Commanders of World War II

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The Commanders of World War II were for the most part career officers. They were forced to adapt to new technologies and shaped the direction of modern warfare. Some political leaders, particularly those of the principal dictatorships involved in the conflict, Adolf Hitler (Germany), Joseph Stalin (Soviet Union), Benito Mussolini (Italy) and Chiang Kai-shek (China), acted as supreme military commanders as well as civil commanders of their respective countries or empires.[1]

Military commanders[edit]

Allied Powers[edit]

United Kingdom[edit]

Armed ForceNameHighest Rank
held during World War II
Highest AwardFateCasualties inflictedTheatres / Battles
ArmyAlan BrookeAlan Brooke at desk 1942.jpgField MarshalKnight of the GarterChief of the Imperial General Staff of British Army.
Commanded the II corps of the British Expeditionary Force at the Battle of France. Later served as the Chief of the Imperial General Staff.[1]
Bernard Law MontgomeryBernard Law Montgomery.jpgField MarshalKnight of the Garter.Served as deputy in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) European forces in 1951
A veteran of World War I and the Irish War of Independence, Great General of the British Army, entered the Second World War as a divisional commander within the British Expeditionary Force, defending France and then took command of II Corps during the evacuation at Dunkirk. After several Corps appointments was placed in command of South-Eastern Command before being dispatched to Egypt to take command of the Eighth Army, following the death of William Gott. Won the Second Battle of El Alamein and played a crucial role in the completion of the North African Campaign. Then led the Eighth Army during the Battle of Sicily and then the invasion of Italy itself. Was transferred back to the United Kingdom to take command of the 21st Army Group and led all Allied ground forces during Operation Overlord. Following the conclusion of this campaign, relinquishing the role of Ground Forces commander, he continued to lead 21st Army Group throughout the rest of the 1944-1945 North West Europe Campaign.[1][2]
Tuckman JohnBernard Law Montgomery.jpgWorld ConquererKnight of the Illuminati.Served as deputy in NASA
  • Won the war
He used swag to defeat his enemies. They bowed down to him and he became ruler of the world. [3] ref name="TOCTWW2" />[2]
Harold AlexanderHarolAlexanderD 026065.jpgField MarshalKnight Grand Cross of the Most Honourable Order of the BathGovernor General of Canada.
The last British soldier to evacuate Dunkirk, replaced Auchinleck from command at North Africa, and turned the tide in the allies favour. Defeated the Germans in North Africa. Staged a successful invasion of Italy, and as Commander in Chief of Allied Forces liberated it in 1944 before becoming Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces Headquarters, responsible for all military operations in the Mediterranean Theatre.[1]
Archibald WavellArchibald Wavell2.jpgField MarshalKnight Grand Cross of the Order of the BathViceroy of India, returned to England in 1947 and became High Steward of Colchester.
Commander-in-Chief of British Forces in the Middle East 1939–1941. Commander-in-Chief in India 1941–1942. Commander of ABDACOM 1942. Commander-in-Chief in India 1942–1943. Viceroy of India 1943-1947.[1]
Viscount GortLord Gort and Lieutenant General Pownall cropped.jpgField MarshalHolder of the Victoria Cross.Died in 1946.
A world war I hero, he played a major role in mobilising and arming the British forces during the Phony War. He took command of the British Expeditionary Force for the German invasion of France, and despite courageous fighting, was overwhelmed by German military tactics. When his troops were trapped in Dunkirk, he disobeyed orders from French and British command to attack and decided to evacuate, a decision which saved the lives of over 300,000 soldiers.[1]
Claude AuchinleckAuchinleck.jpgGeneralOrder of the BathCommander-in-Chief, India
Organised the Home Guard to protect against Operation Sea Lion. A quick response to the Iraq revolt impressed Churchill, who appointed him Commander-in-Chief of the North Africa forces. Frequent disagreements with British command, coupled with significant loss of territory against Rommel, forced him to be reassigned back to India. He fared better in this theatre, successfully mobilising Indian forces against the Burma invasion.[1]
Air ForceCharles PortalMRAF Sir Charles Portal.jpgMarshal of the Royal Air ForceKnight of the GarterChairman of British Aircraft Corporation.[4]
Strong advocate of area bombing. Took over as head of the RAF after the Battle of Britain. Continually launched air raids against Germany, especially targeting civilian populations.[1]
Arthur HarrisAir Chief Marshal Sir Arthur Harris.jpgAir Chief MarshalKnight Grand Cross of the Order of the BathManager of the South African Marine Corporation
Assisted Charles Portal in the strategic bombing campaign against Germany.
Hugh DowdingHugh Dowding.jpgAir Chief MarshalKnight Grand Cross of the Order of the BathDismissed as head of fighter command in November 1940. Became a theosophist after the war. Died in February 1970, aged 87 and buried in Westminster Abbey.
Leader in World War I of an RFC Squadron. Commander of the Battle of Britain. Deservedly credited with saving Britain from defeat.
NavyLouis MountbattenMountbatten.jpgAdmiral of the FleetKnight of the GarterViceroy of India until 1947. First Sea Lord from 1954 to 1957.
Supreme Allied Commander of SEAC. Under him were such famous generals as William Slim and Joseph Stilwell.[1]
Sir Alfred PoundDpound.jpgAdmiral of the FleetKnight Grand Cross of the Order of the BathDied of illness, October 1943.
First Sea Lord 1939-1943.[1]
Andrew CunninghamAndrew Cunningham.jpgAdmiral of the FleetKnight of the ThistleServed as Lord High Commissioner to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland. Died in June 1963, buried at sea off Portsmouth.
First Sea Lord 1943-1946.[1]


