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Who was the best general of WWII?

Discussion in 'Leaders of World War 2' started by Patton phpbb3, Mar 24, 2007.

  1. corpcasselbury

    corpcasselbury New Member

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    That was likely enough because he knew he'd never get them. :wink:

    Seriously, I have admired General Slim ever since I first read of what he did in Burma and India. I definitely agree that he was Britain's best general in WW2. Imagine Slim in command of 21st Army Group instead of Montgomery.
     
  2. canambridge

    canambridge Member

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    Imagine Slim in charge of British 21st AG and Patton in charge of 12th US AG!
     
  3. Quillin

    Quillin New Member

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    The war would be over by christmas :D
     
  4. corpcasselbury

    corpcasselbury New Member

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    Talk about a dream team!!!!! :D
     
  5. ANZAC

    ANZAC Member

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    Thought I may as well have a go, it's mainly the usual suspects [and subject to change]

    For the Axis.......

    Manstein.

    Someone on another board sums him up pretty well, saying his operational plan for France showed a keen operational mind and a brilliant one.
    He seemed comfortable on the defence or attack when many of the other Commanders are generally regarded as one or the other [Kesselring, Heinrici and Model on the defence - Guderian, Rommel on the attack etc].

    This coupled with the range and size of formations he commanded with effect would rank him as high as any.
    Hard to find any one better.

    Guderian.

    Was the master Panzer commander and was at his best when handling aggressive operations, he could also be somewhat dictatorial in his methods and was not an easy man to command, would have been interesting to see how he performed when things got tough.

    Rommel.

    An infantryman originally, quickly became a top Panzer commander in France and North Africa.

    Kesselring.

    For his defence in Italy.

    Yamashita.

    Although out numbered, caused the biggest defeat in British military history at Singapore, taking 130,000 prisoners with 3 divisions, and was still unconquered at the end of the war.

    Mannerheim.

    For his imaginable defense of Finland against great odds.


    For the Allies....


    Slim.

    Slim's outstanding "Defeat Into Victory" is one of the Pacific War's best books. probably the best senior officer memoir of World War II.

    He worked his way up through the ranks of the British Army from platoon leader to Field Marshal and was a truly outstanding commander in a theater of war that got precious little support yet fought major Japanese forces.

    Robert Lyman has produced a brilliant history of Slim's victory in Burma, and calls him the true 'Master of War'



    Patton.

    Patton’s Third Army achievements were accomplished by an army only three weeks in action and with only 12 divisions, Patton used Germany's own blitzkrieg tactics against them, covering 600 miles in a few weeks.
    His effort in turning around his army 90 degrees to attack Bastogne was hailed by many historians as [as well as Eisenhowere and his staff, the Brit commanders and a man who loathed him, Bradely] being as good as anything in the war.Everyone outside the 3rd Army had felt this feat was impossible.

    "It meant a 90-degree turn that would pose logistical nightmares – getting divisions on new roads in the middle of winter and making sure supplies reached them from dumps established in quite a different context, for quite a different situation. Altogether it was an operation only a master could think of executing,” notes Blumenson.
    The Germans [including Von Rundstedt and Rommel] feared and praised him.

    Montgomery.

    Someone wrote that Monty was a good Commander, essentially because he understood what his men were capable of, took care of them, wrote plans that took full use of all allied advantages and negated as many German ones as they could, and got through his campaigns without major reverses. If he wasn't a Rommel, that's because he didn't need to be to win, and Clark showed that having good cards in your hand didn't prevent horrendous mistakes.

    Vasilevsky.

    Vasilevsky worked hand in glove with Zhukov and his ''August Storm'' campaign against the Japanese was a masterpiece, 700 miles in in 3 weeks.

    Zhukov.

    I don't think Zhukov was as brilliant as some other commanders, but has there been a more influential, or important commander in the 20th century?

    His input in battles such as Khalkhin Gol, [although not WW2, probably had a sobering influence on future Japanese aims] Leningrad, Moscow, Stalingrad, Kursk etc are some of the most importent battles of World war two.

    Chuikov, tough as nails, and Rokossovsky, Konev, among other Russians probably deserve a mention.

    Lesser known commanders like Dowding and his 11th group fighter commander Kieth Park,
    and O'Conner for his minor masterpiece in North Africa with 30,000 men, one Brit armoured Div.and the 9th Aussie infantry div. defeated 330,000 Italians.

    The Navy sometimes get overlooked, men like like Spruance and Fletcher etc.

    Some of the US Corps commanders were good, Ridgeway and Collins, and Middleton is sometimes overlooked.

    Cripes, that's enough, although ive probably missed a few obvious ones.
     
  6. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    Model 'the fire extinguisher' as Hitler called him, wherever he went he stopped the chaos.Manstein, the Kharkov backhand. Patton for using speed and power in the right place. Zhukov for clever use of several strong points in attack although his weak point was to destroy German army group center. But he could make Stalin understand his tactics. Eisenhower for keeping in the first place the Allied primadonna generals together fighting Germans.
     
  7. Half Track

    Half Track Active Member

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    I am not as qualified as most on here to answer this, as I cannot say that I have ever read extensively, biographies etc., on any of these choices and therefore cannot give detailed information as many have. For what it is worth, however, I have read a lot of WWII history and from what I have gathered, and understood, the General who gets my vote is George Patton. I would have loved to have met him and been part of his Army. My father, who was in the Field Artillery, Tank Destroyers and 29th Infantry Division and was a Captain when discharged, (1941-1945) spoke well of him. I never had too many conversations with my father about the war, but this is something that stuck in my mind.
     
