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Identity statement

Reference code(s)
1944-1945, 1989
Level of description
collection level
Extent and medium of the unit of description (quantity, bulk, or size)
573 microfiche


Name of creator(s)

US Army Historical Section

Administrative / Biographical history

In 1943 US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt issued an Executive Order requiring the various departments and special agencies of government to prepare histories of their activities. US Army Ground Forces therefore organised a historical program that required a historian for each army and part-time historical officials in units down to special battalions. Along with these efforts, the US Army Historical Section began to co-ordinate efforts to collect historical material abroad. These efforts were strengthened by US Army Chief of Staff Gen George Catlett Marshall's desire to have studies prepared on lessons learned from current campaigns. The Historical Section, G-2 Division, thus deployed combat historians to interview combat soldiers in order to fill gaps left by official US Army reports. By 1944, the Historical Section selected a small group of historians to go from the US War Department, Washington, DC, to Great Britain in time to be briefed on the plans for the proposed Allied invasion of North-West Europe. The most extensive effort to collect historical material in World War Two was made during and following Operation OVERLORD, the Allied invasion of the Normandy coast, France, 6 Jun 1944. It is from this material that the editors of this collection have drawn their text. Before the conclusion of Supreme Commander, Allied Expeditionary Force, US Gen Dwight David Eisenhower's drive from Normandy to Germany and Czechoslovakia, the US Army had five Information and Historical Sections at the five American armies, 1 Army, 3 Army, 7 Army, 9 Army, and 15 Army. By the end of the war, approximately seventy combat historians were engaged in collecting interviews and writing combat narratives. Although field interviews could not be taped, material was often gathered near the place and time of a significant action. Many of the combat interviews of World War Two were conducted in foxholes, cellars, or bomb shelters and recorded manually. Also, it should be noted that all the combat historians who conducted the interviews during World War Two were themselves in military service and familiar with the nature of unit training and weaponry.

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

University Publications of America, Bethesda, MD, USA

Content & structure

Scope and content

Armed Forces Oral Histories; World War II Combat Interviews is a themed microfiche collection of 375 typescript combat interviews, together with narrative accounts and official supplementary materials including field orders, periodic and operations reports, statistical data, sketch maps and overlays, 22 May 1944-10 May 1945. Documents include accounts relating to US 1 Infantry Div during Operation NEPTUNE, the amphibious assault on France, 6 Jun 1944, the landing at Omaha Beach, Normandy, France, 6 Jun 1944, the Battle of Aachen, Germany 8 Oct-22 Oct 1944, the defensive in the Ardennes Forest, 16 Dec-31 Dec 1944, the drive to the Rhine and subsequent bridgehead established at the Ludendorff bridge, Remagen, Germany, 17-31 Mar 1945; US 2 Infantry Div during the Brest Campaign, France, 25 Aug-18 Sep 1944, and the drive from the Rhine river to Leipzig, Germany, 21 Mar-20 Apr 1945; US 3 Infantry Div during the invasion of Southern France, Aug 1944-Feb 1945; US 4 Infantry Div and the liberation of Luxembourg, 16 Dec-24 Dec 1944; US 5 Infantry Div during operations at Fort Driant, Belgium, and Metz, France, 9 Nov-24 Nov 1944; 8 Infantry Div operations during the reduction of the Crozon peninsula, France, 1 Sep-19 Sep 1944; 9 Infantry Div and the US aerial bombing of US troops during the Normandy breakout, 24-29 Jul 1944; intensive fighting experienced by 28 Infantry Div in during the Battle of Hurtgen Forest, 2-16 Nov 1944; US 35 Infantry Div winter fighting in the Ardennes Forest, 26 Dec 1944-23 Jan 1945; 36 Infantry Div during Operation DRAGOON, the Allied landings in Southern France, Aug 1944; 42 Infantry Div during the battles in the Saverne Gap, Alsace, France, 4 Jan-26 Jan 1945; 65 Infantry Div drive to Struth, Austria, 7 Apr-8 May 1945; 69 Infantry Div contact between US and Soviet forces on the banks of the Elbe River, 25-26 Apr 1945; 71 Infantry Div and the surrender of German Army South, 18 Apr-8 May 1945; 80 Infantry Div during the Moselle River crossing and subsequent fighting during the Lorraine Campaign from the Seille River to the Saar River, 12 Sep-5 Dec 1944; the establishment of an Allied defensive base at Ste Mere Eglise by 82 Airborne Div and its subsequent fighting during Operation MARKET GARDEN, the large-scale Allied parachute drop to seize the Nijmegen- Grosbeek high ground in the Netherlands, 6 Jun-26 Sep 1944; the capture of Hannover, Germany, during the Rhine-Ruhr-Elbe Operation by 84 Infantry Div, 1 Apr- 9 May 1945; 94 Infantry Div co-operation with Free French forces on the St Nazaire- Lorient Front, 8 Sep-30 Oct 1944; 101 Airborne Div combat operations near Carentan, Cotentin Peninsula, France, and ensuing problems due to the scattered parachute drop pattern, 6-10 Jun 1944; French 2 Armoured Div during the advance to liberate Paris, France, and Strasbourg, France, 6 Jun-28 Nov 1944; US 7 Corps during operations from the break-out at Normandy, France, to the liberation of German concentration camp at Nordhausen, Germany, Jul 1944-Apr 1945; US 7 Army invasion of Southern France, detailing the importance of intelligence furnished by the Maquis French resistance movement, 15 Aug 1944.

System of arrangement

The collection is arranged according to US Army military unit and chronologically therein

Conditions of access & use

Conditions governing access

Open, subject to signature of Reader's undertaking form, and appropriate provision of two forms of identification, to include one photographic ID.

Conditions governing reproduction

Copies may be printed off the microfilm for research purposes and are charged at the cost to the Centre. Enquiries concerning the copyright of the original material should be addressed to University Publications of America, Inc., 4520 East-West Highway, Bethesda, MD, 20814, USA

Language/scripts of material


Finding aids

This Summary Guide, and published detailed catalogue available in hard copy in the Centre's reading room, Margaret Lynch (ed.), Armed Forces Oral Histories: World War II Combat Interviews (University Publications of America, Bethesda, MD, 1989)

Allied materials

Existence and location of originals

National Archive and Records Administration, Record Group 407, Entry 427 (Records of the Adjutant General's Office, World War II Operation Reports, 1940-1948) and the Military Reference Branch.



Compiled Aug 1999

Description control

Rules or conventions

Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal Place and Corporate Names 1997.

This catalogue is made available under the Open Data Commons Attribution License. This catalogue may be updated from time to time in order to reflect additional material and/or new understandings of the material.

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  • Armed forces
  • Bridges
  • Concentration camps
  • Field work
  • Genocide
  • Historical methods
  • History
  • Humanitarian law
  • International law
  • International relations
  • Interviews
  • Military engineering
  • Military history
  • Military operations
  • Military organizations
  • Operation Overlord (1944)
  • Oral history
  • Organizations
  • Research work
  • State security
  • Transport infrastructure
  • War crimes

Personal names

  • Eisenhower, Dwight David, 1890-1969, US President and General
  • Marshall, George Catlett, 1880-1959, US General and Secretary of State
  • Roosevelt, Franklin Delano, 1882-1945, US President

Corporate names

  • US Army


  • Aachen, Germany
  • Alsace, France
  • Ardennes, France
  • Czechoslovakia, Eastern Europe
  • Hurtgen Forest, Germany
  • Ludendorff, Germany
  • Luxembourg
  • Metz, France
  • Omaha Beach, Normandy, France
  • Rhine, river
  • Struth, Austria

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