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OT - best soldiers in WWII

 
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OT - best soldiers in WWII - 8/30/2012 8:29:28 AM   
michaelbaldur


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which nationality had the best soldiers.

a nationality is one that have a separate country in wif

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RE: OT - best soldiers in WWII - 8/30/2012 1:52:01 PM   
Klydon


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Hmm. Probably need to better define maybe. Best solders as far as skill or equipment or ?? You could also use a time factor on it since the troop quality changed as the war went along.

Also, "separate country" can be confusing as well from the standpoint of view are you talking about a totally independent country or a country that has a counter mix, or? (Case in point, would the Canadians be a potential pick since they have a country on the map, counters in game, but are considered part of the Commonwealth force pool).

My pick overall would likely be the Germans of 1940-41.

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RE: OT - best soldiers in WWII - 8/30/2012 2:29:07 PM   
Redan


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In truth, the Russians fought Nazi Stormtroopers in their grandmother's bedroom. The Russians tore the guts out of the Germans, almost single handed.

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RE: OT - best soldiers in WWII - 8/30/2012 3:08:35 PM   
michaelbaldur


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so you think that the Germans and Russians had the best soldiers..


I see your point, but I really like the Indians. Jungle warfare is tough.

even though they were always babysit by British units (the 3th battalion in each Indian brigade was British)

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RE: OT - best soldiers in WWII - 8/30/2012 3:16:19 PM   
danlongman

 

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I hope this thread can generate something other than the "We're Number One!" rhetoric.
There were so many variables. Who consistently performed to the highest standard for the longest?
Who had the most tenacious infantry? Who had the most beans or bullets? Who were the best postwar revisionists?
Who owned Hollywood? What did the generals say? Rommel said once the New Zelanders were the best he fought.
Patton said the Canadians were the best of Montgomery's troops. Slim said the Japanese infantry were the best in
the world (if they had food). And etc. The Finns? If they hadn't been big in ASL not many would even think of them.
Except the Suomi. The Germans certainly win in the "Who made the most trouble for their neighbours" category.
Unless it was the Japanese because of the enormous size of China...and so it goes. Getting the things the soldiers needed
and delivering it to them on time certainly counts and no one did that better than the USA. The army itself is an organism
just like the soldier. There was nobody like Marshall, nobody like von Manstein, lots like Fredendall.... only one Mannerheim..
cheers

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RE: OT - best soldiers in WWII - 8/30/2012 6:13:10 PM   
Centuur


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What is the definition of "the best soldiers"? Personally I think you can't define this. Every nation which fought in the war had it's own qualities, being in training, equipment, tactics, heroic, disciplin en so on and on. I think you can't define this.

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RE: OT - best soldiers in WWII - 8/30/2012 6:25:29 PM   
morgil


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quote:

ORIGINAL: michaelbaldur


which nationality had the best soldiers.

a nationality is one that have a separate country in wif


We could just ask, what nation has the better people, but in a attempt to come up with something, there are a few units that needs mentioning, because their collective effort and impact.
In my rather shortsighted view, SS Norrland, and the Soviet Nachthexen would be the top two units.

White Death, Samo Hayae (Spelling?), would probably be the top ranking soldier, along with that crazy japanese guy that fought on till the 60s or was it 70s.



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RE: OT - best soldiers in WWII - 8/30/2012 6:26:50 PM   
paulderynck


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The Canadians and Australians in WWI, but in WWII the Canadians were not led well after Normandy and suffered more casualties than they should have. Funny (or maybe obvious) that Patton would say the opposite of Montgomery about the Canadians.

In dozens of books I've read on WWII in Europe the almost unanimous opinion of the authors is that the German Army was the best fighting army of the 20th century. This is often cited as due to initiative, small unit cohesion and their NCOs.

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RE: OT - best soldiers in WWII - 8/30/2012 7:26:12 PM   
warspite1


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I think the Kiwis take some beating - definitely my favourites

As has been said, there are so many variable that go into making an Army - fighting for something you truly believe in must rank high and therefore judging the poor Italian soldier needs to be looked at in that light.

Most armies had good and bad examples, but pound for pound, my vote would go to the Germans.


