Master's Theses

Date of Award

Spring 1999

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

History

Advisor

Robert Rook

Abstract

A few days after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. General Dwight D. Eisenhower arrived at the War Department in Washington, D.C. to begin his assignment as chief of the Pacific planning section. This assignment marked the beginning of a war-time service that ultimately led to the command of the largest amphibious assault in modern history. His war-time service took him from Washington to London and then on to North Africa. From there, he commanded operations in Sicily and the Italian mainland, before returning to England for the Normandy invasion. As commander of nearly every major Allied landing in Europe, Eisenhower encountered numerous problems and dilemmas that, in turn, helped him develop a level of expertise in amphibious warfare that shaped his planning and command of the Normandy invasion. Eisenhower's education in amphibious operations began long before his first command during the Second World War, however. From assignments that began immediately after the First World War, he learned about the logistical requirements of invading hostile shores. Additionally, he served in the Philippines in the late 1930's and attempted to help develop a defensive plan to protect the islands in the event of invasion by enemy forces. Soon after the Second World War began, his education continued at the War Department, where he acquired an intimate knowledge of the command problems in the Pacific theatre in addition to learning the difficulties of supplying a two front war. From this post, Eisenhower moved to England to assume command of American forces in Europe. He participated in the planning for the anticipated European invasion in 1942 and, when that was cancelled, he assumed command of the invasion of North Africa. As the first major allied operation in Europe, North Africa served as Eisenhower's classroom on amphibious warfare. The lessons Eisenhower learned there shaped planning for the invasion of Sicily, and these lessons were again applied to the invasion of the Italian mainland. These lessons included technological innovations, the difficulty of assaulting a defended port, and the necessity of a unified command, along with others. The final test for Eisenhower came when he became the supreme commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force in preparation for the Normandy invasion.

Rights

Copyright 1999 William J. VanderGiesen

Comments

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