Lloyd Fredendall Behind the Failure

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Lloyd Fredendall Behind the Failure

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 07 Mar 2020 03:32

One of the influential US Generals of the early war lacks muck for biography or study. His failure in the winter/spring 1943 is discussed repeatedly in narratives of the Tunisian campaign. However they authors seem to retracing the same events over & over, without any depth or breadth for that matter. It seems to me a truly incompetent officers would have not achieved command of a critical US Army formation at a important series of events. Actually a long series. Fredendall was handed command of important cutting edge formations during four years of mobilization and war. So how did it happen that he became a defeated failure?

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Re: Lloyd Fredendall Behind the Failure

Post by Richard Anderson » 07 Mar 2020 03:46

Because he was an excellent trainer and administrator organizing units for combat, but was a horribly bad leader of men in combat. His experience reflects Marshall's general policy, which was to try potential commanders in combat and if they were found wanting in that role return them to the ZI in a training role.
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Re: Lloyd Fredendall Behind the Failure

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 07 Mar 2020 04:35

Hmm... Were the characteristics/behavior evident during earlier combat operations such as the initial landings of the II Corps in November? Specifics ascribed to Fredendall as his failures in combat in January-February are items that sound to me as characteristics that would have made him a lower quality leader or manager of mobilizing/training. This brings me back to to the relatively shallow or repetitive descriptions of his failures.

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Re: Lloyd Fredendall Behind the Failure

Post by rcocean » 07 Mar 2020 18:42

Carl Schwamberger wrote:
07 Mar 2020 04:35
Hmm... Were the characteristics/behavior evident during earlier combat operations such as the initial landings of the II Corps in November? Specifics ascribed to Fredendall as his failures in combat in January-February are items that sound to me as characteristics that would have made him a lower quality leader or manager of mobilizing/training. This brings me back to to the relatively shallow or repetitive descriptions of his failures.
My own impression is that while Fredendall was not a great commander by any stretch of the imagination, he was less a failure than a scapegoat. Anderson the 1st Army Commander, and Ike, were micromanaging II corps - and the defeat at Kasserine was more a strategic then a tactical failure. Ike gave him a high evaluation just before Kasserine, and after it, recommended he be promoted and sent back to the USA. His other problem was his failure to get along with Allen or Ward. But since Patton later relieved both Allen and Ward, its hard to blame Fredendall.

If look at it, after every Mediterranean disaster, the Brits recommended the US army Corps get relieved and the Ike went along. And so Dawes and Lucas followed Fredendall after Salerno and Anzio.

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Re: Lloyd Fredendall Behind the Failure

Post by rcocean » 07 Mar 2020 18:46

There's also an interesting what if. What if stimson and marshall had gone through with their plan to send Hugh Drum to China. This would've have meant Stillwell commanding one of the invasion task forces, probably replacing Fredendall. Viniger Joe in Tunisia, now that would've been interesting!

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Re: Lloyd Fredendall Behind the Failure

Post by Tom from Cornwall » 07 Mar 2020 20:37

rcocean wrote:
07 Mar 2020 18:42
If look at it, after every Mediterranean disaster, the Brits recommended the US army Corps get relieved and the Ike went along. And so Dawes and Lucas followed Fredendall after Salerno and Anzio.
Nothing like a good conspiracy theory for a Saturday night on Axis History Forum! :thumbsup:

Salerno was tough, but hardly a disaster! And the American corps commander was called Dawley rather than Dawes.

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Tom

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Re: Lloyd Fredendall Behind the Failure

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 07 Mar 2020 21:23

. But since Patton later relieved both Allen and Ward....
Actually it was Bradley who relieved Allen. Patton went along with it because Bradly was so PO with Allen, and Patton did not like to undercut subordinates second guessing them.

Note that Bradley managed two Mediterranean campaigns without anyone calling for his head.

