Worst 10 officers of each WWII power.

Drachinifel has a fascinating video on Mers-el Kebir. I find his conclusion to be most persuasive. That Darlan and Gensoul have a large part of the blame in letting the british come to the conclusion that, given what they knew at the time, the french fleet had to be gotten on side or neutralised, one way or an other. What do you think of it.
Edit: I do not wish to join any camp on the morality issue. I am interested in your views on the necessity as the british saw it.
 
Somerville had a moral choice akin to Truman;s choice about Japan in the calculus of choices and lives. Churchill made the ultimate call on that one in the radioed back and forth between Somerville and London.

I will write this, and I hope you understand it, RADM Ernest McWhorter (USN) would not and never hesitated. The risk of seeing a French war-fleet in the English Channel or used as raiders in the North Atlantic to attack British/Allied shipping. (The Force de Raid was called that for a REASON.) means Allied lives lost; if Somerville gets it wrong. An American with orders from Roosevelt would not have any qualms about acting ...because...

View attachment 523086

… It happened.
Jean Bart was a seriously lucky-unlucky ship. Not only was she bombed by Ranger, she was engaged by Massachusetts in a (one sided) gunnery duel. She only survived because she wasn't completed and a number of her magazines were empty. Because Big Mammie punched multiple 16"shells through Jean Bart's armor like it wasn't even there. And a few of those were direct hits on empty magazines. Had they been full, she would have done an admirable impression of Hood and Arizona
 
It’s not though, there were other options, as I said before, the Japanese were willing to surrender if the Emperor was given immunity and he was. We’re never going to agree on this. Not only will I never see Mers-el Kebir as morally justifiable, but I don’t even think that it was legally justifiable under the laws that the Axis Powers were held to.
One acts on what one knows, not on post-hoc.

The question assumes that there was a unified reaction to the Potsdam Declaration from the Japanese government. There was no census opinion in the Japanese government and the government's mishandling of its response resulted in a public relations debacle, hardening the stance of both the Japanese and US governments.

The public announcement of the Potsdam Declaration on July 26, 1945 put the Japanese government in a bind. The government had two choices: reject the Declaration and continue the war or open the door to surrender. In typical fashion, it decided to do neither.

The Supreme War Council met on July 27 to discuss the Potsdam Declaration. Foreign Minister Shinegori Togo pushed the Council not to reject the proposal and to pursue clarification of its terms through the Soviet Union. The Council assented.

Though the Japanese government had resolved in private to not reject the Potsdam Declaration (yet), there was the chance that the Allies would make the terms of the Potsdam Declaration known to Japanese public through radio broadcasts and leaflets. So the Council also decided to allow a bowdlerized version of the Potsdam terms to be published and prohibit any editorial comments on the terms.

But the next morning, July 28, Asahi Shimbun published the expurgated version of the Potsdam terms under the headline "LAUGHABLE MATTER" and the Supreme War Council consensus fell apart. Who, if anyone, within the Japanese government prompted or allowed Asahi Shimbun to go ahead with a public repudiation of the Potsdam terms is not known.

There were six members on the Supreme War Council: the Prime Minister Kantaro Suzuki, the Foreign Minister Shigenori Togo, the Minister of War General Korechika Anami, the Minister of the Navy Admiral Misumasa Yonai, Chief of the Army General Staff General Yoshijiro Umezu and Chief of the Navy General Staff Soemu Toyoda.

The military members of the Council - Anami, Yonai, Umezu and Toyoda - now demanded a public rejection of the Potsdam Declaration and Prime Minister Suzuki obliged by holding a press conference in which he said, "The government does not regard [the Potsdam Declaration] as a thing of any value; the government will just ignore it. We will press forward resolutely to carry the war to a successful conclusion."
The rage in Washington was unbelievable.

Now for the post-hoc...

The word that Suzuki chose for "ignore" was "mokusatsu." Mokusatsu means "kill with silence" or "ignore" but also can be translated as "take no notice of" or "treat with silent contempt."

In case there was any doubt about the government's spin on the Potsdam terms, the following day Prime Minister Suzuki stated:

for the enemy to say something like that means circumstances have arisen that force them also to end the war. That is why they are talking about unconditional surrender. Precisely at a time like this, if we hold firm, they will yield before we do. Just because they have broadcast their Declaration, it is not necessary to stop fighting. You advisers may ask me to reconsider, but I don't think there is any need to stop.
The sticking points in the Potsdam terms for the Supreme War Council members inclined to peace - really only Foreign Minister Togo at this point - were "unconditional surrender" and "preservation of the nationality polity." The two were understood separately in the Japanese government and were unacceptable to different factions for different reasons.

