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First US Army Group

The First US Army Group was activated 1943 in London, England to prepare the plans for the invasion of the European continent. Omar Bradley's headquarters deployed to England in October 1943, and Bradley took on the dual task of First Army commander and acting commander of the skeletal 1st U.S. Army Group (subsequently redesignated the 12th Army Group). This Army Group had been established on October 19, 1943, to plan United States participation in the forthcoming invasion. Bradley would command the American army group when it was activated. But until the landings were secure, all American ground forces in northern France would be under the temporary command of General Sir Bernard L. Montgomery. Bradley activated 12th Army Group on 01 August 1944, and assumed command of 21 divisions comprising some 903,000 men.

Although its staff was largely transferred to the Twelfth Army Group in July 1944, the First US Army Group continued to exist on paper as a deception device until its inactivation on 18 October 1944. To mislead the Germans into believing that the Pas de Calais, rather than Normandy, would be the site of the invasion, Eisenhower's staff created a mythical 1st Army Group, with an order of battle larger than that of Montgomery's 21st Army Group. Basing the phantom force near Dover, just across the Channel from the supposed target, Eisenhower assigned Patton, the American general the Germans most respected, to command the phantom army. The Germans became so convinced that the Pas de Calais would be the Allied target that they held to the fiction until long after the actual attack had begun. As a result, nineteen powerful enemy divisions, to include important panzer reserves, stood idle on the day of the invasion, awaiting an assault that never came.

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One Billion Americans: The Case for Thinking Bigger - by Matthew Yglesias

Page last modified: 05-07-2011 01:35:57 ZULU