United States Army in World War II: European Theater of Operations

Riviera to the Rhine

by Jeffrey J. Clarke and Robert Ross Smith

. . . to Those Who Served

Table of Contents


The Authors


Part 1: Strategy and Operations

Chapter 1: The Debate Over Southern France

The Protagonists—TRIDENT, May 1943—Another Look at Southern France—The QUADRANT Conference—The Cairo and Tehran Conferences—ANVIL Canceled—ANVIL Restored—Churchill’s Last Stand

Chapter 2: Command and Organization

The High-Level Command Structure—The 6th Army Group and the First French Army—Force 163 and the Seventh Army

Chapter 3: Planning for Invasion

The Main Assault Force—Supporting Assault Forces—French Guerrillas—Organization for the Assault—Organization for Logistics—Supply and Shipping Problems—Logistics

Chapter 4: German Plans and Organization

German Organization and Operational Concepts—German Organization and Strength—The Effects of OVERLORD—OB Southwest—The German Nineteenth Army

Chapter 5: The Plan of Assault

Selecting the Landing Area—Operational Plans—Air and Naval Support Plans—Beyond D-day—Allied Intelligence—The Role of ULTRA—Final Assault Preparations

Part 2: The Campaign for Southern France

Chapter 6: Isolating the Target Area

The French Forces of the Interior—Air and Naval Operations—Rangers and Commandos—The 1st Airborne Task Force—The First German Reactions

Chapter 7: The ANVIL Beachhead

The 3rd Division Lands—The Assault in the Center—The 36th Division on the Right—Camel Red—The 1st Airborne Task Force—The Advance to the Blue Line—An Appraisal

Chapter 8: Breakout: 17–19 August

German Plans—Pressing Westward—The German Defense—Task Force Butler—Accelerating the Campaign—The German Withdrawal—Toulon and Marseille—West to the Rhone

Chapter 9: The Battle of Montelimar

Task Force Butler—The Battle Square—Initial Skirmishes—Reinforcing the Square—The German Reaction—In the Square—Both Sides Reinforce—The Battle of 25 August—More Reinforcements—Battles on the 26th—The German Withdrawal—End of the Battle—Montelimar: Anatomy of a Battle

Chapter 10: Pursuit to the North

Allied Plans—The German Situation—North to Lyon—A Change in Plans—Creation of the Dijon Salient—The Seventh Army Attacks—To the Belfort Gap—An Evaluation

Chapter 11: Supporting the Campaign

Logistical Problems—Base Development—Fuel and Transportation—Rations—Manpower—Medical Support—Signal Support—Air Support—Close Air Support—Civil Affairs—Civil Affairs Operations—Conclusions

Part 3: Ordeal in the Vosges

Chapter 12: Strategy and Operations

SHAEF’s Operational Concepts—SHAEF’s Operational Strategy—Patch and Truscott—Tactical Transition—German Plans and Deployment

Chapter 13: VI Corps at the Moselle

Allied Plans and Alignment—The High Vosges—The 45th Division at Epinal—The 36th Division in the Center—The German Reaction—The 3rd Division on the Moselle—Results

Chapter 14: Approaching the Gaps: Saverne

Allied Planning—A Change in Command—VI Corps Attacks—XV Corps Before the Saverne Gap—The German Situation in the Lunéville Sector—The Forest of Parroy—The Forest and the Fight—More Reorganizations

Chapter 15: The Road to St. Die

The VI Corps—The German Defenses—First Try for Bruyères and Brouvelieures—The 36th Division—The 3rd Division—Relief and Redeployment—The Vosges Fighting: Problems and Solutions

Chapter 16: Approaching the Gaps: Belfort

The Initial French Attacks—Logistical Problems—French Plans—The German Defense—The II French Corps’ October Offensive

Chapter 17: Into the High Vosges

Planning the Attack—German Deployments—The Preliminary Attacks—The 3rd Division Attacks

Chapter 18: The Forests of the Meurthe

DOGFACE Resumed—The German Response—The Attack Stalls—The Lost Battalion

Chapter 19: The Gates of the Vosges

Planning—The Attack in the North—German Reorganization—The Attack in the South—VI Corps Resumes the Attack—Operation DOGFACE Ends

Part 4: The November Offensive

Chapter 20: Planning the November Offensive

General Planning—The First French Army—German Prospects—The Final Allied Schedule

Chapter 21: Through the Saverne Gap

XV Corps Plans—XV Corps Attacks—The Exploitation Plan—Seizing the Gap—The German Response—Planning the Final Stage—Striking for Strasbourg—The Panzer Lehr Counterattack

