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The U.S. Army Campaigns

of World War II

A Brief History of the U.S. Army

in World War II






World War II was the largest and most violent armed conflict in the
history of mankind. However, the half century that now separates us from
that conflict has exacted its toll on our collective knowledge. While
World War II continues to absorb the interest of military scholars and
historians, as well as its veterans, a generation of Americans has grown
to maturity largely unaware of the political, social, and military
implications of a war that, more than any other, united us as a people
with a common purpose.

Highly relevant today, World War II has much to teach us, not only about
the profession of arms, but also about military preparedness, global
strategy, and combined operations in the coalition war against fascism.
During the next several years, the U.S. Army will participate in the
nation's 50th anniversary commemoration of World War II. The
commemoration will include the publication of various materials to help
educate Americans about that war. The works produced will provide great
opportunities to learn about and renew pride in an Army that fought so
magnificently in what has been called "the mighty endeavor."

A Brief History of the U.S. Army in World War II highlights the major
ground force campaigns during the six years of the war, offers
suggestions for further reading, and provides Americans an opportunity
to learn about the Army's role in World War II. This brochure was
prepared at the U.S. Army Center of Military History by Wayne M.
Dzwonchyk (Europe) and John Ray Skates (Pacific). I hope this absorbing
account of that period will enhance your appreciation of American
achievements during World War II.

M. P. W. Stone

Secretary of the Army


"OMAHA Beach" by Gary Sheahan. This was the one sector of the Normandy
coast where the German defenses had begun to reach the expectations of
Field Marshal Rommel, and here the Allied invasion of France faced its
greatest crisis. (Army Art Collection)

The War in Europe

World War I left unresolved the question of who would dominate Europe.
The tremendous dislocations caused by the war laid the groundwork for
the collapse of democratic institutions there and set the stage for a
second German attempt at conquest. A worldwide depression that began in
1929 destroyed the fragile democratic regime in Germany. In 1933 Adolf
Hitler led to power the National Socialist German Workers' (Nazi) Party,
a mass movement that was virulently nationalistic, antidemocratic, and
anti-Semitic. He ended parliamentary government, assumed dictatorial
powers, and proclaimed the Third Reich. The Nazi government increased
the strength of the German armed forces and sought to overturn the
Versailles Treaty, to recover German territory lost at the peace
settlement, and to return to the so-called Fatherland German-speaking
minorities within the borders of surrounding countries.

The ultimate goal of Hitler's policy was to secure "living space" for
the German "master race" in eastern Europe. A gambler by instinct,
Hitler relied on diplomatic bluff and military innovation to overcome
Germany's weaknesses. He played skillfully on the divisions among the
European powers to gain many of his aims without war. With the Italian
Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini he announced a Rome-Berlin alliance
(the Axis) in 1935. Meanwhile, in the Far East, the Japanese--the only
Asian industrial power--coveted the natural resources of China and
Southeast Asia, but found their expansion blocked by European colonial
powers or by the United States. Having seized Manchuria in 1931, they
began a war against China in 1937. The League of Nations failed to
counter effectively Japanese aggression in Manchuria and an Italian
invasion of Ethiopia. Soon Germany, Italy, and Japan became allies,
facing Western democratic governments that wanted to avoid another war
and the Soviet Union whose Communist government was widely distrusted.

The people of the United States, having rejected the Versailles Treaty
and the Covenant of the League of Nations after World War I, remained
largely indifferent to most international concerns. They firmly
discounted the likelihood of American involvement in another major war,
except perhaps with Japan. Isolationist strength in Congress led to the
passage of the Neutrality Act of 1937, making it unlawful for the United
States to trade with belligerents. American policy aimed at continental
defense and designated the Navy as the first line of such defense. The
Army's role was to serve as the nucleus of a mass mobilization that
would defeat any invaders who managed to fight their way past the Navy
and the nation's powerful coastal defense installations. The National
Defense Act of 1920 allowed an Army of 280,000, the largest in peacetime
history, but until 1939 Congress never appropriated funds to pay for
much more than half of that strength. Most of the funds available for
new equipment went to the fledgling air corps. Throughout most of the
interwar period, the Army was tiny and insular, filled with hard-bitten,
long-serving volunteers scattered in small garrisons throughout the
continental United States, Hawaii, the Philippines, and Panama.

Yet some innovative thinking and preparation for the future took place
in the interwar Army. Experiments with armored vehicles and
motorization, air-ground cooperation, and the aerial transport of troops
came to nothing for lack of resources and of consistent high-level
support. The Army did, however, develop an interest in amphibious
warfare and in related techniques that were then being pioneered by the
U.S. Marine Corps. By the outbreak of war the Signal Corps was a leader
in improving radio communications, and American artillery practiced the
most sophisticated fire-direction and -control techniques in the world.
In addition, war plans for various contingencies had been drawn up, as
had industrial and manpower mobilization plans. During the early 1930s
Col. George C. Marshall, assistant commandant of the Infantry School at
Fort Benning, Georgia, had earmarked a number of younger officers for
leadership positions. Despite such preparations, the Army as a whole was
unready for the war that broke out in Europe on 1 September 1939.

The Outbreak of War

During March 1938 German troops had occupied Austria, incorporating it
into the Reich. In September Hitler announced that the "oppression" of
ethnic Germans living in Czechoslovakia was intolerable and that war was
near. England and France met with Hitler (the Munich Pact) and compelled
Czechoslovakia to cede its frontier districts to Germany in order to
secure "peace in our time." Peace, however, was only an illusion. During
March 1939 Hitler seized the rest of Czechoslovakia by force of arms and
then turned his attention to Poland. Although Britain and France had
guaranteed the integrity of Poland, Hitler and Josef Stalin, dictator of
the Soviet Union, signed a secret, mutual nonaggression pact in August
1939. With the pact Stalin bought time to build up his strength at the
expense of Britain and France, and Hitler gained a free hand to deal
with Poland. When Hitler's army invaded Poland on 1 September 1939,
World War II began.

While German forces overran western Poland, Soviet troops entered from
the east to claim their portion of that country. France and Britain
declared war on Germany and mobilized their forces. The subsequent
period of deceptive inactivity, lasting until spring, became known as
the Phony War. Nothing happened to indicate that World War II would
differ significantly in style or tempo from World War I.

But the years since 1918 had brought important developments in the use
of tanks. A number of students of war--the British Sir Basil Liddell
Hart and J. F. C. Fuller, the Frenchman Charles de Gaulle, the American
George S. Patton, and the Germans Oswald Lutz and Heinz
Guderian--believed that armored vehicles held the key to restoring
decision to the battlefield. But only the Germans conceived the idea of
massing tanks in division-size units, with infantry, artillery,
engineers, and other supporting arms mechanized and all moving at the
same pace. Moreover, only Lutz and Guderian received the enthusiastic
support of their government.

In the spring of 1940 their theories were put to the test as German
forces struck against Norway and Denmark in April; invaded the
Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg in May; and late in the same month
broke through a hilly, wooded district in France. Their columns sliced
through to the English Channel, cutting off British and French troops in
northern France and Belgium. The French Army, plagued by low morale,
divided command, and primitive communications, fell apart. The British
evacuated their forces from Dunkerque with the loss of most of their
equipment. The Germans entered Paris on 14 June, and the French
government, defeatist and deeply divided politically, sued for an
armistice. The success of the German Blitzkrieg forced the remaining
combatants to rethink their doctrine and restructure their armies.

With his forces occupying northern France and with a puppet French
government established in the south, Hitler launched the Luftwaffe
against the airfields and cities of England to pave the way for an
invasion. Britain's survival hung by a thread. From July to October
1940, while German landing barges and invasion forces waited on the
Channel coasts, the Royal Air Force, greatly outnumbered drove the
Luftwaffe from the daytime skies in the legendary Battle of Britain. At
sea the British Navy, with increasing American cooperation, fought a
desperate battle against German submarine packs to keep the North
Atlantic open. British pugnacity finally forced Hitler to abandon all
plans to invade England.

In February Hitler sent troops under Lt. Gen. Erwin Rommel to aid the
Italians who were fighting against the British in North Africa. German
forces coming to the aid of the Italians in the Balkans routed a British
expedition in Greece, and German paratroopers seized the important
island of Crete. Then, in June 1944, Hitler turned against his supposed
ally, the Soviet Union, with the full might of the German armed forces.

Armored spearheads thrust deep into Soviet territory, driving toward
Leningrad, Moscow, and the Ukraine and cutting off entire Soviet armies.
Despite tremendous losses, Russian military forces withdrew farther into
the country and continued to resist. Nazi expectations of a quick
victory evaporated, and the onset of winter caught the Germans
unprepared. Thirty miles short of Moscow their advance ground to a halt,
and the Soviets launched massive counterattacks.

The Germans withstood the counterattacks and resumed their offensive the
following spring. The Soviets, now locked in a titanic death struggle,
faced the bulk of the German land forces--over two hundred divisions.
The front stretched for 2,000 miles, from the Arctic Circle to the Black
Sea. Soon casualties ran into the millions. Waging war with the
implacable ruthlessness of totalitarian regimes, both sides committed
wholesale atrocities--mistreatment of prisoners of war, enslavement of
civilian populations, and, in the case of the Jews, outright genocide.

In the United States preparations for war moved slowly. General George
C. Marshall took over as Chief of Staff in 1939, but the Army remained
hard pressed simply to carry out its mission of defending the
continental United States. Defending overseas possessions like the
Philippines seemed a hopeless task. In early 1939, prompted by fears
that a hostile power might be able to establish air bases in the Western
Hemisphere, thus exposing the Panama Canal or continental United States
to aerial attack, President Franklin D. Roosevelt launched a limited
preparedness campaign. The power of the Army Air Corps increased; Army
and Navy leaders drafted a new series of war plans to deal with the
threatening international situation. The focus of military policy
changed from continental to hemisphere defense.

