Charles Trueman “Buck” Lanham – Major General, United States Army

“Say only this of me when I am Dead
‘He saw proud eagles storming down the sky
He heard the braken brake where beauty fled
And, wingless, strove to fly.'”

From a contemporary news report:

“The officer whom Ernest Hemingway called “the finest and bravest and most intelligent regimental comander I have ever known” died of cancer at home in Chevy Chase, Maryland, at July 20, 1978 at the age of 76.

“As a Colonel, he led the 22nd Regiment, 4th Infantry Division, which spearheaded the Normandy breakout, entered Paris, attacked the Siegfried Line and held a key salient in the Battle of the Bulge. The Regiment won two Unit Citations and he ultimately won 17 decorations. During the Battle of the Hurtgen Forrest, Hemingway made his base as a reporter in Lanham’s command post. They became close friends and kept up a steady correspondence for seventeen years. Convalescing from injuries, the novelist wrote to the soldier as to a father confessor. It is said that he built his portrayal of Colonel Cantwell, protagonist of “Acros the River and Into the Trees,” on Lanham.

“He was himself an amateur poet and writer as well as a combat infantryman. Also was a leading military instructor, something of a diplomat and, after retirement from the service, an industrial executive. He was born in Washington, D.C. September 14, 1902, and graduated from West Point in 1924, from the Infantry School in 1932 and the Command and General Staff School in 1939. In the 1930s, he helped to edit the Infantry Journal and, in his spare time, wrote sonnets, a few of which were published in Harper’s Magazine, and some pulp fiction. As World War II approached, he directed preparation of Infantry training manuals, then went to Hollywood where he wrote and supervised a widely used series of training films.

“In Normandy in June 1944, he took command of the 22nd Regiment and led it in the breakout from the beaches. It was one of the first U.S. units to reach Paris, then the first to reach Germany and to penetrate the Siegfried Line. There, in the Hurtgen Forrest, the regiment suffered 80-percent casualties in eighteen days. Brought back to Luxembourg to reorganize and rest, it was soon caught up in the Battle of the Bulge. Some of its units were cut off, but it held. He was promoted to Brigadier General that February and made Assistant Commander of the 104th Division, which attacked Cologne and fought its way to a meeting with the Soviet Army on the Molde River. After commanding occupying forces based in Czecholovakia and Austria, he was called to Washington, D.C. to direct training and personnel policies, first for the Army and then for the three services, undergoing unification. Some training materials came under criticism from right-wingers as too liberal or not sufficiently anti-Communist. He retorted at one hearing that they were opposed by the Chicago Tribune and the Daily Worker. He said convictions were as important as weapons, and that it was necessary to break down prejudices among troops.

“Transferred to the European Theater in 1949, he helped to organize the forces of Belgium and Luxembourg, then became Chief Press Spokesman for General Dwight D. Eisenhower at the Allied Headquarters near Paris. It fell to him to announce the commander’s decision in early 1952 to accept a draft for the Republican Presidental nomination. He then took command of the 1st Infantry Division in West Germany in January 1953. He returned the next year as Deputy Commandant of the Armed Forces Staff College at Norfolk, and retired at the end of 1954, as a Major General, to join the Pennsylvania-Texas Corporation of Colt’s Patent Firearms. He resigned in 1958 and joined Xerox in 1960 as Vice President for Government Relations, retiring from that post at the end of 1970.”

He is buried in Section 4 of Arlington National Cemetery.


ctlanham-03Colonel Lanham With Ernest Hemingway





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