences in Greece and the mobile warfare of the Middle East. Freyberg's plan to deal with German and Italian forces in Europe was often called Sledgehammer tactics, as in 'to crack a Walnut with'.

He would spend the first 4 months, shoring up Dutch defences, reorganising the CAFCOM Air Forces to prepare for his Sledgehammer plan and to prepare for the assault on Italy. After a number of months he would unleash his tactics on to the Italian islands of Sicily and Sardinia. Using a huge force consisting of French, British, Anzac, Indian and Free forces, gigantic bomber raids and using new Allied tanks the September Invasions would be the first use of Freyberg's Sledgehammer tactics as Axis forces would experience huge waves of bombings, shellings and then overwhelming armoured forces within very small sections. These tactics would be successful with low casualties and large gains but take a long time with Sardina and Sicily being liberated by early November 1943, which for many in the Allied political spheres was too long. Still Freyberg was allowed to stay on as he created plans for the invasion of Italy for early 1943. However in Winter 1943, German forces would try and Blitzkrieg though the Netherlands and whilst turned back (with Freyberg's multilayered defences withstanding the attack well) had shaken many in the Allied command. Freyberg would request in early spring 1943 that he be transferred to the Asian front to take his skills there which was agreed by the CAFCOM higher ups.

[9] With Freyberg going one way the "Auk" came the other, his smooth handling of Dominion forces seemingly making him the ideal candidate to lead a large multinational military command. Dusting off Freyberg's plans for the push into the Italian mainland Auchinleck proposed a two phased operation, with a feint into the remaining occupied Dutch areas to throw the Germans off the scent with a main thrust into Italy at Anzio. Contact had been made with elements of the Italian Establishment and armed forces who were prepared to switch sides upon the Allied landings with the plan to cut Italy in two, trapping German forces in the "boot" and expedite a quick dash to Rome where the Allied Free Italian forces could form a new Government.

The operation went off as planned, albeit with extremely heavy losses in the Dutch feint attack. However in Italy the trap was successfully snapped shut with 200'000 German troops caught behind the new Allied lines. In spite of fierce counterattacks on both flanks the line held and the German defenders were slowly whittled down. In Rome the the Free Italian forces and Allies were welcomed as liberators although they were too slow to capture Mussolini, who was spirited North to form a German Client State in North East Italy. However a great majority of the Italian army swapped sides and Italy was secured for the Allies just north of Florence. As the Autumn neared the French pushed South West into Italy while the Allied forces in the South pushed North West, hoping to meet in the middle before years end.

While Auchinlek was being lauded in the press and there were talks of extending his 6 month period of command he was suddenly informed that he would not proceed past October. The Auk did not take the news well and lashed out at subordinates and made some choice accusations at the French, who he blamed for a whispering campaign against him. It was not till many years after the war and the release of official records that the real reason for his removal from the was revealed. The supposed feint into Holland was actually sold to the various national Governments as an equally relevant operation and one that would open up both Germany and Italy simultaneously. Its descent into a killing field, disproportionately affecting French and Belgian forces was politically and militarily untenable. To preserve harmonious relations among the big Three these events were covered up and Auchinlek was allowed to return to a senior posting in China, although he remained a bitter and disillusioned individual long after the war ended.


[10] To placate the French and Belgians after the losses in Holland, one of their own had to be in charge and the French already had command of Balkans CAFCOM so de la Chevalerie got the nod. He'd only recently been promoted to this rank and while his service over the last three years was respected, there were mutterings (correctly) of politics. He was determined to prove otherwise, preparing his command for the expected link-up with the Balkan forces - the Germans were being routed across there and a big push into "the Republic of Free Italy" was soon to happen.

Nobody expected the German's rocket program to be expended on the Maginot Line, blasting a hole for the Germans to pour through and rip apart the French reserves. De la Chevalerie flew from Italian HQ to Europe CAFCOM as the Germans rushed to Paris, hoping for a knockout blow to swing the war. In an attempt to restore morale and discipline, he personally took command at the ad-hoc Paris defences and succeeded in preparing it for the German's first attacks. Unfortunately this meant the first attack saw a sniper take him out, leaving his deputy in charge of the Second Battle of France.

[11] To say that Władysław Anders was an unlikely option for CAFCOM would not be too far from the truth. Having been a headache for the Polish government-in-exile housed in Paris, Anders was nonetheless popular for his successful efforts to help escaping Poles regroup as the country had fallen to occupation. This made the general notable for his modus operandi, which was described as being grounded in humanitarianism alongside military utility. Against the reservations of his supervisors, he was put in command of the main body of Polish forces which participated in the Allied counterattacks into Belgium and the Netherlands. From there, his popularity among not just his fellow Poles but Allied troops and officers who fought with him led him to take command of the Polish Armed Forces in exile, and subsequently deputy to de la Chevalerie before his untimely death.

Anders wasted no time organising a defence as well as preparing plans for evacuations. Although broadly cautious, he still took extraordinary risks in trying to bait the Germans into extending their supply lines as they thrust into France. However, the strategy paid dividends as the Germans soon found themselves overextended and eventually cut off and surrounded. Much of the success of the encirclement has been attributed to the use of troops from the occupied nations of Central Europe, namely Czechoslovakia, Romania, and of course Poland, whose troops were more than motivated to fight knowing that the fate of their homelands could be decided if Paris fell. In the end, though, the City of Lights was saved, as by the end of summer 1944 the Allies repulsed the last of the Germans from the west. The Poles in particular were acclaimed by Parisians as continuing the legacy of Napoleon.

Nonetheless, the costs of the Second Battle of France prevented Anders from being able to follow up and launch a massive counterattack immediately. Instead, Anders made small but substantial gains over the rest of 1944, as in France the Germans were pushed back into Alsace-Lorraine, again with the Poles being at the forefront, while in the Low Countries Groningen and Aachen had been captured, ending the last German hold on the Netherlands and placing the industrial cities of the Rhineland under Allied artillery. These were much less than the grand offensives planned by the Allies before the Second Battle of France changed everything, but were substantial for morale, as was the fall of the Salazar regime by a coup headed by Generals José Norton de Matos and Humberto Delgado, who promptly brought Portugal into the Allies. It was expected that as the winter set in, Anders would be the one to oversee the preparations for the final push into Germany, particularly as the Germans were by now exhausted and depleted, and their industrial and logistical capabilities were growing weaker thanks to the naval blockade and bombings. However, internal machinations from within the Polish government-in-exile forced CAFCOM to avoid renewing his role as C-in-C, and Anders returned to commanding his troops in the field, a posting he seemed to feel more at home with due to his greater aptitude as a field commander.

