Early in the month of December 1944 two of the greatest armies the world, has ever seen were facing each other in northern Europe. One army, the German, was tired, beaten back, but as yet undefeated. The other, the American First Army had enjoyed great success on the continent and was somewhat over-confident. The result of this situation was the greatest single battle fought by American troops in World War II, the Ardennes Campaign. During this battle three German Armies, two of which were Panzer, penetrated the sector of the First US Army in the region of Luxembourg and Belgium, and only after over a month of the bitterest fighting were thrown back to a line approximating, that from which they had started. A total of 56 divisions, 29 US and 27 German, participated in this battle. Among these 29 American divisions were 10 Armored divisions, as well as numerous separate tank battalions. As a mute testimony of the savage fighting, 85.000 casualties were suffered on each side before the battle ended.
Two Sherman M-4A1 of the 2nd Armored Division, July 26 1944, St Jean de Daye, France (US Army)
When the German offensive struck the Ardennes on December 16, 1944, the 2nd Armored Division was 70 miles away to the north near Baesweiller, Germany, as part of the Ninth Army. It had engaged in several weeks of heavy offensive fighting to reach the Roer River. Then, during the four weeks prior to Dec 16, the division had a dual mission. It held a defensive sector of the XIX Corps sector with a small force while the remainder of the command was held in Corps reserve. During this month of reserve status, 17 replacement officers and 464 enlisted men were integrated into the fighting teams. All units had conducted maintenance and training along with rest and rehabilitation. Current thought among commanders had resulted in the reorganization of one regiment (86th Armored) on Dec 15. This regiment kept the three battalion organization but made one into a reconnaissance and security battalion composed of a reconnaissance company and a light tank company. The two assault battalions each contained one light tank company and three medium tank companies. The organization of the 67th Armored Regiment remained unchanged with its light tank battalion and two medium tank battalions. Thus the status of the division is viewed as the German attack began.
This book is really important to me because the town of Wirtzfeld, located between to the North : Elsenborn; the East : Krinkelt-Rocherath; the South : Muringen-Bullingen and the West : Berg-Butgenbach is almost a part of my backyard. I’ve spent all my childhood over there as well as in Krinkelt-Rocherath.
James Daniel Edwards, the son of James Douglas Edwards Military Police Platoon, 2nd Infantry Division World War Two, has send me a copy of his last book : Defining Moment at Wirtzfeld. This book is intended to honor all the veterans for their sacrifices on the battlefields of the European and Pacific theaters during World War II. It further honors military police everywhere who have served America in the honorable tradition of military service, exemplifying high levels of esprit de corps. It brings recognition to one of the oldest units in America’s military history. More specifically, this book recognizes and pays tribute to a small group of men : the MP Platoon of the 2nd Infantry Division who fought in the European Theater of Operations. From D+1 in Omaha Beach Normandy, France to Pilsen, Czechoslovakia, this small group of men performed above and beyond their call of duty, earning the Meritorious Unit Service plaque for their contributions to the war effort. This MP unit had a large role in supporting and participating in combat operations and in the eventual defeat of a determined enemy.
Last book just go in today, this beautiful work from Steve Snyder, Seal Beach, California USA, a very well done book with a nice hard cover and published by Sea Breeze Publishing LLC, located also in Seal Breeze.
Steve Snyder’s book is a great introduction to the US Air War in the European Theater because the text is humanized by the experience of a single bomber crew. Claire Foster at Clarion Reviews, gave a 5 stars rating to Steve’s book, adding : Snyder’s masterful book puts the reader inside the cockpit of this Susan Ruth B-17 Bomber and use the Intercom to get from Cockpit to Tail, from Tail to Ball-Turret, from Ball-Turret to Waist Gunners, both of em, and so on.
Accessible and relevant both to historians and readers with a casual interest in World War Two History.
Highly recommended for Historians and World War Two Aviation buffs, it’s a thoroughly satisfying and worthwhile read. Extensively researched, packed with photographs, and neatly interwoven with background remarks, this highly engaging book offers comprehensive, yet personalized portrait of the air war.
At War History Online, Nat Sullivan came to the same conclusion as I did. A masterful work. Enjoyable for those interested in the Eighth Army Air Force, in the World War Two Air War, in American Bombing Missions over Germany and in the B-17 Bombers (Flying Fortresses).