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RE: OT - best soldiers in WWII - 8/30/2012 7:40:51 PM   
keithrose

 

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quote:

therefore judging the poor Italian soldier needs to be looked at in that light.


Though of course many accounts of the desert war mention the extreme bravery of the Italian artillerymen, frequently dying by their guns.

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RE: OT - best soldiers in WWII - 8/31/2012 3:18:23 PM   
micheljq


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quote:

ORIGINAL: michaelbaldur


which nationality had the best soldiers.

a nationality is one that have a separate country in wif


Now, let's complicate that a little.

Which nationality had the best navy.
Which nationality had the best aviation.

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RE: OT - best soldiers in WWII - 8/31/2012 3:51:56 PM   
Extraneous

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: micheljq


quote:

ORIGINAL: michaelbaldur


which nationality had the best soldiers.

a nationality is one that have a separate country in wif


Now, let's complicate that a little.

Which nationality had the best navy.
Which nationality had the best aviation.



Early war or late war?

Navy by class of ships?

Avation by aircraft type or number of kills per pilot?

Frogmen - Decima MAS!






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RE: OT - best soldiers in WWII - 8/31/2012 6:03:16 PM   
warspite1


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quote:

ORIGINAL: micheljq


quote:

ORIGINAL: michaelbaldur


which nationality had the best soldiers.

a nationality is one that have a separate country in wif


Now, let's complicate that a little.

Which nationality had the best navy.
Which nationality had the best aviation.
warspite1

Best navy? For ships its the US Navy by some considerable distance. Best carriers (and aircraft for those carriers), battleships, cruisers - its just no contest.....
For personnel and in terms of doing wonders with what they had (and what they hadn't) its the Royal Navy.
Best aviation? USAAF and RAF are closer but USAAF win it. If you add in the naval air arms then the US simply increase that lead.


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England expects that every man will do his duty - Horatio Nelson 1805.




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RE: OT - best soldiers in WWII - 8/31/2012 6:44:13 PM   
Edfactor


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Best army or best soldier?
I would put a platoon of Germans up against anyone straight up, but if you look at the whole the U.S. is better because of their superior artillery and air support, and the Russians may be the best, they had as many planes and more artillery then the U.S. but neither was as good as the U.S. in quality, however they had the T-34 instead of the Sherman.

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RE: OT - best soldiers in WWII - 8/31/2012 6:57:32 PM   
michaelbaldur


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quote:

and in terms of doing wonders with what they had (and what they hadn't)


in all arms I think the Italians win that .. they were outclassed everywhere.

but they fought longer and better then anyone expected

and on that note. I really think that the Italian infantry units in WIF are to weak

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RE: OT - best soldiers in WWII - 8/31/2012 6:57:51 PM   
Shannon V. OKeets

 

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It seems to me that there are all kinds of conditional statements which could be added to the definition. For example:

Defending (against infantry, against armor)
Assaulting (prepared positions, cities)
Blitzing (prepared positions, retreating enemy units)
Paradrops
Invasions
In winter
In summer
In mud
In the jungle
Coordinating with allies
.
.
.

Many of these involve combined arms. There is also the issue of unit size: how far up the chain of command do we include officers?
---
WIF reflects a lot of these issues in special rules, as well as the combat factors of the various units.

< Message edited by Shannon V. OKeets -- 8/31/2012 6:58:25 PM >


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RE: OT - best soldiers in WWII - 8/31/2012 7:52:18 PM   
SirWhiskers

 

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Some of us are old enough to remember the Ballantine magazines History of the Second World War, published over 30 years ago. Unfortunately I no longer have them, so I can't quote directly, but here are some of the comments I remember from one article comparing the various armies.

Germans. Hands down the best due to superior leadership at all levels (except grand strategic). Their flexibility in combat was amazing - how many other armies could pull together a hodgepodge of units to repel major attacks, not once but many times?

Russians. The most tenacious, especially on defense.

Italians. Most underrated, but only when they had good leadership, which was extremely rare.

American. The first to run away in a firefight, but also the first to rally and come back swinging. Probably the least disciplined of the major powers.

British. Very rigid doctrine. Too often the soldiers were better than their leaders, especially in the higher ranks.

