A series following the story of my father in World War II 75 years ago. He was in Europe with the 10th Armored Division's 80th Armored Medical Battalion.This updates the series Following the 10th Armored that I did five years ago.

#44- The Siege- and the Year- End

    •    December 25, 1944
Got up at 8. Put the turkey on. Had dinner. We just talked. [Ruth and Fred were there and then left on 6.10 bus.] It is raining. It is awful lonesome.
Diary Entry, Beula Keller Lehman
75 Years ago

26 Dec- The siege of Bastogne, for purposes of historic record, may be considered ended at 1645 on 26 December when the 326th Airborne engineers reported contact with "three light tanks believed friendly." True, the breach in the German-held ring opened by the 4th Armored Division was narrow and precarious, but it would not be closed despite the most strenuous enemy efforts in coming days. The staunch defense of Bastogne had impeded the Fifth Panzer Army drive to the west,…



The human cost of the Bastogne battle, therefore, probably was not out of proportion to the military gains achieved.



The 101st Airborne Division suffered battle casualties numbering 105 officers and 1,536 men. CC B of the 10th Armored Division had approximately 25 officers and 478 men as battle casualties. There is no means of numbering the killed, wounded, and missing in the miscellany of unrecorded tankers, gunners, infantry, and others who shared in the defense of Bastogne. 

--From The Ardennes: Battle of the Bulge by Hugh M. Cole



As Nichols reports in Impact:

26 Dec- The Tigers’ Christmas present, though a day later, was delivered. The iron ring of German panzers was pierced and the rescue was begun… [H]ard  fighting was still required of all units.  This was necessary in order to widen the corridor during the ensuing days. At 1630 the 4th Armored Divisions CC R entered Bastogne.

27 Dec- Wounded were evacuated and supply trains wheeled in. Along with the supplies came swarms of war correspondents and official observers. The sickening sight of gutted buildings, smashed tanks and vehicles, was mute testimony of the hell that Bastogne had been for eight long days.



    ✓    Company C Morning Report
    ✓    27 December 1944
0815 Departed Lintgen Luxembourg [sic]. Traveled 48 miles by motor convoy to Metz, France. Arrived 1415. Billeted troops. (MR)
Meanwhile, the rest of the 10th Armored, minus CC B, was kept busy on the southern end of the bulge. On 26 Dec at 2000 hours the 6th Armored Division was sent to replace the 10th Armored which then swung south and continued to press the enemy along that front. They had been “jabbing and sparring” just north of the Saar-Moselle Triangle to keep the Germans off balance. At the center of this was Combat Command A (CC A). Their part of General Patton’s great offensive against the Bulge was a success.

28 Dec- 10th Armored’s defensive positions secured. The 10th (minus CC B) was ordered to “hold present sector to include the Saarlautern bridgehead. On Army’s order, advance north to clear enemy from between Moselle and Saar Rivers.” Their part of the Battle of the bulge was finished. 


    •    December 29, 1944
Had a letter from Buddy and he sent me a dime for good luck.
Diary entry, Beula Keller Lehman

31 Dec- All of the remaining 10th Armored (minus CC B) moved south to Metz for rehabilitation and training, ending the most hotly contested battle in the Division’s brief but rugged operational history since its November baptism of fire at the swollen Moselle.



At Metz they were, for all intents and purposes, back where they had been two weeks earlier. They were now to get ready for the punch into the Saar-Moselle triangle that was Patton’s offensive plan  when the German offensive began and they headed into battle.

    •    December 31, 1944 
Well, this is the last day in 1944. Gee, I hope 1945 will be better.
Diary entry, Beula Keller Lehman

#43- No Truce in the Ardennes

Thirty years before the Battle of the Bulge the “miracle” of the impromptu Christmas Eve truce made history in the trenches of World War I. No such “miracle” occurred for the men in Bastogne and the Ardennes in 1944. It had been a week of continuing hell! Between December 19 and 24 Combat Command B (CCB) of the 10th Armored had fought its way around and into Bastogne. Words like “chaos, panic, and utter disorganization" were used to describe the hard-hit units. 


22 Dec
 1944
The tide of battle was about to shift though. Fuel shortages and pockets of American resistance had repeatedly stalled the German thrusts. Better still the days of sleet and low cloud, which had protected the Germans from Allied airpower, were about to end, according to the forecasters.

