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tv   1944 Allied Defense of St. Vith  CSPAN  January 3, 2020 9:26pm-10:43pm EST

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the director of command school, scott green is here tonight scott can you wave your arm? thank you in uniform at the back of the room this lecture series which is about great military events, great commanders, and sometimes great controversies in the art of war has been ongoing since the beginning of my tenure almost 15 years ago. it's been our great series and the library.
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this is probably my last introduction because i have been drafted by the president someone can identify with that. to go to washington to save the republic, as you know need saving. as i always like to say the command school is the intellectual center of the army. it is self critical, self aware, it plays no favorites and it is the best place to learn from the experience and history of the battlefield. and with extraordinary teaching and technology to learn from today's battlefields and commanders. it's also a school for our allies and partners. and the future military leaders from around the world, a place where a future chief of staff from the pakistani army might rub shoulders with the future defend minister of india. or commander from the israeli defense force might me to commander from an arab legion.
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a place where a future communication might and has indeed been incubated. it's also a place of packable scholarship, socratic learning, and as our regular audience members, i see many of you here tonight, no frequently expressing itself with a fine sense of humor. i want to thank our early sponsors and creators of this series, none of whom i think are here tonight, but i have to say this because it might be my one chance to say. it a series which will never die. thank you. tonight we have the return of one of our favorites, margaritas, mark has the distinction of the highest number of views in our our archive programs, with the exception the end of season popular cable tv show. as a
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single lecture, he has the highest number of views on our website, 91,000 views. 91,000 people has watched mark explain. i'm going to guess the tonight select you will see a generate similar interest. i have my own tiny battle of the bulge story. my father turned 18 during the battle of the bulge. the sudden turn of the war, the desperate need for women and men and material, to shorten training periods, spoke my grandmother, his mother. so much that she forced my father to quit high school before graduation, and, join the navy. this desperate expedience might not have worked out so well as my father ended up on a ship in boston harbour destined for the invasion of japan when the bomb was dropped. he did not end up in the ardennes, though tonight
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we will. professor grudges has received his ba from norwich university in vermont, served 20 years with armored units in europe, the balkans, the middle east, commanded a tank company during desert storm. he has a bronze star with a valor. he received a ph.d. from florida state with a dissertation on the duke of wellington's cavalry. a previous lecture on napoleon's 1805 campaign delivered here, is anthology is in the great commanders book, published by the combat studies institute afford 11 with and lectures given at the kansas city public library. and the epigraph that lecture, he quotes thomas hardy saying that war is rattling good history. and margaret is his hands it is that, and also lessons for our time. mark.
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good evening. >> before i get started tonight, i want to do a little introduction of my own, i usually do napoleon in history, i very rarely. i want to recognize at least two members of the audience here up front. mr. kent tivo who is in the 99, the 106th infantry division excuse me. it's one of the key divisions that were going to talk about tonight. we also have clarence scholes who was in the five oh fifth parachute regiment jumped into holland. an 82nd airborne vision during the battle of the bulge. do we have any more world war ii veterans are veterans from the battle of the bulge here? can we give these men a round of
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applause please? (applause) if you're here four years ago when i gave the talk about the fall of france in 1940, i started off with a rhetorical question. what's a napoleon a guy like myself doing in the 20th century. i talked a little bit about my time and armor units in germany. at that time, armor branch at ford knocks was really steeped in history. we went to the basic course, one of the things we did would go down to the museum after reading about the laurian campaign. they had a huge map that came off down the top of the ceiling from this one room. you had armor officers who had fought in the fourth armored division talk about the and circling meant and discuss what they done with these young impressionable officers. when i
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arrived in my first armored battalion in the october 1984. you report in as a brand-new second lieutenant. there's not much more of unintimidated feeling them to walk into a tank battalion, at that time many of the senior officers were vietnam veterans. they had all been there together, for long periods of time. you walk in really knowing no one, and knowing how little you know about what the army is about. you go in and you go to the battalion and reports she he tells you what companies are going to be assigned to. and this particular battalion had a strong sense of the history of what it did. he also handed you two pieces of clock, one was the presidential union citation, the blue square there goes on the uniform. that was awarded to the battalion in 1944 for its actions on the german,
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belgian border. then he hands you a belgian fold here, this is a courted rope that you hang on your sleeve. the battalion had gotten it because it had been awarded twice. mentioned the orders of the day in the belgian army, first time liberation of belgium and then the second time for its fighting in the ardennes offensive. here i was a brand-new lieutenant, did not have much knowledge by the army. i wound up getting pulled in into what soldiers had done for years before and my particular regiment. a friend of mine, decided to, and i decided to go and visit the ardennes during the 40th anniversary celebrations in 1994. we were a little disappointed, you drive through the ardennes, it's beautiful winding countryside, there's very few markers of anything.
