Armoured warfare, mechanised warfare or tank warfare is the use of armoured fighting vehicles in modern warfare. It is a major component of modern methods of war; the premise of armoured warfare rests on the ability of troops to penetrate conventional defensive lines through use of manoeuvre by armoured units. Much of the application of armoured warfare depends on the use of tanks and related vehicles used by other supporting arms such as infantry fighting vehicles, self-propelled artillery, other combat vehicles, as well as mounted combat engineers and other support units; the doctrine of armoured warfare was developed to break the static nature of World War I trench warfare on the Western Front, return to the 19th century school of thought that advocated manoeuvre and "decisive battle" outcomes in military strategy. Modern armoured warfare began during the First World War with the need to break the tactical and strategic stalemates forced on commanders on the Western Front by the effectiveness of entrenched defensive infantry armed with machine guns—known as trench warfare.
Under these conditions, any sort of advance was very slow and caused massive casualties. The development of the tank was motivated by the need to return manoeuvre to warfare, the only practical way to do so was to provide caterpillar traction to guns allowing them to overcome trenches while at the same time offering them armour protection against small arms fire as they were moving. Tanks were first developed in Britain and France in 1915, as a way of navigating the barbed wire and other obstacles of no-man's land while remaining protected from machine-gun fire. British Mark I tanks first went to action at the Somme, on 15 September 1916, but did not manage to break the deadlock of trench warfare; the first French employment of tanks, on 16 April 1917, using the Schneider CA, was a failure. In the Battle of Cambrai British tanks were more successful, broke a German trenchline system, the Hindenburg Line. Despite the unpromising beginnings, the military and political leadership in both Britain and France during 1917 backed large investments into armoured vehicle production.
This led to a sharp increase in the number of available tanks for 1918. The German Empire to the contrary, produced only a few tanks, late in the war. Twenty German A7V tanks were produced during the entire conflict, compared to over 4,400 French and over 2,500 British tanks of various kinds. Nonetheless, World War I saw the first tank-versus-tank battle, during the Second Battle of Villers-Bretonneux in April 1918, when a group of three German A7V tanks engaged a group of three British Mark IV tanks they accidentally met. After the final German Spring Offensives of 1918, Entente tanks were used in mass at the Battle of Soissons and Battle of Amiens, which ended the stalemate imposed by trench warfare on the Western Front, thus ended the war. Tactically, the deployment of armour during the war was typified by a strong emphasis on direct infantry support; the tank's main tasks were seen as crushing barbed wire and destroying machine-gun nests, facilitating the advance of foot soldiers. Theoretical debate focused on the question whether a "swarm" of light tanks should be used for this or a limited number of potent heavy vehicles.
Though in the Battle of Cambrai a large concentration of British heavy tanks effected a breakthrough, it was not exploited by armour. The manoeuvrability of the tank should at least in theory regain armies the ability to flank enemy lines. In practice, tank warfare during most of World War I was hampered by the technical immaturity of the new weapon system causing mechanical failure, limited numbers, general underutilisation, a low speed and a short range. Strategic use of tanks was slow to develop during and after World War I due to these technical limitations but due to the prestige role traditionally accorded to horse-mounted cavalry. An exception, on paper, was the Plan 1919 of Colonel John Fuller, who envisaged using the expected vast increase in armour production during 1919 to execute deep strategic penetrations by mechanised forces consisting of tanks and infantry carried by lorries, supported by aeroplanes, to paralyse the enemy command structure. Following the First World War, the technical and doctrinal aspects of armoured warfare became more sophisticated and diverged into multiple schools of doctrinal thought.
During the 1920s, only few tanks were produced. There were however, important technical developments. Various British and French commanders who had contributed to the origin of the tank, such as Jean Baptiste Eugène Estienne, B. H. Liddell Hart and J. F. C. Fuller, theorised about a possible future use of independent armoured forces, containing a large concentration of tanks, to execute deep strategic penetrations. Liddell Hart wrote many books about the subject propagating Fuller's theories; such doctrines were faced with the reality that during the 1920s the armoured vehicles, as early road transport in general, were unreliable, could not be used in sustained operations. Mainstream thought on the subject was more conservative and tried to integrate armoured vehicles into the existing infantry and cavalry organisation and tactics. Technical development focussed on the improvement of the suspension system and engine, to create vehicles that were faster, more reliable and had a better range than their WW I predecessors.