Chapter 22: To the Plains of Alsace

VI Corps Plans—The German Defense—The Century (100th) Division—The Meurthe River Assault—The 100th and 3rd Divisions—The 103rd Division—The 36th Division

Chapter 23: Through the Belfort Gap

The First French Army’s Front—Defending the Gap—French Plans—The I Corps Assault—Breakthrough—The Battle of the Gap—The German Counterattacks—The Belfort Gap Secured

Chapter 24: Lost Opportunities

The Colmar Pocket—A Dubious Decision

Part 5: The Campaign for Alsace

Chapter 25: A Change in Direction

The XV Corps Sector—The VI Corps Sector—The VI Corps Advance—The XV Corps Moves North—An Evaluation

Chapter 26: On the Siegfried Line

The German Situation—The XV Corps Offensive North—The Fortresses of Bitche—The VI Corps Offensive North—VI Corps Attacks—Drive to the West Wall—Into Germany—Stalemate at Colmar—Epilogue

Chapter 27: NORTHWIND

Planning Operation NORTHWIND—The Defense of Strasbourg—Preparations for the Attack—Preparations for the Defense—The New Year’s Eve Attacks—Command and Control

Chapter 28: The Battle of Alsace

The VI Corps—The French II Corps—The XXXIX Panzer Corps Attacks—The Panzer Assault—The Final Attack—An Analysis

Chapter 29: The Colmar Pocket

Planning the Colmar Offensive—The German Defense—The Initial Attacks—The Bridge at Maison Rouge—Reorganization—The February Offensive—Tactics and Techniques—In Retrospect—Toward the Final Offensive

