Omar Nelson Bradley, 1893-1981

Omar Nelson Bradley, 1893-1981

Omar Nelson Bradley, 1893-1981

Omar Nelson Bradley (1893-1981) rose to command the US 12th Army Group during the campaign in Europe in 1944-45, putting him in charge of more American combat troops than any other officer. He was famous for his concern for the GIs, but also made a number of controversial decisions.

Bradley was born on a small farm in Clark, Missouri, in 1893. He attended West Point, and graduated as part of the class of 1915, known as the ‘class the stars fell on’, after half of the graduates reached general rank. Bradley and Eisenhower were the most famous members of the class, and became close friends.

After graduating, Bradley didn’t get to see active service during the First World War. He spent four years teaching at West Point (1920-24), attended the Infantry School in 1925, and graduated first in his class at the Command and General Staff School in 1929. In 1929 he became an instructor at the Infantry School at Fort Benning, serving under Lt Colonel George Marshall, whose patronage played a major part in his later career. He returned to West Point as an instructor again in 1934-38. In February 1941 he was promoted to brigadier-general, and appointed as commander of the Infantry School at Fort Benning, replacing General Hodges.

In February 1942, as the army began to expand after Pearl Harbor, he was promoted to Major-General, and given command of the newly activated 82nd Infantry Division. He held this post until June 1942 when he took over the 28th Division, a National Guard based division from Pennsylvania that was suffering from a series of problems. Bradley successfully improved the division, and on 12 February 1943 Marshall informed him that he was about to be given command of a corps. However on the same day Eisenhower had picked Bradley from a list of possible candidates for a new post to investigate the performance of the US army in Tunisia, where it had not performed as well as expected. Bradley arrived in Algiers on 24 February 1943, marking the start of his combat career, after 32 years in the army! His first task was to examine the performance of General Fredendall during the battle of the Kasserine Pass, where Rommel had inflicted an embarrassing, if rather short lived, defeat on the Americans. On 7 March Bradley recommended that Fredendall should be replaced as commander of the 2nd Corps. On the following day Patton arrived to take over the post, taking a break from helping to plan the invasion of Sicily. Bradley served as Patton’s deputy, before replacing him as corps commander on 15 April 1943.

Bradley thus gained his first command experience as a corps commander during the final stages of the Tunisian campaign (similar to Eisenhower, whose first combat command had been Operation Torch). This campaign ended on 13 May, and on 2 June Bradley was promoted to Lieutenant-General. He retained command of 2nd Corps, which was allocated to Patton’s 7th Army for the invasion of Sicily. Bradley commanded the corps during that campaign, but was replaced by General Lucus soon after it finished on 10 July 1943.

Bradley now leapfrogged over Patton, to be given command of the US 1st Army, the US contribution to the D-Day landings. Patton had blotted his copy book in Sicily after twice slapping shell shocked soldiers in hospitals, undermining Eisenhower’s confidence in his abilities at just the wrong moment. Bradley was considered to be a capable soldier and less likely to make mistakes than Patton. The plan was for Bradley to command the US 1st Army under Montgomery during the D-Day landings and the initial battles in Normandy. Once there was enough space Patton’s 3rd Army would be activated, and Bradley would be promoted to command of the US 12th Army Group. Bradley set up his HQ at Bristol on 16 October 1943, and helped plan Operation Overlord.

On 1 August 1944 Patton took command of US 3rd Army and Bradley became commander of US 12th Army Group, which eventually contained 1.3 million men. It was a sign of the respect with which he was held that even Patton accepted his authority with good grace, despite having only recently been his superior. However the two men did clash from time to time, with Patton generally wanting a more aggressive approach and Bradley a more careful one. One example came in Brittany, where Patton wanted to dash west to Brest, while Bradley wanted a step-by-step advance along the north and south coasts, capturing each of the major ports one by one before attacking Brest.

Bradley commanded the 12th Army Group during the rest of the war – the advance across France, the first battles on the West Wall, the battle of the Bulge, the crossing of the Rhine and the advance into Germany.

