OMAR BRADLEY Biography - Military related figures


Biography » military related figures » omar bradley


Name: Omar Nelson Bradley                                                             
Born: 12 February 1893 Clark, Missouri, United States                                 
Died: 8 April 1981 New York City, New York                                             
Nickname "The G.I.'s General"                                                         
Omar Nelson Bradley KCB (February 12, 1893 - April 8, 1981) was one of the main       
U.S. Army field commanders in North Africa and Europe during World War II and a       
General of the Army in the United States Army. He was the last surviving five-star     
commissioned officer of the United States. He was the first officer assigned to       
the post of Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.                                     
Bradley, the son of a schoolteacher, was born into a poor family near Clark,           
Missouri. He attended Higbee Elementary School and graduated from Moberly High         
School. Bradley intended to enter the University of Missouri. Instead, he was         
advised to try for West Point. He placed first in his district placement exams         
and entered the academy in 1911.                                                       
Bradley lettered in baseball three times, including on the 1914 team, where           
every player remaining in the army became a general. He graduated from West           
Point in 1915 as part of a class that contained many future generals, and which       
military historians have called, "The class the stars fell on". There were             
ultimately 59 generals in the graduating class, with Bradley and Dwight               
Eisenhower attaining the highest rank of General of the Army.                         
He joined the 14th Infantry Regiment, but like many of his peers, did not see         
action in Europe. Instead, he held a variety of stateside assignments. He served       
on the U.S.-Mexico border in 1915. When war was declared, he was promoted to           
captain, but was posted to the Butte, Montana copper mines. He courted and later       
married Mary Elizabeth Quayle on December 28, 1916. Bradley joined the 19th           
Infantry Division in August 1918, which was scheduled for European deployment,         
but the influenza pandemic and the armistice prevented it.                             
Between the wars, he taught and studied. From 1920-24, he taught mathematics at       
West Point. He was promoted to major in 1924 and took the advanced infantry           
course at Fort Benning, Georgia. After a brief service in Hawaii he studied at         
the Command and General Staff School at Fort Leavenworth in 1928-29. From 1929,       
he taught at West Point again, taking a break to study at the Army War College         
in 1934. He was promoted to lieutenant colonel in 1936 and worked at the War           
Department directly under Army Chief of Staff George Marshall from 1938. In           
February 1941, he was promoted to brigadier general (bypassing the rank of             
colonel) and sent to command Fort Benning (the first from his class to become         
a general officer). In February 1942, he took command of the 82nd Infantry             
Division before being switched to the 28th Infantry Division in June.                 
Bradley did not receive a frontline command until early 1943 after Operation           
Torch. He had been given VIII Corps but instead was sent to North Africa to           
serve as deputy to George S. Patton. He succeeded Patton as head of II Corps in       
April and directed it in the final Tunisian battles of April and May. He then         
led his corps, by then part of Patton's Seventh Army, on to Sicily in July.           
In the approach to Normandy Bradley was chosen to command the substantial US           
First Army, which alongside the British Second Army made up General Montgomery's       
21st Army Group. He embarked for Normandy from Portsmouth aboard the heavy             
cruiser USS Augusta (CA-31). During the bombardment on D-day Bradley positioned       
himself at a steel command cabin built for him on the deck of the Augusta, 20         
feet by 10 feet, the walls dominated by Michelin motoring maps of France, a few       
pin-ups and large scale maps of Normandy. A row of clerks sat at typewriters           
along one wall, while Bradley and his personal staff clustered around the large       
plotting table in the center. Much of that morning, however,                           
Bradley stood on the bridge standing next to Task Force Commander Admiral Alan G.     
Kirk observing the landings through binoculars, his ears plugged with cotton to       
muffle the blast of Augusta's guns.                                                   
Bradley has been criticized for his insistence on foregoing a longer and heavier       
naval bombardment of the American beaches in order to achieve surprise. Some say       
that this lack of support contributed to the heavy casualties accrued by the US       
assault forces at Omaha Beach.                                                         
On 10 June General Bradley and his staff left the Augusta to establish                 
headquarters ashore. During Operation Overlord he commanded three corps directed       
at the two American invasion targets, Utah Beach and Omaha Beach. Later in July       
he planned Operation Cobra, the beginning of the breakout from the Normandy           
beachhead. As the build-up continued in Normandy, the US Third Army was formed         
under Patton, Bradley's former commander, while General Hodges succeeded Bradley       
in command of the US First Army; together they made up Bradley's new command,         
the 12th Army Group. By August, the 12th Army Group had swollen to over 900,000       
men and ultimately consisted of four field armies. It was the largest group of         
American soldiers to ever serve under one field commander.                             
