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Battle of the Bulge

Discussion in 'Western Europe' started by TacticalTank, Jan 31, 2011.

  1. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

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    Interestingly, I've been checking the day-to-day entries in Shores/Thomas '2nd Tactical Air Force Vol. III' : it's confirmed that freezing fog in the first week of January hampered aerial activity, but from 13th January onward conditions were cold but clear and large numbers of sorties were flown. For the whole of February weather isn't mentioned as a negative factor at all, so obviously there are conflicting sources.....:confused:
     
  2. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    Mr. Marion said his troop missed the special Christmas meal they were told they were receive because of the aerial bombing on Christmas Day. He said the Brits got them one of the days and and the US on the other. He had left Malmady by the time of the third bombing.

    I had someone here argue that there was no snow on 16 Dec, 1944. Mr. Marion stated and I recorded in our book that when they left the rest camp in the coal mines at Kerkrade, Belgium it was raining. He said that during the night as they drove southwest toward Malmedy, the rain turned into sleet, which by later on during the very early morning hours turned into snow. He says he remembered it well because he was in a jeep instead of the halftrack that he normally rode in. He was the senior NCO of his section at the time, due to the others being away on leave. His leg was outside of the jeep, resting on the fender extension because of everything they were carrying in the jeep and the precipitation froze on his pants leg.
     
  3. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

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    Also worth having a look at Roger Freeman's 'Mighty Eighth War Diary' which confirms that the 8th operated against rail, communications and oil storage facilities behind the front line in Western Germany from 23-31st Dec, 1st-8th January, 10th, 13th and 14th January after which, with the threat over, they returned to strategic targets. Weather was poor but the 8th were able to fly on almost every day and in many cases were still able to bomb visually.
     
  4. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    Again, the plan hinged on taking allied fuel and supplies since they knew resupplying through the Ardennes was difficult to impossible. Peiper (the "spitz") captured a depot at Bullingen on the 16th or 17th, then missed the larger one at Stavelot on the 18th. Many others were just north at Spa and Francorchamps and beyond, south of Antwerp.
    They had plenty of ammunition in the columns. It was fuel that was the key, and it was lack of fuel that allowed KG Peiper to get cut to pieces beyond the Ambleve.

    The 8th air force wasn't very effective anyway, when it came to rail movements. Such damage was repaired in hours and German rail remained operational up until the end of the war. It was the Jabos that were the real problem and they needed good visibility right down to ground level to be effective.
     
  5. SKYLINEDRIVE

    SKYLINEDRIVE Member

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    The plan for "Wacht am Rhein" did not, I repeat DID NOT hinge on the capture of fuel or allied supplies! All the scholars, german documents and interviewed high ranking german officers lead to the same conclusion. I can understand your erroneous statement though as still many obscure writers, specially those fascinated by Nazi germany, still propagate that legend. Reality was just to the contarary, there were orders (I will have to look up from which levels they emanated) to circumvent US supply dumps because the higher echelons were worried the attacking forces would loose too much time while looting those "treasure chests".
    Some front line commanders, eg Peiper, were realistic about the german logistical capacities and made provisions to use US supplies the best prepared seems to have been Peiper who is said to have had a map with some allied supply depots marked.

    Again reality is just to the contrary!!! From very early on rail movement on the western side of the Rhine was shut down, instead of using the Eifel railheads such as Irrel, Neuerburg, Bitburg, Ralingen etc., the logistical columns had to go get the fuel supplies from the east side of the Rhine. In the end of december the allied air forces even destroyed and damaged so many important Rhine bridges that ferries were used to get the trucks across the river.

    In the end it took a six day round trip for a truck column to get fuel back to the front!
     
  6. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

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    Can we have some reliable sources for this information ?
     
  7. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    Only the fact that German rail ran right to the end of the war.

    The general staff estimated they had less than half the fuel required for the operation. All forces were briefed on this and told they would need to capture fuel depots along the route. Known fuel dumps were marked on maps just for this purpose. Virtually every reputable work on the subject discusses this at length.
     
  8. SKYLINEDRIVE

    SKYLINEDRIVE Member

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    I've studied the subject at hand, in an extremely intensive way, for thirty years and I lived my whole life on the Bulge Battlefield.
    This is the very first time I read about this facet of the plan!

    As you have studied all the reputed scholars you should know where the vast majority of the supply dumps were located! Please tell us if that region was on the planned german axis of advance? If the germans relied in their planning in capturing half the amount of fuel they needed, they must surely have planned to pass along the depots!

    The more I would be very happy if you would please reveal us your sources! Once again: Cole, Eisenhower, Mc Donald, Parker etc.etc. all state the diametricaly opposed of your thesis! Now please tell us where you get your information from! Otherwise we will be stuck in a Monty Python'esque situation...The Argument Clinic all over again..."Yes it is" ...."No it isn't"..."Yes it is"...."No it isn't"........it might get a bit boring won't it?
     
  9. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

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    That's a helpful reply. With that, I think I'll leave this particular discussion.
     
  10. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    Would Peiper himself be a good enough source?

     
  11. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    How do you think they moved all that equipment, troops, artillery from the east to the west for Wacht am Rhein? How do you think they moved much of it back after the offensive? The simple fact is that German rail ran right up until the last days of the war. The air offensive caused delays and detours, but everything still worked.
     
  12. SKYLINEDRIVE

    SKYLINEDRIVE Member

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    You're delusional.
     
