How Much Do You Know About WWII Generals?


By: Torrance Grey

6 Min Quiz

Image: user:cramyourspam edited retouch of old US Govt photo

About This Quiz

World War II was the largest and bloodiest conflict in human history, Behind the clashes on the battlefields lay a great deal of strategy ... plans made by generals who agonized over their decisions, and who didn't always get it right. Even so, during World War II, the United States was blessed with several very gifted military minds. Among them were George Patton, Omar Bradley, Douglas MacArthur, Mark W. Clark, Dwight Eisenhower and George Marshall. 

Some of them were true "war horses," who never considered any other calling, and who loved war perhaps a little too much. Chief among these was Patton, whose private motto might easily have been "Peace is hell." Others were destined for great futures in politics. Certainly Dwight Eisenhower counts here, as does statesman George Marshall, architect of the Marshall Plan. MacArthur and Patton had families with a history of distinguished military service. Omar Bradley, on the other hand, had blue-collar roots, and worked as a boilermaker before his acceptance to the United States Military Academy, better known as West Point. And while Mark W. Clark and Lesley McNair aren't such well-known names, they made indelible contributions to the eventual Allied victory. 

Are you ready to test your knowledge of the Army's greatest modern leaders? Sign on the dotted line, soldier!

Which general went on to be president of the United States?

Of course, it's Eisenhower. Bradley seems to have had the temperament to gain high political office too, if he'd had the inclination. Patton and MacArthur had rather inflammable natures, which probably would have precluded them. As we know, America would never elect a president who was unsuited in temperament for the office.


Which general was known for his corncob pipe?

These were custom-made for MacArthur by the Missouri Meerschaum Company. A vresion of his pipe is still made today in his honor.


Which two generals were in the same West Point class?

The class of 1915 is often called "the class the stars fell on." Stars denote a general, and an amazing 59 graduates out of 164 attained that rank.


Which general designed a cavalry saber shortly after his time at West Point?

This was Patton. He designed the M1913 Cavalry Saber, which is also called the Patton Sword.


Which general had the nickname "Contraband" at West Point?

Don't worry, this nickname is nothing sinister. He apparently had a talent for getting sweets into the cadet barracks, not alcohol (which is probably what you'd suspect at first).


Which general did NOT attend West Point?

Marshall went to the Virginia Military Institute. Still in service today, VMI is known for its spartan cadet life and strong discipline.


Which general was a pro-caliber baseball player in his youth?

We suspect more than one of these guys was handy with a baseball. However, it was Bradley who turned down offers to turn pro during his years on the West Point varsity team, where he excelled at both hitting and fielding.


To what important figure was George Marshall related?

Marshall was distantly related to John Marshall, the fourth chief justice of the United States. Both men were descendants of Thomas Jefferson. (Just by the way, you know; NBD.)


What did the "S" stand for in George S. Patton's name?

Don't be fooled! It was Harry S Truman whose middle "S" honored both his grandfathers, but didn't actually stand in for a name.


Which general did not serve overseas in WWI?

Eisenhower was stationed stateside, training young officers for service. Fun fact: One of his young trainees was F. Scott Fitzgerald, who spent far too much time scribbling the first draft of his first novel while pretending to study war textbooks.


Which WWII operation was Patton not directly a part of?

Patton was deeply involved in Operation Fortitude, a campaign to misdirect the attention of the Nazis. For this reason, Patton was stationed in England, where he was supposedly preparing for a cross-channel attack on Pas de Calais. He did not get to France until after the crucial days of Operation Overlord.


Who became Supreme Allied Commander in Europe in 1943?

Dwight Eisenhower overpassed General Marshall, the more experienced military man, in getting this appointment. It wasn't a cutthroat maneuever, though -- Marshall did not seek the appointment.


What action embroiled Patton in controversy while stationed in Italy in 1943?

In two separate incidents, Patton slapped privates who had battle shock. Patton was an eager fighter who had no tolerance for what he thought was malingering, but his superiors saw it differently. Patton was forced to apologize to both men.


To whom did it fall to discipline Patton for slapping the soldiers?

Eisenhower was not yet Supreme Allied Commander, but he outranked Patton. He required the impulsive general to apologize to the soldiers, and to the troops in general.


Which general did NOT take part in the Louisiana Maneuvers?

The Louisiana Maneuvers were massive military exercises conducted in that state in 1940 and 1941. MacArthur was in the Philippines at that time.


When Mark Clark became a four-star general, what was significant about it?

Clark was the youngest-ever four-star general. To clarify, it's not true that he wasn't wounded -- he sustained injuries from an artillery attack in WWI.


