Top 10 Greatest Military Blunders of World War II


There’s no doubt that the Second World War was the greatest conflict in modern history and the one event that continues to impact our world to this day. Consider how the world would look today had it not been fought, or had Japan and Germany won? And, even more intriguing, what if B had happened instead of A and the world taken a different direction as a result? It staggers the imagination.

The fact that it turned out the way it did, however, was the result of a number of factors, both positive and negative. What’s perhaps most important in understanding why one side won and the other lost is in recognizing that victory was not determined so much by who won the most battles—although ultimately that was a factor—but by who made the fewest costly mistakes.  With that in mind then, below is my list of the ten greatest blunders, missed opportunities, bad judgment and just plain bad luck committed by both sides that were instrumental in either lengthening the conflict or in managing to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.


Douglas MacArthur lands

Not a defeat, but an unnecessary operation that may have extended the war by months. After having been kicked out of the Philippines two years earlier, General Douglas MacArthur was itching to get back and convinced Roosevelt that he might lose reelection in 1944 if he didn’t liberate the island chain he had so ineptly tried to defend in 1942. However, by 1944 the Japanese air and naval presence on the island had been largely nullified and it was too far from Japan to be of use as a base from which to launch raids on its cities, leaving little reason to invade the place other than because that’s what Douglas wanted (and what Doug wanted, he usually got). The time spent securing the islands and the resources committed to doing so delayed the more important invasion of Okinawa in 1945 and probably extended the war by several months—but at least it gave MacArthur the chance to wade ashore at Leyte Gulf to proclaim that he had returned.

10. (Tie) KURSK, RUSSIA, 1943

Kursk Battle Illustration

Having apparently learned nothing from the trouncing he had just taken at Stalingrad six months earlier (see below), Hitler decides to launch yet another big offensive against the now large and well entrenched Soviet defenders, this time at a place called Kursk (an important industrial city some 300 miles south of Moscow). Billed as the largest land battle in history, the Soviet lines bent but didn’t break, and ended up costing the Germans pretty much the rest of the best of its army and air force and initiating Germany’s long and slow retreat back to Berlin, with all the unfortunate consequences for Hitler and the German people that eventually entailed. Image:

9. ANZIO, 1944

What is not well known to the average history buff is that American troops had a golden opportunity to finish off the Germans in Italy early on with their surprise landing at Anzio, Italy—a quaint little place just a hop, skip, and a jump from Rome. So taken by surprise were the Germans, in fact, that a few yanks in jeeps managed to drive all the way to Rome without hindrance, demonstrating that the way was open for allied forces and portending a major disaster for the Germans dug in to the south of the city. Unfortunately, the allied commander of the operation, Major General John P. Lucas, proved to be a bit timid and decided to consolidate his beachhead before pushing on to Rome, which gave the Germans time to move their forces and contain the Americans there for the next few months and costing Lucas his job. Had the man shown a little Pattonesque-like bravado, the Germans might have been forced back to the Austrian frontier two years earlier than they eventually were and countless allied and axis lives might have been saved in the process.


Italy invades Greece

With dreams of restoring the glory that was Rome, Mussolini unleashed his over-sized but inept army against Albania (yes, I said Albania) and Greece in the summer of 1940, and decided to push into Egypt from his colony in Libya as well. Not remarkably, Mussolini had his head handed to them by the British-Greek forces in the Balkans and the British-Allied forces in Egypt, forcing Hitler to have to send in his army to save his hapless ally. This ended up costing the Germans dearly, for it pulled valuable resources away from other fronts and delayed Hitler’s time-table for the conquest of the Soviet Union (see below), gumming up the whole affair. Chances are had Mussolini followed Franco’s lead in Spain and simply had Italy remain neutral, Germany may have won the war.

7. MAGINOT LINE and the FALL of FRANCE, 1940

Maginot Line

Having apparently learned nothing from World War One, the French set about creating an impenetrable line of fixed defenses on its border with Germany guaranteed to keep the Huns at bay. Called the Maginot line, it proved to be every bit as formidable as advertised; the problem was it didn’t go all the way to the coast, leaving a hundred mile wide gap that the Germans were able to plow through with relative ease in the spring of 1940, thereby encircling the British and French Armies in Belgium and handing the French a humiliating defeat that they don’t like to talk about to this day. Debate rages whether the Maginot Line would have stopped the Germans even if it had been complete, but considering how much warfare had changed since the trench warfare of World War One, it probably would only have slowed them down. Once the Germans breached it at any point, most likely the results would have been the same—just a little later in being realized.





Japanese Troops Bataan 1942

General Douglas MacArthur’s hare-brained scheme to defend the entire archipelago from the Japanese in the spring of 1942 was doomed from the start. Scattering his supplies of food and ammunition throughout the islands in hopes of defending every square inch of the place only ended in disaster for his men when he was quickly forced to abandon the plan—along with the stockpiles of food and ammo—and pull them all back to the Bataan Peninsula. After a few futile months of resistance, over 76,000 American and Filipino troops were starved into surrendering, leading to the greatest defeat in American military history. Not to worry, though; ‘ol Doug high-tailed it out of there before the end came and spent the rest of the war lobbying to be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his brilliant defense of the place (which he got, by the way).


London Blitz

With the fall of France in June of 1940, England stood alone against the Germans, making the likelihood of a sea-borne invasion of England—already in the planning stages—a very real possibility. Only Britain’s undersized air force—the RAF—stood in the way of keeping the German’s much vaunted Luftwaffe from seizing air control and making a sea invasion possible. At first the Germans were winning the war of attrition by attacking British airfields, but after a small-scale RAF bomber raid on Berlin on August 25th, 1940 (which did little real damage) enraged der Fuhrer, Luftwaffe Air Marshal Goering decided to retaliate by switching targets from the RAF airfields to London. In doing so, he gave the British a much needed chance to regroup and rearm, the result being the Luftwaffe’s eventual defeat and the cancellation of the invasion of England a few months later. Image:

4. INVASION of the SOVIET UNION, 1941-1945

Invasion Soviet Union

Hitler’s ambitious plan to defeat Communism on his own doorstep by knocking out the Soviet Union in one bold move very nearly worked, but it also forced him to fight a two-front war against two enemies—the USSR and USA—that far outmatched Germany in terms of manpower and industrial capability. After Stalingrad (see below) in 1942, Germany was on the defensive and defeat, pending some miracle weapon that never managed to emerge, was inevitable. Had Hitler finished off England first and secured his western front before taking on his Soviet foe (and staying out of war with America in the process) history could well have had a very different ending. Image:


Pearl Harbor Newspaper Headline

A well-planned and executed operation that resulted in a spectacular victory for Japan, it also planted the seeds for their own eventual defeat. In concentrating their efforts on the largely obsolete battleships, the Japanese pilots failed to knock out the major infrastructure on the island—the oil farms, repair shops, and munitions storage facilities—that made it possible for the Americans to use Pearl Harbor as their forward base of operations throughout the war. Had they done so, it would have forced the U.S. to fall back to the west coast, making operations in the Pacific far more difficult and probably extending the war by a year or more. The Japanese also failed to sink the aircraft carriers—their primary targets that were out to sea at the time and a force that would come back to extract retribution later on—or attack the submarine pens. This was truly a case in which short-term victory resulted in a long term defeat.

2. DUNKIRK, 1940

1940 Dunkirk troops

Having successfully encircled the combined Anglo-French army in northern France and Belgium in June of 1940, German forces were poised to deliver the coup d’grace to the allies when Hitler inexplicably ordered his armies to halt their advance just miles short of final and total victory. It was said he did this to make a point to his generals that he was the hero of the day, not they. As a result, over 300,000 British and French soldiers were able to be evacuated to England before the noose was closed, allowing them to fight again. Had they not been evacuated, it is doubtful the British could have stood up to the Germans and Italians in North Africa the following year, potentially altering the outcome of the war by permitting the axis to take Egypt and the oil-fields of the Middle East—in which case it really would have been game over.


