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tv   1944 Allied Defense of St. Vith  CSPAN  January 11, 2020 4:45pm-6:00pm EST

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gerges explores the allied defense of st. vith on the 75th anniversary of the battle of the bulge. american forces eventually surrendered the belgian town, but mr. gerges argues the fighting caused the delay that frustrated the german counteroffensive. libraryas city public and the u.s. command and general staff college held this event. >> tonight, we are going to be talking about the 75th anniversary of the battle of the bulge. tonight is also probably my farewell introduction, if that is not a contradiction in terms, for our ongoing signature series with the history department of the command and general staff college. the director of the command school, scott green, is here tonight. scott, can you wave?
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[applause] >> thank you. >> this lecture series has been ongoing almost since the beginning of my tenure 15 years ago. it has been our great series in the library. this is probably my last introduction because i have been drafted by the president. some of you can identify with that. to go to washington to save the republic, which needs saving. say, theys like to command school is the intellectual center of the army. it is self-critical, self-aware. it plays no favorites and is the best place to learn from the experience and history of the battlefield.
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and with extraordinary teaching and technology, to learn from today's battlefields and commanders. it is also a school for our and futurepartners military leaders from around the world. a place where a future chief of staff of the pakistani army might rub shoulders with the future defense minister from india were a future commander of the israeli defense force might meet the future commander of the arab legion. communication has been incubated. it is also a place of impeccable scholarship, socratic learning. and as our regular audience members know, frequently experience -- expressing itself with a fine sense of humor. i want to thank our early sponsors and creators of this series. i want to say it because this may be my one chance to say it.
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and want to thank them for starting and sustaining this great series, a series which will never die. thank you. [laughter] >> tonight, we have the return of one of our favorites, mark gerges. mark has the distinction of a highest number of views in our archived programs with only the exception of a nationally televised in a season popular cable show. as a single lecturer, it has the highest number of views on our website. 91,000 views. 91,000 people have watched mark explain the fall of france. i'm going to guess that tonight's lecture will generate similar interest. i have my own battle of the bulge story. my father turned 18 during the battle of the bulge. the sudden turn of war, the desperate need for men and material which led to shortened
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his mother, myed grandmother, so much that she forced my father to quit high school before graduation and join the navy. [laughter] >> this desperate expedients might not have worked out so well as my father ended up on a ship in boston harbor destined for the invasion of japan when the bomb was dropped. but he did not end up in the are rdiennes, although tonight we will. he served 20 years with armored units in europe, the balkans, the middle east. commanded a tank company during desert storm, and he has a bronze star with the valor device on it. he received a phd from florida state with a dissertation on the duke of wellington's cavalry. previous lecture on napoleon's 1805 campaign, delivered here,
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is apologized in the great of lecturesbook given at the kansas city public library. in the epigraph to that lecture, or fester curtis -- professor gerges quotes, hardy saying war is rattling good history. in mark gerges' hands, it is that and also lessens for our time. mark? [applause] thank you gerges: very much. good evening. started, i want to do an introduction of my own. i normally do not poly on it history. i never have veterans in my napoleonic classes. i want to recognize a few members of the audience here. tebow will be talking about
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the golden lions, one of the key divisions we will talk about tonight. we also have clearance, who was regiment5th parachute and was in the 82nd division during the battle of the bulge. doing of any other veterans of the battle of the bold or any other -- do we have any other veterans of the battle of the bulge or any other veterans? could we give these men a round of applause? [applause] four yearsgerges: on the fallhe top of france in 1940. i started off with a rhetorical question. i talked a little bit about my time in germany. at that time, it was really
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steeped in history. one of the things we did was we would go to the museum after reading about the campaign. that came huge map down off the top of the ceiling in this one room. you had officers who had fought in the division talk and discuss what they had done with these young, impressionable officers. in october of 1984, the second battalion, part ,f the third armored division reported in as a brand-new second lieutenant. intimidatot a more ing. at this time, many officers were vietnam veterans. they had all been there together. you walk in knowing no one and knowing how little we know about
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what the army is about. you go in and you go to the battalion adjutant. who you which company you will be assigned to -- he tells you which company will be assigned to. the hand you two pieces of cloth. one was the presidential unit of citation, the blue square that goes under uniform. that was awarded to the battalion in 1944 for its actions on the german-belgian border. belgiany hand you a corded rope you hang on your sleeve. the battalion had gotten it because it had been awarded it twice. the first time for the liberation of belgium in 1944 and the second time for its .ighting during the ardennes not goingw lieutenant
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much about the army, and already i'm getting pulled into what soldiers had done 40 years before in my particular regiment. a friend of mine and i decided to go visit the ardennes during the 40th anniversary celebrations. quite friendly, we were a little disappointed. beautiful winding countryside. there are very few markers of anything. you do not know something monumental happened in these woods. we were there on the 15th and 16th of december. we expected there would be some huge ceremony or something like that, and there was nothing. we did not know they had a huge weekend commemorating the veterans done the first weekend in december because of the weather and christmas holidays.
