World War II in the News is a review of WWII articles providing thought-provoking collection of hand-picked WW2 information.

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Generals of World War Two Commanders

World War II Generals and commanders - Victories, losses and biographies.
Latest hand-picked WWII news. See also: Erwin Rommel, General Patton, WW2 Espionage, Nazi memorabilia, German Generals.

General Hermann Balck - One Of The Best German Division Commanders
U.S. General William DePuy said that Balck is “perhaps the best division commander in the German Army.” Coming from the enemy, that is the high praise. Balck wasn’t as popular as other German panzer commanders, Like Erwin Rommel, Heinz Guderian, or Erich von Manstein, but his talent for leading men into combat rivals theirs. His father, William Balck, was a general in Imperial German Army and was awarded Pour le Merit, the highest military decoration in Germany at the time, the popular Blue Max. He was an author of a tactic textbook German army used in its military academies. With such strong military background, army career was a natural choice for young Hermann and he joined Hanoverian Rifle Battalion as a cadet in 1913.

The Rise and Fatal Fall of monocled General Georg Stumme
On Oct. 24, 1942, German Gen. Georg Stumme, commanding officer of the Third Reich`s Panzer Army Africa — which included the famed Afrika Korps — was riding in a car along a track with his signals officer, Col. Andreas Buechting, near the front line for an inspection. It was day two of the Second Battle of El Alamein, the enormous British-led offensive in Egypt which would turn the tide in North Africa in the Allies` favor. How the monocle-wearing Prussian officer ended up in the car, in command of all Axis forces in the theater, is an odd story.

Hitler's Commanders: Officers of the Wehrmacht, the Luftwaffe, the Kriegsmarine, and the Waffen-SS
Hitler's Commanders: Officers of the Wehrmacht, the Luftwaffe, the Kriegsmarine, and the Waffen-SS, by Samuel W. Mitcham Jr. & Gene Mueller. Mitcham, author of Hitler`s Field Marshals, and Mueller, author of Wilhelm Keitel: The Forgotten Field Marshal, team up to give us a second, revised edition of their 2000 book of their short biographies of 70 German officers, including some notable airmen and U-boot commanders. On the whole, the authors try to write more about lesser known commanders than about the more famous ones, and the officers are grouped according to their principal service or theatre of activity.

Stalin`s General: The Life of Georgy Zhukov by Geoffrey Roberts (book review)
Georgy Zhukov was, as Geoffrey Roberts puts it, "the great general who had saved the Soviet Union from catastrophic defeat by Hitler and then led the country to a great victory," but the men in whose service he labored had a nasty way of expressing their appreciation. First Joseph Stalin in the postwar years and then Nikita Khrushchev in the 1950s subjected him to ridicule and disgrace, removing him from power and humiliating him. In the US we tend to regard the leading American generals - Eisenhower, Patton, Bradley - as the great heroes of the European theater, but it was Zhukov who faced the most daunting challenges and won the most crucial victories.

Marshall and His Generals: U.S. Army Commanders in World War II by Stephen R. Taaffe
The U.S. Army entered WW2 with distinct assets and liabilities. On the debit side, it was small in terms of personnel. Much of its equipment was inferior to the Germans`. And its senior officers had no combat experience. At the same time, the Army had a cadre of senior professionals who had stayed with their chosen career through two decades of fiscal austerity and stagnant promotion. There was deadwood, too, but a new chief of staff, General George Marshall, had pressed for the retirement of the old and infirm. Historian Stephen R. Taaffe says this was the way to go: "The Army did not need brilliant generals who performed miracles on the battlefield, but rather competent men capable of taking advantage of American economic power [to achieve victory] with minimal losses."

Admiral Nimitz: The Commander of the Pacific Ocean Theater by Brayton Harris (book review)
"Admiral Nimitz" is the easy-to-read story of the career of the United State's foremost Navy flag officer of the 20th century. Author has done an admirable job of condensing a long career into just 256 pages. With so few pages to work with, he seldom goes into great detail, but it's an easy read, it flows in a natural chronological order, and it covers all important events in Nimitz's life -- especially the period when he was the commander of the Pacific Ocean theater during the Second World War.

