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View Full Version : Generals who also carried rifles.



Laconia
05-17-2012, 10:55 PM
I was intrigued by seeing a video of General von Seydlitz-Kurzbach, which described him as a soldier who carried a rifle with him while in the combat zone. It is said that his men greatly respected him for this, figuring that this man meant business and wouldn't hesitate to join them on the firing line.

I know that American General Jim Gavin also carried a rife with him, the venerable M-1 Garand and used it to great effect during the invasion of Sicily. During the initial invasion, he was only able to find at first a few other soldiers to band with and they encountered the enemy on a few occasions. Meanwhile, on the other side of the planet, General Jonathan Wrainright was also said to have carried a rifle, using it to help fight on the Bataan Penninsula.

This made me wonder, have any other Generals carried rifles during their times in the battle zones, or were the three I just mentioned the only ones?

muscogeemike
05-18-2012, 10:53 AM
I would expect "Viniger" Joe Stillwell would have, he appears to have been that kind of guy.

pdf27
05-18-2012, 11:58 AM
It would mostly have been airbourne troops such as Sosabowski, who by the nature of their work might actually find themselves in close combat. Frankly, the job of a General is NOT to be shooting at the enemy, but to command his men while they do so. Carrying a rifle in these circumstances is a positive menace, as they might be tempted to do just that and neglect their primary role.

Nickdfresh
05-18-2012, 11:59 AM
I believe Gen. Teddy Roosevelt Jr. sometimes carried an M-1 Carbine. He was a true front line soldier and the only Allied general to land with the first wave of troops on D-Day, luckily for him that was at Utah Beach...

flamethrowerguy
05-18-2012, 03:26 PM
General Rudolf von Bünau did not carry a rifle but a hand grenade when he was local battle commander of Vienna...but what could you do being a German general in April 1945...?

http://www.ww2incolor.com/d/399111-3/B__nau_+Rudolf+von_General+der+Infanterie%23

Egorka
05-19-2012, 05:14 AM
Flamethrowerguy, correct me if I am wrong, but I guess the greanade was not so much for fighting, but more for himself, no?
One can read often in Soviet memoirs that Soviet soldiers would reserve a hand grenade for the same purpose.

Nickdfresh
05-19-2012, 08:11 AM
A seminal picture of Gen. Matthew Ridgway from the Korean War, one of America's finest, and most underrated twentieth century generals IMHO. This pic is a classic denoting the "pineapple" grenade he wore in Korea. I'm not sure if he wore it in WWII as commander of the 82nd Airborne Division, but it was worn not so much as a 'final option' as it was to set an example for his initially beleaguered army in Korea that was in dire need of retraining after MacArthur's debacle and subsequent dismissal. The U.S. Army's combat performance was vastly improved by Ridgway's leadership and insistence on reestablishing basic infantry fundamentals and training the Army had largely ignored during post-war era of anticipated atomic "push-button" warfare...

*Incidentally, Ridgway's nickname was "Old Iron Tits" lol...

http://www.toddlertime.com/bobbystringer/korea8.jpg

leccy
05-19-2012, 10:09 AM
One reason officers and not just Generals carried long arms especially near the front line was so they were not marked out as much from the rest of the men. Snipers etc prefer targeting Officers.

A long arm helps them blend in. Of course the entourage would invariably still look like Staff officers but at least the General would blend in a bit lol.

pdf27
05-19-2012, 01:38 PM
In Ridgway's case I'm fairly sure it was flamboyance - same with Patton and the pearl-handled revolvers or Montgomery and the million and one cap badges. Not there as a weapon, but for bling...

flamethrowerguy
05-19-2012, 03:22 PM
Flamethrowerguy, correct me if I am wrong, but I guess the greanade was not so much for fighting, but more for himself, no?
One can read often in Soviet memoirs that Soviet soldiers would reserve a hand grenade for the same purpose.

This could of course be a possibility. In Bünau's case however I'd call it a cheap way out for a general who commanded divisions and later corps on the German Eastern Front from 1941 to the very end. Btw, his son, Rudolf Jr., also a Knight's Cross holder and captain in an armoured recce battalion, was KIA in 1943 near Roslavl.