To save weight, such designs had thin armour plating and this inspired fitting small-calibre high-velocity guns in turrets, giving tanks a good antitank capacity. Both France and Britain built specialised infantry tanks, more armoured to provide infantry
Walther Nehring was a German general in the Wehrmacht during World War II who commanded the Afrika Korps. Nehring was born on 15 August 1892 in West Prussia. Nehring was the descendant of a Dutch family who had fled the Netherlands to escape religious persecution in the seventeenth century, his father, Emil Nehring, was an estate officer of the Military Reserve. While Nehring was still a child the family moved to Danzig. Nehring joined the military service on 16 September 1911 in the Infanterie-Regiment 152, he became a commissioned Leutnant on 18 December 1913. On 26 October 1940 he received command of the 18th Panzer Division at Chemnitz, which he commanded during the operations Barbarossa and Typhoon; the division led by Nehring, is accused by numerous current accounts, of war crimes. Nehring took command of the Afrika Korps in May 1942 and took part in the last major Axis offensive of the Western Desert campaign and the subsequent Battle of Alam Halfa, during which he was wounded in an air raid.
Between November and December 1942, he commanded the German contingent in Tunisia. After North Africa, Nehring was posted to the Eastern Front where he commanded first the XXIV Panzer Corps, from July to August 1944 the Fourth Panzer Army. Nehring returned to the XXIV in August 1944 and led the Corps until March 1945 when he was made commander of the 1st Panzer Army. During 1944 he was the commanding officer of the XXXXVIII Panzer Corps. Following the end of the war, Nehring wrote a comprehensive history of the German panzer forces from 1916 to 1945, Die Geschichte der deutschen Panzerwaffe 1916 bis 1945, he wrote the foreword to Len Deighton's Blitzkrieg: From the Rise of Hitler to the Fall of Dunkirk. Iron Cross 2nd Class & 1st Class Clasp to the Iron Cross 2nd Class & 1st Class Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords Knight's Cross on 24 July 1941 as Generalmajor and commander of the 18. Panzer-Division 383rd Oak Leaves on 8 February 1944 as General der Panzertruppe and commanding general of the XXIV.
Panzerkorps 124th Swords on 22 January 1945 as General der Panzertruppe and commanding general of the XXIV. Panzerkorps Bundesverdienstkreuz 1st Class Citations Bibliography
Corps is a term used for several different kinds of organisation. Within military terminology a corps may be: an operational formation, sometimes known as a field corps, which consists of two or more divisions, such as the Corps d'armée known as I Corps of Napoleon's Grande Armée); these usages overlap. Corps may be a generic term for a non-military organization, such as the U. S. Peace Corps. In many armies, a corps is a battlefield formation composed of two or more divisions, commanded by a lieutenant general. During World War I and World War II, due to the large scale of combat, multiple corps were combined into armies which formed into army groups. In Western armies with numbered corps, the number is indicated in Roman numerals; the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps was raised in 1914, consisting of Australian and New Zealand troops, who went on to fight at Gallipoli in 1915. In early 1916, the original corps was reorganised and two corps were raised: I ANZAC Corps and II ANZAC Corps. In the stages of World War I, the five infantry divisions of the First Australian Imperial Force —consisting of personnel who had volunteered for service overseas—were united as the Australian Corps, on the Western Front, under Lieutenant General Sir John Monash.
During World War II, the Australian I Corps was formed to co-ordinate three Second Australian Imperial Force units: the 6th, 7th and 9th Divisions, as well as other Allied units on some occasions, in the North African campaign and Greek campaign. Following the commencement of the Pacific War, there was a phased withdrawal of I Corps to Australia, the transfer of its headquarters to the Brisbane area, to control Allied army units in Queensland and northern New South Wales. II Corps was formed, with Militia units, to defend south-eastern Australia, III Corps controlled land forces in Western Australia. Sub-corps formations controlled Allied land forces in the remainder of Australia. I Corps headquarters was assigned control of the New Guinea campaign. In early 1945, when I Corps was assigned the task of re-taking Borneo, II Corps took over in New Guinea. Canada first fielded a corps-sized formation in the First World War; the Canadian Corps consisted of four Canadian divisions. After the Armistice, the peacetime Canadian militia was nominally organized into corps and divisions but no full-time formations larger than a battalion were trained or exercised.
