Document Source: G-2 Report, 30th Infantry Division, Defeat of the Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler during the Battle of the Bulge in Belgium, by Capt Franklin Ferriss. Archive revisited as well as complemented by Doc Snafu and Maryline Junker in May 2023. (Archive Source: US Army & EUCMH)
During the first part of December 1944, just before the Battle of the Bulge, the Allied Forces in Belgium were organized into several units and positioned in various locations. Here are some details regarding the situation and locations of key Allied units at that time. US 1-A: The First US Army (Gen Courtney Hodges), was responsible for the northern sector of the Allied front in Belgium. Its headquarters were located in Spa (Belgium). The IS 1-A consisted of multiple corps, including Lt Gen Troy H. Middleton’s VIII Corps, which was positioned in the northernmost part of Belgium. UK 2-A: The British Second Army, led by Gen Miles Dempsey, held the central sector of the front in Belgium. The headquarters of the 2-A was situated in Brussels (Belgium). The British forces were organized into several corps, such as the XXX Corps, which was deployed in the area of Hasselt (Belgium) and Maastricht (Holland). CA 1-A: The Canadian First Army (Gen Harry Crerar), was responsible for the southern sector of the front in Belgium. The headquarters of the Canadian First Army was located in Nijmegen (Holland), but its units were spread out in Belgium as well. The Canadian Army comprised corps such as the II Canadian Corps, which was positioned around Antwerp (Belgium) and the Scheldt Estuary (Holland). British 21-AG: The 21st Army Group, under the overall command of FM Bernard Montgomery, coordinated the operations of the British 2-A and the Canadian 1-A. Its headquarters were situated in Brussels.
Support Units: Alongside the combat units, there were various support units deployed in Belgium, including artillery regiments, engineer battalions, and logistical elements. These units provided crucial support in terms of firepower, fortifications, and supply lines. It is important to note that the situation was dynamic during this period, with regular troop movements and repositioning. The Allied Forces were preparing for a potential offensive against German positions, particularly the Dams on the Roer River. They also focused on strengthening their defensive capabilities. Little did they know that the German forces were simultaneously preparing for their surprise attack, which would initiate the Battle of the Bulge on December 16, 1944.
On December 14, 1944, the Allied Forces in Belgium were not yet aware of the imminent German offensive that would later become known as the Battle of the Bulge. Therefore, their plan of action was primarily focused on defensive preparations and maintaining their positions in anticipation of a potential German counterattack. The Allies had made significant progress in pushing through France and Belgium, the German forces back to their Homeland, in the preceding months. However, their supply lines were stretched thin, and there were concerns about maintaining the momentum of the offensive. As a result, the Allied plan, on December 14, was centered around consolidating their gains, fortifying their positions, and securing key strategic areas. The main objectives of the Allied plan were as follows: (a) Strengthen Defensive Positions: The Allied forces aimed to reinforce their defensive lines and fortify key positions in preparation for potential German counterattacks. This involved constructing field fortifications, setting up obstacles, and improving the overall defensive infrastructure. (b) Secure Supply Lines: Maintaining a robust supply chain was crucial for the Allies to sustain their operations. Efforts were made to secure vital supply lines, especially around the major ports of Antwerp and Rotterdam (Holland), which were crucial for receiving supplies and reinforcements. (c) Conduct Limited Offensives: While the primary focus was on defense, the Allies continued to carry out limited offensives to further weaken German positions and disrupt their operations. These actions aimed to improve the overall security of the Allied front and maintain pressure on the Germans. (d) Coordination and Intelligence Gathering: Allied commanders emphasized coordination among different units and gathering intelligence to assess the German forces’ capabilities and intentions. This involved sharing information, coordinating defensive plans, and monitoring German movements. However, on December 16, 1944, the German forces launched their surprise offensive, catching the Allied forces off guard. The Battle of the Bulge began, and the Allied plans quickly shifted from a defensive stance to counterattacking and regaining lost ground.
