Best Soldiers at WW2?

GaryHinkle avatar
7 years ago #1
GaryHinkle
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Which country had the most skilled soldiers in the WW2?Many times i have heard thet Finnish troops were the best.Afterall they crushed the superior russian forces at the Winter war.

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hotelend avatar
7 years ago #2
hotelend
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This is a question which can never be answered.

For one thing, the answer could be very different if one compares the performance of entire national armies, or performance of select units within each army. Even armies with overall poor performance had some elite forces that displayed great ability.

It is possible that the very best soldiers of the war were the Gurkha soldiers in British service. But they were a very small force.

For another, the question of equipment and supply must be factored in. American troops won many decisive victories, 'crushing' all opposing forces - but some commentators say this was only because US forces had more guns and tanks and especially ammunition which they used lavishly.

Personally I think this is a great way to make war - rather than displaying great bravery, getting wounded and killed, etc. To quote Gen. Patton, 'You win a war by making the _other_ poor dumb **** die for _his_ country.'

Also, what kind of 'skill' are we discussing? Skill with infantry weapons, in small unit action? Or skill with complex advanced weapons systems, such as airplanes, tanks, artillery directed by radio links? The skill of building roads and bridges and airfields in difficult places is important, as is the skill of moving really huge amounts of supplies to the front.

Finnish forces inflicted some severe reverses on Soviet troops during the Winter War, but it would be just as true to say 'Soviet troops 'crushed' the Finnish army.'' After all, it was Soviet troops which advanced into Finland, not vice versa. Finnish defenders around Viipuri were destroyed by the Soviets, and the Finnish government made peace on terms imposed by the USSR.

Finland achieved a 'moral victory' by holding off the much larger USSR for several months, and by preserving its independence, but in absolute terms the USSR was the

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BrendaWiks avatar
7 years ago #3
BrendaWiks
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Man for man, across the board, almost certainly the Germans. Better trained, better led, better disciplined, (etc., etc., etc.,) then almost any other national force. Especially indicative of this, IMO, is how they were consistantly able to cobble together credible 'ad hoc' units from the wreckage of defeats like the destruction of Army Group Center and the Mortain/Falise debacle.

Also high on my list would be the six USMC divisions fielded by the US in the Pacific.

Brad Meyer 'It is history that teaches us to hope'

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freerap avatar
7 years ago #4
freerap
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O.k., to argue in a short and simplifying way: I think it is hard to say which country had the most skilled soldiers in WW II. Also it depends on the different types: do you mean infantry, air force, tank crews? The 'normal' soldier or the leaders? Most it is said that the German soldiers were the best - they had much lower (in quantity) equipment then their enemies and not such much men; inspite they were still able to defend themselves over years. They were also able to expand inspite of their handicaps (Northern Africa, for exampel). The Germans may also have had the best tactical leaders in WW II, but they had no skillful strategic leader. Anyway, it is a hard question because the Polands like the Finns for exampel fought very brave. The Italian troops fought often also brave but they had poor equipment and a bad leadership (the grandfather of a friend of mine occasionally said 'if the Italians would have fought for the Russians, we would have won the war' ;o) ). The US-troops were very skillful in reaching their goals without many deads on their side. In the body count ranking on the European theatre of war the Germans are leading; on one dead soldier of them come the most dead armed enemies - but you have to remember the mass of people they killed after imprisoning them and the noncombatans they shot and declared afterwards that they were combatants. So I would say that it depends on your point of view, the question is of emotional nature like the debate what was the better fighting airplane: Spitfire/Hurricane or Messerschmidt/Fokke Wulf.

Regards,

Frank Plamboeck

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Heath Patrie avatar
7 years ago #5
Heath Patrie
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The Red Army in the Finland war was hardly a top drawer military organization. Man for man: German and British.

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dfc2soft avatar
7 years ago #6
dfc2soft
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The same can be said of the BEF in 1940.

I would choose the Soviets. They fought back from the brink of annihilation to liberate their country and all of Eastern Europe and then went on to occupy the capital of the country that tried to destroy them.

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Lalalalar avatar
7 years ago #7
Lalalalar
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Rommel is reported to have said the Maori Battalion, from New Zealand, was the strongest fighting force that he ever encountered.

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DuaneW avatar
7 years ago #8
DuaneW
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Of course Finns were the best. Hitler was so impressed that he named them honorary Aryans. Americans started to talk about the Miracle of the Winter War. Stalin couldn't believe what was happening. Superiority can be verified with statistics, too. Biased, me!

