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"Most Overrated US General of WWII?" Topic

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Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian16 Jun 2018 10:54 a.m. PST

Which U.S. commander simply doesn't live up to his reputation?

Personal logo The Virtual Armchair General Sponsoring Member of TMP16 Jun 2018 11:02 a.m. PST

Mark Clark!

Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian16 Jun 2018 11:02 a.m. PST


Winston Smith16 Jun 2018 11:15 a.m. PST

Case closed. Shut down the Poll.

torokchar Supporting Member of TMP16 Jun 2018 11:40 a.m. PST

Agree MacArthur – fled the Philippines like a coward abandoning his men to surrender. Some historians say his recall was after the fact because FDR did not want another USA defeat.

We are still in Korea because of him. Absolutely horrible commander. It took him way too long to fade away……

uglyfatbloke16 Jun 2018 11:50 a.m. PST

Oooh…Clark or MacArthur….hard one.

Frederick Supporting Member of TMP16 Jun 2018 11:54 a.m. PST

Mark Clark was a brilliant staff officer but his track record in Italy was not good

As for MacArthur, I think Field Marshal Sir Thomas Blamey was right- "The best and the worst things you hear about him are both true"

Joes Shop Supporting Member of TMP16 Jun 2018 12:07 p.m. PST

Clark with MacArthur a very close second.

bsrlee16 Jun 2018 12:16 p.m. PST

MacArthur – consistent liar, glory hound, shafted everyone around him. In the early Pacific displayed incompetent behavior so bad I wonder if he was being paid or blackmailed by the Japanese.

Fred Cartwright16 Jun 2018 12:29 p.m. PST

How highly are Clark and MacArthur rated anyway? You can't be overrated if you aren't rated to start with. A poll of the most despised US General of WW2 possibly.
As for overrated how about Patton. Good at pursuing beaten enemy, but the few times he had a real fight on his hands not so good. Considering 3rd Army had some of the best US divisions and some talented subordinate commanders one could have expect better.

Ragbones Supporting Member of TMP16 Jun 2018 12:38 p.m. PST


deephorse16 Jun 2018 12:48 p.m. PST


Mobius16 Jun 2018 1:01 p.m. PST

I'd go with Dugout Doug.

Though he looked brilliant compared to Percival's command.

Mark 116 Jun 2018 1:31 p.m. PST

+1 to Fred. I think most serious students of history give MacArthur quite a mixed rating, and more than a few give him a strong negative score. Mark Clark also gets very few positive reviews. So saying they are over-rated seems a bit of a non-sequitur.

I think Eisenhower was uniquely qualified for the job he did. There are few stand-out examples of such successful coalition warfare as the NATO and ETO campaigns. Can't think of another general from that period of history would could have made the coalition fighting work better.

I don't hold to the hero-worship that Patton often seems to inspire. But he was a competent practitioner of his art. The Germans and the Soviets had a dozen or more Pattons each. But I don't think any other western general rose to the forefront for bold maneuver as Patton did. He may have been a right pain in the @ss, but every Eisenhower can use a Patton or two.

I would suggest Bradley is greatly over-rated. I can't see anything in ETO to suggest he was more than a placeholder in his job. Maybe I'm wrong, but I look at Huertgen or the Bulge and ask where was the decisive leadership? I don't see much coming from Bradley.

(aka: Mk 1)

Lucius16 Jun 2018 1:44 p.m. PST

Ill agree with Fred – since everyone already hates Clark and MacArthur, they aren't really in the running.

My vote is Bradley. He is responsible for having no winter equipment in ETO, he failed to react in the Bulge, and he's directly responsible for not correcting the dreadful replacement system. I don't see anything exceptional about him at all.

charared Supporting Member of TMP16 Jun 2018 1:46 p.m. PST

"Stick with Mac and you'll never get back!"…


Rallynow Supporting Member of TMP16 Jun 2018 2:26 p.m. PST


Clark has never been that highly rated to be overrated.

Personal logo StoneMtnMinis Supporting Member of TMP16 Jun 2018 2:42 p.m. PST

Montgomery. Opps, sorry wrong country.

21eRegt16 Jun 2018 3:52 p.m. PST

Growing up one our neighbors had been on MacArthur's staff and absolutely worshiped the man and his memory. That said, I immediately thought of Bradley who missed opportunities in search of headlines.

Personal logo Herkybird Supporting Member of TMP16 Jun 2018 4:04 p.m. PST

Lucas, Anzio, nuf said

jdginaz16 Jun 2018 4:35 p.m. PST

I'll try this again.
@ Mark 1, Cobra was Bradley's plan

Ill agree with Fred since everyone already hates Clark and MacArthur, they aren't really in the running.
My vote is Bradley. He is responsible for having no winter equipment in ETO,….and he's directly responsible for not correcting the dreadful replacement system.