In the early morning of December, the German side launched a major offensive. The Battle of the Bulge had begun. The German plan was a surprise attack aimed at breaking through the Allied lines, capturing first the Belgian city of Liège (Belgium) for the crossings of the Meuse River, moving northward to Brussels and finally, the Port and city of Antwerp, dividing in the same time the Allied forces. The German plan, code-named Operation Watch on the Rhine (Unternehmen Wacht am Rhein), had several key objectives: (a) Divide and Conquer: The Germans aimed to divide the Allied forces by pushing through the Ardennes region in Belgium, splitting the British and American sectors. They sought to isolate and surround several Allied units, disrupting the overall coordination and command structure. (b) Capture Antwerp: The Germans intended to seize the strategically vital Port of Antwerp, which was a significant supply hub for the Allied forces. By capturing Antwerp, they aimed to cut off the Allied supply lines and severely disrupt their ability to sustain their forces. (c) Exploit Weaknesses: The Germans identified a perceived weak spot in the Allied lines along the Ardennes region, which was held by a combination of less experienced American troops, 99th Infantry Division and 106th Infantry Division, and battle-weary veterans. They planned to exploit this perceived weakness and rapidly advance through the heavily forested and hilly terrain. (d) Surprise and Rapid Movement: The success of the German plan relied heavily on achieving surprise and swift movement. They aimed to quickly break through the Allied lines, utilizing their armored units, particularly the Panzer divisions, to create chaos and confusion among the Allied forces. (e) Expanding Front Lines: The German plan involved expanding their front lines, capturing key road junctions, and pushing deep into Allied-held territory. They sought to create a bulge or salient in the Allied lines, from which they could further exploit and consolidate their gains. On December 16, 1944, the German forces launched a massive assault along the Ardennes front, catching the Allies by surprise. They employed a combination of artillery barrages, air support, and armored thrusts to break through the defensive lines. The initial German progress was significant, forming the bulge-shaped salient that gave the battle its name. The surprise attack initially created confusion and disarray among the Allied forces. However, as the battle progressed, the Allied commanders regrouped and organized a defense, ultimately mounting a determined resistance against the German offensive. The Battle of the Bulge would continue for several weeks until the Allies successfully repelled the German forces and regained lost ground.
The German plan during the Battle of the Bulge included capturing several key road junctions to facilitate their advance and disrupt the Allied forces. These road junctions were critical for controlling and maneuvering troops and supplies. Here are some of the key road junctions that the Germans aimed to capture: Bastogne which was a crucial road junction in the Ardennes Region of Belgium. It was a major transportation hub and an important crossroads, making it a significant objective for the Germans. The capture of Bastogne by Manteuffel’s 5.Panzer-Army would have allowed them to control the roads leading to various important locations in the area. St Vith was another vital road junction that the Germans sought to capture with the elements of Manteuffel’s 5.Panzer-Army and later with elements of Dietrich 6.Panzer-Army. It was located northeast of Bastogne and held strategic importance due to its position at the intersection of several major roads. Capturing St Vith would have disrupted the Allied supply lines and hindered their ability to reinforce their troops. Malmedy (Belgium), while not a road junction, was a key location that the Germans targeted during their offensive. Malmedy was known for its crossroads as well as its sole river crossing in the area, which served as a transportation hub. Its capture would have provided the Germans with additional control over the road network in the region. Another target for the Germans was Houffalize, a town situated between Bastogne and St Vith. It was an important road junction and a center for several major roads in the Ardennes. The Germans aimed to secure Houffalize to facilitate their advance and gain control over the roadways in the area.
Regarding the German units involved in capturing these key road junctions, several formations played a role. The main German forces involved in the Battle of the Bulge included: Northern Sector, the 6.Panzer-Army led by SS-Oberstgruppenführer Sepp Dietrich spearheaded the German offensive. It consisted of several armored and infantry divisions, including the 1.SS-Panzer-Division LSSAH (SS-Brigadeführer Wilhelm Mohnke ), the 12.SS-Panzer-Division Hitlerjugend. (SS-Standartenführer Hugo Kraas). In the Center Sector, was the 5.Panzer-Army under the command of Gen Hasso von Manteuffel. The 5.Panzer-Army was to play a significant role in the battle. It comprised divisions such as the Panzer-Lehr-Division (Gen Fritz Bayerlein ) and the 2nd Panzer Division (Gen Meinrad von Lauchert). In the Southern Sector, the 7.Army led by Gen Erich Brandenberger, the 7.Army participated in the battle, aiming to break through the Ardennes region. It consisted of infantry divisions, including the 26.Volksgrenadier Division (Gen Heinz Kokott). These and other German units were tasked with capturing the key road junctions as part of their overall objective to advance rapidly, disrupt Allied supply lines, and create a strategic advantage in the Ardennes.
