Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force

  (Redirected from SHAEF)

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 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.

Supreme Headquarters,
Allied Expeditionary Force
SHAEF Shoulder Patch.svg
SHAEF shoulder sleeve insignia
Disbanded14 July 1945
Countries United Kingdom
 United States
 New Zealand
 South Africa
Occupied countries:
Belgium Belgium
Czechoslovakia Czechoslovakia
 Free France
Kingdom of Greece Greece
Luxembourg Luxembourg
Netherlands Netherlands
Norway Norway
Poland Poland
Kingdom of Yugoslavia Yugoslavia
TypeCombined Headquarters
RoleTheater of Operations
Part ofCombined Chiefs of Staff
EngagementsWorld War II
Supreme CommanderDwight D. Eisenhower
Deputy Supreme CommanderArthur Tedder
SHAEF commanders at a conference in London
Left to right: Lieutenant General Omar N. Bradley, Admiral Sir Bertram Ramsay, Air Chief Marshal Sir Arthur Tedder, General Dwight D. Eisenhower, General Sir Bernard Montgomery, Air Chief Marshal Sir Trafford Leigh-Mallory and Lieutenant General Walter Bedell Smith

History during the Second World WarEdit

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 called Shaef Gate, remain to this day.[1] 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.[2] 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[3] 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.[4] 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.[5] In February 1945, it moved to Reims and, on 26 May 1945, SHAEF moved to Frankfurt.[6]

Order of battleEdit

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.


Name Photo Branch
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
Deputy Chief of Staff
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 Force Commander-in-Chief Air Marshal Sir Trafford Leigh-Mallory     Royal Air Force
Deputy Air Force Commander-in-Chief Major General Hoyt Vandenberg     United States Army Air Force
Naval Forces Commander Admiral Sir Bertram Ramsay.[7]     Royal Navy
French Representative General Marie-Pierre Kœnig
Soviet Representative General Ivan Susloparov  


Nation Name Branch Title
Major-General George Erskine   British Army Head of the Mission
  France Major-General John Taylor Lewis   United States Army Head of the Mission
Major-General Harold Redman   British Army Deputy Head of the Mission
  Netherlands Major-General John George Walters Clark   British Army Head of the Mission
Brigadier General George P. Howell   United States Army Deputy Head of the Mission

Post-World War II successorsEdit

After the surrender of Germany, SHAEF was dissolved on 14 July 1945.


With respect to the U.S. forces, it was replaced by U.S. Forces, European Theater (USFET).[6] USFET was reorganized as EUCOM (European Command, not to be confused with the present-day United States European Command) on 15 March 1947.[6][8]

1948–1951: Western UnionEdit

The 1948–1951 Western Union Defence Organization's (WUDO) command structure was largely patterned on SHAEF's structure.[9]

1951–present: Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe/Allied Command OperationsEdit

Starting in April 1951 when the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) cannibalised WUDO, it was put under the command of Supreme Allied Commander Europe Dwight D. Eisenhower in Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE; Allied Command Europe [ACE]), comprising many of the same allies that were part of SHAEF. WUDO, followed by SHAPE, were in many respects the successors to SHAEF.

SHAPE is currently the headquarters of NATO's Allied Command Operations (ACO). Since 1967 it has been located at Casteau, north of the Belgian city of Mons,[10] but it had previously been located, from 1953, at Rocquencourt, next to Versailles, France.

From 1951 to 2003, SHAPE was the headquarters of Allied Command Europe (ACE). Since 2003 it has been the headquarters of ACO, controlling all NATO operations worldwide.

2017–present: Military Planning and Conduct CapabilityEdit

The European Union has established a Military Planning and Conduct Capability (MPCC), which is due to gain more tasks and may rival SHAPE's dominance as the primary forum for multinational European missions.

Notes and referencesEdit


  1. ^ "Shaef Gate - Bushy Park - Hampton". Traces of War. Retrieved 10 August 2019.
  2. ^ 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.
  3. ^ See: Ambrose, Stephen E. (1994). D-Day. Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0-684-80137-X., page 71.
  4. ^ 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.
  5. ^ Ambrose, Stephen E. (1997). Citizen Soldiers. Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0-7434-5015-9., page 199.
  6. ^ a b c 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 18 July 2006.
  7. ^ "Unity of Command – Normandy Invasions". Archived from the original on 2 December 2007. Retrieved 23 September 2007.
  8. ^ USAREUR history website
  9. ^ Maloney, Sean M. (1995). Secure Command of the Sea: NATO Command Organization and Planning for the Cold War at Sea, 1945-1954. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. pp. 66–67. ISBN 1-55750-562-4.
  10. ^ SHAPE, 7010 Casteau Belgium "SHAPE on NATO homepage". Retrieved 12 March 2006.


  • 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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