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World War II

Historians typically state that World War II began 1 September, 1939, the date that Germany invaded Poland; this despite the fact that Japan had been at war with the Republic of China since 1937. Germany launched their attack with a new type of warfare that became known as the Blitzkrieg. Subsequently, both France and Great Britain declared war on Germany. Turning to the West, Germany conquered France and most of the remainder of Europe. In the process they formed the Axis alliance with Italy and Japan and turned their attention on Russia and the Mediterranean. Meanwhile, Japan expanded their empire throughout the Central and South Pacific. In Europe, the British and their Allies fought the Germans in Africa, withstood the Blitz bombing campaign and prevailed in the aerial Battle of Britain.

The United States attempted to stay out of the war officially, however they tacitly were involved via supply of Britain and the Battle of the Atlantic. Everything changed on 7 December 1941 when the Japanese launched a surprise attack on Sunday morning on the western bases of the US at Pearl Harbor and at Hickam Field and other air fields in the Hawaiian Territory. The US declared war on Japan on 8 December and within a few days Germany and Italy declared war on the US who reciprocated immediately. World War II had been joined by the industrial mighty United States.

Asiatic-Pacific Theater

The campaign of the US along with our allies including but not limited to the Australians, British, Chinese and Filipinos against the Japanese stretched from Australia to China and into the Western Pacific became known as the Asiatic-Pacific Theater. World War II in the Pacific would not end until V-J Day 2 September 1945 with Japan's unconditional surrender.

Campaigns

Philippine Islands: 7 December 1941 - 10 May 1942
Burma 1942: 7 December 1941 - 26 May 1942
Central Pacific: 7 December 1941 - 6 December 1943
East Indies: 1 January - 22 July 1942
India-Burma: 2 April 1942 - 28 January 1945
Air Offensive, Japan: 17 April 1942 - 2 September 1945
Aleutian Islands: 3 June 1942 - 24 August 1943
China Defensive: 4 July 1942 - 4 May 1945
Papua: 23 July 1942 - 23 January 1943
Guadalcanal: 7 August 1942 - 21 February 1943
New Guinea: 24 January 1943 - 31 December 1944
Northern Solomons: 22 February 1943 - 21 November 1944
Eastern Mandates: 31 January - 14 June 1944
Bismarck Archipelago: 15 December 1943 - 27 November 1944
Western Pacific: 15 June 1944 - 2 September 1945
Leyte: 17 October 1944 - 1 July 1945
Luzon: 15 December 1944 - 4 July 1945
Central Burma: 29 January - 15 July 1945
Southern Philippines: 27 February - 4 July 1945
Ryukyus: 26 March - 2 July 1945
China Offensive: 5 May - 2 September 1945

Pearl Harbor

At 7:48AM local time, the Japanese aerial attack on the naval base at Pearl Harbor began. Launched from six aircraft carriers under the overall command of Isoroku Yamamoto and subordinates Chuichi Nagumo and Mitsuo Fuchida, bombers, fighters and torpedo planes were dispatched with plans to attack the US Navy fleet at Pearl and aircraft facilities at Hickam, Wheeler and Bellow's Fields. The main objective of the attack was to be the large battleships berthed in the harbor. The Japanese had hoped that the aircraft carriers would be in the harbor but fortunately for the Americans they were still at sea. However, the battleships took a beating, most famously, the USS Arizona which was sunk at her dock. The USS Oklahoma capsized and the California (sunk), West Virginia (sunk), Maryland, Tennessee, Nevada and Pennsylvania all received various levels of damage. With the exception of the Arizona and Oklahoma all the other Battleships would be repaired and return to action. Additionally, over 85% of all the US aircraft in Hawaii were damaged or destroyed.

The Japanese had dealt the US a severe blow but they did not finish the job; the carriers (Enterprise, Saratoga, Lexington) would come into Pearl Harbor shortly after the Japanese attack, but they would return to sea shortly. They would be soon joined by other carriers: Yorktown, Hornet, Ranger and Wasp. The carrier would become the focal point of naval operations in the pacific and the Americans would halt the Japanese advance at the Battle of Midway but first they would lose one precious ship in a fight described as a draw at the Battle of the Coral Sea.

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Battle of Midway

After the Doolittle Raid on mainland Japan in April, fleets containing two fleet carriers each faced off in the Battle of the Coral Sea 4 to 8 May 1942. The Japanese lost more ships and a light carrier but the US lost the Carrier Lexington and the Yorktown seeing its first action was severely damaged but was able to make its way back to Pearl Harbor for repairs. In trying to determine the enemy's next move US code breakers determined that there was an imminent strike at Midway scheduled for early June. With little time to prepare a battle plan and effect repairs to the Yorktown, Admiral Chester Nimitz dispatched task groups commanded by Rear Admiral Raymond Spruance and Rear Admiral Frank Jack Fletcher to set an ambush off Midway with the carriers Enterprise, Hornet and Yorktown.

On 4 June, surprise ruled the day and when the US fliers found the Japanese and they were able to overwhelm them sinking all four enemy carriers by the 5th at a loss of only the Yorktown.

It was a major victory for the US. Many airfields and Navy ships were commissioned and would see service before the end of the war bore the name of many Navy and Marine servicemen who participated and died in the Battle of Midway.