Lt Gen Omar Bradley (left), Commanding General, U.S. First Army, listens as Maj       
Gen J. Lawton Collins, Commanding General, US VII Corps, describes how the city       
of Cherbourg was taken. (c. June 1944)                                                 
Unlike some of the more colorful generals of World War II, Bradley was a polite       
and courteous man. First favorably brought to public attention by correspondent       
Ernie Pyle, he was informally known as "the soldier's general." Will Lang Jr. of       
Life magazine said "The thing I most admire about Omar Bradley is his gentleness.     
He was never known to issue an order to anybody of any rank without saying 'Please'   
After the German attempt (Operation Luttich) to split the US armies at Mortain,       
Bradley's force was the southern half of an attempt to encircle the German             
Seventh Army and Fifth Panzer Army in Normandy, trapping them in the Chambois         
pocket (or Falaise pocket) (Operation Totalise). Although only partially               
successful, the German forces still suffered huge losses during their retreat.         
The American forces reached the 'Siegfried Line' or 'Westwall' in late September.     
The sheer scale of the advance had taken the Allied high command by surprise.         
They had expected the German Wehrmacht to make stands on the natural defensive         
lines provided by the French rivers, and consequently, logistics had become a         
severe issue as well.                                                                 
At this time, the Allied high command under Eisenhower faced a decision on             
strategy. Bradley favored a strategy consisting of an advance into the Saarland,       
or possibly a two-thrust assault on both the Saarland and the Ruhr Area. Newly         
promoted to Field Marshal, Bernard Montgomery (British Army) argued for a narrow       
thrust across the Lower Rhine, preferably with all Allied ground forces under         
his personal command as they had been in the early months of the Normandy             
campaign, into the open country beyond and then to the northern flank into the         
Ruhr, thus avoiding the Siegfried Line. Although Montgomery was not permitted to       
launch an offensive on the scale he had wanted, George Marshall and Henry Arnold       
were eager to use the First Allied Airborne Army to cross the Rhine, so               
Eisenhower agreed to Operation Market-Garden. The debate, while not fissuring         
the Allied command, nevertheless led to a serious rift between the two Army           
group commanders of the European Theater of Operations. Bradley bitterly               
protested to Eisenhower the priority of supplies given to Montgomery, but             
Eisenhower, mindful of British public opinion, held Bradley's protests in check.       
Army Chief of Staff General George Marshall (center) and Army Air Forces               
Commander General Henry H. Arnold confer with Bradley on the beach at Normandy,       
France in 1944.                                                                       
Bradley's Army Group now covered a very wide front in hilly country, from the         
Netherlands to Lorraine and, despite his being the largest Allied Army Group,         
there were difficulties in prosecuting a successful broad-front offensive in           
difficult country with a skilled enemy that was recovering his balance. Courtney       
Hodges' 1st Army hit difficulties in the Aachen Gap and the Battle of Hurtgen         
Forest cost 24,000 casualties. Further south, George Patton's 3rd Army lost           
momentum as German resistance stiffened around Metz's extensive defences. While       
Bradley focused on these two campaigns, the Germans had assembled troops and           
materiel for a surprise offensive.                                                     
Bradley's command took the initial brunt of what would become the Battle of the       
Bulge. Over Bradley's protests, for logistical reasons the 1st Army was once           
again placed under the temporary command of Field-Marshal Montgomery's Twenty-First   
Army Group. In a move without precedent in modern warfare, the US 3rd Army under       
George Patton disengaged from their combat in the Saarland, moved 90 miles to         
the battlefront, and attacked the Germans' southern flank to break the                 
encirclement at Bastogne. In his 2003 biography of Eisenhower, Carlo d'Este           
implies that Bradley's subsequent promotion to full general was to compensate         
him for the way in which he had been sidelined during the Battle of the Bulge.         
Bradley used the advantage gained in March 1945 after Eisenhower authorized a         
difficult but successful Allied offensive (Operation Veritable and Operation           
Grenade) in February 1945 to break the German defenses and cross the Rhine into       
the industrial heartland of the Ruhr. Aggressive pursuit of the disintegrating         
German troops by Bradley's forces resulted in the capture of a bridge across the       
River Rhine at Remagen. Bradley and his subordinates quickly exploited the             
crossing, forming the southern arm of an enormous pincer movement encircling the       
German forces in the Ruhr from the north and south. Over 300,000 prisoners were       
taken. American forces then met up with the Soviet forces near the River Elbe in       
mid-April. By V-E Day, the 12th Army Group was a force of four armies (1st, 3rd,       
9th, and 15th) that numbered over 1.3 million men.