German attack in the Ardennes: Operation by 30 Corps

Discussion in 'Higher Formations' started by dbf, Nov 23, 2011.

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    On the morning of 16th December 1944 Army Group B attacked against the FIRST U.S. ARMY on a fifty mile front between excl. HURTGEN FOREST (K 93) in the North and TRIER in the South. The main attack was made by 6 SS Pz Army consisting of 1 SS Division, 12 SS Division, 3 Para Division, 2 SS Division, 9 SS Division and 10 SS Division in the North and 5 Pz Army consisting of 116 Pz Division, 2 Pz Division, Pz Lehr Division and 11 Pz Division in the South.

    On the 17th December enemy parachutists were dropped between AACHEN and MALMEDY. Their appropriate strength was 1,000 and they were apparently acting in a diversionary role. On that date the German Armoured formations by-passed MALMEDY (K 7805) and ST. VITH (P 8588) and reached STAVELOT and VIELSAM some 20 miles from their Start Line. In the South the R. SAUER was crossed and ECHTERNACH (L 03) isolated. The main German Armoured formations were preceded by a force of parachutists, saboteurs in U.S. uniform and a certain number of captured U.S. tanks. U.S. troops succeeded in stabilising the flanks of the offensive. MONSCHAU (K 9418) was recaptured in the North and ECHTERNACH held in the South. It was appreciated that the German objective was to cross the River MEUSE on a broad front in the LIEGE area and exploit West and North-West.
     
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    A general topographical survey of the ARDENNES area is attached at Appendix I.C.

    During the first three weeks of December the weather in the LOW COUNTRIES and LUXEMBOURG was mainly cloudy with rain and fog. Flying was possible on less than half these days and, even when it was possible, both reconnaissance and close support sorties were restricted by weather conditions. Between 22 - 26 December the weather improved and the air forces were able to inflict considerable damage on enemy transport and tanks in the ARDENNES area. On 28 December wintry conditions set in: roads became ice-bound, blizzards reduced visibility and snow lay deep on the ARDENNES hills.

    (For effect on Ground Operations see Appendix 1D).
     
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    When this offensive began SECOND BRITISH ARMY was engaged along the line of the River MEUSE Norht of MAASTRICHT (K 5452) but H.Q. 30 BRITISH CORPS was at BOXTEL (E 3335) planning for Operation VERITABLE, (clearing of the area between the MAAS and the RHINE in the REICHSWALD FOREST area). At 1730 hours on the 19th December.

    30 CORPS received orders to move South with under command GUARDS ARMOURED DIVISION, 43rd DIVISION and 53rd DIVISION. The move began at 2300 hours in light fog to HASSELT (K 3262). On 20th December the Supreme Commander placed FIRST and NINTH U.S. ARMIES under comand of 21 A. Gp Main H.Q. CORPS reached HASSELT in the afternoon of 20th December.


    Positions were taken up as follows:- (30 CORPS Operation Instruction No. 38 dated 20th December 1944).

    (1) 53rd DIVISION with under command 33 ARMOURED BRIGADE in the LOUVAIN area to form a firm base for operations of 30 CORPS and hold the line of the River DYLE from incl. OTTIGNIES (J 7634) to incl. LOUVAIN (J 8658) and be prepared to extend their Right flank along the River DYLE to incl. GENAPPE (J 6728).

    (2) 43rd DIVISION with under command 34 TANK BRIGADE in the area TONGRES (K 4044) - HASSELT - BILSEN to hold these communications centres and be prepared to develop an attack Southwards along the North bank of the River MEUSE and develop a recce screen along the River from incl. HUY (K 2216) to incl. VISE (K 5539) and garrison and hold existing bridges over the River MEUSE between excl. NAMUR and excl. LIEGE.

    (3) GUARDS ARMOURED DIVISION in area TIRLEMONT (K 0249) - DIEST - ST. TROND to hold these communication centres and develop a recce screen along the River MEUSE and River SAMBRE from excl. HUY to incl. CHARLEROI.


    Meanwhile 2nd Battalion HOUSEHOLD CAVALRY REGIMENT who had been ordered South by SECOND ARMY were patrolling the line of the River MEUSE from VISE (K 5630) to NAMUR (J 9712). They made no contact with the enemy.

    On the 21st December 30 CORPS completed concentration and 29 ARMOURED BRIGADE came under command 53rd DIVISION and took over the defence of the line of the River MEUSE from NAMUR to GIVET (O 9374) to the South. 2nd Battalion HOUSEHOLD CAVALRY REGIMENT carried out patrols East of the River MEUSE to OUFFET (K 3907), MARCHE (P 2984), ROCHEFORT (P 2177). Contact was made with U.S. units but the enemy was not encountered.


    Meanwhile enemy operations were developing as follows:-

    In the North 6 SS Pz Army was attacking between MONSCHAU (K 9319) and STAVELOT (K 7701) and advanced elements had crossed the River AMBLEVE in the neighbourhood of STOUMONT (K 6303).

