Discussion in 'Leaders of World War 2' started by Patton phpbb3, Mar 24, 2007.
Nothing wrong with that, feel free to start a targeted thread.
I think George S. Patton is the most brilliant General of of World War 2.
Patton had his moments but so did quite a few other less flashy generals. Take a look at say Slim or Abrams.
Forget Erwin Rommel.
Runstedt called him, "really only a good divisional general" He had no staff training, was ignorant of logistics in a theater where logistics was KING. He kept outrunning his supply allocation and could not realise that he was not in Africa to conquer Egypt and bounce into the Arabian Peninsula, he was there to keep the British out of Libya and away from Tunisia so that Italy could stay in the war.
His conduct during the Dash to the Wire is a case in point, an I'll advises advance that totally failed to either draw the allies back or to bounce into Alexandria and Cairo.
Post Gazala, he took all the air support away from its principal task of making Malta into a disaster zone for the slated operation Herkules, and the further he advanced into Egypt after getting big headed about receiving his Field Marshals baton, the more he got the situation into untenable territory, outrunning his supplies yet again, and guaranteeing that his Luftwaffe support that should have been back over Malta was stuck in place supporting his operations instead, which gave Hitler the excuse he needed based on Weichs reports to cancel Herkules altogether and throw away the only chance the Axis had of clearing their supply chain to Tripoli altogether.
All Rommel's fault. Wouldn't listen to the Italians, who told him that Egypt was a mirage, and he wouldn't listen to anyone else either, tending to quarrel with his superiors, and generally run to Hitler to get his way when he didn't want to follow their advice.
I wouldn't even put Rommel anywhere near the top five. Russia might have been the best possible posting, where his thrusting ways and from the front command style might have paid big dividends as it did for Hoth and Guderian, but it also might have gotten him sacked as well, but maybe as Hitler's favourite he might have stayed on.
The Rommel legend is so much Goebbels propaganda
Can we really appreciate the difficulties that Georgi Zhukov operated under?
Saviour of Moscow, reorganised of Leningrad, Victor of Stalingrad, all with a casualty list that would probably have gotten American or British generals sacked.
As a member of the 1st Moscow Cavalry Division clique, Zhukov was fortunate to be in "the club" when it came to responsibility for errors, errors that cost other not so favoured generals their jobs, their freedom and frequently their lives.
Would Zhukov have been able to operate as he did in a Western Allied army?
I'll leave that question for others to answer. But I will ask the question nevertheless
The patient Monty can certainly lay claim to putting a stop to all the back and forth mucking around in North Africa. His careful timing of his offensive to coincide with Rommel's lack of intelligence and supplies and also when the odds were firmly in his favour is to be commended.
His performance in Sicily was nothing short of plodding, but in his defence he did have most of the real German opposition in front of him, rather than cutting through the Italians as Patton did, and then after losing the Race to Messina, he went into his best role, planning for OVERLORD, which revealed that his careful staff work suited that role to a T.
It's a matter of where you originate from as to whether you believe that Monty's plan for post DDay went to plan as he said, or whether you believe American historians and generals who tend to give the impression that Monty's plan had to be altered so much as to be unrecognisable.
Either way, Patton got the situation moving again after operation COBRA managed to bust the Americans out of the Bocage, and then you have the Falaise Gap controversy, with the American people claiming that the British were dragging their feet, and that many more German troops escaped than should of.
So to Arnhem, and here Monty showed that he wasn't really able to end the war by Christmas as everyone wanted, so I wouldn't want to put him at the top of the list on that basis, but I'm sure my fellow Brits will shout me down at some point
If I praise the Great MacArthur the Navy buffs will shout me down, and students of the Pacific War will point out that Big Mac was all about keeping his own propaganda firmly focused on HIM, rather than anyone else.
So I'll leave him out of the top five for WW2, and say that MacArthur had his best role as the Supremo in Charge of Reorganising Japan, a job he excelled at no doubt due to his Emperor Complex, which is my terminology for what students of the ACW refer to as The Napoleon Complex, something that generals like Pierre Beauregard and George MacLellan had in abundance....
And MacArthur had his finest hour as a military commander in Korea, which is another subject altogether, so that rules him out here at the top five of WW2...