Bradley made a number of controversial decisions during the campaign. The first came in the battle of the Falaise gap, when he ordered Patton’s 15th Corps to stop at Argentan because he didn’t want to risk an accidental clash with the Canadians fighting their way south. This left the mouth of the Falaise pocket open for longer than it should have been, and allowed a significant number of German troops to escape. He also supported the broad front approach (as did Eisenhower). His handling of the reaction to the German Ardennes offensive was also controversial, and Eisenhower decided to place the US troops north of the bulge, the First and Ninth Armies, under Montgomery’s command during the battle, as Bradley appeared to have lost control of events in the north. However Bradley did insist on Patton’s turn to the north, which played a major role in defeating the German attack (although Patton had already planned for that eventuality), and one of the main reasons for the change of command was that ‘bulge’ had got between Bradley’s HQ in the south and his armies in the north . Bradley was also responsible for the decision to attack into the Hurtgen Forest, a confused battle that caused many American casualties for little benefit. However he successfully commanded the largest combat force in US history and was an able subordinate to Eisenhower.

Bradley was unremarkable in appearance and un-flamboyant in style. He was known as the ‘GI’s General’ because of his concern for the well being of his men.

After the war he led the Veterans Administration until 1947. He served as chief of staff of the Army (1948-49) and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 1949-53, during the Korean War. He was promoted to General of the Army in 1950. His first wife died in 1965, and he remarried in 1966. In 1975 he suffered a head injury that left him wheelchair bound, and he died on 8 April 1981 just after accepting an award.


Omar Nelson Bradley, (1893–1981)

American general Along with Generals Dwight D. Eisenhower and George S. Patton, Omar Bradley is considered one of the major Second World War American commanders. Born in Clark, Missouri, on 12 February 1893, he was the son of a schoolteacher father who died young. His mother worked as a seamstress to support the family and send her son to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, from which he graduated in 1915. He served on the Mexican border, was then posted to Montana, and was disappointed that the 1918 armistice ending World War I arrived before he could serve in Europe. Following the end of the war, Bradley lectured in mathematics at West Point. He attended the general staff school in 1929 and the Army War College in 1934. In 1941, he served as an infantry instructor at Fort Benning, Georgia. He was promoted to the rank of brigadier general in 1941.

When the United States entered the Second World War after the Japanese attack on the naval base at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, Bradley was named as the commander of the 82nd Infantry Division later, he was appointed to command the 28th Infantry Division. Early in 1943, he was sent to North Africa, succeeding General George S. Patton as commander of the United States’ II Corps, which he led through the defeat of the Germans in North Africa and the allied invasion of Sicily. He played a key part in the defeat of the Germans on 7–9 May 1943 at Tunis and Bizerte (also called Bizerta), part of the dual American and British action called Operation Torch.

For his service in North Africa, Bradley was promoted to lieutenant general in June 1943 and awarded the Distinguished Service Medal. In autumn 1943, he was transferred to London and named by the Allied commander General Dwight D. Eisenhower to become commander of U.S. ground forces in Europe. His first practical test in this role came on 6 June 1944, when American, British, and other Allied troops stormed the beaches of Normandy, France, in Operation Overlord, better known as D-Day. Bradley’s troops landed on the beaches codenamed Omaha and Utah. When the attack on Omaha beach became bogged down with terrible American casualties, Bradley briefly considered withdrawal, but his men held their ground and eventually achieved their objectives, making the landings a tremendous success. Bradley’s leadership of the First Army is widely considered to have made the difference in the successful Allied advance toward the east from northern France. The inclusion of troops from Patton’s Third Army allowed Bradley to form the 12th Army Group, of which he became commander, and he was present when American forces liberated Paris on 25 August 1944.

On 12 March 1945, shortly before the end of the war, Bradley was given a fourth star. He was one of the leaders who coordinated the allied rout of the German army, crossing the Rhine River at the captured bridge at Remagen and eventually halting at Pilsen in Czechoslovakia as the war ended. Historians speculate that Bradley, in command of some 1.2 million troops, could have taken Berlin had the Soviet army not done so first.

