Discussion in 'Western Europe 1943 - 1945' started by pistol, Nov 3, 2013.
Either I had forgotten about the marker stones or I never noticed them in Pallud´s book! Most probably the first of the two! Anyhow, thank you very much Wessex Wyvern!
For any questions on the Bulge regarding Belgium you can always try with CRIBA
For Luxembourg either:
Or the MNHM
Excellent pics especially with the history that goes with it
Bridge at Neufmoulin
Late in the afternoon of 18 December KG Peiper's advance was stopped at Neufmoulin by a small party of the 291st Engineer Combat Battalion, who blew the bridge over the Lienne just as the leading tanks were approaching. Picture of the bridge looking east. The first German tank, a Tiger II (IIRC), had already rounded the bend in the road and was firing point-blank at the engineers.
Strangely enough Peiper had come off of his route, since the road leading from Trois Ponts over Basse-Bodeux to Werbomont, was the Panzerrollbahn E. The route assigned to Peiper was Panzerrollbahn D, which followed the course of the Ambleve valley until Targnon. Was this a deliberate move? I thusfar have been unable to find any clues on this subject in the literature.
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Monument at the bridge for the 291st Engineers ('The damned Engineers')
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Streambed of the Lienne seen from the bridge. View to the south.
The tank officers in our party were of the opinion that the Lienne at this spot could have been easily forded by tanks! Was German resolution flagging?
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Interesting point and I certainly agree.......when I first visited the Neufmoulin Bridge and looked at the river I thought : 'Is this it ?'. The fullest discussion I've yet found is, once again, in Reynolds' 'The Devil's Adjutant' on p.135 ( 'Looking at the Lienne River today it is difficult to understand how Peiper's tanks could have failed to wade across...' ). He can only offer the theory that, again, river levels in December 1944 were very high ( as with the wading Panzergrenadiers at Stavelot ) . Also, the leading Panzers approached the bridge at 16:45 hours so darkness was fast approaching and Peiper's men were aware that US forces were strengthening fast.
Personally, I find the actions past La Gleize and toward Cheneux, Rahier, Stoumont etc to be very interesting but also confusing. The two volumes of 'Duel In The Mist' have helped clarify things to me and I hope there will be a Volume 3.......
According to the maps in both Reynolds and also Cooke & Evans ( Kampfgruppe Peiper - The Race For The Meuse' ) show Rollbahn D as going through Trois Ponts and then via Basse-Bodeux to Werbomont and thence to Huy on the Meuse. Reynolds describes Peiper taking the decision ( under the road tunnel at the entrance to Trois Ponts ) to turn right through La Gleize and then via Cheneux to rejoing Rollbahn D at Werbomont, having by necessity to bypass Basse-Bodeux as the Trois Ponts bridges had just been blown.
There has of course been much subsequent discussion and controversy over the Rollbahnen since, with several historians repeating the story that Panzer leaders were threatened with punishment if they changed course ( a theory which is now regarded as being false ).
Martin - I agree with the latter. The units were allowed to change course, provided they asked for authorization. This also is explicitly stated in the surviving Op Orders of Fifth Pz Army for the Ardennes operation (called Op Rheingold), which can be found as an annex to the Kriegstagebuch (War Diary) of the 58 Pz Corps. In the final instructions to Model on the eve of the battle, the Führer HQ even stipulated that if necessary the Fifth Panzer Army was to relinquish all of its Panzerrollbahnen to Sixth Panzer Army, if a quick crossing near Liege would not be possible.
Re Panzerrollbahn D: I fear this still is a bit of a riddle. On the map belonging to the latest version of HGrB's Op Plan Herbstnebel (Abgeänderte Operationsbefehl für Herbstnebel), dated 9 Dec 1944, the Rollbahn D leads from Trois Ponts north along the Ambleve valley. While E follows the route over Wanne - Trois Ponts - Basse-Bodeux. J.P. Pallud's French edition (Heimdal) of his book on the Ardennes Offensive contains a map with Rollbahnen as they were according to Model's last draft. I will see if I can reproduce (part of) the original HGrB map on this site.
Thanks, pistol...it would be nice to try to clear some of the confusion away.....
During Nov & Dec 44 HGrB (Model) produced three operation orders for the offensive. On 16 Nov 44 Model submitted a first draft to OBWest (Von Rundstedt), called 'Operationsvorschlag für Herbstnebel'. Von Rundstedt relayed it to OKW (Jodl & Hitler). After the necessary adjustments, the draft was laid down in an operation order on 29 Nov 44, called 'Operationsbefehl für Herbstnebel' . On 9 Dec 44, HGrB issued a modified Op Order "Abgeänderte Operationsbefehl für Herbstnebel", which contained some final changes,
Herewith a fragment of the original map belonging to Model's modified Op Order of 9 Dec 44. It gives the course of the Panzer Rollbahnen in the Stavelot - La Gleize area. The Rollbahnen are indicated with thick black lines. The labels are mine.The map can be found at the BundesArchiv-MilitärArchiv in Germany. It ironically is printed on the back-side of an ordnance map of England - probably owing to a shortage of paper at the time; a tacit admission that England no longer could be conquered??
