Praying, or something on his knees
So today, working on my biography of Bradley, I tried to untangle (again) the replacement of 1st Infantry Division general Terry Allen in the middle of the battle for Troina.
The question isn't so much the replacement itself, since the events can be laid out in a logically illogical manner. (There seems to have been an administrative screwup that sent the orders out prematurely, at least according to Carlo Este's source. And it's pretty clear that Bradley wanted to get rid of Allen at some point, and that Patton agreed.) No, the real question is why Bradley lied about it in his memoirs.
There doesn't really seem to be a good answer. Which naturally makes it all the more intriguing, if frustrating. Of course, it's also the sort of thing that ultimately is of more interest to experts than a "general reader," and my book is aimed at the latter. Or should be.
Writing Bradley is in some ways an exercise in examining how different historians have made use of the same source material, and how other historians have made assumptions based on that. But sometimes choice completely baffle me.
Kind of a side note to the Allen affair is a report filed by newsman Quenten Reynolds during the Sicily campaign. According to Reynolds, Terry Allen excused himself from a session with his officers and disappeared for a while. Supposedly, Reynolds went in search of him a while later and found him praying in the middle of a field.
I don't know - call me suspicious, but I'm saying he was doing something other than praying. Attitudes at the time were a lot different, but even so there were plenty of rumors that Allen drank to excess. So maybe it was a call to the bottle. Or maybe a call of nature. anyway, I'm thinking no general is going to interrupt himself to go say a few Hail Marys.
That's especially possible given the overall tenor of Reynolds reporting. He definitely had a certain spin to his dispatches.
Even so, the story is repeated verbatim, with nary a raised eyebrow. It supposedly illustrates Allen's devotion to God.
After all, even historians know there are no atheists in foxholes.