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you don't know that something monumental happened in these woods. we were there on the 15th and 16th of december. we expected, in boston in particular, there would be some sort of huge ceremony or something like that. and there was nothing. we did not know at the time that in boston, they called what's called knots weekend, it's a huge weekend commemorating the veterans that is done the first weekend in december because of the weather and the christmas holidays. as you were driving out. just to the south of luxembourg city, as we get there and this little town. suddenly we come up on this little town there's cars parked everywhere alongside the streets. we get out of the car to see what's going on. there's people walking to the center town, we get there, in the center town, we arrived just as they're doing a ceremony. to mark the 40th anniversary of the liberation of this village by patents third army on the
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16th of december. the first day of the battle of the bulge. what struck us was that as we stand there there was this gentleman. it is the belgian from luxembourg, he's wearing second lieutenant bars and a third armored division patch. here my friend bob and i were both second lieutenants, standing there, and there is a civilian who's reenacting what people in our battalion did 40 years before. that really kind of hook me on the battle of the bulge and being interested in the ardennes offensive. as an armor officer, you read about the regiment, you read about the units that were in their. i've been very fortunate mention staff college send me back at least five times, with our officers, through the ardennes. the last time i was actually there was this last february. i was able to walk through the ardennes and look at the ground and study the actions of both americans and
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germans our officers. there's a certain fascination if you know anything about the battle of the bulge you probably know about the german attack in the middle of winter. you probably know about the defense of boston by the 101st airborne division troy middleton, you don't have to be a genius to understand the importance of the two road intersections at song v. and boston what's interesting about it though is that we know very little about the other crossroads that's what we're going to talk about the other crossroads. a general pans or troops who is going to be captured in 1945, his fifth army is going to fight against the americans and both boston and st. bit. it's not his ego to make his one battle seen
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better than the other. his troops are fighting in both of them >> he does not understand all these new histories focusing on the battle of the bulge, it's emphasizing bass tone. he's not sure what is nothing about st. the. what went on there, you know very little. we're going to talk about that and the importance of it. and to just give you a little bit of the scale, to kind of pick your interest a little, and boston is besieged for a week, the 28th through 27th. there is 26 votes granted ear, that won't circle the 101st airborne division. the same time period,
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a little bit earlier, a week battle also, the seventh armored division, and the hundred 16 will fight nine different divisions from two different armies and it's a much greater scale of what is going to go on so let's talk about how you got here. the american army and the allied forces are doing a broad front offensive and the fall of 1944. they start to get near the german border and we start running out of steam. a number of things have happened, one is the logistics lines, we haven't opened enough ports. our logistics are coming all the way from enormity front, across france, and so logistics are being stretched to the utmost the weather. starts to go bad we get to the german border. and the other part is what we call the miracle on the west where the germans called america on the west, during the advance cause, france. we
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destroy equipment and most of the soldiers will walk back, so they have trained soldiers educated officers, and when they start to produce tanks and equipment, they're going to be able to refill their forces very quickly we expect that when the at weather improves, when logistics improves were going to go on the offensive again and it will be into different places really in the north for the 21st army group and the 19 first armies up towards the rural off the map to the north in the south with third army and seventh army in the center is not this impassable i hate using that term it's very rugged known as the ardennes. if you go there today it's beautiful countryside really a tourist haven hiking trails beautiful
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little towns. i'm from the north to the south is going to be the 106th infantry division we'll talk a little bit more in some detail the 28th infantry division and the fourth under the tree division the area the ardennes.