Battle of Stalingrad

This is the battle which essentially cost the Germans the war. Hitler’s ambitious plan to seize the oil-rich Caucasus region of the Soviet Union in the summer of 1942 ground to a halt on the shores of the Volga River at a city named after the Soviet leader Joseph Stalin. After months of brutal fighting that left hundreds of thousands dead on both sides and the city leveled, Hitler’s man on the spot, Field Marshal Von Paulus, found his army entirely surrounded and was forced to surrender over a quarter million men in February of 1943. Had Hitler allowed him to withdraw a few months earlier when victory was truly out of reach, it would probably have staved off Germany’s ultimate defeat by months or, possibly, even years (giving them the time needed to develop an atomic bomb, perhaps?) Image:


Jeff Danelek is a Denver, Colorado author who writes on many subjects having to do with history, politics, the paranormal, spirituality and religion. To see more of his stuff, visit his website at

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  1. Extremely annoying to see the term ‘England’ being used here. Try and remember that the UK is not just England. There are four countries that make up British Isles. Also the fact that the dominions also constituted a large part of the British Empire as it was then, contributed millions of troops to the cause. Its just naivety to keep spouting England all the time.

  2. Big Military Blunders don’t always result in major defeat. The Battle of The Bulge is one example of this. I consider The Battle of The Bulge big blunders for the both the Allies and Nazi Germany. The Allies were so caught of guard it made men from top to bottom shit their pants. The few soldiers at the front, and then the generals away drinking champagne to celebrate their brilliance, didn’t know what hit them. There was pathetic shock, confusion, chaos, terror, disaster, misery and death. It was a big failure in military intelligence, strategic prudence and tactical readiness. The decision-makers back at Allied HQ underestimated the German’s ability to mount a major offensive, and then doubted Patton’s ability to rush to the rescue (fortunately, he outflanked them). While, Germany could not stop their sealed fate, it was a huge Allied embarrassment that resulted in traumatic horror in the field and in the civilian communities in the German offensive’s path. As a footnote, I met a very dignified 91 year old man last year (2014) who served in Patton’s army. He told me how he spent a long time freezing his fingers and toes off in a foxhole while fellow soldiers all around him were being shredded and blown to pieces, while wondering how their army could have gotten this so wrong.

  3. Operation Market garden was a to optimistic plan from Montgemery. A desaster for so many people citizens and alied force. Nazi Terror could maybe finnished a year earlier but went that went wrong.

    But even that…..
    I thanks the man and woman who gives there blood for our freedom, something we never forget.

  4. Douglas MacArthur was an egotistical SOB who missed the opportunity to adequately defend the Philipines after having several hours notice (he did nothing) then he flees the island and then publicly rips those left behind for having to surrender to the Japanese. He later rejects medals for those left behind. As if he didnt blunder enough in WWII he continues this poor planning in Korea. He is highly overrated.

  5. The author does not seem to realize that FDR, Ernest King and Chester Nimitz, George Marshall and Douglas MacArthur, et al. debated WHICH needed to to be invaded, the Phillipines or Formosa. The Phillipines were chosen for various reasons, and they made the smart decision of bypassing Formosa, which would have been a truely big mistake. The Phillipines and its people were liberated and the country became an invaluble tactical and strategic asset for troop mobilization, airpower projection and naval basing and operations for the remainder of the war. Your choice of this as a blunder is hogwash.

    Gen. MacArthur was a self-obsessed egomanic, but he was also a courageous warrior and brilliant commander; your petty insults on his name and character are shameful – if only you could be 10% of the man he was.

  6. Goetz von Berlichingen on

    Harry, you are delusional. The Germans created Hitler. Nazi-apologists like yourself could very well lead to the next one.
    And that Churchill quote? Sure are plenty of books that have been written by the losers.
    You strike me as yet another German rationalizing the legacy of his people.

    • I am not a nazi-apologist, i hate nazies, it’s in my blood. I was born in USSR right before it’s collapse. Russia of 90-es was a country where “patriotism” was almost a crime in the eyes of simple people. We was taught that we are nothing and west is ewerything. Some people in other former soviet republics thought that nazies was a liberators… calling us a true criminals… and west supported them as long as they keep talking that way. That confused me… still do… That continued untill we regained our selfrespect in 21-thcentury. But it doesn’t mean we didn’t draw conclusions from recent history. I know you have no idea what i’m talking about, after all your media is less freely than in Russia. (that i will newer doubt after 08/08/08) ))) Check sponsors of the gratest tyrant of all times and his sympathisers in Brtain and USA if you able… and compare their actions and intentions according to the ideas of the west of the early 20th century. There was “nothing” wrong untill he started to lose. (Dont tell me about Britain joined the war after Hitler attacked Poland, there still was planty of room to negotiate peace from both sides, before Hitler completely gone mad.)
      Different times – different thinking. Easier to blame someone who is already dead. Politicians all a bunch of lying sons of bithes. Yet again, Hitler was a usefull tool against communism untill it started to be clear, that he is unstable, and going to lose…

  7. MacArthur received his MOH in April 1942, so I don’t see how he could have lobbied for it for the duration of the war. What he did lobby for, prior to the war, was for the US to prepare for war with Japan.

    • Perhaps MacArthur did lobby to be ready for the Japanese; but that makes me wonder how come his defense of the Philippines was so pathetic. He had over 200 planes; mostly P-40s a type which was used to great advantage by the Flying Tigers, from the accounts I’ve read these were largely destroyed on the ground in neat rows with no air patrols prior to the invasion and not a single Japanese plane downed by US aircraft? Even Pearl Harbor defenders did better than that without any warning. During the initial invasion the US had 30,000 men (12,000 were captured alone at the Bataan surrender, 3000-4000 captured later at Corregidor and most of the remaining either left isolated, captured or killed prior to those surrenders, a few were evacuated with Mac Aurthur who was “ordered to leave”). A numeric equivalence ought to have been an advantage to defenders, had US and Filipino troops been adequately trained the allied forces would have been at substantial advantage over the invading Japanese . Instead the troops were ill trained and lost any chance; for example the US had better M3 tanks but the troops were not trained to use them; which lead to defeat by less capable Japanese tanks. Mac Arthur had prior warning given the attack on Pearl Harbor – and since he been advocating for a preparing, it is surprising he appeared to be completely caught with his shorts down. Sounds like he ought to have taken his own advice. Perhaps the Japanese were underestimated, they themselves were evidently timid; instead of Midway later on, they ought to have planned to invade Hawaii following up the destruction of the US fleet. Even with the US carriers being unaccounted for they had a 2 to 1 advantage.

      In any case Mac’s performance up to 1942 hardly justifies a Medal of Honor award unless turn tailing and running leaving his troops was considered an act of conspicuous bravery. No doubt the US needed hero’s and wanted to avoid the embarrassment of a top General being captured but perhaps he could have defeated the Japanese had he prepared his own troops.

  8. To begin, I want to express my gratitude to all those who died in that terrible war, fought for the right cause. Eternal glory to them and memory. At the same time – eternal shame to politicians whose greed led to enormous casualties. More and more files become declassified and now we can say with certainty that the cause of the war was not a romantic struggle between two ideologies or with absolute evil. The reason for the start of any war, as this one has always been money and land, and remains so to this day. Looking back you realize that you can not change human nature, it is understood by all the great minds of all times and peoples. And in this case the rulers feed us with lies, as always before, in order to stay on the throne longer. Indeed, as Churchill said, “History is written by the winners,” so they did – “written” it for what they need. West created Hitler, while he was admired before the war, not only for his hatred of communism. Financed, west forgave all violations of disarmament treaties by him, the annexation of several countries, and everything to push him with an ulcer in Europe – the USSR. Russia in the early 20th century planned to be divided by rapidly developing and suffering from a crisis countries into zones of influence under the control of the leading powers – the yesterday enemies of theWorld War I. Interest was strictly economic, see geological map and you’ll understand why. The German people had been deceived by the most brutal manner – West slipped to them a psychopath, and doomed german people to shame for many years. Japan has also been forced to attack the United States because of economic pressure on it’s part. America needed an excuse to enter the war officially, and the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor was not surprise at all. As well as the attack on the Soviet Union was not abrupt, Stalin did everything not to give Hitler a pretext for an attack, although provocations by German troops on the border was a lot. Do you think that Hitler struck a preemptive strike of the USSR? If the USSR had not ended war with a reputation as a superpower, the genocide in its territory would continue to this day but by financial corporations of the alliance, as it was during the Civil War in Russia. (Yes, concentration camps are not a German invention – it’s British, and if not disgusting attitude of the alliance to the civilian population, the Communists would not have won the Civil War.) God knows what the world would look like if it all went on an original idea, but I assure you , could be much worse.

