Hetzer abandoned at Kesternich, 1944

Hetzer abandoned at Kesternich, 1944

Hetzer abandoned at Kesternich, 1944

A frontal view of a late production Jagdpanze 38t Hetzer tank destroyer that has been knocked out during heavy fighting at Kesternich during the Battle of the Bulge. This Hetzer has the light-weight gun mantle used on later vehicles.


Wehrmacht forces for the Ardennes Offensive

The Wehrmacht forces for the Ardennes Offensive were the product of a German recruitment effort targeting German males between the ages of 16 and 60, to replace troops lost during the past five months of fighting the Western Allies on the Western Front. Although the Wehrmacht (German Armed Forces) was keeping the Allied forces contained along the Siegfried Line, the campaign had cost the Wehrmacht nearly 750,000 casualties, mostly irreplaceable. However, the rapid advance of the Allied armies in August and September after Operation Overlord had created a supply problem for the Allies. By October, the progress of the Western Allies' three army groups had slowed considerably, allowing the Germans to partly rebuild their strength and prepare for the defense of Germany itself. Adolf Hitler decided that the only way to reverse his fortunes would be to launch a counter-offensive on the Western Front, forcing both the United States and Great Britain to an early peace, and allowing the Wehrmacht to shift its forces to the Eastern Front, where it could defeat the much larger Soviet Red Army.

Hitler earmarked three field armies for the offensive: the 7th and the Fifth and Sixth Panzer. These accumulated over 240,000 soldiers, spread over seven panzer divisions, two panzer brigades and thirteen infantry divisions. The bulk of the offensive's armored strength was in the Sixth Panzer Army, which was tasked with the capture of the Belgian port of Antwerp. To its south was the Fifth Panzer Army, outfitted to protect the Sixth's flank while it crossed the Meuse river. The southernmost flank was covered by the Seventh Army, composed of three infantry corps and ordered to protect the Fifth Army's southern flank and tie down American reserves in Luxembourg.

Apart from these three armies the Wehrmacht also designed two special units to aid the offensive. One of these was a battalion-sized airborne formation tasked with dropping behind American lines during the first day of the offensive, allowing a panzer division from the Sixth Panzer Army easy access across the Meuse. The second unit was a panzer brigade, intending to go behind enemy lines dressed in American uniforms to give false orders and spread confusion among American defenders in the Ardennes. Also earmarked for the offensive were around 800 aircraft, deployed by the Luftwaffe (German Air Force), to provide air support to German forces and destroy much of the Allied air power on the ground.

To prepare these forces the Oberkommando der Wehrmacht (German High Command) increased the call-up age range and recruited from Eastern European countries controlled by German forces, increasing manpower on the Western Front from roughly 400,000 to just over one million soldiers. Hastily organized into new divisions, these infantrymen lacked training and sometimes even weapons. Despite an immense German effort in the face of intense Allied bombing to build the necessary stocks for the offensive, there were shortages of fuel, ammunition, weapons and manpower by the scheduled date of the counterattack. Even the elite Waffen-SS divisions were often deficient in manpower.


Contents

Prior to the Battle of the Bulge, the U.S. Army was engaged in a campaign to attack the Roer River dams before invading the rest of Germany. The green 99th Infantry Division was supporting the battle-weary 2nd Infantry Division in their attack on the German West Wall at Wahlerscheid. During two days of hard fighting, the U.S. Army had finally managed to slip through the heavily fortified lines and penetrate the German defenses. The Americans were expecting a counterattack in the area, but their intelligence completely failed to detect the Germans' movement of hundreds of armored vehicles and tens of thousands of infantry into the region. Much of the region was relatively quiet, lending the area the title of "Ghost Front." [3] : 44

During early December 1944, the American defensive line in the Ardennes had a gap south of Losheimergraben. General Leonard T. Gerow, in command of V Corps, recognized this area as a possible avenue of attack by the Germans. [5] This area, which lay between V Corps and Troy H. Middleton's VIII Corps, was undefended and just patrolled by jeep. The patrols in the northern part of the area were conducted by the 99th Infantry Division's 394th Intelligence and Reconnaissance Platoon, whereas those in the south were conducted by the 18th Cavalry Squadron, 14th Cavalry Group, which was attached to the 106th Infantry Division.

In the border area between Germany and Belgium, there was only one road network that could support a military advance: it was through the area known as the Losheim Gap, a 5 miles (8.0 km) long, narrow valley at the western foot of the Schnee Eifel. This was the key route through which the German Sixth and Fifth Panzer Armies planned to advance. [5]

On December 11, General Walter M. Robertson, commander of the battle-hardened 2nd Infantry Division, was ordered to attack and seize the Roer River dams. In case he had to pull back, he chose Elsenborn Ridge as his defensive line. General Walter E. Lauer, commanding the 99th Infantry Division, was charged with building up the defenses around Elsenborn Ridge. Lauer knew his front was extremely long and very thinly manned he gave instructions to his division to dig in and build cover for their foxholes. [5]

Inexperienced American units Edit

The troops of the 99th Infantry Division, who lacked battle experience, were deployed to the Ardennes in November 1944, with the 394th Regiment relieving the 60th Regiment of the 9th Infantry Division. Among the units was the 394th I&R platoon, consisting of well-trained soldiers who had been selected because they were expert marksmen and in peak physical condition. [3] [6] Some of the men were college-educated and were former members of the U.S. Army's abruptly terminated ASTP program. This platoon was led by 20-year-old Lieutenant Lyle Bouck, one of the youngest officers in the Army, [7] and the second youngest man in the unit. [8] : 84 For the next few weeks his platoon established and maintained regimental listening and observation posts, conducted patrols behind enemy lines, and gathered information. They lived in a brick building in Hünningen, taking advantage of a basement full of potatoes and a homemade stove to supplement their military C-rations. [3]

The platoon consisted of two nine-man reconnaissance squads and a seven-man headquarters section, which was attached to the 394th Regiment's S2 section. [9] [10] As the platoon was not intended, nor trained, for combat, they were told to avoid direct engagement with the Germans. Nonetheless, they took part in several missions behind enemy lines, even as far as Losheim, 2 miles (3.2 km) behind the front line, to capture enemy soldiers for intelligence. Bouck and several of his men were among the first soldiers in their regiment to be recognized with the Combat Infantry Badge. [4] [9] Most often their patrols consisted of creeping through snow-clogged defiles obscured by fog in an attempt to fix enemy positions. [3]

On December 10, the reconnaissance platoon was ordered by Major Robert Kriz, commanding officer of the 394th Infantry Regiment, to a new position about 6 miles (9.7 km) southeast of Hünningen, near Lanzerath, Belgium, a village of 23 homes and a church. The village lay at a critical road junction in the northern part of the Losheim Gap. The 25 men were charged by Kriz with plugging a 5 miles (8.0 km) gap in the front line between the 106th Division to the south and the 99th Division to the north. The only reserve was the 394th Infantry Regiment's 3rd Battalion, which was at Bucholz Station. Behind them lay roads that could give the enemy rapid access to the Army's rear and allow them to easily flank the thinly deployed 99th Division. [3] : 58

American defensive preparations Edit

The I&R platoon took over positions on a ridge top immediately northwest of Lanzerath that were formerly occupied by part of the 2nd Infantry Division. They were ordered to improve their foxhole positions and maintain contact with Task Force X, made up of 55 troops manning four towed three-inch guns from the 2nd Platoon, Company A, 820th Tank Destroyer Battalion. The 820th was attached to the 14th Cavalry Group, 106th Infantry Division of VIII Corps. The I&R platoon and the 820th TD were reinforced by the 22 men of the 820th's 2nd Recon Platoon, commanded by Lieutenant John Arculeer, who were mounted on an armored half-track and two jeeps. [11] : 25 Members of the 2nd Platoon took up positions in two homes in the village of Lanzerath about 200 yards (180 m) to the southeast. Together, the two units comprised the foremost units in their sector of the American forces facing the Siegfried Line. [12]

The Americans attacked through the Siegfried Line at Walerscheid about 5 miles (8.0 km) to the north, and a localized counterattack was expected. Lieutenant Bouck followed procedure and ordered his men to build fortifications with interlocking fields of fire. Taking advantage of the foxholes left by the previous unit, they dug them deeper so that two or three men could stand in them and fire from the concealed edges. They covered each hole with pine logs 8 inches (20 cm) to 12 inches (30 cm) thick. Their hilltop location was just inside the edge of a forest and overlooked a pasture bisected by a 4-foot (1.2 m) high barbed wire fence parallel to their location. [12] Their position covered about 300 yards (270 m) along a shallow ridge line, about 30 feet (9.1 m) in enfilade position above the road and 200 yards (180 m) northwest of the village. Their foxholes were situated in a shallow curve along the ridge line in a northeast direction, almost to a fork in the road at their left flank. [3] Snow fell, covering their dug-in fortifications inside the woods, leaving them virtually invisible from the road below. [3] : 330

They took advantage of a small log hut behind their position, which they used as a warming hut. Bouck had augmented the unit's weaponry with four extra carbines, two Browning automatic rifles, and one light .30 caliber machine gun. Outside official channels, he had also traded his unit's collection of German memorabilia with an ordnance supply officer for an armored Jeep with a mounted .50 caliber machine gun. [3] [4] His men dug an emplacement for the armored jeep and its .50 caliber gun, placing it in enfilade down the road along the Germans' possible line of advance.