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from their bloody fighting an october in the hurricane-force. the other divisions, the ninth armored and 106th are new. the 106th are particular in the front and taken over from the second infantry division for days before the german offensive is going to start so there are just settling in the other division which is in fifth corps to the north is the 99th infantry division and that division has only been in line for approximately three weeks so you get a number of very an experienced divisions a lot of bloody divisions in this area and that's okay because we don't expect anything is going to happen we are looking at this through our own confirmation biased were going to do something to the germans were going to go back on the offensive after the losses and during the fall how could it possibly do anything. the only
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thing that's really going on is the second infantry division is doing a limited attack and to the river dams and that's going to start just before the the fighting here on the 16th of december. the german planning for this offensive begins in september in the early part of september the german losses have been so bad on the western front that they have 100 operational tanks. put that in perspective when they attack on the 16th of december they have something like 1800 tanks that they are going to bring so they are terrible shape hitler is getting a briefing from yodel noodles talking about the retreat into hall and and to all's ice, and talks about the particularly weak area and the ardennes hitler says i've made
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a momentous decision. we will attack out of the ardennes with the objective then antwerp. when hitler seized on is this gap between the british 24 stormy group and the u.s. 12 army group he wants to use the ardennes and use very rapidly across the muse river seizing the bridge heads there as he did in 1940 and then move to antwerp.
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it's made up of ss troops and that will be the main effort. it's going to be the army that will come sweeping through here, take and then go to antwerp. supporting the flank of that will be the fifth army. that is what we call shaping operation today. it's supposed to take the critical crossroads town no later than the second day and then in the south is the second army and infantry army. out of the three armies, it's the weakest, it only has 40 assault guns with the bulk of the tanks and saw guns at the north. that is mainly to protect the flank of the fifth fans are army. german pressure preparations, and has a defensive name, it seems like they're going to be defending, not an attack. where
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they position the troops looks like where you would position the troops where the u.s. and british offensives start counterattacks. this all goes into the inception plant the germans are trying to do. they mass 300,000 soldiers, 1800 tanks and assault guns, 1900 artillery pieces against this front you can see the numbers. 11 divisions in the north, those numbers are a little misleading because of the type of troops that are up in the six pounds or army. facing them in the eighth core will be 83,000 soldiers,. today we teach when you go on the offensive you need three to one odds to be successful. germans where they decided was going to penetrate, they had eight to one odds and infantry, for one odds and mechanized forces and
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tanks and assault guns. they have amassed their forces to be able to do it there's two commanders of the armies here that were going to talk about tonight. one is the commander of army group b, he will be the operational level commander. general. of the two armies, when you look at the u.s. infantry division versus a german divisions, u.s. division is a little bigger, but you have to look at german divisions this how good they are. the older division have about 14,000 soldiers some of the new divisions are going to stand up in the fall only have 80% that strength. anywhere between eight and 10,000 soldiers. that confuses part of how we look at the order of
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battle from the germans. german pans are divisions, tank divisions, are supposed to have 160 tanks, while ours have 186 medium tanks. then 77 light tanks for 263. most german divisions have less than that. some of the key divisions only have about 80 tanks. those numbers are closer to what the actual strength of the s as division is. that is their elite. this is where they will put their main effort it will have divisions that have almost 19,000 soldiers compared. as i talked to tonight, this is the panthers, the tiger one, tiger to, and these are solid guns. we really only have two armored vehicles. they will play key parts. what is the sherman tank. thanks are designed to kill people, not other tanks.
