John Shirley Wood

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John Shirley Wood
John Shirley Wood.jpg
Major General John S. Wood, U.S. Army
Nickname(s)"P"
"Tiger Jack"
Born(1888-01-11)January 11, 1888
Monticello, Arkansas
DiedJuly 2, 1966(1966-07-02) (aged 78)
Reno, Nevada
Place of burial
Allegiance United States
Service/branchUnited States Army seal United States Army
Years of service1912-1946
RankUS-O8 insignia.svg Major General
Commands held2nd Battalion, 16th Field Artillery Regiment
3rd Battalion, 80th Field Artillery Regiment
1st Infantry Division Artillery
2nd Armored Division Artillery
Combat Command A, 5th Armored Division
4th Armored Division
Tank Training Center, Fort Knox, Kentucky
Battles/warsWorld War I
World War II
AwardsDistinguished Service Cross
Army Distinguished Service Medal
Silver Star
Air Medal (2)
Bronze Star (2)

John Shirley Wood (January 11, 1888 – July 2, 1966) was a United States Army major general. He was a career officer who served in World War I, and is most notable for training and commanding the 4th Armored Division which spearheaded General Patton's Third Army drive across France in World War II.

Early life[edit]

John S. Wood was born in Monticello, Arkansas on January 11, 1888, and was the son of Arkansas Supreme Court Justice Carroll D. Wood and Reola (Thompson) Wood.[1][2] John Wood graduated from the University of Arkansas in three years, in 1907, was a member of the Kappa Alpha Order and was quarterback and captain of the football team.[3][4] In 1908, he began attendance at the United States Military Academy; he graduated in 1912, and lettered in football, wrestling and boxing.[5]

Wood had taught chemistry while at the University of Arkansas, and at West Point he received his first nickname, "P" for "professor" because he used his skills as an instructor to tutor many academically deficient classmates.[6][7]

Military career[edit]

Wood was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Coast Artillery on June 12, 1912. He made an early mark in military academics, including assistant football coach and Chemistry instructor at West Point.[8] Wood wrote on military topics, and his articles and reviews and digests of military literature from other countries, including France, Germany, Italy and Spain appeared in professional journals throughout his career.[9][10][11] In August 1916, he returned to the United States Military Academy faculty. He was promoted to captain on May 15, 1917 and major on December 18.

World War I[edit]

In March 1918, he sailed for France with the 3rd Division and participated in military operations at Chateau Thierry from May to June.

He served on the staffs of the 3rd Division and 90th Division and took part in the Battle of Château-Thierry and Battle of Saint-Mihiel.[12]

Wood then attended the French Staff School at Langres, from which he graduated in September. The school was created to teach planning and management skills to officers, and his classmates included George S. Patton, William Hood Simpson, and Alexander Patch. He returned to the United States in October 1918 and was assigned as Personnel Officer of the 18th Division at Camp Travis, Texas.

Post-World War I[edit]

In February 1919, he was transferred to the Field Artillery and became Professor of Military Science and Tactics at the University of Wisconsin.[13]

In 1921, he was assigned as executive officer of the 11th Field Artillery Regiment in Hawaii.[14] He was a distinguished graduate of his class at the United States Army Command and General Staff College in June 1924. (Patton was the Honor Graduate.)[15][16] From June 1924 to May 1927, he was Executive Officer of the Motorized Artillery Brigade at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii. From May 1927 to July 1929, he commanded 2nd Battalion, 16th Field Artillery Regiment at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.[17] In July 1929, he began the course at France's Écoles Supérieures de Guerre, from which he graduated in August 1931.[18]

From August 1931 to 1932, he was Assistant to the Commandant of Cadets at West Point.[19] From 1932 to August 1937, Wood was Professor of Military Science and Tactics at Culver Military Academy.[20] On August 1, 1937, he was promoted to lieutenant colonel. He was commander of 3rd Battalion, 80th Field Artillery Regiment from August 1937 to September 1939.[21] From September 1939 to 1940, Wood served as Chief of Staff for General Stanley D. Embick, Commanding General of Third Army.[22]

In November 1940, he was promoted to colonel and assigned as Commanding Officer, 1st Infantry Division Artillery. In April 1941, he took command of the 2nd Armored Division, and served until June. From June to October 1941, he was Chief of Staff of the 1st Armored Corps. On November 5, 1941 (October 31), he was promoted to brigadier general and took command of Combat Command "A", 5th Armored Division.

