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  1. I think we are looking at this wrong. We really need to layout the rank structure and not just say general. The duties at each grade required different attributes.
  2. Starting at Field Marshall/General of the Army/Fleet Admiral/General of the AirForce (5 star):

  • Assorted other countries Marshalls.

3. From that list, I would have to narrow my choice down to Nimitz, Halsey, Manstein, and Kesselring. I'd have to put Nimitz and Halsey at the top. Halsey and Nimitz were brilliant and aggressive. If the typhoon and miscommunication impacting a couple of their battles hadn't been part of their legacy they would clearly be at the top of the list. Think of their campaigns and their actions in the Pacific, their individual impact on a Theater of Operations the size of the Pacific and Far East surpassed the German and other contenders. I'd have to say the perfect record goes to Kesselring. He lasted the war under Hitler and led his troops during some difficult situations. Manstein was probably the best strategist during the war but his ego got in his way from leading his troops to the conclusion of the war. The time when he was most likely needed the most by his men.

4. Regarding Patton, what people don't realize was that his personal selection of his General Staff actually led to the best General Staff available to any Commander during the war. His staff, without the aid of enigma code breakers, actually put all the pieces together to realize the Ardennes Offensive was coming well in advance to prepare his Army for a counterattack. Patton's reputation for sacrificing his men was actually not a realistic one from what I understand. I recall seeing a report in CGSC about his losses during the war and they were quite low. The Germans feared him because he was a true combined arms commander who could make you pay with the assets available to him. Bradley even admitted towards the end of the war that Patton's staff was the finest he had ever come across. He actually had to change his opinion of them as he initially believed they were just a bunch of Patton's lackies. Hie opinion changed as he got to see them at work. If you read Pershing's autobiography, you know Pershing understood the importance of staffwork and created the staff network we know today. Patton was also Pershing's aide during WW1 and had a good look at what Pershing was doing and undoubtedly discussed the topic with him and learned the value of a good staff before moving onto an armor unit. It is recognized that Patton's worst campaign of the war was the Lorraine Campaign where he got bogged down in city fighting. Something that he and his staff had little experience with when compared to the Germans.

Okay, that's my take on the best Field Marshall. Will anybody take the challenge of laying out the best four star?

Tom

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  • 6 months later...

All of the above mentioned generals were good in their own right, but for the most accomplished with the least amount of casualties, the brass ring has to go to Dugout Doug MacArthur.

yea, that is because the Marines had the harder fight through the central pacific.

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yea, that is because the Marines had the harder fight through the central pacific.

Possible, but not probable. The enemy was the same, & and a choice between hell in New Guinea or the PI, and hell in Pellelu or Okinawa is not much of a choice in my book. If the Marines had a harder fight, I'm guessing it's because the people planning the fight were'nt in Mac's class.

Edited by Obergefreiter
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Possible, but not probable. The enemy was the same, & and a choice between hell in New Guinea or the PI, and hell in Pellelu or Okinawa is not much of a choice in my book. If the Marines had a harder fight, I'm guessing it's because the people planning the fight were'nt in Mac's class.

Their is no way in hell that the fighting for New Guinea or PI is comparable the the island fighting the of the central pacific. Yes, the Japanese troops were mostly the same. PI for example, was mostly a standard land campaign, whereas on Iwo the Japanese had to be dug out of each and ever cave. If the Army and MacArthur had to fight on Iwo we would be the battle would still be going on.

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Their is no way in hell that the fighting for New Guinea or PI is comparable the the island fighting the of the central pacific. Yes, the Japanese troops were mostly the same. PI for example, was mostly a standard land campaign, whereas on Iwo the Japanese had to be dug out of each and ever cave. If the Army and MacArthur had to fight on Iwo we would be the battle would still be going on.

I respectfully disagree with you. To say that the Marines had a harder fight is to say that Army commanders in other theaters had harder fights also. The fact reamsins that Mac's casualties from the fall of Corrigador to the end of the war are about the same as Ike's for the Battle of the Bulge.

And at this point I guess neither of us will ever know for sure. Speaking only for myself, I can say that every time I was shot at, it was terrifying, and it didn't matter where I was.

Edited by Obergefreiter
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  • 3 weeks later...

Their is no way in hell that the fighting for New Guinea or PI is comparable the the island fighting the of the central pacific. Yes, the Japanese troops were mostly the same. PI for example, was mostly a standard land campaign, whereas on Iwo the Japanese had to be dug out of each and ever cave. If the Army and MacArthur had to fight on Iwo we would be the battle would still be going on.

