World War Two was the deadliest war in history. It was arguably more complicated and challenging than any war before it due to its gargantuan nature. Some of the generals in this war became famous all over the world because of their exceptional leadership, but some of the most badass WW2 generals are almost completely unknown to this day. This is a list of the 10 greatest WW2 generals in terms of making war.
George S. Patton
George S. Patton is one of the most famous American officers, and one of the most celebrated WW2 generals. Patton was an outstanding motivator, proving this during Operation Torch in 1942, where he quickly motivated the demoralised U.S. II Corps. He was one of the best tacticians of the time. One example of this is in June 1944, when Patton led a very successful armoured drive across France. Patton believed in aggressive action, and personified the idea that the best defense is a good offense.
Douglas MacArthur was a five star general of the U.S. Army, he commanded the Southwest Pacific Theatre during the war. MacArthur was driven out of the Philippines by the invading Japanese forces. He spent years launching offensive operations on the Japanese forces in the country, and had many successes. He received the Medal of Honour for his work in the Philippines Campaign, and was one of only five people to reach the rank General of the Army.
Montgomery won the Normandy campaign, which was one of the most complicated in history. Montgomery was a careful general and always tried to go into battle with an advantage. He commanded the British Eighth Army during the Second Battle of El Alamein, which was the first major land victory for the allies. This victory saved the North Africa Campaign, and ended the Axis threat to the Suez Canal, Egypt and the Middle Eastern and Persian oil fields. Montgomery’s victory here raised morale for the allied troops, who hadn’t seen a major victory in years. After this he became one of the most celebrated WW2 generals.
Dwight D. Eisenhower
Eisenhower performed well while in education, graduating 61st out of 164 students. He proved himself to be an excellent leader during World War One, training tank crews. After World War One he was sent to work for Brigadier General Fox Connor, this would prove to be a great placement for Eisenhower. Connor was impressed by his ability and decided to mentor him, even going as far as to create an advanced study course for him. He then helped him get into a military college where he graduated 1st of his class. During World War Two he rose through the ranks to become Supreme Allied Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Forces in Europe. He was also responsible for leading many successful operations and invasions during the war.
Guderian is the man who invented the Blitzkrieg, or “lightning war” in English. This was a German tactic that devastated their opponents. He was seen to have a lot of potential, and quickly rose through the ranks. He encouraged the use of radio communications between tank crews and created shock tactics. Guderian led the Panzers in Sedan, France, which eventually led to the French surrender. Guderian wasn’t afraid to disagree with Hitler and other superior officers. He got into many heated disputes with Hitler, which eventually made Hitler dislike him. With hindsight, it’s obvious that Guderian was actually right most of the time, and Hitler was wrong, but that didn’t stop Hitler from firing him twice. Out of the German WW2 generals Guderian was undoubtedly one of their best.
Erwin Rommel, became known as the Desert Fox, due to his successful surprise attacks. Rommel was unusual in that he led his army from the front, whereas most officers led their armies from the back. He was one of the most popular generals during the time, and had admirers all over the world. The British respected his skill as a general, the Germans loved him and heralded him as the “People’s Field Marshal”, and the Arab world saw him as a liberator from the British. Before Rommel died, he questioned Hitler’s intentions, and his ability to make peace. In 1944 Rommel was implicated in a plot to overthrow Hitler. He chose to take his own life, to avoid a trial which could’ve hurt his reputation and put his family at risk. Rommel is one of the most popular WW2 generals even today.
Herman Balck as one of the most decorated officers of the Wehrmacht, and served in both world wars. Balck was an excellent commander of armoured troops, and performed well when handling the 11th Panzer Division and XLVIII Panzer Corps during the second world war. In December 1942 Balck took out a Soviet force 10 times his size in only three weeks. In only one month he took out 1000 enemy tanks. He was hailed by other officers as one of the greatest generals Germany had. Herman Balck is undoubtedly one of the most badass WW2 generals.
Erich von Manstein
Manstein was born into an aristocratic Prussian family with a long record of military service. He became a member of the Wehrmacht (German army) at a young age, and worked his way up the ranks to field marshal. It was his strategic brilliance that allowed the Germans to force France to surrender in only 6 weeks. Sickle Cut was the name of his plan. Attack through the woods of the Ardennes, and then rapid drive to the English Channel. Manstein suggested this as it would cut off the French and Allied armies in Belgium and Flanders. He was promoted to general at the end of this campaign.
Georgy Zhukov won the Battle of Berlin, and in doing so he defeated Nazi Germany and ended the War in Europe. During the Battle of Berlin 1945, Zhukov commanded the 1st Belorussian Front. Before the battle ended Hitler and several of his followers killed themselves. Zhukov won more battles than any other Russian general, and was good both offensively, and defensively. Zhukov was excellent at predicting what needed to be done to make life harder for his enemies, for instance he reorganised the defenses of Leningrad. This meant Hitler couldn’t storm the city, and had to lay siege to it instead. In the end Hitler failed to take this city, in fact the Soviets won a decisive victory.
William Slim was possibly the greatest general in British history, even his retreats were impressive. He was in charge of the 14th Army, also known as the “forgotten army”. Slim was wounded in action three times, and is considered a war hero today. Slim was popular with the men who even referred to him as “uncle Slim”. He was placed in an almost impossible position when he took charge in Burma, but managed to turn it around completely. First of all, when 80% of his men, and even he himself had malaria, they still managed to retreat successfully. He then went on to force the Axis forces out of Burma. Slim’s contribution was underrated because most people were only really concerned with Europe, but he was one of the greatest WW2 generals.