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  8. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

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    Sorry but the answer is none of the above..

    This is a poor selection of generals, based on post WW2 popular reputation. Only Zhukov made a significant difference to the outcome of WW2. The rest were operational or tactical figures whose existence made little difference to the eventual outcome.

    Rommel was a good divisional and corps commander, but failed at m,ore senior levels in command of an army or army group.

    Patton was a competent army commander but ill suited for strategic command. He never commanded the number of troops under the command of Montgomery or Zhukov., or had to solve the problems they faced .

    It is hard to separate MacArthur's military from political significance. Perhaps I am just a jaundiced Brit but I don't understand why he was considered so brilliant - except as a senior Republican. Would any US general have done any thing different?

    Although Zhukov was Stalin';s right hand man, he was no more significant that George C Marshall or Alan Brooke.
     
  9. belasar

    belasar Court Jester Staff Member

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    I tend to agree about Mannerhiem considering his daunting task in preserving Finland's precarious position.

    I'm not sure why Eisenhower gets so little respect. Was he tactically brilliant, probably not but no one managed to keep so many prickly personalities working together for a common goal. I am reminded of the phase used in conjunction with Jellicoe in the Great War as being the only person who could lose the war in a day. I'm not saying he would or could lose the war in one day, but he could have made it a proverbial bloodbath. Ike knew how to select good subordinates, how to get the most out of them, knew when and where to forgive mistakes. Most importantly he knew it had to be a joint effort to get it done. Much like Washington who faced technically better opponents yet understood the basic strategy that would win the war.

    As for the rest, all have both good and bad attributes.
     
  10. Half Track

    Half Track Active Member

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    88198B52-E641-46C7-8302-2F3DD4946B18.jpeg I like “Ike” too.
     
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2018
  11. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    Looks to me like you have different criteria. A general who does well at the tactical level is a better general than one who does poorly at the strategic level. As the OP didn't specify that strategic, operational, or tactical was of most import nothing wrong with naming tactical generals IMO. That said for the most part the Soviet generals lost too many men for me to consider them to be in the running for "best". There were also at least some honorable mentions to some of the minor countries generals. Given the Finnish performance some of their generals should be considered. I've read some very good things about at least one Italian general. Don't know enough about most of the generals in the war to really have a strong preference but if I had to vote right now Slim would probably get the vote.
     
  12. Mussolini

    Mussolini Gaming Guru WW2|ORG Editor

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    My big issue with these "who/what was the best *insert object/rank/etc here*" threads is that there is no answer. Or, there is an answer, but virtually everyone on this forum will have a different answer. Such threads are too subjective and undefined.

    I think if you want to come up with the "Best General of WW2" you need to make a list of criteria - for instance, what makes a General the best? Tactical knowledge? Use of troop distribution? Situational awareness and factors? I would say its easier being a great general if you have well trained and well supplied troops and are not fighting in adverse conditions but only 1 side ever seems to have that going for them, so do you weight Generals who performed well with under-supplied, poorly trained, poorly-equipped troops above those who were not in adverse situations?

    So i would suggest coming up with a list of what you think makes a great General and go from there.
     
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  13. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

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    Good points. Building on this

    What makes for a good senior military figure - Army chief of staff ?Who were the best in that role?

    What makes for a theatre commander? SACEUR - SEAC - MTO

    What makes for a good army group commander?How is that different from theatre command or army command?

    Army Command

    Corps Command Who was the best Corps

    Division

    Chief of engineers?

    Chief of artillery?

    Head of Logistics?

    Is there a difference between those that organise and train compared to those that command in then field.
     
  14. von Poop

    von Poop Waspish WW2|ORG Editor

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    Alanbrooke, & G Marshall.

    8181e1a262914ef926ce86b4971d383d.jpg

    220px-Thomas_Edgar_Stephens_-_George_C._Marshall_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg

    Get yourself some proper grown-up strategic Generals who are good at picking Generals, and you're half way there.
     
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  15. Mussolini

    Mussolini Gaming Guru WW2|ORG Editor

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    We can probably put this thread to rest. I didn't know when I responded that Kai had revived another 10+ year old thread!
     
  16. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    I think there are some concepts here that could do with revisiting. Although perhaps a new thread would be better.
     
  17. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    I like Many threads we talked about some 10 years or more about. But I try to keep onto my own threads. Cheers!
     
  18. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    Nothing wrong with a bit of thread necromancy. It's often interesting to review things (IMO) in light of the extra years especially if some new insights are to be found. Encourages neos to bring them up if they have questions or opinions as well. I'd rather see them add to an old thread than start a new one on the same topic.
     
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  19. von Poop

    von Poop Waspish WW2|ORG Editor

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    Indeed.
    Utterly bemused when anyone gives a toss about waking an old thread on a history forum.
    They're there to be posted on, otherwise why not just delete or close anything considered 'old'.
    One solid thread always better/more useful than a dozen scattered/repetitive ones.
     
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  20. Mussolini

    Mussolini Gaming Guru WW2|ORG Editor

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    Other then the fact that the OP's are most likely no longer on the forum to continue the discussion and its from one of the merged forums. Probably better and cleaner to start a new thread especially with the points raised about the OP's original question/phrasing.
     

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