In his composite biography entitled, U.S. Army W.W.II Corps Commander, Dr. Robert Berlin states: “The United States Army corps commander in W.W.II was the highest-level officer who was engaged in battle at the front and who concentrated on high levels tactics. Leaving administrative matters largely at army level, he coordinated the use of combined arms on the battlefield”. No better example of what a corps commander was than that of General Geoffrey Keyes.
General Keyes was the deputy division commander under General Patton for the Sicilian Invasion, code named operation Husky. It’s been written that General Patton in an effort not to be smothering by day- to -day planning turned much of the responsibility of the invasion to General Keyes. These facts would lead one to think that Keyes was more of an administrative general than a combat general. However, nothing could be farther from the truth.
During the invasion, General Patton seizing on the fact that the British were bogged down, and wanting a larger role to be played by the American Army, appointed General Keyes to lead a provisional Corps. That Corps would play the lead role in the capture of the city of Palermo, and win fame for the American solider. The capture of Palermo did generate positive headlines, something that the American public greatly needed. During the triumphal entrance of the city of Palermo, with all the media there, General Patton who loved the attention took an unfamiliar back seat telling General Keyes, You took it. You enter first, I’ll enter after you. Life magazine published six photos of Keyes and none of Patton.
General Keyes went on to command II Corps throughout the Italian campaign leading it for a total of twenty –one months, longer than any other corps commander in the Italian campaign.
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