What is your source for those statements? As far as I know not in theater commander had responsibility for them.

14Bore16 Jun 2018 5:21 p.m. PST

Mark Clark

Personal logo marcus arilius Supporting Member of TMP16 Jun 2018 5:53 p.m. PST

MacArthur!! kept going on that with one Marine division he could take Rabaul. then Nimitz sent the 1st Marines to New Zealand (to get ready for Operation Watchtower ) and watched him back track his statement.

McWong7316 Jun 2018 5:53 p.m. PST


mwindsorfw Supporting Member of TMP16 Jun 2018 6:30 p.m. PST

But is Clark really overrated? Wasn't he derided and kept in a "sideshow" theater because his peers knew he was an idiot?

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP16 Jun 2018 6:36 p.m. PST

"Overrated" is iffy as a poll. Effectively we're looking for a consensus on how much we disagree with a consensus of historians. That said, I'd have to say that I've seen Bradley well spoken of as a general--"the thinking machine"--and I've never seen it justified in terms of campaigns, battles or ideas. If Cobra was his, that would be an argument in favor. I should probably re-read "Breakout and Pursuit."

Dynaman878916 Jun 2018 6:36 p.m. PST

MacArthur. Yes there was those who hated him but there were far more who idolized him. "American Caesar" didn't spring up out of thin air.

Big Red Supporting Member of TMP16 Jun 2018 6:48 p.m. PST

I'm not sure what overrated means but Mark Clark's 5th Army was the only one who caused more casualties than they suffered. Considering the terrain and the opposition that's pretty amazing.

Lucius16 Jun 2018 8:36 p.m. PST

Stephen Ambrose, Peter Caddick-Adams, and Rick Atkinson all write about Bradley being the sole decision-maker in stopping winter gear from being shipped to ETO. He was sure the war would be over before winter,and opted for more ammo and gas instead.

Ambrose writes a lot about the replacement debacle in "Citizen Soldiers". I'll grant you that he fingers Ike and Patton in this as well, for having ultimate responsibility, but they at least brought something to the table.

Hurtgen, intelligence failure in the Bulge, failing to deploy the 101 and 82nd until Ike insisted, the winter equipment thing . . . that's a pretty bad series of goofs to in a pretty short time.

Personal logo Patrick R Supporting Member of TMP16 Jun 2018 11:23 p.m. PST

Patton, he was a proponent of grabbing the initiative at any cost and commanded a pretty well oiled army and he is usually touted as the most capable US commander, usually based on his hagiographies.

He was quite capable, but far from the best and therefore highly overrated because almost any what-if scenario involves giving free rein to Patton and him always coming out on top.

Probably one of the better indicators is that while the German had files on people like Montgomery and other commanders, Patton is conspicuously absent and only mentioned to be one of the US commanders and nothing to indicate the Germans were in any way concerned about the man in particular.

ZULUPAUL Supporting Member of TMP17 Jun 2018 2:17 a.m. PST

MacArthur. Received Medal of Honor but for the life of me I can't understand why.

Fred Cartwright17 Jun 2018 4:01 a.m. PST

I chose Patton because he is generally regarded as one of WW2's great generals largely due to standing out amongst a pretty mediocre bunch. As Mark has already alluded to there were a dozen Russian and German generals who performed similar exploits on a regular basis and are less well known. It is when he hits opposition that things start to come undone. The German generals opposing him at Metz were highly critical of the managment of the battle citing a catalogue of missed opportunities and badly executed attacks. In the Bulge he is praised for getting his army turned through 90 degrees to relieve Bastogne, something done with monotonous regularity on the Eastern front, but once turned round progress to Bastogne was slow against desoltury opposition. So competent, but not one of the greats, hence overrated. Although I would also agree to some extent with Mark, Bradley deserves the nod too maybe!

Winston Smith17 Jun 2018 5:51 a.m. PST

Lucas, Anzio, nuf said

Again, this demonstrates why the term "overrated" is flawed.
Overrated implies that he has a good reputation that is undeserved. I've never read anything praiseworthy about him at Anzio, so how can he be overrated?
"Inadequate" would certainly be a better description.
It's like saying Johnnie Manziel is overrated as an NFL quarterback, when he never should have been one in the first place.

Wackmole9 Supporting Member of TMP17 Jun 2018 6:04 a.m. PST


Marc33594 Supporting Member of TMP17 Jun 2018 6:35 a.m. PST

While the topic states most overrated the question as posed was "Which U.S. commander simply doesn't live up to his reputation?"