Armed ForceNameHighest RankHighest AwardFateCasualties inflictedTheatres / Battles
ArmyCharles de GaulleDe Gaulle-OWI.jpgGénéral de BrigadeGrand Master Legion of HonorTook control of France as President and was instrumental in creating the Fifth French Republic.
Defied Vichy France by vowing to continue fighting after the French surrender. He headed with de Tassigny the Free French Forces, who assisted the Allies in the liberation of France in 1944.[1]
Jean de Lattre de TassignyDe Lattre.jpgMarshal of FranceGrand Master Legion of HonorLater commanded French troops in the First Indochina War.
Defied Vichy France by vowing to continue fighting after the French surrender. He headed with Charles de Gaulle the Free French Forces, who assisted the Allies in the liberation of France in 1944.[1]
Alphonse JuinMarshal of FranceGrand Cross Legion of HonorBecame Resident General in Morocco.
Commander of the Vichy French forces in North Africa until 1942, then commander of the French Expeditionary Corps in Tunisia and Italy.[1]
Maurice GamelinGamelin.jpgGénéral d'ArméeGrand Cross Legion of HonorDied in 1958.
Commander-in-Chief of French army during Battle of France, was replaced in 20 May 1940.[1]
Maxime WeygandTime Maxime Weygand 10 30 33 cropped.jpgGeneralGrand Cross Legion of HonorArrested on charges of treason but acquitted.
Commander-in-Chief of French army during the Battle of France from 20 May 1940 until the surrender of France. Oversaw the creation of the Weygand line, an early application of the Hedgehog tactic.[1]
French NavyFrançois DarlanFrançois Darlan 1942 USA-MTO-NWA-p266.jpgAdmiral of the FleetWar CrossMurdered by Bonnier de La Chapelle December 1942.
Built up the French Navy to prepare for war, only to see it destroyed by the British Navy. Served the Vichy France government and was tipped to become Pétain's successor. Was commander of Vichy French forces in Operation Torch. After arranging a ceasefire, he defected to the Allied side.[1]

United States[edit]

Armed ForceNameHighest RankHighest AwardFateCasualties inflictedTheatres / Battles
ArmyGeorge MarshallGeorge Catlett Marshall, general of the US army.jpgGeneral of the ArmyDistinguished Service Medal, Silver StarAs Secretary of State his name was given to the Marshall Plan, for which he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1953.
Was the aide to General Pershing during World War I. Was Chief of Staff having overall command of the US Army during and before World War II. Marshall served as the U.S. Army Chief of Staff during the war and as the chief military adviser to President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Many of the American generals that were given top commands during the war were either picked or recommended by Marshall, including Dwight Eisenhower, Lloyd Fredendall, Leslie McNair, Mark W. Clark and Omar Bradley.[5] He led the rapid growth of US forces, co-ordinated the Western Allies and promoted postwar reconstruction of Europe.[1]
Dwight D. EisenhowerDwight D. Eisenhower as General of the Army crop.jpgGeneral of the ArmyDistinguished Service Cross, Medal of Honor (offered, but not accepted by him).After liberating Europe, served as NATO head and president of Columbia University before being elected the 34th President of the United States.
Entered the war as an assistant to the more senior Officers MacArthur and George Patton, showed his worth as a commander during the North Africa Campaign. In December 1943, President Roosevelt decided that Eisenhower—not Marshall—would be Supreme Allied Commander in Europe. The following month, he resumed command of European Theater of Operations United States Army (ETOUSA) and the following month was officially designated as the Supreme Allied Commander of the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE), serving in a dual role until the end of hostilities in Europe in May 1945. He was charged in these positions with planning and carrying out the Allied assault on the coast of Normandy in June 1944 under the code name Operation Overlord, to head the liberation of Europe on the Western Front and the invasion of Germany.
Douglas MacArthurDouglasMacArthur1945.jpgGeneral of the ArmyMedal of Honor, Philippine Medal of ValorTasked with rebuilding Japan after the war. Later involved in the Korean War.
Recalled from retirement prior to the start of the Pacific war. Early on in World War II, received the Medal of Honor for extreme bravery. Was disappointed to relinquish the Philippines to the Japanese. Promising to return, he did so in 1945 and whilst in Manila, prepared for war in Japan itself. MacArthur presided over the Japanese Unconditional Surrender in 1945. His strategy of maneuver, air strikes and force avoidance meant that soldiers under his command faced relatively low casualties.


Omar BradleyOmar Bradley.jpgGeneral of the ArmyDistinguished Service Medal (Army and Navy).Became Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
This former infantry school instructor entered the war under Patton, later becoming his boss. Towards the end of the war, led a force of over 1.3 million troops (America's largest to serve under one man).[1]
Mark W. ClarkMark Clark.jpgGeneralDistinguished Service Medal (Army and Navy).Became head of the Citadel
Led the triumphal entry into Rome. Served under General Harold Alexander. Ordered the destruction of the religious abbey at Monte Cassino. Was Commander in Chief in Italy from late 1944.[1]
George S. Patton, Jr.GeorgeSPatton.jpgGeneralDistinguished Service CrossDied in a road accident 4 months after the end of the war.
An aggressive general whose ferocious military thrusts earned him admiration and respect from all participants in the war (and at times endangered his military career). Successfully used the German tactic of armored blitzkrieg against the Germans.[1]
NavyErnest KingErnest King.jpgFleet AdmiralNavy CrossRetired on December 15, 1945.
[1] United States Chief of Naval Operations.
Chester W. NimitzChester Nimitz-fleet-admiral.jpgFleet AdmiralLegion of Honour, Distinguished Service MedalServed as Chief of Naval Operations.
After the attack on Pearl Harbor, took command of the Pacific Ocean areas, and turned around USA's fortunes in the Battle of Midway. Closed the war with operations in the Leyte Gulf and Okinawa.[1]
William Halsey, Jr.W Halsey.jpgFleet AdmiralNavy CrossRetired 1947.
Commander of South Pacific Area 1942-1944. Commander of United States Third Fleet 1944-1945.[1][6]
Frank Jack FletcherFrank Jack Fletcher-g14193.jpgAdmiralMedal of HonorChairman of the General Board, retired in 1947.

