View Full Version : Great Generals. Not!

Rising Sun*
05-05-2007, 09:34 AM
The Australian effort.

1. When offered Allen as a fresh general to replace his tiring Vasey in Papua, General Herring replied that he preferred ‘Vasey tired to Allen fresh’. Not the best thing to have on one's personnel file. Vasey, tired, got a lot of his own troops killed in circumstances where some say these casualties could have been avoided.

2. General Lavarack booked himself into hospital in North Africa when faced with going to Greece in 1941. Not cowardice. Just, as he said to someone else, an unwillingness to be involved in a doomed campaign which wouldn't help his career. Not a choice available to the diggers who were sent there.

3. General Thomas Blamey, CIC Australian forces in the Middle East and CIC Australian forces in Greece 1941, who in defeat flew out of Greece on the last plane with his most senior and most important officers. And Blamey's son, a major of no significance or future benefit to the war who took up a very valuable seat which could have been used for someone of greater significance to the war effort.

Anyone else have some skeletons in their national closet?

05-05-2007, 12:40 PM
Well, there's always the chap who surrendered Singapore?

05-05-2007, 01:27 PM
Well, there's always the chap who surrendered Singapore?

Lt-Gen Arthur Ernest Percival

Gen. Sandworm
05-05-2007, 02:38 PM
Lt-Gen Arthur Ernest Percival

In retrospect ............ he and his men would have faired much better fighting to the last man.

Someone else that should have taken this idea was probably Hans Langsdorff...........commander of the Graf Spee!

05-05-2007, 05:37 PM
Neither of them were fanatical. Langsdorff wasn't a Nazi fanatic, and was concerned for the lives of his crew.

Percival was concerned for the civillian population of Singapore, though in retrospect, I expect he wouldn't have surrendered if he had known what we now know.

Rising Sun*
05-08-2007, 07:35 AM
Well, there's always the chap who surrendered Singapore?

Percival might have lost, but an Australian general lost AND escaped, and thereby became a two time loser.

Or, in the view of some, ran away (I happen to think that's a bit unfair - if only because the man had a career to think of and needed to get home to pursue it - but it would be easier to accept his actions if he'd told his troops it was every man for himself instead of ordering them to surrender and releasing himself and a few close general staff mates from that obligation.)

Gen Gordon Bennett never got the commands he dreamed of when he returned to Australia.

05-08-2007, 03:22 PM
These promotions come along quickly. I think you and I must have previously served in the wrong armies. :)

Watch out, we might become Generals. :) :)

Rising Sun*
05-08-2007, 07:36 PM
Watch out, we might become Generals. :) :)

I hope not. We'd need to do a lot of politicking and arse-licking to get that far.

On arse-licking, read MacArthur's nauseating suck letters to various politicians, especially during the period he was being touted as a possible presidential candidate while also running the SWPA. They are the most embarrassing documents I've seen from someone in such a position.

It always fascinates me how senior commanders have to interact with civilian politicians, when in many respects neither really understands or is trained in the other's professional culture. I wonder just how many militarily better generals were never made senior commanders than those who were, because they lacked the political skill, or personal conceit, to thrust themselves forward successfully

Gordon Bennett, who I mentioned earlier, was a better military commander than Blamey ever could be, but Blamey was a better staff officer than Bennett ever could be. They were rivals for the top job. One view is that Bennett left Singapore to get back to Australia so he could have a tilt at the top job. Blamey was by far the better, and more cunning and ruthless, politician. After Bennett handed his head to Blamey on a platter by escaping from, or as Blamey and other senior officers felt deserting, Singapore, Blamey made sure that Bennett never got another field command.

On the other hand, armed forces probably need generals, admirals and air marshals who are just as nasty and ambitious as civilian politicians to protect their services.

05-21-2007, 09:18 PM
Personally, I believe that General Macarthur should have been court-martialed. Long after it was known beyond a shadow of a doubt that Japanese military aviation had destroyed most of the capital ships of the USN, he was frozen in the headlights like a deer and allowed, some say invited, the Japanese from Taiwan to destroy most of his air force on the ground.

After having been paid prodigious amounts of money by the Government of the Philluipines to serve as its army's feldmarschall it became woefully clear that years of training had failed to produce a substantial force to help resist the Japanese.

Macarthur frankly presided over the single largest surrender of American arms in its entire history, save for the surrender of the South in the Civil War and was rewarded for it by a President who desperately needed a hero. He handed over command to a hapless Wainwright and then fought against allowing Congress to commend Wainwright for his actions in defence of the Phillipines. Wainwright, as they say, was left holding the bag and was rewarded with three long years in a Japanese prison.

Macarthur, in my opinion, was pond scum of the worst order. A lot of Americans think he was a great general and a great man. I think he was neither.