World War II
Offical Army History Volumes
European, Mediterranean, Middle-East, and African Theaters
9,560 pages of official World War II Army history including 254 maps, 1,143 photographs, and 33 charts in 15 volumes written by Army historians covering the United States Army in the European, Mediterranean, Middle-East, and African Theaters of operation during World War II,
Each page of the volumes are graphically reproduced on the discs. The files contain a text transcript of all text embedded into the graphic image of each page of each document, creating a searchable finding aid. Text searches can be done across all files on each disc. Color fold-out plate maps have been reproduced in full-color.
To produce these volumes Army historians had access to one of the largest masses of records and recollections ever produced dealing with World War II. These documents, including those of the enemy, have been explored by professional historians, with the cooperation of a host of participants and with all the facilities and assistance that the Office of the Chief of Military History. The volumes include ten covering the European Theater of Operation, one volume on the Middle East Theater, and four volumes covering the Mediterranean Theater of Operations.
The European Theater of Operations
What and how three and one-half to four million Americans contributed to victory in the European Theater of Operations (ETO) during World War II is told in the ten volumes of the European subseries of the United States Army in World War II. These volumes are histories of units, commanders, headquarters, planning, decisions, strategy, tactics, and logistics.
Though an individual volume may deal with one or more armies in a given area at a given time, each contain adequate background and corollary information for understanding the place of these particular operations in the larger context. The influence of theater strategy, logistics, and adjacent combat operations is integrated into each story. Thus, each volume is an entity that can be read separately with profit; at the same time each takes a natural place in the framework of the whole.
The volumes include:
THE SUPREME COMMAND
"The Supreme Command", by Forrest C. Pogue, originally completed in 1954, contains the history of the Supreme Headquarters, Allied Expeditionary Force. The volume is focused on the decisions of the Supreme Commander rather than the machinery of command. It is primarily a history of the decisions of General of the Army Dwight D. Eisenhower.
To present these decisions in the round, it includes their background: the situations, military and political, that confronted the Supreme Commander; the discussions leading to his decisions; and the controversiesùinter-Allied, interservice, personal, or purely militaryùwhich he had to resolve. It also includes an account of the reactions to his decisions and their effect on the course of the war. Since the author drew his information and impressions from interviews with more than a hundred of the leading participants as well as from public and personal records, he has been able to assess and illustrate, in many cases, the weight of personality as a factor influencing Eisenhower's final decisions and their effect. To give further perspective, the author has drawn on German records and interrogations to present the enemy's views, plans, and positions, not always known to the Supreme Commander at the time.
The period covered runs from December 1943 to 14 July 1945. The author reaches back to review the origins of SHAEF and to summarize the evolution of General Eisenhower's strategic mission as embodied in the OVERLORD plan. The volume deals with the most complex combined (Allied) and joint (Army, Navy, Air) command that had appeared in the history of war, a headquarters founded on the principle of Allied "integration," first applied by General Eisenhower in his organization of the Allied headquarters in the Mediterranean in 1942 (AFHQ). It was the culminating expression of the principle of unity of command which the Allies applied in World War II with varying degrees of success in all theaters of operations. Recognizing this, the author has included the facts and references necessary for a study not only of the antecedents, machinery, and activities of SHAEF, but also of its relations, on the one hand, with the Combined Chiefs of Staff, the supreme instrument of the Allied governments for the military direction of the war, and, on the other, with the principal subordinate commands that directed operations in northwestern Europe on land and sea and in the air, from 6 June 1944 until 7 May 1945.
The Supreme Commander's primary responsibility was military, and after 2 September 1944 he assumed direct command of the operations of the ground forces of the Allies. In order to furnish the setting and trace the consequences of General Eisenhower's military decisions, the book includes a full account of the campaigns of the Allied Expeditionary Force. The scale of this account is determined by the outlook of SHAEF. In general, it follows at army and army group level operations that are being recounted in greater detail in the campaign volumes of the United States Army in World War II and in the British and Canadian official histories. Since the present account is necessarily based chiefly on American records, it gives a more complete and authoritative history of American than of British operations. Although the Supreme Commander's primary responsibility was military, the scope of his command repeatedly put him astride the traditional line between military and political considerations which modern war tends to obliterate. This line presented a problem in his relations with the British and French commanders, particularly with Field Marshal Sir Bernard L. Montgomery, and in the recommendations he had to make on relations with the Soviets in the last phase of the war. The volume also discusses in detail the difficulties of making politico-military decisions without timely, clear, or positive directives from higher authorities.
Key topics: 1. The planning and preparations for a vast inter-Allied surprise assault on a strongly defended coast and for pursuit and defeat of the enemy. The plans and preparations here sketched are treated in more detail in Cross-Channel Attack 2. Command decisions at the highest level of Allied authority below the Combined and Joint Chiefs of Staff . 3. The interplay between the views and decisions of the Joint and Combined Chiefs of Staff and those of the Supreme Allied Commander in the field, a treatment which supplements that given in the strategy and logistics volumes of the United States Army in World War II 4. Unity of command, combined and joint. 5. The mechanism and operations of a headquarters based on the principles of command unity and integration. The tendency to create the large and complex headquarters characteristic of American military organization in World War II. 7. The interplay of military and political considerations in directing a command of this type. 8. The campaigns of 1944û45 in France, the Low Countries, and Germany, at army group and army level, including the plans and operations of the enemy. 9. Military government and the military administration of civil affairs, in military operations involving relations with a number of liberated countries and the occupationof enemy territory on the basis of unconditional surrender. 10. The controversies of General Eisenhower and Field Marshal Montgomery over strategy and command. 11. The surprise achieved by the Germans when they attacked in the Ardennes on 16 December 1944, and the countermeasures by which General Eisenhower and his principal commanders contained the attack and regained the initiative. 12. The decision of General Eisenhower to halt his forces short of Berlin. 13. Psychological warfare. 14. Public relations of SHAEF.