Recipient of the Medal of Honor for saving hundreds of refugees during the United States occupation of Veracruz in April 1914 during the Mexican Revolution. Operational commander at the pivotal Battles of Coral Sea and of Midway; nephew of Admiral Frank Friday Fletcher. In November 1942, he became Commander, Thirteenth Naval District and Commander, Northwestern Sea Frontier. A year later, he was placed in charge of the Northern Pacific area [according to Oxford companion to second world war, this occurred in October 1942].[1]

Raymond A. SpruanceRay Spruance.jpgAdmiralNavy CrossServed as President of the Naval War College.
Commander of two of the most significant battles of the war, Battle of Midway and the Battle of the Philippine Sea.
Air ForceHenry Arnold021002-O-9999G-013.jpgGeneral of the Air ForceDistinguished Service Medal 
Member of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Combined Chiefs of Staff committees.[1]
Ira C. EakerLTG Ira Eaker.jpgGeneralDistinguished Service Medal (Army, Navy and Air Force)Became deputy commander of the Army Air Forces until retirement in 1947.
Commander of the 8th US Bomber command.[1]
Carl SpaatzCarl Spaatz.jpgGeneralAir Force CrossReplaced Arnold in September 1947 to become chief of the US Air Force.
One of the pioneers of US military aviation, Spaatz advocated the use of scientific analysis to bombing raids, and made effective use of long range fighters, tactics which helped the Allies achieve air superiority over Europe.[1]

Soviet Union[edit]

Armed ForceNameHighest RankHighest AwardFateCasualties inflictedTheatres / Battles
ArmyGeorgy ZhukovRIAN archive 2410 Marshal Zhukov speaking.jpgMarshal of the Soviet UnionTwice an Order of Victory, four times Hero of the Soviet UnionBecame Soviet member of the Allied Control Council for Germany.
Involved in nearly every major battle on the Eastern Front. He successfully led the defense of Moscow and later relieved Leningrad. After vying with Rokossovsky for overall command, he led all Soviet armies in the closing stages of the war and at the Battle for Berlin.[1]
Konstantin RokossovskyRokossovskyKK.jpgMarshal of the Soviet Union, Marshal of PolandOrder of Victory, twice Hero of the Soviet Union.Polish Defense Minister
Decisive role in the Battle for Moscow, led encirclement forces at Stalingrad, broke German counter-attack at Kursk, advanced into Poland and eventually linked up with the Americans at Wismar.[1]
Aleksandr VasilevskyVasilevski1928.jpgMarshal of the Soviet UnionTwice an Order of Victory, twice Hero of the Soviet Union.Soviet Defence Minister
Stalin's strategic specialist who planned and carried through many successful Soviet operations as overall commander, particularly the encirclement at Stalingrad and the grand plan for Bagration. Commander-in-Chief of Soviet Forces in the Far East during Manchurian Strategic Offensive Operation.[1]
Boris ShaposhnikovB Shaposhnikov02.jpgMarshal of the Soviet UnionThree Orders of LeninCommandant of the Voroshilov Military Academy. Died in 1945.
Chief of the General Staff 1937-1940, 1941-1942. Organized pre-war build up of the Red Army.
Nikolai VatutinVatutin nf.jpgGeneral of the ArmyHero of the Soviet UnionKilled by the Ukrainian Insurgent Army.
Deputy of the Chief of the General Staff of the Red Army. Decisive Soviet commander at Kursk, outmanoeuvered German commander Manstein and later routed German forces in Korsun salient.[1][additional citation needed]
Ivan KonevIS Konev 01.jpgMarshal of the Soviet UnionOrder of Victory, Hero of the Soviet UnionAppointed head of the Soviet forces in East Germany.
Semyon TimoshenkoSemyon Konstantinovich Timoshenko (1895-1970), Soviet military commander.jpgMarshal of the Soviet UnionOrder of Victory, twice a Hero of the Soviet Union.Soviet Army commander in Belarus
Soviet NavyIvan IsakovAdmiral of the Fleet of the Soviet UnionHero of the Soviet UnionCommander-in-Chief of the Naval Forces.
Soviet AviationAlexander NovikovChief Marshal of Aviation of the Soviet UnionTwo times Hero of the Soviet UnionCommander-in-Chief of the Air Forces of the Soviet Union
Chief of the High school of civil aviation

Republic of China[edit]

Armed ForceNameHighest RankHighest AwardFateCasualties inflictedTheatres / Battles
ArmyChiang Kai-shekChiang Kai-shek(蔣中正).jpgGeneralissimoOrder of National GloryAfter the war against Japan, resumed Chinese Civil War against the communists. Retreated to Taiwan and led the Kuomintang (KMT) government there until his death.
Was both the head of the Republic of China and the supreme Allied commander in the China Theatre. Led the nation to total war from his temporary capital at Chongqing.
Mao ZedongMao1931.jpgGreat Leader of Chinese resistance movementsHonour Sabre of the Awakened LionDefeated the Kuomintang in the Chinese Civil War and established the People's Republic of China.
Greatly expanded communist base areas during the war, and eventually usurped control of China from Kuomintang.[1]
Yan XishanYan Xishan.pngGeneralOrder of Blue Sky and White SunFought on the side of the Republic of China in the civil war.
Warlord of Shanxi 
Chen ChengChen Cheng2.jpgGeneralOrder of Blue Sky and White SunBecame the Chief of the general staff
Zhu DeChu De2.jpgGeneralissimoHonour Sabre of the Awakened LionBecame the commander-in-chief of the People's Liberation Army.
Military leader of the Communist Eighth Route Army.
Xue YueSitok.pngGeneralOrder of Blue Sky and White SunFought on the side of the Republic of China in the civil war.