  9. If that is your opinion or point of view then there is nothing I can say to change that, it is not my aim to to change that, but it stands clear to me that our appreciation of things are different, to me the Germans are the undisputed champions of recent large scale warfare , the statistical facts bear that out, if you don’t see it that way you are entitled to your opinion.

  10. I’m not quite sure how you think that the Battle of Britain was only a British victory because of propaganda. The failure of the Germans to develop a 4 engine bombs became the downfall of their Luftwaffe. The statistics show that the British and their allies fought off superior numbers and defeated the one of the if not the strongest airforce in the world. The war for the Germans was over they foolishly invaded Russia before England was captured, they invaded the Balkans which cost them time they didn’t have to spend and they attacked Russian which I think was a huge mistake. I don’t believe that the Wehrmacht deserve the credit that you give them they fought no harder than any other army in the same situation.


  11. jan Malherbe on

    Note that I spesifically said the 2-1 kill rate was in the final period when Germany was finally being crushed by overwhelming odds against them, the true achievement of the Wermacht was the fact that it could keep the fight going against overwhelmingly superior enemies(numerically and materially) The BoB being an outright British victory is one of the longest standing propoganda lies concocted to bolster a nation that was in desperate situation reeling before the blows of a superior enemy the battle was more like standoff , the Luftwaffe taking unsustainable losses(bombers esp), and Hitler growing impatiant , knowing time was his enemy and the friend of his foes, read the battle statistics for that fight and you will come to the conclusion the Jagdflieger in their Bf -109 ‘s were getting the better of the RAF fighter command’s Spitfires and Hurricanes , regardless of the British having the home advantage the 109’s short range etc, compared to daylight British bomber command attempts against German targets with contemporary equipment in the form of twin engined Wellington’s the Germans faired pretty well under the circumstances. The BoB was a draw if anything, an unresolved battle due to Hitlers turning his attention to a much larger fish to fry in the east with dire consequences for the thousand year Rheich!

    • I had been refraining from joining this particular conversation because, honestly sir, I felt you were goading individuals with what appeared to be comments skewed to make you appear to be either a troll or a neo-nazi. Please understand I am accusing you of neither. However, your last comment which states that the Battle of Britain was, at best, a draw seems to strain credulity. If you were to look at the statistics, as you were fond of citing earlier, Britain had the obvious advantage.

      The definitive statement, however, should come from Luftwaffe General Werner Kreipe, who described it as a “strategic (Luftwaffe) failure” and “turning point in the Second World War”. Kreipe also states the “German Air Force was bled almost to death, and suffered losses that could never be made good throughout the course of the war”.

      I would recommend reading General der Flieger Kreipe’s “The Fatal Decision:Six Decisive Battles of the Second world war from the Viewpoint of the Vanquished.” It should give you a somewhat more balanced perspective.

      Frank M., MA, History

      • all righty then on

        Well, no offense to General Kreipe, but Nazi aircraft production skyrocketed in the years following the brief and indeterminate aerial skirmishing over England in 1940, so their minor losses in that minor skirmishing were quite easily made good, many times over.

        • Since the comments of a former Air Chief of Staff don’t seem to convince, perhaps using statistics will.

          You mention how Nazi aircraft production “skyrocketed in the years following…” Let’s look at that;
          Bomber production, 1941, in Germany – 3373, Britain – 7943. 1942 – Germany – 4337, Britain – 11692. 1943 – 4799, Britain – 15075. 1944 – Germany – 2351, Britain – 16009.

          Fighter production, 1941, Germany – 3744, Britain – 7064. 1942, Germany – 5358, Britain – 9859. 1943, Germany – 10059, Britain – 10722. 1944, Germany – 24981, Britain – 10532.

          As we can see from the numbers above, insofar as bombers were concerned, British production skyrocketed while Germany had steady increase until 1944 when it dropped dramatically.

          As to fighters, other than 1944 (four years after the Battle of Britain) Germany’s production of fighter aircraft lagged behind Britain’s production. It could be argued, though I will not do it here, that the substantial increase in fighter aircraft production in 1944 was due to significant losses on both the Eastern and Western Fronts. Suffice it to say that 1944 was the only year in which it could be said that Germany’s aircraft production “skyrocketed”.

          I sincerely doubt that even these figures will convince you however. I would ask that if you make a statement such as that, please back it up with statistics and references.

          That being said, if major historians as well as historical figures fail to convince you of the importance of the battle and its repercussions as to the strategies of the Third Reich, I doubt that I will be able to do so. Indefensible Ignorance.

        • To say the Americans had a 5 to 1 kill ratio is outright stupid. The British didn’t suffer a 3 to 1 loss ratio against the Germans either, in fact, the British likely inflicted more on the enemy than they took, just look at the battle of Normandy. Also, in ww1, at the battle of the somme, the allies lost 146000 men killed, while the Germans lost 164000 killed, and that battle is regarded as a poor battle for the British, yet they still inflicted more losses than they sustained.

      • The Bf-109s got the better of the hurricanes, and were about equal to the spitfires, but the British fighters were focusing on the German bombers, the 109 isn’t a superior machine to the spitfire, not at all, just to the hurricane.

  12. I do not deny that that Germans fought well in both war. In both wars the fates were decided early on in my opinion. In the first war the Germans failed to secure the diplomacy they needed and that left them with 2 failing empires as Allies along with a few other minor nations. Otto Von Bismarck said that for Germany to win a major war they would need the support of 2 other major Europe nations/empires. In ww2 the Germans high command made a huge mistake in attacking Russia when they did and probably should have read a book about the history of russia and why it’s a bad idea to invade them. Now exacting a 2-1 casualty rate is good but I would fail to call it impressive many nations have caused a much higher rate and won the war on top of that. Now before you say that the Russians are the only ones who can claim they beat the Germans take a look at the early part of ww2 and the failure of the Luftwaffe to destroy the RAF and look at the inability for the Germans to launch a successful invasion of an island.


  13. jan Malherbe on

    Germany won many battles but lost the war due to overextending herself , they should have left the Russians alone and dealt the British (arrogant Island dwellers) the knockout blow by taking the middle east and consolidating the med into a axis lake , this was the advise of the German high command , but Mr Hitler was obsessed with bringing down communism ( good idea but to risky Russia to big, to many Russians , nasty weather). Mr Hitler became overambitious and gambled away his empire he had built with such speed and brilliance! But that the Germans were consumate soldiers, no person with a decent appreciation of matters military will deny , so to you above my friend, you obviously dislike Germans and your statements are oversimplifications of the first order!

    • Hitler had little to do with with the success of his forces early in the war. The Germans in my opinion lost the war at the battle of Dunkirk(if you’d call it a battle) as they allowed the entire British expiditionary army escape along with soldiers from many other nations. And those “arongant” island dwellers beat German in not 1 but 2 world wars so tread carefully. However I would have to agree that the German military was probably man for man the best of the war

      • jan Malherbe on

        If having the help of almost the rest of the world ; 3 empires , Soviet, American and all the dominions of the British empire to beat those nasty nazis,(Ww-2) is called a beating of the Germans in both ww1 and 2 by the British then I suppose you are right the British did beat the Germans in both wars. There is only one nation who can come close to claiming they ‘beat’ the Germans and that is the Russians (Ww-2 at least) 14 million casualties later , the Ruskies did by far most of the bleeding to defeat those tactically brilliant Germans, and by means of swamping them with vastly superior numbers, yet even then in the last desperate (for the Germans) months of the war , they still exacted a 2 to 1 kill rate against their enemies , a remarkable feat like so many other remarkable feats by the Germans in matters military!

        • all righty then on

          They never exacted a 2 to 1 kill rate against the Americans. The US military killed the Germans 5 to 1 minimum. But yes, the Brits and Soviets were killed always at a 3 to 1 clip always, in both world wars. The Germans were far superior to both of them.

  14. Sick and tired of listening to all you nazi lovers . Bottom line germany decides to assist italy in n. Africa runs back to germany with tail between legs . Decides to attack britain runs back to germany with tail between legs . Decides to attack russia runs back to germany with tail between legs . Get over it you dopes the only reason the german people even exist as a race is due to the humanity of there conquers ! Sick and tired of listening to all the excuses as to why germany lost the war . They loss because they were inferior to thier enemies . Jokers!

