II Corps (United States)

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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.[1]

It first saw significant action in Europe in August 1918, in the Hundred Days Offensive, as part of the British Third Army. Advances made during a secondary assault by the Australian Corps (Battle of Albert) on 21–23 August, were exploited by the Allies in the Second Battle of the Somme. This pushed the German 2nd Army back along a 50-mile (80 km) front line. British and US units advanced on Arras. On 29 August, Bapaume fell to the New Zealand Division and other elements of the British IV Corps. This allowed the Australian Corps to cross the Somme River on 31 August and break the German lines in the Battle of Mont St. Quentin.[2]

During late September 1918, with two Army National Guard Divisions (27th and 30th, less their artillery) under command, II Corps was attached to the Australian Corps as part of British Fourth Army. The Corps was involved in the Battle of St Quentin Canal, during which it suffered heavy losses.[2][3][4]

II 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.

Commanders[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Yockelson, p. 34.
  2. ^ a b Yockelson.
  3. ^ Blaxland, pp. 231–5.
  4. ^ Edmonds & Maxwell-Hyslop, pp. 95–111.

References[edit]

  • Gregory Blaxland, Amiens: 1918, London: Frederick Muller, 1968/Star, 1981, ISBN 0-352-30833-8.
  • 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
  • Brig-Gen Sir James E. Edmonds & Lt-Col R. Maxwell-Hyslop, History of the Great War: Military Operations, France and Belgium 1918, Vol V, 26th September–11th November, The Advance to Victory, London: HM Stationery Office, 1947/Imperial War Museum and Battery Press, 1993, ISBN 1-870423-06-2.
  • John B. Wilson, 'Armies, Corps, Divisions, and Separate Brigades'
  • Mitchell A. Yockelson, Borrowed Soldiers: Americans under British Command, 1918, Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 2008, ISBN 978-0-8061-3919-7.