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A challenge. Best General of WW 2

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  • A challenge. Best General of WW 2

    Take your pick of the greatest, best, etc., general of WW 2 and then put that person in charge of forces in a different military, on a different front, even on a different side. Would they have performed as well as they did historically.

    For example, switch the roles of Montgomery and Rommel. Montgomery is commanding the Afrika Korps, Rommel is the commander of 8th Army. How would that affect the outcome of the N. Africa campaign?

  • #2
    I didn't participate in the thread about the greatest general of WW II, but a very interesting question. I've always been interested in General Eichelberger, especially how he took charge in New Guinea, after MacArthur ordered him there to do just that. Regarding this thread, according to the Wikipedia article on Eichelberger, it was requested by the War Dept. in May 1943 that MacArthur release Eichelberger so that Eichelberger could command US First Army. Of course, this was refused, and Eichelberger stayed in the Pacific, eventually commanding Eighth Army.

    I would suspect that Eichelberger would have done a better job than Bradley during the Battle of the Bulge. Certainly he would have been more hands on. And I don't think Bradley would have done well in the Pacific; he seems to have been more "by-the-book" and probably was a more natural fit in the more structured ETO.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_L._Eichelberger

    excerpt


    In February 1943, Lieutenant General Walter Krueger's Sixth United States Army headquarters arrived in Australia. Since Sixth Army would do all the planning, and there was as yet little scope for corps-sized operations, Eichelberger found himself with a training role, preparing the 24th Infantry Division, which had arrived from Hawaii, and the 32nd and 41st Infantry Divisions, which had returned from Papua, for future missions.[57] The War Department asked in May 1943 if Eichelberger could be released to command the First United States Army, but MacArthur would not release him. Later, it asked if he could be released to command the Ninth United States Army, but this was also refused, and this job went to Eichelberger's West Point classmate William H. Simpson.[58] Instead, he was given responsibility for Eleanor Roosevelt's visit to Australia in September 1943. She visited Sydney and Melbourne, and had dinner with the Governor General of Australia, Lord Gowrie, and the Prime Minister of Australia, John Curtin, in Canberra.[59

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    • #3
      Excellent topic.

      My first thoughts were: Manstein with American troops/equipment/logistics and air support might be unstoppable. I think the American troops came closest to the kind of initiative the Germans instilled in their front line leaders and non-commissioned officers. Canadian troops might also have been a choice but they wouldn't come with the wealth of equipment and logistics.

      I might have said Model but I think Manstein had a much wider range of experience and could play a long game in terms of strategy.

      But it obviously depends on theater. Nothing is going to beat the combination of American (marine) generals and Marine troops for island assaults.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by DingBat View Post
        Excellent topic.
        Canadian troops might also have been a choice but they wouldn't come with the wealth of equipment and logistics.
        Eh, how were Canadian troops short of equipment and logistics compared to US troops?

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        • #5
          Originally posted by T. A. Gardner View Post
          For example, switch the roles of Montgomery and Rommel. Montgomery is commanding the Afrika Korps, Rommel is the commander of 8th Army. How would that affect the outcome of the N. Africa campaign?
          Montgomery flies to Berlin and shoots Hitler.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Gooner View Post

            Montgomery flies to Berlin and shoots Hitler.
            Because Hitler recalled him for losing N. Africa to Rommel in a matter of months...

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            • #7
              Originally posted by T. A. Gardner View Post
              Take your pick of the greatest, best, etc., general of WW 2 and then put that person in charge of forces in a different military, on a different front, even on a different side. Would they have performed as well as they did historically.