"Cross-channel Attack" by Gordon A. Harrison, originally written in 1951. The cross-Channel attack launched on 6 June 1944 under the direction of Supreme Headquarters, Allied Expeditionary Force, is a subject that reappears in many volumes of the United States Army in World War II, since it involved the U.S. Army in its most important and largest single undertaking in the war. This basic account of the attack is focused on the Army's participation in it, both as a plan and as an operation. It relates the project of the assault from its inception in 1942 to the strategic and logistical planning of the United States and the Allies and to the plans, strength, and position of the enemy in 1944; it describes the complex plans and preparations for the assault, then narrates the fighting of the First Army to establish a lodgment up to 1 July 1944. Cross-Channel Attack focuses on the division as the basic fighting unit, although it often describes in considerable detail the experiences of battalions and companies on the fragmented fields of Normandy. So far as enemy records permit, it tells the story of German action at the same level. The Supreme Command, on the other hand, deals with D-day and the campaign to establish the Normandy beachhead and capture Cherbourg, from the point of view of General Eisenhower and Supreme Headquarters.
Key topics: 1. An amphibious assault on a defended shore by a coalition force. 2. The bolero concep. 3. Early plans for the invasion of Europe from England: SLEDGEHAMMER (1942) and ROUNDUP). 4. The Anglo-American debate over a cross-Channel attack.. 5. General Morgan's COSSAC and the evolution of the OVERLORD plan. 6. The conversion of overlord into a dated plan of operations. 7. The contribution of enemy weakness to Allied success. 8. German command organization in the West. 9. Hitler and the German defense against the invasion of Normandy. 10. D-day on sea and land and in the air. 11. Securing a beachhead and lodgment area. 12. Debate on the anvil plan. 13. Organized cooperation of the French Resistance with the Allies. 14. Effect on strategy of shortage in a critical item, landing craft. 15. Effect of a scattered airdrop. 16. Assault and capture of a fortified city, Cherbourg. 17. Use of mass air-bombing and artillery in this assault. 18. Amphibious assault: Naval fire support, Air-bombing of coastal defenses, Mass use of airborne forces to effect "vertical envelopment" of a beachhead, Weather as a factor in planning an amphibious assault, Defense at the beach line versus use of mobile reserves in meeting an amphibious assault, Use and effect of communications bombing in isolating the battle area, Capabilities and limitations of underwater obstacles in defending a coast against assault, Use of swimming tanks in the assault of a defended beach.
BREAKOUT AND PURSUIT
"Breakout and Pursuit," by Martin Blumenson, originally produced in 1961 and updated in 1984 and 1990 follows the U.S. First and Third Armies from 1 July 1944 in the Allied sweep across France to the German border. By 1 July the Allies had consolidated a firm beachhead which included Cherbourg and left no doubt that their armies had come to stay. The theme of the book is their subsequent efforts to acquire the "lodgment area" projected in the OVERLORD plan; the effort of the Germans to contain them; the breakthrough beginning on 25 July; its conversion into the breakout; the encirclement of German forces; and the ensuing sweep across France that outran all plans and anticipations.
After an explanation of Allied and German situations, the battle narrative opens with an examination of the hedgerow fightingùthe costly and disheartening battles in the compartmentalized fields of Normandy which, combined with rain, mud, and inexperience, deprived the Americans of the advantages of numbers and mechanization in the offensive and assisted the Germans in their stubborn defense. The volume gives special attention to the methods by which the Americans overcame the unexpected difficulties that beset them and became experienced veterans. The next phase of the narrative includes an account of the genesis and evolution of General Bradley's breakthrough plan (COBRA) and follows in detail the measures and events that marked its conversion into a triumphant breakout into Brittany. The author then recounts the swiftly changing plans of the Allies as they seized the opportunity to break out toward the east; describes Hitler's counterattack toward Avranches and its defeat. The battle narrative in this volume is, in general, pitched at corps level, but the focus of attention moves up and down the chain of command to illuminate decisions, both Allied and German, at critical moments of the campaign. The action is carefully related to the declared or postulated intentions of the responsible commanders, and success or failure is examined with reference to these and the opposing moves of the contestants. The access of the author to abundant enemy sources has made it possible for him to represent fully the strength, intentions, and tactics of the enemy.
Key topics: 1. Multiple crossings of a defended river line on a division front. 2. Assault of a fortified city. 3. Problems of coalition warfare on tactical levels 4. Infantry in compartmentalized hedgerow terrain, In mobile warfare, In achieving a breakthrough, In defense. 5. Armor: In hedgerow terrain. In a breakthrough. In mobile warfare. The armored division as an independent striking force. 6. Air support: Use of heavy (strategic) bombers in direct support of ground troops. Tactical air support of ground operations. 7. Artillery in special situations: Under infantry attack.. Against fortress defenses. 8. Commitment of inexperienced units and their errors. 9. Logistics of mobile warfare. 10. Effect of weather on tactical air. 11. Traffic congestion and its effect on operations. 12. Personnel replacements. 13. Use of task forces for unusual missions. 14. Artillery support. 15. German command problems.
LOGISTICAL SUPPORT OF THE ARMIES, VOLUME I: MAY 1941ûSEPTEMBER1944.