    A captured map showed that this attack was intended to give elbow room for a drive by 2 SS Pz Corps through VERVIERS (K 6623) to the River MEUSE at LIEGE and VISE. In the South advanced elements of 5 Pz Army had penetrated as far West as MOIRCY (P 3857) but U.S. troops were holding the vital communications centre of BASTOGNE. 30 CORPS appreciated the results of the fighting up to 2300 horus on 21st December as follows:-
    The main results of the past 48 hours' fighting are two fold. First, the enemy's hopes of bouncing the MEUSE crossings have almost vanished.
    Second, the enemy has not yet been able to deploy 2 SS Pz Corps on its intended axis. It may therefore be employed to the South.

    During the early stages of this assault when the course of events was somewhat obscure, the 30 CORPS plan had been to allow the enemy over the River MEUSE and then to attack his flanks. It was now changed to holding the line of the River MEUSE.
     
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    During the 22nd December, 29th ARMOURED BRIGADE reverted to under command 30 CORPS and were holding the MEUSE bridges at GIVET, DINANT and NAMUR. 2nd Battalion HOUSEHOLD CAVALRY REGIMENT patrolled South and East of River MEUSE without gaining contact with the enemy.


    On the 23rd December, 30 CORPS Operation Instruction No. 40, for Operation SMASH was issued, its main points being as follows:-

    (i) Enemy intention - To drive to the River MEUSE on a broad front and seize crossings between DINANT and VISE in the North with 6 SS Pz Army with 2 SS Pz Corps at present involved along general line K 90 to K 70 directed on VERVIERS and LIEGE and 1 SS Pz Corps at present involved at STAVELOT (K 7101) directed on HUY (K 2317) and in the South 5 Pz Army, at present involved between HOTTON (p 3687) and BASTOGNE, directed on the axis MARCHE (P 2983) - NAMUR.

    (ii) Own troops - First U.S. ARMY holds firmly in the North general line BILLINGEN (K 9502), MALMEDY (K 7804), STAVELOT (K 7100), VIELSAM (K 7089). In the South THIRD U.S. ARMY holds firmly from FUHREN (P 8947) to BOULAIDE (P 6245) with 101st U.S. AIRBORNE DIVISION holding BASTOGNE.

    (iii) 30 CORPS Intention - To prevent enemy crossing River MEUSE between incl. GIVET (O 9375) and incl. VISE (K 5640) excl. US. sector in LIEGE.
    Method - 53rd DIVISION with under command 33 ARMOURED BRIGADE hold firm base - River DYLE form GENAPPE (J 6729) to LOUVAIN and maintain bridges of River SAMBRE between incl. CHARLEROI and incl. NAMUR. 43rd DIVISION with under command 34 TANK BRIGADE hold River MEUSE from HUY to VISE excl. LIEGE.
    GUARDS ARMOURED DIVISION to prevent enemy crossing R. MEUSE from RAILWAY BRIDGE (973112) East of NAMUR to HUY. 29th ARMOURD BRIGADE GROUP hold from River MEUSE from incl. GIVET to excl. RAILWAY BRIDGE (973112).

    29th ARMOURED BRIGADE had one armoured regiment and a company of infantry at each of the three bridges at GIVET, DINANT and NAMUR with a reconnaissance screen of 61 RECCE REGIMENT in between. On the other sectors of the River MEUSE, detachments held each bridge with a reconnaissance screen in between, the armour being held in reserve in a counter-attack role.

    During the night 23rd/24th December a jeep containing three Germans dressed as Americans was destroyed by 8 R.B. (of 29th ARMOURED BRIGADE) post at DINANT. At 0925 hours on the 24th December a battle group of 2 Pz Division (5 Pz Army) made several attempts to penetrate towards DINANT. They were attacked by 3rd R. TANKS of 29th ARMOURED BRIGADE who knocked out three PANTHER Tanks and shot up infantry in the area SORINNE and FOY NOTRE DAME (P 0487).
     
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    The 24th December marked a radical change in 6 SS Pz Army's plans in the North. Unable to break through the American defences in square K 90 the weight of attack was switched to the South. On the 24th December enemy dispositions were as follows:-

    (a) 6 SS Pz Army (North)
    1 SS Pz Division Area STAVELOT - MALMEDY. A pocket of 1 SS Pz Division which had penetrated as far as STOUMONT (K 6202) was liquidated, 13 PANTHERS and 2 TIGERS being knocked out or captured.
    9 SS Pz Division North of VIELSAM (P 7090).

    2 SS Pz Division captured CROSSROAD P 5785 with advanced elements to ROAD JUNCTION 5390. An attack in the direction of WERBOMONT 5400 was disrupted by our planes and ROAD JUNCTION 5390 was recaptured by U.S. Troops.

    12 SS Pz Division which had been fighting East of 1 SS Pz Division had sustained heavy losses in square K 90.

    10 SS Pz Division unlocated.


    (b) 5 Pz Army (South)
    116 Pz Division HOTTON (P 3788)

    2 Pz Division approaching River MEUSE in DINANT area. (N.B. Their forward elements had, as stated above, been encountered by 3 R. TANKS.)