After the outbreak of war in Europe the President proclaimed a limited
emergency and authorized increases in the size of the Regular

"Barrage Balloon" by Alexander Brook. The reported ability of balloons
to interfere with low-level bombardment in Great Britain and Germany
spurred the Army to develop a barrage balloon force for continental
defense. (Army Art Collection)

Army and the National Guard. Congress amended the Neutrality Act to
permit munitions sales to the French and British, and large orders from
them stimulated retooling and laid the basis for the expansion of war
production in the future. The Army concentrated on equipping its regular
forces as quickly as possible and in 1940 held the first large-scale
corps and army maneuvers in American history. The rapid defeat of France
and the possible collapse of Britain dramatically accelerated defense
preparations. Roosevelt directed the transfer of large stocks of World
War I munitions to France and Britain in the spring of 1940 and went
further in September when he agreed to the transfer of fifty over-age
destroyers to Britain in exchange for bases in the Atlantic and
Caribbean. In March 1941 Congress repealed some provisions of the
Neutrality Act. Passage of the Lend-Lease Act, which gave the President
authority to sell, transfer, or lease war goods to the government of any
country whose defenses he deemed vital to the defense of the United
States, spelled the virtual end of neutrality. The President proclaimed
that the United States would become the "arsenal of democracy." In the
spring of 1941 American and British military representatives held their
first combined staff conferences to discuss strategy in the event of
active U.S. participation in the war, which seemed increasingly likely
to include Japan as well as Germany. The staffs agreed that if the
United States entered the war the Allies should concentrate on the
defeat of Germany first. The President authorized active naval patrols
in the western half of the Atlantic, and in July, American troops took
the place of British forces guarding Iceland.

Meanwhile, General Marshall and Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson made
plans to expand the Army to 1.5 million men. On 27 August 1940, Congress
approved inducting the National Guard into federal service and calling
up the reserves. A few weeks later the lawmakers passed the Selective
Service and Training Act, the first peacetime draft in American history.
By mid-1941 the Army had achieved its planned strength, with 27
infantry, 5 armored, and 2 cavalry divisions; 35 air groups; and a host
of support units. But it remained far from ready to deploy overseas
against well-equipped, experienced, and determined foes.

The United States Enters the War

On 7 December 1941, while German armies were freezing before Moscow,
Japan suddenly pushed the United States into the struggle by attacking
the American naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Four days later Hitler
declared war on the United States. President Roosevelt called on
Congress for immediate and massive expansion of the armed forces. Twenty
years of neglect and indifference, however, could not be overcome in a
few days.

Helpless as American garrisons in the Pacific fell to the Japanese in
the spring of 1942, military leaders in Washington worked feverishly to
create a headquarters that could direct a distant war effort and to turn
the fledgling ground and air units into viable, balanced fighting
forces. In early 1942 the Joint Chiefs of Staff emerged as a committee
of the nation's military leaders to advise the President and to
coordinate strategy with the British. In March the War Department
General Staff was reorganized and the Army divided into three major
commands: the Air Forces, Ground Forces, and Service Forces.
Thirty-seven Army divisions were in some state of training, but only one
was fully trained, equipped, and deployable by January 1942. Army
planners of the time estimated that victory would require an Army of
nearly 9 million men, organized into 215 combat divisions, estimates
that proved accurate regarding overall manpower but too ambitious for
the 90 divisions that eventually were established and supported on
far-flung battlefields.

Lt. Gen. Lesley J. McNair, head of Army Ground Forces and an ardent
advocate of mobile war, oversaw the development of armored and airborne
divisions. He directed the restructuring of existing organizations as
well, turning the old World War I "square" division based on four
infantry regiments into a lighter, more maneuverable triangular division
with three infantry regiments. A serious and continuing shortage of
Allied shipping space placed absolute limits on the size and
capabilities of Army units. New tables of organization stressed leanness
and mobility, sometimes at the expense of fighting power and endurance.
Billeting, training areas, and equipment were all in short supply.
American industry had to support the nation's Allies as well as its own
military expansion. Britain needed large amounts of munitions and
equipment; and lend-lease aid, including tens of thousands of trucks and
other vehicles and equipment, played an important part in mechanizing
the Soviet Army. Amphibious warfare required large numbers of landing
craft and support vessels, yet to be built. The first U.S. troops
arrived in the British Isles in January 1942, but nearly a year passed
before they went into action against the Axis. Meanwhile, air power
provided virtually the only means for the Allies to strike at Germany.
The Royal Air Force began its air offensive against Germany in May 1942,
and on 4 July the first American crews participated in air raids against
the Continent.

In early 1942 British and American leaders reaffirmed the priority of
the European theater. General Marshall argued for an immediate buildup
of American forces in Great Britain, a possible diversionary attack on
the Continent in the fall, and a definite full-scale invasion in 1943.
The British greeted this program with caution. Remembering the enormous
casualties of World War I, they preferred to strike at German power in
the Mediterranean, rather than risk a direct confrontation in haste.
Although acknowledging the eventual necessity for an invasion of France,
they hoped to defer it until much later. Instead, Prime Minister Winston
S. Churchill suggested Anglo-American landings in North Africa, bringing
the French armies in France's colonies there back into the war on the
side of the Allies and aiding the British in their fight against the
Italians and the forces of German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel. Months of
lively debate followed, but ultimately President Roosevelt directed
General Marshall to plan and carry out amphibious landings on the coast
of North Africa before the end of 1942.

The North African Campaign

Marshall ordered Lt. Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, then in England, to take
command of the invasion. Meeting the November deadline required
improvisation of every kind Army troops were hurriedly trained in
amphibious warfare. Technicians modified commercial vessels to serve as
landing ships. While General Eisenhower monitored operations from
Gibraltar, American forces, convoyed directly from the United States,
landed along the Atlantic coast of French Morocco, near Casablanca.
Meanwhile, American and British troops sailing from England landed in
Algeria. Despite efforts to win support among French military officers
in North Africa, some fighting occurred. Nevertheless negotiations soon
led to a cease-fire, and French units joined the Allied forces.

While the Allies tightened their grip on Morocco and Algeria, their
troops raced to reach strategic positions in neighboring Tunisia. A
month earlier the British in Egypt under Lt. Gen. Sir Bernard L.
Montgomery had mounted a powerful attack on the Germans at El Alamein,
sending Rommel and his German-Italian Panzer Army reeling back into
Libya. If strong Allied forces could reach the coast of Tunisia, Rommel
would be trapped between them and Montgomery's troops.

Awake to the threat, the Germans poured troops into Tunisia by air and
sea, brushing aside weak French forces there. Axis air power, based in
Sicily, Sardinia, and Italy, pounded the advancing Allied columns. As
torrential December rains turned the countryside into a quagmire, the
Allies lost the race. Instead of catching Rommel, they faced a
protracted struggle. While his forces dug in along the southern border
of Tunisia opposite Montgomery, a second powerful Axis force, the Fifth
Panzer Army, barred the way to the Tunisian coast.

A chain of mountains separates coastal Tunisia from the arid interior.
In a plain between two arms of the mountains and behind the passes in
the west lay important Allied airfields and supply dumps. On 14 February
1943, the Axis commanders sent German and Italian forces through the
passes, hoping to penetrate the American positions and either envelop
the British in the north or seize Allied supply depots.

"Hill 609" by Fletcher Martin. Much of the Army's fighting in the final
offensive in northern Tunisia involved dismounted infantry attacks on
prepared defensive positions in rugged hill country. (Army Art

German forces quickly cut off and overwhelmed two battalions of American
infantry positioned too far apart for mutual support, and the
experienced panzers beat back counterattacks by American reserves,
including elements of the U.S. 1st Armored Division. U.S. troops began
evacuating airfields and supply depots on the plain and falling back to
the western arm of the mountains. Dug in around the oasis town of
Sbeitla, American infantry and armor managed to hold off the Germans
through 16 February, but defenses there began to disintegrate during the
night, and the town lay empty by midday on the 17th. From the oasis,
roads led back to two passes, the Sbiba and the Kasserine. By 21
February the Germans had pushed through both and were poised to seize
road junctions leading to the British rear.

Rommel and other German commanders, however, could not agree on how to
exploit their success. Meanwhile Allied reinforcements rushed to the
critical area. The 1st Armored Division turned back German probes toward
Tebessa, and British armor met a more powerful thrust toward Thala,
where four battalions of field artillery from the U.S. 9th Infantry
Division arrived just in time to bolster sagging defenses. On the night
of 22 February the Germans began to pull back. A few days later Allied
forces returned to the passes. The first American battle with German
forces had cost more than 6,000 U.S. casualties, including 300 dead and
two-thirds of the tank strength of the 1st Armored Division.

In March, after the British repulsed another German attack, the Allies
resumed the offensive. The U.S. II Corps, now under the command of Maj.
Gen. George S. Patton, attacked in coordination with an assault on the
German line by Montgomery's troops. American and British forces in the
south met on 7 April as they squeezed Axis forces into the northeastern
tip of the country. The final drive to clear Tunisia began on 19 April.
On 7 May British armor entered Tunis, and American infantry entered
Bizerte. Six days later the last Axis resistance in Africa ended with
the surrender of over 275,000 prisoners of war.