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RE: OT - best soldiers in WWII - 9/1/2012 12:22:46 AM   
Agent S


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9th Inf. Division (Australia)
These guys take some beating.
wikipedia-link

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RE: OT - best soldiers in WWII - 9/1/2012 11:17:11 PM   
JeffK


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Edfactor

Best army or best soldier?
I would put a platoon of Germans up against anyone straight up, but if you look at the whole the U.S. is better because of their superior artillery and air support, and the Russians may be the best, they had as many planes and more artillery then the U.S. but neither was as good as the U.S. in quality, however they had the T-34 instead of the Sherman.

I think that as unit sizes changed you would get a different answer.

Many Armies changed in there abilities as the size of unit, quality of leaders, availability of support units and equipment changed.

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RE: OT - best soldiers in WWII - 9/4/2012 3:09:43 AM   
brian brian

 

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which has the best squads on Squad Leader counters?

Finland I think. Though I never made it far enough to actually punch out the counters in my copy of GI:Anvil of Victory, so I wouldn't know how things turned out in ASL.

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RE: OT - best soldiers in WWII - 9/4/2012 8:10:18 PM   
ezz

 

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Just read Max Hastings new WW2 one volume. It is very, very blunt in its conclusions.

Infantry
- Germans undoubtedly the best overall. in attack or defence.
- Russians next. never gave up. most likely to die in combat from enemy or own troops.
- USA So much firepower that hard to fight against.But terribly slow.
- Commonwealth/UK forces. - Come out of book very badly. Patchy record of average at best
- Italians - just awful
- Japanese come about bottom. {based on China/Manchuria and small unit tactics generally
-French {including Free french don't come out too well either}

Obviously, all elite formations of all armies are excepted.
One theory is that both UK and USA had a very large number of skilled leaders taken into the airforce and navy.
The army had to make do with the rest. And of the rest the best would volunteer for paras, chindits, SAS etc.
Leadership in the army wasn't coming from the brightest and best. But 'the rest'

One comment from Max Hastings was that the Japanese navy suffered from cowardice. Not something normally associated with the Japanese military. What he means is a failure of nerve. From pearl harbour onwards the Japanese admirals failed to take advantage when the tactical situation favoured them.




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RE: OT - best soldiers in WWII - 9/4/2012 8:27:56 PM   
Centuur


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Problem with these lists are always that they are generalized. French soldiers were bad? Why? Because there generals had an outdated view of how to defend "La France". However: does this make the French soldier on average worse than the German counterpart?
I don't think so. Best soldiers is what was asked, not best army. Soldiers are at the bottom of the command chain. If wel led, my personal opinion of the French soldier is also that they could fight pretty well...

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RE: OT - best soldiers in WWII - 9/4/2012 8:53:16 PM   
warspite1


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To be fair, I think that the Germans are far and away the best soldiers - especially when armed with a Panzerfaust:






Attachment (1)

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RE: OT - best soldiers in WWII - 9/4/2012 8:54:27 PM   
warspite1


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They made great stormtroopers too:






Attachment (1)

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England expects that every man will do his duty - Horatio Nelson 1805.




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RE: OT - best soldiers in WWII - 9/4/2012 9:31:41 PM   
Orm


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Centuur

Problem with these lists are always that they are generalized. French soldiers were bad? Why? Because there generals had an outdated view of how to defend "La France". However: does this make the French soldier on average worse than the German counterpart?
I don't think so. Best soldiers is what was asked, not best army. Soldiers are at the bottom of the command chain. If wel led, my personal opinion of the French soldier is also that they could fight pretty well...

Of course soldiers of every country could fight bravely... and die bravely. Like someone mentioned previously the Italians fought and died bravely shooting with their guns that most likely could do little damage to the enemy.

My point is that without education (skill), equipment and supply bravery means very little.

When people say that Germany had the best soldiers I think they actually say that they had the best trained non-commissioned officers for the type of combat that would be fought during WWII. And that the soldiers had adequate equipment for the task the soldiers were expected to perform. And that they had a doctrine that worked as well.

I think that the ground combat in central and northern Norway during 1940 has several good examples on what I am trying to say.

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RE: OT - best soldiers in WWII - 9/4/2012 9:44:44 PM   
Orm


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quote:

Obviously, all elite formations of all armies are excepted.

