16th December 1944 Battle of the Bulge begins

Discussion in 'All Anniversaries' started by CL1, Dec 15, 2017.

  1. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    4 Welch Hotton.jpg
    Jan 4, 1945, in the afternoon, soldiers of the 4th Bn Welch (160 Bde) march through a wintry landscape along the main road from Marche to Hotton. The 160 Bde moved into a reserve position at the latter place. Temperatures at day-time were just above freezing point and sleet was falling at intervals. When the frost came that night roads turned into real sheets of ice.

    4 Welch Hotton arrive.jpg
    The column of the 4th Bn Welch arrives at Hotton. The 160 was held in reserve and would be committed as soon as the 2nd Monmouths, temporarily attached to the 158 Bde, would have captured Rendeux-Bas in the valley of the Ourthe River and thus open the main road along the river towards the south, to La Roche-en-Ardenne. The 2nd Monmouths, however, ran into a strongly defended enemy road-block at the Moulin de Hamoul and were unable to open the road (photo © IWM B 13399 ).

    4 Welch Hotton arrive aa.jpg
    The above picture was taken in the Rue Emile Parfonry at Hotton, close to the bridge across the Ourthe. Same spot nowadays with a view towards the west - the road leads out of the town to Bourdon and Marche (courtesy Google Street View).


    Tanks Hotton aa.jpg
    The East Riding Yeomanry was to provide tank support to the 160 Bde. These tanks of 'B' Sqn of the East Ridings were photographed at Hotton on Jan 4, 1945. The location is the N833 leading south to La Roche-en-Ardenne (photo © IWM B 13400).

    Hotton East Riding now.jpg
    Same spot as it appears nowadays; to the left the Ourthe River (courtesy Google Street View).




    See at 08:22 for a film shot which links the above two pictures of tanks and infantry at Hotton
     
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2020
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  2. 17thDYRCH

    17thDYRCH Senior Member Patron

    Stolpi was kind enough to show me the British participation in the B of the B. An excellent tour five years ago.
     
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  3. JimHerriot

    JimHerriot Ready for Anything

    From a diary entry of Lt William S Brownlie, East Riding Yeomanry, 4th January, 1945.

    Said extract courtesy of "Voices from the Battle of the Bulge" by Nigel de Lee ( a David & Charles book published 2004)

    Kind regards, always,

    Jim.

    Lt W S Brownlie Diary 4th Jan 45.jpg
     
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  4. JimHerriot

    JimHerriot Ready for Anything

    Omitted to say re post above, good book with many interesting quotes from all sides.

    Kind regards, always,

    Jim.
     
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2020
  5. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Jim - Thanks for posting, but Brownlie was not in East Riding Yeomanry. He was No.4 Troop leader, of 'A' Sqn, 2nd Fife and Forfar Yeomanry (29th Arm Bde) and at the time fighting with the 6th AB Division at Bure.

    BTW I got a lot of material on the battle for Bure but still am looking for a comprehensive account (especially maps!) since most of it is confusing. Planned to visit the place this year.
     
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2020
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  6. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    5 January

    21 Army Group: In Br Second Army area, 30 Corps, 6th AB Division overcomes last resistance in Bure, but goes on the defensive and vacates the hard-won village in the night to 6 Jan. The 53rd division meets determined opposition south of line Marche-en Famenne - Hotton. The road block at Hamoul impedes a further advance down the valley road. A sharp counterattack hits 158 Bde SW of Waharday and overruns part of its forward battalion, the 7th Royal Welsh Fusiliers (RWF).

    In U.S. First Army's VII Corps area, 2d Armd Div's main effort against Consy makes little headway; elements move toward Dochamps and clear part of Odeigne. 3d Armd Div is slowed by rear-guard action in Bois de Groumont but seizes Lavaux and enters Lierneux. 75th Div moves to Aisne R. In XVIII AB Corps area, 82d A/B Div makes progress all along line and repels counterattacks near Bergeval.

