. . . Relieved of Command is a unique and valuable addition to the military literature of World War II. -- Wisconsin Bookwatch, May 1997
. . . well-researched and balanced account. . .Persons has done an outstanding service in helping separate fact from fiction and putting a human picture to the names of these men. -- Robert A. Lynn, Military, May 1998
Relieved Of Command speaks of little conflicts, small corners of greater wars. The men who are written about were dedicated, loyal, brave, and well-trained. They simply did not achieve what was expected of them. Chance played a great part in their undoing (history will give them only a footnote at best) while chance went on to favor others of equal talent and ability. Relieved Of Command is a monograph telling of several who were discharged from their duty, both as a routine rostering change and (as more commonly thought) a pejorative, disciplinary action. With some the results could have been foreseen; with others, the relief was unexpected. This fragmentary listing of combat-command general officers who were relieved while commanding brigades, combat commands, divisions, or corps will serve to illustrate that relief of a subordinate, though not commonplace, did happen as a fact of war and the battlefield experience. Relieved Of Command is a unique and valuable addition to the military literature of World War II. -- Midwest Book Review
From Introduction: Being fired happens all the time and is hardly newsworthy. It is so commonplace in our society that one expects it to happen at least once in a career. Yet, when it happens to a senior military or naval officer during wartime, it is news.
The military Commander who feels the heat from his superior can demonstrate that he is tough and can do something that should please his superior by firing one or several subordinates. Abe Lincoln tried -- God knows he tried -- to find a Commander who could whip Robert E. Lee during the Civil War. Five times he was to drink the bitter tea, going through the aging Winfield Scott, Irvin McDowell (brevet major of the Adjutant General Department), George McClellan (who wouldn't fight but chose to remain in bivouac making plans), A. E. Burnside and George G. Meade (who together deserve no more than a listing), and finally Ulysses S. Grant (who met Lee at Appomattox).
Though Intelligence was probably withheld from Admiral Husband E. Kimmel and General Walter C. Short prior to the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941, they were both found to have been negligent in not posting someone or something out there to give a little warning that the "Japs were coming." They were both sacked.
Major General Lloyd R. Fredendall, Commander of the II ("two eye") U.S. Army Corps at the Battle of Kasserine Pass in 1943, was sacked for failure to prepare properly for an attack and for failure to defend adequately the key rear position critical to the safety of a corps on his flank.
Lieutenant General Mark Clark, Commander of the 5th Army in Italy in 1944, "relieved" his close friend, Major General John P. Lucas, the Field Commander at Anzio, ostensibly because Lucas was exhausted. Actually, it was because Winston Churchill, who always had a fondness for "the soft underbelly of Europe," was disappointed in the progress of the war on the Italian peninsula and demanded a head. The choice was Lucas, Clark, or Dwight D. Eisenhower, and the reader could have predicted the result.
Major General Alan W. Jones of the ill-fated 106th Infantry Division, which suffered the greatest defeat of any American military force in history, was "relieved of command" in December 1944 when his command no longer existed -- less than three weeks after he first committed his troops to combat.
General Joseph W. "Joe" Stilwell was sacked because he thought Chiang Kai-shek was "an ass" and publicly said so.
General Douglas MacArthur used every means at his disposal to provoke President Harry Truman to relieve him so that he, MacArthur, would not have to face the indignity of the inevitable stalemate in Korea. Much to his credit, Truman finally obliged.
In this monograph, I have attempted to tell of several who were "relieved of command" -- both a routine rostering change of command or, as more commonly thought, a pejorative action. These stories are all different. In some, the results could have been foreseen; in others, the relief was unexpected.