EISENHOWER (DWIGHT D.) Typed letter signed, as Commander-in-Chief of the Allied Armies, to General Alexander, Commanding 18th Army Group, sending congratulations to the Eighth Army; framed with other messages to Alexander, 1943
Lot 320
Sold for £4,375 (US$ 7,353) inc. premium
Lot Details
Typed letter signed, as Commander-in-Chief of the Allied Armies, to General Alexander, Commanding 18th Army Group, sending congratulations to the Eighth Army; framed with other messages to Alexander (see note below), 1 page, unexamined out of frame, some very slight fading of ink to the Eisenhower letter, more so in the others, folio, Allied Force Headquarters, 1 April 1943


  • EISENHOWER AS COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF CONGRATULATES MONTGOMERY AND THE EIGHTH ARMY FOR THEIR RECORD OF VICTORY SINCE THE BATTLE OF EL ALAMEIN, through the intermediary of his deputy and Montgomery's commanding officer, General Alexander, Commander-in-Chief Middle East, who has docketed the letter "Gen Monty to see/ H.R.A.": "I have just returned from a very brief visit to the Eighth Army Headquarters. While I had very little opportunity for observing any portion of the Ground Forces, other than through contact with the Senior Commanders, it was obvious on all sides that a high degree of discipline, morale and battle efficiency characterized the whole force./ I congratulate you and, through you, the Eighth Army Commander and all his officers and men on the magnificent fighting machine that has been produced, and whose excellence is proved by its long record of victory since last October". The previous October had of course seen the opening stages of Montgomery's great victory at El Alamein, fought between 23 October and 11 November 1942. The letter has also been marked in red crayon that a copy should go to the Eighth Army and in pencil that this has been done on 7 April. Eisenhower's praise of Montgomery's achievement was not mere rhetoric. Even before El Alamein the transformation that he wrought on the Eighth Army astonished the allied command: '[when Churchill] returned to the desert on 19 August 1942, the "complete change in atmosphere" was so marked that Churchill could hardly credit the transformation. Brooke was equally surprised. "I knew my Monty pretty well by then", he wrote later, "but I must confess I was dumbfounded by the situation facing him, the rapidity with which he had grasped the essentials, the clarity of his plans, and above all, his unbounded self-confidence—a self-confidence with which he inspired all those that he came into contact with"... Montgomery's achievement, then, was to refashion a dispirited and defeated Eighth Army, and make it the most victorious allied army of the war in north Africa, legendary in its morale to the point that there was virtually no sickness or absenteeism; everyone wanted to fight' (Nigel Hamilton, ODNB).

    Included in the lot, and in the same frame, is the 'secret' teleprinted message from the King of 4 November 1942, congratulating Alexander and his fellow officers, Tedder, Montgomery and Coningham on the Battle of El Alamein ("...the EIGHTH ARMY magnificently supported by The Royal Air Force and units of The Royal Navy, has dealt the Axis a blow of which the importance cannot be exaggerated..."); Alexander's initialled draft of his typed special order of the day for 13 May 1943, the day the North African Campaign came to an end and the Axis forces surrendered, congratulating Allied forces in the Middle East, the 18th Army Group, on their victory; a letter signed by Harold Macmillan, as Resident Minister at Allied HQ, to Alexander, thanking him for his hospitality in his camp in 1943 ("...the atmosphere so different from the heated and chaotic conditions of the town where we strive to do our work amidst so man conflicting ambitions and intrigues..."); and a letter signed by Lieut-General Sir Oliver Lease from the advance TAC HQ, to Lieut-Colonel Cunningham, asking him to convey thanks to Alexander, 1944. Also in the frame is a printed note of provenance, stating that this group of documents was given to Vivian Esch (ex. 11th Hussars) by Lieut-Colonel W.M. (Bill) Cunningham, formerly Military Assistant to Field Marshal Alexander.
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