Posts Tagged ‘tactical maneuvers’

(above) The staff of Gen. Crittenberger (middle):  Maurice Rose, Chief of Staff (far left); Howard L. Peckham, Assistant Chief of Staff (far right); Henry Cabot Lodge Jr. (second from the right, standing) (below) Generals Patton and Crittenberger at Ft. Benning, 1942

Photo: Gen. Crittenberger and staff: Maurice Rose, far left; Howard Peckham, far right; Henry Cabot Lodge Jr., second from right standing, Ft. Benning, 1942:

Excerpts from Chapter 3, “Clouds Over Leavenworth and Benning,” of my dad’s biography:

 During the early weeks of 1941, Irwin Rommel’s successes against the British in North Africa caused concern among 2nd Armored Division officers at Ft. Benning, especially after the British started dubbing the sly German commander “the desert fox.”  After the attack on Pearl Harbor, armored warfare became more and more a topic of discussion among my father and other officers of the division.  Would the U.S. Army’s Sherman tanks perform well when matched against the Germans’ heavy Panzers? Only time would tell.”

In January 1942, General Patton, who had risen to the rank of two-star general, left Fort Benning for a new assignment.

 The general’s leadership expertise had impressed the army’s Chief of Staff George Marshall, who ordered him to command the Desert Training Center in California.  There, in thousands of sand-covered acres about thirty miles east of Indio, he was placed in charge of troops from several armored divisions, who would be trained to perform tactical maneuvers in a hot and arid desert environment. The harsh exercises, such as being forced to run for several miles in the sun while carrying rifles and wearing full backpacks, were needed to prepare the troops to face the hot desert of North Africa—and the Germans.  Willis Crittenberger, then a brigadier general, replaced Patton as commander of the 2nd Armored Division.”

As Assistant Chief of Staff, then-Lieutenant Colonel Howard Peckham worked closely with Willis Crittenberger and his Chief of Staff, then-Lieutenant Colonel Maurice Rose. Maurice Rose had risen to the rank of major general during World War II when he was  killed  by German gunfire. He is buried at the American cemetery in the Netherlands.

General Ctittenberger, who had the chiseled features of his Teutonic forebears, lost two sons in battle: Townsend, a corporal, during WWII in Europe; Dale, a colonel, during the Vietnam War. They are buried at Arlington Cemetery near their parents.





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