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Wed Jun 5, 2019, 11:09 AM

Ted Roosevelt on D-Day; "We'll start the war from right here!"


Theodore "Ted" Roosevelt III (September 13, 1887 – July 12, 1944), known as Theodore Roosevelt Jr., was an American government, business, and military leader. He was the eldest son of President Theodore Roosevelt and First Lady Edith Roosevelt. Roosevelt is known for his World War II service, including the directing of troops at Utah Beach during the Normandy landings, for which he received the Medal of Honor.

Roosevelt was educated at private academies and Harvard University; after his 1909 graduation from college, he began a successful career in business and investment banking. Having gained pre-World War I army experience during his attendance at a Citizens' Military Training Camp, at the start of the war he received a reserve commission as a major. He served primarily with the 1st Division, took part in several engagements including the Battle of Cantigny, and commanded the 26th Infantry Regiment as a lieutenant colonel. After the war, Roosevelt was instrumental in the forming of the American Legion.

In addition to his military and business careers, Roosevelt was active in politics and government. He served as Assistant Secretary of the Navy (1921–1924), Governor of Puerto Rico (1929–1932), and Governor-General of the Philippines (1932–1933). He resumed his business endeavors in the 1930s, and was Chairman of the Board of American Express Company, and Vice-President of Doubleday Books. Roosevelt also remained active as an Army reservist, attending annual training periods at Pine Camp, and completing the Infantry Officer Basic and Advanced Courses, the Command and General Staff College, and refresher training for senior officers. He returned to active duty for World War II with the rank of colonel, and commanded the 26th Infantry Regiment. He soon received promotion to brigadier general as assistant division commander of the 1st Infantry Division.

After serving in the Operation Torch landings in North Africa and the Tunisia Campaign, followed by participation in the Allied invasion of Sicily, Roosevelt was assigned as assistant division commander of the 4th Infantry Division. In this role, he led the first wave of troops ashore at Utah Beach during the Normandy landings in June 1944. He died in France of a heart attack the following month; at the time of his death, he had been recommended for the Distinguished Service Cross to recognize his heroism at Normandy. The recommendation was subsequently upgraded, and Roosevelt was a posthumous recipient of the Medal of Honor.


World War II service and death
In 1940, during World War II (although the United States had not yet entered the war and remained neutral) Roosevelt attended a military refresher course offered to many businessmen as an advanced student, and was promoted to colonel in the Army of the United States. He returned to active duty in April 1941 and was given command of the 26th Infantry Regiment, part of the 1st Infantry Division, the same unit he fought with in World War I. Late in 1941, he was promoted to the one-star general officer rank of brigadier general.

North Africa Campaign
Upon his arrival in North Africa, Roosevelt became known as a general who often visited the front lines. He had always preferred the heat of the battle to the comfort of the command post, and this attitude would culminate in his actions in France on D-Day.

Roosevelt led the 26th Infantry in an attack on Oran, Algeria, on November 8, 1942 as part of Operation Torch, the Allies' invasion of North Africa. During 1943, he was the Assistant Division Commander (ADC) of the 1st Infantry Division in the campaign in North Africa under Major General Terry Allen. He was cited for the Croix de guerre by the military commander of French Africa, General Alphonse Juin:

As commander of a Franco-American detachment on the Ousseltia plain in the region of Pichon, in the face of a very aggressive enemy, he showed the finest qualities of decision and determination in the defense of his sector.

Showing complete contempt for personal danger, he never ceased during the period of Jan 28 – Feb 21, visiting troops in the front lines, making vital decisions on the spot, winning the esteem and admiration of the units under his command and developing throughout his detachment the finest fraternity of arms.

Clashes with Patton
Roosevelt's collaboration and friendship with his commander, the hard-fighting, hard-drinking Major General Terry Allen, and their unorthodox approach to warfare did not escape the attention of Lieutenant General George S. Patton, the Seventh Army commander in Sicily, and formerly the II Corps commander, who disapproved of such officers who "dressed down" and were seldom seen in regulation field uniforms, and who placed little value in Patton's spit-shined ways in the field. Patton thought them both un-soldierly for it and wasted no opportunity to send derogatory reports on Allen to General Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Supreme Allied Commander in the Mediterranean Theater of Operations (MTO). Roosevelt was also treated by Patton as "guilty by association" for his friendship and collaboration with the highly unorthodox Allen. When Allen was relieved of command of the 1st Division and reassigned, so was Roosevelt.

