|U.S. Seventh Army|
The Seventh Army was the first US Field Army to see combat in World War II and was activated at sea when the I Armored Corps, under the command of Lieutenant General George Patton, was redesignated on 10 July 1943.
The Seventh Army in the Mediterranean and France
The United States officially entered World War II in December 1941, after the attack on Pearl Harbor. By November 8, 1942, Patton was commanding the Western Task Force, the only all-American force landing for Operation Torch, the Allied invasion of North Africa. After succeeding there, Patton commanded the Seventh Army during the invasion of Sicily in July 1943, and in conjunction with the British Eighth Army restored Sicily to its citizens.
Patton commanded the Seventh Army until 1944, when he was given command of the Third Army in France. Patton and his troops dashed across Europe after the battle of Normandy and exploited German weaknesses with great success, covering the 600 miles across France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Austria and Czechoslovakia. When the Third Army liberated the Buchenwald concentration camp, Patton slowed his pace. He instituted a policy, later adopted by other commanders, of making local German civilians tour the camps. By the time WWII was over, the Third Army had liberated or conquered 81,522 square miles of territory. The Seventh Army landed on several beaches in southern Sicily and captured the city of Palermo on 22 July and along with the British Eighth Army captured Messina on 16 August. During the fighting, the elements of the Seventh Army killed or captured over 13,000 enemy soldiers. The Headquarters elements of the Seventh Army remained relatively inactive at Palermo, Sicily, and Algiers, North Africa, until January 1944, when Lt. General Mark Clark was assigned as Commander and the Army began planning for the invasion of southern France.
The invasion was originally given the code name of "Operation Anvil", but was changed to "Operation Dragoon" before the landing. In March 1944, Lt. General Alexander Patch was assigned to command the Army, which moved to Naples, Italy, the following July. On 15 August 1944, Seventh Army units assaulted the beaches of southern France in the St. Tropez and St. Raphael area. Within one month, the Army, which employed three American Divisions, five French Divisions and the First Airborne Task Force, had advanced 400 miles and had joined with the Normandy forces. In the process, the Seventh Army had liberated Marseilles, Lyon, Toulon and all of Southern France.
The Army then assaulted the German forces in the Vosges Mountains, broke into the Alsatian Plain and reached the Rhine River after capturing the city of Strasbourg. During the Battle of the Bulge, the Seventh Army extended its flanks to take over much of the Third Army area, which allowed the Third to relieve surrounded U.S. forces at Bastogne. Along with the French First Army, the Seventh went on the offensive in February 1945 and eliminated the enemy pocket in the Colmar area.
The Seventh then went into the Saar, crossed the Rhine, captured Nuremberg and Munich, crossed the Brenner Pass and made contact with the Fifth Army - once again on Italian soil. In less than nine months of continuous fighting, the Seventh had advanced over 1,000 miles and for varying times had commanded 24 American and Allied Divisions, including the 36th, 42nd, 44th, 45th, 63rd, 70th, 103rd, and 105th.
The Seventh Army was inactivated in March 1946, in Germany, reactivated for a short time at Atlanta, Georgia, and assigned to the Regular Army with Headquarters at Vaihingen, Germany, in November 1950.
The shoulder patch for the Seventh Army was approved on 23 June 1943. The letter "A" (for "Army") is formed by seven steps indicating the numerical designation of the unit. The colors suggest the three basic combat branches which make up a field army - blue for Infantry, red for Artillery, and yellow for Armor (Cavalry).
Veterans of the Seventh Army wore a tab reading "Seven Steps to Hell" under the patch, but this tab was never officially authorized.
- "Seventh Army History". http://www.trailblazersww2.org/history_seventharmy.htm. Retrieved 29 May 2012.
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