Worst Armchair Generals

Jan 2015
5,454
Ontario, Canada
#75
It was assumed that the Wehrmacht guys would all join the conspiracy. Almost everyone knew about it as well since this is what they talked about it in their own HQ. Rommel was aware, Bock most likely, unsure about Rundstedt, Kluge was too, Manstein probably was in 1942 before everyone tried to blame him for Stalingrad. Just about everyone stationed in the West knew about it, as well as many admirals who didn't have a job to do (Admiral Canaris and Marshal Witzleben the most well known examples). Witzleben who had few accomplishments to his name was designated the future C-in-C should the conspiracy succeed. He was a leading conspirator and one of the OB West Paris bums. Obviously this didn't sit well with the far more experienced and capable commanders on the Eastern Front.

The Wehrmacht was a cesspit full of egotists who constantly tried to eat each other. Hitler came in with the crook and imposed order while also taking sides. Kluge and his officers (such as Model) gained Hitler's favour. As the war went on and the High Command made mistakes more and more turned to Hitler. It would be untrue to say that most of these active generals disregarded Hitler's contributions to their campaigns. We have the post-war recordings of these guys and their private conversations with regards to Hitler's military ability was not universally negative. Disputes breaking out between Army Group commanders and the OKH were usually resolved by Hitler in favor of the commanders (see Rundstedt 1940, Manstein 1942, Model 1943/44, Kesselring the entire war etc).

A lot of the guys in the East also regarded the guys in the West as useless stooges. When guys actually tried to kill Hitler (I guess they didn't take it as seriously as the conspirators thought) the other guys they were counting on sort of said "what are these idiots doing trying to kill Hitler when we are actually in a serious war?". Of course motivated by fear as well but Hitler had gained their loyalty with absurd amounts of money. For these reasons all the important guys backed out at the last second.
 
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May 2018
673
Michigan
#76
Honestly, most of the people who post about war on message boards, including this one.

This is why I give historical generals quite a bit of slack, even ones who get half a million men killed needlessly (Napoleon).

I wasn't there, and the largest element I've commanded is a platoon in a war so vastly different in tech and technique
It was front line service. Where he was an officer. He had a conventional military education (if dated). He had front line expeince within teh professional army.


Civilian leadership must be in control , war is far too importnat to be left to teh Generals. And that requires a leadership which is across everything. And Churchill was that. Yes he did interfere more than was wise, but you have to also givethe credit for the work he did to be arcoss everythng that other civilian leaders do not do.



Hitler was much much much much much worse,. Churchill you could tand up to and argue with. Hitler would not tolerate this. Hitler surrounded himself with yes men. Hitler was lazy and espicallery early in teh war he was missing in action. As the Nazi system was a mish mash of competing authorities and organizations it requires constant arbitrage to function.

Churhill listened, respected those who stood up to him, appionted capable people, and respectated teh chain of command. Hitler none of these were true.

Churhill do browbeat the wak and attempt to get his way in everything. But People like Alan brooke could stand up to him, speak their mind, and insist on things and get their way. If churchill had surrounded himself with Yes men, not bothered to learn the details of the war, silenced dicsuuion, and insisted his word was always finial he woudl have been liek hitler. He was not. Hitler was by a huge margin the lesser war leader.
Yeah, Churchill led 38 missions into no-man's land. He basically went from Secretary of the Navy to a 'mere' battalion commander. He had real combat experience in WWI. Not many other individuals of similar rank/position did that. In fact, some allege he went to the trenches as penance for Gallipoli.

While making up for the failed Dardanelles invasion is a pretty big task of penance, serving in the trenches is about as close as one can get.
 
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pugsville

Ad Honorem
Oct 2010
9,070
#77
Yeah, Churchill led 38 missions into no-man's land. He basically went from Secretary of the Navy to a 'mere' battalion commander. He had real combat experience in WWI. Not many other individuals of similar rank/position did that. In fact, some allege he went to the trenches as penance for Gallipoli.

While making up for the failed Dardanelles invasion is a pretty big task of penance, serving in the trenches is about as close as one can get.
Short service relatively quiet. I have a vague memory there was a french minister who served as an infantry conscript 1914 or 1939 just got his draft papers and went, but very vague and could be quite wrong.
 
