Excerpt from Citizen Soldiers by Stephen Ambrose, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Citizen Soldiers

The U.S. Army from the Normandy Beaches to the Bulge to the Surrender of Germany. June 7, 1944 to May 7, 1945

By Stephen Ambrose

Citizen Soldiers
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • Hardcover: Oct 1997,
    512 pages.
    Paperback: Aug 1999,
    255 pages.

    Publication Information

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


Twenty minutes later the corporal arrived. After further interrogation, he called the sergeant. The sergeant came, more talk, finally he called Engineers HQ. Permission to come on was granted.

Leesemann drove to the HQ, "a large chateau with surrounding gardens. The sentries at the large iron gate entrance gave us the same routine with threats of being arrested; 'No way will we be responsible for admitting you two into the Command area.'"

Another call, another wait. Eventually, but not without further adventures in the maze of Third Army, Leesemann got the maps and returned to 26th Division HQ. It was 0500 hours, December 20. The division had been ready to move since 0100 hours. It was waiting for the maps.

The biggest jerk in ETO was Lt. Gen. John C. H. Lee (USMA 1909), commander of Services of Supply (SOS). He had a most difficult job, to be sure. And of course it is in the nature of an army that everyone resents the quartermaster, and Lee was the head quartermaster for the whole of ETO.

Lee was a martinet who had an exalted opinion of himself. He also had a strong religious fervor (Eisenhower compared him to Cromwell) that struck a wrong note with everyone. He handed out the equipment as if it were a personal gift. He hated waste; once he was walking through a mess hall, reached into the garbage barrel, pulled out a half-eaten loaf of bread, started chomping on it, and gave the cooks hell for throwing away perfectly good food. He had what Bradley politely called "an unfortunate pomposity" and was cordially hated. Officers and men gave him a nickname based on his initials, J.C.H. -- Jesus Christ Himself.

Lee's best-known excess came in September, at the height of the supply crisis. Eisenhower had frequently expressed his view that no major headquarters should be located in or near the temptations of a large city, and had specifically reserved the hotels in Paris for the use of combat troops on leave. Lee nevertheless, and without Eisenhower's knowledge, moved his headquarters to Paris. His people requisitioned all the hotels previously occupied by the Germans, and took over schools and other large buildings. More than 8,000 officers and 21,000 men in SOS descended on the city in less than a week, with tens of thousands more to follow. Parisians began to mutter that the U.S. Army demands were in excess of those made by the Germans.

The GIs and their generals were furious. They stated the obvious at the height of the supply crisis, Lee had spent his precious time organizing the move, then used up precious gasoline, all so that he and his entourage could enjoy the hotels of Paris. It got worse. With 29,000 SOS troops in Paris, the great majority of them involved in some way in the flow of supplies from the beaches and ports to the front, and taking into account what Paris had to sell, from wine and girls to jewels and perfumes, a black market on a grand scale sprang up.

Eisenhower was enraged. He sent a firm order to Lee to stop the entry into Paris of every individual not absolutely essential and to move out of the city every man who was not. He said essential duties "will not include provision of additional facilities, services and recreation for SOS or its Headquarters." He told Lee that he would like to order him out of the city altogether, but could not afford to waste more gasoline in moving SOS again. He said Lee had made an "extremely unwise" decision and told him to correct the situation as soon as possible.

Of course Lee and his headquarters stayed in Paris. And of course there was solid reason for so doing. And of course the combat veterans who got three-day passes into Paris could never get a hotel room, and had to sleep in a barracks-like Red Cross shelter, on cots. The rear-echelon SOS got the beds and private rooms. And their numbers grew rather than shrank. By March 1945, there were 160,000 SOS troops in the Department of the Seine.

Copyright © 1997 by Ambrose-Tubbs, Inc.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!
Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    •  
    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    •  
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    •  
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    •  
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    •  
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    •  
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books
    •  

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: The Promise
    The Promise
    by Ann Weisgarber
    Canadian author, Lucy Maud Montgomery of Anne of Green Gables fame, once wrote that "...all things ...
  • Book Jacket: Black Moon
    Black Moon
    by Kenneth Calhoun
    The popularity of book-turned-movie World War Z and television series The Walking Dead points to a ...
  • Book Jacket: Hyde
    Hyde
    by Daniel Levine
    In Robert Louis Stevenson's 1886 novel, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the story ends ...

First Impressions

Members read and review books ahead
of publication. See what they think
in First Impressions!

Books that
expand your
horizons.

Visitors can view a lot of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only

Find out more.

Book Discussions
Book Jacket

The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry
by Gabrielle Zevin

Published Apr. 2014

Join the discussion!

Win this book!
Win The Steady Running of the Hour

The Steady Running of the Hour

"Exciting, emotionally engaging and ambitious. I loved it!" - Kate Mosse

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

I T T O A Eye

and be entered to win..

Books thatinspire you.Handpicked.

Books you'll stay up all night reading; books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, books that will expand your mind and inspire you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.