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BFT 2013 Ardennes

Discussion in 'Western Europe 1943 - 1945' started by pistol, Nov 3, 2013.

  1. pistol

    pistol Member

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  2. pistol

    pistol Member

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    Hollerath: Looking west along the 'Rollbahn A' also known as 'Schwarzenbruch Trail'. After crossing the Belgian border the path broadens a bit and now is a paved road (no cars allowed). The path descends towards the Olef Bach. Inside these woods and beyond the Olef Bach the 3rd Bn/393rd Infantry fought for its life against elements of the 277 VG Division and the 12th SS Pz Div on 16 and 17 Dec 44.

    View attachment 19789

    text of my presentation on the 393rd and 394th Infantry, 99th US Infantry Division ('Checkerboard'):
     

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  3. pistol

    pistol Member

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    Losheimergraben

    View attachment 19790
    Losheimergraben looking east from the crossroads towards the custom houses. The wooded hill behind the custom houses was occupied by B Co of the 1st Bn. The frontal attack by the 12 VG Division against the X-roads overran the B Co positions in mid-afternoon of the 16th. Nevertheless the 1st Bn held on to the crossroads until the evening of the 17th, thereby effectively blocking all access to the important 'Rollbahn C', which formed the route of advance of the armoured battlegroup of the 12th SS Pz Div (aka KG Kuhlmann).

    View attachment 19791
    The railroad viaduct in the main road between Losheim and Losheimergraben. I still am not sure if the railroad bridge was out on 16 Dec. According to the Combat Interviews of the 1st Bn/394th the bridge was in.


     

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  4. pistol

    pistol Member

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    Jansbach: site of Charles B. MacDonalds action in the Krinkelter Wald (3rd Bn/23rd Infantry)

    View attachment 19935
    Sketch Map of the positions along the western face of the Jansbach, taken up by MacDonalds I Co on the evening of 16 Dec 44.
     

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  5. pistol

    pistol Member

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    Jansbach

    View attachment 19793
    German perspective: At the bottom of the shallow Jansbach valley looking southwest. Positions of the 3rd and 2nd Plt are indicated.
     

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  6. pistol

    pistol Member

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    Jansbach

    View attachment 19794
    Same spot as previous photograph. Just past the sharp bend in the 'Schwarzenbruch Trail' the 1st Plt (Lt Goffigon) had established a small road block. The 1st Plt positions extended to the right.
     

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  7. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr Patron  

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    ( I am walking this tour with you in spirit, Pistol ! These are areas I have yet to explore..... :S! )
     
  8. pistol

    pistol Member

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    Jansbach:

    View attachment 19795
    The Schwarzenbruch Trail at the junction with the north-south firebreak, looking east. The Pz Jäger IV of KG Müller (12th SS) chased the retreating I Co men along this road.

    View attachment 19796
    Capt MacDonald unsuccesfully tried to rally his men along the north-south firebreak. The enemy tanks and infantry were following too close on the heels of his retreating men.
     

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  9. pistol

    pistol Member

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    View attachment 19798
    Many of the slit-trenches are still visible in this area. These ones are located in K Co's position, west of I Co.
     

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  10. pistol

    pistol Member

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    Ruppenvenn:

    View attachment 19799
    Western exit of the Krinkelter Wald, also known as Ruppenvenn. By nightfall on the 17th the KG Müller reached the woods' exit at this point and moved on to Rocherath.

    View attachment 19800
    Same spot looking slightly southwest. The two Shermans of the 741st Tank Bn under Lt. Miller, in support of the 3rdBn/23rd Infantry, pulled back towards Ruppenvenn to obtain better fields of fire. Later that afternoon Miller's tanks engaged the leading Jagdpanzer IV's as they emerged from the forest and knocked out two. But in the return fire both Shermans were themselves destroyed,
     

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  11. pistol

    pistol Member

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    View attachment 19802
    Picture of the two Shermans of the 741st Tank Bn, u/c of Sergeant Miller, that were knocked out at Ruppenvenn.
     

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  12. pistol

    pistol Member

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    Dom Bütgenbach

    The stand of the 26th Infantry at the Domäne Bütgenbach, to the E and SE of the village of Bütgenbach, is another one of the incredible feats by the US Army in the Ardennes. From 18 until 22 Dec 44 the American GI's held off all German attempts by the 12th SS Pz Div to break through the position.

    View attachment 19803
    Picture of the Bütgenbach area as seen from the forward line of E Co, 2nd Bn. The Domäne Bütgenbach. an ancient stock raising farm, is hidden by the trees in the background. The village of Bütgenbach is visible to the left.

    View attachment 19804
    Another view of the same area, now looking a bit further to the NW. Beyond Bütgenbach, in the distance, the heights of the 'Hautes Fagnes' (High Moors), with Mont Rigi, are clearly visible. Mont Rigi was the objective of Von der Heydte's abortive paratroop operation.
     

