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General Dwight Eisenhower

Dwight David Eisenhower, born in Denison, Texas, on October 14th, 1890; died in Washington, D.C., on March 28th, 1969. US Army officer, 34th President of the United States of America.

Followed by General H.D.G. Crerar, General Dwight D. Eisenhower inspecting the guard of honour of the 4th Canadian Armoured Division in Hertogenbosch, the Netherlands, November 29th, 1944
Photograph by Harold G. Aikman. Department of National Defence / National Archives of Canada, PA-151501

Born in Texas, Dwight Eisenhower grew up in Abilene, Kansas. Between 1911 and 1915, he attended the West Point Military Academy; he was not able to take part in actual military action during WWI, having been assigned training duties. He followed courses at the Command and General Staff School in Leavenworth, Kansas, in 1925, and later at the Army Staff College in Washington, D.C., from which he graduated in 1928. He served on several General Staff positions during the years before the US involvement in WWII.

In 1940 and 1941, he was Executive Officer with the 15th Infantry Regiment, then Chief of Staff, 3rd Division, and finally Chief of Staff, 3rd Army. In 1942, the Army's Chief of Staff, George Marshal, was looking for new faces for operational command postings. In March, he appointed Eisenhower as Chief of Operations Division, and two months later sent him to London as Commander of US forces in Europe.

In 1942, Eisenhower took part in the discussions of the Combined Chiefs of Staff to determine how best to attack Germany, and he was given the command of Operation Torch, the invasion of North Africa, which started on November 8th, 1942.

Then, in July 1943, Eisenhower led the invasion of Sicily. The ground forces involved in that operation included the US 7th Army and the British 8th Army, under General Bernard Montgomery. The 1st Canadian Infantry Division was part of the 8th Army. Eisenhower then took command of the joint ground forces that landed in continental Italy on September 8th, 1943; he was not to lead that campaign to its conclusion, however, being recalled to London in December to take over the supreme command of the forces that prepared the invasion of France.

As Commander of SHAEF (Supreme Headquarters, Allied Expeditionary Force), Eisenhower had to combine Allied armies, navies and air forces to build the largest invading force ever assembled; to assist him, a general staff strong of some 16,000 men and officers.

Despite the success of D-Day, Eisenhower's command was not immune from controversy. As the campaign of Normandy dragged on, Eisenhower and British General Bernard Montgomery found themselves in disagreement over the best strategy to follow next. Eisenhower finally imposed his vision: a broad front of all Allied troops that would march eastwards. A further crisis broke out when, despite the insistence of Churchill, he ordered the US troops that were closing in on Berlin to turn south, thereby leaving the German capital under control of the Soviet armies.

After the Armistice was signed on May 8th, 1945, Eisenhower commanded the occupation forces for six months. He then succeeded George Marshal as Chief of Staff of the US Army, a position he kept until 1948. From April 2nd, 1951 to May 30th, 1952, Eisenhower was SACEUR (Supreme Allied Commander, Europe).

Eisenhower then left the military to run in the US presidential elections. An immensely popular war hero, he won an easy victory and was inaugurated on January 20th, 1953. He won a second term in 1956.·

Links:
Dwight D. Eisenhower's biography on the White House website.
Dwight D. Eisenhower's biography on the Grolier Online website
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