Truscott was born in Chatfield, Texas, to an English father and an Irish mother. Raised primarily in Oklahoma, he attended grade school and a year of high school in the hamlet of Stella, near Norman. At age 16, he claimed to be 18 and a high school graduate, attended the summer term of the state normal school in Norman, and received his certification as a teacher. He taught school before he decided to join the United States Army in 1917, due to the American entry into World War I. Truscott applied for officer training, falsely claiming to be a high school graduate, and that he had completed the equivalent of a year of college. After completing the officer training camp at Fort Logan H. Roots, he was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Cavalry Branch. During the war, he remained in the United States to patrol the border with Mexico, and served with the 17th Cavalry Regiment at Camp Harry J. Jones, Douglas, Arizona.
He served in various cavalry and staff assignments between the wars. He married Sarah "Chick" Nicholas Randolph, a descendent of Thomas Jefferson, on 27 March 1919.
In July 1942, over seven months after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and the subsequent American entry into World War II, Truscott was appointed to the staff of IX Corps Area, at Fort Lewis, Washington.
In 1942, Truscott, by now a full colonel, was instrumental in developing an American commando unit patterned after the British Commandos. The American unit was activated by Truscott (newly promoted to the one-star general officer rank of brigadier general on June 19, 1942) as the 1st Ranger Battalion, and placed under the command of Major William Orlando Darby.
In May 1942, Truscott was assigned to the Allied Combined Staff under Lord Louis Mountbatten and in August, he was the primary U.S. observer on the Dieppe Raid. The raid was primarily a Canadian operation, consisting of elements of the 2nd Canadian Infantry Division, with two British Commandos attached along with a 50-man detachment from the 1st Ranger Battalion. The Rangers were assigned to No. 3 Commando, No. 4 Commando, and 6 Rangers were spread out among the Canadian regiments. This was considered the first action by American troops against German forces in World War II.
On November 8, 1942, now a two-star major general, Truscott led the 9,000 men of the 60th Infantry Regiment (part of the 9th Infantry Division) and 66th Armored Regiment (part of the 2nd Armored Division) in the landings at Mehdia and Port Lyautey in Morocco, part of Operation Torch under Major General George S. Patton.
Truscott took command of the 3rd Infantry Division in March 1943, and oversaw preparations for the Allied invasion of Sicily, codenamed Operation Husky. He was known as a very tough trainer, bringing the 3rd Infantry Division up to a very high standard. At the age of 48, he was one of the youngest division commanders in the U.S. Army at the time. He led the division in the assault on Sicily in July 1943, coming under the command of the Seventh U.S. Army, commanded by Patton, now a lieutenant general. Here his training paid off when the division covered great distances in the mountainous terrain at high speed. The famous 'Truscott Trot' was a marching pace of five miles per hour over the first mile, thereafter four miles per hour, much faster than the usual standard of 2.5 miles per hour. The 3rd Infantry Division was considered to be the best-trained, best-led division in the Seventh Army.
After a brief rest to absorb replacements the division, in mid-September, nine days after the initial Allied landings at Salerno, Italy, came ashore on the Italian mainland, where it fought its way up the Italian peninsula, under the command of the VI Corps, commanded by Major General John P. Lucas. The VI Corps was part of Lieutenant General Mark W. Clark's U.S. Fifth Army. After crossing the Volturno Line in October and fighting in severe winter weather around the Gustav Line, which saw heavy casualties sustained, the division was pulled out of the line for rest and relaxation.
In January 1944, the division assaulted Anzio as part of the U.S. VI Corps, which also included the British 1st Infantry Division, along with two British Commandos and three battalions of U.S. Army Rangers, Combat Command B of the 1st Armored Division and the 504th Parachute Regimental Combat Team. The operation, the brainchild of British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, was intended to outflank, and potentially force the Germans to withdraw from their Winter Line defenses, which had considerably slowed Allied progress in Italy.
Lucas, the corps commander, initially decided not to push inland, as Allied commanders had intended, and Truscott's 3rd Division was soon engaged in bitter fighting and, again, suffering heavy losses as the Germans launched numerous counterattacks to drive the Allies into the sea. With Clark, the Fifth Army commander, and General Sir Harold R. L. G. Alexander, Commander-in-Chief (C-in-C) of the Allied Armies in Italy (AAI), growing increasingly worried about the situation, Truscott was appointed as Lucas's deputy commander and, after Lucas was dismissed on 17 February, was given command of the VI Corps. Truscott was succeeded in command of the 3rd Infantry Division by Major General John "Iron Mike" O'Daniel, previously the Assistant Division Commander (ADC). At the age of 49, Truscott was the second youngest corps commander in the U.S. Army, behind only J. Lawton Collins, then commanding VII Corps in England. Clark, writing in his memoirs after the war, claimed "selected Truscott to become the new VI Corps commander because of all the division commanders available to me in the Anzio bridgehead who were familiar with the situation he was the most outstanding. A quiet, competent, and courageous officer with great battle experience through North Africa, Sicily, and Italy, he inspired confidence in all with whom he came in contact."
Following Anzio, Truscott continued to command VI Corps through the fighting up the Italian boot, helping in the final Battle of Monte Cassino and the subsequent capture of Rome, just two days before the Normandy landings. However, his command was then withdrawn from the line to prepare for Operation Dragoon, the amphibious assault on southern France. On 15 August 1944, the VI Corps landed in southern France and initially faced relatively little opposition. The rapid retreat of the German Nineteenth Army resulted in swift gains for the Allied forces and the Dragoon force met up with southern thrusts from Operation Overlord in mid-September, near Dijon.
