The Winter Counteroffensives
While the Allies were pressing their offensive toward the Rhine in the fail of 1944, Hitler was planning an attack in the Ardennes region to roll up and destroy Allied forces north of the line Antwerp-Brussels-Bastogne. Conceived by the Fuehrer at the beginning or middle of September, the counteroffensive was intended as a crippling blow to slow or stop the Allied advance.1
The German Plan
The first weeks of September saw few developments that would justify German hopes for success. The enemy made an attempt to roll back the southern flank of 12th Army Group and the month ended without his regaining the initiative in that area. Elsewhere, Hitler's generals had managed to improvise defenses that interfered with Allied plans for a quick breakthrough to the Rhine. Despite this success, Field Marshal von Rundstedt, who had returned as Commander in Chief West at the beginning of September, was not optimistic. In a report written after the war, he recalled that in his contemporary estimate of the situation he predicted that the main Allied thrust would skirt Aachen and aim at northern Germany and Berlin. He believed that most of the U.S. forces, once they approached the German border, would wheel in a northeasterly direction, advance across the line Trier-Aachen in the direction of the Cologne-Ruhr area, and then proceed toward northern Germany. In this case, southern Germany would fall automatically even if attacked only by minor forces.2
Hitler was much more hopeful. On 13 September 1944, he ordered the Sixth Panzer Army constituted with the idea of using it in a counteroffensive against the Allies.3 During the next ten days, he ordered two panzer corps disengaged from battle and transferred to the new army. About the same time, he outlined his proposals to Jodl, asking for plans to implement his general scheme. Jodl presented
his draft on 11 October; it was formally described to von Rundstedt and Model on 1 November. While the Commander in Chief West may have received some hint of these preparations before that time, it is clear that he was not the originator of the "Rundstedt counteroffensive."4
The plan called for Army Group B to attack with twenty-nine or thirty divisions5 in the area of the Ardennes with the objective of destroying Allied forces north of the line Antwerp-Brussels-Bastogne and thereby bringing about a decisive change in the over-all situation. These efforts were to be co-ordinated with those of Army Group H,6 which was located north of Army Group B. Army Groups G and Oberrhein, south of Army Group B, were ordered to tie up Allied forces. The initial break-through was to be aided by Operation GREIF, in which German officers and men dressed in U.S. uniforms and driving U.S. vehicles were to spread confusion by issuing false orders and by seizing bridges and key points. They were to be aided by some 800 parachutists who were to be dropped in the Malmedy area.7
Although Hitler's advisers were less hopeful than he about the prospects of the counteroffensive, they agreed it should be attempted. Keitel and Jodl declared after the war that, while the counteroffensive involved some risks, it was necessary to make an effort in late 1944 to check the threat of an Allied break-through from Aachen toward Cologne. Von Rundstedt and Model believed that, if surprise could be achieved and the attacking forces supplied, there was a chance for its success. Both doubted that the forces available were strong enough for the operation. For this reason Model, who was to command Army Group B in the attack, proposed and von Rundstedt approved a "little solution" involving a pincer movement around Aachen to cut off the Allied forces in that area. Model continued to urge it as late as 10-11 December, but Hitler rejected it. Despite the doubts of von Rundstedt and the commanders of the units involved, they thought that the Ardennes area was suitable for attack. They believed the attempt worth making, although they doubted whether more than half the distance proposed could be covered with the resources available. If the first half of the counteroffensive succeeded, they could then decide whether the rest of the plan was feasible.8
To hide their intentions the Germans worked out elaborate deception plans. All preparations were to be made under the guise of a counterattack against the Allied drive toward the Rhine. Only a small number of high-ranking officers were permitted to know the details of the plan, and the defensive nature of the preparations was stressed. All movements of German forces assigned for the counteroffensive were arranged to fit into the deception plan. The newly activated Sixth Panzer Army was not to be brought into the line until the eve of the attack, and all of its movements to the front were to be made by night. Both the Fifth and Sixth Panzer Armies were given fake names, and other units were shifted or renamed in order to confuse the Allies. To make certain that no slip-ups would occur, some of the units earmarked for the attack were left off situation maps at even the highest headquarters.9
The deception plans were to play an important part in the surprise gained by the enemy. In this effort the Germans were aided not only by the plausibility of their story but also by the fact that the Allies, now that they were on German soil, no longer had the excellent local information and certain other types of intelligence that had been available in France and Belgium.
In their December preparations to launch a drive toward the Rhine, the Allies had concentrated forces north and south of the Ardennes, leaving that area thinly held by one corps over a seventy-mile front. As troops were sent from the Ardennes to the north, General Eisenhower had pointed out that they were getting stretched and there was a danger of a "nasty little Kasserine," but he did not change his dispositions. General Bradley believed that he could afford to take a risk in the area in order to mount a strong attack against the enemy. In making these decisions, the commanders were taking a type of calculated risk common in all battles or campaigns where a given force lacks sufficient troops to concentrate at the point of main attack and still hold strongly elsewhere. The decision to concentrate north and south of the Ardennes was made because those areas provided the best routes of advance into Germany, but there were also adequate grounds for choosing the Ardennes as the area to be weakly held. Although the enemy had come through the Ardennes in 1870 and again in 1940, the terrain was not suited for mobile warfare, particularly in the winter months when bad weather was likely to make the poor road net even less valuable than usual.
Allied Estimate of Enemy Intentions
While the Germans prepared the Ardennes counteroffensive, the Allies made use of normal intelligence sources such as air reconnaissance, captured documents, prisoner interrogation, and patrol reports. They also had some information from OSS agents, but this varied from army to army.10 From the sources available, the Allied intelligence sections predicted rather accurately that the enemy lacked the means of preventing the Allies from
reaching the heart of Germany and destroying her military might, and that the enemy would make his major stand west of the Rhine. They were also able to locate most of the enemy units and to plot their general movements.
The various intelligence sections published these estimates in weekly and, at some levels, daily summaries. Because there was a time lag between the reception of information and its publication and because some information was too highly classified to be circulated, the published estimates were supplemented by daily reports at conferences of the commanders and their staffs and by personal reports to the commanders. Few, if any, records were kept of these meetings, and it is necessary to depend heavily upon the printed estimates for the views of the intelligence chiefs. With certain qualifications, however, it is safe to make use of these sources. Inasmuch as no major change was made in the general conclusions about enemy capabilities in the estimates of October and November, it may be assumed that these represent generally the thinking of the intelligence sections of that period.
For December, when the nature of the warnings becomes important, it is necessary to know what additional information was given. In the absence of a record of the oral briefings, one can do little more than apply a rule of thumb test: was the warning of such weight that the commander found it necessary to make any immediate changes in his tactical dispositions? This test must naturally be used with caution since the intelligence officer's warnings may have been ignored by his commander. It may normally be assumed, however, that no commander intentionally permits his forces to be overwhelmed. The problem of judging the nature of intelligence warnings is an exceptionally thorny one, particularly when they are given orally and when they are later involved in controversy. The intelligence chief tends to give a number of alternative capabilities which the enemy may develop, and since he is obliged to emphasize the maximum effort the enemy may make he often hits on all the courses of action the enemy can possibly take. In such a case, he is able to claim later that he forecast the enemy's action accurately. The commander, accustomed to rather gloomy forecasts, has to have something more than an array of enemy capabilities if he is to continue battle at all. At this point he wants an intelligence officer to give him a precise statement as to the action the enemy seems most likely to take. The ideal intelligence report would be one which would say that a force of a specific number of divisions is likely to strike within a given period along a particular front to carry out a particular mission. The prospects are slim, however, that any intelligence officer, short of getting a copy of the operational orders from the enemy commander in chief, could make such a report. The most that any commander expects is an approximation of that type of information.
In the case of the Ardennes, some intelligence officers believed that they provided such warning to their superiors and that either the intelligence sections at higher echelons or the commanders themselves ignored it. With the reminder that the materials at hand are incomplete, that there were a number of important oral briefings which may have contradicted the information given in daily or weekly summaries, and that the chief commanders involved, Generals Eisenhower and Bradley, have assumed full responsibility for any errors of judgment made in
the Ardennes, the question of what the intelligence reports said about enemy intentions and what the Allied commanders did about them can be explored.
As early as 1 October, the SHAEF G-2 reported that the Seventh Army was withdrawing armor from the line and that a panzer army would soon emerge to give Army Group B the same type of armored support which the Fifth Panzer Army gave Army Group G. As the enemy withdrawals continued later in the month, leaving the Ardennes dangerously short of troops, SHAEF concluded that a reshuffle of enemy forces was under way to strengthen Army Group B around Aachen. This view was seconded by the estimates of the army groups and armies in the north.11
SHAEF concluded near the end of October that the Germans would soon be able to collect a reserve of panzer and parachute units with which they could attack the Allies--probably in the north. The 12th Army Group predicted that if the enemy was left free until 1 December he would be able to build a powerful striking force, and named the area near Paderborn and Muenster as the possible site for training and organizing its armored elements. SHAEF added that Hitler was preparing this panzer force in Westphalia for action against the Allies in November. The principal doubt revolved around whether it would be used for a counterattack after the launching of an Allied offensive or for a spoiling attack. In the opinion of the 12th Army Group, the enemy's most serious capability was a counterattack with armored reserves against any Allied break-through toward the Rhine in the Ninth and First Army sectors. The 21 Army Group saw in German activities the possible forerunner of an attack which would act as an "emotional counterblast to the memories of 11 November."12
By the end of the first week in November, a German deserter had reported that panzer units then re-forming in Westphalia were part of the Sixth Panzer Army. In releasing this statement, SHAEF also revealed that the Fifth Panzer Army, identified on SHAEF maps as having been in the line the preceding week, had not been heard of for some weeks.13
By mid-November there was evidence that activities in Westphalia were accompanied by enemy troop movements east of the area from the Ruhr to Luxembourg. Impressed by the "truly colossal effort" which the enemy had made in forming or re-creating at least five panzer and five parachute divisions during September and October, SHAEF concluded that the enemy's hand was dealt for "a final showdown before the winter." On the assumption
that the enemy was organizing a reserve to repel an Allied offensive, SHAEF decided it was logical for the Germans to use their new panzer army against Allied thrusts building up north of the Eifel (a northeastern prolongation of the Ardennes).14
In general, the 12th Army Group reached the same conclusions. The enemy was deemed capable of reinforcing his units west of Cologne with all available armored reserves for (1) an attack on the north flank of the Ninth Army or the south flank of the VII Corps, or for (2) a counterattack against any further eastward advance by the Allies toward Cologne. The First Army G-2 was somewhat more positive in his view that the enemy would stake everything on an offensive in the west. His estimate declared:It is believed that this entire front has been stiffened to hold against an Allied offensive while he launches his blow in the north, probably between Aachen and Venlo, with the possible scheme of maneuver of a penetration to the west and southwest on both banks of the Meuse. Although his immediate stocks of fuel are probably ample, it may be difficult for him to maintain a sustained offensive.15
In these early summaries, the Allied intelligence chiefs clearly assumed that, since the Germans knew of the Allied intention to push toward the Ruhr, they had built an armored force to cope with it. Anxieties about the strength of a counterstroke were dispelled by the belief that bad weather and fuel shortages would interfere with anything more serious than a spoiling attack.16 Instead of being alarmed at the moment about any danger to the thinned-out Ardennes region, General Bradley, when told of the enemy concentrations, worried chiefly about the struggle he expected between the Roer and the Rhine. He told General Smith that he would prefer a counterattack in November since the Allies could kill the Germans more easily if they would come out of their holes.17
The illusion that the Germans were preparing to meet an Allied attack toward the Ruhr persisted through November. Correctly, the intelligence sections identified the movement of panzer divisions on their way from Westphalia to the Duesseldorf-Cologne area. By 20 November, they agreed that the Sixth Panzer Army was west of the Rhine prepared to defend the Roer River line and prevent Allied thrusts to the Rhine. Three of the Fifth Panzer Army's five divisions were reported to be behind the enemy front in the Aachen sector. This report seemed to confirm the opinion that here the Allies should find "Rundstedt's only two panzer armies fighting side by side to deny [them] the approaches to the most vital sector of Germany--the Ruhr." The First Army believed that the enemy "lost a big advantage in not being able to put in a spoiling attack prior to the commencement of the present Allied offensive." Before the Germans could go over to the offensive, they would now have to wait until a soft spot developed on the
Allied front or until an Allied attack was stopped as the result of heavy losses.18
In December, the Allied intelligence sections showed uneasiness as the enemy shuffled his divisions between the northern and southern parts of his front. They tended increasingly to predict that the enemy was planning an attack, perhaps before Christmas, but they never positively settled on the Ardennes as the place of attack. During the week ending 3 December, SHAEF spotted various tank movements from the Rhine toward Bitburg in the Eifel--opposite the Ardennes. Considerable activity was noted in this area, but the arrival of new units seemed to be balanced by the withdrawal of others. The 12th Army Group concluded that the enemy's policy was to use the newly arrived units in the Ardennes sector opposite the thinned-out VIII Corps sector in order to be able to shift the more experienced troops to more critical sectors. The First Army also announced the movement of troops to the Bitburg area but added, "During the past month there has been a definite pattern for the seasoning of newly-formed divisions in the comparatively quiet sector opposite VIII Corps prior to their dispatch to more active fronts." The VIII Corps, against which the enemy was to launch the full fury of his armored attack, paraphrased this view six days before the attack: "The enemy's present practice of bringing new divisions to this sector to receive front line experience and then relieving them out for commitment elsewhere indicates his desire to have this sector of the front remain quiet and inactive." In the last hours before the attack, the corps hinted at suspicious activity in the area, but its last periodic report before the attack, issued on 15 December, indicated that enemy capabilities showed no change.19
The SHAEF intelligence chief in the final weeks before the enemy counteroffensive became worried over enemy movements toward the Ardennes and the Strasbourg area and gave some warning to both General Eisenhower and General Bradley.20 On 10 December, the Third
Army became strongly impressed by the withdrawal of German elements from the line. This reserve, which included two panzer divisions, might enable the enemy "to mount a spoiling offensive in an effort to unhinge the Allied assault on Festung Deutschland." By the 13th, the Third Army believed that the enemy was planning a counteroffensive in which the armor of the Sixth Panzer Army would be used in the area between Aachen and Dueren.21
Perhaps the most frequently quoted intelligence estimate of this period and the one commonly regarded as the most accurate was that issued by the First Army on 10 December. Some observers, who believe that this estimate and the later additions to it gave a sufficient basis for expecting the 16 December attack, have advanced various reasons why these warnings were unheeded. They cite the fact that relations between the First Army chief of staff and chief of operations, on the one hand, and the chief of intelligence, on the other, were not always as close as they should have been. Others state that some coolness or jealousy existed between the 12th Army Group and First Army G-2's. Still others say that the First Army G-2's predictions were sometimes discounted because he tended to identify units on the Western Front which were known to be elsewhere.22 For present purposes it is sufficient to find whether or not the forecasts of an impending enemy attack were of such a nature as to cause the First Army commander and the commanders above him to order a change in the dispositions of the U.S. forces to meet an attack in the Ardennes.
