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French and German Plans; Battle of France and the Low Countries:
French and German Plans for the Battle of France 1940 :
Allied military plans expected the German armed forces to strike using a variant of the Schlieffen Plan
used in the First World War. The French Dyle Plan intended to meet the German offensive in Belgium.
The Germans, however, adopted a plan attributed to Erich von Manstein that placed the weight of the
attack at the center of the front and thus anticipated the French plan.
Battle of France: May 12-13, 1940
The armored weight of the German attack on France struck westward in the Ardennes region, in the
weakly held center of the Allied front. This was an unanticipated move and it led to a serious crisis for
the Allied armies and leadership.
Battle of France, Dinant: May 14-15, 1940
General Hoth's 15th Panzer Corps broke through the French defensive line at Dinant. The French 1st
Armored Division counterattacked on May 15th, engaging General Rommel's 7th Panzer Division, but
to no avail.
Battle of France, Sedan: May 14, 1940
The panzer divisions of General Guderian's 19th Panzer Corps broke through French defenses at
Sedan and pressed forward as rapidly as possible to prevent the French armed forces from reforming
a new defensive line.
Battle of France: May 14-24, 1940
After breaking through the weakly held Ardennes region of the Allied line, the German panzer corps
raced to the English Channel.
Battle of France, Dunkirk: May 25-31, 1940
German armed forces pressed the Allied armies trapped in the north, from south and east, into the
English Channel. Meanwhile, German infantry divisions reinforced the southern flank of the the
German penetration.
Battle of France: June 4-14, 1940
Once the Allied armed forces in the north were eliminated, German armed forces regrouped and
attacked southward, breaking through the Weygand Line the French had built up.
German Invasion Plans:
Marcks Plan
The initial German military proposal for an invasion of the Soviet Union which feature called for two
army groups and primary strikes in the direction of Moscow and Kiev with a secondary attack toward
Leningrad. The northern army group would push southward after reaching Moscow, linking up with the
southern group at Kharkov.
Final Plan
After consultations with Hitler, the final plan for Operation Barbarossa called for the diversion of forces
from the central army group, after the capture of Smolensk, to support the northern army group in
attacking Leningrad and only after achieving this would the central army group continue operations
toward Moscow. The objectives of the southern army groups essentially remained the same.
Order of Battle on the Eve of Operation Barbarossa
June 21, 1941
Three German army groups faced three Soviet fronts. The German forces had effective superiority at
the center of the front. Soviet forces held a numerical advantage on the northern and southern flanks.
Operation Barbarossa: June 22 - September 1, 1941
German armed forces achieved strategic surprise and made substantial progress towards their initial
objectives. Army Group Center reached Smolensk by July. Large Soviet military forces were
surrounded as a result. An operational pause ensued at the center of the front while armored forces
from Army Group Center struck south to link up with forces striking northward from Army Group South.
This move destroyed a substantial concentration of Soviet armed forces around Kiev.
Operation Typhoon: September 30 - December 5, 1941
German armed forces regrouped in September, after the destruction of Soviet military forces around
Kiev, with the intention of launching a final offensive against Moscow (Operation Typhoon) before
winter. The attack began with promise but the autumn rains made it impossible to continue the
operation until the winter frost arrived. By this time, German military units were exhausted and the
Soviet defenders were demonstrating increasing resistance.
Soviet Counteroffensive: December 6, 1941 - April 30, 1942
As the German drive to capture Moscow faltered, the Soviets launched a devastating counteroffensive
that created a crisis in the German military command. The depleted German armed forces were
ordered by Hitler to hold at all costs and they attempted to do so. Soviet military operations expanded
in scope as the counteroffensive progressed.
Operation Blue
The German losses sustained in the first year of warfare led to a less ambitious series of objectives
being specified for the second summer campaign. Hitler's focus was on gaining control of the
resources in the Caucasus. After the campaign was underway, the city of Stalingrad on the Volga
became another objective. The extended left flank was eventually defended by relatively weak
German allied armed forces from Rumania, Hungary and Italy.
Approach to Stalingrad
By mid-August 1942, German armored forces were pressing the Soviet armies defending the front
before Stalingrad into the city itself. Panzers attached to 6th Army pushed east in conjunction with 4th
Panzer Army striking northward.
Battle of Stalingrad
As German armed forces pressed forward into the city of Stalingrad during September, they
encountered increasingly effective resistance from the defending Soviet troops. Within Stalingrad,
various complexes became battlegrounds.
Operation Uranus: November 19, 1942 - February 6, 1943
As the German 6th Army continued its battle of attrition to capture Stalingrad, the Soviet military
command prepared to launch a counteroffensive (Operation Uranus) that aimed to encircle the
German army fighting in Stalingrad and bring about the collapse of southern wing of the German front.
Operation Winter Storm: December 12-18, 1942
German armed forces of Army Group Don made an unsuccessful attempt break through and relieve
the German 6th Army encircled in Stalingrad. Soviet military resistance proved too great to overcome
with the German units available and the German 6th Army remained isolated.
