Criteria The Legion of Merit is awarded to members of the Armed Forces of the United States without degree for exceptionally outstanding conduct in the performance of meritorious service to the United States. ... The Legion of Merit is awarded to members of the Armed Forces of the United States without degree for exceptionally outstanding conduct in the performance of meritorious service to the United States. The performance must merit recognition by individuals in a key position which was performed in a clearly exceptional manner. MoreHide
Criteria The Bronze Star Medal may be awarded to individuals who, while serving in any capacity with the Armed Forces of the United States in a combat theater, distinguish themselves by heroism, outstanding ac... The Bronze Star Medal may be awarded to individuals who, while serving in any capacity with the Armed Forces of the United States in a combat theater, distinguish themselves by heroism, outstanding achievement, or by meritorious service not involving aerial flight. MoreHide
Criteria The European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal was awarded for for qualifying service within the European-African-Middle Eastern Theater of Operations between December 7, 1941, and March 2, 1946, ... The European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal was awarded for for qualifying service within the European-African-Middle Eastern Theater of Operations between December 7, 1941, and March 2, 1946, under any of the following conditions: On permanent assignment within the European-African-Middle Eastern Theater; or, For service in a passenger status or on temporary duty status for 30 consecutive days or 60 non-consecutive days; or, For service in active combat in the European-African-Middle Eastern Theater of Operations against the enemy and awarded a combat decoration or furnished a certificate by the commanding general of a corps, higher unit, or independent force that the individual actually participated in combat. MoreHide
Description Before Eisenhower ordered his troops across Germany's traditional boundary, he gave the order to clear the area west of the Rhine River (and south of the Maas and Waal rivers in the Netherlands). The Before Eisenhower ordered his troops across Germany's traditional boundary, he gave the order to clear the area west of the Rhine River (and south of the Maas and Waal rivers in the Netherlands). The armies involved were, from north to south:
Canadian First and British Second Armies, attacking the northern section west of the Arnhem-Wesel region.
American Ninth Army, attacking the area west of the Duisburg-Düsseldorf region.
American First Army, attacking Cologne-Bonn region.
American Third Army, attacking the wide central Rhine region, including the Saar Basin.
American Seventh Army, attacking the Saar Basin.
French First Army, attacking the southern area from Strasbourg to near the Austrian border.
In the extreme south of this operation, the French First Army launched their offensive against Colmar on 20 Jan 1945. Fierce German resistance and bad weather slowed the progress of the French troops. To reinforce the French, the XXI Corps under the command of Major General Frank Milburn came into the region, which included three American infantry divisions and one French armored division. The Germans surrendered Colmar on 3 Feb, and within a week all German forces in the region retreated across the Rhine. German casualties reached the count of 22,000 near Colmar.
The northern borders of German were heavily defended with the best troops that were available to Germany, including the First Paratroop Army. The dams along the Roer also provided the German forces additional advantage in that they could control of the flow of the water by opening or closing the dams based on reported Allied movements. British General Bernard Montgomery launched his Canadian troops first, under the command of General H.D.G Crerar, on 10 Feb 1945 into the muddy flooded region near the Netherlands-Germany border. Slightly to the south, the American troops that could have relieved some pressure off of the bogged-down Canadian troops were sitting in frustration as the Roer was flooded by German troops, making an American advance impossible. The opportunity finally came two weeks later, launching the offensive on 23 Feb. The American troops maneuvered through difficult terrain caused by destructive Allied bombing and shelling, often needing armored bulldozers to clear the way so that Allied armor could continue their advance. The American Ninth Army finally met up with the Canadian and British troops on 3 Mar, driving the Germans back to their defensive positions at bridges on the Rhine.
Part of the difficult terrain formed by bombing encountered by the Ninth Army was caused by Operation Clarion, an operation launched on 22 Feb 1945 with the goal of wiping out all forms of transportation still available to the German troops at this stage of the war. In 24 hours, nearly 9,000 aircraft were sent from Britain, France, Belgium, and the Netherlands in a coordinated attack over 250,000 square miles of German territory. The primary targets were roads, bridges, crossroad towns, ports, and railroads. The Luftwaffe, previously hurt and currently overwhelmed, offered little organized resistance to the Allied operation. "It was a most imaginative and successful operation and stood as one of the highlights in the long air campaign to destroy the German warmaking power", commented Dwight Eisenhower.