Omar Bradley: General at War by Jim DeFelice (book review)
It's possible to be too modest, to lack the ability to make one's case with the news media, a characteristic that ill served American General Omar N. Bradley (1893-1981), an outstanding WWII commander who finally gets a biography that he deserves with Jim DeFelice's "Omar Bradley: General At War". Bradley was a master of logistics and tactics who, even more than Patton, was responsible for the American Army's success in North Africa and in the Sicily campaign. He was the general in charge of the June 6, 1944 Normandy invasion and he organized Cobra, the campaign that used carpet bombing to turn the Wehrmacht into "dust" and break out of the invasion area.

Jean Compagnon saw most of the action a French officer could during the Second World War
As a lieutenant in the French Army's 4th Hussars regiment, Jean Compagnon saw action on horseback during the Battle for France in 1940. After he was injured, he led a motorcycle unit of his regiment. After defeat Compagnon fought in Morocco and Tunisia with the 1st Foreign Cavalry Regiment of the Foreign Legion, and finally returned to France with the France's 2nd Armoured Division (2e DB) in 1944.

Beetle: The Life of General Walter Bedell Smith by D.K.R. Crosswell (book review)
There have been countless biographies of the WWII generals, and this one about Walter Bedell Smith is one of the best. Smith, Eisenhower's chief of staff, has never got the focus he deserves. A chief of staff is often destined to be an unsung hero, but "Beetle" Smith was more than just a good administrator. Because Eisenhower wanted to be liked by everybody, the bad-cop routine fell to Smith, who - in the words of a fellow officer - had "all the charm of a rattlesnake." During the North African landings (Operation Torch) Smith had to fight both the problematic supply chain and Eisenhower's reluctance to make hard decisions.

Bernard Montgomery and Dwight Eisenhower bet 5 pounds over the fate of Europe
British General Bernard Montgomery took a break from reorganising he 8th Army in Italy to make a bet with American General Dwight Eisenhower, about when the war would end. Eisenhower was convinced he could march to Berlin by Christmas 1944, but Montgomery thought little of his chances. The pair agreed to settle the matter with a £5 bet and called an aide-de-camp, Colonel Ernest Lee, to write down the terms: "Agreement entered into, Oct 11, 1943, between Generals Eisenhower & Montgomery Amount £5 - General E bets war with Germany will end before Xmas 1944. Local Time." The paper is for sale.

Patton, Montgomery, Rommel: Masters of War by Terry Brighton (book review)
In "Patton, Montgomery, Rommel" historian Terry Brighton explores the story of World War II from North Africa in 1942 to Nazi Germany's surrender in 1945, through the three rival generals (American, British and German) who were as famous for their egos, arrogance and personalities as for leading troops in battle. Brighton's narrative ricochets among his subjects, with details and ironic hits that big picture historians might have missed. Of particular note is portrayal of Bernard Montgomery as a petty schemer and would-be Napoleon who demeaned American allies, took credit for other commanders' plans and told lies to explain his own failures.

Archibald Wavell: The Life and Death of the Imperial Servant by Adrian Fort
While no longer the household name it was a generation ago, Archibald Wavell continues to fascinate students of military history in the UK. As commander of the British WWII forces in the Middle East and East Africa, he faced a formidable Italian challenge based in Libya and Ethiopia. On paper, BEnito Mussolini's armies outnumbered the British, but Wavell discovered that the Italians were demoralized. Soon, large numbers of enemy soldiers were surrendering. However, the victorious campaign also revealed Wavell's cautious nature: more aggressive commander might have sent his forces to seize Libya before the Afrika Korps under General Erwin Rommel landed there.

General George Marshall understood the wise use of authority
A lack of emphasis in the Army education and a promotion system that does not allow disagreeing views is preventing the U.S. Army from producing another Gen. Marshall, says historian Mark Stoler. In spite of holding a low rank, he was not afraid to speak up. Key military planner John Pershing heard criticism from Marshall and instead of firing him, Marshall became one of Pershing's best friends. Marshall taught modern warfare and many officers that trained under him became leading WWII war planners. 1932-1936 he had many tasks, before he become the Army chief of staff. "He was appointed by Roosevelt, jumping over 33 officers that had higher ranks than he."

Milton Wolff: last commander of American forces in Spanish Civil War
Milton Wolff, the last American commander of anti-Fascist forces in the Spanish Civil War, has died at 92, said Peter Carroll, chairman of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives. Wolff was 21 when he stepped off the New York soapboxes, where he defended his Communist views, and into the Spanish war theater. By the time he was 22, he was the 9th leader of the Lincoln Brigade, which fought with Spain's elected leftist govt against General Francisco Franco. 3,000 Americans fought in volunteer battalions in Spain, and over 900 were killed. About 40 are alive today. In Spain Wolff become friends with Ernest Hemingway, who was writing about the conflict.

