Jump to content
Craig

Greatest Commander

Recommended Posts

A debate that usualy causes differing views.
Who does the members believe were the great and the Poor Generals
I will start with Rommel
A great start with the invasion of France through to his "Afrika Corps" Days. Not only his great tactics but the strength of moral he installed in his men.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Very hard question to answer. There were many great Generals on both sides some were excellent tacticians well respected and admired by their men, but cold fish who had little feeling for the men they led and saw it as a job that had to be done. Others were not so good on the tactical front but adored and idolised by the men they led.

I agree Rommel seemed to have it both, which is unusual and seems a quality that only a few have possessed through out history. He is also well respected by his enemy and many Desert Rats have respectful if not affectionate feelings towards his memory even though he was the enemy.

I will have to think about this one !!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

But Rommel lost... and was beaten by Monty. I hope no-one will sugest Patton. I see him as wasteful with his men's lives and very ambitious.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Germans believed Patton was the Allies best General and that was why he was shown as Commanding the invisible Army on the South coast that Germans believed would invade the Pays de Calais. Asthey believed the best would lead the invasion.
And Montgomery has a lot to answer for Operation Goodwood and Market Garden that was showing almost contempt to his men.
Goodwood " The Death March" of the British cavalary.
Market Garden " A Bridge too far ".
Far more ambitious than Rommel.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't understand why the German High Command rated Patton so highly. He was not used much, and he wasted men like no tomorrow.
Maybe it was because he was daring ....... and an aggressive commander.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest John Sukey

I don't understand why the German High Command rated Patton so highly. He was not used much, and he wasted men like no tomorrow.

The difference between Patton and Montgomery was that Patton did not give the germans a chance to fall back and dig in. In the end he was less wasteful of his soldiers lives . I fear you have been listening to the wrong historians.

Rommel lost because his supplies ran out and were not replenished. Monty had more than enough of both men and equipment to do the job many times over, and yet he let the germans fall back and form another defensive line each time. In essence, using WW1 tactics in WW2. You eventualy wear down the opposition, but at a greater cost.

Besides that he was a bit confused on which badge to wear on his beret :lol:

In the long run, you have to look at each war and each battle and campaign. Was Wellington greater than Napoleon? Grant better than Lee? Roman generals better than the enemies of Rome? Cromwell better than the royalists? Washington better than Cornwallis? etc.etc. Zuhkov had the advantage of numbers and russia's best general, WINTER. If you wanted to talk about wasting lives, the russians are better at that than any other commanders.

Wars are won by the side that makes less mistakes than the losers.

Edited by John Sukey

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Montgomery was cautious. At that stage in the War, Britain certainly did not have the Manpower to draw on any more.
Most Wars are a war of attrittion of some sorts. Yes Rommel fought a brilliant rear guard action , but he still lost.

Unlike most US Generals, most allied commanders had 'between wars' experience, in many Colonial actions. I don't think Patton had much , bar his naked ambition, going for him. And the boring General of WWII ( didn't smoke or drink :( ) wore his Staff capbadge and Unit capbadge because he was proud of being a Tanky. I once spoke to a top chap abroad, and he detested wearing the 'Staff' capbadge, much preferring his own. His supply lines were also not guaranteed , hence his caution, especially as he had been at War since the beginning , unlike the USA who joined in after 1941.

Zuhkov was not a clever General. He purely used what he had in the simplest manner to achieve his aim. The Germans had the longest supply lines, the least numbers, and the least equipment and were the least equipped to deal with the Harsh environment.
Even I could have made that decision! :P

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest John Sukey

Unlike the USA which joined in 1941? What would you have had us do? Germany had not attacked us, and entering the war at an earlier date would have brought down the government. As it was, we were supplying war material and escorting British convoys part way across the Atlantic. After December 7th 1941, the bulk of the war material went to defeating hitler first even though we had a very large bone to pick with the japs.

Patton certainly had experience in WW1. I have to disagree with the statement about Montgomeries supplies. He certainly had much more than the commander sacked by Churchuill and he attacked much later. I don't recall any major conflict in which Montgomery could have gained more experience after WW1, Perhaps you will enlighten me on the subject.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have followed with interest this debate and I have to say there are pro?s and cons for all the names put up and every time I come to a decision someone comes up with a reason to the contrary. I have a name to throw into the ring, but before I do has anyone considered General Heinz Guderian. Now there was a man who understood the Art of War!

My nomination comes from the blood, mud and carnage of the Great War, not a place one would normally look for a Commander to admire but General Herbert Plumer was head and shoulders above the rest.