On the morning of December 16, 1944, the American units along the front line in the Ardennes Region were organized into different armies, corps, divisions, and attached units. Here is a comprehensive list of the major American units, their commanders, and their general locations: US 1-A, (Gen Courtney Hodges) including the US VIII Corps, (Gen Troy H. Middleton); the 2nd Infantry Division, (Gen Walter M. Robertson), positioned in the vicinity of Elsenborn Ridge and Monschau; the 99th Infantry Division, (Gen Walter E. Lauer), located in the northernmost sector, defending the Losheim Gap and areas near Monschau; the 106th Infantry Division, (Gen Alan W. Jones), deployed along the Schnee Eifel Ridge between Schoenberg and Bleialf, holding the sector between Monschau and St Vith. The British 2-A, (Gen Sir Miles Dempsey), including the British XXX Corps, (Gen Brian Horrocks); the US 30th Infantry Division, (Gen Leland S. Hobbs), positioned in the area between Honsfeld (Belgium) and Büllingen (Belgium); the US 84th Infantry Division, (Gen Alexander R. Bolling), located in the sector north of Wiltz (Luxembourg); the US 2nd Armored Division, (Gen Edward H. Brooks), deployed in the region south of Wiltz (Luxembourg). US 9-A: (Gen William H. Simpson) including the US XIII Corps, (Gen Alvan C. Gillem Jr.); the US 1st Infantry Division, (Gen Clift Andrus) positioned in the area south of Monschau, covering the German-Belgian border; the US 4th Infantry Division, (Gen Raymond O. Barton), located in the vicinity of the Schnee Eifel, just north of the Luxembourg-Belgian border, and the 1-AAA (Airborne), (Gen Lewis H. Brereton) including the 82nd Airborne Division, (Gen James M. Gavin), initially located near Reims (France), but would be rapidly deployed to the Ardennes region during the Battle of the Bulge as well as the 101st Airborne Division, (Gen Maxwell D. Taylor), initially positioned near Mourmelon (France), but would be quickly moved to the Bastogne area to defend the critical road junction.
It’s important to note that the fluid nature of the Battle of the Bulge and the subsequent German offensive caused considerable disruption and movement of units during the initial phases of the battle. The locations provided here represent the general positions of the units on the morning of December 16, 1944, but significant changes occurred as the battle unfolded.
Doc & Maryline
Solwaster, May 16, 2023
This archive, written by Capt Franklin Ferriss is the sum of the facts collected during several interview sessions carried out during the month of January 1945 following, in particular, the multitude of war crimes committed by the troops of the 1.SS-Panzer-Division (LSSAH) before its annihilation by American troops in the triangle of Stoumont, La Gleize, Trois Ponts. The officers of the 30th Infantry Division responsible for collecting the testimonies were as follows: Capt Clifford Frieman, S-1; Lt David W. Morgan, S-2; Capt David K. Easlick, S-3; Capt John Kent, CO Able Company; Capt Morris Stoeffer, CO Charlie Company; Capt Stanley W. Cooper, CO of Dog Company and Sgt Linnell Jones.
Officers, non-commissioned officers, and soldiers interviewed are considered here as witnesses, the latter having participated in the fighting. Here are their full names, rank, unit, as well as the place where the interview was made as well as the date:
Capt Charles G. Smither, S-3 119-IR, CP 119 Francorchamps Jan 3, 1945;
Maj Nathaniel J. Laney Jr, EX Officer 2/119-IR, CP 2/119 Bernister Jan 4, 1945;
Lt Kenneth H. Aamodt, Plat leader G Co 119-IR, G Co CP Bernister Jan 4, 1945;