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tanks are made to go after supply units and headquarters. to defeat enemy tanks we have a tank destroyer the tank gun on this is relatively low velocity it's not good for fighting against german tanks where we have 76 millimeter tank destroyers to have the big gun and be passed on the battlefield and move around it has one thing attack does not have and that is good armor protection if you notice the tank destroyers. there is no top on the turret they are open top. that is so the crew can see out above it and get a good operational look and be able to move their vehicle effectively. we also look at the two divisions. the type of divisions we will have. the infantry division when we start to create an army, will have 89 divisions altogether. the
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hundred and six division is the last division that will be stood up in the summer of 1943. it has about a year of training stateside. then the casualties from the normandy campaign and the drive across france start to hit the army and we have not calculated the number of infantry casualties. what both end up happening is that the first 3000 soldiers and lower level non commissioned officers will be taken from the 106th division. few weeks later another 3500 will be taken. within a short period of time in the summer of 1944, they're going to lose almost 7000 of their trained infantry. and get new replacements, but they're not going to be given the time to really integrate them into the unit. they will be shipped overseas on october, have 19 days of training in england, they then began to transit over to france. they get on the ships. they have a storm of the channel. they spent four days unable to land, seasick on
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board, they get in france, there is no trucks waiting for them. they spend a day and a half waiting for trucks to show up. then they get on open top trucks and spent two days crossing france and wet fall rainy weather. they finally pull into the area and early december to take over from the second infantry division and they are pretty happy. the second infantry has been there and created these foxholes with overhead cover. they have been using the pill boxes. 106th division feels like they're in good shape. they're commanded by allen jones and they are organized with three infantry regiments, for 22nd, for 23rd, and fourth 24th, the other key thing about the divisions is that every infantry division looks the same. this means that
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the infantry division could be going to europe are north africa for the south pacific without any changes. what they decided to do you then was give these divisions extra units to help them do their mission. thank italians are usually a sign during, to an infantry division as tank destroyers. but the 106th division does not have a tank battalion as it takes over this line. they don't think that they will need them in the ardennes. the armored force only came into existence in july of 1940 after the fall of france, george marshall stand of the armored force what they end up doing is take all the mechanization senate fort knocks and create the armored force. they're meant to be offensive weapons,
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meant to change the organization, so the armored division of the second war don't have a set organization. where the infantry divisions have three regiments, and each regiment has to be battalion. stay all is work together. the headquarters here are what's called combat commands, combat command a, b, and c are. three times italians three and contributor allen's and you mix and match the numbers of those and them to combat commands a and be based on what their situation is as the unit takes losses and reconstituted it's rotated into combat command our and then the units that have been and are a rotated up to the front pop. however very few of the divisions actually operate this way, most of them beef up the headquarters and
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use three combat commands as headquarters to be able to move their forces in and out, but they focus on being able to change the task organization on the fly. and be able to mix and match, so it kes the seventh armored division almost a perfect division for the firing that's going to take place around saying the. the two key leaders p had been a combat commander in the seventh armored division, the division commander had been relieved and so he rises up to be a division commander. paul the other commander comes over from the fourth armored division to take over combat command be. paul he's a brand-new general and getting to know his unit as the fighting is going to start. when you look at the actual german offensive this area but
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you can see with the yellow line is where the actual german penetrations will be. if you notice, almost no penetration success towards antwerp, all the success of the german offensive is going to take place and if it pans or army. we're going to talk about sign v. and particular. he's going to take over when they stand the ninth armored division. a brand-new division, hill takeover common combat be. he's a senior officer, depend
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on ten days ago and robert has brook who is now the commanding the division. if you look at the relationship here major general allen, jones commanded all the forces in this area, but that's not how it actually going to take place, as we focus and not tonight, were going to focus in on that square, the area around st. louis, and the actual fighting that's going to happen there the german offensive starts at 5:30 in the morning. on the 16th of december. throughout the eight quarter area water towers church steeples. they're going to realize on the horizon all these flashes of light. they don't know what's going on. they see these pinpricks of light, they start calling headquarters, something is going on. about 90 seconds later it they realize that it's german artillery rockets about 1800 different pieces of artillery firing. it will start impacting all across the front. for the u.s. forces in the area, because there are few soldiers
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over the 83 miles of the eight quarter, it ends up being an advantage. the soldiers are spread out so the artillery is less effective than it normally would. the german plan is based on speed, we have to take the have to move rapidly and take the targets by the end of the second day. across the river by the end of day for to get to antwerp. to make sure they get that speed, they're going to lead with infantry to create penetration, then passed the armored forces and drive rapidly to the rear, they plan the offensive for december when the weather is bad. the weather and the ardennes in the north has been in the upper thirties to low forties. there is a foot of snow on the ground, the
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ground is not very well frozen. loose sleet and rain coming down, lots of fog that will prevent the air force from playing a role in this which is what hitler planned at this time period. speed and the ability to take these to road intersections, these roads are important because to be able to sustain the advance of this type of speed, you have to bring up lots of supplies particularly fuel and ammunition. but you have to get through there. the town has six rose that funnel out and it only has the east west railroad line. if you want to turn this into a major success you must be able to take that town so you're logistical convoys can move forward to supply forces. 106th infantry division will be