[12] By Winter 1944, the Allied leadership began to understand that the war was entering its final months. The amount of manpower, resources and political capital the Third Reich had expelled in the Second Battle of France, the defeat that followed, propping up the remains of the Italian regime, and hammer blows CAFCOM East had dealt them in the Balkans. Effectively, what became of the struggle for Commander CAFCOM became of quarrel between France, Britain and Belgium over who got the glory. In the end, France won when the Belgian stood their candidate down, aghast at the British choice of a Canadian.

Juin was lauded for his efforts, however he had little experience of the war in France proper. He'd been bloodied fighting the Italians in Tunisia, then in East Africa against the Italians and Portuguese, becoming Commander of the French Armée d'Afrique, and consequently led against Sardinia and the Anzio landings. In the dark days of 1944, he was requisitioned to help plug holes in the Allied Lines and was lauded by Anders for his speed in reacting to the constantly changing situation on the ground. His brief as Commander CAFCOM was simple: lead the advance into Germany started at Aachen and end the war.

Operation Ultimatum was the code name of the Allied operation that would press the advantage on all fronts and begin the toppling of the dominions. After two months build up, Juin kicked the door in on the thin line the Germans still had in Holland. Just as the Germans began to grind the allied advance down short of Wihelmshaven, in accord with the plan Horrocks and Alexander pushed through the Italian rump and into Austria, with Berlin becoming so concerned that Hitler had the Eagle's Nest evacuated and burned down. The third blow came when CAFCOM East and Thomas Blamey linked up the Italian front after capturing Zagreb. Stretched to breaking, a final breakout from Alsace came by Juin's own Africans, which finally stretched Germany to breaking point.

Convinced their options were limited, 'the last sane men in Germany' took matters into their own hands. Troops in Berlin were ordered to cut off the capital and arrest SS and Gestapo chiefs in the name of protecting the Fuhrer, who regrettably turned up dead 24 hours later. In the new order in Berlin, Ulrich von Hassel was declared Germany's new Chancellor with General Rundstedt's guiding hand on the tiller. Peace negotiations were immediately entered into with the Allies. Juin was rightly lauded as a hero for ending the war, despite his detractors saying anyone could have done it. Managing so many balls in the air simultaneously was a feet matched few times, even amongst his predecessors. Even the Kremlin, who had long been planning to sweep up the fruits of Eastern Europe from the Nazis, backed down after seeing how rapidly the Reich had fallen.
 

Walpurgisnacht

Good news for cattle and corn
Location
Sussex By The Sea
Pronouns
He/Him
The Discourse Presents: Seven Losing Campaigns which Changed British Politics

While winners are usually the ones who write the history books, the person who loses can have an impact as well. A losing challenger can make an impact by affecting the policies of the winner, or they can be the sign of an emerging movement which will go on to change the world. Now, with the votes all counted in last night's general election, is a good time to look at losers in British politics--from leadership campaigns to by-elections to mayoral elections--who have won out in the long run.

1. Tom Wintringham, North Midlothian by-election, 1943
 

Time Enough

European Pollution Police Force
Pronouns
He/Him
The Discourse Presents: Seven Losing Campaigns which Changed British Politics

While winners are usually the ones who write the history books, the person who loses can have an impact as well. A losing challenger can make an impact by affecting the policies of the winner, or they can be the sign of an emerging movement which will go on to change the world. Now, with the votes all counted in last night's general election, is a good time to look at losers in British politics--from leadership campaigns to by-elections to mayoral elections--who have won out in the long run.

1. Tom Wintringham, North Midlothian by-election, 1943

2. Sharon Atkin, Nottingham-East General Election, 1987

1). Despite losing Tom Wintringham’s largely successful campaign would have an impact on the way the Left would campaign in Britain. 7 days after his loss Jennie Lee using Wintringham’s strategy of appealing directly to Labour voters, but using populist (almost quasi religious) rhetoric combined with a modern campaign of rallies, radio slots and an open air surgery to rake in Liberal and even some Conservative votes would allow Lee to narrowly win the Bristol Central By Election as an Independent Labour candidate (she would subsequently win re-election in 1945 and rejoin Labour). Whilst the CommonWealth Party would never get above 20 MPs between 1942-1945 it’s success would mean it would enter an electoral alliance with Labour for the 1945 Election similar to the Cooperative Party. Even to this day Labour PCC’s can be called Labour-CW on there ballot paper (or in the case of Russell Lloyd-Moyle Labour-CoOp-CW).
 

Charles EP M.

Well-known member
Published by SLP
The Discourse Presents: Seven Losing Campaigns which Changed British Politics

While winners are usually the ones who write the history books, the person who loses can have an impact as well. A losing challenger can make an impact by affecting the policies of the winner, or they can be the sign of an emerging movement which will go on to change the world. Now, with the votes all counted in last night's general election, is a good time to look at losers in British politics--from leadership campaigns to by-elections to mayoral elections--who have won out in the long run.

1. Tom Wintringham, North Midlothian by-election, 1943

2. Sharon Atkin, Nottingham-East General Election, 1987

3. Bobby Sands, Fermanagh and South Tyrone by-election, 1981

1). Despite losing Tom Wintringham’s largely successful campaign would have an impact on the way the Left would campaign in Britain. 7 days after his loss Jennie Lee using Wintringham’s strategy of appealing directly to Labour voters, but using populist (almost quasi religious) rhetoric combined with a modern campaign of rallies, radio slots and an open air surgery to rake in Liberal and even some Conservative votes would allow Lee to narrowly win the Bristol Central By Election as an Independent Labour candidate (she would subsequently win re-election in 1945 and rejoin Labour). Whilst the CommonWealth Party would never get above 20 MPs between 1942-1945 it’s success would mean it would enter an electoral alliance with Labour for the 1945 Election similar to the Cooperative Party. Even to this day Labour PCC’s can be called Labour-CW on there ballot paper (or in the case of Russell Lloyd-Moyle Labour-CoOp-CW).

