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Subject: NOT Patton or Monty rss

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Captain Nemo
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These two figures get a lot of press even now.

If they had both taken bullets from German aircrew in '42/'43 and not been around for the rest of the war who would have replaced them in the roles they held for the rest of the war. Which generals have been eclipsed by the spotlights of attention being focused on these two men? Dempsey? Leese? Hodges? Simpson?

Who are the great men that have been missed in the history of WWII against Hitler?
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Brian Train
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Slim!
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Carl Marl
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Zhukov
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Mike Windsor
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Courtney Hodges?
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Michael Dorosh
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Douaumont wrote:
Patton? Irreplaceable.


An amusing answer, given that Patton was sidelined after Sicily and literally replaced by Bradley - as commander of the U.S. army landing in Normandy and later the U.S. army group fighting in the bridgehead.

As far as the British go, Mountbatten and Dempsey are possibilities also. Mountbatten for having been a theatre-level commander (as commander of Combined Operations who was selected for SE Asia) and Dempsey since as commander of 2nd Army, moving up to 21 Army Group was the next logical step, though not as early as 1942.

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Bill Eldard
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hammurabi70 wrote:
Who are the great men that have been missed in the history of WWII against Hitler?


LtGen Joseph Stilwell, US Army. He missed the ETO entirely.

Prior to Pearl Harbor, Stilwell was an infantry officer by trade, and highly regarded in the Army for his aggressiveness -- the sort of reputation Patton gained later.

But Stilwell had served two tours in China in his career, and spoke the language fluently. On someone's recommendation and as a gesture to Generalissmo Chinag Kai-shek, Stilwell was assigned to serve as Chiang's Chief of Staff in 1942. Some historians believe that if the Allies were to execute Operation Sledgehammer (invasion of France 1942) as Marshall wanted, Stilwell was the odds-on choice to be the US ground commander.

While Stilwell made an earnest attempt to prod Chiang into building an effective army with the US equipment that was arriving, Chiang's reluctance and the subterfuge by the China Lobby effectively prevented Stilwell from succeeding.

Stilwell was able to pry a few Nationalist Chinese divisions from Chiang and train them for a push toward the Allies in Burma to open the Burma Road. Designated "Yoke Force," it was led by handpicked Chinese officers with US Army advisors, and was relatively effective.

Stilwell also controlled the US Army's 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional), dubbed by the press as Merrill's Marauders. Stilwell committed the Marauders to a deep-penetration capture Myitkina in support of Yoke Force, and under the leadership of BGen Merrill and his relief Col. Hunter, they succeeded against amazing odds, though the Marauders -- decimated by combat, disease, and sheer exhaustion, were disbanded.

Like Patton, Stilwell had a strong disliking for most of his British counterparts and especially his CBI theater boss, Lord Louis Mountbatten. He liked General Slim, though.

Chiang, ably supported by the persuasion of the China Lobby, ultimately had FDR recall Stilwell. "Vinegar Joe" was eventually rewarded with command of the Tenth US Army on Okinawa after its commanding general, LtGen Simon Bolivar Buckner was killed.

We'll never know what kind of battlefield commander Stilwell might've been in the ETO. But in 1942, he was considered one of the best generals in the US Army, and his late opportunities to command troops in the field in 1944 substantiated his aggressiveness.
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Hunga Dunga
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Eldard wrote:
Some historians believe that if the Allies were to execute Operation Sledgehammer (invasion of France 1942) as Marshall wanted, Stilwell was the odds-on choice to be the US ground commander.


The book Forgotten Ally paints a very different picture of Stilwell!
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Andy Daglish
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mwindsor wrote:
Courtney Hodges?


When Monty asked for him to be replaced, for breaking in combat, Ike refused as he was a crony. When later on Monty told Ike they were working well together, I think Monty was paying himself a compliment, which Ike misunderstood.

Aristocratic Alexander was Monty's obvious replacement. Monty felt he had two brain cells, but only the power to fire one of them at a time. Alex was the troops' favourite. Perhaps the mystic Wavell caught the public's attention most.

