Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force

Supreme Headquarters,
Allied Expeditionary Force
SHAEF shoulder sleeve insignia
Active 1943–1945
Disbanded 14 July 1945
Country  United Kingdom
 United States
British Empire:
 New Zealand
 South Africa
Occupied Countries:
 Free France
Allegiance Allies
Type Combined Headquarters
Role Theater of Operations
Part of Combined Chiefs of Staff
Nickname(s) SHAEF
Engagements World War II
Supreme Commander Dwight D. Eisenhower
Deputy Supreme Commander Arthur Tedder

Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force (SHAEF; /ˈʃf/ 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 in command of SHAEF throughout its existence. The position itself shares a common lineage with Supreme Allied Commander Europe and Atlantic, but they are different titles.

History during the Second World War

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 remains 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, COSSAC (Chief of Staff to the Supreme Commander Allied Forces), and Major General Ray Barker.[1] 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.[2] and moulded it 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.[3] 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 Bradley was 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.[4] In February 1945, it moved to Rheims and on 26 April 1945, SHAEF moved to Frankfurt.[5]

Order of battle

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;

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.


Supreme Allied Commander General of the Army Dwight D. Eisenhower  United States Army
Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Air Chief Marshal Sir Arthur Tedder  Royal Air Force
Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Walter Bedell Smith  United States Army
Deputy Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Frederick E. Morgan  British Army
Chief Administrative Officer Lieutenant General Humfrey Gale  British Army
Deputy Chief of Staff (Air) Air Marshal James Robb  Royal Air Force
Air Vice Marshal Roderick Carr  Royal Air Force
Ground Forces Commanders Field Marshal Sir Bernard Montgomery  British Army
21st Army Group
Lieutenant General Omar Bradley  United States Army
12th Army Group
Lieutenant General Jacob L. Devers  United States Army
6th Army Group
Air Forces Commander Air Marshal Sir Trafford Leigh-Mallory  Royal Air Force
Naval Forces Commander Admiral Sir Bertram Ramsay.[6]  Royal Navy
French Representative General Marie-Pierre Kœnig
Soviet Representative General Ivan Susloparov

Belgium Paul Tschoffen

After World War II

After the surrender of Germany, SHAEF was dissolved on 14 July 1945 and, with respect to the US forces, was replaced by US Forces, European Theater (USFET).[5] USFET was reorganized as EUCOM (European Command, not to be confused with the present-day United States European Command) on 15 March 1947.[5][7]


  1. Harrison, Gordon A. (2002) [1951]. "Chapter II Outline Overlord". Cross Channel Attack. United States Army in World War II. United States Army Center of Military History. CMH Pub 7-4.
  2. See: Ambrose, Stephen E. (1994). D-Day. Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0-684-80137-X., page 71.
  3. Eisenhower moved to Normandy and set up an advance command post on the morning of 7 August 1944. See: Ambrose, Stephen E. (1997). Citizen Soldiers. Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0-7434-5015-9., page 92.
  4. Ambrose, Stephen E. (1997). Citizen Soldiers. Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0-7434-5015-9., page 199.
  5. 1 2 3 Linke, Vera (2 March 2002). "Das I.G. Farbenhaus – Ein Bau der, deutsche Geschichte widerspiegelt (The IG Farben Building – A building that reflects German History)". Transcript of lecture given in Frankfurt Archive No.K20840 (in German). Retrieved 2006-07-18.
  6. "Unity of Command – Normandy Invasions". Archived from the original on 2007-12-02. Retrieved 2007-09-23.
  7. USAREUR history website
  • Winters, Major Dick, with Cole C. Kingseed (2006). Beyond Band of Brothers: The War Memoirs of Major Dick Winters. Berkley Hardcover. ISBN 978-0-425-20813-7., page 210.
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