I would say, given that question, MacArthur has to be given serious consideration. His own well orchestrated publicity machine gave rise to a"reputation" not sure any general could live up to!

Bradley is an interesting choice. His rather plain, standard uniforms (no pearl handle pistols for him)and seeming to duck the spotlight gave rise to a reputation as a friend of the common soldier. As we know he had a rather gruff nature and doubt any common soldier could relate to him, and vice versa, once they got to know each other. As to the winter gear question Bradley made a calculated gamble, thats what those in command need to do at times. He was not the only one to think one final push and the war in the west would be over by Christmas.

I suppose whether living up to their reputation or overrated I will put in a vote for Maj Gen Lloyd Fredendall in Tunisia. Gen Marshall referred to him as one of the best. Eisenhower even thanked Marshall for sending Fredendall to him. He was known as an excellent trainer (General McClellan anyone?) he proved to be an incompetent field commander. Anyway thats my choice.

HANS GRUBER17 Jun 2018 6:49 a.m. PST

Apparently there no good American commanders in WW2.

axabrax17 Jun 2018 7:02 a.m. PST

So, so, so MacArthur

Legion 417 Jun 2018 7:11 a.m. PST

Well I've heard the most underrated were General Motors, General Electric and General Foods … evil grin

Katzbalger17 Jun 2018 7:42 a.m. PST

Mac is overrated by some and denigrated by others, so not sure how to call him, but for someone that is generally overrated, I will have to agree that it would be Bradley.

NOLA Chris Supporting Member of TMP17 Jun 2018 8:03 a.m. PST

How much of the failure of various people at command levels is due to the "Peter Principle", where they get promoted out of their area and level of expertise?

A far more interesting question to me,

followed by; why weren't they returned to the level at which they performed well?
(Fredendall, Clark, Lucas stand out as examples to me)

Fred Cartwright17 Jun 2018 8:34 a.m. PST

Apparently there no good American commanders in WW2.

I guess that makes them all overrated then! :-)

rvandusen17 Jun 2018 8:50 a.m. PST

MacArthur,but mainly for what happened at Clark Field and Subic Bay on December 8th and 9th, 1941. After several hours warning to not launch a B-17 strike on IJA air bases on Formosa was a huge mistake on MacArthur's part. Really a fatal mistake.

donlowry17 Jun 2018 8:59 a.m. PST

Mark 1 makes a good point: Bradley.

28mm Fanatik17 Jun 2018 11:41 a.m. PST

Based on what historians have written post-WWII, looks like it's a toss-up between George and Brad.

Ed Mohrmann Supporting Member of TMP17 Jun 2018 12:37 p.m. PST

Bradley (BTW, those were IVORY handled pistols Patton

AFA the winter gear goes, I'm sure every frostbitten and
gangrenous footed GI thought it was a wise gamble, too -

Bradley was an Ike favorite, for whatever reason.

mkenny17 Jun 2018 1:11 p.m. PST

Cobra was Bradley's plan

COBRA was supposed to have been launched the same day as GOODWOOD. It was planned to be a double hammer blow to overwhelm the Germans and break out of Normandy. Unfortunately Bradley could not marshal his forces in time so Monty let him have an extra few days to get his act together. GOODWOOd went ahead at 'half-cock' and at the end of the day all blame fell on Monty whilst Bradley got a pass.

Winston Smith17 Jun 2018 1:53 p.m. PST

Despite all those morons in charge, we still won. grin
Even with MacArthur!
Either that says more about the opposition, or they could at least do something right.

Andy ONeill18 Jun 2018 2:58 a.m. PST

The question does create a bit of a problem.
For a considered answer.
You need a general widely considered to be fab.
But you can make a case that this general wasn't that great.
I think I'd go with Patton.
He's often rated highly so there's more head room for any over-rating.

HANS GRUBER18 Jun 2018 4:40 a.m. PST

I don't think MacArthur or Mark Clark are overrated, simply because I never really hear many positive opinions about them. How can a commander be over rated if he isn't that highly rated to begin with?

Bradley and Eisenhower are usually treated as competent, but not brilliant military commanders. So I don't really see them as over rated.

The George C. Scott movie certainly made Patton a household name, and like most movies greatly distorted reality. There is little doubt that the powerful portrayal by Scott gave the impression that Patton single handedly led the allies to victory in WW2. Because if this there is little doubt he is the most over rated American commanders.

donlowry18 Jun 2018 8:54 a.m. PST

Hans' comment about the movie Patton brings up the questions: overrated by whom? and when? By their superiors? the general public? historians? during the war? or now? or sometime in between?

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