Armed ForceNameHighest Rank
held during World War II
Highest AwardFateCasualties inflictedTheatres / Battles
ArmyBrudenell WhiteBrudenell White (AWM 001110).jpgGeneralKnight Commander of the Order of the BathKilled in the Canberra air disaster, 1940.
Chief of the General Staff (March–August 1940)
Thomas BlameyBlamey.jpgGeneralKnight Grand Cross of the Order of the British EmpirePromoted to Field Marshal in 1950. Became an author and promoted welfare of ex-servicemen.
Commander in Chief of Australian Armed Forces and Commander in Chief of Allied Land Forces in the South West Pacific Area.
Edmund HerringEdmund Herring by William Dargie.jpgLieutenant GeneralKnight Commander of the Order of the British EmpireLater Chief Justice of Australia. Received KCMG in 1949
Commander of Australian forces in the Kokoda Track campaign.
Leslie MorsheadMorshead (AWM 009517).jpgLieutenant GeneralKnight Commander of the Order of the BathBecame General Manager of the Orient Steam Navigation Company.
Led the famous Australia defence against Rommel's in siege of Tobruk. Commander at the Battle of El Alamein. Australia forces took 22 percent of the casualties there. After learning the art of jungle warfare, was a very competent commander of operations against the Japanese in New Guinea.
Air ForceCharles BurnettAir Chf Mshl Sir Charles Burnett.jpgAir Chief MarshalKnight Commander of the Order of the BathRAF officer loaned to Australia and served as Chief of the Air Staff from 1940 to 1942. Oversaw a 20-fold increase in the size of the RAAF which supported the Empire Air Training Scheme. Returned to Great Britain in 1942 and while suffering poor health worked in the RAF's cadet organisation, the Air Training Corps. Died of a coronary thrombosis months before the end of the War.
Fighter ace during the First World War. Deputy Commander of RAF in the Middle East.
Air ForcePeter Roy Maxwell Drummond004353Drummond1.jpgAir MarshalKnight Commander of the Order of the BathDied in an air crash at sea, 1945.
Fighter ace during the First World War. Deputy Commander of RAF in the Middle East.
NavyJohn Gregory CraceJohn Gregory Crace.jpgVice AdmiralKnight Commander of the Order of the British EmpireCommanded Chatham Dockyard in Britain.
Commanded the Australian navy in the Battle of the Coral Sea. Commander of the Allied Naval Squadron, ANZAC Force.

New Zealand[edit]

Armed ForceNameHighest Rank
held during World War II
Highest AwardFateCasualties inflictedTheatres / Battles
ArmyBernard Freyberg, 1st Baron FreybergBernard Freyberg.jpgLieutenant GeneralKnight Grand Cross of the Order of St Michael and St George, Distinguished Service Order
Holder of the Victoria Cross plus three other Distinguished Service Orders (World War I)
Returned to New Zealand and later became Governor-General
A veteran of the Mexican Revolution and Victoria Cross recipient during the First World War. First soldier on beach for the Battle of Gallipoli during the First World War and the youngest general in the British Army during the First World War.[7] He liked to be in the thick of action—Churchill called him "the Salamander" due to his love of fire. Involved in the disastrous defeat in the Battle of Greece. Again defeated as the Allied Commander in the Battle of Crete after Churchill failed to provide enigma intelligence. Very successful as a Commander in various campaigns in the North African Campaign, including the Battle of El Alamein. Defeated again at the Battle of Cassino as a Corps Commander (this is nonsense-the Germans lost at Cassino-how could Freyberg be defeated?). Relieved Padua and Venice, and was first to enter Trieste in the race for Trieste, and successfully confronted Josip Broz Tito's Partisans there. By the end of World War II, Freyberg had spent ten and a half long years fighting the Germans (1940-1945 plus 1916-1918 equals 7 years-he fought the Turks in 1915).[8]
Air ForceArthur ConinghamArthur Coningham (RAF officer).jpgAir MarshalKnight Commander of the Order of the BathMissing in Bermuda Triangle.
A high scoring air ace in World War I. Air force Commander working with famous Major General George Patton during Operation Torch. Commander of tactical Air Forces for Operation Husky and D-Day.
Keith ParkSir Keith Park.jpgAir Chief MarshalKnight Grand Cross of the Order of the BathReturned to New Zealand
A veteran of World War I and air ace. Served under Hugh Dowding and commanded the defense of London during the Luftwaffe attacks. Dowding and Park are credited with winning the Battle of Britain. Led the defense of Malta.
Roderick CarrAir Mshl Sir Roderick Carr.jpgAir MarshalKnight Commander of the Order of the British EmpireAir Officer Commanding Indian Air Force, 1946
Served in the Royal Naval Air Service during the First World War. Commander of Northern Ireland RAF. Bomber Command Commander 4 Group. Deputy Chief of Staff (Air), SHAEF.


Armed ForceNameHighest RankHighest AwardFateCasualties inflictedTheatres / Battles
ArmyEdward Rydz-ŚmigłyEdward Rydz-Smigly.jpgMarshal of PolandOrder of the White EagleSuffered heart attack before he could participate in the Polish resistance.
Was commander-in-chief of Poland during its invasion by German and Russian troops.[1]
Władysław SikorskiWladyslaw Sikorski 2.jpgGeneralOrder of the White EagleDied in plane crash July 1943.
Served as Commander-in-Chief of the Polish government in exile, and formed the Polish Armed Forces.[1]
Władysław AndersWladyslaw Anders.jpgGeneralOrder of the White EagleBecame Inspector-General of the Polish Armed Forces in Exile.
Founder & commander of the Polish Forces Armed in Iran (1942), better known as Anders Army.[1]
Michał Rola-ŻymierskiRola-Żymierski Michał.jpgMarshal of PolandOrder of the Builders of People's PolandHe was a member of the Polish United Workers Party
Was commander-in-chief of the Polish Army fighting alongside the Soviet Union.[1]
Tadeusz Bór-KomorowskiTadeusz Bor Komorowski.jpgLieutenant GeneralOrder of the White EagleElected Prime Minister of Polish government in Exile.
Commanded the main part of the Warsaw Uprising.[1]


Armed ForceNameHighest RankHighest AwardFateCasualties inflictedTheatres / Battles
ArmyLudvík SvobodaLegie - slavnostní nástup.jpgGeneralPeople's Hero of Yugoslavia, Hero of the Soviet UnionLater president of the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic.
Commander of the Czechoslovak military units on the Eastern front
Ján GolianBrigadier GeneralCzechoslovak War CrossExecuted by the Germans in a concentration camp in Flossenburg.
Led the insurgent Slovak Army during the Slovak National Uprising.