On the same day Lieutenant General William Simpson's Ninth Army launched their attacks in the northern sector, Omar Bradley ordered the First and Third armies to strike the central sector. The American VII Corps reached the outskirts of Cologne on 5 Mar, completely surprising the hastily trained German defenders. Cologne fell under American control two days later. The unexpected quick capture of Cologne gave Eisenhower some breathing room in that should any nearby sectors run into difficulties, the VII Corps could spare a couple of divisions as reserve or reinforcements.
The opportunity to use the reserves came almost immediately. As Major General Courtney Hodges' III and V Corps reached the Rhine near Remagen, their rapid advances completely surprised the German troops, and in this surprise they had failed to destroy the Ludendorff Bridge as the other German units had done to the other bridges on the Rhine as the Allied troops drew near. Without hesitation, the 9th Armored Division of the III Corps crossed the bridge and established a defensive perimeter. A small charge exploded under the bridge, damaging some of its understructure, but the bridge remained in tact. Knowing that he had no orders to cross the Rhine just yet, Bradley cautiously reported the situation back to Eisenhower, who recalled:
"I was at dinner in my Reims headquarters with the corps and division commanders of the American airborne forces when Bradley's call came through. When he reported that we had a permanent bridge across the Rhine I could scarcely believe my ears.... I fairly shouted into the telephone: 'How much have you got in that vicinity that you can throw across the river?'"
With Eisenhower's blessing, Bradley ordered four divisions to cross the bridge near Remagen. From the north, Eisenhower sent entire divisions from the Cologne area to Remagen. "That was one of my happy moments in the war", Eisenhower commented in 1948. Within two days the bridgehead area was expanded three miles into German territory. Even though on 17 Mar German long-range artillery fire caused the previously damaged Ludendorff Bridge to collapse (recall the small charge that caused structural damage when the bridge was initially secured), by this time a large number of American troops and equipment had already crossed the river, and enough temporary bridges were established in the region to supply these troops.
During the action on the west bank of the Rhine, a major logistical operation was underway to transport Canadian and British troops from the Mediterranean region to the 21st Army Group in western Europe. The goal, as stated by Eisenhower's headquarters, was "to build up the maximum possible strength on the Western Front to seek a decision in that theatre". The bulk of the troops transferred during Operation Goldflake landed at the port city of Marseille and travelled across France on the vast network of roads and railroads. One achievement to be noted with this operation was that the large number of troops travelled across the country of France without disrupting supply runs to the front lines. Experienced logistical staff of the Allies contributed greatly to this achievement; Eisenhower commended those who were responsible in the planning of this operation, stating that
"[t]he complicated process of moving the units to France and northward across the lines of communication of the Southern and Central Groups of Armies was carried out efficiently and smoothly, and the security precautions taken were completely successful in concealing from the Germans what was afoot."
Politically, it also appeased the Canadian leaders, who wished that at this stage all Canadian troops involved in Europe could serve under one single chain-of-command. As all Canadians serving in Europe came under the command of H.D.G. Crerar under the flag of the First Canadian Army, he emotionally announced to his troops that "now that we are all together, let us all speed to the victory in no uncertain manner".
A little to the south, the Third Army secured both banks of the Moselle River. The northern component of the Third Army reached the Rhine on 10 Mar, while the southern arm attacked the Saar Basin simultaneously with the American Seventh Army to the south. The German defense at the Saar Basin held on valiantly, but to little effectiveness. Instead of sacrificing this region and withdrawing the troops across the Rhine where natural barriers could have provided advantages in defense, Hitler ordered that the ground was to be held at all costs. And the costs were indeed high. On 15 Mar the Seventh Army attacked, and the Third Army launched a simultaneous attack from the north in the direction of Worms. This southward move by the Third Army was not expected by the German commanders, who thought they would attempt to penetrate the Rhine defenses via the breach at Remagen. Several days later, the French First Army which had secured the Colmar region earlier moved north to assist in the Saar Basin. The region was secured on 23 Mar.
On 25 Mar 1945, all significant German resistance on the western banks of the Rhine ceased.
What was impressive with the operations to secure the western bank of the Rhine was not the crushing Allied maneuvers, but rather how they were conducted. The coordination between the armies of two major powers and other nations were as seamless as it could be consider their differing philosophies and goals. Even within the American salient, the fluidity of the army components, as demonstrated by the quickness to shift manpower from the VII Corps at Cologne to the III Corps near Remagen, proved Hitler wrong of what the German dictator thought of the armies of a democracy. Hitler, as recently as the Ardennes Offensive, thought that Eisenhower was nothing more than a puppet of Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt, reporting every move back to Washington and London. Unlike Hitler's thoughts, Eisenhower at the frontlines was able to make quick decisions on the field to take advantage of even the small windows of opportunities that presented themselves during the action. "Happening to be on the spot at the moment, I authorized appropriate boundary adjustments, specifying particularly close interarmy liaison", Eisenhower recalled. "This involved also the transfer of an armored division from the Seventh to the Third Army. The insignificance of this slight change illustrates the accuracy with which staffs had calculated the probabilities."
