From his appointment on 1 May 1942 until 5 November 1943 Generalfeldmarschall Von Rundstedt was the sole commander of all German forces involved in the coastal defence of Western Europe in his function of Oberbefehlshaber West (Click for more information). From his headquarters at Saint Germain-en-Laye, near Paris, his command ranged from Skagen in the northernmost part of Denmark to the mediterranean coast of France. This changed on 5 november 1943, when Hitler appointed Generalfeldmarschall Rommel as commander of the newly-established Heeresgruppe B (26 November 1943) with orders to inspect and improve coastal defences in the above area in anticipation of an allied invasion.

 Generalfeldmarschall Von Rundstedt

This appointment naturally created confusion as to who was the highest in command in the Western theatre of operations. Hitler resolved the issue on 1 January 1944 by making Heeresgruppe B subordinate to Oberbefehlshaber West. Thus, on 1 June 1944, two army groups existed:

  • Armeegruppe G: (from 28 April 1944) commanded by Generaloberst Blaskowitz, with headquarters at Toulouse and comprising the Armeeoberkommando (AOK) 19, covering the French mediterranean coast, and AOK 1, stationed in the Pyrénées and along the Golfe de Gascogne.

  • Heeresgruppe B, commanded by Generalfeldmarschall Rommel with headquarters at La Roche-Guyon and made up of AOK 7, defending the areas of Bretagne and Basse-Normandie, AOK 15, guarding the coasts of Haute-Normandie, Picardie, Nord/Pas-de-Calais, Belgium, and finally the forces of the separate LXXXVIII Armeekorps under the command of the Wehrmachtsbefehlshaber in den Niederlanden, stationed along the Dutch coast.

 Generalfeldmarschall Rommel


The most potent of these corps was undoubtedly AOK 15 or 15 Armee. This army was positioned along the coasts most vulnerable to allied invasion. Originally, this was the area from Cabourg in Haute-Normandie to the Westerschelde on the Belgian-Dutch border. However, for strategic reasons this was later extended to include the Westerschelde estuary and the islands of Walcheren, Noord-Beveland, and Zuid-Beveland.

 Generaloberst von Salmuth

The general commanding Armeeoberkommando 15 on 1 June 1944 was Generaloberst von Salmuth, operating from his headquarters in Tourcoing. More details on the headquarters (including a photographic report). can be found here.

The army was further sub-divided in 4 army corps. From north to south these were:





Area of operations

LXXXIX Armeekorps General der Infanterie von und zu Gilsa Antwerpen Walcheren, Noord-Beveland, and Zuid-Beveland in the Netherlands; the Westerschelde estuary; and Belgium
LXXXII Armeekorps General der Artillerie Sinnhuber Aire-sur-la-Lys French-Belgian border to Boulogne-sur-Mer
LXVII Armeekorps General der Infanterie von Weikersthal Naours Boulogne-sur-Mer to Dieppe
LXXXI Armeekorps General der Panzertruppen Kuntzen Rouen Dieppe to Cabourg


The position of these corps and their headquarters can be seen on the following map:



Finally, the coasts guarded by Armeeoberkommando 15 were also divided in coastal defence sectors or Küstenverteitigungsabschnitte (KVA), with 1 division responsible for each sector or sub-sector, as shown in the following overview, the parts of which can be clicked for further information on the corps, sectors, or infantry divisions occupying them: