Operations: Combat in MTO and ETO, 19 May 1944 - 26 Apr 1945
Service Streamers: American Theater
460th Bomb Group History by Duane L. and Betty J. Bohnstedt
Combat Squadrons of the Air Force in World War II, Edited by Maurer Maurer
Air Force Combat Groups in World War II, Edited by Maurer Maurer
B-24 Liberator Units of the Fifteenth Air Force by Robert F. Dorr
Fifteenth Air Force Story by Kenn C. Rust
Attempting to outflank the Siegfried Line, the Allies tried an airborne attack on Holland on 17 September 1944. But the operation failed, and the enemy was able to strengthen his defensive line from H
... Moreolland to Switzerland. Little progress was made on the ground, but the aerial attacks on strategic targets continued. Then, having regained the initiative after defeating a German offensive in the Ardennes in December 1944, the Allies drove through to the Rhine, establishing a bridgehead across the river at Remagen. Hide
(North Apennines Campaign 10 September 1944 to 4 April 1945) In Italy during the fall and winter of 1944-1945 the Allies used their air power against the enemy’s communications as ground forces
... More beat against the Gothic Line north of the Arno. Although little progress was made on the ground, the action in the Apennines tied down a large German army at a time when those troops could have been used in decisive campaigns being directed against Germany by the Allies in the west and the Russians on the east. Hide
Following the Battle of the Bulge the Allies had pushed through to the Rhine. On 22 March 1945 they began their assault across the river, and by I April the Ruhr was encircled. Armored columns raced a
... Morecross Germany and into Austria and Czechoslovakia. On 25 April, the day American and Russian forces met on the Elbe, strategic bombing operations came to an end. Germany surrendered on 7 May 1945 and operations officially came to an end the following day, although sporadic actions continued on the European front until 11 May. Hide
The effectiveness of interdiction in northern Italy was shown by the success of the final Allied drive in that area in April 1945. With communications shattered, the Germans were unable to move enough
... More materiel to make a stand after being driven from their defensive positions south of the Po. Allied forces crossed the river on 25 April; and on 4 May, at the Italian end of the Brenner Pass, Fifth Army met the Seventh, which had driven into Germany and turned southward into Austria. With the joining of these forces the war in Italy was over. Hide
German forces in Italy surrender: On 29 April, the day before Hitler died, SS General Karl Wolff signed a surrender document at Caserta on behalf of General von Vietinghoff, after prolonged unauthoris
... Moreed secret negotiations with the Western Allies, which were viewed with great suspicion by the Soviet Union as trying to reach a separate peace. In the document, Wolff agreed to a ceasefire and surrender of all the forces under the command of Vietinghoff at 2pm on 2 May. Accordingly, after some bitter wrangling between Wolff and Albert Kesselring in the early hours of 2 May, nearly 1,000,000 men in Italy and Austria surrendered unconditionally to British General Harold Alexander at 2pm on 2 May.
German forces in Berlin surrender: The Battle of Berlin ended on 2 May. On that date, General der Artillerie Helmuth Weidling, the commander of the Berlin Defense Area, unconditionally surrendered the city to General Vasily Chuikov of the Soviet army. On the same day the officers commanding the two armies of Army Group Vistula north of Berlin, (General Kurt von Tippelskirch, commander of the German 21st Army and General Hasso von Manteuffel, commander of Third Panzer Army), surrendered to the Western Allies. 2 May is also believed to have been the day when Hitler's deputy Martin Bormann died, from the account of Artur Axmann who saw Bormann's corpse in Berlin near the Lehrter Bahnhof railway station after encountering a Soviet Red Army patrol. Lehrter Bahnhof is close to where the remains of Bormann, confirmed as his by a DNA test in 1998, were unearthed on 7 December 1972.
German forces in North West Germany, Denmark, and the Netherlands surrender: On 4 May 1945, the British Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery took the unconditional military surrender at Lüneburg from Generaladmiral Hans-Georg von Friedeburg, and General Eberhard Kinzel, of all German forces "in Holland [sic], in northwest Germany including the Frisian Islands and Heligoland and all other islands, in Schleswig-Holstein, and in Denmark… includ[ing] all naval ships in these areas", at the Timeloberg on Lüneburg Heath; an area between the cities of Hamburg, Hanover and Bremen. The number of German land, sea and air forces involved in this surrender amounted to 1,000,000 men. On 5 May, Großadmiral Dönitz ordered all U-boats to cease offensive operations and return to their bases.
At 16:00, General Johannes Blaskowitz, the German commander-in-chief in the Netherlands, surrendered to Canadian General Charles Foulkes in the Dutch town of Wageningen in the presence of Prince Bernhard (acting as commander-in-chief of the Dutch Interior Forces).