The 10 December estimate began with a general summary of the current situation. It indicated that since the last report of 20 November 1944 the enemy had stubbornly contested every foot of ground in the First Army zone. "He has defended," it continued, "with one Armd, one Para, one Pz Gren and eighteen Inf Divs. 116 Pz Div is now out of the line for repair, 3 Pz Gr is about due, ten Inf Divs have been consolidated into four for a net loss of six, one Inf Div was dissolved and a further Div, 3 Para, is badly mauled." The enemy was reported to be intensifying his defenses back of the line of the Roer and along the line of the Erft. "His armored reserve," the estimate added, "appears to be quartered in houses and barns along the railroads generally in a semi-circle from Duesseldorf to Koblenz, with Koeln [Cologne] as the center point." To the First Army G-2 it seemed plain that the enemy's "strategy in defense of the Reich is based on the exhaustion of our offensive to be followed by an all-out counterattack with armor, between the Roer and the Erft, supported by every weapon he can bring to bear."23
The First Army estimate mentioned some evidence of a build-up in the Bitburg-Wittlich area (an area from which
part of the counteroffensive was launched on 16 December), where Panzer Division Grossdeutschland and Panzer Lehr Division, or some of its elements, were reported to be. A captured order asking for German soldiers speaking "the American dialect" to report to Skorzeny's headquarters by 1 November for special training was taken as an indication that special operations for sabotage and attacks on Allied command posts and vital installations were in progress.24 First Army intelligence officers were impressed by the fact that morale among freshly captured prisoners of war was unusually high and that they appeared eager to return to the battle for Germany. These and other factors made it apparent thatvon Rundstedt, who obviously is conducting military operations without the benefit of intuition, has skilfully defended and husbanded his forces and is preparing for his part in the all-out application of every weapon at the focal point and the correct time to achieve defense of the Reich west of the Rhine by inflicting as great a defeat on the Allies as possible. Indications to date point to the location of the focal point as being between Roermond and Schleiden, and within this bracket the concentrated force will be applied to the Allied force judged by the German High Command to be the greatest threat to successful defense of the Reich.25
These conclusions hit accurately on many details of the enemy build-up. The signs, such as improved enemy morale and the organization of teams consisting of soldiers speaking American, all pointed toward increased enemy activity. At the same time, the First Army chief of intelligence was somewhat wide of the mark in several of his estimates. The bracketing of the focal point of attack between Roermond and Schleiden, which covered part of the Second British Army's front, all of the Ninth Army's front, and less than half of the First Army's front, was less precise than the information General Hodges needed if he was to make a major shift of his troops to the south. The southernmost line indicated by this prediction was slightly north of the Ardennes area where the counteroffensive took place. The placing of the armored reserve in the vicinity of Cologne, while fairly correct, made it possible that the front of attack would be considerably north of the Ardennes. Like his fellow intelligence chiefs, the First Army G-2 indicated that the enemy would send his concentrated forces against those Allied forces which most strongly
threatened Germany. These were definitely north of the Ardennes.
The First Army report came close to the truth with its identification of one armored division and elements of another in the Wittlich-Bitburg sector. Unfortunately for First Army's later claim of accurate prophecy, the estimate ended by destroying part of the effect of its warning. Speaking of German strategy, the First Army intelligence chief said:The restoration of the West Wall is still a probable strategic objective. . . . The enemy has let his situation in both the upper Rhine and south of the Moselle deteriorate while still conserving reserves between Duesseldorf and Koeln. Von Rundstedt apparently is accepting defeats in the south rather than compromise his hope of a decisive success in the north. This would appear to be the keynote of his strategy in the defense of the Reich west of the Rhine. During the past month there has been a definite pattern for the seasoning of newly-formed divisions in the comparatively quiet sector opposite VIII Corps prior to their dispatch to more active fronts. The enemy is well aware of the tactical "ace" which he holds in the Roer River dams. Our recent attempts to breach the dam walls by air bombardment, as yet unsuccessful, have served to emphasize our own concern with the flooding of the Roer valley. The enemy has reacted by building up his forces on the route of approach to the Schwammenauel and the Urfttalsperre, the key dams in this system of barrages. Besides the divisions in the Sixth Panzer Army, the enemy has 2 Pz and 116 Pz Divs conditionally available for local counterattacks in the defense of the dams, in addition to at least two Volks-grenadier divisions which are available from the VIII Corps sector.
The importance of the Roer dams to both the Allies and the enemy seems to have outweighed other factors when the First Army intelligence chief drew his conclusions as to possible enemy capabilitieS. Four of these were listed. In the first, the enemy was considered capable of continuing his defense of the line of the Roer north of Dueren, his present lines west of the Roer covering the dams, and the West Wall to the south. Next, he was considered capable of "concentrated counterattack with air, armor, infantry and secret weapons at a selected focal point at a time of his own choosing." A third capability was defense of the line of the Erft and retirement east of the Rhine. Last, he was capable of collapse or surrender. The first of these conclusions, reflecting a static defense by the enemy plus a build-up in threatened areas like those near the Roer dams, was regarded as current. Number 3 was described as probable if enemy counterattacks proved unsuccessful, and number 4 was spoken of merely as a possibility. The important capability was number 2. Here, where the First Army intelligence chief had an opportunity to pin down the point of attack, he, like his fellow intelligence officers, failed to qualify as a completely accurate prophet. To his commander, who needed to know what changes in troop dispositions on First Army's front were required as a result of enemy activities, he reported:. . . The exercise of capability 2a(2) [the capability referring to a counteroffensive] is to be expected when our major ground forces have crossed the Roer River, and if the dams are not controlled by us, maximum use will be made by the enemy of flooding of the Roer in conjunction with his counterattack.
As reasons for his conclusion, he added:The enemy is apparently reconciled to the loss of Alsace and to defending behind the upper Rhine. He is now fighting in the Saarlautern area and along the Saar River in defensive action similar to that in the Aachen sector. There is no disposition to retire behind the Rhine except where he has been forced to do so, and this occurred in a sector
where his West Wall is east of the Rhine. The continual building up of forces to the west of the Rhine points consistently to his staking all on the counteroffensive as stated in capability 2a(2).
Despite these intimations that something might happen before the end of the year, there were few indications that at those headquarters most involved--VIII Corps, First Army, 12th Army Group, and SHAEF--the counteroffensive of 16 December was expected by the commanders concerned.26 It is necessary, in this connection, to determine what the various commanders and their staffs were doing to prepare against an attack in the last days before the counteroffensive.
At SHAEF, the Supreme Commander, although aware of the predictions of his chief of intelligence, was not sufficiently impressed by the imminent danger to the Ardennes area to stress its defense at the expense of other sectors. Instead his attention was turned on 14 December to the Colmar bridgehead sector. In order to eliminate this enemy salient, which was keeping eight Allied divisions busy, General Eisenhower authorized General Devers to suspend the operation then being prepared by the First French Army against enemy garrisons on the Atlantic coast of France (Operation INDEPENDENCE) and use the forces thus released against the Colmar bridgehead.27 On the morning of 15 December, the SHAEF G-3 briefing officer, though presumably aware of the current intelligence estimates, said that there was nothing to report from the Ardennes sector.28
The 12th Army Group, which had shown some uneasiness earlier, declared on 12 December, "It is now certain that attrition is steadily sapping the strength of German forces on the western front and that the crust of defenses is thinner, more brittle and more vulnerable than it appears on G-2 maps or to troops in the line."29 At 21 Army Group, it was assumed that von Rundstedt, known to be a cautious commander, would not risk his panzer divisions forward of the Cologne-Bonn area until the Allied drive beyond the Roer had advanced to the point that Model's army group could not deal with it or until the position of the Allies was such that an abrupt counteroffensive would put an end to their prospects for the winter. There was certainly no sense of imminent attack at that headquarters: General de Guingand, the chief of staff, went to the United Kingdom on 15 December, and Field Marshal Montgomery asked General Eisenhower on the same day if he had any objection to his going to the United Kingdom the following week.30
The First Army, which on 10 December spoke of a counterattack when the Allies had crossed the Roer, issued several supplementary reports before the 16th. Two days before the attack it reprinted VIII Corps' report of a German woman's statement that equipment and troops were being massed in the area of Bitburg. The presence of engineers with bridging equipment suggested to the First Army the possibility of offensive action. The First Army estimate declared on 15 December:Reinforcements for the West Wail between Dueren and Trier continue to arrive. The identification of at least three or four newly re-formed divisions along the Army front must be reckoned with during the next few days. Although the enemy is resorting to his attack propaganda to bolster morale of the troops, it is possible that a limited scale offensive will be launched for the purpose of achieving a Christmas morale "victory" for civilian consumption. Many PWs now speak of the coming attack between the 17th and 25th of December, while others relate promises of the "recapture of Aachen as a Christmas present for the Fuehrer."
VIII Corps reports that an abrupt change of routine of enemy personnel opposite 9th Armored Division strongly suggests that new troops may have arrived in that area. (Comment: Very likely a recently arrived Volks-grenadier Division coming in to relieve 212 Volks-grenadier Div.)31
In this report, the First Army had come close to an exact date for the counteroffensive although spoiling the accuracy of the prediction by mention of a "limited scale offensive" and the recapture of Aachen. Moreover, its comment on the VIII Corps suggestion that new troops had arrived in its area seemed to say only that routine relief was in progress. These conclusions may help to explain why, although 17 December was spoken of as a possible date for the attack, the First Army chief of intelligence was on leave in Paris, on the 16th, when the Germans attacked.32
There is little evidence that First Army's intelligence estimates brought any important changes in the dispositions of corps or divisions in First Army to meet a possible counteroffensive.33 Rather than sending additional forces into the VIII Corps sector, where the brunt of the German counteroffensive fell, the First Army on 13 December
took a combat command from the 9th Armored Division, the VIII Corps' reserve, and gave it to the V Corps, which was preparing to launch an attack. The V Corps made little use of the combat command, however, and the First Army listed it on 15 December among other units to be returned to parent organizations. No sense of urgency seems to have prompted this move, inasmuch as the combat command was not notified to move until the following morning, and it did not actually go into action until the morning of 17 December.34 Lt. Gen. Troy H. Middleton, VIII Corps commander in December 1944, pointed out after the war that there could have been no great alarm about his weakened front, since he had been directed in December to simulate the movement of additional units into his area in order to draw enemy divisions to his front. He had carried out part of these activities early in the month and was told to resume the program later, but he was relieved of this responsibility when the Germans struck on 16 December.35
The army group commander most concerned, General Bradley, has written that nothing short of "an unequivocal indication of impending attack in the Ardennes could have induced me to quit the winter offensive," and that he received no such indication. He insists that, while the First Army's observations could have been interpreted to suggest the possibility of an enemy counteroffensive, they were not convincing enough to lead him to postpone his attack.Nor [he adds] was my own G-2 at Army Group, Brigadier General Sibert, sufficiently impressed by these reports to come to me with a warning. By this time I commanded almost three quarters of a million men on a 230-mile front. It was impossible for me even to scan the intelligence estimates of subordinate units. As a consequence, I looked to my own G-2 and to the Army commanders to keep me informed on the enemy's capabilities. Hodges neither spoke to Middleton, one of his own corps commanders, of any premonitions in the Ardennes, nor did he telephone me in advance of the offensive. Indeed no one came to me with a warning on the danger of a counterattack there.36
In analyzing the intelligence situation before the Ardennes counteroffensive, one may well ask what additional information the Allies would have needed to predict the 16 December attack. In many ways their information was highly accurate. Most of the units which made up the panzer armies had been spotted days and even weeks before the attack. Air reconnaissance, while hampered at times by bad weather, had marked the steady stream of men and supplies westward across the Rhine.37 Despite the clever deceptive measures of the enemy, the Allied intelligence experts had correctly analyzed most of the German dispositions and, in the closing hours before the counteroffensive, were aware of shifts toward the Ardennes area and of the arrival of new units in the zone of VIII Corps. But with all this, they
did not convince Generals Eisenhower, Bradley, Hodges, and Middleton, the commanders whose forces were to take the brunt of attack, that an attack by two panzer armies in the Ardennes area about the middle of December was imminent enough to force any change in existing Allied plans. The commanders were loath to move their troops about from point to point to meet every possible threat, since such action would disrupt all of their offensive plans and reduce their activities to the construction of countermoves against the enemy. Perhaps as important in their consideration as this element were several factors which lessened their fear of possible enemy attacks: (1) the Allied emphasis on offensive rather than defensive action; (2) the conclusion that the enemy was straining every nerve to stop the Allied attack against Cologne and the Ruhr and would be likely to attack when the Allies had crossed the Roer; (3) the erroneous belief that von Rundstedt, a reasonable and cautious man, was controlling strategy in the west; (4) the view that Germany's fuel shortage would make any enemy offensive unsuccessful; and (5) the conviction that any attack the enemy was capable of mounting would lead only to a quicker German defeat.
The Germans hit the First Army front in the early morning of 16 December. The Sixth Panzer Army attacked south of Monschau with the mission of seizing the Meuse bridges between Liege and Huy. (Map 5) Its ultimate objective was the Albert Canal in the area between Maastricht and Antwerp. Farther south, the Fifth Panzer Army attacked in the direction of St. Vith and Bastogne. It was to sweep across the Meuse between Andenne and Givet to the vicinity of Brussels and Antwerp, with the mission of forestalling Allied counterattacks in the rear of the Sixth Panzer Army anywhere between Antwerp and Givet. While the initial main thrusts were in progress, the Seventh Army protected the southern flank of the attacking forces. The Fifteenth Army, meanwhile, provided cover for the northern flank of the counteroffensive and launched a series of holding attacks to tie up U.S. forces in that area. According to German plans, it was also to seize the first opportunity to encircle and wipe out the Allied forces in the Aachen salient with a concentrated attack. Army Group H, between the attacking Army Group B and the North Sea, was ordered to prepare for a subsidiary attack to be made as soon as the development of the situation should permit. Army Group G, south of the attacking forces, was to repel any further advances of the Allies in that area. Both army groups, as well as Army Group Oberrhein were ordered to support the main attack by following up any retrograde movement of the Allies.38
The smashing blow against the First Army front drove back five U.S. divisions in the Ardennes area. The surprise gained by the attack and the disruption of communications rapidly created such widespread confusion along the front that the extent of the enemy action was not known for several hours at higher headquarters. More than four hours after the first assault, no report of it had been received at the 12th Army Group. At the 0915 briefing at General Bradley's headquarters, the representative
Map No.5 :BATTLE OF THE ARDENNES
of the operations group reported no change on the VIII Corps front, and the intelligence representative added merely that the move of the 326th Division northward "might be the answer to the numerous vehicular movements in the northern VIII Corps sector." In the early afternoon, the First Army and the 12th Army Group learned of captured orders which indicated that a desperate all-out effort had been launched against the Allies.39
News of the attack reached General Bradley at Supreme Headquarters on the afternoon of 16 December while he was in conference with General Eisenhower and members of the SHAEF staff. The 12th Army Group commander recalls that General Smith said: "... you've been wishing for a counterattack. Now it looks as though you've got it." General Bradley, in turn, replied: "A counterattack, yes, but I'll be damned if I wanted one this big."40 Generals Eisenhower and Bradley at once conferred and ordered reinforcements to the threatened area. Two armored divisions, one north and one south of the Ardennes, were directed to close into the threatened sector. General Bradley then instructed his army commanders to alert the divisions they had free for employment in the Ardennes area.41
Meanwhile, the SHAEF staff searched for reserves to throw into the battle. The question was an old one to SHAEF, which since 20 November had been trying to locate enough units to form a reserve corps. General Eisenhower had wanted to build up such a force in the event that he needed to reinforce a success north or south of the Ardennes, but he had been unable to get much beyond the point of asking the army groups what divisions they could make available for such a purpose.42 The SHAEF reserve on the Continent consisted only of the XVIII Corps (Airborne), whose two divisions had only recently been withdrawn from the Netherlands to Reims for refitting. On the 17th SHAEF alerted these units to move to the threatened sector. Bastogne, because of its excellent road net, was selected as the point where the units would be committed.43 By the time they arrived, the 12th Army Group had made dispositions for the defense of Bastogne and ordered the airborne units to positions north of the town. Ultimately the 82d Airborne Division was sent to the north flank of the Ardennes sector, while the 101st was moved into Bastogne where a combat command of the 10th Armored Division was already established. The Supreme Commander on the 17th also ordered an armored and an airborne division to the Continent.44
As reports of the German counteroffensive began to pour into Supreme Headquarters,
there was no inclination to underestimate the gravity of the situation or to deny that the enemy had achieved complete surprise. Air Chief Marshal Tedder, in a statement made shortly after the attack, said that Supreme Headquarters had been caught unawares. He attributed the surprise to the fact that the SHAEF intelligence section, while stating that the Germans were holding the Sixth Panzer Army in reserve, had failed to indicate that any early use was to be made of it. General Spaatz, in answer to a query by General Arnold as to the part played by air reconnaissance before the breakthrough, cabled that the counteroffensive had "undoubtedly caught us off balance." He paid tribute to the cleverness of the Germans in shifting their forces in a manner which hid their intentions, and added that bad weather had seriously interfered with air reconnaissance activities.45 General Eisenhower believed that there had been a failure to evaluate correctly the strength of the forces that the enemy could thrust through the Ardennes. He pointed out to General Marshall that "all of us, without exception, were astonished at the ability of the Volkssturm [sic] divisions to act offensively."46
Even as the first decisions were being made at Supreme Headquarters, First Army units were putting up strong defensive actions which forced the Germans to withdraw in the Fifteenth Army sector and slowed the drives of the two panzer armies, thus upsetting completely the timetable of the enemy commanders. The German high command had hoped that by taking advantage of surprise they could put part of their force across the Meuse by the end of the second day. This ambitious program was thwarted in the early hours of the attack when Allied units, falling back slowly near Monschau and in front of St. Vith, delayed the enemy sufficiently to give time for reserves to be sent up. The slowing of the Sixth Panzer Army advance persisted and was ultimately to have its effect on the more successful Fifth Panzer Army drive, which required the movement of the right wing forces as a screen. The Seventh Army, in charge of flank protection to the south, made little progress. Army Group H, north of the attack front, reported no changes. In the area of Army Group G, south of the attacking forces, the Germans were able to hold their own against strong Allied pressure.
