Lucian King Truscott, Jr. (January 9, 1895 – September 12, 1965) was a US Army General, who successively commanded the 3rd Infantry Division, VI Corps, U.S. Fifteenth Army and U.S. Fifth Army during World War II.
Truscott was born in Chatfield, Texas, and joined the Army in 1917. After officer training, he was commissioned a second lieutenant of cavalry and served in various cavalry and staff assignments between the World Wars.
In 1942, then-Colonel Truscott was instrumental in developing an American commando unit patterned after the British Commando units. The American unit was activated by newly promoted Brigadier General Truscott on June 19, 1942 as the 1st Ranger Battalion, and placed under the command of William Orlando Darby.
Truscott took command of the 3rd Infantry Division in April 1943, and oversaw preparations for the invasion of Sicily. He was known as a very tough trainer, bringing the 3rd Infantry Division up to a very high standard. He led the division in the assault on Sicily in July 1943. Here his training paid off when the Division covered great distances in the mountainous terrain at high speed. The famous “Truscott trot” was a marching pace of four miles per hour, much faster than the usual standard of 2.5 miles per hour. The 3rd Infantry Division was considered by many the best-trained, best-led division in the Seventh Army. In mid-September 1943, nine days after the initial Allied landings, he led the division ashore at Salerno on the Italian mainland, where it fought its way up the peninsula.
In January 1944, the division assaulted Anzio as part of the US VI Corps. Allied forces soon became mired on the beachhead, and Truscott was given command of VI Corps, replacing the initial commander, Lieutenant General John P. Lucas, who had proved to be indecisive during the battle. Truscott was succeeded in command of 3rd Infantry Division by Major General John “Iron Mike” O'Daniel.
Following Anzio, Truscott continued to command VI Corps through the fight up Italy. His command was then withdrawn from the line to prepare for Operation Dragoon, the amphibious assault on southern France. The Corps landed on 15 August 1944 and faced relatively little opposition. In October 1944, Truscott took command of the newly formed U.S. Fifteenth Army.
Truscott's next command came in December 1944. He was promoted to command of the U.S. Fifth Army in Italy when its commander Lieutenant General Mark Clark was made commander of 15th Army Group. Truscott led the Army through the hard winter of 1944–1945, where many of its formations were in exposed positions in the mountains of Italy. He then lead US forces through the final destruction of the German Army in Italy.
Truscott had a very gravelly voice, said to be the result of an accidental ingenstion of acid in childhood. He was superstitious about his clothing, and usually wore a leather jacket, “pink” (light khaki) pants and lucky boots in combat. He also wore a white scarf as a trademark, first during the Sicilian campaign.
Truscott once said to his son, “Let me tell you something, and don't ever forget it. You play games to win, not lose. And you fight wars to win. That's spelled W-I-N !And every good player in a game and every good commander in a war…has to have some son of a bitch in him. If he doesn't, he isn't a good player or commander….It's as simple as that. No son of a bitch, no commander.”
Truscott took over command of the U.S. Third Army from General George S. Patton on October 8, 1945, and led it until April 1946. This command included the Eastern Military District of the U.S. occupation zone of Germany, which consisted primarily of the state of Bavaria. When the U.S. Seventh Army was deactivated in March 1946, Truscott's Third Army took over the Western Military District (the U.S.-occupied parts of Baden, Württemberg and Hesse-Darmstadt).
Will Lang Jr. from Life (magazine) wrote a biography on Truscott that appeared in the October 2, 1944 issue of LIFE.
In 1954 Truscott was promoted to the rank of General by special act of Congress (Public Law 83-508, July 19, 1954).
General Truscott received the Army's second-highest decoration, the Distinguished Service Cross, for valor in action in Sicily on July 11, 1943, the second day of the invasion. General Truscott's other decorations include the Army Distinguished Service Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, the Navy Distinguished Service Medal, the Legion of Merit and the Purple Heart.
After retirement, Lucian K. Truscott Jr was an author. General Truscott wrote “Command Missions” (1954 – ISBN 0-89141-364-2) and “The Twilight of the U.S. Cavalry” (ISBN 0-7006-0932-6)
General Truscott died September 12, 1965, in Alexandria, Virginia.
Lucian K. Truscott, Jr's son, Lucian K. Truscott III, fought in Korea as a rifle company commander.
His grandson, Lucian K. Truscott IV, wrote the books “Dress Gray (ISBN 0-385-13475-4, ISBN 0-451-19047-5) “Heart of War” (ISBN 0-451-18770-9), “Army Blue” (ISBN 0-7472-0244-3) and “Full Dress Gray” (ISBN 0-00-616079-4).
January 9, 1895 – September 12, 1965
Lucian King Truscott, Jr., was born January 9, 1895, in Chatfield, Texas. He enlisted in the Army upon America's entry into World War I. He was selected for officer training and was commissioned in the cavalry in 1917. He served in a variety of cavalry assignments during the interwar period and served as an instructor at both the Cavalry School and the Command and General Staff School.
Early in World War II he joined Lord Mountbatten's combined staff where he developed the Ranger units for special operations. He led his Rangers in combat at Dieppe and in Morocco and then began his assent through the various levels of major combat command.
He was the commanding general of the 3d Infantry Division (Mar. 1943) in Sicily and Italy, VI Corps (Feb. 1944) in Italy and Southern France, Fifteenth Army (Oct. 1944), Fifth Army (Dec. 1944), and Third Army (Oct. 1945).
In the post-war period he commanded occupation forces in Bavaria and served in various advisory positions, enabling the Army to capitalize on the great wealth of his experiences. General Truscott was a reliable, aggressive, and successful leader.
Included among his many awards and decorations are the Distinguished Service Cross, Distinguished Service Medal (Oak Leaf Cluster), Legion of Merit, and Purple Heart.
General Truscott died on September 12, 1965, in Alexandria, Virginia.
Sent as a Brigadier General to Britain in order to study Commando units. He organized the U.S. counterpart, the Rangers, and led them at Port-Lyau-Tey in the 1942 Northwest Africa Invasion. In 1942-43, he served as Field Deputy to General Dwight D. Eisenhower, and then became Commanding General of the 3rd Infantry Division. After fighting in Africa, Sicily and Italy he commanded VI Corps in the 1944 invasion of Southern France at Normandy. He was promoted to Lieutenant General nd returned to Italy to command the 5th Army in 1944. As a Cavalry Colonel, he had served as Eisenhower's staff at Fort Lewis, Washington. The ability that he demonstrated during this time forecasted his rise to high rank in World War II.
A member of a a famous American military family, he died on September 12, 1965 and was buried in Section 1 of Arlington National Cemetery. His wife, Sarah Randolph Truscott (December 18, 1896-August 17, 1974), is buried with him.
TRUSCOTT, LUCIEN KING JR
- DATE OF BIRTH: 01/09/1895
- DATE OF DEATH: 09/12/1965
- BURIED AT: SECTION D SITE 827-B
ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY
Michael Robert Patterson was born in Arlington and is the son of a former officer of the US Army. So it was no wonder that sooner or later his interests drew him to American history and especially to American military history. Many of his articles can be found on renowned portals like the New York Times, Washingtonpost or Wikipedia.
Reviewed by: Michael Howard