And that leaves just one candidate....
Top of the Five
General George S Patton Jr....
As an exponent of armoured warfare, nobody did it better. He even had a name for his method... "ROCK SOUP".
As a theorist, Patton turned heads with his classroom work, especially the papers he submitted with Dwight Eisenhower.
Patton's record began with using motor vehicles to chase down Panch Villa's lieutenant in Mexico, to his skillful use of tanks in the Great War, to his famous lecture style, to his appointment as 2 Corps new commander after the Kasserine debacle, to his thrusting ways at Sicily which nearly cost him his career over the infamous slapping incidents, and revealing the one aspect of Georgie's character that he could never quite control....
I don't need to reiterate his performance post COBRA, but I will say that if you were a member of the Third Army you certainly KNEW who was in command.
Patton...the legend...the genius...the mouth...
No doubt he was disappointed to die in a hospital bed as a result of a collision, instead of on the field as he wanted to....
Wherever GS Patton went from there, he would have God's favour for SURE.
He's my top pick, and I make no apologies for it...
Shout me down if you will... it's a freedom that's guaranteed!!!
With difficulties I suppose you mean fighting Stalin and his orders. Zhukov was the only one who dared to disagree
Bolshevik, no Model if Rommel was pure propaganda?
(Speaking of no longer on the forum).
My take Marshall; Other Nations can choose their own Hero's
He dealt with Ike, Patton, Montgomery and a few other things and still managed to get things done.
George C. Marshall
George C. Marshall’s contributions to our nation and the world cannot be overstated. He was the organizer of victory and the architect of peace during and following World War II. He won the war, and he won the peace. His characteristics of honesty, integrity, and selfless service stand as shining examples for those who study the past and for those generations who will learn about him in the future. The Marshall Foundation is dedicated to celebrating his legacy.
Marshall’s career touched on many of the key events of the 20th century—as a new Army officer following the Philippine insurrection, as a member of the staff of General of the Armies John J. Pershing during World War I, as U.S. Army Chief of Staff during War World II, as Secretary of State and the architect of European economic recovery following WWII, and as Secretary of Defense during the Korean War. He is the only person to have served in these three highest positions.
During World War II, Marshall as Army Chief of Staff (1939–1945) was the most important military figure in the U.S. military establishment and of great significance in maintaining the Anglo-American coalition. After the war, he was named special ambassador to China (1945–1947), Secretary of State (1947–1949), President of the American Red Cross (1949–1950), and Secretary of Defense (1950–1951). In 1953 he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his role in proposing, encouraging legislative action, and supporting the European Recovery Program (known as the Marshall Plan). For nearly 20 years he was a major U.S. leader, militarily, politically and morally, and he is still widely admired today.
The George C. Marshall Foundation
My favorite in the ETO is still Robert C. Macon
As to Walter Model, did he ever win an offensive thrust? As a defender, we can probably rate him higher, but his offensive moves in the forward direction were less than acceptable, particularly botching the northern arm of the attempted pincer at Kursk, or misusing the Elephant Assault Gun as a standard battle tank, which it wasn't.
Model seems to have reaped the credit for presiding over the type of operations that the German Army excelled at anyway, the fighting retreat.
He didn't really have to do anything special at Arnhem, it was all left to Bittrich to accomplish.
I'm not a fan of Walter Model.
Yes, but however it seems he was the General to stop Zhukov's most wanted offensive, the Rzhev salient battles. Did Glanz in his book count the Red Army lost some 1 million men in these battles?
If Glantz is correct, then Zhukov would have lost his job if he wasn't part of the club of Stalin's favorites.
I mean, Budenny was given over a million men to defend Kiev with in 1941, and he still kept his job. Stalin sent him to the front of Moscow, where Zhukov, according to his own account, found him out of touch with his own units, too far forward and more than a little bit out of communication. You can read that in the old Purnell publication " The Defence of Moscow", which I used to have a copy of before my ex wife threw out all of my possessions.
I suppose Budenny was too much the lackey to be let go of. There is a story of him being entertained by multiple girls in a Russian version of a hot tub, and getting obstreporous when the girls refused to bend over for him, and taking a submachine gun out and spraying the tub, wounding everyone inside it.
