Both the Americans and the British struggled to make this work. The worst symptom was a poor fighting spirit. Many infantrymen lacked the boldness and self-belief needed to make them into effective soldiers. They relied on the artillery to take out enemies and so allow them to advance unhindered. When faced with serious opposition, they faltered, unable to believe that they could overcome a foe. When targets were visible, many American infantrymen were busy taking cover or pressing themselves against the ground, trying to avoid being shot at.
A report from General Clark, reflecting on operations in Italy, said that infantry suffered heavy casualties and that to be effective they had to have the courage to advance despite the danger and losses. On far too many occasions, the American infantry lacked the aggressive spirit to do this.
By the spring of , the problem had been identified. Official reports within the army shocked commanders into action. To counter the recruitment problem, a hunt began for both officers and men who could be diverted from other forces.
You Choose Books | Awards | LibraryThing
Among those deprived of their promised choice of service were 30, aviation cadets transferred into the army in March , mostly into the infantry. It was the beginning of a solution, but it brought its own problems. Recruitment needed to be paired with effective training and unit building. General Bradley and his commanders effectively undid the lack of a fighting elite, as they came to rely on such effective units as the 1 st and 4 th divisions.
These units had the experience of fighting in war forged divisions and thus had a stronger spirit, on which commanders could rely for the tough tasks. This is reflected in how little attention it has since been given compared with other forces. Our CO began to feel sympathy toward the men. He showed a sense of sympathy and never came out with an order to fire. If our operations would only start, I would fire again and again, even though our positions would be exposed and we in turn would be fired upon.