First, let's be clear: the Potsdam terms did not demand unconditional surrender of the Japanese government, they demanded the unconditional surrender of Japanese armed forces:

We call upon the government of Japan to proclaim now the unconditional surrender of all Japanese armed forces, and to provide proper and adequate assurances of their good faith in such action. The alternative for Japan is prompt and utter destruction.
Given the long history of freelance aggression by the Japan military and the widely scattered Japanese forces throughout Asia and the Pacific, there was real Allied concern that the Japanese government could not make a surrender stick and the Allies would have to deal with subduing Japanese forces island by island and country by country even if the government in Tokyo capitulated.

The unconditional surrender clause was unpalatable to the military members of the Supreme War Council (four of the six members) but nobody, even the peace leaning Togo, made the distinction between the Japanese military and the Japanese government, a loophole a wilful diplomat or politician could drive a truck through.

The second sticking point was the fate of the national polity rendered by the term kokutai. The notion of "national polity" implied by "kokutai" is slippery and meant different things to different players in the Japanese government.

For the Emperor kokutai meant preservation of his status as a divine being and all his prerogatives and his status has actual head of government.

For a moderate like Togo, it is not so clear that preserving the Imperial Throne ranked as high as preserving the overall conservative structure of the government.

For the military members of the Supreme War Council, kokutai meant retaining their stranglehold on political power and much more, avoiding war crimes trials and no disarmament of the the military to name a couple.

All these different political motives could be hidden under the banner of the Imperial Throne but they could just as easily diverge from it.

So the public rejection of the Potsdam terms left Supreme War Council unified 6 - 0 for continuing the war. That did not change until the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, after which Foreign Minister began pushing for accepting the Potsdam terms with a proviso guaranteeing the status of the Emperor. The atomic bombing of Nagasaki and declaration of war by the Soviet Union brought Prime Minister Suzuki and Navy Minister Yonai to Togo's position but the Supreme War Council remained deadlocked 3 - 3 until Emperor Hirohito intervened.
The fury when the post-hoc became known was worse. That these IDIOTS made such foolish choices...

It is a miracle that the Americans were so forebearing.

Pick any name on the Japanese war council at that time and it automatically makes the 10 worst list for the Japanese.
 
Last edited:
Stay on topic people this isn't a Mers-el Kebir morality debate thread.
It *is* about the ten worst officers of any given nationality however; and a case can be made for Somerville belonging on the list for putting French noses out of joint by sending a junior officer to negotiate instead of going himself (if that is true) and for Gensoul belonging on the list (if there weren't ten worse than him across all French services in the fall of France) for not communicating properly with his political superiors - i.e. not mentioning to them Oh: there's an option 'c' where we send the fleet to the Caribbean.

(Arguably, in Somerville's case he also managed to get British ships sunk during the Bay of Bengal debacle in 1942, without meaningful damage to the enemy in return.)
 
Other British contenders for a 'worst ten' include, to my mind:
Percival - defeated by the Imperial Japanese in Malaya and Singapore, despite having more troops and refused to build defences 'in case it damaged morale'. (Outside WW2, there seem to be question marks over whether he used torture in interrogations in Ireland after WW1.)
- Lumsden & Gatehouse - armoured commanders at second El Alamein. Refused to follow the plan; refused to adequately explain at critical moments what they were doing; almost messed up the battle on several occasions, between them. In their defence, according to some accounts they and their commands may have become traumatised after several defeats under Auchinleck of the Axis anti-tank guns.
- Corbett, Dorman-Smith, Ritchie - apparently these guys were some of the masterminds, under Auchinleck, of the 'disperse artillery to make things more comfortable for the Germans and Italians' and 'break up armoured formations so that Rommel can fight them piecemeal and roll them up in detail' tactics during Auchinleck's tenure of the 8th army.
- Whoever the idiot was in the Norway campaign in 1940 who thought sending a RN carrier (HMS Glorious) with only a couple of destroyer escorts out into the North Sea with Scharnhorst and Gneisenau on the prowl.
- Whoever the idiot or idiots were who thought it was a good idea for HMS Hood to fight Bismarck; possibly the same brain or brains may have had something to do with Bismarck almost getting away to France afterwards... if it hadn't been for that lucky rudder hit...
- Portal and Harris for their parts in the bomber campaign - one of the highlights of which was that after the success of 'Operation Chastise' with two of the dams put out of commission, instead of following up with conventional attacks, to hinder/disrupt the repairs process, they went off back to terror-bombing or whatever it was that they considered more important. I have seen it alleged in print that at least one of these idiots said that Chastise had been a failure. The Germans swiftly repaired the dams and had the reservoirs filled back up within something like a couple of months.
- possibly Gort for his handling of things during the Fall of France, though this may have been a case of over-promotion and/or being stuck with having to follow the wishes of his French allies. Apparently he was a halfway decent governor of Malta, when he was sent there later in the war.
- possibly those responsible for fighting during the land campaign in Norway in 1940.
- as someone mentioned, up-thread, the idiot in Burma in 1942 who blew up a bridge, before British & allied forces had finished retreating across it.

