II Corps / Second Corps / 2nd Corps / II Army Corps
World War I
World War II
Aug 1, 1940
June 5, 1970
The II Corps of World War I and later periods is dramatically different and not from the same lineage as the II Corps of the American Civil War. This section deals only with the more modern II Corps, which was activated in World War I.
World War I
The II Corps was organized in February 1918 at Montreuil, France.
During World War I, II Corps included both the 27th and the 30th Infantry Divisions.
In September 1918, II Corps took part in the Somme Offensive. Rawlinson's British Fourth Army, of which the American II Corps formed a part, was assigned the task of overtaking German positions in the assigned zones of the Hindenburg Line. On the night of September 23/24, the American 30th Division of the II Corps entered that part of the line situated just west of Bellicourt. and took over a front of some 3.800 yards, about 1,000 yards west of the Hindenburg Line, where the canal was mostly underground. On the following night, the American 27th Division entered the line north of our 30th Division, and took over a front of about 4.500 yards. Their assigned objectives were: for the 30th Division, Bellicourt; for the 27th. Bony. Both Bellicourt and Bony were strongly fortified.
The 30th Division had taken over a sector with a favorable line of departure for the main attack on September 29. Its operations on September 27 and 28 were merely to rectify and strengthen its lines. The front taken over by the 27th Division, however, was distinctly unfavorable for launching an attack. It was dominated by a German position which ran along the crest of an elevation confronting it. Before the 27th Division could carry out its orders, it had first to drive the enemy from this commanding position. It attacked on September 27 and again on September 28: but desperate German resistance prevented it from securing the high ground, although some of its elements did succeed in occupying positions on the heights. Thus. on the eve of the main battle, the 27th Division still had an unfavorable line of departure, to withdraw its advanced elements would have been a complicated task: it was therefore decided not to change the barrage line for the main assault on September 29, but to start the attack of the 27th Division an hour before Zero, in the hope that the division could force its way forward to the barrage line. The situation of this division was indeed a most difficult one.
At 5:50 a. m., on September 29, Rawlinson's Army took up the advance on a front of twelve miles. Its right corps quickly crossed the St-Quentin Canal, and by evening had gained commanding ground well to the east. In the center, the American 30th Division rapidly penetrated the German defenses and captured Bellicourt and Nauroy. On its left, the 27th Division had not gained the designated line of departure at Zero hour. Some of its units had advanced, but others had not. The artillery barrage was in place more than a thousand yards ahead of the infantry: and in the intervening space, German machine guns and artillery wrought havoc among the advancing waves of American infantry. On the front of the 27th Division, only one of the thirty-nine Allied tanks engaged survived to cross the Bellicourt Tunnel. Nevertheless, our troops fought their way forward, and by noon on September 29 had reached the German positions on the crest. Small groups broke through the defenses of the Hindenburg Line and continued to advance east of Bony to the outskirts of Le Catelet and of Gouy. In conjunction with the Australians. the American II Corps had taken all of the dominating crest by the evening of September 29. During the night of September 30 - October 1. the American II Corps was withdrawn from the line for a short rest. By October 5, the British offensive on the Somme front had broken through the Hindenburg Line into open country to the east.
As a historical note, the 27th and 30th divisions of the II Corps were the only units of the AEF to fight exclusively under foreign command for their entire service in France. Composed of National Guardsment from New York and the southern states of Tennessee, North and South Carolina the 27th and 30th Divisions fought with distinction in Flander and the Somme sector while suffering nearly 16,000 killed and wounded.
World War II
The II Corps was activated on August 1, 1940. At that time, its headquarters was located at Fort Jay, New York. It remained there for two years until July 1942, when it embarked for Salisbury, Wiltshirt in England.
The US II Corps was a corps of the United States Army and the first American formation of any size to see combat in Europe or Africa during World War II.
It came to prominence in the Battle of Kasserine Pass when Field Marshal Erwin Rommel defeated the formation. However, after a change of command, it recovered its cohesion and fought well for the rest of the campaign. It held the southern flank of British 1st Army during the destruction of Axis forces in Africa.
In July 1943, it landed in Sicily as part of Operation Husky under command of the U.S. 7th Army, playing a key part in the liberation of the western part of the island. The corps consisted of the U.S. 3rd Infantry Division, U.S. 9th Infantry Division, and U.S. 45th Infantry Division, all under the command of Lieutenant-General Omar Nelson Bradley.
A further amphibious operation followed at Salerno that included the U.S. 36th Infantry Division and 45th Infantry Division. During the Spring offense in May 1944, the II Corps consisted of the US 85th and 88th Infantry Divisions. For the assault of the GOTHIC Line, the II Corps consisted of the US 34th, 88th and 91st Infantry Divisions.
After the Anzio landings, Major General Geoffrey Keyes was assigned commander of the II Corps. The II Corps fought from Cassino up the western side of Italy, ending up on the right flank of US Fifth Army in May 1945.
Divisional history from:
Edited by Schottzie, 23 September 2007 - 11:50 AM.