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irochka avatar
7 years ago #9
irochka
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The entire argument seem an exercise in displaying the ridiculousness of personal opnion asan objective (or even subjective) method of evaluation.

First, and the height of sillinessness, is the apples and oranges nature of the debate....WTF are we comparing, single soldiers, mano a mano, as if they were gladiators on the floor of an ampitheater, Thracian Hoplite against Balearic Slinger?

Horse manure! Obviously comparing single soldiers is meaningless, for arms aside, my Goliath will usually whupup on your David. Add arms, and the stakes change, as my David's 8 pound brass Napoleon may not give your 18' pike an opportunity to get far up the hill much less engage.

Then we've village ijits dealing a few more cards, putting their Maori battalion up gainst someone's Guards Armored Division. Again, such comparisons are meaningless. Maoris and Gurkhas have noble and indelible records of bravery and basic manual skills with personal weapons, but the lists of Gurkha fighter aces is as short as that of Maori destroyer skippers.

In a most basic sense, what been said so far is a classic (and best suited for a Monte Python skit) argument ove comparable phallus size, the height of juvenile juvenalia and adolescent rooster fighting.

Besides, everyone knows that in all aspects, from fleet commanders (Nimitz) to leaders of multiple armies (Eisenhower) to TBF pilots overcoming early setbacks (Bush '41') to scaling unassailable heights (Rudder, Pont du Hoc), being born in Texas or living there before or after is all that really matters.

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6 years ago #10
......
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But then again the Australians played a vital role.
An Australian Militia groups were pushing back Japanese elements at rates of 1 to 5 in manpower, in that the Japanese were far better soldiers then the Citizens Militia of Australia

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6 years ago #11
blah
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Actually at one point on the Kokoda track it was
110 ANZAC mallitia vs 2000 Japanese. Guess who won....

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RAMjb avatar
6 years ago #12
RAMjb
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freerap wrote:
The Germans may also have had the best tactical leaders in WW II, but they had no skillful strategic leader.



Mistake. Germany had a good set of strategic leaders. The problem is that they had no voice, as Hitler was the sole and only voice guiding the destiny of Germany during WW2, sotto voce first, openly later (since December '41).

If we concentrate in names, I would name von Manstein as the most brilliant strategic mind in the Wehrmacht. Hell, he was the most brilliant strategic, operational and even tactical mind in the wehrmacht.

He was the main mind behind the attack against france (and he was well out of the merits when France fell), he had an exemplary leadership later during the invasion, did an amazing job on the Army Group North during barbarossa, his leadership of the Axis forces in Crimea was exemplary in all accounts, and as leader of the Army Group Don first and Southern group of army later was impossible to describe because adjetives as "Brilliant", or "impressive" don't make justice.

The fact that the only big strategic influx Manstein had was Sichelschnitt, and he was denied the merit for it (Hitler had already thought about something similar but the plan was 100% manstein's) does not retract from the fact that he was the mastermind behind the most important strategic victory of the german armed forces ever, which instantly qualifies him as a top strategic mind. Later he always had to deal with the tactical and operational levels mainly because he never had any word in the general strategic command of the war. But certainly he very well could've done it...

except for the fact that Hitler would've never let him a free hand.

The same with some other great generals in germany. Their talent was wasted at the strategic level because Hitler would always interfere as soon as he needed the urge to do it. Which was, let's say...always?
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Cade avatar
6 years ago #13
Cade
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I wouldn't say the americans because the never really had any major battles on land.I say that the Germans were the best.They were very strategic fighters which helped them in most battles.

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6 years ago #14
Alex
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Best troops,Waffen S.S.,Panzer troops of Das Heer,Brandenburgers,Fallshimjager,British Commandos,British Paratroops.

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6 years ago #15
sunil
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best soldier are the brave soldiers who never gave up and fought to the last man and concoured most top hill than any other soldiers , they are the gurkha soldiers from hill of nepal fighting as a part of british army. they were the only battalion to get most highest awards like victoria cross and other cross,,,, indian chief army said "one who says he is never afraid of dying is either lying or he is a gurkha" and one british officer said "bravest of the brave " gurkha soldier saved brunei sultan in 60's revolt thus brunei still keeps a battalion of gurkha soldiers ,gurkhas are in singapore police , indian army, british army .

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6 years ago #16
Alex
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Yes the Ghurkas are very tough and very brave soldiers.
Here in England they are very much respected.
The ones that I have met have always been very courteous aswell.

