By mid September 1944, the Allied forces had expanded from the northwest of France to the vast area from the Mediterranean in the south to the Rhine River in the north, and advanced to the front lines of Belfort, Nancy, mace, Luxembourg, Liege, Antwerp and Ghent.
In some sections, they had approached or wedged into the “ziegfried line”.
In this way, they not only captured France, but also almost occupied the whole territory of Belgium and pushed into the Dutch border.
The battlefield of the Allied forces has been connected, and fascist Germany is in danger.
The war continued to spread, and the German army suffered heavy losses.
Only 49 divisions remained on the western line, and the number of each division was less than half.
In a few months, the German army lost more than 400000 soldiers, 1300 tanks, more than 20000 combat vehicles, 2000 guns and 3500 aircraft.
The morale of German soldiers was low, and pessimism shrouded the military camp.
In contrast to the German army, the allies have reported good news since the Normandy landing.
In October, the US army took the lead in occupying the historic German city of yach ē N – the location of Charlemagne’s palace.
At the end of November, they attacked most areas of Caroline and Alsace, including the fortresses of mace and Strasbourg.
The Allies pursued the victory and launched a fierce attack on the whole line.
However, because the Allied front was too long (450 miles) and kept on the offensive, the Allied forces were obviously insufficient.
Efforts to break through the “Siegfried Line” were unsuccessful, slowing progress.
Therefore, the Allied Command had to make a decision to stop the attack on the whole line and begin to make operational preparations to break through the “Siegfried Line”.
The fascist leader, who was “waiting for the right time”, took the opportunity to throw out a battle plan that not only surprised the Allies but also the Germans, that is, the Arden counterattack plan, the largest positional counterattack on the Western Front in World War II.
He called the plan the “Rhine guard”.
The main idea of Hitler’s Arden counter offensive plan is to concentrate superior forces, quickly break through the Allied defense line, smash the Meuse River, and then insert Brussels and Antwerp to eliminate the effective forces of the Allied forces, cut off their rear supply line and frustrate their new offensive plan, so as to reverse the adverse situation on the western line and get out of trouble, In order to shift the focus of operations to the eastern line to attack the Soviet Red Army.
After the plan was put forward, field marshal lundstedt and modle were extremely worried.
They knew that it was impossible to change the head of state’s idea, but they still tried to persuade Hitler to formulate a battle plan that could adapt to the current German soldiers and material strength.
However, without waiting for lundstedt and model to express their views, general Yodel, the special envoy of the head of state, rushed to the group B army group headquarters in crefelsson forest on the western line on November 3 and conveyed the detailed operation plan of the “Rhine guard” to the German general.
To realize this plan, the German army must form a new and fully effective force to participate in the attack.
On October 18, the order of the German government on the establishment of the “people’s guard army” came into force.
The age of recruitment ranged from 16 to 60.
Whether it was enterprise workers, small business owners, domestic servants, college students, reserve officers being trained, even those who failed in the previous recruitment and prisoners just out of prison were all included in the recruitment.
Thus, the German army quickly pieced together nearly 20 divisions of recruits.
After 6 to 8 weeks of short-term training, the Germans transferred to the western line and joined the attack forces.
At the same time, the German military production line also reached its maximum horsepower, driving out nearly 2500 tanks and nearly 1000 aircraft.
Hitler chose to launch the attack in the Arden region at the junction of Luxembourg, Belgium and Germany.
This area is the joint of Hodges’s US 1st group army and US 3rd group army.
Hodges is responsible for the north and Patton is responsible for the south.
The defense area about 85 miles wide between the two groups is defended by the 1st army, which has just been transferred from the 3rd group army to the command of the 1st group army.
Hitler believed that the area was “a place where the existing forces can certainly break through.
The line of defense is thin, and they would not expect the Germans to launch an attack.
Therefore, taking full advantage of the enemy’s unprepared factors and launching a sudden attack in a climate where the enemy aircraft can’t take off, we hope to make a rapid breakthrough.
” Hitler was “determined to pursue the plan at all costs.
” Unfortunately, Hitler was right.
The Allies not only thought that the Arden area was not suitable for their own attack, but also ignored that it might become the route used by the German army as an attack.
Allied commanders seem to have forgotten that in the history of war in the 20th century, the German army invaded Western Europe twice from this mountainous area with dense forests and inconvenient roads in the 14th century.
Will Hitler carry out a third attack in the same area? Bradley, commander of the 12th army group of the United States, is the most representative of those who hold this understanding and judgment.
He did not believe that the German army would launch a counter offensive without hope of victory regardless of military common sense.