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Re: Lloyd Fredendall Behind the Failure

Post by Tom from Cornwall » 07 Mar 2020 22:41

Dawley and Lucas were replaced by Keyes and Truscott which seems a good result if you served in their formations. And, to salve any wounded national pride caused by the sacking of Fredenhall it is worth noting that Anderson never received another combat command.

Much like many early British corps commanders, it must have been a tough role to slot straight into without any modern combat experience at divisional level or below.

Didn’t Ward come back again as a division commander in NW Europe?

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Tom

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Re: Lloyd Fredendall Behind the Failure

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 08 Mar 2020 00:18

IIRC Ward did recieve command of another ArmDiv. Allen may have as well.

Trivia note Allen's son died in Viet Nam when his bn forward CP & two of his rifle companies were attacked by a NVA inf regiment.

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Re: Lloyd Fredendall Behind the Failure

Post by Richard Anderson » 08 Mar 2020 00:52

Carl Schwamberger wrote:
07 Mar 2020 21:23
. But since Patton later relieved both Allen and Ward....
Actually it was Bradley who relieved Allen. Patton went along with it because Bradly was so PO with Allen, and Patton did not like to undercut subordinates second guessing them.

Note that Bradley managed two Mediterranean campaigns without anyone calling for his head.
Technically, the final say was neither Bradley's nor Patton's to make...or even Eisenhower's. It was Marshall who made the final decision on such and in most cases it was he that chose to rotate them home for training jobs, assuming that a disability in combat did not make for a career-ender. So Allen was sent home not just because Bradley was PO'ed at him and Patton went along with it, but because Allen was extremely over-stressed and exhibiting by outbursts directed at his seniors in front of subordinates (and yes, Patton did much the same, as did Bradley). Ward was relieved because he was incensed at what he believed was Anderson's incompetence had done to his division and was also letting too many people know his opinion, which was bad for inter-allied relations. Both came back later because it was not their ability to lead a division in combat that was questioned, but rather their ability to keep their emotions in check in the stress of combat. The same happened to P Wood only it was late enough in the war he had no time to de-stress and return to a combat post. Stephen Taafe covers the intricacies best in Marshall and His Generals, which I highly recommend.
"Is all this pretentious pseudo intellectual citing of sources REALLY necessary? It gets in the way of a good, spirited debate, destroys the cadence." POD, 6 October 2018

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Re: Lloyd Fredendall Behind the Failure

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 08 Mar 2020 19:05

To swerve back closer to the center of the topic. All the references or evidence to Fredendalls failures seem to come in the weeks leading up to the 14 February offensive the FRUHLINGSWIND & MORGENLUFT operations. About the only point of contention I can see in early January would be the start of building the infamous underground CP. Other items seem to connect to the late January Faid Pass battle or the start of the Sidi bou Zid battle 14 February. Anything else I see in the books is so vague its impossible for me to pin any sort of date or month to it. This includes the date of Eisenhowers laudatory evaluation of Fredendalls execution or performance of his tasks. If anyone has any observations about Fredendalls performance organizing for Op TORCH in the UK, executing the landings, or fighting the French in November, or his performance in Dec & early January this would be a good point to present them.

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Re: Lloyd Fredendall Behind the Failure

Post by paulrward » 09 Mar 2020 03:37

Hello All ;

A study of Fredendall's early military career indicates some inconsistencies, if one carefully reads
between the lines and does some reasoned analysis.

Respectfully :

Paul R. Ward


( And then, of course, there is that headquarters he built in North Africa which Gen. Omar Bradley called,
" ...an embarrassment to every American soldier. " And , Major General Ernest Harmon,
referred to Fredendall as both a moral and physical coward and on at least one occasion described
him as " a son of a bitch ". )
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Re: Lloyd Fredendall Behind the Failure

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 09 Mar 2020 14:33

paulrward wrote:
09 Mar 2020 03:37
Hello All ;

A study of Fredendall's early military career indicates some inconsistencies, if one carefully reads
between the lines and does some reasoned analysis. ...
Anything specific you see?