    Ops 53rd Weslh 5.1.45.jpg
    On Jan 5th, 1945, the 53rd Welsh ran into the main enemy defense - a string of villages along the high ground south of the forest which were defended by infantry backed up by a handful of SP's or tanks - and the advance stalled. The enemy had cleverly installed his line on the high ground that dominated the southern edge of the forests. The absence of paved roads inside the forest and rough terrain further impeded the British advance (the shadow of the Reichswald battle casting itself ahead). On the right the 71 Bde improved its positions in the forested area south of Champlon-en-Famenne and patrolled forward to the Bois de Nollomont which was found occupied by the enemy. The 158 Bde pushed further forward towards the forest edge. The Bde was temporarily under command of Lt.Col K.G. Exham (CO 6 RWF), as Brigadier Sugden was killed in an accident the previous evening, when his Scout Car slipped off the road and overturned. On the right of the Bde sector the 1st East Lancs cleared up the forest towards the Hedrée Brook, but found the enemy strongly entrenched on the high ground at Grimbiémont on the opposite side of the valley. On the left an attempt by 2 Monmouth to by-pass the Hamoul roadblock by attacking across the small Boiceau Brook was repulsed. The enemy controlled the area from the opposite hill mass, later aptly baptized 'Mount Snowdon' by the Welshmen. In the center the 7 RWF made some progress into the forest "Aux Thiers de Tailles" but in late afternoon was surprised by a sharp enemy counterattack from the left. The left forward Coy ('D' Coy) was overrun, the Coy next in line ('C' Coy) became short of ammunition and the battalion fell back in some confusion. The remnants of the battalion rallied around the position of the reserve Coy. They held off further enemy attempts but spent an anxious and very uncomfortable night in the forest with enemy patrols roaming around. The 7 RWF was effectively knocked out of the battle. That evening it reported its Coy's rifle strength at 3 officers and 73 men in 'A' Coy; 1 officer and 60 men in 'B'; 1 officer and 31 men in 'C' and 2 officers and 14 men in 'D'; a total of 186 men. The 4 Welch were immediately sent forward to back up the 7 RWF position; the Welch took up a reserve position at Ménil-Favay.

    Hotton_War_Graves_2009_35.jpg
    Brigadier G.B. Sugden, the Bde CO 158 Bde, was killed in an accident at 19:00 hrs on Jan 4th, 1945. He now rests at the Hotton War Cemetery (Photo courtesy Hotton War Cemetery - CWGC - euro-t-guide - Belgium - What to see - 5)


    Lt.Col Exham (acting CO of 158 Bde) received a DSO for his actions in the Ardennes:
    Exham DSO.jpg Exham DSO a.jpg

    Major Jourdain (CO of 'B' Coy 2nd Monmouths) received a MC for his efforts to subdue the enemy roadblock in the valley of the Ourthe River at Hamoul:
    Jourdain 2 Monmouths.jpg Jourdain 2 Monmouths a.jpg

    Sgt Anstee, a Platoon leader in 'C' Coy of the 7 RWF, received a DCM for his role in the actions on 5 Jan 45:
    Ainstee 7 RWF DCM 1.jpg Ainstee 7 RWF DCM 2.jpg
     
    Last edited: May 19, 2020
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  7. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    M29C Weasel 001 - M29C british aa.jpg
    To overcome the difficulties imposed by the rough terrain and the weather the British were supplied with the American M29 Cargo Carrier 'Weasel'. Only a limited number per division became available (about 20 per Brigade), but these vehicles became essential in supplying the forward troops. The Bren Carrier could not handle the icy road conditions and got bogged in the forests; the Bren Carrier in the Ardennes behaved like a 'curling stone on ice' one veteran once told me. Picture of a 'British' Weasel taken at Namur in Jan 1945 (Photo courtesy Panzerserra Bunker- Military Scale Models in 1/35 scale: M29C Weasel amphibious carrier - Studebaker - part 01)

    Weasel tracks & Carrier tracks.jpg
    The Weasel was smaller and lighter than a carrier. This combined with the broader tracks gave it an advantage over the Carrier in difficult terrain.

    Even tanks found the going on the roads difficult (see from 16:15 onwards):

     
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2020
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  8. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    6 January

    21 Army Group: Br Second Army area, 30 Corps, 6th Airborne and 53rd Div spend the day with regrouping.

    In U.S. First Army's VII Corps area, 2d Armd and 84th Inf Divs make converging attacks toward Consy, taking positions E and W of the town, respectively. 2d Armd Div continues toward Dochamps, completes occupation of Odeigne, and makes contact with 3d Armd Div on Manhay-Houffalize road. 3d Armd Div cuts Laroche-Salmchâteau road at its intersection with Manhay-Houffalize road and captures Fraiture, Lierneux, and La Falise; 83d Armd Rcn Bn clears Bois Houby. In XVIII AB Corps area, 82d A/B Div consolidates. To protect its left flank, 30th Div attacks S toward Spineux and Wanne with RCT 112, 28th Div.