Chapter 30: Riviera to the Rhine: An Evaluation

The Campaigns—The Soldier—Allied Strategy and Operations

Bibliographical note

Basic military map symbols



1. Tonnages Discharged at Continental Ports: June 1944–April 1945


1. Western and Central Europe, 1 September 1939

2. German Dispositions, Southern France, 15 August 1944

3. France

4. The Landing Area

5. The ANVIL Landing Plan

6. The Seventh Army Assault, 15–16 August 1944

7. Breakout From the Blue Line, 17–19 August 1944

8. Capture of Toulon and Marseille, French II Corps, 20–28 August 1944

9. Montelimar Battle Square

10. Pursuit to Lyon, 29 August-3 September 1944

11. Seventh Army Advance Toward Belfort, 4–14 September 1944

12. The Allied Front, 15 September 1944

13. Nineteenth Army Dispositions, 17 September 1944

14. The High Vosges Area

15. The VI Corps Crosses the Moselle River, 20–25 September 1944

16. The VI Corps Advance, 26–30 September 1944

17. The XV Corps Zone, 25 September 1944

18. 79th Infantry Division in the Parroy Forest, 25 September–9 October 1944

19. 45th Infantry Division Operations, 1–7 October 1944

20. 36th Infantry Division Operations, 1–14 October 1944

21. 3rd Infantry Division Operations, 30 September–14 October 1944

22. The French II Corps Zone, 4 October 1944

23. The VI Corps Zone, 14 October 1944

24. 6th Army Group Plan of Attack, November 1944

25. The Western Front, 8 November 1944

26. The XV Corps Capture of Strasbourg, 13–23 November 1944

27. Panzer Lehr Counterattack, 23–25 November 1944

28. VI Corps Advance, 12–26 November 1944

29. First French Army Advance Through the Belfort Gap, 14–25 November 1944

30. The 6th Army Group Front, 26 November 1944

31. Seventh Army Attack, 27 November-4 December 1944

32. Seventh Army Advance to the German Border, 5–20 December 1944

33. The Colmar Pocket, 5 December 1944

34. The Last German Offensive, 31 December 1944–25 January 1945

35. The Colmar Pocket, 20 January-5 February 1945


Members of U.S. and British Staff Conferring—Lt. Gen. Jacob L . Devers—Lt. Gen. Ira C. Eaker, Maj. Gen. John K. Cannon, General Devers, and Maj. Gen. Thomas B . Larkin—Lt. Gen. Alexander M. Patch—General Patch, Air Marshal Sir John C. Slessor, General Devers, General Sir Henry Maitland Wilson, and Maj. Gen. Lowell W. Rooks—Maj. Gen. Robert T. Frederick—FFI Partisan Group, August 1944—General Johannes Blaskowitz—General Friedrich Wiese—German Armor Passing Through Toulouse—Maj. Gen. Wend von Wietersheim—Defensive Emplacement of a 65-mm. Italian Howitzer—45th Infantry Division Troops Load Up at Bagnoli, Italy, August 1944—ANVIL Convoy En Route to Southern France, August 1944—Cape Negre—American and British Paratroopers Take a Short Break, D-day 1944—Pillbox Guards Bridge to St. Raphael—Maj. Gen. Ludwig Bieringer, A Prisoner of War—Troops of 45th Division Wade Ashore Near St. Maxime—Troops and Tank Destroyers Move Through Salernes—French Troops in Marseille, August 1944—American Armor Moves Inland—157th Infantry, 45th Division, Passes Through Bourg, September 1944—30th Infantry, 3rd Division, Crosses Doubs River at Besancon, September 1944—Tanks of 45th Division Advance in Vicinity of Baume-les-Dames—The Champagne Campaign Comes to a Close—French Civilians Restoring Railway in Seventh Army Area—“The Long and the Short and the Tall”—Lt. Gen. Lucian K. Truscott, General Patch, and General Devers, October 1944—Troops of 36th Infantry Division Cross the Moselle—Maj. Gen. Wade H. Haislip—General Leclerc and Staff at Rambouillet—Parroy Forest—83rd Chemical (Mortar) Battalion, 45th Division, Fires 4.2-Inch Mortars—4.2-Inch Mortars Hit Le Tholy—Artillery Munitions: Vital in the Vosges—Generals Marshall, de Lattre, and Devers Visit French First Army Headquarters—3rd Algerian Division Moves Up to the Rupt Area—Japanese-American Infantry (442nd RCT) in Hills Around Bruyères—Domaniale de Champ Forest—Men From the Lost Battalion—General Patch and Maj. Gen. Edward H. Brooks—Maj. Gen. Withers A. Burress—Company L, 142nd Regiment, 36th Division, Pulls Back to Rear in Snowfall—French North African Soldiers—Generals Spragins, Haislip, and Wyche at XV Corps Command Post—Saverne—French 2nd Armored Division Moves Through Strasbourg—398th Infantry, 100th Division, in Raon-l’Etape Area—411th Infantry, 103rd Division, in Vicinity of St. Michel—German Assault Gun Knocked Out by 76-mm. M4 Tank—French Light Tanks at Huningue—Infantry-Tank Team of French 5th Armored Division—French Troops Raise Tricolor Over Chateau de Belfort—Selestat—Soldier and Pack Mule Make Their Way in Heavy Snowfall—Brig. Gen. Albert C. Smith—Maj. Gen. Roderick R. Allen—Commanding Generals Contemplate the Next Move—71st Regiment, 44th Division, Fort Simserhof, November 1944—313th Regiment, 79th Division, in the Vicinity of Bischwiller—Troops of the 45th Division Make House-to-House Search—Brig. Gen. Henry H. Linden—Brig. Gen. Frederick M. Harris—Brig. Gen. Thomas W. Herren—Building Defensive Works in the Snow—Generals Devers and Patch Confer at Lunéville—Men of the 100th Division Maintain Heavy Machine-Gun Position—Gambsheim–Rhine River Area—714th Tank Battalion, 12th Armored Division, Near Bischwiller, France—riviera—Rifleman of 70th Division Searching for Snipers—48th Tank Battalion, 14th Armored Division, Outside of Rittershoffen—Herrlisheim—Railway Bridge at Neuf-Brisach Finally Destroyed—Neuf-Brisach (Old Fortress Town)—French Infantry Advances Into Colmar—American Infantrymen

All photographs are from the Department of Defense files except those appearing on pages 57, 58, and 67, which are the courtesy of the Militärgeschichtliches Forschungsamt.

Office of the Chief of Military History: Department of the Army

Washington, D.C.

United States Army in World War II

Advisory Committee (As of 6 August 1990)

Edward M. Coffman, University of Wisconsin

David B. Miller, Esq., Scranton, Pa.

Martin Blumenson, Washington, D.C.

Brig. Gen. John E. Miller, U.S. Army Command and General Staff College

Brig. Gen. William M. Boice, U.S. Army War College

Maj. Gen. James W. van Loben Sels, U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command

Brig. Gen. Gerald E. Galloway, Jr., U.S. Military Academy

William A. Walker, Archivist of the Army

Herman M. Hattaway, U.S. Military Academy

Russell F. Weigley, Temple University

James M. McPherson, Princeton University

Ernest R. May, Harvard University

U.S. Army Center of Military History

Brig. Gen. Harold W. Nelson, Chief of Military History

Chief Historian, Jeffrey J. Clarke

Chief, Histories Division, Col. Robert H. Sholly

Editor in Chief, John W. Elsberg