As with all campaign volumes in the series UNITED STATES ARMY IN WORLD WAR II, the most important documentary sources for The Last Offensive are the official records of U.S. Army units. Each headquarters in the European theater, from army through regiment and separate battalion, submitted a monthly after action report, accompanied by supporting daily journals, periodic reports, messages, staff section reports, and overlays. Although the records vary in quantity and quality, they are essential to any detailed study of operations. Those most valuable to the historian of combat operations are housed in the historical reports files in the World War II Records Division, National Archives. Almost all are without security classification.
The after action reports are in effect monthly compendiums of all the other documents, but the chance of error or the introduction of a commander's hindsight makes it imperative that these reports be checked against the supporting documents. Journals, when carefully prepared, are invaluable. In the manner of a ship's log, they of all the documents most nearly reflect the events and thinking in the headquarters at the time. Much the same pattern of official records was followed at headquarters of the 6th and 12th Army Groups. The 6th Army Group also kept a command diary and the 12th Army Group a planning file labeled 12th Army Group, Military Objectives, 371.3.
The basic SHAEF files used for this volume are the richest of the official SHAEF collection, that of the SHAEF G-3, labeled Future Operations, and that of the Secretary of the General Staff (SHAEF SGS 381, Volumes I through IV). In addition, the author has drawn on the definitive experience with the SHAEF records of Dr. Forrest C. Pogue, author of The Supreme Command. While preparing his volume, Dr. Pogue collected transcripts or photostats of documents from General Eisenhower's wartime personal file. This material, cited as the Pogue files, is located in OCMH. Also falling under the category of SHAEF records are those of the airborne units, which are housed in the World War II Records Division under the heading SHAEF FAAA files.
Four of the tactical headquarters published official consolidated versions of their after action reports for limited distribution. Two of these--the 12th Army Group Report of Operations and V Corps Operations in the ETO--provide in addition to the narrative report a convenient assimilation of pertinent orders, periodic reports, and other documents. The First Army Report of Operations, 1 August 1944-22 February 1945 and 22 February-8 May 1945, and the Seventh Army Report of Operations are more strictly narrative.
Most records falling in the category of unofficial records are combat interviews
conducted by teams of historical officers working under the European Theater Historical Section. In addition, there are narratives written by the field historians to accompany the interviews and occasionally field notes and important documents collected by the historical officers. The footnotes in this volume should provide an adequate guide to the available combat interview material, which is housed in the historical reports files in the World War II Records Division.
Soon after the war, almost every division, some corps, and some regiments published unofficial unit histories. Many of these works are heavy on the side of unit pride, but some are genuinely useful. A brief analysis of each is usually included in this volume in the footnote where the work is first cited. In a special class is Conquer: The Story of Ninth Army (Washington: Infantry Journal Press, 1945), a sober and valuable volume.
The account of German operations has been based primarily on monographs prepared in OCMH by Mrs. Magna Bauer specifically to complement this volume and on a series of manuscripts prepared after the war by former German commanders working under the auspices of the U.S. Army. Mrs. Bauer's monographs are based on these manuscripts and on official German records captured or seized by the U.S. Army.
Most of the contemporary German records have been returned to Germany, but microfilm copies are available in the World War II Records Division. The German manuscripts, numbering more than two thousand, are filed in the World War II Records Division and have been adequately catalogued and indexed in Guide to Foreign Military Studies 1945-54, published in 1954. The quality of the manuscripts varies, reflecting the fact that almost all are based only on the memories of the writers, yet they are invaluable in supplementing the official records, particularly for latter stages of the war, when many records were destroyed and many were sparse and often inaccurate because of the fluid and usually retrograde nature of the German operations.
Two previously published volumes in the series UNITED STATES ARMY IN WORLD WAR II were of particular value: Dr. Pogue's The Supreme Command and Roland G. Ruppenthal, Logistical Support of the Armies, Vol. II. In addition to those and unofficial unit histories, published works of special value in preparation of this volume are as follows:
Ambrose, Stephen E. Eisenhower and Berlin, 1945--The Decision to Halt at the Elbe. New York: W. W. Norton and Co., 1967.
Bradley, Omar N. A Soldier's Story. New York: Henry Holt and Co., 1951.
Brereton, Lt. Gen. Lewis H. The Brereton Diaries. New York: William Morrow and Co., 1946.
Bullock, Alan. Hitler: A Study in Tyranny. New York: The Macmillan Co., 1947.
Butcher, Capt. Harry C. My Three
Years with Eisenhower. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1946.
Churchill, Winston S. Triumph and Tragedy. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1953.
Donnison, F. S. V. Civil Affairs and Military Government, North-West Europe 1944-1946. London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office, 1961.
Ehrman, John. Grand Strategy. London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office, 1957.
Eisenhower, Dwight D. Crusade in Europe. New York: Doubleday and Co., 1948.
Feis, Herbert. Churchill, Roosevelt, and Stalin. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1957.
Gilbert, Felix. Hitler Directs His War. New York: Oxford University Press, 1950.
Goudsmet, Samuel T. ALSOS. New York: William Morrow and Co., 1964.
Guderian, Heinz. Panzer Leader. New York: E. P. Dutton and Co., 1952.
Hechler, Ken. The Bridge at Remagen. New York: Ballantine Books, 1957.
Irving, David. The Destruction of Dresden. London: William Kimber, 1963.
Kesselring, Field Marshal Albert. A Soldier's Record. New York: William Morrow and Co., 1954.
Lattre de Tassigny, Marshal Jean de. Histoire de la Première Armée Française. Paris: Librairie Plon, 1947.
McGovern, James. CROSSBOW and OVERCAST. New York: William Morrow and Co., 1964.
Minott, Rodney G. The Fortress That Never Was. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1964.
Montgomery, Field Marshal the Viscount of Alamein. Normandy to the Baltic. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1947.
Morison, Samuel Eliot. The Invasion of France and Germany. Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1957.
Pash, Boris T., The ALSOS Mission. New York: Award House, 1966.
Patton, George S. War As I Knew It. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1947.
Rundell, Walter, Jr. Black Market Money. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1964.
Ryan, Cornelius. The Last Battle. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1960.
Shirer, William L. The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1960.
Smith, Walter Bedell. Eisenhower's Six Great Decisions. New York: Longmans, Green and Co., 1956.
Stacey, Charles P. The Victory Campaign. Ottawa: W. Cloutier, Queen's Printer, 1960.
Toland, John. The Last 100 Days. New York: Random House, 1966.
Wilmot, Chester. The Struggle for Europe. New York: Harper and Bros., 1952.
Ziemke, Earl F. Stalingrad to Berlin: The German Defeat in the East. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1968.