This advance also saw the start of a new problem: prisoners. At this stage of the war, the Allied forces were encountered with over 10,000 prisoners of war each day. This problem eventually turned out to be yet another Allied achievement that attributed to the superb organization skills of the logistics officers, who processed these prisoners efficiently without disrupting the frontline combat.
Sources: Canadian Military Headquarters Historical Section Report No 181, Crusade in Europe.
Advance to the Rhine Timeline
2 Nov 1944 In accordance with Dwight Eisenhower's plan, Bernard Montgomery ordered a complete redeployment of his Army Group in Europe. First Canadian Army now assumed responsibility for the front from the sea to the Reichsward near Kleve in Germany, whilst Second British Army was ordered to clear the Germans west of the Maas River from the huge pocket between Venray and Roermond in the Netherlands, and then to take over the American front north of Geilenkirchen in Germany known as the Heinberg Salientl.
14 Jan 1945 Operation Blackcock: British forces cleared the Roer Triangle in Germany, which was known for dams that powered the German industry.
29 Jan 1945 Allied troops captured Oberhausen, Germany in the Rhine river basin.
1 Feb 1945 US First Army captured Remscheid in Germany, east of Düsseldorf. On the same day, US Seventh Army reached the Moder River and the Siegfried Line/Westwall.
2 Feb 1945 French troops captured Colmar, France.
9 Feb 1945 British and Canadian troops forced their way through a main Siegfried Line/Westwall defensive zone. Meanwhile, half of German 19.Armee was evacuated back into Germany before the final Rhine River bridge in the Colmar Pocket in France was blown.
12 Feb 1945 British and Canadian forces captured Kleve, Germany.
14 Feb 1945 British and Canadian troops reached the Rhine River northwest of Duisberg, Germany.
17 Feb 1945 US Third Army penetrated the Siegfried Line/Westwall and launched massive assault into German territory.
19 Feb 1945 Units of the US 8th Division began encircling German troops trapped within the Siegfried Line/Westwall.
20 Feb 1945 George Patton wrote to Omar Bradley, urging Bradley to convince Dwight Eisenhower to allow Bradley's army group to attack aggressively toward the Rhine River.
25 Feb 1945 Omar Bradley gave George Patton the authority to make advances toward the Rhine River.
28 Feb 1945 US Ninth Army achieved breakthrough near Erkelenz, Germany.
1 Mar 1945 US Ninth Army captured cities of München-Gladback and Rheydt in Germany. On the same day, Dwight Eisenhower approved the commencement of Operation Lumberjack.
2 Mar 1945 Elements of US Ninth Army reached the Rhine River at Neuss, Germany. To the north US Third Army captures Trier, Germany.
3 Mar 1945 Canadian troops captured Xanten, Germany while US First Army captured Krefeld, Germany.
5 Mar 1945 Patrols from US First Army reached outskirts of Köln, Germany.
6 Mar 1945 US Third Army reached the Rhine River near Koblenz, Germany, while US First Army captured Köln.
7 Mar 1945 US 9th Armored Division unexpectedly captured Rhine River bridge and formed a bridgehead on the east side of the river at Remagen, Germany.
8 Mar 1945 In Germany, US troops entered Bonn while British and Canadian troops entered Xanten.
9 Mar 1945 US Third Army captured Andernach, Germany.
10 Mar 1945 The Germans evacuated Wesel as US Third Army captured Bonn.
11 Mar 1945 US Third Army captured Kochem, Germany.
12 Mar 1945 US Third Army crossed Moselle River near Koblenz, Germany.
13 Mar 1945 Operation Undertone: US 3rd and 7th Armies advanced toward Rhine River.
15 Mar 1945 US First Army was unable to further expand the Remagen bridgehead in Germany due to enemy resistance.
17 Mar 1945 The bridge at Remagen, Germany, which had served the Allies so well, collapsed after repeated being bombed by German Ar 234 jet bombers. Twenty-eight American engineers trying to strengthen the structure were swept away to their deaths. Meanwhile, US Third Army captured Koblenz, Germany.