    A captured document showed the boundary between 116 Pz Division and 2 Pz Division as the road MARCHE - NAMUR.

    Pz Lehr Division had captured ST. HUBERT (P 3161) and appeared to be directed on GIVET.

    9 Pz Division - Unlocated.

    11 Pz Division - Unlocated.

    3 Pz Gren Division - Unlocated.


    101st U.S. AIRBORNE DIVISION was still holding BASTOGNE and the THIRD U.S. ARMY attack from the South was being resisted by 5 Para Division and Fuhrer Escort Brigade with 50 tanks.

    It was appreciated that the MEUSE was still the enemy's objective but he had been edged off to the South and the main prize, LIEGE, was far from his grasp. Both 6 SS Pz Army and 5 Pz Army appeared to be fighting with four armoured divisions forward and on in reserve. The strength of each SS Pz Division was approximately assessed at 100 A.F.V.s and 5,000 infantry, and of each Pz Division at 50 A.F.V.s and 2,000 infantry.
     
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    On the 25th December 71st INFANTRY BRIGADE of 53rd DIVISION took over the MEUSE bridges in the sector held by 29th ARMOURED BRIGADE who were released for operations East of the River MEUSE. 3rd R. TANKS destroyed more equipment and took Prisoners of War in FOY NOTRE DAME.

    On the 26th December 6th AIR LANDING BRIGADE relieved 71st BRIGADE in the DINANT- GIVET area an don the 27th December 6th AIRBORNE DIVISION, who had now arrived, took over the sector GIVET - NAMUR from 53rd DIVISION, 43rd DIVISION passed to under command 12 CORPS in the MAASTRICHT area, and GUARDS ARMOURED DIVISION with under command 34th TANK BRIGADE took over responsibility for the MEUSE sector from excl. NAMUR to incl. VISE, except for the U.S. Sector in LIEGE. On that date (27th December) 304 Regt Battle Group of 2 Pz Division was liquidated at CELLES (P 08) by 2 U.S. ARMORED DIVISION and 3rd R. TANKS. 24 A.F.V.s, 15 S.P. guns, 160 M.T. were destroyed and 400 Prisoners of War taken. The remnants of 2 Pz. Division appeared to be concentrated in the area ROCHEFORT (P 2177).
     
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    The enemy situation on the 26th and 27th December was as follows:-
    No appreciable gain had been made in any sector, the apex of the salient 6 miles East of DINANT was some 50 miles from the Start Line which Army Group B had left 10 days before. FIRST U.S. ARMY was holding firm the North flank of the salient along the line MONSCHAU (K 9418) - BULLINGEN (K 9502) - MALMEDY (K 7805) - MARCHE (P 2984). 9 Pz Division had been located for the first time South-West of MARCHE and had captured HUMAIN (2381). 3 Pz Gren Division were in square K 90.

    BASTOGNE the "BIR HAKEIM of the present battle" was still holding out. Enemy forces in its vicinity were as follows:-
    South and South-East 5 Para Division and 79 Division.
    North and North-West 15 Pz Gren Division and part of 9 Pz Division.

    It was estimated that on Christmas Day our air forces had destroyed 94 A.F.V.s and 811 M.T.

    It was appreciated on the 27th December that the enemy would persist in his efforts to reach the River MEUSE through MARCH (P 2984), HOTTON (P 3787), EREZEE (P 4491) and GRANDMENIL (P 5290) and that for this operation he had available on the Right 2 SS, 9 SS, 12 SS Pz Divisions and 18 Inf and 62 Inf Divisions, and on the left 116 Pz, 9 Pz, 2 Pz and 560 Inf Divisions. The rear areas of the Salient were being taken over by infantry, including some VOLKSGRENADIER Divisions.
     
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    It was appreciated that 6 SS Pz Army was side-stepping to the South-West. 18 VolksGrenadier Division took over from 1 SS Pz Division South of MALMEDY, and 246 Inf Division from 3 Pz Gren Division in square K 9606. 12 SS Pz Division attacked SADZOT (P 4789) and reached the main road in square P 4790. In the South 5 Pz Army showed little aggressiveness. Patrols of 29th ARMOURED BRIGADE went as far South as RECOGNE (P 2948) to the South of ST. HUBERT without contacting the enemy.

    Roads in 30 CORPS area were covered with ice, making movement extremely difficult.
     
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    On 29th December 30 CORPS Operational Instruction No. 41 was issued, covering a regrouping of the defences in the MEUSE area. The main points were as follows:-

    INFORMATION

    1. Enemy.

    (a) Pz Lehr has defensive strong-points at ROCHEFORT P 2076 and ST. HUBERT P 3061 with a defensive screen four miles West of these places.

    (b) In view of recent losses it is not thought that 5 Pz Army can undertake any offensive except at MARCHE P 2983.

    (c ) Main enemy efforts in next few days likely to be directed against Sector HOTTON P 3687 - GRANDMENIL P 5290 and to capturing BASTOGNE.


