RIVIERA TO THE RHINE. By Jeffrey J. Clarke and Robert Ross Smith. (1992; approx. 620 pages, l table, 35 maps, 77 illustrations, bibliographical note, index, CMH Pub7-10.)
On 15 August 1944, the Allies finally launched Operation ANVIL, code name for the amphibious assault against southern France. Long in the planning as an adjunct to the main effort in Normandy, the effort represented a victory for U.S. strategists seeking to focus Allied military strength against western Germany. The successful assault was rapidly followed up by the seizure of the important French Mediterranean ports of Marseille and Toulon and a concerted drive north up the Rhone River valley to Lyon. There the Franco-American Riviera Force, consisting of the U.S. Seventh and the French First Armies, was combined into the Sixth Army Group under Lt. Gen. Jacob Devers as the southern element of General Eisenhower's northern European command.
From September to November 1944 the Sixth Army Group struggled east through the Vosges mountains and through the Saverne and Belfort gaps to the north and south, respectively. Inclement weather, rugged terrain, and stiffening defense by the German Nineteenth Army slowed the army group's progress toward the German
border to a crawl. During the well-planned November offensive, however, Devers' forces surged through the German lines, rapidly advancing to the Rhine and destroying the cohesiveness of the defenders in the process. But rather than move directly into Germany, Eisenhower ordered the bulk of the Seventh Army to strike northward in support of the U. S. Third Army's less successful offensive in Lorraine. In the process the Army group lost its momentum, allowing the Germans to retain a foothold in the Vosges around the city of Colmar and in the north to conduct a more orderly withdrawal to the German border.
In December the German Ardennes offensive forced the Sixth Army Group to halt all offensive operations and extend its front northward. As a result, the German High Command launched Operation NORDWIND in January 1945, a major armor and infantry offensive against the extended Seventh Army. A stubborn but flexible defense finally wore the German forces thin, but both sides suffered heavily from the bitterly cold weather. In February, Devers' forces resumed the offensive, eliminating the Colmar Pocket and the Nineteenth Army and setting the stage for the final drive into Germany.
This volume links the U.S. Army's Mediterranean and northern European operational series together and provides an important counterpoint for those works dealing with Eisenhower's two more well-known army groups commanded by Field Marshal Sir Bernard Montgomery and Lt. Gen. Omar Bradley. The opening section (Chs. I-XI) treats the Southern France Campaign as part of the Mediterranean Theater of Operations; a middle section (Chs. XII-XXIV) covers the fighting in the Vosges; and the final section (Chs. XXV-XXX) takes up the battle of Alsace. Joint operations are highlighted (Chs. II-VII) in the treatment of ANVIL, perhaps the most successful amphibious operation during the war, while the problems of combined (multinational) command are discussed throughout. A full account of German plans, organization, and actions is included for perspective, and the operations of the First French Army, a major component of the American army group, are also treated in detail.
1. Combined and joint politico-military war planning (Chs. I, II, XII, XXVII).
2. Partisan guerrillas (Chs. III, VI).
3. Amphibious loading for logistics (Ch. III).
4. Air-sea-land interdiction operations (Chs. V, VI).
5. Armored warfare (Chs. IX, XXI, XXIII, XXVIII, XXIX).
6. Civil affairs (Ch. XI).
7. Close air support (Ch. XI).
8. River crossings (Chs. XIII, XXII).
9. Morale and discipline (Ch. XXX).
10. Special and airborne operations (Chs. III, VI).
11. Winter and mountain fighting (Chs. XV, XXIX).
12. Intelligence derived from communications intercepts and human sources-- ULTRA and the OSS (Ch. V).
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