  15. The truly biggest blunder of the war was the toothless “guarantee” of Poland’s absurd boundaries, provided by the UK and France in 1939, smack dab in the middle of a major border argument between Germany and Poland. The war which followed hastened the end of all the European empires; and led to an exhaustion from which Europe still suffers. I hope NATO becomes careful about extending similar guarantees to small countries. Think how the Russia-Georgia War of August 2008 could have escalated if the U.S. had stepped in.

  16. Operation Keelhaul, (repatriating Jews back to Russia after the war) While this alone isnt a blunder, it was a very shameful act by Eisenhower. Secondly, The Marshall Plan, giving Eastern Europe to Stalin. Despicable. Marshall and Ike were stooges of Stalin.

  17. I think it was a big blunder that Japan didn’t invade the Soviet Union instead of attacking Pearl Harbor. Japan and Germany didn’t coordinate very well, it seems, contrary to all those propaganda cartoons I saw on TV while I was growing up where Hitler, Tojo, and Mussolini were always together. Anyways, the Japs thought the US would enter the war regardless of whether they attacked or not. They didn’t appreciate Roosevelt’s political problem had we not been attacked.
    I would also say that Hitler’s invasion of Poland was a blunder. The Germans didn’t expect war with England and France as a result. They were surprised.

  18. One wonders what if….

    Barbarossa hadn’t been delayed by 6 weeks? Or had been pushed out to the spring of 42, allowing the Germans to use more troops to take Suez? Clearing the Med in ’43 increased Allied shipping capacity by a third simply by shortening the route from the gulf oil terminals.

    Churchill had persuaded we Americans to be more aggressive in Italy by landing further north… and on reaching the Poe River Valley to push NE towards Vienna.

    Japan had invaded Hawaii on Dec 7, 1941. Much more useful than what they actually did: occupying Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, and Burma.

  19. This guy’s dislike of MacArthur is stupid and childish. The notion in (6) that MacArthur was trying to defend the entire Philippine archipelago is simply incorrect. Mac had 12,000 US soldiers, and 100,000 lightly armed Filipino Scouts. He didn’t disperse his defense efforts across all the islands…. Everybody knows that he deliberately CONCENTRATED the bulk of his forces in central Luzon waiting for the main attack; which he correctly believed would fall on the in the Lingayen Gulf, and proceed toward the Pampanga river delta. He was just outgunned, that’s all. MacArthur kept his eye on the ball, and thru necessity ignored Japanese landings at Cotabato, Zamboanga, Davao, Infanta, Vigan, Laoag, Panay, Cebu, and other locations … waiting for the climactic battle.

    • Too bad several silly factual errors and biases weren’t avoided… such as the author’s flatly false claim in (8) that Italy ‘unleashed’ an invasion of Greece … and Albania… in 1940. He even says “yes, I said Albania”. My reply? No, not Albania! Albania was annexed by Italy in early 1939, moths before the war ever broke out, and a year and a half before Italy struck at Greece.

      Have you noticed that none of these “blunders” were committed by Britain? All were committed by the Germans, Italians, the French, the Americans, or someone else. Not the British. They apparently were golden! Looks somewhat fishy.

      I wonder why the dogged U.S. defense of the Phillippines makes the list… but not the surrender at Singapore. This was one of the most titanic defeats in all world military history; certainly in British history. 80,000 men, many fully armed, and without having seen battle, were instead surrendered into the tender mercies of the Imperial Japanese Army, by the asinine British general Percival.

      But no, that doesn’t make this list.

  20. Biggest blunders of WW2 in Europe.
    1. Putting an in- experienced general in charge of the European campaign. 2. Fighting on an extended front. 3.Delay in opening the port of Antwerp. 4.Unconditional surrender for Germany. 5.The Ardennes. Battle of the bulge.6.Poor tank design.

  21. Some woefully inaccurate generalizations here,the worst of which are the implication that failing to withdraw earlier from Stalingrad may have cost the germans the chance to develop the atomic bomb first!! There was no way this was ever going to happen.
    The Battle of France was a massive disaster and utter rout for the West yet we are told that the main blunder came from the winning team at Dunkirk!! Of the men who did flee safely to England[most of the equipment was left behind] a third were repatriated to France anyway and the rest were involved in peripheral campaigns or used at D-Day by which time the war was effectively lost for the Germans.There was nothing decisively decided at Dunkirk except the defeat of France and the end of Britain as a continental player.
    Operation Sealion is regarded as a bluff by many historians[and many German Sources] so the importance attached to the Battle Of Britain is not substantiated.Goering’s usual incompetence was on display with switching of priorities but it was not a decisive issue. Of course it is a matter of national pride for the English so the manipulation of history continues.
    Similarly national pride on the part of Americans and Filipinos has seen many people post objections to the author’s take on Macarthur and the Philippines but in this instance he is correct.Macarthur was an abominable man whose inflated reputation depended on lies and PR spin.His initial defence of the islands and his abandonment of his men [he disobeyed many orders but not the order to save his own skin] were lamentable episodes.

    • all righty then on

      How was he “abominable”?

      What was “inflated” about his reputation? What were these “lies” you reference? What was the “PR spin”?

      What was “lamentable” about his defense of the Philippines? The Brits rolled over in about a week or so, not so the Philippines and MacArthur. History doesn’t support your hyperbole, I’m afraid.

  22. Charles Houghton on

    Your list is so rife with inaccuracies, mistakes, biases and outright falsehoods, I don’t even know where to begin. And shame on RealClear for even posting such crap.

    10. The decision wheether or not to invade the Philipinnes was weighed against further bloody island battles in the Central Pacific Campaign, of which Adm. Nimitz had already a poor track record for choosing. It played no role whatsoever in postponing the invasion of Okinawa. But since you mentioned Okinawa, why is that missing from your list? It was already known within the highest command in Washington that the Manhattan Project would very likely rule out an invasion of japan, making Okinawa useless.

    6. While we’re on MacAurthur and the Philipinnes, I’ll jump to number 6. The defense was a delaying action, very critical at that time. AND, MacAurthur received the Medal of Honor in 1942, check your simplest facts before you start mouthing off. But that at least completely ruled out the most base legitimacy to your list. You don’t know much, but you have much to say.

    • 6. At the start of World War II the Philippines was a Commonwealth of the United States. MacArthur was U.S. Military Advisor to the Philippines since the late 1930’s and assisting them to establish a means for the Philippines to defend themselves. I believe that alone is reason enough for us to have troops there when war with Japan was eminent. Our blunder was leaving our troops there with no further support from the U.S. As mentioned earlier we screwed up when we failed to transport food, medicine and weapons to Bataan rather than leaving them behind for the Japanese to get their hands on the supplies. This greatly shortened our defense of the Philippines and set our soldiers up for the Death March and 3-1/2 years of the worst treatment, abuse and beatings of the war.

      Japan’s goal was to capture the Philippines by the end of January. Bataan held out until early April and Corregidor for another 3-4 weeks. I’m sorry I don’t recall the source but Japan believed the war was lost at that time. This additional time gave us time to get our defense plans for the Pacific in place. If the Philippines fell within 50 days (late January) would Midway have been moved up 3 months to early March? If so, we would have lost that one. We did not break the Japanese code until May which enabled us to learn of Japan’s plan to take control of Midway in early June. The most important battle for the U.S. in WW II was the phenomenal defense of the Philippines by our soldier’s, in my opinion. Not only did it give us 3 extra months to our make plans for the Pacific, it allowed us time to continue with our commitment to England. What would Roosevelt have done if all at once (late February – early March) Japan was at Midway and within a few flying hours of Hawaii.

  23. In my opinion Stalingrad and Kursk were the most important battles of World War II because after those two battles Hitler was on the defenssive.

  24. Though I’d list some problems with your points.

    -The Liberation of the Philippines-
    Well if Doug hadn’t of liberated the islands, it would of been disastrous later on. The Philippines was absolutely vital to the resupply of all campaigns that came after it. How would they of supplied the Okinawan forces without control over the Philippines. Also, it leaves the Japanese in a much better position. They can harass the ships coming by the Philippines, and they may not surrender. When they did surrender, all they had was Japan. But with Japan and the Philippines, it may prolong the war because they feel their in a good spot. Most likely, the US would have to invade it later anyway. Lastly, as posted above, Doug didn’t run away, he was ordered to leave.

    -Kursk, Russia-
    Here, I almost 100% agree with you. The Germans should have learned after Stalingrad that they had lost on the Eastern front. Perhaps if they had used those troops to defend better, the Soviet push could of been slowed by a lot. The war had been decided earlier when the Germans failed to take Moscow, but this just made a bad situation terrible.