    2. Own Troops.

    (a) 17 U.S. AIRBORNE DIVISION is in process of taking over from 11 U.S. ARMORED DIVISION the sector of the River MEUSE from excl. GIVET 9275 to the South.

    (b) 30 CORPS is relieving VII U.S. CORPS in the sector incl. GIVET excl. AYE P 2583.

    (c ) VII U.S. CORPS is holding a defensive position facing South from incl. AYE to excl. GRANDMENIL P 5290.


    3. Boundaries.

    Left with VII U.S. CORPS
    STREAM from 304737 to STREAM JUNCTION 298776 thence line of stream to 265790 thence all excl. 30 CORPS CROSS TRACKS 253813 - HASSONVILLE 2581 - JAMODINE 2582 - LESS BASSES 2286 - PRSSOUX 1790 - thence main road to CROSS ROADS 127959 - thence incl. 30 CORPS main road to NAMUR - incl. NAMUR.

    Note:-
    (1) Both Corps have equal running rights on CROSS ROADS 127959.
    (2) Junction point with VII U.S. CORPS on F.D.L.s is ROAD JUNCTION 252812.


    4. Command.
    Command of sector incl. GIVET - excl. AYE to pass from VII U.S. CORPS to 30 CORPS at 301800A.



    INTENTION.

    5. 30 CORPS will:-
    (a) Protect all crossings over River MEUSE from incl. GIVET to excl. HUY.
    (b) Hold a defensive position facing South on general line DINANT 9887 - WANLIN 0976 - excl. AYE as a firm base.
    (c ) Operate offensively South of River LESSE on general axis GIVET - ST. HUBERT.



    METHOD

    6. Grouping.

    http://www.ww2talk.com/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=67895&stc=1&d=1322052461

    http://www.ww2talk.com/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=67896&stc=1&d=1322052548

    Note: 4 AGRA and 5 AGRA are under command for movement of formations they are supporting.



    7. Tasks of Formations.

    (a) 6th AIRBORNE DIVISION will -
    (i) Be responsible for protection of River MEUSE from incl. GIVET - incl. NAMUR
    (ii) Hold sector of front from incl. DINANT - incl. HOUYE 0580.
    (iii) Carry out offensive operations on general axis GIVET - ST. HUBERT. 29th ARMOURED BRIGADE is available for this task.

    (b) 53rd (WELSH) DIVISION will -
    Hold sector of front from excl. HOUYE - excl. AYE.

    (c ) GUARDS ARMOURED DIVISION will -
    (i) Remain in present location and be prepared to counter attack.
    (ii) Be responsible for protection of R. MEUSE from excl. NAMUR to excl. HUY including Bridge at ANDENNE.

    (d) 30th ARMOURED BRIGADE will -
    Concentrate in area incl. DORNAL 0936 - ROAD JUNCTION 085989 - CROSS ROADS 088982 thence incl. road to DORINNE 0394.


    8. Boundaries and Junction Points.

    (a) Boundary between 6th AIRBORNE DIVISION and 53rd (WELSH) DIVISION.
    All excl. to 53rd (W) DIVISION HOUYE - ROAD JUNCTION 085806 - thence road to CROSS ROADS 097853 - CONNEUX 0986 ROAD JUNCTION 073884 - incl. to 53rd (W) DIVISION FAVIET 0688 - ROAD JUNCTION 033938.

    (b) Junction Point
    6th AIRBORNE DIVISION and 53rd (W) DIVISION will establish junction point at HOUYE 0580.

    (c ) Rear Boundaries
    (i) 6th AIRBORNE DIVISION
    All excl. YVON 9695- EVEREHAILLES 9994 - PURNODE 0194 - ROAD JUNCTION 033938.

    (ii) 53rd (W) DIVISION
    All excl. - ROAD JUNCTION 033938 - DORINNE 0394 - SPONTUN 0594 - CROSS ROADS 088983.


    9. ROYAL ARTILLERY.
    (a) AGRA deployment areas will be arranged by CsAGRA with CsRA of Divisions the are supporting.
    (b) CCRA will co-ordinate all artillery on the Corps front.


    10. H.Q.s.
    Main H.Q. 30 CORPS - GODINNE 9698
    VII U.S. CORPS - 300992
    VII U.S. CORPS - FLORENVILLE P 2524
    FIRST U.S. ARMY - TONGRES 4044
    53rd (W) DIVISION - LEIGNON 1288
    6th AIRBORNE DIVISION - 893980

    On 30th December dispositions were taken up in accordance with this operation instruction, forward troops of 6th AIRBORNE DIVISION occupying a line from CELLES 0584, HOUYE 0580 and 53rd DIVISION relieving 2nd U.S. ARMORED DIVISION between HOUYE and AYE 2583*, and 34th TANK BRIGADE concentrated East of the River MEUSE under command 6th AIRBORNE DIVISION. 29th ARMOURED BRIGADE carried out patrols to the South and South-East and encountered enemy on the 29th December on the approaches to ST. HUBERT (P 3162) and on the line ROCHEFORT (2076) - LIBIN (2357). Similar patrols were carried out on 30th and 31st December.