On 18 December, the third day of the attack, Hitler ordered a basic change in plans.47 He canceled the subsidiary attack for which the Fifteenth Army had been alerted and which Rundstedt had ordered to start on 19 December. Instead, all available forces were to be used to help the two panzer armies push through the breaches already opened. Von Rundstedt gave the necessary orders. He also urged the Seventh Army to increase its efforts so as to create full freedom of maneuver for Fifth Panzer Army. Moreover, now that the supplementary attack by Fifteenth Army would no longer take place, the Germans considered an attack farther north of much greater importance. Army Group H, on the British front, received orders to intensify preparations for an attack to be
launched on short notice over the Waal and lower Meuse.48
In the first two days of the German attack, the Allies still thought it might be nothing more than an effort to pull forces away from their offensives then being planned. On the evening of 18 December, however, General Bradley informed General Patton that the situation appeared worse than initially believed. He had received the impression, he added, that General Eisenhower intended to give the VIII Corps to Third Army and would shortly launch a new offensive.49 The Supreme Commander, apparently believing that part of the 12th Army Group could stop the German attack while the rest joined the 21 Army Group in a renewed offensive, seriously thought of launching an attack with all the forces north of the Moselle. He considered having the 21 Army Group attack southeast from the Nijmegen area between the Rhine and the Meuse, while the 12th Army Group checked the enemy, secured the lines of communications along the line NamurLiege-Aachen, relieved the 21 Army Group east of the Meuse, and launched a counteroffensive converging on the general area Bonn-Cologne. Then the 6th Army Group, reinforced by four divisions from the 12th Army Group, was to take over part of the 12th Army Group's zone, moving northward to a line running from St. Dizier to Thionville and thence along the Moselle.50
These long-range plans underwent considerable changes by the time Allied commanders conferred at Verdun the following morning. Apparently influenced by growing evidence that the enemy was making an all-out attack toward the Meuse, General Eisenhower placed the immediate emphasis on checking that drive. He opened the Verdun conference by asking that his commanders show him nothing but cheerful faces. Actually, they all appeared to be calm and one of them, General Patton, expressed enthusiasm over the prospect of trapping the enemy and cutting him to pieces. In view of the major thrust then under way in the Ardennes sector and the possibility of an attack in the Trier sector, the Supreme Commander limited his proposed offensive to counterthrusts on either side of the enemy salient in the Ardennes. In areas not vital to this main purpose, he declared, he was ready "to yield ground in order to insure the security of essential areas and to add strength to [the Allied] counteroffensive." He now directed the 6th Army Group to move forces to Saarlautern where it would defend against any major penetration. Subject to securing essential lines of communications, General Devers was to be prepared to yield ground rather than endanger the integrity of his forces. General Bradley was to check the enemy's advance east of the Meuse and, in conjunction with Field Marshal Montgomery's forces, launch an attack against the enemy salient. The British forces were also ordered to stop the enemy in their area east and south of the Meuse, paying par-
ticular attention to securing the line of the Meuse from Namur to Liege.51
By these measures the whole front south of the Moselle passed to strict defense. General Devers, who received one division instead of the four originally intended for him, was ordered to push farther north than initially planned and take over most of Third Army's sector. General Patton in the meantime prepared to move north with six divisions, take over the VIII Corps, and organize a major attack against the south flank of the German penetration on 22 or 23 December. The general plan now required the plugging of holes in the Allied line in the north and the co-ordination of attacks launched from south of the German penetration.52
Having started forces in the direction of the Ardennes sector, the Supreme Commander next turned to the task of massing a reserve force for use in stopping further enemy attacks or in renewing an Allied offensive. For this purpose, he not only halted offensives directed toward the Rhine but considered the possibility of shortening his line. On the 19th, he asked Field Marshal Montgomery to examine the situation on his northern flank with a view "to the possibility of giving up, if necessary, some ground in order to shorten our line and collect a strong reserve for the purpose of destroying the enemy in Belgium." On the following day, he told General Bradley that the Allies must not let the fear of losing ground around Aachen deter them from adopting the best line of defense. He directed the 12th Army Group commander to choose the line he could hold most cheaply and effectively, no matter how far back he had to go to establish it. In these statements, he apparently intended the line of the Meuse to mark the limit of withdrawal.53
Field Marshal Montgomery had been in the process of moving the 30 British Corps northward and had already taken steps to use this force of three infantry divisions, one armored division, and three armored brigades to protect his southern flank. On 17 December, he ordered reserve divisions of this corps, the only Allied reserve then available, to go into positions west of the Meuse. Two days later, he directed the corps to stop all northward movement and to assemble in the Louvain-St. Trond area where it would be in a position to aid where needed. Later, by moving elements of this corps into First Army positions along the line of the Meuse, Montgomery made it possible for General Hodges to commit all of his forces against the enemy.54
While General Patton was engaged in the herculean effort of disengaging his troops from battle in the Saar, completely changing their direction, and throwing them into the Ardennes battle, and while Field Marshal Montgomery was taking measures to aid the U.S. forces north of the Ardennes, General Hodges' forces in the Bulge fought desperately to halt the German drive or at least check its speed. The enemy in this period moved ever
closer to St. Vith and Bastogne, smashing some First Army units and isolating others. In the face of powerful attacks, the U.S. forces succeeded in improvising effective counterattacks. U.S. armor delayed the enemy in the area of St. Vith until new positions could be established to the west. On the north flank of the break-through, First Army forces in one of the most critical battles of the campaign held the Elsenborn ridge, the village of Butgenbach south of the ridge, and the Malmedy-Stavelot line against repeated attacks by elements of the Sixth Panzer Army, thus buying time needed by the Allied forces.
Despite the prompt reaction of the Allied units to the German threat, the enemy columns continued to forge westward. On the evening of 19 December, General Strong, the SHAEF chief of intelligence, feared that the Germans would soon drive a wedge between General Bradley's forces, making it impossible for him to retain contact with First U.S. Army from his advanced headquarters in the city of Luxembourg. He confided these anxieties to General Whiteley, the deputy chief of operations, and the two went to General Smith with the proposal that Field Marshal Montgomery be given command of U.S. forces north of the Ardennes. The SHAEF chief of staff initially rejected the proposal but, on being told that there had been no close contact for two days between the 12th Army Group and the First Army, agreed to make the recommendation to General Eisenhower. Sometime in the course of the evening, General Smith telephoned General Bradley to discuss the proposed shift. The 12th Army Group commander doubted that the change-over was necessary, but was mainly concerned because it might discredit the American command. This reaction was indicated in his statement: "Certainly if Monty's were an American command, I would agree with you entirely. It would be the logical thing to do." He also admitted that if the British commander was in charge of all operations north of the Ardennes, he might be more inclined to use his reserve forces against the enemy. Field Marshal Montgomery was apparently notified unofficially the same evening that a change in command would be made. The formal shift was made the following day when the Supreme Commander put Field Marshal Montgomery in temporary command of all forces north of the Ardennes.55 (Chart 7)
General Eisenhower subsequently justified the shift on the ground that the salient north of the Ardennes had become one battlefront "with a single reserve which might be called upon to operate in support either of the British and Canadian Armies or of the American Ninth and First Armies." Prime Minister Churchill immediately approved the action, saying that the arrangement would make the British reserve instantly available for use wherever needed, regardless of previously defined zones. It led, however, to great resentment on the part of many Americans, particularly at Headquarters, 12th Army Group, and Third Army.56
General Bradley in his postwar memoirs indicated that he saw in the shift evidence of considerable nervousness at SHAEF over developments in the Ardennes. He also called attention to SHAEF's orders for the destruction of bridges over the Meuse in case of withdrawal as another such indication.57 The orders to destroy the Meuse bridges, hedged about with many restrictions to avoid precipitate destruction by the guards, were similar to directions normally issued when enemy tanks were located in positions from which they could reach a river line. It is true that SHAEF sent hurry-up messages to Washington asking for more men and supplies, that the Supreme Commander was willing to give up territory in order to shorten his line and amass a strategic reserve, and that a personal bodyguard was assigned to General Eisenhower to protect him against an alleged assassin band under Skorzeny. These measures could have been attributed to nervousness, panic, or, perhaps more plausibly, to reasonable precaution.
On receiving instructions to take command, Field Marshal Montgomery called Generals Hodges and Simpson to a conference at First Army headquarters, where he issued orders for reorganization of the battle. The Ninth Army took over part of First Army's zone. General Collins, who relinquished the area and the divisions which Ninth Army brought under its control, was given a reserve force of one armored and two infantry divisions and told to assemble them near the northwest corner of the German salient (Durbuy-Marche), where he was to be available for operations to blunt the enemy advance or for later counterthrusts. The Third Army extended its boundary northward to a line running from Givet to St. Vith. Montgomery was hopeful at the close of the day that the situation could be restored, and he said he saw no reason at the moment "to give up any of the ground that [had] been gained in the last few days by such hard fighting."58
With the increase of Allied efforts against the enemy and the reorganization of the Allied command, General Eisenhower took steps to encourage his commanders and soldiers. In a special Order of the Day he pointed to the opportunities presented by the enemy's action:By rushing out from his fixed defenses the enemy may give us the chance to turn his great gamble into his worst defeat. So I call upon every man, of all the Allies, to rise now to new heights of courage, of resolution and of effort. Let everyone hold before him a single thought--to destroy the enemy on the ground, in the air, everywhere--destroy him! United in this determination and with unshakable faith in the cause for which we fight, we will, with God's help, go forward to our greatest victory.59
On the same day, he recommended to General Marshall the promotions of Generals Bradley and Spaatz, pointing out that the time was particularly opportune in the case of the former. He added that the 12th Army Group commander had
"kept his head magnificently and... proceeded methodically and energetically to meet the situation. In no quarter is there any tendency to place any blame upon Bradley."60
On the 22d, General Eisenhower notified Field Marshal Montgomery that he was sending messages of encouragement to Generals Hodges and Simpson. General Eisenhower pointed out that unless the First Army commander became exhausted he would always wage a good fight. He added that he wished Field Marshal Montgomery to keep in touch with his subordinates and let him know of any changes which should be needed on the United States side.61 This last was apparently in answer to an earlier statement of Field Marshal Montgomery's that some changes in command might become necessary because of physical exhaustion, but that he was unwilling to relieve U.S. commanders personally. General Smith told him that should this action become necessary it would be done by the Supreme Commander. On the evening of the 22d, Montgomery reported that while Hodges had originally been a bit shaken, very tired, and in need of moral support, he was improving. 62
The Supreme Commander was encouraged personally by messages from Washington and London in the days following the German counteroffensive. The Prime Minister cabled General Eisenhower on 22 December that as a mark of confidence in the Supreme Commander's leadership, the British intended to find an additional 250,000 men to put at his disposal. About the same time, General Marshall said that orders had been given that General Eisenhower was to be left free to give his entire attention to the fighting. The U.S. Chief of Staff added: "I shall merely say now that you have our complete confidence."63
The emphasis north of the Ardennes during the first week of the German offensive was necessarily on defensive measures. Heavily hit and badly stretched, General Hodges could do little more than meet enemy attacks as they developed and hope that he could get a reserve for later use in an effective counterstroke. South of the Ardennes, however, Generals Bradley and Patton were moving rapidly to strike at the enemy penetrations. General Patton was notified on 19 December that he was to throw his main weight to the north. Two days later he had broken off his battle in the Saar area and was attacking toward Bastogne. In what General Bradley has described as "one of the most astonishing feats of generalship of our campaign in the West," General Patton swung the bulk of the Third Army on a ninety-degree angle and moved it north from fifty to seventy miles into the new attack. His forces were met by enemy air attacks and by stubborn resistance that delayed the relief of Bastogne.64
SHAEF meanwhile struggled to build a reserve force to deal with further enemy counteroffensives or to be committed in an Allied offensive. The SHAEF staff feared that, without some plan for building a reserve, U.S. divisions would be committed piecemeal. General Eisenhower, though positive that Bastogne would be held, directed
that Allied counterattacks beyond that point be postponed for the moment. He thought that General Patton might persuade General Bradley to authorize a Third Army attack at once aimed at going "right through" without waiting for the fully co-ordinated counteroffensive.65
Forces for the Allied attack were gathered from a number of points. By 24 December, priorities had been set for the speedy movement of one armored and three infantry divisions from the United Kingdom to the Continent, and the shipment of units in the United States already earmarked for the European theater was accelerated. By Christmas, one British division had passed to First U.S. Army control and three other British divisions held the west bank of the Meuse from Givet to Liege. On 21 December, General Lee had ordered supply units to defend crossings of the Meuse and to defend vital installations within the Communications Zone. Two days later, General de Gaulle alerted security units of the four military regions of northeastern France and ordered them to move at once to positions on the Sambre and the Meuse. These units were to be reinforced as soon as possible by troops from the zone of interior and by part or all of a French infantry division. Maj. Gen. Andre Dody was placed in charge of the French forces defending the line of the Meuse.66
As the enemy continued his drive toward the Meuse, Field Marshal Montgomery, who had been hopeful on 20 December that no ground would have to be given up, expressed both optimism and pessimism. He reported on the 22d that Ninth Army had been ordered to get two divisions into reserve and that efforts were being made to establish a similar reserve for First Army. He added, "First Army is now reorganized and in good trim and we will fight a good battle up here." On other matters he was less hopeful. "From information available here," he noted, "1 am not optimistic that the attack of Third Army will be strong enough to do what is needed and I suggest Seventh German Army will possibly hold off Patton from interfering with the progress westwards of Fifth Panzer Army. In this case I will have to deal unaided with both Fifth and Sixth Panzer Armies. . . . "67
The 21 Army Group commander became worried on the 23d when it seemed clear that the Fifth Panzer Army was swinging northwestward and trying to envelop VII Corps to the west. He was "disturbed at the weak local arrangements, particularly in infantry, of most of the divisions in the First and Ninth Armies." He reported that the V Corps divisions were understrength by some 7,000, mostly in infantry, and asked if something could be done to get replacements "for this serious discrepancy."68
When enemy pressure increased on the right flank of the First Army, Field Marshal Montgomery decided he would have to shorten the front. On Christmas Day he ordered the 82d Airborne Division to withdraw from the salient it held in the Vielsalm area west of St. Vith and come back to the general line Grandmenil-Trois-Ponts.
