II Corps (United States)

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This article is about the US Army formation of the 20th century. For the formation of the Spanish American War, see Second Army Corps (Spanish-American War). For the American Civil War formation, see II Corps (Union Army).
II Corps
II Corps.patch.gif
Shoulder sleeve insignia of the II Corps.
Active 24 February 1918 – 1 February 1919 (U.S. Army)
29 July 1921 – 15 August 1927 (U.S. National Guard)
15 August 1927 (U.S. Army)
1 August 1940 – 10 October 1945
March 1958 – 5 June 1970
Country  United States
Branch  United States Army
Type Corps
Garrison/HQ Camp Kilmer, New Jersey (after 1958)
Engagements World War I
World War II
Commanders
Notable
commanders
Mark W. Clark
Lloyd Fredendall
George S. Patton
Omar Bradley
U.S. Corps (1939 - Present)
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The II Corps was a corps-sized formation of the United States Army that was active in both World War I and World War II. It was originally formed and fought on the Western Front during World War I and was also the first American formation of any size to see combat in North Africa or Europe during World War II.

History[edit]

World War I[edit]

II Corps was organized on 24 February 1918 and first saw significant action in Europe as a part of the main assault beginning the 1918 Second Battle of the Somme, while attached to the British Third Army. The initial secondary attack to begin that battle became known as the Third Battle of Albert, launched by the New Zealand Division. The attacks developed into an advance, which pushed the German 2nd Army back along a 50-mile (80 km) front line. On 22 August, the New Zealand Division took Albert, with the British and Americans advancing on Arras. On 29 August, Bapaume fell into British and American hands, which resulted in an advance by the Australian Corps, who crossed the Somme River on 31 August and broke the German lines during the Battle of Mont St. Quentin. Ultimately, the overall battle resulted in the German Army being pushed back to the Hindenburg Line, from which they would launch their spring offensive. The corps was demobilized 1 February 1919.

Interwar Years[edit]

As part of the National Defense Act of 1920, II Corps was constituted as a unit of the National Guard on 29 Jul 1921. On 15 August 1927 with a subsequent reorganization of the Army, the corps was constituted as a corps in the Regular Army. In preparation for the expansion of the Army, it was activated at Fort Jay, New York as a fully functioning combat unit on 1 August 1940.

World War II[edit]

Six months after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and the American entry into World War II, II Corps was sent to England in June 1942, under the command of Major General Mark W. Clark. In November, now under Major General Lloyd Fredendall, II Corps landed in Oran as part of Operation Torch, the Allied invasion of French North Africa. After initially making good headway against German forces during the Tunisia Campaign, II Corps was defeated by German troops under Hans-Jürgen von Arnim at the Battle of Sidi Bou Zid. II Corps was again decisively defeated in February 1943 during the Battle of Kasserine Pass by veteran troops under Generalfeldmarschall Erwin Rommel. The defeats were compounded by American inexperience, poor senior leadership, and lack of armor comparable to that in the German panzer forces, as well as the highly effective German high-velocity 88 mm anti-tank guns, which were used in screening tactics to destroy American tanks lured into pursuit of German armored forces

In March 1943, after a change of command to Major General George Patton, II Corps recovered its cohesion and fought well for the rest of the Tunisia Campaign, winning the Battle of El Guettar. II Corps held the southern flank of the British First Army during the destruction of the remaining Axis forces in North Africa. The war in North Africa ended in May 1943 with almost 250,000 Axis soldiers surrendering, to become prisoners of war.

On 10 July 1943, II Corps, commanded now by Major General Omar Bradley, took part in the amphibious invasion of Sicily (codenamed Operation Husky) under command of the U.S. Seventh Army. It played a key part in the liberation of the western part of the island. The corps consisted of the 1st Infantry Division (United States), 3rd, 9th, and 45th Infantry Divisions. The Allied campaign in Sicily came to an end after 38 days.

Now under Major General Geoffrey Keyes, II Corps was sent to the Italian Front, arriving in mid-November as part of the U.S. Fifth Army, where it was to serve for the rest of the conflict, participating in grueling mountain warfare and often experienced fighting in terrible weather conditions. Soon after arrival, II Corps took the 3rd and 36th Infantry Divisions under command. In late January 1944 II Corps, now with the 1st Armored Division under command, took part in the Battle of Rapido River, part of the first Battle of Monte Cassino, to distract German attention away from the Anzio landings. The operation failed with heavy losses in the 36th Division. During the fourth and final battle of Cassino in May, II Corps consisted of the 85th and 88th Infantry Divisions. For the assault of the German Gothic Line, II Corps consisted of the 34th, 88th and 91st Infantry Divisions. The corps moved up the western side of Italy, and fought in the Spring 1945 offensive in Italy, where it ended up on the right flank of the Fifth Army in May 1945.

II Corps was inactivated in Austria on 10 October 1945, following Germany's surrender.

Cold war[edit]

In March 1958, Camp Kilmer, New Jersey, became Headquarters for the reactivated II Corps as the controlling headquarters for United States Army Reserve units across the northeast. The corps was inactivated on 5 June 1970 at Fort Wadsworth, New York.

References[edit]

  • Center of Military History. To Bizerte with the II Corps, 23 April - 13 May 1943. Washington, D.C.: Center of Military History, U.S. Army, 1990. OCLC 21992762
  • John B. Wilson, 'Armies, Corps, Divisions, and Separate Brigades'