 Meanwhile, Patton’s Third Army has been on the move. As has been said before, Eisenhower did not believe Patton when he promised that he would be at Bastogne by today; he had to disengage his men from battle on the Saar front, execute a 90-degree change of course and move over 130,000 vehicles 75 miles to the north.  But of course, he has done just that.  (adapted from A World War Two Chronology.)

And then there was the prayer. The following is from Scott Manning’s post about it:
Contrary to popular belief, the prayer was not ordered to be written during the Battle of the Bulge. It was on the 14th of December that General Patton had the famous exchange with Chaplain O'Neill to write a prayer for good weather and to give a copy to each member of the Third Army. The Chaplain mentioned that it's not a customary practice to pray for clear weather in order to kill fellow men.

Patton's response was direct, "Chaplain, are you teaching me theology or are you the Chaplain of the Third Army? I want a prayer."

After working out the logistics, each member of the Third Army (approximately 250,000 at the time) was issued a small card on the 22nd of December, 1944. By this time, the Battle of the Bulge was underway.

On one side of the card was the famous prayer:
Almighty and most merciful Father, we humbly beseech Thee, of Thy great goodness, to restrain these immoderate rains with which we have had to contend. Grant us fair weather for Battle. Graciously hearken to us as soldiers who call upon Thee that, armed with Thy power, we may advance from victory to victory, and crush the oppression and wickedness of our enemies and establish Thy justice among men and nations.
When Patton originally ordered the cards made, some of the General's men convinced him to include a Christmas greeting for the troops. It was at this time Patton took a seat at his desk beneath the contemporary ceiling fans and penned something special. On the reverse side, the card had a personal message from the General:
To each officer and soldier in the Third United States Army, I wish a Merry Christmas. I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty, and skill in battle. May God's blessing rest upon each of you on this Christmas Day.

G. S. Patton, Jr.
Lieutenant General
Commanding, Third United States Army
The next day, the weather cleared and remained perfect for about six days while the Third Army pushed North to relieve the 101st Airborne at Bastogne.

Upon reviewing the weather, Patton said of the Chaplain, "God damn! Look at the weather. That O'Neill sure did some potent praying. Get him up here. I want to pin a medal on him."

The next day, the Chaplain made it to Patton's office. He shook the Chaplain's hand and said, "Chaplain, you're the most popular man in this Headquarters. You sure stand in good with the Lord and the soldiers." Chaplain O'Neill then received a Bronze Star Medal.

On Christmas Day, Patton wrote in his journal that the day "dawned clear and cold; lovely weather for killing Germans, although the thought seemed somewhat at variance with the spirit of the day." Patton went on to write how they managed to provide every soldier with turkey. Those in the front had turkey sandwiches while everyone else had hot turkey.
23 Dec
 1944
Improving weather conditions permitted extensive air support, particularly in the Bastogne area, where 260 USAAF IX Troop Carrier Command C-47 Skytrains drop 334 tons of supplies on several drop zones inside the besieged American positions at Bastogne. 

The German forces that had bypassed Bastogne did not have the strength or supplies because of the growing effectiveness of Allied air support. The US 101st and CC B of the 10th in Bastogne hold out.

The circumference of the ring around Bastogne would be approximately 25 kilometers.

 (adapted from A World War Two Chronology.)
~~~~~~~~~

And then there's this historic tidbit...

22-24 Dec 1944
On December 22, the commander of the German army had sent word to General McAuliffe, acting commander of the 101st Airborne troops in Bastogne. The enemy commander had painted a bleak picture of the Allied position and insisted there was only one option to save the Allied troops from total annihilation. 


Surrender.


The German surrender demand was typewritten on two sheets. One was in English, the other in German. This is the English version of the message:
December 22nd 1944

To the U.S.A. Commander of the encircled town of Bastogne.

The fortune of war is changing. This time the U.S.A. forces in and near Bastogne have been encircled by strong German armored units. More German armored units have crossed the river Ourthe near Ortheuville, have taken Marche and reached St. Hubert by passing through Hompre-Sibret-Tillet. Libramont is in German hands.

There is only one possibility to save the encircled U.S.A troops from total annihilation: that is the honorable surrender of the encircled town. In order to think it over a term of two hours will be granted beginning with the presentation of this note. If this proposal should be rejected one German Artillery Corps and six heavy A. A. Battalions are ready to annihilate the U.S.A. troops in and near Bastogne. The order for firing will be given immediately after this two hours' term.

All the serious civilian losses caused by this artillery fire would not correspond with the wellknown American humanity.

The German Commander."
The Division Operations Officer, Lt. Col. Harry Kinnard recalled that McAulliffe initially asked, "They want to surrender?" Moore told him, "No sir, they want us to surrender." McAulliffe arose and erupted in anger, which shocked those looking on. He took the paper, looked at it, said "Us surrender, aw nuts!"

Later, when told that the Germans wanted a written response, McAulliffe went down in history books. McAulliffe wondered aloud, "Well, I don't know what to tell them." At that point, Kinnard said, "What you said initially would be hard to beat." McAulliffe asked "What do you mean?" Kinnard, said, "Sir, you said nuts." All members of the staff enthusiastically agreed, so McAulliffe wrote it down on a message pad and said, "Have it typed up."

The reply was typed up, centered on a full sheet of paper. It read:

"December 22, 1944

To the German Commander,

N U T S !

The American Commander"
(Link)

The tide is turning, but a lot of battle will continue.