The U.S. Army learned bitter lessons about the inadequacy of its
training, equipment, and leadership in the North African campaign. Army
Ground Forces acted quickly to ensure that American soldiers would
receive more realistic combat training. Higher commanders realized that
they could not interfere with their subordinates by dictating in detail
the positions of their units. Troops had to be committed in
division-size, combined arms teams, not in driblets. The problem posed
by American tanks, outgunned by the more heavily armed and armored
German panzers, took far longer to correct. But the artillery
established itself as the Army's most proficient arm.

Sicily and Italy

Meeting in Casablanca in January 1943, President Roosevelt, Prime
Minister Churchill, and the Combined Chiefs of Staff decided that the
large Italian island of Sicily would be their next target. Montgomery's
British forces landed on the southeast coast, while Patton's newly
activated Seventh Army landed on the southwest, with the mission of
seizing airfields and protecting the flank of the British drive.
Airborne troops spearheading the attacks scattered wide of their targets
but managed to disrupt enemy communications. Hours after the initial
landings on 9 July, German armor struck the American beaches. Naval
gunfire, infantry counterattacks, and the direct fire of field artillery
landing at the critical juncture broke up the German formations. But two
attempts to reinforce the beaches with parachute and glider-borne troops
ended in disaster when Allied antiaircraft batteries mistook the
transport planes for enemy aircraft and opened fire, causing severe

Meanwhile, the Germans solidly blocked the British drive on the Sicilian
capital, Messina. General Sir Harold R. L. G. Alexander, Allied ground
commander, ordered Patton to push toward Palermo, at the western tip of
the island. Once in Palermo, since the British drive was still stalled,
his forces attacked Messina from the north. Patton used a series of
small amphibious end runs to outflank German positions on the northern
coastal road. American and British troops arrived in Messina on 17
August, just as the last Axis troops evacuated Sicily.

In late July the Allies decided to follow up their success in Sicily
with an invasion of Italy. Having lost hope of victory, the Italian High
Command, backed by the king, opened secret negotiations with the Allies.
The Germans, suspecting that Italy was about to desert the Axis, rushed
in additional troops.

The Germans swiftly disarmed the Italian Army and took over its
defensive positions. A British fleet sailed into the harbor of Taranto
and disembarked troops onto the docks, while the U.S. Fifth Army under
Lt. Gen. Mark W. Clark landed on the beaches near Salerno on 9
September. The Germans reacted in strength. For four days vigorous
attacks by German armor threatened the beaches. But on 16 September
American and British forces made contact, and two weeks later American
troops entered Naples, the largest city south of Rome. Allied plans
called for a continued advance to tie down German troops and prevent
their transfer to France or Russia, while Hitler decided to hold as much
of Italy as possible.

"Bailey Bridge" by Tom Craig. Mechanized warfare demanded a substantial
increase in tactical bridging; in Italy the Bailey Bridge proved
versatile and adaptable to a variety of weights and situations. (Army
Art Collection)

As the Allies advanced up the mountainous spine of Italy, they
confronted a series of heavily fortified German defensive positions,
anchored on rivers or commanding terrain features. The brilliant
delaying tactics of the German commander in Italy, Field Marshal Albert
Kesselring, exacted a high price for every Allied gain. The campaign in
Italy became an endless siege, fought in rugged terrain, in often
appalling conditions, and with limited resources.

Moving north from Naples, the Allies forced a crossing of the Volturno
River in October 1943 and advanced to the Winter Line, a main German
defensive position anchored on mountains around Cassino. Repeated
attempts over the next six months to break or outflank it failed. An
amphibious end run, landing the U.S. VI Corps under Maj. Gen. John P.
Lucas at Anzio in January 1944, failed to turn the German flank, for
Lucas waited too long to build up his reserves before moving
aggressively against the German defenses. Kesselring had time to call in
reinforcements, including artillery, which soon brought every inch of
Allied-held ground under fire. As the defenders dug in, the end run
turned into another siege, as American and British troops repulsed
repeated counterattacks.

Meanwhile, an American attempt to cross the Rapido River, timed to
coincide with the Anzio landing, miscarried with heavy casualties.
Allied efforts to blast a way through the enemy's mountain defenses
proved futile, despite the use of medium and heavy bombers to support
ground attacks around Cassino. Finally, in May 1944, a series of
coordinated attacks by the Fifth Army and Eighth Army pried the Germans
loose, and they began to fall back. On 4 June 1944, two days before the
Normandy invasion, Allied troops entered Rome.

The Normandy invasion made Italy a secondary theater, and Allied
strength there gradually decreased. Nevertheless, the fighting
continued. The Allies attacked a new German defensive line in the
Northern Appenines in August but were unable to make appreciable headway
through the mountains. Not until spring of 1945 did they penetrate the
final German defenses and enter the Po valley. German forces in Italy
surrendered on 2 May 1945.

The Cross-Channel Attack

Preparations for an attack on German-occupied France continued as did
the campaigns in the Mediterranean. The defeat of the German U-boat
threat, critical to the successful transport of men and materiel across
the Atlantic, had been largely accomplished by the second half of 1943.
The success of the war against the U-boats was immeasurably aided by
secret intelligence, code-named ULTRA, garnered by Anglo-American
breaking of German radio communications codes. Such information also
proved valuable to the commanders of the ground campaign in Italy and

By early 1944 an Allied strategic bombing campaign so reduced German
strength in fighters and trained pilots that the Allies effectively
established complete air superiority over western Europe. Allied bombers
now turned to systematic disruption of the transportation system in
France in order to impede the enemy's ability to respond to the
invasion. At the same time, American and British leaders orchestrated a
tremendous buildup in the British Isles, transporting 1.6 million men
and their equipment to England and providing them with shelter and
training facilities.

Detailed planning for the cross-Channel assault had begun in 1943 when
the American and British Combined Chiefs of Staff appointed a British
officer, Lt. Gen. Frederick E. Morgan, as Chief of Staff to the as yet
unnamed Supreme Allied Commander. When General Eisenhower arrived in
January 1944 to set up Supreme Headquarters, Allied Expeditionary Force
(SHAEF), Morgan's work served as the basis for the final plan of
assault. The Allies would land in Normandy and seize the port of
Cherbourg. They would establish an expanded lodgment area extending as
far east as the Seine River. Having built up reserves there, they would
then advance into Germany on a broad front. Ground commander for the
invasion would be General Montgomery. The British Second Army would land
on the left, while the American First Army, under Lt. Gen. Omar N.
Bradley, landed on the right. Intensive exercises and rehearsals
occupied the last months before the invasion. An elaborate deception
plan convinced the Germans that the Normandy landings were a feint, and
that larger, more important landings would take place farther east,
around the Pas de Calais. Here the Germans held most of their reserves,
keeping their armored formations near Paris.

Developments on the Eastern Front also aided the success of the
invasion. In early 1943 the Russians destroyed a German army at
Stalingrad. The Germans tried to regain the initiative in the summer of
1943, attacking a Soviet-held salient near the Russian city of Kursk. In
the largest tank battle known to history, they suffered a resounding
defeat. Henceforth, they remained on the defensive, in constant retreat,
while the Soviets advanced westward, retaking major portions of the
Ukraine and White Russia during the fall and winter and launching an
offensive around Leningrad in January 1944. By March 1944 Soviet forces
had reentered Polish territory, and a Soviet summer offensive had
prevented the Germans from transferring troops to France.

"Sherman Tanks Passing Stream of German Prisoners" by Ogden Pleissner.
After seven weeks of slow, costly advances against determined German
defenders in the hedgerows, Army armored formations seized the
initiative at St. Lo and made rapid advances against a demoralized
enemy. (Army Art Collection)

On 5 June 1944, General Eisenhower took advantage of a break in stormy
weather to order the invasion of "fortress Europe." In the hours before
dawn, 6 June 1944, one British and two U.S. airborne divisions dropped
behind the beaches. After sunrise, British, Canadian, and U.S. troops
began to move ashore. The British and Canadians met modest opposition.
Units of the U.S. VII Corps quickly broke through defenses at a beach
code-named UTAH and began moving inland, making contact with the
airborne troops within twenty-four hours. But heavy German fire swept
OMAHA, the other American landing area. Elements of the 1st and 29th
Infantry Divisions and the 2d and 5th Ranger Battalions clung
precariously to a narrow stretch of stony beach until late in the day,
when they were finally able to advance, outflanking the German

American and British beachheads linked up within days. While the Allies
raced to build up supplies and reserves, American and British fighter
aircraft and guerrillas of the French resistance blocked movement of
German reinforcements. On the ground, Allied troops besieged Cherbourg
and struggled to expand southward through the entangling Norman
hedgerows. Earthen embankments hundreds of years old, matted with the
roots of trees and shrubs, the hedgerows divided the countryside into
thousands of tiny fields. The narrow roads, sunk beneath the level of
the surrounding countryside, became deathtraps for tanks and vehicles.
Crossroads villages were clusters of solidly built medieval stone
buildings, ideal for defense. Small numbers of German infantry, dug into
the embankments with machine guns and mortars and a tank or two or a few
antitank guns for support, made advancing across each field costly.

With time short and no room to maneuver, the struggle to break out
became a battle of attrition. Allied troops advanced with agonizing
slowness from hedgerow to hedgerow, in a seemingly endless series of
small battles. Advances were measured in hundreds of yards. Requirements
for fire support far exceeded preinvasion planning, resulting in a
severe shortage of artillery shells. The British made several powerful
attempts to break through to the open country beyond the town of Caen,
but were stopped by the Germans, who concentrated most of their armor in
this threatened area. By 18 July the U.S. First Army had clawed its way
into St. Lo and, on 25 July, launched Operation COBRA. As heavy and
medium bombers from England pummeled German frontline positions,
infantry and armor finally punched through the defenses. Pouring through
the gap, American troops advanced forty miles within a week.

