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FROM THE ANTHOLOGY: From the Archives: Dispatches: America at War

America at War: The Crisis

Courtesy Reuters

THE spring of 1944 has been a time of preparation. Now the preparations are to be put to the test. The invasion of western Europe, an operation of such size and peculiar complexity that there is probably no analogy to it in military history, is imminent as these lines are written. By the time they are published, the Allies may be engaged in the furious battles which will decide at the minimum the duration of the war, at the maximum its outcome. This article cannot do more than review the events of the final months of preparation and indicate the principal factors which the reader will want to keep in mind as the invasion unfolds.

I

The bulk of the Allied effort during the spring was concentrated on the transport of supplies and troops to Britain, and on an air offensive of ever-increasing intensity to soften up the Continent in preparation for the invasion. Britain was bursting with men and equipment. Thousand-plane raids upon western Europe became common. In one week in April, for example, RAF and United States bombers dumped almost 30,000 tons of bombs on enemy targets. In earlier months we strove particularly to knock out plants manufacturing fighter planes or their component parts and factories producing roller bearings. The attempt met with success, though probably not to the extent estimated by some of our most optimistic air officers. Gradually in April and May much of the weight of our air attack was shifted from industrial targets to enemy communication centers and enemy airfields. Railroad junctions such as Hamm and Cologne were hammered, and medium bombers and fighters of the Tactical Air Forces smashed at German airfields, at Luftwaffe maintenance and repair facilities, at the rocket-gun coast in the Pas-de-Calais area, and at German military positions along the coast.

Bombers of the Fifteenth United States Army Air Force, based in Italy, joined the two-way assault against "Fortress Europe" by striking at various Balkan points and at objectives in southern Germany and

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