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November 26, 1899|
|Died||March 30, 1945
Near Paderborn, Germany
|Place of burial||Netherlands American Cemetery and Memorial, Margraten, the Netherlands|
||United States Army|
|Years of service||1916; 1917–1919; 1920–1945|
|Commands held||3rd Armored Division|
|Battles/wars||World War I
World War II
|Awards||Distinguished Service Cross
Distinguished Service Medal
Major General Maurice Rose (November 26, 1899 – March 30, 1945) was a United States Army general during World War II and World War I veteran. The son and grandson of rabbis from Poland, General Rose was at the time the highest ranking Jew in the U.S. Army. He was also the highest-ranking American killed by enemy fire in the European Theater of Operations during World War II. He was married twice and had two sons.
The Third Armored Division official history of World War II, published after Rose had been killed in action states "He was over six feet tall, erect, dark haired, and had finely chiseled features. He was firm and prompt of decision, brooking no interference by man, events or conditions in order to destroy the enemy."
Rose was educated in Denver, and graduated from East High School in 1916. He edited the school newspaper, and his desire for a military career became well-known among his classmates; in the school yearbook, a cartoon illustrating the newspaper staff depicted him carrying a rifle.
Rose lied about his age to enlist in the Colorado National Guard as a private after graduating from high school in 1916, hoping to serve in the Pancho Villa Expedition. He was discharged six weeks later when his commander was informed that he was underage.
He worked for a year in a meatpacking plant where one of his brothers was employed, enlisted again after he was old enough, and was selected for officer training. After graduating from Officer Candidate School at Fort Riley, Kansas, in 1917 Rose was commissioned as a second lieutenant of infantry, and served with the 89th Infantry Division in France. He was wounded at St. Mihiel, and saw combat in all of the Meuse-Argonne Offensive.
He briefly left the army after the war for a short stint as a traveling salesman. Rose soon returned to the peacetime army as a captain, serving initially with the 21st, 53rd and 38th Infantry Regiments at Fort Douglas, Utah. He continued to advance through the ranks, gaining experience in the theories and practices of armored warfare.
In addition to his completion of Officer Candidate School in 1917, Rose graduated from the Infantry Company Officer Course (1926), the Cavalry Officer Course (1931), the Command and General Staff College (1937), and the Army Industrial College (1940).
From 1937 to 1939 Rose was an observer and advisor for the Pennsylvania National Guard, followed by a posting to Fort George G. Meade, Maryland, as an instructor at the III Corps Command and Staff School.
World War II
During World War II, Rose served in three armored divisions. In North Africa, he served as chief of staff for the 1st Armored Division. During the campaign in Tunisia, General Rose was the first officer to accept the unconditional surrender of a large German unit.
He was later commander of Combat Command A, 2nd Armored Division as a brigadier-general. He was then assigned to command the 3rd Armored Division in August 1944, and promoted to major general. After assuming command, Rose became known for his aggressive style of leadership and for commanding the division from the front lines not far from his forward elements. Under his command, the "Spearhead", as his division became known, advanced over 100 miles in a single day, a record march in modern warfare, and played a key role in several campaigns. Notably, under Rose's command, the division was the first unit to penetrate the Siegfried Line.
On March 30, 1945, a few miles south of the city of Paderborn in a rural forested area, General Rose was riding at the front of the Task Force Welborn column. The front of this column consisted of his own jeep, a jeep in front of him, a tank at the head of the column, an armored car behind him, and a motorcycle messenger bringing up the rear. Suddenly they began taking small arms fire as well as tank and anti-tank fire. General Rose, along with the other men, jumped into a nearby ditch with his Thompson sub-machine gun as the lead tank took a direct hit and was destroyed. When they realized that they were being surrounded by German tanks they re-entered their jeeps and tried to escape. They drove off the road and through a nearby field before heading back towards the road. When arriving back at the road they realized it was occupied by numerous German Tiger tanks. The lead jeep gunned its engine and narrowly made it past the Tiger tanks and escaped to the other side. The driver of General Rose's jeep attempted to do the same, but one of the German Tigers turned to cut them off, and as Rose's jeep was passing the Tiger tank wedged the jeep against a tree. The top hatch of the Tiger tank flung open and a German soldier appeared pointing a machine pistol at the group in the jeep. General Rose reached towards his pistol holster (either to throw it to the ground or in an attempt to fight back); the German soldier shot him several times with at least one round hitting Rose in the head. It is believed that the German tank crews never had any idea that the man they killed was a general because sensitive documents, as well as General Rose's body, were not removed from his jeep.
Rose is buried in ABMC Netherlands American Cemetery, Margraten, Netherlands.
Rose was the highest-ranking American killed by enemy fire in the European Theater of Operations during the war. (Lieutenant General Lesley J. McNair was killed by friendly fire in Normandy in July 1944.)
In modern memory
General J. Lawton Collins aka "Lightning Joe Collins", regarded Maurice Rose "as the top notch division commander in the business at the time of his death." However, Rose never gained the prominence of many of his contemporaries, for any of several reasons, including the fact that he did not survive the war, and as an intensely private man, he rarely if ever sought personal publicity.
His biographers have stated that he is "World War II's Greatest Forgotten Commander". Andy Rooney, a World War II war correspondent and later 60 Minutes commentator, wrote the following about General Rose in his book My War:
Maj. Gen. Maurice Rose, who had been with the Second Armored Division at Saint-Lô, was now the commander of the Third Armored and he may have been the best tank commander of the war. He was a leader down where they fight. Not all great generals were recognized. Maurice Rose was a great one and had a good reputation among the people who knew what was going on, but his name was not in the headlines as Patton's so often was. Rose led from the front of his armored division.
The army transport USAT General Maurice Rose, the Rose Medical Center in Denver, Colorado, and the MG Maurice Rose United States Armed Forces Reserve Center in Middletown, CT are named in his honor. The Maurice Rose Army Airfield was in Bonames, north of Frankfurt, Germany, and the Rose Barracks in Vilseck, Germany.
Selected awards and decorations
- Distinguished Service Cross
- Distinguished Service Medal
- Silver Star with two Oak Leaf Clusters
- Legion of Merit with an Oak leaf Cluster
- Bronze Star with an Oak Leaf Cluster
- Purple Heart with an Oak Leaf Cluster
- French Legion of Honor
- French Croix de Guerre with Palm
- Belgian Croix de Guerre with Palm
- Denver Post, November 27, 1960
- Steven L. Ossad, Don R. Marsh, Major General Maurice Rose: World War IIs Greatest Forgotten Commander (Taylor Trade Publishing, August 2003) ISBN 0-87833-308-8. ISBN 1-58979-351-X
- 3rd Armored Division Association Profile of General Rose
- Excerpt from Andy Rooney book My War, describing his encounter with General Rose
- The Death of Maj. Gen. Maurice Rose
- Excerpt from Germans by George Bailey; some memories of General Rose while the author served with 3AD HQ
- Maurice Rose at Find a Grave
- General Rose appears on the film of Jack Lieb (@36:33) "D-Day to Germany Cameraman Jack Lieb comments on original" visible on YouTube (May 2018)