Once an hour, in an attempt to fill the gap in their sector, they ran a jeep patrol up and down the line to stay in contact with units on their right and left flanks and to watch for any enemy movement. [2] They hoped they would be relieved soon: "We weren't trained to occupy a defensive position in the front lines. We were trained to patrol and get information about the enemy," Bouck said in an interview 60 years later. [13] On the night of December 16, they heard the clanking of armor and the sound of vehicles in the distance. Bouck ordered his men to remain awake. The temperature ranged from 20 °F (−7 °C) to the low 30 °F (−1 °C) [ clarification needed ] during the day. [14]

German plans Edit

Many of the German units were recent conscripts with very little experience. Sergeant Vinz Kuhlbach's platoon was typical. [15] Most of his soldiers had little combat experience and even less training. The German units had been formed by conscripting teenage boys and men over 50, men previously rejected as physically unfit for service, wounded soldiers newly released from hospitals, and men transferred from the "jobless" personnel of the shrinking Kriegsmarine and Luftwaffe. The German 3rd Fallschirmjäger Division, which had previously acquired a superb combat reputation, [5] had been virtually destroyed during the Normandy Invasion in the Falaise pocket. It had been resurrected by using replacements from the 22nd, 51st, and 53rd Luftwaffe Field Regiments. [16] The German units were usually organized around small cadres of seasoned veterans. Although they carried the new StG 44 and were equipped with rifle grenades, few had ever fired them in combat. The German recruits were told the American soldiers they faced would not have the nerve to stand and fight. Their officers said the Americans were "a gum-chewing, undisciplined half-breed with no stomach for real war." [15]

To preserve the available armor, the infantry of the 9th Fallschirmjäger Regiment, 3rd Fallschirmjäger Division, had been ordered to lead the attack through Lanzerath and clear the village before advancing towards Honsfeld and then Büllingen. The German commanders estimated they would face a full division of U.S. troops at Büllingen. [17]

Kampfgruppe Peiper's initial position was in the forest around Blankenheim, Germany east of the German-Belgium border and the Siegfried Line. [18] Once the infantry captured Lanzerath, Sepp Dietrich's Sixth Panzer Army led by Kampfgruppe Peiper would proceed without delay. The infantry would then secure the right flank of the attack route near Losheimergraben. Peiper's goal was to cross the Meuse River at Huy, Belgium.

Despite the losses that had brought the Allies to the border of their homeland, German morale was surprisingly strong. [17] The men knew the Allies were demanding an unconditional surrender. They were now fighting for the fatherland, defending the soil of their country, not just fighting for Hitler. [17]

Dietrich knew the plan had flaws. The Germans had captured the same terrain during the summer of 1940 in three days. Now they were being asked to do it in winter in five days. The plan counted on bad weather to keep the Allied planes grounded. Dietrich only had one-quarter the fuel they needed their plan counted on capturing Allied fuel depots and keeping to an ambitious timetable. Dietrich's assigned route (or Rollbahn) included narrow roads – in many places single-tracks – which would force units of the Kampfgruppe to tail each other, creating a column of infantry and armor up to 25 kilometres (16 mi) long. The roads would prevent the attackers from concentrating their forces in the blitzkrieg fashion which had served them so well in the past. [17] The main roads designated for their use had many hairpin turns and traversed steep hillsides that would delay his already slow-moving towed artillery and bridging trains. [17] Dietrich knew that a determined fight at one of these critical choke points by even a token U.S. force could seriously impede his schedule. When Hitler's operations officer Generaloberst Alfred Jodl gave him his orders, Dietrich yelled, "I'm a general, not a bloody undertaker!" [17]

German barrage Edit

On December 16, 1944, at 05:30, the Germans launched a 90-minute artillery barrage using 1,600 artillery pieces [17] across an 80-mile (130 km) front, although the American platoon was only aware of what was happening in their sector. Their first impression was that this was the anticipated counterattack resulting from the Allies' recent attack in the Wahlerscheid crossroads to the north where the 2nd Division had knocked a sizable dent into the Siegfried Line. [2] Bouck later said:

Suddenly, without warning, a barrage of artillery registered at about 0530 hours and continued until about 0700 hours. The artillery was relentless and frightening, but not devastating. Much landed short, wide and long of our position, and mostly tree bursts. At any rate, our well-protected cover prevented casualties. The telephone lines were knocked out, but our one radio allowed us to report to regiment. I called regiment and told them, ‘the TDs are pulling out, what should we do?’ The answer was loud and clear: ‘Hold at all costs!’ [19]

Many shells exploded in the trees, sending shards of steel and wood into the ground, but the men were protected by their reinforced foxholes. [14] [15] The German guns cut deep holes the size of trucks in the pasture. [15]

German advance Edit

German infantry began to advance near Losheim before the artillery barrage lifted, preparing to cross the front line as soon as it ended. They marched under the glow of massive searchlights, bouncing light off the clouds. The armor was located farther back, near Blankenheim, Germany. At 8:00, as the sun rose, the American platoon heard explosions and guns around Buchholz Station and Losheimergraben to the east and north where the 3rd and 1st Battalions of the 394th Infantry Division were located. The 55 soldiers of U.S. 2nd Platoon, Company A, 820th Tank Destroyer Battalion, 14th Cavalry Group was initially ordered south to help protect Manderfeld, [3] but shortly afterwards were redirected to join the active battle near Buchholz Station. They withdrew from the village and left without contacting the I&R platoon. This left the platoon as the only unit in the sector and without armor support. [3]

Bouck sent James, Slape and Creger to set up an observation post in a house on the eastern side of the village that had been abandoned by Task Force X. [15] Accompanying them, he spotted in the dawn light a long column of what appeared to be about 500 German troops headed toward them from the east. Their distinctive helmet style told Bouck they were Fallschirmjäger, among the best soldiers Germany could field. None of his training or experience prepared him for this situation, outnumbered as he was by perhaps 20 to 1. Bouck and James scrambled back to the ridge top and the rest of their unit. The platoon's telephone land line to 1st Battalion headquarters in Losheimergraben was knocked out, but their SCR-300 radio still worked. Bouck reached Regimental headquarters at Hünningen on the radio and requested permission to withdraw and engage in a delaying action. He was told to "remain in position and reinforcements from the 3rd Battalion will come to support you." [19]

In town, Creger watched as a forward element of the German infantry advanced, with weapons slung, into Lanzerath. They obviously did not expect to encounter any Americans. Creger radioed Bouck and told him of the Germans advancing through Lanzerath on the road between Creger and Bouck's position. Bouck sent Robinson, McGeehee and Silvola to assist Creger, who crept down to the Bucholz Station road and thence up a ditch towards Lanzerath. Before the three men reached Creger, he left the village using a more direct route. As he returned to the American lines, he engaged and killed or wounded most of a German platoon. [1] : 81

On the eastern side of the road, Robinson, McGeehee and Silvola attempted to rejoin their platoon, but found the way blocked by German soldiers who threatened to flank them. They decided to head for Losheimergraben and seek reinforcements. They crossed a 20 feet (6.1 m) deep railroad cut and once on the far side encountered soldiers from Fusilier Regiment 27 of the 12th Volksgrenadier Division. Trying to outflank the 1st Battalion, 394th Infantry Regiment in Losheimergraben, they spotted the three men. After a brief firefight, Robinson and McGeehee were wounded and all three were captured. [3]

Germans entered the home that Creger and Slape were using as an observation post. Slape climbed into the attic, while Creger only had time to hide behind a door. He pulled the pin on a grenade as the door knob jammed into his ribs. Bullets from the I&R platoon struck the building, and the Germans suddenly left. Creger and Slape exited by the back door and ducked into a nearby cowshed. They crossed a field and then found themselves in a minefield. Picking their way forward, they circled through the woods until they encountered a handful of Germans. Opening fire, they killed them. Creger and Slape spotted Bouck and Milosevich across the road and sprinted towards them, drawing German fire. They made it back to their ridge-top position and Bouck called Regimental Headquarters. He requested artillery support, but when he reported the German column advancing on his position, the voice on the other end of the radio told him "he must be seeing things". Bouck told them he had 20-20 vision and demanded artillery fire on the road in front of his unit. [3]

U.S. artillery unavailable Edit

The platoon's position at the southern end of the 99th Division's sector was not only outside their own regimental boundary, it was outside their Division's boundary and V Corps boundary. The division prioritized artillery fire for targets within its boundary. [15] Bouck waited in vain for the sound of incoming artillery. He called Regimental Headquarters again, asking for directions. He was told to "hold at all costs," which essentially meant until dead or captured. Bouck knew that if his platoon gave way, the 99th Division's right flank, already thin and undermanned, could be in grave danger. [3] : 93 [15]

Four members of a Forward Observation Team from Battery C, 371st Field Artillery had been in the village when the Tank Destroyer unit withdrew. Lieutenant Warren Springer and the other three men, Sergeant Peter Gacki, T/4 Willard Wibben, and T/5 Billy Queen joined Bouck's unit on the ridge where they could continue to observe the enemy movement. Bouck distributed them among the foxholes to help reload magazines and reinforce their position. [15]

Radio operator James Fort attempted to contact headquarters on the SCR-284 radio mounted on a jeep by the command post and found that German martial music jammed the channel. He then used a side-channel and Morse code, hoping the Germans weren't listening, to send a status report to regimental headquarters. [20]

Platoon's defensive action Edit

As the German forces moved through Lanzerath and in front of their positions, Bouck and his men allowed lead members of the unit to pass, hoping to surprise the Germans. They were preparing to fire on three men who they believed were the Regiment's officers when a girl from the village emerged from one of the homes. Talking to the officers, she pointed in their general direction. An officer yelled a command, and the paratroopers jumped for ditches on either side of the road. The Americans thought she had given their position away and fired on the Germans, wounding several. (In October 2006, more than 50 years later, a writer found the now adult woman, still living in the village. She told him she did not know the Americans were still in the area, and was pointing out the direction the Tank Destroyer unit had departed, towards Bucholz Station. [14] )

The German infantry deployed and about two platoons of the 2nd Company, 1st Battalion, 9th Fallschirmjäger Regiment, 3rd Fallschirmjäger Division then attacked [1] : 81 the Americans head-on, bunched together in the open and charging straight up the hill, directly at the platoon's hidden and fortified positions. The Americans were surprised at the inexperienced tactics. For the Americans, it was like "shooting clay ducks in California at an amusement park." [3] : 99 Several attackers were killed trying to climb over the 4 feet (1.2 m)-high barbed wire fence that bisected the field, often shot at close range with a single shot to the heart or head. Lt. Springer used his jeep-mounted SCR-610 radio to call in coordinates for artillery fire. A few shells landed near the road outside Lanzerath, but they did not hinder the German attack. His jeep was then struck by machine gun or mortar fire and his radio was destroyed. [3] : 94