2) One of the founding voices of Labour's unofficial "Black Sections" of activists, Sharon Atkin had almost lost her shot at candidacy when she said "I don't give a damn about [then-leader] Shirley Williams" - this in the backdrop of an attempt to get rid of groups like the Sections and Militant. In the end, Atkins lost by several thousand votes after a very hostile Tory campaign presenting her as a dangerous, aggressive, 'divisive' figure. This short-term defeat was a godsend for the Sections in the long-run. Instead of seeing this as a defeat for their group, they were enraged by the Tory rhetoric and so were black & Asian Labour members who weren't with the Sections. The group would grow in size and be a challenge for multiple leaders, and influence the creation of other ethnic 'Sections' - including for other parties.
 

SenatorChickpea

The Most Kiwi Aussie of them all
Patreon supporter
Pronouns
he/him
The Discourse Presents: Seven Losing Campaigns which Changed British Politics

While winners are usually the ones who write the history books, the person who loses can have an impact as well. A losing challenger can make an impact by affecting the policies of the winner, or they can be the sign of an emerging movement which will go on to change the world. Now, with the votes all counted in last night's general election, is a good time to look at losers in British politics--from leadership campaigns to by-elections to mayoral elections--who have won out in the long run.

1. Tom Wintringham, North Midlothian by-election, 1943

2. Sharon Atkin, Nottingham-East General Election, 1987

3. Bobby Sands, Fermanagh and South Tyrone by-election, 1981

4. Tony Benn, Chesterfield, 1990

1). Despite losing Tom Wintringham’s largely successful campaign would have an impact on the way the Left would campaign in Britain. 7 days after his loss Jennie Lee using Wintringham’s strategy of appealing directly to Labour voters, but using populist (almost quasi religious) rhetoric combined with a modern campaign of rallies, radio slots and an open air surgery to rake in Liberal and even some Conservative votes would allow Lee to narrowly win the Bristol Central By Election as an Independent Labour candidate (she would subsequently win re-election in 1945 and rejoin Labour). Whilst the CommonWealth Party would never get above 20 MPs between 1942-1945 it’s success would mean it would enter an electoral alliance with Labour for the 1945 Election similar to the Cooperative Party. Even to this day Labour PCC’s can be called Labour-CW on there ballot paper (or in the case of Russell Lloyd-Moyle Labour-CoOp-CW).

2) One of the founding voices of Labour's unofficial "Black Sections" of activists, Sharon Atkin had almost lost her shot at candidacy when she said "I don't give a damn about [then-leader] Shirley Williams" - this in the backdrop of an attempt to get rid of groups like the Sections and Militant. In the end, Atkins lost by several thousand votes after a very hostile Tory campaign presenting her as a dangerous, aggressive, 'divisive' figure. This short-term defeat was a godsend for the Sections in the long-run. Instead of seeing this as a defeat for their group, they were enraged by the Tory rhetoric and so were black & Asian Labour members who weren't with the Sections. The group would grow in size and be a challenge for multiple leaders, and influence the creation of other ethnic 'Sections' - including for other parties.

3) 'Losing' is perhaps the wrong word; the byelection arguably wasn't run at all, certainly not to any acceptable democratic British standard. The successful attempt by the UVF and other hardline unionist groups to contest the streets on the day of the election kept many voters at home. An attempt to blame the SDLP for not running a candidate and thus 'provoking' the unionist overreaction convinced few people. British troops managed to keep a lid on the violence for the first week after the result, leading to the confident statement that the worst was over- then Sands died in prison and the province boiled over again. Then two years later confidential reports leaked- from within the military itself- about the connivance of some officers with the paramilitaries in suppressing the election. This in turn meant a sidelining of the more radical elements of the Labour party, as the center and right realised that there was a golden opportunity to campaign as 'The Party of Democracy.' It remains an article of faith that had it not been for the Sandhurst Bombings, the bloody nose the Tories received in 1983 might have been a crushing Labour victory.
 
Last edited:

Charles EP M.

Well-known member
Published by SLP
The Discourse Presents: Seven Losing Campaigns which Changed British Politics

While winners are usually the ones who write the history books, the person who loses can have an impact as well. A losing challenger can make an impact by affecting the policies of the winner, or they can be the sign of an emerging movement which will go on to change the world. Now, with the votes all counted in last night's general election, is a good time to look at losers in British politics--from leadership campaigns to by-elections to mayoral elections--who have won out in the long run.

1. Tom Wintringham, North Midlothian by-election, 1943

2. Sharon Atkin, Nottingham-East General Election, 1987

3. Bobby Sands, Fermanagh and South Tyrone by-election, 1981

4. Tony Benn, Chesterfield, 1990

5. Iain Duncan-Smith, Tory leadership 2001

1). Despite losing Tom Wintringham’s largely successful campaign would have an impact on the way the Left would campaign in Britain. 7 days after his loss Jennie Lee using Wintringham’s strategy of appealing directly to Labour voters, but using populist (almost quasi religious) rhetoric combined with a modern campaign of rallies, radio slots and an open air surgery to rake in Liberal and even some Conservative votes would allow Lee to narrowly win the Bristol Central By Election as an Independent Labour candidate (she would subsequently win re-election in 1945 and rejoin Labour). Whilst the CommonWealth Party would never get above 20 MPs between 1942-1945 it’s success would mean it would enter an electoral alliance with Labour for the 1945 Election similar to the Cooperative Party. Even to this day Labour PCC’s can be called Labour-CW on there ballot paper (or in the case of Russell Lloyd-Moyle Labour-CoOp-CW).