~~~~~~~~~



What about Buddy, my Dad?

No, he was not at Bastogne. He and most of the 10th Armored were down to the southeast of the besieged city. His Company C was at Lintgen where war was still being fought on the southern flank of the bulge, where his surgical unit and clearing company ministered to the wounded and dying.

Looking at pictures, movie clips and reading, it is very clear in my mind that it didn't matter where he was along the battlefront, it was, at best- hell.

A white, fog-bound hell. Snow, cold, the ever-present sound of battle- tanks, artillery, small arms. You name it- it was there.

One didn’t have to be in Bastogne to be in the Battle of the Bulge. 

I will never be able to understand how he felt and how it impacted the rest of his life. I am grateful that I can get this sense of his life all these years after his death.

He was one of those citizen soldiers, part of his own band of brothers, facing the destruction of everything they knew. They fought back- or in my Dad's case- helped bring relief to those who did.



War is hell.

Perhaps for those like Buddy, dare I believe that may be the hope and the promise of grace in a heaven of peace.

#42- A Critical Time

My goal in this blog is not to tell all the war stories of the 10th Armored Division and its Combat Commands in the Battle of the Bulge. To reconstruct the movements of the 15,000 troops of the Tiger Division would take far more time and words than I can even begin to write. There are many, many books already doing that. I will not even try. Instead, I am looking at a very small part of the Battle, and then not in-depth.

It is a historic fact that the US Army was amazing in its response in this first week of the Bulge. The battle was critical from the start, of course. Many were aware that this could make or break the war for either side. The actions during the period from 18 - 22 December were truly extraordinary!

For example, from Ardennes 1944 by Antony Beevor:
The idea that the bulk of an army could be turned around through ninety degrees to attack in a different direction within three days produced stunned disbelief around the table.

But there can be little doubt that Third Army’s energy and staff work produced one of the most rapid redeployments known in the history of warfare.

Bradley [later] boasted with justification on Christmas Eve that ‘no other army in the world could possibly have shifted forces as expertly and quickly as we have’. On the second day of the offensive, First Army moved 60,000 troops into the Ardennes in just twenty-four hours. The despised Com Z of General Lee had achieved miracles. It also managed to transport 85 per cent of ordnance stocks out of German reach. Between 17 and 26 December, 50,000 trucks and 248,000 men from quartermaster units shifted 2.8 million gallons of gasoline so that panzer spearheads could not refuel from captured dumps.

The 10th Armored was as important as any other of the divisions. Combat Command B had its almost hopeless task of the defense of Bastogne until the weather cleared and the rest of the 101st Airborne arrived to break the siege. They all knew that Bastogne was critical in the German army’s movements to get to Antwerp as soon as possible. Their task, in spite of the odds, was amazingly successful. This is occurring in snow and temperatures around 12 degrees F., one of the coldest winters in decades. Nichols in Impact! reports:
…As the ridges became white and the drifts deeper, the most pressing problem became that of getting the defenders indoors in order to escape the icy blasts of the Ardennes winter.
Nichols then relates the initial actions of CC B in the first few days of the Bulge:
With tanks in the lead and dismounted doughs around them, the shot-up force pushed north… The enemy did not emerge lightly from the Team’s determined stand as it lost 15 tanks, 1 armored car, 2 halftracks, 3 anti-tank guns, 184 Germans killed and an undetermined number wounded.   Our Teams lost 11 Mediums, 7 light tanks, 17 halftracks, 1 tank dozer and 2 recovery vehicles. In addition 1 Tiger officer was killed, 1 officer and twenty enlisted men wounded and 2 officers and 44 men were missing.  Cherry’s Tigers were a tower of strength and fortitude as they held off numerically superior enemy forces to help prevent Bastogne from being captured on December 19.