World War II[edit]

In May 1942, Wood took command of the 4th Armored Division (activated April 15, 1941) after Major General Henry W. Baird, and was responsible for the 4th Armored's organization and training. On June 21 he was promoted to major general.

On July 28, 1944, he personally led the 4th Armored into combat in France after the Normandy breakout as part of Operation Cobra and was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross. The 4th Armored led the Third Army's drive east across France. Wood was known for leading from the front, often flying in a light observation plane that would land him near his lead elements so he could observe and provide direction.[23] He was also known for setting an example by sharing the deprivations of combat with his men, including living in a tent. Wood was also known for his eccentricities and outspokenness. As a Command and General Staff College student he displayed contempt for an instructor by reading a newspaper during a lecture.[24] In 1942, during training maneuvers in Tennessee, Wood argued publicly with exercise coordinator Ben Lear after Lear made disparaging remarks about the 4th Armored Division during an after action review.[25] During combat in France, he derided his superior Omar Bradley for living in a special panel van instead of setting an example by using a tent. He also complained about the way the 4th Armored Division was used. The original invasion plan called for an attack from the Normandy beaches north to south to capture the port of Brest. It soon became apparent that Brest had no strategic value. Wood wanted to bypass it in favor of immediately beginning the assault west to east against the Germans, but senior U.S. Army leaders insisted on capturing Brest because that was what the original invasion plan called for. In response, Wood told more than one colleague that his superiors were winning the war, but doing it "the wrong way."[26] He earned his second nickname, "Tiger Jack" because when Patton would yell at him, Wood would pace like a caged animal and argue back.[27]

In August 1944, Wood ran into difficulty when command of his higher headquarters within Third Army, the XII Corps, was assigned to Manton S. Eddy. Wood thought he'd earned the opportunity to command a corps, but was bypassed by Omar Bradley, the commander of Twelfth United States Army Group, which included Third Army. Wood was an Artilleryman, and may have been passed over in favor of Eddy, who was an Infantryman, as was Bradley.[28] It is also possible that Wood was not selected for corps command because of his outspoken manner and willingness to question his superiors.[29]

Wood did not get along with Eddy, including refusing to provide Eddy's headquarters with routine reports or copies of 4th Armored Division's operations orders. Eddy eventually complained to Patton, and Patton replaced Wood with Major General Hugh J. Gaffey on 3 December 1944, shortly before the Battle of the Bulge.[30][31] At the time of Wood's relief, he was assured by his superiors, Third Army commander George S. Patton and Dwight D. Eisenhower, Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force, that he was being relieved only because medical reports indicated that he was ill, and that after a short rest he would either return to command of the 4th Armored Division or be promoted to command of a corps.[32][33] Wood received the Distinguished Service Cross, Distinguished Service Medal and the Silver Star for his service as commander of the 4th Armored Division.