  13. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

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    I don't know. But when you quote me some published sources, then maybe I will.:)
     
  14. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    And you have no manners.
     
  15. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

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    An old, but still useful, source is Hugh M Cole's 'Official History of the US Army in WWII : ETO - The Ardennes : Battle Of The Bulge'. pp660-663 are devoted to Allied air operations which I won't bore us all by repeating here ( one piece of info is worth mentioning - the average repair time per destroyed bridge was five days and Cole states that ' the cumulative effect of this kind of damge simply saturated the German capabilities for rail repair' (p.663). Cole cites von Luttichau's report, 'German Rail Communications in the Ardennes Offensive' and Royce Thompson's detailed post-action study of the Tactical Air Phase Of The Ardennes Campaign.

    Cole devotes nearly six pages to the role of logistics ( pp.663-668) which make for fascinating reading. There is too much to paraphrase here, but it's worth extracting ' ..finally, the expectation that that the (German) spearheads would move in part on captured gasoline was mistakenly optimistic. Army Group B POL consumption reached a peak of 2000 cubic metres on 18 December, but on 23 December the daily usage rate was half that figure. In other words, the supply of liquid fuel failed to kepp pace with the tactical demand'

    Cole then goes on to detail the various combat groups which were literally brought to a halt within the Ardennes due to lack of fuel. Peiper managed to capture in the region of 100,000 gallons but ironically the biggest loss to the Allies was the 400,000 gallons destroyed at Liege on December 17th - by a stray V1 hit.

    It's worth repeating here Cole's concluding remark : -

    ' One must conclude that the German Offensive of December 1944 lacked the materiel and service support necesary to achieve any real measure of success and, furthermore, that Hitler and the OKW staff understood neither the importance of supply nor its effective organization'. ( p.668 ).
     
  16. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    Actually Martin, right now I have about 70 books piled up on my kitchen table with thousands of red, yellow, green and blue stickies hanging out of them, each one with a brief note reflecting some point worth noting. My wife finds this irritating... I work 8 hours a day and then try to do research for another 4 - interrupted by this forum, which I keep telling myself is also research (which it is, really, since I've learned so much here).

    At some point (which keeps getting further away as I find more reference material), I will collate all this into a chronology of the 30th Division, with appropriate references and sources attached. Then I will try to turn that chronology into a narrative for publishing.

    Honestly though, right now, I just don't have the time to sift through all of that each time somebody asks me for a reference. In six months (maybe?) I'll be in the collating stage and be able to jump right to a reference for you. In the meantime, I hope you'll forgive me.

    If you recall, we once had a discussion about the depth of the Ambleve in December of 44 and I could not give you a reference which you found very frustrating. Later (looking for something to clarify quite a different point in my research) I found that topic discussed in "Duel in the Mist." It would have taken me all morning to sift through those books just to find those anecdotes about the problems the Germans had crossing the river. I apologize for that, but my limited brain capacity is somewhat overtaxed at the moment.

    As for German rail, as with most things, it's probably somewhat subjective. By late war, certainly the rail network was damaged and suffering, but just as certainly it was still operational. I try not to be didactic in the points I make, but something about a forum makes things come across in black and white when we all know it's in shades of gray. Your point of view may be closer to the truth than mine on this subject or the point may be entirely debatable, but it's true that many of the troops and most of the artillery (for example) came from the east front and were transported by rail. At the same time, much of the logistics (because of a lower priority) were late in arriving. Much of that is due to rail damage (the air force), but you could just as easily point to poor planning since they knew damned well the rail network was damaged.
     
  17. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    I don't disagree with any of that. In fact, it sums up my point rather nicely. It was risky, perhaps foolhardy, but they intended to run largely on captured fuel. Certainly the lead elements in both prongs expected from the beginning to rely on captured fuel - the fuel resources they had were never intended to keep up with the point elements.
     
  18. SKYLINEDRIVE

    SKYLINEDRIVE Member

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    I still can't find a single word regarding the location of the fuel dumps and the planned axis of advance. Citing Peiper as a reference is not only stupid but I consider it as a "rhetorical" slap in the face. Why don't you cite Benny Hill or Charles Manson? And if your valuable time is so limited, honestly, I would not waste it with "ignorants" like me or Mister Bull! Till now you haven't proven nothing, except that you act like the "08/15" internet strongboy!
     
  19. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

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    Fair enough, but I try not to include my point of view ( which is FWIW that the German forces never had a hope of breaking out of the Ardennes in the Winter of 1944 and that the entire enterprise was a waste of resources partly brought about by Hitler's absurdly racist view of US troops ). That's why I try to be guided by sources - if Cole, for instance, stated that 'despite turning their entire effort away from strategic targets to the transportation centres of Western Germany during the Ardennes Offensive, not a single 8th AF bomb fell anywhere near its intended target and German supplies were totally unhindered' -

    - then I'd change my 'point of view' pretty fast. And that's why I ask for people to give me their sources - not to prolong an argument, but to ask people to just back up what they're saying. In fact, I've found this discussion quite stimulating because, despite reading about the Ardennes for many years, I'd completely ignored or overlooked the very considerable activity of the 8th AF ( I'd assumed only that the 9th blundered about achieving not very much ) - being forced back to my books has given me a fresh perspective on the context of air support at the Bulge.
     
  20. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    Really? Citing the guy who led the advance is stupid? Martin cites Cole saying the same thing, so perhaps that would work for you. If your intent is merely to pick a fight, I don't have the time or inclination.
     

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