The Seventh Army was a United States army created during World War II that evolved into the United States Army Europe (USAREUR) during the 1950s and 1960s. It served in North Africa and Italy in the Mediterranean Theater of Operations and France and Germany in the European theater between 1942 and 1945.
Originally the I Armored Corps under command of Lieutenant General George S. Patton, it made landfall at Morocco during Operation Torch as the Western Task Force, the first all-U.S. force to enter the European war. Following successful defeat of the Wehrmacht under General Erwin Rommel in North Africa, I Armored Corps was redesignated the Seventh Army on 10 July 1943 while at sea en route to the Allied invasion of Sicily as the spearhead of Operation Husky.
After the conquests of Palermo and Messina the Seventh Army prepared for the invasion of France by its Mediterranean coast as the lead element of Operation Dragoon in August 1944. It then drove a retreating German army north and then west toward the Alsace, being absorbed into the newly created Sixth United States Army Group in mid-September. In January 1945 it repelled a fierce but brief enemy counter-offensive during the German Operation Nordwind, then completed its reduction of the region by mid-March.
In a lead role in Operation Undertone launched March 15th, the Seventh Army fought its way across the Rhine into Germany, capturing Nuremberg and then Munich. Elements reached Austria and crossed the Brenner Pass into Italy by May 4th, followed shortly by war's end on VE-Day, May 8, 1945.
The United States officially entered World War II on 7 December 1941, after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. This was followed four days later by the German declaration of war on the United States. By November 8, 1942, Major General George S. Patton, Jr. was commanding the Western Task Force, the only all-American force landing for Operation Torch, codename for the Allied invasion of French North Africa. After succeeding there, Patton, now promoted to the rank of lieutenant general, commanded the Seventh Army, which was formed at midnight on 10 July 1943 by the redesignation of the I Armored Corps, during the Allied invasion of Sicily in July 1943 in conjunction with the British Eighth Army, commanded by General Sir Bernard Montgomery, Patton's rival. Patton was to command the Seventh Army until early 1944.
The Seventh Army landed on several beaches in southern Sicily on 10 July 1943 and captured the Sicilian capital of Palermo on 22 July and, along with the British Eighth Army, captured Messina on 16 August. During the fighting, the elements of the Seventh Army killed or captured thousands of enemy soldiers, mainly Italians. During the operation the Seventh and Eighth Armies came under the command of the 15th Army Group, under General Sir Harold Alexander. The headquarters of the Seventh Army remained relatively inactive at Palermo, Sicily, and Algiers until January 1944, when Lieutenant General Mark W. Clark, then commanding the U.S. Fifth Army on the Italian Front, was assigned as commander and the Seventh Army began planning for the invasion of southern France.
The invasion was originally given the code name of "Operation Anvil", but was changed to "Operation Dragoon" before the landing. In March 1944, Major General Alexander Patch, a highly experienced and competent commander, was assigned to command the Seventh Army, which moved to Naples, Italy, the following July. On 15 August 1944, elements of the Seventh Army assaulted the beaches of southern France in the St. Tropez and St. Raphael area. On September 15, the Seventh was put under the field control of the 6th Army Group, under Lieutenant General Jacob L. Devers. The 6th Army Group also included the French First Army. Within one month, the Seventh Army, which by now employed three American divisions, five French divisions and the 1st Airborne Task Force, had advanced 400 miles and joined with the Allied forces coming south from Normandy. In the process, the Seventh Army had liberated Marseilles, Lyon, Toulon and all of Southern France.
The Seventh Army then assaulted the German forces in the Vosges Mountains and broke into the Alsatian Plain. During the Battle of the Bulge in late December, it extended its flanks to take over much of the area that had been the responsibility of U.S. Third Army, now commanded by Patton who had previously commanded the Seventh, which allowed the Third to relieve surrounded American forces besieged at Bastogne. In mid-January 1945, the Seventh engaged in pitched battle seeking to regain ground lost to Germany's Operation Nordwind New Year's offensive. Along with the French First Army, the Seventh went on the offensive in February 1945 and eliminated the Colmar Pocket. After capturing the city of Strasbourg, the Seventh went into the Saar, assaulted the Siegfried Line, and reached the River Rhine during the first week of March, 1945.
In a lead role in Operation Undertone, the Seventh Army fought its way across the Rhine into Germany, captured Nuremberg and then Munich. Finally it crossed the Brenner Pass and made contact with Lieutenant General Lucian Truscott's U.S. Fifth Army at Vipiteno - once again on Italian soil.
In less than nine months of continuous fighting, the Seventh Army had advanced over 1,000 miles and for varying times had commanded 24 U.S. and Allied divisions, including the 3rd, 36th, 42nd, 44th, 45th, 63rd, 70th, 100th, 103rd, and 105th Infantry Divisions.
The Seventh Army was inactivated in March 1946, in Germany, reactivated for a short time at Atlanta, Georgia, then inactivated again. It was reactivated by the United States European Command (EUCOM) with headquarters at Patch Barracks, Stuttgart-Vaihingen, Germany, on 24 November 1950 and assigned the command and ground service forces of United States Army Europe (USAREUR).
On 30 November 1966, the Seventh Army was relocated from Patch Barracks to Heidelberg. Following French disagreements with certain NATO policies, United States European Command relocated from Paris to the following year. From that time forward the Seventh Army has been the headquarters for all Army units under the European Command. Its major subordinate elements were the V Corps and VII Corps (Inactivated in 2013 and 1992, respectively.)