Slape and Milosevich fired continually, as fast as they could reload. Slape thought the Germans were mad to attack in such a suicidal manner, straight across the open field. He later recalled that it was one of the "most beautiful fields of fire" he had ever seen. After only about 30 seconds, the firing stopped. Nearly all of the attacking Germans had been killed or wounded. [3] : 95 McConnell, shot in the shoulder, was the only American casualty. [20]

During a second attack made around 11:00 am, Milosevich fired the .50 caliber jeep-mounted machine gun until enemy fire drove him back into his foxhole. In both the first and second attack that morning no German soldier got past the fence in the middle of the field. Bodies were piled around it. German medics waved a white flag late in the morning and indicated they wanted to remove the wounded, which the American defenders allowed. However, during the ceasefire American soldiers noticed that the German medics were entering coordinates for the American position, nullifying the ceasefire. The Americans again suffered only one wounded on the second attack, when Pvt. Kalil was struck in the face by a rifle grenade that failed to explode. [20]

The Germans mounted a third attack late in the afternoon, around 3:00. Several times German soldiers attempted to penetrate the American lines. The Americans left their foxholes and in close combat fired on the attackers to push them back down the hill. At one point PFC Milsovech spotted a medic working on and talking to a soldier he felt certain was already dead. As mortar fire on his position got more accurate, Milsovech noticed a pistol on the supposed medic's belt, and decided he must be calling in fire on their position. He shot and killed him. [3] Bouck contacted Regimental Headquarters once more, seeking reinforcements. [6] At 3:50, Fort sent the unit's last update to Regimental headquarters in Hünningen. He reported they were still receiving some artillery fire but were holding their position against an estimated enemy strength of about 75, who were attempting to advance from Lanzerath towards the railroad to the northwest. [11] : 33

As dusk approached and their ammunition ran dangerously low, Bouck feared they could be flanked at any time. He planned to pull his men back just before dusk, when they would have enough light to escape through the woods. Bouck ordered his men to remove the distributor caps from their Jeeps and to prepare to evacuate to the rear. He dispatched Corporal Sam Jenkins and PFC Preston through the woods to locate Major Kriz at Regimental HQ and seek instructions or reinforcements. [21]

Bouck tried to contact Regimental headquarters on the SCR-300 radio for instructions. A sniper shot the radio as Bouck held it to his ear. The sniper also hit the SCR-284 radio mounted in the Jeep behind Bouck, eliminating any possibility of calling for reinforcements or instructions. [12]

The German troops were reluctant to attack head on once again, and Sergeant Vinz Kulbach pleaded with the officers of the 9th Fallschirmjäger Regiment to allow his men to flank the Americans in the dusk. Fifty men from Fusilier Regiment 27 of the 12th Volksgrenadier Division were dispatched to attack the American's southern flank through the woods. [12] [15] Just as Bouck was about to blow his whistle to indicate withdrawal, German soldiers penetrated their lines and began overrunning their foxholes. Several attackers were killed by grenades rigged to wires and triggered by Americans in their foxholes. Each of the positions spread out over the ridge top were overrun in turn. Surprisingly, the Germans did not simply kill the defenders in their foxholes. [13] [15] Bouck was pulled from his foxhole by an officer with a machine gun, and he thought he would be shot when the German put his weapon in his back and pulled the trigger it was empty. [3] Both Bouck and the German officer were then struck by bullets. The German fell seriously wounded, while Bouck was struck in the calf. Sergeant Kuhlbach asked Bouck who was in command, and Bouck replied that he was. Kuhlbach asked him why the Americans were still shooting, and Bouck said it was not his men doing it. Bouck surrendered and helped carry his wounded men down to the village. [21]


Open Bible

Read:Psalm 119:41-48

I will speak of Your testimonies also before kings, and will not be ashamed. -Psalm 119:46

Bible In One Year: Judges 16-18

Many hotels in countries around the world have a Bible in each room. Just open a drawer and you'll find it.

But during a recent hotel stay, I was surprised to see an open Bible placed prominently on a table in the lobby. And when I reached my room, instead of the Bible being in a drawer, it was lying open on the desk. My guess is that the owner decided to draw people's attention to the presence of God and His Word as they travel-often alone and sometimes in great need.

This caused me to ponder my own response to the Scriptures. Is the Bible open in my heart for people to see? Do my actions give evidence that I'm meditating on God's Word?

Psalm 119 is filled with praise for the wonder of God's Word, along with the writer's promise to live by it and share it with others. "I will walk at liberty, for I seek Your precepts," he wrote. "I will speak of Your testimonies also before kings, and will not be ashamed. And I will delight myself in Your commandments, which I love. . . . And I will meditate on Your statutes" (vv.45-47).

Since every life is an open book, let's seek to demonstrate the love and power of God's Word, the Bible, for everyone to see. -David McCasland

We are the only Bible
The careless world will read
We are the sinner's gospel,
We are the scoffer's creed. -Flint

Of all the commentaries on the Scriptures, good examples are the best. -John Donne

Birthdates which occurred on March 24:
1188 Ferrand of Portugal earl of Flanders/son of Sancho I
1441 Ernst I elector of Saxon (1464-86)
1630 José Saenz d'Aguirre Spanish cardinal
1703 José F de Isla [Francisco de Salazar], Spanish Jesuit/writer
1755 Rufus King framer of US constitution
1809 Joseph Liouville St Omer Pas-de-Calais France, discover of transcendental numbers
1814 Galen Clark US, naturalist, discovered Mariposa Grove
1821 [George] Hector Tyndale Brevet Major General (Union volunteers)
1834 John Wesley Powell US, geologist/explorer/ethnologist
1834 William Morris England, designer/craftsman/poet/socialist
1835 Josef Stefan Austria, physicist (Stefan-Boltzmann law)
1855 Andrew W Mellon founder (Mellon Bank)/US Secretary of Treasury
1866 Jack McAuliffe US lightweight boxing champion, hall of famer
1871 Sir Ernest Rutherford nuclear scientist
1874 Harry Houdini [Erik Weisz] Budapest Hungary, magician/escape artist
1874 Luigi Einaudi economist/1st President of Italy (1948-55)
1887 Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle Smith Center KS, actor (Keystone comedies)
1893 George Sisler baseball hall of fame 1st baseman (257 hits in 1920)
1895 Arthur Murray dancer (Arthur Murray's Dance Party)
1897 Wilhelm Reich Austrian-US psycho analysist (character analysis)
1898 Dorothy Stratton organizer (SPARS-women's branch of US Coast Guard)

1903 Malcolm Muggeridge English writer (Observer of Life)

1906 John Cameron Swayze news correspondant, Timex spokesman (It takes a licking, an keeps on ticking)
1907 Lauris Norstad US General (NATO commander)/CEO (Owens-Corning Fiberglass)
1907 Lucia Chase US ballerina/co-founder (American Ballet Theater)
1909 Clyde Barrow bank robber (of Bonnie & Clyde fame)
1910 Akira Kurosawa, Japanese film director (Living, Rashomon, The Seven Samurai), was born
1911 Joseph Barbera animator (Hanna-Barbera)
1912 Werner von Braun, rocket expert
1914 Lilli Palmer Posen Germany, actress (Boys From Brazil, Sebastian)
1919 Lawrence Ferlinghetti author (Coney Island of the Mind)
1922 Dave Appell singer/musician/songwriter (In the Midnight Hour)
1923 Edna Jo Hunter expert on military families & prisoners of war
1924 Norman Fell Philadelphia PA, actor (Mr Roper-3's Company, The End, Graduate)
1930 Steve McQueen Slater MO, actor (Wanted, Dead or Alive, Blob, Bullitt)
1932 Yuri Anatoyevich Ponomaryov Russia, cosmonaut (Soyuz 18 backup)
1943 Jesus Alou baseball outfielder (San Francisco Giants)
1944 Denny McLain baseball pitcher (Detroit Tigers, 31 wins in 1968)
1944 Patti Labelle singer (Phoenix, Tasty, Chameleon)
1947 Mike Kellie rock drummer (Spooky Tooth-It's All About)
1947 Paul McCandless Musician (Torches on the Lake)
1951 Kenneth S Reightler Jr Patuxent MD, Commander USN/astronaut (STS 48, 60)
1954 Robert Carradine Los Angeles CA, actor (Slim-The Cowboys, Wavelength)
1957 Scott J Horowitz Philadelphia PA, PhD/Captain USAF/astronaut (STS 75, 82)
1970 Lara Flynn Boyle Davenport IA, actress (The Practice, The Temp, Twin Peaks)

Deaths which occurred on March 24:
0809 Harun al-Rashid caliph of the Abbasid empire (786-809), dies at 44
1369 Pedro the Cruel, King and tyrant of Castile and Leon, murdered
1400 Florens Radewijns Dutch priest/leader Modern Devotion, dies
1455 Nicholas V [Tommaso Parentucelli] Italian Pope (1447-55), dies at 57
1471 Sir Thomas Malory author (Le Morte d'Arthur), dies at 55