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driving to the south of luxembourg city, and as we get to this little town on the back road, suddenly we come up on this little town. there are cars parked everywhere along the streets. we get out of the car to see what is going on. there are people walking to the center of town. we arrived just as they are doing a ceremony to mark the 40th anniversary of the liberation of this village by patton's third army on december 16, the first day of the battle of the bulge. as we were us standing there with this idea who he had no was, but he is wearing the second lieutenant bars and a third armored division hat. my friend and i were both lieutenants in the second division. here is a civilian reenacting what people in our battalion did 40 years before. that hooked me on the battle of
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the bulge and being interested in the ardennes offensive. as an officer, you read about the regiments and the units that were there. i have been fortunate. the college's in the back at least five times -- the college sent me back at least five times . i was able to walk through the grounds and study the actions with american and german officers. there is a certain fascination. if you know anything about the battle of the bulge, you probably know about the german attack in the middle of the winter. and you probably know about the defense by the air force division. commander of the core that will take the brunt of the german offenses says you don't have to be a genius to understand the importance of the road intersections.
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what is interesting about it is you probably know very little about the other crossroads. that is one of the things we are going to talk about tonight, the influence of the other crossroads. a general of panzer troops who will be captured in 1945,'s fifth army will fight against the americans in bastogne and st. vith. his troops are fighting in both battles. say st. he's going to vith was the much more important crossroads for the success of the german offensive. in 1951, he is going to write a letter to a friend and say he does not understand all the new histories focusing on the battle of the bulge with everything emphasizing bastogne and he is not sure why there is no emphasis on st. vith. i would imagine if i asked most
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people what went on, you know very little so we are going to talk about that and the importance of it. to give you a little of the interest,ique your bastogne is besieged for a week. that will division encircle the 101st airborne division. , thetle bit earlier seventh armored division in 106th division will fight nine different divisions from two different armies. it is a much greater scale of what will go on. let's talk about how you got here. the american army and allied forces are doing a broad offensive in the fall of 1944. they get near the german boarder and we start to run out of steam.
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a number of things have happened. one is we have not opened enough ports. our logistics are coming from the normandy front. logistics are stretched to the utmost. the weather starts to turn bad. rder.t to the german boa is what thert germans call the miracle of the west. we are going to destroy large numbers of german troops. equipment.d most of the soldiers walked back. they had a cadre of trained soldiers and educated officers. tankshey start to produce and equipment, they will be able to refill forces quickly. we expect when the weather and our logistics improve, we will go on the offensiveand logistico on the offensive again. it will be on two different places.
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in the north in the ninth and first armies. off the map to the north. in the south, with third army and seventh army down crossing the line. in the center is not impossible. i hate using that term. it's a very rugged, for street ground. if you go there today it's beautiful. countryside, a tourist haven. hiking trails. beautiful little towns with wandering brooks. to be alongside these brooks and are very, very narrow. end ourwe are going to and thee into germany west wall. we have four divisions that are in that area. south isnorth and going to be the hundred sixth infantry division. we will talk more about the hundred six in some detail.
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the 28 infantry division, ninth infantry and the fourth infantry. the area of the u.s. forces are using for two purposes. one are the units that had been so levied to the north. they were putting the troops in there and refilling them with new replacements. 28th infantry division and the fourth infantry division are experienced, they fought their way across france. they lost about a third to a half of their strength without being refilled from their bloody fighting in october and november. the other division here in the ninth armor at the 106 are new. hundred and six is so new that they have gotten into the front and taken over from second infantry four days before the german offensive will start. they are just settling in. to the northision is the 99th infantry division. that division has only been in line for three weeks. you get a number of very, very
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inexperienced divisions, and a lot of bloodied divisions in the area. we don't expect anything will happen. we are looking at this with confirmation bias. something toing the germans. we will go back on the offenses after the losses. how could they possibly do anything other than dealing with the resources in great detail. the only thing that is really going on is the second infantry division is doing a limited pack into the river dams. before thetart fighting here on the 16th of december. german planning for this offensive begins in september. their 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 15th of
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december, they have something like 1800 tanks that they are going to bring. they are in terrible, terrible shape. taylor is getting a briefing from the commander. he is talking about the retreat into holland. talking about the retreat and to all sat. he talks about the writ -- particularly weak area. when he mentions the word hitler's slams his hand down on to his table. he says i have made a moment's decision. we will pack out with the objections of antwerp. his hitler's has seized on this gaffe between the british 21st army group and the u.s. 12 army group. ra ganz anduse the moved very, very rapidly across the muse river, seizing the bridges there as he did in 1940, and then moved to antwerp. isolating the 21st army group and hopefully creating another
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dunkirk. if he can destroy a britain's main army on the continent, he helps that will knock britain out of the war. him out it knock will stun the united states into action and then you could take large numbers of troops and put them into what he considers the real threat in the eastern front against the russians. this he has three armies. speed will be paramount to the german success. this army is made up of ss troops. that will be the main effort. it will be the army that will come sweeping through, take leave. supporting the flank of that will be the fifth army. that is what we call shaping operation today. it is supposed to take the critical crossroads no later
