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  • Best US General

    My vote for best general in World War Two is James Gavin.

    Gavin became one of the youngest division commanders in World War Two. Not only he commanded the 82nd in Normandy, and other airborne operations, he jumped into hot drop zones with his men. In the ardennes, he led his troops against fierce german units in the Hurtegen forest.

    Gavin had guts that made him unique from other generals. Near the end of World War Two, the African-American unit, known as the 555th Airborne Battalion (tripple nickles) were to be cut by the army. Gavin took the initiative and accepted them into the 82nd.

    (Note: Segregation in the military ended in the late 1940s. Therefore, Gavin had the only desegregated unit in U.S. Army history. If you ever see a film clip of the 82nd marching in New York in the victory celebration, the last battalion to march in the parade was the 555th Airborne Battalion.

    Gavin became in charge of several echelon staff duties in the U.S. Army, but later became ambassador to France.

    He was bold and brave. Even General George Patton admired Gavin due to his leadership in the Battle of the Bulge Campaign. At his funeral in 1991 at West Point, the 82nd Airborne Division choros sang the "All American Division" song for his tribute.

    My vote is for James Gavin.

    (My European favorite is Heinz Guderian).
    VonMoltke

  • #2
    Best US General

    "Set the way-back machine, Sherman!"

    I'll pick Ethan Allen.

    He and his "Green Mountain Boys" brought a new dimension to 18th Century warfare. Allen convinced his troops to adopt what we today call guerilla tactics. While it took some time to convince other leaders (including Washington) of the effectiveness and value of such tactics, the English quickly attested to their effect, constantly hunting his group and inevitably failing. It has been suggested that Allen learned his skills from trappers who, of course learned them from the Indians.

    In the end, it doesn't so much matter where he learned, but more how he applied them - very well indeed.
    Mens Est Clavis Victoriae
    (The Mind Is The Key To Victory)

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    • #3
      James Gavin

      Hoooooaaahhh, Airborne! James Gavin is a good choice, but I suspect you would have a hard time convincing all of the "legs" and armor-oriented folks on this website.

      Gavin? He wasn't in combat for that long a period of time, they'll assert. Sicily, August 1943: Gavin commanded the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 82nd Airborne. The Germans counterattack the U.S. landings at Gela. Biazza Ridge is the key terrain. Gavin shows the cool-headed, calm, inspiring leadership that he will show again and again throughout the war. No sleep for 60 hours. He wins the Distinguished Service Cross for his leadership during the 505th's stand, followed by their counterattack against the Germans. His regiment later jumps into the Salerno beachead in southern Italy to help blunt the German attack there.

      In Normandy, he provides a steadying leadership to U.S. forces at the Caquigny causeway. As part of the campaign to cut off German forces in the Cotentin Peninsula, as Assistant Division Commander of the 82nd, he directs simultaneous attacks to the southwest, west and north. (Patton wasn't the only one to execute such a maneuver.)

      The need to lead from the front would arise again in Holland in September 1944. Promoted as the youngest major general in the U.S. Army since the Civil War (age 37) he directs his widely scattered 82nd Airborne Division regiments; while one regiment is engaged in Nijmegen conducting a daylight river crossing in small boats to seize the bridges, he moves to his other regiments defending against German counterattacks at Grave (southwest), Beek, Wyler (east) and Mook (southeast), inspiring the leaders and enlisted of his command, stiffening their resolve at a critical time when the division was stretched thin and in danger of being overrun. Some generals get in the way of their subordinate leaders when appearing in the midst of the action. Gavin wasn't one of those.

      During the later parts of the German attack in the Ardennes, his thinly stretched division line was being simultaneously attacked by 1st SS, 9th SS and 2nd SS Panzer Divisions. The 82nd held ... elite troops with an esprit de corps, led by excellent NCO's and officers, Gavin provided superior, charismatic, hands-on leadership to his soldiers.

