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The First Army is the oldest and longest established field army of the United States Army. It now serves as a mobilization, readiness and training command.

First Army's entry into World War II began in October 1943 as Bradley returned to Washington, D.C. to receive his command and began to assemble a staff and headquarters to prepare for Operation Overlord, the invasion of Normandy. Headquarters, First Army was activated In January 1944 at Bristol, England.

Upon going ashore on 6 June 1944, D-Day, First Army came under 21st Army Group and commanded all American ground forces during the invasion. Three American divisions were landed by sea at the Western end of the beaches, and two more were landed by air. On Utah Beach the assault troops made good time, but Omaha Beach came nearest of all of the five landing areas to disaster. The two American airborne divisions that landed were scattered all over the landscape, and caused considerable confusion amongst the German soldiers, as well as largely securing their objectives, albeit with units completely mixed up with each other. First Army captured much of the early gains of the Allied forces in Normandy. Once the beachheads were joined up, its troops struck west and isolated the Cotentin Peninsula, and then captured Cherbourg. When the American Mulberry harbour was wrecked by a storm, Cherbourg became much more vital than it had been thought it would be.

After the capture of Cherbourg, First Army struck south. In Operation Cobra, its forces finally managed to break through the German lines. The newly established Third Army was then fed through the gap and raced across France. The Army then passed from the control of 21st Army Group to the newly arrived 12th Army Group. First Army followed Third Army and helped to surround the Falaise pocket.

After capturing Paris (the "Wehrmachtbefehlshaber von Groß-Paris", Dietrich von Choltitz, capitulated 25 August, ignoring Hitler's "Trümmerfeldbefehl"),[1][2] First Army headed towards the south of the Netherlands.

When the Germans attacked during the Battle of the Bulge, First Army found itself on the north side of the salient, and thus isolated from 12th Army Group, its commanding authority. It was, therefore, transferred, along with Ninth Army, to 21st Army Group on 20 December.[3] The salient was reduced by early February 1945. Following the Battle of the Bulge, the Rhineland Campaign began, and First Army was transferred back to 12th Army Group. In Operation Lumberjack, First Army closed up to the lower Rhine by 5 March, and the higher parts of the river five days later.

On 7 March, in a stroke of luck, First Army found an intact bridge across the Rhine at Remagen. It crossed the river in force quickly. By 4 April, an enormous pocket had been created by First Army and Ninth Army, which contained the German Army Group B under Field Marshal Model, the last significant combat force in the north west of Germany. Whilst some elements of First Army concentrated upon reducing the Ruhr pocket, others headed further east, creating another pocket containing the German Eleventh Army. First Army reached the Elbe by 18 April. There the advance halted, as that was the agreed demarcation zone between the American and Soviet forces. First Army and Soviet forces met on 25 April.

In May 1945, advance elements of First Army headquarters had returned to New York City and were preparing to redeploy to the Pacific theater of the war to prepare for Operation Coronet, the planned second phase of Operation Downfall the proposed invasion of Honshū, the main island of Japan in the spring of 1946, but the Japanese surrenderin August 1945 thanks to the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki terminated that effort.


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