2) One of the founding voices of Labour's unofficial "Black Sections" of activists, Sharon Atkin had almost lost her shot at candidacy when she said "I don't give a damn about [then-leader] Shirley Williams" - this in the backdrop of an attempt to get rid of groups like the Sections and Militant. In the end, Atkins lost by several thousand votes after a very hostile Tory campaign presenting her as a dangerous, aggressive, 'divisive' figure. This short-term defeat was a godsend for the Sections in the long-run. Instead of seeing this as a defeat for their group, they were enraged by the Tory rhetoric and so were black & Asian Labour members who weren't with the Sections. The group would grow in size and be a challenge for multiple leaders, and influence the creation of other ethnic 'Sections' - including for other parties.

3) 'Losing' is perhaps the wrong word; the byelection arguably wasn't run at all, certainly not to any acceptable democratic British standard. The successful attempt by the UVF and other hardline unionist groups to contest the streets on the day of the election kept many voters at home. An attempt to blame the SDLP for not running a candidate and thus 'provoking' the unionist overreaction convinced few people. British troops managed to keep a lid on the violence for the first week after the result, leading to the confident statement that the worst was over- then Sands died in prison and the province boiled over again. Then two years later confidential reports leaked- from within the military itself- about the connivance of some officers with the paramilitaries in suppressing the election. This in turn meant a sidelining of the more radical elements of the Labour party, as the center and right realised that there was a golden opportunity to campaign as 'The Party of Democracy.' It remains an article of faith that had it not been for the Sandhurst Bombings, the bloody nose the Tories received in 1983 might have been a crushing Labour victory.

4) Tony Benn had been a major figure on the Labour left for years and a recurring thorn in the leadership's side, and after losing his seat in 1983 he became an even bigger thorn - now, he could say or do anything he wanted. He was the 'king over the water' for the party's left under Williams and if the 1987 election hadn't been called so suddenly, he would've wrangled a candidacy. This 1990 by-election was his shot to get back in. However, he lost to the Liberal candidate in a shock upset. The left had been waiting for Benn and without him, a new leader was needed and this meant a vicious factional war that made PM Williams' next two years quiet, and much of her second term. The cratering of the left made her job easier, made it harder for the Conservatives to claim Labour were 'too left', and resulted in a rejuvenated left-wing in the early nineties that had coalesced around new 'Class of 87/92' MPs instead of the older figures.
 

Time Enough

European Pollution Police Force
Pronouns
He/Him
The Discourse Presents: Seven Losing Campaigns which Changed British Politics

While winners are usually the ones who write the history books, the person who loses can have an impact as well. A losing challenger can make an impact by affecting the policies of the winner, or they can be the sign of an emerging movement which will go on to change the world. Now, with the votes all counted in last night's general election, is a good time to look at losers in British politics--from leadership campaigns to by-elections to mayoral elections--who have won out in the long run.

1. Tom Wintringham, North Midlothian by-election, 1943

2. Sharon Atkin, Nottingham-East General Election, 1987

3. Bobby Sands, Fermanagh and South Tyrone by-election, 1981

4. Tony Benn, Chesterfield, 1990

5. Iain Duncan-Smith, Tory leadership 2001

6. John O'Farrell, Eastleigh by-election, 2013

1). Despite losing Tom Wintringham’s largely successful campaign would have an impact on the way the Left would campaign in Britain. 7 days after his loss Jennie Lee using Wintringham’s strategy of appealing directly to Labour voters, but using populist (almost quasi religious) rhetoric combined with a modern campaign of rallies, radio slots and an open air surgery to rake in Liberal and even some Conservative votes would allow Lee to narrowly win the Bristol Central By Election as an Independent Labour candidate (she would subsequently win re-election in 1945 and rejoin Labour). Whilst the CommonWealth Party would never get above 20 MPs between 1942-1945 it’s success would mean it would enter an electoral alliance with Labour for the 1945 Election similar to the Cooperative Party. Even to this day Labour PCC’s can be called Labour-CW on there ballot paper (or in the case of Russell Lloyd-Moyle Labour-CoOp-CW).

2) One of the founding voices of Labour's unofficial "Black Sections" of activists, Sharon Atkin had almost lost her shot at candidacy when she said "I don't give a damn about [then-leader] Shirley Williams" - this in the backdrop of an attempt to get rid of groups like the Sections and Militant. In the end, Atkins lost by several thousand votes after a very hostile Tory campaign presenting her as a dangerous, aggressive, 'divisive' figure. This short-term defeat was a godsend for the Sections in the long-run. Instead of seeing this as a defeat for their group, they were enraged by the Tory rhetoric and so were black & Asian Labour members who weren't with the Sections. The group would grow in size and be a challenge for multiple leaders, and influence the creation of other ethnic 'Sections' - including for other parties.

3) 'Losing' is perhaps the wrong word; the byelection arguably wasn't run at all, certainly not to any acceptable democratic British standard. The successful attempt by the UVF and other hardline unionist groups to contest the streets on the day of the election kept many voters at home. An attempt to blame the SDLP for not running a candidate and thus 'provoking' the unionist overreaction convinced few people. British troops managed to keep a lid on the violence for the first week after the result, leading to the confident statement that the worst was over- then Sands died in prison and the province boiled over again. Then two years later confidential reports leaked- from within the military itself- about the connivance of some officers with the paramilitaries in suppressing the election. This in turn meant a sidelining of the more radical elements of the Labour party, as the center and right realised that there was a golden opportunity to campaign as 'The Party of Democracy.' It remains an article of faith that had it not been for the Sandhurst Bombings, the bloody nose the Tories received in 1983 might have been a crushing Labour victory.

4) Tony Benn had been a major figure on the Labour left for years and a recurring thorn in the leadership's side, and after losing his seat in 1983 he became an even bigger thorn - now, he could say or do anything he wanted. He was the 'king over the water' for the party's left under Williams and if the 1987 election hadn't been called so suddenly, he would've wrangled a candidacy. This 1990 by-election was his shot to get back in. However, he lost to the Liberal candidate in a shock upset. The left had been waiting for Benn and without him, a new leader was needed and this meant a vicious factional war that made PM Williams' next two years quiet, and much of her second term. The cratering of the left made her job easier, made it harder for the Conservatives to claim Labour were 'too left', and resulted in a rejuvenated left-wing in the early nineties that had coalesced around new 'Class of 87/92' MPs instead of the older figures.

