This is a history of coalition warfare. It is focused upon the agency in which the decisions of governments were translated into orders, and upon the decisions of General Eisenhower, the Supreme Commander, Allied Expeditionary Force. The narrative describes the plans and recounts the events, controversial or otherwise, leading up to the creation of the Supreme Command and the choice of a Supreme Commander for the cross-Channel attack. It follows the history of this great command to the surrender of Germany. It is the history not only of the decisions that led to victory, but of the discussions, debates, conferences and compromises that proceeded decisions. Controversy was inevitable in an undertaking that required the subordination of national interests to the common good. The author does not gloss over the conflicts that arose between allied nations or individuals. The picture that emerges from these pages is one of discussion and argument, but nevertheless one of teamwork. Differences of opinion and the discussion incident thereto are often the price of sound decisions.
The nature of the subject, the purpose of the author, and the generous contributions of information by the British make this an Anglo-American, rather than a strictly American, history. Subsequent publications based on a full exploration of British sources may be expected to round out the picture and give it deeper perspective as the history of a joint undertaking.
27 January 1953
Maj. Gen. U.S.A.
Chief of Military History
This Volume tells the story of the Supreme Headquarters of that Allied Expeditionary Force which seized a foothold on the German-held shores of western Europe in 1944 and which, by the following year, had completed the liberation of all western Europe.
Note on the History of the European Theater of Operations
The history of the battles fought by the American armies of the Grand Alliance as they drove from the Normandy beaches into the heart of Germany is given detailed exposition in other volumes of this series, some of which already have been presented to the public. The present volume deals with the command exercised by the Supreme Allied Commander, the decisions made by the Supreme Commander and his staff, and the operations conducted under the aegis of the Supreme Headquarters.
The reader constantly will be reminded that the war in western Europe was fought by Allies and that the commands and decisions which determined the ultimate conduct of this war came from an Allied headquarters. Every effort has been made to draw on the records of the Western Allies and the memories of their leaders, as well as the records and memories of the German High Command. But this volume is an integral part of a series dedicated to the United States Army in World War II and inevitably is written from an American point of view.
Research for the volume was completed in 1951 and an initial draft circulated to more than fifty key participants in the events therein described. The author completed a final and revised manuscript in January 1952. No effort has been made to include information or record opinions which have been published in the United States or abroad since that date.
The author, Forrest C. Pogue, has studied diplomatic history and international relations at Clark University and the University of Paris, receiving the Ph.D. degree from the former institution in 1939. Before his entry into military service, in 1942, he taught European history at Murray (Ky.) State College. Dr. Pogue made the five campaigns of the First United States Army as a combat historian, collecting information on battles from Omaha Beach to Plizen.
15 May 1952
HUGH M. COLE
Chief, European Section
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
were based on daily situation and operational reports made during the battle. Since the latter reports were prepared under the stress of battle and may not always be wholly accurate, the narrative may repeat some of their inaccuracies as to dates, units involved, and precise achievements. Whenever it has been clear that the reports were in error, corrections have been made. The primary sources, however, represent operations much as the Supreme Commander saw them at the time when he issued his directives and are therefore more valuable for throwing light on his decisions than later amended accounts.
A word of caution is necessary for the reader who may be unduly impressed by the accounts of controversy and difference of opinion which arose between commanders of the same nationality, officers of different nationalities, and heads of governments. The debates that stemmed from divergent viewpoints were in all probability heightened by disparate national interests or by clashes of temperament and personality. When the discussions of the participants in Allied conferences are seen in cold print, without the benefit of the smile which softened a strong argument or the wry shrug which made clear that the debate was for the record, and when there is no transcript of the friendly conversation which followed the official conference, the reader may get the impression that constant argument and heated controversy marked most meetings between Allied leaders. Likewise, interoffice memorandums, written by men at planning levels, frequently give the erroneous impression that the officers concerned were engaged mainly in baiting traps and digging pitfalls for their opposite numbers. It is inevitable that a study of such discussions will emphasize the disagreements and spell out the problems in reaching accords. The numerous basic decisions which were reached with only minor debate attract less attention. No true history of the war can be written by describing merely the disputes and controversies of the Allies; even less can it be written on the assumption that even the best of Allies can achieve agreement without prolonged discussion and debate. It is important to remember that different nations, although Allies, have divergent interests, and that they are not being unfriendly if they pursue those interests.
