Best military commander?

#1
Has this been done? I can't find it anywhere... but that's possibly just my cack searching...

So, talking military commanders here, any service. Not including "war leaders", though you can talk about Eisenhower + Churchill in a commander role.

There's a fence and I'm sitting on it. All of the major ones I know (US, UK and Axis) seem to have made some real howlers.

However, some who made those decisions which were pretty terrible in retrospect also inspired the troops under their command (I know my Grandfather worshiped Monty).

So, I'd nominate Rommel (treated his own and opposing forces with respect), Monty (despite Market Garden) and MacArthur (mostly for his use of close combat air support)
 
#2
Such a vast subject it's difficult to single individuals out, also some performed well as div cdrs but not so well as army/corps cdr's.

Just WW2 Brits only

I would nominate:

Bill Slim (14th Army)
Brian Horrocks (XXX Corps)
Pip Roberts (11 Armd Div)
Lord Lovat (1 SS Bde)
John Frost (2 PARA)
John Howard (Ox and Bucks LI)
Andrew Cunningham (CinC Med Fleet)
Max Horton (Cinc Western Approaches)
Fred (Johnny) Walker (HMS Starling)
Keith Park (AOC 11 Gp)
Don Bennett (AOC 8 Gp Pathfinders)
Leonard Cheshire (617 Sqn)
 
#3
sooms said:
Such a vast subject it's difficult to single individuals out, also some performed well as div cdrs but not so well as army/corps cdr's.

Just WW2 Brits only

I would nominate:

Bill Slim (14th Army)
Brian Horrocks (XXX Corps)
Pip Roberts (11 Armd Div)
Lord Lovat (1 SS Bde)
John Frost (2 PARA)
John Howard (Ox and Bucks LI)
Andrew Cunningham (CinC Med Fleet)
Max Horton (Cinc Western Approaches)
Fred (Johnny) Walker (HMS Starling)
Keith Park (AOC 11 Gp)
Don Bennett (AOC 8 Gp Pathfinders)
Leonard Cheshire (617 Sqn)
Hadn't thought of minimum rank... I'd agree with Andrew Cunningham from what I've read.
 
#5
WW2 Leaders
UK
-Lord Alanbrooke (Finest 'Military manager' the British Army ever produced)
-Monty (He knew he was leading civilians in uniform, not professionals, and fought accordingly, and won)
-Slim (Beat the Japs in the most difficult terrain on a shoe string of kit)
-Cunningham (Crushed the italian Navy)
-Dowding (Battle of Britain)
-Harris (Levelled germany, showing them the consequences of aggression)
US
-Patton ( A Spam glory hound, but the best armour general on the western side)
-Eisenhower (The 'Count Schwarzenburg' of WW2)
-MacArthur (Again, a glory hound but very sucessful)
-Nimitz (Greatest admiral of the war)
-Marshall (the American Alanbrooke)
Soviet
-Zhukov (The best ground forces General of the war, period, he fought and won more and larger battles then anyone else)
-Rokossovsky
-Koniev
-Vasilevsky (The Russian Alanbrooke)
German
-Manstein
-Guderian
-Rommel
-Kesselring
-Model
 
#6
Top 3 by historical era
Ancient World
-Alexander The Great
-Hannibal Barca
-Cyrus the Great
Medieval
-Genghis Khan
-Saladin
-Charlemagne
Gunpowder
-Napoleon
-Gustavus Adolphus
-Nelson
Industrial
-Zhukov
-Von Moltke the Elder
-Slim
 
#7
Zhukov was pretty careless with his soldiers' lives. With the number he had at his disposal late on you might say that was fine; but he did make decisions that weren't based around the capabilities of his soldiers.
 
#8
Well, the way I think of it is this: A western commander was required to acheive his objectives with the minimum cost in human life to his own side, A Soviet commander was required to acheive his objectives, cost irrelevant. Ultimately, we could be sparing of our boys lives because we had far more fire support and airpower available per soldier then the Russians-for them defeat meant racial enslavement & extermination by the Nazis, so the individual soldiers fate was irrelevant to them in the face of the destruction of their whole nation. Look at battles like Stalingrad and Kursk, earlier in the war, far bigger and more desperate then any faced by western Generals until Normandy, those battles changed the course of the War, and as for Operation bagration in june-july 44 its like an all-time masterpiece of the Operational art, destroyed a whole Kraut army group...The Red Army: Inneffient, uncaring about the individual, and the most powerful and strategically effective army of WW2...
 