Field Marshal Fritz Erich von Manstein - The Time article from 1949
White-haired and sick Field Marshal Fritz Erich von Manstein, who had fought for Germany in two world wars, sat day after day in a Hamburg courtroom, while lawyers argued whether he was a criminal or just an officer who had done his duty. Britons raised a £1620 fund to help pay for his defense - Winston Churchill contributed £25. The accused denied knowledge of atrocities, such as the use of gas wagons, employed by SS troops for mass executions. "Obviously some people acted differently from the way I expected them to act. A commander in chief can control his subordinates only to a very limited extent."

Colonel Vic Senior - Won Military Cross in Tunisia in 1943, dies at 91
Colonel Vic Senior, who won an Military Cross in Tunisia in 1943 and a Bar to it in Greece in 1944, has died at 91. In March 1943 he was at Mareth in command of a troop of 50th Royal Tank Regiment (50 RTR). When Axis forces tried to break through the Allied defences, his squadron attacked an enemy position in the Wadi Melah. His squadron was able to cross the river bed and inflicted severe casualties on the Italians. Later when 15 Panzer Division attacked the bridgehead on the Mareth Line and 50 RTR lost 27 tanks, he took command of the 3 remaining tanks. Enemy infantry worked their way past his tanks, but he gave no ground until he was ordered to withdraw.

1942-1945 secret recordings of Wehrmacht Generals by MI19
During the latter half of World War II, the British Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) undertook a secret operation of which the full details are only now coming to light. 1942-1945, a section of SIS, known as MI19, secretly recorded 64,427 conversations between captured German generals and senior officers. The 167 most significant are about to be published for the first time. Together, they reveal what the German High Command thought of the war, Adolf Hitler, the Nazis and each other. They also explode the post-war claim of the Wehrmacht that they did not know what the SS were doing to those what they termed "untermensch" (sub-humans).

Book examines Churchill’s relationship with top WWII generals
In the early days of World War II, when victory for the Allied Forces was anything but certain, British PM Winston Churchill faced two challenges. The first was the survival of his island nation in the midst of daily bombardment by air and the threat of invasion from German forces. The second challenge facing the legendary wartime leader was changing the beleaguered British Army from a force that was in constant retreat to an effective fighting machine capable of taking the war to its enemies. Why the British army found itself in such a situation and how it transformed itself is the subject of Raymond Callahan's book "Churchill and His Generals".

Taiwanese general Sun Yuan-liang who fought Japan in 1930s dies
General Sun Yuan-liang, who helped lead Chiang Kai-shek's Nationalists to victory in China's struggle against Japan during WW2, has died at 103. The Nationalists led China from the 1920s until their defeat by Ma Zedong's Communists in 1949. Sun joined the Nationalist army and was among the most celebrated graduates of the Huangpu Military Academy. Sun led the Nationalists in a crucial battle to beat back Japanese naval forces attacking Shanghai in 1932. He led another famous battle in the city in 1937, holding onto the base for 76 days.

Respected British WWII hero accused of sexually assaulting children
One of Britain's most respected World War II commanders has been accused of sexually assaulting needy children. Field Marshall Viscount Slim, who routed the Japanese in the jungles of Burma, was governor general of Australia after WW2. The war hero, who died in 1970, groped British children who had been sent to Australia as part of a plan to populate the Empire with the unwanted offspring of the working class. The claims concern visits Viscount Slim made to a New South Wales child migration centre run by the Fairbridge Society. One of the victims, Robert Stevens, has broken decades of silence in revealing the abuse.

Find solves WWII mystery of Brigadier General Howard K Ramey   (Article no longer available from the original source)
Ben Cropp says he's found wreckage of a plane carrying an American general which disappeared on a WWII flight. US Army Air Force Brigadier General Howard K Ramey was aboard a B-17 Flying Fortress bomber, which went down in a storm on March 26, 1943. He had been preparing to take charge of the 5th Bomber Command. Cropp said he had found a wing with two engines in a remote area. But experts had been unable to determine whether the wreckage was General Ramey's B-17 Flying Fortress or a B-24 Liberator. "Because no-one could id it from my film and photos, we went back there... armed with all the knowledge of how to identify a plane."