    No complaints here, good points. Only thing I feel the need to point out is that daring encirclement was not the West’s style of battle.

    First off, if Italy was neutral the Germans would not of won the war. Its debated whether they were better to have them or not, but they weren’t the reasons the Germans lost. The African wars also drew Allied troops, who could of gone to Britain, and D-Day could of come sooner. Or Dunkirk may of succeeded. Either way, it would of been bad for the Germans.

    -Fall of France-
    Well the Magniot line really has nothing to do with the Fall of France. The main reason was the French doctrine of battle. It was so outdated and slow to react, they were guaranteed to lose any prolonged battle. As for the Line, it actually held up really well. All German attacks against it were repulsed, and it only fell when the French pulled troops away to deal with other areas. Also, the French were aware that the line in the North was weak, thats why they put almost all of their troops there. Although I agree, it was unintelligent not to put more time and effort into completing the damn thing.

    -Philippines Defence-
    You seem to have a particular distaste for General MacArthur. Doug made a lot of mistakes, like not consolidating his forces and trying to defend everything, and losing his Air Force the first day, which was kinda hard to avoid. But even with his mistakes his defence of the Bataan peninsula was brilliant. It delayed the Japanese immensely, and gave America the one thing it needed, time.

    -The London Blitz-
    Here read this, It’ll tell you that Operation Sealion was completely impossible in the same timeline leading up to 1939. If the Germans continued bombing airfields it wouldn’t of mattered, because of what the RAF planned to do. All fighters would withdraw to Scotland, out of range from the Germans. Then when Sealion happened, the planes would all move south, denying the Germans air superiority. As for bombing, it was never really effective. Even in 1942-44 when the West bombed Germany extensively, it was never overly effective. That was with far superior bombers and numbers too, the German bombing would of done even less. I agree it was stupid to switch the target, but it didn’t matter at all really.

    -Operation Barbarossa-
    Unable to defeat Britain, who are unable to do anything but bomb Germany. It seemed the perfect time to invade the Soviet Union. They had failed miserably in the Finnish War, so the Germans though they could defeat them easily. The US was pro-allies, but showed no signs of entering the war anytime soon. Hitler fully believed, with decent logic, that he could fight in Russia for 2-3 years, then return and defeat the British, after all he cant predict when the States gets involved. As mentioned above, there was really no way for Germany to defeat Britain. Maybe submarines, but that would of taken away from other areas of the war, and the British would just counter by putting more industry into Anti-Submarine measure. Also, it would of taken too long.

    -Pearl Harbor-
    It was launched with the intention of wiping out the American Pacific fleet, which it did a decent job of doing. It wasn’t Japans fault the carriers just happened to by away at the time. In their arrogance and ignorance, they never expected to fight the Americans in a long war. So why bother destroying a forward post. The goal was to cripple them, and reduce morale. Which is accomplished by sinking their ships. Unleashing the operation on Pearl Harbor was stupid, but considering what they wanted to achieve, the way they did it was intelligent.

    As I’ve mentioned, Germany could never invade Britain, so the troops aren’t “Needed” to defend her. Also, a little known fact is that when they got back, most when straight back to France where they fought until the final pullout, with many becoming POW’s and not making it. Britain would still of been defended by the Home Guard Militia, and thousands of troops from Canada. Thats if the Germans could invade, which they couldn’t.

    -Operation Stalingrad-
    I agree here. The Germans over committed themselves, and focused on achieving too many objectives. Hitler should of allowed Paulus to retreat, when it was clear the Germans weren’t going to win.

  25. I’d have to rate Hitler’s invasion of Russia as the war’s biggest blunder. If he was going to invade Russia, he should have fully subjugated England first. The day Hitler made it a two-front war was the day he lost it.

    • all righty then on

      The Brits weren’t putting up much of a fight against Hitler, so invading the Soviet Union was actually opening up a first front, not a second.

      Hitler opened up a second front when he declared war on the US.

      • All righty, you really are stupid aren’t you? The British were already defeating the luftwaffe, battling in North Africa, and destroying the kriegsmarine, and their army was getting much stronger, as the Germans would find out when they got hammered in Normandy by the British Army. And Germany had to garrison Western Europe, you don’t just capture ground and then not defend it, but what should I expect from someone who doesn’t have the slightest clue about military matters.

  26. In reading the list and all the comments regarding it, I actually think it is helpful to put up such a list and then let people with knowledge of the events go at it.
    Personally, I have read many of the WWII books by Rick Atkinson, Andrew Roberts and many other historians — and look forward to reading more as they come out.
    Putting Anzio on the list is problematic for me — The Italian campaign was always shortchanged as so many assets were needed in preparation for the Normandy landings, so caution was prudent when you don’t have overwhelming forces. Also, a deep penetration into Rome from Anzio might well have led to an encirclement and Allied forces being trapped. However, anything that involved Mark Clark could always be questioned as he grandstanded his way into Rome when he should have been cleaning out German opposition that was very vulnerable if he would have focused on the fighting instead of on Rome.
    Stalin made a number of blunders that could be mentioned. He trusted the Germans not to attack him. He pushed out his frontier forces so that they were in an indefensible position. He purged the armed forces of almost all of its top leaders just prior to the outbreak of WWII. It was almost as if Hitler and Stalin took turns making huge mistakes.
    But I have to give the so-called “backward” Russian economic system for the T-34 tank and the Stormovik fighter. Who would have ever though they could beat the Germans in technology.
    I had cousins at the Battle of the Bulge, at Normandy, and my dad was on the cruiser Bremerton for the surrender ceremonies at Tokyo Bay. We talk a lot of military history in our family.
    Sometime, I would like to make a list of 10 greatest military achievements of WWII — and take the positive side of these arguments.

    • Jerry, I don’t mean to rain on your parade, but USS Bremerton (CA-130) was not present for the surrender ceremonies at Tokyo Bay. She was on the other side of the world (Casco, Maine to be precise) on September 2 1945.

  27. Everyone is missing the Greatest Blunder of WWII. Hitler’s declaration of war against the US!!!

    • As an American, consider that the Russians were responsible for well over 70% of Nazi military casualties. In the end, the decision to invade the USSR was far more costly to Nazi Germany.

  28. I would have to rank the surrender of Singapore by the British to a much inferior numbered Japanese force. Most POW’s did not survive the camps, the death marches and the building of the thai-burma railway. Absolutely disgusting.

  29. The idea that the Japanese could have destroyed the repair and fuel facilities at Pearl Harbor is a myth.
    Check out “The Attack on Pearl Harbor: Strategy, Combat, Myths, Deceptions” by Alan Zimm.

  30. It seems to be very easy to impugn the valor of an individual long after his passing. Douglas MacArthur was many things, arrogant, vain, at times petty but also courageous, intelligent and a brilliant tactician. To state that he “spent the rest of the war lobbying to be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his brilliant defense of the place …” is purely untrue. He was recommended for the Medal of Honor (“Congressional” is not part of the name) by General Marshall and it was awarded in April of 1942. Hardly the “rest of the war”. Additionally, MacArthur was ordered by President Roosevelt to relocate to Australia. MacArthur discussed the idea with his staff that he resign his commission and fight on as a private soldier in the Philippine resistance but Sutherland talked him out of it. MacArthur initially wanted to decline the medal. He chose to accept the medal on the basis that “this award was intended not so much for me personally as it is a recognition of the indomitable courage of the gallant army which it was my honor to command.” This is hardly the sentiment of an individual seeking awards for himself.

    A little more research before casting aspersions, please.

  31. The real reading between the lines is that Nazism was never meant to win. Historians spend some of their time arguing about what if B took place instead of A, or if this happened other than that, and so forth, but the bottom line is that Hitler was never meant to win; he had the seeds of his own demise planted within him from day zero.

    The most peculiar thing is that Hitler was no fool, with an IQ of 145-150 and a true streak of genius, yet, Hitler seemed to commit unforgivable mistakes and blunders, ones which attributed to a deranged moron. Though, Hitler biggest blunder (attacking the USSR) was also his biggest contribution: it hastened the collapse and contributed in weakening the communist world at the long run, during the Cold War period

    It could also easily be debated that there was a greater force at work here.

    • I agree with your point of Hitler not being a moron. Example of this would be how fast he got Germany out of their depression. However I don’t agree with your point about Nazi Germany weakening the USSR and therefore the communist world because communism had not peaked and did not until later.

