Operation Torch was an Anglo–American invasion of French North Africa during the Second World War. It was aimed at reducing pressure on Allied forces in Egypt, enabling an invasion of Southern Europe, it provided the ‘second front’ which the Soviet Union had been requesting since it was invaded by the Germans in 1941. The region was dominated by the Vichy French in collaboration with Germany, but with mixed loyalties, reports indicated that they might support the Allied initiative; the American General Dwight D. Eisenhower, commanding the operation, planned a three-pronged attack, aimed at Casablanca and Algiers, in advance of a rapid move on Tunis; the Western Task Force encountered unexpected resistance, as well as bad weather, but Casablanca, the principal French Atlantic naval base, was captured after a short siege. The Center Task Force suffered some damage to its fleet, trying to land in shallow water, but the enemy ships were sunk or driven off, Oran surrendered after heavy fire from British battleships.
The Eastern Task Force met less opposition because the French Resistance had staged a coup in Algiers, the Allies were able to push inland and compel surrender on the first day. The success of Torch caused the commander of French forces in the region, Admiral Darlan, to order full co-operation with the Allies, in return for being retained as High Commissioner, with many Vichy officials keeping their jobs, but Darlan was assassinated soon after, De Gaulle’s Free French came to dominate the government. Operation Torch was the first mass involvement of US troops in the European–North African Theatre, saw the first major airborne assault carried out anywhere by the United States; the Allies planned an Anglo-American invasion of north-western Africa/Maghreb—Morocco and Tunisia, territory nominally in the hands of the Vichy French government. With British forces advancing from Egypt, this would allow the Allies to carry out a pincer operation against Axis forces in North Africa; the Vichy French had around 125,000 soldiers in the territories as well as coastal artillery, 210 operational but out-of-date tanks and about 500 aircraft, half of which were Dewoitine D.520 fighters—equal to many British and U.
S. fighters. These forces included 60,000 troops in Morocco, 15,000 in Tunisia, 50,000 in Algeria, with coastal artillery, a small number of tanks and aircraft. In addition, there were 11 submarines at Casablanca; the Allies believed that the Vichy French forces would not fight because of information supplied by American Consul Robert Daniel Murphy in Algiers. The French were former members of the Allies and the American troops were instructed not to fire unless they were fired upon. However, they harbored suspicions that the Vichy French navy would bear a grudge over the British attack on Mers-el-Kebir in 1940. An assessment of the sympathies of the French forces in North Africa was essential, plans were made to secure their cooperation, rather than resistance. German support for the Vichy French came in the shape of air support. Several Luftwaffe bomber wings undertook anti-shipping strikes against Allied ports in Algiers and along the North African coast. General Dwight D. Eisenhower was given command of the operation, he set up his headquarters in Gibraltar.
The Allied Naval Commander of the Expeditionary Force would be Admiral Sir Andrew Cunningham. Senior US commanders remained opposed to the landings and after the western Allied Combined Chiefs of Staff met in Washington on 30 July, General George Marshall and Admiral Ernest King declined to approve the plan. U. S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt gave a direct order that Torch was to have precedence over other operations and was to take place at the earliest possible date, one of only two direct orders he gave to military commanders during the war. Planners identified Oran and Casablanca as key targets. Ideally there would be a landing at Tunis to secure Tunisia and facilitate the rapid interdiction of supplies travelling via Tripoli to Rommel's forces in Libya. However, Tunis was much too close to the Axis airfields in Sicily and Sardinia for any hope of success. A compromise would be to land at Bône in eastern Algeria, some 300 miles closer to Tunis than Algiers. Limited resources dictated that the Allies could only make three landings and Eisenhower — who believed that any plan must include landings at Oran and Algiers — had two main options: either the western option, to land at Casablanca and Algiers and make as rapid a move as possible to Tunis some 500 miles east of Algiers once the Vichy opposition was suppressed.