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in this area. there are a couple of key pieces of terrain. the snow plateau is one of them, today it's a high ground where you can go and walk and height. also has a ski hill on the german side. this is where the german border is and the west will fortifications. here is the historic invasion route, nobody thinks you can come through the ardennes is one of the myths that have grown up because german troops have come through the ardennes again and again. for the loesch line gap, it's open farm country. a river comes down
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through this area and so the two major bridges are here and here. that is important because when the 106th division begins to occupy these positions you have the 14th cavalry, it's also the border between two corps between 15 eight. it makes it a dangerous area. the 106th infantry regiments will be on this terrain the only problem is. you look at this and you say this is not ground that we want to defend. there are major problems. all the road networks come around behind this area and come
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together and over here. if this falls, all the troops at the front are going to be trapped up there. one other regiment, for 24th infantry off to the side. as you get back here, there is one bridge, a single road, a piece of high wooded high ground about a mile to the east. then this town, it's not a large town. a 1944 it has about 2000 inhabitants. the other town has about 4000. it has been taken over not because it's a great position but because it's where we ended up stopping in october and we don't want to go back to the west wall and try to capture it again. the morning of the 16th, german forces has been
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patrolling heavily and has identified the new division in the area and identify the flanks and will begin to come in through the flanks of these two regiments that are in this area. by nightfall they are coming up to two towns. one is up here, and the other one is in that area. at that point, the defenses still holding well. the two regiments, for 22nd and for 23rd, have only been hit by patrols. for brand-new troops they think they are doing. well they push backed german patrols, they are still holding. as you look at the overall front, the threat is that they are going to be surrounded. if the town falls they will be trapped in that area. by nightfall, the eighth court commander is getting concerned. he sees the width of the attack in that area. he
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heard the major general talking about what's going on. he finally has a phone conversation a 10:00 at night. the germans are jamming the radio so they can't stop by radio, the german artillery has destroyed the phone lines. they have to use the belgian telephone system. they're concerned that they will be overheard so the use code words. they talk about the ninth armor division, as the relief. using code words they confuse each other and do not have the same understanding. he has the authority to pull the troops off. the other leader
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thinks that we have to hold on some. both leaders have come up with totally different plans. by the end of the day, it's the movement the takes place that makes the american army so successful during the battle of the bulge. middleton has began to move. ninth army up to third army, eisenhower began moving dissent and tenth armored division up to this area. eisenhower will move the hundred and person 182nd airborne up to this region. so you already have on the evening of the first day, 18 hours after the offensive started. all this movement is coming together to these two key road intersections in the
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ardennes. when we talk about how successful, with the germans expect the offense to be alike. the first ss pansy division is the epitome of what the germans expect. on the day of the 16th a german parachute division is going to fight against elements of the 99th division. they will open a hole and on the 17th, to other groups will punch through. by the end of the day they will have gone 26 miles deep into the american lines, along routes, they will come through this road intersection. at the same time as they are moving 26 miles, the seventh armored division is moving south towards this area. there are two routes that are coming from holland and germany. they have a 70-mile trip. portions of the
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division with come combat the followed by division artillery. combat command a and our will come down this western route. combat command be will cross in their, instructions he gives to clark are vague. clark gets there at four in the morning, meets with troy middleton and says, jones is having some trouble. go see him, give him some help if you can. quark will be there a 10:30 in the morning. as the combat command is moving down to this area, combat command be will pass through in this group will cut through the middle of the columns. it will divert the seventh armored division, they will have to come around this way. it will take them to days before they actually get into the flight. today marks the
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75th anniversary of the massacre where a convoy field observatory division.. no shoot up the trucks, the lineup 130 soldiers. in the field, and massacre them. in the field this area will be recaptured in january, a total of 86 soldiers will be found buried in the field. if you follow this group along the entire route, it's only massacres and atrocities one after the other. as it goes on for 26 miles on this first day. let's go back to what's happening in this area. german offensive is going to be
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successful but the infantry is too successful. you have to converging routes they come to one bridge and you suddenly start seeing the problems that they will face during the rest of the offensive. massive traffic jams, will begin moving forward towards this area. they're four miles away from. it allen jones is going to make the last effective decision for this offensive he sends to engineers coming. one for the court engineer battalion, up on to the primer bird to start defending. at this time clark is going to show up to start getting instructions. ninth armored divisions combat command b starts arriving. jones is told to the entire summit armored division is coming at 7 am so diverts the ninth armored division. all the
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core units that were in this area have begun to move backwards to get out of the path of the german offensive. seventh armored division starts hitting traffic jams as they are moving back between these two areas. the germans here are starting to get inch huge traffic jams. the fifth army commanders trying to come forward, the road is only two lanes wide. his command car stop as the commander tries to find out what's happening. he will find a knot of german officers and one guy in the middle trying to get things working.