#9
Sparticus
Hitler (he undeniably did really well!)
King leonidus
 
#10
On the one hand, some of Hitlers ideas paid off, like picking the Sichelschnitt attack plan for 1940 (though manstein wrote the plan) on the other hand, later in the war, insisting that the Ostheer engaged in positional defences rather than a mobile defense, actually speeded the destruction of the eastern front...

King Leonidas was brave as fcuk, but he only lead a minor defensive action that was rapidly outflanked, Plataea and Salamis were the decisive actions, Themistocles was the real architect of greek victory in that war...
 
#11
crabby said:
sooms said:
Such a vast subject it's difficult to single individuals out, also some performed well as div cdrs but not so well as army/corps cdr's.

Just WW2 Brits only

I would nominate:

Bill Slim (14th Army)
Brian Horrocks (XXX Corps)
Pip Roberts (11 Armd Div)
Lord Lovat (1 SS Bde)
John Frost (2 PARA)
John Howard (Ox and Bucks LI)
Andrew Cunningham (CinC Med Fleet)
Max Horton (Cinc Western Approaches)
Fred (Johnny) Walker (HMS Starling)
Keith Park (AOC 11 Gp)
Don Bennett (AOC 8 Gp Pathfinders)
Leonard Cheshire (617 Sqn)
Hadn't thought of minimum rank... I'd agree with Andrew Cunningham from what I've read.
Was that Obersturmbahnfuehrer Lovat? :(

On a more serious note - Bill Slim IMO stands out as THE Man although (and standing by for incoming) when the breakout battles began in 1918 Haigs foresight and strategy was excellent.
 
#12
Haig was a damn good general who has been character assassinated by ideologically-motivated politicians to suit their own agenda for 90s years, the British Army under Haig's command with 59 divisions attacked and defeated 99 german divisions in the last Hundred Days of the war, taking 150,000 prisoners and leading Ludendorrf to admit that 'Haig is master of the field'...
 

Bowmore_Assassin

MIA
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#13
Field Marshall Wavell is under-rated and was, IMHO, stiffed by Churchill after he ran into problems when he was forced to give up troops for the effort in Greece. By diverting some of his forces (breaking concentration of effort), Churchill put him in an unenviable and arguably untenable position. In the eary days of WWII he was one of the few who acheived major success.

American Civil War -

Lt Gen James Longstreet on the Confederate side; his theories of defensive warfare should have been listed to more by Robert E Lee.

Maj Gen John Buford on the Union side. A cavalry officer and commander, he partook in several battles but Gettysburg was his finest hour. In the Gettysburg Campaign, Buford, who had been promoted to command of the 1st Division, is credited with selecting the field of battle at Gettysburg. Buford's division (2 Bdes and minimal artillery support) was the first to arrive at Gettysburg and they successfully held off Maj. Gen. Henry Heth's Confederate division. This holding action allowed Maj. Gen. John F. Reynolds's I Corps to hold the high ground west of town in relief of Buford's division. Buford's actions allowed the Union army to beat the Confederates to the heights outside of Gettysburg, which put Lee's army at a considerable disadvantage.
 
#17
Don't think anyone's mentioned Napoleon yet. Admittedly he overstretched himself in the end but in his prime he pretty much spanked all comers.
 
#18
I said Napoleon! Under gunpowder-era on my list-I think he fought and won more decisive battles then Alexander The Great, Hannibal and Julius Caesar put together...for me its a toss up between Boney, Zhukov or Genghis Khan for THE greatest...a lot of people mention Slim, and without a shred of doubt he was a true great, but he lead a relatively small army on a single front, and was only Army commander for a couple of years...
 
#20
Bradstyley said:
I said Napoleon! Under gunpowder-era on my list-I think he fought and won more decisive battles then Alexander The Great, Hannibal and Julius Caesar put together...for me its a toss up between Boney, Zhukov or Genghis Khan for THE greatest...a lot of people mention Slim, and without a shred of doubt he was a true great, but he lead a relatively small army on a single front, and was only Army commander for a couple of years...
Oh yeah, I'll sheepishly get back in my box then :oops:

One of the problems with debates like this is balancing the talent v oportunity argument.

If Slim had 21st AG what would the NW Europe campaign been like? How would Boney, arguably a better tactician than strategist, have done without double hatting as the head of state?

IMHO each conflict throws up, eventually, the leaders needed to resolve it. But for the style of warfare expected of a General of his day I think you'd have to look a long way to beat Hope Grant.
 

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