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Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force SHAEF


Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force (SHAEF; /ˈʃeɪf/ SHAYF) was the headquarters of the Commander of Allied forces in north west Europe, from late 1943 until the end of World War II. U.S. General Dwight D. Eisenhower was the commander in SHAEF throughout its existence. The position itself shares a common lineage with Supreme Allied Commander Europe and Atlantic, but they are different titles.




Eisenhower transferred from command of the Mediterranean Theater of Operations to command SHAEF, which was formed in Camp Griffiss, Bushy Park, Teddington, London, from December 1943; an adjacent street named Shaef Way, and a gate into the park called Shaef Gate, remain to this day.Southwick House was used as an alternative headquarters near Portsmouth. Its staff took the outline plan for Operation Overlord created by Lieutenant General Sir Frederick E. Morgan, Chief of Staff to the Supreme Allied Commander (Designate) (COSSAC), and Major General Ray Barker.Morgan, who had been appointed chief of staff to the Supreme Allied Commander (designate) in mid-March 1943 began planning for the invasion of Europe before Eisenhower's appointment. and moulded the plan into the final version, which was executed on 6 June 1944. That process was shaped by Eisenhower and the land forces commander for the initial part of the invasion, General Sir Bernard Law Montgomery.

SHAEF remained in the United Kingdom until sufficient forces were ashore to justify its transfer to France. At that point, Montgomery ceased to command all land forces but continued as Commander in Chief of the British 21st Army Group(21 AG) on the eastern wing of the Normandy bridgehead. The American 12th Army Group (12 AG) commanded by Lieutenant General Omar Bradleywas created as the western wing of the bridgehead. As the breakout from Normandy took place, the Allies launched the invasion of southern France on 15 August 1944 with the American 6th Army Group(6 AG) under the command of Lieutenant General Jacob L. Devers. During the invasion of southern France, the 6 AG was under the command of the Allied Forces Headquarters (AFHQ) of the Mediterranean Theatre of Operations, but after one month command passed to SHAEF. By this time, the three Army Groups had taken up the positions on the Western Front in which they would remain until the end of the war—the British 21 AG to the North, the American 12 AG in the middle and the 6 AG to the South. By December 1944, SHAEF had established itself in the Trianon Palace Hotel in Versailles, France. In February 1945, it moved to Reims and on 26 April 1945, SHAEF moved to Frankfurt.


SHAEF commanded the largest number of formations ever committed to one operation on the Western Front, with American, French army of liberation, British and Canadian Army forces. It commanded all Allied airborne forces as an Airborne Army, as well as three Army Groups that controlled a total of eight field armies;

First Allied Airborne Armyall Allied airborne divisions, brigades and paratrooper transport wings

British 21st Army GroupFirst Canadian ArmySecond British Army

American 12th Army GroupFirst United States ArmyThird United States ArmyNinth United States ArmyFifteenth United States Army

American 6th Army GroupFrench First ArmySeventh United States Army

SHAEF also controlled substantial naval forces during Operation Neptune, the assault phase of Overlord, and two tactical air forces: the US Ninth Air Force and the RAF Second Tactical Air Force. Allied strategic bomber forces in the UK also came under its command during Operation Neptune.

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