Famous WWII Commanders

Profiles of some of the Second World War's most influential commanders who masterminded battles in Europe, Africa and the Atlantic and Pacific oceans

Russian Marshal Georgy Zhukov

Pic: RIA Novosti archive

Georgy Zhukov

A prominent commander who was influential in some the most famous battles of WWII, including Stalingrad and Kursk. Georgy Zhukov was also in command of Operation Bagration which led to the eventual capture of Berlin in 1945 and led to the end of the Second World War.

Field Marshal Montgomery

Shot in the lung by a sniper during the First World War, 'Monty' survived to play a pivotal role in the Allied war effort during the Second World War.

Although Montgomery was a major figure in the retreat at Dunkirk, the battle of Normandy and the allied advance to the Rhine, he is best remembered as the man who led the allies to victory in North Africa at the battle of El Alamein. Montgomery united the armies of North Africa against the German forces of Rommel in a meticulously planned North African campaign.

Well liked by his men, Montgomery's successes in North Africa gave the allies hope that the war was turning in their favour.

German commander Erwin Rommel. Pic: German Federal Archives

German commander Erwin Rommel. Pic: German Federal Archives

Erwin Rommel

Known to history as 'The Desert Fox', German commander Erwin Rommel was regarded as one of the greatest strategists of desert conflict and was highly respected by his men and his Allied enemies.

He was eventually unsuccessful in North Africa but went on to take the responsibility for reorganising the German defence of France, correctly speculating that the allied invasion would take place on the coast of Normandy, not Calais as many of his contemporaries believed. His defensive programme contributed greatly to the casualties suffered by the Allies on D-Day.

But Rommel never saw the end of the war because he was linked to a plot to assassinate Hitler. The Fuhrer wanted revenge but he knew he would have to dispose of him quietly because he was so popular with the public. He threatened Rommel, saying his family would be persecuted and he would be publicly humiliated if he didn't commit suicide. Rommel swallowed a cyanide capsule and the world was told he had a heart attack while driving. He was buried with full military honours.