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than the second day. then in the south is the seventh army. and the infantry army of the three armies much we guess. about 40 assault guns with the bulk of these tanks and assault guns into the north. that is mainly to protect the flank of the fifth panzer army. german preparations become known as -- it has a defensive name. it seems like they are going to be defending not an attack. where they position the troops looks like where you would position troops when the u.s. and british offenses started again for a counterattack. into the plan that the germans are trying to do. 300 thousand soldiers. 1800 tanks and assault guns. 1900 artillery pieces against this front. numbers. see the it's 11 divisions north versus eight divisions and fifth panzer
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army and seventh army. these numbers are a little misleading because of the type of troops that are up in the six panzer army. there will be 83,000 soldiers. 254 tanks. we teach that when you go on the offensive you need three to one odds for the offensive to be successful. germans, where they decide they have eightate, they to one odds in infantry and 41 ours -- odds -- four to one odds in forces. they mask their forces to be able to do it. there are two commanders of the army we will talk about. of thethe commander army. he will be the operational commander. we will talk quite a bit about him and his actions as we go through for her tonight. , when you lookes at the u.s. infantry division
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versus a german division, u.s. divisions are a little bit bigger. but you almost have to look at german divisions division by division to be able to see how good they are. that is because the older divisions have about 14,000 soldiers. some of the divisions, if they stand up in the fall only have 80% of that string. somewhere between 8000 and 10,000 soldiers. that confuses part of how we look at the order of battle from the germans. german panzer division, tank division had 160 tanks while ours has 186 medium tanks and 77 might tanks. most german divisions have less than that. some of the divisions only have about 80 tanks. those numbers are closer to what the actual strength is of the ss division. that is the german forces. this is where they will put their main efforts.
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it will have divisions that have almost 19,000 soldiers in them. as i talk through tonight, this tiger panther, tiger one, two. the medium tank on the which is the equivalent. and these are assault guns. we have two armored vehicles. it will play a key part. one is the tank. designed to kill people, not kill other tanks. exploitation, part of our army doctrine at the time is that tanks go after -- and they do the explication. we have a tank destroyer. it's not very good against fighting against other tanks. we have 76 millimeter, 96 millimeter. to have the big guns and be fast and be able to move around, it has one thing a tank does not
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have. its. is no top on the turn that is so the crew could see out of it and get a good operational look and be able to move your vehicle effectively. we also look at the two divisions. the type of divisions we will have. -- wheretry division we start to create an army we will have 89 divisions altogether. 106 division is one of the last that will be still up in december of 1943. it has about a year of training stateside, then the casualty from the normandy campaign and the drive across france start to get the army. we have not calculated the number of infantry casualties. what would end up happening is, soldiers and lower-level noncommissioned officers will be taken. and then another 3500 will be taken.
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within a very short time in the summer of 1944 they're going to lose almost 7000 of their train infantry and get new replacements. but they will not be given a time to integrate the unit and train. they will be shipped overseas in october, at 19 days to start training in england. they then began to transit over to france. they get on the ships and they have a storm in the channel and spend four days unable to land and sea sick on board. they get in france and there are no trucks waiting for them so they spent again a half waiting for trucks to show up. then they get on the open talk -- open top trucks and spend the days in rainy fall weather. they finally start pulling into the area in december and taking over from the second infantry division. they are pretty happy. the second infantry has been there and created these foxholes with overhead covers.
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they use the pillboxes of the line. when i did six division picks they are in good shape. there commanded by major general allen jones and they are organized with three infantry regiment. the other key thing about the division that this time is when he is standing at the army he makes every infantry division look the same. what that means is that this division could go to europe, north africa, it could go to the jungles of the south pacific without any changes. ist they decide to do then give the divisions the pace on where they will be fighting extra units to be able to help them do their mission. tank battalions usually assigned to an infantry division from a pool as a tank destroyer. the hundred six division does not have a tank but diane as it takes over this line because they don't think it will need
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it. division has a different philosophy. armored force only came into existence in july of 1940 george c marshall stands up the armored force. is takingend up doing all this work that's being done in all these branches of the army and create the armored force. about how they are going use it. they're meant to be offense of weapons and change the organization. so the armored division of the second war don't have a set organization. where the infantry division has three regiments. each has three baton. they always work together. their headquarters here are what is called combat command. command a combat command be an combat command r. you mix and match the numbers of
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those and assign them based on what the situation is. the unit takes losses as needs to be reconstituted and rebuild strength it is rotated combat command then those units rotate to the front. only has eightr officers. very few of the divisions actually operate this way. most of them beef up the headquarters of combat command and they used a three combat commands as headquarters to be able to move their forces in and out. but they focused on being able to change their organization on the fly and be able to mix and match. so it makes the second armored division the perfect division for the fighting that will take place. been a key leaders had combat commander in the seventh armored division.