From 1945 until 1947, Bradley acted as the interim administrator of the Veterans Administration, later to become the cabinet-level Department of Veterans Affairs. On 7 February 1948, he succeeded Eisenhower as chief of staff of the U.S. Army, serving until 16 August 1949. On that same day, he was named chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the head of all U.S. armed services. He also served as the first chairman of the Military Committee of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) from 1949 to 1950. Bradley was given a fifth star in September 1950, earning the title General of the Army. His memoirs, A Soldier’s Story, were published in 1951. He retired from active duty in August 1953, going to work for the Bulova Watch Company and rising to become chairman of the board in 1958. After his death in New York City on 8 April 1981, age 88, he was laid to rest with full military honors in Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. His stone simply reads: “Omar Nelson Bradley. General of the Army.”

Historians contrast Bradley’s mild demeanor with that of his fellow American, George S. Patton. Historian James Lucas writes, “Bradley was a quiet spoken, well-mannered man, who, having given an order, expected it to be carried out thoroughly and swiftly without his interference. Nor did he welcome interference from his superiors. Once he had been given a job, he would carry it out. He needed no supervision. Because of his reluctance to interfere with a subordinate’s operations, he at times seemed not to exercise sufficient control over Patton— but that was Bradley’s way. His aim was to teach by example, a reflection of the early days when he lectured at West Point. Quiet, dependable, an excellent administrator and a sound tactician—this was Omar Bradley.”


Omar Nelson Bradley (1893 - 1981)

Bradley was best known as a United States Army field commander in North Africa and Europe during World War II, and a General of the Army. He had command of all U.S. ground forces invading Germany from the west ultimately commanding forty-three divisions and 1.3 million men, the largest body of American soldiers ever to serve under a U.S. field commander. Bradley was the last of only nine people to hold five-star rank in the United States Armed Forces.

He was born to John Smith Bradley (1868–1908) and Mary Elizabeth Hubbard (1875–1931), was born into poverty in rural Randolph County, near Clark, Missouri. His father, a school teacher, died when he was fifteen. His Sunday school teacher, later, encouraged him to apply to the United States military Academy. He finished second in the West Point placement exams at Jefferson Barracks Military Post in St. Louis. The first place winner was unable to accept the Congressional appointment, and so Bradley took his place.

After graduation, every assignment he was given was executed flawlessly. He rose through the ranks quickly. In February 1942, he was made a temporary major general (a rank made permanent in September 1944) and took command of the 82nd Infantry Division before succeeding James Garesche Ord as commander of the 28th Infantry Division in June. For the front-line command, Bradley was promoted to temporary lieutenant general in March 1943 and succeeded Patton as head of II Corps in April, directed it in the final Tunisian battles of April and May. Bradley continued to command the Second Corps in the invasion of Sicily.

Unlike some of the more colorful generals of World War II, Bradley was polite and courteous in his public appearances, a reticent man. He was never known to issue an order to anybody of any rank without saying 'Please' first."

On August 11, 1949, President Harry S Truman appointed Bradley the first Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. On September 22, 1950,[50] he was promoted to the rank of General of the Army, the fifth — and last — man to achieve that rank. That same year, Bradley was made the first Chairman of the NATO Military Committee.


Omar Nelson Bradley : America's GI General, 1893-1981

When Omar Nelson Bradley began his military career more than a century ago, the army rode horses into combat and had less than 200,000 men. No one had heard of mustard gas. At the height of his career, Bradley (known as “Brad” and “The GI’s General”) led 1.23 million men as commander of 12 Army Group in the Western Front to bring an end to World War II.

Omar Nelson Bradley was the youngest and last of nine men to earn five-star rank and the only army officer so honored after World War II. This new biography by Steven L. Ossad gives an account of Bradley’s formative years, his decorated career, and his postwar life.

Bradley’s decisions shaped the five Northwest European Campaigns from the D-Day landings to VE Day. As the man who successfully led more Americans in battle than any other in our history, his long-term importance would seem assured. Yet his name is not discussed often in the classrooms of either civilian or military academies, either as a fount of tactical or operational lessons learned, or a source of inspiration for leadership exercised at Corps, Army, Group, Army Chief, or Joint Chiefs of Staff levels.