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      • #4
        James Gavin

        I agree!! James "Slim Jim" Gavin was among the best. He was among one of the elite generals of all time. Airborne All the Way!!
        VonMoltke

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        • #5
          Gen. Gavin

          Some might disapprove that he went from colonel to two star general in about a ten month span. He was a colonel as regimental commander in late 1943. Moved to England to advise the airborne planning for Overlord, he was promoted to brigadier general, as assistant division commander to Ridgeway. When Ridgeway was promoted to command the XVIII Airborne Corp at the end of August 1944, Gavin was awarded his second star and given the division. Given, however, the large number of airborne colonels relieved during the ground campagn after the landings, there was really no one else to turn to to lead the 82nd Airborne.

          Best U.S. divisional commander during the war? Arguabally so. Some would claim the commander of the 4th Armored Division merits heavy consideration. Judging corps, army or army group commanders would require a different set of criteria and that is a different debate.

          Was your focus of just World War II or of all time?

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          • #6
            Reply

            It was World War Two but thanks for broading my horizon on James Gavin. I almost met him but I was deployed during Operation Desert Shield/Storm. I have been to the Airborne Museum (Ft. Bragg) and always admired the display on James Gavin (hoah!!)
            VonMoltke

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            • #7
              Now you all are talking my language! :thumb:
              Stay Alert, Stay Alive!

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              • #8
                I know this is not a vote for Gen. James Gavin and the "Airborne" faction of this thread, but being a "Leg" and a Marneman, my vote goes with
                General Lucian K. Truscott, Jr.

                "Early in World War II he joined Lord Mountbatten's combined staff where he developed the Ranger units for special operations. He led his Rangers in combat at Dieppe and in Morocco and then began his assent through the various levels of major combat command.

                He was the commanding general of the 3d Infantry Division (Mar. 1943) in Sicily and Italy, VI Corps (Feb. 1944) in Italy and Southern France, Fifteenth Army (Oct. 1944), Fifth Army (Dec. 1944), and Third Army (Oct. 1945).

                In the post-war period he commanded occupation forces in Bavaria and served in various advisory positions, enabling the Army to capitalize on the great wealth of his experiences. General Truscott was a reliable, aggressive, and successful leader."
                http://www.arcent.army.mil/history/c...ktruscott.html

                Some of the best NCO's i had the honor of working with were Airborne.
                My favorite "airborne" joke about StraightLegs was told to me by an ex-airborne trooper that no longer had jump status some reason i forgot.

                What part of the Chicken will an Airborne Soldier never eat?
                The Leg.

                to all of you!
                Only Tearful, Animal Man Through the Nature of his Being is Destined to
                a Life of Warfare...

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                • #9
                  Gen. Lucian Truscott

                  Thanks for reminding us about Truscott. Everything I've read about Truscott's leadership in the campaigns in Sicily, Italy and southern France give me the impression that he was definitely one of the best: well respected by his superiors and peers and idolized by his subordinate leaders and troops.

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                  • #10
                    Im glad someone mentioned Truscott.
                    What about Bradley?
                    God knows he had enough to put up with from Patton.

                    Mark
                    Deo Vindice
                    Si vis pacem, para bellum. (If you want peace, prepare for war.)

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                    • #11
                      My vote is for German General Kurt Chill, because of his exploits at the Albert Canal. If Hitler had ever listened to his generals, the name might be much better known.
                      -C.M. Ansley
                      To whispers of Beethoven...

                      "Mein Gott! Die Invasion. Sie kommen!"
                      -Werner Pluskat

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                      • #12
                        My mistake, I entered the wrong folder. My choice for the American general is Norman Cota for his enourmas ability to rally his troops.
                        -C.M. Ansley
                        To whispers of Beethoven...

                        "Mein Gott! Die Invasion. Sie kommen!"
                        -Werner Pluskat

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                        • #13
                          Ike

                          I vote for Eisenhower!
                          Whoever is first in the field and awaits the coming of the enemy, will be fresh for the fight; whoever is second in the field and has to hasten to battle will arrive exhausted.- Sun Tzu
                          Spies are the most important asset, because on them depends an army's ability to march. - Sun Tzu

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                          • #14
                            Most of these responses seem to be a bit Eurocentic. How about someone from the Pacific Theater?

                            Always near the big fight.....Chesty Puller.
                            Lance W.

                            Peace through superior firepower.

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                            • #15
                              I vote for lightning Joe Collins, CO of 25th inf on the Canal and VII corps in Europe, the best armour officer we had, better than Patton, he didn't get the press.

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