Which of these generals had a pilot's license?

Patton used his small Stinson Voyager to oversee the vast territory of Fort Benning, keeping a paternal eye on his troops training there. Eisenhower, meanwhile, made a flight over the Philippines while stationed there.


Which general nearly died in a harrowing plane crash in Italy?

Clark evaded death twice in a matter of months in 1944. The first time was when a naval boat mistakenly fired on his ship, killing several men near him. The second time was in the plane crash, in which the wing of the plane was torn partially off by a balloon cable. These incidents couldn't have been fun, but his survival seems to illustrate that Clark was born under a lucky star.


Which of these generals was killed in France during WWII?

McNair was a lieutenant general when an Army air wing dropped their bombs short of their target, killing him and approximately 100 soldiers. He was promoted to general posthumously.


Who led the capture of Rome in 1944?

This was Clark, the young four-star general. Whether the taking of Rome was strategically necessary, as compared to pursuing the German 10th Army, has been debated, and is a minor blot on Clark's biography.


Patton gave an Army chaplain a Bronze Star for doing what?

Improbable, but true! During the Battle of the Bulge, when rains were holding up an important mission, Patton asked Colonel James O' Neill to say a prayer for better weather. O'Neill complied with a poetic prayer for the rains to stop, so the soldiers could carry out God's work, and the rain did clear up.


George Marshall attained what civilian post later in life?

Marshall had a very distinguished political career. Serving under Truman, he held both these posts. The Marshall Plan, which laid out directives for Europe's recovery from WWII, was named for him


Whom did Winston Churchill call "the American Eagle"?

Clark, like Eisenhower, was good at dealing with difficult personalities. That might explain, in part, his good relationship with the curmudgeonly British prime minister.


When MacArthur famously said, "I shall return," to where was he referring?

MacArthur was commander of the US Armed Forces in the Far East, but was forced to flee the Philippines for Australia ahead of the Japanese. Washington frowned on his use of "I" instead of "We" in his famous statement, but MacArthur was characteristically unrepentant.


What was notable about MacArthur's winning of the Medal of Honor?

Douglas MacArthur won the medal for his valor in the Philippines campaign. His father, Arthur MacArthur Jr., won it for heroics at Missionary Ridge, Tenn., during the Civil War.


Which general won the Nobel Peace Prize late in life?

A general winning a peace prize? It's true. Marshall was honored for the Marshall Plan, which helped western Europe recover from WWII.


Which general's family was friendly with former Confederate commander John Mosby?

Patton knew the former leader of "Mosby's Raiders" while he was growing up. Mosby's reputation had generally survived the South's loss, and in his later life he was active in politics, and knew Patton's well-connected family.


Which general later led the landing at Inchon in the Korean War?

Much of MacArthur's military career involved the East Asian nations, and he was the natural choice to lead the landing force at Inchon. However, MacArthur was later relieved of his command in Korea, because President Truman felt he did not respect the ultimate authority of the civilian government -- meaning, mainly, Truman himself.


What did Omar Bradley do during most of WWI?

Though this sounds like a civilian job, Bradley was an Army captain when he performed this duty. In time, he was scheduled to be sent overseas, but peace was achieved before he could serve there.


In what way was George Patton involved with the 1912 Olympics?

Patton was an accomplished fencer. He competed at the Olympic Games in Stockholm, Sweden.


In what way was MacArthur involved with the 1928 Summer Olympics?

This was an uncharacteristically political position for the grizzled warrior. But at 48, he would have been too old to compete successfully in most sports. (Although we have to note that shooting is an Olympic discipline that's been kind to older participants, and you'd imagine MacArthur had some experience at it!)


Who was nicknamed "Gaijin Shogun" by the Japanese?

MacArthur became Japan's de facto leader, exercising power through the emperor, Hirohito, after the war. Later, the Japanese people referred to him as "gaijin shogun," meaning a powerful military leader (shogun) of foreign birth (gaijin).


Which general died in a car crash in 1945?

Patton died not long after the war's end, after a failed stint as military governor of Bavaria. Ironically, the car crash was part of a hunting trip that his colleagues had arranged to cheer him up -- he had seemed depressed that the war was over, and with it his true military career.


Who was a veteran of the Veracruz occupation in Mexico?

The causes of this 1914 military action are too detailed to go into here. But it was a formative experience for both MacArthur and McNair.


After the war, where was Eisenhower a military governor?

Predictably, the high-ranking Eisenhower oversaw the American Zone in occupied Germany. Unlike Japan, which was allowed to keep its emperor as a figurehead leader, Germany saw its entire government dismantled, with the Allies dividing control of the country.


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