Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

World War II European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign

World War II European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign

The Battle of the Atlantic continued at high tempo in the east, as well as in the west, in a life-and-death struggle against the German submarine offensive to choke off the sea passage between the United States and Europe. Had the U-boats succeeded in halting the water-borne movement of men and materials, Nazi Germany would have emerged victorious. 

The United States and Great Britain instituted a highly effective convoy control and routing system. The ever versatile destroyer was joined by mass-produced destroyer-escorts; a new ship type designed specifically for convoy duty. Naval aircraft flying from the 19 small escort carrier in Hunter-Killer groups added long range offensive operations to the convoy's protective coverage, and naval armed guard crews on merchant ships discouraged attack by surfaced U-boats. 

Convoys laboring through rough waters of the North Atlantic were stalked by submarine "wolf packs," and those making the extremely hazardous run to North Russian ports were subjected to attack from German land-based aircraft and surface ships as well. As courageous seamen continued to bring through the troop-carrying and supply-filled ships, the U-boat campaign was defeated. 

At the time of the United States' entry into the war, German armies were in North Africa, and only the United Kingdom stood as the Wehrmacht rolled over western Europe. Thus, the Allies were committed to widespread amphibious operations to seize the initiative and roll back the enemy from strongly entrenched positions. 

In August 1942, a task force formed on the United States east coast, successfully established beachheads as 35,000 troops were landed across the Moroccan shores. Carrier aircraft and gunfire from heavy ships offshore so supported the successful assault. Then followed the amphibious assaults in Sicily and the bitterly contested move to the Italian mainland. D-Day for the most massive amphibious operation in history was 6 June 1944. 

Preceded by naval bombardment, the clearing of obstacles, and minesweeping, the Allied Expeditionary Force embarked in thousands of ships and craft at British staging areas, crossed the channel, and stormed ashore in Normandy, France. 

Naval vessels provided covering fire for establishing and pr securing the beachheads while shells from the battleships USS Texas, USS Nevada and USS Arkansas destroyed targets ba far inland to block the movement of German reinforcements. With the beachhead secured, LSTs and a variety of amphibious types assured an uninterrupted flow of logistic support. 

Two months after Normandy came the perfectly executed landings in Southern France, last major amphibious action in the European war. Marseilles was seized, and through this excellent Mediterranean port troops were funnelled for the final push on Germany. 

After the crossing of the Rhine with the help of naval landing craft, the Third Reich collapsed and surrender came 7 May 1945. The Allied victory in Europe had hinged 17 on preventing the submarines from cutting the sea lanes, on the amphibious capability to project powerful armies onto enemy-held territory, and on the ability to sustain them by sea once ashore.

1 Silver and 4 Bronze Stars

1. North African occupation 
2. Sicilian occupation 
3. Salerno landings 
4. West Coast of Italy operations (1944)
5. Invasion of Normandy 
6. Northeast Greenland operation 
7 Invasion of Southern France
8. Reinforcement of Malta 
9. Escort, antisubmarine, armed guard and special operations

Published: Wed Nov 15 08:31:07 EST 2017