John P. Lucas

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John Porter Lucas
John P. Lucas.jpg
Nickname(s) "Johnny"
"Uncle Luke"
"Foxy Grandpa"
Born (1890-01-14)January 14, 1890
Kearneysville, West Virginia, United States
Died December 24, 1949(1949-12-24) (aged 59)
Naval Station Great Lakes, Illinois, United States
Buried at Arlington National Cemetery, Virginia, United States
Allegiance United States
Service/branch  United States Army
Years of service 1911–1949
Rank US-O8 insignia.svg Major General
Unit ArmyCAVBranchPlaque.png Cavalry Branch
USA - Army Field Artillery Insignia.png Field Artillery Branch
Commands held 108th Field Signal Battalion
1st Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment
2nd Battalion, 4th Field Artillery Regiment
1st Field Artillery Regiment
3rd Infantry Division
III Corps
II Corps
VI Corps
Fifteenth Army
Fourth Army
Battles/wars Mexican Expedition
World War I
World War II
Awards Army Distinguished Service Medal (2)
Navy Distinguished Service Medal
Silver Star
Purple Heart
Relations Sydney Virginia Wynkoop Lucas (Wife)
John Porter Lucas, Jr. (Son)
Tanner Lucas (Great Grandson)

Major General John Porter Lucas (January 14, 1890 – December 24, 1949) was a senior officer of the United States Army who saw service in World War I and World War II. He is most notable for being the commander of the U.S. VI Corps during the Battle of Anzio (Operation Shingle) in the Italian Campaign of World War II.

Early career[edit]

Lucas, a native of Kearneysville, Jefferson County, West Virginia, was a graduate of West Point, class of 1911. Commissioned as a cavalry officer on 13 June 1911, he transferred to the Field Artillery in 1920. Lucas spent the first few years of his service in the Philippines, returning to the US in August 1914.

2nd Lt. Lucas was assigned to Troop A of the 13th Cavalry Regiment at Columbus, New Mexico in October 1914, but that unit was temporarily based at Douglas, Arizona, and in January 1915 he became commander of the regiment's Machine Gun Troop. On 9 March 1916 Lucas distinguished himself in action against Pancho Villa's raiders during the Battle of Columbus, fighting his way alone and bare-footed through attacking Villistas from his quarters to the camp's guard tent. There he organized resistance with a single machine gun until the remainder of his unit and a supporting troop arrived, then maneuvered his men to repel the attackers. He served during the Mexican Punitive Expedition, as an Aide de Camp to MG George Bell, Jr. at Fort Bliss, Texas.

World War I[edit]

Lucas joined the 33rd Infantry Division in August 1917 at Camp Logan, Texas, where he continued to serve MG George Bell, Jr., commander of the 33rd, as Aide de Camp. CPT Lucas then led the division's Infantry School of Arms while the division trained for war. Promoted to Major on 15 January 1918, he was given command of the 108th Field Signal Battalion (the Signal Battalion for the 33rd Infantry Division) and sailed to France with this unit. He simultaneously served as the Division Signal Officer. While serving as commander of the 108th, he was seriously wounded in action near Amiens, France on 23 June 1918. MAJ Lucas was the battalion's first casualty, being struck by a fragment from a German high-explosive shell. Evacuated to a hospital in England, he was later sent back to the United States on convalescent leave, where he recovered from his wounds in the Washington, D.C., area. His wounds were severe enough to prevent him from rejoining the 33rd Infantry Division. He was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel on 31 October 1918. Following the war, he would revert to his permanent rank of Captain.

Inter-war period[edit]

From 1919-1920, Lucas was assigned as a military science instructor for the University of Michigan R.O.T.C. program in Ann Arbor, Michigan. In 1920, he rejoined the Field Artillery. He was promoted to Major in 1920, and in that year also entered the Field Artillery School at Fort Sill, Oklahoma (1920–1921). He graduated from the Field Artillery Advanced Course in 1921 and became an instructor at the Field Artillery School (1921–1923). He then entered the one-year program at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, graduating in 1924 and finishing 78th out of 247 in his class.[1] He next became the Professor of Military Science and Tactics for the R.O.T.C. program at Colorado Agricultural College (now Colorado State University), Fort Collins, Colorado. He served in this position for approximately 5 years (1924–1929), earning an MS degree in 1927. He was selected for command of 1st Battalion, 82d Field Artillery Regiment at Fort Bliss, Texas, from 1929-1930/31. He then enrolled in the Army War College, Carlisle, Pennsylvania, in June 1931, and graduated in June 1932. From 1932 to 1936, Lucas worked in the Personnel Division, G1, of the War Department General Staff. From July to October, 1940, he served as commander, 1st Field Artillery Regiment, Fort Sill, Oklahoma. He then served as commander of the Artillery Brigade of the 2nd Infantry Division at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, until July 1941, when he was notified that he would be given command of the 3rd Infantry Division.

World War II[edit]

In September 1941, during World War II, Lucas was assigned as the Commanding General (CG) of the 3rd Infantry Division at Fort Lewis, Washington, where he conducted amphibious operations training in Puget Sound. He was next assigned as the CG of the III Corps, in Fort McPherson, Georgia. In the spring of 1943 he was sent overseas to the Mediterranean Theater of Operations (MTO) as a deputy to General Dwight David "Ike" Eisenhower, the Supreme Allied Commander in the theater. There, in the aftermath of the disastrous airborne drops in Operation Husky, he recommended to General Eisenhower that "the organization of Airborne Troops into [units as large as] divisions is unsound". He briefly took command of II Corps in September, taking over from Lieutenant General Omar Nelson Bradley.