"Logistical Support of the Armies, Volume I: May 1941ûSeptember1944," By Roland G. Ruppenthal, originally completed in 1953 and updated in 1985 and 1989.This volume is the history of the logistical operations in the European Theater of Operations in support of the U.S. Army forces in that theater from 1941 to mid-September 1944. The operations described and analyzed were under the direction of the headquarters of the combined command known as ETOUSA Communications Zone. But the focus throughout is on the relation of logistics to combat and the influence of adequate or inadequate logistical support on the planning and conduct of tactical operations by the field armies. Two major problems of supply that had important effects on these operations are treated in detail: the shortage of gasoline in the period of pursuit and the developing shortage of field artillery ammunition, which became critical in the fall of 1944.
Key topics: 1. Logistical (OVERLORD) planning for large-scale offensive operations. 2. Theater command and territorial organization, particularly where an Allied command is superimposed on a national command and a single commander holds positions in both. 3. The influence of logistical considerations on tactical planning and decisions. 4. Manpower problems, particularly with respect to economical use of personnel, and the variance of casualty experience of the first months from estimated replacement needs. 5. The logistics of rapid movement and its effects on future capabilities. 6. Competition between global and theater strategy and priorities in the buildup of supplies and forces. 7. Supply over beaches in support of a large invasion force, including the use of artificial ports. 8. The influence of personalities in the development of theater organization and in the relationship of theater commands to each other. 9. The results of inadequate planning and staff coordination in meeting urgent calls for logistical support. 10. The development of a theater troop basis. 11. Early struggles attending the establishment of a U.S. Army command in the United Kingdom.12. Relations with an ally which serves as "host" nation and on which U.S. forces must depend heavily for locally procured services and supplies. 13. Effect of the North African invasion on the preparation of a force in the United Kingdom for the cross-Channel invasion. 14. Training and rehearsing for the cross-Channel attack..
LOGISTICAL SUPPORT OF THE ARMIES, VOLUME II: SEPTEMBER 1944-MAY 1945.
Logistical Support of the Armies, Volume Ii: September 1944-May 1945 by Roland G. Ruppenthal originally produced in 1959 and updated in 1983. This volume moves from mid-September 1944 to the end of hostilities in May 1945 along the same general lines as Volume I described above. As in that volume the focus is on the influence of adequate or inadequate logistical support on the planning and conduct of tactical operations by the field armies, in short, the relation of logistics to combat. Considerable space is given to theater organization and command because of the influence that these exerted on effective administration and support. The main divisions of the volume correspond to the two broad phases of tactical operations in the period covered: the period of relatively static warfare from mid-September 1944 to early February 1945 and the period of offensives leading to the surrender of Germany in May 1945. The main topics examined within each period are organization and command; port discharge; transportation; supply and manpower.
THE LORRAINE CAMPAIGN
"The Lorraine Campaign," completed by Hugh M. Cole in 1950, and updated in 1984. This volume narrates the operations of the U.S. Third Army, commanded by Lt. Gen. George S. Patton, Jr., during the autumn of 1944 when that army was weakened by a lengthy pursuit and taut supply lines and faced an enemy who was rapidly recovering behind strong natural and artificial barriers. The iron hand which logistics sometimes imposes on tactical operations is in evidence throughout the narrative. Like other operational volumes dealing with the European theater, The Lorraine Campaign is organized into chapters at corps level and written primarily at division level. When action at a lower level was decisive or particularly illustrative, the narrative descends to regiment, battalion, company, and sometimes to platoon and squad level. Concurrent operations of Allied and of other U.S. armies are sketched in as necessary for a complete understanding of the Third Army's story. Companion volumes recount in full the concurrent campaigns of the First and Ninth Armies (The Siegfried Line Campaign) and of the Seventh Army (Riviera to the Rhine). The story of command and decision at levels higher than army headquarters is told only where it had a direct bearing on the fighting in Lorraine, as, for example, General Eisenhower's decision to halt the Third Army at the Meuse River at the start of September while he concentrated his strained resources in support of the First Army on another axis of advance.
Despite General Patton's long-lived optimism that he could gain the Rhine in one quick thrust, this volume indicates that even in early September the Germans were amassing strength sufficient to delay an overextended attacker for a long time behind such barriers as the flooded Moselle River; the historic forts ringing Metz, capital of Lorraine; and the Maginot and Siegfried Lines. This is the story of the slow, plodding operations that developed in the forests and among the rolling hills of Lorraine from early September until George Patton's Third Army on 18 December was turned north to assist the First Army in the Ardennes.
A parallel account from the enemy side puts the American operations in proper perspective. The volume also contains an analytical description of the decisions of commanders at army, corps, and division levels that provided the framework of the tactical operations. Historical perspective is enhanced by frequent reference to earlier campaigning over this same terrain in 1870, 1914û18, and 1940.
Key topics: 1. Multiple crossings of a defended river line on an army front. 2. Assault of a fortified city, Metz. 3. Assaults of strongly fortified lines, Maginot and Siegfried, in the latter case a line behind a river. 4. Tank fighting: Against a counterattack in force, In an army offensive, In the assault of a fortified line. 5. Street fighting. 6. Air support of ground operations. 7. German armor versus American. 8. Armored task forces in limited objective attacks. 9. Artillery support. 10. Engineer and smoke generator units in support of river crossings. 11. Operations in adverse conditions of weather, soil, mud, cold, rain, and floods. 12. Forest fighting. 13. German command problems.
THE SIEGFRIED LINE CAMPAIGN
"The Siegfried Line Campaign," written by Charles B. MacDonald in 1963 and updated in 1984 and 1990. Optimism ran high when the first American patrols crossed the German frontier on 11 September 1944. With the enemy defeated in Normandy and pursued across northern France, Belgium, and Luxembourg, who could doubt that the war in Europe would soon be over? As events were to prove, and as this volume relates, buoyant spirits were premature. Aided by the concrete of the Siegfried Line (the so-called West Wall) and the forbidding terrain along the frontier, the Germans were able to stabilize the front against an Allied force weakened by the excesses of a long pursuit.
