Riviera to the Rhine

Now available both online via Hyperwar and as an eBook via Amazon’s Kindle, the Center for Military History‘s Riviera to the Rhine was originally published in 1976. It has been reprinted by Whitman Publishing as part of their reprise of the Army’s series on WWII and is available in hardcover, new and used.

In the foreword, BGEN Harold Nelson writes:

With the publication of Riviera to the Rhine, the Center of Military History completes its series of operational histories treating the activities of the U.S. Army’s combat forces during World War II. This volume examines the least known of the major units in the European theater, General Jacob L. Devers’ 6th Army Group. Under General Devers’ leadership, two armies, the U.S. Seventh Army under General Alexander M. Patch and the First French Army led by General Jean de Lattre de Tassigny, landing on the Mediterranean coast near Marseille in August 1944, cleared the enemy out of southern France and then turned east and joined with army groups under Field Marshal Sir Bernard L. Montgomery and General Omar N. Bradley in the final assault on Germany.

In detailing the campaign of these Riviera-based armies, the authors have concentrated on the operational level of war, paying special attention to the problems of joint, combined, and special operations and to the significant roles of logistics, intelligence, and personnel policies in these endeavors. They have also examined in detail deception efforts at the tactical and operational levels, deep battle penetrations, river-crossing efforts, combat in built-up areas, and tactical innovations at the combined arms level.

Such concepts are of course very familiar to today’s military students, and the fact that this volume examines them in such detail makes this study especially valuable to younger officers and noncommissioned officers. In truth, the challenges faced by military commanders half a century ago were hardly unique. That is why I particularly urge today’s military students, who might well face some of these same problems in future combat, to study this campaign so that they might learn from their illustrious predecessors in the profession of arms.

Both authors, Jeffrey J. Clark and Robert Ross Smith, have since retired from the Center for Miltary History (in 2006 and 1983, respectively), but wrote extensively about World War II and their volumes are a credit to any library of the war.

Decision at Strasbourg

Decision at Strasbourg: Ike’s Strategic Mistake to Halt the Sixth Army Group at the Rhine in 1944 was published by the Naval Institute Press in 2008 and would be a great addition to any library on the 6th Army Group.

From the description provided by the Naval Institute:

In late November 1944, just a day before Lt. Gen. Jacob Devers’ Sixth Army Group was to launch a bold attack across the Rhine into Germany, Gen. Dwight Eisenhower ordered a halt to the operation. Such an unexpected opportunity to cross the river, seal off the German 19th Army, and maneuver behind the German 1st Army fighting General George Patton might have ended the war six months early. Until now, few have ever heard about this lost opportunity, and historians have never fully explained why Eisenhower stopped Devers, nor have they analyzed the possible outcome of such an attack. This book does just that, exploring what might have occurred had Ike allowed Devers to cross the river.

Colley judiciously cites the opinions of many high-ranking generals, including Patton, that the attack would have been a bold and likely successful maneuver that could have saved thousands of lives. In rolling out this alternative historical perspective, the author offers insights about Eisenhower that illuminate the potential consequences of his cautious leadership and his rejection of a man he disliked and whose strategy he lacked confidence in. Colley points to Ike’s reliance on old friends, sometimes regardless of ability, and argues that the conduct of World War II in Europe was often determined by personal amities and animosities. It is the only book to be written about the aborted action and how politics and personalities intervened to deny an opportunity to shorten the war. Its premise is certain to engage all interested in World War II and its lessons.