    Ops 53rd Welsh 6.1.45.jpg
    The 53 Welsh division spend the day with reorganizing the front and resting. The line to the southwest of Marche-en-Famenne, occupied by the 4th RWF, was taken over by 3 Para Bde (6 Airborne Div). At the other end of the divisional line, the 53rd Recce Regt took over the positions of the 2nd Monmouthshires in the Valley of the Ourthe and on the bluffs overlooking it. The Recce Regt was placed under command of 160 Bde. At 53 Div HQ, located at Baillonville, plans for a renewal of the offensive were made for 7 Jan 1945. In outline these foresaw in a wide envelopment of the enemy strongpoints that were blocking access to the Ourthe Valley (see orange markings).

    2 Monmouths Hotton IWM B 13434.jpg
    Men of the 2 Monmouthshire Regiment marching along the main road in the Ourthe River valley towards the rear after their relieve by the 53 Recce Regiment. The battalion assembled at Melreux just north of Hotton. To the left the Ourthe River. (Photo © IWM B 13434)

    2 Monmouths Hotton IWM B 13435.jpg
    Same spot same unit. In the foreground the rails of the old tramway line connecting Hotton with La Roche-en-Ardenne (Photo © IWM B 13435)
     
    Last edited: May 19, 2020
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  9. JimHerriot

    JimHerriot Ready for Anything

    Apologies stolpi for missing a day and putting the chronology of your super work slightly out.

    Below from same source as in post #43 above, included as additional info.

    Kind regards, always,

    Jim.

    Lt W S Brownlie Diary 5th Jan 45.jpg
     
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  10. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    7 January

    21 Army Group: In Br Second Army's 30 Corps area, 53d Div launches an attack on the village of Grimbiémont and seizes it after a day of heavy fighting. South of Marche-en-Famenne other elements of the Welsh Division clear the forests of Bois de Spiroux and Bois de la Rochette that dominate the Marche - Cheoux road.

    In U.S. First Army's VII Corps area, co-ordinated attacks of 2d Armd and 84th Inf Divs toward Laroche- Salmchâteau road, intermediate objective before Houffalize, make notable progress. Dochamps and Marcouray fall. Only rear guards remain in Consy area. 3d Armd Div seizes Regne, Verleumont, Sart, and Grand Sart. In XVIII AB Corps area, 82d A/ B Div, in rapid advance of 2-3 miles, clears most of angle formed by Laroche-Salmchâteau road and Salm R. Some elements secure positions on ridge just N of Comté; others, during advance to Salm R line, clear Goronne, Farniers, Mont, and Rochelinval. RCT 112 seizes Spineux, Wanne, and Wanneranval.

    Ops 53rd Welsh 7.1.45 (1).jpg
    The attack of 53 Welsh on 7 Jan 1945 met determined enemy opposition and therefore made less progress than had been expected. On the right the 71st Bde cleared the remaining part of the forest mass SE of Marche capturing 98 POWs. In the center the 4th Bn Welch opened the attack in the morning. Reinforced by a Coy of the 6 RWF, the 4th Welch passed through the remnants of the 7 RWF and seized the wooded high ground known as 'Aux Thiers de Tailles' which dominated the road between Rendeux and Grimbiémont. The Welch, fighting inside rough wooded terrain, encountered stiff enemy resistance and had to beat off an enemy counterattack after they captured their objective. At noon the 1st Bn East Lancashire launched an attack uphill over open sloping ground towards Grimbiémont and seized the village, nestled behind the ridge. The battalion met determined enemy opposition, including three MK IV tanks in hull-down position. The infantry had to do without tank support as these were unable to reach the forest edge. Luckily for the battalion it started to snow that afternoon which somewhat concealed the battalion's advance and Pte Wride scored a direct hit with his PIAT on one of the MKIVs which jammed the turret. The remaining enemy tanks withdrew thereupon. After that every house had to be systemacilly cleared. A total number of 180 POWs were captured during the day, all members of the 116 Pz Division. Both battalions of the 158 Bde suffered severe losses. The 1st East Lancs on Feb 7th had 19 KIA and 75 WIA; in the three days of action in the Ardennes the East Lancs lost a total of 11 Officers and 232 men killed, wounded and missing. The 4th Bn Welch (+) lost 10 men KIA on Jan 7th (number of wounded is unknown). By the end of the day 160 Bde took over command of the 158 Bde sector. News arrived that the 51st Highland Division would relieve the 53rd Welsh Division on the next day (Jan 8th).

