Charles Trueman ("Buck") Lanham was born on 14 September 1902 Washington, DC. He attended Eastern High School in Washington, DC. Attending the US Military Academy, he graduated from West Point in 1924 commissioned as a Second Lieutenant.
During the Thirties, he had helped to edit the "Infantry Journal" and even wrote sonnets, a few of which were published in Harper's Weekly Magazine. As World War II approached, he directed the preparation of infantry training manuals of tactical doctrine, then went to Hollywood where he wrote and supervised a widely used series "Fighting Men" training films.
He was promoted to 1st Lieutenant on March 6, 1929. On February 18, 1935 he was assigned to the National Guard Bureau. He was promoted to Captain on August 1, 1935. He was relieved of his assignment to the National Guard Bureau on August 30, 1938.
He graduated from the Command and General Staff School in 1939. Lanham received temporary rank of Major (AUS) on February 4, 1941. On June 12, 1941 he was promoted to Major in the Regular Army. He received a promotion to the temporary rank of Colonel (AUS) on January 6, 1943. On May 2, 1945 Lanham received a promotion to the temporary rank of Brigadier General (AUS). He was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel in the Regular Army on June 12, 1947.
Lanham was appointed to the temporary rank of Major General (AUS) On April 6, 1948. He was promoted to Colonel in the Regular Army on June 10, 1948 and Brigadier General in the Regular Army on April 16, 1953.
Infantry School Company Officers Course in 1932.
Command and General Staff School in 1939
Lanham commanded the 272nd Infantry Regiment, 69th Division beginning in early 1943 at Fort Benning, Georgia. In June 1944 he left that organization and was sent to Europe. From July 9, 1944 until March 2, 1945 he commanded of the 22nd Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Division. He was then Assistant Division Commander of the 104th Division from March 5 to June 13, 1945.
Colonel Lanham led the 22nd Regiment of the Fourth Infantry Division as they spearheaded the Normandy Breakout in July and entered Paris in late August. They would then breach the Siegfried Line and endured the battle of the Hurtgen Forest. They held key territory during the Battle of the Bulge in December and January.
During the battle of the Hurtgen Forest, Ernest Hemingway made his base as a reporter in Colonel Lanham's command post. They would forge a friendship for 17 years until the author's death. The intense fighting in the Hurtgen (19 September to 16 December 1944) was rough on the 22nd as they suffered 80% casualties in 18 days.
As they were taken off the line for reorganization and refit in Luxembourg, the Battle of the Bulge began. Inserted into the line and despite many setbacks, the 22d Regiment held. Colonel Latham was field-promoted to Brigadier General and made Assistant Commander, 104th Infantry Division in February 1945 a position he held through Victory in Europe. During his command of the 22d, the regiment was awarded two unit citations, a testament to the men and his command.
After the battles in the Hurtgen Lanham sent this message to his 22nd Infantry Soldiers:
HEADQUARTERS COMBAT TEAM 22
Command Post of the Combat Team Commander
Grand Duchy of Luxembourg
9 December 1944
TO THE OFFICERS AND MEN OF COMBAT TEAM 22
From 16 November to 3 December 1944 you fought one of the greatest regimental battles in military history.
By the end of the sixth day you had suffered approximately 50% casualties, the point at which a regiment is considered to lose much of its effectiveness as a fighting instrument. Actually you fought twelve (12) days beyond that point with constantly increasing casualties and small loss in combat efficiency.
From the night of 16 November until our relief on 3 December our Combat Team was the easternmost unit in the entire army and therefore the greatest threat to the German Reich. To stern our attack, units were withdrawn as far south as the Schnee-Eiffel sector and as far north as Merode and flung against us. Enemy forces opposing American units on our right and left were repeatedly withdrawn from those areas and committed against us. Every enemy unit committed against us between 16 November and 3 December was destroyed.
During the last days of this historic battle many platoons were commanded by private soldiers who had joined us only two or three days earlier. Few companies had more than one officer and often these had just joined us.
The fact that Combat Team 22 took every objective assigned it and, the day before its relief, still had the tenacity, the will, and the fighting heart to destroy a fresh enemy battalion, average age 24, and in effectives equal to two of our battalions, is eloquent testimony to the greatness of our Combat Team.
Our infantry, our artillery, our engineers, our tanks, our tank destroyers, our medical aid men, our collecting company, combined in this operation to make the Battle of Hurtgen Forest an eternal part of our country's history and a military classic of all time.
