America at War: The End Begins


IN the summer of 1944 the American Army came of age. The successful invasion of Normandy and the quick capture of Cherbourg in June meant the negation, in a strategic sense, of all Hitler's hopes and marked the beginning of the end for Germany. In rapid succession, in late July and August, the forces of the Allies broke out from the Cotentin peninsula, smashed much of the German Seventh Army, overran Brittany, captured Paris and reached the Meuse at Sedan. Simultaneously, they invaded southern France. Coupled with great German defeats on the Eastern Front, the defections in the Balkans and convulsions within the Nazi Reich, these victories put the unmistakable stamp of success on an American "amateur army," raised, organized, trained and equipped within five years.

The summer of 1944 was also a season of American triumphs in the Pacific. The conquest of the Marianas was almost as important a milestone in the history of the Pacific war as the invasion of France was in the European struggle. In the South Pacific, the advances in New Guinea put our forces on the doorstep of the Philippines; and in Burma, despite the monsoon, British, American and Chinese forces won remarkable and still growing victories.

The reactions expressed in Germany in the machinations of the Hitler "assassination plot," and in Japan by the fall of the Tojo cabinet, were direct reflections of the Allied successes. Both in the East and the West the end was beginning to be clearly defined.


The invasion of western Europe was the greatest and most successful combined operation of its type in military history. Some 8,000 Allied planes gave direct or indirect support to the landings, and 800 fighting craft, ranging in size from trawlers and motor torpedo boats to 16-inch gunned battleships, supported an invasion fleet of more than 3,200 transports and landing craft. The initial airborne operations involved the landing of three divisions by parachute and glider, probably the greatest airborne operation ever undertaken. In sheer magnitude, there has been

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