The Bradley image was tailor-made for the quintessential homespun American heroic ideal and was considered by many to be a simple, humble country boy who rose to the pinnacle of power through honesty, hard work, loyalty and virtuous behavior. Even though his classmates in both high school and at West Point made remarks about his looks, and Bradley was always self-conscious about smiling because of an accident involving his teeth, he went on to command 12 Army Group, the largest body of American fighting men under a single general.

Bradley’s postwar career as administrator of the original GI Bill and first Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the Korean War ensures his legacy. These latter contributions, as much as Bradley’s demonstrable World War II leadership, shaped U.S. history and culture in decisive, dramatic, and previously unexamined ways.

Drawing on primary sources such as those at West Point, Army War College and Imperial War Museum, this book focuses on key decisions, often through the eyes of eyewitness and diarist, British liaison officer Major Thomas Bigland. The challenges our nation faces sound familiar to his problems: fighting ideologically-driven enemies across the globe, coordinating global strategy with allies, and providing care and benefits for our veterans.


Omar Nelson Bradley: America's GI General, 1893-1981

When Omar Nelson Bradley began his military career more than a century ago, the army rode horses into combat and had less than 200,000 men. No one had heard of mustard gas. At the height of his career, Bradley (known as “Brad” and “The GI’s General”) led 1.23 million men as commander of 12 Army Group on the Western Front at the end of World War II.

Omar Nelson Bradley was When Omar Nelson Bradley began his military career more than a century ago, the army rode horses into combat and had less than 200,000 men. No one had heard of mustard gas. At the height of his career, Bradley (known as “Brad” and “The GI’s General”) led 1.23 million men as commander of 12 Army Group on the Western Front at the end of World War II.

Omar Nelson Bradley was the youngest and last of nine men to earn five-star rank and the only army officer so honored after World War II. This new biography by Steven L. Ossad gives an account of Bradley’s formative years, his decorated career, and his postwar life. Bradley’s decisions shaped the five Northwest European Campaigns from the D-Day landings to VE Day. As the man who successfully led more Americans in battle than any other in our history, his long-term importance would seem assured. Yet his name is not discussed in the classrooms of either civilian or military academies, either as a fount of tactical or operational lessons learned, or a source of inspiration for leadership exercised at Corps, Army, Group, Army Chief, or Joint Chiefs of Staff levels.


Omar Nelson Bradley, 1893-1981 - History

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Omar Nelson Bradley, 1893-1981. General of the Army first permanent chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. 8" x 10" formal black-and-white portrait photograph inscribed and signed, To Miss Rosemary E. Wright / With best wishes / Omar N. Bradley.

This is a fine vintage studio portrait of Bradley by renowned portraitist Louis Fabian Bachrach, whose imprint appears in the lower left corner of the image.

It is part of a collection assembled by Rosemary E. Wright (1890-1969), who spent some 35 years working for the Army, ultimately as Chief of the Army General Staff Assignment Section, before she retired in November 1953. During her time with the Army, she assembled a large collection of signed photographs and letters from Army generals and others. She wrote of her years with the Army in The Generals Call Me “Mom,” which appeared in the March 15, 1952, edition of Collier's magazine.

Bradley, a graduate of West Point, assumed command of the 2nd Corps in 1943, midway through World War II. He commanded forces in North Africa, contributing to the fall of Tunisia, and led the invasion of Sicily later that year. He helped to plan the D-Day invasion, during which he led the 1st Army , which landed at Utah and Omaha beaches in Normandy . His forces liberated Paris in August 1944. Later he commanded the 12th Army Group , the largest U.S. Army group ever assembled, and his forces continued to fight in France, Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Germany, and Czechoslovakia until V-E Day, May 8, 1945.

Bradley was the last survivor among only five Army generals who held five-star rank. The others were George C. Marshall, Douglas MacArthur, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and Henry H. Arnold (redesignated General of the Air Force in 1949). When Bradley died in 1981, the rank was consigned to history.

Bradley has inscribed and signed this photo in black fountain pen. The photo has a few minor surface creases that are not particularly noticeable, rippling on the upper and lower margins, a couple of small stains in the upper margin, and mounting remnants on the back. Overall it is in fine condition and a very desirable piece, given its provenance.