Soviet Pursuit After Stalingrad: January 13 - March 26, 1943
By the time the German 6th Army surrendered at Stalingrad, the Red Army aggressively pursued the
remnants of Army Group Don, now renamed Army Group South, further west. Soviet units recaptured
Kharkov and were approaching the Dniepr River. However, the commander of Army Group South,
F.M. von Manstein marshaled forces for a counterattack in March 1943 that stabilized the southern
wing of the Eastern Front until the Battle of Kursk in July 1943.
Red Army Advances to Kiev and Isolates the Crimea
August 18 - December 23, 1943
The Soviet follow-up offensive after Kursk carried the Red Army inexorably forward. Although it failed
to encircle significant German forces, the Soviet armed forces trapped the German Army Group A in
the Crimea and recaptured Kiev before the end of December 1943.
Soviet Gains on the Eastern Front: June 1944 - January 1945
The constant military pressure on the southern front led to a serious German intelligence failure in the
summer of 1944. The Soviet summer offensive, opened on June 22, 1944, was directed against the
Minsk salient. Army Group Center collapsed under the weight of the Red Army assault and the Soviet
armed forces advanced on to the Vistula River line. The Balkans were cleared of German forces in the
follow-up offensive.
From the Vistula to the Oder: January 11 - February 2, 1945
The Soviet military offensive across Poland positioned the Red Army within the borders of prewar
Balaton to Vienna: March 6 - April 15, 1945
The German military plan and execution of offensive operations against Soviet forces advancing
beyond Budapest failed to produce lasting results. Soviet counterattacks followed and pushed the
German defenders back behind Vienna.
The Final Offensive: April 16 - May 8, 1945
Soviet armed forces along the Oder and Neisse built-up continuously from the completion of the
conquest of Polish territory in January. The final Red Army offensive ultimately overran eastern
Germany and produced a link-up between Soviet and Allied forces.
Battle of Berlin: April 26-28, 1945
Soviet armies complete the encirclement of Berlin and continued to press the attack into the city of
Berlin. Most of the city was occupied within a matter of days.
The Battle for the Reichstag: April 29 - May 2, 1945
German military resistance within Berlin continued and a prestige battle developed around the capture
of the German parliament building (the Reichstag).
Allied Planning for D-Day:
Projection of Allied Advances to July 26, 1944
Although the Allied command's expectations of progress in the first fifty days of the Normandy invasion
were somewhat optimistic, the results of themilitary campaign in fact showed that the Allies had
produced a reasonable forecast of progress to be expected for the first ninety days after the invasion.
Allied Invasion Forces Available for D-Day
In addition to the armed forces that were designated for the initial landings, there were further divisions
and corps allocated for exploitation after a successful beachhead was established.
Normandy Invasion: June 6-9, 1944
The first objective after establishing the beachheads was to link the five landing sites together.
German counterattacks followed the landings as well but only after an important delay.
7th Armoured Division at Villers-Bocage: June 11-15, 1944
The legendary armored engagement in which a lone Tiger tank (commanded by Michael Wittmann)
destroyed an entire column of British armor, took place during the 7th Armoured Division's foray into
Clearing the Cotentin Peninsula: June 10-30, 1944
American armed forces initially forced a corridor across the Cotentin Peninsula and then cleared it of
German military resistance by the end of June. Cherbourg was captured by June 29th and served as
an important landing site and base for Allied armies operating in Normandy.
Operation Epsom: June 24 - July 1, 1944
In the continuing effort to capture Caen, British armed forces launched a flanking attack on the right of
the front which proved insufficient to break the German defense. Operation Epsom, however, drew
considerable German armor away from American armed forces aiming to break out of Normandy.
Allied Capture of Caen: July 7-9, 1944
British and Canadian military units advanced toward Caen against heavy resistance by German armed
forces. Royal Air Force heavy bombers contributed to the reduction.
US 1st Army Advance to St. Lô: July 10-18, 1944
American efforts to breakthrough to St. Lo remained slow. German armed forces put up a determined
defense. The US armed forces advanced at less than one mile per day.
Allied Drive to the Seine: August 1-16, 1944
The successful breakout from Normandy was reflected in the Allied sweep across northern France
during this period. German military resistance collapsed. Landings in southern France (Operation
Dragoon) took place on August 15th and the US and French forces swept northward against light
American Drive into Brittany: August 3-7, 1944
Forces of Patton's Third Army with elements of the US First Army on the left flank pressed into
Brittany. The German forces fell back into designated ports to hold out, in one case up to the end of
the war.
Operation Market Garden: Plan to Capture Rhine Crossings
General Montgomery's plan to capture bridges across the rivers and canals in Holland that would allow
the Allied advance to continue into northern Germany, unimpeded by these natural defensive lines.
German forces in Holland and especially in the Arnhem area are much stronger than anticipated. The
plan proved too ambitious.
