The American Expeditionary Force of 1917-18 played a significant but controversial role in the final Allied victory in 1918, but less controversial is the idea that the experiences of the men involved played a major role in the evolution of the American army between the wars and its performance during the Second World War.
Although the focus is on the men who served under Pershing, we do start with a brief examination of his contribution to the war. Pershing emerges as a contradictory figure. He is now perhaps most famous for insisting on the power of ‘self-reliant infantry’ and ‘open warfare’ and his initial distain for the sort of combined arms warfare that the British and French had developed. As a result his men were trained in the wrong type of warfare and suffered unnecessarily heavy casualties. However at the same time Pershing was an excellent planner, administrator and trainer, and played a crucial role in the creation of an effective AEF and its deployment to France.
The key purpose of this book is to look at those men who served with Pershing in France and then went on to have a major impact on the inter-war and Second World War armies. Many of the figures chosen are thus very familiar to us – MacArthur, Marshall, Patton, ‘Billy’ Mitchell, William J. Donovan and Harry S. Truman most of all. Others were significant at the time, but didn’t become so prominent during the Second World War, so have rather faded from memory (this would include genuinely significant figures such as Malin Craig, chief of staff from 1935-39).
The biographies are written by a large number of different authors, so differ somewhat in style, and in the balance between First World War and other service. Most look at the pre First World War period in some detail, and they all cover the First World War period in the most detail. The coverage of inter-war and Second World War careers varies, but in general the more famous the person was in the Second World War, the less details we get of their later career.
Not all of the figures discussed here were a great success – the division and corps commanders were all replaced or involved in some controversy – but in general they emerge as a very able (if sometimes rather argumentative) group, in general rather more willing than Pershing to learn from their experiences on the Western Front. This series of short biographies provides ain interesting insight into the performance of the AEF of 1917-18, and the rather more impressive performance of the US Army in the Second World War.
Part One: The Future Chiefs of Staff of the U.S. Army
1 – Major General John L. Hines, Tim White
2 – Major General Charles P. Summerall, Jerry D. Morelock
3 – Brigadier General Douglas MacArthur, Jerry D, Morelock
4 – Brigadier General Malin Craig, Douglas V. Mastriano and David T. Zqbecki
5 – Colonel George C. Marshall, Mark Grotelueschen and Derek Varble
Part Two: The Future Commandants of the U.S. Marine Corps
6 – Major General John A. Lejeune, G.K. Cunningham
7 – Brigadier General Wendell C. Neville, Carl O. Schuster
Part Three: The Senior Staff Officers
8 – Major General James G. Harbord, David T. Zqbecki
9 – Brigadier General Fox Conner, David T. Zqbecki
10 – Brigadier General Hugh A. Drum, Patrick Gregory
11 – Brigadier General Charles G. Dawes, William H. Van Husen
Part Four: The Army Commanders
12 – Lieutenant General Hunter Liggett, Douglas V. Mastriano
13 – Lieutenant General Robert L. Bullard, Sebastian H Lukasik
14 – Major General Joseph T. Dickman, J. Mark Jackson
Part Five: The Corps and Division Commanders
15 – Major General George H. Cameron, Kenneth S. Shaw
16 – Major General Clarence R. Edwards, William H. Van Husen
17 – Major General Robert Alexander, Robert K. Laplander
Part Six: The Specialist Officers
18 – Brigadier General William ‘Billy’ Mitchell, James S. Corum
19 – Colonel George S. Patton, Jr. Carlo D’Este
Part Seven: The Regimental Officers
20 – Colonel William J. Donovan, Kevin McCall
21 – Lieutenant Colonel Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., Douglas V. Mastriano
22 – Major Harry S. Truman, Dave Theis
Editors: David T. Zabecki and Douglas V. Mastriano