Nelson Bradley, 1893-1981), American general, who during WORLD WAR II
commanded the U. S. 12th Army Group in Europe. By the spring of 1945 this
group contained 4 field armies, 12 corps, 48 divisions, and more than
1,300,000 men, the largest exclusively American field command in U.S.
history. A mildmannered man with a high-pitched voice, General Bradley
created the impression less of a soldier than of a teacher, which he actually
was during much of his early career in the Army (at the U. S. Military
Academy and the Infantry School). Yet he earned a reputation as an eminent
tactician and as a "soldier's soldier, a general with whom lower
ranks could readily identify.
Bradley was born in Clark, Mo., on Feb 12,
1893. He moved with his family 15 years later to Moberly, Mo., where he
met the girl he eventually married, Mary Quayle. He graduated from the
U. S. Military Academy in 1915. During World War I, Bradley rose to the
temporary rank of major while serving with the 14th Infantry Regiment.
Early in World War II he served as commandant of the Infantry School,
commanded an infantry division in training, and in the spring of 1943
commanded the 2d Corps in North Africa and later in Sicily.
Command in Europe
The Supreme Allied Commander, Gen. Dwight D.
EISENHOWER, chose him to command the 1st U. S. Army, the American contingent
in the invasion of Normandy in June 1944. As the size of U. S. forces
increased, Bradley was appointed to command the 12th Army Group. His troops
broke out of the Normandy beachhead, liberated Paris, defeated a German
counteroffensive during the winter of 1944-1945, seized the first bridgehead
over the Rhine River, and drove through central Germany to establish the
first Allied contact with troops of the Soviet Union.
Bradley missed full encirclement of a German
army in Normandy, but this was generally attributed to the delayed advance
of troops under British command. He failed to detect German preparations
for the winter counteroffensive, but this was a general failure throughout
the Allied command. Bradley was proudest of Operation Lumberjack, the
campaign he launched to reach the Rhine after the German counteroffensive.
After World War II
For two years following World War II, Bradley
served as administrator of veterans' affairs before becoming chief of
staff of the U. S. Army early in 1948. The next year he became the first
chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the newly created Department
of Defense, the highest military position open to a U. S. officer. In
September 1950, while chairman of the Joint Chiefs, he became the fourth
officer to reach the 5-star rank of general of the army. He also served
as the first chairman of the Military Committee of the North Atlantic
Treaty Organization (NATO), consisting of the military chiefs of staff
of the nations united in that organization for common defense. After relinquishing
the NATO Military Committee chairmanship in 1950, he continued until mid-1953
as U. S. representative on the committee and on its Standing Group. Late
in 1953 he became chairman of the board of the Bulova Watch Company. He
died in New York City on April 8, 1981.
In his memoirs, A Soldier's Story
(1951), Bradley sharply criticizes British Field Marshal MONTGOMERY for
"misrepresentation of U.S. and British roles in the German winter
Charles B. MacDonald
Deputy Chief Historian
Department of the Army
Omar Nelson Bradley was born
in Clark, Mo., Feb. 12, 1893, to John Smith Bradley and Sarah Elizabeth
Bradley. He was appointed to the U.S. Military Academy in 1911 and graduated
44th in his class.
Bradley rose to the rank of major during WWI,
while serving in the 14th Infantry Regiment. After WWI, he fulfilled
a number of duties, including Assistant Secretary of the General
In February 1941, Bradley was promoted to brigadier
general and sent to Fort Benning to set up the Infantry Officer Candidate
Following the entrance of the United States
into WWII, he assumed command of the 82nd Infantry Division and later
the 28th Infantry Division after promotion to major general.
In 1943, Eisenhower appointed Bradley his personal
representative in North Africa. Soon after, Bradley took command of II
Corps and went on help defeat the German Afrika Korps. Following victory
in Africa, Bradley helped plan and execute the allied invasion of Sicily
on July 10, 1943.
His successes earned Bradley the command of
the 1st U.S. Army in the invasion of Normandy. Later, Bradley assumed
additional duties as commanding general, 1st U.S. Army Group. Following
his release from II Corps, Bradley arrived in the United Kingdom in October
1943. Bradley's strategy was to use the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions
to protect his landing forces from local counterattacks by German forces.
Following extensive planning by allied commanders,
Bradley landed in France with the 1st Army. On July 26, the 1st Army penetrated
German lines at St. Lo and continued to drive into France. Sensing victory,
Bradley split his divisions into two separate armies and called in Patton's
3rd Army. This move put Bradley in charge of the 1st, 3rd, 9th and 15th
Following WWII, Bradley went onto become first
Chairman of the Military Committee of the North American Treaty Organization
(NATO) in 1949. On September 18, 1949, Bradley was promoted to General
of the Army. Confirmed by the Senate, Bradley was appointed to the rank
effective September 22, 1950, becoming only the fourth five-star U.S.