Who was the worst Brit general of WW II

Have to say, I agree with the consensus here - it has to be Percival. I saw a documentary on it (and then read a book about it) and it the information was there for all to see. IF they opened their eyes.

Singapore had been established as a Naval base and, at the time it was set up, was only possible to be attacked from the sea. However, during the 1930's, there was a lot of logging done in the jungle. Logging that required rods to be built to move those felled trees. (All it all seems blindingly obvious, doesn't it?) Despite this, Percival refused to countenance any kind of landward defensive line whatsoever. I'm not suggesting Singapore could not be held indefinitely. But, with proper defences, it could have held long enough for either reinforcements to arrive, or evacuation to happen. Its rapid fall was preventable and was entirely Percival's fault.

He was the worst British general of the last century, if not of all time.
At the time of the fall of Singapore, the Japs were virtually out of supplies and reinforcements. Percival surrendered a viable force that could have held out longer, allowing reinforcements to arrive. Those that did arrive were, in some cased captured without a shot being fired.
 
What ever the faults of Percival, Heath or Bennet, nobody can fault the courage of this one star leading a bayonet charge against the Japanese.

Herbert Cecil Duncan

46 year old Brigadier leading a bayonet charge.
Which suggest that while he was doubtless a very brave officer, his efforts should have been to act as a senior officer planning and directing, rather than acting as a highly-paid subaltern.
 

Themanwho

LE
Book Reviewer
Which suggest that while he was doubtless a very brave officer, his efforts should have been to act as a senior officer planning and directing, rather than acting as a highly-paid subaltern.

From wiki: "
During the​
retreat from the Muar River
in Malaya on 19 January, Duncan was badly concussed during an air attack on his headquarters. The following day, during an attempt to break out of a Japanese encirclement in concert with Australian forces, he was killed while mounting a bayonet charge counter-attack against a Japanese attack on the brigade's rear."​

Not a personal attack, but it's very easy to pontificate on the duties of a senior officer from the remove of a keyboard
. I doubt any Brigade Commander would lead a bayonet charge unless the situation was extremely desperate, which according to wiki once more, it was:​


"On 17 January, the surviving units of 45th Indian Brigade, with the Australian 2/19th and 2/29th Battalions serving as reinforcements, were dispatched to re-capture Muar.[5] They rallied around Bakri and organised a rough perimeter defence of it. The 2/29th, led by Lieutenant Colonel John Robertson MC VD, dug in around Bakri-Muar Road with anti-tank, anti-aircraft and mortar emplacements. The commander of the 45th Indian Brigade, Brigadier Herbert Duncan, planned a three-pronged advance from Bakri to Muar; up the main road between the towns, from the jungle island, and along the coast road. The attack went wrong before it could be launched. The 45th brigade ran into one of the Japanese ambushes, and the counter-offensive was cancelled.[5]
The next day at 0645, General Nishimura ordered his own three-pronged attack on Bakri. It was spearheaded by nine Type 95 Ha-Gō light tanks under Captain Shiegeo Gotanda. However, Captain Gotanda, inspired by the Japanese tank's success at Slim River, advanced without infantry against the 2/29th Battalion, and was wiped out.[9] In a repeat performance of the Australian gunners at Gemas, Lieutenant Bill McClure's two anti-tank guns (also from the 2/4th Australian Anti-Tank Regiment) destroyed all nine of Gotanda's tanks. Sergeant Clarrie Thornton, commanding the first gun received a Mention in Dispatches, and Sergeant Charles Parsons, commanding the second gun was awarded the DCM.[5] Thornton's gun fired over seventy rounds during the engagement.[20] Lieutenant Colonel John Robertson, commander of the 2/29th Battalion, was killed soon after, shot while retreating from an attack on a Japanese roadblock. Major Olliff detailed Sergeant Mick Gibbins and a party of three men to bury the battalion commander. Deprived of tank support, the Japanese infantry were unable to break through, an engagement Nishimura later described as "severe and sanguinary".[5] By dawn on the 19th the Japanese were in action on the main road, nearly surrounding the 45th Brigade.[citation needed]
The 6th Norfolk Battalion of the 53rd British Brigade was defending a ridge about 8 km (5 mi) west of Yong Peng, covering the line of retreat for the 45th Brigade, which was already a practically encircled area.[21] Early in the afternoon of 19 January, two battalions of the Japanese 4th Guards Regiment attacked and drove them off the ridge. The British retired up through the thick jungle to the summit of the northern ridge. The Norfolks were unable to inform headquarters of their position as they had no wireless.[5]
At dawn of 20 January, the 3/16th Punjab Regiment, commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Henry Moorhead (who took part in Operation Krohcol), was ordered to recapture the ridge. By the time they reached it, they came under friendly fire from the Norfolks, who had mistaken them for the Japanese, causing several casualties.[21] After losses on both sides, it was later sorted out. But before a proper defence could be organised, the Japanese attacked, killing Moorhead and driving both the Norfolks and Indian troops off the hill.[9] The 45th Brigade and the two Australian battalions at Bakri were now in danger of being cut off.[citation needed]
That same day, Brigadier Duncan, who had recovered from his concussion and was commanding the rear guard,[9] was killed when he led a successful bayonet charge to recover lost vehicles."