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there is no good route for the germans aside from along the river to be able to move around. with the two regiment surrounded, the german regiments i have to make sure they are not counter attacking into their own flank. with the roads blocked up, the artillery of the germans is still behind army lines unable to support the front. jones and clark will meet in their office. what clark reports is that he sees a headquarters back now up, burning secret documents and taken down maps. jones is in his office, not taking reports are making decisions. after john since two companies up here, machine gunfire starts to break out. jones says to clark at that point, i thrown in
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everything i have it your flight. the 106th division will move headquarters back here, in the seventh armored division will have this fight. quickly to go through the actual day to day fighting here. seventh armored division will arrive in the first two days, it's just a series of crisis. they were thrown into the line. this is going on throughout the north shoulder. american divisions are arriving down here and extending this line. you start to see what becomes an elongated goose egg here and you start seeing the bulge around boston to form as germans move forward. by the 18th, the line is not really a line, the seventh armored division and hundred six division are defending a circular horseshoe that is 52 miles long. normal division
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frontage is five miles. the 106th division was holding 21 miles. the entire core was holding 83 miles. here is the seventh armored and 106 holding 52 miles. these positions are independent, not tied in to themselves. has brook was back here and headquarters knows the dow germans at the north, there are germans pat passing to the south, and trying to attacking him directly as well. the germans are having so much problem moving around they cannot build combat power. at this time to german leaders will meet and they will decide
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to make the fifth fans are army the main effort. unfortunately they are still trapped miles behind and a trying to come forward. things will soon start to pick up again. and a certain pattern starts to develop in the fighting. most armored combat and world war ii takes place at 800 yards, visual range because of the guns and sites. what will happen is that you can see the enemy begin to mass for the attack. the advantage that the americans will have will be field artillery. by the 20th
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the three battalion's of the summit armored division have come around and got here. when you look at how much the field artillery is doing, the single field artillery on the half of the first day shoots 4000 rounds with six guns. it is so many reputations the paint blisters on the guns. they try to cool the barrels down by pouring water down the barrels. as the water, it comes down as steam at the breach and. anytime anything moved, artillery fire came down very rapidly. there are also tanks everywhere. from the german
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perspective, he's fired an armored corps. anytime they move, those artillery fire. clark in the seventh armored division are keeping infantry and engineers forward and maintaining a reserve of tank companies and thank destroyers. so wherever the german start a mass they are able to move rapidly. they call the tactic racetrack pattern. thank destroyers will get into a river slope so german tanks come over the hill and began firing at the tank destroyers who have longer range guns. well that's going on and the germans are distracted at the front, american tanks and sermons will be racing around the rear and flanking them. artillery is coming in, taking away the infantry once they are,
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defeated the germans retreat, you're restart the whole thing, put the reserves back in, and are ready to do it again. this situation for the. but 106 is kind of dire. they have a 270-degree defense which means german artillery is coming from all sides. the seventh armored division feel trains or 20 miles behind somewhere over here. they are fighting off patrols from the 116th german division. they've had to take the cooks the supply clerks, they've had to take the vehicles that are being repaired, they've had to take any tanks that have come up as replacements, and man 12 roadblocks to be able to fight and defend their positions. has
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brook is confident about the northern flank but the southern flank is weak. he has to regiments working together by this time. this relationship that i've been talking about, combat command b is working for the hundred six division but it's a handshake between bruce clark and jones. the hundred and 12 regimen has fought a retreat for 30 miles across the country on foot against german pressure. it's an astounding feat to keep