A planned benefit of Dragoon was the usefulness of the port of Marseille. The rapid Allied advance after Operation Cobra and Dragoon slowed almost to a halt in September 1944 due to a critical lack of supplies, as thousands of tons of supplies were shunted to northwest France to compensate for the inadequacies of port facilities and land transport in northern Europe. Marseille and the southern French railways were brought back into service despite heavy damage to the port of Marseille and its railroad trunk lines. They became a significant supply route for the Allied advance into Germany, providing about a third of the Allied needs.
On 2 September 1944, Truscott was promoted to the three-star rank of lieutenant general and in October he was appointed commander of the newly formed Fifteenth Army, which was largely an administrative and training command.
Truscott's next command came in December 1944. He was promoted to command of the U.S. Fifth Army in Italy when its commander Lieutenant General Mark Clark was made commander of the Allied 15th Army Group, formerly the AAI. Truscott led the Fifth Army through the hard winter of 1944–1945, where many of its formations were in exposed positions in the mountains of Italy. He then led the army through the Allied Spring 1945 offensive in Italy culminating in the final destruction of the German forces in Italy.
Truscott took over command of the Third Army from General George S. Patton on 8 October 1945, and led it until April 1946. This command included the Eastern Military District of the U.S. occupation zone of Germany, which consisted primarily of the state of Bavaria. When the Seventh Army was deactivated in March 1946, Truscott's Third Army took over the Western Military District (the U.S.-occupied parts of Baden, Württemberg and Hesse-Darmstadt).
Will Lang Jr. from Life wrote a biography on Truscott that appeared in the October 2, 1944, issue of that magazine.
After leaving the U.S. Army, Truscott began work on his book Command Missions, which was published in 1954 (ISBN 0-89141-364-2), and The Twilight of the U.S. Cavalry (ISBN 0-7006-0932-6). The latter book was published after his death by his son, Lucian III, in 1989. In 1954, Congress passed Public Law 88-508, which promoted several World War II senior officers who had exercised responsibilities greater than their rank; as a numbered army commander, Truscott carried out the duties of a four-star general, and the 1954 law promoted him to general on the retired list.
Truscott helped evaluate officers as a member of the War Department Screening Board. Then in 1948–1949, he spent a year as the Chairman of the Army Advisory Board for Amphibious Operations, at Fort Monroe, Virginia. It was between meetings of this board that he began assembling the material for his two books.
In 1951, Walter Bedell Smith, Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), appointed Truscott as "Special Consultant to the United States Commissioner" in Frankfurt, Germany. However, this was simply a cover for his real assignment as senior Central Intelligence Agency representative in Germany. Truscott had been placed in charge of cloak-and-dagger operations in a vital part of Europe. This only came to light after declassification of a secret memorandum in 1994.
In 1953, President Eisenhower approved CIA Director Allen Dulles' recommendation that General Truscott be appointed the CIA's Deputy Director for Coordination. This appointment meant that Truscott was now controlling the agency's rapidly expanding network of agents worldwide. His responsibilities included facilitating the overthrow of governments in Iran and Guatemala. Truscott was involved in planning Operation PBSUCCESS, the CIA mission to overthrow Guatemalan President Jacobo Árbenz. According to Harry Jeffers' biography, Truscott was instrumental in convincing Eisenhower to support PBSUCCESS with air power. However, another biography by William Heefner suggests that specifics of Truscott's involvement cannot be substantiated.
Truscott left the CIA in 1958. He wrote nothing about his service in the CIA in Command Missions, and there is nothing about his CIA activities in his papers at the George C. Marshall Library.
General Lucian King Truscott Jr. died on 12 September 1965, in Alexandria, Virginia. On 29 April 1966, Truscott Hall, a bachelor officers' quarters at the United States Army War College, was named after him. On 17 August 1974, Sarah Truscott, his wife, died and was buried next to him at Arlington National Cemetery.
In 2012, he was honored at his birthplace hometown of Chatfield.
Truscott had a very gravelly voice, said to be the result of an accidental ingestion of acid in childhood. He was superstitious about his clothing, and usually wore a leather jacket, "pink" pants and lucky boots in combat. He also wore a white scarf as a trademark, first during the Sicilian campaign.
Truscott once said to his son, "Let me tell you something, and don't ever forget it. You play games to win, not lose. And you fight wars to win. That's spelled W-I-N! And every good player in a game and every good commander in a war…has to have some son of a bitch in him. If he doesn't, he isn't a good player or commander....It's as simple as that. No son of a bitch, no commander."
Truscott was respected by those who served under him. A medical officer in the Seventh Army related stories he'd heard from the men who served under Truscott earlier. Unlike some commanders, Truscott was not noted for self-aggrandisement, nor did he suffer such from his superiors. Others noted he was humbled by the sacrifices those under him had made. Bill Mauldin described the time Truscott gave the address on Memorial Day, May 31, 1945, in the military cemetery at Nettuno, outside Anzio: "He turned his back on the assembled windbags and sparklers and talked to the crosses in the cemetery, quietly, apologizing, and then walked away without looking around."
Truscott was portrayed by actor John Doucette in the 1970 film Patton.
General Lucian Truscott received the U.S. Army's second-highest decoration, the Distinguished Service Cross, for valor in action in Sicily on July 11, 1943, the second day of the invasion. General Truscott's other decorations include the Army Distinguished Service Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, the Navy Distinguished Service Medal, the Legion of Merit and the Purple Heart. Distinguished Service Cross
Distinguished Service Medal with oak leaf cluster
Navy Distinguished Service Medal
Legion of Merit
World War I Victory Medal
American Defense Service Medal
American Campaign Medal
European–African–Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with eight campaign stars
World War II Victory Medal
Army of Occupation Medal
Source - U.S. Army Register, 1948; pg. 2471.