General Alexander von Hartmann of 71st Infantry Division showed a more graceful way in Stalingrad...if a general feels the need to depart this life voluntarily:


...When the fate of his division and of the entire German 6th Army was sealed General von Hartmann spoke to his officers: "An officer has to die in combat. I am not going to shoot myself but will sell my skin as expensive as possible." Then he took his rifle and entered the railroad embankment of Stalingrad South in front of the remains of his divsion (3 officers, 7 NCOs and 183 enlisted men) and started firing -standing uprightly and freehand- upon the attacking Soviet soldiers. At 8:00 am he was killed by headshot, with him died Lieutenant Colonel Corduan (commander Infanterie-Regiment 191) and Major Bayerlein (commander Infanterie-Regiment 211).

tankgeezer
05-19-2012, 04:25 PM
In Ridgway's case I'm fairly sure it was flamboyance - same with Patton and the pearl-handled revolvers or Montgomery and the million and one cap badges. Not there as a weapon, but for bling...

One of Patton's pistols was displayed in the museum at Ft. Knox, it had ivory grips, and looked to be nickle plated. The news media had dubbed them pearl handled, which infuriated Patton. He used many colorful words in correcting them. :)

flamethrowerguy
05-19-2012, 04:39 PM
"They're ivory! Only a pimp from a cheap New Orleans whore house would carry a pearl-handled revolver."

This line's from the Patton movie and I'm not sure about its authenticity...but I loved it!

tankgeezer
05-19-2012, 05:32 PM
If it isn't true, it aught to be,,, I know he gave one pistol away to someone, the other is in his collection. The George Patton museum is still located on Ft. Knox, but the Armor museum has been moved to Ft. Benning Ga.

pdf27
05-20-2012, 12:58 AM
All the more reason to keep calling them pearl-handled ;)

tankgeezer
05-20-2012, 09:43 PM
All the more reason to keep calling them pearl-handled ;)

Now he'll be coming to haunt you,, (better you than me,,) :) ;)

Laconia
05-21-2012, 10:46 AM
A seminal picture of Gen. Matthew Ridgway from the Korean War, one of America's finest, and most underrated twentieth century generals IMHO. This pic is a classic denoting the "pineapple" grenade he wore in Korea. I'm not sure if he wore it in WWII as commander of the 82nd Airborne Division, but it was worn not so much as a 'final option' as it was to set an example for his initially beleaguered army in Korea that was in dire need of retraining after MacArthur's debacle and subsequent dismissal. The U.S. Army's combat performance was vastly improved by Ridgway's leadership and insistence on reestablishing basic infantry fundamentals and training the Army had largely ignored during post-war era of anticipated atomic "push-button" warfare...

*Incidentally, Ridgway's nickname was "Old Iron Tits" lol...

http://www.toddlertime.com/bobbystringer/korea8.jpg

Great pic. Also from the Korean War, General Walton Walker, who abely led the fight until his death in a vehicle accident. Since he was one of those type of generals who was always was all over the battlefield visiting the troops, I bet he always had a rifle handy too.

DVX
07-16-2012, 11:29 AM
For example I can mention Gen. Annibale Bergonzoli "Barba elettrica" ("Electric shave") that during a first line inspection lead personally a counterattack of his troops even in bayonet clash. The fact happened during the war of Spain in september 1937 and was reported in Italian and Nationalist magazines and newspapers.

leccy
07-17-2012, 01:41 PM
General Maletti who was killed at Nibeiwa Fort was (according to various reports) killed while manning an LMG (against Matilda II's), attacking out of his dugout with an SMG or while directing his anti-tank guns personally (although this report also claimed they destroyed 35 of 57 Matilda II's employed in the attack, quite a feat as 7RTR had 48 tanks and not all were used in the assault).

No matter how he was killed though all reports I have seen, have him personally fighting to the end.

