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Thread: The 5 Greatest Generals of World War 2

  1. #21
    Captain Bogdan.ua's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NiiloN View Post
    Demoralised penal units are the best because they either win or perish. So if you happen to win with them, well.. you had no retreat..

    Harder to go from victory to another with elite troops, because you cannot waste them. It's wise to sometimes take a small tactical defeat. Only a fool would send the most expensive tanks anywhere.
    I hope you're being sarcastic. If Rokossovskiy had a defeat like Rzhev-Vyazhma he would gotten shot on the spot

  2. #22
    I think he didn't care if he was shot. That's what I was saying. No retreat. If you happen to win all, you will be remembered. If you lose, you will be forgotten or shot. That being said, the best troops are not lead with this principle, ever. The best generals must have a few defeats in their score sheet.

  3. #23
    Also, a great general finds ways to convince his political leadership of the required military action. German generals sucked at this. That's how you lose a war, listening to a poor political leader or not finding a way to disobey the worst orders. That is not great generalship. In my opinion generals are there to win wars, not obey their leader blindly. MacArthur opened his mouth and sticked with it when he disagreed with political leaders. The fight is still going on, see for example, McChrystal vs White House in extremely poorly lead Afghanistan war, politically.

  4. #24
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    In no particular order

    Hasso von Manteuffel
    Vasili Chuikov
    Tadamichi Kuribayashi
    Erich von Manstein
    Heinz Guderian

    Perhaps somebody may open a poll, if it hasn't been done so far.
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  5. #25
    Field Marshal Cybvep's Avatar

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    I would really like to hear your arguments for including X in the Top 5. For example, why MacArthur? What was so impressive about his performance in the Philippines in 1941-1942 (a doomed campaign with unnecessary casualties and little strategic purpose) or in 1944-1945 (arguably the key word here is "revenge", not great strategy)?

  6. #26
    Quote Originally Posted by Cybvep View Post
    I would really like to hear your arguments for including X in the Top 5. For example, why MacArthur? What was so impressive about his performance in the Philippines in 1941-1942 (a doomed campaign with unnecessary casualties and little strategic purpose) or in 1944-1945 (arguably the key word here is "revenge", not great strategy)?
    He was so impressive in the Philippines that he fled from the battlefield instead of staying with his soldiers to the bitter end. But don't worry, he left General Wainwright who really deserves more credit than Mac, in his place to suffer for four years in Japanese POW camps.

    The worse is yet to come, when Wainwright was nominated for Medal of Honor, MacArthur was the first to oppose. It is a shame to place his name among the great generals like Manstein or Rommel.
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  7. #27
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    I can't blame him for wanting to save his life, but as far as strategy is concerned, I'm not impressed. MacArthur was more of a guy concerned with politics and PR than with real strategy as far as I'm concerned. I'm not saying that he was a BAD general, but I really don't see how one can include him in the top 5.

  8. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cybvep View Post
    I can't blame him for wanting to save his life, but as far as strategy is concerned, I'm not impressed. MacArthur was more of a guy concerned with politics and PR than with real strategy as far as I'm concerned. I'm not saying that he was a BAD general, but I really don't see how one can include him in the top 5.
    There is a book by Australian author Paul Ham called 'Kokoda' which is particularly critical of MacArthur. I highly recommend it.

  9. #29
    My list :

    + Manstein -- pretty obvious
    + Kesselring -- his war of attrition campaign in Italy. He managed to hold Italian peninsula against much bigger force until Spring 1945.
    + Yamashita -- his trick in Singapore
    + Zhukov -- pretty much Manstein of Soviet Union.
    + Model -- his ability to keep Eastern Front at one piece even in 1944.
    + Hausser -- another brilliant panzer commander, especially in Kharkov.

    The ones I don't include in the best of all list :

    + Rommel -- brilliant general, but not as brilliant above Army level. Also, he strained logistics a way too much in NA.
    + Guderian -- I prefer more of field commanders. He is brilliant but he has more to do with theory.
    + Montgomery -- One of the most exaggrated generals of WW2, always slow to react and unwilling to take necessary risks.
    + Patton -- Second over-exaggareted general. Complete American myth. Defeating Rommel with more than 5 times bigger force ? Even Kulik would do that in the end.

    And of course, I won't include any US general because it is not possible to observe their commanding skills while they have overwhelming material and air support under their commands.
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  10. #30
    Field Marshal Mr_B0narpte's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by makif130289 View Post
    + Montgomery -- One of the most exaggrated generals of WW2, always slow to react and unwilling to take necessary risks..
    Unwilling to take risks, what was Market Garden then?
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  11. #31
    Quote Originally Posted by Cybvep View Post
    I can't blame him for wanting to save his life, but as far as strategy is concerned, I'm not impressed. MacArthur was more of a guy concerned with politics and PR than with real strategy as far as I'm concerned. I'm not saying that he was a BAD general, but I really don't see how one can include him in the top 5.
    So, what did Wainwright do to deserve his bad fate ? To not wanting to save his life as much as MacArthur wanted to save his ass ? No, in my book, a field general should surrender with his soldiers, in the same way a captain sinking with his ship. Percival didn't flee, Paulus didn't flee, but MacArthur fled without hesitation when the President ordered him to do so. He could have defied the order and have stayed with his soldiers. What would the president have done in that case ? Declaring him as a traitor ? No way, he would have been a hero, a true hero this time.
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  12. #32
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  13. #33
    Field Marshal Cybvep's Avatar