    Plateau Aux Thiers de Tailles.jpg
    The plateau of Aux Thiers de Tailles as seen from the Cheoux - Grimbiémont road near Cheoux. The 4th Bn Welch occupied the high wooded ground in the afternoon of 7 Jan 1945. View towards the west (courtesy Google Street View).

    Ardennes.jpg
    Soldiers of 6 RWF move up to the FUP for the attack on Jan 7th, 1945. Coy 'B' of the 6 RWF was attached to the 4th Bn Welch for the operations on the 7th. This picture was taken SW of Hotton - part of the town is visible in the background - on the road now known as Rue de la Libération which leads up to the Hotton War Cemetery (IWM).

    See also for a 'near' VC won by Lt Kenneth F. Tuffnel & a MM of Pvt Charles V. Wride of the 1st Bn East Lancashires: 1st Bn East Lancs Citations - DSO (recommended for VC) and MM - Ardennes Jan 1945
     
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2020
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  11. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    POWs Champlon- en - Famenne 2.jpg
    Part of the batch of 98 POWs taken by the 71st Bde on Jan 7th, 1945 (photo © IWM B 13476).


    POWs Champlon- en - Famenne 1.jpg
    Most of them belonged to the 116. Panzer Division (photo © IWM B 13480)

    Hotton memorial to the 53rd Welsh Division:
    Sherman Firefly turret - Hotton - TracesOfWar.com
     
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2020
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  12. JimHerriot

    JimHerriot Ready for Anything

    Excellent stuff Stolpi. Hope this ties in well (from same book source as my posts above).

    Postscript by one from "the other side of the hill".

    Kind regards, always,

    Jim.

    Hans Behrens 1.jpg Hans Behrens 2.jpg Hans Behrens 3.jpg
     
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  13. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    8 January

    21 Army Group: In Br Second Army's 30 Corps area, 53d Div is relieved by 51st Div. During the night to 9 Jan, the 6th Airborne Division, reports sounds of vehicular movement and heavy detonations behind the enemy lines, indicating that the enemy is vacating his most westerly positions in the Ardennes.

    In U.S. First Army's VII Corps area, 4th Cav Gp and 84th Div pursue enemy on right of corps to Marcourt and Cielle; other elements of 84th Div start clearing woods S of main road junction SE of Manhay, 2d Armd Div drives on Samrée, CCA moving S from Dochamps and CCB pushing SE along Salmchâteau-Samrée Road. 3d Armd Div gains intermediate objective line, taking Hebronval, Ottre, Jouvieval, and Provedroux. In XVIII AB Corps area, 82d A/B Div consolidates along line Grand Sart-Salmchâteau-Trois Ponts and clears Comté.

    Ops 8 Jan 45.jpg
    On 8 jan 45, in heavy snowstorms, the 51st Highland Division started the relief of the 53rd Welsh. In the afternoon the 154 Bde of the Highland Division took over the positions of 160 Bde. The 53 Recce Regt and 71 Bde remained in line and temporarily passed under command of the Highland Division. During the night to the 8th there were signs of an enemy withdrawal. Patrols of the 2 Monmouthshires signaled that Waharday had been abandoned by the enemy and the battalion occupied the village during the morning without opposition. That same night the 53 Recce Regt found the road block at Hamoul, which up till then had thwarted all progress in the valley, abandoned. Engineers immediately started to clear the road from mines and obstacles. A job that was made all the more difficult by the thick ice on the road and would take considerable time. No further offensive operations were conducted during the day.

    Ardennen Brits.jpg
    Elements of the 51st HD move up towards the front; note the tanks in the background who took to the fields whenever possible, since tracks had no grip on the ice covered roads.
     
