The 106th Division came out worse in this deal, for the 2nd had picked up extra communications gear, weapons, and vehicles in the course of its travels across Europe for which the 106th had no equivalent, so the 2nd took most of their equipment with them. Supporting 31st Tank Battalion and 48th Armored Infantry Battalion This was done once again to improve communications and set up a secure supply line to the rear. It was named after Saint Vitus. Editor’s note: The U.S. Army marks the 70th anniversary of the Battle of St. Vith in mid-December 2014. The Americans were able to outrun the panzers, and join forces with XVIII Airborne Corps by 24 December 1944.[4]:478–87. [4]:117–29, On the American side, the significant events were decisions from General Courtney Hodges, commander of First Army, and General Middleton of VIII Corps, committing combat commands of the 7th and 9th Armored Divisions to support the 106th Division defense. The History Guy examines a tank duel during the Battle of the Bulge at St. Vith, Belgium. [4]:26–32, 310–21, 374, Under orders from Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery, Brigadier General Bruce Cooper Clarke, leader of Combat Command-B 7th Armored Division, gave up St. Vith on 21 December 1944; U.S. troops fell back to positions supported by the 82nd Airborne Division to the west, presenting an imposing obstacle to a successful German advance. This had the effect of breaking the defense into isolated positions, and denying corps and army commands information on events at the front line. [4]:327, 336–7, The final attack on St. Vith was belatedly launched on 21 December, but by then St. Vith had become more of a liability than an asset. Click here to order on Amazon.com. CW5 Jack Cardwell. We depended upon their courage; they could not afford to get confused, and had to act according to their own decisions, until the higher command was again in a position to take over. No signup or install needed. This story has gained a good deal of attention in recent years, especially on the internet thanks to videos such as The Tank Duel at St. Vith, Belgium by Lance Geiger “The History Guy: History Deserves to Be Remembered”, which has garnered hundreds of thousands of views. The 1944 offensive could not equal the strength of the 1940 invasion of the west. This division was commanded by Colonel Hoffman-Schonborn and had been formed in Denmark in September. They ranged from Bernard Montgomery's plan … Combat Interviews of 7th Armored Division Artillery: St. Vith and Poteau, Belgium, December 1944 (transcribed, annotated and fully indexed, with introduction) - Only available on Amazon.com. The Battle of St. Vith was an engagement in Belgium fought during the Allied advance from Paris to the Rhine in World War II. One tank destroyed St. Vith’s church steeple, a favorite German observation post. Six of these titans attacked from the Schoenberg – St. Vith road against American positions on the Prumberg. Click here to order on Amazon.com. The few messages received indicated they could withdraw, but that counterattacks from the 7th and 9th Armored divisions would probably clear the Germans out of the area anyway. The Germans also used radio jamming stations that made wireless communications difficult. – The story of a small town in Belgium, Stavelot, 1rst Lt Franck Warnock – Sad souvenirs or life of the people of Stavelot during the winter of 1944-1945, by Guy Lebau, – The Ardennes 1944-1945, Christer Bergstrom – The Bitter Road to Freedom: A New History of the Liberation of Europe, door William I. Hitchcock. [4]:103–10 [6]:231–6, By the end of the first day, the Volksgrenadiers of LXVI Corps had not made it to St. Vith, or even the critical bridges on the Our River at Schoenberg and Steinebruck. The 6th SS Panzer Army would be the strong right arm of the offensive, on the northern flank and was tasked with driving through Elsenborn Ridge along the Albert Canal on the most direct route to Antwerp. Supporting the 14th were the 820th Tank Destroyer Battalion, with twelve 3” towed anti-tank guns, and the 275th Armored Field Artillery Battalion, with 18 M7 Priest Self-Propelled Howitzers. [4]:311, 314, 323, 326, 337, 475, The 18th Volksgrenadiers captured the bridge at Schoenberg by 8:45, cutting off American artillery units attempting to withdraw west of the Our River. Visit top-rated & must-see attractions. This veteran organization had fought its way across Europe from Normandy to the Schnee Eifel. Generally, these plans were aimed at other parts of the front from the Ardennes where the Germans were building up. 7. Also on that day, the forces of the U.S. 82nd Airborne Division, under Major General James M. Gavin, made contact with the 7th Armored Division, meeting the condition General Hodges set for command of the St. Vith forces shifting to the U.S. XVIII Airborne Corps under Major General Matthew Ridgway. This movement, combined with the advance of a southern column of the 18th Volksgrenadiers through Grosslangenfeld to meet the 62nd at Winterspelt and combine for a capture of Steinebruck, with its bridge over the Our River. This was bad news for Jones, who was hoping for a quick deliverance from his problems by the arrival of organized reinforcements. Fortunately for the Americans, the weather came to their assistance for the first time in the campaign. This order, and the slow German southern arm, gave more Americans a chance to escape, but since they had newly arrived in the area, and had few compasses or maps, most were unable to take advantage of the opportunity. The main effort, or schwerpunkt, would consist of XLVII Panzer Corps and LVIII Panzer Corps advancing west across the River Our at Ouren from the south or