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Brits in the Ardennes 44/45

Discussion in 'Western Europe 1943 - 1945' started by pistol, Jan 7, 2011.

  1. pistol

    pistol Member

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    For those who are interested, I started a new thread on the operations of the British troops in the 'Battle of the Bulge' over on the ww2talk site.

    Thusfar these operations have been given little coverage in the military literature. IMO the main reason for this is that in American military literature of the battle in the Ardennes, when it comes to the British contribution, focus is laid on the dissension between Montgomery and the American Generals (the "Montgomery-bashing"). While the British regard the operations in the Ardennes only as a 'side-show'. Their focus lay in the north, where preparations for the Rhineland-battle (Veritable) were well underway.

    The British contribution to the "Battle of the Bulge" was modest when compared to the American effort, but on the whole it was not insignificant. The British role was twofold. In Dec 44 British troops acted as a strategic reserve, placed behind the Meuse, which provided the Allied front with the necessary depth. Then, in January 45, during a two weeks period, form 3 until 17 Jan, British troops were active in the Ardennes and helped to reduce the enemy salient. They took over the positions of the U.S. VII Corps at the tip of the salient, so as to enable the Americans in the northern sector of the Ardennes, to concentrate their forces east of the Ourthe for the main drive toward Houffalize.
     
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  2. pistol

    pistol Member

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    On 14 January 1945 a first contact was made by the 51st Highland Division with the Third U.S. Army. It was a patrol of the Scout Platoon of the 5th Queen Own Cameron highlanders that met with the Americans near the village of Champlon. A member of this Platoon, L/Sgt Lelsie L. Toogood, recalls: "We set out early on the 14th, [from the village of Journal] heading for the crossroads of Barriere Champlon. Four men carried on to the crossroads. On our way we encountered a SAS officer. He and his Sergeant were escorted back, whilst four men carried on to the crossroads to set up an observation post, to cover our backs before the rest of us searched Champlon. Fortunately the enemy had departed from the village when we entered. We then spotted a section of infantry working it's way toward the village from the direction of Tenneville. Our first thought was they were Germans. We were more than a little relieved when they turned out to be American troops. We were immediately taken to their Intelligence Officer, who was given all details of the area patrolled and the location of our Battalion HQ. We were given coffee and food before returning to our lines. By the time we got back news of our contact had already been received over the wireless." The American troops encountered belonged to the 87th U.S. Infantry Division.

    The War Diary of the 5th Camerons states for Jan 14th: "One party of scouts under Capt.MACDONALD met a patrol of the American 3rd Army. This caused great excitement as they were the first people to meet men belonging to the American Army advancing up from the South. One A Coy patrol was photographed by a movietone news man, and another party under de Second-in-Command, Major MUNRO and our Dutch L.O. had the pleasure of making a recording for the B.B.C. Major MELVILLE and Capt. LEE took the first vehicle through to a forward American Company Headquarters."


    [​IMG]

    The 'mis en scene' of the link up, photographed by Lt J. West on the 14th. The official caption of this photograph reads: "Link up of Allied Armies, American and British shake hands on their succes at having regained so much ground from Rundstedt." The soldier with the Stengun and the one next to him shaking hands, are Lt S.R. Spreng and Lt. Abercrombie of the 61st Recce Regt, attached to 6th Airborne Div, who arrived from their sector to contact the patrol. They probably are the SAS men mentionned by Toogood.

    The 'link up' was also filmed: INVASION SCENES EUROPE: BRITISH TROOPS - British Pathe (still 00.02.52 and further)

    from the scene at 00.02.52 a photograph was taken by Lt. J.West. The caption to this photograph reads:
    "Three Americans from 347, Coy "I", 87th American Div approach a patrol at the crossroads at Champlon. The Americans are
    (1) Pfc H. Crough from England, Arkansas, USA
    (2) Sjt E.S. Dudley from Norfolk, Virginia, USA
    (3) Pfc A. Johnson from Chester, West Virginia, USA".


    [​IMG]

    In the summer of 2004 a memorial table was unveiled at Champlon dedicated to the link up between the British and Americans. For the siting of the memorial table, please look here:
    Oorlogsmusea.nl

    More particularities about the link up, especially from the American point of view, can be found here:

    Link-up between American and British Troops at Noir Bras, Champlon. January 14, 1945
     
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  3. 272VGD.

    272VGD. Member

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    Keep it comming stolpi! Very interessting to read.
     
  4. Jon Jordan

    Jon Jordan Member

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    Very good summary - they were not at all insignificant, and you could consider them a kind of strategic reserve, though many were really holding the front line, not sitting around in rear areas.
     