The Siegfried Line Campaign is primarily a history of tactical operations in northwestern Europe from early September to mid-December 1944. It covers in detail the campaigns of the U.S. First and Ninth Armies and the First Allied Airborne Army and in sketchy outline the concurrent operations of the Second British and First Canadian Armies. Organized into chapters at the corps level, the story is told primarily at division level with numerous descents to regiment and battalion and even at times to lower units. Logistics and high-level planning (for example, the controversy over single thrust versus broad front strategy) are treated where they affected the campaign. Discussion of staff operations at army or corps level is limited to the development of tactical plans and operations.
Although the First Army's V and VII Corps both penetrated the Siegfried Line in September, ragtail German formations were able to blunt these spearheads. They did the same when the Allies sought to outflank the West Wall by crossing three major water barriers. The last of these, an assault on the lower Rhine, was a major coalition operation that combined the First Allied Airborne Army attack in southeastern Netherlands (Operation MARKET) with a ground attack (Operation GARDEN) by the Second British Army. From this point, late September, stiff in-fighting developed. Into November the Allies in Belgium, Germany, and the Netherlands conducted a series of small-scale operations to tidy the front in preparation for another major attempt to break through to the Rhine River and encircle the Ruhr industrial area. They focused on several specific missions: capture of Aachen, which sits astride the invasion route to the Ruhr; a drive on the Huertgen Forest southeast of Aachen to protect the forces before Aachen and to capture the dams on the upper Roer threatened by the retreating Germans; and reduction of the German bridgehead west of the Maas River in southeastern Netherlands. The Allies also sought to clear the seaward approaches to Antwerp, whose port remained the key to the logistical problems that had plagued them since the Normandy breakout.
By mid-November Allied commanders could report considerable success in these missions. Greater strength had been added with the introduction of the Ninth Army into the line between the First Army and the British. The logistical situation was gradually improving, and in conjunction with the Third Army to the south, the First and Ninth Armies were preparing a new offensive designed to carry all three to the Rhine.
Operation QUEEN was launched on 16 November, but by taking advantage of their strong artillery reserves, the inclement weather, and rough terrain, the Germans slowed the advance significantly. By mid-December some Allied troops had not traversed the seven miles to the intermediate objective of the Roer River, and the threat of the Roer Dams still existed. Coincidentally, the Germans used the time to mobilize behind the front an army group that would launch a counteroffensive in the Ardennes, bringing a halt to the Siegfried Line campaign.
Key topics: 1. Attack and defense of a fortified line. 2. Forest, city, and village fighting. 3. American units under foreign command. 4. Armor operations. 5. Airborne operations. 6. Air support of ground troops. 7. Success and failure in intelligence estimates. 8. Fighting in inclement weather. 9. Comparison of American and German tanks. 10. Use of smoke, searchlights, flail and flamethrowing tanks, Mû29 cargo carriers, tank track, and connectors.
THE ARDENNES: BATTLE OF THE BULGE
"The Ardennes: Battle of the Bulge," was written by Hugh M. Cole in 1965 and was updated in 1983. This volume deals with the great German offensive in the Ardennes and Schnee Eiffel during December 1944; the armored drive to isolate the Anglo-Saxon Allies by the seizure of Antwerp; and the defensive battles fought by units of the U.S. First, Third, and Ninth Armies reinforced by troops from the British 21 Army Group. The Ardennes: Battle of the Bulge opens with the detailed planning and preparations in the German headquarters and follows the development of the campaign from the surprise attack initiated on 16 December to the point where, in the first days of January 1945, the Allies regained the initiative and resumed the offensive to cross the Rhine. The discussion parallels that given in the latter sections of Riviera to the Rhine, covering the southern Allied Army Group, and sets the scene for The Last Offensive.
The Ardennes, as in other volumes of this subseries, is structured on the division as the chief tactical and administrative unit. However, in the early hours and first days the battle mandates that the story be told at platoon and company level with cross reference to battalions, regimental combat teams, and armored combat commands. Command and control exercised by the army corps generally appears in the allocation of reserves rather than in tactical direction of the battle. Higher command efforts come into the narrative in a few specific instances, such as the gross failure of Allied intelligence; the geographic division of command between Montgomery and Bradley; the decisions to hold the American linch-pins on the Elsenborn ridge, St. Vith, and Bastogne, at the shoulders of the German salient; and the initial large-scale counterattack mounted by the Third Army.
The history of German command and troop operations is told in considerable detail. At the close of World War II, German officers were brought together so as to re-create the commands and general staffs of the major units taking part in the Ardennes campaign. As a result of this exercise in collective memory The Ardennes has an unmatched wealth of precise and parallel information on "the other side of the hill." Much attention is also given to the role played by the Allied air forces, particularly the tactical air commands, and to the effect of weather on air-ground cooperation and on German logistics.
The story begins with the irruption of enemy assault units in force against the green 99th and 106th Infantry Divisions and throughout the breadth of the thinly held VIII Corps front. The German breakthrough in the Schnee Eiffel is given detailed attention. There follows the American attempt to narrow the rapidly evolving enemy salient by hard fighting at the shoulders of the bulge and by piecemeal tactical reinforcement at these critical points. The exploitation phase of the German offensive sees early armored successes interspersed with delays and halts inflicted by isolated and lone American combined arms detachments plus the vagaries of weather and terrain. This combination of adverse weather and difficult terrain is analyzed as it influenced German armored operations and conditioned the assault or the defense at barrier lines, roadblocks, and timbered patches. The tactics of perimeter defense are shown in the record of battles at Bastogne and those in the ring around St. Vith.
