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THE ARDENNES OPERATION

Discussion in 'Western Europe 1943 - 1945' started by TacticalTank, Feb 2, 2011.

  1. Jon Jordan

    Jon Jordan Member

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    The weather hurt the Allies more than the Germans because it grounded tactical air. Patton's famous prayer was mostly to get XIX TAC's Mustangs and Flying Jugs into the air.

    Fuel dumps were not significant in the Ardennes - Bradley had most of the big supplies moved behind the Meuse.

    The US War Department woefully underestimated the need for riflemen, as well as abundant winter wear, but that stuff could be found when it was planned in advance. Patton pushed Eisenhower personally for a rush order of wool socks before trench foot season set in. That kept his non-battle casualty rates lower than those of First Army, IIRC.

    Jon
     
  2. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    There has always been talk that the air battle was not possible during the early phase of the Bulge operation. However not stopping the Allied bombers....

    " The 18th December would be remembered as the day the bombs fell by the Luftwaffe ground crews. The prospect for German supply was further dimmed by the Luftwaffe┬┤s inability to still the US 8th Air Force. An imposing armada of 985 bombers escorted by some 773 fighters, moved to pulverize the German rail supply centers along the Rhine. Rail marshalling yards in Cologne, Koblenz, Kaiserslautern, Ehrang, Mainz and Mayen were slammed in an effort to create choke points in the German rear.

    Gen d inf Baptist Kniess of LXXXV Armee Korps was forced to acknowledge the effect of the bombing on the rail system :
    "....Already by 20 December all railways between the Luxembourg front and the Rhine were out of commission, and thus a great deal of motor and horse transport was missing from the start. In the face of the shortage of gasoline already being strongly felt, the added necessity of using precious fuel to transport all supplies for the offensive was an important factor in limiting the striking force..."

    Danny Parker " To win the winter sky "
     
  3. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

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    one should not exagerate the winterconditions in the Ardennes
    1) the winter of 1944-1945 was not exceptional
    2) while minus 10,or minus 15 (Celcius) is not exceptional in the Ardenes,the coldest place is not Bastogne,but,in the north:the region of St-Vith.
     
  4. 4th wilts

    4th wilts Member

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    Jbark,post 17,so Gen "Ike"Eisenhower said the fighting would be done?,and Bradley too?.I have read hyper war ,history of ww2,but alas cannot find any quotes by either of them.I'm puzzled now,I looked at wiki,bradley's memoirs,ikes memoirs,blumenson too.I even looked at Kay summersbys books(ikes)lover,Harry butcher and Chester hanson.if you can tell me which books,generals said this I would be grateful.thanks jbark,cheers.
     
  5. JBark

    JBark Member

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    Read what I wrote in post #17. Read it again. It does not say that Ike said the fighting would be done. My attempt in that reply was to communicate that I recalled Bradley connected to the issue but that some historian or the press at the time may have twisted it about. Certainly one army commander does not make decisions of supply for the ETO. Right? This is why I said it would be a decision of many. Right? My inclusion of Ike is that he is ultimately responsible for what goes on in the ETO...the buck stops with him.

    I'm sorry this wasn't clear, voice intonation and facial expressions don't read so well on the internet. Hey, I'm curious, how did you wiki the topic of winter clothing? Do you also think these people would put something like that in their memoirs? I can see Sommersby putting it in her memoirs though; pillow talk sort of thing.
     
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  6. 4th wilts

    4th wilts Member

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    Yeah,I know what you mean.I think the buckstops with Ike is kind of right,but there must have been somebody ultimately responsible,I think in the u.s army a quartermaster general would be?.I guess I'll have to get my books out of my garage again lol,and also the hyper war series etc,to find oot who this was,cheers.
     
  7. Jon Jordan

    Jon Jordan Member

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    Bradley, IIRC (I'll have to check my files) remarked that someone in Washington underestimated how long the war would last. This was in the context of his need for replacement infantry (particularly riflemen, which naturally had the highest casualty rates). On 16 December he drove from Verdun to Versailles with his G-1 (Red O'Hare) to discuss the 12th AG's replacement situtation with SHAEF. It was during this conference in SHAEF's Map Room that one of MG Strong's brigadiers interrupted the meeting to pass a note to Strong about the German attack. I think this quote is in my book, but I'll have to get the manuscript out to check its source - I think it was General's Life, but I'll have to verify that (the book doesn't come out until April, so I can't Google Books it at the moment, but I believe it's there.) This particular quote wasn't in relation to winter uniforms so much as replacement troops.

    This was really AGF's responsibility, not the ETO, so if the buck stops with anyone, it probably should be Marshall, Stimson or Roosevelt (probably Marshall).
     
  8. JBark

    JBark Member

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    Really? Roosevelt?
     
  9. 4th wilts

    4th wilts Member

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    Jon,thanks a lot for helping me out.much obliged.
     
