John P. Lucas

Major General John Porter Lucas (January 14, 1890 – December 24, 1949) was a senior officer of the United States Army who saw service in World War I and World War II. He was the commander of VI Corps during the Battle of Anzio (Operation Shingle) in the Italian Campaign of World War II.

John P. Lucas
Born(1890-01-14)January 14, 1890
Kearneysville, West Virginia, United States
DiedDecember 24, 1949(1949-12-24) (aged 59)
Naval Station Great Lakes, Illinois, United States
AllegianceUnited States
Service/branchUnited States Army
Years of service1911–1949
RankMajor General
Commands heldFourth United States Army
Fifteenth United States Army
VI Corps
II Corps
III Corps
3rd Infantry Division
1st Field Artillery Regiment
2nd Battalion, 4th Field Artillery Regiment
1st Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment
108th Field Signal Battalion
Battles/warsMexican Expedition
World War I
World War II
AwardsArmy Distinguished Service Medal (2)
Navy Distinguished Service Medal
Silver Star
Purple Heart
RelationsSydney Virginia Wynkoop Lucas (wife)
John Porter Lucas, Jr. (son)

Early career

Lucas, a native of Kearneysville, Jefferson County, West Virginia, was a graduate of West Point, class of 1911. Commissioned as a cavalry officer on June 13, 1911, he transferred to the Field Artillery in 1920. Lucas spent the first few years of his service in the Philippines, returning to the US in August 1914.

Lucas was assigned to Troop A of the 13th Cavalry Regiment at Columbus, New Mexico in October 1914, but that unit was temporarily based at Douglas, Arizona, and in January 1915 he became commander of the regiment's Machine Gun Troop. On March 9, 1916 Lucas distinguished himself in action against Pancho Villa's raiders during the Battle of Columbus, fighting his way alone and bare-footed through attacking Villistas from his quarters to the camp's guard tent. There he organized resistance with a single machine gun until the remainder of his unit and a supporting troop arrived, then maneuvered his men to repel the attackers. He served during the Mexican Punitive Expedition, as an Aide de Camp to Major General George Bell, Jr. at Fort Bliss, Texas.

World War I

Lucas joined the 33rd Infantry Division in August 1917 at Camp Logan, Texas, where he continued to serve Bell, commander of the 33rd, as Aide de Camp. Lucas then led the division's Infantry School of Arms while the division trained for war. Promoted to Major on January 15, 1918, he was given command of the 108th Field Signal Battalion (the Signal Battalion for the 33rd Infantry Division) and sailed to France with this unit. He simultaneously served as the Division Signal Officer. While serving as commander of the 108th, he was seriously wounded in action near Amiens, France on June 23, 1918. Lucas was the battalion's first casualty, being struck by a fragment from a German high-explosive shell. Evacuated to a hospital in England, he was later sent back to the United States on convalescent leave, where he recovered from his wounds in the Washington, D.C., area. His wounds were severe enough to prevent him from rejoining the 33rd Infantry Division. He was promoted to lieutenant colonel on October 31, 1918. Following the war, he would revert to his permanent rank of Captain.

Inter-war period

From 1919 to 1920, Lucas was assigned as a military science instructor for the University of Michigan R.O.T.C. program in Ann Arbor, Michigan. In 1920, he rejoined the Field Artillery. He was promoted to major in 1920, and in that year also entered the Field Artillery School at Fort Sill, Oklahoma (1920–1921). He graduated from the Field Artillery Advanced Course in 1921 and became an instructor at the Field Artillery School (1921–1923). He then entered the one-year program at the Command and General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, graduating in 1924 and finishing 78th out of 247 in his class.[1] He next became the Professor of Military Science and Tactics for the R.O.T.C. program at Colorado Agricultural College (now Colorado State University), Fort Collins, Colorado. He served in this position for approximately 5 years (1924–1929), earning a Master of Science degree in 1927. He was selected for command of 1st Battalion, 82d Field Artillery Regiment at Fort Bliss, Texas, from 1929–1930/31. He then enrolled in the Army War College, Carlisle, Pennsylvania, in June 1931, and graduated in June 1932. From 1932 to 1936, Lucas worked in the Personnel Division, G1, of the War Department General Staff. From July to October 1940, he served as commander, 1st Field Artillery Regiment, Fort Sill, Oklahoma. He then served as commander of the Artillery Brigade of the 2nd Infantry Division at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, until July 1941, when he was notified that he would be given command of the 3rd Infantry Division.