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it had been relieved in holland. he arrived to be the division commander. bruce lee clark comes over from the fourth armored division to take over the seventh armored division. clark has just pinned on 10 days before. he is a brand-new general and just getting to know his unit as the fighting is going to start. when you look at the actual german offensive, this area that you can see with this yellow line is where the actual german penetration will be. if you notice, almost no penetration of success by the sixth army up towards antwerp. all the success of the german offensive is going to take place in the fifth panzer army. why sixtalk about panzer army does not get a chance to move forward. talked abouticer
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is brigadier general william hope. local connection with fort leavenworth. he lived part of his life up in easton. hope builds part of the canadian-american highway and then will command a special engineer brigade during the normandy landing that is clearing the normandy beaches. he will take over when they have the ninth armored division. he will take over combat command be. he is a relatively senior officer. ands senior to clark robert. i feel look at the relationship in thisl the forces area. that is not how it will take place. we willcus tonight focus in on that square. on the area around the actual fighting that will happen. the german offensive starts at 5:30 in the morning on the 16th of december.
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through up the area. they are in water towers, church steeples. they will notice all these flashes of light. they don't really know it's going on. they see all these lights and they start calling their headquarter saying something is going on. 90 seconds later they realize it was german artillery rockets. 1800 different pieces of artillery firing that will start impacting all across the friend. in the area,es because there are so few ofdiers over the 83 miles the eighth corps, it actually ends up being an advantage. the soldiers are spread out. and as a less effective fire than would have been. but the german plan is based on speed. they have to very rapidly take and by the end of day to cross the muse river. seizing the muse river crossings by the end of day four and then get
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antwerp. to make sure they can get that's be, what they will do is lead with their infantry forces that will create a penetration and then pastor armored forces with arrive rapidly to the rear. they planned the offense of for december when the weather is bad. the weather in the northern ardennes's, where we will talk about tonight, has been in the upper 30's to low 40's. there is a foot of snow on the ground. the ground is not frozen very well. a very -- a vehicle or two turns intoough here mud. then its fleet and rain. about the fog that will prevent the army air forces from playing a role, which is exactly what hitler's plans. speed and the ability to take these two road intersections. to be able to sustain the advance of this type of speed
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you have to bring up lots of supplies. particularly fuel and ammunition. but you have to get through their, the area has six roads that come together. it also has the only east/west railroad line. if you turn this into a limited success to a major offensive, you have to take that logistical convoy to begin the move forward to supply your forces. hundred six infantry division is going to be on this area. we talk about this. one is the snow plateau. today it's a high ground or you can go and walk in hike. it has ski hill on the german side. i heard someone say it's a place where you want to see hansel and gretel. you go there and the water is tripping off the trees. it's damp, it's wet, it's dark.
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this is where the german border is. this is the historic invasion route. it is known at that time of the historic invasion route. this idea that no one thinks you can come through the ardennes's is one of those myths that have grown up. german troops that come through the ardennes's again and again and again. it is relatively open farm country that will move back behind the open area. the river will come down to this area and then it will hit them. here.o major bridges are because of thent hundred six division begins to occupy these positions you have the 14th calvary that is going to guard the gap. it's also the border between two corps.-- two
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it makes it a dangerous area. he would not pass if you put a core boundary on the middle of .hat in the approach then there is a 106 infantry regiment that will be on this good defense terrain. the only problem is we look at this only say, if this is not grounded we want to defend. one of the major problems is all the road networks come around and they all come together. all those troops will be trapped. there is one other regiment that will be just off this to the side. be, theet back to sans one bridge, a single road. wooded groundigh about a mile to the east. then the town of sans be.
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it is not a large town. in 1944 has about 2000 inhabitants. that stone has about 4000. it has been taken over not because these are great defense positions, but because this is where we ended up stopping in october. we would hate to have to go back to the west wall and capture it again. the morning of the 16th, german they have been patrolling heavily. have identified the new division in the area. and has identified with them and they will begin to come in of the two flanks regimens that will be trapped. by nightfall they are coming up to two towns. one is adler, upon the road up here. the other one is in that area. at that point the defense is still holding well. residents have only been
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hit by patrols. for brand-new troops they are's -- they think they are doing well. they push back patrol. they are still holding. the threat is that they will be surrounded and if it falls it will trap them in that area. by nightfall, troy middleton who is the navy corps commander, is getting concerned. he sees the width of the attack. he has are the major general talking about what's going on. at night they have a phone conversation. the germans are jamming the radio so they cannot have a direct medication by radio. the phone lines that we have put in. they have to use the belgian telephone system. they are concerned they will be overheard. so they will use codewords. they talk about combat command be is the big boy coming to rescue.