  10. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

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    The relevant pages of 'A General's Life' are pp.354-355 in the UK edition. Bradley refers to his major preoccupation on 16 Dec being an 'alarming crisis in manpower' due to a combination of inept planning at SHAEF/War Dept, severe casualties in Oct/Nov/Dec fighting and a totally unexpected outbreak of trench-foot caused by poorly-designed and late-arriving footwear. On the 16th itself, Bradley accompanied O'Hare to SHAEF HQ at Versailles to support O'Hare's imminent mission to Washington to demand a speed-up in replacements.

    I can't see a reference to Strong in this section ; Bradley notes that reports of German counterattacks started to reach SHAEF 'later that afternoon'.
     
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  11. Jon Jordan

    Jon Jordan Member

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    Thanks - that's much more precise than I was able to locate. The bit about Strong probably comes from Strong's autiobiography; I'll see if I can locate the passage. My impression was Strong stated the news with concern but without much alarm then, as they did not have a handle on the number of German divisions involved and were uncertain what Rundstedt's intentions were - a diversion or spoiling attack against a possible offensive by Patton or Hodges. The next day they had a translated general order by Rundstedt and an idea that at least 17 (19?) divisions were involved at that point, so they knew it was a big one.
     
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  12. marc780

    marc780 Member

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    The weather helped the Germans insofar as bad weather grounded allied aircraft. A German armored offensive in good weather would have been quickly brought to a halt by allied ground attack aircraft such as the P-47 thunderbolt, the British Typhoon etc. and heavy bombers.

    By attacking in the dead of winter Hitler hoped to negate the total allied air superiority and equalize the odds for his forces a little bit. He also realized he had surprise on his side (a huge force multiplier in war) and since German forces were so close to Germany proper, they used largely couriers and land lines to communicate, thus negating any intercepts that might have been made by "Ultra" British codebreakers.

    Since German plans included the reliance on capturing large amounts of American fuel, you can see this offensive was ill conceived from the get-go and had almost no chance of success. Everyone except hitler realized the futility of such an attack but the German forces obeyed his orders anyway.

    the German offensive was aimed at the west, rather then in the east, for the sober reasoning that any similar offensive launched against the Soviets at this point in time, would simply be a fly swat on the Bear's nose and would simply be swallowed up in a matter of weeks. Hitler perceived, or desperately hoped, the British, French, American and Soviet alliance to be some sort of house of cards and hoped to buy time for the alliance to somehow self-destruct (as had happened several hundred years earlier to his idol, Frederick the Great).

    The offensive was aimed at capturing Antwerp (a major port) and driving a wedge between the British and American forces in Belgium. Hitler was obviously gone loony and grasping at straws as even if the Germans had captured Antwerp, it would have been impossible to hold it or supply it for long. Allied forces would have quickly cut the supply lines and any attempt at German resupply by sea, and the German forces would have been destroyed in place by allied air power and armored forces, as soon as the weather cleared.

    Interestingly the German Luftwaffe launched Operation Bodenplatte against allied airbases in France and Belgium,on New year's day, 1945. it was their last hurrah as it used up the final reserves sending between 800-1000 planes. It too was defeated by allied airpower in a matter of days, with surprising help from the German side (the operation was so secret, none of the flak units had been told. So 55% of the attacking German force was destroyed by their own flak!)
     
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  13. Dcazz7606

    Dcazz7606 Member

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    It makes more sense if you consider that it was a quiet area with a road network that could go almost anywhere along the front as the allies advanced twords Germany. Bastogne itself had 7 major roads and highways which made it so valuable. Also the forested area made good cover for the dumps. I recall one instance where a German column went right by a huge dump located just off the road in a forest. The other fact that 4 divisions (at the time), two recovering and two being broken in makes a good security force. It's just history that the Germans decided to go thriough there with their attack.
     
  14. pistol

    pistol Member

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    Were they? The Germans had accumulated adequate fuel reserves, but these were located east of the Rhine - for reasons of secrecy and security. Getting the supplies to the forward troops proved to be the problem. At the tactical level, commanders therefore hoped to captured some American fuel ... but this was not planned. If so, the Germans would have made more effort to capture the large fuel supply dumps south of Spa - they didn't even know of their exsistance.
     
  15. canambridge

    canambridge Member

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    The bad weather favored the Germans, it was one of Hitler's pre-conditions for launching the offensive and was probably one of the few things the professional German military leaders agreed with him about regarding the offensive.
    The large supply dumps in the area were there to support the offensive at Monschau by 2nd ID, because Spa was the location of the 1st Army HQ and because Bastogne was the location of VIII Corps HQ. It was natural for them to be there.
    Regarding the winter clothing, it was a question of priorities. IIRC (always a dangerous thing) the winter clothing was on the continent, but it was in Normandy. During the pursuit across France the priorities were gasoline and ammunition (in those big supply dumps). Bradley gambled that with enough gas and bullets he wouldn't need the heavy clothing. He lost the gamble.
     
  16. canambridge

    canambridge Member

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  17. woolno2000

    woolno2000 Member

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    According to Citizen Soldier, by Stephen Ambrose, Bradley had the winter gear warehoused. Matter of priorities. Needed fuel, food and ammo, and didn't have the transportation for all of it, so the winter clothes, that most in higher HQ figured they would not need, got sidelined.
     

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