Omar Nelson Bradley

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Omar Nelson Bradley, (born Feb. 12, 1893, Clark, Mo., U.S.—died April 8, 1981, New York, N.Y.), U.S. Army officer who commanded the Twelfth Army Group, which helped ensure the Allied victory over Germany during World War II later he served as first chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff (1949–53).

Bradley graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, in 1915. At the opening of World War II, he was commandant of the U.S. Army Infantry School, Fort Benning, Georgia, and he later commanded the 82nd and 28th infantry divisions. After being placed at the head of the II Corps for the North African campaign, under General George S. Patton, he captured Bizerte, Tunisia, in May 1943. This victory contributed directly to the fall of Tunisia and the surrender of more than 250,000 Axis troops. Bradley then led his forces in the Sicilian invasion, which was successfully concluded in August.

Later in 1943 Bradley was transferred to Great Britain, where he was given command of the U.S. First Army in 1944. Placed under the command of British Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery, he took part in planning the invasion of France. In June 1944 he joined his troops in the assault on the Normandy beaches and in the initial battles inland (see Normandy Invasion). At the beginning of August, he was elevated to command of the U.S. Twelfth Army Group. Under his leadership the First, Third, Ninth, and Fifteenth armies, the largest force ever placed under an American group commander, successfully carried on operations in France, Luxembourg, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, and Czechoslovakia until the end of European hostilities.

After the German surrender, Bradley returned to the United States to serve as administrator of veterans’ affairs (1945–47) and chief of staff of the army (1948–49). He was well liked by both officers and enlisted men, and, after the unification of the armed forces, he was chosen in 1949 to be the first chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. While at that post he was promoted (1950) to general of the army.

After retiring from the army in 1953, Bradley was active in private enterprise. In 1951 he published his reminiscences, A Soldier’s Story. A General’s Life (with Clay Blair) was published in 1983.

This article was most recently revised and updated by Lorraine Murray, Associate Editor.


Omar Nelson Bradley: America's GI General, 1893-1981.

If Omar Bradley was hardly "America's General" inasmuch as he was scarcely known to either his troops or the public, then he surely was one of the more important uniformed figures of World War II and the early Cold War, and is clearly deserving of an informed, well-researched biography. Sadly, Ossad's effort fails to fill this bill.

Son of Missourians of limited means, Bradley excelled on the ballfield but was humbled in the classroom at West Point, where he graduated in 1915 with "the class the stars fell on" thanks to the timely expansion of the U.S. Army during World War I. Like his classmate, Dwight Eisenhower, he did not serve in the AEF during the Great War and, thus, had not been tested by leading men in combat when his sponsor, General George C. Marshall, the Army Chief of Staff, promoted him to Brigadier General in 1941. Several stateside training commands followed unfortunately--in the first of many lapses--Ossad takes no account of the scholarly controversies attending the inadequacies of the wartime infantry training regimen. Summoned by Eisenhower, now Allied commander in North Africa, Bradley served as his deputy until April 1942, when he succeeded General George Patton in command of U.S. II Corps during the mopping up campaign in Tunisia.

The glacial pace of Eisenhower's advance to Tunis meant that the Allies had little choice but to invade Sicily, where Bradley's II Corps served under Patton during that unsatisfying campaign. When the latter was briefly sidelined thanks to publicity over the "slapping incident," Bradley replaced him in command of U.S. First Army during the Overlord landings on Utah and Omaha beaches in June 1944. Ossad traces Bradley's pre-invasion comings and goings and outlines the higher American command, but fails to explain what, if anything, his hero contributed to the operational plan. Ossad rightly criticizes Bradley's rejection of specialized British armored vehicles for dealing with German beach obstacles, which plagued the assault units on Omaha. Those troops were also imperiled by the presence of the German 352nd Infantry Division, which Allied intelligence placed 12 miles inland a few days earlier. Neither Bradley nor his subordinates ever wondered how long it would take a veteran enemy division to reach the coast in a forced march, and Ossad also ignores this important question.

Ossad admits that the First Army "staff gave insufficient attention to [Normandy's] terrain" (197), which featured narrow roads and stiff hedgerows favoring the experienced German defenders. Only incompetence explains their lapse. The ground had seen warfare since the Romans, Allied reconnaissance aircraft photographed every acre, and yet Bradley--perhaps due to his lack of small-unit combat command--did not grasp the tactical problems the bocage posed. Bradley's failure to conform to the movements of Field Marshall Bernard Law Montgomery's British 21st Army Group and close the Falaise Gap on the German Seventh Army are likewise skimmed over with the briefest defense.