Gen William K. Harrison Jr, ADC 30-ID, CP 2/119 Bernister Jan 4, 1945;
Maj Hall. D. McCown, CO 2/119-IR, CP 2/119 Bernister Jan 4, 1945;
Lt Edward C. Arn, CO F Co, 119-IR, F Co CP Burnenville Jan 4, 1945;
Capt Donald R. Fell, CO Charlie Co, 119-IR, CP 1/119 Ster Jan 5, 1945;
Col Robert E. Herlong, CO 1/119-IR, CP 1/119 Ster Jan 5, 1945;
Col James W. Cantey, CO 2/120-IR, CP 2/120 Chodes Jan 6, 1945;
Lt Arnold L. Snyder, 3rd Plat K Co, 3/120-IR, 30-ID CP in Malmedy on Jan 6, 1945;
Pfc Raymond W. Gould, 3rd Plat, K Co, 3/120-IR, 30-ID CP in Malmedy on Jan 6, 1945;
Pfc Francis S. Currey, 3rd Plat, K Co, 3/120-IR, 30-ID CP in Malmedy on Jan 6, 1945;
S/Sgt Raymond P. Snow, 3rd Plat, K Co, 3/120-IR, 30-ID CP in Malmedy on Jan 6, 1945;
T/Sgt Fred Taff, 3rd Plat Sgt, K Co, 3/120-IR, 30-ID CP in Malmedy on Jan 6, 1945;
Col Harold D. Hansen, CO 99-IB(S) 99-IB, (S) Bn CP Masta Jan 7, 1945;
Capt Howard Winholtz, CO D Co, 99-IB (S), Bn CP Masta Jan 7, 1945;
Maj Paul J. Solis, EX Officer, 526-AIB, 526-AIB CP Burnenville Jan 7, 1945;
Maj Roy E. Battson, S-3, 526-AIB, 526-AIB CP Burnenville Jan 7, 1945;
Lt John V. Pehovic, 526-AIB, 526-AIB CP Burnenville Jan 7, 1945;
Lt Jack Doherty, 1st Plat, A Co, 825-TDB, 526-AIB CP Burnenville Jan 7, 1945;
Capt Joseph R. Dibert, CO A Co, 825-TDB, 526-AIB CP Burnenville, Jan 7, 1945;
Col Roy G. Fitzgerald Jr, CO 3/119-IR, 3/119 CP Xhoffraix Jan 8, 1945;
Capt Carlton E. Stewart, EXE Officer 3/119-IR, 3/119 CP Xhoffraix Jan 8, 1945;
Capt Francis J. Delbene, S-3 3/119-IR, 3/119 CP Xhoffraix Jan 8, 1945;
Lt Jean M. Ubbes, CO, B Co, 743-TB, Company CP Malmedy Jan 8, 1945;
Lt Jean Hansen, 3rd Plat, 743-TB, Company CP Malmedy Jan 8, 1945;
Col William D. Duncan, CO, 743-TB, Battalion CP Francorchamps Jan 9, 1945;
Maj Ashby Lohse, EXE Officer, 823-TDB, 823-TDB CP Spa Jan 9, 1945;
Capt Bruce A. Crissinger, CO, A Co, 823-TDB, 823-TDB CP Spa Jan 9, 1945;
Lt Thomas Springfield, 1st Plat, A Co, 823-TDB, 823-TDB CP Spa Jan 9, 1945;
Lt Ellis W. McInnis, 1st Plat, C Co, 823-TDB, 823-TDB CP Spa Jan 9, 1945;
Col Walter Johnson, CO, 117-IR, Regimental CP Francorchamps Jan 1, 1945;
Gen William K. Harrison Jr, ADC, 30-ID, 30-ID CP Malmedy Jan 24, 1945;
Col George K. Rubel, CO, 740-TB, 740-TB CP Spa Jan 25, 1945;
Capt James D. Berry, CO, C Co, 740-TB CP Spa Jan 25, 1945;
Col Lowell S. Love, Armored Section, US 1-A, Spa Jan 23, 1945;
Col William F. Curran, CO, 110-AAAB (Gun), 110-AAAB CP Spa Jan 24, 1945;
Lt Walter R. Butts Jr, HQ Co, 9-AG (Armored Group), by Sgt Linnell Jones, Jan 12, 1945.
American soldiers who cleaned out the west edge of Stavelot and entered the villages of Ster, Renardmont, and Parfondruy found corroboration of reports previously received from Belgian civilians that the German troops which occupied these places had wantonly murdered innocent civilians there. In the homes and outlying buildings of these localities, the Americans saw the incontrovertible proof of the atrocities. The dead bodies of 117 men, women, and children were found, all killed by small arms fire. Able Company of the 117th Infantry captured nine prisoners from the 1.SS-Panzer-Reconnaissance-Battalion on the outskirts of Stavelot. Incensed by the atrocious conduct of these soldiers, who later admitted that they had either witnessed or taken part in the murders, the men of Able Company inquired of their commander, Capt Kent if he wished to bother with them. In the hope of securing valuable intelligence from them, Capt Kent ordered the men to turn their prisoners over to the division cage.
