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World War II Index/Glossary of Terms


The first city in Germany to be captured by the Allies. It was taken in October 1944.


A.A.F. is the abbreviation for the Army Air Forces. USAFFE is the acronym for the U.S. Army Forces in the Far East; USAFISPA is for U.S. Army Forces in the South Pacific Area.

Admiralty Islands

The Admiralties are a group of Pacific islands taken by the Allies in late 1943 and early 1944 for air bases — including New Britain, Arawe, Cape Gloucester, and the Green Islands. These actions set the “leap-frogging” pattern for taking islands that would continue for the rest of the war.


American Expeditionary Forces.


U.S. Army Forces, Pacific.

Africa (North Africa)

The Allies invaded North Africa late in 1942 in order to relieve the pressure on the Russians, enlist French colonial troops trapped in the area (who initially fought the Allies in this attempt), to open the Mediterranean to Allied shipping, to shorten the route to the Far East, and to prepare the way for further operations against the Axis in Europe.

Air Supremacy

The control of the air space over a given area. See Stephen Ambrose’s discussion of Allied air supremacy in Normandy after D-Day.


Elite U.S. Army troops trained to parachute in behind enemy lines. Airborne paratroopers played key roles in the fights on D-Day, in Sicily and Italy, in the invasion of Holland; in the Battle of the Bulge; and in the final plunge into Germany.


Part of New Guinea in the Southwest Pacific, seized by General MacArthur with American and Australian forces from the Japanese in April 1944.

El Alamein

A location of a British offensive in North Africa that began on October 23, 1942.


This small southeastern European nation was invaded by Italy in April 1939. In December 1940, Greece invaded Italian-held Albania. When the Nazis defeated Greece the following year, Axis troops reoccupied the country. In November 1944 it was recaptured by the Allies.


A North African nation that was part of the French colonial empire before World War II. The Allies captured Algeria as part of the North African campaign that began November 8, 1942.