This volume concludes with the final desperate effort of German armor to reach and cross the Meuse River; with the stiffening American defense at the leading edge of the salient, coupled with the German failure to widen it at the shoulders; with the commencement of the enemy withdrawal; and with the counterattacks of the Third and First Armies. The final episodes of the Ardennes battle are recounted in The Last Offensive.
Throughout this volume the strictures imposed on German maneuver by logistical failures are evident as are the superior American capability to reinforce and resupply the defense. Nonetheless, the German campaign to keep rail and road transport functioning, here described in detail, merits close study.
Key topics: 1. Elementary tactics as shown in the many episodes of "the starkness of small unit combat." 2. Mobile operations under adverse conditions of weather, terrain, and short daylight hours. 3. Organization, tactics, control, and communications in delaying actions. 4. Failure of Allied intelligence. 5. Ad hoc air resupply. 6. The employment of combat engineers. 7. Tactical surprise by maneuver, through operations at night and in the fog, and by the use of smoke and deceptive lighting. 8. Examples of a double envelopment. 9. Detailed description of the employment of "the combined arms." 10. Tanks; antitank combat. 11. Tactical air support.
RIVIERA TO THE RHINE
"Riviera to the Rhine," written by Jeffrey J.Clarke and Robert Ross Smith in 1992. On 15 August 1944, the Allies finally launched Operation anvil, code name for the amphibious assault against southern France. Long in the planning as an adjunct to the main effort in Normandy, the effort represented a victory for U.S. strategists seeking to focus Allied military strength against western Germany. The successful assault was rapidly followed up by the seizure of the important French Mediterranean ports of Marseille and Toulon and a concerted drive north up the Rhone River valley to Lyon. There the Franco-American Riviera Force, consisting of the U.S. Seventh and the French First Armies, was combined into the Sixth Army Group under Lt. Gen. Jacob Devers as the southern element of General Eisenhower's northern European command.
From September to November 1944 the Sixth Army Group struggled east through the Vosges mountains and through the Saverne and Belfort gaps to the north and south, respectively. Inclement weather, rugged terrain, and stiffening defense by the German Nineteenth Army slowed the army group's progress toward the German border to a crawl. During the well-planned November offensive, however, Devers' forces surged through the German lines, rapidly advancing to the Rhine and destroying the cohesiveness of the defenders in the process. But rather than move directly into Germany, Eisenhower ordered the bulk of the Seventh Army to strike northward in support of the U.S. Third Army's less successful offensive in Lorraine. In the process the Army group lost its momentum, allowing the Germans to retain a foothold in the Vosges around the city of Colmar and in the north to conduct a more orderly withdrawal to the German border.
In December the German Ardennes offensive forced the Sixth Army Group to halt all offensive operations and extend its front northward. As a result, the German High Command launched Operation NORDWIND in January 1945, a major armor and infantry offensive against the extended Seventh Army. A stubborn but flexible defense finally wore the German forces thin, but both sides suffered heavily from the bitterly cold weather. In February, Devers' forces resumed the offensive, eliminating the Colmar Pocket and the Nineteenth Army and setting the stage for the final drive into Germany.
This volume links the U.S. Army's Mediterranean and northern European operational series together and provides an important counterpoint for those works dealing with Eisenhower's two more well-known army groups commanded by Field Marshal Sir Bernard Montgomery and Lt. Gen. Omar Bradley. The opening section treats the Southern France Campaign as part of the Mediterranean Theater of Operations; a middle section covers the fighting in the Vosges; and the final section takes up the battle of Alsace. Joint operations are highlighted in the treatment of anvil, perhaps the most successful amphibious operation during the war, while the problems of combined (multinational) command are discussed throughout. A full account of German plans, organization, and actions is included for perspective, and the operations of the First French Army, a major component of the American army group, are also treated in detail.
Key topics: 1. Combined and joint politico-military war planning. 2. Partisan guerrillas. 3. Amphibious loading for logistics. 4. Air-sea-land interdiction operations. 5. Armored warfare. 6. Civil affairs. 7. Close air support.. 8. River crossings. 9. Morale and discipline. 10. Special and airborne operations. 11. Winter and mountain fighting. 12. Intelligence derived from communications intercepts and human sources, ULTRA and the OSS.
THE LAST OFFENSIVE
"The Last Offensive," was written by Charles B. MacDonald and published in 1973 and updated in 1984 and 1990. The Last Offensive is the final volume of the United States Army in World War II subseries The European Theater of Operations. It recounts the closing battles in which the American forces cross the Rhine River, historic boundary of German power, and, with the Western Allies, defeat and destroy Hitler's armies deployed on the Western Front. The story in these final chapters follows those told in The Ardennes: Battle of the Bulge and in Riviera to the Rhine; the time frame extends from the first days of January 1945 to VûE Day (8 May).
The massive force under Elsenhower's command had attained the battle experience of a professional army; it was superior to the Wehrmacht both in manpower and materiel. On VE Day Eisenhower would have under his command more than four and a half million troops: 91 divisions (61 of which were American), 6 tactical air commands, and 2 strategic air forces. In this volume appears a reckoning of the total Allied effort in the West and the human cost accumulated between D-day and VE Day. In these months a total of 5,412,219 Allied troops had entered the European Theater of Operations, along with 970,044 vehicles and 18,292,310 tons of supplies. Allied casualties for the period of combat are estimated at a figure of 766,294. American losses are carried as 586,628, of which 135,576 are listed as dead. The Last Offensive is a dramatic piece of military history and offers a varied array of ground force operations. In these final months the U.S. First, Third, Seventh, and Ninth Armies, reinforced by British and Canadian armies on the northern flank and a French army on the southern wing, erased the two German salients west of the Rhine (in the Ardennes and around Colmar) and drove to the long-time Allied objective, the Rhine. The powerful assaults to force the Rhine crossings were accompanied by a prime example of "luck" in battle, the seizure of the Remagen bridge, and abetted by a spectacular air-drop assault Operation VARSITY, the last of the war.
