Huebner, Clarence Ralph, born 28-07-1890 in Bushton, Kansas as a farm boy, the first child of Martha Rischel and Samuel Huebner, a farmer of German descent. Early in Clarence’s educational career he showed an aptitude for math and grammar, participated in many sports, and was a student leader. It appears that early on Huebner knew he wanted to join the army, but before doing so he attended Grand Island Business College in Nebraska. After graduation, in 1908, he was hired by the Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy Railroad as a typist. It is fairly clear that this desk job wasn’t able to keep his attention for long as in 1910 he enlisted in the army as a private and was sent to Fort McKenzie in Wyoming for training. He spent almost seven years serving from private to sergeant in the 18th Infantry, nicknamed “Vanguards” Huebner received a regular commission in November 1916. During World War I, he led a company, battalion, and regiment of the 1st Infantry Division, the “Big Red One”, under command of Major General Frank Winston Coe, from the first American regimental assault at Cantigny through Soissons, Saint-Mihiel, and the Meuse-Argonne. For his service in this war, he received two Distinguished Service Crosses, a Distinguished Service Medal, and a Silver Star. After the war he married Florence Barret’. In 1924, he attended the Command and General Staff School at Fort Leavenworth and served on its faculty from 1929 to 1933. In 1943, General Huebner, here with Major General Lee Saunders Gerow relieved the popular commander of the 1st Infantry Division, General Terry Allen, in a move engineered by General Omar “Brad” Bradley.
While the 1st
Infantry Division, The Big Red One, casualties during the European campaign, 4.411 killed in action, 7.201 wounded in action, 1.056 missing or died of wounds. had enjoyed considerable combat success under Allen’s leadership, Bradley was highly critical of both Allen and Roosevelt’s wartime leadership style, which favored fighting ability over drill and discipline: “While the Allies were parading decorously through Tunis,” Bradley wrote, “Allen’s brawling 1st
Infantry Division was celebrating the Tunisian victory in a manner all its own. In towns from Tunisia all the way to Arzew, the division had left a trail of looted wine shops and outraged mayors. But it was in Oran…that the division really ran amuck. The trouble began when SOS, Services of Supply, troops, long stationed in Oran, closed their clubs and installations to our combat troops from the front. Irritated by this exclusion, the 1st
Division swarmed into town to ‘liberate’ it a second time.” Despite this, Bradley admitted that “none excelled the unpredictable Terry Allen in the leadership of troops.” Upon assuming command, General Huebner immediately ordered a series of close-order drills, parades, and weapons instruction for the 1st
ID, including its veterans, who had just finished a bloody series of engagements with German forces in Sicily. This did not endear him to the enlisted men of the division, who made no attempt to hide their preference for General Allen. As one of the men of the Big Red One said in disgust, “Hell’s bells! We’ve been killing Germans for months and now they are teaching us to shoot a rifle? It doesn’t make any sense.” Supported by Bradley and Eisenhower, Huebner
persisted, and the morale of the division gradually recovered. As the commander of the “Big Red One” in World War II, Huebner led the 1st
in the assault on Omaha Beach, followed by a successful infantry attack at Saint-Lô. The 1st
would later repel a German counteroffensive at Mortain, and pursue the German Army across France, culminating in the Battles of Aachen and the Huertgen Forest.