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British Equipment And Generals Suck, Part Deux.


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10. Patch

11. Hodges

12. Simpson

 

 

This is strange. I thought that Ike was not much of a fan of Patch and that is why Patch was available to the Med Theater.

 

Simpson was probably the most underrated Army commander in WWII and should stand head and shoulders over Hodges.

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Absolutely, after reading the Rick Atkinson trilogy, Hodges should be no higher than 15-16, and Simpson should be at least equal to Patton. Bradley, based on Atkinson's scholarship does not come off well, and should perhaps switch places with Truscott. Clark (Mark?) should rate in the low 100's. I had an uncle who was one of three survivors in an infantry company at the Rapido river, and according to my dad, he never recovered psychologically from that battle where Clark slaughtered the flower of Texas youth.

 

But getting back to the topic, is there a similar rating of British generals? Also after reading Rude Mechanicals, I noticed that British tanks did not have the same level of growth potential as US tanks, but it seems the problem was told old hay eaters at the War Office, who could not let go of the horse, but interwar had been promoted over the promising armor theoreticians.

 

 

10. Patch

11. Hodges

12. Simpson

 

 

This is strange. I thought that Ike was not much of a fan of Patch and that is why Patch was available to the Med Theater.

 

Simpson was probably the most underrated Army commander in WWII and should stand head and shoulders over Hodges.

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10. Patch

11. Hodges

12. Simpson

 

 

This is strange. I thought that Ike was not much of a fan of Patch and that is why Patch was available to the Med Theater.

 

Simpson was probably the most underrated Army commander in WWII and should stand head and shoulders over Hodges.

Look how high he rates the highly controversial Clark. I think this is more a list of men who were useful to Eisenhower, in his perception of his mission, not necessarily an objective rating.

 

Having said that, I don't think it's possible to objectively rate commanders in any case. No corps or army commander ever had the same tactical situation, the same enemy situation, the same collection of divisions and artillery groups, the same logistics support, etc, etc, etc. It's all a popularity contest. Which leads me to:

 

Murph...I love ya, ur my boy an all, but it's just not right to assert that British generals had the "slows" then demand people to prove they didn't.

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Sorry Tony, not my intent. Perhaps based on the terrain, and situation in NW Europe. Although Monty got told to take Antwerp, and dragged his heels, and did not clear the Scheldt estuary until almost the end of the war instead of in 1944. The 11th Armored did not thrust, it more like dribbled, perhaps some viagra for the diivision?

 

 

10. Patch

11. Hodges

12. Simpson

 

 

This is strange. I thought that Ike was not much of a fan of Patch and that is why Patch was available to the Med Theater.

 

Simpson was probably the most underrated Army commander in WWII and should stand head and shoulders over Hodges.

Look how high he rates the highly controversial Clark. I think this is more a list of men who were useful to Eisenhower, in his perception of his mission, not necessarily an objective rating.

 

Having said that, I don't think it's possible to objectively rate commanders in any case. No corps or army commander ever had the same tactical situation, the same enemy situation, the same collection of divisions and artillery groups, the same logistics support, etc, etc, etc. It's all a popularity contest. Which leads me to:

 

Murph...I love ya, ur my boy an all, but it's just not right to assert that British generals had the "slows" then demand people to prove they didn't.

 

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The point still bearing out that the m47 and m48 were evolutions of an earlier design while the cent was the original design.

 

The original Centurion had a quite different turret mounting a 17 pounder and co-ax 20 mm, so both Centurion and the M26/46/47 had much the same work done to them by the early 1950's. I agree that the M48 and M60 were new, if based on M26 design elements.

 

I'm not saying the Cent was crap, just that it sees to have had a bit of a cult build up around it.

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10. Patch

11. Hodges

12. Simpson

 

 

This is strange. I thought that Ike was not much of a fan of Patch and that is why Patch was available to the Med Theater.

 

Simpson was probably the most underrated Army commander in WWII and should stand head and shoulders over Hodges.

Does raise a few eyebrows. Ike's notes are sparing but he also wrote each of his major commanders letters of praise and advice.

10. Patch Army Commander Cool fighter, balanced, energetic

11. Hodges Army Commadner Sound, able, experienced

12. Simpson Army Commander Clear thinker, energetic, balanced

 

Edited by Ken Estes
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Sorry Tony, not my intent. Perhaps based on the terrain, and situation in NW Europe. Although Monty got told to take Antwerp, and dragged his heels, and did not clear the Scheldt estuary until almost the end of the war instead of in 1944. The 11th Armored did not thrust, it more like dribbled, perhaps some viagra for the diivision?