He favoured the eastern option because of the advantages it gave to an early capture of Tunis and because the Atlantic swells off Casablanca presented greater risks to an amphibious landing there than would be encountered in the Mediterranean. The Combined Chiefs of Staff, were concerned that should Operation Torch precipitate Spain to abandon neutrality and join the Axis, the Straits of Gibraltar could be closed cutting the entire Allied force's lines of communication, they therefore chose the Casablanca option as the less risky since the forces in Algeria and Tunisia could be supplied overland from Casablanca in the event of closure of the straits. Marshall’s opposition to Torch delayed the landings by a month, his opposition to landings in Algeria led British military leaders to quest
Allied advance from Paris to the Rhine
The Allied advance from Paris to the Rhine known as the Siegfried Line Campaign, was a phase in the Western European Campaign of World War II. This phase spans from the end of the Battle of Normandy, or Operation Overlord, incorporating the German winter counter-offensive through the Ardennes and Operation Nordwind up to the Allies preparing to cross the Rhine in the early months of 1945; this corresponds with the official United States military European Theater of Operations Rhineland and Ardennes-Alsace Campaigns. German forces had been routed during the Allied break-out from Normandy; the Allies advanced against an enemy that put up little resistance. But after the liberation of Paris in late August 1944, the Allies paused to re-group and organise before continuing their advance from Paris to the River Rhine; the pause allowed the Germans to solidify their lines—something they had been unable to do west of Paris. By the middle of September 1944, the three Western Allied army groups. S. 12th Army Group in the center, the Franco-American 6th Army Group in the south, formed a broad front under the Supreme Allied Commander, General Dwight D. Eisenhower and his headquarters SHAEF.
While Montgomery and Bradley each favored direct thrusts into Germany, General Eisenhower disagreed. Instead, he chose a "broad-front" strategy, which allowed the Allies to gain ground from the beaten Germans in all sectors, allowed the advancing Allied forces to support each other, minimized the difficulty of supplying the most advanced forces; the rapid advance through France had caused considerable logistical strain, made worse by the lack of any major port other than the distant Cherbourg in western France. Although Antwerp was seen as the key to solving the Allied logistics problems, its port was not open to Allied shipping until the Scheldt estuary was clear of German forces; as the campaign progressed, all the belligerents, Allied as well as German, felt the effects of the lack of suitable replacements for front-line troops. There were two major defensive obstacles to the Allies; the first was the natural barriers made by the rivers of eastern France. The second was the Siegfried Line, which fell under the command, along with all Wehrmacht forces in the west, of Generalfeldmarschall Gerd von Rundstedt.
Although the breakout from Normandy had taken longer than planned, the advances until September had far exceeded expectations. Bradley, for example, by September had four more divisions than planned and all of his forces were 150 miles ahead of their expected position. One effect was that insufficient supplies could be delivered to the various fronts to maintain the advance: demand had exceeded the expected needs. Much war material still had to be brought ashore across the invasion beaches and through the one remaining Mulberry harbour. Although small harbours, such as Isigny, Port-en-Bessin, Courcelles, were being used, the major forward ports such as Calais, Dunkirk and Le Havre either remained in German hands as "fortresses" or had been systematically destroyed; the availability of Cherbourg had been valuable until the breakout, but the shortage of transport to carry supplies to the advancing armies became the limiting factor. Although fuel was pumped from Britain to Normandy via the Pluto pipeline, this still had to reach the fronts, which were advancing faster than the pipelines could be extended.
The railways had been destroyed by Allied attacks and would take much effort to repair, so fleets of trucks were needed in the interim. In an attempt to address this acute shortage of transport, three newly arrived U. S. infantry divisions—the 26th, 95th, 104th—were stripped of their trucks in order to haul supplies. Advancing divisions of the U. S. 12th Army Group left all their heavy artillery and half their medium artillery west of the Seine, freeing their trucks to move supplies for other units. Four British truck companies were loaned to the Americans. 1,500 other British trucks were found to have critical engine faults and were unusable, limiting assistance from that quarter. The Red Ball Express was an attempt to expedite deliveries by truck but capacity was inadequate for the circumstances; the 6th Army Group advancing from southern France were supplied adequately from Toulon and Marseille because it had captured ports intact and the local railway system was less damaged. This source supplied about 25% of the Allied needs.
