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Title: Eighth army: morale and combat effectiveness
Author: Fennell, Jonathan
ISNI:       0000 0001 3459 7333
Awarding Body: Oxford University
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2007
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This thesis studies the performance of Eighth Army in the North African campaign of the Second World War and makes the case that morale was a decisive factor in defeat and victory. Utilizing sources that have been mostly untapped in studying the campaign, it argues that a morale crisis played a major role in the desert defeats and that a morale turnaround was responsible in large measure for the victory at El Alamein. In exploring the complex inter-relationship between weaponry and morale, it argues that weapons were a crucial element in maintaining morale in the desert. It also makes the case that Montgomery did not win the battle of EI Alamein simply because he had more weapons and men, but because he understood that essentially technology influenced morale and was not a battle-winning factor on its own. The thesis examines the extent to which the morale of Eighth Army was affected by the quality of its manpower at troop and officer level and traces the effects of Adam's initiatives on morale. It also investigates the impact that the complex of welfare and education initiatives spearheaded by Adam, Willans and Williams had on troop morale. In exploring the role that leadership played in determining morale, the thesis shows that Montgomery concentrated on five critical elements of leadership that directly impinged on morale: clarity of direction, communication with the troops, the cOI~mander's image, the handling of formations, and training. The thesis questions the ability of primary group theory to provide an allencompassing explanation of battle morale and motivation in the desert. It suggests instead that other motivational factors such as discipline, ideology, training, success in battle, confidence in weapons and leadership capability were at least as important in explaining the changing morale climate throughout the campaign.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Oxford Unversity, 2007 Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available