In his view, this counter offensive can only lead to the German defeat faster.
“I’d rather the Germans attack,” he added But the famous commander forgot a famous military saying: “win by surprise.
” In fact, Bradley’s associates are full of insight.
Colonel Dixon, the intelligence director of the first group army, who is trusted by him, analyzed and decoded the contents of the enemy’s telegram, judged that the enemy might carry out a major counter offensive in Arden area, and reported it to Bradley.
The confident Bradley just praised his enthusiasm for work and didn’t take his advice and suggestions to heart.
But in order to show his concern for his old subordinates, he called Hodges to convey his greetings to Dixon and interceded to arrange his vacation, which made Dixon feel a little comfort.
The Allies were completely intoxicated with the joy of victory.
This should be an old Chinese saying: joy begets sorrow.
In order to make the counterattack a success, the German army adopted extremely thorough confidentiality measures and widely used camouflage and deception.
They changed their troop numbers.
Changing the uniform of the service.
Use charcoal for cooking and heating.
During night transportation, fighters fly along the line to drown the sound of cars.
When horses cross the gravel road, their hooves should be wrapped with wheat straw.
Once the vehicle leaves the road, carefully erase the wheel marks.
In the early morning of December 16, the German army suddenly launched a large-scale offensive without the opponent’s preparation and taking advantage of its familiarity with the topography of Arden area.
The heavy artillery fire composed of thousands of cannons attacked the U.S. military position.
The U.S. soldiers curled up in sleeping bags woke up from their sleep and crawled into the bunker.
In fear, they didn’t even know what had happened.
Followed by gunfire, hundredsIn the afternoon, they occupied scheenberg and then pushed to Saint Vitt.
The German 7th army, commanded by budenberg, undertook the attack task of the left wing and was responsible for protecting the impact of mantofil’s forces.
His target was the semwa River, a tributary of the Meuse River.
All four divisions under his command crossed the orr river.
Among them, the 5th paratrooper division protruded to vilz 12 miles away and built a barrier for the central line on the south side, making little progress.
By December 20, on the frontal battlefield, the German offensive forces had formed a protrusion 100 kilometers wide and 30 to 50 kilometers deep, and continued to move forward.
The news of the massive German attack did not reach the headquarters until the evening of December 16.
At this time, Eisenhower was not in his headquarters, but happily attended the wedding of a couple in a Catholic church near Versailles.
Because he just received the order to be promoted to five-star general.
Ike, overjoyed, wanted to be happy, happy together and have a good time.
Bradley’s sudden intrusion and reporting of the military situation disturbed the lively wedding and Eisenhower’s mood, and the excitement just disappeared.
He immediately realized that this was not a local attack.
However, due to limited intelligence, he failed to deploy in time and did not start operations until the evening of the 17th.
On December 19, Eisenhower was fully aware of the seriousness of the threat posed by the German counterattack to the Allied defense line.
He urgently convened senior allied generals to discuss countermeasures.
At the meeting, the generals looked gloomy one by one.
In order to ease the gloomy atmosphere of the meeting, Eisenhower tried to be relaxed and confident in his opening remarks.
“We should see the current situation as an opportunity rather than a disaster.
There should only be a smiling face on this conference table,” he said “Well said, let’s cheer up and beat these sons of bitches to Paris, and then we’ll go back and pick them up, smash them and eat them!” Patton’s gnashing of teeth made everyone laugh.
The participants were determined to “prevent the enemy from crossing the Meuse River”! He stressed the need to “wipe out the enemy from the ground, from the air and from all places”.
However, Eisenhower faced a lot of problems: on the one hand, the U.S. military lacked reserve forces to adjust, on the other hand, Bradley’s command system had been completely destroyed.
Therefore, he asked the British and American governments to send more troops to the front line as soon as possible.
At the same time, he also asked all group armies to send troops to reinforce Arden.
Under such circumstances, who should command the allies to complete the campaign? In this regard, Smith, chief of staff of the Allied Command, suggested to Eisenhower: “the only reasonable solution is to hand over all the troops north of the breakthrough point to one person, and the only person with reserve and command and organization ability to deal with any crisis is only one.
” Eisenhower immediately ordered Montgomery to be the commander-in-chief of the allied army again, and adjusted the command and organization system of the Allied Army: the army in the north of the protrusion, including the 1st and 9th armies of the United States, was handed over to Montgomery, the commander of the 21st army group.
The army in the south of the bulge is under the unified command of Bradley, commander of the 12th army group.
The meeting also decided to adopt the policy of attacking the South and defending the north.