We have finished that battle. We have been moved to this sector to give us an opportunity to reorganize, refit, and retrain. How much time we shall have here no one knows but we do know that in war, time always presses. Therefore, in justice to our fallen comrades whose faith and courage have carried us this far we must accomplish our present mission with the same brilliance, tenacity, and aggressiveness that characterized our great victory in the bloody forest of Hurtgen,
There are no words to describe my pride in you or my confidence in you. I can only repeat what has been said to me again and again by those who know your record and who have seen you fight--"You are one of the greatest fighting teams in all American history.
May God keep your courage and faith high, and may He protect and guard you in the hard battles still before us.
C. T. LANHAM.
Colonel, 22nd Infantry
General Marshall ordered General Lanham's return to Washington In September 1945 to serve as chief of the troop information and education department of the War Department. In 1948 he became head of the Army's Personnel Policy Board, a special project of Chief of Staff General Omar N. Bradley. Gen. Lanham returned to Europe in 1949, serving first in Heidelberg, Germany, and then in Brussels, where he was chief of the Military Advisory Group for Belgium and Luxembourg.
He was picked by Gen. Eisenhower to be the first public relations director for Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers in Europe, known as SHAPE. One of his duties was to arrange for press conferences for Gen. Eisenhower of whom much time was demanded. In January 1953 Gen. Lanham took command of the 1st Infantry Division where he remained until mid-1954. His last assignment before retiring at the end of 1954 was deputy commandant, Army, of the Armed Forces Staff College in Norfolk, Va.
In his poetry, Gen. Lanham dealt with many subjects, including the military.
"Say only this of me when I am dead:
'He saw proud eagles storming down the sky;
'He heard the bracken break where beauty fled;
'and, wingless, strove to fly.'"
The stars wing down the western steep,
And soon the east will burn with day,
And we shall struggle up from sleep
And sling our packs and march away.
In this brief hour before the dawn
Has struck our bivouac with flame
I think of men whose brows have borne
The iron wreath of deadly fame.
I see the fatal phalanx creep,
Like death across the world and back,
With eyes that only strive to keep
Bucephalus' immortal track.
I see the legion wheel through Gaul,
The sword and flame on hearth and home,
And all the men who had to fall
That Caesar might be first in Rome.
I see the horde of Genghis Khan
Spread outward like the dawn of day
To trample golden Khorassan
And thunder over fair Cathay.
I see the grizzled grenadier,
The dark dragoon, the gay hussar,
Whose shoulders bore for many a year
Their little emperor's blazing star.
I see these things, still am I slave
When banners flaunt and bugles blow,
Content to fill a soldier's grave
For reasons I shall never know.
written by Charles T. Lanham
The numerous decorations he had received during his military service included the Distinguished Service Award, the Silver Star with Oak Leaf Cluster, the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star with Oak Leaf Cluster, the French Legion of Honor. The French Croix de Guerre and the Belgian Croix de Guerre.
AWARDED FOR ACTIONS DURING World War II
Service: US Army
Division: 4th Infantry Division
Headquarters, First U.S. Army, General Orders No. 82 (1944)
The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress July 9, 1918, takes pleasure in presenting the Distinguished Service Cross to Colonel (Infantry) Charles Trueman Lanham (ASN: 0-15568), United States Army, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an armed enemy while Commanding the 22d Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Division, in action against enemy forces on 14 September 1944, in Germany. As the assault elements of his command charged strong enemy fortified positions, Colonel Lanham, observing the action from a forward position, saw the attack falter and halt under a fierce artillery barrage. Passing through the withering fire, he advanced courageously to the battered troops to assume personal command. Moving out in front of his men, Colonel Lanham proceeded forward fearlessly in the face of heavy enemy fire. Inspired by this display of valor, the men vigorously stormed the enemy position. Colonel Lanham's inspiring leadership, personal bravery and zealous devotion to duty exemplify the highest traditions of the military forces of the United States and reflect great credit upon himself, the 4th Infantry Division, and the United States Army.
AWARDED FOR ACTIONS DURING World War Ii
Service: US Army
Division: 4th Infantry Division
Headquarters, 4th Infantry Division, General Orders No. 49 (1944)
Colonel (Infantry) Charles Trueman Lanham (ASN: 0-15568), United States Army, was awarded the Silver Star for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in connection with military operations against the enemy while serving as Commanding Officer, 22d Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Division, during World War II.
AWARDED FOR ACTIONS DURING World War II
Service: US Army
Division: 4th Infantry Division
Headquarters, 4th Infantry Division, General Orders No. 77 (1944)
Colonel (Infantry) Charles Trueman Lanham (ASN: 0-15568), United States Army, was awarded a Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster in lieu of a Second Award of the Silver Star for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in connection with military operations against the enemy while serving as Commanding Officer, 22d Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Division, during World War II.
Khaki, Brigadier General Uniform.
