Seventh United States Army
|U.S. Seventh Army|
|Allegiance||United States Army|
The Seventh Army was a United States army created during World War II that evolved into the United States Army Europe (USAREUR) during the 1950s and 1960s. It served in North Africa and Italy in the Mediterranean Theater of Operations and France and Germany in the European theater between 1942 and 1945.
Originally the I Armored Corps under command of Lieutenant General George Patton, it made landfall at Morocco during Operation Torch as the Western Task Force, the first all-U.S. force to enter the European war. Following successful defeat of the Wehrmacht under General Erwin Rommell in North Africa, I Armored Corps was redesignated the Seventh Army on 10 July 1943 while at sea en route to the Allied invasion of Sicily as the spearhead of Operation Husky.
After the conquests of Palermo and Messina the Seventh Army prepared for the invasion of France by its Mediterranean coast as the lead element of Operation Dragoon in August of 1944. It then drove a retreating German army north and then west into and through the Alsace, repelling a fierce but brief enemy counter-offensive in January of 1945 during the German Operation Nordwind.
In a lead role in Operation Undertone in March, 1945, the 7th fought its way across the Rhine into Germany, capturing Nuremberg and then Munich. Elements reached Austria and crossed the Brenner Pass into Italy by war's end on May 8, 1945.
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-US 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 in conjunction with the British Eighth Army. Patton commanded the Seventh Army until 1944.
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 of the Seventh Army remained relatively inactive at Palermo, Sicily, and Algiers until January 1944, when Lieutenant 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, Lieutenant General Alexander Patch was assigned to command the Army, which moved to Naples, the following July. On 15 August 1944, Seventh Army units assaulted the beaches of southern France in the St. Tropez and St. Raphael area. On September 15, the Seventh was put under the field control of the Sixth United States Army Group, which included the French First Army. Within one month, the Army, which by now employed three US divisions, five French divisions and the First Airborne Task Force, had advanced 400 miles and joined with the Allied forces coming south from Normandy. 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 and broke into the Alsatian Plain. During the Battle of the Bulge in late December, it extended its flanks to take over much of the US Third Army area, which allowed the Third to relieve surrounded US forces at Bastogne. In mid-January 1945, the Seventh engaged in pitched battle seeking to regain ground lost to Germany's Operation Nordwind New Year's offensive. Along with the French First Army, the Seventh went on the offensive in February of 1945 and eliminated the Colmar Pocket. After capturing the city of Strasbourg, the Seventh went into the Saar, assaulted the Siegfried Line, and reached the Rhine during the first week of March, 1945.
In a lead role in Operation Undertone, the 7th 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 - 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 US and Allied Divisions, including the 36th, 42nd, 44th, 45th, 63rd, 70th, 103rd, and 105th.
Post-World War II
The Seventh Army was inactivated in March 1946, in Germany, reactivated for a short time at Atlanta, Georgia, then inactivated again. It was reactivated by the United States European Command (EUCOM) with headquarters at Patch Barracks, Stuttgart-Vaihingen, Germany, on 24 November 1950 and assigned the command and ground service forces of United States Army Europe (USAREUR).
On 30 November 1966, the 7th Army was relocated from Patch Barracks to Heidelberg. Following French disagreements with certain NATO policies, United States European Command relocated from Paris to the following year. From that time forward the 7th Army has been the headquarters for all Army units under the European Command. It major subordinate elements were the V Corps and VII Corps (Inactivated in 2013 and 1992, respectively.)
The shoulder sleeve insignia 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.
- United States Army Europe
- Sixth United States Army Group
- XXI Corps (United States)
- Operation Undertone
- 289th Engineer Combat Battalion (United States)