He also ordered the British 51st Division to move from the Ninth to the First Army reserve on the 26th.69
The British commander discussed the Allied situation with General Bradley on the 25th and indicated that he could not pass over to offensive action at the moment. The 12th Army Group commander said he hoped to get to Bastogne but doubted his ability to go farther without replacements. In reporting this reaction to the Supreme Commander, Montgomery added that the Allies, if they intended to take the initiative from the Germans, would need more troops. Unaware that SHAEF was even then in the process of sending a message promising 17,000 replacements to the First and Third Armies by the end of December, the British commander indicated that additional troops could be found only by withdrawing Allied forces from salients and holding shorter fronts. He suggested that this aspect of the problem be examined on the southern front.70
These reactions left Bradley with the feeling that the 21 Army Group commander had adopted a purely defensive attitude. The U.S. general now asked that American forces north of the Ardennes be returned to him and suggested that 12th Army Group headquarters be moved to Namur where it could assure co-ordination of the U.S. forces.71
The U.S. commanders attacked vigorously the suggestion of even a limited withdrawal. Generals Hodges and Collins expressed their disapproval, and, when the matter was left to them to resolve, decided to stay where they were. General Patton's staff insisted that the Saar positions should be held, saying that a withdrawal would have serious psychological effects on the soldiers who had taken the area. The Third Army commander himself was strongly opposed to any pulling back. General Bradley at this point wrote General Hodges and outlined his views. While making clear that he had no control over the First Army and that his letter was not to be considered as a directive, the 12th Army Group commander said that he viewed with misgivings any plan to give up terrain which might be favorable for future operations. Aware that the First Army had been hard hit, he nevertheless believed that the enemy divisions had also suffered heavily and were now weaker than General Hodges' forces.72
General Bradley's optimism was justified by conditions within the German
armies. Their attack, whose success had been staked on surprise and speed, had now lost the effect of surprise and was falling more and more behind schedule. The Sixth Panzer Army had failed to break through the Monschau-Malmedy area. St. Vith had held out three times as long as the Germans had anticipated, and Bastogne, which had been expected to fall the second day of the offensive, stubbornly held out after the Germans had surrounded it. Field Marshal von Rundstedt claimed after the war that he was aware by the third day of the attack that he could not achieve his assigned objectives. He added that, when OKW insisted on pushing the counteroffensive, his answer was that his forces must start preparing to defend the territory they had already taken.
Whatever Rundstedt replied at the time, he was probably not as hopeful as Hitler and his advisers. On 26 December they believed that Army Group B could thrust forces across the Meuse if the Seventh Army forces could regain their equilibrium in the south, if Bastogne could be taken, and if the Fifth and Sixth Panzer Armies, in a co-ordinated effort in the center, could destroy Allied forces between the Ourthe and the Meuse north of the line Marche-Dinant. With these objectives in mind, they proposed to order the Fifth Panzer Army, already far in the lead, to turn off to the northeast as soon as it reached the Meuse so as to outflank the Allied forces east of the river and attack them from the rear, while the Sixth Panzer Army continued a vigorous attack to the west and northwest. A supplementary thrust by Fifteenth Army farther north near Dueren, intended to hold the U.S. forces in the salient around Aachen, was considered very desirable but canceled as being too costly. The Germans, hopeful of tying up U.S. forces south of the Ardennes, had ordered Army Group G to prepare an attack from Bitche against U.S. forces in the Wissembourg area. Apparently realizing that these various efforts would ultimately force the cancellation of longstanding plans for a supplementary attack by Army Group H in the north, the German high command nevertheless continued preparations for a time on paper at least, possibly as a means of deceiving the Allies. In reality. the German estimates at the time were based on reports which had been superseded by events. The front commands at the three crucial points must have known on the 26th that their efforts had failed.73
The German situation was destined to grow worse. The fog, which had interfered with air activity since the beginning of the attack, lifted on 23 December and the Allied air offensive was renewed. Allied planes immediately rushed supplies to beleaguered units like those in Bastogne and opened powerful attacks against enemy armored columns and supply lines. The steady roar of hundreds of Allied aircraft over the threatened area brought renewed hopes to the hard-pressed forces that their Christmas would be a thankful one.74 A symbol of the changed situation for the Allies was the arrival on 26 December
at Bastogne of advance elements of General Patton's tanks, which had broken through from the south.
On the same day, miles to the west near Dinant, First Army armored formations smashed the enemy's most ambitious bid to reach the Meuse. Other German drives were turned back near Celles. Enemy armored units had outrun their supplies, and their stalled vehicles jammed the roads and became easy prey to the Allied bombers. By the 28th, as a heavy snowfall slowed enemy armor, Germans were in the process of pulling back. General Patton ordered his forces to push northward to Houffalize and to continue their march toward St. Vith. General Hodges at the same time moved his units southward with the object of linking up with these Third Army forces. The first phase of the enemy counteroffensive had been brought to an end and the second begun. The enemy drive to the Meuse had been effectively stopped. But the enemy still had to be driven back from Luxembourg and Belgium. 75
On 28 December General Eisenhower and Field Marshal Montgomery met at Hasselt, Belgium, to plot an Allied offensive against the enemy.76 The British commander insisted that a reserve be created to deal with other enemy counteroffensives and to launch an Allied counterattack. He emphasized the need of pressing the fight against the enemy in order to prevent von Rundstedt from withdrawing armored forces to build a reserve. Planning to strengthen his front and reorganize his forces, he proposed to start a drive on New Year's Day or shortly thereafter if the enemy had made no attack by that time.77
Preparations for an Allied Attack
Proposals for a Ground CommanderIn discussing the new drive against the enemy, Field Marshal Montgomery suggested that the Allied forces in this offensive be placed under the control of one commander. This renewal of an old proposal was accompanied by a reminder that failure had attended the Supreme Commander's previous dependence on coordination of British and U.S. forces rather than definite operational control. To anyone made sensitive by British press criticisms of late December, it might have appeared that the British were making use of the early reverses in the Ardennes to register a lack of confidence in the Supreme Commander's direction of operations. In
reality nothing was said at this time that had not been stated on various other occasions by the 21 Army Group commander and his advisers. Undoubtedly he was emboldened by the fact that the Supreme Commander had given him command of U.S. forces north of the Ardennes in December, and he pressed this point home. Montgomery held that the key to future success lay in the assignment of all available offensive power to the northern line of the advance to the Ruhr and the establishment of one-man control of the whole tactical battle in the north.78
SHAEF, the War Department, and the U.S. commanders in Europe were opposed to leaving forces north of the Ardennes under the 21 Army Group. On learning that the London press was predicting such a move, General Marshall cabled General Eisenhower:My feeling is this: under no circumstances make any concessions of any kind whatsoever. You not only have our complete confidence but there would be a terrific resentment in this country following such action. I am not assuming that you had in mind such a concession. I just wish you to be certain of our attitude on this side. You are doing a fine job and go on and give them hell.79
Conscious of this backing, and of General Bradley's strong feelings about the current command arrangements, the Supreme Commander said that he was willing to leave one U.S. army with the 91 Army Group on the basis of military necessity and as a token of confidence in the British commander but would go no further.80 General Eisenhower added that he was disturbed because of the field marshal's predictions of failure unless his views were met in detail. Thanking the 21 Army Group commander for his "frank and friendly counsels," the Supreme Commander declared that he would deplore "the development of such an unbridgeable gulf of convictions between us that we would have to present our differences to the CC/S. The confusion and debate that would follow would certainly damage the good will and devotion to a common cause that have made this Allied Force unique in history."81
Several of General Eisenhower's closest advisers at SHAEF now counseled him to force a showdown with the 21 Army Group commander. General Smith, who favored such a course, discussed frankly with Montgomery's chief of staff the difficulties which were arising. General de Guingand, in turn, informed his chief of the strong feelings which existed on the subject at SHAEF and warned that in a showdown someone would have to go and it would not be the Supreme Commander. Field Marshal Montgomery, who seemed
to be genuinely surprised at the strong feeling engendered by his views, discussed with de Guingand the necessary action for changing the existing situation. On 31 December, in a letter designed to clear the air, the British commander wrote General Eisenhower expressing distress if the previous letter had proved upsetting. He conceded that there were probably many factors involved in the command question which he did not know about, and pledged his 1 CO percent co-operation in backing any decision the Supreme Commander might make.82
Aware, perhaps, that Field Marshal Montgomery's requests coming on the heels of criticism of the Supreme Commander in the London press might be construed as a lack of faith in General Eisenhower's leadership, the Prime Minister in early January assured the President that His Majesty's Government had complete confidence in the Supreme Commander and acutely regretted any attacks which had been made on him. "He, Montgomery, Bradley, and Patton," Churchill wrote, "are closely knit and it would be a tragedy to break this group which has already for a year given results beyond the dreams of military avarice." He added that British troops were ready at all times to carry out General Eisenhower's orders. The Prime Minister extended his cordial congratulations on the gallantry of U.S. troops, particularly at Bastogne, and declared that the 7th Armored and the 1st and 9th Divisions had performed the "highest acts of soldierly devotion at heavy personal sacrifice."83
Field Marshal Montgomery and the British Chiefs of Staff revived the command question on at least two other occasions, but the possibility of its being seriously considered by General Eisenhower was pretty effectively killed by the reactions of U.S. commanders to an interview given the Allied press by Field Marshal Montgomery on 7 January 1945. Members of his staff had feared that there might be an unfavorable reaction and had attempted to prevent the press conference or at least tone down the statements of their chief. He insisted, however, that something had to be done to counteract British press criticisms of General Eisenhower and other U.S. commanders.
The British commander made a lengthy analysis of the Ardennes battle and paid tribute to the U.S. soldier as "a brave fighting man, steady under fire, and with the tenacity in battle that stamps the first class soldier." To the fighting qualities of these men, he said, was due the basic credit for stopping Rundstedt. The field marshal made a strong appeal for full backing for the Supreme Commander, saying that he personally was devoted to General Eisenhower and was grieved by the uncomplimentary articles concerning him which had appeared in the British press. He pleaded for Allied solidarity, declaring, "Anyone who tries to break up the team spirit of the Allies is definitely helping the enemy."84
Read in its entirety, the statement justified the New York Times's editorial comment: "No handsomer tribute was ever paid to the American soldier than that of Field Marshal Montgomery in the midst of combat."85 But it was his tone and what his chief of staff characterized as a "what
a good boy am I" attitude that offended General Bradley and his subordinates.86 Passages of the interview singled out by the 12th Army Group commander were these:When Rundstedt attacked on December 16, he obtained a tactical surprise. He drove a deep wedge into the center of the United States First Army and the split might have become awkward; the Germans had broken right through a weak spot, and were heading for the Meuse.
As soon as I saw what was happening I took certain steps myself to ensure that if the Germans got to the Meuse they would certainly not get over that river. And I carried out certain movements so as to provide balanced dispositions to meet the threatened danger; these were, at the time, merely precautions, i.e. I was thinking ahead.
Then the situation began to deteriorate. But the whole allied team rallied to meet the danger; national considerations were thrown overboard; General Eisenhower placed me in command of the whole Northern front.
I employed the whole available power of the British Group of Armies; this power was brought into play very gradually and in such a way that it would not interfere with the American lines of communications. Finally it was put into battle with a bang and today British divisions are fighting hard on the right flank of the United States First Army.
You have thus the picture of British troops fighting on both sides of American forces who have suffered a hard blow. This is a fine Allied picture.
The battle has some similarity to the battle that began on 31 August 1942 when Rommel made his last bid to capture Egypt and was "seen off" by the Eighth Army.87
The 12th Army Group commander and his staff, already sensitive because of the shift in command, were exasperated, if not outraged, by the interview. Their feelings were further roused a few days later when a German station broke in on a BBC channel and, imitating a British broadcast, criticized the handling of the battle by U.S. commanders. Mr. Brendan Bracken, chief of British press affairs, immediately branded the broadcast as false and expressed British confidence in General Eisenhower and the U.S. forces. But much damage had been done to U.S.-British command relations.88
General Bradley believed that SHAEF might have settled the whole matter at the time of the initial shift in command, if it had made clear the fact that the whole shift was temporary. By mid-January, he felt that the confidence of the U.S. soldiers and of the U.S. public in their commanders was at stake. He further argued that U.S. public opinion would not permit the battle south of the Ardennes to be neglected, and he emphasized the political importance in the United States of giving the next major offensive to a U.S. commander. When General Eisenhower mentioned the matter of a ground forces commander, General Bradley flatly said if he were placed under Field Marshal Montgomery's command he would ask to be relieved.89
Weeks after the Montgomery interview, General Eisenhower was still getting strong reactions from his U.S. commanders and the U.S. press. He later declared, "No single incident that I have ever encountered throughout my experience as an Allied commander has been so difficult to combat as this particular outburst in the papers."90 Aware of these feelings, the
Prime Minister had already done his best to set the record straight. On 18 January, in summarizing for the House of Commons the state of Allied fortunes throughout the world, he paid a great tribute to the U.S. commander and the U.S. forces in the Ardennes. Part of his statement follows:I have seen it suggested that the terrific battle which has been proceeding since 16th December on the American front is an Anglo-American battle. In fact, however, the United States troops have done almost all the fighting and have suffered almost all the losses. They have suffered losses almost equal to those on both sides in the battle of Gettysburg. Only one British Army Corps has been engaged in this action. All the rest of the 30 or more divisions, which have been fighting continuously for the last month, are United States troops. The Americans have engaged 30 or 40 men for every one we have engaged, and they have lost 60 to 80 men for every one of ours. That is a point I want to make. Care must be taken in telling our proud tale not to claim for the British army an undue share of what is undoubtedly the greatest American battle of the war and will, I believe, be regarded as an ever famous American victory.91
After describing the manner in which the battle had been carried on, Mr. Churchill sternly warned: "Let no one lend himself to the chatter of mischief-makers when issues of this momentous consequence are being successfully decided by the sword." Despite his generous words and timely warning, the shift in command during December continued to rankle in the minds of the U.S. commanders. General Eisenhower could scarcely have ignored this factor in the debates which followed relative to making the main drive on Field Marshal Montgomery's front and on the question of placing additional U.S. troops under 21 Army Group command.