I'm in two minds over whether Auchinleck was a bad commander, or simply relied on and trusted in the wrong subordinates.

I'll add that to my mind Montgomery doesn't come close to the worst ten. Diplomacy and tact when dealing with equals or superiors, were very clearly not amongst his gifts, but he actually managed to produce wins against the Germans - and that in despite being dropped, at the start of his 8th Army tenure, into a position in charge of a repeatedly beaten and bewildered army, where morale wasn't exactly good.
And to anyone saying 'of course he would have won. He had more troops', ask the Romans how that went for them at Cannae, or ask Percival how it went for him at Singapore.
 
Last edited:
Other British contenders for a 'worst ten' include, to my mind:
Percival - defeated by the Imperial Japanese in Malaya and Singapore, despite having more troops and refused to build defences 'in case it damaged morale'. (Outside WW2, there seem to be question marks over whether he used torture in interrogations in Ireland after WW1.)
- Lumsden & Gatehouse - armoured commanders at second El Alamein. Refused to follow the plan; refused to adequately explain at critical moments what they were doing; almost messed up the battle on several occasions, between them. In their defence, according to some accounts they and their commands may have become traumatised after several defeats under Auchinleck of the Axis anti-tank guns.
- Corbett, Dorman-Smith, Ritchie - apparently these guys were some of the masterminds, under Auchinleck, of the 'disperse artillery to make things more comfortable for the Germans and Italians' and 'break up armoured formations so that Rommel can fight them piecemeal and roll them up in detail' tactics during Auchinleck's tenure of the 8th army.
- Whoever the idiot was in the Norway campaign in 1940 who thought sending and RN carrier with only a couple of destroyer escorts out into the North Sea with Scharnhorst and Gneisenau on the prowl.
- Whoever the idiot or idiots were who thought it was a good idea for HMS Hood to fight Bismarck; possibly the same brain or brains may have had something to do with Bismarck almost getting away to France afterwards... if it hadn't been for that lucky rudder hit...
- Portal and Harris for their parts in the bomber campaign - one of the highlights of which was that after the success of 'Operation Chastise' with two of the dams put out of commission, instead of following up with conventional attacks, to hinder/disrupt the repairs process, they went off back to terror-bombing or whatever it was that they considered more important. I have seen it alleged in print that at least one of these idiots said that Chastise had been a failure. The Germans swiftly repaired the dams and had the reservoirs filled back up within something like a couple of months.
- possibly Gort for his handling of things during the Fall of France, though this may have been a case of over-promotion and/or being stuck with having to follow the wishes of his French allies. Apparently he was a halfway decent governor of Malta, when he was sent there later in the war.
- possibly those responsible for fighting during the land campaign in Norway in 1940.
- as someone mentioned, up-thread, the idiot in Burma in 1942 who blew up a bridge, before British & allied forces had finished retreating across it.

I'm in two minds over whether Auchinleck was a bad commander, or simply relied on and trusted in the wrong subordinates.

I'll add that to my mind Montgomery doesn't come close to the worst ten. Diplomacy and tact when dealing with equals or superiors, were very clearly not amongst his gifts, but he actually managed to produce wins against the Germans - and that in despite being dropped, at the start of his 8th Army tenure, into a position in charge of a repeatedly beaten and bewildered army, where morale wasn't exactly good.
And to anyone saying 'of course he would have won. He had more troops', ask the Romans how that went for them at Cannae, or ask Percival how it went for him at Singapore.
1) It wasn't really Percival's fault, though he didn't make things any better. OP Matador not being put in effect basically sealed Malaya's fate.
2) RN was at a 100:1 advantage over the Kriegsmarine. It makes sense to do stuff like that when you have the overwhelming advantage. They just didn't predict that the Kriegsmarine would act so aggressively.
3) They had to take out KMS Bismarck and KMS Prinz Eugen ASAP while they could still track them. The 2 ships would mess up a lot of convoys if not taken care of quickly. And the RN underestimated the Kriegsmarine again.
 
...
2) RN was at a 100:1 advantage over the Kriegsmarine. It makes sense to do stuff like that when you have the overwhelming advantage. They just didn't predict that the Kriegsmarine would act so aggressively.
3) They had to take out KMS Bismarck and KMS Prinz Eugen ASAP while they could still track them. The 2 ships would mess up a lot of convoys if not taken care of quickly. And the RN underestimated the Kriegsmarine again.
That reminds me. For a nation (the UK) with a supposedly long and proud naval tradition, it was kind of embarrassing that the UK actually let the Germans pull of the Norway invasion in the first place.
 