Guadalcanal

With the Battle of Midway behind them, the US, Australians and their allies were ready to go on the offensive and start taking back territory from the Japanese. They decided on an island in the Solomon Island chain, Guadalcanal. The Marines were ready to exact their revenge for Pearl Harbor and Wake Island and they were going to get into a lengthy battle. Marine Major General Alexander Vandergrift would lead the 1st Marine Division of newly trained Marines in the operation that began 7 August 1942. Neighboring islands Tulagi and Florida were also targets for this Offensive and securing them gave the allies a forward base to launch attacks to retake the large Japanese base at Rabaul.

One of the prizes of Guadalcanal was an airfield and the Marines renamed it Henderson Field in honor of Major Lofton Henderson, CO VMSB-241, the first Marine aviator to be killed in the Battle of Midway. It would take until 9 February 1943 before the Battle of Guadalcanal was complete.

Flying Tigers

Before the Japanese attacked on Pearl Harbor they had been at war for years invading Manchuria and were fighting the Chinese taking all of coastal China. In an effort to bolster their own troops, Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek approached an American military advisor and current director of a Chinese Air Force flight school, Claire Lee Chennault, to petition the US for assistance. A non-US-military organization was formed known as the American Volunteer Group or AVG in 1941. They would become known as the Flying Tigers, painting their P-40 aircraft with distinctive shark mouths. Comprised of volunteers from the Army Air Corps, Marines and US Navy these men were inducted into the Chinese Air Force and based in Kunming they would protect the skies throughout China and Burma.

By July 1942 these men and their squadrons would comprise the core of the 14th Army Air Force and be back under US command.

Flying the Hump

There were not many routes into Central China and after the Japanese had control of all the coastal areas it was a matter of time before all of China fell. The Japanese also had control of Burma and the only way to get supplies to Kunming was to fly them in. Transport was setup under the 10th Air Force that brought supplies to the Chinese. Flying through some of the most dangerous weather and high altitude peaks of the Himalaya Mountains many men and cargo were lost, but a lot made it through. It became known as Flying the Hump.

The ATC - Air Transport Command was also involved with the moving of cargo across the Hump in this overall area known as China-Burma-India or CBI for short. The first mission took place 8 April 1942 and before the war concluded all types of aircraft that could be configured to haul cargo were used including DC-3, C-46, C-47, C-53 and C-54s. Flying through peaks and valleys where summits could reach over 15,000 feet caused all types of wind current problems and storms could form quickly and cause ice to build up on wings quickly without much notice. Topping it all off were the lack of navigational aids and maps during the early days of the operation. In addition to cargo, aircraft were ferried and this air-bridge would become the lifeline for the Chinese until the Japanese were turned back.

CBI - China Burma India

By early 1942 the Japanese had conquered French Indochina and had moved west taking parts of Burma. By August, they held all of Burma and were poised at the eastern border of India. The allies were determined to stop the Japanese advance on this front. Along with the British, Indian and Burmese they built up forces of Army and Air Forces in India while supplying the Chinese via the Hump. The CBI was a loose conglomeration of many units and was not designated an individual theater thus never had an overall operational command structure but there were many commands including those of British General Sir Archibald Wavell, US General Joseph Stillwell, Admiral Lord Mountbatten and Major General Frank Merrill among others. Units were deployed in India, China and Burma. One command, the XX Bomber Command was eventually transferred to Tinian in 1945.

Strategic Island Hopping

To take back the territory conquered by the Japanese required a strategy and the commanders along with the Joint Chiefs of Staff determined that to take every single occupied island would be costly and take longer to do than would be acceptable to the American public. Additionally, it would give each Japanese garrison more time to strengthen their defenses. It was decided that strategic strongpoints had to be taken, bypassing others but cutting off their lines of supply causing these locations to wither on the vine so to speak. One line of attack would proceed up the Solomon Island chain to Rabaul. Progressing through major island groups in the Central and South Central Pacific including: the Gilbert Islands, Marshall Islands, Makin Island, Truk Island, Mariana Islands of Guam, Saipan and Tinian where the 20th Air Force would launch B-29 attacks against the Japanese mainland. The Marines would then take Iwo Jima as the US moved closer to an invasion of the Japanese mainland.

The Western thrust extended from New Guinea through the Dutch East Indies and then the Philippines and Okinawa. Concluding these battles, the US had closed on many sides of Japan to where bombardment of targets and an invasion of the mainland could be launched and accomplished.

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Battle of Saipan & Tinian

As the US employed their island hopping plan, the island of Saipan became the next target. On 15 June 1944 the 2nd and 4th Marine Divisions along with the Army 27th Infantry Division began landing on the island. The Navy had begun shore bombardment on the 13th preceding the landings.

Fighting was fierce with the Japanese not wanting to surrender the island. The topography of Saipan provided a number of tactical advantages for the defenders and they took advantage when they could. As the Americans made gains the Japanese were eventually corralled and they employed one last Banzai Charge. When all else failed many soldiers and civilians threw themselves off cliffs instead of surrender. By 9 July 1944, the Battle of Saipan was complete.

There was no rest for the 4th Marine Division as they attacked the garrison on Tinian on 24 July. The 2nd Marine Division quickly followed and 1 August the island was in American hands.

Before the end of 1944, B-29s based at Guam, Saipan and Tinian were launching B-29 attacks on the Philippines, surrounding islands and the Japanese mainland. Tinian would become the largest US airfield housing the majority of all B-29s in the Pacific Theater.