According to the map the Rollbahn D, assigned to KG Peiper, turned north at Trois Ponts. Rollbahn E - KG Hansen - followed the road over Wanne - Trois Ponts - Basse Bodeux - Werbomont. Maybe some History Books must be rewritten??
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Another section of the same map, now with the routes A to D. Again the labels are mine.
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Finally, for those who are interested, the eastermost section of the armoured routes (labels are mine).
Note that Rollbahn D turns left at Losheim, on the Belgian/German border, and follows the secondary road towards Hüllscheid - Lanzerath. It is sometimes incorrectly claimed that KG Peiper was heading for Losheimergraben, but had to depart from his assigned route, because of the destroyed railroad bridge in the road to Losheimergraben. Losheimergraben was defintely assigned to the armored battlegroupe of the 12th SS (KG Kuhlmann), followed in its wake by the the reconnaissance battalion (KG Bremer) and the bulk of the SS-Pz Grenadier Regt 26 (KG Krause).
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Here's a pertinent part of a Peiper interrogation (7 September, 1945), regarding the routes.
I'll be happy to paste the entire document in here if anyone wants it.
Note that Peiper mentions knowing about the gasoline at Stavelot, yet failed to secure it. The interviewer mentions the gas at "Spa" by which he certainly meant Stavelot, because Peiper did not go through Spa. Peiper did go within a very short distance of the large fuel dump at Stavelot...
I *think* follow-up units were intended to hold Stavelot and secure the fuel, but US infantry (30thID/117th IR) cut off all following units and Peiper never got the fuel. Unfortunately, the interviewer doesn't pursue this.
KB - Good info.
Re the route of advance: I cannot help it, but the map belonging to the final version of Model's Herbstnebel Op Order, of 9 Dec 44, is quite explicit about the routes that were to be followed by the armored divisions. And the Rollbahn D as shown in the map does not in correspond with the post-war statements of Peiper.
Re the fuel situation (from my Power Point presentation for the BFT):
Missing that fuel dump at Stavelot is one of the most mysterious elements of the drive. He (Peiper) says he knew about it, yet in fact drove right past it as his lead elements entered the town. There wasn't much to stop him from taking that fuel - US infantry wouldn't arrive for several hours.
My only theory is that he had left orders for one of the following support units to secure that fuel, but they were cut off when US troops unexpectedly arrived from the north and secured the town (and the bridge) behind him. It must have seemed far more important to secure the bridges ahead and leave the fuel for the moment - he couldn't have known that those bridges would be blown. As it was, he ended up trapped, and without much fuel.
Here is an excerpt from the Operation order from Manteuffel's Fifth Panzer Army regarding the nature of the Panzer Rollbahnen. The Sixth Panzer Army's OP Order is lost (that is to say: I have never found a copy), but I guess it would read very much the same.
It implicates that Peiper must at least have had consulted Division HQ before deviating from his route.
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The latter conditions were not always met, especially in the initial phase near the German-Belgian border.
[SIZE=12pt]" Did you not object? [/SIZE]
[SIZE=12pt]I immediately pointed out that these roads were not for tanks, but were for bicycles, but they wouldn’t even discuss it. They said it was the Führer’s order that I should take that route. "[/SIZE]
Was Hitler always that abrasive and ignorant.?
If he knew about any aspects of War...it would have been armies on the ground.
When a tank commander would say the above...he would seriously discount the advice/question.?
I guess he was really loosing it at that stage in history.
Keep in mind that Peiper has good reason to make his obstacles seem harder than they were when trying to defend his record. The operational order that Pistol provides above, gives Peiper great latitude on his route since his group was the Schwerpunkt of the entire offensive. The written order contradicts his statements.
Peiper blew it. He didn't get the gas on the north side of Stavelot. He didn't leave troops to defend Stavelot, or the all important bridge that linked him to the support network behind him. He certainly had reasons for what he did, but he never explained them.
The passage from the Op Order of the Fifth Pz Army implicates that Peiper at least must have consulted with division HQ before deviating from his route.
He probably did not when he decided to trespass on to Rollbahn C at Büllingen, on the early morning of the 17th. Though this only was a short deviation, he was very anxious to get back on to his assigned route again, expecting the 12th SS to arrive at any moment. The Germans therewith (luckily) lost the chance to unhinge the whole Elsenborn defence and moving even faster westwards along the main road to Malmédy. A case of sloppy operational control on the German side? See also Maj.Gen Lauer statement: "Fortunately the enemy hesitated in front of Dom Bütgenbach" in post #3 of this thread.
The question remains if there had been any kind of contact with his div HQ later on in which he was authorized to take the road over Trois Ponts to Basse Bodeux (Rollbahn E).