left flank of the German army front. LXVI Corps was the weakest of the three corps, with no attached tank division or motor transport, but did include an attached assault gun battalion. This site is dedicated to the men that served our country in Tank Destroyers. And why would it not? As a technical expert, he still retained enough of a reputation to be trusted with a supporting role in the grand plan. They did not even have the training it took to take full advantage of the motorized assault guns they did have. These changes involved limiting or eliminating the artillery bombardment in areas where American forces were in the habit of withdrawing for the night, or where they were so widely spaced as to allow German troops to advance around them during the night before the attack. From there, LXVI Corps would cross the Our river and occupy St. Vith on the first day of the attack. Manteuffel had a reputation for meticulous planning and daring execution, along with a flair for independent thinking that had led to trouble in the past with his superiors. Belgium. The Battle at St. Vith, Belgium, 17-23 December 1944: An Historical Example of Armor in the Defense Merriam Press , 1998 - Ardennes, Battle of the, 1944-1945 - 63 pages 0 Reviews This attack did not do much damage to troops or fortifications, but did cut up most of the telephone wires the American army used for communications. Meeting Manteuffel in the confusion, Model ordered him to capture St. Vith on the 18th, giving him control of the Fuhrer Begleit Brigade to make sure the objective would be met. The American positions east of the Our had become the Schnee Eifel Pocket. One company command post took a direct hit from a German shell. The German activity during the counter offensive seemed to follow this pattern, and since communication with the division headquarters in St. Vith was unreliable and intermittent, the Americans had remained for the most part inert. Therefore, Manteuffel supported what came to be called the “small solution”, a limited envelopment that would destroy the American First and Ninth armies. Winterspelt fell to the 62nd Volksgrenadiers early in the day. St Vith Tourism: Tripadvisor has 152 reviews of St Vith Hotels, Attractions, and Restaurants making it your best St Vith resource. Its population in 1944 was about 2,000, and its citizens were very much pro-German. The situation was not improved by the appearance of a demoralized Colonel Devine with news that German Tiger tanks were right on his heels. By midnight of the 17th, he had managed to set up the beginnings of what was called the “horseshoe defense” of St. Vith, a line of units to the north, east and south of town. St. Vith is a municipality located in the Belgian province of Liège, and in the German speaking Community of Belgium. Middleton also threw in the 168th battalion of corps engineers from the Corps reserve. Despite the wishes of Major General Walter Melville Robertson, commander of the 2nd Division, the 106th Division would also be deployed for an attack eastward, with most of its force isolated on the Schnee Eifel. General Lucht of LXVI Corps was the first commander to waste his efforts clearing the jam at Andler, but not the last. The only significant check in the German advance was at Kobscheid, where the 18th Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron had circled the village with barbed wire and dug in machine guns from their armored cars. It was clear to the American troops: there was an enormous German army on route, and they were right in the middle of it….. General der Artillerie Walter Lucht, commander of LXVI Corps, regarded the 18th Volksgrenadier as the more reliable of the two, due to its familiarity with the local terrain, and its German composition. Posted 2 y ago Respond. This assault's goal was to pierce the thinly held lines of the U.S. First Army between Monschau and Wasserbillig with Army Group B commanded by Field Marshal (Generalfeldmarschall) Walter Model, cross the Meuse between Liege and Dinant, seize Antwerp and the western bank of the Scheldt Estuary. (Segment 1) How My Dad's Cancer Saved Our Relationship, (2) Chicken Soup: (Married Life) For Better Or Worse, (3) History Guy: The WWII Tank Duel at St. Vith, (4) This Jewelry Store Pr… It is my hope that this site may bring together the families of these men to celebrate their accomplishments during WWII and in life. German forces poured into the town, happily looting the remaining American supplies and equipment, in the process creating another traffic jam that prevented pursuit of the American forces. It was named after Saint Vitus. All events are described for educational purposes and are presented in historical context.The History Guy uses images that are in the Public Domain. The northern arm of the 18th struck at Andler, receiving unexpected help from the 6th SS Panzer Army. These defenders were led by the U.S. 7th Armored Division and included the 424th Infantry (the remaining regiment of the 106th U.S. Infantry Division), elements of the 9th Armored Division's Combat Command B and the 112th Infantry of the U.S. 28th Infantry Division. It was neither as politically favored nor as well equipped as the 6th SS Panzer Army. This system of attack relied on special shock companies of 80 men that would utilize the rough terrain of the Ardennes to bypass strongpoints and seize key bridges, crossroads, and high ground. At this point Colonel Descheneaux, commander of the 422 decided to surrender the American forces in the pocket. [4]:314–5, 318, 320, Following the German attacks sweeping around their position, the two regiments of the 106th Division, the 422nd and 423rd had remained in place, since they had heard