1603 Elizabeth I Tudor [Maiden Queen] UK queen (1558-1603), dies at 69

1877 Walter Bagehot English economist/critic/banker, dies at 51
1882 Henry Wadsworth Longfellow US poet (Song of Hiawatha), dies at 75
1894 Robert Prescott Stewart composer, dies at 68
1905 Jules Verne sci-fi author (Around the World in 80 Days), dies at 77
1909 John Millington Synge Irish dramatist/playwright/poet, dies at 37
1946 Alexander A Aljechin world chess champion (1927-35, 37-46), dies at 53
1953 Mary [Victoria of Teck] queen of Great Britain/North-Ireland, dies at 86
1969 Joseph Kasavubu President of Congo (1960-65), dies at about 55
1976 Bernard L Montgomery British General, defeated Rommel, dies at 88
1978 Brackett Hamilton Leigh [Douglass], author (Ginger Star), dies at 62
1980 Archbishop Oscar Romero assassinated while conducting mass in San Salvador
1982 Ace Goodman Kansas City MO, comedian (Easy Aces), dies at 83
1984 Sam Jaffe actor (Dr Zorba-Ben Casey), dies of cancer at 93
1990 An Wang computer manufacturer (Wang), dies at 70 from cancer
1990 Ray Goulding comedian (Bob & Ray), dies from kidney failure at 68
1990 Rene Enriquez actor (Hill St Blues), dies from pancreatic cancer at 56
1992 Friedrich A. von Hayek (92), British economist, Nobel winner (1974), died. (Road to Serfdom (1944) “The Constitution of Liberty” (1960).)
1993 John Hersey Pulitzer prize author (Hiroshima), dies at 78
1995 Joey Long blues/cajun guitarist, dies at 62
1995 Trevor Oswald Ling religious Studies Professor, dies at 75

GWOT Casualties
Iraq
23-Mar-2003 34 | US: 30 | UK: 4 | Other: 0
US Sergeant Nicolas Michael Hodson Southern part Hostile - vehicle accident
US Captain Christopher Scott Seifert Camp Pennsylvania Non-hostile - homicide
US Specialist Jamaal Rashard Addison An Nasiriyah Hostile - hostile fire - ambush
US 2nd Lieutenant Frederick Eben Pokorney Jr. An Nasiriyah Hostile - hostile fire
US Sergeant George Edward Buggs An Nasiriyah Hostile - hostile fire - ambush
US Master Sergeant Robert John Dowdy An Nasiriyah Hostile - hostile fire - ambush
US Private Ruben Estrella-Soto An Nasiriyah Hostile - hostile fire - ambush
US Private 1st Class Howard Johnson II An Nasiriyah Hostile - hostile fire - ambush
US Specialist James Michael Kiehl An Nasiriyah Hostile - hostile fire - ambush
US Chief Warrant Officer Johnny Villareal Mata An Nasiriyah Hostile - hostile fire - ambush
US Private 1st Class Lori Ann Piestewa An Nasiriyah Hostile - hostile fire - ambush
US Private Brandon Ulysses Sloan An Nasiriyah Hostile - hostile fire - ambush
US Sergeant Donald Ralph Walters An Nasiriyah Hostile - hostile fire - ambush
US Specialist Edward John Anguiano Southern part Hostile - hostile fire - ambush
US Sergeant Michael Edward Bitz An Nasiriyah Hostile - hostile fire
US Lance Corporal David Keith Fribley An Nasiriyah Hostile - hostile fire
US Corporal Jose Angel Garibay An Nasiriyah Hostile - hostile fire
US Corporal Jorge Alonso Gonzalez An Nasiriyah Hostile - hostile fire
US Staff Sergeant Phillip Andrew Jordan An Nasiriyah Hostile - hostile fire
US Lance Corporal Thomas Jonathan Slocum An Nasiriyah Hostile - hostile fire
US Lance Corporal Brian Rory Buesing An Nasiriyah Hostile - hostile fire
US Corporal Randal Kent Rosacker An Nasiriyah Hostile - hostile fire
US Lance Corporal Michael Jason Williams An Nasiriyah Hostile - hostile fire
US Lance Corporal Patrick Ray Nixon An Nasiriyah Hostile - hostile fire
US Sergeant Brendon Curtis Reiss An Nasiriyah Hostile - hostile fire
US Private 1st Class Tamario Demetrice Burkett An Nasiriyah Hostile - hostile fire
US Lance Corporal Donald John Cline Jr. An Nasiriyah Hostile - hostile fire
US Private Nolen Ryan Hutchings An Nasiriyah Hostile - friendly fire
US Private Jonathan Lee Gifford An Nasiriyah Hostile - hostile fire
US Corporal Kemaphoom "Ahn" Chanawongse An Nasiriyah Hostile - hostile fire
UK Flight Lieutenant., Pilot Kevin Barry Main Southern part Hostile - friendly fire - jet crash
UK Flight Lieut., Navigator David Rhys Williams Southern part Hostile - friendly fire - jet crash
UK Sapper Luke Allsopp Al Zubayr Hostile - hostile fire
UK Staff Sergeant Simon Cullingworth Al Zubayr Hostile - hostile fire

Afghanistan
75 03/23/03 Maltz, Michael Master Sergeant 42 Air Force 38th Rescue Squadron Accident - helicopter Near Ghazni, Afghanistan St. Petersburg Florida
74 03/23/03 Hicks, Jason Carlyle Staff Sergeant 25 Air Force 41st Rescue Squadron Accident - helicopter Near Ghazni, Afghanistan Jefferson South Carolina
73 03/23/03 Archuleta, Tamara Long 1st Lieutenant 23 Air Force 41st Rescue Squadron Accident - helicopter Near Ghazni, Afghanistan Belen New Mexico
72 03/23/03 Plite, Jason Thomas Senior Airman 21 Air Force 38th Rescue Squadron Accident - helicopter Near Ghazni, Afghanistan Lansing Michigan
71 03/23/03 Stein, John Lieutenant Colonel 39 Air Force 41st Rescue Squadron Accident - helicopter Near Ghazni, Afghanistan Bardolph Illinois

On this day.
0752 Pope Stephen II was elected to succeed Pope Zacharias however, Stephen died 4 days later.
1026 Koenraad II (Conrad II) crownes himself king of Italy
1550 France & England sign Peace of Boulogne
1603 Scottish king James VI becomes King James I of England
1629 1st game law passed in American colonies, by Virginia
1645 Battle at Jankov Bohemia: Sweden defeats Roman Catholic emperor Ferdinand III
1664 Roger Williams is granted a charter to colonize Rhode Island
1721 Johann Sebastian Bach opens his Brandenburgse Concerts
1743 George Frideric Handel's oratorio "Messiah" London premiere
1743 George Frideric Handel's oratorio "Messiah" London premiere
1765 Britain enacts Quartering Act, required colonists to provide temporary housing to British soldiers
1775 Patrick Henry makes his famous plea for independence from Britain, saying, "Give me liberty, or give me death!"
1792 Benjamin West (US) becomes president of Royal Academy of London
1801 Aleksandr P Romanov becomes emperor of Russia
1828 Philadelphia & Columbia Railway (1st state owned) authorized
1832 Mormon Joseph Smith beaten, tarred & feathered in Ohio
1837 Canada gives blacks the right to vote
1855 Manhattan Kansas founded as New Boston KS
1860 Clipper Andrew Jackson arrives in San Francisco, 89 days out of New York
1865 General Sherman reaches Goldsboro, NC
1880 Tobacco Growers' Mutual Insurance Company incorporates in Connecticut
1882 German scientist Robert Koch discovers bacillus cause of TB
1883 1st telephone call between New York & Chicago(damn telemarkters)
1887 Oscar Straus appointed 1st Jewish ambassador from US (to Turkey)
1898 1st automobile sold
1906 "Census of the British Empire" shows England rules 1/5 of the world
1910 83ºF highest temperature ever recorded in Cleveland in March
1920 1st US coast guard air station established (Morehead City NC)
1924 Greece becomes a republic
1930 1st religious services telecast in US (W2XBS, New York NY)
1930 Planet Pluto named
1934 US declares the Philippines to become independent in 1945
1935 Major Bowes' Original Amateur Hour goes national on NBC Radio Network
1937 National Gallery of Art established by Congress
1941 German troops occupy El Agheila Libya
1941 Glenn Miller begins work on his 1st movie for 20th Century Fox
1944 76 Allied officers escape Stalag Luft 3 (Great Escape)
1944 In occupied Rome, Nazis executed more than 300 civilians
1945 Largest one-day airborne drop, 600 transports & 1300 gliders (Operation Varsity)
1947 Congress proposes 2-term limitation on the Presidency
1947 John D Rockefeller Jr donates NYC East River site to the UN
1949 Walter & John Huston become 1st father-and-son team to win Oscars (actor & director of "Treasure of Sierra Madre")
1955 1st seagoing oil drill rig placed in service
1955 British Army patrols withdraw from Belfast after 20 years
1958 Elvis Presley joins the army (serial number 53310761)
1959 Iraq withdraws from the Baghdad Pact
1960 US appeals court rules novel, "Lady Chatterly's Lover", not obscene
1961 New York Senate approves $55M for a baseball stadium at Flushing Meadows
1962 Benny Paret, KO'd in a welterweight title, he dies 10 days later
1962 Mick Jagger & Keith Richards perform as Little Boy Blue & Blue Boys
1964 Kennedy half-dollar issued
1965 US Ranger 9 strikes Moon, 10 miles (16 km) northeast of crater Alphonsus
1966 Selective Service announces college deferments based on performance
1967 University of Michigan holds 1st "Teach-in" after bombing of North Vietnam
1972 Great Britain imposes direct rule over Northern Ireland
1973 "Handsome" Harley Race beats Dory Funk Jr in Kansas City, to become NWA champion
1975 Muhammad Ali TKOs Chuck Wepner in 15 to retain the heavyweight boxing title
1976 Argentine President Isabel Perón deposed by country's military
1978 Wings release "With a Little Luck"
1980 ABC's nightly Iran Hostage crisis program renamed "Nightline with Ted Koppel"
1981 Colombia drops diplomatic relations with Cuba
1982 US sub Jacksonville collides with a Turkish freighter near Virginia
1986 NASA publishes "Strategy for Safely Returning the Space Shuttle to Flight Status"
1986 Suriname army Captain Etienne Boerenveen arrested for cocaine smuggling
1986 US & Libya clash in Gulf of Sidra Navy-2 Libya-0
1989 Worst US oil spill, Exxon's Valdez spills 11.3 million gallons off Alaska
1991 In liberated Kuwait, banks reopen
1991 Wrestlemania VII in Los Angeles, Hulk Hogan pins Sergeant Slaughter for championship
1994 F-16 collides with C-130 Hercules above AFB in North Carolina,120 die
1997 Australian parliament overturns world's 1st & only euthanasia law
1989 Stanley Pons and Martin Fleischmann, Univ. of Utah scientists, claimed they had produced atomic fusion at room temperature.
1999 NATO commences air strikes against Yugoslavia with the bombing of Serbian military positions in the Yugoslav province of Kosovo.
2000 Germany completed a $5 billion agreement on how to allocate funds among surviving forced laborers and other workers in Hitler's concentration camps.
2000 Pope John Paul the Second paid his respects at Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust memorial
2002 Girls in Afghanistan celebrated their return to school for the first time in years
2003 5th day of Operation Iraqi Freedom US-led warplanes and helicopters attacked Republican Guard units defending Baghdad while ground troops advanced to within 50 miles of the Iraqi capital. The 507th Maintenance Company was ambushed after it made a wrong turn into Nasiriya 11 soldiers were killed, seven were captured, including Pfc. Jessica Lynch.
2004 The Rev. Sun Myung Moon declared himself the Messiah during a ceremony at the Dirksen Building in Wash., DC. Over a dozen US lawmakers attended the reception. (How very nice for him, I'm sure)