I know that there are officers that are of the opinion that elite formations are a detriment to an army that are in a 'general' (large) war. They think that the soldiers (private) in the elite formations would serve better as non-commissioned officers in the ordinary units. Thereby improving the quality of the leadership in those units. And with the improvement of the normal units the army would then be stronger than it would have been with the elite units in it.



< Message edited by Orm -- 9/4/2012 9:46:55 PM >


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RE: OT - best soldiers in WWII - 9/4/2012 9:48:35 PM   
warspite1


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Orm

quote:

Obviously, all elite formations of all armies are excepted.

I know that there are officers that are of the opinion that elite formations are a detriment to an army that are in a 'general' (large) war. They think that the soldiers (private) in the elite formations would serve better as non-commissioned officers in the ordinary units. Thereby improving the quality of the leadership in those units. And with the improvement of the normal units the army would then be stronger that it would have been with the elite units.


Warspite1

Good point Orm - that was a point that (I think Max Hastings tried to make in Armegeddon) that the British put so much effort into special ops - and those quality men were missing from the regular officer corps.

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RE: OT - best soldiers in WWII - 9/4/2012 10:22:26 PM   
Orm


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This discussion made me recall a WWII incident.

A reinforced company is ordered to probe a mountain range. The company was divided into four groups. As soon as a group was under fire two of the groups covered the other groups as they tried to move around the enemy position. They marked the enemy positions as they moved along the mountain side. One day later they had a clear picture of the defense. They had summoned artillery and mortars to use against the enemy positions and were ready to attack. Only to find that the enemy had abandoned their defenses. A job well done and congratulations were in order. They had after all scared a large enemy force away from a good defensive position.

What the attacking side didn't know was that the defending side was just one platoon. Around 20 to 30 men. The platoon shifted their positions as well, without the attackers noticing, so each time they advanced they were fired upon the same platoon. The platoon leader realized that they could not withstand a real attack withdrew happy that they caused such a delay.


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RE: OT - best soldiers in WWII - 9/7/2012 9:07:08 PM   
composer99


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At the level of individual soldiery, I don't think one can say anything about any belligerent nation's soldiers being better or worse than others, because of the very wide variability in individual performance.

Beyond that, it seems pretty clear IMO that the German Heer was the best army of the war - consider the defeats inflicted on France in 1940 and the USSR in 1941 and the resilient defence thereafter despite (on my view) the glaring inadequacies the German forces had to deal with in terms of grand strategy and logistical support and the enormous advantage in manpower and materiél the Allies enjoyed from 1942 on.

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RE: OT - best soldiers in WWII - 9/8/2012 4:11:03 AM   
Shannon V. OKeets

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: ezz

Just read Max Hastings new WW2 one volume. It is very, very blunt in its conclusions.

Infantry
- Germans undoubtedly the best overall. in attack or defence.
- Russians next. never gave up. most likely to die in combat from enemy or own troops.
- USA So much firepower that hard to fight against.But terribly slow.
- Commonwealth/UK forces. - Come out of book very badly. Patchy record of average at best
- Italians - just awful
- Japanese come about bottom. {based on China/Manchuria and small unit tactics generally
-French {including Free french don't come out too well either}

Obviously, all elite formations of all armies are excepted.
One theory is that both UK and USA had a very large number of skilled leaders taken into the airforce and navy.
The army had to make do with the rest. And of the rest the best would volunteer for paras, chindits, SAS etc.
Leadership in the army wasn't coming from the brightest and best. But 'the rest'

One comment from Max Hastings was that the Japanese navy suffered from cowardice. Not something normally associated with the Japanese military. What he means is a failure of nerve. From pearl harbour onwards the Japanese admirals failed to take advantage when the tactical situation favoured them.





Following up on taking potential leaders out of the infantry, my father volunteered for the infantry but when they saw he had a couple of years of college (in engineering), they transferred him to OCS (officer candidate school?) and made him a lt. in the engineers. So he never saw combat, per se. Instead he followed along behind the fighting units, cleaning up the mess they made (e.g., completing the destruction of partially destroyed bridges across the Rhine). He was in London during the blitz though.

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