A number of excellent military leaders emerged from World War II, including the top World War II Generals. When such a list is compiled, it could be disputed for a number of reasons. Facts are not always a decisive factor as each individual may have shown exemplary leadership in a number of different ways. However, over the years, the history books, the stories and any additional information provided points consistently to a handful of World War II generals and leaders.
Below is a list of some of the top World War II Generals and leaders. They are presented in alphabetical order.
General Omar Bradley – Previously an instructor at an infantry school, Bradley entered WWII under the command of General George Patton – only to later become Patton’s boss. At the time of the Normandy Landing, Bradley commanded all of the US ground forces in WWII. Commanding a total of 43 divisions – totalling 1.3 million men – it was the largest US troop command ever under a single US field commander.
General Mark W. Clark – Clark was the youngest US Army Lieutenant General. During WWII, he served as US Commander in Italy and is known for his triumphant march into Rome. In 1945, he was promoted to General – once again the youngest ever in US Army history.
Dwight D. Eisenhower – Eisenhower entered WWII as an assistant to senior officers such as MacArthur and Patton. He proved his value as a commander during the North Africa Campaign. Afterwards, Eisenhower was appointed by President Roosevelt as the commander of SHAEF - Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force – command headquarters for Allied forces in northwest Europe.
General Douglas MacArthur – MacArthur was reinstated in the military just before the Pacific war began. After he was unable to stop the Japanese from taking possession of the Philippines, he stood on his promise to return. In 1945, he did just that and presided over the Japanese surrender. Due in part to MacArthur’s strategies, casualties under his command were relatively low.
General George Marshall – Marshall – Chief of Staff – commanded the US Army during World War II. As US Army Chief of Staff and chief military adviser to President Roosevelt, many of the US generals were issued their top command posts based on Marshall’s recommendation or as a result of his personal choice. General Marshall is attributed to leading the rapid growth of forces in the United States and known for his co-ordination of the Western Allies and his promotion of postwar reconstruction in Europe.
General George S. Patton, Jr. – General Patton utilized aggressive tactics throughout his military career. His abrasive personality lay at the source of several reassignments throughout the war but no one could dispute his brilliant strategies – strategies that many feel made him one of the most outstanding field commanders of the United States.
The summaries above are brief and do not completely reflect the excellent, long-standing careers of these outstanding men. These top US Generals of WWII were met with some of the fiercest fighting of our time, but they brilliantly used the circumstances as a reason to rise to the challenge, not become defeated by it.