An alliance is based on an agreement by two or more powers that they will oppose their combined forces and resources to a common enemy. They do not agree thereby to have an absolute community of interest. The success of such an alliance is to be judged, therefore, not by the amount of heat which may be engendered between the powers in their attempts to find a course of action which will most nearly preserve their individual aims while gaining a common goal, but rather by the degree to which the powers, while frankly working on a basis of self-interest, manage to achieve the one aim for which their forces were brought together. On that basis the Western Powers forged a unity seldom, if ever, achieved in the history of grand alliances. Their commanders, while striving to preserve national identity and gain individual honors for their forces, still waged a victorious war.
The Supreme Command has benefited greatly from the advice and help of a number of individuals in the United States and abroad. Only a few can be
singled out for special mention. To the others, I have space only to express my deep appreciation.
For recommending me to Lt. Gen. Walter B. Smith as the person to write a history of SHAEF and for many helpful suggestions, I wish to thank Col. S.L.A. Marshall under whom I served as a combat historian in Europe. In addition to the present Chief Historian, Dr. Kent Roberts Greenfield, and other officials of the Office of the Chief of Military History whose important contributions to the volume go without saying, I should like to list the names of Maj. Gen. Harry J. Malony, Maj. Gen. Orlando Ward, Col. A.F. Clark, and Col. John Kemper, who are no longer with the Office, as persons who helped make this volume possible.
The footnotes indicate only partially the generous way in which fellow historians employed by the Army, Air Force, and Navy in this country, Great Britain, and Canada have made available information in their files. I wish to thank in particular Brigadier H.B. Latham, Chief, British Historical Section, Cabinet Office, Lt. Col. A.E. Warhurst, formerly of that section, and other members of Brigadier Latham's staff for their assistance in gathering material on British forces. I am similarly indebted to Col. C.P. Stacey, Chief, Canadian Historical Section, for aid extended to me when I was writing those portions of the volume relating to the Canadian Army. These historians, it should be noted, do not by these actions concur in the conclusions reached by me nor are they responsible for my interpretations.
Nearly one hundred British, U.S., and French officers and civilians aided me greatly by granting interviews in which they talked candidly of the work of the Supreme Commander and his headquarters. Their names have been listed in the bibliographical note. I have a special debt to Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, Lt. Gen. Walter B. Smith, Marshal of the Air Force Lord Tedder, Lt. Gen. Sir Frederick Morgan, and Maj. Gen. Ray W. Barker for giving generously of their time and supplying me with their private papers on the period concerned. Some fifty former participants in the activities of the Supreme Command were kind enough to read part or all of my manuscript. Of these I must make special mention of Brigadier E.T. Williams, now Warden of Rhodes Scholars at Oxford, who generously took many hours from his vacation in 1951 to check the British side of this story. It is, of course, to be understood that neither he nor the other officers who checked the manuscript necessarily agreed with my conclusions.
For assistance in exploring a number of documents in the Department of the Army files and the German sources I wish to express my especial appreciation to Mr. Royce Thompson of the European Section, and to Mr. Detmar Finke and Mrs. Magna E. Bauer of the Foreign Studies Section. I was always able to count on their willing assistance even when they were carrying on similar duties for other writers in our series. I have made specific mention elsewhere of their precise contributions to the volume. Among the employees of the Departmental Records Branch, AGO, who dealt so willingly with my requests for the files in their keeping, I wish to thank in particular Mr. Albert Whitt, Mrs. Blanche Moore, and Mrs. Ellen Smith Garrison. I have also drawn heavily on
the patience and the labor of Mr. Israel Wice and members of his Reference Branch staff in the OCMH.
I have been fortunate throughout the writing of this volume in having the advice of Editor Joseph R. Friedman who has saved me from numerous errors and has made many suggestions for improving the narrative. Miss Constance Gay Morenus edited the footnotes and copy-edited the entire manuscript. Mrs. Helen McShane Bailey had the difficult job of preparing the index. Typing of the manuscript in its initial form was done by Mr. John Lee and after revision by Miss Beatrice Bierman. The excellent maps of the volume bear the imprint of Mr. Wsevolod Aglaimoff, whose skill as a cartographer has distinguished all the volumes of this series.
The Supreme Command was written under the general direction of Dr. Hugh M. Cole, Chief of the European Section, Office of the Chief of Military History. His broad knowledge of military history and wise counsel have been of great aid to me throughout the writing of this volume.
Recognition, of their contributions, by no means implies that the individuals who lent their assistance have approved either my English or my interpretations. For these, as well as for the general outline and the major research on this volume, I must bear the responsibility.
15 January 1952
FORREST C. POGUE
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