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using these codewords -- codewords say confuse each other and all have the same understanding. phone andgets off the he basically says, i have told major general joan say he has he can pully that the troops off. he is a local commander, he knows was going on, he can pull those troops off. jones hangs up the phone, looks at his operational officer and says, we have to be dutch we have been told we will hold on. they have come up with entirely opposite actions of what they think is going on at that time. the end of the day, when you talk about what goes on and what makes the u.s. army successful in the battle of the bulge, is the amazing movement that takes place. by the end of the day general miller -- middleton has begun to move the prograde down.
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you then have from ninth army eisenhower "in the seventh army division and the 10th armored division up to bastogne. i thought they would start moving the hundred and first and 82nd airborne up to the region. on the evening of the first day 18 hours after the offensive started, you see all the moment come together to these two key road intersections. only talk about how successful, what the germans expect the it is really like, the academy of what the germans expect. 16th, the of the division, a german paratrooper division will fight against the 99th division. it will open a whole and in the morning of the 17th it will punch through.
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they will, by the end of the day have gone 26 miles deep into the american mind's. notice the one intersection. there will come through. at the same time, as they are moving 26 miles deep into the american mind, the seventh armored division begins its move south. are two routes coming from holland and germany. they have a 70 mile trip. portions of the division will , followedthis route by the division artillery. then the second route with comment -- combat command eight and r will come back. combat command d will pass through. the instructions are pretty vague. clark gets there at 4:00 in the morning and meets detroit middleton and says having some trouble. give him some help if you can.
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as alark will be up there combat command is moving down. combat command will pass through and pipe or cut in through the middle of the columns. it will revert the artillery from this route or they will have to go through here and come around this way. it will take them two days before they get into the fight. the 75th anniversary of the massacre, where a convoy and field artillery battalion is not assigned to the seventh armored division. they are coming down the road with the blue line is. corner, theye strocity after atrocity as it goes 26 miles on this first day. let's go back to what's
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happening in this area. german offensive will be successful but the infantry has been a little too successful. you have two converging route set come to one bridge. then you see the problems they have throughout the rest of the offense if a massive traffic jams. .t will begin moving forward they are about four miles away from it. alan jones is going to make the last real effective decision for this offensive. he sent to engineers companies -- engineer companies. one from the core engineer battalion. that's up to start defending. at that time clark will show up to start getting instructions. the ninth armored division combat command be begins arriving. originally they would entire seventh division is coming at 7:00 a.m. he diverts them to try to secure
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the flank of the infantry regiment down here. the problem is that all the core units in this area have begun to move backwards to get out of the path of the german offensive. the seventh armored division starts hitting into two huge traffic jams as they move back. are starting to get into huge traffic jams. he would try to come forward to the fifth army commander. only a twowhich is lane road, three ride -- three wide would german vehicle stop. he gets out, he walks forward china finality happening. when he gets forward here is going to find a lot of german officers there. in the middle yelling and pointing trying to get things unscrewed. theres his boss who is and he is trying to unscrew the traffic jam.
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this is one of the key things the germans will see again and again. there is really no good route other than the winding road down along the river. there are some trails up this way but they have a hard time being able to generate combat power. with the two regiments surrounded he also has to lead to the resident to make sure they don't counterattack into their flank and what the road network being like it is. the artillery of the germans is somewhere back your behind german lines unable to support the front. jones and clark are going to me in jones office. he sees a headquarters that is packing up. they are burning secret documents and taking down maps. alan jones is sitting in his office. he is not making any decisions. jonesetty much after since the two companies up here the machine gun fire starts to
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break out. i'veat point jones says donated everything i have, it's your fight. the 106 division will move back here. the seventh armored division has this fight. just quickly to go through the actual day-to-day fighting, seventh armored division will arrive in the first two days are ad hoc. they are a series of crisis and they are thrown into the line. this is going on throughout what becomes known as the north shoulder. american divisions are extending out this line. you start to see what becomes the iran gated goose egg and you start to see the bold starting a farm as germans continue to drive forward. by the 18th the line is not really a line. the seven armored division and the hundred six division is defending a circular horseshoe
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that is 52 miles long. frontage is five miles. the 106 division was holding 21 miles. the entire core was holding 83 miles. here is a seventh armored and the hundred and six holding 52 miles. the positions are really independent, not tied into themselves. hasbrouck knows that there are german forces by passing to the north. german forces by passing to the south, as well as trying to attack him directly in the area 62nd.ll become the the 19th and the being a quiet day for the americans. muchermans are having so problem china unscrew their traffic jams that they cannot build a combat power. time they will mean.
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there has really been no action up into the north. make it the main effort and start getting more and more what is knowning as the -- escort brigade. it's a brigade that has a light division type of strength. unfortunately, even though you have given it to them, they are still trapped miles behind trying to come forward. of december is when things pick up again. of thert to see elements escort brigade coming in. a certain pattern starts to develop on the fighting. combat in world war ii takes place in 800 yards. because of the guns and the sites. what ends up happening is you can see the enemy starting to master attack.
