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MARK R. HENRY, MIKE CHAPPELLTHE
US ARMY IN WORLD WAR II. NORTH-WEST EUROPE

In late 1944 WACs in Europe followed the current fashion, receiving a specially designed 'Ike' jacket with a matching skirt, trousers, and an overseas cap of more curved shape than the men's (see Plate Dl). This jacket was modelled on the CI issue field/service jacket, both with and without breast pockets. It was made in both enlisted drab and officer's dark green/chocolate colours, and proved very popular. Like the men's version, the WACs' short jacket soon became the standard issue for the 'CI Jane'.

An off-duty dress was authorised in 1944 consisting of a fairly plain-looking, long-sleeved, knee-length dress of wool crepe. This came in both beige (summer) and dark khaki (winter) colours; it had concealed buttons, a belt, patch breast pockets and epaulettes. Basic branch insignia were worn on the collar. A standard issue drab or matching beige overseas cap was worn with this dress.

A wounded lieutenant of the 506th PIR, 101st Airborne Division is helped ashore from an LST at Southampton, England, on 9 June 1944. At left, a trench-coated lieutenant carries his web belt, complete with the canvas scabbard for a folding-stock M1A1 carbine. The black medic wears the issue raincoat.

Again, note the white 'playing card suit' tactical marking on the sides of the injured officer's helmet - a common practice in the Airborne, to distinguish regiments and sub-units. All officers were to have their rank painted or mounted on the helmet front, like these two lieutenants; after D-Day this was commonly ignored by front-line leaders. Helmet nets of various types were issued throughout the ETO, with finer-mesh examples used from late 1944; elasticated helmet bands were to be seen in 1945.

Army Nurse Corps

The ANC was an auxiliary organisation originating in the Spanish-American War. These nurses were essentially contracted medical professionals who were, like the WAAC, finally given full Army status in 1943/44. They started the war wearing a dark blue tunic and skirl service uniform. Their working outfit was the classic white dress with nurse's cap and blue wool cape with red lining. They also used a seersucker white and brown striped work dress with insignia. In 1944 the ANC converted to the standard WAC uniforms available at that date. Standard officer insignia were worn, with a branch emblem of a brass caduceus with a superimposed black 'N'; most nurses were second lieutenants, but were paid less than their male Army counterparts. Nurses had a plain beige off-duty dress - this was in fact copied by the WAC (see above). The front of the nurse's service dress hat was similar to the WAC 'Hobby' hat, but the back was rounded to the crown.

ORGANISATION

Corps, Armies and Army Groups

A corps consisted of a minimum of two divisions. In the order of battle of the US Army in the ETO in 1945 we find about 18 corps - the uncertainty over the exact number lying in the presence of a number of divisions under direct command of an army. Most of these corps had three divisions, some four, one five and one - XVI Corps of 15th Army- had six. A representative example is Gen Walker's XX Corps of 3rd Army, which comprised four divisions - the 4th and 6th Armored, and 76th and 80th Infantry. In addition a corps normally had many independent units of tanks, artillery, engineers and other specialists under direct command.

An army was formed from two or more corps. Ten armies were formed for service in World War II. The 2nd and 4th Armies were stationed in the US and consisted of divisions under formation. By 1945 the last of the divisional units based in the US had left these two armies and were headed for the front. The 1st, 3rd and 9th Armies served in France, Belgium and Germany. The 7th Army served in Sicily, the South of France and Germany. The 5th Army was stationed in Italy. The 6th and 8th Armies served in the Pacific, with the 10th formed on Okinawa. As an example, in 1945 Gen Hodges' 1st Army consisted of III, V, VII and XVIII (Airborne Corps) and totalled 17 divisions.

Army groups were formed with a minimum of two armies. In 1945 the Twelfth Army Group (Gen Omar Bradley) consisted of the 1st and 3rd Armies (Gens Hodges and Patton). The US 9th Army (Gen Simpson) was traded back and forth between the Twelfth and the British/Canadian Twenty-First Army Group (Gen Montgomery). The Sixth Army Group (Gen Jacob Devers) consisted of the 7th Army (Gen Patch) and 1st French Army (Gen de Lattre). The Fifteenth Army Group (Gen Mark Clark) was made up of the 5th Army (Gen Truscott) plus all the other Allied forces in Italy. In the Pacific, Army units served under Theater Commanders (Gen Douglas MacArthur and Adm Chester Nimitz). Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Forces (SHAEF) commanded all ground forces in Europe (Gen Dwight Eisenhower).

England, 1944: HM Queen Elizabeth with a WAC officer and senior NCO. The captain wears her bars on the left front of the gold-piped WAC officer's overseas cap and on her tunic epaulettes, the Athena branch insignia, and the ribbons of the ETO and WAC medals. The first sergeant wears the generic ETO shoulder patch, and a year's worth of overseas service bars. (See also Plate D1.) Note the strong contrast between the dark officer's and lighter enlisted ranks' tunics.

Rotation of divisions

In World War 1 entire divisions were withdrawn from combat for periodic rest and rebuilding. In the Pacific in World War II the short, violent battles for island groups and the time lag between invasions helped accomplish this rest cycle for Marine and some Army units. In the Mediterranean, Sicily fell in 30 days and the preparations for the Salerno and Anzio landings gave 5th Army units a reasonable chance to rest. In the ETO, and later in Italy, this cycling of units for rest was the exception.

Once a division was committed into combat, it was expected to stay at the front. During the war the 1st Infantry Division spent 442 days in combat, of which 317 days were served in the ETO. In France and Germany alone the 'Big Red One' lost 206 per cent of its strength to casualties; 85-90 per cent of this loss was from the three infantry regiments. During the 2nd Infantry Division's 314 clays of ETO service it lost 184 per cent of its strength. Among those infantry divisions which entered combat in Normandy and fought through the eleven months to VE-Day, the average loss was about 200 per cent of establishment.

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