A soldier for some 40 yrs before the outbreak of War he was the most unlikely looking figure for a leader of men. Squat, red faced with a ?Mr Pastry? style moustache an almost comical appearance belied this most effective, caring and successful Commander of his time.

A meticulous planner, impossible to fluster he was above all a soldiers soldier. He was sparing of the lives of his men, he was always ready to listen and examine less profligate ways to achieve his aims - and they knew it. (Haig by the way never trusted him and tried to have him removed many times, enough said).

Placed in overall Command of the Messines Offensive in the summer of 1917 it was Plumer?s finest hour. All the meticulous planning and consideration was encapsulated in his ? bite and hold? tactics. He was a man with a wry sense of humour too ? 19 mines blew the top off Messines ridge at the start of the battle and Plumer turned to his staff and said ? Well Gentlemen, we may not make History today but we have certainly changed the geography?.

Messines was the one complete success in Offensive terms of the Great War and one with the absolute minimum of Casualties. His men trusted him implicitly and when he extricated Gough from the deep poo he had made of Passchendale he was a reluctant hero. He led the 2nd Division to Italy where by Leadership and skill he stopped that front from collapsing after Caporetto.

I do not know by which standard we judge all these leaders of men except to ask the question ?would I want him in charge of my destiny??

Herbert Plumer died in 1932 and over 100,000 ex servicemen attended the funeral. Does that make him a Great Commander? I for one believe that fact alone must put him up there

Barney

Edited by Barney

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest John Sukey

I would second Plumer as a great commander. At least he understood trench warfare better than a certain cavalry type he was under. Haig never could figure out that horses were not bullet proof. In fact some years after the war he stated there would still be a place for the horse in modern warfare.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Montgomery was far more experienced, than Patton.He served all of the WW1 , from 1914 in the trenches, till the end of 1918. During this time, he was wounded twice.
Post war , he went on to serve in Palestine, Egypt, India, Ireland and 'guested' to Australia, in a Staff capacity.
He returned to command the Forces in Palestine prior to the beginning of the WWII.
He was also serving in WWII for a full two years , prior to Patton entering the War, including the disaster at Dunkirk.

Patton by contrast, served in Mexico, and the latter end of WW1. He spent little or no time in the trenches, but served in the initial usage of tanks, where he was wouded and and saw out the end of the War in Hospital.
He arrived late into WWII, through , no fault of his own. During this time , he made himself notorious for the slapping of Ptes Bennet & Kuhl, for shellshock.
Anyone who was involved in sustained combat would have understood these men.He obviously didn't.

By the end of WWII, Montgomery had more Operational experience , from that War alone, than Patton did in his entire career.
:food-smiley-004:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There is no question that Rommel was the best all round General of WWII. You've only got to look at the brilliant rear guard action in North Africa that he carried out with extremely limited resources as his supply lines from France/Italy had been cut by the allies.
I wonder how many men would have turned out for his funeral had the man with 'Small man's Syndrome' had not had him take his own life through outrageous threats to his family.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest John Sukey

There is no doubt that Montgomery was a legend in his own mind. More experience? The german army was a bit different then fighting arabs. If Market Garden was an example of Montgomery's experience, then Its a good thing we had Patton. I hate to say this, but the British have always looked down on us colonials and Monty was no different. It is'nt how much "Experience" you have, but rather how you use what you do have.

By the way, Paton may have slapped a couple of soldiers, but in WW1 you simply shot them for being cowards.

As far as the best general, I would also nominate Bradley.

Guderian was also mentioned. Its really odd that he read DeGaulles book on tank warfare while the french general staff could'nt be bothered.

Edited by John Sukey

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

the British have always looked down on us colonials

??????

Edited by Vice Chairman

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

To answer this problem properly you have to look at what makes a good General. Charisma, natural leadership, responsibility all combined with an excellent grasp of tactical and strategic analysis. A tall order for any person and one not completely fulfilled by the best of Generals.

I am no big fan of Montgomery but to write him off as a bad General in my opinion is not only incorrect, but is doing him a great disservice. He was at times overly cautious and certainly over rated, but he did excel in defensive strategy. He was able to turn around the situation in North Africa and in the earlier disaster of Dunkirk he played a major role in the way in which the withdrawal was organised and performed in such a disciplined manner. His offensive planning certainly seemed to be his weak point, but to pin the whole disaster of Market Garden squarely on his shoulders is unfair. Monty was in charge of the operation and therefore responsible for its failure. However the planning was down to an American General called Brereton, and a Brit General called Browning. In hindsight the Market Garden plan was flawed and seriously let down by poor intelligence in the planning stages. Monty should have picked up on this but he didn?t especially when the last minute intelligence came in on the SS Division, he decided it was too late to change the plan.