Patton was the only American general the Germans regarded as a threat. The [typical] American attitude to him is shown by their desire to saw the top off his head -- after he died -- to see if he had suffered any brain accidents as a result of falling off his polo pony.
Its difficult to be sure that any of the corps commanders had potential at Army level, which is not to say they would have not outshone Ike's other friends, and here Bradley was by far the most vulnerable, albeit protected to a degree by army group rank. Ike was clearly wary of Lightning Joe Collins, and the inference is possible wartime promotion was delayed for that reason. Troy Middleton was noticeable, but affected by being the junior of the four generals tainted by responsibility for the Bulge, the other three aforementioned.

The main threat to Ike is clearly shown by his reaction to it, and that was rich boy Jake Devers. He stands out as about the only one with something more than adequacy, and though he wasn't allowed to express it, Ike and Marshall both knew each other knew.
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Jonathan "Spartan Spawn, Sworn, Raised for Warring!"
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Douaumont wrote:
How many army commanders get relieved, but return the following year to command a new army?


At least one, Zhukov. Got relieved at his own request, then was handed the Defense of Moscow and commanded for the rest of the war, wasn't often that Stalin showed that sort of humility.
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Robert Stuart
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Michael Dorosh wrote:
Douaumont wrote:
Patton? Irreplaceable.


An amusing answer, given that Patton was sidelined after Sicily and literally replaced by Bradley - as commander of the U.S. army landing in Normandy and later the U.S. army group fighting in the bridgehead.


Not so amusing. The most noticeable effect of Patton's absence was the conduct of the war in Italy, which, on the operational level, the Americans botched. Salerno was a near disaster. Anzio was even worse.

What is amusing is that, having been sidelined, the fact of Patton's retention played a significant role in Normandy. Perhaps unable to comprehend that someone like Patton would not be utilized, and having been deceived as to the size of Patton's (nonexistent) army bivouacked in Britain, the Germans persisted for critical weeks in believing that the real invasion would come in Calais. I don't think that a more rapid German response would have driven the Allies into the sea, but it would have made the situation very dire. Had it not been for Patton, Bradley might have found himself in a debacle worse than that at Anzio, or in a stalemate worse than the stalemate on the Gustav line in Italy.



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Robert Stuart
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Luftwaffe Flak wrote:
Douaumont wrote:
How many army commanders get relieved, but return the following year to command a new army?


At least one, Zhukov. Got relieved at his own request, then was handed the Defense of Moscow and commanded for the rest of the war, wasn't often that Stalin showed that sort of humility.


Above all else, Stalin was a survivor. He would use anyone to survive, even people he had formerly dismissed. After all, if through Zhukov's assistance he (Stalin) survived, he could later send Zhukov back into oblivion if he wished.
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Bill Lawson
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Luftwaffe Flak wrote:
Douaumont wrote:
How many army commanders get relieved, but return the following year to command a new army?


At least one, Zhukov. Got relieved at his own request, then was handed the Defense of Moscow and commanded for the rest of the war, wasn't often that Stalin showed that sort of humility.


This is not exactly true. Zuhkov was relieved as Chief of Staff for telling Stalin that Kiev should be abandoned (August '41). He was sent to Leningrad and took command there. In October '41 in the wake of the Germans Operation Typhoon he was transferred to command of Moscow.
He changed "hats" several times but was never relieved and put on the shelf.
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Robert Stuart
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Douaumont wrote:
Alexander could have (should have) replaced Montgomery.


This is a case in which the replacement would have far outshone the original.
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Robert Stuart
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What about another 'what if': suppose O'Connor had not been captured -- how different would the desert war have been? And would O'Connor have ended up in command in France?

O'Connor finally managed to escape and became a Corps commander under Montgomery in France. I can't help feeling that things would have gone better in France had O'Connor been in command with Montgomery his subordinate -- but aside from his remarkable performance against the Italians in North Africa, I don't know much about him.



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Thomas Heaney
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Hum. Time to get my brain checked, I think.

Glancing across the listing of discussions, I saw "Not Mutton or Potty." shake
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Forty One
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SteelVictory wrote:

Mark Clark was a rising star, a Marshall man he probably would have had a role in NW Europe.


With disasterous results?





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ltmurnau wrote:
Slim!


I have his war memoir (Defeat Into Victory) and I've been meaning to read it for years because I've gotten the impression he's a distinctly under-appreciated commander and I want to learn more about him.

I'll echo Steel Victory in citing Lucian Truscott as someone who had more potential than the commands he held.