Early in the Second World War, Canada's contribution to the British-French forces fighting the Germans was limited to a single division. After the fall of France in June 1940, a second division moved to England, coming under command of a Canadian corps headquarters; this corps was renamed I Canadian Corps as a second corps headquarters was established in the UK, with the eventual formation of five Canadian divisions in England. I Canadian Corps fought in Italy, II Canadian Corps in NW Europe, the two were reunited in early 1945. After the formations were disbanded after VE Day, Canada has never subsequently organized a Corps headquarters. Royal Canadian Army Cadets: A Corps size in the RCAC is different everywhere, depending on the size, the Commanding Officer can be a Captain or Major; the National Revolutionary Army Corps was a type of military organization used by the Chinese Republic, exercised command over two to three NRA Divisions and a number of Independent Brigades or Regiments and supporting units.
The Chinese Republic had 133 Corps during the Second Sino-Japanese War. After losses in the early part of the war, under the 1938 reforms, the remaining scarce artillery and the other support formations were withdrawn from the Division and was held at Corps, or Army level or higher; the Corps became the basic tactical unit of the NRA having strength nearly equivalent to an allied Division. The French Army under Napoleon used corps-sized formations as the first formal combined-arms groupings of divisions with reasonably stable manning and equipment establishments. Napoleon first used the Corps d'armée in 1805; the use of the Corps d'armée was a military innovation that provided Napoleon with a significant battlefield advantage in the early phases of the Napoleonic Wars. The Corps was designed to be an independent military group containing cavalry and infantry, capable of defending against a numerically superior foe; this allowed Napoleon to mass the bulk of his forces to effect a penetration into a weak section of enemy lines without risking his own communications or flank.
This innovation stimulated other European powers to adopt similar military structures. The Corps has remained an echelon of French Army organization to the modern day; as fixed military formation in peace-time it was used in all European armies after Battle of Ulm in 1805. In Prussia it was introduced by Order of His Majesty from November 5, 1816, in order to strengthen the readiness to war; the paramilitary forces of Pakistan's two main western provinces of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan are the Frontier Corps founded in 1907 during British Rule as at least three various organizations before being combined together. They are charged with guarding the country's wes
1st Panzer Army
The 1st Panzer Army was a German tank army, a large armoured formation of the Wehrmacht during World War II. When formed on 1 March 1940, the 1st Panzer Army was named Panzer Group Kleist with Colonel General Ewald von Kleist in command. Panzer Group Kleist was the first operational formation of several Panzer corps in the Wehrmacht. Created for the Battle of France on 1 March 1940. Panzer Group Kleist played an important role in the Battle of Belgium. Panzer corps of the Group broke through the Ardennes and reached the sea, forming a huge pocket, containing several Belgian and French armies; when the armistice was signed, Group was deployed in occupied France, being renamed into Panzer Group 1 in November. In April 1941, Panzer Group 1 took part in the invasion of Yugoslavia as part of Field Marshal Maximilian von Weichs's Second Army. In May 1941 Panzer Group 1 was attached to Field Marshal Gerd von Rundstedt's Army Group South at the beginning of Operation Barbarossa. At the start of Operation Barbarossa in June 1941, Panzer Group 1 included the III, XIV and XLVIII Army Corps with five panzer divisions and four motorized divisions equipped with 799 tanks.
Panzer Group 1 served on the southern sector of the Eastern Front against the Red Army and was involved the Battle of Brody which involved as many as 3,000 Red Army tanks. The units of the Group closed the encirclement near Kiev. After the fall of Kiev Panzer Group 1 was enlarged to the 1st Panzer Army with Kleist still in command; the army was forced to retreat eight days later. In January 1942, Army Group Kleist, which consisted of the First Panzer Army along with the Seventeenth Army, was formed with its namesake, Kleist, in command. Army Group Kleist played a major role in repulsing the Red Army attack in the Second Battle of Kharkov in May 1942. Army Group Kleist was disbanded that month; the First Panzer Army, still under Kleist, attached to Army Group South earlier, became part of Army Group A under Field Marshal Wilhelm List. Army Group A was to lead the thrust into the Caucasus during Operation Blue and capture Grozny and the Baku oilfields; the First Panzer Army was to spearhead the attack.