  32. Great to see MacArthur on this list, he was the most incompetent American General of the war and his ridiculous ego killed far too many men. The American Marines and the Australian Army were the troops that stopped the Japanese in the South Pacific with only hinderance coming from MacArthur.

    • Couldn’t agree more. I think he is the most over-rated general in American history. He was most certainly brilliant. But he was also arrogant, reckless and insubordinate. I’ll give him his due for Inchon, but that’s it.

      • all righty then on

        MacArthur commanded in a theater that was geographically larger than any other. He planned and executed about 5 dozen amphibious operations. That would be about 60 of them, in other words.

        Cartwheel was the most spectacular campaign of the Pacific, by far.

        In all this, MacArthur’s forces lost 15,000 killed in action.

        By the way, the Australian Army did very little to “stop the Japanese in the South Pacific”. No offense to them. They were very few in number, obviously, and very badly led by British trained officers, especially Blamey. It was only the US invasion of Guadalcanal that saved the Oz from being destroyed and pushed out of New Guinea, as it caused the Japanese to withdraw and conserve their resources, thus sparing Port Moresby, which the Japanese had pushed the Oz aside and moved to within sight of.

  33. My dad was wounded at Anzio, he was a mortar sergeant in the North Staffordshire regiment (It wasn’t just Americans that were there). General Lucas, had just lost many men using Patton like tactics, he wasn’t about to do it again.

    On Dunkirk, you simply say, “were evacuated”. That is only part of the story, they were picked up by an armada of small boats from around the coasts of England, fishing boats, little sailing boats etc., some just ferrying the men from the beach to larger boats, and many making the whole trip several times over.

  34. You should atleast change the titles of this two. It seems at first sight that you are implying liberating the Philippines in 1944 and the Philippines Defense in 1942 is a blunder. If you dont know well your World History, dont point your opinion to much on the subject. I find some of your words disrespectful to those who fight on that war. And its not a blunder for the record.



    • Bataan Death March on

      For those who do not know the atrocities the Japanese committed in the Philippines to the natives and the American forces left behind, please educate yourselves. Do not allow pseudo- historians to make insulting lists or comments that the Japanese would not have massacred more women and children if it were skipped. The Death March alone was a great indicator that what happened to the Philippine islands was a unique form of barbarity in that area of the Pacific. The islands represented the United States more than any in that area. It was the last stand of the American forces, a major ally. The General was not only returning to the islands to boost his career, he had an emotional tie to the islands, he wept upon seeing the once thriving city of Manila destroyed by war.

      • Slarty Bartfast on

        Very true. The Philippines people fought bravely for the United States. To leave them in the hands of the Japanese would have been cowardly and inhuman. The Japanese would have reaped revenge on the Philippine population while we fought around them.

  35. Helen Ramsey on

    My cousin told me about a battle is southern Belgium or over the line into Germany during

    WW II when our Air Force killed a whole Regiment in 2 hrs. because a smoke bomb was set off

    to mark where the German Army was located, BUT the wind changed and the smoke covered our

    U.S. troops. He said it was never reported. 900 men killed because of a wind change.

  36. This is all with historical hindsight. Everything looks so easy and simple from the outside.

    Real battles aren’t like an RTS video game. There’s hundreds of things to consider; all forms of logistics (Troops can’t operate very far with tonnes of ammunition, water, food, gasoline), co-ordinations of front line units (From corps to division all the way down to company formations need to be moved into position), availability and briefing of support (The Air Force, Navy and Army are all vastly different in motives and structure). And even more.

    You can’t just say I want the 1st division to move to Anytown. You have to take into consideration all the things that affect the battle itself while struggling against the advice and wishes of dozens of officers below (And maybe above) you while dealing with the air chair generals and politicians who want to liberate meaningless objectives like CapitolTown because it’ll look better for the press.

    The majority of the above battles and events were coordinated and executed to the best of the abilities of the all the generals and militaries involved. A large portion of luck mixed in with overwhelming material is what usually made one side overcome the other without the massive meat machine-esque battles of WW1. The legendary Midway squadron that just happened to break out of the clouds over the Japanese fleet. The 101st meticulous stand in the Bulge. The unexpected breakthrough of Cobra. The unexpected Panzer divisions refitting around Arnhem. These are all things that the commanders really couldn’t control in the end. Where one soldier might turn tail and run another with the exact same training could easily be an Audey Murphey like paragon.

    Commanding an army is a confusing and difficult affair and not all generals can be blamed for being hesitant or slow when we can look back and say “Oh if such and such just moved in here then the war would have been over!” Generals aren’t (For the most part) idiotic and ignorant. They have to make the most rational decisions possible in irrational situations.

    Most of these battles (Blunders) were decided before they were begun. The generals on either side had absolutely no way of knowing that though. They call it the fog of war for a reason.

    Besides, even say if they attacked deep into the beachhead at Anzio? Who’s to say that Hitler wouldn’t have panicked and launched a counter stroke there (Instead of in the French or Russian theaters). Sure, the Western allies might have had forces pulled away from them, but it could just have easily been the Russians! Instead of the Iron curtain cutting through the middle of Germany and the Balkans the Soviets could have back doored it faster into Berlin and been at the borders of France and taken Denmark (And possibly Austria and parts of Northern Italy).

    Oh, and at Dunkirk the German armies couldn’t advance any further against the British. They still had a massive defensive perimeter, and the area was completely unsuitable for tanks (Not to mention at the time German tanks were some of the worst in the world, captured light Czech machines mixed with thin skinned Mark I’s and II’s). The infantry had to fight practically on their own while the air and naval support were reserved to pummel the evac ships. The Germans fought against the Dunkirk perimeter as best as they could. They still had to take most of Southern France. They couldn’t just grind their entire military against an already beaten pocket.

    The Soviet Union was going to war sometime in the late 40’s to early 50’s. Hitler and the Wehrmacht knew this. If Germany hadn’t invaded Russia the Russian would have walked over Poland and struck at Prussia and Germany anyways. Perhaps if he had waited a few years the allies might have found themselves fighting with Hitler to save Europe from the Bolshevik Bear, and Hitler would have probably turned against a weakened Allied war machine (Imagine that alternate history). It wasn’t about living space in the East, or the confrontation between two ideologies. It was simply a matter that Germany saw a threat growing in the East, and acted prematurely against it’s interests in the West then realizing the mistake too late and turning East.

    Britain would probably never have been invaded. The British navy was more formidable (Even if dispersed) then the Kriegsmarine, and any major landing effort would have resulted in a titanic sea and air battle (The outcome of which could never be determined). And launching a sea borne invasion isn’t just a matter of putting men in ships and disembarking them at the most strategic point. Germany had no troop landing vessels. The troops would have been landing under fire in rubber dinghies and beached frigates. Additionally, they had no knowledge or technology for the massive logistics that would entail a long siege of Britain. Even during Overlord 4 years later, after several combat landings in all theatres and thorough knowledge of what a landing would entail (And the proper technology it required), the allies still had a hard time breaking through and supplying the troops. A seaborne invasion of Britain would have been a disaster, RAF or no. Thousands of Germans would have been slaughtered on the beach and in the beachheads, the poorly led Fallschirmjager (German Airborne) would have been scattered and isolated and not supplied. They nearly lost the battle of Crete; the airborne would have been annihilated against properly equipped and supplied British regulars. The German troops would have to have captured massive port and docking facilities to resupply and reinforce, a task they could never have accomplished. All the docks would have been sabotaged and destroyed, like the Germans would do 4 years later in Normandy. Hitler (Or at least his military advisers) knew that they could never successfully invade Britain. Even if by some miracle they did the majority of the British army and politicians would have withdrawn to Canada to continue that war. The US would have entered the war eventually; any threat to Canada was a threat to the US.

    These kind of historical lists are a joke. The majority of the authour’s knowledge of the subjects obviously stem from their History since 1500 textbooks and Wikipedia.

    Dreadful read.

    • Nonsensical rant.

      It is true that no one could ever know what the outcomes are going to be but Hitler would have won the war had he listened to his generals and allowed them to do their job without interference, putting more efforts in places like North Africa, the ME and provided they were able to knock England out before attacking the Soviets (he could have easily done so, since Germany was far better equipped compared to England at the time of Dunkirk), every WW2 historian agree on that fact.