5). Iain Duncan Smith was seen as the chance by many in the Conservative Party to step away from the 'Middle Way' leadership of Ken Clarke and a chance to pursue a more right wing agenda in the wake of the Conservative 2001 election defeat. This did appeal to many in the party who thought that the party had shifted too far to the Left under Clarke and that the Conservatives had to pursue a true Right Wing agenda. IDS would campaign on a mixture of Thatcherism, Moral Conservatism and Euroscepticism and would do rather well in the initial stages wining over most of the MPs but very quickly be shot down by the rank and file membership who would go with the more Liberal Micheal Portillo. Initially seen as a disaster for the Right of the Party in time this would prove to work in there favour, particularly due to Portillo's 'broadchurch' shadow cabinet allowing several Right Wingers and Eurosceptics like John Bercow, Peter Lilley, Patrick Mercer and Liam Fox which help establish there personas and image more allowing for Liam Fox to eventually win the 2006 Conservative Party leadership under a similar platform to IDS with Iain Duncan Smith eventually become Chancellor of the Exchequer in the 2011 Fox Cabinet.
 

TheHatMan98

Well-known member
The Discourse Presents: Seven Losing Campaigns which Changed British Politics

While winners are usually the ones who write the history books, the person who loses can have an impact as well. A losing challenger can make an impact by affecting the policies of the winner, or they can be the sign of an emerging movement which will go on to change the world. Now, with the votes all counted in last night's general election, is a good time to look at losers in British politics--from leadership campaigns to by-elections to mayoral elections--who have won out in the long run.

1. Tom Wintringham, North Midlothian by-election, 1943

2. Sharon Atkin, Nottingham-East General Election, 1987

3. Bobby Sands, Fermanagh and South Tyrone by-election, 1981

4. Tony Benn, Chesterfield, 1990

5. Iain Duncan-Smith, Tory leadership 2001

6. John O'Farrell, Eastleigh by-election, 2013

7. Hugh Gaitskell, Labour leadership, 1960

1). Despite losing Tom Wintringham’s largely successful campaign would have an impact on the way the Left would campaign in Britain. 7 days after his loss Jennie Lee using Wintringham’s strategy of appealing directly to Labour voters, but using populist (almost quasi religious) rhetoric combined with a modern campaign of rallies, radio slots and an open air surgery to rake in Liberal and even some Conservative votes would allow Lee to narrowly win the Bristol Central By Election as an Independent Labour candidate (she would subsequently win re-election in 1945 and rejoin Labour). Whilst the CommonWealth Party would never get above 20 MPs between 1942-1945 it’s success would mean it would enter an electoral alliance with Labour for the 1945 Election similar to the Cooperative Party. Even to this day Labour PCC’s can be called Labour-CW on there ballot paper (or in the case of Russell Lloyd-Moyle Labour-CoOp-CW).

2) One of the founding voices of Labour's unofficial "Black Sections" of activists, Sharon Atkin had almost lost her shot at candidacy when she said "I don't give a damn about [then-leader] Shirley Williams" - this in the backdrop of an attempt to get rid of groups like the Sections and Militant. In the end, Atkins lost by several thousand votes after a very hostile Tory campaign presenting her as a dangerous, aggressive, 'divisive' figure. This short-term defeat was a godsend for the Sections in the long-run. Instead of seeing this as a defeat for their group, they were enraged by the Tory rhetoric and so were black & Asian Labour members who weren't with the Sections. The group would grow in size and be a challenge for multiple leaders, and influence the creation of other ethnic 'Sections' - including for other parties.

3) 'Losing' is perhaps the wrong word; the byelection arguably wasn't run at all, certainly not to any acceptable democratic British standard. The successful attempt by the UVF and other hardline unionist groups to contest the streets on the day of the election kept many voters at home. An attempt to blame the SDLP for not running a candidate and thus 'provoking' the unionist overreaction convinced few people. British troops managed to keep a lid on the violence for the first week after the result, leading to the confident statement that the worst was over- then Sands died in prison and the province boiled over again. Then two years later confidential reports leaked- from within the military itself- about the connivance of some officers with the paramilitaries in suppressing the election. This in turn meant a sidelining of the more radical elements of the Labour party, as the center and right realised that there was a golden opportunity to campaign as 'The Party of Democracy.' It remains an article of faith that had it not been for the Sandhurst Bombings, the bloody nose the Tories received in 1983 might have been a crushing Labour victory.

4) Tony Benn had been a major figure on the Labour left for years and a recurring thorn in the leadership's side, and after losing his seat in 1983 he became an even bigger thorn - now, he could say or do anything he wanted. He was the 'king over the water' for the party's left under Williams and if the 1987 election hadn't been called so suddenly, he would've wrangled a candidacy. This 1990 by-election was his shot to get back in. However, he lost to the Liberal candidate in a shock upset. The left had been waiting for Benn and without him, a new leader was needed and this meant a vicious factional war that made PM Williams' next two years quiet, and much of her second term. The cratering of the left made her job easier, made it harder for the Conservatives to claim Labour were 'too left', and resulted in a rejuvenated left-wing in the early nineties that had coalesced around new 'Class of 87/92' MPs instead of the older figures.

5). Iain Duncan Smith was seen as the chance by many in the Conservative Party to step away from the 'Middle Way' leadership of Ken Clarke and a chance to pursue a more right wing agenda in the wake of the Conservative 2001 election defeat. This did appeal to many in the party who thought that the party had shifted too far to the Left under Clarke and that the Conservatives had to pursue a true Right Wing agenda. IDS would campaign on a mixture of Thatcherism, Moral Conservatism and Euroscepticism and would do rather well in the initial stages wining over most of the MPs but very quickly be shot down by the rank and file membership who would go with the more Liberal Micheal Portillo. Initially seen as a disaster for the Right of the Party in time this would prove to work in there favour, particularly due to Portillo's 'broadchurch' shadow cabinet allowing several Right Wingers and Eurosceptics like John Bercow, Peter Lilley, Patrick Mercer and Liam Fox which help establish there personas and image more allowing for Liam Fox to eventually win the 2006 Conservative Party leadership under a similar platform to IDS with Iain Duncan Smith eventually become Chancellor of the Exchequer in the 2011 Fox Cabinet.