World War II

In September 1941, during World War II, Lucas was assigned as the Commanding General (CG) of the 3rd Infantry Division at Fort Lewis, Washington, where he conducted amphibious operations training in Puget Sound. He was next assigned as the CG of the III Corps, in Fort McPherson, Georgia. In the spring of 1943 he was sent overseas to the Mediterranean Theater of Operations (MTO) as a deputy to General Dwight David "Ike" Eisenhower, the Supreme Allied Commander in the theater. There, in the aftermath of the disastrous airborne drops in Operation Husky, he recommended to General Eisenhower that "the organization of Airborne Troops into [units as large as] divisions is unsound". He briefly took command of II Corps in September, taking over from Lieutenant General Omar Bradley.

On September 20, 1943, Lucas was given command of VI Corps, taking over from Major General Ernest J. Dawley. He led the corps in the early stages of the Italian Campaign, coming under command of the Fifth United States Army, commanded by Lieutenant General Mark Clark, who was many years younger. VI Corps crossed the Volturno Line in October and was involved in severe mountain warfare fighting until December when the corps HQ was pulled out of the line in preparation for an amphibious assault, codenamed Operation Shingle.

On February 22, 1944, Lucas was relieved of VI Corps command after Shingle, the amphibious landing at Anzio. Lucas was highly critical of the plans for the Anzio battle, believing his force was not strong enough to accomplish its mission. His confidence was not reinforced when the mission was scaled back by last-minute orders and advice from his commander, Lieutenant General Mark W. Clark, who told him not to "stick his neck out". After nine days of preparation to reinforce his position and four weeks of extremely tough fighting, Lucas was relieved by Clark and replaced with Major General Lucian K. Truscott as the commander of VI Corps at Anzio. Lucas spent three weeks as Clark's deputy at Fifth Army headquarters before returning to the United States.

After the initial success of the landings at Anzio and with little German resistance in the area, Lucas had the opportunity to break out of the beach head and cut off the supply lines of the German 10th army by crossing Highways 6 and 7, leaving the way open to Rome. He failed to seize the opportunity, deciding instead to wait until all of his ground troops had landed and the beach head had been fully secured. Only 8 days after the landing on January 30, 1944 did Lucas order the British and American troops to advance on Cisterna and Campoleone. It was too late. General Albert Kesselring, on orders from Hitler, had rushed troops from outside Italy to the beach head: now, on January 31, 1944, 8 German divisions surrounded the beach head. Churchill was angry and furious, bewildered by the slow reactions of the American commander: "I had hoped we were hurling a wildcat onto the shore, but all we got was a beached whale."

On February 6, 1944 the German 14th Army began the process of reducing the Allied beach head. On February 16 General Eberhard von Mackensen deployed 6 divisions of his 14th Army in a full scale counter attack in an attempt to push the British and Americans back into the sea. The German counter attack was eventually held, particularly with the use of overwhelming firepower: from the air, ground artillery and offshore ships batteries. On February 22, 3 days after the German attack was halted, Lucas was relieved of his command. [2]

Post-war service and death

In March 1944, Lucas was assigned as deputy commander and later as commander of the U.S. Fourth Army, headquartered at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. After the war, he was made Chief of the US Military Advisory Group to the Nationalist Chinese government, led by Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek (1946–1948). In 1948, he was assigned as Deputy Commander of the reactivated Fifth Army in Chicago, Illinois. While still on active duty in that post, he died suddenly at Naval Station Great Lakes Naval Hospital, near Chicago on December 24, 1949. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery with his wife Sydney Virginia Lucas (1892–1959). An obituary written by long-time associate and friend Major General Laurence B. Keiser appeared in the October 1950 issue of The Assembly, the magazine of the Association of West Point graduates.