              For example, switch the roles of Montgomery and Rommel. Montgomery is commanding the Afrika Korps, Rommel is the commander of 8th Army. How would that affect the outcome of the N. Africa campaign?
              I expect that having Tomoyuki Yamashita and Arthur Percival on different sides during the Battle of Singapore would have ended that campaign differently.
              How to Talk to a Climate Skeptic: http://grist.org/series/skeptics/
              Global Warming & Climate Change Myths: https://www.skepticalscience.com/argument.php

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              • #8
                Originally posted by T. A. Gardner View Post
                For example, switch the roles of Montgomery and Rommel. Montgomery is commanding the Afrika Korps, Rommel is the commander of 8th Army. How would that affect the outcome of the N. Africa campaign?
                Well Rommel was a far superior commander to Beresford-Peirse, Cunningham, Ritchie, Auchinleck or Gott, so not a strictly fair comparison.

                The Axis had a clear superiority from about March 1941 to October 1941 and the only thing stopping them advancing deep into Egypt and possibly/probably to the Delta and beyond was Tobruk. I don't think Tobruk would have stopped Monty for long.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Gooner View Post

                  Montgomery flies to Berlin and shoots Hitler.
                  Montgomery would have flown to Berlin only behind massive bomber formations with heavy fighter escorts, and I doubt he would have pulled the trigger.
                  Leadership is the ability to rise above conventional wisdom.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by R.N. Armstrong View Post

                    Montgomery would have flown to Berlin only behind massive bomber formations with heavy fighter escorts, and I doubt he would have pulled the trigger.
                    Only because he needed more bombers and supplies before doing so... The British "McClellan"

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                    • #11
                      Oh, dear. A silly thread becomes a show of ignorance by those who should know better

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Gooner View Post
                        Oh, dear. A silly thread becomes a show of ignorance by those who should know better
                        Couldn't agree more.

                        The same old same old nationalistic stereotypical populist thoughts come to the fore.

                        I can think of at least 5 German generals better than Manstein and often when this type of thread appears, those usually touting for Rommel against any British general suddenly jump ship to Patton if they had to chose. Both had a rollercoaster WW2 but as usual people focus on the highs and ignore their lows (faults) as a mere blip and again without context.

                        Regards

                        Andy H
                        "You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life." Churchill

                        "I'm no reactionary.Christ on the Mountain! I'm as idealistic as Hell" Eisenhower

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                        • #13
                          For reference: an article which among other things, relates to General Bradley's decisions made or not made regarding the gap near Argentan in August 1944. It does appear that he was hesitant to make a decision, based upon agreed-upon lines of authority, planned strategies, etc. At this point General Bradley commanded the 12th Army Group, as the US Third Army under General Patton had been activated.

                          It does not seem immediately clear to me that General Eichelberger would have done better in this complex situation. In doesn't seem clear-cut even in hindsight. But maybe given his personality he would not have been so concerned with checking with Montgomery (or leaving him responsibility/blame) or with having the US and UK/Canadian forces "lined up" facing east.

                          In addition to Bradley's actions during the Battle of the Bulge, it might also be interesting to compare his decisions with those General Eichelberger might have made in Normandy, during the drive toward Brest, and duringThe Battle of the Huertgen Forest (especially continuing it when seemingly it was not a path to success).

                          Excerpts follow.

                          https://history.army.mil/books/70-7_17.htm

                          Excerpt 1


                          In August 1944 Lt. Gen. Omar N. Bradley, commanding the 12th U.S. Army Group, abruptly halted the advance of the XV Corps of Lt. Gen. George S. Patton's Third Army. He thus prevented its movement northward through Argentan toward a juncture with Canadian forces coming south from Caen toward Falaise. As a consequence, the Allies failed to close the Argentan-Falaise pocket. The virtually surrounded German forces in Normandy, escaping through the Argentan-Falaise gap, avoided complete encirclement and almost certain destruction.

                          Why General Bradley made his decision and whether ahe was correct are questions that have stirred discussion ever since World War II.

