Lee, John Clifford, born 01-08-1887, in Junction City, Kansas, graduated 12th out of 103 graduates from the United State Military Academy, in 1909. In World War I, Lee was a colonel and chief of staff, 89th Infantry Division, earning a Distinguished Service Medal and the Silver Star. He also was aide de camp to General Leonard Wood, a physician who served as the Chief of Staff of the United States Army.
Wood would die age 66, on 07-08-1927, of a brain tumour, in Boston. Lee’s training was as a military engineer. He was treasurer of the Society of American Military Engineers, 1924. In 1927 the previous winter’s rains were so great, the Mississippi River’s tributaries forced great quantities of water into the river system causing great flooding in Mississippi and New Orleans. Lee was the army district engineer at Vicksburg. He wired a message to the Chief of Engineers “Levee broke… crevasse will overflow entire Mississippi Delta.” Between 1934 to 1938, as a lieutenant colonel, he was commander of the Philadelphia District, US Army Corps of Engineers. From 1940 to 1941 he was commandant of the Fort Mason California Port of Embarkation. He was promoted to Brigadier General in 1940. General Lee was commanding officer of the 2nd Infantry Division, nicknamed “Indianhead” from November 1941 until the reorganization of the US Army in May 1942. The Indianhead division had the next casualities during their European campaign: Killed in action – 1,964 (including US Marine Corps: 4,478), Wounded in action – 9,782 (including USMC: 17,752) and Total – 11,746 (including USMC: 22,230). Hodges was promoted to Major General in May 1942, and Lieutenant General in February 1944. In May 1942, Lee was put in charge of Shaeff’s Service of Supply (SOS). This became the Communications Zone, or COMZ, after the invasion. This operation ran from Chetenham, Gloucestershire, England. SOS became TSFET after the invasion: Theater Service Forces, European Theater. He was considered a martinet by General Omar Bradley and due to the impression that he had a high opinion of himself and strong religious fervor, General Dwight Eisenhower compared him to Oliver Cromwell
he was often called “Jesus Christ Himself” based on his initials, J.C.H. He also became known as General John “Court House” Lee. This was because all Service Forces in theater, including the judicial services, fell under the umbrella of Lee’s command. The Services of Supply headquarters was consolidated with headquarters, European Theater of Operations, Operation Overlord , of which General Eisenhower was Supreme Commander. Besides his role as commanding general of Services of Supply, Lee was also the deputy theater commander for supply and administration, which was co-located with the ETOUSA. For the North African campaign, 50.000 tons of cargo was needed in November 1942. The Service of Supply organization was responsible to ship between 700.000 and 1.000.000 separate categories of supplies for the advancing armies into France. For example, one regiment of troops could need up to 50 different types of ammunition. According to the Center of Military History, the stockpile for invasion—over and above basic loads and equipment—was 2.500.000 tons. All told, 37.000.000 tons of materiel was transferred from the US and Canada to the UK prior to the Normandy invasion, all of which was organized and staged by Lee’s SOS. Once beach-harbors, and then hard ports, were established in France, a total of 41.000.000 tons were delivered from the UK or directly from North America to feed, clothe, house, and arm the Allied armies as they advanced on and destroyed the Third Reich. In January 1944 Lee was made deputy commander of US Forces in the ETO, second in command to Eisenhower as Supreme Commander of Allied Forces in Europe. He was promoted to Lieutenant General in February 1944. Although he may have suffered a bad reputation as a strict disciplinarian, he was the first to challenge the army segregation policy. Lee offered all physically fit African-American soldiers within the Services of Supply Corps, providing their jobs could be filled by limited-duty personnel, could be allowed to volunteer for infantry duty and be placed in otherwise white units, without regard to a quota but on an as-needed basis. Many African-Americans in the US military were in service organizations and not allowed to fight. Lee wrote: “… It is planned to assign you without regard to color or race to the units where assistance is most needed, and give you the opportunity of fighting shoulder to shoulder to bring about victory…. Your relatives and friends everywhere have been urging that you be granted this privilege….” Eisenhower’s Chief of Staff, Lieutenant General Walter Bedell Smith, disagreed with Lee’s plan and his opinion was that a one-for-one replacement should not be done, only replacements as full platoons of Black soldiers. As a result of the directive 2,253 volunteers were organized into thirty-seven rifle platoons and sent to the front, to be distributed as needed to companies. Late in World War II, Lee and Omar Bradley tried to release significant numbers of German prisoners of war but a SHAEF order signed by Eisenhower countermanded them on 15-05-1945.
Death and burial ground of Lee, John Clifford Hodges.
John Clifford Lee asked to retire from the army in February 1947 and he retired late in 1947, with over 39 years in active service and died age 71, on 30-08-1958. He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Section 2 beside his first wife, Sarah Row Lee, who was killed in an automobile accident in 1939. They had one child, John C. H. Lee Jr., born in her hometown of Wheeling, West Virginia, 12-07-1918.