At 1115, December 17, the 30th Infantry Division, which was then holding a sector of the Ninth US Army front between Jülich and Altdorf, Germany, was ordered to move as rapidly as possible to the vicinity of Eupen (Belgium), to be employed in the V Corps sector. That afternoon, Gen Omar N. Bradley (US 12-AG) ordered the 526th Armored Infantry Battalion (Separate), and the 99th Infantry Battalion (Separate), to proceed at once to Malmedy. Because of the congested roads caused by the great quantity of personnel and materiel being evacuated from the threatened areas, the progress of both of these battalions toward Malmedy was slow. Baker Co, 99th Infantry Battalion, took a different route and arrived at the destination at approximately 2400 on December 17. By that time, the town had been evacuated by all military personnel, with the exception of approximately 60 men of the 291st Engineer Combat Battalion, under the command of Col David Pergrin. The engineers had established roadblocks consisting of mines and were prepared to dynamite bridges and trees to further block the approaches to the town. Baker Co, 99th Infantry Battalion, immediately took up positions to the southwest of Malmedy, to block the roads and occupy the high ground commanding the approach to the town from the south. The 526th Armored Infantry Battalion, with Able Co of the 825th Tank Destroyer Battalion attached, reached the western outskirts of Malmedy at about 0200 on December 18, when the US 12-AG ordered it to send one company of armored infantry and one platoon of TD’s to Stavelot. Able Co of the 526th Armored Infantry Battalion and the 1st Platoon of Able Co, 825th Tank Destroyer Battalion, were given this mission and entered Stavelot between 0200 and 0300 of December 18. The rest of the 526th Armored Infantry Battalion and the attached TDs reached Malmedy about 0300. They were ordered to block the approaches to the town from the southwest.
Shortly afterward, the 99th Infantry Battalion arrived and immediately deployed to reinforce the roadblocks established by the 291st Engineers. Meanwhile, the 30th Infantry Division had been motorized and was moving from assembly areas north of Aachen (Germany), to the vicinity of Eupen (Belgium). Its route was lighted by flares dropped by the German Luftwaffe all of the way. Some bombs were dropped and there were a number of close calls, but there were no casualties either to personnel or vehicles due to enemy action. Anti-Aircraft fire was almost constant. The 119th Infantry Regiment (30-ID) was the leading regiment in the column and was moving into defensive positions northeast of Eupen before 2400 December 17. Then, word was received from First US Army, to send one regiment to Malmedy. Gen William K. Harrison, Assistant Division Commander 30-ID, decided to send the 117th Infantry Regiment, which was following the 119th Infantry Regiment, as it was still mounted and on wheels. The 120th Infantry Regiment followed the 117th Infantry Regiment and was held temporarily north of Eupen. On the road from Eupen to Malmedy, the 117th Infantry Regiment column encountered a heavy flow of traffic moving in the opposite direction. All vehicles were using ‘Cat-eyes’ only, and as a result, the column’s progress was slow. Just as it was beginning to get light, the convoy was ordered to halt in the vicinity of Bévercé, a small town approximately one mile north of Malmedy. By this time, the Regimental Commander, Col Walter M. Johnson, was in Malmedy conferring with officers of the US 12-AG. He was also in communication with the V Corps commander and the 30th Infantry Division commander, Gen Leland S. Hobbs.
The enemy situation was very fluid and there was considerable disagreement as to where the 117th Infantry Regiment should be committed. The final decision was that one battalion would be left at Malmedy to further strengthen the roadblocks protecting that town. Another battalion would proceed to Stavelot to defend that town, or to evict the enemy if he had already captured it, while the third battalion would protect the left flank of the battalion going into Stavelot, blocking the roads running northeast out of the town.
THE DEFENSE OF MALMEDY
The 3rd Battalion of the 117th Infantry was relieved of its defensive mission southeast of Malmedy on the morning of December 19 by the 1st and 3rd Battalions of the 120th Infantry. The latter two battalions, together with the 526th Armored Infantry Battalion and the 99th Infantry Battalion (S), thereupon formed an iron ring protecting Malmedy from attack from the east, south, and southwest. For two days the enemy made no serious effort in the direction of Malmedy. German patrols probed the routes of approach to Malmedy and reported that all roads were blocked. Undoubtedly, the enemy realized that while possession of Malmedy would give him access to the road to Spa, it would not, without another fight at Stavelot, enable him to re-supply the spearhead of his column then in the Stoumont-La Gleize area. So, during December 19 and 20, the enemy concentrated on trying to break through at Stavelot, possession of which would yield him a Main Supply Road for his forces in the vicinity of Stoumont as well as access to a good straight road to Spa. But five counterattacks at Stavelot on these two days failed to reduce the town. On the morning of December 21, he hit at Malmedy as a possible, though a less desirable, way of securing his objectives.