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worst commander of the war?

Discussion in 'WWII General' started by macker33, Jul 17, 2009.

  1. JagdtigerI

    JagdtigerI Ace

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    So Paulus was a bad general for listening to his commanding officer's orders? Also, how do you suppose they breakout? The 6th Army was in no position to fully mobilize and launch a breakout, especially in the middle of winter.
     
  2. Kruska

    Kruska Member

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    Hello JagdtigerI,

    I can follow your forwardings - however Paulus failed misserably IMO when he refused a breakout towards Hoth.

    Hoth's men got killed more or less for nothing - even if the breakout would have been hindered by the Soviets to a large extend, numerous German units would have still made it out.

    Stalingrad was lost anyway - but it could have taken a more "heroic" ending. (don't forget the Nazi propaganda to exploit a breakout, no matter how misserable) - it was still better to sell that of, then the news of a capitulation at Stalingrad.

    Regards
    Kruska
     
  3. JagdtigerI

    JagdtigerI Ace

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    Hi Kruska,

    I understand your point completely.

    I just think it unfair to say a general is bad for following orders. That is not to say a general can't be good for going against his orders and succeding.

    Just IMO
     
  4. Kruska

    Kruska Member

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    Hello JagdtigerI,

    you are correct, interesting though (I wouldn't know about Patton) but Guderian, Hausser and even Sepp Dietrich were known not to follow orders.

    Regards
    Kruska
     
  5. marc780

    marc780 Member

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    I think you have really hit the nail right on the head regarding Goerring's attitude later in the war...Goering was a much different leader before the Battle of Britain, and Barbarossa, than after. (After BoB he had lost Hitler's faith but the early success of the Luftwaffe during Barbarossa in June, 1941 redeemed him somewhat in Hitler's esteem, for a while.) Goerring was totally opposed to Barbarossa, rightly as it turned out, and gently tried to talk Hitler out of it. Other Nazi leaders asked Goering why he did not try harder to dissuade Hitler from the ill-advised invasion, and Goering replied, "the Fuehrer has made up his mind, and no power on earth can talk him out of it now."

    Once the war slowly began to turn against Germany after Stalingrad, Goerring became less and less interested in official business. Goerring was many things but he was not stupid, and he must have realized what the eventual outcome for Germany would be - so what was the point of feverish activity, since it was simply delaying the inevitable! After Stalingrad in particular he became lazy and preoccupied with his estates, his stolen art, his hunting and even his model trains...Goerring missed many important meetings with Hitler at this point and this was apparently how they both preferred the arrangment (at one meeting he did attend late in the war, Hitler turned to Goerring and snapped "Goerring, your luftwaffe's not worth a damn!")

    Naturally he remained loyal to Hitler but dared not say anything about his opinions or act on them - since he was Hitler's #2 and his chosen succesor after all. He had irrevocably cast his fate with Hitler and would succeed or fail alongside him.
     
  6. Kruska

    Kruska Member

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    Well being intelligent doesn't automaticaly qualify for overall Luftwaffe leadership.

    And in this function he proofed to be a total failure, despite his recorded IQ - Test of scoring 138 during his captivity for the Nuernberg trial.

    Regards
    Kruska
     
  7. mikebatzel

    mikebatzel Dreadnaught

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    Cmdr. Winfield Scott Cunningham. He never should have surrendered Wake at a time when the marines were about ready to toss the invaders back into the sea.

    Also, I never see listed in these type of threads Gen. Brereton. While MacArthur takes the blame for the planes still being on the ground in the Philippines, they were still Brereton's planes.
     
  8. brndirt1

    brndirt1 Saddle Tramp

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    I admit that General Brereton does seem to be a sort of "Typhoid Mary" when it comes to operations under his command; some of them were planned before he came on the scene (Ploesti, Market-Garden), and the operation in the Philippines was too muddled to really lay the blame anywhere but "Big Mac".

    Sutherland overrode General Brereton on decisions concerning the use of the USAAF in the Philippines repeatedly. Brereton's own personality was another problem. MacArthur liked and trusted him even in the face of his (Brereton’s) inability to cope with the domineering Sutherland who was MacArthur’s Chief of Staff.

    While there are two sides to any historical event depending on who is writing it, the consensus of opinion seems to be that the blame for the loss of the B-17's falls on MacArthur, not Brereton, since even though Brereton was in command of the USAAF (Far East Air Force), he was under the direct control of "Big Mac", as well as Sutherland (de facto), since he could do nothing without upper command approval.

    Most sources infer that MacArthur went into a sort of funk with the news of Pearl Harbor and was emotionally paralyzed so he did nothing for quite some time. General Brereton as the head of the Far East Air Corps tried several times to get MacArthur to authorize the removal of the B-17's (through Sutherland) south to a new air base. Supposedly, MacArthur's delays in approving that requested transfer caused the B-17's still at Clark to be destroyed by the Japanese attack.

    Apparently, there was no initial effort to use the B-17's to bomb Formosa as the war plans called for, but they had been sent out on initial scouting flights (without bombs!).

    Bad weather delayed the Japanese air attack forces from Formosa, but when they did strike, they wiped out half of the B-17 force and a large number of fighter aircraft that were also caught on the ground.

    See:

    Douglas MacArthur

    and:

    Battle of the Philippines-MacArthur's Defence Strategy

    For more look at the section:

    The Army Air Forces in World War II
    Chapter 6: Pearl Harbor and Clark Field


    HyperWar: The Army Air Forces in WWII: Vol. I--Plans & Early Operations [Chapter 6]


    and be sure to scroll down to pages 206-212, and notice that the planes were back from a scouting mission when they were attacked. It goes into some detail of the different statements by MacArthur, Sutherland and Brereton.
     