Beyond the Rhine there follows a series of the most massive sweeps and wide turning movements in World War II, engulfing and destroying the German armies in the Ruhr Pocket. The end of the Wehrmacht comes when the Americans join the Soviets at the Elbe while the Seventh U.S. Army races to and crosses the Danube.
The gigantic size of these operations requires that this volume be structured with emphasis on the army but with close scrutiny of important engagements by divisional organizations. The detailed story of the Allied command in this period will be found in The Supreme Command. Nonetheless, The Last Offensive analyzes the controversy between Eisenhower and Montgomery over the competing strategies based on an advance all along the front versus a narrow, deep, and powerful thrust on a very constricted front. Here it is shown that the Allied front expands from 450 miles in January to twice that width at VE Day. Also, explanation is given herein regarding Eisenhower's decision to halt the advance of the Western Allies on the Leipzig axis, short of Berlin. Despite the great Allied superiority on the ground and in the air, the war weary and weakened German troops fought stubbornly in these last battles; The Last Offensive gives credit to these veteran troops fighting in a hopeless and meaningless cause.
Key topics: 1. The "grand tactics" of wide encircling sweeps and deep penetrations. 2. Tactical and technical problems in the crossing of defended rivers and the consolidation of bridgeheads. 3. Effect of varied combinations of terrain and weather on mechanical operations. 4. Management of logistics in support of rapid movement by large forces. 5. Organization for combat at the division level during operations of deep penetration and rapid exploitation. 6. Tactics and techniques of bridging and assault craft operations at large water barrier. 7. Tactical use of smoke, fog, and weather. 8. Airborne transport and vertical encirclement by air. 9. Air interdiction in support of Allied ground operations.
The Middle East Theater
This one-volume subseries tells the little-known story of the U.S. Army's mission of assisting the British in their efforts to deliver supplies to the Soviet Union through the Persian Corridor. Initially, the primary American missions involved base construction and the operation of assembly points. This assignment was soon enlarged to include the transportation of materiel to its new ally over a 400-mile network of primitive railroads and highways. From 1942 until the last Soviet soldier left the corridor in 1946, Iran was the silent and little-consulted partner in its destiny, as Britain and the United States struggled to keep the Soviet Union supplied with the military essentials of war. The story thus chronicles the beginnings of an involvement that would culminate in Operation desert storm almost fifty years later.
THE PERSIAN CORRIDOR AND AID TO RUSSIA
"The Persian Corridor and Aid to Russia," written by T. H. Vail Motter, published in 1952 and updated in 1985 and 1989. The "Persian Corridor" was one of two major theaters of operations in World War II whose paramount mission was supply. (The other was China-Burma-India.) The Army's mission in Iran was to accelerate the delivery of lend-lease supplies to the Soviet Union. The operation involved delicate and complex relations with three cooperating powers: Great Britain, the USSR, and Iran. These relations transcended logistics and military administration and entered the diplomatic sphere. This volume was written with an awareness of this difficult experiment in cooperation. It is therefore a book for the statesman, administrator, and historian, as well as for officers responsible for future planning in the realm of logistics and strategy. More specifically the book is indispensable to the study of Anglo-American aid to the USSR after the breakdown of the Murmansk route in 1942 and the Anglo-American invasion of North Africa.
The point of view is that of top command responsibility; but all aspects of planning and operations from Washington and London to the "theater" itself are illustrated. The study emphasizes organization and administration as well as achievement in terms of operational results. In addition to the task of moving supplies through Iran to the Soviet Union, the Army was charged with responsibility for rendering economic and military aid to Iran. This was accomplished by advisory missions to the Iranian Army and the Iranian Gendarmerie and by the broadening of the commander's directive to include economic assistance to Iran. The volume therefore describes precedents of importance to readers interested in the development of the policy of containment and military assistance, adopted by the United States in the postûWorld War II era.
Key topics: 1. The use of civilian contractors versus militarization of a large effort of supply in wartime. 2. Procurement of materiel and manpower (American and Iranian) for construction and the operation of theater services . 3. Changes in organization required by changes in Allied policy and theater mission. 4. The problem of overlapping functions and the rivalries between military and civilian (Army, State Department, War Shipping Administration, and Lend-Lease Administration) agencies in an overseas area. 5. Anglo-American command relationships in Iran. 6. Difficulties of cooperation with the USSR. 7. Rivalries between Great Britain and the Soviet Union in Iran and their continued efforts to exclude each other from their respective zones. 8. Anglo-American-Soviet negotiations directed toward legalization of the status of American troops in Iran and the relation of these to the Declaration of the Three Powers regarding Iran, 1 December 1943. 9. Anglo-American-Iranian negotiations regarding payment for the use of the Iranian State Railway. 10. Diplomatic background of the U.S. advisory missions to Iran. 11. Employment of native labor. 12. Security arrangements in tribal areas. 13. Planning for expansion of the oil pipeline net in Iran and of the refinery capacity at Bahrein and Abadan. 14. The role of the Army Service Forces in organizing and administering a supply theater. 15. Command relations between the Middle East Theater and the administration of the Army's responsibilities in Iran. 16. Shippingùthe conflict between global and local interests. 17. The tendency to overexpand staff and organize beyond the demands of function.