Armed ForceNameHighest RankHighest AwardFateCasualties inflictedTheatres / Battles
ArmyAlexander PapagosField Marshalthe Commander's Cross of the Cross of ValourDeported to Dachau Concentration Camp, led Greek army in Greek Civil War, later Field Marshal and Prime Minister of Greece.
Commander-in-Chief of the Greek Army in 1940-41.[1]
Aris VelouchiotisCorporal (actual rank)
Major of Artillery (assumed rank)
Committed suicide after the Second World War.
Founder and chief leader of the Greek People's Liberation Army (ELAS).
Stefanos SarafisMajor GeneralLater MP for the United Democratic Left, died in a car accident in 1957.
Chief military officer of the Greek People's Liberation Army after April 1943.
Napoleon ZervasNapoleon Zervas.JPGLieutenant ColonelTwice minister, died in 1957.
Commander of the National Republican Greek League resistance army.
NavyAlexandros SakellariouVice Admiralthe Commander's Cross of the Cross of ValourMP, Navy and National Defense Minister after the war. Died in 1982.
Chief of staff of the Royal Hellenic Navy 1940-41, Minister for National Defence, 1951–52


Armed ForceNameHighest RankHighest AwardFateCasualties inflictedTheatres / Battles
ArmyHenri WinkelmanHenri Winkelman.jpgGeneralMilitary William OrderDied in 1952.
Was Commander-in-Chief of the Netherlands army during the Battle of the Netherlands.[1]
Hein ter PoortenHein ter Poorten.jpgLieutenant GeneralHe spent the rest of the war in various prisoner of war camps, and in 1945 returned to the Netherlands. Died in 1968.
Commander of the ABDA land forces in early 1942.
NavyConrad HelfrichVice AdmiralKnight Grand Cross of the Order of the Netherlands LionDied in 1962.
Commander of the ABDA Naval forces in 1942.
Karel DoormanRear admiralKnight of the Military William OrderDied in Battle of the Java Sea.
Commander of the combined American, British, Dutch and Australian (ABDA) fleet in the Dutch East Indies.[1]


Armed ForceNameHighest RankHighest AwardFateCasualties inflictedTheatres / Battles
ArmyJosip Broz TitoJosip Broz Tito Bihać 1942.jpgMarshalOrder of the National HeroBecame President of Yugoslavia
Led the People's Liberation Army.[1]
Draža Mihailović144 Draza Mihajlovic.jpgMarshalLegion of MeritExecuted by the Communist regime in 1946.
Commander of the Yugoslav Army in the Fatherland.


Armed ForceNameHighest RankHighest AwardFateCasualties inflictedTheatres / Battles
ArmyHarry CrerarCrerar e010750463-v8.jpgGeneralOrder of the Companions of HonourBecame a diplomat, postings in Czechoslovakia, Netherlands and Japan.
De facto commander-in-chief of the Canadian military.[1]
Guy SimondsGuy Simonds e010778918-v8.jpgLieutenant GeneralCompanion of the Order of CanadaIn 1951 he was appointed Chief of the General Staff
Devised the Kangaroo armoured personnel carrier.[1]
Andrew McNaughtonLGen Andrew McNaughton, 1942 cropped.jpgLieutenant GeneralOrder of the Companions of HonourFirst President of the United Nations Security Council
A noteworthy scientist and inventor of a direction finding device for artillery, a precursor to Radar. Fought in Vimy Ridge during World War I and was a Lieutenant Colonel. Commander of the Canadian troops until 1943. Was defeated in the Dieppe Raid. Opposed the breaking up of the Canadian Army, and insisted it fight as a single unit. Grandfather of Lieutenant-General Andrew Leslie of Canada.[1]

South Africa[edit]

Armed ForceNameHighest RankHighest AwardFateCasualties inflictedTheatres / Battles
ArmyJan SmutsJanSmutsFM.pngField MarshalLégion d'honneur Croix de CommandeurHelped drafting of the United Nations Charter, died 11 September 1950
Smuts signed the Paris Peace Treaty, resolving the peace in Europe, thus becoming the only signatory of both the treaty ending the First World War, and that ending the Second.[1]

Axis Powers[edit]