The following is the obituary of Charles Lanham recorded in the June 1979 issue of Assembly, published by the USMA Association of Graduates:
AFTER BATTLING CANCER for many years, Buck Lanham joined the Long Gray Line on 20 July 1978.
His loss has brought sadness to his devoted family and a sense of great personal loss to his many friends and associates — especially his classmates.
During our plebe summer of 1920, the six hundred and forty new cadets were organized into six companies. Since the two upper classes were away from West Point, our "beast detail" was composed essentially of tactical officers, reinforced with the few turnbacks acting as cadet officers. It was a busy period, devoted primarily to drill and physical development and later to field training and long hikes. As the summer wore on and we became inured to cadet life, our span of acquaintances broadened. We found among our fellows all degrees of age and experience; some were veterans of the recent World War, a few were collegians with athletic prowess, but most were fresh from high schools with little
or no military experience or background. Thus it happened that one among us acquired glamour and commanded respect when we found that he was no ordinary person, but an ex-colonel of high school cadets in our National Capital!
Impressive as this may have been to his peers, when the yearlings returned from their summer at Fort Dix, Mister Lanham quickly became "Buck" rather than ex-colonel.
Long before graduation Buck's profile began to form, not as a star athlete or even a wearer of academic stars, though he was always a good student, but as an imaginative, sensitive and creative man endowed with a remarkable gift of expression in both poetry and prose. He was very properly selected as the first literary editor of the Pointer and also as a member of the HOWITZER Board. A frequent contributor to various magazines, he probably was best known for the works which expressed his love for the military profession.
Upon graduation Buck chose the Infantry. The foot soldier was his ideal; he dramatized the smoke of battle and the hardships of campaign. Years later Buck expressed his consuming admiration of the doughboy in a widely published poem entitled simply, "Soldier."
Shortly after graduation Buck married Mary Capan—and like Buck she was a native of Washington. His early years as an infantry officer followed the pattern of his era: two to three years at a domestic post, a foreign service tour, then on to branch school. But then the pattern changed from the norm. After graduation from The Infantry School at Fort Benning he was assigned to the faculty as an instructor of military history. Soon he became a contributor to the Infantry Journal and a protege of its editor, Forest Harding. His writings came to the attention of such distinguished military leaders as George C. Marshall, Omar N. Bradley and Clarence R. Huebner, who saw in them a keen perception of military tactics, strategy and organization.
Thus it was that when war clouds began to gather in the mid-thirties and a hue and cry arose for changes in our military doctrine, training, organization and equipment, the talent and imagination of officers like Captain Lanham came into great demand. It resulted in keeping Buck on staff assignments during the early war years at a desk in Washington, where he was considered too valuable for release to troops. It was a frustrating period for Buck, but in January 1943 he was able to break away and take command of the 272d Infantry of the 69th Infantry Division, which was then undergoing organization and training. Now, at last, he was doing what he wanted and he looked forward to taking his organization into action, meanwhile training it to the height of efficiency. That was not to be, however, for in June, just six months later, he was flown to Normandy to command the 22d Infantry Regiment of the 4th Infantry Division already in combat. This was the goal he had sought—the fulfillment of his dreams.
Witness the picture of a forty-year old colonel who wrote poetry during his cadet days at West Point and later excelled as a military writer, who for the past ten years had been denied duty with troops because of his ability as an instructor of military art, expressor of needs and originator of doctrine, now suddenly projected into the cauldron of battle. The challenge was supreme, but it was what he had long sought and he met it successfully. Joining his regiment on the Normandy beachhead, he led it to a breakthrough of the enemy lines.
The third day thereafter, a war correspondent of Collier's magazine was attached to the regiment. It was Ernest Hemingway, already a famous author. Immediately he and Buck became close friends. Their mutual love of words as the building blocks of expression drew together the professional soldier and the professional writer, and the friendship thus began continued until Hemingway's death in 1961.
In combination with Combat Command "A" of the 2d Armored Division, the 22d Infantry spearheaded the breakout of Normandy and was the first American unit to enter Paris. Later it was the first to put patrols on German soil and the first to penetrate the Siegfried Line. During eighteen days and nights in the Huertgen Forest it sustained 80% casualties; but before it could be rested, re-equipped and restored by replacements, it was rushed into the Battle of the Bulge. When the 4th Infantry Division resumed the counter-offensive, the 22d Infantry again penetrated the Siegfried Line.
During its months of combat, the regiment was awarded two distinguished unit citations; and its commander was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, the Silver Star Citation, the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star with "V" and Oak Leaf Cluster, and the Combat Infantry Badge. Foreign awards included the French Legion of Honor; the French Croix de Guerre with palm; the Belgian Order of Leopold in the degree of Officer; the Belgian Croix de Guerre with palm; and the Belgian Fourragere.
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