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PB209~" (No. 31) Washington, U.C. Summer 1994

Morale Problems in Cu mba t American Soldiers in Europe In World War II

Francis C. Steckel

T~IS arlielt II baud on a fX'P(r VOCIM Slccke! preHn/ttl rn lilt. Cenler vf Military /listory' ,f Con/a-rllt't 0{ Army lIu""inn.J ." Wasll/IIKI"." D .C., JUlie 1992

COII"cnlluru.! wisdom ~ut&CSlS lhal 11 I~ ham 10 ;argue wilh SUCCl:SS. bullhc U.S. Am.l' CfUllnd Fonx:s in World War JJ wen:: an c.u::plion 10 rhis priocip1c. American I:ruund lmops (espcci~lIy. Jllllough not Co' clu~;vcly. UJI; mf;unry) ha.'e!xxn for

ments. Such mcasur'Cll redu~d c;tsu~l!ics and im proved performance among the: nc:w II1I:n. '" hoenlered combat with greaICr conndc:na:. Yet there was seldom time for lhorouJ:h I r~i ning in scouting. !);I t ",II i., C. n; gh! comb:lt operatiun~. first aid. and all the OIh.: r sLills in ,"'hlth !he: ~pl;accments WC~ !ypic;}]ly ddicicnl (11)

Many soIdie" endurcSllln menl. RcpI:u:cmcnlS endured lhe hardships of ovcr-seas senoice close: to lhe frOIll hul had lillie ~IISC of purpose. Mosl du~es ooosisled ofmeaninglciN . hu~y asslgrunentssoldiers im'lriably caUed "dudcn __ :" JJlhoogh e ven such lasks f:r.ilcd IU alleviale lhe: bore dom. TIle avc!1lllc gay in 11Ir: (]cpu! was; one In Lhrcc weeks. bul some men wailed weeks before a~gnmcnl. Cumbal skilh. dclcrior.llcd ftum idlCACS$. l1le I.x:k uf traininll, recrealion. or pu~ combined 10 reduce !he

o o

!'I:placcmcnl' ~ moralr: and effectiveness just b\:fore he was senlLO Ihe from. (10)

Pur.or manpD"'e r pl:anning led III a Ihonlge of ll';lined combal replacements tll:ll hecame critical aller I) D~y in EuI"Of>"'. when 10 10 80 perrent of III n:place mcn4S had 10 he senllO the iMlnlry. The Am'y 1001< soldiers lrainc:d as tl~rlts. ~ooI

Re;imcnt;d Combat Te3/t1 did not h~ve (and hhcd by !he Ccrncr of Mi li tuy lti~lory for the professional dcvelnpmelll uf Anny hislOriHUS. 111c reproduction of ankles for educational PUI"fJOSl"J is CrlCOUr:lgcd. COI"TCSpondcnc!.: shouJd he addn:ssoo tu MalUging Editor. Army Hmory. U.S. AnnyCcnterof Miliwy lIistory. 101)9 J4th 51 . N.W .. Washington, D C. 2I:lX}S,3402. Tekpbonc DSN 285-5368 or C(lI11-mereial (202) SOl 53(,8. Opinionsn~ in tills puhlkallOll an: IIJOl'C of the aUlhors. IlOItbc Depan mCIl1 of Ddmsc or ils OOf1Slitlll.-nt elemenlS. A,my /fir,.",s contents do IlOl nccessanly rel10ct the omelal Am,y positinn and do nOI supcn;cdc infor. matiOll ill Ulhcroflklal Anny publications or Amly Re~ulalions. This hul1ctin i$ approved for offici.:tl dlSSCmin:uion of material tksigncd to ~ccp indi-vidu~ls within the Army Imow1cdgcablc of tkvel-oprnenlS \Vitltin Anny history for the purpose of cnhar~ing their professiunal developnlcm. Usc of funds tOr printilll: tltis publication "'35 approved hy the DcplnmCnt ofthc AnnYOII 7 Scprcmlxr 19M3. l'W.a~c p;Ild al W;bh;ngton. D.C.

old friend or rtscn\cd a replacement who came with a higher gl1lde md (hus bIoel ed Of ~Iowed the p3th of promodon. AI$O. many veterans had Iluk ornu respect for unlried noncommissionc!l or commissioncll offic ers. Replacemenl kaders who failed to ~dJu~tquidJy cnuld deSIrOy !he morak: Of !he cllIire uni!. Moo velerans avoided repl~cemenlS because: lhcy were dan-gcrOU~: !hey aura~ted fire. revcalcd locir position~ by bcingtrigger-IuppYOl""Olhcrwise ronspil."\loos.bunchcd up, p3nickcd under fi re. piet ed up boobY1r:11'I""I souvenirs, or IiI cigarellcs al nigh!. bpericnced sol -diers. having already 11" how frequently new mcn became casualties. sta)'\:d '''''ay for lheir own gJcty. Finally. many had alrca