    Last edited: May 19, 2020
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  14. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    9 January

    21 Army Group: In Br Second Army's 30 Corps area, 51st Div takes Hodister and Warizy against only minor opposition. The British 6th AB Division takes Bure and at night establishes bridgeheads across the Lomme River. The Division reports to have virtually lost contact with the enemy, who now seems in full retreat.

    In U.S. First Army's VII Corps area, 84th Div mops up near Consy, takes commanding ground at Harze, and clears woods S of main crossroads SE of Manhay. 2d Armd Div continues toward Samrée, which is subjected to heavy arty fire. 83d Div attacks through 3d Armd Div, gaining line from Bihain--which is entered but not captured--W to point NE of Petite Langlir. In XVIII AB Corps area, 82d A/B Div finishes mopping up within its zone. In 30th Div sector, RCT 424 (106th Div) takes over Wanne-Wanneranval region, formerly held by RCT 112 (28th Div).

    Base map 51st HD 9.1.45 aa (1).jpg
    On 9 Jan 45 the 153 Bde opened the 51st Highland Div's attack against the German Salient and moved through the 154 Bde's frontline. Since the most feasible approach to the south, the main road leading from Hotton to La Roche, in the deep Ourthe River valley, was difficult to attack and easy to defend, the plan was to thrust forwards on a one-brigade front across the high ground to the west of the Ourthe. 153 Brigade was to push forward as far as the crest crowned by the farming settlements of Hodister and Warizy, which would afford control of the lateral road from Marche to La Roche and also cut off any enemy units still hanging on farther north in the Ourthe valley. The attack was assisted by the 53rd Recce Regt, also under command of the Highland Division, which operated on the left flank in the valley of the Ourthe River. It was not until the dawn of January 9 before the roadblock at Hamoul was finally tackled by the engineers. In the meantime part of the 53rd Recce Regiment had moved forward on foot to the nearby village of Rendeux Bas and had occupied it without meeting opposition. At 0830 hrs, with the road finally clear, ‘C’ Squadron received orders to strike south down the main road along the Ourthe River. Without difficulty the squadron cleared the villages of Rendeux and Ronzon, capturing three enemy stragglers at Rendeux from the 116th Panzer Division. At 1545 hrs a patrol of the reconnaissance squadron, cautiously probing further down the main road, reached Jupille. Another moved up on to the high ground as far as Hodister and Warizy. Both villages were reached ahead of the infantry of the 153 Brigade who were much delayed by mines and deep snow on the forest ride that served as their axis. From this high vantage point the recce-men spotted the last departing enemy columns, moving east along the main road to La Roche and engaged them with artillery fire. Moving forward from Jupille, the reconnaissance cars at 1630 hrs encountered a blown bridge covered by enemy infantry at the road junction of Vecpré, where the lateral road from Marche joins the main road in the valley to La Roche. The roadblock was engaged by artillery. All told the intrepid reconnaissance men had made an advance of some five miles. Behind ‘C’ Squadron followed the rest of the 53rd Recce Regiment. While ‘A’ Squadron formed a firm base at Rendeux Bas, ‘B’ Squadron moved up from Rendeux-Bas towards Cheoux, at 1335 hrs they reported receiving slight enemy mortar fire at Cheoux (ops indicated in light blue).

    See for more details on 153 Bde's operation: Ardennes 1945, 51st Highland Div
     
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2020
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  15. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    German withdrawal from the apex of the salient (8 - 11.1.45)

    With the growing pressure of the First and Third U.S. Armies from north and south, even Hitler now realized that his offensive was doomed and the chances of extricating his forces from the Ardennes were getting slimmer by the day. On January 8th - the day the Highland Division relieved the Welsh Division - he reluctantly acceded to the appeals of his generals and authorized a limited withdrawal of his forces from the apex of the salient. A tacit admission that his Ardennes offensive had failed utterly. It was a withdrawal not all the way back to Houffalize, as had been advocated by his generals, but only to a line anchored on a great eastward loop of the Ourthe River some five miles west of Houffalize. Those authorized to withdraw were mainly units of the Fifth Panzer Army facing the British in the north and the Third U.S. Army’s VIII Corps west of Bastogne.

