Willis D. Crittenberger - World War II

World War II

With the onset of World War II, Crittenberger was commanding 2nd Brigade of 2nd Armored Division (United States) under General George S. Patton. In January 1942, he moved up to command 2nd Armored Division when Patton transferred to North Africa to command First Armored Corps (United States). In August 1942, he organized, trained and commanded 3rd Armored Corps composed of 7th Armored Division (United States) and 11th Armored Division (United States) at Camp Polk, Louisiana. Redesignated as XIX Corps (United States), Crittenberger brought XIX Corps to England in January 1944.

In 1943, General Dwight Eisenhower initially selected Crittenberger as one of three corps commanders along with Leonard "Gee" Gerow and Roscoe B. Woodruff for the 1944 Allied invasion of France. All three were well known and trusted by Eisenhower. General Omar Bradley who Eisenhower selected as the American commander the D-Day invasion replaced Eisenhower's picks seeking differing temperaments and commanders that had more corps combat experience. At the time, Commander, U.S. Army Forces in Europe, General Jacob L. Devers, was seeking a corps commander of Fifth United States Army's IV Corps for the Italian campaign. Held in reserve during the early portion of the campaign, Crittenberger's IV Corps replaced VI Corps on the front line after the liberation of Rome.

Having on its ranks beyond Americans; Brazilians and South Africans, the IV Corps were in combat for over 390 days, 326 of that in continuous combat, Crittenberger commanded IV Corps as the western arm of the Allied thrust through northern Italy to the Po River which ended with the surrender of German forces in Italy on May 2, 1945.

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