About John Porter Lucas
John Porter Lucas (January 14, 1890—December 24, 1949) was an American Major General and one of the commanders of VI Corps (September 1943-February 1944) during the Italian Campaign of the Mediterranean Theater of World War II.
Lucas, a native of Kearneysville, Jefferson County, West Virginia, was a graduate of West Point, class of 1911. Commissioned as a Cavalry officer on 13 June 1911, he would branch-transfer to the Field Artillery in 1920. Lucas spent the first few years of his commissioned service in the Philippines, returning to the US in August 1914. Lucas was stationed at Columbus, New Mexico, where he served as the commander of the Machine Gun Troop of the 13th Cavalry Regiment. On 9 March 1916 he distinguished himself in action against Pancho Villa's raiders during the Battle of Columbus. He served during the Mexican Punitive Expedition, as an Aide de Camp to MG 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 MG George Bell, Jr., commander of the 33rd, as Aide de Camp. CPT Lucas then led the division's Infantry School of Arms while the division trained for war. Promoted to Major on 15 January 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 23 June 1918. MAJ 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 31 October 1918. Following the war, he would revert back to his permanent rank of Captain.
From 1919-1920, 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 branch-transferred to 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 U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, graduating in 1924 and finishing 78th out of 247 in his class. 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 an MS 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, Lucas was assigned as the commander, 3rd Infantry Division at Fort Lewis, Washington, where he conducted amphibious operations in the Puget Sound. He was next assigned as the Commander, III Corps, Fort McPherson, Georgia (April 1942-May 1943). In the Spring of 1943, Lucas was sent overseas as a deputy to Eisenhower, and briefly took command of II Corps (9–19 September 1943). On 20 September 1943, Lucas was given command of VI Corps, taking over from Major General Ernest J. Dawley. On January 22, 1944, from the deck of the cruiser USS Biscayne, Lucas oversaw Operation 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 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.
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 as Deputy Commander of the Fifth Army, he died suddenly at Naval Station Great Lakes Naval Hospital, near Chicago on 24 December 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. 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. On 28 June 1962, Lucas Place at Fort Eustis was named in his honor.
Awards and decorations
MG Lucas was awarded the Army's Distinguished Service Medal twice. The first was for service at Anzio, and the second for his time as commander of Fourth Army. He was also awarded the Navy Distinguished Service Medal for service at Anzio. He also held the Silver Star, given for courage under fire at Anzio, a Purple Heart awarded in 1936 for wounds received at Amiens on 23 June 1918, and it is assumed that he held the World War I Victory Medal. He was made a Grand Officer of the Order of Saints Maurice and Lazarus by the nation of Italy and received the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Cloud and Banner from the Republic of China.
John Porter Lucas was a Freemason, having been entered (20 February 1919), passed (6 March 1919), and raised (10 March 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. 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.
In the movie Anzio the character of the over-cautious "General Lesley" is presumably based on John P. Lucas.