The purpose of this volume is to tell how the Supreme Allied Command prosecuted the war against the enemy in northwest Europe in 1944-45. A part of that story has to do with the way in which an integrated command, devoted to the Allied cause, waged one of the most effective coalition wars in history.
I have deliberately focused this account on the Supreme Commander and his staff, including for the most part only those decisions of the Prime Minister, the President, and the Combined Chiefs of Staff which affected the activities of the Supreme Commander. On the enemy side, I have included enough detail on Hitler and his commanders to provide a contrast between the Allied and enemy command organizations.
Although General Eisenhower commanded air, sea, and ground forces in the operations in northwest Europe, it has been necessary for reasons of limitations of space and time to restrict the narrative basically to his command of the ground forces. Only enough material has been retained on air and naval matters to show how they affected the SHAEF command organization and to deal with those cases where SHAEF's intervention was required. This approach has seemed doubly important in a volume comprising part of the UNITED STATES ARMY IN WORLD WAR II series.
The Allied point of view has been considered throughout, but it has not always been possible to present British and French views as fully as the American because of the lack of the same ready accessibility to British and French files.
Operations have been considered from the standpoint of their influence on the Supreme Commander's decisions and the effects of his directives on the field commanders. A corrective to this emphasis on command at the expense of tactical action may be found in the operational volumes of this series and in similar accounts now in preparation by the British and Canadian historical sections.
This volume differs from others in the European series because of the greater attention necessarily given to political or nonoperational questions. To tell the full story of SHAEF, I have had to interrupt the operational narrative on occasion in order to interject discussions of such matters as press relations, civil affairs, military government, psychological warfare, and relations with the liberated countries of Europe. As the war progressed these matters tended to occupy an ever-increasing proportion of the Supreme Commander's time.
The accounts of Allied operations in this volume rest heavily on after action reports and semiofficial histories of the army groups and armies. These in turn . . .