By the time of Duncan's bayonet charge, there was little left of the Brigade.
 
Blindly charging a machine gun nest hardly fits the description of a CO's duties on a battlefield I would humbly suggest.
I dont know I can think of a few generals who's best contribution to the war effort would be winning a posthumous VC art the opening of hostilities.
 
At the time of the fall of Singapore, the Japs were virtually out of supplies and reinforcements. Percival surrendered a viable force that could have held out longer, allowing reinforcements to arrive. Those that did arrive were, in some cased captured without a shot being fired.
Percivals army was untrained indian and australians, both of which did not perform overly well.
The japanese had air and naval supremacy.
His only hope was to fall back onto a prepared position and that didn't suit the colonial civil service. With wavell breathing down his neck to defend northern johore.

By the bye, the worst general in world war 2, for the British was probably Gort who by all accounts was a toppo battalion commander, way out of his depth.
 
Blindly charging a machine gun nest hardly fits the description of a CO's duties on a battlefield I would humbly suggest.
The guy created the movement that others behind were able to exploit that re-entrant using firepower, rather than raw courage. He deserved the medal in my book..... He also did ask for armoured support, which was rejected by Thompson.
 
Percivals army was untrained indian and australians, both of which did not perform overly well.
Neatly omitting that 1/3 of the infantry bns were British - https://www.arrse.co.uk/community/t...it-general-of-ww-ii.13814/page-3#post-9938930

18th Infantry Division (1942)
53rd Infantry Brigade
Headquarters, 53rd Infantry Brigade & Signal Section
5th Bn. The Royal Norfolk Regiment
6th Bn. The Royal Norfolk Regiment
2nd Bn. The Cambridgeshire Regiment

54th Infantry Brigade
Headquarters, 54th Infantry Brigade & Signal Section
4th Bn. The Royal Norfolk Regiment
4th Bn. The Suffolk Regiment
5th Bn. The Suffolk Regiment

55th Infantry Brigade
Headquarters, 55th Infantry Brigade & Signal Section
5th Bn. The Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Regiment
1st Bn. The Cambridgeshire Regiment
1st/5th Bn. The Sherwood Foresters (Nottinghamshire & Derbyshire Regiment)

Divisional Troops
18th Reconnaissance Bn. (The Loyal Regiment), The Reconnaissance Corps (2)

Fortress Singapore Division
Maj Gen F. K. Simmons1st Malaya Brigade
Brig George Giffard Rawson Williams 2nd Battalion, Loyal Regiment (North Lancashire) – Lt. Col. Mordaunt Elrington
1st Battalion, Malay Regiment – Lt. Col. James Richard Glencoe André
2nd Battalion, Malay Regiment – Lt. Col. Frederick Walter Young
2nd Malaya Brigade
Brig Francis Hugh Fraser 1st Battalion, Manchester Regiment – Lt. Col. Edward Barclay Holmes
2nd Battalion, Gordon Highlanders – Lt. Col. John Heslop Stitt / Richard Gilbert Lees
2nd Battalion, 17th Dogra Regiment – Lt. Col. Sidney Clermont Scott

And not to forget the magnificent 2nd Bn, A&SH as part of the Malaya Command Reserve.
 
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Themanwho

LE
Book Reviewer
By the bye, the worst general in world war 2, for the British was probably Gort who by all accounts was a toppo battalion commander, way out of his depth.
Regardless of his faults as a General officer (and I do not deny their existence), IMHO Gort redeemed himself and saved the BEF by his decision to disobey orders on 25th May and conduct an orderly retreat on Dunkirk. It was an act of immense moral courage, and it was unquestionably the right thing to do.
 
Neatly omitting that 1/3 of the infantry bns were British - https://www.arrse.co.uk/community/t...it-general-of-ww-ii.13814/page-3#post-9938930

18th Infantry Division (1942)
53rd Infantry Brigade
Headquarters, 53rd Infantry Brigade & Signal Section
5th Bn. The Royal Norfolk Regiment
6th Bn. The Royal Norfolk Regiment
2nd Bn. The Cambridgeshire Regiment
54th Infantry Brigade
Headquarters, 54th Infantry Brigade & Signal Section
4th Bn. The Royal Norfolk Regiment
4th Bn. The Suffolk Regiment
5th Bn. The Suffolk Regiment
55th Infantry Brigade
Headquarters, 55th Infantry Brigade & Signal Section
5th Bn. The Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Regiment
1st Bn. The Cambridgeshire Regiment
1st/5th Bn. The Sherwood Foresters (Nottinghamshire & Derbyshire Regiment)
Divisional Troops
18th Reconnaissance Bn. (The Loyal Regiment), The Reconnaissance Corps (2)

And not to forget the magnificent 2nd Bn, A&SH.
Possibly more - dont forget that about a 3rd of an Indians divisions strength was British

Either as a brigade or as elements in each brigade - paper often says the latter - logic suggests the former** and the few orbats ive seen support that

Edit - in retrospect I wonder if both weren't correct - and so pre war there was a mix of battalions in each brigade allowing for mixed rotations etc, then on commencement of hostilities and divisions deploying the decision was made to lump groups together.

**It makes mor sense to concentrate the Brits in one Group and the Indians in another if only for ease of communication.
 
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Possibly more - dont forget that about a 3rd of an Indians divisions strength was British

Either as a brigade or as elements in each brigade - paper often says the latter - logic suggests the former** and the few orbats ive seen support that


**It makes mor sense to concentrate the Brits in one Group and the Indians in another if only for ease of communication.
You're quite right; I missed the East Surreys and Leicestershires in the Indian 11th Infantry Division.
 
Sorry we had a good number of divisions in place in France in 1918 and more in the USA not the 4 or 5 hell

I get why the typical British poster want to minimize any US contribution to the War effort but every one of these units actually fought in France (Less 83rd whose infantry fought in italy) some of the divisions fought alongside and attached to the British Army (27th, 28th, 30th, 33rd) in fact the first US casualties were men of the 11th railway engineers* with the British 3rd Army in 1917 @ Gouzeaucourt.

Meuse- Argonne 15 US divisions fought
2nd battle of the Marne 8 US divisions 4British, 44 French
Saint-Mihiel 14 US divisions


*
11th Engineers displayed great bravery and fortitude in the face of an intense German counterattack. On 20 November, the British Army attacked toward Cambrai with over 300 tanks in the lead. The Germans counterattacked and penetrated toward Gouzeaucout, where the 11th Engineers were building a rail yard.

Engineers working on the rail yard joined British forces, took up rifles, or helped dig foxholes. Some engineers were captured and others scattered into nearby fields. Seven officers and 265 engineers armed with rifles reported to the headquarters of the British 20th Division. They acted as a reserve and dug in new positions. When the British attacked the Germans in the afternoon engineers from the work site went with them and helped free a number of their comrades captured earlier. The British army recognized their contribution in an official communication to the AEF.


“I desire to express to you my thanks and that of the British forces engaged for the prompt and valuable assistance rendered, and I trust that you will be good enough to Colonel Hoffman and his gallant men how much we all appreciate his and the prompt and soldierly readiness to assist in what for a time was a difficult situation,” -Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig

in a letter to General of the Armies John J. Pershing regarding the 11th Engineers.
I'm not the one who mentioned 4 or 5 Divs - but the whole of the AEF most certainly weren't decisively engaged in 1918 so listing every Division is disingenuous. Your 14 divisions at St Mihiel chimes with my 'low double figurers'.

The US contributed a great deal late in the war and their manpower was a decisive factor in eventual victory. However the US experience cannot be compared to that of the Empire, France, Germany or Russia. As a morbid example you need look no further than 1916 when the British Army sustained more casualties during the Somme battles than the AEF did for the entirety of their involvement in WW1. I say that not in a competitive sense but simply to highlight the different levels of involvement and sacrifice.
 
And despite a 15 year hiatus, the answer remains Lieutenant-General Arthur Ernest Percival, CB, DSO & Bar, OBE, MC, OStJ, DL. The Allied generals of 1940 were exposed to something very new and different in the Low Countries and France, which had only been seen once before in Poland nine months earlier. They, and their military systems were slow to adapt, but adapt they did. Meanwhile, Western observers and theorists had nearly 10 years to observe the Japanese way of warfare in China and Manchuria, but had apparently learned nothing other than the Japanese soldier had bad eyesight and couldn't fight at night.
My memory is hazy but i remember reading an account of the Jap commander who was running the Malaya / singapore operation and he said that all that the British needed to do to stop him was to fight delaying actions all the way and slow down the Jap advance. This was because the Jap logistics chain could not resupply then quickly enough and indeed he would have been out of ammunition and fuel within a few days. If the British had not surrendered, the Japs would have given up.
 
The guy created the movement that others behind were able to exploit that re-entrant using firepower, rather than raw courage. He deserved the medal in my book..... He also did ask for armoured support, which was rejected by Thompson.
He deserved the medal alright but arguably his loss freed 2 PARA from a stifling and overly complex 19 phase plan. The first thing Keeble did was allow the company commanders to get on with it, notably John Crosland.
 
Neatly omitting that 1/3 of the infantry bns were British - https://www.arrse.co.uk/community/t...it-general-of-ww-ii.13814/page-3#post-9938930

18th Infantry Division (1942)
53rd Infantry Brigade
Headquarters, 53rd Infantry Brigade & Signal Section
5th Bn. The Royal Norfolk Regiment
6th Bn. The Royal Norfolk Regiment
2nd Bn. The Cambridgeshire Regiment

54th Infantry Brigade
Headquarters, 54th Infantry Brigade & Signal Section
4th Bn. The Royal Norfolk Regiment
4th Bn. The Suffolk Regiment
5th Bn. The Suffolk Regiment

55th Infantry Brigade
Headquarters, 55th Infantry Brigade & Signal Section
5th Bn. The Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Regiment
1st Bn. The Cambridgeshire Regiment
1st/5th Bn. The Sherwood Foresters (Nottinghamshire & Derbyshire Regiment)

Divisional Troops
18th Reconnaissance Bn. (The Loyal Regiment), The Reconnaissance Corps (2)

Fortress Singapore Division
Maj Gen F. K. Simmons1st Malaya Brigade
Brig George Giffard Rawson Williams 2nd Battalion, Loyal Regiment (North Lancashire) – Lt. Col. Mordaunt Elrington
1st Battalion, Malay Regiment – Lt. Col. James Richard Glencoe André
2nd Battalion, Malay Regiment – Lt. Col. Frederick Walter Young
2nd Malaya Brigade
Brig Francis Hugh Fraser 1st Battalion, Manchester Regiment – Lt. Col. Edward Barclay Holmes
2nd Battalion, Gordon Highlanders – Lt. Col. John Heslop Stitt / Richard Gilbert Lees
2nd Battalion, 17th Dogra Regiment – Lt. Col. Sidney Clermont Scott

And not to forget the magnificent 2nd Bn, A&SH as part of the Malaya Command Reserve.
Most of which arrived in February, when it was too late.
 
My memory is hazy but i remember reading an account of the Jap commander who was running the Malaya / singapore operation and he said that all that the British needed to do to stop him was to fight delaying actions all the way and slow down the Jap advance. This was because the Jap logistics chain could not resupply then quickly enough and indeed he would have been out of ammunition and fuel within a few days. If the British had not surrendered, the Japs would have given up.
Delaying actions are actually far harder to carry out than people assume... Especially as the japanese were adept at flinging out a flanking force to cut the road, behind the block. Only the argylls really perfected it all that well.
 

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