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  13. pistol

    pistol Member

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    Dom Bütgenbach

    View attachment 19805
    View to the NE from the same spot as the previous picture. Looking at the forward line of F Co, 2nd Bn, 26th Infantry, which extended the line of E Co and followed the tree line to the NE. The Schwarzenbüchel Hill, later occupied by elements of the 3rd Bn, 26th Infatry, overlooked the town of Büllingen, which is located behind the trees and was occupied by the Germans.

    The sunny hill mass on the left, behind the Schwarzenbüchel, is the Elsenborn Ridge. In between lies the dam reservoir of Bütgenbach.
     

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  14. pistol

    pistol Member

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    Dom Bütgenbach

    One of the factors that decisively contributed to the American succes at Dom Bütgenbach was the deployment of the US 57mm AT-guns. In an unorthodox move, Lieutenant Colonel Darrill M. Daniels, CO of the 2nd Bn/26th Infantry, put the 57 mm anti-tank guns on the perimeter with the infantry. Normally the AT guns would be placed further back from the main line of resistance. Daniels thought that the heavy fog would hide the guns from German view, and moving the guns up would make them more accurate against the enemy. Also the 57mm guns were using British Sabot-ammunition which proved very effective against the German armor.


    View attachment 19806
    The forward defensive line of E Coy contained a number of dug-in 57mm AT guns. One of the AT-gunners was corporal Henry F. Warner who received a Medal of Honor for his actions in this battle. Unfortunately he was killed on the early morning of Dec 21st, while succesfully engaging a MK IV tank.

    View attachment 19807
    One of the AT guns was later salvaged from the battlefield. It served for some time as a memorial at Bütgenbach, but now rests in a private garden in the town.


    Warner's citation reads:

    Serving as 57-mm. antitank gunner with the 2d Battalion, he was a major factor in stopping enemy tanks during heavy attacks against the battalion position near Dom Butgenbach, Belgium, on 20–21 December 1944. In the first attack, launched in the early morning of the 20th, enemy tanks succeeded in penetrating parts of the line. Cpl. Warner, disregarding the concentrated cannon and machinegun fire from 2 tanks bearing down on him, and ignoring the imminent danger of being overrun by the infantry moving under tank cover, destroyed the first tank and scored a direct and deadly hit upon the second. A third tank approached to within 5 yards of his position while he was attempting to clear a jammed breach lock. Jumping from his gun pit, he engaged in a pistol duel with the tank commander standing in the turret, killing him and forcing the tank to withdraw. Following a day and night during which our forces were subjected to constant shelling, mortar barrages, and numerous unsuccessful infantry attacks, the enemy struck in great force on the early morning of the 21st. Seeing a Mark IV tank looming out of the mist and heading toward his position, Cpl. Warner scored a direct hit. Disregarding his injuries, he endeavored to finish the loading and again fire at the tank whose motor was now aflame, when a second machinegun burst killed him. Cpl. Warner's gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of life above and beyond the call of duty contributed materially to the successful defense against the enemy attacks.
     

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  15. pistol

    pistol Member

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    View attachment 19808
    Another view of the 57mm AT gun. After they had overrun the gun-position, the German infantry turned the gun against the US positions. It subsequently was knocked out by US artillery, hence the damage on the gun.
     

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  16. pistol

    pistol Member

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    Dom Bütgenbach


    View attachment 19813
    The old manor of the Domäne Bütgenbach, an ancient stock raising farm. Picture of the site as it was in 1906. During the battle the Bn CP of Col Daniels was established in the cellar of the building..

    View attachment 19814
    Though the big sheds at the back of the manor are gone, the main building hasn't changed much.
     

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  17. pistol

    pistol Member

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    Dom Bütgenbach


    View attachment 19815
    Backside of the building. The low structure to the left is a postwar addition. The Domäne nowadays is in use as a nunnery.

    View attachment 19817
    The cellar of the building which housed the Bn CP has changed little, except it is now inhabited by garden Gnomes.

    The massed artillery were another factor that contributed to the American succes at Bütgenbach. The commanding general of the 1st Infantry Division, Maj General Clift Andrus, who was in command of the division for less than a week, previously had been the Divisional artillery commander and his mastery of artillery placement saved the 1st Division.General Andrus coordinated not only the 1st Division artillery, but also the 99th Division’s and V Corps reenforcing artillery. From a position across the lake from Dom Butgenbach, the artillery decimated the German tanks and infantry. When Lt. Col. Daniels’ command post was overrun the artillery fired inside to drive out enemy tanks.
     

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  18. pistol

    pistol Member

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    The 26th Infantry’s command post was overrun three times by German tanks. Each time heroic individuals used the limited materials at their disposal to push the Germans back.

    View attachment 19818
    One of three MK IV tanks, which had penetrated into the CP area and took up position behind one of the wooden outbuildings at the back of the Domäne. American M10 TD's, which ran a gaunlet of fire from Bütgenbach to reach the Domäne, engaged the MK IV's by firing straight through the wooden sheds and thus chasing them away. Two MK IV's were knocked out, only one got away after it had set fire to the roof of the main buidling.

    View attachment 19819
    Same spot today
     

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  19. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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  20. George Patton

    George Patton Canadian Refugee

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    Great photos pistol. I can't wait for more.
     

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