After criticizing Allen in his diary on July 31, 1943, Patton noted that he had asked permission of Eisenhower "to relieve both Allen and Roosevelt on the same terms, on the theory of rotation of command", and added, concerning Roosevelt, "there will be a kick over Teddy, but he has to go, brave but otherwise, no soldier." Later, however, upon hearing of the death of Roosevelt, Patton wrote in his diary that Roosevelt was "one of the bravest men I've ever known", and a few days later served as a pallbearer at his funeral.

Roosevelt was also criticized by Lieutenant General Omar Bradley, the II Corps commander, who ultimately relieved both Roosevelt and Allen. In both of his autobiographies – A Soldier's Story (1951) and A General's Life – Bradley claimed that relieving the two generals was one of his most unpleasant duties of the war. Bradley felt that Allen and Roosevelt were guilty of "loving their division too much" and that their relationship with their soldiers was having a generally bad effect on the discipline of both the commanders and the men of the division.

Roosevelt was assistant commander of the 1st Infantry Division at Gela during the Allied invasion of Sicily, codenamed Operation Husky, commanded Allied Forces in Sardinia, and fought on the Italian mainland. He was the chief liaison officer to the French Army in Italy for General Eisenhower, and repeatedly made requests of Eisenhower for combat command.


Despite a heart condition and arthritis that forced him to use a cane, Brigadier General Roosevelt led the assault on Utah Beach.

In February 1944, Roosevelt was assigned to England to help lead the Normandy invasion and appointed Deputy Division Commander of the 4th Infantry Division. After several verbal requests to the division's Commanding General (CG), Major General Raymond "Tubby" Barton, to go ashore on D-Day with the Division were denied, Roosevelt sent a written petition:

The force and skill with which the first elements hit the beach and proceed may determine the ultimate success of the operation.... With troops engaged for the first time, the behavior pattern of all is apt to be set by those first engagements. [It is] considered that accurate information of the existing situation should be available for each succeeding element as it lands. You should have when you get to shore an overall picture in which you can place confidence. I believe I can contribute materially on all of the above by going in with the assault companies. Furthermore I personally know both officers and men of these advance units and believe that it will steady them to know that I am with them.

Barton approved Roosevelt's written request with much misgiving, stating that he did not expect Roosevelt to return alive.

Roosevelt was the only general on D-Day to land by sea with the first wave of troops. At 56, he was the oldest man in the invasion, and the only one whose son also landed that day; Captain Quentin Roosevelt II was among the first wave of soldiers at Omaha Beach.

Brigadier General Roosevelt was one of the first soldiers, along with Captain Leonard T. Schroeder Jr., off his landing craft as he led the 8th Infantry Regiment and 70th Tank Battalion landing at Utah Beach. Roosevelt was soon informed that the landing craft had drifted south of their objective, and the first wave of men was a mile off course. Walking with the aid of a cane and carrying a pistol, he personally made a reconnaissance of the area immediately to the rear of the beach to locate the causeways that were to be used for the advance inland. He returned to the point of landing and contacted the commanders of the two battalions, Lieutenant Colonels Conrad C. Simmons and Carlton O. MacNeely, and coordinated the attack on the enemy positions confronting them. Opting to fight from where they had landed rather than trying to move to their assigned positions, Roosevelt's famous words were, "We’ll start the war from right here!"

These impromptu plans worked with complete success and little confusion. With artillery landing close by, each follow-on regiment was personally welcomed on the beach by a cool, calm, and collected Roosevelt, who inspired all with humor and confidence, reciting poetry and telling anecdotes of his father to steady the nerves of his men. Roosevelt pointed almost every regiment to its changed objective. Sometimes he worked under fire as a self-appointed traffic cop, untangling traffic jams of trucks and tanks all struggling to get inland and off the beach. One GI later reported that seeing the general walking around, apparently unaffected by the enemy fire, even when clods of earth fell down on him, gave him the courage to get on with the job, saying if the general is like that it can't be that bad.

When Major General Barton, the commander of the 4th Infantry Division, came ashore, he met Roosevelt not far from the beach. He later wrote:

While I was mentally framing [orders], Ted Roosevelt came up. He had landed with the first wave, had put my troops across the beach, and had a perfect picture (just as Roosevelt had earlier promised if allowed to go ashore with the first wave) of the entire situation. I loved Ted. When I finally agreed to his landing with the first wave, I felt sure he would be killed. When I had bade him goodbye, I never expected to see him alive. You can imagine then the emotion with which I greeted him when he came out to meet me [near La Grande Dune]. He was bursting with information.