6). The breakthrough that joke parties and candidates everywhere were looking for, O'Farrell had long parted way with the Labour Party after its increasing slump to the Right and a Conservative party that was being galvanised by its Eurosceptics and hard Thatcherites. Since the financial collapse of 2010, apathy in the nation as a whole had reached new heights which led to a new satire boom and O'Farrell's standing for Parliament in 2013. His campaign was ran on his past as a writer for Spitting Image with his main campaign promise being to force the BBC to revive the programme and run repeats of it 24/7, besides that his campaign consisted of him acting out favourite sketches from the old programme with guests stars, some (like Roy Hattersley, Lord Kinnock and even Lord Tebbit) starring as themselves. O'Farrell himself took centre stage, usually in drag as Thatcher or Williams, which culminated in his finishing in a shocking 2nd place behind the Tory candidate. This has since led to the formation of FUKP by in 2015 by a number of country's more politically active comedians: to date its biggest successes have been Party Leader Al Murray unseating Trade Secretary Nigel Farrage in South Thanet and Frankie Boyle's win in Gordon Brown's old seat of Kirkcaldy as a Glaswegian nationalist.
 
The Discourse Presents: Seven Losing Campaigns which Changed British Politics

While winners are usually the ones who write the history books, the person who loses can have an impact as well. A losing challenger can make an impact by affecting the policies of the winner, or they can be the sign of an emerging movement which will go on to change the world. Now, with the votes all counted in last night's general election, is a good time to look at losers in British politics--from leadership campaigns to by-elections to mayoral elections--who have won out in the long run.

1. Tom Wintringham, North Midlothian by-election, 1943

2. Sharon Atkin, Nottingham-East General Election, 1987

3. Bobby Sands, Fermanagh and South Tyrone by-election, 1981

4. Tony Benn, Chesterfield, 1990

5. Iain Duncan-Smith, Tory leadership 2001

6. John O'Farrell, Eastleigh by-election, 2013

7. Hugh Gaitskell, Labour leadership, 1960

1) Despite losing Tom Wintringham’s largely successful campaign would have an impact on the way the Left would campaign in Britain. 7 days after his loss Jennie Lee using Wintringham’s strategy of appealing directly to Labour voters, but using populist (almost quasi religious) rhetoric combined with a modern campaign of rallies, radio slots and an open air surgery to rake in Liberal and even some Conservative votes would allow Lee to narrowly win the Bristol Central By Election as an Independent Labour candidate (she would subsequently win re-election in 1945 and rejoin Labour). Whilst the CommonWealth Party would never get above 20 MPs between 1942-1945 it’s success would mean it would enter an electoral alliance with Labour for the 1945 Election similar to the Cooperative Party. Even to this day Labour PCC’s can be called Labour-CW on there ballot paper (or in the case of Russell Lloyd-Moyle Labour-CoOp-CW).

2) One of the founding voices of Labour's unofficial "Black Sections" of activists, Sharon Atkin had almost lost her shot at candidacy when she said "I don't give a damn about [then-leader] Shirley Williams" - this in the backdrop of an attempt to get rid of groups like the Sections and Militant. In the end, Atkins lost by several thousand votes after a very hostile Tory campaign presenting her as a dangerous, aggressive, 'divisive' figure. This short-term defeat was a godsend for the Sections in the long-run. Instead of seeing this as a defeat for their group, they were enraged by the Tory rhetoric and so were black & Asian Labour members who weren't with the Sections. The group would grow in size and be a challenge for multiple leaders, and influence the creation of other ethnic 'Sections' - including for other parties.

3) 'Losing' is perhaps the wrong word; the byelection arguably wasn't run at all, certainly not to any acceptable democratic British standard. The successful attempt by the UVF and other hardline unionist groups to contest the streets on the day of the election kept many voters at home. An attempt to blame the SDLP for not running a candidate and thus 'provoking' the unionist overreaction convinced few people. British troops managed to keep a lid on the violence for the first week after the result, leading to the confident statement that the worst was over- then Sands died in prison and the province boiled over again. Then two years later confidential reports leaked- from within the military itself- about the connivance of some officers with the paramilitaries in suppressing the election. This in turn meant a sidelining of the more radical elements of the Labour party, as the center and right realised that there was a golden opportunity to campaign as 'The Party of Democracy.' It remains an article of faith that had it not been for the Sandhurst Bombings, the bloody nose the Tories received in 1983 might have been a crushing Labour victory.

4) Tony Benn had been a major figure on the Labour left for years and a recurring thorn in the leadership's side, and after losing his seat in 1983 he became an even bigger thorn - now, he could say or do anything he wanted. He was the 'king over the water' for the party's left under Williams and if the 1987 election hadn't been called so suddenly, he would've wrangled a candidacy. This 1990 by-election was his shot to get back in. However, he lost to the Liberal candidate in a shock upset. The left had been waiting for Benn and without him, a new leader was needed and this meant a vicious factional war that made PM Williams' next two years quiet, and much of her second term. The cratering of the left made her job easier, made it harder for the Conservatives to claim Labour were 'too left', and resulted in a rejuvenated left-wing in the early nineties that had coalesced around new 'Class of 87/92' MPs instead of the older figures.

5) Iain Duncan Smith was seen as the chance by many in the Conservative Party to step away from the 'Middle Way' leadership of Ken Clarke and a chance to pursue a more right wing agenda in the wake of the Conservative 2001 election defeat. This did appeal to many in the party who thought that the party had shifted too far to the Left under Clarke and that the Conservatives had to pursue a true Right Wing agenda. IDS would campaign on a mixture of Thatcherism, Moral Conservatism and Euroscepticism and would do rather well in the initial stages wining over most of the MPs but very quickly be shot down by the rank and file membership who would go with the more Liberal Micheal Portillo. Initially seen as a disaster for the Right of the Party in time this would prove to work in there favour, particularly due to Portillo's 'broadchurch' shadow cabinet allowing several Right Wingers and Eurosceptics like John Bercow, Peter Lilley, Patrick Mercer and Liam Fox which help establish there personas and image more allowing for Liam Fox to eventually win the 2006 Conservative Party leadership under a similar platform to IDS with Iain Duncan Smith eventually become Chancellor of the Exchequer in the 2011 Fox Cabinet.