  9. Bob Guercio

    Bob Guercio Dishonorably Discharged

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    It is my understanding that at Pearl Harbor, Admiral Husband Kimmel's job was to keep Japanese forces away from Pearl Harbor while General Walter Short's job was to protect the fleet in Harbor.

    If this is true, could something like this be said regarding MacArthur and Brereton in the Philippines?

    Bob Guercio
     
  10. brndirt1

    brndirt1 Saddle Tramp

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    It is a little less clear-cut in Hawaii than it was in the Philippines. In the Philippines MacArthur was nearly an autonomous entity, as he had just been called back from retirement and was in overall command in the area, previously he had been preparing the Philippines for complete independence in 1945. The same wasn't the situation in Hawaii.

    Even as both CINCUS (name changed later due to irony of acronym's sound) and CINCPAC, Admiral Kimmel did not directly command Pearl Harbor. Kimmel's command was simply located there. His command as CINCUS literally covered the entire globe, as he was the senior officer in the Navy (CINCUS, later COMINCH was ultimately merged into CNO), and as CINCPAC, the entire Pacific Ocean area. But his command structure reached back to D.C.

    Kimmel and Short have always been lumped together in the public mind, but a war warning to Kimmel had an entirely different meaning than one to Short due to the disparate scopes of their respective commands. As for Short's interpretation that he was to prepare to defend against sabotage, the addendum to his copy of the war warning of Nov. 27th was to the effect that his preparations should be made in a way that would not alarm the public, keeping in mind it's large Japanese contingient.

    Quite naturally, he communicated his actions to Washington and received no negative response. Complicate that with the Navy was supposed to protect the harbor, the ships within it, and the sea surrounding the islands. The islands themselves were the US Army and Air Corps (Force) responsibility. Two really weird things evolved out of this set-up. First; the USAAC (it was still the Air Corps) was forbidden to fly beyond sight of land on scouting missions, for fear they would get lost and have to be rescued by Navy ships and personnel, costing time and money. Second; they didn’t have shared communications abilities, the Navy radio system was higher powered than the Army's, but only slightly less susceptible to atmospheric interference.

    The messages sent to both men on Dec. 7th, were sent by commercial radio-telegram, because of atmospheric interference with their internal systems. The telegram system was completely commercially owned, as was the trans-Pacific undersea cable. Even Western Union had to buy time on the cable since it was owned by another company, and none of the cables had been nationalized until well after war was declared, sometime in early 1942.

    General Short took the late November war warning as getting ready to defend the island, but focused on sabotage since so much of the population were of Japanese decent (1/3 or better?). Adm. Kimmel brought his ships back into port after a training mission as per usual, but not only began topping off the fuel, re-supplying any depleted ammunition, had also begun welding portholes shut in anticipation of a blue water big ship confrontation a’la Jutland.

    Another myth is that Kimmel and Short were out there twiddling their thumbs and planning golf excursions up until the attack. Kimmel's primary duty was to prepare the Fleet for its offensive assignment under WP-46Pac which involved raids on the islands of the Japanese mandate. He was also training PBY crews in both anti-submarine warfare (ASW) and search and rescue operations. His defensive preparations for the Fleet were in place when the attack came. Analysis of logs has indicated that all major ships commenced firing within two minutes of the beginning of the attack and the surviving Japanese pilots confirmed this after the war.

    Contrary to Hollywood and popular belief, wholesale liberty was not granted. The larger ships were on port and starboard liberty (alternating between ships) and the smaller ships varied somewhat because the idea was to make sure that everyone got liberty to unwind after the previous tough weeks of training. On the larger ships, duty gun crews slept at their AA guns, and ammunition was kept ready at all guns. Overall, more than 80% of enlisted personnel and more than 50% of officers were aboard when the attack came. This situation accounts for the extremely high casualties on Arizona.

    Short built up fortifications, set up the then experimental radar (after being denied his first choices for location by the U S Parks Service and civilian groups). He also agreed with the Navy to be jointly responsible for harbor defense at Pearl.

    Both officers were in frequent radio and telegraphy communication with Washington and were assured they were receiving ALL available intelligence information. Admiral Turner was caught in a lie regarding this point later at one of the Congressional hearings.

    This is not to say that they had no responsibility for what happened. Inter-service communications both in D.C. and Hawaii failed. In one example, the Army and Navy each set up its own system of numbered alert levels. Unfortunately, one system went from 1 (lowest), to 3 (highest); and, the other went from 3 (lowest), to 1 (highest), is it any wonder we use colors now? As a result, one Navy officer (Cpt. Layton?) was aghast to see the Army towing its AA guns away when the Navy had just raised its alert level to HIGHEST.

    Kimmel and Short were never accorded the court-martial which was their right under military law. At the only hearings (Army and Navy boards) where they were allowed to have their attorneys question witness, they were held not derelict in their duties and charges were dropped (they were later reinstated by then CNO King), who was passed over when Kimmel was appointed as CINCUS, and is known to have been somewhat vindictive at perceived insults.

    Witness his treatment of Captain Charles Butler McVay III in the USS Indianapolis hearings. The reason I bring this incident up, is this; the single and only black mark on King’s record was placed there by Charles Butler McVay II when he was Ensign King’s commander in the Far East command, and King was found to have been absent from his post. That Charles Butler McVay II was Charles Butler McVay III’s father.
     
    Bob Guercio likes this.
  11. SPGunner

    SPGunner Member

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    Couldn't Paulus at least have attacked out toward the relief corridor and not called it a breakout. Paulus seemed resigned totally to the army's fate.
     

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