Rostov, Maykop and the Kuban region were captured. In September 1942, the offensive by Army Group A stalled in the Caucasus and List was sacked. After Adolf Hitler took personal control of Army Group A, he appointed Kleist to the command on 22 November 1942; as Kleist took over, Colonel-General Eberhard von Mackensen took the reins of the First Panzer Army. In December 1942, as the German 6th Army was being crushed in the Battle of Stalingrad, the Red Army launched an offensive against Army Group A; the First Panzer Army was ordered to retreat through Rostov in January 1943, before the Soviet forces could cut it off in the Kuban. By February 1943, the army had been withdrawn west of the Don River and Kleist withdrew the remains of his forces from Caucasus into the Kuban, east of the Strait of Kerch. In January 1943, von Mackensen's First Panzer Army became attached to Army Group Don under Field Marshal Erich von Manstein; the month after that, von Manstein redeployed the First Panzer Army together with the Fourth Panzer Army to counter-attack the Soviet breakthrough from the Battle of Stalingrad.
The First Panzer Army contributed to the success of the Third Battle of Kharkov in March 1943. In October 1943 Soviet forces crossed the Dnieper River between Kremenchug; the First Panzer Army counter-attacked along with the 8th Army, but failed to dislodge the Soviet forces. At the end of that month, as the Red Army closed in on Kiev, von Mackensen was replaced by Colonel-General Hans-Valentin Hube; the First Panzer Army remained attached to Army Group South from March 1943 to July 1944. By that time German troops had been pulled out from the Ukraine. In March 1944, crisis hit the First Panzer Army as it was encircled by two Soviet fronts in the Battle of Kamenets-Podolsky pocket. A successful breakthrough was made, losing the heavy equipment; that same month Hitler, who insisted his armies fight an inflexible defense to the last man, dismissed von Manstein. In October 1941, when the First Panzer Army had been formed, it was a large army consisting of four corps, several infantry, motorized, SS divisions, along with a Romanian army and some Italian, Romanian and Slovak divisions.
By the spring of 1944, the First Panzer Army had shrunk consisting of only three corps, two infantry, four panzer, one SS division. After July 1944 it retreated from Poland before fighting with Army Group A in Slovakia. During its existence, from October 1941 to May 1945, the First Panzer Army spent its entire time on the Eastern Front. In the spring of 1945, the First Panzer Army's main task was to defend the Ostrava region in the north of Moravia, at the time the last large industrial area in the hands of Third Reich. There the First Panzer Army was facing the advance of 4th Ukrainian Front from north-east and had lost most of its heavy and medium tanks. At the same time however the Panzer Army was flanked by the 2nd Ukrainian Front from the south. German defensive lines collapsed in the early hours of Prague Offensive; the staff of First Panzer Army, along with other commands subordinated to Army Group Center, surrendered to the Soviet forces on 9 May 1945 in the area of Deutsch-Brod, while the remnant
Heinrich Eberbach was a German general during World War II who commanded the 5th Panzer Army during the Allied invasion of Normandy. He was a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves of Nazi Germany. Heinrich Eberbach was born on 24 November 1895 in the German Empire. Eberbach graduated with his Abitur on 30 June 1914. On 1 July 1914, Eberbach joined the Army of Württemberg. With the outbreak of World War I, Eberbach's unit was deployed on the Western Front. On 16 October 1914, Eberbach was wounded in his thigh by artillery shrapnel. In September 1915, Eberbach was wounded, losing his nose, was taken prisoner of war by French forces. During the 1920s Eberbach was a police officer. In 1938 Eberbach became commander of a Panzer regiment, in the newly formed 4th Panzer Division under General Georg-Hans Reinhardt. Eberbach participated in the German Invasion of Poland in September 1939 and in 1940 in the Battle of France, his unit supported General Hasso von Manteuffel's offensive across the Meuse River in May.
