A Sherman tank from the Canadian 27th Tank Regiment rolls through the shattered, deserted streets of Caen after the Germans pulled out. The British/Canadians lost thousands of men and 300-500 tanks. The delay in securing Caen badly damaged Montgomery’s reputation among the Allies.

European Theater

The European Theater of Operations (ETO) during World War II is generally regarded as the area of military confrontation between the Allied powers and Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy. The European Theater encompassed the Atlantic, Mediterranean, Eastern Front, Western Front, and Arctic areas of operation.

European Theater

Lightnings on the Deck

By Patrick J. Chaisson

Second Lieutenant William Capron first saw the attacking Messerschmitts as black dots descending rapidly to ambush his squadron of American fighter-bombers. Read more

6th South African Armoured Division M4 Shermans firing at Monte Sole during the breakthrough to Bologna, April 1945. After early victories in North Africa, the South African contingent was kept in reserve until after the fall of Rome, June 4, 1944. The men then really proved their mettle.

European Theater

Fighting from Tobruk to Milan

By Brig. Gen. (Ret.) Raymond E. Bell

The contribution of the Union of South Africa’s armed forces to the winning of World War II is little known outside South Africa itself. Read more

European Theater

Suppressing the E-boats

By Phil Zimmer

A wily British scientist, a secret weapon, and a daring daytime Bombing raid helped break the back of the deadly German E-boat attacks on the Allied ships that supported the early D-Day landings at Normandy. Read more

Ogden Pleissner, an artist and war correspondent for LIFE magazine, captured American tanks advancing through the bombed-out city of St. Lô as German prisoners are marched to the rear.

European Theater

Deadly Cobra Strike

By Michael E. Haskew

The Allied planning for Operation Overlord had been ongoing for more than two years. Vast quantities of supplies and hundreds of thousands of fighting men and their machinery of war had crowded southern England. Read more

Members of Ninth Carrier Command unload a Jeep from a C-47 on one of the emergency landing strips in France. Without the Troop Carrier Commands, the American war effort in the European Theater would have ground to a halt.

European Theater

The Flying Pipeline

By Patricia Overman

“Flying supply missions with the 435th Troop Carrier Group, or any tactical group of IX Troop Carrier Command, is a combination of taking a physical beating and sweating out land and aerial war hazards”

—Michael Seaman, Warweek Staff Writer, Stars and Stripes, April 29, 1945

By April 1945 the Allied Armies were racing east as German resistance crumbled. Read more

Disabled automobiles lie abandoned in the street of a French village south of the major port city of Cherbourg. In this image soldiers of the U.S. 82nd Airborne Division move cautiously through the area.

European Theater

Cherbourg’s Bloody Toll

By Pat McTaggart
Maltese civilians inspect the ruins of the opera house in Valletta after heavy Axis aerial blitz, April 7, 1942. The British called Malta “the most-bombed island in the world.”

European Theater

Linchpin of the Mediterranean

By Mark Simmons

It was the humid season on Malta that September of 1943. The hot Sirocco winds from North Africa blow from August to October across the cool sea, raising humidity. Read more

European Theater

The MG-42 Light Machine Gun

By Arnold Blumberg

Whether fighting in the mountains of the Italian peninsula, assaulting Nazi defensive positions along the vast Russo-German Eastern Front, or clashing with German Army opponents from Normandy to the Elbe River, from 1942 to 1945, Allied soldiers in World War II faced a determined enemy armed with the most effective machine gun produced during that struggle: the Maschinengewehr 42, or the MG 42 for short. Read more

An American soldier cautiously approaches two burning vehicles that had been destroyed by a German ambush. As a scout, Private Sevel never wore equipment or heavy clothing in order to stay mobile on the battlefield.

European Theater

A Scout in Patton’s Third Army

By Kevin M. Hymel

The Messerschmitt Bf-109 fighter plane dove out of the sky with machine guns firing. The pilot’s target—a pontoon bridge being stretched across Germany’s Werra River by American engineers. Read more

European Theater

The Battle of Ortona: Italy’s Stalingrad

By Mike Phifer

“Where the hell have you been?”

Major Bert Kennedy, acting commander of Canada’s Hastings and Prince Edward Regiment of the 1st Canadian Infantry Brigade, asked Lieutenant Farley Mowat of the intelligence section. Read more

European Theater

Achtung! Panzers in Normandy

By Michael E. Haskew

The ongoing debate between German Field Marshals Erwin Rommel and Gerd von Rundstedt over how best to use the German Army’s elite panzer divisions against the coming Allied invasion ultimately reached no clear conclusion. Read more

European Theater

Death of Himmler’s Henchman

By Richard Rule

In a desperate bid to avoid another war in Europe, both Britain and France signed the notorious Munich Agreement in 1938, which annexed the Sudetenland of Czechoslovakia to the Nazis. Read more

European Theater

Desperate Days On Hill 314

By Alan Davidge

When the 230th Field Artillery Battalion was attached to the 30th Infantry (“Old Hickory”) Division in Mortain, France, on August 6, 1944, many of its men had already received their baptism of fire in Normandy. Read more

A long line of American soldiers are about about to begin their long journey into captivity. Most of the troops were moved by rail; Allied planes sometimes unknowingly attacked trains that carried American POWs.

European Theater

Captured in the Bulge

By Flint Whitlock

It took the HMS Queen Elizabeth, the world’s largest passenger liner, only five days to transport 15,000 men of the 106th Infantry Division from New Jersey to Glasgow, Scotland, making port on November 17, 1944. Read more

British paratroopers of the 1st Airborne Division, who were tasked with the highway bridge over the Nederrijn at Arnhem, land in an open field at the outset of Operation Market Garden.

European Theater

Hellish Fight at Arnhem

By John E. Spindler

As the clock struck 8:00 p.m. in Arnhem, Holland, Lt. Col. John Frost’s British 2nd Parachute Battalion captured the north end of the road bridge over the Nederrijn River. Read more