Third Army Antiaircraft Claims

Approved claims for U.S. Third Army antiaircraft units from Antiaircraft Artillery: A Brief History of Operations in Europe, 1 August 1944 to 8 May, 1945, Third United States Army.

ANNEX B: Approved claims for all enemy aircraft destroyed or damaged, 1 August 1944 to 8 May 1945, while units listed were serving with the Third US Army. This tabulation does not include a great many additional aircraft claimed, and earned, while units were detached from Third US Army and serving elsewhere. Units not listed made no claims under the Army.

Continue reading Third Army Antiaircraft Claims

General Patton’s Prayer for Weather

Patton In December 1944, Gen. George S. Patton Jr. commanded the U.S. Third Army in their breakout from the Normandy bridgehead and race across France to the German border. Faced with lengthening supply lines and stiffening German resistance, the Third Army advance slowed to a halt. Even the weather did not cooperate, as rains and snow delayed supplies, mired his troops, and grounded air support. So Gen. Patton turned to prayer.

From the LA Times "A 1944 Christmas Miracle for Gen. Patton":

On Dec. 8, Patton turned to a higher power to clear the skies. He asked Chaplain James H. O’Neill if he knew of a “good prayer for the weather,” according to military historian and Patton expert Kevin M. Hymel. “We must do something about these rains,” Patton said, “if we are to win the war.”

After some thought and research, O’Neill came up with the following: “Almighty and most merciful Father, we humbly beseech Thee, of Thy great goodness, to restrain these immoderate rains with which we have had to contend. Grant us fair weather for Battle. Graciously hearken to us as soldiers who call upon Thee that, armed with Thy power, we may advance from victory to victory and crush the oppression and wickedness of our enemies, and establish Thy justice among men and nations. Amen.

O’Neill typed the prayer onto an index card, and on the flip side typed a Christmas greeting from Patton. Patton ordered 250,000 copies of the card printed and distributed to every man in the 3rd Army….

In December 1944, his prayer was answered. The weather miraculously cleared (it did eventually snow, but the prayer hadn’t mentioned snow), and Patton was able to get his army moving again. When the Germans launched their final attack against Allied Forces, the Battle of the Bulge, Patton swung his men north toward the town of Bastogne, where German forces surrounded American troops from the First Army. On Dec. 26, he broke through the German defenses and relieved Bastogne.

German Air Tactics Against Ground Targets

Statistical analysis of Luftwaffe air attacks on ground targets in the Third U.S. Army from Antiaircraft Artillery: A Brief History of Operations in Europe, 1 August 1944 to 8 May, 1945, Third United States Army.

German Air Tactics Against Ground Targets in the Third U.S. Army Area

1. Prior to the allied landings of the continent, 6 June 1944, a great deal already was known of the tactics of the German Air Force in attacking ground targets. Attacks of appreciable size had occurred in Italy and Sicily and along the North African coast, and some time had been devoted to their study. Targets of opportunity in forward areas received 63% of attacks, highways and bridges received but 4% of attention, and ports and harbors, airfields and ammunition dumps received 33%, 55% of attacks were by dive-bombing, 20% level-bombing, 10% strafing, 12% unknown, and 3% reconnaissance flights. Bombers made much use of cloud cover and the blinding effect of the bright sun in making their approaches to the target areas. In brief, strong, close-in defenses of all vital objectives seemed dictated by past Luftwaffe performances, with forward zones of divisions, and roads and bridges being of prime importance. An adequate alert status and an efficient warning system were necessary to guard against surprise.

2. Experiences in Italy were, to a certain extent, repeated during the course of Third U.S. Army’s operations on the continent from 1 August 1944 to 8 May 1945. Thus, during periods of rapid and threatening advance, armored spearheads were continually attacked by large numbers of low-flying aircraft which attempted to blunt their thrusts. As rivers were reached, emphasis turned to attacks upon the bridges and crowded bridge areas. It the air effort was particularly large, much of it spilled over into troop and artillery areas of infantry divisions following the armor. Little if any air activity was encountered behind corps rear boundaries during such times. Sole large-scale exception to this was during the initial break-through drive of Third U.S. Army’s VIII Corps down the Cotentin Peninsula. During that period, from 1 August to 12 August 1944, the GAF made a frenzied effort that struck night and day not only at the spearheading armor and motorized infantry, but at bridges, road defiles, dams and antiaircraft behind them up and down the historic Avranches supply route Thus, targets were chosen because of their vital importance, and merely vulnerable targets, such as supply dumps, airfields, and the like were left almost untouched.

3. During periods of comparatively little forward movement, such as occurred along the Moselle River in France, there were few attacks made but, weather permitting, reconnaissance was flown almost daily over division and corps zones while some nuisance strafing and bombing of artillery positions occurred.

Continue reading German Air Tactics Against Ground Targets

Third Army Charts - August 1944

Charts of the accomplishments of the U.S. Third Army in the Normandy breakout during August 1944. The U.S. Third Army was activated in Normandy at noon on August 1st under the command of Lieutenant General George S. Patton. The Third Army immediately took part in the breakout through Avranches and into Brittany after Operation Cobra.

Comparitive casualty chart, Third U.S. Army vs. the enemy:
Third Army August 1944 Normandy Casualty

Comparitive chart, losses of materiel. (Presumably the Mark VI column is mislabeled and includes both Panzer V “Panther” and Panzer VI “Tiger” tanks.):
3rd Army Tank and Equipment Losses

Territory liberated by Allied forces in Northern France through August 31 (The legend reads, from top to bottom, First U.S. Army 6 June – 1 August, 21 Army Group BR 6 June – 1 August, 21 Army Group BR 1 – 31 August, First U.S. Army 1 – 31 August, and Third U.S. Army 1 – 31 August.):
3rd Army Normandy Liberated

Source: After Action Report, Third U.S. Army, 1 August 1944 – 9 May 1945