The U. S. supply organization—Communications Zone —is perceived to have failed to expedite solutions and to have been far too bureaucratic, employing 11,000 staff. COMZ and its commander, General John C. H. Lee, were roundly criticised by other American generals. Failure to supply forward units led to unofficial arrangements, with pressed units "diverting" supplies intended for others. General Eisenhower felt he could not exert authority since COMZ was directly answerable to Washington and not to SHAEF, but General Eisenhower has been criticised for not exerting more pressure and influence than he did. At this time the main Allied supply lines still ran back to Normandy, presenting serious logistical problems; the solution was to get Antwerp into operation quickly. Although this major port had been captured intact, the mere occupation of Antwerp was not enough, because the 21st Army Group failed t
Battle of Monte Cassino
The Battle of Monte Cassino was a costly series of four assaults by the Allies against the Winter Line in Italy held by Axis forces during the Italian Campaign of World War II. The intention was a breakthrough to Rome. At the beginning of 1944, the western half of the Winter Line was being anchored by Germans holding the Rapido-Gari and Garigliano valleys and some of the surrounding peaks and ridges. Together, these features formed the Gustav Line. Monte Cassino, a historic hilltop abbey founded in AD 529 by Benedict of Nursia, dominated the nearby town of Cassino and the entrances to the Liri and Rapido valleys. Lying in a protected historic zone, it had been left unoccupied by the Germans, although they manned some positions set into the steep slopes below the abbey's walls. Repeated pinpoint artillery attacks on Allied assault troops caused their leaders to conclude the abbey was being used by the Germans as an observation post, at the least. Fears escalated along with casualties and in spite of a lack of clear evidence, it was marked for destruction.
On 15 February American bombers dropped 1,400 tons of high explosives. The raid failed to achieve its objective, as German paratroopers occupied the rubble and established excellent defensive positions amid the ruins. Between 17 January and 18 May, Monte Cassino and the Gustav defences were assaulted four times by Allied troops. On 16 May, soldiers from the Polish II Corps launched one of the final assaults on the German defensive position as part of a twenty-division assault along a twenty-mile front. On 18 May, a Polish flag followed by the British Union Jack were raised over the ruins. Following this Allied victory, the German Senger Line collapsed on 25 May; the German defenders were driven from their positions, but at a high cost. The capture of Monte Cassino resulted in 55,000 Allied casualties, with German losses being far fewer, estimated at around 20,000 killed and wounded; the Allied landings in Italy in September 1943 by two Allied armies, following shortly after the Allied landings in Sicily in July, commanded by General Sir Harold Alexander, the Commander-in-Chief of the 15th Army Group, were followed by an advance northward on two fronts, one on each side of the central mountain range forming the "spine" of Italy.
On the western front, the American Fifth Army, commanded by Lieutenant General Mark W. Clark, which had suffered heavy casualties during the main landing at Salerno in September, moved from the main base of Naples up the Italian "boot" and on the eastern front the British Eighth Army, commanded by General Sir Bernard Montgomery, advanced up the Adriatic coast. Clark's Fifth Army made slow progress in the face of difficult terrain, wet weather and skillful German defences; the Germans were fighting from a series of prepared positions in a manner designed to inflict maximum damage pulling back while buying time for the construction of the Winter Line defensive positions south of the Italian capital of Rome. The original estimates that Rome would fall by October 1943 proved far too optimistic. Although in the east the German defensive line had been breached on Montgomery's Eighth Army Adriatic front and Ortona was captured by the 1st Canadian Division, the advance had ground to a halt with the onset of winter blizzards at the end of December, making close air support and movement in the jagged terrain impossible.
The route to Rome from the east using Route 5 was thus excluded as a viable option leaving the routes from Naples to Rome, highways 6 and 7, as the only possibilities. Highway 6 ran through the Liri valley, dominated at its south entrance by the rugged mass of Monte Cassino above the town of Cassino. Excellent observation from the peaks of several hills allowed the German defenders to detect Allied movement and direct accurate artillery fire, preventing any northward advance. Running across the Allied line was the fast flowing Rapido River, which rose in the central Apennine Mountains, flowed through Cassino and across the entrance to the Liri valley. There the Liri river joined the Gari to form the Garigliano River. With its fortified mountain defences, difficult river crossings, valley head flooded by the Germans, Cassino formed a linchpin of the Gustav Line, the most formidable line of the defensive positions making up the Winter Line. In spite of its potential excellence as an observation post, because of the fourteen-century-old Benedictine abbey's historical significance, the German C-in-C in Italy, Generalfeldmarschall Albert Kesselring, ordered German units not to include it in their defensive positions and informed the Vatican and the Allies accordingly in December 1943.