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you can seem old men. the advantage the americans will have is that they have artillery. may have some friends back there in field artillery that are nodding their heads. the american field artillery that will be able to fire. by the 20th of three battalions of the seven army come around. when you look at how much the field artillery is doing, the single field artillery they had for the first day fires in a single day, 4000 rounds with six guns. you say, how much is that? it's 270 fire missions. it is so many remission so rapidly that the paint blisters on the guns. they try to cool the barrels down by pouring water down the barrels. as they pour the water down it just comes out and no water actually comes down. so the german commander is going to say that any time anything moved artillery fire came down very, very rapidly.
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the other thing he will say is that there are tanks everywhere. from the german perspective he thinks he is fighting an armored court. a time they move is what he sees. the seventh armored division are keeping infantry andengineers forward maintaining a reserve of tank companies and tank destroyers. wherever the german start to mass they are able to move rapidly. they call the tactic racetrack. the racetrack pattern. tank destroyers will get into a reverse low. german tanks come over the hill and start firing at the tank destroyers who have longer-range guns that can hit the frontal armor. american tanks will race around to the rear and try to come around and destroy those tanks. at the same time artillery is
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coming in and taking away infantry. once that particular attack is defeated, the germans or teat -- retreat, you put the reserves back in there and are ready to do it again the next time the threat comes in. for the seventh armored division in the hundred six is kind of dyer. one thing is they will be in a 270 degree defense, what to means german artillery fire is at them from all sides. you're air fighting this running battle for 20 miles. the seventh armored division field trains are 20 miles behind , somewhere over here behind me. they are fighting off patrols from the hundred 16th division, the second ss panzer division. had the take the soldiers, the cooks, the supply clerks. they had to take the vehicles being repaired. they had to take any tanks that have come up as replacements and
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12 roadblocks to be able to actually fight and defend their positions. and hasbrouck is able to be confident about the northern flank but the southern flank is weak. he is got two regiments working together. this relationship with command and control, combat command b was technically working for the 106 division. but really it's a handshake between bruce clark and hope. is a hundred 12 infantry regiment out of the 28th division. 28 division was here. blows hadnt takes the on. the other to peel off. one goes to the south and starts to form the southern flank of the penetration. the hundred 12 infantry regiment has fought a retreat for 30 miles cross-country on foot
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against german pressure. it's an absolutely astounding work to be able to keep together to part of this elongated goose egg. this is what it looks like by the 20th of december. the german offensive has narrowed down, with almost no success year. it is starting to shift onto the south where they are finding less resistance and more movement to the rear. the 21st ends up being a critical day for the division. the german attack start. they are fought off for most of the day, after dark. five germans will come straight up the road. they will fire a high velocity flares. they will blind the five american tanks. they will lock them out very quickly. the tigers start to go after individual foxholes and they
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open up the penetration. they began to roll down. they finally have penetration that they wanted. clark orders his men to begin to retreat back with set they will have to form. this also forces the ninth armored division to move out to a . this is where most of the losses will be. they will lose four out of five infantry companies and 800 soldiers when the germans actually breakthrough. once again, as you look at this, all the roads lead to a chokepoint. roads, 62ndall the and the escort brigade. in the self-guided town there is a roundabout. the other issue they start to have his germans soldiers as a capture american position sensor to move.
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it's cold, it's rainy. they finally have some shelter from a start to find american cigarettes. it delays them once again as they get into here and the penetration does not go forward. there are major actions. they are almost constant. it's hard to read because it's almost constant attacks everywhere that is being reacted to very quickly. on the 20th of december, the northern half comes into field marshal montgomery's group command. luxembourg city cannot communicate with the forces on the north. come in, the to 82nd airborne will, and along the river. the commander of the 18th airborne corps will take command of the seventh armored division in the hundred and six.
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you fighton is, do surrounded or withdraw? on the 20th of december they have been surrounded. he does not like giving up ground. he wants to hold every inch of ground and stay. night before, hasbrouck, luke cannot communicate with the eighth core, that's 50 miles away, he will send a letter to his friends building and first army headquarters and talk about a situation that says our northern flank is strong. we are getting artillery fire. we have not had fuel and ammunition come in in a few days. the two infantry regiments in itself are weak. they are at 50%. really think we need to withdraw. and he comes down to meet him what the letter in his hand. he walks into the headquarters kind of irate and says, did you read this letter before you sent it?
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he looks at him and he says, every word. and that kind of diffuses ridge raised tension. and hasbrouck goes through and talks about what the situation is in the seventh armored division. despite that he still wants him to defend. they will go forward to bruce clark's headquarters. bruce clark pretty much tells him the same thing. you need to withdraw and get out of there. ridgeway still wants them to stay. it is only when he goes down to trusts, he who he goes down there and tells will, we will get you out of here. he says, i don't know how you will do that. at that point he understands how bad the situation is. the last thing he will do is go up to the headquarters of the 106 division and get briefed by major general jones. jones gives him a pretty optimistic point of view that we can stay, we can hold this.