that the Germans would launch artillery and patrols against them as they would any new division taking a place on the line. The American commands in the rear found it difficult to abandon their own planned offensive in view of reacting to an unanticipated German attack. By 23 December, as the Germans shattered their flanks, the defenders’ position became untenable and U.S. troops were ordered to retreat west of the Salm River. Öffnungszeiten Mo. What the Americans called a “Russian High” began blowing on 23 December. Of the two, the 18th Volksgrenadier Division had been in the area the longest, since October, and was composed for the most part of a Luftwaffe (German Air Force) field division with additional troops from the Kriegsmarine (German Navy). Attacks from the 1st SS Panzer Division had cut the Rodt – St. Vith road, and the advance of the LVIII Panzer Corps south of St. Vith threatened to close a pincer around the entire St. Vith salient at Vielsalm, eleven miles west of St. Vith, trapping most of the First Army. The 5th Panzer Army would support the left flank of the 6th, and the less mobile 7th Army would block flanking attacks directed against the southern, or left flank, of the attacking armies. The 62nd Volksgrenadier Division, which was under the command of Colonel Friedrich Kittel, was formed from the remnants of the 62nd Infantry division, which had been destroyed on the Eastern Front, supplemented by Czech and Polish conscripts, most of whom could not speak German. In the other villages, the cavalry troops were forced to withdraw earlier in the day so as to avoid being surrounded and cut off. School publication, The Battle at St. Vith, Belgium, 17-23 December 1944.) Nov 18, 2013 - M36 Tank Destroyer (90 mm), near St. Vith, Belgium, 23 January 1945. This double envelopment came as a complete surprise to the American forces as a result of the intelligence failure at First Army level. The American high command believed that the static nature of the Ardennes area would allow time for the 106th to correct its deficiencies. American forces were able to escape to the southwest, cross country to Crombach, Beho, Bovigny, and Vielsalm west of the Salm River. Montgomery had seen the threat of a larger encirclement of American forces, and hoped to gather a reserve west of the Meuse River to finally block the German advance while also eliminating vulnerable salients in the allied lines. Manteuffel referred to this plan as the “little slam”, a title from his love of contract bridge, as opposed to Hitler's “grand slam” plan for the occupation of Antwerp. [5] The main purpose of the counteroffensive was both political and diplomatic. The Tank Duel at St. Vith, Belgium. The German attack achieved limited success in the early days of the battle but failed to meet their objectives. These units, which operated under the command of Generals Robert W. Hasbrouck (7th Armored) and Alan W. Jones (106th Infantry), successfully resisted the German attacks, thereby significantly slowing the German advance. – WW2f.com forum Germany could then make a separate peace with the Western Allies, and concentrate its armies for a successful drive against the Soviet Union. The American village strong points set up by the cavalry groups and sustained artillery fire from both VIII Corps reserve and the units supporting the 106th division had denied LXVI Corps the roads, but the Volksgrenadiers had not been depending on them anyway. The most significant aspect of the bombardment is where it did not fall. As the German plan called for the capture of St. Vith by 18:00 on 17 December, the prolonged action in and around it presented a major blow to their timetable. They would then occupy the transportation center of Bastogne, before crossing the Meuse River at Namur. If you like history too, this is the channel for you.Subscribe for more forgotten history: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC4sEmXUuWIFlxRIFBRV6VXQ?sub_confirmation=1.Awesome The History Guy merchandise is available at:https://teespring.com/stores/the-history-guyThe episode is intended for educational purposes. Warfare, Tanks, Europe, World War ll.St. Their main problems proved to be the same miserable weather and terrain conditions that prompted the Ardennes counteroffensive in the first place. After many requests from General Robertson, the headquarters of the 14th Cavalry Group, commanded by Colonel Mark A. Devine, Jr., was moved into the area. With the appearance of German scouts on the hills east of town, Jones decided he had had enough. However, Hitler would not hear of any abbreviation of his goals, so Antwerp remained the official objective, and Manteuffel had to content himself with minor tactical changes. They had brought up many objections to securing the area: poor roads, unreliable communications and supply, severe combat losses, as well as the imminent danger of being cut off by rapidly moving panzer divisions. This caused a paralyzing lack of situational awareness through the defending forces in front of St. Vith. As a result, Manteuffel's trap on the Schnee Eifel did not close until nightfall on 17 December. We have reviews of the best places to see in St Vith. These units came mainly from the 7th and 9th Armored Divisions, but included troops from the 424th Regiment of the 106th Division, and various supporting artillery, tank, and tank destroyer battalions. Here Manteuffel had found an undefended gap running between Weckerath to Kobscheid. Under the watchful eye of Ridgeway—who only took cover when three rounds from a German 75mm assault gun passed close by—the armored infantrymen worked their way forward supported by tanks. 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