Even while General Eisenhower was faced with sharp American reactions to Montgomery's temporary assumption of command of all Allied troops north of the Ardennes, the British Chiefs of Staff were proposing the appointment of a single ground force commander for the remainder of the war. They argued, in defense of this suggestion, that General Eisenhower was too heavily occupied with matters of supply, political complexities, and the like to handle ground force operations. The Supreme Commander, when notified of this recommendation, declared that the Ruhr was the logical dividing line between the British and U.S. army groups, and that there was no way in which a ground forces commander could secure better co-ordination or direction of the battle than could the Supreme Commander. Rather the ground commander would merely complicate matters by getting involved in questions of allocations of men and supplies and the development of communications--matters which properly belonged to the Supreme Commander. While disavowing any nationalistic viewpoints, General Eisenhower emphasized that the establishment of two ground commanders, one on either side of the Luxembourg area, would put forty-five to fifty U.S. divisions and fourteen British divisions under the 21 Army Group for an offensive task; the other commander would be left with a defensive task only. He considered such a plan illogical and, with the personalities involved, one that would not work well. He conceded only that, in view of the size of the ground forces, it would be convenient if the Deputy Supreme Commander were
a ground force rather than air force officer.92
General Marshall feared that General Eisenhower's closing remark meant that he was weakening under heavy British pressure to put one of their officers in charge of the ground forces. Recognizing that the Supreme Commander needed someone to visit forward units and keep contact with top ground commanders, he offered to send an officer from Washington for the job and suggested that General Eisenhower get a British officer as well. General Eisenhower replied that he would strenuously object to a deputy for ground operations and that he would consider only a deputy without portfolio who would be directly responsible to the Supreme Commander. His present deputy, he added, was "a loyal, splendid man," whose only difficulty arose from the unwillingness of senior ground commanders to take his opinion on purely ground matters. Advice in these matters was available, however, from General Smith, who was highly respected in all echelons, and from General Bull, who was sent frequently to the lower headquarters. The Supreme Commander proposed to bring to his headquarters Maj. Gen. Lowell W. Rooks, formerly of AFHQ, who, together with General Whiteley, would stay on the road constantly.93
The ground commander question cropped up again in mid-February when the British asked if General Eisenhower would accept Field Marshal Alexander as his deputy. The Supreme Commander reminded Field Marshal Brooke that he had previously said he would take a replacement for Air Chief Marshal Tedder if the latter were assigned elsewhere. In case of a change, he could not accept "any intermediary headquarters, either official or unofficial in character," between himself and the army group commanders. General Eisenhower called attention to controversies over command which had arisen in January and warned that if the newspapers attempted to describe Alexander's appointment as the establishment of a new ground command he would have to issue a formal statement that might hurt the feelings of the British officer and give the press "another opportunity to indulge in futile but nevertheless disturbing arguments." In standing firm on this issue, General Eisenhower was aware that he now had the backing of Field Marshal Montgomery. The latter, who felt that an intermediate command or any interference with the "clear line of authority extending from . . . [Eisenhower] . . . to him should be carefully avoided," was described by the Supreme Commander as being "most emphatic in insisting that the command arrangements I have made are as nearly perfect as circumstances, including diverse nationalities, will permit."94
Mr. Churchill, on seeing these statements, became disturbed at what he interpreted as an intention to reduce the position of Deputy Supreme Commander if a change was made. General Eisenhower reassured him on this point and pointed out his strong affection for Field Marshal Alexander. "Moreover," he went on, "far from regarding this problem from a British versus American viewpoint, my whole effort is to exercise the authority of my office so as to weld and preserve the sense of
partnership that to my mind is absolutely essential to the winning of the war and to our common welfare."95
Field Marshal Montgomery added his voice to General Eisenhower's in early March, suggesting that the command setup be left as it was and warning that a change would merely raise a storm and put everything back.96 This attitude on the part of one who had formerly stoutly favored something like a ground commander pretty effectively settled the matter. In a conference with Eisenhower and Tedder on 5 March, the Prime Minister agreed that the decision regarding command arrangements belonged entirely to General Eisenhower. Thus the command situation was left as it had been arranged in January. The Ninth U.S. Army remained under the 21 Army Group for the Rhineland battle, but the other U.S. forces stayed under General Bradley or General Devers. General Eisenhower cabled General Marshall on 14 March, "I suppose you know the Prime Minister has withdrawn his suggestion of making any change in my deputy."97
Allied Manpower DifficultiesDiscussions of command had been accompanied by Allied efforts to solve the manpower problem, which had been intensified by heavy U.S. losses in the opening days of the Ardennes counteroffensive.98 At a time when the number of soldiers in the U.S. Army stood at the highest in the history of the United States, riflemen available for front-line duty were in short supply. This scarcity in the midst of plenty was due not only to the difficulty of working out a year or two in advance the proper allotment of manpower Among the various services and their branches but also to the increasingly heavy losses among riflemen.99
The British manpower situation, which had been strained even before the invasion in June 1944 as a result of heavy commitments around the world and the losses in four years of fighting, was much worse than that of the U.S. forces. Some existing units had to be broken up to fill ranks which had been thinned during the battle for Antwerp. The French, who had a potentially rich source of manpower, were in no position to give immediate aid to the Allies. For some months they had urged the activation of new divisions, but the Allies, needing the supplies and equipment they would have had to give to the new units, had postponed any action on the matter.
The Ardennes crisis forced the Allies to re-examine their resources. Mr. Churchill, as already pointed out, had ordered special measures to get another quarter of a million men. General Eisenhower, who on the eve of the Ardennes attack had directed his rear echelon headquarters to comb out their ranks for men fitted for combat, demanded redoubled efforts in that direction. At the end of December, he reminded the Combined Chiefs of Staff of the possibility of raising additional units from Belgian, Polish, and French manpower sources. He emphasized particularly
that the French should be able to form five of a proposed eight divisions by 1 May 1943. The Combined Chiefs of Staff accepted in principle the task of equipping eight additional French divisions plus 460,000 line-of-communications and security troops (of whom 243,000 would be French). They added, however, that they had to await the outcome of the Ardennes battle before making a decision as to the supplies which could be made available.100
General Eisenhower's pleas to the War Department, backed by appeals of the Prime Minister to the President, may have spurred efforts already under way to meet the manpower crisis in Europe. The Joint Chiefs of Staff shortly after receiving news of the Ardennes had moved up the sailing date of three infantry, one airborne, and three armored divisions so that they would leave in January and early February. Two infantry divisions, not previously intended for the European theater, were allocated at once to General Eisenhower and listed for mid-February departure. In addition, General Marshall initiated a comb-out of the defense commands and other installations in the United States, Alaska, and Panama.101
In authorizing these various moves, the Joint Chiefs of Staff had allocated every available unit. The President was informed that once these had sailed all divisions would have left the United States for overseas theaters. It was therefore necessary for General Eisenhower to make drastic efforts to find additional troops in his own theater. On 6 January 1945, General Marshall proposed that a War Department manpower expert come to Europe to survey the situation there. After the finger had been pointed at available men, the Chief of Staff continued, a "tough hatchetman" with rank should be sent over to force the rear echelon commanders to give up the soldiers in their commands fit for combat duty. General Eisenhower welcomed these proposals, asking that the two men be sent ahead. He outlined other possible ways to alleviate the manpower shortage. These included the opening of a major Russian offensive that would force the Germans to stop shifting troops to the west, the bringing of several divisions from Italy, and the speedier development of French units. He also indicated that the Army could not "deny the Negro volunteer a chance to serve in battle" and, as a final suggestion, asked if the Marines might be willing to turn over 100,000 men to the European theater.102
To expedite the search for replacements in the European theater, General Eisenhower appointed Lt. Gen. Ben Lear, then chief of the Army Ground Forces, as deputy theater commander with special duties for personnel and morale. Later, he gave General Barker, the SHAEF chief of personnel, an increased measure of control over U.S. personnel policy. These grants were both restricted by the fact that the theater chiefs of services continued to serve under the Commanding General, Communications Zone. Despite difficulties some progress was made in getting additional
men for the combat units.103
Closely allied to the question of manpower was that of supplying front-line forces. Combat commanders believed that Headquarters, Communications Zone, was not only getting a lion's share of men who came from the United States but also was taking too large a percentage of critical supplies. In asking for a careful check on manpower, General Marshall also insisted that the supply situation be examined. In January he sent Lt. Gen. Brehon B. Somervell, the Army Service Forces chief, to look into the functioning of the supply services. Marshall made clear that in taking this step he was not implying that the commander of Headquarters, Communications Zone, was unfitted for his post. Rather he wished to find if there was any basis for the complaints being made by front-line commanders. He warned that they must not be allowed to feel that they were suffering heavily and working with reduced forces while the rear echelon elements continued to operate with "plenty of fat meat." After careful study, General Somervell suggested a number of ways for improving the work of the Communications Zone, but he made no recommendations for a radical change of command.104
The turn of the tide in the Ardennes battle and the renewal of the Allied offensive there toward the end of January eased the pressure on the Allies with regard to men and supplies. While never having as much of either as they would have liked, the combat commanders found that for the most part they were now able to get ahead with the job.
On 10 January, Field Marshal Montgomery and General Bradley issued orders for a co-ordinated attack on 13 January in the Ardennes, which was designed to trap the enemy or to drive him back into Germany.105 The offensive's first objective was the link-up of Allied forces at Houffalize. (Map 6) Once this was completed, the Allies were to execute a major thrust from the north to retake St. Vith and the nearby high ground in an effort to deny the enemy lateral ground communications through St. Vith and to eliminate most of the enemy salient between the Elsenborn area and the First Army's southern boundary. Before the big push started, attacks were already under way. The Third Army had been maintaining a continuous offensive since 22 December, vigorous Allied aerial attacks had been hitting the enemy, and the First Army attack that began on 3 January had been making some progress. At mid-January, however, a fully co-ordinated, full-scale offensive was launched. With the opening of this attack, the Allies seized the initiative, and they were not to relinquish it again.106
The Allies Take the Initiative
Shortly before the Allies began their drive in the north, their forces were heavily attacked in the Vosges mountains and in the Strasbourg area. General Bradley feared that SHAEF might stop the Third Army attack in the Ardennes area in order to deal with this southern thrust. He believed
Map No.6: BATTLE OF THE ARDENNES
that the army should stay on the offensive. General Patton, unimpressed by attacks on his XX Corps front in the south, strongly criticized what he called the strictly defensive views of SHAEF.107 Supreme Headquarters was worried about the situation to the south and wanted to form a SHAEF reserve, but it did not interfere with the opening of the attack.
There was adequate basis for concern over the Alsatian counteroffensive. But the enemy's efforts in the Ardennes were at an end. As early as 3 January, Field Marshal Rundstedt had informed his commanders that there was no prospect for the success of the Ardennes attack as planned. On 8 January, Hitler authorized limited withdrawals of his forces in that area, including the movement of nearly all of the Sixth Panzer Army to an area northeast of St. Vith and east of Wiltz where Allied counterattacks were expected. On the following day, the armored units of the Sixth Panzer Army were ordered out of the line and sent to a rest area in the rear of Army Group G. Five days later, a general withdrawal to a line east of Houffalize was approved.108
As the German units started withdrawing, the Allied forces pressed in toward Houffalize. They took the town on the 15th, and elements of the First and Third Armies linked up on the following day. In accordance with earlier arrangements, SHAEF now readjusted the Allied command setup. Control of the First Army was handed back to General Bradley at midnight of 17 January, while the Ninth Army was directed to remain under Field Marshal Montgomery for his attack toward the Rhine.109 In anticipation of this shift in command, the 21 Army Group commander had already expressed his admiration to General Bradley for the work of the U.S. forces. He wrote:MY DEAR BRAD
It does seem as if the battle of the "salient" will shortly be drawing to a close, and when it is all clean and tidy I imagine that your armies will be returning to your operational command.
I would like to say two things:--
First: What a great honour it has been for me to command such fine troops.
Second: how well they have all done.
It has been a great pleasure to work with Hodges and Simpson: both have done very well.
And the Corps Commanders in the First Army (Gerow, Collins, Ridgway) have been quite magnificent; it must be most exceptional to find such a good lot of Corps Commanders gathered together in one Army.
All of us in the northern side of the salient would like to say how much we have admired the operations that have been conducted on the southern side; if you had not held on firmly to Bastogne the whole situation might have become very awkward.
My kind regard to you and to George Patton.
Yrs very sincerely,
The U.S. forces now redoubled their pressure on the Germans, who fell back "with skill and dogged fighting" toward Germany. The skill of their ground troops was no match, however, for continuous attacks from the air. Despite bad flying weather, the Allied air forces kept up their strikes against the enemy columns.111 Any
TABLE 2--ESTIMATED CASUALTIES IN THE ARDENNES
Force Total Killed Wounded Missing Total Allied 76,890 8,607 47,129 21,144 Total U.S 75,482 8,407 46,170 20,905 First U.S. Army 39,957 4,629 23,152 12,176 Third U.S. Army 35,525 3,778 23,018 8,729 30 Br. Corps (to 17 Jan) 1,408 200 969 239
Source: G-2 SHAEF to G-2 SHAEF, 2 Feb 45, SHAEF G-3 file Battle of the Ardennes GCT/370-49/Ops A.
hopes the Germans had of bettering their situation by transferring forces from the east were dashed by the opening of the Russian offensive on 12 January. On 20 January, as the situation worsened in both east and west, Hitler notified von Rundstedt to be prepared to send the Sixth Panzer Army with four SS panzer divisions and the two Fuehrer brigades to the Russian front. Reichsfuehrer SS Himmler was transferred at the same time from Army Group Oberrhein, which he had commanded since November 1944, to Army Group Weichsel in the east. Von Rundstedt was also ordered to regroup his forces to meet an expected Allied thrust to the Ruhr. One by one the gains so quickly taken were given up to the Allies, while troops and materiel desperately needed for the defense of the Roer and the Rhine were smashed by ground and air forces as the retreating columns clogged the road nets of the Ardennes. By 28 January 1945, all the ground which the Allies had lost to the enemy in the Ardennes counteroffensive had been retaken.
In simple bookkeeping terms, one cannot be sure of the cost to the enemy in men. The First U.S. Army estimated that by mid-January von Rundstedt had lost one fourth of the men with whom he opened the 16 December attack, as well as one half of the vehicles. Some Allied estimates ran as high as 103,900 casualties, excluding nonbattle losses and including more than 24,000 killed and 16,000 prisoners. Enemy estimates were somewhat lower. In one case, a figure of 92,234 total casualties is mentioned; in others, the figure is fixed at 81,834 including 12,652 dead. Enemy claims of 125,000 casualties inflicted on Allied units have proved to be greatly exaggerated. Nonetheless, the cost to U.S. forces was heavy. Statistics furnished General Eisenhower at the beginning of February 1945, while undoubtedly only approximations, give an idea of the considerable losses taken by the Allied forces. (Table 2) The estimates indicate that the twenty-nine U.S. and four British divisions employed at one time or another in the Ardennes area sustained 76,780 casualties, of which nearly 40,000 were in the First Army, 35,525 in the Third Army, and 1,408 in the 30 British Corps. If the lowest German estimate of enemy losses can be taken as correct, the casualties were
roughly the same on both sides. The great difference was--and of this the Germans were thoroughly conscious--the Allies could replace their losses in men and materiel--the enemy could not.112
While General Eisenhower was still reorganizing his forces to drive the enemy from the Ardennes, he was faced with another German attack in Alsace. It came at a time when he was attempting to form a reserve force from the army group in the threatened region and forced him to consider a withdrawal from part of Alsace. This, in turn, raised a political issue between the Supreme Commander and the French Government.
The Attack in Northern Alsace
Hitler had considered a counteroffensive in northern Alsace in the fall of 1944, but had put it aside in favor of the Ardennes operation. When that counteroffensive began to go badly and when he realized that the U.S. forces in the area had been shifted northward to aid First Army, he again turned his attention to Alsace. There Army Group G's First Army and Army Group Oberrhein's Nineteenth Army opposed General Devers' Seventh U.S. and First French Armies. The Germans on 24 and 25 December formulated plans for an operation called NORDWIND. They planned to attack from West Wall positions near the boundary of northern Alsace and drive east and west of Bitche toward the Saverne Gap lying directly to the south. German forces that were to cross the Rhine north of Strasbourg and enemy units from the Colmar bridgehead were supposed to link up with the northern force east of the Vosges mountains. If this maneuver succeeded, U.S. units in the northeastern Alsatian salient would be cut off, Strasbourg endangered, and the French forces near Colmar threatened with defeat.113 (Map 7)
When the Seventh U.S. Army intelligence section on 26 December estimated that the enemy might attack northern Alsace between 1 and 3 January, General Devers flew to Paris to discuss the situation on his front. General Eisenhower and his staff, still preoccupied with the Ardennes battle, apparently repeated their previous advice that the 6th Army Group commander be prepared to give ground rather than endanger the integrity of his forces. As a result of the conference with SHAEF officials, General Devers ordered General de Lattre and General Patch to remain on the defensive. He listed three intermediate positions to which the forces in northern Alsace could fall back. At the same time he asked his commanders to hold Strasbourg and Mulhouse if possible.114
As signs of a possible German attack multiplied, General Devers asked the Supreme Commander to leave with the 6th Army Group the units earmarked for SHAEF reserve until the threat to northern Alsace disappeared or until the
Seventh Army could build a reserve of its own.115
Before SHAEF had a chance to answer the request, the enemy had acted. Striking just before midnight on 31 December, the German forces drove southward from their West Wall positions against the Seventh U.S. Army in the area south of Bitche. This attack was executed in two main drives, of which the western one was halted after two days of fighting, while the eastern one pressed forward to the western passages of the Vosges. The enemy, however, was still short of the Saverne Gap on 5 January.