Brian Horrocks would also have done greater things, I believe, had he not been wounded and out of action for a year.
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Gary S.
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There was a feeling in Merril's Marauders that Stilwell had left them out in the field for far too long in order to burnish his own reputation and to keep at least one US ground unit involved in CBI.

A general that visited MM on their return remarked that he had never seen a unit that was more mutinous, and that the Marauders absolutely hated Stilwell. Not sure that he'd be a good choice with man-management skills like that!

For the Brits/Commonwealth then FWIW I'd go Slim and Morshead, possibly Wavell and Freyberg too.

I also think that Richard O'Connor would have continued to have been superb had he not been so desperately unlucky to have been captured. He wasn't the same man after his escape from captivity two years later.

Edits - for typos and clarity (I hope!)
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Hugo Olsson
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Douaumont wrote:
How many army commanders get relieved, but return the following year to command a new army?


I believe MacArthur was recalled from retirement to take command over the Philippines as war with Japan was looming.
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Jur dj
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Douaumont wrote:
How many army commanders get relieved, but return the following year to command a new army?


Of course it matters for what reason you are relieved. In the Wehrmacht, Guderian and Rundstedt were relieved for differences of opinion with Hitler but returned later because they were too useful to Hitler (and they didn't have moral problem with returning).

There's a number of Soviet generals that returned to the fighting after having been purged in the late 1930s, of which I believe Rokossovski was the best known (came with a whole new set of teeth as well).

Patton was not sacked for incompetence, but bad PR.

All cases of competent officers which couldn't be left useless. Shows you how short armies were of really competent generals.

A name not mentioned above (I think0 of potential replacements for Montgomery: Auchinleck. He beat Rommel twice (Crusader and Alam Halfa) but like Wavell had a bad relationship with Churchill. Makes you wonder if Churchill was able to pick the best commanders
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Robert Stuart
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FortyOne wrote:
SteelVictory wrote:

Mark Clark was a rising star, a Marshall man he probably would have had a role in NW Europe.


With disasterous results?


In our fantasy scenario Mark Clark could have replaced Montgomery with the Americans plodding their way up the coast, and O'Connor carrying out the wide flanking sweep that brought the Western Allies to the borders of Germany.
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Bruce Jurin
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ltmurnau wrote:
Slim!


I don't think so. Slim is regarded by many now as probably the best Anglo-Allied commander of the war; the problem is that his reputation came afterwards, when people assessed his military achievements.

I trying to remember who said it, but I remember one quote about Churchill was that he was more a believer in great genralship than in having material superiority. His problem is that he had one great general (Slim) but he didn't know it at the time!
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Captain Nemo
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Very interesting comments.

STILWELL - somehow I cannot see the High Command so desperate to want to relocate him from China to Europe to replace Patton. Walker and Collins - I must find out more.

SLIM - hardly really senior until late in the war. Alexander was popular with both the British and American establishments. He reached senior command in the MED but did not ask for Slim; I could well see him doing Monty's job and I believe IKE wanted him. I wonder who would replace ALEX in the MED?
 
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Michael Dorosh
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Douaumont wrote:
Michael Dorosh wrote:
Douaumont wrote:
Patton? Irreplaceable.


An amusing answer, given that Patton was sidelined after Sicily and literally replaced by Bradley - as commander of the U.S. army landing in Normandy and later the U.S. army group fighting in the bridgehead.


Even more amusing: The Allied position in Normandy was a beachhead, not a "bridgehead."


http://www.amazon.ca/Normandy-Bridgehead-Major-General-Essam...



You can attempt to lecture me all you like on nomenclature, but I probably wouldn't get into it with a Major-General who actually fought there.

EDIT: Or for that matter, the official historian of the Canadian Army:

http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/UN/Canada/CA/Normandy/Norman...

Quote:
Although losses in the actual assault on the beaches had been fewer than had been feared, the 3rd Canadian Division and the 2nd Canadian Armoured Brigade nevertheless suffered severely in the early battles of the Normandy bridgehead.


Or Belton Cooper, for that matter.

Or Steven Zaloga.


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Bill Eldard
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hammurabi70 wrote:
STILWELL - somehow I cannot see the High Command so desperate to want to relocate him from China to Europe to replace Patton. Walker and Collins - I must find out more.


Add Alexander Patch, who after successfully commanding the Americal Division and XIV Corps on Guadalcanal, was transferred by Marshall to the ETO where he assumed command of the Seventh US Army for the invasion of southern France.
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