At the European Center of Military History, I had to take this book over to me because I knew that it was the kind of book that I do really appreciate. The first point is that in some ways the story is a family story – Steve Snyder’s Dad was in charge of this Bomber and the Pilot in the crew. The second point is even more interesting as this is a War History which happened in Europa during World War Two, was put on paper as a diary while still in Europa and finally decrypted in the USA decades later by the children of they Wartime Heroes. This makes things really simple and different for the readers because as soon as you open the book, the story turns you instantly into a crew’s member and everything happen inside the bomber just in the front of you.
Official File – Brig Gen R. MCCLure, Chief PWD SHAEF (Main) (For Mr. C. D. Jackson)
From : Brigadier A. C. Neville, BGS (P&W), Main HQ, 21st Army Group
Report on Atrocities committed by the Germans against the Civilian Population in Belgium
This report was originally published in December 1944 by Headquarters 21st Army Group under the tittle of “Report on German Atrocities”. It has now been decided to publish that part of the original report which deal with atrocities committed by the Germans against the civilian population in Belgium. Since the original report was published certain additional information regarding German atrocities against the civilian population has become available and has been included in this edition.
The following abbreviations occur in the report :
SS – Schutz Staffel (Originally mean bodyguards, now signifies Nazi Party troops)
SD – Sicherheitsdienst (German Security Service)
SP – Sicherheitspolizei (German Security Police)
GFP – Geheime Feldpolizei (German Field Police)
VNV – Vlaamish Nationaal Verbond (Belgian (Vlaamishe) pro-German movement)
MNB – Mouvement National Belge (Belgian Resistance Movement)
Aux Armes pour l’Europe
Texte du discours prononcé à Paris
le 5 Mars 1944
par Léon Degrelle
Chevalier de la Croix de Fer
Commandant de la Brigade d’Assaut
SS Légion Wallone
(Note de Gunter) Je n’ai pas pour but de faire l’apologie d’une chose ou d’une autre, mais les documents que je présente ici font partie de l’Histoire de la Belgique, que cela plaise ou non à ceux qui lirons les textes. Je suis donc impartial. Je publie les textes dans leur intégralité et je me fous dans de larges mesures du politiquement correct. D’autant plus que ces deux mots : politique et correct sont des termes qui ne peuvent désormais plus êtres utilisés ensembles.
Le 5 Mars 1944, revenant de la Bataille de Tscherkassy où sa brillante conduite lui a valu de recevoir des mains du Führer la Croix de Chevalier de la Croix de Fer, le SS-Sturmbannführer Léon Degrelle a pris la parole à Paris devant un immense auditoire réuni au Palais de Chaillot. Cette manifestation avait été organisée par les membres de la Légion des Volontaires Français contre le bolchevisme et la Milice française. Il est inutile, sans doute, de tracer ici le portrait de Léon Degrelle dont l’extraordinaire activité politique déployée en Belgique, avant et depuis la guerre, est bien connue de tous. Quand on songe qu’à 28 ans cet homme a remué tout un pays par son élan, son courage et sa foi, on n’est pas étonné de le voir aujourd’hui à la tête de ceux de ses compatriotes qui ont compris la nécessité de joindre leurs efforts à l’armée qui forme le barrage de l’Europe contre le bolchevisme.
Well ! 0400 ! Leaving Belgium for a trip to Normandy with my daugthers ! How does it sounds ? The next step if Angoville-au-Plain after 702 Kms from wich 500+ in the land of the happy drivers … France. Let’s hope we will survive Normandy again. The last time I was there – 1994 – things were still (+/-) normal. All the peoples there were doing this trip to remember and to acknowledge the heroic actions and often ultimate sacrifice done by these American kids send over for our liberation. Unfortunately this has turned into a money circus in the 90’s and I didn’t want to come back again. I’ve tried to fight against my two blonde girls but I didn’t win. That’s why I am on my way to Normandy to guide them all over the Cotentin Peninsula. I’ll give you some news of the trip if I find a Internet connection.
Normandy here we are !
First part of the trip is to get out of Belgium without destroying our car. Some may wonders but the major part of the road in Belgium where in a better shape after the Battle of the Bulge in February 1945 than they are today (Socialist Republic). And there is no lie about this one. So, let’s get out the country (225 Km) then we will see. We left Francorchamps and our target is to go by Fabienne and Maurice, at the Ferme de la Guidonnerie, Maison d’Hôtes, 50480-F Angoville-au-Plain.