A camp in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, was named after MG Lucas in honor of his service.[3] The polo field at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, was renamed Lucas Field in his honor. Lucas was widely known as a polo player in his youth. Lucas Street at Fort Sill is also named in his honor.[4] On June 28, 1962, Lucas Place at Fort Eustis was named in his honor.

Awards and decorations


Distinguished Service Medal with Oak leaf Cluster
Navy Distinguished Service Medal
Silver Star
Purple Heart
Mexican Service Medal
World War I Victory Medal with one service clasp
American Defense Service Medal
American Campaign Medal
European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with four campaign stars
World War II Victory Medal
Grand Officer of the Order of Saints Maurice and Lazarus
Grand Cordon of the Order of the Cloud and Banner

Dates of rank

2nd Lieutenant (Regular Army) (RA) – June 13, 1911
1st Lieutenant (RA) – July 1, 1916
Captain (RA) – May 15, 1917
Major (Temporary) – January 15, 1918
Lieutenant Colonel (Temporary) – October 30, 1918
Captain (RA) – January 20, 1920
Major (RA) – July 1, 1920
Lieutenant Colonel (RA) – August 1, 1935
Colonel (RA) – May 2, 1940
Brigadier General (Army of the United States) (AUS) – October 1, 1940
Major General (AUS) – August 5, 1941
Major General (RA) – January 24, 1948


John Porter Lucas was a Freemason, having been entered (February 20, 1919), passed (March 6, 1919), and raised (March 10, 1919) in the Elk Branch Lodge No. 93, Shenandoah Junction, WV. He is also believed to have been a member of the York Rite, attaining the degree of Knight Templar.[5] According to his obituary in the October 1950 issue of the Assembly, he had served as a Past Master of a Lodge of Freemasons in Fort Collins, CO.

Media depiction

In the movie Anzio the character of the over-cautious "General Lesley" is presumably based on John P. Lucas.[6][7]


  1. Berlin, Robert H. "U.S. Army World War II Corps Commanders: A Composite Biography" Archived June 11, 2006, at the Wayback Machine. – Combat Studies Institute. – U.S. Army Staff and Command College. – 1989. LCC D769.1.B48 1989.
  2. Battlefield S5/E3 – The Battle for Monte Cassino
  3. Newspaper article from the Spirit of Jefferson Farmer's Advisor, dated January 25, 1951. The complete article can be found at,1572274
  5. Denslow, William R. 10,000 Famous Freemasons, Vol. II, K-Z.
  6. Vaughan-Thomas, Wynford. Anzio. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston. 1961. OCLC 276480
  7. "Sbarco di Anzio, Lo" at IMDb

Further reading

  • Blumenson, Martin (1963). Anzio, The Gamble that Failed. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press. ISBN 0-313-20093-9.
  • Sassman, Roger W. (April 10, 1999). Operation SHINGLE and Major General John P. Lucas. Army War College, U.S. Army. Report A357363. Archived from the original (PDF) on July 16, 2011. Retrieved December 19, 2006.
  • Thompson, Julian (1991). "John Lucas and Anzio, 1944". In Bond, Brian (ed.). Fallen Stars. Eleven Studies of Twentieth Century Military Disaster. London: Brassey's. ISBN 0-08-040717-X.
  • Anzio Beachhead (22 January-25 May 1944). American Forces in Action Series. United States Army Center of Military History. 1990 [1947]. CMH Pub 100-10.
Military offices
Preceded by
Charles P. Hall
Commanding General 3rd Infantry Division
Succeeded by
Jonathan W. Anderson
Preceded by
Joseph Stilwell
Commanding General III Corps
Succeeded by
Harold R. Bull
Preceded by
Omar Bradley
Commanding General II Corps
September 1943
Succeeded by
Geoffrey Keyes
Preceded by
Ernest J. Dawley
Commanding General VI Corps
Succeeded by
Lucian Truscott
Preceded by
William Hood Simpson
Commanding General Fourth Army
Succeeded by
Alexander Patch
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