That reminds me. For a nation (the UK) with a supposedly long and proud naval tradition, it was kind of embarrassing that the UK actually let the Germans pull of the Norway invasion in the first place.
Exactly.
They never thought that the Germans could pull something like that off give the puny size of their Kriegsmarine.
 
The SS Sturmbrigade RONA was used in the same role in Warsaw as the Dirlewanger Brigade and they fell apart completely and got torn to shreds by Polish rebels.
RONA was dissolved shortly afterwards because they had deevolved into a bunch of looters.
I will agree that Dirlewanger was just a criminal given a uniform and free license to kill anyone the Nazis told him to.
And his unit stood no chance against regular military units.
Calling Dirlewanger a criminal is a legitimate insult to criminals. And I'm not joking.


Guy made Ted Bundy look like the Pope. Pretty much the only thing remotely positive I can say about him is that he was absurdly hard to kill. Guy got shot or severely wounded like twenty different times before he finally got taken down.

Might just be a literal case of the Devil just not wanting to have to deal with the sick fuck.
 
Something that should be considered here, is that it takes more than one officer to win or lose a battle. Combat effectiveness depends in part on the quality of leadership at the top, but also on the system of recruitment, training, logistics, the equipment and the morale and a whole slew of other factors that goes into a forced military performance. I’m sure that we all know this. My point is that many of the people lambasted for their failures during the war, proved to be capable in other areas outside of direct command (staff positions, teaching, organization etc.).
 
Something that should be considered here, is that it takes more than one officer to win or lose a battle.
It takes many officers to win a battle, but it only takes one to lose. I think what's being neglected in this thread is the gulf between failure and defeat. At Jutland, the HSF sailed out looking to defeat the Grand Fleet. They failed, but the force survived and the balance of power remained the same. Market Garden may have failed, but it happened in such a way that there was no threat of 21st Army Group being somehow pushed back.
 
Something that should be considered here, is that it takes more than one officer to win or lose a battle. Combat effectiveness depends in part on the quality of leadership at the top, but also on the system of recruitment, training, logistics, the equipment and the morale and a whole slew of other factors that goes into a forced military performance. I’m sure that we all know this. My point is that many of the people lambasted for their failures during the war, proved to be capable in other areas outside of direct command (staff positions, teaching, organization etc.).
I somewhat agree.
However, there were some incurable failures though.
Like Himmler, Budyonny, and Badoglia.
 
Nope. You’re just objectively wrong here. There’s nothing to debate on this. There’s absolutely zero evidence that Hitler wanted to destroy Britain and using the laws applied to the Japanese at the Tokyo Trials, Mers-el Kebir would be a war crime. I recognize that Churchill might have felt that it was necessary to attack the French in that moment, just like many Japanese military officers felt that it was necessary to attack the Americans. Now let’s move on.
Actually, there is plenty of evidence that Hitler wanted to destroy Britain, what else would you call mass rape and enslavement of the adult population as a form of policy? Never mind the plans to kill all political opponents and Jews in the UK. Along with the link posted beforehand, there's also this which is a bit more brief:


But for something more in depth, there's Leo McKinstry's book on Operation Sealion, which goes into detail about the plans for occupation:


So, in this case, you're the one who's objectively wrong, because there is plenty of proof to show that Hitler planned on destroying the UK utterly. You were right in the sense that there's nothing to debate, just not in the way you meant.
 
Other British contenders for a 'worst ten' include, to my mind:
Percival - defeated by the Imperial Japanese in Malaya and Singapore, despite having more troops and refused to build defences 'in case it damaged morale'. (Outside WW2, there seem to be question marks over whether he used torture in interrogations in Ireland after WW1.)
To be fair, that wasn't a decision made by Percival as far as defensive works went. That was a decision made by his superior, the Governor of Malaya. Percival didn't however quibble it.
 
Last edited:
Actually, there is plenty of evidence that Hitler wanted to destroy Britain, what else would you call mass rape and enslavement of the adult population as a form of policy? Never mind the plans to kill all political opponents and Jews in the UK. Along with the link posted beforehand, there's also this which is a bit more brief:


But for something more in depth, there's Leo McKinstry's book on Operation Sealion, which goes into detail about the plans for occupation:


So, in this case, you're the one who's objectively wrong, because there is plenty of proof to show that Hitler planned on destroying the UK utterly. You were right in the sense that there's nothing to debate, just not in the way you meant.
Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in. Alright. I’ll bite. When I searched for the bok, the first review said said that it was jingoistic. Do you have Hitlers direct quotes?
 
Top