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Rising Sun*
01-05-2017, 09:04 AM
The following thread http://www.ww2incolor.com/forum/showthread.php/15538-MacArthur-vs-Patton-Who-was-the-better-general?p=197393#post197393 on whether Patton or MacArthur was the better commander led me to think about less well known generals who, like Patton, weren't conventional types or who did remarkable things and, often, weren't adequately rewarded or recognised or even sidelined or virtually punished for their success. And who, had their talents been better utilised, might have had a useful effect on their side’s war.

This thread isn't limited to Allied generals / commanders.

Here are two to get the discussion going.

Yamashita did brilliantly with a relatively modest force in Malaya, having declined a larger force because he correctly thought the logistics weren’t sustainable. Despite his victory he was sidelined by Tojo for most of the war in Manchukuo and was only brought out into serious combat against the Allies when he was given a losing hand towards the end of 1944 in the Philippines.

Terry Allen, who served under Patton in North Africa, was probably much more of a cavalryman but much less a poseur than Patton when one looks at Allen’s cavalry work in military and civilian aspects before WWII. Allen’s 1st Infantry Division (Big Red One) did reasonably well in North Africa while in Sicily in 1943 his unusual training focusing on night attacks possibly saved the Allies from being repulsed on their beachhead. He was relieved of command when winning later at an important point at Troina in the Sicily campaign, then sent back to the US where he trained the 104th Infantry Division which under his command in Europe went on to do well from Normandy to Germany. More at https://books.google.com.au/books?id=Eq9GhCY5c2oC&pg=PT50&lpg=PT50&dq=terry+allen+cowboy+cavalry+race+texas+1920&source=bl&ots=PxpFJxb8U2&sig=gQCjLKLTmM9Tej6qVl0dVH75LqU&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjIjJb7jqvRAhUqiFQKHSwCDpUQ6AEIGTAA#v=on epage&q=terry%20allen%20cowboy%20cavalry%20race%20texas% 201920&f=false

garm1and
01-08-2017, 07:09 AM
What about General Joseph Stilwell. He was nicknamed " Vinegar Joe " because he was not the most congenial person in the world. I would not consider him a bad commander, but I don't think he gets the full credit he deserves because of his personal clashes with Chiang Kai Shek, British High Command, General Chennault, FDR and George Marshall.

Rising Sun*
01-08-2017, 09:06 AM
What about General Joseph Stilwell. He was nicknamed " Vinegar Joe " because he was not the most congenial person in the world. I would not consider him a bad commander, but I don't think he gets the full credit he deserves because of his personal clashes with Chiang Kai Shek, British High Command, General Chennault, FDR and George Marshall.

It's a messy and complicated situation, and I don't profess to be any sort of expert on it.

But I think the essential problem was that Stillwell correctly saw Chiang as having no real commitment to Allied aims but only to extracting as much support in men, arms and money as Chiang could get from the Western Allies to enable him to wage war against the Communists and Japanese to achieve Chiang's aim of controlling China. Chiang would happily divert his forces against the Communists rather than co-operate with the Western Allies against the Japanese, while refusing Stillwell's desire to combine Chiang's forces with the Communists to defeat the Japanese.

Chennault was aligned with Chiang.

Chennault believed in air power, Stillwell in ground forces. Each failed to accommodate and assist the other's military opinions and operations to varying degrees, which was complicated by Chennault's alignment with Chiang and Stillwell's, with the benefit of hindsight completely correct, distrust of Chiang as a reliable ally.

Chiang accordingly worked to get rid of Stillwell when he decided that Stillwell was no longer useful to him.

Nickdfresh
01-08-2017, 11:17 AM
What about General Joseph Stilwell. He was nicknamed " Vinegar Joe " because he was not the most congenial person in the world. I would not consider him a bad commander, but I don't think he gets the full credit he deserves because of his personal clashes with Chiang Kai Shek, British High Command, General Chennault, FDR and George Marshall.

He worked hard to clash with "peanut" and undermined him to an extent. Stilwell pried Nationalist troops Chiang could ill afford to lose against the Japanese for Allied interests in Burma and cut his aid down to starvation level at times to force him to comply. Not that Chiang Kai Shek and the Nationalists were without there faults in their rampant corruption and transformation from a liberal democratic reformists into autocrats. However, Chiang was also an able war leader that as astute at balancing his needs with political acumen. But I would say that Stilwell never appreciated the limitations of the Chinese arms and their struggles not only against Japan, but against Mao's gathering forces and against hunger and being cut off from much of their arable land occupied by Japan. He also never appreciated the fact that they tied down hundreds of thousands of Japanese troops that could be used elsewhere. Of course, Stilwell was long gone when the Allies more or less abandoned China once it was clear the Japanese could not withdraw from Chine due to their shipping being at the bottom of the ocean by the end. But without question, Vinegar Joe is one of the villains in the "who lost China?" question...

