Papers (1941-1962) consisting of correspondence, field orders, clippings, maps, photos, and miscellaneous.
Ira Thomas Wyche was born at Ocracoke, North Carolina, in 1887. Upon graduation from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1911, he was commissioned a second lieutenant. Wyche served with the Texas Border Patrol (1916-1918) and the American Expeditionary Force in France (1918). After holding several field artillery commands during the post-World War I years, Wyche assumed command of the 74th Field Artillery Brigade in May of 1941. In April, 1942, he was given command of the 79th Infantry Division with the temporary rank of major general. The 79th saw combat at Cherbourg after landing on Utah Beach, Normandy, on June 12, 1944. The division spearheaded the assault on Fort De Roule and helped to clear the Cherbourg area of Germans by June 28.
The 79th then began a 2,300 mile trek across western Europe. By the end of July, the division emerged from the Normandy Peninsula at Ovaranches. In August, the 79th fought its way across France, crossing the Seine on the 19th. The Belgian frontier was reached by September 1, 1944. During this portion of the advance, opposition was strong and came from some of the Reich's finest units. Among these were the 1st, 9th and 10th S.S. Panzer Divisions, the 21st Panzer Division, and the 3rd and 5th Parachute Divisions.
By September 7, the 79th (Cross of Lorraine Division) entered the Alsace-Lorraine region and became embroiled in a bitter fight for the Forest of Parroy. After 128 continuous days of combat operations, the 79th was taken out of the line on October 25, 1944, for a rest period. The Division resumed combat on November 13, and by December 16, it had fought through Alsace-Lorraine and into Germany. For the next two weeks, the 79th and its attached units probed the Siegfried Line, but with little success.
In January of 1945, the Germans, after their unsuccessful attempt to advance in the Ardennes, launched an offensive in the Alsace-Lorraine region. Two regiments of the 79th bore the brunt of this assault; and although they gave ground, such heavy causalties were inflicted on the attackers that the offensive was halted by the end of the month.
After two weeks of rest in February, 1945, the division continued its advance. The 79th moved through Belgium and southern Holland, and by the first week in March, it was back in Germany. On March 24, 1945, the division participated in Operation Flashpoint (the crossing of the Rhine River, near Wesel). The 79th moved into the Ruhr area and occupied Essen on April 11.
During the active combat phase of the 79th's career, the division was attached at various times to the 1st, 3rd, 7th, and 9th Armies and to the 9th and 12th Army Groups.
In May of 1945, Wyche was relieved of command of the 79th Infantry Division and was assigned to command the VIII Corps. He served in this capacity until December 15, 1945. Wyche next served on the Officer Interview Board from January 10, 1946, until February 21, when he received command of the III Corps. Wyche left this command the following May and became commanding officer of the 1st Service Command. In January of 1947, he was appointed Inspector General of the Army and served in that capacity until his retirement in September, 1948. General Wyche resides in Pinehurst, N.C. as this document is being written.
The collection is concerned almost entirely with the World War II phase of the General's career. Correspondence, diaries, orders, reports, photographs, maps and overlays, and other records reflect in great detail the operation of the 74th Field Artillery Brigade and then the 79th Infantry Division during the period of Wyche's command. U.S. and Allied combat operations in France and Germany are reflected in depth on a day-by-day basis, particularly from the Normandy Invasion (June, 1944) until V-E Day (May 7, 1945).
It should be remembered that an attempt has been made to maintain the individual files in the original order imposed upon them by General Wyche. As a result, there is an overlapping of correspondence files. The normal chronological arrangement of correspondence has been sacrificed in an effort to preserve the original system. Each correspondence file does contain an index to letters contained therein. See "Arrangement of Papers" section of this Finding Aid.
Two typescript diaries in the collection reflect Wyche's command of the 79th Infantry Division (March, 1944-August, 1945) and the 1st Service Command (June, 1946-January, 1947). These diaries were maintained on a daily basis by an aide who accompanied Wyche at all times. They provide a detailed account of Wyche's activities during the entire period and include highly descriptive information regarding battlefield activities in World War II Europe.
The collection contains personal files and field orders for both the 74th Field Artillery Brigade and the 79th Infantry Division. The field orders for the 79th deal with a variety of subjects, including the processing of P.O.W.'s troop movements, battle strategy,the marking of vehicles, the retention of captured material, and the disposal of land mines. Field orders for attacks undertaken by the 79th are accompanied by G-2 reports and map overlays. The G-2 reports and annexes contain information on current operations, situation estimates and the combat strength of opposing forces.