      • It is widely believed that Germany couldn’t in fact invade England successfully as they did not have the amphibious means to do so ie: conversion of “Rhine barges” into landing craft, lack of substantial airborne troops. Remember it took the combined might of the united states, great Britian, Canada and other allied nations to successfully complete an invasion not to mention years of planning. Despite the shape the British were in after Dunkirk it’s doubtful the Germans could have successed.

  37. This is a pretty good list. For my money, I place the key battle in the French campaign at Sedan, where Guderian turned the allied right flank and surrounded the combined French/British forces which had blundered into Belgium to avoid another repeat of elongated trench warfare on French soil.

    The most important blunder of the Russian campaing was Hitler's idiot decision, in July 1941, to turn the Russian army's right flank operating in the Ukraine, resulting in the Battle of Kiev. The German army effectively destroyed Soviet power in the region and took over 660,000 (!!) prisoners of war – in one battle. However, the blunder was that it took six weeks to complete this diversionary battle, delaying the assault on Moscow – the railway center and adminstrative head of the Soviet Beast. Conquering Moscow would also have cut off and neutralized several Soviet armies deployed between Moscow and Leningrad, as there was only one rail line between those two cities to supply those armies. The attack on Moscow began in earnest (after astounding German victories at Bryansk and Kalinin) in November 1941. Too late! General Winter took over and a massive Soviet counterattack – on December 16, 1941 – forever ended the possibility of German victory against the illegimate, gangster state known as the Soviet Union.

    The greatest blunder of the Pacific campaign was the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. Not the attack itself, but the idiot commanders of the Japanese fleet who, after effectively destroying American sea and air power at Pearl Harbor, decided to tuck tail and run. Had the Japs sent a third wave of unopposed bombers over the base and destroyed the oil storage and drydock repair facilities, and remaining infrastructure, the Americans would have been forced to house their fleet on the American mainland for several months, thus giving Japan a free hand in the Southeast Pacific, probably securing the airfield in Guadalcanal and forcing the Aussies to call home their troops fighting abroad in Egypt, giving Rommel a decisive advantage in Eastern Libya and Egypt during the crucial 1942 Cairo offensive.

    Great Take on the Battle of Britain! The Brits really were up against it. Most of the airfields in Southern England were badly damaged, significant portions of the radar net had holes in it, the air crews were exhausted and on the verge of being overwhelmed and … Churchill orders a feeble bombing attack on Berlin. Hitler overreacted, abandoned the battle to gain air superiority, and began bombing the sh** out of civilian targets in and around London. MASSIVE blunder. Nothing could have stopped a German invasion of England had Germany achieved air superiority. Planes beat ships, every time. The English fleet would have been called to stop the invasion and, most assuredly, would have suffered grievous losses. Regardless of the outcome of any invasion, the damage to the British fleet would have been strategic, reducing its ability to project British power globally, with decisive consequences in the Med and the Pacific.

    • i think the biggest blunder by germany was not striking towards moscow during operation barbarossa. kill the head and the body dies. war with the soviet union was inevitable anyway given the two countries political systems. when they did get around to striking towards the soviet capital it was too late.

    • There was only one country who has pulled the pants of Hitler, and make him piss at WWII is USSR. The all others are basically followers. However, incontext of the Most Gangster state( or it will be Country), it no other than USA,who has drop the Atom Bomb in Hiroshima & Nagasaki killing hundred, thousands of innocent people and crippling the future generation.

      • debraj,

        For every month the war dragged on, 100,000 people PER MONTH were dying in the territories occupied by Japan due to starvation, overwork, abuse, disease and outright execution.

        As for your laughable assertion of “crippling the future generation”, can you explain how and why a “crippled” generation was able to rebuild Japan into an economic and technological powerhouse?

        Finally, you probably believe that the Pacific War actually began at 8:15am August 6, 1945, am I right?

      • Slarty Bartfast on

        Learn history debraj and you won’t sound so foolish. The USSR nearly lost the war because Stalin executed or imprisoned nearly 30,000 officer during the purge.

        As for the dropping of the bomb:

        1. Japan told the United States that if they invaded mainland Japan, they would kill all 250,000 POW’s. The U.S. believed them because they knew POW’s were carried on warships as hostages.

        2. Japan had 2,000 kamikaze planes hidden in the mountains of Japan ready to assault the American Fleet upon landing.

        3. Japan had moved 20 million women and children into forward positions and trained them with rakes and shovels to kill Americans.

        4. Losses for the takeover of Japan, known as Operation Olympus, were estimated to be over 1 million American dead and nearly 15 to 20 million Japanese.

        The dropping of the bombs were horrific and fortunately have never had to be repeated. However, they saved millions of lives, two of which were uncles of mine.

    • Even had the Germans continued to bomb airfields, the British still would have won the battle of Britain. No airfield was knocked out for more than 24 hours, and if the British needed to, they could fall back out of range of the German aircraft. The German were losing pilots and planes faster than the British and not replacing them as fast. And there was no way they could invade Britain, the Royal Navy is too strong, and the luftwaffe isn’t very good at attacking ships, as was demonstrated earlier in the war. Wargames have been conducted on this, and the royal navy cuts the German invasion to pieces, the luftwaffe fails miserably to beat the Royal Navy.

    • Slarty Bartfast on

      Very astute John. The Russians had three times the number of soldiers, 20 times the aircraft, and a hundred times as many tanks and the Finns with a little help from the Brits and Norwegians might have won. This also was due to the rank stupidity of Stalin who had imprisoned or executed nearly 30,000 Soviet officers. The fall of Stalingrad nearly happens directly because of Stalin.

  38. Frank A. Lornitzo on

    All this about generals missing and wasting opportunities; All these damn wars are such a waste.

  39. The Maginot line worked fine. The germans had to reach France through Belgium, whose neutrality was garanteed by the UK, which caused the UK to declare war on Germany, which changed the turn of war.

    The UK wasn't strong enough to defeat Germany single-handedly. UK and Germany would have reached some sort of non-agression pact, which would have allowed the Wehrmarcht to focus on the eastern front, maybe to defeat USSR.

    The Maginot line worked perfectly. Its purpose was to either stop germans or to make them involve UK by attacking Belgium.

    • the british declared war on germany over the german invasion of poland, not belgium.

      • The British did not "declare war". They issued an 'ultimatim' that if they had not received news that German Forces were withdrawing from the territories they had occupied, a State of War would exist between Britain and Germany. The Foreign Secretary then told the British people " I have to tell you now, that no such assurance has been received, and that ,as a consequence, this country is at War with Germany".

        Having conquered all of Europe, they found themselves unable to cross 22 miles of the English Channel, and showered Great Britain with bombs instead.

        Unable to do America's ' Precision bombing', the RAF devastated German cities by sheer weight of bombs from 1.100 Lancaster(and other) heavy bombers.

        • USA, precision bombing!!!Are you reading the right history books?Americas precision bombing was perfect on the bombing ranges in New Mexico, in daylight where conditions are dry,little wind, no ack ack, or fighter planes shooting at you.
          Over Germany, where you had all that opposition together with purpose generated smoke, obscuring targets, the Americans had over 40% “missing the target” ,as in deed did the RAF. Bearing in mind that initially the Americans only bombed in daylight.

          Incidentally, it was the British Prime,Neville Chamberlain who made the “Famous” radio speech to the British people not Lord Halifax who was the Foreign Secretary.

  40. Wow what a load of garbage, someone's not studied these battles very well. For example the Maginot line, it worked perfectly, the Germans never attacked it but went around so it served it's purpose.

    Goering didn't order the attacks on London either, Hitler did.

    • Actually the Germans did attack threw the magnot line it just was not their first attack. Ps the maginot line defended were built in a world war one style and were easily destroyed by dive bombers.

    • I visited the Maginot Line in high school, what a joke. It was fixed fortifications facing toward Germany. If it had been attacked it would have fallen easily.

  41. Military history is littered with examples of generals who did not capitalize on golden opportunities. If Meade had capitalized on Lee's defeat at Gettysburg, instead of letting Lee and his troops get away, he could have won the war two years earlier, and saved thousands of lives. There will always be blunders like that, but the tragedy is that so many lives are wasted as a result.

  42. 6. Philiippine Defense 1942.

    I think the Philippines was always meant fall to the Japanese. MacArhtur's generalship had nothing to do with it. Roosevelt and Churchill had already agreed beforehand that Germany was to be defeated first. That was why there was no "mile long U.S. convoy" coming to relieve the Philippine defenders – that convoy was headed towards England.

