The U. S. Seventh Army was the first American formation of Field Army size to see combat in World War II. The Army was formed on 10 July 1943 to provide headquarters for American forces in Operation Husky, the invasion of Sicily. During the campaign, it was commanded by (Then) Lieutenant General George S. Patton. It landed on the left flank of the Allied forces. The Seventh Army’s role in the plan for conquering Sicily was envisaged as being a protecting force for the left wing of the British Eighth under Gen. Bernard Montgomery. In the end, it played a far more important role. Most of Sicily was liberated by American forces, and Patton’s Army rendezvoused with that of Montgomery in capturing the crucial city of Messina, Italy, the nearest point on Sicily to the mainland of Italy.
After the Sicily operation the Seventh Army was taken out of the frontline and transferred into the 6th Army Group. Its next action was the invasion of the south of France, code named Operation Dragoon on August 15, 1944 (Bill’s 19th. birthday). This was conceived as a help to Eisenhower’s forces fighting in Normandy by outflanking German forces in France.
Dragoon was instrumental in the rapid liberation of Southern France and providing new supply ports. It was successful as an amphibious assault. Three divisions of the Seventh Army landed. The assault forces included units of the French First Army. With French and American forces established ashore in significant numbers, the Seventh Army and the French First Army were placed under 6th. Army Group headquarters. This Army Group took up its position on the right wing of the forces on the Western Front.
The Seventh Army succeeded in fighting its way through the heavily defended natural geography of the Vosges Mountains, and emerged onto the Alsatian Plain in late November, 1944. About this time Bill was permanently attached to the U.S Seventh Army.