WWII - most highly rated infantry, armour etc...

#1
Sometime ago I read Max Hastings "Armageddon" in which he referred to the RA as the most effective arm of the British Army in the 1944/45 period. I'm currently reading Cornelius Ryan's "A Bridge Too Far" and encountered an interesting, related quote attributed to von Runstedt:

"Throughout his career, von Rundstedt had closely studied British military tactics; he had also, to his own misfortune been able to observe American warfare at first hand. He had found the Americans more imaginative and daring in the use of armour, the British superb with infantry."

Putting aside the differences of opinion - although I suspect given von Runstedts position that his carry more weight - the issue got me thinking that if you could pick and choose amongst the Western allies and axis powers during WWII who would you select? Tricky bit here is timing during the war but since this is largely theoretical I'd go for the following:

Armour - German officers & Russian post 1942 tanks
Infantry - British officers & German infantry
Artillery - British
Supply - US
Engineers - US (but only on the back of the supply issue)

Alternatives?

lancslad
 
#2
Wasn't the US supply lines renowned for being pilfered all the way along so the troops at the front got next to nothing?
 

Norge

Old-Salt
#3
Armour - German officers & Russian post 1942 tanks
Infantry - German maybe Finns
Artillery - Russian/American Russian quality and American numbers
Supply – US numbers and German adaptability.
Engineers - British, think Hobart’s funnies and ability to improvise
 
#5
Infantry = ANZACs no question
Armour = Germans
Artillery = Russians
Logistics = US
Engineers = British
 
#7
You need to include the SS in there somewhere, the things they did can't change the fact that they had some superb soldiers.
 
#8
Of the other side, the Waffen-SS were at times quite exceptional. (Never to be confused with the Nazi "political" SS, upon whom they would have spat - if their manners hadn't been so well-bred).

Of the British, see FM Montgomery's assessments.

Royal Ulster Rifles = arguably the finest, hardest-fighting line infantry in modern times.

British Special Forces (SOE, SAS, SBS, LRDG etc.) = Exceptional; and an example often copied by the rest of the world, but never equalled.
 

chrisg46

LE
Book Reviewer
#9
lancslad said:
Sometime ago I read Max Hastings "Armageddon" in which he referred to the RA as the most effective arm of the British Army in the 1944/45 period. I'm currently reading Cornelius Ryan's "A Bridge Too Far" and encountered an interesting, related quote attributed to von Runstedt:

"Throughout his career, von Rundstedt had closely studied British military tactics; he had also, to his own misfortune been able to observe American warfare at first hand. He had found the Americans more imaginative and daring in the use of armour, the British superb with infantry."

Putting aside the differences of opinion - although I suspect given von Runstedts position that his carry more weight - the issue got me thinking that if you could pick and choose amongst the Western allies and axis powers during WWII who would you select? Tricky bit here is timing during the war but since this is largely theoretical I'd go for the following:

Armour - German officers & Russian post 1942 tanks
Infantry - British officers & German infantry
Artillery - British
Supply - US
Engineers - US (but only on the back of the supply issue)

Alternatives?

lancslad
Dont you mean, german officers, British OR's? i understood that we adopted the german officer selection process after the war as it produced better leaders. Back then, you had to be the right kind of gent to be an officer still....
 
#12
for a combination of all the elements it has to be the Deutches Afrika Korps...leadership, elan, true understanding of combined arms ops and honour. The key part of which was the 21st Pz Div...one of the longest serving units in the Heer OOB. from Czechaslovakia in '36 all the way to the defence of berlin.
but for logistics...american...the redball express during the ardennes campaign stands out.
so...
armour...german.... tiger/panther/ Pzkpfw IV
officers....german...Rommel/wittmann/peiper/dietrich/von runstedt/guderian
infantry....german esp waffen ss(as a grunt thats a hard thing to admit!)
artillery...british but german mortars
logistics...septics
engineers...british

and a new catergory best uniforms.....German...who the F*** designed the british helmet in WW2!!
 
#14
Praetorian said:
You need to include the SS in there somewhere, the things they did can't change the fact that they had some superb soldiers.
Superb soldiers?

After the Polish campaign the came under heavy criticism for lack of combat capabilities.
The notable and splendid victories made by German units were, made when the WSS only played a minor role.
Later on the SS got the funds to grow large, to some extent because they followed the MLAR orders given by Adolf to the extreme.
The kitting up (And fanatism) of SS divisions with the best equipment meant that they where regarded as top notch. Wheermact units with lover standard equipment often had more proper education.

Generals of the SS were to a large extent politically appointed, so generals like Sepp Ditrich (whose military experience was as a sergeant in WWI) was no match for properly educated opponents.

The SS units who fought with most skill was often the ones made up of foreign volunteers, whom often had previous military service in there home country.
 
#16
"Generals of the SS were to a large extent politically appointed, so generals like Sepp Ditrich (whose military experience was as a sergeant in WWI) was no match for properly educated opponents."

whilst generals in the waffen ss may have been politically appointed this was not the case with the oberst and hauptsturmfuhrer ranks...they had developed their fighting skills as members of the heer during the '30s rebuilding of the wehrmacht. a lot of the ss officers were prussian and taken from the top of their classes at kriegschule...to be an ss offizier was based on selection not on a first come first runes basis. Micheal Wittmann, Sepp Dietrich and Jochen Peiper all came through the ranks and to deny their abilities as leaders is foolhardy.

the waffen ss was by no means the best fighting force in the german OOB. for instance at the battle of Caen during the normandy breakout, the unit that held the north of the city and therefore access to the plains and low countries beyond was the 21st Pz div. the presence of this division lead monty to try and push south through 2 ss Pz div. the hitler jugend and the liebstandarte adolf hitler. you can draw your own conclusions from that.
 
#18
lancslad[/quote]

Dont you mean, german officers, British OR's? i understood that we adopted the german officer selection process after the war as it produced better leaders. Back then, you had to be the right kind of gent to be an officer still....[/quote]

Not wholly true - in fact, a variety of selection systems were adopted DURING WW2, including elements of German Army and Luftwaffe officer selection procedures. "War Office Selection Board" was mainly copied/ adapted from the Luftwaffe system - as indeed was the original RCB system (post war): the model remains broadly unchanged to this day.

Bit of a myth that The British were "class bound" re officer selection in WW2. Indeed, during the First World War the British commissioned significantly more ex rankers than any of the other major participants, especially the French, Germans & Russians, who rarely did so. The German Imperial Army was particularly resistant to the the commissioning of soldiers: a special grade of SNCO was created, to fill command slots IN THE FIELD ONLY at platoon/ company levels, specifically to preserve the exclusive social status of the "Officer Corps".

Ironically, it was AFTER WW2 that a degree of class consciousness/ social exclusivity seems to have made a comeback, especially re regulars. When my Old Man went to RMAS IN 1952, there was a list (unofficial, of course, but referred to regularly by DS) of "The 49" - ie the schools deemed "acceptable" for a potential regular officer, and he was left in no doubt that as a "grubby northern grammar school boy" (co-ed to boot, by God!) of lowly social origins he was there on sufferance as a token of the "new order"! He was forbidden to give his father's occupation (textile worker - "not suitable") on joining documentation: instead, "Kenyon's Textiles" was substituted, thus conveying the impression that his father was, at least, one of the directors! Uniquely in his company, his parents never received an invite to the commissioning parade. There you go...
 
#19
Norge said:
Praetorian said:
You need to include the SS in there somewhere, the things they did can't change the fact that they had some superb soldiers.

After the Polish campaign the came under heavy criticism for lack of combat capabilities.

The notable and splendid victories made by German units were, made when the WSS only played a minor role.

Later on the SS got the funds to grow large, to some extent because they followed the MLAR orders given by Adolf to the extreme.

The kitting up (And fanatism) of SS divisions with the best equipment meant that they where regarded as top notch. Wheermact units with lover standard equipment often had more proper education.

Generals of the SS were to a large extent politically appointed, so generals like Sepp Ditrich (whose military experience was as a sergeant in WWI) was no match for properly educated opponents.

The SS units who fought with most skill was often the ones made up of foreign volunteers, whom often had previous military service in there home country.
Admittedly, the foreign units of the SS left a lot to be desired when it expanded, but Bad Tolz and the SS Junkerschule turned out some fine aggressive infantry officers in the war due to the harsh pre-war training.

And have you any evidence for the SS Generals being politically appointed? Men like Kurt Meyer, Paul Hausser, Sepp Dietrich and Joachim Peiper were certainly not bad leaders.

This is with regard to the Waffen SS, the Allgemeine SS were shits, mainly police.
 
#20
Which German general remarked something along the lines of 'give me British soldiers led by German officers and I shall conquer the world!"?
 

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