Over at Equitable Growth: "Convergence": Daily Focus
Noted for Your Nighttime Procrastination for December 15, 2014

Liveblogging World War II: December 16, 1944: The Battle of the Bulge

NewImageWikipedia: Battle of the Bulge:

The Wehrmacht '​s code name for the offensive was Unternehmen Wacht am Rhein ('Operation Watch on the Rhine'), after the German patriotic hymn Die Wacht am Rhein, a name that deceptively implied the Germans would be adopting a defensive posture along the Western Front. The Germans also referred to it as Ardennenoffensive (Ardennes Offensive) and Rundstedtoffensive (Von Rundstedt Offensive).... The phrase 'Battle of the Bulge' was coined by contemporary press to describe the way the Allied front line bulged inward on wartime news maps.... The most popular description remains simply the Battle of the Bulge."...

On 16 December 1944, at 05:30, the Germans began the [northern] assault with a massive, 90-minute artillery barrage using 1,600 artillery pieces across a 130-kilometre (80 mi) front on the Allied troops facing the 6th Panzer Army. The Americans' initial impression was that this was the anticipated, localized counterattack resulting from the Allies' recent attack in the Wahlerscheid sector to the north, where the 2nd Division had knocked a sizable dent in the Siegfried Line. In the northern sector Dietrich's 6th Panzer Army was held up for almost 24 hours by a single reconnaissance platoon and four U.S. Forward Artillery Observers dug in on a ridge overlooking a key road intersection in the village of Lanzerath. They then assaulted Losheim Gap and Elsenborn Ridge in an effort to break through to Liège and Antwerp. Heavy snowstorms engulfed parts of the Ardennes area... proved troublesome for the Germans because poor road conditions hampered their advance. Poor traffic control led to massive traffic jams and fuel shortages in forward units.

In the center, von Manteuffel's Fifth Panzer Army attacked towards Bastogne and St. Vith, both road junctions of great strategic importance. In the south, Brandenberger's Seventh Army pushed towards Luxembourg....

While the Siege of Bastogne is often credited as the central point where the German offensive was stopped, the battle for Elsenborn Ridge was a decisive component of the Battle of the Bulge, deflecting the strongest armored units of the German advance. The attack was led by one of the best equipped German divisions on the western front, the 1st SS Panzer Division (LSSAH). The division made up the lead unit for the entire German 6th Panzer Army. SS Obersturmbannführer Joachim Peiper led Kampfgruppe Peiper, consisting of 4,800 men and 600 vehicles. It was charged with leading the main effort....

The attacks by the Sixth Panzer Army's infantry units in the north fared badly because of unexpectedly fierce resistance by the U.S. 2nd and 99th Infantry Divisions. On the first day, an entire German battalion of 500 men was held up for 10 hours at the small village of Lanzerath, through which passed a key route through the Losheim Gap. To preserve the quantity of armor available, the infantry of the 9th Fallschirmjaeger Regiment, 3rd Fallschirmjaeger Division, had been ordered to clear the village first. A single 18-man Intelligence and Reconnaissance Platoon from the 99th Infantry Division along with four Forward Air Controllers held up the battalion of about 500 German paratroopers until sunset, about 16:00, causing 92 casualties among the Germans.... Peiper did not begin his advance until nearly 16:00, more than 16 hours behind schedule....

The 12th SS Panzer Division, reinforced by additional infantry (Panzergrenadier and Volksgenadier) divisions, took the key road junction at Losheimergraben just north of Lanzerath and attacked the twin villages of Rocherath and Krinkelt. Their intention was to control the twin villages of Rocherath-Krinkelt which would clear a path to the high ground of Elsenborn Ridge. Occupation of this dominating terrain would allow control of the roads to the south and west and ensure supply to Kampfgruppe Peiper's armored task force. The stiff American defense prevented the Germans from reaching the vast array of supplies near the Belgian cities of Liège and Spa and the road network west of the Elsenborn Ridge leading to the Meuse River....

The 99th Infantry Division as a whole, outnumbered five to one, inflicted casualties in the ratio of eighteen to one. The division lost about 20% of its effective strength, including 465 killed and 2,524 evacuated due to wounds, injuries, fatigue, or trench foot. German losses were much higher. In the northern sector opposite the 99th, this included more than 4,000 deaths and the destruction of sixty tanks and big guns. Historian John S.D. Eisenhower wrote, "...the action of the 2nd and 99th Divisions on the northern shoulder could be considered the most decisive of the Ardennes campaign."...

The Germans fared better in the center (the 32 km (20 mi) Schnee Eifel sector) as the Fifth Panzer Army attacked positions held by the U.S. 28th and 106th Infantry Divisions. The Germans lacked the overwhelming strength that had been deployed in the north, but still possessed a marked numerical and material superiority over the very thinly spread 28th and 106th divisions. They succeeded in surrounding two largely intact regiments (422nd and 423rd) of the 106th Division in a pincer movement and forced their surrender.... "At least seven thousand [men] were lost here and the figure probably is closer to eight or nine thousand. The amount lost in arms and equipment, of course, was very substantial. The Schnee Eifel battle, therefore, represents the most serious reverse suffered by American arms during the operations of 1944–45 in the European theater."...

Further south on Manteuffel's front, the main thrust was delivered by all attacking divisions crossing the River Our, then increasing the pressure on the key road centers of St. Vith and Bastogne. The more experienced 28th Infantry Division put up a much more dogged defense than the inexperienced (or "green") soldiers of the 106th Infantry Division. The 112th Infantry Regiment (the most northerly of the 28th Division's regiments), holding a continuous front east of the Our, kept German troops from seizing and using the Our River bridges around Ouren for two days, before withdrawing progressively westwards....

In the extreme south, Brandenberger's three infantry divisions were checked by divisions of the U.S. VIII Corps after an advance of 6.4 km (4 mi); that front was then firmly held. Only the 5th Parachute Division of Brandenberger's command was able to thrust forward 19 km (12 mi) on the inner flank to partially fulfill its assigned role...

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