Some Allied reconnaissance aircraft maintained they observed German troops inside the monastery. While this remains unconfirmed, it is clear that once the monastery was destroyed it was occupied by the Germans and proved better cover for their emplacements and troops than an intact structure would have offered; the plan of the Fifth Army commander, Lieutenant General Clark, was for the British X Corps, under Lieutenant General Richard McCreery, on the left of a thirty-kilometer front, to attack on 17 January 1944, across the Garigliano near the coast. The British 46th Infantry Division was to attack on the night of 19 January across the Garigliano below its junction with the Liri in support of the main attack by U
World War II
World War II known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from over 30 countries; the major participants threw their entire economic and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 50 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China, it included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, the only use of nuclear weapons in war. Japan, which aimed to dominate Asia and the Pacific, was at war with China by 1937, though neither side had declared war on the other. World War II is said to have begun on 1 September 1939, with the invasion of Poland by Germany and subsequent declarations of war on Germany by France and the United Kingdom.
From late 1939 to early 1941, in a series of campaigns and treaties, Germany conquered or controlled much of continental Europe, formed the Axis alliance with Italy and Japan. Under the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact of August 1939, Germany and the Soviet Union partitioned and annexed territories of their European neighbours, Finland and the Baltic states. Following the onset of campaigns in North Africa and East Africa, the fall of France in mid 1940, the war continued between the European Axis powers and the British Empire. War in the Balkans, the aerial Battle of Britain, the Blitz, the long Battle of the Atlantic followed. On 22 June 1941, the European Axis powers launched an invasion of the Soviet Union, opening the largest land theatre of war in history; this Eastern Front trapped most crucially the German Wehrmacht, into a war of attrition. In December 1941, Japan launched a surprise attack on the United States as well as European colonies in the Pacific. Following an immediate U. S. declaration of war against Japan, supported by one from Great Britain, the European Axis powers declared war on the U.
S. in solidarity with their Japanese ally. Rapid Japanese conquests over much of the Western Pacific ensued, perceived by many in Asia as liberation from Western dominance and resulting in the support of several armies from defeated territories; the Axis advance in the Pacific halted in 1942. Key setbacks in 1943, which included a series of German defeats on the Eastern Front, the Allied invasions of Sicily and Italy, Allied victories in the Pacific, cost the Axis its initiative and forced it into strategic retreat on all fronts. In 1944, the Western Allies invaded German-occupied France, while the Soviet Union regained its territorial losses and turned toward Germany and its allies. During 1944 and 1945 the Japanese suffered major reverses in mainland Asia in Central China, South China and Burma, while the Allies crippled the Japanese Navy and captured key Western Pacific islands; the war in Europe concluded with an invasion of Germany by the Western Allies and the Soviet Union, culminating in the capture of Berlin by Soviet troops, the suicide of Adolf Hitler and the German unconditional surrender on 8 May 1945.
Following the Potsdam Declaration by the Allies on 26 July 1945 and the refusal of Japan to surrender under its terms, the United States dropped atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on 6 and 9 August respectively. With an invasion of the Japanese archipelago imminent, the possibility of additional atomic bombings, the Soviet entry into the war against Japan and its invasion of Manchuria, Japan announced its intention to surrender on 15 August 1945, cementing total victory in Asia for the Allies. Tribunals were set up by fiat by the Allies and war crimes trials were conducted in the wake of the war both against the Germans and the Japanese. World War II changed the political social structure of the globe; the United Nations was established to foster international co-operation and prevent future conflicts. The Soviet Union and United States emerged as rival superpowers, setting the stage for the nearly half-century long Cold War. In the wake of European devastation, the influence of its great powers waned, triggering the decolonisation of Africa and Asia.