Nickdfresh
01-08-2017, 11:24 AM
It's a messy and complicated situation, and I don't profess to be any sort of expert on it.

But I think the essential problem was that Stillwell correctly saw Chiang as having no real commitment to Allied aims but only to extracting as much support in men, arms and money as Chiang could get from the Western Allies to enable him to wage war against the Communists and Japanese to achieve Chiang's aim of controlling China. Chiang would happily divert his forces against the Communists rather than co-operate with the Western Allies against the Japanese, while refusing Stillwell's desire to combine Chiang's forces with the Communists to defeat the Japanese.

Chennault was aligned with Chiang.

Chennault believed in air power, Stillwell in ground forces. Each failed to accommodate and assist the other's military opinions and operations to varying degrees, which was complicated by Chennault's alignment with Chiang and Stillwell's, with the benefit of hindsight completely correct, distrust of Chiang as a reliable ally.

Chiang accordingly worked to get rid of Stillwell when he decided that Stillwell was no longer useful to him.

I think Antony Beaver sort of tackles this as a bit of a myth and relates a much more sympathetic version of Chiang Kai Shek who faced massive difficulties in his war against the Japanese. And while he certainly tried to ply as much aid as he could, China tied down a lot of IJA troops and bore the brunt of Japan's last offensive that sapped their strength just as the Allies found the Chinese to be expendable due to the fact the Japanese could no longer take troops out of China with any speed and therefore China no longer mattered. The Nationalist were continually ill equipped and had difficulties feeding even their army, much less the populace...

Rising Sun*
01-09-2017, 06:36 AM
I think Antony Beaver sort of tackles this as a bit of a myth and relates a much more sympathetic version of Chiang Kai Shek who faced massive difficulties in his war against the Japanese. And while he certainly tried to ply as much aid as he could, China tied down a lot of IJA troops and bore the brunt of Japan's last offensive that sapped their strength just as the Allies found the Chinese to be expendable due to the fact the Japanese could no longer take troops out of China with any speed and therefore China no longer mattered. The Nationalist were continually ill equipped and had difficulties feeding even their army, much less the populace...

Good points.

I was looking at it from the viewpoint of the Allies other than China.

Viewed from Chiang's viewpoint, everything he did was reasonable and understandable in pursuit of his aims.

No different to Stalin, really, and all the other Allies who ultimately were concerned primarily with their own interests.

The feature unique to China was the continuing friction between Chiang's and Mao's forces and their lack of co-operation to form an effective united force against the Japanese occupying their country, where the other major Allied combatants managed to co-operate effectively against their mutual Axis enemies.

Rising Sun*
01-09-2017, 07:16 AM
He also never appreciated the fact that they tied down hundreds of thousands of Japanese troops that could be used elsewhere. Of course, Stilwell was long gone when the Allies more or less abandoned China once it was clear the Japanese could not withdraw from Chine due to their shipping being at the bottom of the ocean by the end.

The 'tying down troops' and shipping issues were more critical at the commencement of the Pacific War.

The IJA couldn't spare any more forces than were actually used in the Southern Advance, while even if substantially more troops had been available Japan lacked the shipping to transport and maintain them. By 1943 Japan couldn't adequately maintain its forces in New Guinea because of lack of shipping, which was made steadily worse by Allied reduction of Japanese merchant and IJN ships as the war progressed.

It's also worth noting that the Soviets tied down large numbers of Japanese troops on their Chinese border for the whole of the Pacific War, although there was no armed conflict for the duration. Just Japan being forced to maintain troops on the border against the risk of a Soviet invasion (which the Soviets duly did with great success very shortly before the end of the Pacific War).

It intrigues me why it is widely understood that Hitler made a major mistake in starting a war on two fronts but it is rare to find anyone who is aware that Japan did exactly the same thing in starting the Pacific War, about five months after Hitler launched his Eastern Front. I suspect that this is because the war in China is largely unknown or overlooked in the West, but from 1937 to 1945 it was Japan's major continuing land conflict where most of the others in the Pacific War 1941-45 from start to finish tended to be limited to a few months to half a year or so, e.g. Malaya, Philippines Allied defeat and later invasion, Guadalcanal, Central Pacific islands campaigns.

I must confess that I have little understanding of the Japanese war in China 1931-45 as it's like historical quicksand in the complexity of the various and shifting political and military forces involved inside and outside China. Just trying to understand the Chinese warlords and their shifting allegiances to Chinese and Japanese masters is enough to fry my brain, never mind Chiang v. Mao, Stillwell, etc, so any time I've tried to make an effort to understand it I've given up pretty soon.