Rejecting his generals' advice, Hitler ordered a counterattack against
the widening breakout by Germany's last available mobile forces in
France. U.S. First Army forces stopped the Germans and joined Canadian,
British, and Polish troops in catching the enemy in a giant pocket
around the town of Falaise. Allied fighter-bombers and artillery now
aided a massive destruction of twenty enemy divisions. Suddenly, it
seemed the Allies might end the war before winter. Calling off a planned
halt and logistical buildup, Eisenhower ordered the Allied forces to
drive all-out for the German frontier.

With enemy forces in full retreat, French and American troops rolled
into Paris on 25 August 1944. Meanwhile, veteran U.S. and French
divisions, pulled out of Italy, landed on the beaches of the French
Riviera. While French forces liberated the ports, the U.S. Seventh Army
drove northward in an effort to cut off withdrawing German troops.
Moving rapidly through the cities of Lyon and Besanзon, they joined up
with Allied forces advancing from Normandy on 11 September.

Victory seemed to be at hand. But by mid-September Allied communications
were strained. Combat troops had outrun their supplies. British and
Canadian forces advanced into the Netherlands, and American troops
crossed Belgium and Luxembourg and entered German territory. Then both
met strong resistance. Bad weather curtailed unloading of supplies
directly across the Normandy invasion beaches, while the ports on the
North Sea and the Mediterranean were in ruins. As logistical problems
piled up, Eisenhower rejected as too dangerous British pleas to channel
all available resources into one deep thrust into Germany. He did,
however, sanction one last bold gamble: Operation MARKET-GARDEN. Two
U.S. and one British airborne division were to open the way for a
British armored thrust to seize a bridge across the lower Rhine at
Arnhem in the Netherlands. The airborne troops took most of their
objectives, but German resistance was much stronger than expected, and
the operation failed to gain a bridgehead across the Rhine.

Battles of Attrition

There was to be no early end to the war. Despite its recent defeats, the
German Army remained a dangerous foe, fighting for its life in prepared
defenses. Furthermore, as the Allies approached the frontiers of the
Reich, they encountered a series of formidable terrain obstacles--major
rivers, mountains, and forests--and the worst weather in over thirty
years. Yet Eisenhower, believing that unremitting pressure against the
enemy would shorten the war, called for the offensive to continue.
Battles of attrition followed throughout October and November, all along
the front.

Canadian and British soldiers trudged through the frozen mud and water
of the flooded tidal lowlands in the Netherlands to free the great
Belgian port of Antwerp. The U.S. First Army took the German city of
Aachen on 21 October. The drive of General Patton's Third Army toward
the German border halted on 25 September due to shortages of gasoline
and other critical supplies. Resuming the offensive in November,
Patton's men fought for two bloody weeks around the fortress town of
Metz, ultimately winning bridgeheads over the Saar River and probing the
Siegfried Line. In the south the U.S. Seventh Army and the First French
Army fought their way through the freezing rain and snow of the Vosges
Mountains to break out onto the Alsatian plain around Strasbourg,
becoming the only Allied armies to reach the Rhine in 1944. But there
were no strategic objectives directly east of Strasbourg, and a pocket
of tough German troops remained on the west bank, dug in around the old
city of Colmar.

The attacks by the U.S. First and Ninth Armies toward the Roer River
were extremely difficult. The Huertgen Forest through which they moved
was thickly wooded, cut by steep defiles, fire breaks, and trails. The
Germans built deep, artillery-proof log bunkers, surrounded by fighting
positions. They placed thousands of mines in the forest. In addition,
they felled trees across the roads and wired, mined, and booby-trapped
them; and registered their artillery, mortars, and machine guns on the
roadblocks. Tree-high artillery bursts, spewing thousands of lethal
splinters, made movement on the forest floor difficult. Armor had no
room to maneuver. Two months of bloody, close-quarters fighting in mud,
snow, and cold was devastating to morale. Parts of at least three U.S.
divisions, pushed beyond all human limits, experienced breakdowns of
cohesion and discipline.

The Battle of the Bulge

While the Allies bludgeoned their way into the border marches of the
Reich, Hitler carefully husbanded Germany's last reserves of tanks and
infantry for a desperate attempt to reverse the situation in the west.
On 16 December powerful German forces struck the lightly held sector of
the First Army front south of Monschau in the Ardennes. German armored
spearheads drove toward the Mouse River, aiming at Antwerp. Aided by bad
weather, a variety of deceptive measures, and the failure of Allied
intelligence correctly to interpret the signs of an impending attack,
they achieved complete surprise. Elements of five U.S. divisions plus
support troops fell back in confusion. Two regiments of the 106th
Infantry Division, cut off and surrounded atop the mountainous Schnee
Eiffel, surrendered after only brief fighting--the largest battlefield
surrender of U.S. troops in World War II.

Partly as a result of the decision to continue attacking throughout the
autumn, U.S. forces were spread thin in areas such as the Ardennes, and
the Americans had few reserves to meet the attack. SHAEF immediately
ordered available units into the threatened area, sending an airborne
division into the important communications center of Bastogne. By 18
December the magnitude of the German effort was clear, and Eisenhower
ordered Patton's Third Army to disengage from its offensive toward the
Saar and to attack the enemy's southern flank. Scattered American units,
fighting desperate rearguard actions, disrupted the German timetable,
obstructing or holding key choke points--road junctions, narrow defiles,
and single-lane bridges across unfordable streams--to buy time.
Defenders at the town of St. Vith held out for six days; V Corps troops
at Elsenborn Ridge repelled furious attacks, jamming the northern
shoulder of the enemy advance. To the south armored and airborne troops,
although completely surrounded and under heavy German attack, held
Bastogne for the duration of the battle. German efforts to widen the
southern shoulder of the bulge along the Sauer River came to nothing.

Short of fuel, denied critical roadnets, hammered by air attacks, and
confronted by American armor, the German spearheads recoiled short of
the Mouse. Meanwhile, Patton had altered the Third Army's axis of
advance and attacked northward, relieving Bastogne on 26 December. On 3
January First and Ninth Army troops and British forces launched attacks
against the northern shoulder of the bulge. Meanwhile, a secondary
German offensive, Operation NORDWIND, failed in the south. Eisenhower
had ordered the Sixth Army Group to fall back, pulling out of
Strasbourg. General de Gaulle, the French leader, was enraged. After
heated negotiations, Allied troops remained in Strasbourg, and the
German attack lost its momentum. By the end of January the Allies had
retaken all the ground lost in both German offensives. The Battle of the
Bulge was over.

Just as the Allies' August breakout had failed to achieve a war-winning
decision, so, too, the German attempt to reenact its victory of June
1940 failed. The Allies, however, could make good their losses, while
Hitler had squandered almost all his remaining armor and fighter
aircraft. To make matters worse for the Reich, the Soviets on 12 January
opened a large-scale offensive in Poland and East Prussia that carried
their troops to within forty miles of Berlin. German forces that
survived the Ardennes fighting had to be hurriedly shifted eastward to
meet the growing Russian threat.

The Final Offensive

With the elimination of the "bulge" and the repulse of NORDWIND, the
campaign in the west moved into its final phases. The Allies paused only
briefly before resuming the offensive. Eisenhower had earlier decided
that his armies should advance to the Rhine all along its length before
crossing; he wanted to shorten Allied lines, provide a defensible
position in the event of further German counterattacks, and free troops
to build up strong reserves. If Hitler persisted in defending every inch
of German territory, most of the enemy's remaining forces would be
destroyed west of the Rhine. Once across the river, American and British
forces would be able to advance into Germany almost at will.

Harmonizing conflicting British and American views remained one of
Eisenhower's major problems. Rejecting British proposals to concentrate
on one thrust north of the Ruhr under Montgomery's leadership,
Eisenhower planned concentric attacks from the north by the British 21
Army Group and the U.S. Ninth Army and from the south by the U.S. First
Army. Meanwhile, the Third Army would drive straight across Germany, and
the Seventh Army would turn southward into Bavaria. Because the United
States now dominated the alliance, most of the significant tasks of the
final campaign went to American commanders.

First, a pocket of German resistance at Colmar had to be eliminated.
Eisenhower assigned five additional U.S. divisions and 10,000 service
troops to the effort. The Franco-American attack against the pocket
began on 20 January and was over by early February. Meantime, the
Canadian First Army cleared the area between the Maas and Rhine Rivers.
At the same time, the First Army advanced and finally seized the Roer
River dams but found that the Germans had destroyed the controls. The
resultant flooding delayed the Ninth Army's advance by two weeks. That
attack finally began in late February and linked up with the Canadians,
cutting off German forces facing the British. Meanwhile, the First
Army's drive to the Rhine culminated in the capture of Cologne and on 7
March the seizure of an intact bridge at the town of Remagen.

