Posts Tagged ‘8th Armored Division’

The following are excerpts from Chapter 4, “Old and New Kentucky Homes,” of  A Salute to Patriotism: The Life and Work of Major General Howard L. Peckham

During the early months of 1942, the Philippines, a country Howard Peckham had gotten to like and know very well as a young lieutenant, suffered from one capitulation after another.

      After General MacArthur left the Philippines and found safety in Australia, President Roosevelt ordered Jonathan Wainwright to succeed him as the commander of the American and Filipino forces. Then-Lieutenant General Wainwright took on this task with courage and hoped that fate would treat him well. Success was impossible to achieve, however. Only a few weeks later, he wrote these words to Douglas MacArthur from Corregidor, “We have done our best, both here and on Bataan.”

The next day, May 6, 1942, he surrendered to the Japanese.

      He was then held in prison camps for three years, during which he lived in squalor and a state of near-starvation. Those years were agonizing for his wife, Adele Wainwright, who worried about him unceasingly. I knew a little bit about the Philippines already then, primarily because of the two brass containers that went with us from home to home.“They’re called chow pots,” my father explained to me one day. “After meats, fish, and other foods were cooked, Filipino people could sit in a circle, reach into the pot, and help themselves.”

In the spring of 1942 Dad received new orders. So, at the end of May, our chow pots and other household goods were packed and placed in a large van.

      We then left Fort Benning. In our four-door sedan, Dad drove us on scenic narrow roads adjacent to the budding fruit trees of Georgia, the hills and dales of Tennessee, and finally the lovely blue-green pastures of Kentucky. Our destination was Fort Knox, named after George Washington’s chief of artillery.

At Fort Knox, my father had an important role to play in an expanding and highly mechanized force known simply as the American Armored Force. At that time, then-Major General Jacob L. Devers commanded the Force. At his Fort Knox headquarters, he was responsible for expanding the Force, which he had commanded at that post since August 1941. Sixteen armored divisions were eventually created under the Armored Force.

Howard Peckham was assigned as Chief of Staff of the 8th Armored Division, which been activated at Fort Knox in April 1942, only a month before our arrival. Here the division trained officers and enlisted men from other divisions, as well as its own troops.

My father’s experience as Assistant Chief of Staff of the 2nd Armored Division  prepared him well for this new assignment. His goal was to help bring the 8th Armored Division  to a prominent standing among the divisions.

During the early weeks of its formation, it was jointly commanded by two men—Thomas J. Camp and Robert W. Grow—who were both brigadier generals at the time. “”””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””

The second edition of A Salute to Patriotism: The Life and Work of Major General Howard L. Peckham, published in May 2011. Click this link to look inside the book:


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