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6 years ago #17
Alex
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I believe that the Greeks where truly the best/bravest soldiers. First off, at a speech at the Reichstag, Hitler said that the Greeks where the best and bravest warriors that they had ever faced... Here are some quotes...
1. "For the sake of historical truth I must verify that only the Greeks, of all the adversaries who confronted us, fought with bold courage and highest disregard of death.." - Adolf Hitler (speech he gave at Reichstag, 4 May 1941)

2. "The word heroism I am afraid does not render the least of those acts of self-sacrifice of the Greeks, which were the defining factor in the victorious outcome of the common struggle of the nations, during WWII, for the human freedom and dignity. If it were not for the bravery of the Greeks and their courage, the outcome of WW II would be undetermined." - Winston Churchill (speech to British Parliament, 24 April 1941)

3. "Until now we used to say that the Greeks fight like heroes. Now we shall say: The heroes fight like Greeks."
- Winston Churchill (From a speech he delivered from the BBC in the first days of the Greco-Italian war)

4. "I am sorry because I am getting old and I shall not live long to thank the Greek People, whose resistance decided WW II." - Joseph Stalin (From a speech of his broadcast by the Moscow radio station on 31 January 1943 after the victory of Stalingrad and the capitulation of German 6th Army Field Marshal Von Paulus)

5. "If the Russian people managed to raise resistance at the doors of Moscow to halt and reverse the German torrent, they owe it to the Greek People, who delayed the German divisions during the time they could bring us to our knees." - Georgy Constantinovich Zhoukov (Field Marshal of the Soviet Army: Quote from his memoirs on WWII)

6. "Regardless of what the future historians shall say, what we can say now, is that Greece gave Mussolini an unforgettable lesson, that she was the motive for the revolution in Yugoslavia, that she held the Germans in the mainland and in Crete for six weeks, that she upset the chronological order of all German High Command's plans and thus brought a general reversal of the entire course of the war and we won."
- Sir Robert Antony Eden (Minister of War and the Exterior of Britain 1940-1945, Prime Minister of Britain 1955-1957 - Paraphrased from a speech of his to the British Parliament on 24/09/1942)

7. "It would not be an exaggeration to say that Greece upset the plans of Germany in their entirety forcing her to postpone the attack on Russia for six weeks. We wonder what would have been Soviet Union's position without Greece." - Sir Harold Leofric George Alexander (British Field Marshal during WWII -Paraphrased from a speech of his to the British parliament on 28 October 1941)

8. "I am unable to give the proper breadth of gratitude I feel for the heroic resistance of the People and the leaders of Greece." - Charles de Gaul (From a speech of his to the French Parliament after the end of WWII).

9. "Greece is the symbol of the tortured, bloodied but live Europe. Never a defeat was so honorable for those who suffered it." - Maurice Schumann Minister of the exterior of France 1969-1973, member of the French Academy 1974 (From a message of his he addressed from the BBC of London to the enslaved peoples of Europe on 28 April 1941, the day Hitler occupied Athens after a 6-month war against Mussolini and six weeks against Hitler).

10. "You fought unarmed and won, small against big. We owe you gratitude, because you gave us time to defend ourselves. As Russians and as people we thank you." - Moscow, Radio Station When Hitler attacked the U.S.S.R

11. "The war with Greece proved that nothing is firm in the military and that surprises always await us."
- Benito Mussolini (From speech he delivered on 10/5/1941)

12. "On the 28th of October 1940 Greece was given a deadline of three hours to decide on war or peace but even if a three day or three week or three year were given, the response would have been the same. The Greeks taught dignity throughout the centuries. When the entire world had lost all hope, the Greek people dared to question the invincibility of the German monster raising against it the proud spirit of freedom."
- Franklin D Roosevelt, US President <phone> . "The heroic struggle of the Greek people... Against Germany 's attack, after she so thunderously defeated the Italians in their attempt to invade the Greek soil, filled the hearts of the American people with enthusiasm and moved their compassion." - Franklin D Roosevelt, US President <phone> . **** On 10 April 1941, after the Greek capitulation to Germany, the northern forts of Greece surrendered. The Germans express their admirations to Greek soldiers, declared that they were honored and proud to have as their adversary such an Army and request that the Greek commandant inspect the German army in a demonstration of honor and recognition! The German flag was raised only after the complete withdrawal of the Greek Army ****

15. A German officer of the air force declared to the commander of the Eastern Macedonia division group, Lieutenant General Dedes, that the Greek Arm was the first army on which the Stuka fighter planes did not cause panic.
"Your soldiers" he said, "instead of fleeing frantically, as they did in France and Poland, were shooting at us from their positions."

if you think about it, without the greeks stalling the germans, germans would have taken the soviets and then the axis would have been victorious, causing many other things to happen.

