The Battle of the Bulge
Enemy attacks drove into an inactive and lightly held sector, of V Corps lines in the Ardennes area. German patrols infiltrated into rear areas and information was confused as whole companies and battalions of American troops were cut off from contact with other friendly units. On the 17th of December, the German Air Force was active along the entire Army front, bombing, strafing, and at night, dropping parachutists behind the American lines. Although not clearly apparent at the time, this was the beginning of von Rundstedt's counter-offensive, the drive that for some time threatened to cut the First Army's supply line.
As the 3rd Armored Division moved quickly down to meet this threat, the penetration had broken some 3 5 miles into Belgium and Luxembourg. Fighting with the XVIII Airborne Corps, we secured Stavelot and with Bastogne held on the south, the shoulders of the breakthrough were stabilized. Units of three panzer corps, including four SS panzer divisions and four others, had been identified in the penetration. The German high command had mustered some of its very best troops for this bid to cut the supply lines behind the American and British forces on the northern half of the western front. It was an all out effort and the battle was bound to be hard fought.
After stabilizing the westward thrust of the breakthrough at Stavelot, the 3rd Armored Division moved westward to rejoin the VII Corps. Here both friendly and enemy lines were fluid during the early days of the fighting and several of our units were cut off by German columns. The day before Christmas, the Corps was given the mission of stabilizing the right flank of the First U. S. Army sector. We would stop the enemy drive where it was, east and south of the Meuse.
Visibility in the area continued to be poor and close air support of our units was not practicable, but planes of the Allied Air Forces flew thousands of sorties over the Bulge area, claiming thousands of vehicles. As our lines held firm, repelling counter-attack after counter-attack, the punch of von Rundstedt's drive, which was to have depended on captured Allied supplies, slowed and then stopped. On 3 January 1945, First Army launched its attack to wipe out the bulge in its lines. The weather was bitterly cold, snow and ice made the roads slippery and hampered the movements of our tanks, but the attack, closely followed by the 83rd Division made slow, steady progress. Resistance was stubborn, terrain favored the defenders, snow and poor visibility interfered with tank and artillery firing, but the armor still pushed on, driving some of the best troops of the Wehrmacht back, or bypassing pockets of resistance for the supporting infantry to mop up.
Finally on January 16, the 2nd Armored Division linked with Third Army elements to the west as simultaneously the 3rd Armored Division tanks met elements of VIII Corps and the bulge became a bump, and that was fast disappearing. By January i9, the enemy was definitely trying to withdraw and the 3rd Armored Division, decimated, but with its Spearhead still unbroken, was pinched out by the XVIII Corps.
18 December 1944- Several enemy planes were overhead during the morning daylight hours. Fire from all types of anti-aircraft weapons drove the planes off. During the anti-aircraft firing, one enlisted man from this battalion was seriously wounded, and two enlisted men from the attached anti-aircraft battery were lightly wounded (all evacuated) by falling flak.
CCA was attached to V Corps at 12oo hours and movement to assembly area in the vicinity of Eupen was begun at 173o hours. CCB and CCR continued to maintain road blocks and deck points throughout the division area. All units remained on the alert against possible hostile parachutist's activity. All units remained on a 4 hour alert status.
The battalion remained in billets in Stolberg-Muhle conducting rest and maintenance. The school for FO sections, battery NCO's, and battery and fire direction center computers was held in the afternoon-subject-communications.
19 December 1944- CCB was this date attached to the 82nd Airborne Division, a part of XVII Corps. The battalion was alerted at o8oo hours to move in direct support of CCB south of Verviers to repel the German counter-offensive in this sector. Battery A, 991st Field Artillery was attached to the battalion this date. Stripped batteries of the battalion displaced forward from rest positions at Stolberg-Muhle at 1500 hours and at 2030 hours closed in positions at La Reid, about 1 mile west of Spa. The battalion did not register this date. Many flying bombs passed overhead during the night.
Captain Peters reported to Task Force 1 Headquarters as liaison officer, and Second Lieutenant Eldridge reported to the task force as a forward observer. Captain Hawley reported to Task Force 2 Headquarters as liaison officer, and Second Lieutenant Yell and Second Lieutenant Meek reported to Task Force 2 as forward observers.
Operational Instructions 1, Headquarters XVIII Corps (AB), 191900 December 1944, ordered CCB, Third Armored Division to move immediately to the vicinity of Theux, block an enemy thrust to the north in that vicinity and on Corps orders to attack south and drive the enemy south of the general line Stoumont-Ruy.