Normandy to Victory: The War Diary of General Courtney H. Hodges and the First U.S. Army
The war diary of General Courtney Hicks Hodges begins on June 2, 1944, as Hodges and the U.S. First Army prepare for Operation Overlord, the Allied invasion of France. Hodges’ aides, Major William C. Sylvan and Captain Francis G. Smith Jr., recorded daily entries, which Hodges reviewed and approved. The diary chronicles Hodges’s ascent to Commanding General in August 1944, as well as his viewpoints on strategy and the enemy, and follows Hodges and the First Army through savage European combat until the German surrender in May 1945. Edited and extensively annotated by John T. Greenwood, Normandy to Victory makes a classic military document widely available to the general public for the first time.
During World War II, U.S. Army generals often maintained diaries of their activities and the day-to-day operations of their command. These diaries have proven to be invaluable historical resources for World War II scholars and enthusiasts alike. Until now, one of the most historically significant of these diaries, the one kept for General Courtney H. Hodges of the First U.S. Army, has not been widely available to the public. Maintained by two of Hodges’s aides, Major William C. Sylvan and Captain Francis G. Smith Jr., this unique military journal offers a vivid, firsthand account detailing the actions, decisions, and daily activities of General Hodges and the First Army throughout the war. The diary opens on June 2, 1944, as Hodges and the First Army prepare for the Allied invasion of France. In the weeks and months that follow, the diary highlights the crucial role that Hodges’s often undervalued command—the first to cross the German border, the first to cross the Rhine, the first to close to the Elbe—played in the Allied operations in northwest Europe. The diary recounts the First Army’s involvement in the fight for France, the Siegfried Line campaign, the Battle of the Bulge, the drive to the Roer River, and the crossing of the Rhine, following Hodges and his men through savage European combat until the German surrender in May 1945. Popularly referred to as the “Sylvan Diary,” after its primary writer, the diary has previously been available only to military historians and researchers, who were permitted to use it at only the Dwight D. Eisenhower Library, the U.S. Army Center for Military History, or the U.S. Army Military History Institute. Retired U.S. Army historian John T. Greenwood has now edited this text in its entirety and added a biography of General Hodges as well as extensive notes that clarify the diary’s historical details. Normandy to Victory provides military history enthusiasts with valuable insights into the thoughts and actions of a leading American commander whose army played a crucial role in the Allied successes of World War II.
John T. Greenwood, retired Chief of the Office of Medical History, Office of the Surgeon General, U.S. Army, is the author of Medics at War: Military Medicine from Colonial Times to the Twenty-first Century and Milestones of Aviation.
"Normandy to Victory is an essential source for anyone examining the story of the U.S. Army in Northwest Europe in 1944 and 1945. From D-Day through the pursuit across France and the Battle of the Bulge to the bridge at Remagen, this diary shows the inner workings of the only American field army headquarters present for the entire campaign."--David W. Hogan, Jr., author of A Command Post at War: First Army Headquarters in Europe, 1943-1945
“Normandy to Victory” is a fascinating book, filled with detail and immensely useful to anyone trying to understand the Allied campaign in Northern Europe during World War II. John T. Greenwood has done an excellent job of editing the diary as well as the terms, military equipment and obscure references that the general reader might not understand." --J. W. Thacker, Bowling Green Daily News
“…Greenwood…has meticulously annotated and documented the diary, enabling readers to gain important insights into both the war and Hodges command style and leadership. Long needed, this is a vitally important work for understanding the war in the West in 1944-45.” --R.P. Hallion, Choice
"John T. Greenwood has done an excellent job editing Hodges’s headquarters diary. Normandy to Victory is a significant resource for understanding how an American army fought in northwest Europe, and it is an important contribution to the published literature of the Second World War." --The Journal of America’s Military Past
"First and foremost a terrific book that provides new insight into the relatively overlooked 1st Army and the significant role played by its commander, General Hodges." --Parameters
"Courtney Hodges is among the least known, yet most important, American generals of World War II. . . During the war, two of the general's aides, Major William Sylvan and Captain Francis Smith, kept a detailed diary recording the everyday decisions, activities, and experiences of Hodges and his First Army staff. . . John Greenwood. . . took it upon himself to transcribe and edit that diary for publication. The result is this handsome, and useful, volume that historians will value for its convenient access to the inner workings of Hodges and his First Army staff." -- Global War Studies
Named a 2009 Choice Outstanding Academic Title.
Winner of the 2009 Distinguished Writing Award from the Army Historical Foundation.