Charles L. Bolte

General Charles Lawrence Bolte (May 8, 1895 – February 11, 1989) was a senior United States Army officer who fought in both World War I and World War II. In World War II he distinguished himself as commander of the 34th Infantry Division during the Italian Campaign, for which he was twice awarded the Army Distinguished Service Medal. Later promoted to four-star general officer rank, his final post was Vice Chief of Staff of the United States Army.

Charles L. Bolte
Charles L. Bolte.jpg
BornMay 8, 1895
Chicago, Illinois, United States
DiedFebruary 11, 1989 (aged 93)
Alexandria, Virginia, United States
Arlington National Cemetery, Virginia, United States
Allegiance United States
Service/branch United States Army
Years of service1916–1955
RankUS-O10 insignia.svg General
UnitUSA - Army Infantry Insignia.png Infantry Branch
Commands held3rd Battalion, 13th Infantry Regiment
69th Infantry Division
34th Infantry Division
Seventh Army
United States Army Europe
Vice Chief of Staff of the United States Army
Battles/warsWorld War I
World War II
AwardsArmy Distinguished Service Medal
Silver Star
Legion of Merit
Purple Heart


Early life and military careerEdit

Bolte graduated from what is today the Illinois Institute of Technology with a degree in chemical engineering. He began his military career in 1916, during World War I (although the United States was still officially neutral at this stage), when he earned a commission as a second lieutenant into the United States Army's Infantry Branch.[1]

Two years later in 1918, after the American entry into World War I, which occurred on April 6, 1917, he shipped off for the Western Front to reinforce the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) under General John J. Pershing. Serving as a company commander in the 58th Infantry Regiment, part of the 4th Division, he saw combat in the Battle of Saint-Mihiel and the Meuse-Argonne Offensive, where he was wounded in action on September 19.[1]

Between the warsEdit

Bolte returned to the United States as a captain in August 1919, nine months after the war came to an end on November 11, 1918 at 11:00am. He chose to remain in the army during the interwar period and completed the Infantry Advanced Course at Fort Benning, Georgia in 1930, graduated in 1932 from the U.S. Army Command and General Staff School, and was ordered to the American Barracks, Tientsin, China for duty with the 15th Infantry Regiment as S-3 company and battalion commander. In April 1936, back in the United States, Bolte was assigned to command a battalion of the 13th Infantry Regiment at Fort Devens, Massachusetts. The following August, he entered the U.S. Army War College, graduated in June 1937, and remained there as an instructor until 1940, during World War II, although the United States was not yet involved in the war.[1]

World War IIEdit

In 1941, Bolte, by now a lieutenant colonel, journeyed to London, England as head of a group of army observers and, early in 1942, after the United States had entered World War II due to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor followed by the German declaration of war on the United States, assumed the position of chief of staff of U.S. Forces in the United Kingdom, with the one-star general officer rank of brigadier general. With the two-star rank of major general, he returned to the United States in 1943 and raised and commanded the 69th Infantry Division in Mississippi.[1]

In July 1944, upon the request of Lieutenant General Mark W. Clark, commanding the American Fifth Army on the Italian Front he was sent to Italy where he took over command of the 34th Infantry Division (nicknamed "The Red Bull"), an Army National Guard formation, then locked in fierce combat on the Arno River. He replaced Major General Charles W. Ryder, who had led the 34th Division for over two years. He led the 34th through several successful actions, including the rupture of the Gothic Line, the winter campaign in the Apennine Mountains, the breakthrough and the capture of the Italian city of Bologna in Operation Grapeshot (codename for the final offensive of the Italian Campaign), the surrender of the Axis forces in Italy on April 29, 1945, and the subsequent occupation of the Northwestern and then the Northeastern sectors of Italy. The end of World War II in Europe came soon afterwards.[1]

Bolte earned two Army Distinguished Service Medals, the Silver Star, the Legion of Merit and the Purple Heart for his exploits during the war.[1]


Bolte served in Washington after the war and in 1953, at the three-star rank of lieutenant general, he became Commanding General (CG) of United States Army Europe. Later that year, Bolte returned home to serve as Vice Chief of Staff of the United States Army under General Matthew Bunker Ridgway who, like Bolte, had also had a distinguished war record. Bolte retired from active service in 1955 as a full general.[1]

Following retirement, he worked as special assistant to the chairman of the board of American Car & Foundry Industries from 1955 to 1958. He then became Chairman of the Board of Advanced Growth Capital Corporation, retiring from this in the 1960s. He was also active in charitable work, and served as President of the Army & Navy Club.[1] He died on February 11, 1989 at Mount Vernon Hospital, Virginia, after a stroke, and was buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

Dates of rankEdit

Insignia Rank Component Date
  Second lieutenant Officers Reserve Corps December 23, 1916
(Active duty on May 8, 1917.)
  Second lieutenant Regular Army November 10, 1917
  First lieutenant Regular Army October 25, 1917
  Captain Regular Army September 19, 1918
(Date of rank was August 10, 1918.)
  Major Regular Army August 1, 1935
  Lieutenant colonel Regular Army August 18, 1940
  Colonel Army of the United States December 24, 1941
  Brigadier general Army of the United States January 17, 1942
  Major general Army of the United States April 26, 1943
  Colonel Regular Army September 1, 1946
  Brigadier general Regular Army January 24, 1948
  Major general Army of the United States January 24, 1948
(Date of rank was October 5, 1944.)
  Lieutenant general Army of the United States February 13, 1951
  General Army of the United States July 30, 1953
  General Regular Army, Retired June 30, 1955

See alsoEdit


  This article incorporates public domain material from the United States Government document: "[1]".

Military offices
Preceded by
New post
Commanding General 69th Infantry Division
Succeeded by
Emil F. Reinhardt
Preceded by
Charles W. Ryder
Commanding General United States Army Europe
Succeeded by
Post deactivated
Preceded by
Manton S. Eddy
Commanding General Seventh Army
Succeeded by
William M. Hoge
Preceded by
Manton S. Eddy
Commanding General United States Army Europe
April 1953 – September 1953
Succeeded by
William M. Hoge
Preceded by
John E. Hull
Vice Chief of Staff of the United States Army
Succeeded by
Williston B. Palmer