    Over the next few days the 51st Highland Division would be trying to catch up with an enemy in full retreat. Still progress would not be easy, nor swift. The mountainous terrain of the Ardennes and the worst weather a Belgian winter had to offer were enough in itself to see to that. Beside that, the sparse minor roads were beset with obstacles such as felled trees, blown bridges, innumerable mines and enemy shell fire and the occasional enemy rear guards. All these would slow down the speed of the advance to the pace of engineer clearing operations. The weather rendered Allied air superiority largely irrelevant. So murky was the atmosphere that on many days the Allied fighter bombers were unable to intervene in the battle. Under these circumstances, gaining a few miles a day would be a major achievement.

    OBWest map Ardennes.jpg
    An OBWest map with the dispositions of units. The frontlines indicated are those of 10.1.45 (dotted line) and 11.1.1945 (continuous line). The area in between was vacated, according to a note on the map (white circle): "Planmässig o(hne) F(ein)d(lichen) druck" (translated: according to plan without enemy pressure). Units concerned were 116., 9., (remnants) 2. Panzer and Panzer Lehr Division. After the retreat, 47 Pz Corps (Von Lüttwitz) took command responsibility of the tip of the salient from west of Bastogne to the Ourthe River at La Roche.
     
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2020
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  16. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    British airbornes Marche-en-Famenne.jpg

    On January 9th, the 3rd Para Bde, 6th Airborne Division moved to Marche-en-Famenne to relieve the 71st Brigade, 53 Welsh Division, which was still holding part of the frontline under command of the 51st HD. The relieve was accomplished at 1100 hrs. It was in the morning of the 9th, that this well-known picture of paratroopers of the 1st Cdn Para Battalion was taken at Marche. The 3rd Para Bde passed under command of the 51st HD, but on the next day reverted back to command of the 6th Airborne. Note the Highland soldiers in the left background (photo IWM).
     
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2020
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  17. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    10 January

    21 Army Group: In Br Second Army's 30 Corps area, 51st Div reaches Ronchamps, SE of La Roche-en-Ardenne meeting slight enemy opposition. The 6th AB Division clears Grupont and Forrières and, meeting only light opposition, thrusts toward Nassogne and Grune (Op Skate). The villages of Jemelle, On and Roy are cleared by the Airbornes against virtually no resistance, but for deep snow and mines.

    U.S. First Army prepares to broaden attack on 13th, VII Corps thrusting toward line Houffalize-Bovigny and XVIII Corps toward St Vith. In VII Corps area, most of Laroche-Salmchâteau road, intermediate objective of corps, is cleared. 84th Div patrols toward Laroche. 2d Armd Div captures Samrée and clears Laroche-Salmchâteau road within its zone. 83d Div takes Bihain, advances slightly in region N of Petite Langlir, and crosses Ronce R east of Petite Langlir. In XVIII AB Corps area, elements of 82d A/B Div secure bridgehead across Salm R near Grand Halleux.

    Base map 51st HD 10.1.45.jpg
    Rather than make directly for La Roche on January 10th, the 51 Highland Division decided to give the town a wide berth with another thrust along the high ground to the west of the River Ourthe. Tasked with the operation was 152 Brigade. The brigade was to pass through the forward positions held by 153 Brigade at Hodister, cut across the Marche – La Roche road, push on to the south and seize the village of Ronchamps, astride the main road running southwest from La Roche to St.Hubert, and finally seize the village of Mierchamps. The brigade was to take up a blocking position to the south and southwest, thus securing the division’s right and cover the advance on La Roche by other elements of the division, which was scheduled for 11 January. Tank support was provided by the East Riding Yeomanry. On the flanks 1 Gordons in the afternoon attacked and seized Lignières, while 5 Black Watch by the evening sent a Coy down into the Ourthe valley towards Vecpré to cover the engineers who proceeded to clear the road and build a bridge. Earlier on patrols had found the roadblock vacated by the enemy. On the right flank of the Highland Division the 1st Cdn Para Bn took the village of Roy.

