Clarence R. Huebner
Clarence R. Huebner
|Born||November 24, 1888|
Bushton, Kansas, United States
|Died||September 23, 1972 (aged 83)|
Washington, D.C., United States
|Service/||United States Army|
|Years of service||1908–1950|
|Commands held||United States Army Europe|
1st Infantry Division
28th Infantry Regiment
2nd Battalion, 28th Infantry Regiment
|Battles/wars||World War I|
World War II
|Awards||Distinguished Service Cross (2)|
Army Distinguished Service Medal (3)
Legion of Merit
Bronze Star Medal
Purple Heart (2)
Lieutenant General Clarence Ralph Huebner (November 24, 1888 – September 23, 1972) was a highly decorated senior officer of the United States Army who saw distinguished active service during both World War I and World War II. Perhaps his most notable role was as the Commanding General (CG) of the 1st Infantry Division (nicknamed "The Big Red One") during the Normandy landings of World War II.
World War I
During World War I Huebner served on the Western Front and was sent to France with his regiment, the 28th Infantry, which later became part of the 1st Infantry Division ("The Big Red One"), shortly after the American entry into World War I. The division was the first of the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) to be sent overseas during the war. The following year he participated in the first American regimental assault at Cantigny, through Soissons, Saint-Mihiel, and the Meuse-Argonne. For his service in this war, he received two Distinguished Service Crosses, an Army Distinguished Service Medal, and a Silver Star. He commanded the 2nd Battalion, 28th Infantry at Cantigny after his commanding officer was killed, and later commanded the regiment, one of the youngest regimental commanders in the AEF.
Remaining in the army after the war, Huebner attended the United States Army Command and General Staff School at Fort Leavenworth in 1924 and served on its faculty from 1929 to 1933.
World War II
In 1943, Huebner relieved the popular commander of the 1st Infantry Division, General Terry Allen, in a move engineered by General Omar N. Bradley. While the 1st Infantry Division had enjoyed considerable combat success under Allen's leadership, Bradley was highly critical of both Allen and assistant division commander Theodore Roosevelt Jr.'s wartime leadership style, which favored fighting ability over drill and discipline: "While the Allies were parading decorously through Tunis," Bradley wrote, "Allen's brawling 1st Infantry Division was celebrating the Tunisian victory in a manner all its own. In towns from Tunisia all the way to Arzew, the division had left a trail of looted wine shops and outraged mayors. But it was in Oran...that the division really ran amuck. The trouble began when SOS (Services of Supply) troops, long stationed in Oran, closed their clubs and installations to our combat troops from the front. Irritated by this exclusion, the 1st Division swarmed into town to 'liberate' it a second time." Despite this, Bradley admitted that "none excelled the unpredictable Terry Allen in the leadership of troops."
Upon assuming command, Huebner immediately ordered a series of close-order drills, parades, and weapons instruction for the 1st Infantry Division, including its veterans, who had just finished a bloody series of engagements with German forces in Sicily. This did not endear him to the enlisted men of the division, who made no attempt to hide their preference for Allen. As one of the men of the Big Red One said in disgust, "Hell's bells! We've been killing Germans for months and now they are teaching us to shoot a rifle? It doesn't make any sense."
Supported by Bradley and Eisenhower, Huebner persisted, and the morale of the division gradually recovered. Huebner, aided by Brigadier General Willard G. Wyman, his assistant division commander, led the division in the assault on Omaha Beach on D-Day, followed by a successful infantry attack at Saint-Lô. The division would later repel a German counteroffensive at Mortain, and pursue the German Army across France, culminating in the Battles of Aachen and the Huertgen Forest.
V Corps command
After World War II, Huebner served as Assistant Army Chief of Staff (G-3) at the Pentagon from late 1945 until 1946 when he became Chief of Staff for the United States European Command (EUCOM). He was promoted to lieutenant general on March 28, 1947 and also served as Deputy Commander in Chief of EUCOM from 1947 to 1950. He was the last Military Governor (acting) of the American Zone in Germany from May 15, 1949 to September 1, 1949.
Huebner retired from the army on November 30, 1950.
On September 1, 1951, Huebner became director of New York State's Civil Defense Commission, a post he held until January 1961. A strong advocate of the building of fallout shelters, Huebner believed the United States population would eventually be forced to live full-time in underground shelters and "would see the sunshine only by taking a calculated risk".
In popular culture
Huebner was portrayed by Charles Macaulay in the 1980 film The Big Red One, in the opening sequence set in World War I and, in the reconstructed extended version, in 1944 just prior to the Battle of Huertgen Forest.
Huebner received the following honors and awards during his military career:
- Davenport, Matthew J. (2015). First Over There. New York: St. Martins. ISBN 978-1250056443.
- Bradley, A Soldier's Story
- Whitlock, Flint, The fighting first: the untold story of the Big Red One on D-Day, Westview Press, ISBN 978-0-8133-4218-4 (1st ed. 2004), pp. 19–20
- Ellis, Robert B., See Naples and Die: A Ski Trooper's World War II, Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co., ISBN 0-7864-0190-7 (1996), p. 228
- Astor, Gerald, Terrible Terry Allen: combat general of World War II: the life of an American soldier, Presidio Press, ISBN 978-0-89141-760-6 (2003)
- Whitehead, Don, and Romeiser, John B. (ed.), Combat Reporter: Don Whitehead's World War II Diary and Memoir, Fordham University Press (2006), p. 194
- Burial Detail: Huebner, Clarence R – ANC Explorer
- Generals of World War II
- United States Army Officers 1939–1945
- Army.mil: Clarence R. Huebner
- Newspaper clippings about Clarence R. Huebner in the 20th Century Press Archives of the ZBW