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    So, what did Wainwright do to deserve his bad fate ? To not wanting to save his life as much as MacArthur wanted to save his ass ?
    I didn't say anything like it. Where did you get that idea? O_o

    No, in my book, a field general should surrender with his soldiers, in the same way a captain sinking with his ship. Percival didn't flee, Paulus didn't flee, but MacArthur fled without hesitation when the President ordered him to do so. He could have defied the order and have stayed with his soldiers. What would the president have done in that case ? Declaring him as a traitor ? No way, he would have been a hero, a true hero this time.
    It's purely traditional thinking to demand that a general has to go down along with his army. If he is good, then it is far more rational to save him for future battles. Of course, a good general should do everything in his power in order to PRESERVE his army, but it's not always possible. Again, I'm not defending MacArthur or something, just saying that it's irrational to demand the general to suffer the same fate as the forces he leads. To put it bluntly, it's a waste.

  14. #34
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    Ok, Western Generals seem to get of a bad rap here. Yes, the German generals were impressive, but were they really the be all and end all?

    Plus, I don't think Air Commanders should count really...


    1. Slim - built the Forgotten Army from nothing, able to get along with Stillwell and Chiang Kai-Shek, victorious against Japanese, loved by all under his command

    2. O'Connor - led the assault on the Italians and could have finished them off, captured, escaped (not generalship, but pretty cool), went on to command in Normandy

    3. Horrocks- Fine divisional commander in North Africa, and impressive corps commander in Normandy handling XXX Corps. Loved and respected by all who served with him.

    4. Brooke - Speaks for itself I think.

    5. Wavell - (What? Asks everyone...) Yes, oversaw the almost total destruction of the Italians in North Africa. Would have succeeded had it not been for Churchill's meddling. Did a fine job as penultimate Viceroy of India.

    Honourable mention:

    Simonds - Truly impressive handling of the 1st Canadian Army in Normandy. Fine Divisional officer as well

  15. #35
    Quote Originally Posted by Mr_B0narpte View Post
    Unwilling to take risks, what was Market Garden then?
    Yeah, when Churchill and other higher rank leaders pressed for more rapid conclusion for the war, he prepared one of the worst operations of the war, it was so uncharacteristic of him that the planning showed the fact itself. Parachutists had to fight against panzers at many places, most of the time without anti-tank weapons.

    If you want to understand Montgomery, NA is the place to look at. He couldn't take initiative from Rommel who has extremely limited resources until Rommel weared down himself in front of El Alamein. Churchill was right to be angry at the conduct of NA Campaign because British got pushed every time in spite of constant supply of new tanks and divisions ( In fact, many criticized Churchill for ignoring Singapore in favor of NA ). If Rommel had something comparable to Montgomery in tank numbers, then there would have been no Montgomery. All he did was to wait and then to try slow and extremely cautious offensives. In my opinion, Montgomery was the product of a policy to create British Rommel. They needed their own Rommel to maintain high morale.
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  16. #36
    Quote Originally Posted by Indefatigable View Post
    Ok, Western Generals seem to get of a bad rap here. Yes, the German generals were impressive, but were they really the be all and end all?

    Plus, I don't think Air Commanders should count really...


    1. Slim - built the Forgotten Army from nothing, able to get along with Stillwell and Chiang Kai-Shek, victorious against Japanese, loved by all under his command

    2. O'Connor - led the assault on the Italians and could have finished them off, captured, escaped (not generalship, but pretty cool), went on to command in Normandy

    3. Horrocks- Fine divisional commander in North Africa, and impressive corps commander in Normandy handling XXX Corps. Loved and respected by all who served with him.

    4. Brooke - Speaks for itself I think.

    5. Wavell - (What? Asks everyone...) Yes, oversaw the almost total destruction of the Italians in North Africa. Would have succeeded had it not been for Churchill's meddling. Did a fine job as penultimate Viceroy of India.

    Honourable mention:

    Simonds - Truly impressive handling of the 1st Canadian Army in Normandy. Fine Divisional officer as well
    I forgot Wavell. He was really exceptional general.
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  17. #37
    Field Marshal Cybvep's Avatar

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    If Rommel had something comparable to Montgomery in tank numbers and the ability to supply them properly, then there would have been no Montgomery.
    I fixed your sentence.

  18. #38
    Quote Originally Posted by Cybvep View Post
    I fixed your sentence.
    I don't think so. You are completely right about Rommel's ignorance about logistical problems ( I indicated it in my list too ) but the numbers were so much against him that I think he could have defeated the British even with his logistical problems.
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  19. #39
    1.Rokossovky
    2.Zhukov
    3.Peng Dehuai
    4.Chen Cheng
    5.Mannerheim

  20. #40
    Field Marshal Mr_B0narpte's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by makif130289 View Post
    If you want to understand Montgomery, NA is the place to look at. He couldn't take initiative from Rommel who has extremely limited resources until Rommel weared down himself in front of El Alamein. Churchill was right to be angry at the conduct of NA Campaign because British got pushed every time in spite of constant supply of new tanks and divisions ( In fact, many criticized Churchill for ignoring Singapore in favor of NA ). If Rommel had something comparable to Montgomery in tank numbers, then there would have been no Montgomery.
    I agree, but I don't see how Churchill 'ignored' Singapore. The British had more then adequate forces in the region to repel a Japanese attack, it was extremely poor leadership combined with racism that led to the completely avoidable 'fall of Singapore'.

    Quote Originally Posted by makif130289 View Post
    I forgot Wavell. He was really exceptional general.
    What about Alexander as well?
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