    Fragment of the War Diary 152 Bde re the operation on Jan 10, 1945:
    DSC07287.JPG DSC07288.JPG DSC07289.JPG
     
    Last edited: May 19, 2020
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  18. 51highland

    51highland Very Senior Member

    5th Camerons war diary 10th January 1945; "Reveille at 0600 hrs and Breakfast at 0645 hrs. The Battalion packed and was ready to move off at 0900 hrs. We advanced in TCV's to HOTTON 369879 picking up our tanks on the way at BOURDON 334858. The roads were very slippery and the tanks had a difficult time descending the hills to the village of HOTTON. We expected to halt here for some hours; but the advance was going well in front, and we pushed on sooner than expected. We followed the other two Battalions of the Brigade down the LaRoche road through RENDEUX 408839 HODISTER 402803 GENES 391778 to HALLEUX 404772; travelling in T.C.V's all the way in spite of the difficult roads. Between HODISTER and GENES the Boche started shelling the road and hit an 'A' company TCV. The driver and three men were killed and 10 others, including Lt. Bowen, were wounded. This was particularly unfortunate as we had just passed 153 Brigade and were well behind the lead Battalion of 152 Brigade. As we approached the 2nd Seaforth in HALLEUX, at that time the forward Battalion, the Boche again started shelling. We debussed and pushed forward on foot, through the 2nd Seaforth, toward our objective, the village of RANCHAMP 417748, 'B' company led, keeping well off the road, to the woods on the right. 'A' company followed, advancing up the road with 'C' comp, 'TAC' Bn H.Q., 'H.Q.' comp and 'D' comp coming up behind. The road was mined in places and one Bridge half way between HALLEUX and our objective, was found to be cratered. One Tank and one Recce car were blown up on mines during the advance. As we approached the village, the Battalion attracted a certain amount of Shell and Mortar fire. Our objective was finally reached by 'A' and 'B' companies at about 2130 hrs. without receiving any casualties. The village was found to be held by a small German rear guard detachment; most of whom had withdrawn before we entered the village. The Battalion quickly got organised and our transport and food arrived shortly before Mid-night".
     
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2020
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  19. 51highland

    51highland Very Senior Member

    Dads recollections;
    On 10th January, I was bloody lucky that day, boy. We were advancing across bare hillsides in full view of Jerry observation posts. There was no alternative.

    I was sitting in the cab of the lead lorry with Lieutenant Bowen sitting between the driver and me. We were just cresting a hill when we took a direct hit from a German 88mm gun. I got out without a mark on me. When I had regained my senses I realised that Lieutenant Bowen wasn’t with me. I managed to pull him clear but he had received a face wound. It looked as though he had lost an eye. The driver was killed along with three others in the back. There were also ten wounded. Luckily some shells were landing in the snow and failing to explode, otherwise the casualty figure would have been much higher. We were extremely unlucky as we were some way behind the lead Battalion of 152 Brigade who had gone through unscathed.

    When we set out a young lad had asked if he could have the tailgate of the lorry down to allow more air into the back, to which I gave the OK. When the shell hit, it blew him and his mate clear, causing them minor injuries. It transpired that the young lad, George Thompson, of East Ham, London, was only seventeen years of age and not old enough to be on active service. After treatment at an aid station he was returned home, a lucky to be alive young man. I, on the other hand, had to carry on with the attack. Lieutenant Bowen was a sad loss to me. He had become a good friend, someone to talk to in the blacker moments. He had written comforting letters to my wife, and was always supportive. I believe his family came from the Northampton area, his Father owning or running a shoe factory or shop.
    As we approached the lead Battalion, (2nd Seaforth), in Halleux, we came under shellfire again. We debussed and went in on foot. Our objective being the small village of Ranchamp. “B” company were in the lead, well off the road to some woods on our right. We in “A” company advanced up the road, which we soon discovered, was heavily mined. We had one tank and one reconnaissance car blow up on mines. I led my squad along a ditch on the left side of the road and, Sergeant Kenny (“Porky”) Hearns doing the same on the right. As we approached our objective we came under shell and mortar fire. Within a few seconds we were subjected to Spandau machine gun fire with everybody hastily diving for cover. I managed to dive behind a small monument or shrine in the shape of a cross with machine gun bullets chipping the concrete away just above my head. I was pinned down well and truly. I shouted to “Porky” to make sure he was OK.: Porky had the radio set in his squad and called up tank support. When the tank arrived the Spandau fire ceased and we nervously made our way forwards.

    Attached Lt. William Bowen taken 1st January, Chaudfontaine, Liege.
     

    Attached Files:

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  20. JimHerriot

    JimHerriot Ready for Anything


    The sentiment written on your photo of Lt Brown ( to your father) is very prescient.

    "Keep 'em moving Sandy boy".

    He will have saved the lives of many by doing just that.

    Kind regards, always,

    Jim.
     
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