 

 

Well, given the underlying premises of Market Garden, diverting resources to open the port right away would have been an unjustifiable dissipation of effort. Let's not make the mistake of using 20/20 hindsight to judge men who had to make priorities based on the situation as they were given to understand it at the immediate moment.

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Look how high he rates the highly controversial Clark. I think this is more a list of men who were useful to Eisenhower, in his perception of his mission, not necessarily an objective rating.

 

 

Having said that, I don't think it's possible to objectively rate commanders in any case. No corps or army commander ever had the same tactical situation, the same enemy situation, the same collection of divisions and artillery groups, the same logistics support, etc, etc, etc. It's all a popularity contest. Which leads me to:

 

....

 

You have a good point, in that Ike would have valued most the army and corps commanders who accomplished their missions without complaint or without demanding more troops and priorities from other fronts. Still, he is incisive about the air commanders and also seems to have a sense for the good fighters, yet not elevating many of them above the senior leaders who held the greatest responsibilities.

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Most of the increase over the 30 years after the war was natural, not immigration. The population reached 56 million in the early 1970s, stuck there for a while, then started growing again, slowly at first. 58.8 mn by 2001, 63.2 mn by 2011.

 

We've had a hell of a lot of immigrants since 2001.

Edited by swerve
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Look how high he rates the highly controversial Clark. I think this is more a list of men who were useful to Eisenhower, in his perception of his mission, not necessarily an objective rating.

 

 

Having said that, I don't think it's possible to objectively rate commanders in any case. No corps or army commander ever had the same tactical situation, the same enemy situation, the same collection of divisions and artillery groups, the same logistics support, etc, etc, etc. It's all a popularity contest. Which leads me to:

 

....

 

You have a good point, in that Ike would have valued most the army and corps commanders who accomplished their missions without complaint or without demanding more troops and priorities from other fronts. Still, he is incisive about the air commanders and also seems to have a sense for the good fighters, yet not elevating many of them above the senior leaders who held the greatest responsibilities.

 

That is the problem with Montgomery. He was always demanding that resources be switched from Bradley's army group to his.

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...As for British Generals, one has to look at it from the point of view that Bomber Command lost 56000 men in combat (not all of them British it has to be said) and we were taking scarcely less significant losses in the North Atlantic. When you consider we were a nation of something like 60 million back then, and we were fighting in the Med, Far East and Europe, needing to keep some manpower back to service industry and coal extraction, its easy to see there was not an infinite amount of infantry in which we could afford to take WW1 style losses. I...

 

47.9 million in 1939 according to the National Register.

 

Good lord, I didnt know it was that low. I supposed postwar immigration would have bumped it up a bit, but not that much. Well if anything, that makes what we did even more remarkable.

 

One has to be fair and say that I suspect a lot of those RAF numbers would have been personnel from the Commonwealth who were actually in the RAF, rather than operating as RAAF or RCAF. But its still some achievement.

 

A very high percentage of New Zealand's war deaths occurred in Bomber Harris's command.

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One would have to re-read the Alan Brook diaries in order to obtain just one man's view of relative merit of UK/CW commanders, and I have no time. Fortunately for the US, we have Ike's 1Feb45 memo in which he rated his top generals, according to the "value of services each officer has rendered in this war ...." an interesting list: It includes commanders, logisticians, chiefs of staff and aviators, demonstrating the corporate nature of an army [as per AEvans, above] and the difficulty in singling out the 'masters of the battlefield' from the essential rest of the pack.

[Chandler, The Papers of Dwight David Eisenhower, The War Years, Vol IV, pp. 2466-69]

  1. Bradley & Spaatz tied at 1-2
  2. Smith, Bedell
  3. Patton
  4. Clark
  5. Truscott
  6. Doolittle
  7. Gerow
  8. Collins
  9. Patch
  10. Hodges
  11. Simpson
  12. Eaker
  13. Bull
  14. Cannon
  15. Ridgeway
  16. Brooks
  17. Walker
  18. Lee
  19. Gruenther
  20. Vandenberg
  21. Haislip
  22. Quesada
  23. Devers
  24. Eddy
  25. Rooks
  26. Crawford
  27. Larkin
  28. Weyland
  29. Norstad
  30. Allen, L
  31. McLain
  32. Littlejohn
  33. Anderson, Fred
  34. Huebner
  35. Harmon, E
  36. Van Fleet, J A
  37. Nugent

 

 

Although I am a strong admirerer of Ike, for me his list highlights both how subjective analysis of generalship is as well as how much personalities play a role.