The Mediterranean Theater of Operations
This four-volume subseries begins with American troops, part of the Allied Expeditionary Force, wading through the surf on the beaches of Northwest Africa on 8 November 1942 and ends in the Italian Alps some 31 months later with the German surrender in May 1945. With supply lines always stretched to the breaking point, American and Allied soldiers faced a determined and resourceful enemy, harsh weather, inhospitable terrain, and indefinite goals in what many would later consider as little more than a sideshow to the "real" war in northern Europe. Nevertheless, as these volumes trace the slow but steady advance of the Allies from North Africa, through Sicily, and up the Italian boot, the role that these campaigns played in wearing down the Axis powers and contributing to the final victory becomes evident. The authors also devote considerable attention to the politico-military negotiations leading to the surrender of the Italian Army, where military men were required to double as diplomats.
NORTHWEST AFRICA: SEIZING THE INITIATIVE IN THE WEST
"Northwest Africa: Seizing the Initiative in the West," was written by George F. Howe, published in 1957 and updated in 1985 and 1991. This volume is the history of the campaigns in World War II in which U.S. Army forces were first extensively engaged. It covers Operation TORCH, a massive amphibious, surprise assault in November 1942, after which the Allies speedily gained control of French Morocco and Algeria and obtained a toehold in Tunisia. It then describes the campaign in Tunisia which, beginning with stalemate in December 1942, involved broadening fronts, a buildup on both sides, concentration in Tunisia of Allied and Axis forces previously engaged in western Egypt and Libya, seesawing combat, and finally constriction of all Axis forces within northeastern Tunisia, where they surrendered en masse on 13 May 1943.
The author has drawn on abundant German sources to illuminate the strategy and tactics of the enemy and produce a two-sided picture. Although primarily concerned with the role of U.S. ground forces, the narrative relates their efforts to the operations of sea and air forces of the several nations in both coalitions and takes into account the plans and operations by which the Allies wrested air superiority from the Axis.
The inexperienced ground forces of the United States were assigned holding or diversionary missions throughout the campaign in Tunisia. But they learned from experience, and in the final Allied drive in the spring of 1943 General Bradley's II Corps broke out of the mountains and occupied Bizerte at the same time that the British took Tunis.
Northwest Africa is a study of the trial-and-error process that characterized America's first large-scale campaign. It has unique interest as the narrative of the first invasion in World War II of territory held by a friendly nation, in which one objective of the Allies was to revive the military resistance of the French to the Axis conquerors. The planning and execution of torch were deeply conditioned by political considerations, and throughout both of the campaigns recounted in this volume the Allied command was ceaselessly confronted by difficult political issues along with those of a more strictly military nature.
Key topics: 1. Allied and Axis command structures compared. 2. Tactical planning of joint task forces. 3. Problems of a successful command occupying colonial territory of a friendly nation. 4. Large-scale amphibious surprise assault on lightly defended shores. 5. Offensive and defensive tactics along a broad front. 6. Establishing an integrated coalition headquarters. 7. Organized cooperation with the French on a clandestine basis. 8. Defense of a mountain pass. 9. Uncoordinated attacks and piecemeal commitment of forces. 10. Rearmament of the French..
SICILY AND THE SURRENDER OF ITALY
"Sicily and the Surrender of Italy," written by Albert N. Garland and Howard McGaw Smyth, published in 1965 and updated in 1986 and 1991. This volume describes the events surrounding the invasion of Sicily in July 1943 and the subsequent surrender of the Italian government. The book is divided into three sections. The first part sets the strategic stage by describing the debate between American and British strategists over the course of Allied operations in the Mediterranean theater during 1943. In recounting how the Allies came to agree upon the invasion of Sicily at the Casablanca Conference, the authors illustrate the difficulties of Grafting grand strategy in coalition warfare. The problems of coalition warfare were not limited to the Allied side, however, and the book relates the difficulties the Axis experienced in formulating strategic plans and in defining command relationships. Part One of Sicily and the Surrender of Italy concludes with an analysis of Allied plans for the invasion of Sicily, code-named Operation HUSKY, and Axis defensive measures. In doing so, the volume highlights the challenges Allied planners faced in designing what was at that time the largest amphibious landing of World War II.
The second section describes the invasion and conquest of Sicily, a rugged island bastion whose mountainous terrain greatly assisted the Axis defenders. The narrative fully examines the key Allied operational decisions of the campaign, including General Sir Harold Alexander's decision to shift the direction of the U.S. Seventh Army's advance, General George Patton's sweep to Palermo, and Anglo-American rivalry in the race for Messina. Axis actions on the island are also well documented. The book focuses, however, on the operations of the American Seventh Army. The combat narrative is written largely at the division and regimental level but occasionally dips down to individual companies in key combat actions. The type of operations described in the book include airborne and amphibious assaults, establishment and defense of a beachhead, mountain combat, and German rear guard tactics. Part Two of the volume culminates in the final Allied drive to Messina and the evacuation of Axis forces to Italy. The invasion of Sicily sent shock waves through war-weary Italy and set in motion a movement that eventually toppled Mussolini from power.
Part Three of Sicily and the Surrender of Italy returns to the strategic level, detailing the secret negotiations that eventually led to Italy's capitulation to the Allies, as well as Germany's countermeasures to seize control of the country. A discussion of the Allied decision to exploit the demise of fascism in Italy serves as a prologue for the next volume in The Mediterranean Theater of Operations subseries, Salerno to Cassino.
