General Field Marshall Model, chosen on 18 August as both Commander-in-Chief West and commander of Army Group B, found himself organizing the disturbance of his shattered forces across northern France into Belgium and Holland (Hercelode 2000, 62). In the planning before D-Day on June 6, the Allied had understood that they would go forward progressively inland, with General Dwight D. Eisenhower, commanding Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Forces (SHAEF), taking over the land of battle from Montgomery after a few weeks and driving the progress of his three Army Groups- Montgomery’ s 21st Army Group under Lieutenant General Omar Bradley, and 6th Army Group under Lieutenant General Jacob Devers coming from southern France- a broad front in opposition to a strong German defense.
Instead, the Battle of Normandy had been weeks of hard-fought virtual deadlock followed by a sudden German collapse resulting in the Falaise pocket (Robert 1994, 89). The very bulk of this victory was Montgomery’ s collapse. Success in Normandy had depended on cooperation between various Allied members and services. Now, with the unexpected annihilation of Army Group B, many on both side believed that history was repeating itself, and that August 1944 in France was August 1918 once more, with Germany nearly defeated and bound to surrender before the year ended.
Senior Allied commanders, trained to regard a successful war as just one episode in their developing careers, began to display candidly the self-interest and concern for their own futures they had kept buried during the battle (Robert 1994, 89). After some delay, Eisenhower was ready to take over the command from Montgomery on September 1, establishing SHAEF Headquarters at Granville in Western Normandy.
On August 13, as Army Group B’ s hold was being completed, Montgomery first raised with Eisenhower the idea of changing Allied strategy to a ‘ single thrust’ advance by his own 21st Army Group, supported by First US army under Major General Courtney Hodges, through northern France and Low Countries and into Germany (Middlebrook 1995, 115).
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