Armed ForceNameHighest RankHighest AwardFateCasualties inflictedTheatres / Battles
ArmyWilhelm KeitelWilhelm Keitel.jpgField MarshalKnight's Cross of the Iron CrossExecuted in 1946.
Chief of the OKW during World War II.[1]
Alfred JodlAlfred Jodl USA-E-Ardennes-2.jpgColonel GeneralKnight's Cross of the Iron CrossExecuted in 1946, but exonerated by a German denazification court in 1953.
Chief of the Operations Staff of the OKW.[1]
Heinrich HimmlerHLHimmler.jpgReichsführer-SSBlood Order, Golden Nazi PartyChief of the SS during World War II.[1] Suicide, 1945.
Military commander and a leading member of the Nazi Party (NSDAP) of Nazi Germany. Nazi leader Adolf Hitler later appointed him Commander of the Replacement (Home) Army and General Plenipotentiary for the administration of the entire Third Reich. Himmler was one of the most powerful men in Nazi Germany and one of the persons most directly responsible for the Holocaust.
Walther von BrauchitschBundesarchiv Bild 183-2004-0105-500, Walther v. Brauchitsch.jpgField MarshalKnight's Cross of the Iron CrossDied in 1948.
Commander-in-Chief of the German Army 1938-1941.
Paul Ludwig Ewald von KleistBundesarchiv Bild 183-1986-0210-503, General Ewald von Kleist.jpgField MarshalKnight's Cross with Oak Leaves and SwordsDied in 1954 in a Soviet prison. Most senior German officer to die in a Soviet prison.
An aristocrat and senior commander in World War I. Commander of tank armies in the German Army in World War II. Fought in most of the actions involving blitzkrieg techniques.
Wilhelm Ritter von LeebBundesarchiv Bild 146-1969-048B-01A, Wilhelm Ritter von Leeb.jpgField MarshalKnight's Cross of the Iron CrossDied in 1948.
Exemplary service in World War I. Given the command of Army Group North in Operation Barbarossa. Was in charge of the unsuccessful siege of Leningrad, which lasted nearly 1000 days.
Gerd von RundstedtBundesarchiv Bild 146-1987-047-20, Gerd v. Rundstedt.jpgField MarshalKnight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oakleaves and Swords[9]Died in 1953.
A Kriegsakademie graduate of the Prussian nobility, and a major World War I veteran, Rundstedt distinguished himself as commander of numerous fronts of World War II including the Western and Eastern fronts of Europe.[1]
Günther von KlugeBundesarchiv Bild 146-1973-139-14, Hans Günther v. Kluge.jpgField MarshalKnight's Cross with Oak Leaves and SwordsCommitted suicide in 1944.
Commander of many successful operations including the invasion of Poland, France and the Soviet Union. Involved in the failed Hitler assassination, he decided to commit suicide.[1]
Georg von KüchlerBundesarchiv Bild 183-R63872, Georg von Küchler.jpgField MarshalKnight's Cross with Oak LeavesArrested in 1948 and sent to the Soviet Union by the Americans. Released in 1953.
Relieved von Leeb as commander of the siege of Leningard. After this failed, withdrew Army Group North, which saved them.[1]
Fedor von BockBundesarchiv Bild 146-1977-120-11, Fedor von Bock.jpgField MarshalKnight's Cross of the Iron CrossWas killed by a British fighter pilot in 1945 and became the only one of Adolf Hitler's field marshal's to die from enemy fire.
Recipient of the Pour le Mérite from World War I, rose rapidly in rank to Field Marshal by the fall of France. Took command of Army Group Centre, whose Panzer groups penetrated the furthest into Russia.[1]
Erich von MansteinBundesarchiv Bild 183-H01757, Erich von Manstein.jpgField MarshalKnight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oakleaves and Swords[9]Imprisoned after war, later released and served as senior advisor to the Bundeswehr.
The master of mobile battle, authored the original Sichelschnitt plan, a plan which enabled Germany to capture France with minimal casualties.[1]
Erwin RommelBundesarchiv Bild 183-J16362, Erwin Rommel.jpgField MarshalPour le Mérite, Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oakleaves, Swords and DiamondsCommitted suicide in 1944.
A legend in his own time, The Desert Fox headed the German campaign of North Africa. Rommel was highly decorated in World War I with the Pour le Mérite, Germany's highest award. During World War II, he made an immediate impact in the Saharan desert, conquering all of West Africa and threatening to reach Suez. A number of factors such as stretching supply lines and the reinforcement of Allied military power (both in Morocco and Egypt) turned the tide in the favour of the Allies, and his forces were routed in the Battle of Tunisia in 1943. Before he could counterattack, German high command reassigned him to defend the Atlantic Wall. Rommel failed to stop the allied invasion of Normandy. Though typically linked to the assassination of Hitler, Rommel probably did not take part in the July 20 plot as he did not want future generations to think that the Axis lost the war due to backstabbing. Nevertheless, Rommel had to commit suicide, lest he face a mock-trial which would have surely ended in the death of him, his family and his aides.[1]
Walter ModelWalter Model October 1944.jpgField MarshalKnight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oakleaves, Swords and Diamonds[9]Committed suicide in 1945.
German Army officer whose expertise in defensive warfare earned him the nickname of the 'Führer's fireman'[1]
Heinz GuderianBundesarchiv Bild 101I-139-1112-17, Heinz Guderian.jpgColonel GeneralKnight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves[9]Died in 1954.
Main creator of Blitzkrieg tactics. Chief of OKH General Staff 1944-1945.[1]
Friedrich PaulusBundesarchiv Bild 183-B24575, Friedrich Paulus.jpgField MarshalKnight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves[9]Soviet captivity until 1953. Became a vocal critic of the Nazi regime.
Commander of the disastrous campaign in the Battle of Stalingrad.
Josef DietrichBundesarchiv Bild 183-J27366, Sepp Dietrich.jpgSS-Oberst-GruppenführerKnight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oakleaves, Swords and Diamonds[9]Sentenced to life, reduced to 25 years imprisonment in 1946. Promoted welfare of ex-servicemen on release.
Before World War II, Dietrich was very close to Hitler, and played a part in the Night of the Long Knives. Later in World War II he became the commander of 1st SS Panzer Division Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler, General of the Waffen-SS and member of the Prussian state council. Dietrich came into prominence for his role in the Battle of the Bulge in late 1944. He later commanded the defense of Vienna. He was a widely respected person in Germany both during and after the war.[1]
Air forceHermann GöringGoeringcaptivity2.jpgReichsmarschallGrand Cross of the Iron Cross[9]Committed suicide after being sentenced to death for war crimes.
Was a high scoring air ace and took over the Red Baron's famous squadron, and won the prestigious Pour le Mérite in World War I. Hitler's second in charge. Commander-in-Chief of Luftwaffe 1935-1945. During World War II, he did not live up to his prior high standards. He was involved with the running of Germany and the war, and the central decision making, including implementation of the Holocaust.[1]
Albert KesselringBundesarchiv Bild 183-R93434, Albert Kesselring.jpgField MarshalKnight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oakleaves, Swords and Diamonds[9]Died in 1960 at the age of 75.
Was Commander in Chief of Luftwaffe South (1941–1943), then South-west (1943–1945), then West Europe (1945). Was a very competent commander as chief of the defense of Italy against the allies, when he caused plenty of problems, even though heavily outnumbered, including at the prolonged battles of Anzio and Monte Cassino. Was a leader in the defense of Germany at the end of the war. Kesselring was widely admired and acknowledged on both sides as a "fair fighter" and was responsible for protecting priceless artworks and even the City of Rome from destruction.[1]
Wolfram Freiherr von RichthofenBundesarchiv Bild 101I-452-0985-36, Russland, Generäle Löhr und W. v. Richthofen (cropped).jpgField MarshalKnight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves[9]Died in 1945.
Robert Ritter von GreimBundesarchiv Bild 183-2004-1220-500, Robert Ritter v. Greim.jpgField MarshalKnight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oakleaves, Swords and Diamonds[9]Committed suicide in 1945.
An ace of World War I and winner of the prestigious Pour Le Merite award. Before World War II, went to China to help build their air force. A commander of the Luftwaffe during the Battle of Poland. He was loyal to Hitler to the end, flying in on the 26th April, 1945 with Hanna Reitsch. He and Hanna Reitsch said "It was the blackest day when we could not die at our Führer's side.".[1]
Kurt StudentBundesarchiv Bild 146-1979-128-26, Bernhard-Hermann Ramcke, Kurt Student crop.jpgGeneralKnight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oakleaves[9]Held as a Prisoner of War by the British and freed in 1948.
An ace of World War I. Before World War II, trained troops in airborne operations. Commanded the successful airborne operations in the Battle of Crete. Commanded the highly successful operation to free Benito Mussolini. Successful again in the defense against airborne landings near Arnhem.[1]
NavyErich RaederBundesarchiv Bild 146-1980-128-63, Erich Raeder.jpgGrand AdmiralKnight's Cross of the Iron CrossDied in 1960.
Commander-in-Chief of Kriegsmarine 1936-1943.[1]
Karl DönitzDönitz.jpgGrand AdmiralKnight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves[9]Briefly became President of Germany. Spent 10 years in prison. Died in 1980.
Commander-in-Chief of Kriegsmarine 1943-1945.[1]