Holidays
Note: Some Holidays are only applicable on a given "day of the week"

Laos : Army Day
US : Agriculture Day
US : Chocolate Week (Day 4)
US : Straw Hat Week (Day 4)

National Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Awareness Month

Religious Observances
Roman Catholic : Commemoration of St Gabriel, patron of postmen, telephone workers

Religious History
1774 Anglican clergyman and hymn writer John Newton wrote in a letter: 'What a mercy it is to be separated in spirit, conversation, and interest from the world that knows not God.'
1818 American statesman Henry Clay wrote: 'All religions united with government are more or less inimical to liberty. All separated from government are compatible with liberty.'
1940 Dr. Samuel Cavert of the Federal Council of the Churches of Christ in America officiated at a Protestant Easter service in New York City. It was the first religious program to be broadcast over television, and was carried by local NBC affiliate TV station W2XBS, in NYC.
1980 El Salvador's leading human rights activist, Archbishop Oscar Romero, 62, was assassinated by a sniper while saying mass in a hospital chapel.
1982 Five congregations in the eastern San Francisco Bay area became the first to declare themselves publicly as sanctuary churches, in an effort to help refugees from Central America establish themselves in the U.S. during political and military unrest in their native countries.

Source: William D. Blake. ALMANAC OF THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH. Minneapolis: Bethany House, 1987.

Thought for the day :
"God made rainy days so gardeners could get the housework done."

My Dad fought in the Huertgen Forest with the combat engineers of the 4th Infantry Division. His battalion was sent out to make contact with another unit that had gotten surrounded, and Pop's unit was ambushed. Dad jumped into what he thought was a foxhole - turned out to be a well. By the time things got sorted out, Pop got devised to England with frostbite of the feet and legs.

In England, Eisenhower inspected the hospital where my Dad was, looking for troops healthy enough to send back to the front (By now, the 4th was on the southern flank of the Battle of the Bulge. Pop didn't rejoin his unit until early '45 at Worms.


Sources

  • Kemman, Lawrence H. LTC, "Operations of the 2nd Battalion, 309th Infantry, the 2nd Battalion, 310th Infantry, 78th Infantry Division, in the Attack on Kesternich, Germany, 14-15 December 1944" (Rhineland Campaign)
  • Barner, Captain John H., “Advanced Infantry Officers Course 1949-1950, Operations of the2d Battalion, 311th Infantry (78th Infantry Division) in the Attack on Kesternich, Germany, 30 January – 1 February 1945 (Rhineland Campaign). (Personal Experience of a Company Commander, Cannon Company Which Supported This Action).”
  • Gunkel, Otto, translation by Merle Hill, “New setup of the 272 VGD at Doberitz – Action in the Eifel.” (Unpublished memoir, December 1986)
  • Reineke, Johann, “Defense in Kesternich, Autumn and Winter 1944 – Excerpts from a War Diary.” (Unpublished memoir. Bremerhaven, 1954) and Loehrer, Norbert and Petrzik, Marlis, Katharina and Schattenberg, Horst, ed., translated by Tom MacKnight, Castriniacum, Kasternich, Kesternich, “OSS HEMET”. (Kesternich, Germany, The Association for the Local History of Kesternich, 1996)
  • Schmidt, Gunther, “The 272 Volksgrenadier Division In Action In The Eifel 1944/45,” translation by Ron van Rijt, The Flash, January 2000, The 78th (Lighting) Division Veterans Association, Pittsburgh, PA.
  • Miller, Edward G., A Dark and Bloody Ground: The Hürtgen Forest and the Roer River Dams, 1944 - 1945. (College Station, TX: Texas A & M University Press, 1995)
  • Miller, Edward G., Nothing Less Than Full Victory. (Annapolis, MD: US Naval Institute Press, 2007)
  • Miller, Edward G., “Desperate Hours at Kesternich,” World War II, Volume II, Number 4, November 1996, Cowles Enthusiast Media, History Group, Leesburg, Va.
  • McDonald, Charles B., The Siegfried Line Campaign. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Army Center of Military History, 1984.
  • Nash, Douglas E., Victory Was Beyond Their Grasp: With the 272nd Volks-Grenadier Division from the Hurtgen Forest to the Heart of the Reich. Bedford, PA: Aberjona Press, 2008) de:Schlacht im Hürtgenwald

nl:Slag om Hürtgenwald pl:Bitwa o las Hurtgen fi:Hurtgenin metsän taistelu


List of Medal of Honor recipients for World War II

This is a list of Medal of Honor recipients for World War II. The Medal of Honor was created during the American Civil War and is the highest military decoration presented by the United States government to a member of its armed forces. The recipient must have distinguished themselves at the risk of their own life above and beyond the call of duty in action against an "enemy of the United States" or an "opposing foreign force". Due to the nature of this medal, it is commonly presented posthumously. [1]

World War II, or the Second World War, was a global military conflict, the joining of what had initially been two separate conflicts. The first began in Asia in 1937 as the Second Sino-Japanese War the other began in Europe in 1939 with the German and Soviet invasion of Poland. [2] This global conflict split the majority of the world's nations into two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis powers.

The United States was drawn into World War II on December 8, 1941, a day after the Axis-member Japan launched a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor in Honolulu that killed almost 2,500 people in what was considered the biggest peacetime loss on American soil inflicted by foreign people at that time.

For actions during World War II, 472 United States military personnel received the Medal of Honor. [3] Seventeen of these were Japanese-Americans fighting in both Europe and the Pacific, many of which were upgraded from Distinguished Service Crosses during the Clinton administration. Additionally, Douglas Albert Munro was the only serviceman from the United States Coast Guard in United States military history to receive the Medal for his actions during the war.


Battle [ edit | edit source ]

German barrage [ edit | edit source ]

The northern shoulder of the Battle of the Bulge, in which Bouck's unit held up the German advance through a key intersection near Lanzerath for nearly a full day.

On December 16, 1944, at 05:30, the Germans launched a 90-minute artillery barrage using 1,600 artillery pieces ⎙] across an 80 mile (130 km) front, although the American platoon was only aware of what was happening in their sector. Their first impression was that this was the anticipated counterattack resulting from the Allies' recent attack in the Wahlerscheid sector to the north where the 2nd Division had knocked a sizable dent into the Siegfried Line. Ώ] Bouck later said:

Suddenly, without warning, a barrage of artillery registered at about 0530 hours and continued until about 0700 hours. The artillery was relentless and frightening, but not devastating. Much landed short, wide and long of our position, and mostly tree bursts. At any rate, our well-protected cover prevented casualties. The telephone lines were knocked out, but our one radio allowed us to report to regiment. I called regiment and told them, ‘the TDs are pulling out, what should we do?’ The answer was loud and clear: ‘Hold at all costs!’ ⎚]

Many shells exploded in the trees, sending shards of steel and wood into the ground, but the men were protected by their reinforced foxholes. ⎖] ⎗] The German guns cut deep holes the size of trucks in the pasture. ⎗]

German advance [ edit | edit source ]

German infantry began to advance near Losheim before the artillery barrage lifted, preparing to cross the front line as soon as it ended. They marched under the glow of massive searchlights, bouncing light off the clouds. The armor was located farther back, near Blankenheim, Germany. At 8:00, as the sun rose, the American platoon heard explosions and guns around Buchholz Station and Losheimergraben to the east and north where the 3rd and 1st Battalions of the 394th Infantry Division was located. The 55 soldiers of U.S. 2nd Platoon, Company A, 820th Tank Destroyer Battalion, 14th Cavalry Group was initially ordered south to help protect Manderfeld, ΐ] but shortly afterwards were redirected to join the active battle near Buchholz Station. They withdrew from the village and left without contacting the I&R platoon. This left the platoon as the only unit in the sector and without armor support. ΐ]

Bouck sent James, Slape and Creger to set up an observation post in a house on the eastern side of the village that had been abandoned by Task Force X. ⎗] Accompanying them, he spotted in the dawn light a long column of what appeared to be about 500 German troops headed toward them from the east. Their distinctive helmet style told Bouck they were paratroopers, among the best soldiers Germany could field. None of his training or experience prepared him for this situation, outnumbered as he was by perhaps 20 to 1. Bouck and James scrambled back to the ridge top and the rest of their unit. The platoon's telephone land line to 1st Battalion headquarters in Losheimergraben was knocked out, but their SCR-300 radio still worked. Bouck reached Regimental headquarters at Hünningen on the radio and requested permission to withdraw and engage in a delaying action. He was told to "remain in position and reinforcements from the 3rd Battalion will come to support you." ⎚]

In town, Creger watched as a forward element of the German infantry advanced, with weapons slung, into Lanzerath. They obviously did not expect to encounter any Americans. Creger radioed Bouck and told him of the Germans advancing through Lanzerath on the road between Creger and Bouck's position. Bouck sent Robinson, McGeehee and Silvola to assist Creger, who crept down to the Bucholz Station road and thence up a ditch towards Lanzerath. Before the three men reached Creger, he left the village using a more direct route. As he returned to the American lines, he engaged and killed or wounded most of a German platoon. ⎛] :81