The history of the 79th Infantry Division is related through a copy of the divisional history, a booklet entitled The Story of the 79th, and in requests for unit citations made by Wyche after the war. In both field orders and in correspondence during the years 1942-1945, the problems of battle fatigue and absence without official leave receive attention.
The collection also contains a history of the VIII Corps and after-action reports for the years 1944 and 1945. Field orders for the VIII Corps for the year 1944 are included and contain intelligence reports, map overlays, terrain studies, and statements of objectives.
Material pertaining to the III Corps in combat during World War II is also present in the collection. Included are battle maps and a map of the III Corps Bavarian occupation zone. Three booklets also related to the III Corps, The Phantom Corps, La Battaile D'Alsace: Novembre-Decembre 1944, and III Corps-Phantom Corps.
Contained in the collection are documents relating to United States Army operation in Tunisia (1943). Material pertaining to future U.S. troop training by General Floyd R. Fredendall (based on his experiences in Tunisia) is included, along with orders dating from April, 1943, to February, 1944, on the subject.
Complete records of the crossing of the Rhine River (Operation Flashpoint, March, 1945) is included. These were subsequently used by the U.S. Army as a model for river-crossing training. Maps and overlays are included along with a unit by unit breakdown of the operation.
Other non-correspondence materials relating to World War II include candid photographs of Generals Eisenhower, Bradley, Patton and other general officers; battle maps of the 79th Infantry Division; a booklet entitled Combat Divisions of World War II; a copy of "Army Talks Magazine" (June 5, 1945); a list of alleged Gestapo war crimes in Dortmund; a 79th Infantry Division Cannon Company Manual; status reports concerning the training and fitness of the 79th for the years 1942-1944; and a booklet entitled Dictionary of U.S. Army Terms.
Much of the correspondence for the years 1942-1945 relates to the training, discipline, and promotion of men and officers of his command. Numerous letters pertain to officer promotions, training facilities, armament, field exercises, combat readiness, and means of improving operations. Of interest are letters (April 4-6, 1943), pertaining to property damage inflicted by the 79th during maneuvers in Tennessee. General correspondence from the warfront (1944-1945) is quite limited and is concerned primarily with disciplinary actions, troop movements, congratulatory messages, and routine matters. Of particular interest are translations of several captured German documents (December, 1944) which reflect the morale problems of German soldiers. Of particular interest among correspondence items of the postwar period are letters dealing with occupation conditions. One letter by the deputy commander of the 88th Division (June 19, 1947, from Trieste, Italy) describes relations between the British and American garrisons and troubles with the Yugoslavs. Two letters from Captain James Beaver (August 14, 1946 and June 10, 1947) describe the duties of the constabulary in occupied Germany and its relations with the native police. A letter from an embassy staff member in Praha, Czechoslovakia (July 21, 1946), describes Russo-America relations in that nation.
The subject of racial integration in the U.S. Army and particularly in the 79th Infantry Division is treated in correspondence during August of 1946. In correspondence during 1957 and 1960, Wyche comments on the subject of school desegregation and the constitutionality of the means employed to bring about desegregation. These letters are addressed to President Eisenhower (1957) and to various political candidates (1960).
Other correspondence of note includes letters relating to the Lieutenant General John C. H. Lee affair (1947), while Wyche was Inspector General. Due to newspaper accusations by syndicated columnist Robert C. Ruark, a scandal developed concerning the misuse of Army personnel by General Lee. Wyche flew to Italy to personally investigate the situation. Annexed to the correspondence are pertinent newspaper clippings and copies of Wyche's report on his inspection of Lee's command.
Much of the post-World War II material deals with the topics of World Peace and Universal Military Training. Included are speeches by such high-ranking generals as Jacob L. Devers, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Courtney H. Hodges, and Jonathan Wainwright.
Miscellaneous items of interest include radio speeches by Cedric Foster, a copy of Sun Tzu's The Art of War, and a copy of the Reverend John Tillet Family History, along with other Wyche family material.
Gift of Major General Ira T. Wyche
Processed by R. Kepner, June 1975
Encoded by Apex Data Services
Literary rights to specific documents are retained by the authors or their descendants in accordance with U.S. copyright law.