6) The breakthrough that joke parties and candidates everywhere were looking for, O'Farrell had long parted way with the Labour Party after its increasing slump to the Right and a Conservative party that was being galvanised by its Eurosceptics and hard Thatcherites. Since the financial collapse of 2010, apathy in the nation as a whole had reached new heights which led to a new satire boom and O'Farrell's standing for Parliament in 2013. His campaign was ran on his past as a writer for Spitting Image with his main campaign promise being to force the BBC to revive the programme and run repeats of it 24/7, besides that his campaign consisted of him acting out favourite sketches from the old programme with guests stars, some (like Roy Hattersley, Lord Kinnock and even Lord Tebbit) starring as themselves. O'Farrell himself took centre stage, usually in drag as Thatcher or Williams, which culminated in his finishing in a shocking 2nd place behind the Tory candidate. This has since led to the formation of FUKP by in 2015 by a number of country's more politically active comedians: to date its biggest successes have been Party Leader Al Murray unseating Trade Secretary Nigel Farrage in South Thanet and Frankie Boyle's win in Gordon Brown's old seat of Kirkcaldy as a Glaswegian nationalist.

7) Gaitskell stood as the candidate of Labour’s right-wing against the ageing leadership of Aneurin Bevan. Despite Labour’s majority decreasing under Bevan at the 1959 election, he refused to step down and his long personal service and devoted following on the party’s Left meant he could still keep the support of most MPs. With the party’s Right wishing to challenge Bevan over his election defeat and lukewarm support for Britain’s nuclear program, they would call on Gaitskell to run for leader. Gaitskell initially refused – correctly believing it to be a doomed endeavour – but was warned that a younger man like George Brown or Anthony Crosland could stand instead. Fearful that he would lose his status as torchbearer of the Right, Gaitskell duly stood and lost as expected. The 1960 leadership contest would be important in laying the groundwork for 1963, when Bevan passed away from cancer. The resulting Labour leader election would see Gaitskell triumph over a Left divided between Wilson, Crossman, and Greenwood, before leading Labour to victory in 1964. Gaitskell would only have a brief period as Prime Minister before unexpectedly dying prior to his first term concluding in 1968. But during his short time in office he passed many social and educational reforms for which he is remembered to this day. He was succeeded by his Chancellor and once-rival Crosland, who continued his policies.
 

SenatorChickpea

The Most Kiwi Aussie of them all
Patreon supporter
Pronouns
he/him
Sorry @Aolbain, I'm quoting you at the end- just addressing a slight continuity error that I noticed crept in (the opening paragraph made promises we didn't keep.)

The Discourse Presents: Seven Losing Campaigns which Changed British Politics

While winners are usually the ones who write the history books, the person who loses can have an impact as well. A losing challenger can make an impact by affecting the policies of the winner, or they can be the sign of an emerging movement which will go on to change the world. Now, with the votes all counted in last night's general election, is a good time to look at losers in British politics--from leadership campaigns to by-elections to mayoral elections--who have won out in the long run.

1. Tom Wintringham, North Midlothian by-election, 1943

2. Sharon Atkin, Nottingham-East General Election, 1987

3. Bobby Sands, Fermanagh and South Tyrone by-election, 1981

4. Tony Benn, Chesterfield, 1990

5. Iain Duncan-Smith, Tory leadership 2001

6. John O'Farrell, Eastleigh by-election, 2013

7. Hugh Gaitskell, Labour leadership, 1960

and a bonus...

1) Despite losing Tom Wintringham’s largely successful campaign would have an impact on the way the Left would campaign in Britain. 7 days after his loss Jennie Lee using Wintringham’s strategy of appealing directly to Labour voters, but using populist (almost quasi religious) rhetoric combined with a modern campaign of rallies, radio slots and an open air surgery to rake in Liberal and even some Conservative votes would allow Lee to narrowly win the Bristol Central By Election as an Independent Labour candidate (she would subsequently win re-election in 1945 and rejoin Labour). Whilst the CommonWealth Party would never get above 20 MPs between 1942-1945 it’s success would mean it would enter an electoral alliance with Labour for the 1945 Election similar to the Cooperative Party. Even to this day Labour PCC’s can be called Labour-CW on there ballot paper (or in the case of Russell Lloyd-Moyle Labour-CoOp-CW).

2) One of the founding voices of Labour's unofficial "Black Sections" of activists, Sharon Atkin had almost lost her shot at candidacy when she said "I don't give a damn about [then-leader] Shirley Williams" - this in the backdrop of an attempt to get rid of groups like the Sections and Militant. In the end, Atkins lost by several thousand votes after a very hostile Tory campaign presenting her as a dangerous, aggressive, 'divisive' figure. This short-term defeat was a godsend for the Sections in the long-run. Instead of seeing this as a defeat for their group, they were enraged by the Tory rhetoric and so were black & Asian Labour members who weren't with the Sections. The group would grow in size and be a challenge for multiple leaders, and influence the creation of other ethnic 'Sections' - including for other parties.

3) 'Losing' is perhaps the wrong word; the byelection arguably wasn't run at all, certainly not to any acceptable democratic British standard. The successful attempt by the UVF and other hardline unionist groups to contest the streets on the day of the election kept many voters at home. An attempt to blame the SDLP for not running a candidate and thus 'provoking' the unionist overreaction convinced few people. British troops managed to keep a lid on the violence for the first week after the result, leading to the confident statement that the worst was over- then Sands died in prison and the province boiled over again. Then two years later confidential reports leaked- from within the military itself- about the connivance of some officers with the paramilitaries in suppressing the election. This in turn meant a sidelining of the more radical elements of the Labour party, as the center and right realised that there was a golden opportunity to campaign as 'The Party of Democracy.' It remains an article of faith that had it not been for the Sandhurst Bombings, the bloody nose the Tories received in 1983 might have been a crushing Labour victory.