On the eastern side of the road, Robinson, McGeehee and Silvola attempted to rejoin their platoon, but found the way blocked by German soldiers who threatened to flank them. They decided to head for Losheimergraben and seek reinforcements. They crossed a 20 feet (6.1 m) deep railroad cut and once on the far side encountered soldiers from Fusilier Regiment 27 of the 12th Volksgrenadier Division. Trying to outflank the 1st Battalion, 394th Infantry Regiment in Losheimergraben, they spotted the three men. After a brief firefight, Robinson and McGeehee were wounded and all three were captured. ΐ]

Germans entered the home that Creger and Slape were using as an observation post. Slape climbed into the attic, while Creger only had time to hide behind a door. He pulled the pin on a grenade as the door knob jammed into his ribs. Bullets from the I&R platoon struck the building, and the Germans suddenly left. Creger and Slape exited by the back door and ducked into a nearby cowshed. They crossed a field and then found themselves in a minefield. Picking their way forward, they circled through the woods until they encountered a handful of Germans. Opening fire, they killed them. Creger and Slape spotted Bouck and Milosovich across the road and sprinted towards them, drawing German fire. They made it back to their ridge-top position and Bouck called Regimental Headquarters. He requested artillery support, but when he reported the German column advancing on his position, the voice on the other end of the radio told him "he must be seeing things". Bouck told them he had 20-20 vision and demanded artillery fire on the road in front of his unit. ΐ]

U.S. artillery unavailable [ edit | edit source ]

But the platoon's position at the southern end of the 99th Division's sector was not only outside their own regimental boundary, it was outside their Division's boundary and V Corps boundary. The division prioritized artillery fire for targets within its boundary. ⎗] Bouck waited in vain for the sound of incoming artillery. He called Regimental Headquarters again, asking for directions. He was told to "hold at all costs," which essentially meant until dead or captured. Bouck knew that if his platoon gave way, the 99th Division's right flank, already thin and undermanned, could be in grave danger. ΐ] :93 ⎗]

Radio operator James Fort attempted to contact headquarters on the SCR-284 radio mounted on a jeep by the command post and found that German martial music jammed the channel. He then used a side-channel and Morse code, hoping the Germans weren't listening, to send a status report to regimental headquarters. ⎜]

German attack [ edit | edit source ]

As the German forces moved through Lanzerath and in front of their positions, Bouck and his men allowed lead members of the unit to pass, hoping to surprise the Germans. They were preparing to fire on three men who they believed were the Regiment's officers when a girl from the village emerged from one of the homes. Talking to the officers, she pointed in their general direction. An officer yelled a command, and the paratroopers jumped for ditches on either side of the road. The Americans thought she had given their position away and fired on the Germans, wounding several. (In October 2006, more than 50 years later, a writer found the now adult woman, still living in the village. She told him she did not know the Americans were still in the area, and was pointing out the direction the Tank Destroyer unit had departed, towards Bucholz Station. ⎖] )

Four members of a Forward Observation Team from Battery C, 371st Field Artillery had been in the village when the Tank Destroyer unit withdrew. Lieutenant Warren Springer and the other three men, Sergeant Peter Gacki, T/4 Willard Wibben, and T/5 Billy Queen joined Bouck's unit on the ridge where they could continue to observe the enemy movement. Bouck distributed them among the foxholes to help reload magazines and reinforce their position. ⎗]

The German infantry deployed and about two platoons of the 2nd Company, 1st Battalion, then attacked ⎛] :81 the Americans head-on, bunched together in the open and charging straight up the hill, directly at the platoon's hidden and fortified positions. The Americans were surprised at the inexperienced tactics. For the Americans, it was like "shooting clay ducks in California at an amusement park." ΐ] :99 Several attackers were killed trying to climb over the 4 feet (1.2 m)-high barbed wire fence that bisected the field, often shot at close range with a single shot to the heart or head. Lt. Springer used his jeep-mounted SCR-610 radio to call in coordinates for artillery fire. A few shells landed near the road outside Lanzerath, but they did not hinder the German attack. His jeep was then struck by machine gun fire or mortar shrapnel and his radio was destroyed. ΐ] :94

Slape and Milosevich fired continually, as fast as they could reload. Slape thought the Germans were mad to attack in such a suicidal manner, straight across the open field. He later recalled that it was one of the "most beautiful fields of fire" he had ever seen. After only about 30 seconds, the firing stopped. Nearly all of the attacking Germans had been killed or wounded. ΐ] :95 McConnell, shot in the shoulder, was the only American casualty. ⎜]

During a second attack made around 11:00 am, Milosevich fired the .50 caliber jeep-mounted machine gun until enemy fire drove him back into his foxhole. In both the first and second attack that morning no German soldier got past the fence in the middle of the field. Bodies were piled around it. German medics waved a white flag late in the morning and indicated they wanted to remove the wounded, which the American defenders allowed. The Americans again suffered only one wounded on the second attack, when Pvt. Kalil was struck in the face by a rifle grenade that failed to explode. ⎜]

The Germans mounted a third attack late in the afternoon, around 3:00. Several times German soldiers attempted to penetrate the American lines. The Americans left their foxholes and in close combat fired on the attackers to push them back down the hill. At one point PFC Milsovech spotted a medic working on and talking to a soldier he felt certain was already dead. As mortar fire on his position got more accurate, Milsovech noticed a pistol on the supposed medic's belt, and decided he must be calling in fire on their position. He shot and killed him. ΐ] Bouck contacted Regimental Headquarters once more, seeking reinforcements. Γ] At 3:50, Fort sent the unit's last update to Regimental headquarters in Hünningen. He reported they were still receiving some artillery fire but were holding their position against an estimated enemy strength of about 75, who were attempting to advance from Lanzerath towards the railroad to the northwest. Ε] :33

As dusk approached and their ammunition ran dangerously low, Bouck feared they could be flanked at any time. He planned to pull his men back just before dusk, when they would have enough light to escape through the woods. Bouck ordered his men to remove the distributor caps from their Jeeps and to prepare to evacuate to the rear. He dispatched Corporal Sam Jenkins and PFC Preston through the woods to locate Major Kriz at Regimental HQ and seek instructions or reinforcements. ⎝]

Bouck tried to contact Regimental headquarters on the SCR-300 radio for instructions. A sniper shot the radio as Bouck held it to his ear. The sniper also hit the SCR-284 radio mounted in the Jeep behind Bouck, eliminating any possibility of calling for reinforcements or instructions. Ζ]

The German troops were reluctant to attack head on once again, and Sergeant Vinz Kulbach pleaded with the officers of the 9th Fallschirmjaeger Regiment to allow his men to flank the Americans in the dusk. Fifty men from Fusilier Regiment 27 of the 12th Volksgrenadier Division were dispatched to attack the American's southern flank through the woods. Ζ] ⎗] Just as Bouck was about to blow his whistle to indicate withdrawal, German soldiers penetrated their lines and began overrunning their foxholes. Several attackers were killed by grenades rigged to wires and triggered by Americans in their foxholes. Each of the positions spread out over the ridge top were overrun in turn. Surprisingly, the Germans did not simply kill the defenders in their foxholes. Η] ⎗] Bouck was pulled from his foxhole by an officer with a machine gun, and he thought he would be shot when the German put his weapon in his back and pulled the trigger it was empty. ΐ] Both Bouck and the German officer were then struck by bullets. The German fell seriously wounded, while Bouck was struck in the calf. Sergeant Kuhlbach asked Bouck who was in command, and Bouck replied that he was. Kuhlbach asked him why the Americans were still shooting, and Bouck said it was not his men doing it. Bouck surrendered and helped carry his wounded men down to the village. ⎝]

Conclusion [ edit | edit source ]

Map showing the progress of the German offensive during December 16–25, 1944.

During their dawn to dusk fight, the 15 remaining men of the I&R platoon plus the four men of the 371st Artillery Forward Observation Team ⎗] repeatedly engaged elements of the 1st Battalion, 9th Fallschirmjaeger Regiment, 3rd Fallschirmjaeger Division of about 500 men. The Germans reported 16 killed, 63 wounded, and 13 missing in action. ⎛] :87 Other reports say the Americans inflicted between 60 ⎖] ⎚] and five hundred Η] casualties on the Germans. Only one American, forward artillery observer Billy Queen, was killed in Bouck's platoon, 14 out of 18 men were wounded. The small American force had seriously disrupted the schedule of the entire 6th Panzer Army's drive for Antwerp along the entire northern edge of the offensive. Ζ] After virtually no sleep during the preceding night and a full day of almost non-stop combat, with only a few rounds of ammunition remaining, flanked by a superior enemy force, the platoon and artillery observers were captured. ⎗]


The First Battle for Kesternich

The First Battle for Kesternich took place from 13 to 16 December 1944. This battle pitted the 2nd Battalion of the 309th Infantry Regiment and the 2nd Battalion of the 310th Infantry Regiment of the 78th Infantry Division against units from the 272. Volksgrenadier-Division, including elements of the 326. Volksgrenadier-Division. This attack was part of a greater attack by the First Army's V Corps in an effort to capture the Roer (Rur) River Dams that included the 78th Infantry Division as well as the 2nd Infantry Division to the south. The attack by the 78th Division interrupted Hitler's plans for the northern (right) shoulder of the Battle of the Bulge. While it may be questionable that the Germans had enough strength to push the attack west of Simmerath and Kesternich, plans were disrupted as the American attack hit the German lines on 13 December. As a result, the northern pivot-point of the German offensive was pushed from Simmerath to south of Monschau.

The 78th Training Division (Operations) ("Lightning") is a unit of the United States Army which served in World War I and World War II as the 78th Infantry Division, and currently trains and evaluates units of the United States Army Reserve for deployment.