  5. redcoat

    redcoat Ace

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    On a side note;
    Its interesting to note that the British troops are all wearing snow suits, while the US troops are in their normal uniforms. During the battle the US Army had to request as many snow suits from the British as they could spare for the US troops fighting in the Bulge ,as due to an logistical oversight they had none to issue from their own supplies
     
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  6. yan taylor

    yan taylor Member

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    Even though some of the American high command disliked the thought of Monty taking over command of the U.S. forces in this sector (an order given by Ike I belive) it didnt apply to the men on the ground, by the looks of it on the faces of the G.I.s in the photograph.
     
  7. syscom3

    syscom3 Member

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    Ike did order Monte to take over command in the north because Bradley was having problems with communications for his armies. He didnt like it, but Ike bluntly told him it was an order. In the end, it is true that Monty did establish the depth and "tidied up" the lines that was sorely needed.

    Call Montey what you want, but he was an outstanding general regardless of what Bradly and Patton thought of him.
     
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  8. Poppy

    Poppy grasshopper

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    Wonder what the sub machine gun the fellow in white to the left was wearing. That is a long magazine.
     
  9. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    It's a Sten. Look at the caption.
     
  10. Poppy

    Poppy grasshopper

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    doh. dang.
     
  11. yan taylor

    yan taylor Member

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    Some people called Monty Overcautious, but after seeing the waste of mens lives in WW1 (I belive he was a field officer) he did things Methodically,
     
  12. syscom3

    syscom3 Member

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    He seemed to be cautious because of his belief that an army should never out run their logistical tail. In many cases, he was proven right. In the Normandy breakout, Bradley and Patton pulled out the stops for their armies and they came to a halt when they ran out of fuel. Montgomery was a bit slower in his pursuit of the retreating German armies, but he never came to a grinding halt either.
     
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  13. 4th wilts

    4th wilts Member

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    Syscom post 7,it would perhaps be more telling to find out what Bradley and patton thought of each other,rather than what they said about Monty.cheers.
     
  14. yan taylor

    yan taylor Member

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    Yes I believe they did have difference of opinion in a few things in 1944.
     
  15. syscom3

    syscom3 Member

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    But it was never as vindictive as what both felt about Monte. Sometimes a dislike for someone clouds your judgment.

    I think all three generals were not well served by Ike. Untill Antwerp was handling cargo, there was only enough supplies to keep one, maybe 1 and a half armies supplied and in action. Ike wanted all three, and that was not possible. Then there is the issue of "concentration of force". Monte told Ike it had to be done, but again, Ike wanted a broad front strategy.

    When you look at the results of the allies up to the Ardennes offensive, no one really showed any brilliance, and several opportunities for success were squandered due to poor planning and personality issues.

    Just my opinion of course.
     
  16. 4th wilts

    4th wilts Member

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    I thought the argument for a single thrust and/or a broad front,had been decided by early sept 44,not during the battle of the Ardennes.
    Both Bradley and patton disliked Monty?.are you sure?.If you read Forrest pogues work,Bradley did not want patton to even command an army,it was only ikes insistence that patton would command 3rd army,that saved patton.one would imagine patton would not take kindly to this,cheers.
     
  17. Jon Jordan

    Jon Jordan Member

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    Absolutely they need to get their due. I agree that the Montgomery versus Bradley versus Ike stuff tends to overshadow what they did. Bradley wanted them used offensively sooner, principally so he could erase the bulge and get his 1st Army back. (He knew 9th would stay with Monty for a while.)
     
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  18. 4th wilts

    4th wilts Member

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    Thanks Jon,there is always debate about why Bradley wanted to advance sooner,but imo First Army had the same problem as the Germans(in that they were attacking against,and not with the road network),the First Army was attacking south eastward.cheers,4th.
     
  19. Jon Jordan

    Jon Jordan Member

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    Good point 4th!

    First Army's axis was oriented northeast rather than southeast, and you're right that the road nets into the Eifel weren't great. It probably didn't seem like a good idea to push further through the Huertgen (unhappy memories) and it didn't help that First Army had to move its HQ from Spa to Chaudfontaine on the fly. Germany's effort may have been doomed on the 2nd day of the offensive, in hindsight, but there was a lot of fighting to convince Hitler and his VGD divisions that was the case.
     
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  20. Paul Errass

    Paul Errass Member

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    In January 1945 British 6th Airborne Division deployed into the Ardennes and fought the Battle of Bure , this action was primarily fought by 13th Bn Parachute Regiment and C Company 2nd Ox and Bucks , but 7th (LI) Bn Parachute Regt and 12th Bn Parachute Regiment were also in action in the surrounding villages.

    These units brought the Panzer Lehr Divison to a standstill when they could have broken out of the Bulge and rolled up the flanks of many of the other units.

    160 men lost their lives in the Battle of Bure and yet it hardly ever gets a mention in Histories of the Ardennes fighting.
     

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