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Re: Lloyd Fredendall Behind the Failure

Post by paulrward » 09 Mar 2020 17:38

Hello Mr. Schwamberger :

You asked,
Anything specific you see?

Here is a little something I cut and pasted from the much maligned Wikipedia.....

.......As a result of his father's connections in the service and with local and state politicians,
Lloyd Fredendall secured an appointment from Wyoming Senator Francis E. Warren to enter the
class of 1905 at the United States Military Academy (USMA) at West Point, New York. Fredendall's
mother Evelyn McCusker (August 19, 1856 – October 19, 1930), a domineering woman, accompanied
the newly listed plebe to Highland Falls, New York. Described by a classmate as "a very soldierly
little fellow, but extremely goaty in mathematics," Lloyd performed poorly in the latter subject
as well as general deportment, and as a result was dismissed from the USMA after just one semester.
(For West Point underclassmen, the "goats" are those ranked in the bottom half of the class. For
seniors, the "goat" is the cadet ranked last in the graduating class.)

His mother successfully persuaded Senator Warren to appoint Fredendall the next year, but he
dropped out again. Although the senator was still willing to nominate him for a third attempt, this
time the senator's offer was declined by the USMA. Instead Fredendall attended the Massachusetts
Institute of Technology from 1903-1904 as a member of the class of 1907. Undaunted by his West
Point experience, Fredendall took the officer's qualifying exam in 1906, and scored first out of 70
applicants. On February 13, 1907, he received his commission in the United States Army as a second
lieutenant in the Infantry Branch.
I would be interested in hearing your analysis of the above information, and then I will
give you mine.....


Respectfully :

Paul R. Ward

I will note here as an afterthought, that I am renowned for having a nasty turn of mind.
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Re: Lloyd Fredendall Behind the Failure

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 09 Mar 2020 18:32

The Wiki entry shows weakness, tho in the context of the era its not a lot. Quite a few of the big players of the 1940s had some weaknesses. MacAurthurs mother helocoptered over him. Tho come to think of it thats not a very positive example either. Hodges had some serious academic problems early on. So did Puller, for his entire career. Early in his career Nimitz ran a destroyer aground. He managed to wiggle out of that one by the fact that the navigation charts for the area were worthless. The wiki entry does give some background & context, but its not the direct reason why Fred.. was sent packing in 1943.

Maj Gen Harmons description of Fredendall as "abrasive" pops up in the books & magazines or forums a lot. My own perspective is most successful commanders are abrasive. When you start putting the screws to your staff & subordinate commanders things get rough. In 23 years of service I can recall one Marine officer who could stay smooth & positive however tough things got. Met LtCol Hanlon as a battalion commander, slotted into fixing a mess the previous commander had created. He went on to Lt Gen & handled USMC procurement for three years before retirement. He really could make you see a s..t task as a positive thing & smile about it. But, I digress, that sort are very rare birds. In any case Fredendalls personal interactions would have to be truly epic to attract attention from above. Harmon's statement provides more context, but does not get to the core of it.

The Speedy Valley bunker is more of a red flag item. Tying up several engineer companies when they were needed for road and airfield improvements. Was that discussed around the desks at Eisenhowers HQ, or among Andersons staff earlier? Or did it emerge after the relief? Not a showstopper in itself but it is a legit add on to a list of sins.

At this point all I have to work with of real substance is his decisions and his staff functioning from late January. The Faid Pass battle in late January reflects badly on him, tho Ward the div commander gets blamed by at least some contemporaries, and Anderson gets grief as well. Commanders get a pass for many sins if they win battles, but in the US Army of that era (and some others) they suffer when they lose. What happened next at Sidi bou Zid turned emerging concern into real fear. To digress for a moment if there is any criticism of Fredendalls conduct previous to January its not in the common literature. Amphib ops are 'challenging' & any weaknesses of substance could have been revealed as well there, in the November operations. Or later in December.

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