The bungling continued as the Allied armies cleared France and approached the German frontier. Ossad catalogs the buildup of troops and materiel, none of which Bradley arranged, while avoiding the issue of American tactics and the critique provided long ago by John Ellis in Brute Force. Bradley was again caught short during the Battle of the Bulge and Eisenhower's reluctant decision to give command of the counterattack to Monty clearly smarted, especially given the Field Marshal's contempt for Bradley's limited abilities. When asked which generals he would take during the shift of U.S. Army forces from Europe to the Pacific in mid-1945, General Douglas MacArthur responded that he would take anyone--except General Bradley.

Bradley was arguably a more important figure in the early postwar years. Ossad's discussion of his years as head of the Veterans' Administration is the best chapter in the book it is followed by the weakest. Despite immense popularity, Eisenhower's two-year tenure as Army Chief of Staff was a disaster, featuring overly rapid demobilization, squabbling with the U.S. Navy over "roles and missions," counter-productive occupation policies, and a failure to contemplate another overseas conflict not involving nuclear weapons. Bradley inherited this mess from Eisenhower and only made it worse. His most egregious decision was to "hollow out" divisions and limit planning to another European struggle.

When Fleet Admiral William D. Leahy retired, President Truman named Bradley to succeed him as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Ossad might describe his role between the Air Force and Navy as a "peacemaker" (370), but the admirals remember him as a wrong-headed partisan and toady of Louis Johnson, the second Secretary of Defense afflicted by insanity. Space limits a recitation of the many factual errors, misunderstandings, and omissions that mar the mere twelve final pages dealing with the Berlin Blockade, negotiation of the North Atlantic Treaty, the Korean War, the establishment of NATO, European rearmament, and the adoption of the Massive Retaliation.


Omar Nelson Bradley, 1893-1981 - History

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Omar Nelson Bradley, 1893-1981. General of the Army first permanent chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. 8" x 10" formal black-and-white portrait photograph inscribed and signed, To Miss Rosemary E. Wright / Omar N. Bradley.

This photograph is part of a collection assembled by Rosemary E. Wright (1890-1969), who spent some 35 years working for the Army, ultimately as Chief of the Army General Staff Assignment Section, before she retired in November 1953. Miss Wright handled all of the administrative work relating to officers assigned to the General Staff. She knew all of them —well enough to call Dwight D. Eisenhower “Ike,” George S. Patton, Jr., “Georgie,” and Jonathan Wainwright “Skinny." During her time with the Army, she assembled a large collection of signed photographs and letters from Army generals and others. She wrote of her years with the Army in The Generals Call Me “Mom,” which appeared in the March 15, 1952, edition of Collier's magazine.

Bradley, a graduate of West Point, assumed command of the 2nd Corps in 1943, midway through World War II. He commanded forces in North Africa, contributing to the fall of Tunisia, and led the invasion of Sicily later that year. He helped to plan the D-Day invasion, during which he led the 1st Army , which landed at Utah and Omaha beaches in Normandy . His forces liberated Paris in August 1944. Later he commanded the 12th Army Group , the largest U.S. Army group ever assembled, and his forces continued to fight in France, Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Germany, and Czechoslovakia until V-E Day, May 8, 1945.

After World War II, Bradley was Administrator of Veterans' Affairs before being appointed Army Chief of Staff in 1948. He served four years, 1949-1953, as the first permanent chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He was promoted to the five-star rank of General of the Army in 1950 and retired in 1953.

Bradley was the last survivor among only five Army generals who held five-star rank. The others were George C. Marshall, Douglas MacArthur, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and Henry H. Arnold (redesignated General of the Air Force in 1949). When Bradley died in 1981, the rank was consigned to history.

Bradley has inscribed and signed this photo in black fountain pen in the lower margin. The photo has a noticeable horizontal crease across Bradley's chest, well removed from the inscription and signature. It also has stains in the upper right and left corners and mounting remnants on the back. Overall it is in very good condition, and the inscription and signature are very fine.


