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Published by: wamu885 on Nov 16, 2012
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 1
The Generals
 American Military Command from World War II to Today
Thomas E. Ricks
T
HE
P
ENGUIN
P
RESS
 New York 2012
 
 2
Prologue
Captain William DePuy and the 90th Division in Normandy, Summer1944
Captain William DePuy of the 90th Division saw it all in northwestern France in the summer of 1944.On June 13, 1944, a few days after the 90th Infantry Division went into action against theGermans in Normandy, Lt. Gen. J. Lawton Collins, to whom the division reported, went on footto check on his men. “We could locate no regimental or battalion headquarters,” he recalled withdismay. “No shelling was going on, nor any fighting that we could observe.” This was anominous sign, as the Battle of Normandy was far from decided, and the Wehrmacht was stilltrying to push the Americans, British, and Canadians, who had landed a week earlier, back intothe sea.The 90th’s assistant division commander, Brig. Gen. “Hanging Sam” Williams, also waslooking for the leader of his green division. He found the division commander, Brig. Gen. JayMacKelvie, sheltered from enemy fire, huddling in a drainage ditch along the base of a hedgerow.“Goddammit, General, you can’t lead this division hiding in that goddamn hole,” he shouted. “Goback to the CP. Get the hell out of that hole and go to your vehicle. Walk to it, or you’ll have thisgoddamn division wading in the English Channel.” The message did not take. Within just a fewdays the division was bogged down and veering close to passivity. “Orders may have been issuedto attack, but no attacks took place,” remembered DePuy. “Nothing really happened. Infantryleaders were totally exhausted and in a daze. There was a pervasive feeling of hopelessness.”
 
 3
In June 1944, DePuy was just fighting to stay alive—no small feat in the bloody, World WarI–like combat of that summer. One infantry company in the 90th began the day with 142 men andfinished it with thirty-two. Its battalion commander walked around babbling, “I killed KCompany, I killed K Company.” Later that summer in Normandy, one of the 90th’s battalions,with 265 soldiers, surrendered to a German patrol of fifty men and two tanks. In six weeks of small advances, the division would use up all its infantrymen, requesting replacements totaling100 percent. The average term of service for a 90th Division lieutenant leading a platoon incombat was two weeks. The 90th Division in Normandy, DePuy would remember bitterly, was “akilling machine—of our own troops.”On June 13, less than a week after the 90th had entered combat, Gen. Collins relievedMacKelvie. In the relief order, Gen. Collins wrote that the division’s enemy opposition had been“relatively light,” probably less than a regimental combat team—a blistering aside. However, theofficial Army historian Martin Blumenson disagrees, concluding on page 76 of 
 Breakout and Pursuit 
that during the course of the summer, the 90th “met enemy forces at least numericallyequal in strength who occupied excellent defenses.” Collins instructed the 90th’s newcommander, Maj. Gen. Eugene Landrum, to fire the commanders of two of the division’s threeregiments. DePuy considered one of those two, West Point graduate Col. P. D. Ginder, “a horse’sass of the worst order. Goddamned fool … he was a disaster.” DePuy was hardly alone in hisestimate of Ginder: Another officer, Lt. Max Kocour, a mortar forward observer, remembered thatthe regimental commander “almost constantly made the wrong decisions.” Indeed, even afterbeing relieved, the excitable Ginder continued to issue orders, at one point sending troops forwardinto an artillery target area without seeking permission or coordinating the movement, an actionfor which he was placed under arrest and sent back to division headquarters under armed escort.Ginder had been in command of the regiment for less than a month. His successor, Col. JohnSheehy, was killed in an ambush after two days in command.Col. George Barth took command of Ginder’s regiment after Sheehy’s death. One day he

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