    *Note: Detailed dispositions of 30 CORPS were as follows:-

    6th AIRBORNE DIVISION.
    DIVISIONAL H.Q. - 896979

    6th AIRLANDING BRIGADE
    H.Q. - 919870
    1st Battalion ROYAL ULSTER RIFLES - 9900
    12th Battalion DEVONSHIRE REGIMENT - DINANT 9988
    2nd Battalion OXFORD & BUCKINGHAMSHIRE LIGHT INFANTRY - 0085

    5th PARA BRIGADE
    H.Q. - 041837
    7th PARACHUTE Battalion - 0584
    12th PARACHUTE Battalion - GIVET 9275
    13th PARACHUTE Battalion - 0579

    29th ARMOURED BRIGADE
    H.Q. - MESNIL ST. BLAISE - 9678
    2nd Battalion FIFE & FORFAR YEONMANRY - FALMAINE 9781
    3rd ROYAL TANK REGIMENT - FINNEVAUX 0076
    23rd HUSSARS - BEAURING 0171

    34th TANK BRIGADE
    H.Q. - 000867
    107th REGIMENT ROYAL ARMOURED CORPS - 0584
    147th REGIMENT ROYAL ARMOURED CORPS - 0388


    53rd DIVISION
    DIVISIONAL H.Q. 131891

    158th BRIGADE
    H.Q. - 145831
    7th Battalion ROYAL WELSH FUSILIERS - 102775 - 105770
    1st Battalion EAST LANCASHIRE REGIMENT - 133765 - 133782
    1/5th WELCH REGIMENT - 128820 - 136823

    160th BRIGADE
    H.Q. - 149838
    2nd Battalion MONMOUTHSHIRE REGIMENT - 187828 - 195828
    6th Battalion ROYAL WELCH FUSLIIERS - 232802 - 225812
    4th Battalion WELCH REGIMENT - 192773 - 202774

    GUN AREAS
    (Field Regiments) 9120 1281 1783
    (Medium Regiments) 1382 1982 1882 1482
    (Heavy Regiments) 1685 1785
     

    Attached Files:

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    It was estimated that no less than eight German divisions were involved round BASTOGNE. Hence the enemy were on the defensive in the North between MONSCHAU and MARCHE. The SS Pz Divisions on this sector were being replaced by Infantry Divisions and concentrated in the HOUFFALIZE (P 6172) area. The estimated total of enemy tanks in the ARDENNES at this date was 400.

    On 1st January on 30 CORPS front contact was made with enemy posts, held by 10 PGR of 9 Pz Division at HARGIMONT P 2678, ON 2577, JEMELLE 2376, WAVREILLE 2271, BURE 2268, ST. HERBERT 3061.

    1 PGR of 9 Pz Division were to the Right of 10 PGR and to their Right again 60 PGR of 116 Pz Division, the boundary between the two divisions running North-West from GRIMBLEMONT 3581.

    On 1st January 30 CORPS Operational Instruction No. 42 was issued providing for a further relief of VII U.S. CORPS by extending the Left flank of 30 CORPS from incl. AYE 2583 to the river in HOTTON 369878. Command of this sector to pass to 30 CORPS at 030100A. VII U.S. CORPS continued to hold the general line HOTTON - excl. GRANMENIL 5290 and VIII U.S. CORPS was operating to the South of the German Salient. Boundaries were laid down as follows:-

    (a) Right with VIII U.S. CORPS.
    All incl. to 30 CORPS. CHARNOIS 9171 - BEAURING 0171 - WELLIN 1267 - HALMA 1267 - GRUPONT 2468 - CROSS ROADS 383699.

    (b) Left with VII U.S. CORPS
    Line of River OURTHE to HOTTON 369878 - all excl. 30 CORPS ROAD JUNCTION 354943 - ROAD JUNCTION 319966 - thence road to OHEY 1406 - thence to incl NAMUR.


    30 CORPS intention was to protect all crossing of River MEUSE from GIVET to NAMUR, to hold a defensive position on the line DINANT - HOTTON and to operate offensively South of River LESSE.

    The Corps sector was to be held, as before, with two divisions forward, 6th AIRBORNE DIVISION on the Right holding DINANT to excl. AYE and 53rd DIVISION holding from AYE to HOTTON, 153rd INFANTRY BRIGADE of 51st (H) DIVISION being in Corps reserve South and GUARDS ARMOURED DIVISION in Corps reserve North of the River MEUSE.


    The following provisions were made for Air Support:-

    (a) Air Support Communications

    ASSU Tentacles are allocated as follows:-
    30 CORPS - 1 normal Tenatacle
    GUARDS ARMOURED DIVISION - 1 normal Tenatacle
    53rd (W) DIVISION - 1 normal Tenatacle
    6th AIRBORNE DIVISION - 1 normal Tenatacle
    HOUSEHOLD CAVALRY REGIMENT - 1 Scout Car Tentacle equipped to act as a Contact Car but without Recce Pilot for the present
    29th ARMOURED BRIGADE - 1 Contact Car with Recce Pilot Controller

    Forward Control Post is held at CORPS H.Q. for use in case of need.