As American divisions poured into the bridgehead, the Third and Seventh
Armies launched coordinated attacks to the south. On the 22d and the
25th, Third Army troops made assault crossings of the Rhine. On 23 March
the British Second Army and the U.S. Ninth Army staged massive crossings
in the Rees-Wesel-Dinslaken area, supported by the largest airborne
landings of the war, while the Seventh Army crossed on the 26th near
Worms. Now Allied columns fanned out across Germany, overrunning
isolated pockets of resistance. While Montgomery's forces drove
northward toward the great German ports of Bremen, Hamburg, and Luebeck,
the Ninth Army advanced along the axis Muenster-Magdeburg. Ninth and
First Army troops met on 1 April, encircling the industrial region of
the Ruhr and capturing 325,000 prisoners. The First Army continued
eastward toward Kassel and Leipzig while the Third Army rolled through
Frankfurt, Eisenach, and Erfurt toward Dresden, then southward toward
Czechoslovakia and Austria. The Sixth Army Group advanced into Bavaria
toward Munich and Salzburg, denying the Germans a last-ditch defense in
the Bavarian or Austrian Alps. Germany was shattered.

Nevertheless, Eisenhower resisted British pressure to drive on to
Berlin. He saw no point in taking casualties to capture ground that, in
line with earlier agreements between Allied leaders, would have to be
relinquished to the Soviets once hostilities ceased. His objective
remained to capture or destroy the remnants of the German armed forces.
The Soviets massed 1.2 million men and 22,000 pieces of artillery and on
16 April began their assault upon the city. As that battle raged,
British, American, and Soviet forces neared previously negotiated stop
lines along the Elbe and Mulde Rivers. The First Army made contact with
Soviet troops on 25 April around Torgau. Meanwhile, as the Third Army
entered Czechoslovakia and British troops reached the Baltic, the
Russians moved through the streets of Berlin. On 30 April 1945, Hitler
committed suicide in a bunker beneath the ruins of his capitol.

German forces in Italy surrendered effective 2 May and those in the
Netherlands, northwestern Germany, and Denmark on 4 May. Patrols of the
U.S. Seventh Army driving eastward through Austria and the Fifth Army
driving north from Italy met near the Brenner Pass. On 7 May the German
High Command surrendered all its forces unconditionally, and 8 May was
officially proclaimed V-E Day. Though peace had come to Europe, one of
the most culturally and economically advanced areas of the globe lay in
ruins. Germany, the industrial engine of the Continent, lay prostrate,
occupied by British, French, American, and Soviet troops. Britain,
exhausted by its contribution to the victory, tottered near economic
collapse, while France was totally dependent on the United States. The
Soviet Union had suffered in excess of 20 million casualties and untold
devastation, but its armed forces remained powerful and its intentions
obscure. To the victory in western Europe and Italy, the United States
had contributed 68 divisions, 15,000 combat aircraft, well over 1
million tanks and motor vehicles, and 135,000 dead. The country now
turned its focus to a war a half a world away and to the defeat of Japan
in the Pacific.

The Pacific War

Even before Pearl Harbor, President Franklin D. Roosevelt and the
American military chiefs had agreed on a common strategy with Great
Britain: Germany, the most powerful and dangerous of the Axis powers,
must be defeated first. Only enough military resources would be devoted
to the Pacific to hold the Japanese west of an Alaska-Hawaii-Panama
defensive line.

Competition for limited resources between the Allied commanders of the
European and Pacific theaters was actually less intense than might have
been expected. The Pacific was a naval war, and little U.S. offensive
naval power was required in the Atlantic besides landing craft. Aside
from the U-boats, the Germans posed no threat in Atlantic waters. U-boat
defense primarily required many small, fast escort vessels. Then too,
almost the entire British Navy was deployed in the Atlantic. Thus,
American offensive naval power--especially the fast carrier task
forces--could be committed to the Pacific war.

More than distance separated the two wars; they differed fundamentally
in strategy and command and in the character of the fighting. In Europe
the war was planned and conducted in combination with powerful Allies.
Strategic decisions had to be argued and agreed to by the American and
British chiefs of staff, and, on occasion, even by President Roosevelt
and Prime Minister Winston Churchill. Operational planning was
conducted, at least at the higher levels, by combined Anglo-American
staffs. In the Pacific the United States also had Allies--Australia and
New Zealand. Yet the ratio of U.S. to Allied forces was much higher
there than in Europe, and in consequence strategy and planning were
almost wholly in American hands.

Eisenhower, the Supreme Commander in Europe, had no counterpart in the
Pacific. From the beginning of the war, rivalry between the Army and the
Navy marked the conflict. The two services competed for command,
territory, and resources. In the vast Pacific, an ocean dotted with
thousands of coral islands, there should have been ample room for both.
But interservice rivalries and great distances prevented a single
unified commander from being named, until General Douglas MacArthur
became Supreme Commander,

" West Coast Dock" by Barse Miller. Roughly 40 percent of the cargo
moved overseas by the Army during the war went to the Pacific theater.
(Army Art Collection)

Allied Powers (SCAP), in the last days of the war. Instead, the Pacific
was divided into area commands. The two most important were MacArthur's
Southwest Pacific Area (SWPA) and Admiral Chester Nimitz's Pacific Ocean
Areas (POA). POA, in turn, was subdivided into North Pacific, Central
Pacific, and South Pacific commands. Nimitz personally retained command
of the Central Pacific.

Fighting in the Pacific was unlike fighting in Europe. The campaigns in
Europe were characterized by huge ground forces driving overland into
the heart of the enemy's country. Both in MacArthur's SWPA and Nimitz's
POA, the Pacific war was a seemingly endless series of amphibious
landings and island-hopping campaigns where naval power, air power, and
shipping, rather than large and heavy ground forces, were of paramount

Yet for the soldiers and marines who assaulted the countless beaches,
the Pacific war was even more brutal and deadly than the war in Europe.
Japanese defenders always dug in, reinforced their bunkers with coconut
logs, and fought until they were killed. They almost never surrendered.
On Betio in the Tarawa Atoll in November 1943 the marines suffered 3,301
casualties, including 900 killed in action, for a bit of coral 3 miles
long and 800 yards wide. At Iwo Jima in February and March 1945 the
marines lost almost 6,000 dead and over 17,000 wounded and fought for
five weeks to take an island less than five miles long. At Iwo no
battalion suffered fewer than 50 percent casualties, and many sustained
even higher losses. In the southwest Pacific, MacArthur's casualties
were proportionately fewer. Fighting on the larger land masses of New
Guinea and the Philippines, he had more room to maneuver, and he could
almost always "hit 'em where they ain't."

The history of the war in the Pacific falls neatly into three periods.
The first six months of the war, from December 1941 to May 1942, were a
time of unbroken Japanese military victory. At the-height of Japanese
expansion in mid-1942, the tide turned. The period from mid-1942 to
mid-1943 saw Japanese strategic thrusts into the south and central
Pacific blunted by the carrier battles of the Coral Sea (May 1942) and
Midway (June 1942). Limited U.S. offensives in the Solomons and in the
Papuan area of eastern New Guinea were launched in the last months of
1942. Both offensives were begun on a shoestring, and both came close to
failure. Yet they represented the end of defeat in the Pacific and the
first tentative steps toward victory. Those steps became great leaps in
1944 and 1945. Two amphibious offensives developed, as MacArthur
advanced across the northern coast of New Guinea into the Philippines
and Nimitz island-hopped 2,000 miles across the central Pacific from the
Gilbert Islands to Okinawa.

Japan on the Offensive

Japan, largely devoid of natural resources to-feed its industries,
looked overseas for supplies of strategic materials such as ores and
petroleum. Before 1939 the United States was Japan's major supplier. But
President Roosevelt and Secretary of State Cordell Hull shut off
American supplies in an effort to force the Japanese to end hostilities
against China. The Japanese had long coveted the resource-rich British
and Dutch colonies of Southeast Asia, and as the U.S. trade embargo
tightened, the Japanese increasingly looked southward for raw materials
and strategic resources.

Only the United States stood in Japan's path. The U.S. Pacific Fleet at
Pearl Harbor was the only force capable of challenging Japan's navy, and
American bases in the Philippines could threaten lines of communications
between the Japanese home islands and the East Indies. Every oil tanker
heading for Japan would have to pass by American-held Luzon. From these
needs and constraints, Japan's war plans emerged. First, its navy would
neutralize the American fleet with a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor.
Japan would also seize America's central Pacific bases at Guam and Wake
islands and invade the Philippines. With American naval power crippled,
Japan's military would be free to seize Burma, Malaya, Singapore, and
the Dutch East Indies in a series of rapid amphibious operations. Japan
would then establish a defensive ring around its newly conquered empire
by fortifying islands in the south and the central Pacific. Japan's
leaders were convinced that Americans, once involved in the European
war, would be willing to negotiate peace in the Pacific.

To block Japanese ambitions, the United States Army had scant resources.
Two small forces constituted the heart of the American land defenses in
the Pacific--the garrison in the Territory of Hawaii and General Douglas
MacArthur's command in the Commonwealth of the Philippines. Both were
peacetime organizations, whose days were given to rounds of ceremonies,
inspections, and languid training. Officers and their wives occupied
evenings and weekends with rounds of social activities and golf, while
the soldiers enjoyed more earthy pleasures in the bars and brothels of
Honolulu or Manila.

Yet these forces would face overwhelming odds in the event of war. The
thousands of islands that comprised the Philippines lay 8,000 miles from
the American west coast, but only 200 miles from Japanese-held Formosa.
To defend them, General MacArthur had the equivalent of two divisions of
regular troops--16,000 U.S. regulars and 12,000 Philippine Scouts. He
could call on additional thousands of Philippine militia, but they were
untrained and ill equipped. Lt. Gen. Walter C. Short's Hawaiian command
held 43,000 Army troops, including two infantry divisions, coast
artillery, air corps, and support troops. Thus, in ground forces, the
United States had the equivalent of three divisions in the Pacific to
stand in the path of the Imperial Japanese Army.