Battle of Iwo Jima

Approximately midway between Tinian and Japan lies the island of Iwo Jima a perfect location with an airfield to serve as an emergency field for damaged B-29s unable to return to their bases on Tinian. The official 'Battle' began on 19 February 1945, however Navy ship bombardment and the Army Air Forces had been hitting the island for months. Heavy naval bombardment over all areas of the island began D minus 3, three days before landing. Over 400 US ships were located in the vicinity of Iwo Jima.

The island of Iwo Jima contained two airfields and a distinctive southwestern edge known as Mount Suribachi. The island was fortified with 20,000 defenders and an elaborate labyrinth of caves and tunnels allowing the Japanese to retreat and ride out bombardment, then emerge to fight when the Marines hit the beach. They would also use the tunnels to get into rear areas and surprise attack Marines when they had gained a foothold on the island. Iwo Jima would become the scene for arguably the most famous Marine photo of all time, the flag raising on Suribachi.

After intense bombardment Marines landed on the south side of the island on the 19th. The 5th Marine Division hit the Green and Red beaches of the Southern sector while 4th Marine Division landed to their east at Yellow and Blue beaches of the Northern sector. By the 22nd the 3rd Marine Division was also committed to the fight.

Intense day and night fighting continued. Flamethrowers became effective weapons in extracting the enemy from the hundreds of caves. It would take until 26 March before major operations would signal the end of the Battle of Iwo Jima but the Americans would have their emergency field.

Battle of Okinawa

While the 3rd, 4th and 5th Marines were on Iwo Jima the Army, Navy and Marines were preparing for the invasion of Okinawa in the Japanese Ryukyu Islands, less than 350 miles from the mainland.

The Navy Fifth Fleet and the newly created 10th Army comprised of the 7th, 27th, 77th and 96th Infantry Divisions and the 1st, 2nd and 6th Marine Divisions were unleashed 1 April 1945. Fighting on Okinawa was of the fiercest of all the Pacific and casualties on both sides over 100,000. The fighting was not just on the island as Naval engagement resulted in the loss of many ships; the US losing 12 destroyers and the Japanese 5 plus the loss of their battleship Yamato. The 5th Fleet was also supported by the navies of Canada, Great Britain, New Zealand and Australia.

22 June would mark the end of this battle with the US on Japan's doorstep, it would only be a matter of time before an invasion of the mainland would occur and Pearl Harbor would be completely avenged.

B-29 Superfortress

Distances between enemy garrisons were greater in the Pacific than in Europe. B-17s and B-29s could fly from England into the heart of Germany, but in the Pacific logistics necessitated the need for a bomber to have greater range.

The B-29 had been under design for a few years before 1944 with a prototype flying in 1942. But before it went into full production the B-24 and B-17 would have to suffice. By early 1944 aircraft were delivered and the overseas units of the new XX Bomber Command in the CBI were the first operational units to have them.

After the capture of Guam, Saipan and Tinian, hundreds of B-29s would be based there. From these islands the Japanese mainland was within their range. At first bombing was done at high altitude frequently above 30,000 feet and out of the range of any Japanese fighter. However, tricky winds made accuracy difficult. General Curtis LeMay, Air Corps, Commanding, made a decision to have the large bombers drop to lower altitudes and begin using incendiary bombs which would become extremely effective against their targets. B-29s hit cities and industry as well as military installations. They were also used to drop mines into harbors.

It is the most well known of all B-29s, the Enola Gay that dropped the first Atomic Bomb, however, the overall devastation brought about by the Superforts' cumulative missions must not be underestimated.

Hiroshima & Nagasaki

The US had been racing to develop an atomic bomb and had been training a specific group to deliver this weapon should it be decided to be used. President Truman gave the go ahead and upon orders by Curtis LeMay the 509 Composite group commanded by Colonel Paul Tibbets was to fly the mission. The first bomb, nicknamed "Little Boy", would be dropped from Tibbets' B-29 called the Enola Gay on Hiroshima, Japan on 6 August 1945.

On 9 August, a second atomic bomb, "Fat Man" was dropped on Nagasaki from the B-29 known as Bockscar piloted by Major Charles Sweeney.

Between those dates a firebombing mission of nearly 1000 B-29s was flown.

Victory over Japan, V-J Day

August 14/15 is the day when Japan signaled their unconditional surrender. Some countries celebrate this day as V-J Day. The formal surrender on the battleship USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay by representatives of the Japanese government did not take place until 2 September 1945.

World War II was officially over. But another undeclared war had started, one not fought with bullets and armies in the traditional sense. The Cold War as historians would call it would last for decades with regional conflicts and a number of standoffs and clandestine activity.

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European-African-Middle East Theater

Campaigns

Egypt-Libya: 11 June 1942 - 12 February 1943
Air Offensive, Europe: 4 July 1942 - 5 June 1944
Algeria-French Morocco: 8 - 11 November 1942
Tunisia: 17 November 1942 - 13 May 1943
Sicily: 9 July - 17 August 1943
Naples-Foggia: 9 September 1943 - 21 January 1944
Anzio: 22 January - 24 May 1944
Rome-Arno: 22 January - 9 September 1944
Normandy: 6 June - 24 July 1944
Northern France: 25 July - 14 September 1944
Southern France: 15 August - 14 September 1944
North Apennines: 10 September 1944 - 4 April 1945
Rhineland: 15 September 1944 - 21 March 1945
Ardennes-Alsace: 16 December 1944 - 25 January 1945
Central Europe: 22 March - 11 May 1945
Po Valley: 5 April - 8 May 1945

Operation Bolero

Following the US official entry into World War II a buildup of land and air forces in Great Britain was needed and this movement was known as Operation Bolero. Initially, the end result of Bolero was to establish enough men and material in England for a cross channel invasion scheduled for 1943. Warships and Merchant Marine began transporting more supplies than during the Battle of Britain and months leading up to December 7, 1941. They also began transporting soldiers and ground crews for the Air Forces. Engineers and equipment would be needed to build airfields and many bombers began overseas flights via Greenland and the North Atlantic. However, a change in strategy that postponed the European mainland invasion and initiated offensive operations in North Africa in what would be known as Operation Torch, interrupted Bolero. Great Britain would continue to receive new combat units but not at the pace forecasted and required for a 1943 English Channel crossing.

