Down the Lines: US Army Communications in Europe, 1942-45
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The incredible complexity of the Second World War continues to fire the imagination of the public and historians, alike. However, historians have largely ignored the immense importance of communications within the respective campaigns. This thesis will begin to redress this oversight by showing the role of military communications within the United States Army in Europe during World War II. In the wake of the war, the United States Army’s Center of Military History commissioned a large series of histories detailing the conduct of the US Army during the war. Interestingly, there were three entire books devoted to the Technical Services; specifically, the Signal Corps. In the decades after, the Center of Military History has continued to provide examination of the signal services, with a branch history of the Signal Corps published in 1994. Despite this profound endorsement, the academic community has not seen fit to give this subject its due diligence. Modern histories of World War II make very little mention of the difficulties of communication, if any mention is made at all. Even amateur efforts have been spotty and sometimes slipshod. Using a variety of modern texts, period works, and primary research at the National Archives, this thesis will use a narrowing lens approach to showing the multifaceted dimensions of military communications. From lessons learned in the Pacific and the Mediterranean, the organization and implementation of cohesive communications allowed command and control to function. By the commencement of Operation Cobra in July of 1944, the US Army had the most complete and flexible communications organization on the planet. The success of this organization can be seen most clearly during the German Winter Offensive of 1944-45, known as the Battle of the Bulge, when despite the rapid penetration of Allied battle-lines, at no time was communications cutoff between Northern and Southern forces.