18 Mar 1945 US Third Army captured Boppard, Germany.
19 Mar 1945 US Seventh Army captured Worms, Germany.
20 Mar 1945 US Seventh Army captured Saarbrücken, Germany while the US Third Army reached Mainz, Germany.
21 Mar 1945 US First Army advanced toward Siegburg, Germany. ... More
Description (Central Europe Campaign 22 March to 11 May 1945) Following the Battle of the Bulge the Allies had pushed through to the Rhine. On 22 March 1945 they began their assault across the river, and by I Apr(Central Europe Campaign 22 March to 11 May 1945) Following the Battle of the Bulge the Allies had pushed through to the Rhine. On 22 March 1945 they began their assault across the river, and by I April the Ruhr was encircled. Armored columns raced across Germany and into Austria and Czechoslovakia. On 25 April, the day American and Russian forces met on the Elbe, strategic bombing operations came to an end. Germany surrendered on 7 May 1945 and operations officially came to an end the following day, although sporadic actions continued on the European front until 11 May.... More
Description The American Theater was a minor area of operations during World War II. This was mainly due to both North and South America's geographical separation from the central theaters of conflict in Europe aThe American Theater was a minor area of operations during World War II. This was mainly due to both North and South America's geographical separation from the central theaters of conflict in Europe and Asia. Thus, any threat by the Axis Powers to invade the mainland United States or other areas was considered negligible, allowing for American resources to be deployed in overseas theaters.
This article includes attacks on continental territory, extending 200 miles (320 km) into the ocean, which is today under the sovereignty of the United States, Canada, Mexico, and several other smaller states, but excludes military action involving the Danish territory of Greenland, the Hawaiian Islands, and the Aleutian Islands. The most well known battles in North America during World War II were the Attack on Pearl Harbor (the first attack on US soil since the Battle of Ambos Nogales), the Aleutian Islands Campaign, the Battle of the St. Lawrence, and the attacks on Newfoundland.... More
Criteria a. The ADSM was established by EO 8808, announced in War Department Bulletin 17, 1941. It is awarded for service between 8 September 1939 and 7 December 1941 under orders to active duty for a period o... a. The ADSM was established by EO 8808, announced in War Department Bulletin 17, 1941. It is awarded for service between 8 September 1939 and 7 December 1941 under orders to active duty for a period of 12 months or longer.
b. A clasp, with the inscription "Foreign Service", is worn on the ADSM to denote service outside the continental limits of the United States, including service in Alaska, as a member of a crew of a vessel sailing ocean waters, flights over ocean waters, or as an assigned member of an organization stationed outside the continental limits of the United States. Possession of a clasp is denoted by the wearing of a bronze service star on the service ribbon. MoreHide
Criteria The American Campaign Medal was awarded for For thirty days service outside the Continental United States but within the American Theater of Operations between December 7, 1941, and March 2, 1946; or,... The American Campaign Medal was awarded for For thirty days service outside the Continental United States but within the American Theater of Operations between December 7, 1941, and March 2, 1946; or, an aggregate service of one year within the Continental United States during the same period under the following circumstances: On permanent assignment outside the continental limits of the United States; or, On permanent assignment as a member of a crew of a vessel sailing ocean waters for a period of 30 consecutive days or 60 non-consecutive days; or, For service outside the continental limits of the United States in a passenger status or on temporary duty for 30 consecutive days or 60 non consecutive days; or, For service in active combat against the enemy and awarded a combat decoration or furnished a certificate by the commanding general of a corps, higher unit, or independent force that the individual actually participated in combat; or, For service within the continental limits of the United States for an aggregate period of one year. MoreHide
Criteria The Army of Occupation of Germany Medal commemorates military service in the occupation of Germany after the First World War. It was awarded to members of the Armed Forces for service with the occupat... The Army of Occupation of Germany Medal commemorates military service in the occupation of Germany after the First World War. It was awarded to members of the Armed Forces for service with the occupation forces in Germany or Austria-Hungary between November 12, 1918, and July 11, 1923. MoreHide
Criteria The Silver Star may be awarded to any person who, while serving in any capacity with the Armed Forces of the United States, is cited for gallantry in action, against an enemy of the United States whil... The Silver Star may be awarded to any person who, while serving in any capacity with the Armed Forces of the United States, is cited for gallantry in action, against an enemy of the United States while engaged in military operations involving conflict with an opposing foreign force or, while serving with friendly foreign forces engaged in armed conflict against an opposing armed force in which the United States is not a belligerent party.The required gallantry, while of a lesser degree than that required for the award of a Distinguished Service Cross, Navy Cross, or Air Force Cross, must nevertheless have been performed with marked distinction. MoreHide