Operation Torch

Instead of launching a cross-channel invasion in 1943, Churchill and the British convinced Roosevelt that North Africa should be the first offensive target. Operation Torch was an American and British operation that would feature landings in both Morocco and Algeria. In addition to infantry and armored divisions, fighter and bomber groups that had been in England were utilized and would form the new 12th Air Force. Many of the men came direct from stateside, crossing the Atlantic. Landings in Northwest Africa began on 8 November 1942, the first of many engagements with the Germans and Italians began. It would be over two and one half years before all of Europe would be free from the Nazis.

Battle of Kasserine Pass

The German army had been fighting since 1939 and doing so in the desert for nearly two years. American divisions were entering combat for the first time and the first heavy engagements did not go well. The Germans were under the command of Field Marshall Edwin Rommel known as the Desert Fox for his innovative tactics with the Afrika Korps. The British were finally getting the upper hand in North Africa, pushing the Germans out of Egypt and Libya. Rommel turned many of his Panzer forces West and attacked the Americans inflicting a lot of damage to the fresh troops. The trial by fire prompted many changes in II Corps' command and tactics. On 19 February, Rommel attacked the Kasserine Pass. This time the Americans and their Allies were waiting. Their defense included the employment of aircraft along with the artillery and armor. In the end the Allies turned Kasserine into a victory and began the final push of the Germans out of Tunisia and off of the African continent securing it on 13 May 1943.

Sicily Landings

After securing Africa and gaining control of most of the Southern Mediterranean Sea following capture of the island of Pantelleria, the allies turned their attention North. The offensive to capture the island of Sicily was code named Operation Husky and securing it would more securely open the Mediterranean Sea lanes. Some divisions now combat veterans participated in this operation as were some divisions making their first combat engagements. Husky began on 9 July 1943 and would last six weeks until 17 August.

The British Eighth Army landed on the eastern shores while the American Seventh Army landed on the South beaches of the Gulf of Gela. The amphibious landing was comprised of the 1st, 3rd and 45th Infantry Divisions along with the 82nd Airborne. The final objective was the port of Messina on the northeast coast overlooking the narrow strait an ideal launching pad to the Italian mainland.

Italian Campaign

Following the conclusion of the Sicily campaign it was time to assault Italy. On 3 September 1943 the first of three lines of attack began. First was the British landing on the toe of Italy. Then on the 9th British forces landed at Taranto in the heel and US Fifth Army forces landed at Salerno. During the first days the Italian government surrendered, however the Germans would continue fighting on Italian soil until May 1945.

The British experienced early success moving up the eastern section of the country capturing the desirable area of Foggia that became the home for the airfields of the soon to be formed 15th Air Force. The Americans found the going tougher trying to reach Naples. By October, the Germans had a plan creating defensive walls that stretched from the east to west coasts and south of Rome. Technically not walls but emplacements of men and guns they were enhanced by some of the rugged terrain afforded by the central highlands of the country.

The main line of defense was called the Gustav Line and it was here that the Germans really dug in for what would be the winter of 1943-44. An end run on the west coast by the Americans with a landing of Anzio got bottled up and it would be May 1944 before the Gustav Line was fully breached. On the 4th of June Rome was liberated. For over six months the heavy bombers, B-17s and B-24s had been flying from the Foggia airfields hitting targets into Austria and Germany.

By the fall, the allies were approaching the final German defensive line known as the Gothic Line. Strategically, offensive ground operations were slowed for the winter in an effort to continue to have the enemy expend men and materiel. The spring would provide better weather for offensive operations. Throughout the winter Army Air Forces heavies continued to hit strategic targets in enemy territory and tactical air pounded the defensive positions wearing down the German Army.

Offensive operations began on 6 April breaking the Gustav line along many points extending North and along both the east and west coasts. German Army Group C was thoroughly defeated and surrendered on the 2nd of May.

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Strategic Bombing Campaign

Beginning in late 1942 and continuing until the German surrender the British and American Air Forces employed a campaign to destroy German industry and the German Luftwaffe. B-17s and B-24s of the 8th Air Force flew from England and the 12th then 15th Air Force flew from Tunisia and then Italy. Missions containing as many as 1000 aircraft pounded targets from the front lines to Berlin. Strategic targets destroyed included oil, armament and aircraft factories and the talented pilots of American and British fighter groups contributed to the destruction of the Luftwaffe.

D-Day

The designated day to begin an operation, typically referred to as d-day had been a term used for ages, however, 6 June 1944 would become known as D-Day, the exemplification of all d-days before and to come. Since the end of the Battle of Britain the allies conceived of a day when they would assault Fortress Europe and begin to drive the Germans out of the occupied countries.

