Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
British First Army
First World War
The British First Army was formed on 26 December, 1914 when the corps of the British Expeditionary Force were divided into the First Army under Lieutenant-General Sir Douglas Haig and the Second Army (Horace Smith-Dorrien). The First Army suffered reverses at Vimy Ridge in May 1916 and at Fromelles the following month. The First Army took part in the 1918 offensive that drove the Germans back and virtually ended the war.
- Lieutenant-General Sir Douglas Haig (1914 - 1915)
- General Sir Henry Rawlinson (1915 - 1916)
- General Sir Charles Monro (1916)
- General Sir Henry Horne (1916 - 1918)
Second World War
The First Army was formed to command the land forces of in Operation Torch, the assault landings in Morocco and Algeria on 8 November 1942, during World War II. It was commanded by Lieutenant General Sir Kenneth Anderson. First Army formally came into being on 1 January 1943 with the redesignation of the Eastern Task Force.
It initially consisted of British and American forces only. They were organised into three separate components, one for each landing site; Oran, Algiers and Casablanca. After the surrender of French forces, French units were also added to its order of battle. It eventually consisted of four corps, the U.S. II Corps, British V Corps , British IX Corps and French XIX Corps .
After the landings, Anderson's forces rushed east in a bid to capture the Tunisian shoreline before German forces could reach there in large numbers. They failed. After that failure, a period of consolidation was forced upon them. The logistics support for the Army was greatly improved and airfields for its supporting aircraft greatly multiplied. By the time the British Eighth Army approached the Tunisian border, following its long pursuit of Rommel's forces after El Alamein, 1st Army was again ready to strike.
Supported by elements of XII Tactical Air Command and RAF No. 242 Group , First Army carried the main weight of 18th Army Group's offensive to finish off Axis forces in North Africa. The victory was won by mid-1943 in a surrender that, in numbers captured at least, equalled Stalingrad. Shortly after the surrender, First Army disbanded, having served its purpose.
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