Allied Advance: September 15 - December 15, 1945
The execution of Operation Market Garden proceeded successfully at first, however, the relative
strength of the German armed forces in the line of advance slowed progress. Nonetheless, in the
period, Allied armed forces reached the German border, releasing all of France and Belgium from Nazi
Battle of the Bulge: December 15, 1944 - January 18, 1945
German armed forces achieved strategic surprise in launching the offensive. The relatively weak
American military forces blocking their advance managed to slow down the German troops sufficiently
to all for an American regrouping which then effectively prevented further progress. The advantage of
Allied air superiority was initially hampered by poor weather.
Ludendorff Bridge at Remagen: March 7, 1945
The fight for the Ludendorff Bridge across the Rhine was intensive and day-long. The bridge was
weakened during the fighting and eventually collapsed. By then, a firm American bridgehead had
already been established.
Allied Rhine Crossings, North of the Ruhr: March 22-28, 1945
Rhine crossings were also established north of the Ruhr industrial area of Germany. These served as
the northern pincer of the envelopment of the Ruhr and the consequent encirclement of German Army
Group B.
Allied Advance to the Elbe: April - May 1945
With the Rhine River obstacle overcome, Allied armed forces began a final drive which encircled Army
Group B in the Ruhr valley and pressed eastward toward the Elbe River -- the agreed upon
demarcation of Allied and Soviet forces advancing from west and east respectively. American military
forces in the south exploited southeast into Austria and Czechoslovakia after achieving this objective.
Japanese Approach to Pearl Harbor: December 7, 1941
The Imperial Japanese Navy fleet attacking Pearl Harbor launched a total of 423 aircraft in two waves
against American military targets on the Hawaiian Island of Oahu.
Attack on Pearl Harbor: December 7, 1941
Commander Fuchida led the first wave of torpedo bombers against the US Pacific Fleet ships at
anchor in Pearl Harbor. Their first objective was to strike at the battleships.
Japan 1941
Invasion of the Philippines: December 10, 1941 - May 3, 1942
The American controlled Philippine islands represented a serious threat to Japanese expansive
intentions in the Pacific and were therefore targeted for invasion. General MacArthur initially
commanded the Allied forces. Japanese General Homma's diversionary landings in the north of the
main island of Luzon failed to divide the defenders who nonetheless could not cope with the main
landings at Lingayen Gulf. By the end of December most of the island was occupied.
Conquest of Bataan: January 7 - April 9, 1942
By mid-January American and Filipino armed forces in the Philippines had retreated into the
mountainous Bataan Peninsula of Luzon as well as holding the island of Corregidor immediately to the
south, blocking Manila Bay. General Homma wrongly believed the defenders almost defeated and
launched assaults that depleted his forces. A protracted period of trench warfare followed. The
American command surrendered on April 9th.
Conquest of Corregidor: May 5- 6, 1942
The last American outpost in the Philippines was the island of Corregidor. It was intensively
bombarded and ultimately a Japanese force established a beachhead and quickly eliminated the
remaining opposition. General Wainright surrendered on May 6th. Japanese expectations of a fifty day
campaign in the Philippines turned into be a bloody six month effort.
Battle of Midway: June 4-5, 1942
Japanese Admiral Yamamoto did not anticipate meeting significant American naval forces at Midway.
A number of tactical errors ensued. A series of air strikes and counter strikes resulted in the sinking of
the Japanese carriers Akagi, Kaga, Soryu and Hiryu and for the loss of the American carrier Yorktown.
It was a decisive Japanese naval defeat.
Battle of Iwo Jima: February 19 - March 11, 1945
Iwo Jima was the only Japanese base capable of interfering with American bombing operations
against Japan. The entire island was heavily fortified and defended by about 21,700 troops determined
to hold it. US Marines faced fanatical resistance once ashore and sustained heavy casualties. Total
American losses numbered 17,200 wounded and 6000 dead. Only 200 Japanese troops were
captured. Once cleared, the island was used as a fighter base for escorting bombers over Japan and
as an emergency landing site for B-29 bombers operating from the Mariannas.
Okinawa Campaign: April 1 - June 14, 1945
Operation Iceberg, the US invasion of Okinawa, involved over 450,000 troops and 1200 transports in
what was the largest naval operation mounted in the Pacific. About 130,000 Japanese troops
defended the island from entrenched positions and they proved a formidable obstacle. Kamikaze
attacks against the American naval forces also took a heavy toll. Almost all the Japanese defenders
were killed, as well as about 42,000 of the 450,000 civilians on the island. Only 10,755 were taken
prisoner. US casualties amounted to 12,500 killed and 35,500 wounded.
Allied Plans for 1945
US Army and Navy leaders differed on the strategic direction of the war against Japan. Admiral Nimitz
preferred to forgo occupation of the Philippines in favor of an invasion of Formosa to be followed-up
with landings on mainland China. General MacArthur, supported by General Marshal, wanted to
occupy the Philippines, then land on Okinawa and follow up with a landing on Kyushu (the
southernmost of the main Japanese home islands). After this, they intended to strike Honshu.