Key topics: 1. Strategic planning in coalition warfare, including the debate between the advocates of a "peripheral" strategy and a cross-Channel attack; the decision to invade Sicily; the Casablanca, TRIDENT, and Quebec conferences; and the question of how to exploit the collapse of Italy. 2. The erosion and ultimate dissolution of the Rome-Berlin Axis. 3. Planning and organizing a large-scale, joint and combined invasion against a defended coast (Operation husky). 4. Negotiations for the surrender of Italy. 5. Evolution of invasion plans. 6. The first major Allied airborne operation of World War II. 7. Allied amphibious operations. 8. Modifying a campaign plan during the course of operations. 9. Challenges posed to U.S. forces by mountain warfare and German defensive techniques. 10. The successful Axis evacuation of Sicily. 11. Difficulties in strategic and tactical surface-air coordination. 12. Efforts to deceive the Axis about Allied invasion plans. 13. Patton and the slapping incident.
SALERNO TO CASSINO
"Salerno to Cassino," written by Martin Blumenson, published in 1969 and updated in 1988. In September 1943 a combined British and American amphibious force finally made the first Allied landing on the continent of Europe. After campaigns which began with amphibious assaults in both Africa and Sicily, the Allies were hoping that the invasion of Italy would be an equally successful endeavor. Although the Italian capitulation on the eve of the invasion filled the troops with confidence that enemy resistance would rapidly collapse, the Allied campaign in Italy was as tough as any fought in World War II; if anything, the Italian surrender hardened German resistance. Salerno to Cassino begins the story of the Allied effort to wrest control of Italy from its German occupiers, while Cassino to the Alps provides the conclusion. The confrontation in Italy was the first time Allied armies faced the German Army in a sustained campaign on the European mainland. During the first eight months covered by this volume the fighting was brutal and the situation on both sides was anything but optimistic. The opponents faced the same difficult terrain and bad weather and shared similar supply problems. The Germans, defending in the south, had their long supply lines subjected to the ever-increasing Allied air power, and the Allies had a chronic shortage of practically all types of shipping.
Although the author focuses on the tactical activities of the Allies with special emphasis on the U.S. Fifth Army, he also provides the strategic framework within which those activities took place. The account includes the German point of view and sketches of air and naval activities pertinent to understanding the ground situation. Highlights of the volume include the problems faced by American forces in the initial landings at Salerno, the difficulties encountered while attempting to force a crossing of the flooded Rapido River, the controversial decision to bomb the historical Benedictine abbey on Monte Cassino, and the stalemate at the Anzio beachhead.
Key topics: 1. Amphibious assaults. 2. River crossings. 3. Assaulting fortified towns. 4. Mountain warfare. 5. Small-unit tactics. 6. Use of air power. 7. German command problem. 8. Strategic decision making in coalition warfare. 9. German defensive tactics. 10. Use of airborne troops. 11. Coalition command considerations.
CASSINO TO THE ALPS
"Cassino to the Alps," written by Ernest F. Fisher, Jr., published in 1977 and updated in 1989. This volume continues the story of the Italian campaign with the Allied spring offensive in May 1944 which carried two Allied armies, the U.S. Fifth and the British Eighth, to Rome by 4 June and to the final German capitulation in May 1945. Represented in these armies were Americans, Belgians, Brazilians, British, Canadians, Cypriots, French (including mountain troops from Algeria and Morocco), Palestinian Jews, East Indians, Italians, Nepalese, New Zealanders, Poles, South Africans, Syro-Lebanese, and Yugoslavians. The Fifth Army also included the U.S. Army's only specialized mountain division, one of its two segregated all-black divisions, and a regimental combat team composed solely of Americans of Japanese descent.
The campaign involved one ponderous attack after another against fortified positions: the Winter Line, the Gustav Line (including Monte Cassino), and the Gothic Line. It called for ingenuity in employing tanks and tank destroyers over terrain that severely restricted the use of mobile forces. In addition the Allied attackers constantly had to devise new methods to supply forces fighting through dangerous mountain terrain in central Italy or those fighting in flooded lowlands along the Adriatic coast.
It was also a campaign replete with controversy, as might have been expected in a theater where the presence of many nationalities and two fairly equal partners imposed considerable strain on the process of coalition command. Among the most troublesome questions was the judgment of American commander, Lt. Gen. Mark Clark, to focus on the capture of Rome rather than conforming with the wishes of his British superior who was more concerned with trapping the retreating German forces. Other issues have proved equally controversial. Did Allied commanders conduct the pursuit north of Rome with sufficient vigor? Indeed, should the campaign have been pursued all the way to the Alps when the Allies might have halted at some readily defensible line and awaited the outcome of the decisive campaign in northwestern Europe?
Just as the campaign began on a note of covert politico-military maneuvering to achieve the surrender of the Italian forces, so it ended in intrigue and secret negotiations for a separate surrender of the Germans in Italy. Nevertheless, the 570 days which the Allies battled in Italy made it the longest sustained Allied campaign of World War II. The narrative ranges from detailed descriptions of company-level tactics up through division, corps, and army with considerable tactical detail at each level of command.
Key topics: 1. Grand strategy from both Allied and German points of view, including opposing command structures, and operational planning at army, corps, and division level, both Allied and German. 2. Corps operations in mountainous terrain. 3. Planning for and breakout from a beachhead under enemy observation. 4. Mountain warfare, including classic stratagem for breaking through mountain defenses, the use of trained mountain infantry in a flanking maneuver, and the penetration of mountain passes. 5. Pursuit operations on a two-army front. 6. Armor in rugged terrain. 7. River crossings on a broad front. 8. Surrender negotiations. 9. Artillery support. 10. Operations in adverse conditions of weather and soil, mud, cold, rain, and floods.
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