Top Secret operation - General Montgomery lookalike   (Article no longer available from the original source)
A top secret operation was designed to hoodwink Adolf Hitler, by persuading the Germans that General Montgomery was inspecting troops in Gibraltar. As part of the deception unit Lieutenant Dennis Millar was a fake aide-to-camp to a General Montgomery lookalike, brought to life in the film I was Monty's Double. "I was picked out and asked if I would volunteer for a special task. I was then called up to the Secret Service Headquarters..." They were flown secretly to Gibraltar just 9 days before the D-Day. Some war historians believe that several German divisions were moved to the North Africa, helping clear the way for D-Day landings on June 6, 1944.

Air Marshal Sir Richard Wakeford -- Anti-submarine operations
Air Marshal Sir Richard Wakeford flew World War II anti-submarine operations; he was involved in the last sinking of a German U-boat and went on to a career in the RAF. He was piloting a Catalina on patrol over the North Atlantic on May 6 1945 when he detected a submerged submarine. With the cessation of hostilities, all German U-boats had been ordered to travel on the surface. Those that remained submerged were to be attacked. Wakeford, who had expended his depth charges, tracked the U-boat until shortage of fuel forced him to return. A second Catalina had arrived and it carried out an attack. The engagement ended with the U-320 being scuttled.

Tribute for Dunkirk hero - Admiral who saved thousands of soldiers
Admiral Sir Bertram Ramsay who saved thousands of soldiers at Dunkirk has received recognition in his own country - finally. He had already been honoured by the Russians, French and Germans for his efforts. A plaque has now been placed in St Paul's Cathedral in memory of his contribution during the war. His family have welcomed the recognition of his vital role in helping win World War II. As well as the evacuation at Dunkirk he also planned the Normandy landings later in the conflict. "After Dunkirk we asked Churchill for a medal but he said we couldn't have a medal - it wasn't a victory, it was a defeat."

Charles Denholm; Top General at Army Security Agency
Maj. Gen. Charles J. Denholm, WWII vet and a former commanding general of the Army Security Agency, died. On May 5 1943, then-Lt. Col. Denholm was among 464 POWs who were marched though the docks of Tunis and loaded onto a freighter for passage to Italy. Denholm, commander of the 1st Battalion of the 16th Infantry, and 150 of his men had been captured a few days earlier during fighting against German forces in Tunisia. For his service during WW2, he received two Silver Stars, two Bronze Star Medals and two Purple Hearts. After the war, he served at the Army ground forces headquarters and at West Point.

Army Col. Shirly Ray Trumps; Led Commando Units in WWII
Shirly Ray Trumps, a Army colonel who led commando operations behind German lines in support of the Normandy invasion, died. He became part of the Office of Strategic Services mission called Operation Jedburgh. Organized into 3-man teams, the Jedburgh men were from the British, U.S. and French armies and were trained to disrupt and kill German troops. Then-Lt. Trumps was the least experienced of about 86 officers in the program, a group of men that included future CIA Director William Colby, future Maj. Gen. John Singlaub and Col. Aaron Bank, founder of the Army's Special Forces.

General Jacob Smart planned daring 1943 raid
Jacob E. Smart, 97, Air Force general credited with planning the low-level raid over Nazi-held oil refineries at Ploesti, Romania, has died. He was chief of flight training at Air Corps headquarters in Washington when the U.S. entered World War II in December 1941. He became a war strategy aide under General Henry Arnold and participated in the 1943 Casablanca Conference. A suicidal plan was to send nearly 180 B-24 Liberator bombers on low-level runs over the refineries. The heavy bombers endured "merciless fire from almost every conceivable ground defense weapon," and the Allied casualty rate was high.

Brigage General Evans Carlson - Guerilla fighting units in China   (Article no longer available from the original source)
A delegation from China gathered at the Thomas Cooper Library to honor Brig. Gen. Evans Carlson. He served in China in the 1920s and the 1930s and forged a friendship between China and the US that is still being honored. For two years, Carlson followed and observed guerilla warfare, traveling with the Eighth Route Army, which mobilized peasants into guerilla fighting units in China. This analysis led to Carlson developing a new military strategy and he formed a Marine Raider battalion during World War II. He was put in charge of the famous Carlson's Raiders that completed missions in the South Pacific.

