Orlando Ward: United States Army general (1891 - 1972) | Biography, Facts, Information, Career, Wiki, Life
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Orlando Ward
United States Army general

Orlando Ward

Orlando Ward
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro United States Army general
Was Military leader
From United States of America
Field Military
Gender male
Birth 4 November 1891, Macon, Macon County, Missouri, U.S.A.
Death 4 February 1972, Denver, Colorado, U.S.A. (aged 80 years)
The details (from wikipedia)


Major General Orlando Ward (November 4, 1891 – February 4, 1972) was a career United States Army officer who fought in both World War I and World War II. During the latter, as a major general, he commanded the 1st Armored Division during Operation Torch and during the first few months of the Tunisia Campaign, before being relieved in March 1943. He trained and returned to Europe in 1945 as commander of the 20th Armored Division.

Ward also served as Secretary to the Army Chief of Staff, General George Marshall, in the critical years prior to the war and made major contributions to field artillery procedures in the 1930s that, a decade later, made the American field artillery especially effective in World War II.


Early life and military career

Born in Macon, Missouri on November 4, 1891 Orlando Ward, at the age of 18, entered the United States Military Academy (USMA) at West Point, New York in 1910, graduating four years later on June 12, 1914, shortly before the outbreak of World War I in Europe, as a second lieutenant in the Cavalry Branch of the United States Army. Among his fellow graduates included Frank W. Milburn, Jens A. Doe, Vicente Lim, Carl Andrew Spaatz, Ralph Royce, James L. Bradley, Brehon B. Somervell, Harry C. Ingles, Harold R. Bull and John B. Anderson who, like Ward, would all become general officers.

Ward's first assignment was as a commander of black cavalry troops, serving with 'E' Troop of the 9th Cavalry Regiment on border patrol in the wilds of Arizona and New Mexico. He later was part of Brigadier General John J. Pershing's forces chasing Pancho Villa into Mexico in 1916. He was awarded the Mexican Service Medal for serving in the Pancho Villa Expedition. Recognizing that the horse had a limited future, Ward became interested in artillery and transferred to the Field Artillery Branch and was sent to join the 10th Field Artillery Regiment at Camp Douglas, Arizona.

The United States entered World War I in April 1917, and Ward's regiment soon became part of the 3rd Infantry Division. He served on the Western Front with the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) during the war. During the Second Battle of the Marne, in July 1918, under conditions that rendered other officers in charge useless, he took charge of the 2nd Battalion, 10th Field Artillery Regiment and kept the battalion effective until the tide of Germans was turned back. He was later awarded the Silver Star Citation for his actions. He continued to serve on the Western Front until the war ended with the Armistice with Germany on November 11, 1918.

Between the wars

During the quiet interwar period, he continued in field artillery, but was assigned posts like ROTC instructor at the University of Wisconsin–Madison (where Charles Lindbergh was one of his students). Eventually, he became an instructor at the U.S. Army Field Artillery School at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, where he and others developed key forward observer procedures that made the U.S. Army's artillery effective in the upcoming war.

World War II

Ward was Secretary to General George Marshall, the U.S. Army Chief of Staff, from July 1939 to August 1941, a critical time of building up in preparation for the American entry into World War II, Ward assisting in finding the resources to build the military while political forces were fighting to keep the United States out of the war and to help Britain. He worked closely there with Walter Bedell Smith and Omar Bradley.

He left that post (and was promoted to the two-star rank of major general) to become the second commander of the 1st Armored Division, a Regular Army formation, in March 1942. The division was sent to Northern Ireland in May and participated in numerous exercises with the British Army stationed there. In November he supervised the deployment of his division across the Atlantic Ocean to French North Africa, which was brought piecemeal as part of Operation Torch, the Allied invasion of French North Africa, and subsequent operations. The failure of the 1st Armored Division to arrive intact and deploy as a single entity would have important consequences in later action against German forces in the Tunisian Campaign.

The 1st Armored Division's first action against the Germans was not promising, when Combat Command 'B' (CCB) and other Allied forces were thrown back after an advance by German forces. On the night of 10–11 December 1942, during a withdrawal from Medjez el Bab, the focal point of the enemy attack, scores of combat vehicles of CCB—tanks, half-tracks, and tank destroyers — had bogged down in thick mud and had to be abandoned. The tanks were so badly mired that the advancing Germans themselves could not extricate them. It was a crippling loss. In its brief experience in action, CCB had lost 32 medium and 46 light tanks. The combat vehicles that remained were in poor condition after their long overland journey to the front lines.