    (b) Tac/R
    Tac/R will be flown under SECOND ARMY direction to cover the CORPS front. Specific missions may be briefed by the Pilot Controller with 29th ARMOURED BRIGADE. Results of these will NOT normal be broadcast in view of the difficulty of distinguishing enemy from our own troops: they will be passed by telephone to formation H.Q.s concerned.

    (c) Target Indication
    For targets within the bowline 25 pr coloured smoke will be required. Owing to possible use of RED smoke by the enemy it may be necessary to ring the changes on RED, BLUE and GRENN. All these should be available, and in submitting targets formations will offer in para 'D' of the demand proforma "RED, BLUE or GREEN smoke at …" and give a map reference. In the acceptance the colour required will be notified.

    (d) Special resources for direct close support of 30 CORPS have been made available by the allocation of two fighter bomber wings of 83 Group ROYAL AIR FORCE working under IX Tactical Air Command U.S.A.A.F. This calls for no alteration in the ordinary drill for demanding air support. It merely ensures that there will be no lack of effort for engaging 30 CORPS targets.

    (e) These arrangement are made to cover the particular circumstances obtaining at present. They are NOT to be regarded as creating a precedent for future operations.


    Headquarters were located as follows:-

    Main H.Q. 30 CORPS - GODINNE 9698
    VII U.S. CORPS - 300998
    VIII U.S. CORPS - FLORENVILLE P 2524
    FIRST U.S. ARMY - TONGRES 4044
    6th AIRBORNE DIVISION - 893980
    53rd (W) DIVISION - NETTINE 2390
    153rd INFANTRY DIVISION - SPONTIN 059950
    GUARDS ARMOURED DIVISION - 046556
     
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    On 2nd January disposition were taken up in accordance with this Operation Instruction.

    158th BRIGADE of 53rd DIVISION relieved 84 U.S. DIVISION in the sector MARCH (P 2984) - HOTTON (P 3688). The relief was carried out in difficult conditions of snow and ice; there was some shelling.

    On 3rd January VII U.S. CORPS attacked in the sector HOTTON 3688 - TROIS PONT 6798, advances of three to four miles being made. On 30 CORPS front 29th ARMOURED BRIGADE with units of 5 PARA BRIGADE after sharp fighting succeeded in entering WAVREILL (P 2272) and BURE (P 2368), confused fighting continuing until 5th January in BURE visibility being reduced by low clouds and snow storms.

    On 4th January 158th BRIGADE of 53rd DIVISION attacked in the HOTTON area in extremely difficult conditions of snow and ice. The Brigade Commander was killed when his Scout Car skidded and turned over. [Brigadier Gwynne Brian SUGDEN, Commanding 158 Infantry Brigade, 53 (Welsh) Division, late South Wales Borders]. The outskirts of WHARDAY 3883 were reached and over 50 Prisoners from 60 PGR were taken. At last light on 4th January the 53rd DIVISION front ran on the general line MARLOIE 280 - WAHA 2981 - ROAD JUNCTION 311816 - CROSS TRACKS 366831 - ROAD JUNCTION 403855. On 6th AIRBORNE DIVISION from WAVREILLE and have BURE were held. No contact was made with the enemy at ROCHEFORT and HUMAIN.

    On the following day (5th January) one battalion (7th ROYAL WELCH FUSILIERS) of 158th BRIGADE was counter-attacked at 363821. One company was overrun and considerable casualties suffered before the position was stabilised with the aid of artillery fire. Meanwhile 6th AIRBORNE DIVISION were holding from incl. TELLIN (1967) - excl. MARCHE (2983) in an offensive - defensive role.

    On 6th January FIRST U.S. ARMY reached the line LAID - PRANGETEUX (P 4683) - FRAITURE (P 5986) - LIERNEUX (P 6289). Progress being better agains the Volks Grenadier division to the East than against 2 SS Pz Division who still barred the way to MARCOURT 4381 in the West. They also gained a bridge head over the River AMBLEVE between TROIS PONTS (P 6798) and STAVELOT (K 7101) and inflicted heavy casualties on 62 Volks Grenadier Division.

    30 CORPS I Summary No. 574 up to 2359 hours 6th January 1945 summed up the general situation as follows:-
    At the moment the enemy is holding more firmly on the Western than on the Eastern sector of the Northern flank of his salient. This is against his principles and against his wishes, but is the result of having his armoured formations in the West and his Volks Grenadiers in the East. To regain his balance he must withdraw some of his armoire to the East or else commit the elusive 10 SS.

    Around BASTOGNE THIRD U.S. ARMY troops have been forced to withdraw from MICHAMPS (P 6162) and ARLENCOURT (P 6160). The persistence of his attacks in this sector indicates that the enemy still has hopes of capturing BASTOGNE before the situation on his Northern flank deteriorates to such an extent that troops will have to be diverted from BASTOGNE to the North. At the moment the enemy's intention appears to be to reinforce BASTOGNE.

