Skip to comments.Veteran’s Day: Honoring Patton’s 10th Armored Division – aka the Tiger soldiers
Posted on 11/11/2011 8:43:47 AM PST by Starman417
When this day rolls around annually, it's difficult to pick a single unit, battle or warrior to honor. And despite all attempts, the story is only fractionally told. Truly all Veterans, from all wars, are to be honored, respected and given heartfelt thanks for their contributions to our freedoms. But this year I decided to zero in on Patton's Tiger's Division, serving in his Third Army, and single out only one of their remarkable accomplishments Combat Command B's Herculean efforts in WWII's Siege of Bastogne in the war's largest, and bloodiest, battle - the Ardennes-Alsace campaign. Or as it is more commonly known the Battle of the Bulge.
Before I do narrow the focus to just the 10th, let me start with a brief overview of just some of the days, in one segment of the world, of the largest US involved land conflict that was crucial to Allied success. The nickname, Battle of the Bulge, came from the growing westward shape of the Allied forces advance towards Germany following the D-Day assault. More than a million men fought in that battle 600,000 Germans, 500,000 Americans, and 55,000 British. American casualties over the approx 45 day siege, from mid Dec 1944 to the end of Jan 1945, stand at 19,000 with over 89,000 wounded. Two regiments of the 106th Infantry Division, cut off and surrounded in the mountain tops of Schnee Eiffel, surrendered after only brief fighting - make it the largest battlefield surrender of U.S. troops in the war.
The success of D-Day's landing, and the ensuing Allied advance, also created a new strategic supply difficulty for the troops. There was a dearth of deepwater ports for supply routes in the initial months following the landings. Cherbourg, the only port under Allied control early on was virtually unusable since the Germans had destroyed the facilities and mined the harbor prior to Allied seizure. This meant vital supply lines to fatigued troops, spread thin in the battlefield, were mostly dependent upon the Normandy beach landing sites. The Allied capture of Antwerp a month after D-Day still did not become functionally operational until almost the beginning of December, 1944.
Eisenhower took command of the Ardennes area to guard the Antwerp supply line, and considered it an area that required minimal manpower in a war that was crunched for troops. The terrain was difficult, roads scarce, and it was in a region that the German's only objective seemed to be some rest and refitting of troops.
Hitler, suffering setbacks on both the eastern front with the Soviets, and the western front with the US/British allies, was desperate to neutralize the western front something he saw as more feasible than confronting the sheer numbers of the Soviets with his dwindling troops and equipment. He also underestimated the American's determination in warfare, as he would soon learn.
Opting for one of two plans, Hitler designed his blitzkrieg for the Battle of the Bulge. The objective was to split the US and British troops, negotiate surrenders/truces outside of the Soviets, and recapture Antwerp. Trying to piggy back on his success in 1940 with France in the Ardennes, Hitler settled on a plan in the same region that was to prove his undoing.. but at great cost to American and British forces.
Four of Hitler's SS Panzer armies were tasked with assaults. The northernmost tact was entrusted with the offensive's primary objective, Antwerp. The middle route, assigned to the 5th Panzer army, was going for Brussels but not before capturing Bastogne - the town where all major roads from the Ardennes intersected. The southernmost track was assigned to the 7th Panzer army to protect the flank.
Hitler's plan required stealth, and Panzer movements under the cover of night to avoid being spotted by the Allied forces. Human intel was scant since the French Resistance network dried up this close to German borders. Also integral for Hitler's plan was poor weather conditions that would ground the Allied forces superior aircraft. Since this was a region not on the Allied forces radar as a German objective, and these areas were less than optimal fighting terrain, the Allied forces were caught unaware of the assault exactly what Hitler wanted them to think.
On the 16th of December, Hitler launched his attack first in the north with the 6th Panzer Army a battle that the Americans erroneously assumed was a localized counter attack to the dent US forces had made in the Wahlerscheid sector to the north. Three days later, December 19th, Eisenhower knew this was part of something larger.. and he called senior Allied commanders - including Patton - together in a Verdun bunker for strategic counteroffensive planning.
According to the Patton Saber, part of the archives of General George Patton - the General was a surprised as everyone else at the scale of the assault perhaps more because he did not have the access to the intel available to higher headquarters. General Omar Bradley's initial order that Patton send his 10th Armored division north was not received well until Patton recognized this was a completely new aspect to the war.
(Excerpt) Read more at floppingaces.net...
GOD bless ALL of our Veterans and General George S. Patton!
My hats off the greatest army the world has ever known: Patton’s 3rd Army.
One point not really addressed in the article. he main reason for the German’s initial success was because the area was very understrength with American troops, because the US high command thought it unlikely that the Germans would attack here. Normal troop strength for an area hat size would be 3 times the force. Also, the majority of these troops were raw,..newly constituted divisions...put out there to get a little seasoning in small unit actions..
I am sitting at the local McDonalds having coffee. Bill, a WWII 3rd Army combat vet usually comes in about now. If he does I’ll pass that along.
I’ve been wrong once already today, but I think it was “THE FAMOUS FOURTH” Armored Division that relieved Bastogne. Creighton Abrams....MG J. P. Woods TIGER JACK now there’s an unsung hero of WWII.
Last night on Jeopardy’s tournament of champions one of the questions was to identify a photo of George Patton - none of the three contestants rang in. They were all pretty young, but I was disappointed.
I was deeply disappointed in their lack of response.
I said to my wife, "I bet everyone of them would recognize Che."
Thank you public etchykashun.
There’s a military mag published monthly that called Patton’s 3rd Army the greatest army in history. How they accomplished taking town after town in quick succession and capturing so many enemy soldiers at the same time in the worst weather makes one speechless.
And please do pass it on..
Missed Bill yesterday, but he was in today. I showed him our
correspondence on my Droid, which was a little puzzling as
it is for most of his generation. He corrected me when he
saw that I had called him a “combat” vet. He reminded me
that he was an engineer and (according to him) had it easy
in comparison to the guys who got shot at all the time.
Typical modesty from out greatest generation. He was
tickled that someone out there who didn't know him wanted to say thank you.
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