    10. Philippine Liberation 1944.

    I think that was why MacArthur lobbied so hard to liberate the Philippines. It wasn't just to stroke his ego. I think he really felt that America owed it to the country that she abandoned to her fate.

    This is merely my opinion, of course. But even then Phil. commonwealth president Manuel L. Quezon complained about how shabbily treated the Philippines was when he said how it was so like America to be so concerned about her cousins (the British) while her daughter (the Philippines) was being raped in the backroom (by Japan).

  43. For 4., it says that the Germans only fought the USSR and the americans, when there were many other countries whom fought valiantly and lost many soldiers such as Great Britain, Canada, and many other nations. It always annoys me when Americans assume that it was only them who made a difference in WWII.

    • Canada & the likes tend to monkey off the back of their former empire, Britian who tend to monkey off the back of the US! Remember Germany spent the first 2 years of the war trying to make peace with the brits!

      • The USA had to come into WW2 irrespective of Pearl Harbour. If Britain fell the Atlantic was open, so was the USA. No Royal Navy. How could Britain make peace with a man like Hitler,who broke all promises he made to Britain. Apart from lying and cheating to Russia,Hungry,Holland,Czechoslovakia A man that attempted to murder 6 million Jews, because of their religion.
        In 1939 when WW2 started for Britain, USA came in two years later,Britain was the richest,most powerful nation on earth. Before the USA came into the war, the USA was supplying arms,material to Britain, for cash,and conditions, good ole USA always make a deal at any time, do you know what the deal was?apart from Britain draining her empires gold reserves away to give to the USA. Let me know what the deal was,then tell me who was doing the Monkey off who’s back…

        • The US didn’t save Britain in ww2, only complete morons believe that. The British defeated the Germans in the battle of Britain, and even had the Germans kept bombing airfields, The British still would have won the battle of Britain. No airfield was knocked out for more than 24 hours, and if the British needed to, they could fall back out of range of the German aircraft. The German were losing pilots and planes faster than the British and not replacing them as fast. And there was no way they could invade Britain, the Royal Navy is too strong, and the luftwaffe isn’t very good at attacking ships, as was demonstrated earlier in the war. Your arrogance and stupidity has been put in it’s place.

  44. David Valley on

    About MacArthur’s return to Philippines, your story is absolute HOGWASH. Your knowledge of WWII events is pathetic. If the Philippines had not been liberated millions of Filipinos and ten-of-thousands of POWs would have been wantonly slaughtered by the frustrated Japanese troops by-passed by the Allies. You say inept defense of the Philippines by MacArthur. How stupid! Had it not been for the brilliant defensive strategy, which totally disrupted the Japanese timetable for the takeover of the South Pacific…up to and including Australia…the events would have been calamitous for the Allies. The Japs had planned to take the Philippines in five weeks; it had taken nearly five months! During those critical extra months our Naval Fleet had a chance to rebuild, which then turned the tide in the war.

      • Taiwan had been an integral part of the Japanese Empire since 1895 due to the treaty of Shimonoseki after Sino-Japanese war of 1894-95. If the allies had invaded it would have been for military purposes not liberation as it would have been for other areas of the Pacific since Japan's attacks after Dec 8th 1941. Both you and the author of this list would benefit from a little research. I hope that not many people reading this list are accepting the conclusions of this pseudo-historian. I highly recommend that you do your own research on these events. Case in point: Mac Arthur was ordered off the Philippines by pres. Roosevelt he did not "high tail it off", and there is no such thing as the congressional medal of honor(do your own research on this). Please folks find some good source of info on WW2,make a personal effort and don't be so quick to accept the first thing you hear or read on any subject so in the future we can avoid other obama types for president…………………..

        • It is simply referred to as the Medal of Honor. The “Congressional” part is commonly inserted because approval of Congress is required.

        • I actually looked that up and was surprised. When I was in the Navy it was always called the Congressional, even the Marines called it that. I had always thought that was the official name. So I guess I was semi wrong on that one.
          It was called Casket, Metal Handles. Since it’s awarded posthumously a lot.

        • Yes, let’s please elect more GW Bush types as President. Future dead soldiers and civilians will thank you.

        • I didn’t realize that soldiers and civilians only died under the presidentcy of GW Bush……

        • Geo Bush is not the only choice nor was he the only president in history. I did not vote for him and i certainly had nothing to do with dead soldiers and civilians. If you can’t join a discussion like an adult, don’t join…………

        • I responded to an ignorant comment with and ignorant comment. Correct me if I’m wrong but is what your saying people who voted for Mr. Bush responsible for the deaths of civilians and soldiers?
          No offence meant


      • all righty then on

        Nearly all opposition air forces were destroyed on the ground in the early days of WWII, in nearly all theaters, by the Germans and Japanese. Air raid warning systems were almost non-existent.

        The small number of B-17’s in the Philippines would not have made a difference in that campaign, and didn’t anywhere else in the early days of the Pacific War.

    • Yes yes of course it was no defeat,it was a stunning victory just like Vietnam and Korea and Kasserine Pass and the war of 1812 when the British dogs ran our sorry butts out ot Canada and the weeks it took to get off Omaha beach All great victories, no airbrushing our pastHow dare anyone suggest otherwise!

      • all righty then on

        No, the British were destroyed in “Canada” (which didn’t exist in 1812 fyi), at the Battle of River Thames and Battle of Lake Erie, and were forced to accept terms due to their failures. The Battle of New Orleans was just icing on the cake.

        What “weeks it took to get off Omaha Beach” are you talking about? The inland advance from Omaha began the day they landed, 6/6/44.

        • The American attacks got destroyed in Canada, the US tried to take them in the war but got easily beaten back, and then had the White house burned down, it was no US victory.

  45. A couple that are missing:

    * Guadalcanal (the landings)

    * Kasserine Pass

    * Rapido River

    * Resupply of Patton v. Montgomery in the drive to Berlin

    * Pretty much the entire Japanese naval campaign after Pearl

    • all righty then on

      Guadalcanal was a spectacular success, and broke the Japanese empire completely. You couldn’t be more wrong.

      Kasserine Pass was a short skirmish, and was quickly reversed hardly qualifying for any “greatest ever” list.

      Rapido isn’t even worth a mention in even the minor skirmish list, let alone this one.

      The entire Japanese naval campaign after Pearl was quite robust, and only the US Navy was capable of blunting it. It was hardly a “blunder”.

  46. Its easy to say that the Philippine liberation is blunder, especially for someone that lives in a country that didn't experience the horrors of being conquered by the spaniards, japanese and americans. It may be a blunder to you but General McArthur's return is one of the most celebrated event in our country's history.

    We greatly appreciate what he did.

    • You’re right, and thank you very much for raising that point. I believe that of all the foreign rulers here in our country, the Japanese invasion has been the most atrocious and unspeakable. Kindly look up the terms “Filipino comfort women” and “Bataan Death March” to see what I mean. Shame on those people for trying to belittle one of the greatest milestones of Philippine history.

    • I have no doubt you are quite correct about the value of the American rescue to the people of the Philippines… but I think the author’s intent was to point out the military value was nil… in fact it’s hard to say that ANY of MacArthur’s WWII campaigns (post 1941-early 42) contributed to winning the war.

      • Slarty Bartfast on

        Macarthur’s fighting doesn’t happen in a vacuum. If MacArthur is not fighting the Japanese where he is, then the Japanese can refocus and concentrate their forces, which they do successfully in China and Korea. With MacArthur chasing the Japanese from island to island, the Japanese are unable to marshal their forces to a single unified fighting unit.

    • Doug took a long time to return because he had to train weak or shall i say untrained soldiers and he used a strategical landing, if he landed directly on luzon shore his forces can be annihilated easily..

      • Who are you kidding? MacArthur had the world’s largest navy and hundreds of thousands of battle-hardened soldiers and marines, and you call that weak and untrained?

    • Clifford Nelson on

      Lets assume that the Philippines were bypassed. I guess you think that when Japan surrendered, the Japanese troops in the Philippines would not have surrendered. Interesting point of view. By the same logic the US should have also invaded China. You are showing your ignorance of strategy. The conquest of the Philippines probably had a negative effect on the timeline for the defeat of Japan since resources were used to conquer a group of islands that were of now strategic consequence since it was too far from Japan, and was already isolated since the Japanese merchant fleet had been pretty much destroyed..