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at that point ridgeway understands that jones does not understand the situation. he will be relieved on the spot. pocket forces in that come under hasbrouck's control. it does 22nd,th montgomery. these officers, young officers who go around with the radio vehicle and they could go to any headquarters and talk directly. great deal of what's going on in the battlefront. for thestands it's time seventh army division to withdraw. he will send a message down saying you have a composter mission, a mission well done. the problem is, how will they withdraw? the germans are starting to understand its close. it will get one last supply were it comes to run the 22nd with fuel in any nation. it had to take two days to get there.
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the had to go back through 84th division, back to the third armored division income through. there are three routes taken withdraw. woods and in this one up along the river. in the problem is you have to stay on the road. is headed in. it is a walking trail. still a dirt mud road. he is improving it by cutting down trees. the day before clark has german that road his jeep slid off. the 12 soldiers lifted out of the mud and put it on the road. if fear is they won't be able to get out and it will only be the middle of the night on the 22nd that the winds start to change. suddenly what comes in is known as a high. temperature drops down to the 20's. 5:00 a.m. they get the order to withdraw. of hisalks out headquarters at 7:00 a.m. in the mud is freezing.
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at that point they understand they can get out. what will happen is i've heard it is a sock turned inside out. the ninth armored division goes back first on this route and then these other units peel back and get across on the line that the 82nd airborne has created. clark will talk about he never had defensive lines. just strong points. his driversed that had tied him into the seat so he does not fall out when they're moving around. here is the cough. seventh armored division loses 40% strength and over half its tanks. when hundred six infantry loses two of its regiments. and has the largest surrender of u.s. forces. about ask some questions
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closing the bold. there is about 80,000 american casualties. tanks and they you lose about 500 tanks. we can make up our losses within weeks. the germans are never able to make up their losses. affect is that this attempt tos last influence and seize the initiative in the war. with the success of the offense, with the losses, they can no longer fight the warfare that the allies can do. it's not these that stopped the german main effort. the germans are running out of fuel. have to tows vehicles because i have run out of gas. and the focus becomes just getting to new year's.
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say that the defense epitomizes the american application. that the army's tactical doctrine for countering such a breakthrough. more than any other of the defensive stance it was the battle that brought the time for allied generalship to recapture control of the battle. when you look at the fighting there, i really cannot add more than charles mcdonald. we will go from 83,000 soldiers in the ardennes's to having 600,000 soldiers. we moved 25 divisions and an absolutely amazing display of american prowess on mobility that shocks the germans. charles mcdonald will write a book, the time for trumpets.
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he was a company commander in the second infantry division. an army historian for his career. when he retired he wrote this magnificent book. reallysing of the book summarizes the sacrifices that went on across the ardennes's. the frontline american soldier stood his ground. incredulous,nned, not understanding what was hitting him, he nevertheless held fast until his commanders ordered withdraws or until he was overwhelmed. hitler's saw the american soldiers as a wii component. had aoducts of a society genius to fill a capable fighting force. a place, in the low shying cap behind this me fell, the american soldier put the lie to hitler's theory. his was a story to beat told to
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the sound of trumpets. thank you very much. [applause] exec. dir. kemper: if you have a question come up to the microphone so they can record the question. was at the sight of a major battle in world war i? we are going to have the offensive that will come up, but not really a major battle in the war. 1940, themay, june german offensive will take place. interestedlways been in the relationship for polemic -- paramilitary groups. did they have a problem coordinating with each other? they had a different culture. i don't think they would have massacred people.
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how did the ss interact during this battle? prof. mark gerges: in many ways. i say that because it is the german army, and then there is a nazi army. very elite. the look of themselves as better, has handpicked. you see over and over again. i deny get a chance to talk about it. bcs as units ignoring orders deciding to go into the panzer armies area. could and theyey upset the timeline. more traffic jams on that area. two anecdotes that i know personally. one, my wife had a colleague was in one of the
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two regiments that surrendered. he did not talk about it. she told us that he walked east for many days and that was at the various different places. yet, hew she knew him preferred to eat his meals alone in his room. back home in suburban chicago. that was the fate of those two regiments. the other one was this gentleman. my father-in-law in the 99th division was a benson. during the battle of the bulge they basically said put down your tuba, but the advance was cut off. prof. mark gerges: the two of you should talk after this because he probably changed. he was in the 99th division.