American strategists had developed two plans to counter possible
Japanese aggression--one for the Navy and another for the Army. The Navy
planned to fight across the central Pacific for a climactic and decisive
battle with the Japanese fleet. The Army saw no way to save the
Philippines and favored a strategic defense along an
Alaska-Hawaii-Panama line. Writing off the Philippines, however, was
politically impossible, and as war drew closer frantic efforts were made
to strengthen the commonwealth's defenses. Both MacArthur and Army Chief
of Staff General George C. Marshall overestimated the chances of their
own forces and underestimated the strength and ability of the Japanese.
In particular, they grossly exaggerated the power of a new weapon, the
B-17 "Flying Fortress" bomber, a few of which were rushed to the
Philippines in the last days of peace.

All of the efforts proved to be too little, too late. The Japanese war
plan worked to perfection. On 7 December 1941, Japan paralyzed the
Pacific Fleet in its attack on Pearl Harbor. In the Philippines,
Japanese fliers destroyed most of MacArthur's air force on the ground.
Freed of effective opposition, Japanese forces took Burma, Malaya,
Singapore, and the Dutch East Indies in rapid succession. By March 1942
the Japanese had conquered an empire. Only MacArthur's beleaguered
American-Filipino army still held out on the main Philippine island of

A Japanese army had landed in northern Luzon on 22 December 1941 and
began to push southward toward Manila. At first, MacArthur was inclined
to meet the Japanese on the beaches. But he had no air force, and the
U.S. Navy's tiny Asiatic fleet was in no position to challenge Japan at
sea. The U.S. regulars and Philippine Scouts were excellent troops but
were outnumbered and without air support. Giving up his initial strategy
of defeating the enemy on the beaches, MacArthur decided to withdraw to
the Bataan Peninsula. There he could pursue a strategy of defense and
delay, shortening his lines and using the mountainous, jungle-covered
terrain to his advantage. Perhaps he could even hold out long enough for
a relief force to be mounted in the United States.

But too many people crowded into Bataan, with too little food and
ammunition. By March it was clear that help from the United States was
not coming. Nevertheless, the American-Filipino force, wracked by
dysentery and malaria, continued to fight. In March President Roosevelt
ordered MacArthur to escape to Australia. He left his command to Lt.
Gen. Jonathan Wainwright and to Maj. Gen. Edward King, who on 9 April
was forced to surrender the exhausted and starving Bataan force.
Wainwright continued to resist on the small fortified island of
Corregidor in Manila Bay until 6 May under constant Japanese artillery
and air bombardment. After Japanese troops stormed ashore on the island,
Wainwright agreed to surrender Corregidor and all other troops in the
islands. By 9 May 1942, the battle for the Philippines had ended, though
many Americans and Filipinos took to the hills and continued a guerrilla
war against the Japanese.

The courageous defense of Bataan had a sad and ignominious end. Marching
their prisoners toward camps in northern Luzon, the Japanese denied food
and water to the sick and starving men. When the weakest prisoners began
to straggle, guards shot or bayoneted them and threw the bodies to the
side of the road. Japanese guards may have killed 600 Americans and
10,000 Filipino prisoners. News of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor
had outraged the American people; news of the "Bataan Death March"
filled them with bitter hatred.

By May 1942 the Japanese had succeeded beyond their wildest
expectations. A vast new empire had fallen into their hands so quickly,
and at so little cost, that they were tempted to go further. If their
forces could move into the Solomon Islands and the southern coast of New
Guinea, they could threaten Australia and cut the American line of
communications to MacArthur's base there. If they could occupy Midway
Island, only 1,000 miles from Honolulu, they could force the American
fleet to pull back to the west coast. In Japanese overconfidence lay the
seeds of Japan's first major defeats.

The Tide Turns

Japanese fortunes turned sour in mid-1942. Their uninterrupted string of
victories ended with history's first great carrier battles. In May 1942
the Battle of the Coral Sea halted a new Japanese offensive in the south
Pacific. A month later the Japanese suffered a devastating defeat at the
Battle of Midway in the central Pacific. Now American and Australian
forces were able to begin two small counteroffensives--one in the
Solomons and the other on New Guinea's Papuan peninsula. The first
featured the Marine Corps and the Army; the second, the Army and the
Australian Allies.

American resources were indeed slim. When MacArthur arrived in Australia
in March 1942, he found, to his dismay, that he had little to command.
Australian militia and a few thousand U.S. airmen and service troops
were his only resources. The Australian 7th Division soon returned from
North Africa, where it had been fighting the Germans, and two U.S.
National Guard divisions, the 32d and the 41st, arrived in April and
May. MacArthur had enough planes for two bomber squadrons and six
fighter squadrons. With only these forces, he set out to take Papua,
while Admiral Nimitz, with forces almost equally slim, attacked
Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands.

Of all the places where GIs fought in the Second World War, Guadalcanal
and the Papuan peninsula may have been the worst. Though separated by
800 miles of ocean, the two were similarly unhealthful in terrain and
climate. The weather on both is perpetually hot and wet; rainfall may
exceed 200 inches a year, and during the rainy season deluges, sometimes
8 to 10 inches of rain, occur daily. Temperatures in December reach the
high eighties, and humidity seldom falls below 80 percent. Terrain and
vegetation are equally foreboding--dark, humid,

"Bringing in the Ammo" by Joseph Hirsch. At Rendova in the Solomons,
landing craft went aground in shallow water fifty feet offshore, forcing
troops to wade ashore with equipment and ammunition. (Army Art

jungle-covered mountains inland, and evil-smelling swamps along the
coasts. Insects abound. The soldiers and marines were never dry; most
fought battles while wracked by chills and fever. For every two soldiers
lost in battle, five were lost to disease--especially malaria, dengue,
dysentery, or scrub typhus, a dangerous illness carried by jungle mites.
Almost all suffered "jungle rot," ulcers caused by skin disease.

Guadalcanal lay at the southeast end of the Solomons, an island chain
600 miles long. Navy carriers and other warships supported the landings,
but they could not provide clear air or naval superiority. The marines
landed on 7 August 1942, without opposition, and quickly overran an
important airfield. That was the last easy action on Guadalcanal. The
carriers sailed away almost as soon as the marines went ashore. Then
Japanese warships surprised the supporting U.S. naval vessels at the
Battle of Savo Island and quickly sank four heavy cruisers and one
destroyer. Ashore, the Japanese Army fought furiously to regain the
airfield. Through months of fighting the marines barely held on; some
American admirals even thought that the beachhead would be lost. But
gradually land-based aircraft were ferried in to provide air cover, and
the Navy was able to return. As the Japanese continued to pour men into
the fight, Guadalcanal became a battle of attrition.

Slowly American resources grew, while the Japanese were increasingly
unable to make up their losses. In October soldiers of the Americal
Division joined the battle; in November the Navy won a smashing victory
in the waters offshore; and in early 1943 the Army's 25th Infantry
Division was committed as well. Soldiers now outnumbered marines, and
the ground forces were reorganized as the XIV Corps, commanded by Army
Mail Gen. Alexander M. Patch. As the Japanese lost the ability to supply
their forces, enemy soldiers began to starve in the jungles. But not
until February--six months after the initial landing--was Guadalcanal
finally secured.

Meanwhile, 800 miles to the west on the eastern peninsula of New Guinea,
another shoestring offensive began. Even after the Battle of the Coral
Sea, the Japanese persisted in their efforts to take Port Moresby, a
strategic town on New Guinea's southern coast. In late July 1942 they
landed on the north coast of the huge, mountainous island and began to
make their way south toward Port Moresby, across the towering Owen
Stanley Mountains. Almost impassable in normal circumstances, the trail
they followed was a quagmire under constant rain. Supply became
impossible; food ran short; fever and dysentery set in. Defeated just
short of their goal by Australian defenses, the Japanese retreated.
Meanwhile, MacArthur had decided to launch a counteroffensive against
the fortified town of Buna and other Japanese-held positions on the
northern coast. He sent portions of the Australian 7th and U.S. 32d
Divisions over the same mountainous jungle tracks earlier used by the
Japanese. The result was the same. By the time his troops reached the
northern coast, they were almost too debilitated to fight. Around Buna
and the nearby village of Gona the Japanese holed up in coconut-log
bunkers that were impervious to small-arms and mortar fire. The
Americans lacked artillery, flamethrowers, and tanks. While they
struggled to dig the defenders out, malnutrition, fever, and jungle rot
ravaged the troops. Like the troops on Guadalcanal, the Aussies and the
men of the 32d barely held on.

The Japanese also faced serious problems. Their commanders had to choose
between strengthening Guadalcanal or Buna. Choosing Guadalcanal, they
withdrew some support from the Buna garrison. Growing American air power
made it impossible for the Japanese Navy to resupply their forces
ashore, and their troops began to run short of food and ammunition. By
December they were on the edge of starvation. Here the battle of
attrition lasted longer, and not until January 1943 was the last
Japanese resistance eliminated.

Buna was costlier in casualties than Guadalcanal, and in some respects
it was an even nastier campaign. The terrain was rougher; men who
crossed the Owen Stanleys called that march their toughest experience of
the war. The Americans lacked almost everything necessary for
success--weapons, proper clothing, insect repellents, and adequate food.
"No more Bunas," MacArthur pledged. For the rest of the war his policy
was to bypass Japanese strongpoints. When the battles for Guadalcanal
and Buna began, the Americans had insufficient strength to win. American
strength increased as the battle went on. Over the next three years it
would grow to overwhelming proportions.