As for the German Army being a bit different from fighting arabs. Well yes of course it was, but never underestimate the middle east eh. The current US Army could take a few good lessons from the British in how to fight and maintain internal security in an Arab Nation. Just ask veterans of Oman and Dhofar of how well arab soldiers can fight if motivated. Remember the British have centuries of warfare behind them in all different spheres of the world, brought about by Colonial rule and Empire Building. There is no army in the world more experienced in warfare than the British.

As for the British always looking down on us colonials, well that?s a pretty broad sweeping statement. You have to remember that the British officer class came from a similar mould of stiff upper lipped snobbery, the likes of Monty looked down on anybody not in his own class let alone a foreigner.

As for the best General of WW2, in my opinion it is Rommel. He was never allowed to show his real potential in Africa and sadly (or probably thankfully) due to his probable involvement in the July 44 plot never got to grips with the Western Front.

I think we will have to agree to differ on this one. But how about a thread on the best General in Modern Warfare covering form the 18th century onwards, I know who my moneys on and it ain't George Washington wink.gif

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

How about a real soldier's General. I nominate William "Bill" Slim.

Regards.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow, this is dredging an old one up from the past. :cheers:

My suggestion for one of the best would be "Der Teufel" Hasso von Manteuffel.

"...Baron Hasso Von Manteuffel was born on January 14th of 1897 in Postdam, Germany.He was the descendant of a Prussian aristocratic family noted in politics and military affairs. Von Manteuffel was a military strategist whose skillful and imaginative deployment of tanks repeatedly thwarted Allied offensives during World War II. He was the 24th man to be awarded Diamonds for his Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords. Von Manteuffel joined the army in 1908 and until 1934, served and commanded various units of the German Army. On April 1st of 1934, he was promoted to the rank of captain and was assigned to perform various tasks. On February 1st of 1939, Von Manteuffelwas put in charge of staff at the Panzer Troops School II in Berlin-Krampnitz. In September of 1939, Von Manteuffel had a rank of a major but quickly earned rapid promotions to a high rank of a commander of an army late in the war. On October 1st of 1941, he was promoted to the rank of Colonel, while serving on the Eastern Front. During North African campaign he commanded a division and launched very successful counterattack in Tunis area cutting Allied communications lines behind the frontline.On May 1st of 1943, Von Manteuffel was promoted to the rank of Major-General.

In November of 1943, Hasso Von Manteuffel commanded 7th Panzer Division in Ukraine, where he put victorious Soviet offensive to a halt. On December 27th of 1943, he received the command of the elite Panzer Division "Grossdeutschland" and on February 1st of 1944,received the promotion to the rank of Lieutenant-General. Interesting fact is that Hasso Von Manteuffel wore both cuff titles of "DAK" and "Grossdeutschland" on his uniform.In May of 1944, Von Manteuffel skilfully used his mobile troops and stopped Marshal Koniev's drive into Romania. On September 1st of 1944, Hasso Von Manteuffel became the Commander-in-Chief of 5th Panzer Army and received the rank of General of the Panzer Troops. In December of 1944, Hasso Von Manteuffel was the commander of 5th Panzer Army, which was ordered to drive across Meuse to Brussels and Antwerp, protecting the flank of 6th Panzer Army. During the Battle of Bulge, 5th Panzer Army won tremendous victories and almost succeeded in breaking the Allied lines of defence. On February 18th of 1945, Hasso Von Manteuffel was awarded Knights Cross with Oakleaves, Swords and Diamonds.After the failure of the Ardennes Offensive,on March 2nd of 1945, Hasso Von Manteuffelbecame the Commander-in-Chief of 3rd Panzer Army, part of Army Group Vistula, which tried to slow down the Soviet advance on Berlin. On May 3rd of 1945, he surrendered along with 3rd Panzer Army to the Western Allies. From 1953 to 1957, Hasso Von Manteuffel was a member of Bundestag and represented Free Democratic Party. In 1959, Hasso Von Manteuffel was charged for ordering a 19-year-old shot for desertion in 1944 and was sentenced for 18 months in prison but was released after 4 months. Hasso Von Manteuffel died on September 24th of 1978 in Tyrol, Austria..."

