Royal Mayon: Interview with HS student J Eues
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I was drafted 16 June 1941. On 4 July 42, I was commissioned a 2nd Lt in Cavalry at Ft Knox, Ky. Two weeks later, I reported to the 6th Armd Div at Camp Chaffee, AK and assigned to Hq and Hq Co. In October 1943, I was assigned as Aide to General Grow at Camp Cooke, California. I served as senior Aide until the General was reassigned from the Division in May 1945. General Grow also had a second Aide by the name of Ben Schieider, a very capable Artillery officer.
My observations about Generals are that most are intelligent, ambitious, crave publicity, if favorable, and hate war. However, if there is a war, none want to be left out of the action. General Grow was such a person.
General Grow greatly admired General Patton. Having served under him at Ft. Benning, Ga, General Grow was intimately familiar with Patton's dynamic personality and aggressive style of leadership. Patton's record in combat was clear evidence that his style of leadership produced results. General Grow was not bashful about adopting this style of leadership. For example, General Patton never stayed at his headquarters when his Army units were engaged in combat. Neither did General Grow. Instead both roamed the battle areas keeping abreast of the situation through monitoring radio communications and personal observation.
Since General Grow made personal contact with his Combat and Task Force Commanders daily, he used these contacts to issue any new orders which would affect their mission and inform them of any changes in troop attachments. Upon his return to the CP, he would immediately write paragraph 3 of the Operations Order and have it delivered to G-3. This procedure gave his combat commanders maximum time to plan and make adjustments rather than wait for delivery of the formal Operations Order, often delivered by a liaison officer late into the night.
General Grow was not happy to have his tank units under tne control of Infantry officers. From experience, he knew too often they would be used piece-meal and thereby did not use the mass, firepower, and mobility tanks offered. He believed Generals who commanded Infantry Divisions were too conservative and scared of any action that would leave then with an exposed flank. General Grow believed in General Patton's philosophy that when you are in the rear areas of the enemy, he, not you, should be the one concerned.
General Grow was not afraid to take chances and expose himself to danger. On 5 August 1944 in the dash to Brest, the General augmented his jeep and halftrack with two tanks borrowed from Combat B which was moving toward Brest on the northern route. The addition of these two tanks gave a measure of security as the General moved from the northern route to join CCA on the southern route. This decision meant traversing some 15 miles of enemy territory knowing the possibility of running into enemy contingents who would be retreating to Brest.
Upon arriving at the lead elements of CCA, he felt the column was moving too cautiously and decided to lead with his own four vehicles in advance of CCA to Huelgoat. The two medium talks arrived at Huelgoat around 1130 on 5 August. As the two tanks maneuvered through the obstacles leading to the center of the town, a towed artillery unit of three guns and approximately 40 enemy hastily departed out of the town heading west. A reconnaissance of the NE route into the town by the two tanks revealed a bicycle Infantry unit of approximately 50 enemy. Upon seeing the tanks, they hastily abandoned the bicycles and fled to the woods. General Grow was aware that there were enemy surrounding the town and very likely within the town; nevertheless, he remained in the town until late afternoon when he departed and joined CCA. During this time, the enemy initiated no contact. The General's concern for his own safety was based on his belief that the enemy was more concerned with retreating safely than getting involved in a fight. The only casualty was a shoulder wound received by the FFI guide in our party. I believe the shot came from a Frenchman, not a German. The FFI guide was standing in the middle of the street and for some reason started celebrating by shooting his weapon in all directions, thereby causing some danger to the inhabitants who had remained indoors.
General Grow was not bashful in expressing his opinions. Frequently, we returned to Corps Headquarters to be briefed on war plans. He could be very critical in pointing out the flaws and suggesting changes to make better use of tank units. Most always he sold his point.
General Grow also could be a bit clever in recording history. At Bastogne, Gen Patton showed up one morning and stated he had some information that the enemy was withdrawing. Because of the weather and cloud cover, we had no air observation and information gleaned from the locals was sparse and unverified. He ordered General Grow to infiltrate the enemy line, get in the rear on high ground with two vehicles with long-range communication and report on the enemy. The execution of this mission moved quickly and two vehicles passed through the lines of the 101st Airborne Division just prior to dusk. The vehicles found out immediately the enemy had not pulled back and because of heavy enemy fire pulled back with the idea of trying the following day and select a more appropriate route. This mission was canceled since the following day was clear and air-observation furnished the intelligence.
In 1980 at the 6th Armd Div Reunion in New Orleans, I had breakfast with the General and asked him why this mission was never mentioned in the history of the Division. His reply was "I do not mention failures unless I have to".
General Grow was a man who loved to converse with others. Time upon time, I had individuals mention to me what a tremendous memory he had, even going back to the days of the horse cavalry. I agreed but did not tell them I had heard the stories so many times with the same detail and dates that I could also recite them.
General Grow was very methodical in keeping a diary and recording his thoughts and happenings on a daily basis. This diary proved to be very helpful in assisting those who put together the Division histories. In the same vein, he religiously and routinely wrote to his wife, Mary Lou, throughout his assignment in the European theatre.
Once combat action had ceased and prior to the General departing the Division on reassignment, he along with several other Division and Corps Generals of the Third Army were invited by General Patton to his villa on a lake in Bavaria. After dinner, the talk among the Generals turned to the war in the Pacific. Since the Generals were finding themselves without jobs, they wondered who among them might be called to the Pacific. I remember General Patton stating he would be the last person on earth to be called by General MacArthur. He then stated the rest could relax because the war in the Pacific would end soon. In August, the atom bomb was dropped. How much did General Patton know about this new bomb? I have often wondered.
Royal Mayon: Interview with HS student J Eues
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