Initially 1943 was to have the cross-channel invasion, but various delays and changes in strategy pushed it back to 1944. Throughout 1943 and into 1944 more divisions were brought to England. Men were equipped and trained. Americans, British and their Allies were poised and ready under the overall command of General Dwight David Eisenhower nicknamed Ike.

In the early morning of 6 June 1944 the largest amphibious landing force in history began landing on the beaches of Normandy, France. Designated beaches named Gold, Juno, Sword, Utah and Omaha were assaulted by the allies in their quest to liberate France.

The US 1st Army V Corps comprised of the 1st Infantry and 29th Infantry Divisions landed at Omaha Beach. VII Corps made up of the 4th Infantry, 90th Infantry Divisions and 82nd Airborne and 101st Airborne Divisions landed at Utah Beach. British 2nd Army, 50th Infantry Division if XXX Corps landed at Gold Beach. I Corps, 3rd Canadian Infantry Division landed at Juno while the British 3rd Infantry Division and 6th Airborne Division would land at Sword.

Initial waves struggled but gains were made throughout the day. A number of initial objectives were not obtained for days, but by the end of D-Day itself the allies were not going to be repulsed, a beachhead had been established.

Invasion of Southern France

As the allies expanded their beachhead and were ready to breakout of their lodgement they wanted to press the advantage they were building in Europe. This would take the form of an invasion of Southern France. This amphibious landing would not be as large as D-Day but did provide a spearhead that would propel 7th Army across the southern side of the German lines. The 3rd, 36th and 45th Infantry Divisions would constitute the main landing forces. Operation Dragoon began on 15 August comprised of the units that had shipped or were flown from Italy to the beachhead. The objective was to cut off German units retreating from Normandy but within 30 days those units had slipped by but would face the American units again in the Vosges Mountains as the allies approached the German frontier.

Operation Market Garden

The Allied armies moved across France liberating Paris following their breakout of the Normandy beachhead. The rapid advance embolded the Allied high command to approve a plan by British General Bernard Montgomery for an operation with an overall objective to capture the Ruhr industrial area and possibly end the war by Christmas.

A dual-force attack with airborne units of the 1st Allied Airborne Army as the Market component and British XXX Corps as the ground Garden component was scheduled to begin on 17 September 1944. The airborne units were the British 1st Airborne Division and the US 82nd Airborne and 101st Airborne Divisions.

The airborne units were tasked with capturing and holding numerous bridges across the Meuse and Rhine rivers creating a path for the ground unit. The ground units of XXX Corps were to race up along the rivers with a final destination of the bridge at Arnhem. Between were important river crossings at Son and Nijmegen.

A strict timetable had been established, however many delays in capturing various objectives upset this delicate schedule and placed the whole operation in jeopardy. When the schedule fell too far behind issues of supply and reinforcement for the Br. 1st Airborne at Arnhem became perilous and caused the whole operation to fail and on the 25th the allies withdrew to their original battle lines. No more audacious plans or extreme thrusts would be undertaken again and a slow, methodical destruction of the Germans would rule the day, but first the allies had to solve all their supply problems.

Battle of the Bulge

The British 1st Army, US 3rd Army and 7th Army had pushed their way to the edge of the German frontier. Their advance had been so rapid that they stretched their lines of supply, additionally winter was around the corner.

New divisions continued to arrive in Europe throughout the Fall of 1944 adding to the re-supply problems as these units were plugged into the lines. Against superior forces and the beating they had been taking there was not much thought to the Germans being able to launch any type of offensive. One such new division was the 106th Infantry Division; they had just arrived in France on 6 December and crossed into Belgium on the 10th. As some of the worst weather in history arrived in Europe dumping snow along with plummeting temperatures, the 106th deployed in a quiet sector of the mountainous and tree-filled Ardennes.

On 16 December the Germans surprised the Allies with a major offensive thrust of seven armored divisions and thirteen infantry divisions. The spearhead went straight through the Ardennes mauling most American units including the 106th causing the capture of 6000 men by the 19th.

The southern elements of the attack went straight for and past the town of Bastogne with a goal to reach the port of Antwerp. Elements of the 101st Airborne stubbornly held onto Bastogne even though they were surrounded and under siege. By the 25th the Germans had advances more than 30 kilometers east of Bastogne to the town of Celles just short of Dinant. The offensive had created a huge bulge in the allied lines, thus giving way to the nickname, Battle of the Bulge even though the campaign was called the Ardennes-Alsace Campaign. Weather had grounded air support and resupply, but the 101st would not surrender Bastogne restraining some of the German units from continuing their offensive.

On December 26th the weather started to clear enabling the Army Air Forces to fly again. Supplies for Bastogne and attacks on the German armor ensued, halting the German advance. Slowly regrouped, resupplied and reinforced American units began to retake the German gains. The Allies would quadruple the number of men and material to the fight over the next 30 days in the form of 16 infantry divisions and 6 armored divisions adding over 2,000 tanks, 1, 400 tank destroyers and assault guns, 2,200 anti-tank and artillery pieces and 5,000 other armored fighting vehicles. By 25 January 1945 the battle lines had returned to lines of 15 December. The Battle of the Bulge was over.

Operation Varsity

By the Spring of 1945, Allied troops were on German soil with one large land obstacle impeding their advance; the Rhine River. Operation Varsity was the last and largest daylight airborne operation of the war tasked with landing on the east shores of the Rhine and capturing strategic bridges for the infantry and armored divisions to cross.