 

3. Bedell Smith...really? But vital to Ike's role as SCAEF, so understandable.

5. Clark...wow, but I suspect it is Ike being diplomatic.

8. Gerow...seriously? But, oh, yeah, a personal friend and the integrity of friendships was a hallmark of Ike.

11. Hodges...reliable, but about the best that could be said of him, again a diplomatic inclusion.

19. Lee...seemed most interested inalmost single-handedly sabotaging the American logistics effort, again a diplomatic inclusion.

22. Haislip...about as worthy an inclusion as Gerow and for much the same reasons.

24. Devers...a travesty he's ranked so low, but because he was too smart for his own good and not afraid to let it be known.

35. Huebner...but not Terry Allen :unsure: , again yet another indication this was more about who played well with others rather than talent.

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That is the problem with Montgomery. He was always demanding that resources be switched from Bradley's army group to his.

 

 

To be fair, and vice versa. :D

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One would have to re-read the Alan Brook diaries in order to obtain just one man's view of relative merit of UK/CW commanders, and I have no time. Fortunately for the US, we have Ike's 1Feb45 memo in which he rated his top generals, according to the "value of services each officer has rendered in this war ...." an interesting list: It includes commanders, logisticians, chiefs of staff and aviators, demonstrating the corporate nature of an army [as per AEvans, above] and the difficulty in singling out the 'masters of the battlefield' from the essential rest of the pack.

[Chandler, The Papers of Dwight David Eisenhower, The War Years, Vol IV, pp. 2466-69]

  1. Bradley & Spaatz tied at 1-2
  2. Smith, Bedell
  3. Patton
  4. Clark
  5. Truscott
  6. Doolittle
  7. Gerow
  8. Collins
  9. Patch
  10. Hodges
  11. Simpson
  12. Eaker
  13. Bull
  14. Cannon
  15. Ridgeway
  16. Brooks
  17. Walker
  18. Lee
  19. Gruenther
  20. Vandenberg
  21. Haislip
  22. Quesada
  23. Devers
  24. Eddy
  25. Rooks
  26. Crawford
  27. Larkin
  28. Weyland
  29. Norstad
  30. Allen, L
  31. McLain
  32. Littlejohn
  33. Anderson, Fred
  34. Huebner
  35. Harmon, E
  36. Van Fleet, J A
  37. Nugent

 

 

Although I am a strong admirerer of Ike, for me his list highlights both how subjective analysis of generalship is as well as how much personalities play a role.

 

3. Bedell Smith...really? But vital to Ike's role as SCAEF, so understandable.

5. Clark...wow, but I suspect it is Ike being diplomatic.

8. Gerow...seriously? But, oh, yeah, a personal friend and the integrity of friendships was a hallmark of Ike.

11. Hodges...reliable, but about the best that could be said of him, again a diplomatic inclusion.

19. Lee...seemed most interested inalmost single-handedly sabotaging the American logistics effort, again a diplomatic inclusion.

22. Haislip...about as worthy an inclusion as Gerow and for much the same reasons.

24. Devers...a travesty he's ranked so low, but because he was too smart for his own good and not afraid to let it be known.

35. Huebner...but not Terry Allen :unsure: , again yet another indication this was more about who played well with others rather than talent.

 

Rich: Huebner did a sterling job at Normandy with 1st ID.

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I wonder if instead of looking at generalship, one might look at their staffs. After working at a staff job for the last years, I'm amazed how little staffs in DoD and the geographic combatant commands can get done in comparision to what we accomplished in WW2. I've seen a poor general mishandle a poor staff here and a great admiral be hamstrung by a poor staff as well. Granted, a general's/admiral's ability affects how well a staff functions but it seems like equally a staff's ability can either make or break a flag officer.

 

As to Brit tanks, I've always been curious about the design philosphies behind British mechanical engineering. I mean, the PIAT compared to the Bazooka or Panzerfaust/Panzerschrek, come on! The Archer TD, the Rarden cannon, etc. all seem very odd to me.

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OK, I have edited Ike's list and added the comments, which should explain his sense of values and essential thinking and answer some questions already posed. Note the frequency with which he uses these terms: loyal, cooperative, enthusiastic, balanced, optimistic. Not much room for rocking his boat! There is also an asterisk note for Devers that may answer RIch's comment on why he was marked so low.

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The US Army had Lloyd Fredenhall, JCH Lee, Mark Clark, and Lewis Brereton (Think Dec 8...) and we are criticizing British Generals?

wow...