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-- knew your father in law because he was in the 99th division. in germany talked about how the troops in the two regiments were ordered to surrender. they hated jones after that. what kind of condition where they actually in when they surrendered? prof. mark gerges: i put up a couple of recommended books. two on the left side are by veterans of the battle of the bulge. the two on the right are new books on the battle of the bulge. one that just came out the first of november on the seventh armored division. the only book focusing on the seventh armored division. the troops had gotten some confusing orders. they were initially told to stay in their positions and prepare for 360 degree defense. then they are told to break out to the east. when the division is coming they are told to counter attack, take the bridge and reopen the row.
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save -- so they are giving contradictory orders. the problem is, they are running out of food and ammunition. there is no evacuation for the casualties. when they actually start their attack there is no -- he pointed to the two regiments. so the two regiments do not cooperate as the begin to move. one comes up over the hill that looks down on the road. when they come up over this hill that -- this is light infantry. they are carrying a rifle, they have busy ghosts. they come over the hill and they see the german traffic jam. it's armored vehicles, three abreast as far as they can see. at that point they realize they cannot actually break out. the person who actually has to go forward to negotiate the surrender has a local connection. major william garr now. billrandfather was buffalo
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, 11 with native. -- a leavenworth native. >> they played a big part in the united states military since the 1980's. it has been a big part of my experience in the military. king talk about how the air battle -- air power in this battle? -- initially -- can you talk about the air power in this battle? prof. mark gerges: clark walked out at 7:00 in the morning. a beautiful, beautiful blue sky, not a cloud in the sky. the first time it has been that way for the week. it has been cloudy, overcast, foggy. on the day they were trying to break out the airpower clears. that's when the american
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fighter-bombers are going to be able to start training german forces. it will help them break contact. instead of when pursuing, they are having a worry about what's coming around that next corner as additional air fights come in. it will play a huge role after a weather break in that time. >> it's my understanding that there was a second bold created ge created on bul january the second. they were under a lot of pressure. i lost one of my uncles in that battle. where they were coming across and heading towards here. he was killed there. i went there before they began to tighten up security. but i got copies of the battle plans and it showed where my uncle as in where he got killed.
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i went there 10 years ago and picked up soil from the spot approximately where he was. i brought it back and gave it to his son. prof. mark gerges: what a neat tribute that you were able to do that. the germans are going to try to restart the offensive. slightly south in the seventh army area. the operation lasts only for two weeks. it does push the seventh army back. they also do what is known as the hangover raid. they mass about 1000 aircraft on the first of january when all the airmen are sleep, hung over in their barracks. they would attack the army air force on the grounds. they destroy about 450 american aircraft on the airfield. it will lose 270 aircraft in aircraft fire. however, they cannot make up those 270. the 460 pilots were not in them because they were on the ground.
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new aircraft were able to come up quickly. chance, i met this family and found out the woman's --her was in the france french first army. i had been in contact with him until he died. second, oneary the year ago. he talked about being in the resistance movements. one of his best friends, they were about 14, they were walking along in some village in france and his partner made some comment about the nazi's. they called them both in and determined who had said the snide remark. he said when he went back the next day, his friend was hanging on a meat hook in the middle of the square.
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at any rate, he was not too far from where my uncle had been killed. info.exchanged a lot of in f prof. mark gerges: i will stick around if anyone has any other questions. berg, 20 1, 22 tank battle. do you have any anecdotes about that? prof. mark gerges: just that the germans will come down the hill. the officer who commands it is a lieutenant colonel. he had been an all-american at university of illinois. 28 years old. he gets captured their. his account of where happens there is, he is captured, he gets put into a prison camp. he is there for a couple of weeks and refuses to cooperate. they move him to another prisoner camp in poland. ,e escapes from that camp
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marches until he is picked up at the polish resistance. spent a couple of weeks in warsaw rebuilding the infrastructure, then he is moved east to the russian army where he is given to a soviet tank regiment that has u.s. equipment. he fights with the soviet army for about a week. then he is put on a train. goes on a ship to istanbul. at that point he talks his way onto a british ship where he talks his way onto another british ship to naples. reports to u.s. facilities there. he is told, you are a state prisoner so you get a 60 day furlough. he says he wants to go back to his battalion. he gets on another ship. when he is there, that is when the submarine is still being held out. the 106 the vision and it's one regimen is guarding them. if he walks into his battalion headquarters three months later, his battalion xo -- he basically
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says, hi, i'm back. [laughter] prof. mark gerges: it is an amazing story that is in there. 81st engineer battalion. thank you so much for coming out. i will stay if you have any other questions. [applause] tv,his is american history featuring events, interviews, archival films and visits to college classrooms, museums and historic laces. >> civil war scholar james morgan discusses the battle of ball's bluff that occurred in virginia. five during the first year of the war, he argues this union was loss was due to misinformation and miscommunication among the officers. this event was part of pamplin
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historical park's big battles, -- small battles, big results symposium. >> are forced speaker today is james morgan. long civil war enthusiast and current president of the new fort sumter civil war roundtable in charlston and recently joined the border of the fort sumter historical trust. jim was also a cofounder and chairman of the friends of falls bluff, his tactical study


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