On 24 March, over 16,000 paratroopers of the British 6th Airborne Division and the US 17th Airborne Division were dropped near the town of Wesel. The battle lasted one day with all the objectives obtained enabling a crossing of Montgomery's infantry and armored divisions into the Ruhr industrial area of Germany.

V-E Day

The last days of World War II were coming to an end. To the east, the Russians were approaching and then entering Berlin. On the west American and British and Canadian units had taken Bavaria the Ruhr and other areas of Germany. The German military surrendered to the allies on 7 May in Reims; on the 8th the surrender was enacted again in Berlin, it was V-E Day. World War II in Europe was finished, but the Cold War had already begun.

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Commands and Units

Infantry

1st Infantry Division: The 1st Infantry Division served in North Africa from November 1942 to May 1943, in Sicily from June 1943 to August 1943, and in Northwestern Europe from D-Day in June 1944 to V-E Day.
2nd Infantry Division: The 2nd Infantry Division served in Northwest Europe from D-Day in June 1944 to V-E Day.
3rd Infantry Division: The 3rd Infantry Division served in North Africa from November 1942, in Sicily from July 1943, in Italy from September 1943, and landed in Southern France in August 1944 and served until V-E Day.
4th Infantry Division: The 4th Infantry Division served in Northwest Europe from D-Day in June 1944 to V-E Day.
5th Infantry Division: The 5th Infantry Division served in Northwest Europe from July 1944 until V-E Day.
6th Infantry Division: The 6th Infantry Division served in the Pacific from January 1944 to V-J Day.
7th Infantry Division: The 7th Infantry Division served in the Pacific from May 1943 to V-J Day.
8th Infantry Division: The 8th Infantry Division served in Northwest Europe from July 1944 to V-E Day.
9th Infantry Division: The 9th Infantry Division landed in North Africa in November 1942, in Sicily in July 1943, in Italy in September 1943, and in Northwest Europe from June 1944 to V-E Day.
23rd Infantry Division: Formed as the Americal Division in 1942, served in the Pacific from October 1942 to V-J Day.
24th Infantry Division: Formed in 1941, the 24th Infantry Division served in the Pacific from April 1944 to V-J Day.
25th Infantry Division: Formed in 1941, the 25th Infantry Division served in the Pacific Theater from December 1942 to V-J Day.
26th Infantry Division: Formed in 1941, the 26th Infantry Division served in Northwest Europe from September 1944 until V-E Day.
27th Infantry Division: Formed in 1940, the 27th Infantry Division served in the Pacific from June 1944 to V-J Day.
28th Infantry Division: Formed in 1941, the 28th Infantry Division served in Northwest Europe from July 1944 to V-E Day.
29th Infantry Division: Formed in 1941, the 29th Infantry Division served in Northwest Europe from D-Day 6 June 1944 to V-E Day.
30th Infantry Division: Formed in 1940, the 30th Infantry Division served in Northwest Europe from June 1944 until V-E Day.
31st Infantry Division: Formed in 1940, the 31st Infantry Division served in the Pacific from March 1944 until V-J Day.
32nd Infantry Division: Formed in 1940, the 32nd Infantry Division served in the Pacific from September 1942 until V-J Day.
33rd Infantry Division: Formed in 1941, the 33rd Infantry Division served in the Pacific from December 1944 to the end of the war, V-J Day.
34th Infantry Division: Formed in 1941, the 34th Infantry Division served in North Africa from November 1942 to May 1943, and in Italy from September 1943 to the end of the war, V-E Day.
35th Infantry Division: Formed in 1940, the 35th Infantry Division served in Northwest Europe from July 1944 to the end of the war in 1945.
36th Infantry Division: Formed in 1940, the 36th Infantry Division served in North Africa from April to May 1943, in Italy from September 1943 to July 1944, and in Southern France from August 1944 to the end of the war on V-E Day May 1945.
37th Infantry Division: Formed in 1940, the 37th Infantry Division served in the Pacific from July 1943 to the end of the war. V-J Day September 1945.
38th Infantry Division: Formed in 1941, the 38th Infantry Division served in the Pacific from December 1944 to the end of the war.
40th Infantry Division: Formed in 1941, the 40th Infantry Division served in the Pacific from April 1944 to V-J Day in 1945.
41st Infantry Division: Formed in 1940, the 41st Infantry Division served in the Pacific from January 1943 to V-J Day, 2 September 1945.
42nd Infantry Division: Formed in 1943, the 42nd Infantry Division served in Northwest Europe from January 1945 to V-E Day.
43rd Infantry Division: Formed in 1941, the 43rd Infantry Division served in the Pacific from July 1943 to V-J Day September 1945.
44th Infantry Division: Formed in 1940, the 44th Infantry Division served in Northwest Europe from September 1944 until May 1945.
45th Infantry Division: Formed in 1940, the 45th Infantry Division served in Sicily in July and August 1943, then in Italy through July 1944, and in Northwest Europe via the Invasion of Southern France from August 1944 to V-E Day.
63rd Infantry Division: Formed in 1943, the 63rd Infantry Division served in Northwest Europe from January 1945 to the end of the war, May 1945.
65th Infantry Division: Formed in 1943, the 65th Infantry Division served in Northwest Europe from January 1945 to the end of the war in May 1945.
66th Infantry Division: Formed in 1943, the 66th Infantry Division served in Northwest Europe from December 1944 to the end of the war, May 1945. V-E Day.
69th Infantry Division: Formed in 1943, the 69th Infantry Division served in Europe from 12 February 1945 until V-E Day.
70th Infantry Division: Formed in 1943, the 70th Infantry Division served in Europe from 28 December 1944 until V-E Day in May 1945.
71st Infantry Division: Formed in 1943, the 71st Infantry Division served in Europe from 11 March 1945 until V-E Day.
75th Infantry Division: Formed in 1943, the 75th Infantry Division saw their first combat in the Battle of the Bulge served until 13 April 1945.
76th Infantry Division: Existing prior to 1940, the 76th Infantry Division served in Northwest Europe from January 1945 until the end of the war in Europe 1945.
77th Infantry Division: Existing prior to 1940, the 77th Infantry Division served in the Pacific from 21 July 1944 until V-E Day.
78th Infantry Division: Existing prior to 1940, the 78th Infantry Division served in Northwest Europe from 10 December 1944 to V-E Day.
79th Infantry Division: Existing prior to 1940, the 79th Infantry Division served in Europe from June 1944 until April 1945.
80th Infantry Division: Existing prior to 1940, the 80th Infantry Division served in Northwest and Central Europe from August 1944 until April 1945.
81st Infantry Division: Existing prior to 1940, the 81st Infantry Division served in the Pacific from June 1944 V-J Day September 1945.
83rd Infantry Division: Existing prior to 1940, the 83rd Infantry Division served in Northwest and Central Europe from 27 June 1944 to 6 May 1945. 2 days before V-E Day.
84th Infantry Division: Existing prior to 1940, the 84th Infantry Division served in Northwest and Central Europe from 18 November 1944 to 2 May 1945.
85th Infantry Division: Existing prior to 1940, the 85th Infantry Division served in Italy from 10 April 1944 to 2 May 1945.
86th Infantry Division: Existing prior to 1940, the 86th Infantry Division served in Germany from 24 March 1945 until Victory in Europe Day 8 May 1945; then were redeployed to the Philippines on August 1945 until V-J Day.
87th Infantry Division: Existing prior to 1940, the 87th Infantry Division served in Europe from 12 November 1944 to V-E Day.
88th Infantry Division: Existing prior to 1940, the 88th Infantry Division served in North Africa and Southern and Central Europe from December 1943 until 2 May 1945.
89th Infantry Division: Existing prior to 1940, the 89th Infantry Division served in Central Europe from January 1945 until Victory in Europe, V-E Day.
90th Infantry Division: Existing prior to 1940, the 90th Infantry Division served in Europe from 6 June 1944 to V-E Day on 8 May 1945.
91st Infantry Division: Existing prior to 1940, the 91st Infantry Division served Southern Europe from January 1943 to V-E Day.
92nd Infantry Division: Existing prior to 1940, the 92nd Infantry Division served in Italy from 1942 to 1945.
93rd Infantry Division: Existing prior to 1940, the 93rd Infantry Division served in the South Pacific from 1944 to V-J Day.
94th Infantry Division: Formed in 1942, the 94th Infantry Division served in Northwest Europe and Central Europe from September 1944 until VE Day.
95th Infantry Division: Formed in 1942, the 95th Infantry Division served in Northwest Europe from October 1944 to April 1945.
96th Infantry Division: Formed in 1942, the 96th Infantry Division served in the Pacific Theater from October 1944 to June 1945.
97th Infantry Division: Formed in 1943, the 97th Infantry Division served in Europe 19 February 1945 until V-E Day.
98th Infantry Division: Formed in 1942, the 98th Infantry Division was stationed in the Hawaii Territory beginning on 19 April 1944 but did not see combat.
99th Infantry Division: Formed in 1942, the 99th Infantry Division served in Europe until April 1945.
100th Infantry Division: Formed in 1942, the 100th Infantry Division served in Europe until VE Day.
102nd Infantry Division: Activated in 1942, the 102nd Infantry Division served in Europe from November 1944 until V-E Day.
103rd Infantry Division: Activated in 1942, the 103rd Infantry Division served in Europe from November 1944 until May 1945 V-E Day.
104th Infantry Division: The 104th Infantry Division served in Europe from August 1944 through V-E Day.
106th Infantry Division: Formed in 1942, the 106th Infantry Division served in Northwest Europe until April 1945.

