Liberation of the Champagne region, WW2

DSJ

LE
A question to those in the know - when I was still serving I heard of a Cavalry Regiment maintaining an extremely friendly relationship with one of the Champagne houses, being the Regiment that liberated them/first came across them as France was being liberated and the Germans withdrawing. Are there any cavalrymen who can confirm, deny or expand on this story?

Also could anyone point me in the direction of useful links about the war and the liberation of the Champagne region?

Many thanks!


DSJ
 
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The 'Champagne Campaign' was conducted on the Allies' side by the US 6th Army Group comprising the US 7th and French 1st Armies. No British land forces were involved.
 
The 'Champagne Campaign' was conducted on the Allies' side by the US 6th Army Group comprising the US 7th and French 1st Armies. No British land forces were involved.
Wynford Vaughn Thomas told an amusing story about the reluctance of de Lattre de Tassigny's Frenchmen to damage the great vineyards of Champagne and Burgundy

“There came a moment,” he recounts, “when the French Army paused and I remember dear general Alexander Patch saying to me, ‘Mr Thomas, you know a little bit more about the French. Why aren’t they advancing?’

“I looked at the map, and realised we were at the beginning of the Burgundy vineyard country. They were studying it because it would be tragic if they fought through the great vineyards of Burgundy – France would never forgive them and they paused.

“Then, a young sous-lieuteant arrived and said, ‘Courage, my generals – I’ve found the weak spots of the German defences: every one is in a vineyard of inferior quality.’ The general made up his mind, ‘j’attaque!’ and for three days we fought through the cellars and I emerged on the other side and found we had liberated Burgundy.”
 

Yarra

War Hero
I know that 1 Sqn RAF has an 'adopted' Champagne house (SW of Rheims) - but I believe the connection goes back to WW1 (RFC), not WW2.

Y
 

DSJ

LE
Wynford Vaughn Thomas told an amusing story about the reluctance of de Lattre de Tassigny's Frenchmen to damage the great vineyards of Champagne and Burgundy

“There came a moment,” he recounts, “when the French Army paused and I remember dear general Alexander Patch saying to me, ‘Mr Thomas, you know a little bit more about the French. Why aren’t they advancing?’

“I looked at the map, and realised we were at the beginning of the Burgundy vineyard country. They were studying it because it would be tragic if they fought through the great vineyards of Burgundy – France would never forgive them and they paused.

“Then, a young sous-lieuteant arrived and said, ‘Courage, my generals – I’ve found the weak spots of the German defences: every one is in a vineyard of inferior quality.’ The general made up his mind, ‘j’attaque!’ and for three days we fought through the cellars and I emerged on the other side and found we had liberated Burgundy.”

Thank you - do you have a link to the source material for this?
 
The commander of the 6th Army Group was an interesting character. This is his intro in Wankipedia, which says that Jacob Devers 'was a general in the United States Army who commanded the 6th Army Group in the European Theater during World War II. He was involved in the development and adoption of numerous weapons, including the M4 Sherman and M26 Pershing tanks, the DUKW amphibious truck, the Bell H-13 Sioux helicopter and the M16 rifle.

A graduate of the United States Military Academy, Devers was commissioned in the field artillery in 1909. During World War I, he was an instructor at the School of Fire at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and did not serve in France until after the November 11 armistice ended the fighting, when he attended the French artillery school at Treves. Between the two world wars he was a staunch advocate of mechanization at a time when the idea of phasing out horses met strong resistance from conservative gunners.

When World War II broke out in Europe, Devers was stationed in Panama. He was promoted to major general in October 1940 and took command of the newly formed 9th Infantry Division at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, a base whose construction he oversaw. Appointed Chief of the Armored Force in August 1941, he supervised its expansion from four armored divisions to sixteen. He was an articulate proponent of the emerging tactical doctrine of combined arms, and rejected the American doctrine that held that tanks were for exploitation, not for fighting other tanks. He pressed American industry to produce more powerful engines, and, often against the views of his superiors, pushed the development of the M4 Sherman, a medium tank with a 75mm gun. Not satisfied with the Sherman, he called for still more heavily armed and armored tanks. He wanted 250 of the new M26 Pershing tanks for Operation Overlord, but was overruled.

In May 1943, Devers became European Theater of Operations, United States Army (ETOUSA) commander. His principal tasks were overseeing preparation of detailed plans and the buildup of men and materiel for Overlord, and supporting the Combined Bomber Offensive. He clashed with General Dwight D. Eisenhower over the diversion of ETOUSA resources to Eisenhower's North African Theater of Operations. Eisenhower succeeded him at ETOUSA in January 1944, and Devers went to the Mediterranean as Commander North African Theater of Operations, United States Army (NATOUSA), and Deputy Supreme Allied Commander, Mediterranean Theater, to British General Sir Henry Maitland Wilson. Devers was involved in the organization, planning and leadership of Operation Dragoon, the invasion of southern France in August 1944. He led the 6th Army Group in France and Germany through the advance to the Rhine, the German counterattack in Operation Northwind, the operations to reduce the Colmar Pocket and the Western Allied invasion of Germany. After the war he commanded the Army Ground Forces.'

His command and technical qualifications for the role that was given to Eisenhower were outstanding, but a) Ike hated him and b) also had the ear of Marshall, so......
 

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