The dinner was at London's famed Claridge's Hotel. Cocktails were sipped; all those present, including three or four women, were in uniform. Major General Henry J. F. Miller, handsome, 53-year-old chief of the Ninth Air Force Service Command, was telling someone about the tough time he was having to get certain crucial supplies. The date promised, he said, was too late. Henry Miller was quoted as saying: "On my honor the invasion will come before June 15."
A report of this blurt soon reached General Eisenhower. After careful investigation, the Supreme Commander "busted" General Miller to his permanent rank of lieutenant colonel, *gave him 24 hours to get out of the country and on his way to the "zone of the interior" (the U.S.).
Ike Eisenhower was unswerved by the fact that Miller was a West Point classmate of his, had pitched for the baseball team on which Omar Nelson Bradley played center field.
White-haired, personable Henry Miller, one of the Air Force's best maintenance experts, has always been a popular and respected officer. He left a host of stunned friends behind him in London. The blabbing episode occurred two months ago, but disclosure of the case was held up until last week. Then Lieut. Colonel Miller was discovered in an army hospital at Coral Gables, Fla., where he was said to be "suffering from serious physical ailments . . . not connected with his overseas service." Two days later Lieut. Colonel Miller left the hospital on 30 days' leave, destination unannounced.
In this war the Army has shown itself to be considerably less tender with erring generals than the solicitous Navy is with its admiralsof whom not one has been broken. The Army has broken plenty.
Another Army crackdown disclosed last week was the demotion of Major General Ernest J. Dawley, corps commander of the troops who established the Salerno beachhead in Italy. Last September the Fifth Army's Lieut. General Mark Clark dropped Dawley to his permanent rank of colonel for losing control of a combat situation.
Dawley took it on the chin, maintained a soldierly silence, worked hard. Last week he was promoted to the rank of brigadier general. Insiders said that one reason he was on the comeback road was that the disciplinary action against him may have been a bit hasty.
*In May the Senate, unaware of the London incident, confirmed his permanent-rank promotion to colonel.