General Eisenhower, in the face of the new attack, had to decide whether or not to fall back to new positions in northern Alsace. As early as 26 December, he had considered the possibility of shortening his line in that area in order to get a SHAEF reserve. In discussing the matter with his ,advisers at that time, he had said that he might have to bring his forces back to the Vosges mountains, thus leaving Strasbourg exposed to the enemy. When Tedder questioned the wisdom of the action, the Supreme Commander said that he had been willing to consider the measure only because of the great need for a strategic reserve. He agreed that it would be a disappointment to give up ground, but added that the area then held by General Devers was not the one in which the 6th Army Group commander had been told to put his weight.116
The Question of Strasbourg
The hint of a withdrawal from Strasbourg was especially unwelcome to the French. General Juin, Chief of Staff of the Ministry of Defense, when informed on 30 December that a withdrawal might be necessary, strongly disapproved the suggestion and spoke of placing newly organized FFI units at Devers' disposal to defend the Strasbourg area. Despite this reaction and the reluctance of the 6th Army Group commander to give up the territory, General Eisenhower on 1 January ordered General Devers to shorten his line in northeastern Alsace and to hold the Alsace plain with reconnaissance and observation forces only. This order, which the French might have accepted on purely military grounds, was politically unacceptable. Strasbourg, lost to the French
Map No. 7 : THE BATTLE OF ALSACE
from 1870 to 1918 and again from 1940 to its liberation in 1944, could not be handed back to the enemy without severe political repercussions. On 1 January, General de Gaulle expressed his anxiety over the proposed withdrawal and General Juin asked that the order be reconsidered. Next day, in a stormy session with General Smith, General Juin indicated that the French might remove their forces from General Eisenhower's control if the Supreme Commander persisted in his plan to withdraw. When on 3 January General Patch passed on the order for forces under his command to evacuate Strasbourg, the French military governor of the city, General Schwartz, warned of the terrible reprisals the Germans would take against inhabitants of Strasbourg in case of withdrawal and added that he could not undertake any such action without a direct order from the French Government.117
General de Gaulle went further on 3 January and declared that the deliberate evacuation of Alsace and part of Lorraine without a fight would be a major error from both the military and the national points of view. He informed the Supreme Commander that General de Lattre was being advised "to defend with the French forces he had the position he [was] at present occupying and to equally defend Strasbourg, even if the American forces [withdrew] on the left."118
General Eisenhower discussed the withdrawal from Strasbourg with his staff on the morning of 3 January, apparently before receiving General de Gaulle's protest against that measure. Once the withdrawal to the Vosges had been made, the Supreme Commander said, Allied armor should still be able to operate in the Alsace plain north of Strasbourg to delay or stop an enemy advance on that city. He thought that the bulk of the Allied forces would have to come back from northeastern Alsace, and that they should send out mobile elements to give warnings of the enemy's advance. General Eisenhower and his advisers examined in particular the grave political repercussions of the withdrawal. They realized that the action could mean a breaking away of the French from the Allies. Opinions were expressed that more than 100,000 inhabitants would have to be evacuated from Strasbourg and that 300,000 to 400,000 inhabitants of the area would be subject to possible reprisals by the Germans. The staff concluded that the Prime Minister, who was scheduled to arrive at Versailles that afternoon, would have to be briefed on the necessity of the withdrawal, since General de Gaulle would probably raise with him the question of Strasbourg.119
Shortly after making his protest to General Eisenhower on 3 January, General de Gaulle appealed to President Roosevelt and to Mr. Churchill to stop the withdrawal. The Supreme Commander was apparently unaware of this action at the time of his morning conference that day.120 The President promptly refused to act in
the matter and notified the Secretary of State, through whom the appeal was sent, that the question was a military one and should be taken up with General Eisenhower. The Prime Minister flew to Versailles from the United Kingdom on the 3d. He had lunch with the Supreme Commander and afterward sat in on a conference attended by Field Marshal Brooke and Generals Eisenhower, Smith, Whiteley, and Strong. Still later in the day he was present at General Eisenhower's conference with Generals de Gaulle and Juin.121
Before his meeting with de Gaulle on the afternoon of 3 January, General Eisenhower had decided to modify his initial plans for withdrawal "to the extent of merely swinging the Sixth Corps back from its sharp salient with its left resting in the Vosges and its right extending southward generally towards Strasbourg." This change was accepted by General de Gaulle when it was presented. The Prime Minister did not intervene in the discussion but approved the new arrangement, saying that he appreciated the concern of the French leaders over the possible political effects of a withdrawal from Strasbourg.122
The change of orders in regard to Strasbourg led to considerable uncertainty at army level where several sets of completely contradictory instructions were received in the course of a few hours. Strasbourg was virtually undefended for a part of one day. On SHAEF's change of its initial order, General Devers accepted the Seventh Army suggestion that a position be established along the Maginot Line and the Rhine River and that several successive lines be organized to which withdrawal could be made later if it became necessary.123 The city itself was never again left unprotected.
Indications of U.S. withdrawals between the lower Vosges and the Rhine may have been responsible for a decision of the enemy to turn his main attention from the area of Bitche to points farther east. Starting on 4 January, the Germans attacked south of Wissembourg, and on 5 January other units drove across the Rhine north of Strasbourg. More attacks south of Strasbourg followed on 7 January.
U.S. BATTLE CASUALTIES, ARDENNES- ALSACE, 16 DECEMBER 1944-25 JANUARY 1945
Type Total Divisions Nondivisional
Total 104,944a 88,165 16,799 Killed in action 15,982 12,340 3,642 Wounded in action 62,372 53,216 9,156 Captured 23,554 20,102 3,452 Returned to duty from missing in action 2,802b 2,333 469 Died while missing in action 234 174 60
a These data do not include nonbattle casualties due to frost bite, injuries behind the lines, sickness, and other casualties not resulting from enemy action.
b Early compilations in 1945 of casualties showed more than 20,000 as missing in action. In subsequent months and years most of these were found to have been captured, killed in action, or wounded in action. As a result, casualty accounting adjustments reduced the missing-in-action totals and increased the appropriate categories.
Source: The Adjutant General, Strength Authorization Branch, 1951-52.
Between 8 and 25 January, the enemy fought stubbornly to extend his gains from the bridgeheads, and the U.S. forces found it necessary to establish alternate lines to which they could retire. (Table 3) The French were made responsible for the defense of Strasbourg during the period.124
Toward the end of January, General Eisenhower released five U.S. divisions and 12,000 service troops from the SHAEF reserve to 6th Army Group. A U.S. corps was placed under General de Lattre to help him reduce the Colmar Pocket. The Supreme Commander, wanting to see the Germans pushed out of this salient and across the Rhine, pressed the French to reduce the pocket promptly. In so doing he repeated an appeal that he had made earlier in the month. He reminded General de Gaulle of the need of keeping French infantry units at full strength and said that it might be easier to get equipment for new French divisions if it were possible to show that those in existence were being properly maintained. In a conference with General Juin on 23 January, the Supreme Commander again referred to the importance of the campaign in Alsace and expressed the hope that the French forces would be inspired to excel their own former records.
6th Army Group Counterattack
The French leaders reacted sharply. On being told of the conversation, General de Gaulle expressed surprise at the "severity of a judgment" he believed directed solely at the French command. General Juin, in a conference on the following day, reminded the Supreme Commander that since November the length of the First French Army's front had been doubled without any proportionate increase in reinforcements. Despite this fact, the French had not lost any ground and were even then developing an offensive in the face of problems of terrain, weather, fatigue, and
insufficient resources. It was difficult in view of these conditions, he said bluntly, to avoid a comparison "between the valiant efforts they furnish and the goings-on in the neighboring Army [apparently the Seventh] further to the North." General Juin asked that the problem in Alsace be treated as an army group question and not as something solely French. He added: "If errors have been committed, and they are divided, the fact remains, nevertheless, that the important thing today is that you win the battle of Alsace as you have won the battle of the Ardennes. That, in my opinion, as I told you yesterday, should be your sole preoccupation of the moment."125
General Eisenhower promptly disclaimed any intention of casting reflections on the French efforts and repeated that never as an Allied commander had he "compared unfavorably the troops and leaders of one nationality with respect to any other." He also accepted General Juin's suggestion that the matter be thoroughly discussed with General de Gaulle. The ensuing conference, like several others held previously between the Supreme Commander and the French leader, was extremely frank but devoid of recriminations. General Eisenhower made clear that he had no intention of criticizing or minimizing the contributions of the army of any particular nationality, but wished to impress on every member of the First French Army the critical significance of the offensive to clear the Colmar Pocket. He wanted the French to carry out the Alsatian operation with the same punch that they had used in Italy, the south of France, and the Belfort drive. General de Gaulle reminded the Supreme Commander that the French forces were tired as a result of the long period they had been kept in the lines. He agreed to try to instill into them the drive and will essential to the success of the operation, but reminded General Eisenhower that Allied infantry strength was weak, artillery support was not sufficient to insure the success of large-scale operations, air reinforcement was diminished because of bad weather, and the enemy was resolved to fight a last-ditch battle. In the light of these factors, he believed that the troops could undertake only local actions in the near future. At the same time, he thought that sufficient units could be built up in the rear of these forces for a large-scale attack. The Supreme Commander nodded assent to this analysis and made clear that he was doing his best to get equipment for additional French divisions. He expressed his appreciation for the straightforward discussion with General de Gaulle, inasmuch as "a frank exchange of views on little problems that seemed at the moment to be difficult always led to a mutually satisfactory understanding."126
While these talks over the role of the French were in progress, the enemy had made a final attack against the Allied positions in northern Alsace. The Seventh Army repelled this drive on 25 January and regained the initiative which it held for the remainder of the war. Hitler, at this point, desiring to hold his reserves for further defensive efforts, suspended attacks in the lower Vosges and lower Alsace. While the Seventh Army held firmly in the Sarre valley and made minor gains in the area flooded by the Moder, the First French
Army opened its attack to clear the Colmar Pocket. On 29 January, General de Lattre sent his U.S. corps against Colmar, which fell four days later. The French forces, which had pushed steadily eastward, linked up with U.S. units on 5 February to split the Colmar Pocket. Von Rundstedt, already authorized by Hitler to withdraw from the area when it proved necessary, now pulled back and ordered his forces east of the Rhine. As the Germans started withdrawing, the French and U.S. forces quickly cleared the Colmar Pocket, completing their task on 9 February. In northern Alsace and eastern Lorraine, the Seventh Army started a drive on 17 February to straighten its lines, establishing a foothold on German soil just south of Saarbruecken at the month's end. In the meantime to the left of the Seventh Army, Third Army units had driven through the Orscholz Switch Line to points east of Sarrebourg and south of Trier, occupying a considerable portion of German soil.
The battles between 16 December and 9 February in the Ardennes sector and in Alsace inflicted heavy losses on the enemy. By coming out of their established positions from which the Allied troops had tried so painfully to eject them, the Germans had lost men and materiel they could not replace. Despite these reverses, they still managed to maintain some of their fighting spirit. Even as they were withdrawing, the Nazi hierarchy organized the old and the very young into Volkssturm units, talked darkly of "Werewolf" units which would strike terror into invading forces, and hoped that the diminishing numbers of the fanatical faithful would be sufficient to rally the others to fight for the homeland. So far as the Allies were concerned, the enemy had done his worst and had failed. There could now be little doubt of the ultimate result. The question was: how great would be the price and how long the struggle?
Effects of the German Counteroffensive
Table of Contents ** Previous Chapter (19) * Next Chapter (21)
1. Considerable confusion exists as to the sense in which the terms counterattack and counteroffensive were used during this period. Although there are instances where no clear line of demarcation can be drawn, the term counterattack properly applies to a tactical situation in which a defending force reacts to an enemy attack with an offensive action pursuing limited objectives. It is carried out mostly by local reserves and is limited in scope and duration. The term counteroffensive belongs rather to the realm of strategy. It denotes an operation mounted on a large scale, often involving commitment of strategic reserves, and capable of affecting the further development of the whole campaign. The primary aim of a counteroffensive is complete reversal of the situation created by the attacker and seizure of the initiative from the enemy.
2. Field Marshal von Rundstedt's undated "Critique" which precedes MS # 1-121 (Zimmermann et al.). The author is indebted for the greater part of the information in this chapter relating to German plans and operations to Mrs. Magna E. Bauer of the Office of the Chief of Military History who not only did the basic research in the German documents but carefully checked the completed narrative for errors.
3. The primary mission of the Sixth Panzer Army was to supervise the rehabilitation of the armored divisions, both SS and Army, which were earmarked for the Ardennes counteroffensive. In view of the mixed composition of its staff the Sixth Panzer Army was sometimes referred to as the Sixth SS Panzer Army. Allied intelligence officers usually identified it as such. However, in nearly all official references to it as late as April 1945 by the OKH and the army groups under which it served, it is designated as Sixth Panzer Army.
4. MS # A-862, The Preparations for the German Offensive in the Ardennes, September-16 December 1944 (Schramm). A full account of the enemy preparations will be given in the chief study on the counteroffensive - Hugh M. Cole, The Ardennes: Battle of the Bulge, now in preparation for the UNITED STATES ARMY IN WORLD WAR II series.
5. Elements of twenty-eight divisions were actually used.
6. In October 1944 it was decided to organize a new army group headquarters, so as to relieve Army Group B of a part of its load. On 29 October Army Group Student assumed command of Fifteenth Army, Armed Forces Commander Netherlands, and First Parachute Army. Army Group Student was renamed Army Group H on 11 November, with Student as army group commander.
7. See Enclosure No. 2 to letter from Jodl to the chief of staff of OB WEST, Generalleutnant Siegfried Westphal, entitled Grundgedanken der Operation "Wacht am Rhein", 1 Nov 44. OB WEST, KTB Anlage 50 1. VII.-31.XII.44; MS # A-862 (Schramm) On 26 November 1944 Reichsfuehrer SS Heinrich Himmler was designated Oberbefehlshaber Oberrhein and was ordered to take command of all Army, Air Force, and SS elements on the east bank of the Rhine between Bien Wald and the Swiss border.
8. MS # A-862.
9. See Order, OKW to OB WEST, signed by Jodl, 5 Nov 44. OB WEST, KTB Anlage 50 1. VII.-31.XII.44; MS # A-862 (Schramm); MS # A-896, OB WEST - 34 Questions, 1 Sep-8 May 45 (Westphal).
10. The Ninth and Third Armies had OSS detachments, but all except a small section of the one at First Army had been withdrawn on the recommendation of that headquarters when the 12th Army Group became operational. Thereafter the OSS detachments formerly at First Army operated from army group level. 12th A Gp Rpt of Opns, III, 136-37; Interv with Col B. A. Dickson, 6 Feb 52.
11. SHAEF Weekly Intel Summaries 28-30, weeks ending 1, 8, and 15 Oct 44; 12th A Gp Weekly Intel Summary 9, week ending 7 Oct 44; 21 A Gp Intel Review 163, 8 Oct 44; FUSA G-2 Estimate 33, 17 Oct 44; TUSA G-2 Periodic Rpt 130, 19 Oct 44. Much of this material comes from a detailed study made by Mr. Royce L. Thompson of OCMH of intelligence reports of 12th and 21 Army Groups, First, Third, and Ninth Armies, V and VIII Corps, and the seven divisions stationed in the area hit by the German counteroffensive. The study covered the period 1 September-16 December 1944. The author has carefully examined the weekly and periodic reports issued by SHAEF, the army groups, and armies for this period.
