"If everybody is thinking alike, then somebody isn't thinking."
There is a classic line in the song Sympathy for the Devil by the Rolling Stones:
I rode a tank,
held a general's rank,
when the Blitzkrieg raged
and the bodies stank.
OK... how many famous generals actually rode a tank while the Blitzkrieg raged between 1939 and 1945?
Probably fewer than I first thought. I'm going to exclude obscure brigade and division commanders because Lucifer would probably want to take center stage. Here are several I considered:
Patton? Probably not. He was beyond division command when he reached the front and Patton had his famous vehicle with the siren. Abrams was only a colonel in WWII. Even the most aggressive front line armored leaders like Maurice Rose (killed in a skirmish near the end of the war) operated in jeeps.
Rommel? Maybe when he led the 7th Panzer in 1940... after that we often see him in a command truck. Officers like Bayerlein or von Manteuffel might fit the description. BTW, Joachim Pieper of "Kampfgruppe Pieper" fame in the Ardennes was only a colonel.
Leclerc of the French 2nd Armored is a possibility but deGaulle was not a general during the 1940 campaign in France.
Zhukov was already a high ranking officer during the 1939 action at Kalkhin Gol, but generals like Rokossovsky could have rode a tank early in WWII when he commanded a "tank corps" in the Red Army.
What about British commanders like Allan Adair of the Guards Armoured Division? Did British generals ride in tanks during a battle?
Masaomi Yasuoka was a commander of Japanese mechanized forces during the 1939 border clash with the USSR... but I can't imagine any general leading an armored unit from a Type 93 tank. Experts, provide some insight!
Pietro Meletti fought at Kufra in 1931 and commanded the Italian mechanized force in North Africa during the early days of WWII. Perhaps he rode in a tank, but he was killed at his headquarters during an Allied raid.
When I was a kid I used to play at a yard in front of one of the departments of Muzeum Wojska Polskiego (Polish Army Museum). My favourite object on that yard was old WWII tank and I LOVED to play in it.
But one day someone had removed remains of a driver's seat and because of that I wasn't able to get out of this hellish machine.
But for my father I would be still in this infernal tank!
I jotted it down in my Risk campaign book. I always used to do that so I could replay my moments of glory over a glass of brandy in the sleeping quarters. --Arnold J. Rimmer--
Off topic, but I met someone who had met Patton in the war. He was a tank commander, became a full-bird colonel. Said he was in a long line of tanks when Patton came by. Patton looked at him and said "Get this the hell out of my way!" (or something to that effect.)
He looked at Patton and said "Yes, sir!"
Not a great story, and I'm sure he told it better, but I was [---] THAT close to history!