General Doolittle led the first U.S. air strike against Japan   (Article no longer available from the original source)
Book examines the life of General James Doolittle who led the first U.S. air strike against Japan in 1942. He was a military and aviation legend who was the first to fly across the U.S. in less than 24 hours, became a four-star general, won the Medal of Honor and was commander of the 12th, 15th and 8th Air Forces during WWII. The Doolittle Raid: On April 18, 1942, he led 16 Army B-25 bombers off the deck of the USS Hornet on a bombing attack of Japan. The bombers crash-landed or were forced to ditch in Russia, China and in the ocean. 3 died in the immediate aftermath. 8 were captured by the Japanese. The crew in Russia were held prisoner until escaping.

William P. Yarborough: The plan for the airborne phase of North Africa
Soldiers paid tribute to a pioneer of modern warfare as Lt. Gen. William P. Yarborough was laid to rest. From the earliest days of paratroop experiments, his hand touched every part of airborne: he worked out the designs for jump uniforms and jump boots. He designed the airborne insignia, the famous jump wings of the parachutist's badge. He developed the initial concept and plan for the airborne phase of the WWII invasion of North Africa, then as executive officer went with that task force on its flight over Spain toward target objectives in Algeria - the longest operational flight ever made by parachute troops.

Commander who won a Military Cross at the Battle of Cassino
Lieutenant-Colonel Monty Ormsby, who has died aged 89, was a fighting commander of a very high order and won a Military Cross at the first Battle of Cassino and a Bar in Malaya. On the night of February 17 1944, the 1st Battalion (King Edward VII's Own) 2nd Gurkha Rifles was ordered to launch an attack in the hills north of Monte Cassino. The monastery had been destroyed by Allied bombing the previous day, but the Germans still held the area in strength. They were equipped with automatic weapons concealed in well-defended posts and covered by machine guns firing from enfiladed positions on both flanks.

Who owns war loot of Gen. George Patton and Allied leaders?
Huntington's display: Original copies of the three Nuremberg Laws, signed by Hitler, including the infamous Blood Law of the Third Reich. The claim to ownership of the documents rests on the fact that they were a gift from Gen. George Patton. But the documents are war loot, a prize that wasn't his to take or give, and a piece of history whose own history needs to be cleaned up. Collecting battlefield trophies was common during WWII on all sides. Former President Hoover had a man in Germany seeking documents for him. Rabbi Judah Nadich, Gen. Dwight Eisenhower's advisor, took home a couple of Joseph Goebbels's swords. But Patton acquired more than most people.

The only American to rise from private to four-star general
Four-star Army Gen. Walter Krueger will be recognized for his heroism during Memorial Day weekend. The only American to rise from private to four-star general, Krueger was one of the major heroes of WWII, commanding the 6th Army under General of the Armies Douglas MacArthur in the most extensive series of amphibious operations in the history of the world. MacArthur declared Krueger to be “my very finest general” in the campaign to defeat the Japanese, who triggered WWII with their sneak attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.

Patton: Black soldiers cannot fight - ended up needing them   (Article no longer available from the original source)
Laurel, James B. Jones joined the U.S. Army and became a part of one of the few black combat units fighting Nazis shortly after the June 6, 1944, D-Day landings at Normandy. The German POWs were treated better than black soldiers: "They could ride on buses and were accepted much more quickly than we were." Gen. George S. Patton who lost so many tanks trying to break out of Normandy during the weeks following the invasion, ended up calling up the all-black tank battalion, 761st. This was despite the outspoken general's earlier assertion that black soldiers couldn't fight.

High-ranking german officers knew of Holocaust
High-ranking German officers knew much more about Adolf Hitler's plans than previously thought. During the Second World War, British intelligence secretly bugged the cells occupied by captured german commanders. The transcripts have recently been made available and show that: Senior Luftwaffe officers mused together at the end of 1943 that millions of Jews had already been killed. General Dietrich von Choltitz admitted that he had been involved in killing Jews; Field Marshal Erwin Rommel had been fully briefed about the 1944 attempt to kill the Nazi leader, and refused to betray the plotters.

General Mud and General Winter - Warfare in Eastern Front
Torrential rains turned the roads into quagmires, slowing the advance on Moscow. General Mud had slowed Napoleon in 1812, and it slowed the German advance in 1941. Army Group Center advanced on Tikhvin and took the town on Nov 8, but again mud bogged down the attack, and the Russians attacked on three sides. Stalin was still in a panic when German units advanced on Moscow’s outskirts in November. But General Winter froze the Germans’ equipment in the mud. The Germans’ supply issues were becoming critical, the length of their supply lines meant that winter uniforms had to sacrificed for food, ammunition and fuel on the trains and supply wagons.
(ww2 database)