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together. they come into this elongated goose egg. this is what it looks like on the 20th of december. because this town is holding. the german offensive has narrowed down with no success and it's starting to shift down to the south where they are finding less resistance and more movement to the rear. the 21st ends of being a critical day for the divisions. the german attacks start, their fought off till after dark. thanks will come up the road and fire high velocity flares to blind the american tanks. knock them out by america quickly. so the german tanks can start going after individual foxholes and open up a penetration. they roll into town, they finally
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get the penetration but they wanted. clark orders his mental retreat back to a new line that they will have to form. this forces the ninth armored division to fall back to a new line. this is where it most of the losses for combat command be occur. they lose 800 soldiers and four out of five regiments. even though the germans have success, all the roads but they're using come together at one point. paul so there's a huge traffic jam. is german soldiers capture american positions. they start
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finding rations and cigarettes and the delays them because it is cold and rainy.. all along the front there is major action. all day long. on the 20th of december, the northern half of the bulge comes under field marshal montgomery's command. they can't communicate with the forces on the north. is forced to start coming in. the 82nd airborne starts coming along the river. the question is, do you fight surrounded or do you withdraw?
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on the 20th of december the town is surrounded, the commander does not like given up ground, he wants to hold it, and wants to stay and defend this. the night before, has brooke you can't communicate with the eight core who is 50 miles away, will send his letter up to first army headquarters and talk about his situation. our northern flank is strong, were getting artillery fire from all ranks, we have no fuel ammunition or logistics come through in two days. south flank is down a 50%. i think we need to withdraw. roadways are angry
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with has broken asked him if you read the letter. has ridden funding for six days. ridgeway wants to stay but has brook says they should withdraw. ridgeway finally sees how bad the situation is.
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the germans by the fourth and fifth they are running out of fuel. the second division is having to tow vehicles with other vehicles because they ran out of gas. the focus comes comes to survive as opposed to get to antwerp. the defense
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epitomizes the american army's tactics. constricting avenue even enemies approach. but more than the any other of the defensive stance,. when you look at the ardennes, when you look at the fighting there i cannot add more then charles be mcdonald. we will go from 83,000 soldiers in the ardennes, to 600,000 soldiers two weeks later. 29 divisions, six mechanized groups, an amazing display of american mobility that shocks the germans. the book time for trump it's, was written by company commander of the second infantry division,
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an army historian when he retires, he writes this book on the ardennes. his closing of the book talks about the sacrifices and went on. except for a few individuals, the frontline american soldiers stood his ground. surprise, stand, unbelieving, incredulous, not understanding what was hitting him, he nevertheless help fast until his commanders order to withdraw or until he was overwhelmed. hitler saw the american soldiers the we component of the western alliance, the product of a society to her headed join, this heterogeneity was definitely there, the american soldier put the lights to hitler's theory. his was a story to be told to the sound of trumpets. thank you very much.
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we have some questions and answers, if you have a question please come to the microphone so they can require the question. yes sir. >> was the ardennes decide of a major battle and world war one. >> not really a major battle but forces will pass through. may june 1940, the german defensive is going to take place. >> i've always been interested and the relationship between the very mocked and ss and paramilitary groups. did they have a problem coordinating with each other because? the for had a different culture?