The specific deployment is as follows: Patton’s third group army went north to attack the prominent part of the German army.
The 6th army group of Devers moved towards the northeast to protect Patton’s right wing.
Hodges’s 1st group army must resist the German army that intruded into the Aden mountains from the north and south, hold the throat of the west, hold the position, and prepare to counter attack from north to South and attack the German army with Patton’s 3rd group army.
In the battle of Arden, Hodges’s troops were the hardest hit, especially the 8th Army in the main direction of German attack.
However, the officers and soldiers of the army did not flee in a hurry under the sudden attack of the Germans.
They were brave and tenacious in the division and siege of the German army, fought their own battles, and made use of all available terrain and opportunities to resist the enemy, which won valuable time for the supreme command to adjust its deployment.
After several days of hard struggle, Hodges and his battle hardened generals finally stabilized their positions and established a solid position in the protrusion of the northern foot of mount a, which laid a favorable foundation for attacking the German army from north to south.
On December 22, Patton led the 3rd group army to launch an attack as planned.
The battle focused on an ordinary town – Bastoni.
They braved the bad wind and snow weather and German artillery fire to advance bravely day and night.
After Christmas, the advance troops successfully rushed into Bastoni, which was heavily surrounded by the Germans, and made contact with the besieged defenders.
Bastoni is the throat of the German army on the road to the West.
There are seven roads converging here.
It has a very important strategic position and has been guarded by the 101st Airborne Division and armored forces of the US Army.
After the battle of Tony and Abbas, the 82nd German Air Force rushed to stop Abbas.
Gavin’s 82nd division came to the saint vit line, while the 101st Airborne Division arrived at Bastoni under the leadership of acting division commander Antony McAuliffe.
The 501st airborne regiment of the 101st Airborne Division, led by Julian Ewell, was the first to enter Bastoni.
Germany’s powerful 2nd Armored Division launched a fierce attack on Bastoni area.
More than 10000 people from the 101st Airborne Division were surrounded.
The battle was very cruel, and the defense line was urgent several times.
Bullets and food are decreasing rapidly, and medicine is in short supply.
The German encirclement is shrinking, and Bastoni is in danger.
At this time, the German army sent a messenger to send an ultimatum asking the US Army to surrender.
After receiving the letter, commander Antony McAuliffe immediately replied to the German word “asshole” and expressed his determination to resist to the end.
Patton’s troops came.
He ordered the 2nd battle group of the elite 4th armored division to open a blood path and break through the German siege of Bastoni.
The transport forces and ambulances drove into the city behind the armored vehicles to strengthen the city’s defense.
After that, the third group army attacked the northeast, pointing directly at hoffariz.
Hodges’s 1st army, spearheaded by Collins 7th army, attacked to the southeast.
On January 16, the two armies met in hoffariz.
However, the German army fled long before the US Army encircled.
So far, the battle of Arden, which lasted a whole month, came to an end.
After the battle of Arden, the allies took the initiative on the battlefield, but the Germans still had 85 divisions on the West Bank of the Rhine.
According to past experience, Hitler would never allow them to retreat.
toIt was Eisenhower who issued an order asking Bradley’s group army to take advantage of the German defeat in the Arden mountains to advance with great strides, strive to hit the German army hard and break through the “Western barrier” in one fell swoop.
Hodges and button were moving forward at the same time on a 25 mile north-south front.
Hodges made Li Qiwei’s 18th airborne army the assault force of the first group army.
Li Qiwei first launched an attack on January 28.
Gavin’s 82nd Airborne Division and the “big red division” who are used to fighting were placed in the front to take the lead.
The attack met with bad weather: on the first day of the attack, there was heavy snow until late at night, followed by the worst cold in a hundred years.
Snow and ice covered the mountains, blocked the roads and covered the mines laid by the German army.
However, the 82nd Airborne Division and the “big red division” still dashed forward in the snow up to one or two feet thick.
In this regard, Li Qiwei later recalled: “As a commander, I have never seen such a spectacular and moving battle scene.
These two teams, which have been tested by the fire of war for a long time, rush into the battle side by side with high fighting spirit and brave and tenacious attitude.
The scene is encouraging.
It’s like seeing two majestic racing horses rushing to the finish line side by side, and everyone can’t help shouting good for it.
” At the same time, Patton’s 3rd army also launched an attack.
However, the bad weather and the tenacious resistance of the Germans gradually slowed down the attack.
By February 1, the US military had advanced an average of only 6 miles along the entire 25 mile long front, reaching near the “Western barrier”.