Armored

1st Armored Division: Formed in 1940, the 1st Armored Division served in North Africa from November 1942 to May 1943 and in Italy from October 1943 until V-E Day.
2nd Armored Division: Formed in 1940, the 2nd Armored Division served in North Africa from November 1942 to May 1943, landed in Sicily in July 1943, and entered France in June 1944 remaining until V-E Day.
3rd Armored Division: Formed in 1941, the 3rd Armored Division served in Northwest Europe from June 1944 to V-E Day.
4th Armored Division: Formed in 1941, the 4th Armored Division served in Northwest Europe from July 1944 to V-E Day.
5th Armored Division: Formed in 1941, the 5th Armored Division served in Northwest Europe from July 1944 to V-E Day.
6th Armored Division: Formed in 1942, the 6th Armored Division served in Northwest Europe from July 1944 to V-E Day.
7th Armored Division: Formed in 1942, the 7th Armored Division served in Northwest Europe from August 1944 to V-E Day.
8th Armored Division: Formed in 1942, the 8th Armored Division served in Europe from January 1945 to V-E Day.
9th Armored Division: Formed in 1942, the 9th Armored Division served in Europe from December 1944 to V-E Day.
10th Armored Division: Formed in 1942, the 10th Armored Division served in Europe from September 1944 to V-E Day.
11th Armored Division: Formed in 1942, the 11th Armored Division served in Europe from December 1944 to V-E Day.
12th Armored Division: Formed in 1942, the 12th Armored Division served in Europe from November 1944 to V-E Day.
13th Armored Division: Formed in 1942, the 13th Armored Division served in Europe from January 1945 to V-E Day.
14th Armored Division: Formed in 1942, the 14th Armored Division served in Europe from October 1944 to V-E Day.
16th Armored Division: Formed in 1942, the 16th Armored Division served in Europe from February 1945 to V-E Day.
20th Armored Division: Formed in 1942, the 20th Armored Division served in Europe from February 1945 to V-E Day.