By modifying his division's original plan on the beach, Roosevelt enabled its troops to achieve their mission objectives by coming ashore and attacking north behind the beach toward its original objective. Years later, Omar Bradley was asked to name the single most heroic action he had ever seen in combat. He replied, "Ted Roosevelt on Utah Beach."

Following the landing, Roosevelt utilized a Jeep named "Rough Rider" which was the nickname of his father's regiment raised during the Spanish–American War. Before his death, Roosevelt was appointed as Military Governor of Cherbourg.


Theodore Roosevelt Jr.'s grave marker at the American World War II cemetery in Normandy. He lies buried next to his brother, Quentin, who was killed during World War I.

Throughout World War II, Roosevelt suffered from health problems. He had arthritis, mostly from old World War I injuries, and walked with a cane. He also had heart trouble, which he kept secret from army doctors and his superiors.

On July 12, 1944, a little over one month after the landing at Utah Beach, Roosevelt died of a heart attack in Méautis, 22 km from Sainte-Mère-Église in Normandy. He was living at the time in a converted sleeping truck, captured a few days before from the Germans. He had spent part of the day in a long conversation with his son, Captain Quentin Roosevelt II, who had also landed at Normandy on D-Day. He was stricken at about 10:00 PM, attended by medical help, and died at about midnight. He was fifty-six years old.[40] On the day of his death, he had been selected by Lieutenant General Omar Bradley, now commanding the U.S. First Army, for promotion to the two-star rank of major general and command of the 90th Infantry Division. These recommendations were sent to General Eisenhower, now the Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, for approval. When Eisenhower called the next morning to approve them, he was told that Roosevelt had died during the night.

General officers including Omar Bradley and Gen. J. Lawton Collins (with goggles) attending Roosevelt's funeral. George Patton is partially visible behind Collins.

Roosevelt was initially buried at Sainte-Mère-Église. Photographs show that his pallbearers were generals, including Bradley, Patton, and J. Lawton Collins, the VII Corps commander. Later, Roosevelt was buried at the American cemetery in Normandy, initially created for the Americans killed in Normandy during the invasion. His younger brother, Second Lieutenant Quentin Roosevelt, had been killed in action as a pilot in France during World War I and was initially buried near where he had been shot down in that war. In 1955, his family had his body exhumed and moved to the Normandy cemetery, where he was re-interred beside his brother. Ted also has a cenotaph near the grave of his parents at Youngs Memorial Cemetery in Oyster Bay, while Quentin's original gravestone was moved to Sagamore Hill.

Medal of Honor
Roosevelt was originally recommended for the Distinguished Service Cross by General Barton. The recommendation was upgraded at higher headquarters to the Medal of Honor, which was approved, and which Roosevelt was posthumously awarded on 28 September 1944.

For gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty on 6 June 1944, in France. After two verbal requests to accompany the leading assault elements in the Normandy invasion had been denied, Brig. Gen. Roosevelt's written request for this mission was approved and he landed with the first wave of the forces assaulting the enemy-held beaches. He repeatedly led groups from the beach, over the seawall and established them inland. His valor, courage, and presence in the very front of the attack and his complete unconcern at being under heavy fire inspired the troops to heights of enthusiasm and self-sacrifice. Although the enemy had the beach under constant direct fire, Brig. Gen. Roosevelt moved from one locality to another, rallying men around him, directed and personally led them against the enemy. Under his seasoned, precise, calm, and unfaltering leadership, assault troops reduced beach strong points and rapidly moved inland with minimum casualties. He thus contributed substantially to the successful establishment of the beachhead in France.


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Reply Ted Roosevelt on D-Day; "We'll start the war from right here!" (Original post)
Dennis Donovan Jun 5 OP
denbot Jun 5 #1
Cyrano Jun 5 #2
Faygo Kid Jun 5 #3
MicaelS Jun 5 #4

Response to Dennis Donovan (Original post)

Wed Jun 5, 2019, 01:04 PM

1. A soldiers General.

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Response to denbot (Reply #1)

Wed Jun 5, 2019, 01:51 PM

2. And an incredibly wonderful human being

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Response to Dennis Donovan (Original post)

Wed Jun 5, 2019, 02:01 PM


Maybe even more than his father, who was as Great President.

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Response to Dennis Donovan (Original post)

Wed Jun 5, 2019, 02:19 PM

4. Patton really was an arrogant ass.

Just the opposite of General Roosevelt.

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