Alex

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6 years ago #18
Alex (The original one)
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Can I just say that the above post was not made by me(An Englishman) but was made by someone who I suspect is Greek and who either did not have the common courtesy,let alone the common sense to amend their name for posting (As in Alex A or somesuch).
Unless of course they were deliberately trying to misrepresent my views.

As to the content of the post,the poster has cherry picked flattering statements from proffessional politicians either trying to encourage continued Greek resistance or to gain political influence over postwar Greek public opinion.

Do enough cherrypicking and you'd probably find similar statements about every single nation who at one time or other opposed the Germans,including the Italians.

Political rhetoric should not as a rule be taken as a genuine statement of opinion by the governments involved but just as a yet another tactic used to achieve the speakers own ends.
Flattery should not be confused with fact.


If you post again could you please amend your name so that people will not associate your own opinions with myself,or if you are not amenable to that then let me know and I will amend my title.
Anything just so long as your ideas are not associated with me.

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6 years ago #19
Alex S.
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Sorry about that ''Original'' Alex, my apologies. ( Alex is my name too.)

My point with those quotes was just something I found interesting being that the Greek Military/Resistance demolished 7000 of the Elite German Fallschirmjager Paratroopers with very limited and poor equipment, which in turn ended the plans of other major airdrops; which saved many other islands/countries/lives, etc.

I also believe that without the Greek resistance, the German military would have for sure taken the U.S.S.R. hands down, (It was the summer)
By the end of the resistance happened (which I believe was done at the perfect time, but somewhat by fluke,) it was the cold, harsh Soviet winter, which not only was it impossible to take the USSR, but the Germans were not prone to winter warfare.

PS I am Greek and Italian, all of my Great Grandparents fought in the war ( Greeks in Albania, 1 Italian was a member of the 29th Grenadier Division of the SS who fought in Germany, and the other in the Mountains as a Calvalry/Sniping unit to destroy the Italian Rebels)

And to the original Alex, all I can say was I google searched ''quotes about greeks in ww2'' and copy and pasted all of them (that related to ww2) and pasted them on the area to type, not ''cherrypicked'' as you say... and believe me, I have done MANY searches and found statistics of the Axis ( German and Italian ) and Allied ( mostly Greek, some Albanian, Australian, British CommonWealth/Canadian, and some also from New Zealand. The Greeks ( there where bu far the most greeks in the allied part ) took very few casualties compared to the Italian and the German.

Search for yourself.

Alex S.

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6 years ago #20
Alex S.
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oh, and Alex ''original'' i live in Canada with Italian and Greek heritage... I am a Canadian citizen.

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5 years ago #21
Bigglestheman
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Alamo Scouts(Pacific Theater) of the USA they never lost one man out of their few 100.

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5 years ago #22
Alex S.
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you also have to keep in mind the equipment they are using and the equipment other warriors are using.

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5 years ago #23
StatMan
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The best troops can be measured by kill ratio reguardless of equipment and supplies etc.

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5 years ago #24
Alex S.
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I completely disagree.

I believe you have to judge a soldier/warrior's skill and prowess in battle when using the exact same equipment.

If the Alamo Scouts used thompson submachine guns and fought other Alamo Scouts using Colt m1919 pistols, who do you think would win?

Keep in mind, a warrior is definetly better if they beat other troops with lower quality weapons (and the same numbers.)

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5 years ago #25
patsnare28akomismo
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I might have to disagree with all of you. Have you ever heard of the Philippine scouts? If not then they are by far the best warriors during WWII. They fought bravely against the Japanese without proper supply of ammunition, food and etc. Even the Americans know that they are the best warriors in the world. Even Winston Churchill admired the bravery and courage of the Philippine scouts. I'm a nationalistic about my country so I know this stuff.

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5 years ago #26
Ludwig
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Waffen-SS was good. The best of them was "Dritte Nordland" part of Wiking.

Dritte Nordland was a battalion of finnish volunteers. This battalion created a firebricade and was sent to toughest places.

Some comments of them:

"I have never had better battalion."
SS-Gruppenf├╝hrer Gottlob Berger, head of SS-Hauptamt


"...Where a Finnish SS-man stood, the enemy was always defeated."
Reichsf├╝hrer-SS Heinrich Himmler

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