Wood returned to duty in the United States, and finished his military career in 1946 as the commander of the Armor Replacement Training Center (ARTC) at Fort Knox, Kentucky.[34]

Post-military career[edit]

After retiring from the Army, Wood worked for the United Nations as Chief of Mission for the International Refugee Organization in Austria (1947-1952), and Chief of Mission for the United Nations Reconstruction Administration in Tokyo, South Korea, and Geneva (1952-1953).[35]

From 1957 to 1958 he was Civil Defense Director for Washoe County, Nevada.[36]

Retirement, death and burial[edit]

In retirement Wood resided in Reno, Nevada. He died there on July 2, 1966 and was buried at West Point Cemetery.[37]

Family[edit]

Wood was married to Marguerite Little (1890-1984).[38][39] Their children included sons Lieutenant Colonel Carroll D. Wood (1913-1955) (West Point, 1937), Colonel John S. Wood (1920-2004) (West Point, 1943), and a daughter, Shirley (born 1929).[40][41][42]

On May 17, 1957 Wood married Abigail Holman Harvey (1899-1983), who survived him.[43][44]

Recognition[edit]

In addition to his military awards, Wood received an honorary LL.D. from the University of Arkansas in 1946.[45]

His papers are part of the collections at the Syracuse University Library.[46]

He was the subject of a biography, 1979's Tiger Jack by Hanson W. Baldwin.[47]

Reputation[edit]

Wood is widely regarded as one of the best division commanders of World War II. Basil H. Liddell Hart wrote of Wood that "John S. Wood [was] one of the most dynamic commanders of Armor in World War II, and the first in the allied armies to demonstrate in Europe the essence of the art and tempo of handling a mobile force."[48]

Lieutenant General Willis D. Crittenberger said of Wood "He far exceeded in his leadership capabilities any man I have ever known." General Bruce C. Clarke, who served under Wood in the 4th Armored Division as Chief of Staff and commander of Combat Command A, said years later "The 'Gods of War' did not smile on "P" Wood... . Under different circumstances "P" had the brains, the knowledge, the drive, the magnetic hold on his men to have been listed on the rolls of the 'Great Captains' of history."[49]

Military awards[edit]

Wood's military decorations and awards include:

Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
1st Row Distinguished Service Cross Army Distinguished Service Medal
2nd Row Silver Star Bronze Star Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster Army Commendation Air Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster
3rd Row World War I Victory Medal with three battle clasps American Defense Service Medal American Campaign Medal European–African–Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with three 3/16 inch service stars
4th Row World War II Victory Medal Legion of Honour, Officer French Croix de guerre 1914–1918 with Palm French Croix de guerre 1939–1945 with Palm

References[edit]