Most countries whose industries had been damaged moved towards economic expansion. Political integration in Europe, emerged as an effort to end pre-war enmities and create a common identity; the start of the war in Europe is held to be 1 September 1939, beginning with the German invasion of Poland. The dates for the beginning of war in the Pacific include the start of the Second Sino-Japanese War on 7 July 1937, or the Japanese invasion of Manchuria on 19 September 1931. Others follow the British historian A. J. P. Taylor, who held that the Sino-Japanese War and war in Europe and its colonies occurred and the two wars merged in 1941; this article uses the conventional dating. Other starting dates sometimes used for World War II include the Italian invasion of Abyssinia on 3 October 1935; the British historian Antony Beevor views the beginning of World War II as the Battles of Khalkhin Gol fought between Japan and the fo
World War II Victory Medal (United States)
The World War II Victory Medal is a service medal of the United States military, established by an Act of Congress on 6 July 1945 and promulgated by Section V, War Department Bulletin 12, 1945. The corresponding medal from World War I is the World War I Victory Medal; the World War II Victory Medal was first issued as a service ribbon referred to as the “Victory Ribbon.” The World War II Victory Medal was established by an Act of Congress on 6 July 1945 and promulgated by Section V, War Department Bulletin 12, 1945. The medal was designed by Mr. Thomas H. Jones and approved by the Secretary of War on 5 February 1946, it did not transition from a ribbon to a full medal until after World War II had ended. The Congressional authorization for the medal specified that it was to be awarded to any member of the United States military, including members of the armed forces of the Government of the Philippine Islands, who served on active duty, or as a reservist, between 7 December 1941 and 31 December 1946.
On 8 August 1946, the separate Merchant Marine World War II Victory Medal was established for members of the United States Merchant Marine who served during World War II. The medal is awarded for service between 7 December 1941 and 31 December 1946, both dates inclusive; the National Personnel Records Center has reported some cases of service members receiving the award for a few days of service. As the Second World War ended on 2 September 1945, there may be cases of service members who had enlisted, entered officer candidate school, or had been a cadet or midshipman at the U. S. Military Academy, the U. S. Naval Academy or the U. S. Coast Guard Academy between 3 September 1945 and any date in 1946, receiving the medal without having been a veteran of World War II; the reason for this late date is that President Harry S. Truman did not declare an official end of hostilities until the last day of 1946; as every member of the United States Armed Forces who served from December 7, 1941 to December 31, 1946 was eligible for the medal, there were over 12 million eligible recipients, making the World War II Victory Medal one of the most awarded decorations of the United States military.
The bronze medal is 1 4⁄8 inches in width. The obverse is a figure of Liberation standing full length with head turned to dexter looking to the dawn of a new day, right foot resting on a war god’s helmet with the hilt of a broken sword in the right hand and the broken blade in the left hand, the inscription WORLD WAR II placed below the center. On the reverse are inscriptions for the Four Freedoms: FREEDOM FROM FEAR AND WANT and FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND RELIGION separated by a palm branch, all within a circle composed of the words UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 1941 1945; the suspension and service ribbon of the medal is 1 3⁄8 inches wide and consists of the following stripes: 3⁄8 inch double rainbow in juxtaposition. The rainbow on each side of the ribbon is a miniature of the pattern used in the World War I Victory Medal. Although the World War I Victory Medal included clasps, the World War II Victory Medal did not; this was. Awards and decorations of the United States military Merchant Marine World War II Victory Medal United States Statutes at Large.
Vol. 59. Washington, DC: Office of the Federal Register. 1946. P. 461. Code of Federal Regulations. Washington, DC: Office of the Federal Register. 2008. 32CFR578.47. Retrieved 4 June 2009. NavPers 15,790: Navy and Marine Corps Awards Manual. Washington, DC: Department of the Navy. 1960. P. 161. OCLC 45726498. Retrieved 4 June 2009. MIL-DTL-3943/237A: Detail Specification Sheet — Medal, World War II Victory. 15 August 2008. Retrieved 4 June 2009. MIL-DTL-11589/149E: Detail Specification Sheet — Ribbon, World War II Victory Medal. 15 September 1995. Retrieved 4 June 2009. "World War II Victory Medal". Fort Belvoir, Virginia: The Institute of Heraldry, U. S. Army. Archived from the original on September 9, 2009. Retrieved 4 June 2009
Western Desert Campaign
The Western Desert Campaign, took place in the deserts of Egypt and Libya and was the main theatre in the North African Campaign during the Second World War. The campaign began in September 1940 with the Italian invasion of Egypt. Benito Mussolini sought help from Adolf Hitler, who responded with a small German force sent to Tripoli under Directive 22; the German Afrika Korps was under nominal Italian command but Italian dependency on Nazi Germany made it the dominant partner. In the spring of 1941, Axis forces under Rommel pushed the British back to Egypt except for the port of Tobruk, where the Siege of Tobruk took place until it was relieved during Operation Crusader; the Axis forces were forced to retire to. In 1942 Axis forces drove the British back again and captured Tobruk after the Battle of Gazala but failed to gain a decisive victory. On the final Axis push to Egypt, the British retreated to El Alamein, where at the Second Battle of El Alamein the Eighth Army defeated the Axis forces.