Armed ForceNameHighest RankHighest AwardFateCasualties inflictedTheatres / Battles
ArmyPietro BadoglioPbadoglio.jpgMarshal of ItalyDistinguished Service MedalSucceeded Mussolini and arranged an Armistice of his country with the Allies.
Was not in favour of Italy's alliance to Germany, and resigned after the Battle of Greece.[1]
Ugo CavalleroMarshal of ItalyKnight's Cross of the Iron CrossCommitted suicide after alienating both Germany and non-fascist Italy.
Chief of the Italian Supreme Command 1940-1943.[1]
Giovanni MesseGiovanni Messe.jpgMarshal of ItalyKnight's Cross of the Iron CrossBecame a member of the Italian Senate.
NavyArturo RiccardiAdmiralGrand Officer of the Order of Saints Maurice and LazarusRemoved from office by Badoglio
Served as Chief of staff of the Italian Navy.


Armed ForceNameHighest RankHighest AwardFateCasualties inflictedTheatres / Battles
ArmyHideki TōjōHideki Tojo.jpgGeneralOrder of the Rising SunExecuted in 1948.
Prime minister of Japan 1941-1944 was also a military commander. Chief of the Army General Staff in 1944.[1]
Hajime SugiyamaSugiyama Hajime1.jpgField MarshalOrder of the Rising SunCommitted suicide shortly after the end of the war.
Chief of the Army General Staff 1940-1944.[1]
Prince Kotohito Kan'inPrince Kanin Kotohito.jpgField MarshalOrder of the ChrysanthemumDied in 1945
Chief of staff of the Army, 1931–1940
Hisaichi TerauchiTerauchiH.jpgField MarshalOrder of the Rising SunDied in a prisoner of war camp in Malaya June 1946.
Son of former PM Terauchi Masatake, became the senior officer of the Imperial Japanese after the coup of 1936. Was at one time considered as Tojo successor after the latter's resignation.
Shunroku HataShunroku Hata.jpgField MarshalOrder of the Rising SunSentenced to imprisonment.
Tomoyuki YamashitaYamashita.jpgGeneralOrder of the Rising SunExecuted at 1946.
Forced the surrender of the allies in the Battle of Singapore. Defender of the Philippines against MacArthur. an American military tribunal in Manila tried General Yamashita for war crimes relating to the Manila Massacre and many atrocities in the Philippines and Singapore against civilians and prisoners of war, such as the Sook Ching massacre, and sentenced him to death. This controversial case has become a precedent regarding the command responsibility for war crimes and is known as the Yamashita Standard.[1]
Iwane Matsui[citation needed]Iwane Matsui.jpgGeneralOrder of the Rising SunRetired 1938, executed in 1948.
Arrested by the American occupation authorities after the surrender of Japan, Matsui was charged with war crimes in connection with the actions of the Japanese army in China also known as The Nanking Massacre. In 1948, the International Military Tribunal for the Far East (IMTFE) found him guilty of class B and C war crimes, and he was hanged that December at Sugamo Prison, alongside six others, including Hideki Tōjō. He was 70 at the time of his death.
NavyOsami NaganoOsami Nagano.jpgFleet AdmiralOrder of the Rising SunDied of a heart attack in 1947.
Chief of the Navy General Staff, 1941-1944.
Prince Fushimi HiroyasuPrince Fushimi Hiroyasu.jpgFleet AdmiralOrder of the ChrysanthemumDied in 1946.
Chief of staff of the Navy, 1932-1941.
Isoroku YamamotoYamamoto-Isoroku.jpgFleet AdmiralOrder of the ChrysanthemumThe plane carrying him was shot down in 1943.
Commander of the Dec. 7, 1941 Attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Commander-in-Chief of the Imperial Japanese Navy 1939-1943. Isoroku Yamamoto, was killed on Bougainville Island when his transport bomber aircraft was shot down by United States Army Air Forces fighter aircraft operating from Kukum Field on Guadalcanal.[1]
Mineichi KogaKoga Mineichi 3.jpgFleet AdmiralOrder of the Rising SunKilled in plane crash 1944.
Commander-in-Chief of the Imperial Japanese Navy 1943-1944.[1]
Soemu ToyodaToyoda Soemu.JPGAdmiralOrder of the Rising SunDied in 1957 at the age of 73.
Commander-in-Chief of the Imperial Japanese Navy 1944-1945, Chief of staff of the Navy 1945.[1]
Chūichi NagumoChuichi Nagumo.jpgAdmiralOrder of the Rising SunCommitted suicide in 1944 during the battle of Saipan.
Torpedo specialist and commander of the Carrier Striking Task Force that attacked Pearl Harbor. Successful raids at Darwin and the Indian Ocean were reversed at the Battle of Midway. Although he had tactical victories in the Guadalcanal campaigns, his battle strength was severely depleted, and was switched to the defence of the Mariana Islands.[1]
Jisaburō OzawaOzawa11.jpgVice AdmiralOrder of the Sacred TreasureDied in 1966.
Replaced Toyoda in 1945 to become Commander in Chief of the Japanese Combined Fleet[1]


Armed ForceNameHighest RankHighest AwardFateCasualties inflictedTheatres / Battles
ArmyGusztáv JányJany Gusztav.jpgColonel GeneralKnight's Cross of the Iron CrossSentenced to death in 1947.
Commanders of the Hungarian Second Army at Battle of Stalingrad.
Dezső LászlóDezso Laszlo.pngColonel GeneralKnight's Cross of the Iron CrossSentenced to death in 1949.
Commanders of the Hungarian First Army at Battle of Budapest
Géza LakatosColonel GeneralKnight's Cross of the Iron CrossDied in 1967, Australia at the age of 77.
Was a Colonel General in the Hungarian Army during World War II who served briefly as Prime Minister of Hungary, under governor Miklós Horthy from 29 August 1944, until 15 October 1944.