    (See Appendix 1A. Trace of Enemy Dispositions in the ARDENNES as at 1800 hours 6th January 1945).
     
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    On 7th January 53rd DIVISION captured GRIMBLEMONT (P 3581) and the spur at 3782 by 1400 hours, thus denying to the enemy the use of the road LAROCHE - MARCHE. Over 100 Prisoners were taken from 156 and 60 PGR of 116 Pz Division.

    To the East troops of FIRST U.S. ARMY captured MARCOURT P 4281, DOCHAMPS P 4983 and advanced South of the important CROSSROADS at P 5785; they also held REGNE 6185, HEBRONVAL 6386 and SART 6587 and were within a few thousand yards of the key town of VIELSAM 7089. The enemy moved elements of 3 Para Division from East of MALMEDY to hold VIELSAM.

    In the South the enemy did not re-new his attacks on BASTOGNE, to the West of which important gains were made by THIRD U.S. ARMY, FLAMIERGE P 4761 being taken. Gains were also made South-East of WILTZ P 7053 where DAHL 7349 and GOESDORF 7348 were occupied. 276 Volks Grenadier Division previously some 30 kilometres further East, was located in this sector. This Westward movement of German formations was commented on as follows in 30 CORPS I Summary 575 to 2359 hours on 7th January:-

    The moving of divisions such as 3 Para and 276 Volks Grenadier from the shoulders of the salient to threatened sectors further West means that it will be necessary for the enemy to maintain a strategical reserve a good deal further East than HOUFFALIZE P 6172. For that reason it seems that there is only one course that he can follow, namely withdrawal. The times has passed when 6 SS Pz Army can be used offensively in the present battle. It is however a force sufficiently formidable to ensure that the withdrawal remains orderly and to prevent any allied advance which might lead to the destruction or encirclement of large bodies of troops.

    (See Appendix 1B and Map. Possible Enemy Defensive Positions in the ARDENNES).
     
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    Appendix B1 to 30 CORPS Intelligence Summary No. 574 dated 7th January 1945.

    TOPOGRAPHY - POSSIBLE ENEMY DEFENSIVE POSITIONS IN THE ARDENNES.

    The map at Appendix 'B2' indicates probable lines of defence which the enemy may attempt to hold in order to complete a successful withdrawal from his present positions in the ARDENNES. In determining the points at which the enemy is likely either to impose delaying actions or to make a more permanent stand, the topographical aspect of defence has been the main subject under consideration.

    Owing to the halting of his offensive and the consequent difficulty of retaining his present dispositions for any length of time, the enemy's ultimate object is likely to be to withdraw his forces to a line along which he can hope to stabilise the front, at the same time imposing as much delay as possible on the advancing Allied Armies. His immediate problem is the method by which he is to achieve this goal.

    The area in which the battle is now taking place offers no natural defensive barrier until the line of the River OUR is reached, and it is to this line and to the comparative safety of the SIEGFRIED defences behind it that he must eventually attempt to withdraw his armies. It becomes apparent at once, that the town of HOUFFALIZE is the key to the whole situation and that any attempt by the Allies to break through in this direction from either the North or the South must be prevented at all costs. To the North, the CROSSROADS at P 5785 must be held, together with a defensive line to the North of the road which runs East from the CROSS ROADS at P 3869, through LA ROCHE, to VIELSALM. Further to the East, the vital junction of ST. VITH must be protected by defence of the East bank of the River SALM, and the South bank of the River AMBLEVE, in the area South of STAVELOT and MALMEDY.

    That the enemy also appreciates the threat to his Southern flank from the BASTOGNE area has become increasingly evident in the past few days, and it is clear that he must hold the crossroads at NOVILLE P 5864, and the crossroads at P 4563, in order to cover HOUFFALIZE from the South and South-West. East of BASTOGNE, the line of the River WILTZ offers a natural protection to his Southern flank.

    Provided that the Northern and Southern flanks can be held on the lines which have been suggested, the enemy will possess a corridor, containing at least two major roads and several minor ones, through which he can hope to withdraw 58 Pz Corps to safety behind the River OUR.

    This withdrawal is bound to be carried out in stages, and although there are no obvious topographical features by which these stages can be estimated, the following are suggested as reasonable:-

    1. Rearguards would be left on the HOMME, and the general axis of withdrawal would be on either side of the marshy and thickly wooded area North of ST. HUBERT. At the end of this stage the North and South walls of the corridor would be shown on the map, with the Western end blocked just West of the CROSSROADS at P 5869.

    2. The second stage would take the form of a withdrawal behind the OURTHE from LA ROCHE to the river fork, and the South to a position West of the CROSSROADS at P 5864. For this purpose it is to be expected that the Northern side of the corridor would pivot on LA ROCHE and the Southern side on LONGCHAMPS P 5363.

    3. The third stage would carry the enemy back behind the River CLERF through CLERVAUX, linking up with the SALM line at VIELSALM. Flank protection for this stage would to some extent be provided by the marshy ground around BIHAIN P 6384 in the North, and by the River WILTZ in the South.

