Sixth United States Army Group


The 6th United States Army Group was an Allied Army Group that fought in the European Theater of Operations during World War II. Made up of field armies from both the United States Army and the French Army, it fought in France, Germany, Austria, and, briefly, Italy. Also referred to as the Southern Group of Armies, it was established in July 1944 and commanded throughout its duration by General Jacob L. Devers.

Sixth United States Army Group
US 6th Army Group.svg
Sixth Army Group Shoulder Sleeve Insignia
CountryUnited States United States
Branch United States Army
TypeArmy group
RoleArmy Group Headquarters
Sizec. 700,000 officers and men:[a]Seventh U.S. and First French Armies
Part ofAllied Expeditionary Force
EngagementsWorld War II
Jacob L. Devers

In a lead role in Operation Undertone, its Seventh Army fought its way across the Rhine into Germany, captured Nuremberg and then Munich. Finally it crossed the Brenner Pass and made contact with the US Fifth Army at Vipiteno, Italy.[3]


The Sixth Army Group was originally created in Corsica, France (specifically activated on 29 July 1944[4]) as "Advanced Allied Force HQ", a special headquarters within AFHQ (the headquarters of Henry Maitland Wilson, the Supreme Commander Mediterranean Theatre) commanded by Lieutenant General Jacob L. Devers. Its initial role was to supervise the planning of the combined French and American forces which invaded southern France in Operation Dragoon and provide liaison between these forces and AFHQ.[5][6] Dragoon was the operational responsibility of the Seventh United States Army commanded by Lt. Gen. Alexander Patch.[5] Available to Patch were three corps (US VI Corps and French I and II Corps) and 24,000 Maquis of the Forces Francaises de l'Interieur.[6] The two French corps constituted French Army B commanded by Général Jean de Lattre de Tassigny[7] which was later renamed French First Army. Although Sixth Army Group Headquarters was officially activated on 1 August, it consisted of only the personnel of the Advanced Detachment AFHQ and, for reasons of security, retained the detachment title. The Advanced Detachment headquarters on Corsica had no command or operational duties and functioned primarily as a liaison and coordinating agency while preparing itself for the day it would become operational in France as Sixth Army Group headquarters.[4]

Devers' headquarters remained subordinate to AFHQ during the invasion and in the weeks immediately afterwards while operational control of the troops on the ground resided with Patch until his forces linked near Dijon, France, with Twelfth United States Army Group's Third Army advancing from the west after breaking out of the Normandy beachhead. At this time, on 15 September, Devers' headquarters was designated Sixth Army Group to take operational control of Seventh Army and French Army B and came under the overall command of General Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Supreme Commander at SHAEF (Supreme Headquarters, Allied Expeditionary Forces).[8]

In late 1944 and early 1945 the Sixth Army Group was involved in fierce fighting in the Alsace repelling the German advance during Operation Nordwind and subsequent pitched engagements closing off the Colmar Pocket. The 63rd Infantry Division was the first Seventh Army unit to cross the Siegfried Line, and the first to get an entire division through it. The 3rd Infantry Division suffered the highest casualty count of all US divisions, with over 27,000 casualties.

The Army Group later advanced through Bavaria, and eventually into western Austria in the waning days of the war. Elements of Sixth Army Group linked up south of the Brenner Pass on 4 May 1945 with troops of the Fifth United States Army of the Allied 15th Army Group advancing north from Italy.[3] Germany surrendered on 9 May 1945.

The Sixth Army Group effectively disbanded on 15 June 1945 when the U.S. Seventh Army was selected, along with the Third Army, to form the occupation forces of Germany. It remained as an occupation and defensive force in southern Germany into the early 21st Century. It also occupied part of Austria until that country was released from occupation in the mid-1950s.

The French First Army reverted to the control of the provisional French government shortly after the surrender of Germany.

General Devers relinquished command of the Sixth Army Group in late June 1945 when he was selected to take command of the Army Ground Forces in lieu of General Joseph Stilwell who was reassigned as commander of the Tenth United States Army following the death of General Simon B. Buckner, Jr.

The Sixth Army Group was officially disbanded on 20 July 1945.

Order of Battle – 8 May 1945Edit

Order of battle shifted frequently in the Sixth Army Group, but accelerated dramatically during its late-war push through southern Bavaria into the Austrian Alps to head off German establishment of a National Redoubt and close off passes to Nazi escape. Order of Battle on 8 May represents a significantly different disposition in some instances than in the weeks and even days leading up to it.

See alsoEdit

Citations and notesEdit

  1. ^ Zaloga, "Downfall 1945: the Fall of Hitler's Third Reich" p. 28
  2. ^ Cirillo p. 53, Retrieved 16 August 2018.
  3. ^ a b Fifth Army History • Race to the Alps, Chapter VI : Conclusion [1] "On 3 May the 85th and 88th [Infantry] Divisions sent task forces north over ice and snow 3 feet deep to seal the Austrian frontier and to gain contact with the American Seventh Army, driving southward from Germany. The 339th Infantry [85th Division] reached Austrian soil east of Dobbiaco at 0415, 4 May; the Reconnaissance Troop, 349th Infantry [88th Division], met troops from [103rd Infantry Division] VI Corps of Seventh Army at 1051 at Vipiteno, 9 miles south of Brenner."
  4. ^ a b Clarke & Smith 1993, p. 30.
  5. ^ a b Clarke & Smith 1993, p. 28.
  6. ^ a b Jackson, pp. 176 to 178
  7. ^ Jackson, p. 176 (footnote)
  8. ^ Clarke & Smith 1993, p. 224.
  1. ^ At the end of the war, French forces in NW Europe amounted to around 450,000 men[1] while the Seventh Army had 230,000 during the Alsatian Campaign.[2]


  • Clarke, Jeffrey J.; Smith, Robert Ross (1993). Riviera to the Rhine. United States Army in World War II: European Theater of Operations. Washington DC: Office of the Chief of Military History, Department of the Army.
  • Jackson, General Sir William & Gleave, Group Captain T.P. (2004) [1st. pub. HMSO:1987]. Butler, Sir James (ed.). The Mediterranean and Middle East, Volume VI: Victory in the Mediterranean, Part 2 - June to October 1944. History of the Second World War, United Kingdom Military Series. Uckfield, UK: Naval & Military Press. ISBN 1-84574-071-8.
  • Toomey, Denis W. (2005). "Montelimar: Slaughterhouse on the Rhone". website. Tansi Publishing. {{cite web}}: External link in |work= (help)

Further readingEdit

  • Harry Yeide, Mark Stout, First to the Rhine: The 6th Army Group in World War II, Zenith Press, 2007 ISBN 0-7603-3146-4
  • Decision at Strasbourg by David Colley. In November 1944, the 6th Army Group reached the Rhine river at Strasbourg, France. Lt. General Jacob Devers wanted to cross the Rhine into Germany but the plan was vetoed by General Eisenhower.
  • "How World War II Wasn’t Won" – Op Ed NY Times, David Colley

External linksEdit

  • Narrative History of the 6th Army Group, SHAEF, Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library