the WJr. and a dcmor.llizau()Illh:u :!lh'c=ly affOCled irn:omin~ replacemerns. (1M)

f oucJ and sleep dcpri~ailon. although lolerable for brief periods. could ""ith !'U~laincd loss unocrmine oomb;u effectiveness and montle. U.S Army field I1Itious had mon: caLoncs. variety. and rlUtriliOllthall Rritish or German I'3lions. Wt Americans also CA' pected a beller dict- even in comOOt. Allilool:h Ihe field r.ltlons had sufficient nutrition. men olien di. carded Items 5I.Ich as cabbaJ;c Ilakes. Ic:mon crystal., Cfsall buuer. apricUi 5PI\':W. and canned lunehoon meal. Many t~ runsidcrcd cann.::d C f1Itlons barely palatable'" hen unhealed. t>uring the Ardenne, offen. sivc.lI:lVY N. Stcwan of the 26th Infantry RCl:iml:m u:>etI his bayonetLO chtp away at icemld C f1Ilions that Olher men in his Unit had Slopped carrying be.wer. he(ame incre3.~lngly difficult to dismiss lhc IUOJ:cr lhc 50Idicr n:maincd in the from lillcs withoot rest. (21)

SokIic~ could find relief if their units were pulled ""t of IIIC most forward jIOSilions. even if tllC location was ~tltl ""ithin rJllge of cncnl y Jnilkry. A brieflulJ in the fighting, accnmp;micd by temporJry withdr.l .. ~1 frum foxboJc:s. tn:nchcs. or OIher flUlltline posilims. ~lInwcd men to rest Iud ~k:cp more (nmfncuhly. field mCSSC$ cCklld nlore e~sily pruvide hoi ",rals, and Irtxlp< had a ch~ncc tu ~h"ve and balhe from their helmets. 'Tho:: !;Oldiers olkn had to (lean Lhei r wcapons. n:p;dr or m:t.imJin their vchicles and equipment. caR: for their feet to prevCllt tn:no;:h fOOl, and ""a~ their sncks ,.1(\ underwear. /

and r~til:lIC of prolonged comh:u dULY. (23) Tho:: leaw; in of velcr,ms "hose invalu-ablc comh:u e~pcrien,:c and 5ki1l~ ""ere losl pn:mJ-lun:ly. That AmeriCJn LI"I)Oj)li lacked initialive and aggressiverlCM i.~ not surprhi"~ when b:lttles wen: fouUhl nil tOO fflXlucnlly by irLe~pcrieOO1d replace ments (who were unpn:parcd and did nol know whalto 00) and by "3r-" cary ,'cteraru (who\lc fatalistic aui_ lUtll.-s suggesled that ir did not matter whal they did). 1lw: Amerie:I" soldier admir:thly ancmplcd to adjuSt ;md deal ,,ilh w~nime challcngu: huwt;,cr, his ulLi-m;tic: wcc:css in e:>(:h(am~gn w:as u~ulily in I

let" of the Anned Fom:s:' 15 Apr48. p. 2. Agricul tural D.:Jcnncm tile. Bo~ 32Q.-32OF. Hershey Papers, MHI: Martin v.n Crevcld. FighlinJlI'()'W~.: Gtmum and U.s. Army Pu/ormancc. 19391945 (Westport. Coon.: O rcen ..... QQd rress. 1982). pp. 3240. 5. Francis C. Sle