Shortly after the start of Germany's invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941, he was assigned as commander of the 5th Panzer Brigade in Leo Geyr von Schweppenburg's XXIV Panzer Corps. During the Battle of Moscow, Eberbach spearheaded Panzer Group 2's offensive towards Moscow as the commander of a combined-arms kampfgruppe within the 4th Panzer Division; the attack began on September 30 and in only two days of fighting Kampfgruppe Eberbach had achieved a clean breakthrough, advanced over 120 kilometers, put the entire Soviet Bryansk Front in a disastrous position while suffering negligible losses of its own. Eberbach demonstrated his flexibility as a troop leader by detaching two battalions to assist the 3rd Panzer Division's efforts in the same area of operations near Bryansk, despite serving under a different division. Soviet air attacks and a fuel shortage early on 2 October failed to prevent the kampfgruppe's aggressive combat leaders from advancing on the city of Orel, ending the Soviet industrial relocation efforts there and capturing a key communications hub of the Bryansk Front, on 3 October.
Kampfgruppe Eberbach's losses had been light: 34 men killed and 121 wounded. This was a small price to pay for the complete rupturing of the Soviet lines and the capture of a city of such strategic value. 4th Panzer division had captured 1,600 Soviet troops Kampfgruppe Eberbach's work. In March 1942 he was made commander of the 4th Panzer Division, in the German lines opposite the Russian town of Sukhinichi 120 miles west of Tula. In late November 1942 Eberbach was appointed commander of the XLVIII Panzer Corps that had just been overrun in the initial days of Operation Uranus, near the midpoint of the Battle of Stalingrad. Eberbach was soon evacuated, remaining hospitalized until February, he became Inspector of the Armored Troops in the Home Army, was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross and promoted to lieutenant general. In November 1943, Eberbach became commander of troops around Nikopol and fought in battles around Zhitomir in the Soviet Union. In early 1944 Eberbach was promoted to the rank of General der Panzertruppe.
During the Allied invasion of Normandy, he fought against the British landings along the'Juno' and'Sword' beaches. On 2 July he took command of "Panzer Group West". On 9 August, this force was divided, with 5th Panzer Army retreating with the most damaged units. Eberbach was directed to lead this force in the counterattack through Mortain toward Avranches, intended to cut off the Allied forces which had broken out of Normandy. According to Eberbach's post-war memoirs, he had no confidence in the attack; when General Warlimont of OKW arrived at his HQ on 1 August to "get a closer look at the situation", Eberbach told him that "the only possible solution was an immediate retreat to the Seine-Yonne line." However, Warlimont denied Eberbach's request to withdraw, instead confirmed the order to attack. The attack failed, most of Panzergruppe Eberbach and 7th Army was surrounded and destroyed in the Falaise Pocket. Eberbach was given command of the remnants of 7th Army on 21 August. On 31 August while out on a reconnaissance patrol, Eberbach was captured by British troops at Amiens.
Eberbach was held in a prisoner-of-war camp until 1948. Gersdorff participated in the work of the U. S. Army Historical Division, under the guidance of Franz Halder, German generals wrote World War II operational studies for the U. S. Army, first as POWs and as employees. Eberbach was the father of the naval officer Heinz-Eugen Eberbach, commander of U-967 and U-230 during World War II. Eberbach, Heinrich. Panzer Group Eberbach and the Falaise Encirclement. Karlsruhe, Germany: Historical Division, Headquarters United States Army, Foreign Military Studies Branch. OCLC 33089881. Iron Cross 2nd Class & 1st Class Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves Knight's Cross on 4 July 1940 as Oberstleutnant and commander of Panzer-Regiment 35 Oak Leaves on 31 December 1941 as Oberst and commander of the 5. Panzer-Brigade "Rommel: Ende einer Legende". Der Spiegel. 38. 1978. ISSN 0038-7452. Retrieved 30 May 2016. "Die Kraft des Bösen". Der Spiegel. 44. 2012. ISSN 0038-7452. Retrieved 30 May 2016
The Elbe is one of the major rivers of Central Europe. It rises in the Krkonoše Mountains of the northern Czech Republic before traversing much of Bohemia Germany and flowing into the North Sea at Cuxhaven, 110 km northwest of Hamburg, its total length is 1,094 kilometres. The Elbe's major tributaries include the rivers Vltava, Havel, Schwarze Elster, Ohře; the Elbe river basin, comprising the Elbe and its tributaries, has a catchment area of 148,268 square kilometres, the fourth largest in Europe. The basin spans four countries, with its largest parts in the Czech Republic. Much smaller parts lie in Poland; the basin is inhabited by 24.4 million people. The Elbe rises at an elevation of about 1,400 metres in the Krkonoše on the northwest borders of the Czech Republic near Labská bouda. Of the numerous small streams whose waters compose the infant river, the most important is the Bílé Labe, or White Elbe. After plunging down the 60 metres of the Labský vodopád, or Elbe Falls, the latter stream unites with the steeply torrential Malé Labe, thereafter the united stream of the Elbe pursues a southerly course, emerging from the mountain glens at Jaroměř, where it receives Úpa and Metuje.