Criteria The World War I Victory Medal was awarded for military service during the First World War. It was awarded for active service between April 6, 1917, and November 11, 1918; for service with the American... The World War I Victory Medal was awarded for military service during the First World War. It was awarded for active service between April 6, 1917, and November 11, 1918; for service with the American Expeditionary Forces in European Russia between November 12, 1918, and August 5, 1919; or for service with the American Expeditionary Forces in Siberia between November 23, 1918, and April 1, 1920. MoreHide
Description The United States of America declared war on the German Empire on April 6, 1917. The U.S. was an independent power and did not officially join the Allies. It closely cooperated with them militarily buThe United States of America declared war on the German Empire on April 6, 1917. The U.S. was an independent power and did not officially join the Allies. It closely cooperated with them militarily but acted alone in diplomacy. The U.S. made its major contributions in terms of supplies, raw material and money, starting in 1917. American soldiers under General John J. Pershing, commander of the American Expeditionary Force (AEF), arrived in large numbers on the Western Front in the summer of 1918. They played a major role until victory was achieved on November 11, 1918. Before entering the war, the U.S had remained neutral, though it had been an important supplier to Great Britain and the other Allied powers. During the war, the U.S mobilized over 4 million military personnel and suffered 110,000 deaths, including 43,000 due to the influenza pandemic. The war saw a dramatic expansion of the United States government in an effort to harness the war effort and a significant increase in the size of the U.S. military. After a slow start in mobilising the economy and labour force, by spring 1918 the nation was poised to play a role in the conflict. Under the leadership of President Woodrow Wilson, the war represented the climax of the Progressive Era as it sought to bring reform and democracy to the world, although there was substantial public opposition to United States entry into the war.
Although the United States declared war on Germany on April 6, 1917, it did not initially declare war on the other Central Powers, a state of affairs that Woodrow Wilson described as an "embarrassing obstacle" in his State of the Union speech. Congress declared war on the Austro-Hungarian Empire on December 17, 1917, but never made declarations of war against the other Central Powers, Bulgaria, the Ottoman Empire or the various Co-belligerents allied with the central powers, thus the United States remained uninvolved in the military campaigns in central, eastern and southern Europe, the Middle East, the Caucasus, North Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia and the Pacific.
The United States as late as 1917 maintained only a small army, smaller than thirteen of the nations and empires already active in the war. After the passage of the Selective Service Act in 1917, it drafted 2.8 million men into military service. By the summer of 1918 about a million U.S. soldiers had arrived in France, about half of whom eventually saw front-line service; by the Armistice of November 11 approximately 10,000 fresh soldiers were arriving in France daily. In 1917 Congress gave U.S. citizenship to Puerto Ricans when they were drafted to participate in World War I, as part of the Jones Act. In the end Germany miscalculated the United States' influence on the outcome of the conflict, believing it would be many more months before U.S. troops would arrive and overestimating the effectiveness of U-boats in slowing the American buildup.
The United States Navy sent a battleship group to Scapa Flow to join with the British Grand Fleet, destroyers to Queenstown, Ireland and submarines to help guard convoys. Several regiments of Marines were also dispatched to France. The British and French wanted U.S. units used to reinforce their troops already on the battle lines and not to waste scarce shipping on bringing over supplies. The U.S. rejected the first proposition and accepted the second. General John J. Pershing, American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) commander, refused to break up U.S. units to serve as mere reinforcements for British Empire and French units. As an exception, he did allow African-American combat regiments to fight in French divisions. The Harlem Hellfighters fought as part of the French 16th Division, earning a unit Croix de Guerre for their actions at Château-Thierry, Belleau Wood, and Séchault.
Impact of US forces on the war
On the battlefields of France in spring 1918, the war-weary Allied armies enthusiastically welcomed the fresh American troops. They arrived at the rate of 10,000 a day, at a time when the Germans were unable to replace their losses. After British Empire, French and Portuguese forces had defeated and turned back the powerful final German offensive (Spring Offensive of March to July, 1918), the Americans played a role in the Allied final offensive (Hundred Days Offensive of August to November). However, many American commanders used the same flawed tactics which the British, French, Germans and others had abandoned early in the war, and so many American offensives were not particularly effective. Pershing continued to commit troops to these full- frontal attacks, resulting in high casualties against experienced veteran German and Austrian-Hungarian units. Nevertheless, the infusion of new and fresh U.S. troops greatly strengthened the Allies' strategic position and boosted morale. The Allies achieved victory over Germany on November 11, 1918 after German morale had collapsed both at home and on the battlefield.... More