Yep. Budenny could get away with anything.
And so could Zukhov
And really, how could you sack or exile someone like Semyon Budenny when he had the most AWESOME MOUSTACHE in the entire Red Army?
Interesting general as I recalled Stalin was out of good generals when WW2 was escalating...The traitor was not a traitor anymore. If I recall correctly they had pulled off several of his teeth while in prison.
Konstantin Konstantinovich (Xaverevich) Rokossovsky (21 December 1896 – 3 August 1968) was a Soviet and Polish officer who became a Marshal of the Soviet Union, a Marshal of Poland, and served as Poland's Defence Minister from 1949 until his removal in 1956 during the Polish October. He became one of the most prominent Red Army commanders of World War II.
Rokossovsky held senior commands until 1937 when he fell victim to Joseph Stalin's Great Purge, during which he was branded a traitor, imprisoned and probably tortured.
After Soviet failures in the Winter War of 1940–1941, Rokossovsky was reinstated due to an urgent need for experienced officers. Following Germany's invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941, Rokossovsky played key roles in the defense of Moscow (1941–1942) and the counter-offensives at Stalingrad (1942–1943) and Kursk (1943). He was instrumental in planning and executing part of Operation Bagration (1944)—one of the most decisive Red Army successes of the war—for which he was made a Marshal of the Soviet Union.
Konstantin Rokossovsky - Wikipedia
Not so bad from a traitor.....
If we're looking at facial hair, then I humbly submit Italian General Bergonzoli, even at the time he was recognised as a master in this field
I probably need to read up a bit more on Patton, because I'm unconvinced about him.
Yes, he was great at advancing rapidly and pouncing on opportunities.
Yes, his 90 degree turn during the Bulge was very impressive (though I always feel compelled to wonder if Patton actually organised this or if he simply ordered it, anybody know for sure?)
My hesitation is generally based on the realisation that when he hit a reasonable defensive line he really struggled. This came home to me watching a documentary series which attempted to glorify him, but basically succeeded in pointing out that he was the modern equivalent of Anna Comnena's comment on Norman knights, that wherever the enemy gave way they were unstoppable.
North Africa - remotivated the Americans after initial reverses, advanced through empty space then was stopped at El Guettar. Took 8 days to only capture one of two Italian positions, then the Axis defences were then abandoned when the British outflanked them.
Sicily - went through the Italians like a knife through butter, stopped cold by the Etna line until the British threatened to outflank it
Cobra - not involved in the breakthough (that was Bradley), only the ensuing romp through France against sparse opposition
Even the Rhine crossing was effectively unopposed, the Germans didn't even have enough forces in the area to mount their customary counter-attack
Basically Patton took on the role envisioned for cavalry in WW1 - exploitation. Where there was a weakness and an opportunity to drive through the enemy and just keep going, Patton was your man. Where you needed to break through defenses, get somebody else in.
Ironically, given that they detested each other, Patton and Monty were a pretty good team. On several occasions Monty got involved in big set-piece grinding attacks (his speciality) which sucked in so many German defenders that other sectors were ripe for an opportunistic breakout and a romp through the enemies rear (Patton's speciality)*. It is a good job IMO that the Allies had them both.
* whether or not that was the initial plan or just how events turned out is another discussion!
I think Patton's power to look into the future was much unappreciated.
In the book by Carlo De'Este, "Patton: A Genius For War", Carlo tells of a motor tour taken by Patton after the end of the Great War. The stated purpose of this trip was so Georgie could see for himself the road system and general layout of the countryside in the area where he felt strongly that the decisive contest would be fought in the next European conflict.
And the location?
Believe it or not, it was the road system and countryside of NORMANDY.
I don't have the book anymore to give you the exact page or type out an extract for you, but it's there in black and white.
This shows more than any other single story of George S Patton Jr just how prescient he was. He may have been the only man alive who could see what was coming, and bother himself to conduct a recon trip to motor through the ground that would be fought over.
It's a story that made me see for myself that Patton was no slouch when it came to looking for what he wanted to see and applying the things he saw to his operations.
Maybe we should believe him when he said that he had been a soldier in other lifetimes past?