On 1 July 1945, Colonel Frank Howley arrived in Berlin with an advanced detachment of the U.S. Army. His mission was to build the American military administration in Berlin. In June 1944, only a few days after the Allied landing in Normandy, Howley had already been assigned to help establish a local government and administration in the French city of Cherbourg. A few weeks later, in August 1944, he had commanded an Anglo-American unit which had moved into occupied Paris along with the first combat troops.
In December 1944, Howley set up his headquarters in Barbizon, south of Paris, in order to prepare for the establishment of the military administration in Berlin. After the Berlin Garrison had surrendered on 2 May 1945, Berlin was completely under Soviet control for two months. The takeover of the West Berlin sectors by the three Western powers was planned for 4 July 1945. Howley commanded an advanced detachment of 500 officers and soldiers, with 120 vehicles. However, the Soviets only permitted 37 officers, 175 enlisted personnel and 50 vehicles to enter the city.
This was a first taste of the numerous disputes in the negotiations with the Soviet military administration which Howley, as director of the U.S. Military Government in Berlin, and, starting in December 1947, as the U.S. city commandant of Berlin, would find himself engaged in.
In March 1949, during the Berlin Airlift, Howley was promoted to brigadier general. After the end of the Berlin blockade, he left the city in the late summer of 1949 and returned to the United States. One year later, he published the memoirs of his time stationed in Berlin, under the title Berlin Command.