Here the Elbe enters the vast vale named Polabí, continues on southwards through Hradec Králové and to Pardubice, where it turns to the west. At Kolín some 43 kilometres further on, it bends towards the north-west. At the village of Káraný, a little above Brandýs nad Labem, it picks up the Jizera. At Mělník its stream is more than doubled in volume by the Vltava, or Moldau, a major river which winds northwards through Bohemia. Upstream from the confluence the Vltava is in fact much longer, has a greater discharge and a larger drainage basin. Nonetheless, for historical reasons the river retains the name Elbe because at the confluence point it is the Elbe that flows through the main, wider valley while the Vltava flows into the valley to meet the Elbe at a right angle, thus appears to be the tributary river; some distance lower down, at Litoměřice, the waters of the Elbe are tinted by the reddish Ohře. Thus augmented, swollen into a stream 140 metres wide, the Elbe carves a path through the basaltic mass of the České Středohoří, churning its way through a picturesque, deep and curved rocky gorge.
Shortly after crossing the Czech-German frontier, passing through the sandstone defiles of the Elbe Sandstone Mountains, the stream assumes a north-westerly direction, which on the whole it preserves right to the North Sea. The river rolls through Dresden and beyond Meißen, enters on its long journey across the North German Plain passing along the former western border of East Germany, touching Torgau, Dessau, Magdeburg and Hamburg on the way, taking on the waters of the Mulde and Saale from the west, those of the Schwarze Elster and Elde from the east. In its northern section both banks of the Elbe are characterised by flat fertile marshlands, former flood plains of the Elbe now diked. At Magdeburg there is a viaduct, the Magdeburg Water Bridge, that carries a canal and its shipping traffic over the Elbe and its banks, allowing shipping traffic to pass under it unhindered. From the sluice of Geesthacht on downstream the Elbe is subject to the tides, the tidal Elbe section is called the Low Elbe.
Soon the Elbe reaches Hamburg. Within the city-state the Unterelbe has a number of branch streams, such as Dove Elbe, Gose Elbe, Köhlbrand, Northern Elbe, Southern Elbe; some of which have been disconnected for vessels from the main stream by dikes. In 1390 the Gose Elbe was separated from the main stream by a dike connecting the two then-islands of Kirchwerder and Neuengamme; the Dove Elbe was diked off in 1437/38 at Gammer Ort. These hydraulic engineering works were carried out to protect marshlands from inundation, to improve the water supply of the Port of Hamburg. After the heavy inundation by the North Sea flood of 1962 the western section of the Southern Elbe was separated, becoming the Old Southern Elbe, while the waters of the eastern Southern Elbe now merge into the Köhlbrand, bridged by the Köhlbrandbrücke, the last bridge over the Elbe before the North Sea; the Northern Elbe passes the Elbe Philharmonic Hall and is crossed under by the old Elbe Tunnel, both in Hamburg's city centre.
A bit more downstream the Low Elbe's two main anabranches Northern Elbe and the Köhlbrand reunite south of Altona-Altstadt, a locality of Hamburg. Right after both anabranches reunited the Low Elbe is passed under by the New Elbe Tunnel, the last structural road link crossing the river before the North Sea. At the bay Mühlenberger Loch in Hamburg at kilometre 634, the Northern Elbe and the Southern Elbe used to reunite, why the bay is seen as the starting point of the Lower Elbe. Leaving the city-state the Lower Elbe passes between Holstein and the Elbe-Weser Triangle with Stade until it flows into the North Sea at Cuxhaven. Near its mouth it passes the entrance to the Kiel Canal at Brunsbüttel before it debouches into the North Sea; the Elbe has been navigable by commercial ve
Western Front (World War II)
The Western Front was a military theatre of World War II encompassing Denmark, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, France and Germany. World War II military engagements in Southern Europe and elsewhere are considered under separate headings; the Western Front was marked by two phases of large-scale combat operations. The first phase saw the capitulation of the Netherlands and France during May and June 1940 after their defeat in the Low Countries and the northern half of France, continued into an air war between Germany and Britain that climaxed with the Battle of Britain; the second phase consisted of large-scale ground combat, which began in June 1944 with the Allied landings in Normandy and continued until the defeat of Germany in May 1945. The Phoney War was an early phase of World War II marked by a few military operations in Continental Europe in the months following the German invasion of Poland and preceding the Battle of France. Although the great powers of Europe had declared war on one another, neither side had yet committed to launching a significant attack, there was little fighting on the ground.
This was the period in which the United Kingdom and France did not supply significant aid to Poland, despite their pledged alliance. While most of the German Army was fighting against Poland, a much smaller German force manned the Siegfried Line, their fortified defensive line along the French border. At the Maginot Line on the other side of the border, French troops stood facing them, whilst the British Expeditionary Force and other elements of the French Army created a defensive line along the Belgian border. There were only some minor skirmishes; the British Royal Air Force dropped propaganda leaflets on Germany and the first Canadian troops stepped ashore in Britain, while Western Europe was in a strange calm for seven months. In their hurry to re-arm and France had both begun to buy large numbers of weapons from manufacturers in the United States at the outbreak of hostilities, supplementing their own production; the non-belligerent United States contributed to the Western Allies by discounted sales of military equipment and supplies.
German efforts to interdict the Allies' trans-Atlantic trade at sea ignited the Battle of the Atlantic. While the Western Front remained quiet in April 1940, the fighting between the Allies and the Germans began in earnest with the Norwegian Campaign when the Germans launched Operation Weserübung, the German invasion of Denmark and Norway. In doing so, the Germans beat the Allies to the punch. However, when the Allies made a counter-landing in Norway following the German invasion, the Germans repulsed them and defeated the Norwegian armed forces, driving the latter into exile; the Kriegsmarine, suffered heavy losses during the two-months of fighting required to seize all of mainland Norway. In May 1940, the Germans launched the Battle of France; the Western Allies soon collapsed under the onslaught of the so-called "blitzkrieg" strategy. The majority of the British and elements of the French forces escaped at Dunkirk. With the fighting ended, the Germans began to consider ways of resolving the question of how to deal with Britain.
If the British refused to agree to a peace treaty, one option was to invade. However, Nazi Germany's Kriegsmarine, had suffered serious losses in Norway, in order to consider an amphibious landing, Germany's Air Force had to first gain air superiority or air supremacy. With the Luftwaffe unable to defeat the RAF in the Battle of Britain, the invasion of Great Britain could no longer be thought of as an option. While the majority of the German army was mustered for the invasion of the Soviet Union, construction began on the Atlantic Wall – a series of defensive fortifications along the French coast of the English Channel; these were built in anticipation of an Allied invasion of France. Because of the massive logistical obstacles a cross-channel invasion would face, Allied high command decided to conduct a practice attack against the French coast. On 19 August 1942, the Allies began an attack on Dieppe, France. Most of the troops were Canadian, with some British contingents and a small American and Free French presence along with British and Polish naval support.
The raid was a disaster two-thirds of the attacking force became casualties. However, much was learned as a result of the operation – these lessons would be put to good use in the subsequent invasion. For two years, there was no land-fighting on the Western Front with the exception of commando raids and the guerrilla actions of the resistance aided by the Special Operations Executive and Office of Strategic Services. However, in the meantime, the Allies took the war to Germany, with a strategic bombing campaign the US Eighth Air Force bombing Germany by day and RAF Bomber Command bombing by night; the bulk of the Allied armies were occupied in the Mediterranean, seeking to clear the sea lanes to the Indian Ocean and capture the Foggia Airfield Complex. Two early British raids for which battle honours were awarded were Operation Collar in Boulogne and Operation Ambassador in Guernsey; the raids for which the British awarded the "North-West Europe Campaign of 1942" battle honour were: Operation Biting – Bruneval, St Nazaire, Operation Myrmidon – Bayonne, Operation Abercrombie – Hardelot, Dieppe (19 Augus