DVX
07-17-2012, 04:57 PM
General Maletti who was killed at Nibeiwa Fort was (according to various reports) killed while manning an LMG (against Matilda II's), attacking out of his dugout with an SMG or while directing his anti-tank guns personally (although this report also claimed they destroyed 35 of 57 Matilda II's employed in the attack, quite a feat as 7RTR had 48 tanks and not all were used in the assault).

No matter how he was killed though all reports I have seen, have him personally fighting to the end.

Leccy, btw, have a look to this page (help yourself with google translate, even if part of text is in English) I think you can find it interesting. (And I add that the picture in article has been taken from this site and comes from those posted by me :-D )

http://www.difesa24.it/post/Matilda-Tank-Nibeiwa-Maletti-Compass.aspx

leccy
07-17-2012, 06:46 PM
Leccy, btw, have a look to this page (help yourself with google translate, even if part of text is in English) I think you can find it interesting. (And I add that the picture in article has been taken from this site and comes from those posted by me :-D )

http://www.difesa24.it/post/Matilda-Tank-Nibeiwa-Maletti-Compass.aspx

Reading the thread there are some things omitted about 7RTR and its Matilda II's. The Regt rarely fought as a single entity and when attacking the camps was actually split up with parts being sent to different camps, after attacking some of the Infantry commanders refused to release the Matilda's (claiming they needed them in case of an Italian counter attack) so further reducing the numbers available. Many others suffered jammed turrets (after the first action the REME crews carried oxy- acetylene to gut the shell splinters). In some case tanks without working guns or jammed turrets were sent into action for the morale boost.

I am going back home this weekend hopefully so will see if I can dig out my list of when and where the Matilda II's were during the battle of the camps. May even still have copies of 7 RTR daily report logs for the period.

Regards Nibeiwa itself, it was a very tough fight and if I recall the light's and cruisers had attempted to attack once already but suffered heavily from Italian artillery fire. It was not the only time the Italians fought hard and earned the respect of the British Commonwealth forces. The tankers and artillery especially were reckoned to be good quality soldiers even if the kit they had was not always the best.

muscogeemike
07-17-2012, 07:33 PM
I, too, have read that Rommel thought well of some Italian formations; and their pilots and naval special operations people have a good reputation - although as you said, they didn’t always have the best equipment.

DVX
07-17-2012, 07:55 PM
I, too, have read that Rommel thought well of some Italian formations; and their pilots and naval special operations people have a good reputation - although as you said, they didn’t always have the best equipment.

Rommel said too "If the German soldier has astonished the world, the Italian bersagliere has astonished the German soldier"...
He said too Italians don't like the war. Probably both sentences were sincere and true. But which people likes the war?
Probably some peoples, northern and anglosaxons, (Americans, Germans, Britons for example...) see the war as an unpleasant matter of fact when it happens. Other peoples, southern and latin, like Italians and Frenches, see it as a terrible fact and a terrible burden when it happens. A slight but significative difference. Just my opinion of course.

CHUMCHUM
07-17-2012, 09:10 PM
Google lt. Gen. Robert Eichelberger Firing Machine Gun During Buna and there is an image of a general shooting a Thompson.

leccy
07-22-2012, 10:34 AM
Ok reference 7 RTR and losses during Operation Compass in 1940/41.

One Matilda II was destroyed Gitana, it along with two other tanks reached the beach during the attack on Sidi Barrani when Gitana had a track shot away. The crew stayed in the Matilda II until they had fired all of their ammunition then abandoned it after setting fire to it. So it was not destroyed directly by Italian fire but by its crew as a result of being immobilised and out of munitions.

The one penetration people mention was not an armour penetration, during the attack on Nibeiwa one of the drivers had slid back his visor and a round went through the hole injuring members of the crew, the vehicle itself was not penetrated or destroyed.

Many suffered track damage and jammed turrets from Italian weapons, many others broke down (there were few transporters so they had to drive everywhere, in some cases they had the assistance of heavy trucks to tow them so saving some of the wear and tear).

Nickdfresh
07-22-2012, 11:36 AM
I would expect "Viniger" Joe Stillwell would have, he appears to have been that kind of guy.

I saw footage of Vinegar Joe carrying an M-1 Carbine in Burma circa 1944 IIRC yesterday....