I haven't found any consistent reference to a particular battle wherein the battle plans were changed by a lower level officer on the ground at the last minute. Specifically, a major battle plan, not a 24 hour ancillary skirmish. Part of my hypothesis for the lack of good examples of this, as I'm sure it did happen, is that the managing generals, chief staff and white house took credit for adaptable and effective last minute planning and the lieutenants were silent.

Is this the case? Were in fact any major plans changed on the ground at the brink of battle by those closest to it?

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    "No plan survives contact with the enemy" - von Moltke – T.E.D. Aug 14 '12 at 15:31
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    @Ron Are you looking for only American battle plans? Is that what you mean by White House? Good question. +1 – American Luke Aug 14 '12 at 17:28
  • Answered with a Corps commander changing plans. Did you want something changed by an ACTUAL Lieutenant or is a Corps commander making a change not envisioned by Army or Army Group command sufficient? If you're looking for any example below FDR in the White House and General Marshall, then EVERY battle would probably fit. Very few battles were planned at the Theatre level (Eisenhower for ETO, for example) – David Navarre Aug 15 '12 at 17:34

One good example of a major plan being modified during a campaign is the exploitation conducted by Task Force Butler during Operation Dragoon (68th anniversary today!)

VI Corps commander, MG Lucian Truscott took elements from various units and put them into a fast-moving task force, led by BG Fred Butler (his Asst Corps Commander). They raced 235 miles through mountainous terrain in an attempt to cut off retreating German forces.

Great article on it can be found here: http://117th-cav.org/Task%20Force%20Butler.pdf

The blog entries I've written about the Operation in general can be found here: http://habap.wordpress.com/category/operation-dragoon/

(I'm working on an article about the battle at Montelimar for the blog, so expect more on Task Force Butler in the coming months.)

  • Wow. Love the paper (even if I don't have time to read it all right now). I always thought that Dragoon (the action in the south of France) was more like a redeployment of units from Italy into Europe where they could march to the front and be more of use, not an actual full blown invasion. Nifty. – T.E.D. Aug 15 '12 at 19:27
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    Yes, three veteran US divisions landed along the Mediterranean coastline, encountering sometimes very stiff resistance and other times not as much. Audie Murphy was awarded the DSC for actions shortly after he landed with B/1/15 of the 3rd ID. Anyone who thinks it was a cakewalk hasn't read his citation. TF Butler and units of the 36th ID tried to cut off the retreating 19th Army Group, which included the 11th SS Panzer Division, 198th & 338th IDs and a variety of other units - basically 110,000 men and vehicles - at Montelimar. – David Navarre Aug 15 '12 at 20:37
  • If you're interested, I blog about it a little and could point you there. – David Navarre Aug 15 '12 at 20:38
  • That would be nice. You might even consider linking that in your answer. I guess this is what I get for taking most of my WWII info from British sources... – T.E.D. Aug 15 '12 at 20:52
  • British paratroopers were involved, including a controversy about their orders, and pulled out after about 10 days, ending up over in Greece. – David Navarre Aug 15 '12 at 21:08

The Dragoon operation in the South of France in 1944 shows also, besides the Butler Task Force, many adaptations of the 1rst Free French Army when it was going north along American forces. These were not about modifications, but rather about adaptations.

In the same manner, stands for example the Midway battle where it was to Admiral Nagumi, commanding on the battlefield, to ultimately decides what and when he would attack.


I dont know if this goes directly to your question but Guderian and Rommel certainly ignored orders from higher up when they were in the midst of a campaign and battle. Hitler told Guderian to stop the advance into France well short of where he did.

  • and later surrendered Stalingrad in direct opposition to Hitler's orders to fight to the last man. – jwenting Jan 28 '13 at 8:02
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    @jwenting Are you sure it was Guderian to surrender Stalingrad? I think it was von Paulus, while Guderian was responsible of breaking the encirclement. – astabada Jan 28 '13 at 9:08
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    @user1833 Again, please cite sources and help us improve the quality of the site. – astabada Jan 28 '13 at 9:08
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    @astabada was referring to German troops in general, not a single person. It was indeed Paulus who surrendered Stalingrad, Guderian was fired at Christmas 1941 over the failure to capture Moscow, not involved in the Stalingrad campaign (see en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guderian,_Heinz about halfway through). – jwenting Jan 28 '13 at 15:05
  • @jwenting I stand corrected. – astabada Jan 28 '13 at 15:49

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