12. SHAEF Weekly Intel Summaries 31-32, weeks ending 22, 29 Oct 44; 12th A Gp Weekly Intel Summaries 11-12, weeks ending 21, 28 Oct 44; 21 A Gp Intel Review 165, 30 Oct 44; FUSA G-2 Estimate 34, 31 Oct 44; TUSA G-2 Periodic Rpts 134, 137, 138, 139, and 141, for 23, 26, 27, 28, and 30 Oct 44; NUSA G-2 Periodic Rpt 52, 26 Oct 44.
13. SHAEF Weekly Intel Summary 33, week ending 5 Nov 44; 12th A Gp Weekly Intel Summary 13, week ending 4 Nov 44; FUSA G-2 Periodic Rpt 149, 5 Nov 44; TUSA G-2 Periodic Rpt 149, 7 Nov 44; NUSA Periodic Rpt 65, 9 Nov 44; 21 A Gp Intel Review 166, 10 Nov 44.
14. SHAEF Weekly Intel Summary 34, week ending 12 Nov 44.
15. 12th A Gp Weekly Intel Summary 14, week ending 11 Nov 44; FUSA G-2 Estimate 35, 12 Nov 44.
16. The Allied error as to fuel shortages was caused in part by a misreading of captured documents which showed the enemy to be making drastic efforts to conserve gasoline. These documents, as SHAEF admitted later, were assumed to indicate an immediate critical shortage of fuel rather than an all-out effort to build sufficient reserves for an attack. SHAEF Weekly Intel Summaries 37 and 38, weeks ending 3 and 10 Dec 44. Some intelligence offcers were later inclined to blame what they called overoptimistic Air Force estimates of the destruction of German oil reserves.
17. Bradley, A Soldier's Story, pp. 441-42.
18. SHAEF G-2 Intel Summary 35, week ending 19 Nov 44; 12th A Gp Intel Summary 15, 18 Nov 44; FUSA G-2 Periodic Rpt 163, 20 Nov 44; TUSA G-2 Periodic Rpt 158, 16 Nov 44 (reprints SHAEF Intel Summary 34 on enemy capabilities); NUSA G-2 Periodic Rpt 74, 18 Nov 44; FUSA G-2 Estimate 36, 20 Nov 44.
19. SHAEF Weekly Intel Summary 37, week ending 3 Dec 44; Intel Rpt at 12th A Gp CGs briefing, 7 Dec 44; 12th A Gp G-3 Sec Rpt, Dec 44; FUSA G-2 Estimate 37, 10 Dec 44; VIII Corps G-2 Estimate 12, 9 Dec 44; VIII Corps Periodic Rpts 175-81, 9-15 Dec 44.
20. General Strong, in a letter to the author, 31 August 1951, says: "At these meetings chief of staff's morning conferences at SHAEF] daily for a period of at least a fortnight before the attack, I called attention to the possible three uses of the reforming Panzer Army (a) to go to Russia; (b) to counter attack an Allied penetration; (c) to stage a relieving attack through the Ardennes. . . . Course (c) so impressed General Smith that he asked if General Bradley was aware of this possibility. I replied in the affirmative but nevertheless General Smith instructed me to go to 12 AG and see General Bradley personally and warn him. This would be about the first week in December. I saw General Bradley personally for about 3/4 hour and he told me he was aware of the danger but that he had earmarked certain divisions to move into the Ardennes area should the enemy attack there. . . ." General Smith in an interview with the author, 1 November 1951, declared: "General Strong . . . said the attack might come in the Ardennes or east of the Vosges whenever the Germans had a prediction of six days of bad weather. He didn't know which would be the real attack. As a consequence of this I sent him to see Bradley and Bradley said let them come. . . ." Lt. Col. Roy Lamson, SHAPE Historian, in a letter to the author, 26 September 1951, cites General Eisenhower as saying that "the possibility of a break through was certainly made known to him by General Strong." Eisenhower said he had discussed the situation in detail with General Bradley but had decided to keep moving rather than build up in defensive line. See also Eisenhower, Crusade in Europe, pp. 338-40. Cf. Bradley, A Soldier's Story, pp. 461-64.
21. TUSA G-2 Periodic Rpts 186-88, 14-16 Dec 44.
22. The author has discussed this problem at some length with the G-2's of SHAEF, 12th Army Group, 21 Army Group, First Army, and with one or more staff members of each G-2 Division at these headquarters. While some effort was made by the principals to discount the effect of the personalities involved, there seems little doubt that some personality conflicts, and sometimes a tendency to question the validity of predictions, existed between the 12th Army Group and First Army G-2's. There was apparently a disposition at lower headquarters to feel that SHAEF's intelligence estimates were not always up to date. On the other hand, it is clear that G-2 staff members at the working levels frequently had close personal relationships which made up for any difficulties that existed between the chiefs of the sections. Therefore, it is easy to overestimate the influence of difficulties between the headquarters or within any headquarters.
23. This and the succeeding paragraphs relating to the 10 December estimate are taken from FUSA G-2 Estimate 37, 10 Dec 44.
24. SS Obersturmbannfuehrer Otto Skorzeny commanded a unit known as Panzer Brigade 150, which was to use U.S. Army uniforms and equipment to spread confusion behind the Allied lines.
25. The Roermond-Schleiden concentration estimate was based, according to Col. B. A. Dickson, the First Army G-2, on air reconnaissance information which was tabulated by First Army on 8 December. A photograph of the map, marked "Study of Enemy Armd Reserves, 8 Dec 44," shows priority one, two, and three targets on these reserves. In the area above a line drawn Gemuend-Muenstereifel-Sinzig-the Rhine, an area somewhat to the north of that struck by the enemy on 16 December, there are twenty-six first-priority and three third-priority targets. In the area below that line -- or one corresponding more closely to the Ardennes area -- there were ten first- priority (four at the Rhine and one at Mayen), twelve second-priority, and two third-priority targets. According to these maps, therefore, the chief concentration of armored reserves was much nearer Cologne and Aachen than the area where the attack took place. First Army correctly identified on its front elements of fourteen divisions which ultimately attacked in the Ardennes. It located the Sixth Panzer Army in an area between Muenchen-Gladbach (on the Second British and Ninth Army front) in the north and Remagen -- Blankenheim in the south. Colonel Dickson holds that the fact that 50 percent of the targets were south of Cologne showed that the attack could be expected in the Ardennes area. (Interv with Dickson, 6 Feb 52.) It could, of course, also show that an attack could be expected in the Aachen area, which is what prisoner-of-war rumors cited by First Army on 15 December indicated.
26. General Brereton in The Brereton Diaries, p. 387, says that his G-2 came closer than any other chief of intelligence to predicting the attack. Apparently in view of the fact that no airborne units were then in the line, the estimate went without notice.
27. SHAEF to Devers, S-70750, 14 Dec 44; Gen Bull, Memo for CofS SHAEF, 14 Dec 44. Both in SHAEF SGS 381 Post VERLORD Planning, II.
28. Notes of conf, 15 Dec 44, in notes of Allied Air Commanders Conf, Nov 44-May 45, Air Staff (SHAEF) files 505.39-2, Air Hist Archives.
29. 12th A Gp Summary 18, 12 Dec 44. Some 12th Army Group intelligence officers attribute the sweeping language of this report to the fact that they had just decided that they should make their reports more dramatic in order to get them read. They therefore got a former journalist, Maj. Ralph McA. Ingersoll, to put some color in the 12 December report. Its language was less guarded as a result. See also Ltr, Brig Gen Edwin L. Sibert to Williams, 11 Dec 44, 12th A Gp 371.3 Military Objectives, III, in which the 12th Army Group chief of intelligence speaks of the enemy's weak position. General Sibert in a statement to the author, 11 May 1951, said that while the letter bore his signature, it was drafted by someone else and merely reflected the current intelligence reports.
30. 21 A Gp Intel Review 168, 3 Dec 44, Eisenhower personal file; de Guingand, Operation Victory, p. 425; Ltr, Montgomery to Eisenhower, 15 Dec 44, Eisenhower personal file. Field Marshal Montgomery in his letter jokingly enclosed a statement for $5 for a bet made on 11 October 1943 in which General Eisenhower had wagered that the war would end before Christmas 1944. General Eisenhower on 16 December replied in the same jesting vein, "I still have nine days, and while it seems almost certain that you will have an extra five pounds for Christmas, you will not get it until that day." Eisenhower to Montgomery, 16 Dec 44, Eisenhower personal file. Bradley quotes Field Marshal Montgomery as saying in an estimate published at 21 Army Group on 16 December 1944: "The enemy is at present fighting a defensive campaign on all fronts; his situation is such that he cannot stage major offensive operations. . . ." General Bradley says that if he had been preparing an estimate on that day he would have said the same thing. Bradley, A Soldier's Story, p. 460.
31. FUSA G-2 Periodic Rpt 189, 15 Dec 44.
32. Colonel Dickson in an interview with the author on 6 February 1952, said he had already given all the warnings he could to the First Army commander, the chief of staff, and the chief of operations. He added that he had been without any leave since the Normandy operations and that when he was offered a short leave in Paris on the 15th he was so much in need of a rest that he decided to risk being away from his headquarters when the attack came. He was summoned to 12th Army Group headquarters the following day and returned to First Army by way of VIII Corps on the 17th.
33. This statement was confirmed by General Hodges, in an interview with the author, 12 January 1950. His chief of intelligence, General Hodges said, had noted movements of the enemy into the Ardennes sector, but "all of us thought they were getting ready to hit us when we crossed the Roer." He added, "You know my intelligence chief was on leave when the attack came, he wouldn't have been if he had expected an attack." Colonel Dickson in his interview with the author on 6 February 1952 recalled, on the contrary, that General Hodges, after reading the 10 December prediction, asked General Bradley for two extra divisions and was refused.
34. A detailed study of the movement of this combat command was made for the author by Mr. Royce Thompson of OCMH.
35. Ltr, Gen Middleton to Theater Historian, 30 Jul 45. A file on this operation may be found in Combat Interview File 350, AG Records.
36. Bradley, A Soldier's Story, pp. 461-64. Compare General Bradley's last statement above with General Strong's recollections, n. 20, above, and Bradley's statement to General Smith, p. 374, below. The question seems to have been one of the strength of General Strong's warning. This, indeed, seems to be the point at issue throughout. It is clear that nearly all the intelligence chiefs did feel that an attack in the Ardennes was possible, but the question is how clear and effective they made this warning in discussing the matter with commanders.
37. Craven and Cate, The Army Air Forces in World War II, Vol. III, Ch. 19.
38. Operation order of Army Group B, 9 Dec 44. OB WEST, KTB Anlage 50 1.VII.-31.XII.44; OB WEST, KTB 1.-31.XII.44, 15 to 18 Dec 44; FUSA Rpt of Opns, 1 Aug 44-22 Feb 45, Vol. I. Cole, The Ardennes, will give the detailed operational story of the counteroffensive.
39. 12th A Gp briefings, 16 Dec 44, 12th A Gp files; Msg, V Corps to FUSA, 1244 hours, 16 Dec 44, in FVSA G - 2 Jnl, 1450 hours, 16 Dec 44. V Corps reported receiving the information from 99th Division at 1350, 16 Dec 44.
40. Bradley, A Soldier's Story, pp. 449-50; Diary Office CinC, 17 Dec 44.
41. Memo by Eisenhower, 23 Dec 44, Diary Office CinC. Almost the same statement, describing the action, appears in the Diary Office CinC, 17 Dec 44. These two statements are cited in Crusade in Europe, p. 344. Cf. Bradley, A Soldier's Story, pp. 464-65.
42. G-3 Plng Stf Memo, Possibilities of Mutual Reinforcement, 20 Nov 44; Eisenhower to Bradley and Devers, 3 Dec 44. Both in SHAEF SGS 381 Post VERLORD Planning, II.
43. General Smith had agreed to the selection of Bastogne by General Whiteley, deputy G-3, according to Smith's statement to the ETO Historical Division, 14 September 1945. In a statement made to the author on. 8 May 1947, General Smith recalled that General Strong also aided in the selection.
44. Memo by Eisenhower, 23 Dec 44, Diary Office CinC.
45. Tedder memo, 17 Dec 44, OCMH files. Arnold to Spaatz, 30 Dec 44; Spaatz to Arnold, 7 Jan 45. Both in Air Staff SHAEF files, USSTAF Incoming Msgs 519.800.1.
46. Eisenhower to Marshall, S-71794, 21 Dec 44, Eisenhower personal file.
47. General Smith in a statement to the author, 1 November 1951, says that Jodl, shortly after the war, told him he realized on the third day of the attack that it had failed. Rundstedt shared this view (see below, p. 384).
48. MS # A-858, The Course of Events of the German Offensive in the Ardennes, 16 Dec 44 to 14 Jan 45 (Schramm); OB WEST, KTB B 1.-31.XII.44, 18 to 20 Dec 44.
49. Gen Patton, Notes on Bastogne, entry for 18 Dec 44, TUSA AAR; Diary, Brig Gen Hobart R. Gay, TUSA CofS, 18 Dec 44, OCMH files. General Betts, deputy G-2 of SHAEF, in a letter to the author, 5 September 1951, says that it was "almost a week before we realized that Hitler, in fact, was out to split the Allied Armies apart." General Bradley in A Soldier's Story, p. 455, says that when he first got news of the attack he thought it a spoiling attack to force a halt on Patton's advance into the Saar.
50. Eisenhower to 12th A Gp and 6th A Gp, S-71400, 1900 hours, 18 Dec 44, SHAEF cbl log; also Diary CinC, 18 Dec 44.
51. Eisenhower, Crusade in Europe, p. 350; Patton, Notes on Bastogne, entry for 19 Dec 44, TUSA AAR; Patton, War as I Knew It, p. 190; Eisenhower to A Gp comdrs, S-71724, 20 Dec 44, SHAEF cbl log.
52. Patton, War as I Knew It, p. 191; Patton, Notes on Bastogne, entry for 19 Dec 44; Eisenhower, Crusade in Europe, p. 351; Eisenhower to Marshall for CCS, SCAF 149, 19 Dec 44, Eisenhower personal file.
53. Eisenhower to Montgomery, S-71591, 19 Dec 44, Eisenhower personal file; Air Marshal Robb's notes on a meeting of airmen in the Supreme Commander's office, 1000 hours, 20 December 1944 (with penciled notes by General Eisenhower), in OCMH files; Eisenhower, Crusade in Europe, p. 350.
54. Montgomery, Normandy to the Baltic, pp. 280-81; Comments by Hist Sec, Cabinet Office, to the author, 10 Jul 51.
55. The shift was also accompanied by an agreement between representatives of SHAEF, USSTAF, and the Ninth Air Force to place the two tactical commands then in support of the U.S. forces north of the Ardennes under the operational control of Air Marshal Coningham, commander of the tactical air forces in support of the 21 Army Group. Enough fighter-bombers were shifted from the north to bring up to ten groups the air forces supporting General Patton. Robb, Notes on mtg, 20 Dec 44, OCMH files.
56. Montgomery, Normandy to the Baltic, p. 281; Intervs with Strong, 12 Dec 47, Whiteley, 18 Dec 46, Smith, 8 May 47, and Bradley, 6 Nov 46; Eisenhower, Crusade in Europe, p. 355; Bradley, A Soldier's Story, pp. 475-77; Robb, Notes on mtg, 20 Dec 44, OCMH files. The bitter feeling which existed at the two U.S. headquarters is reflected in books like Ralph Ingersoll's Top Secret (New York, 1946), Robert S. Allen's Lucky Forward: The History of Patton's Third U.S. Army (New York, 1947), and Patton's War as I Knew It. The strong animus toward SHAEF which prevailed at the two headquarters among junior officers, even before the Ardennes developments, was the subject of a special report by a War Department observer in early December 1944. It is interesting to note that while staff members of 12th Army Group and Third Army thought that SHAEF was unduly influenced by 21 Army Group, a number of officers at 21 Army Group fancied that Generals Bradley and Patton had the inside track to the Supreme Commander.
