Why did 51st Highland Division Fail? A case-study in command and combat effectiveness

  • Anthony King University of Warwick


Celebrated for its performance in North Africa and Sicily, 51st Highland Division performed unexpectedly poorly during the Normandy Campaign. It is widely accepted that a principal cause of this decline in combat effectiveness was the division’s new commander, Major- General Charles Bullen-Smith, who had replaced the highly popular Douglas Wimberley in late 1943. Using the anomalous performance of the Highland Division as a case-study and focusing on the specific failings of Bullen-Smith, this paper seeks to examine the relationship between command and combat effectiveness.