Normandy 6 June - 24 July 1944
Early on D-Day airborne troops landed in
France to gain control of strategic areas.
Aerial and naval bombardment followed.
Then the invasion fleet, covered by an umbrella
of aircraft, discharged Eisenhower’s
assault forces. Soon the beachhead was
secure, but its expansion was a slow and
difficult process in the face of strong opposition.
It was not until late in July that
the Allies were able to break out of Normandy.
Northern France 25 July - 14 September 1944
Bombardment along a five-mile
stretch of the German line enabled the
Allies to break through on 25 July. While
some armored forces drove southward into
Brittany, others fanned out to the east and,
overcoming a desperate counterattack,
executed a pincers movement that trapped
many Germans in a pocket at Falaise.
The enemy fell back on the Siegfried Line,
and by mid-September 1944 nearly all of
France had been liberated. During these
operations in France, while light and medium bombers and fighter-bomber aircraft
of Ninth Air Force had been engaged
in close support and interdictory operations,
Eighth and Fifteenth Air Forces had
continued their strategic bombing.
Southern France 15 August - 14 September 1944
While the Germans were
retreating in Italy in the summer of 1944,
the Allies diverted some of their strength
in the theater to the invasion of Southern
France. After preliminary bombardment,
a combined seaborne-airborne force landed
on the French Riviera on 15 August.
Marseilles having been taken, Sevmth
Army advanced up the Rhone Valley and
by mid-September was in touch with
Allied forces that had entered France from
Rhineland 15 September 1944 - 21 March 1945
Attempting to outflank the
Siegfried Line, the Allies tried an airborne
attack on Holland on 17 September 1944.
But the operation failed, and the enemy
was able to strengthen his defensive line
from Holland to Switzerland. Little
progress was made on the ground, but the
aerial attacks on strategic targets continued.
Then, having regained the initiative
after defeating a German offensive in the
Ardennes in December 1944, the Allies
drove through to the Rhine, establishing
a bridgehead across the river at Remagen.
Ardennes-Alsace 16 December 1944 - 25 January 1945
During their offensive in
the Ardennes the Germans drove into Belgium
and Luxembourg, creating a great
bulge in the line. For some time the
weather was bad, but when it cleared the
Allies could send their planes to assist their
ground forces by bombing and strafing the
enemy’s columns, dropping paratroops and
supplies, and interdicting the enemy’s lines
of communications. By the end of January
1945 the lost ground had been regained
and the Battle of the Bulge, the last great
German offensive, was over.
Central Europe 22 March - 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.