Seventh United States Army
|U.S. Seventh Army|
|Allegiance||United States 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-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. 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, 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 US Third Army area, which allowed the Third to relieve surrounded US forces at Bastogne. Along with the French First Army, the Seventh went on the offensive in February of 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 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, and assigned to the Regular Army with headquarters at Patch Barracks, Stuttgart-Vaihingen, Germany, on 24 November 1950. On 30 November 1966, the 7th Army was relocated from Patch Barracks to Heidelberg. United States European Command was forced to move to Patch from France due to the French government kicking out all NATO forces from its territory. 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. (VII Corps was inactivated in 1992 and V Corps was inactivated in 2013.)
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". Retrieved 29 May 2012.