Eisenhower's Own Story of the War: The Complete Report by the Supreme Commander, General Dwight D. Eisenhower, on the War in Europe from the Day of Invasion to the Day of Victory

Eisenhower's Own Story of the War: The Complete Report by the Supreme Commander, General Dwight D. Eisenhower, on the War in Europe from the Day of Invasion to the Day of Victory

Eisenhower's Own Story of the War: The Complete Report by the Supreme Commander, General Dwight D. Eisenhower, on the War in Europe from the Day of Invasion to the Day of Victory

Eisenhower's Own Story of the War: The Complete Report by the Supreme Commander, General Dwight D. Eisenhower, on the War in Europe from the Day of Invasion to the Day of Victory

Excerpt

PREFACE

SUMMARY OF OPERATIONS
IN NORTHWEST EUROPE

The broad strategy behind our main effort against the German war machine included as a highly desirable preliminary the successful conclusion of operations in North Africa and their extension across Sicily to the Italian mainland. With these accomplished, with the Mediterranean "flank" freed for Allied shipping, and with the necessary special equipment built or in sight, we were at last in a position to prepare for the final cross- Channel assault which had been agreed upon since April 1942 as our main operation against Germany. It was correctly believed that only on the historic battlefields of France and the Low Countries could Germany's armies in the west be decisively engaged and defeated.

America and England--the Western Allies--could not be sufficiently strong to undertake the assault against France until June 1944, but the broad tactical plans for the operation were completed and approved by the Combined Chiefs of Staff in August 1943, prior to my assumption of command of the European Theater in February 1944.

As part of our basic strategy, and in accordance with the task given to the Strategic Air Force under the Casablanca Directive in January 1943, the bombing of Germany, begun early in the war by the British Bomber Command, was intensified in May 1943 and continued with mounting strength to the end of the campaign. Neither the contemplated invasion of Europe nor the direct attack on the German industrial and economic system would be feasible until we had achieved supremacy over the German Air Force. This struggle for air supremacy, which had been going on throughout the war, was given added impetus by a new directive (known as POINTBLANK) in January 1943 which aimed at subjugating the enemy air force by the spring of 1944. In the event, German air might was thoroughly dominated by D-day and we were free to apply the immense strength of the Allied air forces in the manner we wished and to launch the invasion confident that our plans could not be seriously upset by the German air force. In addition, air bombardment had disrupted the German communications system, immeasurably aiding our ground forces by impeding enemy movements.

Our main strategy in the conduct of the ground campaign was to land amphibious and airborne forces on the Normandy coast between Le Havre and the Cotentin Peninsula and, with the successful establishment of a beachhead with adequate ports, to drive along the lines of the Loire and the Seine Rivers into the heart of France, destroying the German strength and freeing France. We anticipated that the enemy would resist strongly on the line of the Seine and later on the Somme, but once our forces had broken through the relatively static lines of the beachhead at St-Lô and inflicted on him the heavy casualties in the Falaise pocket, his ability to resist in France was negligible. Thereafter our armies swept east and north in an unimpeded advance which brought them to the German frontier and the defenses of the Siegfried Line.

Here enemy resistance stiffened, due primarily to the fact that he had fallen back on long-prepared defenses. At the same time our own offensive capabilities were lessened because our forces had, in their extremely rapid advance, outdistanced supply lines which had been maintained only by herculean efforts. By mid-September our armies in the north and center were committed to relatively static warfare and faced the threat of stabilization. This was true also on our southern flank, where forces landed from the Mediterranean against the south of France in mid-August had swept north through the Rhône Valley to link with the Central Group of Armies and close the Belfort Gap.

At this time we planned to attack quickly on the northern front in an effort to establish a bridgehead over the lower Rhine while the German armies were still reeling from our blows, but the airborne operation launched at Arnhem was not altogether successful in this respect, although considerable ground was gained and our positions in this area improved. Coincidentally with approving the Arnhem operation, it was directed that operations be undertaken to clear Antwerp as a supply port on the north, essential to our continued offensive action. This was accomplished in November.

While our forces moved slowly in attacks launched at selected points on the front to close to the Rhine, the enemy on 16 December launched a desperate and last counterattack designed to throw our campaign into disorder and to delay our planned advance deep into Germany. The attack was not without its immediate effect upon us, but the sturdy defense by our forces followed by our rapid and continuous counterattacks brought home clearly to Germany's military leaders that this last effort had failed completely and that the Nazi war machine faced inevitable disaster.

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