At the Battle of Kasserine Pass in February 1943, the first major battle between the Americans and Germans during World War II, elements of the 1st Armored Division were sent reeling back by a series of sudden enemy offensive thrusts. The dispersal of the 1st Armored Division into separate combat commands across the front by British Lieutenant General Kenneth Anderson, commanding the British First Army, with the connivance of his immediate superior, Major General Lloyd Fredendall, the U.S. II Corps commander, had angered Ward from the start, as it greatly weakened the division's ability to repulse concentrations of German armor and to shift his forces in response to enemy thrusts (Fredendall was later relieved of command and replaced by Major General George S. Patton). However, Ward also bore responsibility for his failure to consult British tank commanders on German panzer tactics and to disseminate that information to his subordinate commanders. As a consequence, elements of the 1st Armored Division at Faïd fell victim to one of Generalfeldmarschall Erwin Rommel's familiar tactics when they pursued German tanks feigning retirement into a screen of 88 mm high-velocity German anti-tank guns, resulting in large American armor losses.

After the rout at Kasserine, Patton at first counseled, then admonished Ward of the need for personal leadership of his division in order to keep German forces under pressure. Impatient with the progress of the 1st Armored Division, Patton took the unusual step of ordering Ward to personally lead a night assault on the Meknessy Heights, a series of stubbornly defended knolls in front of the 1st Armored Division's lines. Ward obeyed the order, and the attack was initially successful. Wounded in the eye, he was awarded a Purple Heart, Silver Star, and later the Distinguished Service Cross. However, the stalemate east of Meknassy continued, and it appeared to Patton that Ward was still overcautious and too reluctant to incur casualties when conducting offensive operations. By 1 April 1943 the American offensive that had begun at El Guettar had bogged down against stiffened Axis defenses. With the concurrence of British General Sir Harold R. L. G. Alexander, commander of the Allied 18th Army Group, Patton finally relieved Ward of duty. Patton's actions were in keeping with personal written instructions to him from General Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Supreme Allied Commander in the Mediterranean Theater of Operations (MTO), after Fredendall was sacked: "You must not retain for one instant any man in a responsible position where you have become doubtful of his ability to do his job."

Recent scholarship suggests that political factors may also have played a significant part in Ward's relief. "Ward’s dismissal covered up Alexander’s incoherent plans for the American commitment to North Africa; in its wake, Patton’s failure to punch through the German line and prove American superiority was assuaged as well. Ike kept the upper-level alliance intact (if not healthy) by sacrificing the position of a lower-level subordinate."

Ward was replaced with Major General Harmon, who had successfully intervened to remedy Fredendall's inaction during the battles of Kasserine Pass. Major General Ward was the only general relieved of his command by Patton during World War II. Returning to the United States, Ward was briefly commander of the U.S. Army Tank Destroyer School at Camp Hood, Texas before becoming Commandant of the U.S. Army Field Artillery School at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, where he had served as an instructor before the war.

In September 1944 he assumed command of the 20th Armored Division from Major General Roderick R. Allen. In February 1945 the division was sent overseas to the European Theater of Operations (ETO) to serve on the Western Front where it fought briefly in the Allied invasion of Germany, and assisting other divisions in the capture of the German city of Munich. The end of World War II in Europe came soon afterwards, on May 8, 1945, known now as Victory in Europe Day. Ward relinquished command of the division in August to Major General John W. Leonard.

For his services in World War II, General Ward was twice awarded the Legion of Merit, along with the Silver Star and the Purple Heart, the Army Distinguished Service Medal and the Distinguished Service Cross.


After the war, Ward had two major assignments, first as commander of the 6th Infantry Division in Korea (prior to the war there), and later as Chief of Military History, where he oversaw the production of the famous "Green Books," the official U.S. Army history of World War II. He also briefly commanded V Corps between June and November 1946. He retired from the army in 1953 and, returning to Denver, Colorado, where he remained until his death on February 4, 1972.


Major General Ward´s decorations included the Distinguished Service Cross, the Army Distinguished Service Medal, the Silver Star with Oak Leaf Cluster, Legion of Merit with Oak Leaf Cluster, Purple Heart, the Mexican Border Service Medal, World War I Victory Medal with four campaign stars, Army of Occupation of Germany Medal, American Defense Service Medal, American Campaign Medal, European–African–Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with four campaign stars, World War II Victory Medal, Army of Occupation Medal and the National Defense Service Medal.

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The contents of this page are sourced from Wikipedia article. The contents are available under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license.
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