http://www.achtungpanzer.com/gen6.htm

As a Cliff Clavin point of interest, and I have not been able to verify it:

"...After the war, he was elected to Parliament and was the spokesman for defense of the Liberal Party. A prominent proponent of rearmament, he was responsible for coining the new name for the post-World War II German Army, the Bundeswehr..." Wiki

Awards

Austrian Military Merit Cross (4. Class)

Bavarian Military Merit Cross (3. Class)

Panzer Badge in Silver

War Merit Cross (2nd Class)

"Afrika" Cuffband

Wound Badge in Silver

Iron Cross (1939) 2nd and 1st class

Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds

Knight's Cross (31 December 1941)

332nd Oak Leaves (23 November 1943)

50th Swords (22 February 1944)

24th Diamonds (18 February 1945)

Mentioned four times in the Wehrmachtbericht (8 October 1943; 16 November 1943; 14 March 1944; 8 May 1944)

Edited by Laurence Strong

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Actually there were 27:

1 Werner Mölders

2 Adolf Galland

3 Gordon Gollob

4 Hans-Joachim Marseille

5 Hermann Graf

6 Erwin Rommel

7 Wolfgang Lüth

8 Walter Nowotny

9 Adelbert Schulz

10 Hans-Ulrich Rudel

11 Hyazinth Graf Strachwitz von Gross-Zauche und Camminetz

12 Herbert Otto Gille

13 Hans Hube

14 Albert Kesselring

15 Helmut Lent

16 Josef Dietrich

17 Walter Model

18 Erich Hartmann

19 Hermann Balck

20 Hermann-Bernhard Ramcke

21 Heinz-Wolfgang Schnaufer

22 Albrecht Brandi

23 Ferdinand Schörner

24 Hasso-Eccard von Manteuffel

25 Theodor Tolsdorff

26 Dr. med. dent. Karl Mauss

27 Dietrich von Saucken

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

much obliged, laurence!

after posting my last post, i went to

my library and found the same.

AOMS...

(addled old man syndrome)

by the way, i am a Rommel fan.

given the resources of a Patton

or Monty, his ascendancy would have

been months/years longer.

joe

Edited by joe campbell

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have to disagree on Rommel.

While an outstanding general in every way, he lost one major battle that no one gives him credit for. His decision to defend the beaches of Normandy against overwhelming Allied Naval and Air superiority was a catastrophe. He wasted millions of hours of manpower and massive amounts of resources defending a single line in the sand, rather than a defense in depth (as the Russians did at Kursk). He was warned by men like Von Rundstedt, who had been against allied invasion fleets before, that a single line of defense was insufficient against an untouchable allied fleet bombarding the shore with impunity. Within 24 hours, the Atlantic Wall was breached, and only insufficient American training, the topography of Normandy, and the German feldwebel kept the break from being a rout!

I wonder what would have happened, if Rommel would have withdrawn from the beaches and defended France in depth, rather than all at the beach as Kuribayashi did at Iwo Jima.

Patton is a great character---not a great general. A good general that did what was needed, but not a great tactician.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm a bit Rommel/Patton fan and don't apologize for it. As far as the beaches Rommel was hog tied by Hitler holding back the panzers and insisting that Normandy was only a feint and the real invasion was coming at the Pas de Calais. Plus Rommen was not in total command... that was Von Runstedt again under the Bohemian Corporal and he was also limited. Rommel felt the only way to defeat the invasion was to stop them on the beaches as once they got inland the game was basically over.

But I also feel that GFM Albert Kesselring is often overlooked as one of the greatest commanders of the war. He worked wonders in Italy.

Just my two pfennigs.beer.gif

Dancheers.gif

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am a little surprised that Manstein has not been mention. He excelled in the offensive as well as the defensive. Rommel made the most of what he had but he was fighting a British army that was not well led until Montgomery got there. I think the current evaluation of Montgomery is correct, too slow. As far as the best American general - Patton. For the soviets, Zukov.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There is no question that Rommel was the best all round General of WWII. You've only got to look at the brilliant rear guard action in North Africa that he carried out with extremely limited resources as his supply lines from France/Italy had been cut by the allies.

I wonder how many men would have turned out for his funeral had the man with 'Small man's Syndrome' had not had him take his own life through outrageous threats to his family.

What rear-guard action? Each time Rommel retreated he ran as fast as he could for - I dunno -- a couple hundred miles?. Lucky for him his pursuers couldn't run that fast also. What I would give him marks for is recognizing that there's a time to advance, and a time to run.

Mark

Maryland

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...