On February 6, Patton commanded the battle of evere.
The offensive troops went well.
The 20th army cleared the enemy in the triangle of the Saar and Moser rivers, and the 7th army gradually approached the KIR estuary.
By February 12, the 8th Army had cleared the remaining enemies on the West Bank of the Rhine River.
At this time, Bradley received Eisenhower’s order, the 12th army group stopped attacking and turned to defense, waiting for the attack of the northern army group of Montgomery.
On February 10, Simpson’s 9th army, about 300000 people, with the cooperation of Collins’s 7th army, attacked northeast and forcibly crossed the rolle river.
As the Germans blew up the Luoer River dam first, the flood poured down like a waterfall and filled the Luoer River and Luoer valley.
The 9th army struggled for two weeks in the flood and mud before crossing the ror river.
After that, with the support of Collins, Simpson quickly marched into wessel on the Bank of the Rhine, wiped out the German troops within 34 miles of the West Bank of the Rhine, and captured more than 30000 enemies.
Then they attacked wessel together with the Canadian Army and captured 23000 German soldiers alive.
Collins’s 7th army also achieved satisfactory results.
After crossing the Rohr River and completing the task of covering the 9th group army, the army immediately moved eastward, approached Cologne on the Rhine River and captured 13000 enemies.
On March 3, Bradley began to implement the operation plan code named “lumberjack”.
Hodges’s 1st group army took on the main task.
By this time, Collins’s 7th army had captured Cologne and was heading south along the West Bank of the Rhine River to meet with the 3rd army to attack Bonn.
Patton’s third army attacked in the South and northeast.
The lumberjack program succeeded.
The 12th army group reached the Rhine River between Cologne and C í in only four days.
The Germans were terrified and fled in all directions.
On March 7, the 9th armored division under Hodges, under the command of division commander John Leonard, occupied the railway bridge across the Rhine River near remagan.
Bradley was very excited when he heard the report.
As soon as he reported to Eisenhower, he immediately dispatched troops to consolidate Remagen’s bridgehead.
“Bradley, great! Get ready to cross the river.
Be sure to hold the bridgehead and keep your foothold.
I fully support you.
” Eisenhower shouted excitedly with the phone.
He did not expect that the US military would occupy the railway bridge on the Rhine so quickly.
He could not believe his ears.
He asked Bradley to invest at least five divisions to consolidate the bridgehead of Remagen.
There must be a fierce battle in ramagen, which everyone expected.
Hitler was furious at the loss of the railway bridge.
He demanded that the bridge be recaptured and blown up at all costs.
In the following week, the German army launched a fierce attack and bombing on Remagen.
Collins’s 7th army and van fleet’s 3rd army fought side by side, never retreating, and finally withstood the German attack.
While the fierce battle of Remagen was in full swing, Patton’s 3rd group army was turning south to attack the “Western barrier” together with the 6th group army of Devers.
On February 21, Patton’s troops fought a bloody battle.
On the front line of the 8th Army, the 90th division captured five towns and dozens of villages.
On the front line of the 7th army, the 80th division annihilated the enemy in the “west wall” line between the orr River and the gay River and conquered three towns.
On the front line of the 20th army, the 10th division cleared the defences in five areas, then captured salburg and swept all the way to the Bank of the Saar river.
On the 22nd, Patton’s 3rd group army encircled the German army west of the Rhine River.
On this day, 11000 German troops were captured, reaching a record number.
By this time, the rapidly advancing Patton forces had left the follow-up forces far behind.
Without air cover and ground artillery support, they did not miss a rare opportunity and made up their mind to cross the river immediately.
At 11 p.m. on February 22, two battalions of the 5th division of the third group army began to cross the river.
Unexpectedly, the Rhine River, which has been called “Central European natural graben” by Montgomery, did not cause any trouble to the army.
The rapid progress of the river crossing force not only caught the enemy off guard, but also surprised the soldiers of the third group army.
By dawn on the 23rd, six battalions had reached the other side of the river, but 8 people were killed and 20 injured.
Soon, the whole division crossed the Rhine.
After fierce fighting that day, they finally broke through the German defense line.
Early in the morning, engineers began to set up floating bridges.
That morning, Bradley, who was having breakfast, received a call from Barton.
On the phone, Patton couldn’t hide his joy and said, “Brad, I’ve crossed the Rhine, but keep quiet for the time being.
I’ve secretly let a division pass at night.
There are very few German devils there, and I don’t know how to reply.
So keep it a secret and see how the situation develops.
” However, Patton is not a man who can keep a secret.
Later that day, he couldn’t help calling again.