They were driven out of Libya to Tunisia. For Hitler the Eastern Front against the Soviet Union dwarfed the desert war, a holding action of secondary importance; the Axis never had the means to deliver them, to defeat the British. The British missed several opportunities to finish the campaign when they diverted resources to Greece and the Levant in 1941 and the Far East in 1942. Cyrenaica had been an Italian colony since the Italo-Turkish War. With Tunisia, a part of French North Africa to the west and Egypt to the east, the Italians prepared to defend both frontiers through a North Africa Supreme Headquarters, under the command of the Governor-General of Italian Libya, Marshal of the Air Force, Italo Balbo. Supreme Headquarters had the 5th Army and the 10th Army which in mid-1940 had nine metropolitan divisions of about 13,000 men each, three Blackshirt and two Libyan divisions with 8,000 men each. Italian army divisions had been reorganised in the late 1930s, from three regiments each to two and reservists were recalled in 1939, along with the usual call-up of conscripts.
Morale was considered to be high and the army had recent experience of military operations. The Italian navy had prospered under the Fascist regime, which had paid for fast, well-built and well-armed ships and a large submarine fleet but the navy lacked experience and training; the air force had been ready for war in 1936 but had stagnated by 1939 and was not considered by the British to be capable of maintaining a high rate of operations. The 5th Army with eight divisions was based in Tripolitania, the western half of Libya opposite Tunisia and the 10th Army with six infantry divisions, held Cyrenaica in the east; when war was declared, the 10th Army deployed the 1st Libyan Division Sibelle on the frontier from Giarabub to Sidi Omar and XXI Corps from Sidi Omar to the coast and Tobruk. The XXII Corps moved south-west of Tobruk; the British had based forces in Egypt since 1882 but these were reduced by the terms of the Anglo-Egyptian Treaty of 1936. The small British and Commonwealth force garrisoned the Red Sea route.
The canal was vital to British communications with its Far Indian Ocean territories. In mid-1939, Lieutenant-General Archibald Wavell was appointed General Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the new Middle East Command, over the Mediterranean and Middle East theatres; until the Franco-Axis armistice, the French divisions in Tunisia faced the Italian 5th Army on the western Libyan border. In Libya, the Royal Army had about 215,000 men and in Egypt, the British had about 36,000 troops, with another 27,500 men training in Palestine. British forces included the Mobile Division, one of only two British armoured training formations, which in mid-1939 was renamed Armoured Division; the Egypt–Libya border was defended by the Egyptian Frontier Force and in June 1940, the headquarters of the 6th Infantry Division took over command in the Western Desert, with instructions to drive back the Italians from their frontier posts and dominate the hinterland if war began. The 7th Armoured Division less the 7th Armoured Brigade, assembled at Mersa Matruh and sent the 7th Support Group forward towards the frontier as a covering force, where the RAF moved most of its bombers.
The HQ of the 6th Infantry Division, which lacked complete and trained units, was renamed the Western Desert Force on 17 June. In Tunisia, the French had eight divisions, capable only of limited operations and in Syria were three poorly armed and trained divisions, about 40,000 troops and border guards, on occupation duties against the civilian population. Italian land and air forces in Libya outnumbered the British in Egypt but suffered from poor morale and were handicapped by some inferior equipment. In Italian East Africa were another 130,000 Italian and African troops with 400 guns, 200 light tanks and 20,000 lorries; the war was fought in the area known as the Western Desert, about 240 mi wide, from Mersa Matruh in Egypt to Gazala on the Libyan coast, along Litoranea Balbo, the only paved road. The Sand Sea, 150 mi inland, marked the southern limit of the desert at its widest points at Giarabub and Siwa. In British parlance, the term "Western De
Operation Dragoon was the code name for the Allied invasion of the French Riviera. Planned to coincide with D-Day, it had been postponed due to insufficient landing-craft. In August, it was revived, as the zone had become a low priority for the Germans, conditions looked favourable for the liberation of Southern France with its key ports of Marseille and Toulon; the US VI Corps landed at Hyères under the cover of a large naval task force, followed by several divisions of the French Army B. They were opposed by the scattered forces of the German Army Group G. Hindered by Allied air superiority and an uprising by the French Resistance, the German forces were swiftly defeated and withdrew to the north through the Rhône valley, to establish a stable defense line at Dijon. Allied mobile units blocked their route at Montélimar, but neither side could achieve a decisive breakthrough, though the Germans were able to retreat from the town, while the French captured the seaports. Fighting came to a stop at the Vosges Mountains, where Army Group G established a stable defense line.
