Ernest J. Dawley

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Ernest Joseph Dawley
Nickname(s) "Mike"
Born (1886-02-17)February 17, 1886
Antigo, Wisconsin
Died December 10, 1973(1973-12-10) (aged 87)
Fort Ord, California
Allegiance United StatesUnited States of America
Service/branch United States Army seal United States Army
Years of service 1910 - 1947
Rank US-O8 insignia.svg Major General
Service number 0-2843
Commands held 82nd Field Artillery Regiment (1939)
Division Artillery, 7th Infantry Division (United States)
40th Infantry Division (United States) (September 1941-April 1942)
U.S. VI Corps (April 1942-September 1943)
US Army Tank Destroyer School (1943)
US Army Tank Destroyer Center (1944)
Ground Forces Reinforcement Command, European Theater of Operations (1945)
Battles/wars World War I
World War II
Awards Distinguished Service Medal
Silver Star
Legion of Honour

Ernest Joseph "Mike" Dawley (17 February 1886 - 10 December 1973) was a Major General in the United States Army, known for commanding VI Corps during Operation Avalanche (the landings at Salerno). After the landings, he was relieved of his command and returned to the United States.

Early career[edit]

Ernst Joseph Dawley was born on February 17, 1886 in Antigo, Wisconsin. After graduation from the Ribbon College in Ripon, Wisconsin and subsequently entered the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York. He graduated in June 15, 1910 and was also commissioned a Second lieutenant in Field Artillery Brach on that date.[1]

With the outbreak of World War I, Dawley was transferred to the newly created 7th Field Artillery Regiment stationed at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. The 7th Field Artillery was assigned to the 1st Infantry Division and sent to France within the American Expeditionary Force.[2]

After arrival to the France, Dawley attended a short course in l’Ecole d'Artillerie at Fontainebleau and was appointed the executive officer for the Saumur Artillery School.[3] He stayed in this capacity until May 1918, when he was transferred as a Major to the 12th Field Artillery Regiment. For the service with 12th Field Artillery, Dawley was decorated with Silver Star for gallantry in action near Vierzy.[4]

At the end of the July 1918, he was transferd to the General staff of the First Army. He was also promoted to the rank of Lieutenant colonel in this capacity.

World War II[edit]

The VI Corps took part in the Allied invasion of Italy at Salerno on September 9, 1943, with the British X Corps under Fifth Army as part of Operation Avalanche. The stiffness of the German defences sorely tested VI Corps, inflicting heavy casualties. German attempts to throw the American force back into the sea were thwarted by the artillery of its 45th and 36th Infantry Divisions, strongly supported by naval and aerial bombardment and the approach of the British Eighth Army from the south.

Dawley had been moved on by Patton in Sicily and his suitability for high command had been questioned by the Supreme Commander, General Dwight Eisenhower, and British General Harold Alexander. After the problems at Salerno, Dawley was replaced by Fifth Army commander Mark Clark after Salerno, as he was judged to be "worn out".[5] He reverted to his permanent rank of colonel on 23 December 1943 and was assigned as the commander of the Tank Destroyer School and Center in the U.S., the first of several appointments to military training establishments. Some sources say that he was subsequently promoted to Brigadier-General on 30 September 1947. However, the "Biographical Dictionary of World War II Generals" says that he was "Commanding general" of the Tank Destroyer Center from February 1944-March 1945." He retired in 1947 and was given the rank of Major General (Retired)on 29 June 1948.[6]

Major General Ernest Joseph Dawley died on 8 September 1973 at Silas B. Hays Army Hospital at Fort Ord, California. His body was cremated and ashes scattered at sea.[7]


Here is the ribbon bar of Major general Dawley:[8][9]

Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
1st Row Army Distinguished Service Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster Silver Star
2nd Row Army Commendation Medal Purple Heart with Oak Leaf Cluster World War I Victory Medal with four Battle Clasps American Defense Service Medal
3rd Row American Campaign Medal European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with three service stars World War II Victory Medal Commander of the British Empire (United Kingdom)
4th Row Officer of the Legion of Honor (France) Officer of the Ordre de l'Étoile Noire (France) French Croix de Guerre 1914-1918 with Palm Moroccan Order of Ouissam Alaouite, Grade Officer


  1. ^ "West Point Deceased search". Retrieved 17 October 2014. 
  2. ^ "West Point Deceased search". Retrieved 17 October 2014. 
  3. ^ U.S. Army World War II Corps Commanders
  4. ^ "Valor awards for Ernest J. Dawley". 2010-07-04. Retrieved 2013-09-23. 
  5. ^ Time Magazine
  6. ^ The Generals of WWII
  7. ^ "Gen Ernest J. Dawley (1886-1973) - Find a Grave Memorial". 2010-07-04. Retrieved 2013-09-23. 
  8. ^ "Valor awards for Ernest J. Dawley". 2010-07-04. Retrieved 2013-09-23. 
  9. ^ "West Point Deceased search". Retrieved 17 October 2014.