4) Tony Benn had been a major figure on the Labour left for years and a recurring thorn in the leadership's side, and after losing his seat in 1983 he became an even bigger thorn - now, he could say or do anything he wanted. He was the 'king over the water' for the party's left under Williams and if the 1987 election hadn't been called so suddenly, he would've wrangled a candidacy. This 1990 by-election was his shot to get back in. However, he lost to the Liberal candidate in a shock upset. The left had been waiting for Benn and without him, a new leader was needed and this meant a vicious factional war that made PM Williams' next two years quiet, and much of her second term. The cratering of the left made her job easier, made it harder for the Conservatives to claim Labour were 'too left', and resulted in a rejuvenated left-wing in the early nineties that had coalesced around new 'Class of 87/92' MPs instead of the older figures.

5) Iain Duncan Smith was seen as the chance by many in the Conservative Party to step away from the 'Middle Way' leadership of Ken Clarke and a chance to pursue a more right wing agenda in the wake of the Conservative 2001 election defeat. This did appeal to many in the party who thought that the party had shifted too far to the Left under Clarke and that the Conservatives had to pursue a true Right Wing agenda. IDS would campaign on a mixture of Thatcherism, Moral Conservatism and Euroscepticism and would do rather well in the initial stages wining over most of the MPs but very quickly be shot down by the rank and file membership who would go with the more Liberal Micheal Portillo. Initially seen as a disaster for the Right of the Party in time this would prove to work in there favour, particularly due to Portillo's 'broadchurch' shadow cabinet allowing several Right Wingers and Eurosceptics like John Bercow, Peter Lilley, Patrick Mercer and Liam Fox which help establish there personas and image more allowing for Liam Fox to eventually win the 2006 Conservative Party leadership under a similar platform to IDS with Iain Duncan Smith eventually become Chancellor of the Exchequer in the 2011 Fox Cabinet.

6) The breakthrough that joke parties and candidates everywhere were looking for, O'Farrell had long parted way with the Labour Party after its increasing slump to the Right and a Conservative party that was being galvanised by its Eurosceptics and hard Thatcherites. Since the financial collapse of 2010, apathy in the nation as a whole had reached new heights which led to a new satire boom and O'Farrell's standing for Parliament in 2013. His campaign was ran on his past as a writer for Spitting Image with his main campaign promise being to force the BBC to revive the programme and run repeats of it 24/7, besides that his campaign consisted of him acting out favourite sketches from the old programme with guests stars, some (like Roy Hattersley, Lord Kinnock and even Lord Tebbit) starring as themselves. O'Farrell himself took centre stage, usually in drag as Thatcher or Williams, which culminated in his finishing in a shocking 2nd place behind the Tory candidate. This has since led to the formation of FUKP by in 2015 by a number of country's more politically active comedians: to date its biggest successes have been Party Leader Al Murray unseating Trade Secretary Nigel Farrage in South Thanet and Frankie Boyle's win in Gordon Brown's old seat of Kirkcaldy as a Glaswegian nationalist.

7) Gaitskell stood as the candidate of Labour’s right-wing against the ageing leadership of Aneurin Bevan. Despite Labour’s majority decreasing under Bevan at the 1959 election, he refused to step down and his long personal service and devoted following on the party’s Left meant he could still keep the support of most MPs. With the party’s Right wishing to challenge Bevan over his election defeat and lukewarm support for Britain’s nuclear program, they would call on Gaitskell to run for leader. Gaitskell initially refused – correctly believing it to be a doomed endeavour – but was warned that a younger man like George Brown or Anthony Crosland could stand instead. Fearful that he would lose his status as torchbearer of the Right, Gaitskell duly stood and lost as expected. The 1960 leadership contest would be important in laying the groundwork for 1963, when Bevan passed away from cancer. The resulting Labour leader election would see Gaitskell triumph over a Left divided between Wilson, Crossman, and Greenwood, before leading Labour to victory in 1964. Gaitskell would only have a brief period as Prime Minister before unexpectedly dying prior to his first term concluding in 1968. But during his short time in office he passed many social and educational reforms for which he is remembered to this day. He was succeeded by his Chancellor and once-rival Crosland, who continued his policies.

And one extra: We promised you a mayoral campaign, and we're going to slightly break that promise...

2008: Brian Cox, Dundee Mayoralty

Yes, this one might start a fight. It's overshadowed by the 2010 Crash, but in many ways the fuse that led to the current crisis in British politics started with the 2007 Local Electoral Reform Act. In England this was an uncontroversial piece of legislation that standardised the hodgepodge of regulations that had sprung up across the counties in the long post-war disinterest in local governance; a modest form of proportional representation kept Labour's allies happy while not actually doing anything to change national elections.

The legal decision that this was a national act that was out of the purview of Scottish government precipitated a crisis. A naked attempt to weaken the SNP by strengthening Labour, Liberal and Tory voters, the act horrified even many unionist Scots. London's Labour leadership was out of touch with its colleagues north of the border, and was completely unprepared for the split in the Scottish party.

So, why is this a controversial race? Because for the largest party in Scotland, it is axiomatic that Brian Cox did not lose the Dundee election. The celebrity Labour activist- turned firebrand SNP speaker- won the largest share of the vote, but the 'Union Coalition' of Conservatives and Right Labour kept him out of office.

Still, the law is the law- so we're including it. And if the 2021 referendum goes the way polling indicates right now, this might be the most important losing campaign on the list....


Republican Nominees for President:

1968: James A. Rhodes [1]

1972: John Connolly

1976:

1980:

1984:

1988:

1992:

1996:

2000:

2004:

2008:

2012:

2016:

[1] 'Where were you when Dick Nixon was shot?'

The old veep might not have been the most tragic death in the awful 'Year of Lead,' but he was one of the most consequential- certainly far closer to the nomination than Bobby Kennedy had been. The disarray of the GOP convention and five awful ballots was probably the reason that they didn't take the easy prize of the White House that year. Still, something had changed in the party, and Ohio's favored son revealed himself to be a much tougher, more severe candidate than many of the media had guessed.