With regards to Monty trying to take resources from Bradley that'd be okay in my book. Bradley lost his head in the Ardennes while Monty kept cool and made a difference on the north shoulder.

Patton could have handled D-Day fine, he got ashore in NA with a similar proportion of forces

Big Simp so much better than Hodges and Clark... "too damn slick" said George

I think Ike deferred a little too much to his air generals but all in all the Allied team stacks up pretty good against the Axis. Much of the supposed great skills of German generals had more to do with having Hitler to blame when things went wrong and being better dressed

I know it isn't WW2 but there's one answer to criticism of MacArthur... Inchon

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OK, I have edited Ike's list and added the comments, which should explain his sense of values and essential thinking and answer some questions already posed. Note the frequency with which he uses these terms: loyal, cooperative, enthusiastic, balanced, optimistic. Not much room for rocking his boat! There is also an asterisk note for Devers that may answer RIch's comment on why he was marked so low.

 

That is a very nice piece of information, Ken.

 

Seems that list tells more about Ike himself than about the various generals. Perhaps it also shows the seed for the zero-defect mentality that began reigning in the US Army in the 1950s/1960s, according to Hackworth.

 

Also, Murph has written here about Ultra. Did it introduce a unfair advantage in the Mediterranean theater?

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I remember talking to General Radley Walters RCAC I asked why the ram had been such a faileur. He blamed the British war office. Although the Canadians wanted a bigger turret ring to take a bigger gun the British insisted on the smaller ring and 2 pounder.

 

He said the tank would have easily taken the 6lber and been a world beater as the drive train was reliable it needed a gun and by production time it was too late and Sherman's where avail cheap in quantity

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The Ram did take a 6 pounder. The first fifty had two pounders only because there weren't enough 6 pounders in the system yet. Worthington, however, wanted a 75 mm like the one in the Lee and Sherman. Mind you, after the war, the Dutch replaced the 6 pounders in their Rams with the British 75 mm which was designed to replace the 6 pounder in the Cromwell and Churchill.

 

The logistics of running a unique Canadian tank, though, would have meant that 75 mm gunned Rams would probably have still been replaced by Shermans in France and Italy.

 

The Ram was never going to be more than a Canadian only piece of kit. Too much of it was sourced from the United States (engine, transmission, hull, and machine guns) and by the time we got the Ram in production, the Americans had the Sherman ready. Given that we both started with the same M3 chassis at about the same time, that's not bad for a country that had never designed a tank before. At about CAD $81,000, it also cost about thirty thousand dollars more than the M4.

 

It served a valuable role in training, as an OP vehicle, and as an APC. Converting the Montreal Locomotive Works plant to make them was not wasted as it meant there was a place to design and build the Sexton SP gun.

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I wonder if instead of looking at generalship, one might look at their staffs. After working at a staff job for the last years, I'm amazed how little staffs in DoD and the geographic combatant commands can get done in comparision to what we accomplished in WW2. I've seen a poor general mishandle a poor staff here and a great admiral be hamstrung by a poor staff as well. Granted, a general's/admiral's ability affects how well a staff functions but it seems like equally a staff's ability can either make or break a flag officer.

 

As to Brit tanks, I've always been curious about the design philosphies behind British mechanical engineering. I mean, the PIAT compared to the Bazooka or Panzerfaust/Panzerschrek, come on! The Archer TD, the Rarden cannon, etc. all seem very odd to me.

The Archer was in the same vein as the German lashups "good gun meet decent chassis" = viola, we have a TD!

 

The PIAT seemed to have a decent record when it hit, but hitting anything was a tad subjective. Apparently it also made an OK indirect fire weapon.

Edited by Colin
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Canada did put a limited traverse 17 pounder on a Sexton chassis which would have been a lot better than Archer, but I suspect their customers wanted the SP 25 pounder more and they could mount the gun on Lend-Lease M10's, of which they had a sufficient supply.

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Colin, indirect fire with an AT launcher reminds me of an entirely believable tale from a USMC tanker in Vietnam. Monsoon season relegated all tanks to their bases, including some fire bases where they would on occasion have to do the dreaded indirect fire drill. One tank was assigned the H&I fire program, one round every one [or two? long time ago] hours. But the tank cdr did not want to clean the tube next morning, so he simply elevated an M72 LAW to 45 degrees and fired it. It gave a satisfactory 'crack' when fired, and a distant 'whump' many seconds later. Sounded fine from inside the FDC bunker. Everybody was happy and nobody was caught.

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