The Allied forces needed reorganizing, facing stiffened German resistance, they halted the offensive on 14 September. Operation Dragoon was rated a success; the Allies were able to liberate most of southern France in only 4 weeks, while inflicting heavy casualties, the captured ports eased Allied supply problems. But in the short term, it allowed German units to escape northward, into the face of Patton and Montgomery. Long-term, it diverted Churchill from his plan to invade the Balkans, thus enabled the Soviets to take Vienna, altering the map of postwar Europe. During planning stages, the operation was known as "Anvil", to complement Operation Sledgehammer, at that time the code name for the invasion of Normandy. Subsequently, both plans were renamed. Sledgehammer became Operation Overlord, Anvil becoming Operation Dragoon; the original idea of invading southern France had come in 1942 from General George Marshall, the U. S. Army Chief of Staff, it was supported by Joseph Stalin at the Tehran Conference in late 1943.
In discussions with Franklin D. Roosevelt, Stalin advocated for the operation as an inherent part of Overlord, preferring to have the Allies in the far west instead of at an alternative landing in the Balkans, which he considered to be in his zone of influence. Marshall insisted that the operation be included in the strategic planning, Roosevelt found cancelling the operation to be unpalatable. Operation Dragoon was controversial from the time; the American military leadership and its British counterparts disagreed on the operation. Winston Churchill argued against it on the grounds that it diverted military resources that were better deployed for Allied operations in Italy. Instead, he favored an invasion of the oil-producing regions of the Balkans. Churchill reasoned that by attacking the Balkans, the Allies could deny Germany petroleum, forestall the advance of the Red Army, achieve a superior negotiating position in postwar Europe, all at a stroke; when first planned, the landings were to take place – Overlord in Normandy and Anvil in the south of France.
A dual landing was soon recognized as impossible to conduct with the forces available. The expansion of Overlord from a three- to a five-division front required many additional LSTs, which would have been needed for Anvil. Another Allied amphibious landing, in Italy at Anzio, had gone badly. All of these resulted in the postponing of Anvil by the Allies. After the landing at Normandy, a revival of Anvil became attractive to Allied planners; the Normandy ports had insufficient capacity to handle Allied supply needs and French generals under Charles de Gaulle pressed for a direct attack on southern France with participation of French troops. These factors led to a reconsideration of the plan. Despite Churchill's objections, the operation was authorized by the Allied Combined Chiefs of Staff on 14 July renamed Dragoon on 1 August; the landing was scheduled for 15 August. Churchill and his chiefs of staff had opposed Dragoon in favour of reinforcing the campaign in Italy, by capturing Trieste, landing on the Istria Peninsula, moving through the Ljubljana gap into Austria and Hungary.
On August 4, Churchill proposed that Dragoon should be switched to the coast of Brittany. Eisenhower, supported by Roosevelt, who opposed diverting large forces to the Balkans, stood firm on the agreed plan despite long harangues from Churchill on August 5 and 9; the chief objectives of Operation Dragoon were the important French ports of Marseille and Toulon, considered essential to supply the growing Allied forces in France. The Allied planners were cautious, taking heed of lessons learned from the Anzio and Normandy landings, they chose a location with no high ground controlled by the Wehrmacht, conditions that had led to heavy casualties after the initial landings on one of the beaches at Normandy. The choice for the disembarkation site was an area on the Var coast east of Toulon. A preliminary air campaign was planned to isolate the battlefield and cut the Germans off from reinforcement by destroying several key bridges. A large airborne landing was planned in the center of the landing zone to seize the high ground overlooking the beaches.
Parallel to the invasion, several commando units were to take control of the islands off the coast. The Allied plan consisted of a three-division landing of US forces led by Major General Lucian Truscott to secure a bridgehead on the first day, their flanks were to be protected by French and Canadian commando units. Within 24 hours, 50