                          The story starts during the breakout in Normandy in July 1944, when the First U. S. Army under General Bradley broke out of the confinement imposed by the Germans in the hedgerow country of the Cotentin and streamed in triumph toward Avranches. [1] There, on the first day of August, as General Patton's Third Army became operational, General Bradley relinquished command of the First Army to Lt. Gen. Courtney B. Hodges and assumed command of the 12th Army Group. Allied ground forces in western Europe then comprised two U.S. armies under Bradley, and a British and a Canadian army, both under General Sir Bernard L. Montgomery's 21 Army Group. Until General Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Supreme Allied Commander, assumed personal direction of the ground campaign-a task he undertook on the first day of September-Montgomery functioned as the commander of the land forces executing Operation OVERLORD.

                          excerpt 2

                          Two arguments advanced to explain General Bradley's decision must be considered even though they appear to have little validity. First, rumor soon after the event ascribed the halt of the XV Corps to warnings by the Allied air forces that time bombs had been dropped along the highways in the Argentan-Falaise area to harass German movements. Further northward advance by the XV Corps, therefore, would have exposed American ground troops to these bombs. Whether this had a part in shaping General Bradley's decision or not, the fact was that fighter-bomber pilots had sown delayed-action explosives over a wide area between 10 and 13 August. However, the bombs were fused for a maximum of twelve hours' delay, and they therefore could not have endangered the American ground troops. [27]

                          Second, it has been suggested that bringing the Canadians and Americans together head-on would have disarranged plans to "get the U.S. and British forces lined up and started together going east." [28] This explanation is patently weak. Arguing from hindsight, it invents a cause that seems to fit the results.

                          Perhaps the most controversial aspect of the whole question is General Bradley's statement that he could not have let the XV Corps go beyond Argentan in any event because he lacked the authority to do so. The corps was already at the army group boundary and indeed slightly across it and into the 21 Army Group zone. Since General Montgomery commanded the ground forces in France, and since Bradley had already violated the demarcation delineating his own sphere of operations, Bradley needed Montgomery's permission to go farther to the north. Though Montgomery did not prohibit American advance beyond Argentan, neither did Bradley propose it. [29] Perhaps the main reason why they both accepted the situation was the impending Canadian attack on Falaise, the second attack, scheduled for
                          he following day, 14 August. Canadian success in attaining not only Falaise but Argentan would have made unnecessary any further intrusion into the 21 Army Group zone by the XV U.S. Corps.

                          General Bradley himself later considered the failure to close the gap a mistake, and he placed the responsibility on Montgomery. He recalled that he and Patton had doubted "Monty's ability to close the gap at Argentan" from the north, and they had "waited impatiently" for word from Montgomery to authorize continuation of the XV Corps advance. While waiting, according to Bradley, he and Patton had seen the Germans reinforce the shoulders of the Argentan-Falaise gap and watched the enemy pour troops and materiel eastward to escape the unsealed pocket. It seemed to him and Patton, Bradley remembered, that Dempsey's British Second Army, driving from the northwest, accelerated German movement eastward and facilitated German escape by pushing the Germans out of the open end of the pocket like squeezing a tube of toothpaste. "If Monty's tactics mystified me," Bradley later wrote, "they dismayed Eisenhower even more. And ... a shocked Third Army looked on helplessly as its quarry fled [while] Patton raged at Montgomery's blunder." [30]
                          Last edited by lakechampainer; 09 Aug 20, 12:27.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Gooner View Post

                            Well Rommel was a far superior commander to Beresford-Peirse, Cunningham, Ritchie, Auchinleck or Gott, so not a strictly fair comparison.

                            The Axis had a clear superiority from about March 1941 to October 1941 and the only thing stopping them advancing deep into Egypt and possibly/probably to the Delta and beyond was Tobruk. I don't think Tobruk would have stopped Monty for long.
                            Just a small point. In comparing Rommel & Auchinleck, you are surely not comparing like with like. Auchinleck was not the commander of 8th Army, but was C-in-C Middle East. I would submit that he was let down by the quality of his subordinates. Whether he was a poor picker of men, or simply because the pool from which he had to pick was of dubious quality, is a matter for debate, but on the two occasions upon which the Auk faced the Desert Fox on the battlefield, he defeated him.

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