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Most overrated person in WW2

LAURENCE REES: And who’s the most overrated person?

GEOFFREY WAWRO: From World War Two? I could add someone who really made their name in World War Two, obviously Charles De Gaulle. You know, Charles De Gaulle, who flees to London during the invasion of France and was very much an outcast in the French Army before the war as he is seen as somebody that’s far too progressive, far to uppity. And then he comes back and he forges this enormous reputation that he then translates into post-war success. And as for someone whose reputation, you said whose...

LAURENCE REES: Someone who actually did well out of it, but actually there’s a PR spin to it, so didn't entirely deserve their reputation.

GEOFFREY WAWRO: Well, an obvious example would be someone like General George Patton on the American side because there’s been so many books about him and the movie starring George C. Scott about Patton. So he’s become an iconic figure and very much attached to everything Americans think about the Second World War. But there’s a very dark side to Patton, the casualties that he was willing to take. He is pitiless about American casualties. After the liberation of Paris when they’re moving on to attack Germany, and he attacked Metz, he took part in a frontal attack against entrenched German troops and tanks behind a river barrier and took awful casualties, and this was something that Patton was willing to do in order to keep the momentum moving forward but also to assure his own fame. So I think there’s work that needs to be done on Patton. He was energetic, aggressive, a great American hero, he didn’t lack bravery and I don’t think he was doing this to sort of pass the burden onto his troops, he would welcome the burden himself. But there was something about his Generalship that was a little bit crude for the 20th Century.

LAURENCE REES: Yes, and that’s something that people aren’t aware of, necessarily.