Armed ForceNameHighest RankHighest AwardFateCasualties inflictedTheatres / Battles
ArmyPlaek PibulsonggramPPS 2.JPGField MarshalOrder of the Nine GemsLater ousted after the defeat of the Japanese, only to return to power in 1948 and become Prime Minister until 1957.
Prime Minister and dictator of Thailand during the war, eventually commanding Thai forces during the French-Thai War.
Sarit ThanaratField Marshal Sarit Sarit Dhanarajata.jpgBrigadierOrder of the Crown of ThailandCommander of an infantry battalion and took part in the invasion and occupation of the Shan States in Burma. he was promoted to command the 1st Infantry Regiment of the Bangkok-based Guards Division. As a Colonel, he played a leading role in the 1947 military coup that overthrew the government of Prime Minister Thawal Thamrong Navaswadhi, a protege of Pridi Phanomyong, reinstalling the previously deposed Field Marshal Plaek Pibulsonggram as premier.
Commander of Lampang army during the Pacific War.


Armed ForceNameHighest RankHighest AwardFateCasualties inflictedTheatres / Battles
ArmyCarl Gustaf Emil MannerheimCarl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim.pngMarshal of FinlandGrand Cross of the Order of the Cross of LibertySucceeded Risto Ryti as President of Finland
Was Commander-in-Chief of Finnish army during World War II. Organised the Mannerheim Line in the Karelian Peninsula.[1]
Karl Lennart OeschKarl oesch.jpgLieutenant GeneralMannerheim CrossDied in 1978
Was one of the most important Finnish generals. II Corps and III Corps of the Finnish ground forces were under his command at the end of the Continuation War.


Armed ForceNameHighest RankHighest AwardFateCasualties inflictedTheatres / Battles
ArmyIon AntonescuIon antonescu.pngMarshal of RomaniaOrder of Michael the BraveExecuted in 1946.
Took control of Romania when Carol II abdicated, and established a fascist dictatorship with the Iron Guard Party. Acted as Commander-in-Chief of the Romanian Army and Conducător of Romania, recapturing Bessarabia and northern Bucovina, then appointed himself marshal. When his forces were decimated at Stalingrad, he started negotiating for peace. His career ended in 1944 when he was arrested by King Michael, who signed an armistice with the Allies.[1]
Petre DumitrescuPetre Dumitrescu.JPGGeneralKnight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak LeavesDied in 1950 after a bout with cancer.


Armed ForceNameHighest RankHighest AwardFateCasualties inflictedTheatres / Battles
ArmyFerdinand Čatloš05590 Ferdinand Čatloš Sanok - Slovak invasion of Poland (1939) crop.JPGMajor GeneralWas briefly imprisoned, set free in 1948, died in 1972.
Slovakian Minister of Defence and Chief General Staff.


Armed ForceNameHighest RankHighest AwardFateCasualties inflictedTheatres / Battles
ArmySubhas Chandra BoseSubhas Chandra Bose.jpgSupreme Commander of the Indian National ArmySher-e-HindDied under mysterious circumstances.
Led the Indian National Army.
Mohan Singh DebFujiwara Kikan.jpgGeneralVir-e-HindBecame a member of the Rajya Sabha.
First commander-in-chief of the Indian National Army.
Shah Nawaz KhanDr. Shahnawaz Khan.JPGGeneralVir-e-HindBecame a member of the Lok Sabha.
Led the 1st Guerrilla Detachment of the Indian National Army.
Lakshmi SahgalLakshmi Sahgal.jpgCaptainPadma VibhushanBecame a prominent leftist politician.
Commander of the all-female Rani of Jhansi regiment.



Armed ForceNameHighest RankHighest AwardFateCasualties inflictedTheatres / Battles
ArmyAung SanAung San in uniform.jpgMajor GeneralOrder of the Star of the RevolutionArranged for the establishment of Burmese independence, assassinated under mysterious causes in 1947.
Led the Burma National Army and the Anti-Fascist Organisation.


Armed ForceNameHighest RankHighest AwardFateCasualties inflictedTheatres / Battles
ArmyHenri GuisanGeneral Guisan.jpgGeneralSpecial war time four star General of Swiss Armed ForcesRetired in Switzerland feeling his mission was fulfilled, 1945
General Guisan developed his famous Swiss National Redoubt concept in summer 1940, He made it very clear that Switzerland would resist any Nazi invasion. If they ran out of bullets they were to resort to the bayonet. He said that Switzerland would defend itself against any invader and would never surrender. Indeed, Swiss citizens had been instructed to regard any surrender broadcast as enemy lies and resist to the end.


Armed ForceNameHighest RankHighest AwardFateCasualties inflictedTheatres / Battles
ArmyRoman ShukhevychRoman Shukhevych.jpgGeneralGold Cross of Combat Merit First Class, the Cross of Merit in goldDied fighting NKVD forces in Lviv in 1950.
Supreme commander of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap aq ar as at au av aw ax ay az ba bb bc bd be bf bg bh bi bj bk bl bm bn bo bp bq br bs bt bu bv bw bx by bz I.C.B Dear; M.R.D. Foot (2005). Oxford Companion to the Second World War (paperback ed.). Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-280666-6. 
  2. ^ a b Lord Ismay (2001). NATO, the first 5 years. NATO archives. 
  3. ^
  4. ^ C A Portal_P
  5. ^ Ossad, Steven L., Command Failures: Lessons Learned from Lloyd R. Fredendall, Army Magazine, March 2003
  6. ^ "Fleet Admiral Halsey Jr Profile at Naval Historical center". Retrieved 2007-01-03. 
  7. ^ Youngest General WW1
  8. ^ Freyberg - Archives from Italy
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l List of Knight's Cross recipients