Cavalry

1st Cavalry Division: Existing prior to 1940, the 1st Cavalry Division served in the Pacific from December 1943 to V-J Day.
2nd Cavalry Division: Formed in 1942, the 2nd Cavalry Division was never in combat but were stationed overseas assigned to construct airfields in North Africa. It was deactivated in 1944.

Airborne

11th Airborne Division: Formed February 1943, the 11th Airborne Division served in the Pacific from June 1944 until V-J Day.
82nd Airborne Division: On 15 August 1942 re-designated as Airborne. The 82nd Airborne Division served in the ETO from April 1943 until V-E Day.
101st Airborne Division: Activated 16 August 1942. The 101st Airborne Division served in the ETO from 6 June 1944, D-Day until V-E Day.

Air Corps

1st Air Force: Northeast US Command
2nd Air Force: Northwest US Command
3rd Air Force: Southeast US Command
4th Air Force: Southwest US Command
5th Air Force: Southwest Pacific, Australia
6th Air Force: Panama, Galapagos
7th Air Force: Hawaii, Central Pacific
8th Air Force: England, ETO - Strategic
9th Air Force: England, ETO - Tactical
10th Air Force: China Burma India - CBI
11th Air Force: Alaska
12th Air Force: North Africa, Italy / Mediterranean - Tactical
13th Air Force: Western Pacific
14th Air Force: China
15th Air Force: Italy - Strategic
20th Air Force: Saipan, Tinian - Strategic

Marine Corps

1st Marine Division, full division active since 1 February 1941, deployed to the Pacific
2nd Marine Division, full division active since 1 February 1941, partly deployed to Iceland in 1941, then deployed in the Pacific
3rd Marine Division, formed on 16 September 1942, deployed to the Pacific
4th Marine Division
5th Marine Division
6th Marine Division

Navy

Home Fleet: North Sea and English Channel.
Mediterranean Fleet: Mediterranean Sea.
South Atlantic Station: South Atlantic and South Africa.
America & West Indies Station: East and West US Coasts, Caribbean Sea.
Eastern Fleet - East Indies Station: Indian Ocean, Australian Waters.
Eastern Fleet - Dutch East Indies Station: North and Western Pacific.

 1st Infantry Division
 2nd Infantry Division
 3rd Infantry Division
 4th Infantry Division
 5th Infantry Division
 6th Infantry Division
 7th Infantry Division
 8th Infantry Division
 9th Infantry Division
 10th Mountain Division
 11th Airborne Division
 24th Infantry Division
 25th Infantry Division
 26th Infantry Division
 27th Infantry Division
 28th Infantry Division
 29th Infantry Division
 30th Infantry Division
 31st Infantry Division
 32nd Infantry Division
 33rd Infantry Division
 34th Infantry Division
 35th Infantry Division
 36th Infantry Division
 37th Infantry Division
 38th Infantry Division
 40th Infantry Division
 41st Infantry Division
 42nd Infantry Division
 43rd Infantry Division
 44th Infantry Division
 45th Infantry Division
 63rd Infantry Division
 65th Infantry Division
 66th Infantry Division
 69th Infantry Division
 70th Infantry Division
 71st Infantry Division
 75th Infantry Division
 76th Infantry Division
 77th Infantry Division
 78th Infantry Division
 79th Infantry Division
 80th Infantry Division
 81st Infantry Division
 83rd Infantry Division
 84th Infantry Division
 85th Infantry Division
 86th Infantry Division
 87th Infantry Division
 88th Infantry Division
 89th Infantry Division
 90th Infantry Division
 94th Infantry Division
 95th Infantry Division
 96th Infantry Division
 97th Infantry Division
 99th Infantry Division
 100th Infantry Division
 102nd Infantry Division
 103rd Infantry Division
 104th Infantry Division
 106th Infantry Division
 Americal Infantry Division
 1st Cavalry Division
 17th Airborne Division
 82nd Airborne Division
 101st Airborne Division
 1st Armored Division
 2nd Armored Division
 3rd Armored Division
 4th Armored Division
 5th Armored Division
 6th Armored Division
 7th Armored Division
 8th Armored Division
 9th Armored Division
 10th Armored Division
 11th Armored Division
 12th Armored Division
 13th Armored Division
 14th Armored Division
 16th Armored Division
 20th Armored Division
 1st Special Service Force
 442nd Regimental Combat Team
 Tank Destroyer Units
 Army Rangers
 Army Personnel Amphibious
 1st Marine Division
 2nd Marine Division
 3rd Marine Division
 4th Marine Division
 5th Marine Division
 6th Marine Division
 US Navy Atlantic Fleet
 US Navy Pacific Fleet



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