Hoge, William M., 1894-1979

Alternative names
Birth 1894-01-13
Death 1979-10-29

Biographical notes:

William Morris Hoge (1894-1979) was born in Boonville, Missouri. He received his commission in the Corps of Engineers from West Point in 1916, and served with the 1st and 7th Engineers, AEF in World War I. He advanced to through ranks to brigadier general in March 1942. In December 1940, with Europe already embroiled in a second world war and the United States beginning to mobilize its military forces, Hoge was assigned to command the Engineer Replacement Training Center at Fort Belvoir, Virginia. At Fort Belvoir, with the assistance of Paul W. Thompson, another Engineer officer, he built the first obstacle course for military and physical fitness training. After he saw the course, General George C. Marshall, Chief of Staff of the Army, ordered similar courses for all Army training camps. In February 1942, Hoge was pulled out of Fort Belvoir and given a seemingly impossible task-to build a military highway from Dawson Creek, British Columbia, to Big Delta, Alaska, through largely unmapped and at places impassable territory. Promoted to Brigadier General in March 1942, he initially had complete control over the construction from Dawson Creek to Fairbanks-a distance of more than 1,500 miles. The distances involved and lack of reliable communications resulted in a division of responsibility for the highway in May 1942. Hoge was left with the Northern, or Whitehorse, Sector that ran across one of the most inaccessible and rugged areas of North America from Watson Lake, British Columbia, to Big Delta, Alaska. Although he was reassigned in September 1942, before the Alaska Highway was actually opened to truck traffic, Hoge was largely responsible for driving the pioneer road to completion that year. In October 1942, Hoge was assigned to the Armored Force at Fort Knox, Kentucky. After a brief orientation, he moved to Fort Riley, Kansas, in November 1942 to take command of Combat Command B, 9th Armored Division, under his old friend from World War I, Major General John W. Leonard. He remained with the 9th until September 1943 when he was again reassigned, this time to command the 4th Engineer Special Brigade, an amphibious Engineer unit. A month later he received orders to proceed to England as commander of the 5th Engineer Special Brigade, which was to participate in the Allied invasion of the Continent, Operation Overlord. In March 1944, Hoge was given command of the Provisional Engineer Special Brigade Group, which included the 5th Engineer Special Brigade, now under Colonel Paul W. Thompson, and the 6th Engineer Special Brigade. His mission was to prepare for and conduct landing operations with the assault divisions on D-day on OMAHA Beach and then develop the beachhead to support the combat troops once they were ashore. On 6 June 1944, Hoge''s command successfully carried out its duties and played a significant part in securing the initial foothold at OMAHA Beach. He remained in charge of the beachhead until July 1944 when he assumed command of the 16th Port, a Communications Zone unit responsible for supporting the VIII Corps in the Brittany Peninsula and then for clearing the captured French Channel ports, including Le Havre, and establishing supply lines for the American armies fighting in France. Hoge cared little for this work and soon requested transfer to a combat unit. He contacted John Leonard, whose 9th Armored Division had recently landed in France, and Leonard offered him his old command. After a brief reassignment to the 12th US Army Group in October, Hoge rejoined the 9th Armored in November 1944, just in time to gain fame for his stubborn defense of St. Vith during the Battle of the Bulge. In the critical and savage fighting at St. Vith, Hoge combined with the 7th Armored Division''s Combat Command B, under Colonel Bruce C. Clarke, another Engineer officer, to hold off the vastly superior Germans from 16 to 24 December. The defensive fighting at St. Vith bought the valuable days that the Americans and British required to reestablish their defenses and contain Adolf Hitler''s Ardennes Offensive. For his actions at St. Vith, Hoge received a Distinguished Service Medal (DSM). On March 7, 1945, the leading elements of Combat Command B seized the Ludendorff Railroad Bridge over the Rhine River at Remagen. Quickly exploiting his good fortune in capturing the only major bridge over the Rhine that was still standing, Hoge pushed over the river and established a firm bridgehead on the eastern shore. For this he received an Oak Leaf Cluster to his DSM and later in March was given command of the 4th Armored Division in George S. Patton''s Third Army. On 2 May 1945, he was promoted to the rank of Major General. After the war and a special assignment with the Operations Division, War Department General Staff from July to December 1945, Hoge was assigned for several weeks as the Division Engineer, New England Engineer Division from December 1945 to January 1946, before being given command of The Engineer Center at Fort Belvoir, from January 1946 to June 1948. He was appointed Commanding General, US Troops in Trieste (TRUST) in June 1948. He remained in Trieste until General Matthew B. Ridgway, commander of Eighth US Army in Korea, summoned him to command IX Corps in March 1951. In June 1951 he was promoted to Lieutenant General, and his distinguished service in the Korean fighting earned him another Oak Leaf Cluster for his DSM. From February 1952 to March 1953, Hoge commanded the Fourth Army at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. In March 1953, General J. Lawton Collins, Army Chief of Staff, asked Hoge to take command of the Seventh Army in Germany, the major American ground component in North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). In September 1953, he received his fourth star upon becoming Commander-in-Chief US Army, Europe (USAREUR). He retired on January 31, 1955.

From the description of Hoge, William M., 1894-1979 (U.S. National Archives and Records Administration). naId: 10677608

Hoge was a military engineer who participated in military construction operations in World War I and II. During World War II he worked in the construction of the Alaskan (ALCAN) Highway.

From the description of The William M. Hoge papers, 1943-1983. (US Army, Mil Hist Institute). WorldCat record id: 46688747


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Ark ID:


  • World War, 1939-1945--Engineering and construction
  • World War, 1939-1945--Campaigns


not available for this record


  • Alaska Highway (as recorded)
  • Western Front (as recorded)
  • Ludendorff-Brücke (Remagen, Germany) (as recorded)