May 2018
673
Michigan
#78
Short service relatively quiet. I have a vague memory there was a french minister who served as an infantry conscript 1914 or 1939 just got his draft papers and went, but very vague and could be quite wrong.
You do bring up a valid a point that he had a professional military education, Sandhurst. While dated, this education was better than nothing.

I noticed that in Indy Neidell's "The Great War" he often criticizes individuals in WWI who were critical of generals, but failed to offer any sort of alternative. Niedell specifically mentions this in regards to Douglas Haig, whom Neidell is not kind to (he has much criticism for him), but adeptly points out that Lloyd George, who criticized Haig extensively, failed to offer any alternative.

Churchill at least had a plan, and a fairly sound plan as well: cut off the Turks and open up a third front. Even Neidell mentions that the Dardanelles invasion *almost* succeeded on numerous occasions, and only failed for reasons largely outside Churchill's control. For example, the British Army would often advance, but entrench too soon when more gains could have been had.

Churchill was no military genius. But as social activist Saul Alinsky says, "The most amoral of all means is the non-use of any means." Instead of offering endless criticism, Churchill at least proposed alternative plans.


Most importantly, I would be happy to deploy to Iraq or Afghanistan under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Churchill. I would not go to Russia with Napoleon Bonaparte.
 
Jul 2016
9,317
USA
#79
You do bring up a valid a point that he had a professional military education, Sandhurst. While dated, this education was better than nothing.

I noticed that in Indy Neidell's "The Great War" he often criticizes individuals in WWI who were critical of generals, but failed to offer any sort of alternative. Niedell specifically mentions this in regards to Douglas Haig, whom Neidell is not kind to (he has much criticism for him), but adeptly points out that Lloyd George, who criticized Haig extensively, failed to offer any alternative.

Churchill at least had a plan, and a fairly sound plan as well: cut off the Turks and open up a third front. Even Neidell mentions that the Dardanelles invasion *almost* succeeded on numerous occasions, and only failed for reasons largely outside Churchill's control. For example, the British Army would often advance, but entrench too soon when more gains could have been had.

Churchill was no military genius. But as social activist Saul Alinsky says, "The most amoral of all means is the non-use of any means." Instead of offering endless criticism, Churchill at least proposed alternative plans.

Most importantly, I would be happy to deploy to Iraq or Afghanistan under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Churchill. I would not go to Russia with Napoleon Bonaparte.
You'd really want to go to Iraq or Afghanistan in an infantry battalion led by someone with almost zero infantry experience, who had almost zero line or command experience beyond some time as a junior lieutenant?
 

Willempie

Ad Honorem
Jul 2015
5,099
Netherlands
#80
You do bring up a valid a point that he had a professional military education, Sandhurst. While dated, this education was better than nothing.

I noticed that in Indy Neidell's "The Great War" he often criticizes individuals in WWI who were critical of generals, but failed to offer any sort of alternative. Niedell specifically mentions this in regards to Douglas Haig, whom Neidell is not kind to (he has much criticism for him), but adeptly points out that Lloyd George, who criticized Haig extensively, failed to offer any alternative.
That is a common fallacy, often used when criticisms are correct. If the plumber has been fixing your toilet and it still leaks, he hasn't done his work properly. You don't need to point out an alternative.
Besides the main alternative to attacking in the mud in Flanders is fairly obvious, isn't it? Not attacking.
Churchill at least had a plan, and a fairly sound plan as well: cut off the Turks and open up a third front. Even Neidell mentions that the Dardanelles invasion *almost* succeeded on numerous occasions, and only failed for reasons largely outside Churchill's control. For example, the British Army would often advance, but entrench too soon when more gains could have been had.

Churchill was no military genius. But as social activist Saul Alinsky says, "The most amoral of all means is the non-use of any means." Instead of offering endless criticism, Churchill at least proposed alternative plans.
I cant remember which British general it was that said that it was good that the public didn't know what a danger Churchill was to the military planning. A lot of time got lost with discussing (basically explaining why it is bogus without insulting him) his military fantasies.
Most importantly, I would be happy to deploy to Iraq or Afghanistan under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Churchill. I would not go to Russia with Napoleon Bonaparte.
Or Dardanelles and Austerlitz?
 

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