German forces in Bavaria surrender: At 14:30 on 4 May 1945, General Hermann Foertsch surrendered all forces between the Bohemian mountains and the Upper Inn river to the American General Jacob L. Devers, commander of the American 6th Army Group.
The front page of The Montreal Daily Star announcing the German surrender.
Final positions of the Allied armies, May 1945
Central Europe: On 5 May 1945, the Czech resistance started the Prague uprising. The following day, the Soviets launched the Prague Offensive. In Dresden, Gauleiter Martin Mutschmann let it be known that a large-scale German offensive on the Eastern Front was about to be launched. Within two days, Mutschmann abandoned the city, but was captured by Soviet troops while trying to escape.
Hermann Göring's surrender: On 6 May, Reichsmarshall and Hitler's second-in-command, Hermann Göring, surrendered to General Carl Spaatz, who was the commander of the operational United States Air Forces in Europe, along with his wife and daughter at the Germany-Austria border. He was by this time the most powerful Nazi official still alive.
German forces in Breslau surrender: At 18:00 on 6 May, General Hermann Niehoff, the commandant of Breslau, a 'fortress' city surrounded and besieged for months, surrendered to the Soviets. Keitel signs surrender terms, 7 May 1945 in Berlin
Jodl and Keitel surrender all German armed forces unconditionally: Thirty minutes after the fall of "Festung Breslau" (Fortress Breslau), General Alfred Jodl arrived in Reims and, following Dönitz's instructions, offered to surrender all forces fighting the Western Allies. This was exactly the same negotiating position that von Friedeburg had initially made to Montgomery, and like Montgomery the Supreme Allied Commander, General Dwight D. Eisenhower, threatened to break off all negotiations unless the Germans agreed to a complete unconditional surrender. Eisenhower explicitly told Jodl that he would order western lines closed to German soldiers, thus forcing them to surrender to the Soviets. Jodl sent a signal to Dönitz, who was in Flensburg, informing him of Eisenhower's declaration. Shortly after midnight, Dönitz, accepting the inevitable, sent a signal to Jodl authorizing the complete and total surrender of all German forces.
At 02:41 on the morning of 7 May, at SHAEF headquarters in Reims, France, the Chief-of-Staff of the German Armed Forces High Command, General Alfred Jodl, signed the unconditional surrender documents for all German forces to the Allies. General Franz Böhme announced the unconditional surrender of German troops in Norway on 7 May, the same day as Jodl signed the unconditional surrender document. It included the phrase "All forces under German control to cease active operations at 2301 hours Central European Time on May 8, 1945." The next day, Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel and other German OKW representatives traveled to Berlin, and shortly before midnight signed a similar document, explicitly surrendering to Soviet forces, in the presence of General Georgi Zhukov. The signing ceremony took place in a former German Army Engineering School in the Berlin district of Karlshorst; it now houses the German-Russian Museum Berlin-Karlshorst.
German forces on the Channel Islands surrender: At 10:00 on 8 May, the Channel Islanders were informed by the German authorities that the war was over. British Prime Minister Winston Churchill made a radio broadcast at 15:00 during which he announced: "Hostilities will end officially at one minute after midnight tonight, but in the interests of saving lives the 'Cease fire' began yesterday to be sounded all along the front, and our dear Channel Islands are also to be freed today."
VE-Day: News of the imminent surrender broke in the West on 8 May, and celebrations erupted throughout Europe. In the US, Americans awoke to the news and declared 8 May V-E Day. As the Soviet Union was to the east of Germany it was 9 May Moscow Time when the German military surrender became effective, which is why Russia and many other European countries east of Germany commemorate Victory Day on 9 May.
German units cease fire: Although the military commanders of most German forces obeyed the order to surrender issued by the (Oberkommando der Wehrmacht (OKW)—the German Armed Forces High Command), not all commanders did so. The largest contingent were Army Group Centre under the command of Generalfeldmarschall Ferdinand Schörner who had been promoted to Commander-in-Chief of the Army on 30 April in Hitler's last will and testament. On 8 May, Schörner deserted his command and flew to Austria; the Soviet Army sent overwhelming force against Army Group Centre in the Prague Offensive, forcing German units in Army Group Centre to capitulate by 11 May. The other forces which did not surrender on 8 May surrendered piecemeal:
The Second Army, under the command of General von Saucken, on the Heiligenbeil and Danzig beachheads, on the Hel Peninsula in the Vistula delta surrendered on 9 May, as did the forces on the Greek islands; and the garrisons of the last Atlantic pockets in France, in Saint-Nazaire, La Rochelle (after the Allied siege), and Lorient.