  1. ^ Northwest Arkansas Times, General Wood Heads Commission In Vienna, Austria, December 19, 1947
  2. ^ George Forty, Tank Aces: From Blitzkrieg to the Gulf War, 1997, page 16
  3. ^ Kappa Alpha Order, The Kappa Alpha Journal, 1906, page 299
  4. ^ Virginia Military Institute and the George C. Marshall Foundation, The Journal of Military History, Volume 53, 1989, page 260
  5. ^ Martin Blumenson, George Smith Patton, The Patton Papers: 1885-1940, 1972, page 196
  6. ^ George Forty, 4th Armored Division in World War II, 2008, page 11
  7. ^ George Washington Cullum, Edward Singleton Holden, Biographical Register of the Officers and Graduates of the United States Military Academy, Volume 6, Part 2, 1920, page 1572
  8. ^ Army-Navy Register, The Army, August 10, 1912, page 179
  9. ^ John S. Wood, Field Artillery Journal, French Artillery Doctrine, September–October 1932, page 496
  10. ^ John S. Wood, Field Artillery Journal, French Artillery Doctrine, January–February 1933, page 77
  11. ^ John S. Wood, Field Artillery Journal, The Italian Artillery in Ethiopia, January–February 1937, page 27
  12. ^ Hugh Marshall Cole, The Lorraine Campaign, 1997, page 16
  13. ^ George Washington Cullum, Edward Singleton Holden, Biographical Register of the Officers and Graduates of the U.S. Military Academy, at West Point, Volume 7, 1930, page 933
  14. ^ Governor of Hawaii, Annual Report, 1921, page 118
  15. ^ Don M. Fox, Patton's Vanguard: The United States Army Fourth Armored Division, 2003, pages 15-16
  16. ^ National Infantry Association, Infantry Journal, Volume 44, 1937, page 570
  17. ^ United States Army Adjutant General, U.S. Army Recruiting News, 1929
  18. ^ National Infantry Association, Infantry Journal, Volume 44, 1937, page 570
  19. ^ United States Military Academy, Official Register of the Officers and Cadets of the U.S. Military Academy, West Point, N.Y., 1932, pages 17, 79, 81
  20. ^ United States Senate Military Affairs Committee, Hearing Record on Bill to Establish Compulsory Military Training, 1936, page 237
  21. ^ Army and Navy Journal, Inc., Army and Navy Journal, Volume 76, Issues 1-26, 1938, page 23
  22. ^ Mildred Hanson Gillie, Forging the Thunderbolt: History of the U.S. Army's Armored Forces, 1917-45, 1947, page 148
  23. ^ Edgar F. Raines, Center of Military History, Eyes of Artillery: The Origins of Modern U.S. Army Aviation in World War II, 2000, page 213
  24. ^ Don M. Fox, Patton's Vanguard: The United States Army Fourth Armored Division, 2003, page 2
  25. ^ Hanson W. Baldwin, Tiger Jack: Major General John S. Wood, 1979, pages 119-128
  26. ^ Bevin Alexander, Sun Tzu at Gettysburg: Ancient Military Wisdom in the Modern World, 2011, page 196
  27. ^ George Forty, 4th Armored Division in World War II, 2009, page 11
  28. ^ Don M. Fox, Patton's Vanguard: The United States Army Fourth Armored Division, 2003, page 2
  29. ^ Steven Zaloga, George S. Patton: Leadership, Strategy, Conflict, 2011, page 30
  30. ^ Steven Zaloga, George S. Patton, 2011
  31. ^ Don M. Fox, Patton's Vanguard: The United States Army Fourth Armored Division, 2003, pages 221-231
  32. ^ Christopher Richard Gabel, U.S. Army Command and General Staff College. Combat Studies Institute, The 4th Armored Division in the encirclement of Nancy, 1986, page 26
  33. ^ Hanson W. Baldwin, Tiger Jack: Major General John S. Wood, 1979, pages 95-100
  34. ^ Hugh Marshall Cole, The Lorraine Campaign, 1997, page 525
  35. ^ West Point Association of Graduates, Register of Graduates and Former Cadets of the United States Military Academy, 1975, 321
  36. ^ Nevada State Journal, State Civil Defense Chief Plans to Seek U.S. Funds, May 22, 1959
  37. ^ Nevada State Journal, Obituary, John S. Wood, July 7, 1966
  38. ^ California Death Index, 1940-1997, 1984 entry for Marguerite Little Wood, retrieved March 23, 2014
  39. ^ U.S. Social Security Death Index, 1935-Current, 1984 entry for Marguerite Little Wood, retrieved March 23, 2014
  40. ^ West Point Association of Graduates, Memorial, Carroll D. Wood, retrieved March 23, 2014
  41. ^ West Point Association of Graduates, Memorial, John S. Wood, Jr., retrieved March 23, 2014
  42. ^ 1940 United States Federal Census, entry for family of John Shirley Wood, retrieved March 23, 2014
  43. ^ Nevada State Journal, Gen. John Wood Dies in Reno, July 4, 1966
  44. ^ U.S. Social Security Death Index, 1935-Current, entry for Abigail Wood, retrieved March 23, 2014
  45. ^ Gentry (Arkansas) Journal-Advance, 225 Students to Graduate At U. of A., May 30, 1946
  46. ^ Syracuse University Library, Overview of the Collection, John Shirley Wood Papers, retrieved March 22, 2014
  47. ^ Hanson Weightman Baldwin, Tiger Jack, 1979, title page
  48. ^ Walter L. Hixson, The American Experience in World War II, 2003, page 77
  49. ^ Albin F. lrzyk, Armor magazine, The Mystery of "Tiger Jack", January–February 1990, pages 25, 32

External links[edit]