57. Bradley, A Soldier's Story, p. 475-76.
58. Montgomery to Eisenhower, M-384, 20 Dec 44, Eisenhower personal file.
59. Eisenhower, Crusade in Europe, p.354-55.
60. Eisenhower to Marshall, S-71794, 21 Dec 44, Eisenhower personal file.
61. Eisenhower to Montgomery, S-71982, 22 Dec 44, Eisenhower personal file.
62. Smith to author, 8 May 47; Montgomery to Eisenhower, M-389, 22 Dec 44, Eisenhower personal file.
63. Churchill to Eisenhower, 22 Dec 44, SHAEF cbl log; Marshall to Eisenhower, W-81088, 23 Dec 44, Eisenhower personal file.
64. Bradley, A Soldier's Story, pp. 472-74; TUSA Rpt of Opns, Vol. I.
65. Robb, Notes on mtgs in SAC's office, 21 Dec 44, OCMH files.
66. Msgs, SHAEF to COMZ and ETOUSA, 18-23 Dec 44; Lee to all base secs, EX-76867, 21 Dec 44. All in SHAEF cbl log. FUSA Rpt of Opns, Aug 44-Feb 45, Vol. I. De Gaulle to Minister of War, 23 Dec 44; Dody to Bradley, 29 Dec 44; Bradley to Dody, 3 Jan 45. All in 12 A Gp 322.011 Commanders and Command Relations, I.
67. Montgomery to Eisenhower, M-389, 22 Dec 44, Eisenhower personal file.
68. Montgomery to Eisenhower, M-390, 23 Dec 44, Eisenhower personal file.
69. Montgomery to Eisenhower, M-394, 25 Dec 44, Eisenhower personal file.
70. Montgomery to Eisenhower, M-396, 25 Dec 44, Eisenhower personal file. SHAEF's message on replacements, dated 25 December 1944, reached Montgomery the following day. Note, Br Hist Sec to author, 23 Apr 52.
71. Air Marshal Robb's notes on a meeting in General Smith's office, 26 December 1944, give General Bradley's reactions as reported by General Smith. Field Marshal Montgomery, according to Patton, War as I Knew It, p. 203, had told General Bradley that First Army could not attack for at least three months and that the only offensive effort that could be made would be that of Third Army, which the British commander considered too weak. It would be necessary, therefore, to fall back to the line of the Saar-Vosges or to the Moselle to get a sufficient number of divisions for the attack. Bradley, A Soldier's Story, pp. 480-81, says only: "Although I had hoped Montgomery would soon join our counter-attack with one from the north, I found him waiting expectantly for one last enemy blow on the flank. Not until he was certain that the enemy had exhausted himself, would Montgomery plunge in for the kill. Disappointed at the prospect of further delay, I headed back to St. Trond."
72. Patton, War as I Knew It, pp. 203-05, has the full memorandum. Bradley to Hodges; 26 Dec 44, 12th A Gp 371.3 Military Objectives, IV. The question of his withdrawal will be treated at length in Cole's The Ardennes.
73. See study by Magna E. Bauer and Charles van Luettichau, Key Dates During the Ardennes Offensive, 1944, OCMH files.
74. Craven and Cate, The Army Air Forces in World War II, III, 690-92. The 9th Bombardment Division of the Ninth Air Force sent out more sorties on 23 December than it had since the battles in Normandy. It dispatched 624 bombers in the course of the day. The day also saw attack by 417 heavy bombers of the Eighth Air Force and 696 fighter-bomber sorties. In the period 23-31 December, Ninth Air Force, with two Eighth Air Force fighter-bomber groups under its temporary operational control, flew 10,305 sorties.
75. FUSA Rpt of Opns, Vol. I; TUSA Rpt of Opns, Vol. I; Bradley, A Soldier's Story, pp. 481-82; Entry dtd 26 Dec 44 in OB WEST, KTB 1.-31.XII.44.
76. The meeting had been slightly delayed because of the bombing of General Eisenhower's special train - in the railway yards near Paris - on 26 December. The trip to Hasselt was complicated because of the heavy guard given General Eisenhower as a result of a report that German forces under Colonel Skorzeny had slipped through the American lines to Paris with the object of killing key Allied commanders (Eisenhower, Crusade in Europe, pp. 359-60). German plans for the Ardennes offensive do not indicate that Skorzeny's forces were intended to carry out such a mission.
Field Marshal Montgomery's plane was also bombed during the course of the Ardennes battle. General Eisenhower immediately put his own plane at the field marshal's disposal. De Guingand's plane was also destroyed.
77. The draft of a letter from Eisenhower to Montgomery, 29 December 1944, Eisenhower personal file, recapitulates the points discussed at the meeting. (A note in General Eisenhower's writing says "probably not sent.") It accords generally with the general's recollections in Crusade in Europe, pp. 360-61, although it cites 1 January 1945 instead of 3 January as the date of Field Marshal Montgomery's proposed drive. General de Guingand in meetings at SHAEF on 31 December denied that Montgomery had committed himself firmly to an attack on 1 January, but said it might be made on the 2d or 3d. Robb, Notes on CofS and SAC confs, 31 Dec 44, OCMH files.
78. Montgomery to Eisenhower, M-540, 29 Dec 44, Eisenhower personal file.
79. Marshall to Eisenhower, W-84337, 30 Dec 44, Eisenhower personal file.
80. General Eisenhower had indicated in a meeting with his staff on 30 December that he proposed to return First Army to General Bradley when the situation was restored in the Ardennes. In the course of the conference, the Supreme Commander's advisers agreed that Montgomery had quickly restored the situation in the First Army area, straightened out the army and brought order out of disorder. When it came to the need for offensive action they felt he was far behind Bradley. They feared his alleged overcareful policy would cause the Allies to miss a chance to inflict a severe defeat on the enemy in the immediate future. While the group referred specifically to Field Marshal Montgomery's policy during the Ardennes fight, it is not unfair to say that it represented generally SHAEF's attitude toward the 21 Army Group commander. Discussions at meeting based on Air Marshal Robb's notes on Supreme Commander's conference, 30 December 1944. It should be noted that Generals Smith, Strong, and Whiteley and Air Marshal Robb usually met with General Eisenhower during this period.
81. Eisenhower to Montgomery, 31 Dec 44, Eisenhower personal file.
82. De Guingand, Operation Victory, pp. 432-45; Montgomery to Eisenhower, M-406, 31 Dec 44, Eisenhower personal file.
83. Paraphrase of Msg, Churchill to Roosevelt, 7 Jan 45, in Memo, Leahy for Marshall et al., 8 Jan 45, OPD Exec 9, Bk 24, Item 1539.
84. New York Times, January 8, 1945.
85. New York Times, January 9, 1945.
86. De Guingand, Operation Victory, p. 434.
87. New York Times, January 8, 1945. This version is slightly different from that in Bradley, A Soldier's Story, pp. 484-85. It is possible that Bradley's was taken from the BBC broadcast which he mentions.
88. Bracken to Smith, RR-15103, 10 Jan 45, SHAEF cbl log.
89. Bradley, A Soldier's Story, pp. 487-88.
90. Eisenhower to Bradley, 16 Jan 45; Eisenhower to Marshall, 8 Feb 45. Both in Eisenhower personal file.
91. 407 H.C. Deb. (Hansard's 1944-45), pars 415-18.
92. Eisenhower to Marshall, S-74437, 10 Jan 45; Eisenhower to Marshall, S-74461, 10 Jan 45. Both in Eisenhower personal file.
93. Marshall to Eisenhower, W-90175, 11 Jan 45; Eisenhower to Marshall, S-74678, 12 Jan 45. Both in Eisenhower personal file.
94. Eisenhower to Brooke, 16 Feb 45, Eisenhower personal file.
95. Ltr, Eisenhower to Prime Minister, 25 Feb 45, Eisenhower personal file.
96. Montgomery to Eisenhower, 4 Mar 45, Eisenhower personal file.
97. Eisenhower to Marshall, 14 Mar 45, Eisenhower personal file.
98. See below, p. 396.
99. Kent Roberts Greenfield, Robert R. Palmer, and Bell I. Wiley, The Organization of Ground Combat Troops, UNITED STATES ARMY IN WORLD WAR II (Washington, 1946), Mobilization of the Ground Army, pp. 189-98, 242-44. See above, Ch. XVII, p. 306. See also Ruppenthal. Logistical Support of the Armies, Vol. II, now in preparation.
100. Eisenhower to WD, 30 Dec 44; WD to SHAEF, 30 Dec 44. Both in COMZ Cbls, ETO Adm. Ruppenthal, Logistical Support of the Armies, and Vigneras, French Rearmament, contain detailed discussions of this problem.
101. Marshall to Eisenhower, W-88482, 8 Jan 45, Eisenhower personal file; Memo, Leahy for President (undated but apparently in answer to Churchill cable of 7 January 1945), OPD Exec 9, Bk 24.
102. Marshall to Eisenhower, W-87829, 6 Jan 45; Marshall to Eisenhower, W-88777, 8 Jan 45; Eisenhower to Marshall, S-74003, 7 Jan 45. Eisenhower personal file.
103. Hq ETOUSA GO 5, 23 Jan 44; Interv with Gen Lear, 3 May 48.
104. Marshall to Eisenhower, W-87829, 6 Jan 45; Marshall to Eisenhower, W-88777, 8 Jan 45. Both in Eisenhower personal file. Hq ASF 200.02 Gen Somervell's Inspection Trip to the ETO 333. See Ruppenthal, Logistical Support of the Armies, Vol. II, for full discussion of this matter.
105. This attack, envisaged by the Allies in late December, had become obvious to the enemy by 28 December, as shown by an entry of that date in the OB WEST KTB.
106. A detailed account of the Allied attack will be found in Cole, The Ardennes.
107. Diary, Gen Gay, 11, 14 Jan 45, OCMH files.
108. MS # C-020, Ausarbeitung, Die Deutsche Wehrmacht in der letzten Phase des Krieges, 1 Jan-7 May 45 (Schramm). This manuscript was prepared from the draft OKW/WFSt records and daily notes in 1948.
109. Bradley, A Soldier's Story, p. 492.
110. Montgomery to Bradley, 12 Jan 45, Eisenhower personal file. A copy of the original was sent to General Eisenhower with the covering note: "It has been a very great honour for me to command two American armies."
111. Particularly striking were the results gained by the air forces on 22 January -- a day in which the XIX Tactical Air Command claimed over 1,100 motor vehicles destroyed and another 536 damaged. The enemy air force made its most vigorous attack on 1 January 1945, using about 700 planes. Craven and Cate, The Army Air Forces in World War II, III, 709-10, 665.
112. FUSA Rpt of Opns, Vol. I; MS # A-858, Schramm, Course of Events of the German Offensive in the Ardennes; The War in the West 01-SIR/39 (Scheidt), p. 109; MS # C-020, History of the Armed Forces (Schramm), p. 108. The figures in Table 2 represent a hasty compilation prepared for General Eisenhower during the action. For a postwar summary of the Ardennes-Alsace campaign casualties, see below, Table 3. For tabular summaries of Allied strength and casualty figures during entire period of the war, see Appendix E.
113. Seventh Army History, II, Ch. XXII; Army Group G, KTB Nr. 3b 1.-31.XII.44, 21 to 25 Dec 44; MS # C-0Q0 (Schramm). The tactical control of Nineteenth Army had been transferred from Army Group G to Army Group Oberrhein on 7 December 1944.
114. 6th A Gp, Ltr of Instr 7, 28 Dec 44, and other entries in 6th A Gp Opn Rpts, Dec 44.
115. 6th A Gp Weekly Intel Summary 15, 30 Dec 44; 6th A Gp Opns Rpts, Dec 44; SUSA G-2 Estimate 6, 29 Dec 44; SUSA Diary, 14 Aug 44-31 Jan 45; Devers to SHAEF, 31 Dec 44, 6th A Gp Opns Rpts, Dec 44.
116. Air Marshal Robb, Notes of mtg in SAC's office, 26 Dec 44, OCMH files; SUSA Rpt of Opns, Vol. II; 6th A Gp Opns Rpts, Dec 44.
117. 6th A Gp Ltr of Instr 7, 28 Dec 44; 6th A Gp Opns Rpts, Dec 44, p. 98; Air Marshal Robb, Notes on mtgs in SAC's office, 1, 3 Jan 45, OCMH files; Schwartz to Patch, 3 Jan 45, SUSA Diary, Vol. II.
118. Eisenhower to de Gaulle, 2 Jan 45; de Gaulle to Eisenhower, 3 Jan 45; Eisenhower to de Gaulle, 5 Jan 45. All in Diary Office CinC. Citation of the de Gaulle letter is from the translation prepared for General Eisenhower. This copy does not show the exact time the message was written or received. It is likely that it arrived after the morning meeting held by the Supreme Commander and his staff, but before the conference of Generals Eisenhower and de Gaulle in the afternoon.
119. Robb, Notes on mtg in SAC's office, 3 Jan 45, OCMH files.
120. Caffery to State Dept and President from de Gaulle, 3 Jan 45, Diary Office CinC. Sometime during the day Ambassador Caffery gave the mesage to General Eisenhower. The Ambassador, in accepting the message for transmittal, told de Gaulle he would take this action. Caffery to President and Secy State, 3 Jan 45, OPD 381, Sec I.
121. Marshall to Eisenhower, 7 Jan 45; Eisenhower to Marshall, S-73871, 6 Jan 45. Both in Eisenhower personal file. Entry in Diary Office CinC, 3 Jan 45; statements of de Gaulle and Juin to author. General Eisenhower told General Marshall in a message of 6 January 1945 that the Prime Minister's presence in Paris on 3 January was purely coincidental.
122. Eisenhower to Marshall, S-73871, 6 Jan 45, Eisenhower personal file; entry in Diary Office CinC, 3 Jan 46. In the fall of 1945, several French newspapers reported that General Eisenhower had changed his order under pressure from the Prime Minister. Mr. Churchill at that time informed General Eisenhower that he was willing to issue a contradiction of the story, if the U.S. commander thought it worth while. Eisenhower said that no statement was necessary, but took the occasion to remind Mr. Churchill that the latter, with his usual confidence, had left the settlement of the matter to the Supreme Commander. General Eisenhower said that he had been convinced by General de Gaulle that the political developments which would follow a partial withdrawal in Alsace would lead to a deterioration of the situation in the rear areas far in excess of the value of getting one or two divisions for the SHAEF reserve. In 1949, when the city of Strasbourg gave Mr. Churchill an award for having saved the city in January 1945, the former Prime Minister confirmed a statement that he had flown to France on General de Gaulle's appeal, but paid tribute to General Eisenhower "as that great American soldier who was willing to assume additional risks rather than expose the people of Strasbourg to German vengeance." Churchill to Eisenhower, 8 Nov 45; Eisenhower to Churchill, 9 Nov 45. Both in Eisenhower personal file. New York Times, August 16, 1949.
123. SUSA Rpt of Opns, Vol. II, Ch. XXII.
124. Army Group G, KTB Nr.4 1.I.-28.II.45, 4 to 7 Jan 45.
125. Ltr, Juin to Eisenhower, 24 Jan 45; Eisenhower to Juin, 24 Jan 45. Both in Eisenhower personal file.
126. Resume of conversation, Eisenhower and de Gaulle, 25 Jan 45 (made by Lt Col L. E. Dostert), Diary Office CinC, 26 Jan 45.