On September 20, 1943, Lucas was given command of VI Corps, taking over from Major General Ernest J. Dawley. He led the corps in the early stages of the Italian Campaign, coming under command of the U.S. Fifth Army, commanded by Lieutenant General Mark Clark, who was many years younger. VI Corps crossed the Volturno Line in October and was involved in severe mountain warfare fighting until December when the corps HQ was pulled out of the line in preparation for an amphibious assault, codenamed Operation Shingle.

On January 22, 1944, from the deck of the amphibious force flagship USS Biscayne, Lucas was relieved of command after Shingle, the amphibious landing at Anzio. Lucas was highly critical of the plans for the Anzio battle, believing his force was not strong enough to accomplish its mission. His confidence was not reinforced when the mission was scaled back by last-minute orders and advice from his commander, Lieutenant General Mark W. Clark, who told him not to "stick his neck out". After nine days of preparation to reinforce his position and four weeks of extremely tough fighting, Lucas was relieved by Clark and replaced with Major General Lucian K. Truscott as the commander of VI Corps at Anzio. Lucas spent three weeks as Clark's deputy at Fifth Army headquarters before returning to the United States.

Post-war service and death[edit]

In March 1944, Lucas was assigned as deputy commander and later as commander of the U.S. Fourth Army, headquartered at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. After the war, he was made Chief of the US Military Advisory Group to the Nationalist Chinese government, led by Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek (1946–1948). In 1948, he was assigned as Deputy Commander of the reactivated Fifth Army in Chicago, Illinois. While still on active duty in that post, he died suddenly at Naval Station Great Lakes Naval Hospital, near Chicago on 24 December 1949. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery with his wife Sydney Virginia Lucas (1892–1959). An obituary written by long-time associate and friend Major General Laurence B. Keiser appeared in the October, 1950 issue of The Assembly, the magazine of the Association of West Point graduates.

Memorialization[edit]

A camp in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, was named after MG Lucas in honor of his service.[2] The polo field at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, was renamed Lucas Field in his honor. Lucas was widely known as a polo player in his youth. Lucas Street at Fort Sill is also named in his honor.[3] On 28 June 1962, Lucas Place at Fort Eustis was named in his honor.

Awards and decorations[edit]

Decorations[edit]

Bronze oak leaf cluster
Distinguished Service Medal with Oak leaf Cluster
Navy Distinguished Service ribbon.svg Navy Distinguished Service Medal
Silver Star ribbon.svg Silver Star
Purple Heart ribbon.svg Purple Heart
Mexican Service Medal ribbon.svg Mexican Service Medal
Bronze star
World War I Victory Medal with one service clasp
American Defense Service ribbon.svg American Defense Service Medal
American Campaign Medal ribbon.svg American Campaign Medal
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with four campaign stars
World War II Victory Medal ribbon.svg World War II Victory Medal
Ufficiale SSML Regno BAR.svg Grand Officer of the Order of Saints Maurice and Lazarus
Order of the Cloud and Banner 2nd.gif Grand Cordon of the Order of the Cloud and Banner

Dates of rank[edit]

2nd Lieutenant (Regular Army) (RA) - June 13, 1911
1st Lieutenant (RA) - July 1, 1916
Captain (RA) - May 15, 1917
Major (Temporary) - January 15, 1918
Lieutenant Colonel (Temporary) - October 30, 1918
Captain (RA) - January 20, 1920
Major (RA) - July 1, 1920
Lieutenant Colonel (RA) - August 1, 1935
Colonel (RA) - May 2, 1940
Brigadier General (Army of the United States) (AUS) - October 1, 1940
Major General (AUS) - August 5, 1941
Major General (RA) - January 24, 1948

Miscellany[edit]

John Porter Lucas was a Freemason, having been entered (20 February 1919), passed (6 March 1919), and raised (10 March 1919) in the Elk Branch Lodge No. 93, Shenandoah Junction, WV. He is also believed to have been a member of the York Rite, attaining the degree of Knight Templar.[4] According to his obituary in the October, 1950 issue of the Assembly, he had served as a Past Master of a Lodge of Freemasons in Fort Collins, CO.

Media depiction[edit]

In the movie Anzio the character of the over-cautious "General Lesley" is presumably based on John P. Lucas.[5][6]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Berlin, Robert H. "U.S. Army World War II Corps Commanders: A Composite Biography". - Combat Studies Institute. - U.S. Army Staff and Command College. - 1989. LCC D769.1.B48 1989.
  2. ^ Newspaper article from the Spirit of Jefferson Farmer's Advisor, dated 25 January 1951. The complete article can be found at https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1011&dat=19510125&id=o08MAAAAIBAJ&sjid=wmMDAAAAIBAJ&pg=1721,1572274
  3. ^ http://www.sill.army.mil
  4. ^ Denslow, William R. 10,000 Famous Freemasons, Vol. II, K-Z.
  5. ^ Vaughan-Thomas, Wynford. Anzio. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston. 1961. OCLC 276480
  6. ^ "Sbarco di Anzio, Lo" at IMDb

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Military offices
Preceded by
Charles P. Hall
Commanding General 3rd Infantry Division
1941–1942
Succeeded by
Jonathan W. Anderson
Preceded by
Joseph Stilwell
Commanding General III Corps
1942–1943
Succeeded by
Harold R. Bull
Preceded by
Omar Bradley
Commanding General II Corps
September 1943 – September 1943
Succeeded by
Geoffrey Keyes
Preceded by
Ernest J. Dawley
Commanding General VI Corps
1943–1944
Succeeded by
Lucian Truscott
Preceded by
William Hood Simpson
Commanding General Fourth Army
1944–1945
Succeeded by
Alexander Patch