Omar Nelson Bradley: America's GI General, 1893-1981.

THOSE WHO REMEMBER Omar Bradley recall a caricature, the modest, hardworking leader dubbed "the GI's General," argues Steven Ossad. Such perceptions, Ossad writes, have been shaped by the reputations of Bradley's more celebrated superiors (Dwight Eisenhower) and subordinates (George Patton). Ossad's new biography seeks a more three-dimensional understanding of Bradley as "the Great Tactician of the West," and he brings new sources, such as the diary of Bradley's British liaison, Major Thomas Bigland, to the task.

Omar Nelson Bradley is organized into three parts: Becoming a Commander (up to 1943), the Liberation of Europe (19441945), and Shaper of the Post-War World (1945-1981). A prologue recounts the 1913 Army-Navy baseball game when Cadet Bradley was thrown out trying to steal second base. Telling the story decades later, Bradley did not admit he'd made a judgment error. This incident, says Ossad, foreshadowed an inability to admit more serious lapses of judgment as a commander.

Part one details Bradley's hardscrabble upbringing in Missouri and his almost accidental admission to West Point. Bradley was a member of the class of 1915--"the 2class the stars fell on"--which produced 59 general officers, including Eisenhower. Ossad follows Bradley's career from infantry lieutenant (he served stateside during World War I) through the succession of army schools necessary for advancement to the highest levels of command.

During the next 20 years Bradley crossed paths with officers who would become famous during the Second World War, most importantly George C. Marshall, with whom he served as an instructor at Fort Benning's infantry school from 1929 to 1933 and as a colonel on the army's general staff from 1939 to 1941. Ossad asserts, "President Roosevelt won World War II with a single appointment [Marshall as chief of staff] on the day it began." Such hyperbole notwithstanding, Bradley's career, like that of many future general officers, was shaped by his status as a protege of Marshall.

Once the United States entered World War II, Bradley rose rapidly, commanding two divisions in training before being sent to North Africa, after the debacle at Kasserine Pass in early 1943, to act as Eisenhower's "eyes and ears." In the Tunisia campaign Bradley served for the first time under Patton. Their relationship, according to Ossad, was more fraught than many accounts would have us believe. Bradley's feelings toward Patton eventually degenerated into contempt. After a relatively brief stint as Patton's deputy, Bradley took command of the II Corps and led it to victory in both Africa and Sicily. By late 1943 he was America's most experienced corps commander and had begun to develop his low-key image with the press and the public.

The middle chapters deal with Bradley's role in the planning and implementation of the D-Day landings on Normandy and his role as commander of the First Army and the Twelfth Army Group. Several episodes reveal the less attractive aspects of his character, presaged by the story of the ArmyNavy baseball game. When the massive air bombardment designed to blast German defenses prior to D-Day resulted in hundreds of US casualties, Bradley did not take responsibility. He blamed Eighth Air Force commander Jimmy Doolittle and others even though he had insisted that his troops remain closer to the bomb line than the airmen considered safe.

More serious was Bradley's "calculated gamble" to spread his forces too thin in the Ardennes prior to the German counterattack in December 1944. Not wanting to appear panicked, Bradley refused to relocate his headquarters to facilitate communications with the First Army. He got angry and threatened to resign when Eisenhower gave British Field Marshall Bernard Montgomery command of American forces north of the developing bulge. He never forgave Ike. The weeks of the Ardennes crisis revealed his insecurities at their worst.

The final chapters of the book paint a more positive portrait. After VE Day, Bradley was tapped to head the Veterans Administration. Despite fears that the job spelled the end of his military career, he performed in an exemplary manner, guiding the VA through a period of unprecedented growth and developing a close working relationship with President Harry Truman. He was rewarded with an appointment as chief of staff of the army, then an appointment as the first chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (he served during the critical first year of the Korean War), and finally a promotion to five-star general.

Ossad's book may not be the definitive biography of Omar Bradley that some desire, but Ossad has nonetheless performed a service by revealing a number of Bradley's more human traits. Because of this book, we have a fuller understanding of this particular famous soldier's story.


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