Skip to comments.World War II + 70 Years Forum Continuing Discussion Thread
Posted on 10/31/2010 8:21:03 AM PDT by Homer_J_Simpson
click here to read article
My own knowledge of WWII generals and admirals is quite extensive. For example, I know that Ike led the invasion of France, that Patton went around slapping soldiers all the time and looked exactly like George C. Scott, and that MacArthur Returned and looked exactly like Gregory Peck. Okay, I admit I am out of my depth on this topic. But I have been paying attention to the events of mid-1940 pretty closely and I have one name to throw out in the category of Military Leaders who have Played Important Roles over the Last Few Months. In honor of the end of the Battle of Britain . . .
Air Marshal Hugh Dowding.
“Air Marshal Hugh Dowding.”
Remarkable individual historically. Will read more about him later. Thanks.
Let’s not forget General Curtis LeMay!
Admiral-wise, worst were Bull Halsey & Marc Mitscher. Best was Ray Spruance.
Near the end of the war (February 1945), Eisenhower ranked the capabilities of U.S. generals in Europe. Omar Bradley and Carl Spaatz he rated as the best. Walter Bedell Smith was ranked number 3, and Patton number 4, followed by Mark Clark, and Lucian Truscott.
Bradley himself had been asked by Eisenhower to rank all the generals in December 1945, and he ranked them as follows: Bedell Smith #1, Spaatz #2, Courtney Hodges #3, Elwood Quesada #4, Truscott #5, and Patton #6 (others were also ranked)
However, Patton was a ground commander. Spaatz and Quesada had been air commanders since the 1920s, having spent their military careers through the end of World War II in the Army Air Force, the forerunner of today's U.S. Air Force, which was not separated from the U.S. Army until 1947. It may be impossible today to make a fair comparison of commanders from two such different branches of the U.S. military.
Eisenhower's and Bradley's rankings probably included factors other than Patton's success as a battle leader. As to that, Alan Axelrod in his book Patton (Palgrave Macmillan, 2006) quotes German Field Marshal Gerd von Rundstedt as stating "Patton was your best" and, surprisingly, Joseph Stalin as stating that the Red Army could neither have planned nor executed Patton's advance across France. Even Adolf Hitler was impressed by Patton's ability, reportedly calling him "The most dangerous man (the Allies) have."
Hadn't thought of that.
Halsey deserves some credit for saving the situation at Guadacanal but loses it and then some for his near catastrophic impulsiveness at Leyte Gulf.
As for Marc Mitscher, his performance as a captain at Midway was horrible (I'm surprised he wasn't sacked) and if not for the absolute thrashing US airmen gave the Japanese attackers even the Phillipine Sea would've been a disappointing lost opportunity.
You might want to include Heinz Guderian, arguably the first effective practitioner of Blitzkrieg.
I was in Gen Patton’s army for a few weeks at the time of the Bulge, unit transferred to 7th Army General Patch. In Austria occupation, I met General Mark Clark.
During World War I, he led a company of soldiers in 1917 and was seriously wounded by shrapnel. After the war, Clarks abilities were noticed by General George Marshall.
During World War II, he was the Allied Commander in Italy. He is known for ordering the destruction of the abbey at Monte Cassino and his subsequent entry into Rome in 1944 ignoring orders, the action which allowed the escape of the German 10th army, who joined their countrymen at the Transimene Line. Clark became the youngest American to be promoted to general in 1945.
Both Winston Churchill and General Dwight D. Eisenhower considered him a brilliant staff officer and trainer. Clark won many awards, including the Distinguished Service Cross for extreme bravery in war, subordinate only to the Medal of Honor.
Air Marshal Hugh Dowding.
I believe he looks like Laurence Olivier.:>)
Guderian was a great general but many German generals considered Field Marshall Erich Manstein to be Germany's top strategist and I've even heard it said he was the best General in the war. His tactics against the Soviets, who always outnumbered his forces at least three to one, were models of creativity and skill and he probably saved Army Group South after Stalingrad when the Italian, Hungarian and Romanian forces in the east were overrun by the Red Army.
Ground Commanders: Erwin Rommel, Erich von Manstein,Hermann Hoth, Tomuyuki Yamashita, George Patton, Bill Slim
Air Commanders: Albert Kesselring [also a ground commander],Pete Quesada, Jimmy Doolittle
Naval Commanders: Andrew Cunningham, Raymond Spruance, Wilhelm Marschall, Guenther Lutjens, Tamon Yamaguchi
In my opinion a huge blunder.
For air, I’d submit Adolph Galland, navy Wilhelm Canaris and Isoroku Yamamoto, land Patton, Rommel, Bradley for consideration on the list of best.
For worst, there ought to be a place for both Montgomery and Eisenhower on the list. Probably MacArthur, as well, certainly Halsey.
Lemay was a tough SOB, but he cared about his men. He got a bad rap for being Wallaces VP choice.
He made the rubble bounce.
For best generals -- those responsible for winning the most battles: Marshall, Eisenhower, Montgomery, Zhukov, Timoshenko & MacArthur.
On the German side: von Manstein, Guderian, Rommel and Kesselring come to mind, as does Japan's Tomoyuki Yamashita
Of course, each of these had commanders under them who may deserve much, if not most, or the credit.
I'm thinking especially of MacArthur's two "German" Lt. Generals -- Eichelberger and Krueger -- who humbly made MacArthur look like the genius he considered himself to be.
Battlefield commanders are a different story, of course, and I certainly couldn't name the best or worst of those.
But we might note this: among some armies, the numbers of generals killed in battle was not just dozens, but hundreds.
And if the first measure of a good commander is courage, then all of those passed that test.
As for the quality of their generalship, yes, we might suppose that some died from their own incompetence.
But my guess is many more were put into the most difficult circumstances just because they were considered the most likely to prove successful.
So I'm suggesting a good place to begin looking for the best and worst generals is among the lists of those who didn't live to tell their stories.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.