Battle of Slivice, the last battle in Czechoslovakia, on 12 May. On 13 May, the Red Army halted all offensives in Europe. Isolated pockets of resistance in Czechoslovakia were mopped up by this date.
People gathered in Whitehall to hear Winston Churchill's victory speech, 8 May 1945
The garrison on Alderney, one of the Channel Islands occupied by the Germans, surrendered on 16 May, one week after the garrisons on the other Channel Islands, which surrendered on 9 May.
The Georgian Uprising of Texel (5 April – 20 May) was Europe's last battlefield in World War II. It was fought between Georgian Nazi-collaborationist army units on Texel against the German occupiers of that Dutch island.
Another military engagement took place in Yugoslavia (today's Slovenia), on 14 and 15 May, known as the Battle of Poljana. Hide
The Presidential Unit Citation may be awarded to units of the Armed Forces of the United States and cobelligerent nations for extraordinary heroism in action against an armed enemy occurring on or aft
... Moreer December 7, 1941. Hide
(Air Offensive, Europe Campaign 4 July 1942 to 5 June 1944) Pre-war doctrine had held that waves of bombers hitting enemy cities would cause mass panic and the rapid collapse of the enemy. As a result
... More, the Royal Air Force had built up a large strategic bomber force. By way of contrast, Nazi German air force doctrine was almost totally dedicated to supporting the army. Therefore, German bombers were smaller than their British equivalents, and Germany never developed a fully successful four engined heavy bomber equivalent to the Lancaster or B-17, with only the similarly sized Heinkel He 177 placed into production and made operational for such duties with the Luftwaffe in the later war years.
The main concentration of German raids on British cities was from September 7, 1940 until May 10, 1941 in the most famous air battle of all time, known as the Battle of Britain. Facing odds of four against one the RAF held off the mighty Luftwaffe forcing Hermann Wilhelm Göring to withdraw his forces and more importantly indefinitely postpone invasion plans. This proved the first major turning point of the War. After that most of the strength of the Luftwaffe was diverted to the war against the Soviet Union leaving German cities vulnerable to British and later American air bombings. As a result of the victory, Great Britain was used by U.S and other Allied forces as a base from which to begin the D-Day landings in June 1944 and the liberation of Nazi-occupied Western Europe.
From 1942 onwards, the efforts of Bomber Command were supplemented by the Eighth Air Force of the United States Army Air Forces, U.S. Army Air Forces units being deployed to England to join the assault on mainland Europe on July 4, 1942. Bomber Command raided by night and the US forces by day. Hide
(Normandy Campaign 6 June to 24 July 1944) Early on D-Day airborne troops landed in France to gain control of strategic areas. Aerial and naval bombardment followed. Then the invasion fleet, covered b
... Morey an umbrella of aircraft, discharged Eisenhower’s assault forces. Soon the beachhead was secure, but its expansion was a slow and difficult process in the face of strong opposition. It was not until late in July that the Allies were able to break out of Normandy. Hide
(Northern France Campaign 25 July to 14 September 1944) Bombardment along a five-mile stretch of the German line enabled the Allies to break through on 25 July. While some armored forces drove southwa
... Morerd into Brittany, others fanned out to the east and, overcoming a desperate counterattack, executed a pincers movement that trapped many Germans in a pocket at Falaise. The enemy fell back on the Siegfried Line, and by mid-September 1944 nearly all of France had been liberated. During these operations in France, while light and medium bombers and fighter-bomber aircraft of Ninth Air Force had been engaged in close support and interdictory operations, Eighth and Fifteenth Air Forces had continued their strategic bombing. Hide
(Southern France Campaign 15 August to 14 September 1944) While the Germans were retreating in Italy in the summer of 1944, the Allies diverted some of their strength in the theater to the invasion of
... More Southern France. After preliminary bombardment, a combined seaborne-airborne force landed on the French Riviera on 15 August. Marseilles having been taken, Sevmth Army advanced up the Rhone Valley and by mid-September was in touch with Allied forces that had entered France from the north. Hide
(Rome-Arno Campaign 22 January to 9 September 1944) U.S. 5th Army advanced 150 miles to the Arno River. The unsuccessful attempt to break the Gustav Line on 22 January was followed by another unsucces
... Moresful effort in March when the infantry failed to push through after bombers had endeavored to open the line at Monte Cassino. Allied air power then began a vigorous campaign against railroads, highways, and shipping that supported German forces in Italy. With supply lines strangled, the Germans could not repulse the new drive launched by the Allies in May. German resistance crumbled. By 4 June 1944 the Allies had taken Rome. But the advance ground to a halt against a new defensive line the enemy established along the Arno River. Hide