European Theater (1942-45)
In order to strike a decisive blow against Nazi Germany, the Americans planned to concentrate Allied power in England and then launch a drive across the English Channel into mainland Europe.
Early in 1942 plans were made for such a cross-channel operation, to take place in April 1943, and possibly as early as September 1942 if either Germany or Russia showed signs of collapsing. The British, with some reluctance, agreed to the plan "in principle" in April 1942, whereupon the Americans began to pour supplies and troops into the United Kingdom.
In the end, the cross-channel attack did not happen until 1944. Instead, in mid-1942, American planners acceded to the British plan to invade North Africa. After heavy fighting through Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia the Allies finally won the North African campaign in May 1943.
Meeting in Casablanca in January 1943, President Roosevelt and Prime Minister Churchill decided that the Italian island of Sicily would be their next target. Soon after, in late July, the Allies decided to follow up their success in Sicily with an invasion of mainland Italy.
The Italian campaign involved some of the hardest fighting in the war. It cost the United States some 114,000 casualties. German forces in Italy did not surrender until May 1945. But this campaign engaged German forces that could have been used against the Allies in France.
Return to the overview page to view all collections