Sixth Army Group at the Rhine

Decision at Strasbourg: Ike's Strategic Mistake to Halt the Sixth Army Group at the Rhine in 1944

How World War II Wasn’t Won

65 years ago:

The Sixth Army Group reached the Rhine at Strasbourg, France, on Nov. 24, and its commander, Lt. Gen. Jacob L. Devers, looked across its muddy waters into Germany. His force, made up of the United States Seventh and French First Armies, 350,000 men, had landed Aug. 15 near Marseille — an invasion largely overlooked by history but regarded at the time as “the second D-Day” — and advanced through southern France to Strasbourg. No other Allied army had yet reached the Rhine, not even hard-charging George Patton’s.

Could a November, 1944, crossing of the Rhine from the southern invasion force have “pre-empted” the German Ardennes offensive, also known as the Battle of the Bulge?

A book by David P. Colley, Decision at Strasbourg: Ike’s Strategic Mistake to Halt the Sixth Army Group at the Rhine in 1944 blames the missed opportunity on Eisenhower’s dislike of Gen. Devers and cautious nature.

I’ve not read the book (though it looks interesting) and must admit that I don’t know enough to have an opinion on the matter. As we approach the 65th anniversary of the Bulge, what do MO readers think? Would a southern Rhine crossing have derailed the German counter offensive before it began?

UPDATE: Also, I wonder if the absence of British forces in 6th Army Group had anything to do with the decision. Just wondering out loud.

Comments

  1. Last months issue of WWII magazine basically addressed the issue in their “What If…” column near the back of the mag. Basically, the question presented had to do with taking Berlin, but to do so in a suitable way, we would have had to cross the Rhine in a timely fashion.

    It all came down to politics more than anything else.

  2. I heard or read somewhere the reason Ike stopped the movement into Germany was to let the Russians catch up.

  3. 1. The main reason Ike stopped was to save American and other Western Allies lives. Why get killed when the Ruskis were doing the job and did not seem to mind dying in droves?

    2. While I do not KNOW if having them cross the Rhine and continue on would have prevented the Battle of the Bulge from occuring or not, LOGIC says it WOULD have. And as a former 101st Airbone trooper, I sure wish they had been allowed to do so.

  4. 1. Do you guys know there was a new TV
    series with a lot of previously unseen
    color film called, “WWII in HD” which was recently shown on a History Channel?

    Of course, I am sure it will be shown again sometime in the near future. If you have not seen it, I think you would enjoy it as it a very good series.

    2. FYI The Japs had both an Army unit located in Tokyo and a Navy unit located in Korea who were both working on Atomic weapons. While the Army unit in Tokyo got bombed out of existence, the Navy unit did not,

    A few days before the Japs surrendered, the Navy unit actually exploded an Atomic device on a North Korean Island.

    3. And did you know a Jap seaplane launched from a sub had bombed the U.S. mainland?

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