1:19, U~n I'apen, Mill: Pe!er A. Volpe. un!illed memoi~.p. II.ADP,M1JJ; Edwan!A. Wide. Cornelius Jame~ MiICheli. Raymond Saidcl. Lloyd B. Thomas. ...t John R. 51aug!ller. WWlI Survey; L.:IChausscc. "N(Nthwest 10 Fr3lIOe," 7:11. PReT: Appel. ~Pn::ven !ionof Manpo" .. er Lns.':' pp. 23. 5100n hpcrl; Melvin bis. ()Il.l hislOry Ir2n.O:Cript. pp. 2251:1. M I II; Roben RcmSle,n, "Geuing lothe Fight A RevicwurPllysieal ~nd Emotional Problems Encoun!ered ill Moving Troops 1010Cnmh31." 0"1lc:$Is. U.S. Army WarColiegc. 1964), pp. 10. ]3.14, IS-16. 17; Rlsdi,t. hA C;tIllo Amu."pp. 162-63. 16S-M. 17fl. 1798 1. 208; Edmund G. Beacham, "Fonielh Annlver.myof D Day. June 6. 1944. A Physician Remembers. "MarylatldSI(Jle Mdi-ctd '",mwl (Jun 19H4):4S3: V~n Cn::vdd. Figh1iltS Po..CT. pp. 95-96; Krddbo::l); ;md Hcnry,Mubilitation, p. 6411. 19. Erwin A. P!cOOlle. lI;ruy N. Sicwan, Paul L. Skogsbcl1!:. Ronald M~nin. Clarence R l..o.ds. and Beman! C. Uicker, WWII Survey: "Fon Knox Re !;Carth Repon on Opc:rJlion COUIt,..: I>by 1949. Ap-pendil!; 3.6th ADP; W~l C. VOI]Il,I. unlillctl rnemoir, p 4 .1OIh lOP; Ben S. Oamsty.unnUed melTlQir.p. 20. I~I lOP; LaChau~c . .. North ... CS\ 10 Fr.lIICI:." 6:78. PReT: Roben M. Parker Jr .. unit diary. 23 Nuv44.4(h ADP: A"'/brcd News. 24 Jul44. p. 9. and 21 Aug 44 . p. 23; 1"~'Medi,aISoiditr(C3rlisle B~lT3Ck~, Pa.), 19 Nov 42. p. I; The 8artllCu 8ag (FOIl D.A. Ru=l. Tn.).7 bn42.p.4;SlaTJuNiStriptJ. 23 o.."C42. p. 3: FOTl8tllJling BayoMI(Furt Benni.IJ:. Ga.). I 0.;(42, p. 12: Oa)"o"" (Camp Blalldill!:. Fla.). 13 Jul 4$. p. 2. 20. L3Chau=c. "Nonhw~Sllo FI'JJlCe." 1:11. pReT; Roben F. Hnc ... c lcr. Untitled memoir. p_ 5. 12(h ADp. Mill : Roben Cllvel!, Jr . "l"1lc: Saule of (hi,: Dulb~. P S. 41h ADP; Slingluff. "lnronn31 Tllk Diary:' pp. IS 19. 29(h !DP. Mill. Demst~ill, ''Gelling 10 the I1ghl:' pp. 10-12: Lee Kcnr.cll. G.I .. Thl': American .~oldi" in W",ld War /I (New Yolt: Scri~r. 19N7). p. 132. 21. Ruben M. Parleer. Jr. un;1 diary, 14 Aug +t. and Ruben Calvcrt. J r . l1lC Ihnlenflhe Bulge:p. 4.41h AOP; Joim II. Too1~. diary, 2122 Nov 44. WWII Misc.; L(r. Jamc~ D. Preston to Wall:ll;C K. Chevcs. S Dec 79. 10Ih lOP; Elmer T U:m. un(itled memoir. 1~:67. 74. Lim Papers; LaCh:tusscc ... Nonh ... eSl to Fr:IIltC," 4:27. PRCT': Daniell v . AIlCil. WW ll Su .... e)": Ur. Mliton Shipm;m Win(cr. Jr. 10 p;lrcn!s. $ 13n 45. ; Ur. Ed ... ard F. Gosse( 10 hmtbcr. 28 ~br45. 4 2(1 IDP. MHI; 1.R. Pri(ellard. un(i(1ed hlslOl")'. p. 13. h( ADp, MH[: Rohen E. Eh'1:ol;( . History of!he l-kdic;tl Depunmem" (LimburJ::. Germany: Limburger Vcrcin~NC~erti. 1945). pp. 12. 15-16. 7OI.h lOP; V Mail. "ugcne V. Slump (0 Rllih 7..immennall. 24 Jul 44. WW II Misc.: Thomas J. Ma~aJ. Sr . and John It SIJughtcr. WWII Survey: OR Repnn no.4, "l.t;I"!5. Furloughs. ~II!;J I':Isscs in the lbcalcr:' pp. 9 10. 1112: Kenncn. C.I .. JJ 147. 24. Charles Fuwlcr. unit hi!dory, 18 29 Mar4S. 211(h 11)1'. Mill; lIr. Mih(~1 Shipma~ Winlcr. lr .. 10 pan::nl$, 25 k:b45. 99th lOr, M H [; I..aOtaubnpo-.o.l:r Loss. h pp. 3-4. Slo;m P~' pelS; ,l,rmnud Nc ... s.18 Au!: 44 . p. 2: GIJ RcpOl\ 110 3, "Reinforcement SY~I~m:' p. 48 ;md no. 4. "lI;avcs:' pp. 24: WhilIlCY, "Army Momle in Combat" p. 17; S~"On R McMich;r;:l. "CommOll Mm. Uncommon L..cIdeJShip: Colonel Charles f'l. Hunter willi Gal;tll.)(! III DUOl'a:' ParllmtltrS (Summer l'JI!6):47.

The Chief's Corner

lIaruld W. Nelson

This column will ~ppcar after my dcP:lfIUn::. Five yc~rs in orricc is 3lI appropriale tenure for Ihc Amy's Olid of Military Il i~tory. mel !here are many colonel, ... 1\0 (\C$C .... c the upponunity toeaIT)' on Ille .... o rt. One oflllem .... ill be "prollloublc" in time 10 wrile the ne l l Chiers Comer.


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