Perhaps a small defense of the Army in the Pacific is warranted here. During the New Guinea operations there were the landings at Biak Island. Here the Japanese had to be rooted out of the caves in the same fashion as Iwo Jima. Record numbers of Japanese Prisoners were taken and two airfields were secured for the allies. We also had the first American-Japanese tank battle on Biak.

We also need to remember that the Army went into New Guinea and the outlying islands alone. Marines on Guadalcanal, New Britain, and Okinawa to name a few, later received massive support from the Army. This is not to take away from the deeds of the U.S.M.C but Mac Arthur surely belongs at the top of this list, as does recognition for the Pacific Theater. Scott

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For me it has to be William Slim. Placed in command of a demoralised and beaten army and turned it by force of leadership, professionalism & personality into a force capable of beating the largest Japanese Army in the Asian/Pacific theatre despite problems with supply and reinforcements. Down to earth & loved by his men - and respected by his peers and superiors - he even got on well with Vinegar Joe Stilwell - which was no mean feat considering that Stilwell was just as big an Anglophobe as Ernest King.

Edited by hucks216
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  • 4 months later...

For British Generals I agree that Bill Slim was one of the finest during WWII - he fought and led soldiers in the difficult campaigns of East Africa and Burma; a man who was definately a soldier's general who spoke the native tongue of many of his Indian troops and was affectionatley nicknamed Uncle Bill by those who served under him. He brought his "Forgetten Army" back from retreat to win a hard earned victory over the Japanese under very harsh jungle conditions.

I also believe Field Marshal Lord Alanbrooke deserves recognition as another great commander. Alanbrooke was a humble man who hated war for what it was yet had a clear and sound mind both tactically and strategically and understood what the Allies needed to accomplish for the war to be won. He had zero tolerance for incompetence and declined more glorious field commander positions to remain as CIGS to continue serving alongside Churchill understanding the Prime Minister's eccentricites yet not afraid to stand his ground. I think he was the vital and steady pulse that quietly but signifigantly lead England through the War to victory.

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  • 4 weeks later...

This question, who is the best commander of the Second World War?, brings up many possible answers, due to the variety of roles that many commanders chose for themselves or had thrust on them by circumstance.

We could give all commanders 'points' for their final rank, although that doesn't amount to much when considered across all nations, and has some problems as a classification when politics and favouritism were involved in more than a few cases.

We could consider the battles 'won' and the battles 'lost' count of each candidate, but without including some thought of the grand strategies, logistics and intelligence above the pay grade of the generals in question, and the fact that skilled defensive commanders in particular (good example Gotthard Heinrici) might 'lose' practically every battle, but do it in a 'better' way than anyone else could have. Another example - Operation Dynamo - Dunkirk - Probably the best of the quickly organised British operations of the war, but still a defeat.

Whether or not a commander's men liked him, followed him and did more for him than they might have for another General could be a consideration, but, the perception of that reality was very much skewed during ww2 and after by newsreels and similar. It is hard to say that Giovanni Messe was not the best Italian military commander of the war, but he never got the same reputation among his men as Italo Gariboldi, who managed to take his army all the way to essentially complete destruction at Stalingrad, despite their not wanting to be there or there being equipped or trained adequately for the job.

Manstein and Zhukov were without a doubt the most skilled at moving large forces around the map effectively, while Eisenhower was probably the best at making different elements of a military force work together, including dealing with the politicians.

In my view the 'financial' and human cost of what a commander achieved should rate highly. When you consider the achievements against the resources available, coupled with the technical skill, command presence, versatility , lack of political agenda and general respect from his own men and enemies alike, there are few candidates who compare to Albert Kesselring.

He was an artillery officer who transitioned to the air theatre, bringing by ww2 an understanding of the use of close air support that developed tactics which almost uniquely lasted from early Barbarossa until the end of the war. He took his talents to the Mediterranean where he had to balance multinational air, sea and land forces, which he excelled at, then he was left practically unsupported, to conduct the defence of Italy, which few would disagree with being one of the most effective defence campaigns ever, even though he had almost no resources.

Many other commanders had flair, skill, luck or dogged competence, but Kesselring had pretty much every quality that could be said to be good in a commander, and he achieved results beyond reasonable expectations, for years.

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