    4. The final stage would be carried out in similar form and would result in a return to the enemy's original positions along the frontier (SECOND ARMY Intelligence Summary No. 216).
     
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    On 8th January 51st (H) DIVISION, who from 25th December had been in reserve South of LIEGE under command FIRST U.S. ARMY, relieved 53rd DIVISION in the MARCHE - HOTTON Sector. 33rd ARMOURED BRIGADE remained in that area, coming under command 51st (H) DIVISION. The relief took place on icy roads with snow falling.

    On the FIRST U.S. ARMY front 9 SS Pz DIVISION appeared South-West of VIELSAM in a defensive role. The advance of U.S. Units to PROVEDROUX (P 6885) threatened the escape road HOUFFALIZE - ST. VITH.

    On 9th January 51st (H) DIVISION advanced, capturing HODISTER 4080 and WARIZY 4280, dominating the road to LAROCHE. On the front of 6th AIRBORNE DIVISION the River HOMME was crossed. GRUPONT 2468 FORRIERES 2473 JEMELLE 2376 ON 2577 and HARGIMONT 2678 were occupied against only slight opposition. Bad going, snow ice and mines were the worst enemies.

    On 10th January the advance of 30 CORPS continued: there was no contact with the enemy, though elements of 2 Pz and Pz Lehr Division were still in the ST. HUBERT (3061) area. Numerous mines and demolitions were encountered.

    On 11th January 51 (H) DIVISION occupied MIERCHAMP 3173 and reached the outskirts of LAROCHE 4678. In the sector of 6th AIRBORNE DIVISION patrols of 61 RECCE REGIMENT contacted VIII U.S. CORPS in the area of ST. HUBERT and 6th AIRBORNE ARMOURED RECCE REGIMENT patrolled to the outskirts of CHAMPLON (4070) which was still held by the enemy.

    On the following day 30 CORPS continued to advance against the enemy who were withdrawing behind rear-guards. On this day (12th January) THIRD U.S. ARMY scored notable successes South-East of BASTOGNE against 5 Para Division who losses were estimated as 1,200 killed and 1,200 prisoners.

    On 13th January patrols of 6th AIRBORNE DIVISION contacted 87th U.S. INFANTRY DIVISION in the CHAMPLON (4070) area and 51st (H) DIVISION captured the villages of ORTHO 4871 and NISRAMONT 5072.

    On the Left of 30 CORPS FIRST U.S. ARMY cut the road HOUFFALIZE - ST. VITH at 638762. The enemy was still unable to withdraw all his armour and leave only infantry divisions as rearguards, but was forced to employ his armour to stiffen the infantry.

    On 14th January WAREMPAGE 5071 was captured and 30 CORPS had cleared the whole area bounded on the North-East by the RIver OURTHE and on the South by its tributary the OURTHE OCCIDENTALE.

    Contact was made all along the OURTHE COCCIDENTALE with troops of THIRD U.S. ARMY.

    East of the River OURTHE FIRST U.S. ARMY took FILLY 5473 and MORMONT 5573, reached 603762 on the road to HOUFFALIZE and maintained the cut in the road HOUFFALIZE - ST. VITH at 638762. South of MALMEDY LOGBIERME 7395 and LIGNEUVILLE 8098 were captured, while North of BASTOGNE COMPOGNE 5567 and NOVILLE 5864 were reached, the later proving a sensitive spot since its capture provoked a counter-attack by the whole of 9 Pz Division.
     
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    After 14th January 30 CORPS had no further contact with the enemy in the ARDENNES. On 18th January the CORPS started to move back to BOXTEL to continue the planning of Operation VERITABLE, and FIRST U.S. ARMY reverted to command TWELTH ARMY Group.

    FIRST and THIRD U.S. ARMIES continued to drive in enemy rearguards often against stubborn resistance. The outskirts of HOUFFALIZE 6172 were entered on 15th January and ST. VITH was entered on the 23rd January.

    By the end of the month the remnants of Army Group B had been driven behind the German frontier and were roughly back on the original Start Line from which Operation GREIF had been launched with such acclaim on 16th December 1944.
     
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    The German offensive in the ARDENNES had thus failed both in its military and political objectives. No strategic breakthrough across the River MEUSE was achieved, nor was an rift caused between the Western Allies and RUSSIA. On the contrary the committal of 6 SS Pz Army and 5 Pz Army in the West paved the way for the Russian offensive from the VISTULA bridge heads which opened on 12th January.

    The first and decisive failure occurred in the first six days of the offensive when 6 SS Pz Army was knocking its head unavailingly against the MONSCHAU - MALMEDY bastion in an endeavour to drive straight to LIEGE through VERVIERS. The second stage of the offensive, the attempt to reach LIEGE from the South, was equally unsuccessful. The sting was taken out of this left-hook by the air action permitted by the improved weather conditions of 22nd - 26th December, by a resolute defence and counter-attack on the ground and above all the retention of BASTOGNE, which prevented the full deployment of the available armour in this second attempt. Under the circumstances the opening of the Second German offensive in ALSACE on 5th January was in itself a confession of failure in the ARDENNES.
     

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