From WW2 I suppose it would be Manstein certainly but also William Slim, commander of the 'Forgotten' 14th Army in India and Burma. He showed himself to be an absolute master of all aspects of modern warfare, especially considering his troops were always last in line when it came down to logistical support. The more I read about the campaign in SE Asia, the more I admire his command skills and the fortitude of those soldiers who served under him. It's difficult to assess generals like Konev, Zhukov and Chuikov since Red Army doctrine tended to be profligate with the lives of soldiers. Whilst American commanders on land were a pretty poor bunch (which is why Patton stands out so much imho) their admirals were on the whole much better. Chester Nimitz seems to stand out particularly but I would say that I'm currently reading up on the Pacific Campaign so I may well change my opinions there. In the air I think Coningham stands out for the work he did forging close army-airforce co-operation but here I only really know the British perspective so there may well be others whom I haven't the necessary knowledge to pass judgement on.
William Slim, commander of the 'Forgotten' 14th Army in India and Burma. He showed himself to be an absolute master of all aspects of modern warfare, especially considering his troops were always last in line when it came down to logistical support. The more I read about the campaign in SE Asia, the more I admire his command skills and the fortitude of those soldiers who served under him.
I have no doubt that Slim was a good commander.
But to suggest he was a better balanced commander than Patton may be asking too much.
Slim was the commander in one theatre in Burma, and was largely on the defensive, and in command of an infantry army. In March 1942, Slim was given command of all Allied troops in Burma. Outnumbered by the Japanese Army Slim was forced to withdraw to India two months later.
During the summer of 1943 Slim attempted to recapture Akyab but the offensive ended in failure. After Lord Mountbatten arrived to become head of the Southeast Asia Command Slim became commander of the 14th Army. In March 1944 he successfully defended Assam against the Japanese Army.
General William Slim and his troops captured Meiktila on 4th March. Lashio followed three days later. On 3rd May 1945, Operation Dracula, an attempt to capture Rangoon began.
Patton, on the other hand, not only built the US armoured force from scratch (writing all its manuals, tactics, etc), but he also had to master infantry tactics as well.
Patton took over untrained and green troops in numerous campaigns (Morocco, Tunesia, Sicily, France, the Bulge); he was a master of amphibious warfare; he trained, inspired, and led numerous armies (7th and 3rd armies, combining infantry and armoured forces); he achieved both sweeping armoured tactics (in France) as well as infantry assault techniques (Mosselle); he was the master of logistic maneuver (the 3-day sweep to the Bulge); and he planned operations not only in amphibious warfare (Morocco), but also planned tactics and grand strategy on land (Operation Cobra was actually planned by Patton).
Patton was also master of Combined Arms. In France, at the head of the green Third Army, he worked in cooperation with Third Army's Tactical Air Command, which flew 12,000 sorties in August alone, covering its flanks and flying missions ahead of Third Army's reconaissance groups.
These recon groups developed up-to-the-minute intel on German activity and gave Patton better updated intel than even Bradley had, who was far from the action.
Patton also developed mobile combat groups, which included mobile artillery and armour, and which broke through pockets of resistance, with their actual goal of conducting encirclement operations.
In all of Patton's battles, he had one of the lowest casualty rates of any commander. Even in the three month campaign in Lorraine, Third Army sustained 32,000 casualties vs 180,000 German casualties.
As for Zhukov: Yes he was a good commander. However, when you have millions of soldiers' lives to use, than eventually you'll take your objectives. Subtlety of maneuver, and careful use of troops lives, were not the forte of Russian commanders.
< Message edited by Von Rom -- 8/12/2004 3:26:28 PM >