Twin Drives to American Victory

As late as 1943 the American Joint Chiefs of Staff had not adopted a
clear strategy for winning the war in the Pacific. Early in the war they
assumed that the burden of the land fighting against Japan would fall on
Chinese forces. The bulk of Japan's army was deployed in China, and
Chinese leaders had an immense manpower pool to draw on. But supplying
and training the Chinese Army proved to be an impossible task. Moreover,
fighting in China did not lead to any strategic objective.

Instead, the hard-won successes in the Solomons and Papua and the
growing strength of MacArthur's and Nimitz's forces gave the Joint
Chiefs the means to strike at the Japanese in the Pacific. They decided
to launch two converging offensives toward the Japanese islands. Using
Army ground forces, land-based air power, and a fleet of old battleships
and cruisers, MacArthur would leapfrog across the northern coast of New
Guinea toward the Philippines. Nimitz, using carrier-based planes and
Marine and Army ground forces, would island-hop across the central
Pacific. The strategy was frankly opportunistic, and it left unanswered
the questions of priorities and final objectives.

At the heart of the strategy were the developing techniques of
amphibious warfare and tactical air power. Putting troops ashore in the
face of a determined enemy had always been one of war's most dangerous
and complicated maneuvers. World War II proved that the assault force
needed air and sea supremacy and overwhelming combat power to be
successful. Even then, dug-in defenders could take a heavy toll of
infantry coming over the beaches. Special landing craft had to be built
to bring tanks and artillery ashore with the

"Pim's Jetty" by Frede Vida. The logistics of MacArthur's leaps up the
New Guinea coast sometimes posed greater difficulties than did the
Japanese defenders. (Army Art Collection)

infantry, and both direct air support and effective naval gunfire were
essential. MacArthur's leaps up the northern coast of New Guinea were
measured precisely by the range of his fighter-bombers. The primary task
of Nimitz's carriers was to support and defend the landing forces. As
soon as possible after the landings, land-based planes were brought in
to free the carriers for other operations.

The islands of the central Pacific had little resemblance to the fetid
jungles of Guadalcanal and New Guinea. Atolls like Tarawa or Kwajalein
were necklaces of hard coral surrounding lagoons of sheltered water.
Where the coral rose above water, small narrow islands took form. These
bits of sand furnished little room for maneuver and frequently had to be
assaulted frontally. Larger islands like Guam and Saipan were volcanic
in origin, with rocky ridges to aid the defense; the shrapnel effect of
shell bursts was multiplied by bits of shattered rock.

In November 1943 Nimitz's island-hopping campaign began with his
assaults on Betio in the Tarawa Atoll and at Makin a hundred miles
north. It was a costly beginning. Elements of the Army's 27th Infantry
Division secured Makin with relative ease, but at Betio the 2d Marine
Division encountered stubborn and deadly resistance. Naval gunfire and
air attacks had failed to eliminate the deeply dug-in defenders, and
landing craft grounded on reefs offshore, where they were destroyed by
Japanese artillery. As costly as it was, the lessons learned there
proved useful in future amphibious operations. Like MacArthur, Nimitz
determined to bypass strongly held islands and strike at the enemy's
weak points.

During January 1944 landings were made in the Marshalls at Kwajalein and
Eniwetok followed by Guam and Saipan in the Marianas during June and
July. Because the Marianas were only 1,500 miles from Tokyo, the
remaining Japanese carriers came out to fight. The resulting Battle of
the Philippine Sea was a disaster for the Japanese. In what U.S. Navy
pilots called "the great Marianas turkey shoot," Japanese carrier power
was effectively eliminated.

Almost as soon as the Marianas were cleared, the air forces began to
prepare airfields to receive new heavy bombers, the B-29s. With a range
exceeding 3,000 miles, B-29s could reach most Japanese cities, including
Tokyo. In November 1944 the Twentieth Air Force began a strategic
bombing campaign against Japan, which indirectly led to one of the
bitterest island fights of the war. Tiny Iwo Jima, lying 750 miles
southeast of Tokyo, was needed both as an auxiliary base for crippled
B-29s returning from their bombing raids over Japan and as a base for
long-range escort fighters. The fight for the five-mile-long island
lasted five weeks, during February and March 1945, and cost more than
25,000 dead--almost 6,000 Americans of the 4th and 5th Marine Divisions
and 20,000 Japanese.

While Nimitz crossed the central Pacific, MacArthur pushed along the New
Guinea coast, preparing for his return to the Philippines. Without
carriers, his progress was slower but less costly than Nimitz's. After
clearing the Buna area in January 1943, MacArthur spent the next year
conquering northeastern New Guinea and the eight months that followed
moving across the northern coast of Netherlands New Guinea to the island
of Morotai. Because he had to cover his landings with land-based planes,
he was limited to bounds of 200 miles or less on a line of advance
almost 2,000 miles long. Furthermore, he had to build airfields as he
went. By October 1944 MacArthur was ready for a leap to the Philippines,
but this objective was beyond the range of his planes. Nimitz loaned him
Admiral William F. Halsey's heavy carriers, and, on 20 October 1944,
MacArthur's Sixth Army landed on Leyte Island in the central

"All Aboard for Home" by Joseph Hirsch. Despite wartime increases,
Allied sealift capability remained inadequate to return Army forces home
as fast as they would have liked. (Army Art Collection)

The Japanese reacted vigorously. For the first time in the war they
employed Kamikaze attacks, suicide missions flown by young, half-trained
pilots. And they used their last carriers as decoys to draw Halsey's
carriers away from the beachheads. With Halsey out of the battle and the
landing forces without air cover, the Japanese planned to use
conventional warships to brush aside the remaining American warships and
destroy the support vessels anchored off the beaches. They almost
succeeded. In the naval Battle of Leyte Gulf, the big guns of the big
ships, not carrier planes, decided the battle. The Japanese naval forces
were decimated. Japan no longer had an effective navy.

As violent as they were, most island fights involved small units and
were mercifully short. However, the last two major campaigns of the
Pacific war--Luzon and Okinawa--took on some of the character of the war
in Europe. They were long fights on larger land masses, with entire
armies in sustained combat over the course of several months. Japanese
defenders on Luzon numbered 262,000 under Lt. Gen. Tomoyuki Yamashita,
perhaps the best field commander in the Japanese Army. Yamashita refused
an open battle, knowing that superior firepower and command of the air
would favor the Americans. Instead, he prepared defensive positions
where his forces could deny the Americans strategic points like roads
and airfields. He wanted to force the Americans to attack Japanese
positions in a new battle of attrition.

His plan worked. MacArthur's Sixth Army under Lt. Gen. Walter Krueger
landed on Luzon on 9 January 1945 and began the Army's longest land
campaign in the Pacific. MacArthur's forces fought for almost seven
months and took nearly 40,000 casualties before finally subduing the

The largest landings of Nimitz's central Pacific drive were carried out
on Okinawa, only 300 miles from Japan, on 1 April 1945. Before the fight
was over three months later, the entire Tenth Field Army-- four Army
infantry divisions and two Marine divisions--had been deployed there.
Like his counterpart on Luzon, the Japanese commander on Okinawa, Lt.
Gen. Mitsuru Ushijima, refused to fight on the beaches and instead
withdrew into the rocky hills to force a battle of attrition. Again the
strategy worked. U.S. casualties were staggering, the largest of the
Pacific war. Over 12,000 American soldiers, sailors, and marines died
during the struggle. At Okinawa the Japanese launched the greatest
Kamikaze raids of the war, and the results were frightening--26 ships
sunk and 168 damaged. Almost 40 percent of the American dead were
sailors lost to Kamikaze attacks.

When the Luzon and Okinawa battles ended in July, the invasion of the
southernmost Japanese island of Kyushu had already been ordered by the
Joint Chiefs. The date was set for 1 November 1945. Kyushu would furnish
air and naval bases to intensify the air bombardment and strengthen the
naval blockade around Honshu, the main island of Japan. A massive
invasion in the Tokyo area was scheduled for 1 March 1946 if Japanese
resistance continued. With the Okinawa experience fresh in their minds,
many planners feared that the invasion of Japan would produce a

In fact, Japan was already beaten. It was defenseless on the seas; its
air force was gone; and its cities were being burned out by incendiary
bombs. The atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on 6 and 9 August
and the Soviet declaration of war on 8 August forced the leaders of
Japan to recognize the inevitable. On 15 August 1945, Emperor Hirohito
announced Japan's surrender to the Japanese people and ordered Japanese
forces to lay down their arms. Despite their earlier suicidal
resistance, they immediately did so. With V-J Day--2 September 1945--the
greatest war in human history came to an end.


The United States emerged from the war with global military commitments
that included the occupation of Germany and Japan and the oversight of
Allied interests in liberated areas. Almost 13 million Americans were in
uniform at the end of the war; over 8 million of them were soldiers. But
the impulse was strong to follow the patterns of the past and dismantle
this force. Families pressed the government to "bring the boys home,"
and soldiers overseas demanded the acceleration of the separation
process. American monopoly of the atomic bomb seemed to furnish all the
power that American security interests needed. Some air power advocates
even argued that the bomb made armies and navies obsolete.

President Roosevelt had died in April 1945, on the eve of victory. The
new President, Harry S. Truman, and his advisers tried to resist the
political pressures for hasty demobilization. Truman wanted to retain a
postwar Army of 1.5 million, a Navy of 600,000, and an Air Force of
400,000. But neither Congress nor the American public was willing to
sustain such a force. Within five months of V-J Day, 8.5 million
servicemen and women had been mustered out, and in June of the following
year only two full Army divisions were available for deployment in an
emergency. By 1947 the Army numbered a mere 700,000--sixth in size among
the armies of the world.

