The Battle for Western Europe, Fall 1944
An Operational Assessment
Publication Year: 2010
Published by: Indiana University Press
List of Maps
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Look at some old news footage taken in France during late August 1944. Under brilliant sunshine, columns of speeding Sherman tanks race ahead, looking to catch fleeing Germans. Overhead, P-47 fighters swoop by, machine-gunning anything ahead of the armor that looks even suspicious. Certainly, the horrid Nazi monster must be on its last legs. ...
List of Abbreviations and Acronyms
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On 6 June 1944, forever “D-Day,” five Allied divisions stormed the Normandy beaches. Seven weeks of frustrating fighting in the Bocage, the hedgerow country, followed. Territorial gains were smaller than planned, and casualties were staggering. The opposing armies deadlocked. ...
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The rest of our story is dominated by logistics—supply, transportation, and maintenance. Logistics define what is militarily possible. Tanks without gas cannot execute sweeping advances no matter how boldly the movement is drawn on the map. Artillery without ammunition generates no combat power. Even grunts need to eat. It has been said that “amateurs talks tactics, ...
3 SHAEF’s Plan
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Even before D-Day, the SHAEF plan envisioned a main effort north of the Ruhr and a secondary effort to the south aimed at the Saar.1 (Map 3.1 displays the Allied position as of 10 September and shows key geographical points.) The initial strategy for advance beyond the Rhine was codified in a SHAEF G3 planning document dated 3 May 1944, entitled “Post Neptune Courses of Action After Capture of the Lodgement Area,”2 attributed to a ...
4 It Wasn’t Arnhem versus Antwerp
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Of all of Ike’s lieutenants, Montgomery was his most severe critic. Monty’s style was to maintain a “firm grip” over a battle. “It was always very clear to me that Ike and I were poles apart when it came to the conduct of the war. . . . I planned always to make the enemy commit his reserves on a wide front in order to plug holes in his defenses; having forced him to do this, ...
5 Concentrate, General Bradley
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Still in pursuit mode during the last days of August, most American tactical commanders viewed the West Wall as the last major obstacle before the Rhine. If only the Americans could beat the Germans to its fortifications! But First Army was creaking for lack of maintenance and was running out of gas. And it was about to hit some speed bumps few thought the Wehrmacht ...
6 Patton’s Lorraine Campaign
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At the end of August, virtually no organized resistance impeded American columns as they sped eastward. Patton believed that in another ten days he could breach the West Wall, enter Germany, and maybe end the war. “Now is the moment, Hap [General “Hap” Gay, Third Army assistant chief of staff]. They are ours for the taking. If we delay, the price will be written in blood.” Patton added, “It is such a sure thing, that I fear someone will ...
7 November Rerun
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As SHAEF’s senior officers gathered in Brussels on 18 October, they collectively felt a lot of frustration. The promise of war’s early end had been grounded out in unsuccessful operations stretching from the Scheldt to the Ardennes. Montgomery’s great diversion toward Arnhem was an operational failure. The combination of Monty’s dalliance south of the Maas in early September and Market Garden had prevented the Allies from securing ...
8 Opportunity in the South
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On 15 August, the anniversary of Napoleon’s birth, Seventh Army landed along the Côte d’Azur in southern France. Seventh Army contained a single U.S. corps composed of veteran divisions of the Italian campaign and an amalgamation of French divisions in varying states of organization and equipment. The landings unfolded textbook-like against limited opposition. Time labeled the landings “A Tactician’s Dream.”1 The attack up the ...
Conclusion: Unity of Command
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“For every objective, insure unity of effort under one responsible commander. This principle insures that all efforts are focused on a common goal.”1 Usually this definition is interpreted as “one boss for the job.” But its implications run deeper. Unity of command is the tool required to see that all effort is focused on the one condition that causes the enemy to collapse. Virtually every military officer, including the senior commanders ...
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Page Count: 392
Illustrations: 1 b&w illus., 20 maps
Publication Year: 2010
Series Title: Twentieth-Century Battles