The First Army is the oldest and longest established field army of the United States Army, having seen service in both World War I and World War II, under some of the most famous and distinguished officers of the U.S. Army. It now serves as a mobilization, readiness and training command.

The Rur or Roer is a major river that flows through portions of Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands. It is a right (eastern) tributary to the Meuse. About 90 percent of the river's course is in Germany.

The 78th Division's Mechanized Reconnaissance Troop and its 311th RCT (Regimental Combat Team) had been attached to the 8th Infantry Division just to the north. For the offensive operations against Kesternich, the 78th Division had the 309th and 310th RCTs, as well as the attached, combat-experienced, 709th Tank Battalion and 893rd Tank Destroyer Battalion.

The 8th Infantry Division, ("Pathfinder") was an infantry division of the United States Army during the 20th century. The division served in World War I, World War II, and Operation Desert Storm. Initially activated in January 1918, the unit did not see combat during World War I and returned to the United States. Activated again on 1 July 1940 as part of the build-up of military forces prior to the United States' entry into World War II, the division saw extensive action in the European Theatre of Operations. Following World War II, the division was moved to West Germany, where it remained stationed at the Rose Barracks in Bad Kreuznach until it was inactivated on 17 January 1992.

The 1st Battalion of the 309th RCT was to attack in the direction of Witzerath and Simmerath. The 3rd Battalion was to move on Bickerath and seize the ridge near Simmerath. The 2nd Battalion with its attached tanks was to capture Kesternich. The 2nd Battalion, 310th RCT, was to wait in the woods near Lammersdorf as a reserve.

Since the key objective of Kesternich was considered a tougher assignment, the 2nd Battalion of the 310th was attached to the 309th, giving it four battalions. This left the 310th with two battalions for their blocking assignment at Rollesbroich. A storm the night before left 12 inches of snow on the ground. Temperatures were below freezing. A thick ground fog permeated the landscape making visibility difficult until mid-day.

The attack by the 309th Infantry Regiment was a surprise to the Germans defending the vaulted Siegfried Line and the Americans quickly took Bickerath, Paustenbach, Witzerath, and Simmerath. In taking Simmerath, the Americans finally cut the Monschau-Düren highway and severed the Monschau Corridor. They reached the outskirts of Kesternich as darkness fell on 13 December and dug in. However, they were unable to retain their small purchase and withdrew. The 310th was also held at bay, unable to penetrate past the entrance to Rollesbroich. The advance had gone decently on the first day and optimism for operations on the next day ran high.

The "Siegfried Line", known in German as the Westwall, was a German defensive line built during the 1930s opposite the French Maginot Line. It stretched more than 630 km (390 mi) from Kleve on the border with the Netherlands, along the western border of the old German Empire, to the town of Weil am Rhein on the border to Switzerland – and featured more than 18,000 bunkers, tunnels and tank traps.

The 2nd Battalion, 309th Infantry Regiment started their assault on Kesternich on the morning of 14 December. Company E led the attack mounted on one platoon of tanks from the 709th Tank Battalion, Company F followed the tanks, and Company G outposted a hill next to the town. The tanks became bogged down, and Company E dismounted and moved near the village. The attack turned into a stalemate when the Germans pounded all attempted advances with machine gun fire and indirect fire from mortars. The battalion commander Lt. Col. Wilson L. Burley and assistant battalion commander Maj. Mark H. Hudson were both killed, and Capt. Douglas P. Frazier of Company H assumed command of the attack.

A machine gun is a fully automatic mounted or portable firearm designed to fire rifle cartridges in rapid succession from an ammunition belt or magazine. Not all fully automatic firearms are machine guns. Submachine guns, rifles, assault rifles, battle rifles, shotguns, pistols or cannons may be capable of fully automatic fire, but are not designed for sustained fire. As a class of military rapid-fire guns, machine guns are fully automatic weapons designed to be used as support weapons and generally used when attached to a mount or fired from the ground on a bipod or tripod. Many machine guns also use belt feeding and open bolt operation, features not normally found on rifles.

A mortar is usually a simple, lightweight, man portable, muzzle-loaded weapon, consisting of a smooth-bore metal tube fixed to a base plate with a lightweight bipod mount and a sight. They launch explosive shells in high-arcing ballistic trajectories. Mortars are typically used as indirect fire weapons for close fire support with a variety of ammunition.

The murderous fire on the 309th was relieved somewhat when the 2nd Battalion of the 310th Infantry moved on Kesternich as ordered after noon the same day. The tenacity of the German defense obstructed this attack and it stalled as darkness fell. Results at Rollesbroich were much better for the Americans as the other two battalions of the 310th were able to fully enter the village, capture the pillboxes guarding the village, and consolidate their positions.

At 0600 on 14 December the 2nd Battalion, 310th Infantry jumped off from Simmerath with the mission of assisting the 2d Battalion, 309th Infantry in the capture of Kesternich. Company E, followed by Company G, advanced on the left (north) side of the Simmerath-Kesternich road. Company F, at dawn, with the support of two M10 tank destroyers, attacked a stubborn pillbox at the west edge of Simmerath which had not been defeated the day before. Following this action Company F proceeded toward Kesternich on the right (south) side of the Simmerath-Kesternich road and to the right of E and G Companies. As Company F came abreast of Company E, approximately nine-hundred yards east of Simmerath, it came upon an antipersonnel minefield. In the meantime E and G Companies had been pinned down by fire from a previously unknown large pillbox at the west edge of Kesternich.

All requests by the 2nd Battalion, 310th Infantry to bring artillery fire on the enemy positions were denied for the reason that it was believed that friendly troops from the 2d Battalion, 309th Infantry were in Kesternich. The situation was so fluid that the 309th's commander did not even know whether or not he had any troops within the town (he did not)

The 2nd Battalion, 310th Infantry, made no further gains on 14 December, and dug in for the night approximately five-hundred yards west of Kesternich.

At 0100 hours on 15 December, Lt. Col. Creighton E. Likes, Executive Officer, 309th Infantry Regiment, was placed in command of the 2d Battalion, 309th Infantry, and the 2nd Battalion, 310th Infantry. These battalions, with a platoon of tanks and a platoon of tank destroyers attached, were, as a task force, to launch a coordinated attack to seize the town of Kesternich commencing at 0700 hours on the morning of 15 December.

The plan for the attack, was to have the tank destroyers improve their positions before daylight so as to bring direct fire on the pillbox at the western outskirts of Kesternich. Following the reduction of the pillbox by a team of engineers, they were to support the attack on Kesternich. Immediately following a preparation of the town by two battalions of field artillery, Company E, 310th Infantry, was to move rapidly, on the road, through Kesternich to the northeast edge of town. Company G, following Company E into town, was to clear the northern portion, then move to the right of Company E and secure the southeast edge of town. Company F was to advance from its present position, south of the Simmerath-Kesternich road, clear the southern portion of the town, then dig in. Tanks were to support the infantry in the attack and then move to the east portion of town where they were to be utilized in defense of any German counterattack.

The 2nd Battalion, 309th Infantry, (still not actually in Kesternich as their objective stated) was to advance and tie in with Company E, 310th Infantry, northeast of Kesternich.

Fire by the tank destroyers kept the pillbox crew from harassing the engineers as they moved into position, and they used a large charge in an effort to reduce the pillbox. The explosion had little penetrating effect on the thick concrete walls, however, the concussion caused the occupants to surrender. The remaining tanks moved to the west edge of town, but did not advance to the east side, or participate in the upcoming house to house fire fights they encountered Teller mines and two tanks were disabled by German anti-tank fire. The other three tanks retreated.

The attack by the foot troops of the 310th commenced on schedule following the artillery preparation. E and G Companies proceeded up the road and into the town. Company E encountered sniper and automatic weapons fire which slowed its progress considerably. It reached its objective, however, about midday. Company G encountered a determined enemy set up in fortified houses. Intense house-to-house fighting resulted in the Company becoming disorganized. Small groups became isolated in separate firefights. Casualties, especially among leaders, were high. Manpower was further weakened by soldiers returning to the rear area with German prisoners. Company G, however, succeeded in clearing the north portion of town and moved to its objective in the southeast edge of town at about 1400 hours.

Company F moved east and encountered a minefield in the vicinity of the pillbox that was cleared earlier in the day. It skirted the minefield to the south, entered the town and experienced the same house to house fighting as did Company G. It cleared the south portion of town by 1400 hours.

The German plans for the Battle of the Bulge were threatened by the loss of Kesternich. Generalleutnant Eugen König's 272. Volksgrenadier-Division had begun planning a counterattack the day before. Since they had been assembling for their participation in the Bulge, not all of his strength was available. His organic II. Battalion of the 982. Grenadier-Regiment provided troops for the attack, and the 272. Panzerjägerabteilung provided some armored vehicles (Hetzer tank destroyers and Sd.Kfz. 7/2's). The I. Battalion of the 753. Grenadier-Regiment of the 326. Volksgrenadier-Division, assembling to the south in front of Höfen and Monschau, was loaned to König for the attack and provided additional manpower.

The German counterattack against the 2nd Battalion, 310th Infantry consisting of at least 500 Volksgrenadiers began at approximately 1615 hours and continued sporadically until the early morning hours of 16 December. At first, the Americans held firm, driving off the frontal attack by the I. Battalion, 753. Volksgrenadier-Regiment. In a classic envelopment maneuver, the II. Battalion, 982. Volksgrenadier-Regiment infiltrated behind the companies of the 310th Infantry inside the village to cut them off from the rear. Those GIs trapped in Kesternich faced German armored vehicles with no means to combat them. Outnumbered, with little ammunition, and cut off from their supplies, the fate of the Americans inside the village was sealed. As darkness fell, the attack by the 753. Grenadier-Regiment gained momentum, advancing steadily on the isolated companies. Once the battalion commander was captured, nearly all of the surviving Americans surrendered, although some men hid away in the houses.