Yet too much had changed for the Army to return to its small and insular
prewar status. Millions of veterans now remembered their service with
pride. The beginning of the Cold War, especially the Berlin blockade of
1948, dramatically emphasized the need to remain strong. The Army had
become too deeply intertwined with American life and security to be
reduced again to a constabulary force. Moreover, the time was not far
off when new conflicts would demonstrate the limits of atomic power and
prove that ground forces were as necessary as they had been in the past.

Further Readings

Despite its age, Charles B. MacDonald's The Mighty Endeavor: American
Armed Forces in the European Theater in World War 11 (1969) remains a
sound, informative, and highly readable survey of the American role in
the war in Europe. For the interwar Army, I. B. Holley, jr.'s General
John M. Palmer, Citizen Soldiers and the Army of a Democracy (1982) is
good for the early years. Palmer was the architect of the National
Defense Act of 1920. D. Clayton James' The Years of MacArthur: Volume 1,
1880-1941 (1970), looks at the interwar Army in terms of the man who
dominated it in the 1930s, while Forrest Pogue's George C. Marshall,
Volume 1: Education of a General, 1880-1939 (1963), focuses on the man
who oversaw its transformation into a powerful, modern mass army. Volume
2: Ordeal and Hope, 1939-1945 (1986), and Volume 3: Organizer of
Victory, 1943-1945 (1973), are the best sources on the War Department
and the General Staff and cover an enormous range of topics from
strategy and logistics to personalities.

Len Deighton's Blitzkrieg: From the Rise of Hitler to the Fall of
Dunkirk (1980) is a popular, semijournalistic account that places German
tactical and operational innovations in the context of interwar German
Army politics and the Nazi rise to power and also discusses the
relationship between tactics, equipment, and organization in a
nontechnical way. Fire-Power: British Army Weapons and Theories of War,
1904-1945 (1982), by Shelford Bidwell and Dominick Graham, is a seminal
and important book, tracing changes in military doctrine from the
perspective of the artillery arm from World War I through World War II.
Bidwell and Graham analyze the origins of Blitzkrieg tactics and panzer
organizations and the evolution of indirect artillery fire and their
impact on war.

W. G. F. Jackson's Battle for North Africa, 1940-1943 (1975), is
reliable, and Martin Blumenson's Kasserine Pass (1967) can be
supplemented by Ralph Ingersoll's The Battle Is the Pay-off (1943).
Written in the immediate aftermath of the Kasserine Pass debacle by a
journalist-captain who accompanied the Rangers on their raid against the
Italian-held pass at El Guettar, it has the gritty immediacy of a
contemporary first-person account and ends with an impassioned plea for
tougher physical conditioning and more realistic training.

A useful antidote to grand theoretical speculations about the nature of
war is John Ellis' The Sharp End: The Fighting Man in World War II
(1980). Using a vast array of first-person accounts, Ellis focuses on
the experience of frontline combat in both theaters. Ellis has also
written Cassino: Hollow Victory (1984), a gripping and critical account
of Allied attempts to break through the mountains of central Italy, an
effort which, the author believes, was crippled by a self-serving and
inept Allied high command. Useful companions are Wyford Vaughan-Thomas'
Anzio (1961) and Martin Blumenson's Anzio: The Gamble That Failed

Max Hastings' Overlord: D-Day and the Battle for Normandy (1984) is
among the best of the new books on the invasion. A careful and skilled
journalist, Hastings asks why it took so long for the Allies to break
out of the beachhead. He finds the flawed performance of the citizen
armies of Britain and the United States at fault, when compared to the
skill and proficiency of the Germans. Russell F. Weigley, in
Eisenhower's Lieutenants: The Campaign of France and Germany, 1944-1945
(1986), asks similar questions about American combat performance and
advances a provocative thesis, suggesting that the U.S. Army never
reconciled its two conflicting heritages--that of the frontier
constabulary, with its emphasis on mobility, and that of U. S. Grant's
direct power drive in the Civil War. Thus, U.S. combat formations in
World War II were structured for mobility, while American strategy and
operations called for head-on confrontations with the center of enemy

Ralph F. Bennett's ULTRA in the West: The Normandy Campaign, 1944-1945
(1980), heavily based on the original, declassified decrypts, is sound
on ULTRA'S impact on the land campaign. Charles B. MacDonald's A Time
for Trumpets: The Untold Story of the Battle of the Bulge (1985) updates
earlier accounts of the German Ardennes offensive with the latest
available information about the Allied intelligence failure, while his
Company Commander (1978) is still one of the most moving and honest
first-person accounts of small-unit command responsibility available.
(MacDonald was one of the youngest captains in the Army in 1944 when his
company was hit and overrun in the first hours of the German offensive.)

Stephen Ambrose's Supreme Commander: The War Years of General Dwight D.
Eisenhower (1970) is a judicious and balanced assessment of Eisenhower
from his arrival in Washington in December 1941 through the German
surrender in May 1945. Omar N. Bradley's and Clay Blair's A General's
Life (1983) is a far more partisan biography of the so-called G.I.
General, which provides a sometimes disconcerting glimpse of the
internal tensions and disagreements within the Allied high command in
Europe. It should be balanced with Nigel Hamilton's exhaustive, but also
pugnaciously partisan three-volume biography, Monty: The Making of a
General, 1887-1942 (1981), Monty: Master of the Battlefield, 1942-1944
(1983), and Monty: Final Years of the Field-Marshal, 1944-1976 (1987),
and all can be supplemented by the fairly reliable official histories
produced by the American and British military services in the postwar

Two general histories provide excellent surveys of the Pacific war, from
the causes to the conclusion. John Toland's The Rising Sun, 1936-1945
(1971), views the war from the Japanese perspective and focuses on the
war's causes, Japanese war plans, and the early victorious campaigns
from the vantage point of Japan's military leadership. A counterpart
volume is Eagle Against the Sun (1985) by Ronald H. Spector. Like
Toland, Spector covers the entire conflict but views the war from the
American perspective. Eagle Against the Sun may be the best
single-volume survey of the Pacific war yet written.

The historical literature on Pearl Harbor and the first six months of
the war in the Pacific is voluminous--so vast that readers must be
especially careful in their selections. Perhaps the best picture of life
in the prewar army is found in James Jones' fictional From Here to
Eternity (1985). The subject of Pearl Harbor has produced countless
pages of description and analysis, but much is of interest only to
professional historians and specialists in the subject. Two books of
special value to the general reader are Walter Lord's Day of Infamy
(1957) and Gordon Prange's At Dawn We Slept (1982). Day of Infamy begins
in the predawn hours and details the fascinating, dramatic events of the
day the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. The book is short, and Lord
writes in a clear, journalistic style. At Dawn We Slept is a more
complete and exhaustive book on the attack, the events leading to it,
and the surrounding controversies. Although the book is over 700 pages
long, the style is readable, the story interesting, and the treatment
complete. If a student can read only one book on Pearl Harbor, Prange's
work is the logical choice.

The best single-volume survey of the first six months in the Pacific
after Pearl Harbor is John Toland's But Not in Shame (1961), which
relates the story of defeat in the Pacific with a true sense of heroism
and tragedy. Included are the American defeats at Pearl Harbor, Bataan,
Corregidor, and Wake Island, and the Allied failures in the Dutch East
Indies and Singapore. Stanley Falk's Bataan: March of Death (1984) is a
moving and unbiased account of one of the most emotional subjects in
American military history.

The battles for Guadalcanal and for Buna went on simultaneously, but
Guadalcanal received far more attention from the American press at the
time and from historians since that date. However, the quality of the
works on Guadalcanal varies greatly. An older but reliable account is
The Battle for Guadalcanal (1979) by Samuel B. Griffith II, which can be
supplemented by Richard Tregaskis' Guadalcanal Diary (1984), a classic
in war reporting that came out of the fighting on Guadalcanal. For the
Papua Campaign, Lida Mayo's Bloody Buna (1979) not only chronicles the
battles but also effectively conveys the nightmarish qualities of
fighting in New Guinea--the constant rain, the disease, the lack of
proper food and equipment, and the constant threat of death from the
Japanese or from the jungle.

Hundreds, if not thousands, of books have been written on the campaigns
that produced victory over Japan in the Pacific war. They range from
very detailed volumes in the official histories of the United States
Army, Navy, and Marine Corps to highly romanticized books on specific
actions, people, weapons, and so forth. The following three books are
accurate, balanced, and interesting accounts of the subject. Two sound
works covering the offensive period are D. Clayton James' The Years of
MacArthur, 1941-1945 (1975), for the offensives in the Southwest Pacific
and the Philippines, and James and William Belote's Titans of the Seas
(1974), an account of the carrier battles in the Pacific. But no work
better describes combat in the Pacific war at the squad and platoon
level than Island Victory (1983) by S. L. A. Marshall. During World War
II as a combat historian he gathered material for Island Victory by
interviewing infantrymen of the 7th Infantry Division who had just
cleared two small islands in the Kwajalein Atoll. The book tells the
stories of squad and platoon fights with holed-up Japanese on islands no
more than 250 yards wide. There are no generals or colonels here, no
high-level planning or strategy. This is the story of ground combat from
the vantage point of the individual infantryman, and, like MacDonald's
Company Commander, the work is a testimony to the determination and
heroism of the individual GI.

Note: The publication dates are shown for the most recent editions
listed in Books in Print. Many of these books were originally published
years earlier.

Transcribed and formatted for HTML by Patrick Clancey, HyperWar

Recommended for college students by the US Educational Committee

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