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how did the ss and vermont interact during this battle? >> poorly in many ways. the very mocked is the german army and then there is this nazi army, very elite. they see themselves as better. handpicked. you see over and over again. s units ignoring orders from army. deciding to walk into areas just because they could, and they upset the timelines, caused traffic jams on the area. thank you. >> two anecdotes than i personally want to share. my wife early in her teaching career, her colleague whose husband was in one of the two regiments that surrendered. he did not talk about it but she
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told us that he walked east for many days when he came home. i don't know she knew him yet, he preferred to eat his meals alone in his room at home. that was the fate of those two regiments. the other anecdote is my father in law was a bans man, during the bulge, he basically sit put down you're tuba, remember that weapon you learned, pick it up, pipers advance was cut off but they weren't very far from there. >> i think the two of you should probably talk after this, he probably knew your father in law, since it was a senior bans man in the 99th division. thank you >> sir. i read a book on the
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106th when i was in germany and 84. it talked about how the troops in the two regiments were ordered to surrender and a.d. jones after that. what kind of condition where they actually end when they finally surrendered? >> part of the problem is they will come back. i should have mentioned, a couple of recommended books here, two on the left or by veterans, and the two on the right our new books. this book focus is on the summit armored division. the troops have gotten some confusing orders. there initially told to stay in their positions and hold and prepare for 360-degree defense. then they're told to break out to the east, the disseminate division is coming to meet them. then they were told to counterattack and basically take the bridge and reopen the route. they're given some contradictory orders. the
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problem is they're running out of food, ammunition. there is no evacuation for the casualties. one of the regiments, when they start their attack, there's no overall commander, so both regiments don't cooperate when they move. one of them comes up over the hill and actually looks down the hill,. they are light infantry, they come over the hill and they see the german traffic jam. and it's armored vehicles as far as the eye can see. they realize at that point that they can break out. the person that actually has to go forward to negotiate the surrender has a local connection,.
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>> played a big part of the united states military since the eighties and has been part of the part of my experience in the military. can you talk about how the air power played in this particular battle. >> initially, the archie put you up for that question? >> okay good, so my students up there. >> when the russian high comes in, the weather drops down, when the sun comes out, it is a beautiful blue sky, not a cloud. the first time it has been that wait for the week. it has been cloudy and overcast, foggy, so on the day of the 23rd when they're actually trying to break out. the air power clears, and that's when the american fighter bombers are going to be able. usually
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they're worried about what's coming around the next corner. it's going to play a huge role after the weather breaks during that time period. yes sir. >> it's my understanding, that there was a second bulge created on january the 1st by the germans, called operation north wind. they were under a lot of pressure, i lost one of my uncles in that battle, they were coming across at he was killed there. this is before the tightened up security 11 worth. i got a copy of the battle plans, it should run my uncle was and where he got killed, i went there ten years ago and picked up soil from the spot, approximately from where
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he was, and brought it back and gave it to his son. >> what a great tribute that you were able to do that. operation north wind, germans are going to try to restart the offensive, not in the ardennes but slightly south. operation north win only last about two weeks. pushes americans back a bit. they did the hangover raid, 1000 aircraft on the 1st of january and attack the army air force on the ground. they destroyed about 450 american aircraft on the air fields, they will lose 270 aircraft aircraft fired anti aircraft fire. they can't make up to 270, the 450 no pilots random.
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>> just by chance, i met this family and found out that the woman's father was in the french first army. i had been in contact with him until he died. then on january 2nd a year ago. he talked about being in the resistance movement, him in his best friends were 14 walking along and his partner made some comment about the nazis and they call them both in and determine who had said the remarked. he said when he went back the next day, his friend was hanging on a meathooks in the middle of the square. at any rate, he was not too far from where my uncle had
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been killed, so we exchanged a lot of information. that's all i want to say. >> i will stick around if anyone has any questions. >> coming out of primers bergh, 21, 22 thank battle up there. you have any anecdotes about that? >> the officer who commands it is lieutenant colonel rigs, he had been all american at the university of illinois. 20 years old. gets captured there. his account of what happens to him, he's captured, he walked east, put on a train, sent to a prison camp, refuses to cooperate, they move him to another prisoner camp in poland. he escaped from that camp, marches until he's picked up with the resistance. spends
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a week in warsaw rebuilding the infrastructure, then he's given to this soviets. he fights for the soviets for about a week, then he puts on a train to odessa, goes on a ship down to istanbul. he talks his way onto a british ship to alexandria, then another british ship to naples, reports into the u.s. facilities there, still he has a furlough body wants to go back to the front, so he gets on another ship. he walks it is the time headquarters three months later and basically says hi i'm back. 81st engineer
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battalion. thank you so much for coming out, i'll stay if you have any other questions.
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