After the attack, over one-hundred and fifty German soldiers lay dead in and around Kesternich. While the American casualties were not nearly as great, virtually the entire fighting strength of the 2nd Battalion of the 310th Infantry were now German POWs. In the end, the fight for the village was described by one GI with the simple statement, "Kesternich was very bloody." The attached troops of the 326. Volksgrenadier-Division were returned to their division for participation in the Battle of the Bulge. With the knowledge that they didn't have the strength to hold the ground they gained, the German force retreated to the east side of the village by early light the next day. Only a small force at the large bunker near the entrance to the village remained to guard their conquest.

Late on 15 December, a counterattack by the 3rd Battalion, 309th Infantry was sent to retake Kesternich and reach any survivors of the 2nd Battalion, 310th Infantry. Isolated fighting by small groups of Americans continued throughout the night. None of the patrols sent out by the 310th Infantry to contact friendly elements to the west returned. When the 309th Infantry entered the town on the morning of 16 December, One officer said later, "Very few men from the [2nd of the 310th] were found in any of the houses, none [of them] were alive."

It was a bloody baptism of fire for the green American division. During the seven days of fighting for the village between 13 and 19 December, the 78th Infantry Division lost approximately 1,515 dead, wounded, missing and injured, according to the division's records. German losses in dead and captured, as confirmed by the 78th Infantry Division, were approximately 770, not counting wounded or missing.


The Sturmtiger

It was a weapon that could demolish sniper hiding structures with a single shot. It had a telescopic sight and was armed with a 380 mm breech loading rocket launcher and mortar. It could fire projectiles ¾ of a mile away.

The 275-pound shaped-charge “raketen hohladungsgranate 4582” was used against fortifications and could penetrate 8 feet of reinforced concrete. Each shot could bring down a building. It only carried 14 of these long rockets or mortars, though.

The launching charge was so powerful exhaust gasses had to be vented through special ducts. A tremendous flash accompanied each firing meaning the vehicle had to be moved as the flash revealed its position.

The ammunition was so deadly and technical that the best estimate for production capacity was 300 rounds – a month.

The Sturmtiger was a German assault gun built on the Panzer Mark VI Tiger I chassis. The idea was to create an infantry assault support vehicle specifically to destroy heavily defended pillboxes and buildings.

It not only had a 380 mm rocket launcher, but it also had a 100 mm grenade launcher and a 7.92mm machine gun. The 380 mm rocket launcher was adapted from the Kriegsmarine naval depth charge launcher.

The Sturmtiger weighed 65 tons and featured reasonably heavy 150 mm thick and sloped armor. It was designed for close-in urban fighting around infantry battalions, and it required five crew members to operate. The Sturmtiger was used in the Warsaw uprising and the defense of Remagen.

Just 19 of them were built.

GIs examine an abandoned Sturmtiger. The Brummbar, or “Grouch” Also known as the Sturmpanzer


Succesful Battle of the Bulge?

Apparently IOTL some of the english speaking commandos used during the Bulge infiltrated Liege and made it back alive, successfully identifying the supply dump in the immediate vicinity and various other juicy bits of intel. Looks like they were mostly quite effective give the extreme challenges they had to deal with and only lost 2 teams, 8 men total (1 not captured, but KIA). That's just for Greif, which was over by the 18th or 19th of December, not subsequent tactical operations involving other english speakers in US uniform.
Ultimately the US shot at least 15 supposed spies, 7 of which were Greif teams, though it is suggested that the US got spy mania and might have mostly just shot Germans who had looted American uniforms/cold weather gear and were caught behind the lines due the fluid nature of the fighting.

ITTL the would be good reason to use the OTL 9 teams committed in the area east of the Meuse and west of Aachen, as that would be the main point of operation. IOTL the teams were mostly used deep around Namur and Huy on the Meuse to scout out bridges and routes for the advance on Antwerp. They were also supposed to be the forward elements of Panzer Brigade 150:

Panzer Brigade 150 - Wikipedia

I could see them being used as a spearhead unit, once the lines were made fluid by the initial breakthrough, to attack Liege, as IOTL their mission was to seize crossings over the Meuse to continue the attack on Antwerp, but due to the situation never got employed as intended. ITTL given that they'd be breakthrough an area with multiple cavalry recon groups and they had a bunch of captured American scout cars and halftracks there is reason to believe they might actually be somewhat successful as a spearhead if they can slip into the gap created early on. It would be bad news for the Allies if they did manage to achieve their mission.

The para drop operation was a mess IOTL and ironic because the above post of Gannt's was on the Hohe Venn. ITTL I could see it being in the same place, but there is good reason to think that they might try for a para drop around Eupen to secure the town and bridge over the Vesdre river and in doing so decapitate V corps. which would seriously screw up defensive operations by the 2nd and 99th divisions. Of course their drop would have to go a lot better than IOTL. which may well not be that hard given that it would be closer to the front lines and harder to get lost, plus better air bases would be available. Also Eupen is a German speaking region, so would be more fertile ground for the paras to find help from locals or stay behind teams.

Anyway food for thought for the discussion if anyone is interested still.

Locke01

Deleted member 1487


Given the command paralysis of the Allies for the first vital days, the small solution with the same advance rates of the OTL offensive would get them to are nearly to their main objectives, i.e. before the Allies can do anything other than put blocking detachments on the Meuse. That would leave them SOL.
You claim the Allies could do all sorts of magical things, but they didn't IOTL in the Ardennes except where the terrain and concentration of V corps heavily favored them around Elsborn ridge. The other places that the Germans massed to attack in force they plowed through and advanced as far as needed for the small solution within 3 days.
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Just on this, the command paralysis for the first vital days in the OTL Bulge, was largely due to the German specifically not trying to engage and from an outside perspective just advancing towards no clearly discernible goal. I.e. the shall we say ambitious goal of the OTL-Bulge was so ambitious that it was hard for the allies to work out what the Germans were going for, so since you don't really want to commit to a large counter attack until you work out what your enemy is trying to do overall so you tend to hold back a bit.

But this will not be the case in the "Small solution",

1). the Germans are as you saying trying to encircle over mush shorter distances than those travelled in OTL-Bulge. This is a much more orthodox plan than steam towards Antwerp and try to find fuel on the way. I.e. it will be much more obvious to the allies

2). They will be having to engage more than OTL Bulge. Don't get me wrong they are not going to stop their entire force each time they meet a US unit because they are trying to close the circle and link up. But you still have to throw up a cordon and attempt to contain the enemy forces you are trying to encircle otherwise you encirclement is porous and the enemy just run through it, or if in larger enough numbers (say 15 divs) just cut it up into pieces. So again this will make thing much more obvious that OTL-Bulge.

I.e. as you have stated several times the small solution is not OTL-Bulge. and you are right. That doe indeed bring some advantages to the Germans e.g. less distance to travel so less overall fuel needed. (Although as your encirclement seems to be getting larger as this thread continues this advantage will be less and less in effect). But the effects of that change form OTL-Bulge are not just limited to positive effects for the Germans, they will effect teh Allies as well In this case they will spot what you are doing and respond faster.

Anther way this works is the open ground you planning on doing this through. Again as you rightly pointed out OTL-Bulge was initiated in poor terrain and with bad roads. This one is in more open terrain and better roads. This does as you say help the German's more quickly advance. (Although as mentioned earlier you will still have bottle neck trying to squeeze all your divs through the starting gap). But again the effects of this are not just limited to the Germans they will apply to the Allies as well. Better terrain and more roads will help allied communication, reactions and response.

There is also the point that as I said earlier operating in the open for more of the time will help allied air power.

But the biggest problem here is the fact that you seem to think that the first days are not only the most vital but the only vital ones, i.e. where this operation is most susceptible to failure, due to allied quick response. Now they are vital because yes if the allies magically move their forces in the general area fast enough to block you encircling force , than yes it is all over then and there. But that is not this operation's only fail point.

The encirclement does not achieve the operations goals just by being formed. That is only the end of the first phase of this plan. It is a vital part of it as the next phase can't start without it, but it is only the first step. You have to then contain and reduce the encircled divs who will be taking action against you and protect your encirclement against outside attacks. That is a period when you are basically locked in place and being locked in place will mean the allies can respond more effectively. despite your assumptions this will take a significant amount of time during which your forces will be vulnerable. It is also the part of the operation that will be occurring outside of the initial "surprise" period, and when that bad weather will be breaking.


In a way your plan has one of the same overall issues as OTL-Bulge in that just completing the initial phase and creating a situation is not actually enough to achieve the overall goal and for the allies to accept that created situation. There is the same underlying systemic issue for the Germans at work here. The Germans in late 1944 cannot launch and support any long term attack in the face of allied forces, they can only achieve at best short term success. In the OTL-Bulge is was to advance quickly through allied lines, with yours it will be at best advance quickly and link up, creating an encirclement. But once that initial success is achieved the end result failure will be the same.
Yours is better than OTL-Bulge because your initial phase is less open-ended and in theory you next phase isn't as pie in the sky as "drive so far into the lowlands the allies give up the invasion/sue for peace/whatever", but really that is setting a low bar. But being more achievable than the end goals of OTL-Bulge does not mean being realistically achievable in it's own right.

One of the problems the Germans had was they were often guilty of the classic issue of only thinking in terms of what they were good at and trying to fight their current battle's in the way they had won their pervious battles. In this case quick movement with armour = win. Only while it is NW Europe, it is not 1940, and not only is it not the 1940 opposition, but the German forces are also not their previous 1940 selves either. Yes you play to your strengths, but you can't ignore reality especially when those strengths are not as strong either in comparison to your current opponents or even to their own previous levels.

The irony is some of the moves the Germans did make to compensate for the changing situation as the war progressed actually hinder them here. The Panther and Tiger / Tiger 2 etc might well be impressive beasts in terms of armour and armour penetration, but in terms of a reliable tank force you can run a blitzkrieg with they leave a lot to be desired. Not just due to their inherent characteristics, but made worse when you factor in German issues with deployment and support. Although obviously not every German tank at the Bulge was one of these, but just as they cast a long shadow in the minds of those who faced them (when they got into combat that is), they cast a long shadow in German logistics and support (weather they got into combat or not).


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