It was not fully known until studies were made after the war, just how enormous was the German strength…It is difficult to imagine the utter hopelessness of Team Cherry’s situation in view of the tremendous forces arrayed against  it, plus the fact that the team was confined to just one road, and to  maneuver was out of the question… [While it may have been a minor victory for the Germans in the first days,] Cherry’s [Tigers] softened the enemy and…  gained precious time for General McAuliffe’s airborne battalions to deploy east of Bastogne
While the teams of CC B were separated from the Division, Combat Commands A and R were occupied on the southern edge of the bulge. Their task was to be part of the protection of Luxembourg City. They were in the Berdorf-Echtenach area northeast of Luxembourg City.

Again from Ardennes 1944:
Combat Command A under Brigadier General Edwin W. Piburn, [after their 75-mile non-stop journey] ‘rolled headlong into a very surprised German force’ near the Schwarz Erntz gorge. The battle continued for three days, but the German advance was halted. The southern shoulder was secure.
 Buddy’s Company C of the 80th Armored Medical Battalion had arrived in Bertrange late in the day on 18 December and remained there for three days.  The “official” orders for the 10th (without CC B) were to protect the eastern flank. With that Company C moved 15 miles to Lintgen.

    ✓    Company C Morning Report
    ✓    21 December

1630 left Bertrange, Lux. Traveled 15 miles by motor convoy. Arrived at Lintgen 1725. Billeted troops and set up clearing station (MR)


75 Years Ago
23 December 
D-Day + 200 days
For these few uncertain days, some no doubt felt that the outcome of the war hung in a precarious balance.

#41- A Serious Affair Indeed

75 Years Ago
16 Dec - 18 Dec 1944 

The Battle of the Bulge Begins


16 Dec-
All units of the 10th Armored Division were alerted for movement north with the mission of counterattacking a major German drive. Little more than this was known at Division Headquarters in the little town of Apach on the Moselle River just south of Perl.


17 Dec-
At 0330 orders were received attaching the Division to VIII Corps of First Army and directing the Division to march toward Luxembourg City immediately. By 0630 the column recrossed the Moselle at Thionville. Along the route to Luxembourg City the situation became somewhat clarified and the Division was split into two major units to perform entirely separate missions. 


While CCB moved to the vicinity of Bastogne to reinforce the troops in that area, CCA and the rest of the Division continued almost due north from Luxembourg City to protect the town from the threat of being overrun by the enemy. Everyone began to realize that the Major German Drive "was a serious affair indeed." (Note: the 10th Armored Division was the first US unit to be diverted from another mission to reinforce troops in the Bulge.)

My Dad's Company C of the 80th Armored Medical Battalion was on the move as well.

    ✓    Co C Morning Report
    ✓    17 Dec 1944

Departed Sierck 1600 en route to Clemency Luxemburg.[sic] Traveled 36 miles by motor convoy (MR)
    ✓    18 Dec 1944
0300 Arrived clemency and billeted troops
Left Clemency 1530 Traveled 17.6 miles to Bertrange, Luxemburg.[sic]  Closed billet area 1640 and set up clearing station. (MB)

18 Dec-
CC A completed a seventy-five mile march to an area some twenty miles northeast of Luxembourg City in the early morning of the 18th and went into action at once. Their mission - to protect the city. Their plan to carry out this defense --attack. This attack stopped German advances in Luxembourg.


With CC B, Colonel Roberts led his column into the town of Bastogne late in the afternoon of the 18th. When he dispatched Teams Desobry, Cherry and O'Hare to defensive positions north and east of the town immediately, all hands realized that the situation was even more serious than most of them had suspected.

It is the beginning of the last-ditch attempt by Hitler to defeat the Allies. His goal was to push the Allies aside and rush to the northern coast at Antwerp. He expected it to be a blitzkrieg as the army had pulled off in the early days of World War II. Initially, for the Americans, it was a time of confusion and uncertainty. It will become the biggest battle the American troops will face in the entire war. It is difficult to follow all the movements since there are so many troops involved in a relatively small area. The numbers are staggering!

History Net reports:
The initial German attack force consisted of more than 200,000 men, around 1,000 tanks and assault guns (including the new 70-ton Tiger II tanks) and 1,900 artillery pieces, supported by 2,000 aircraft, the latter including some Messerschmitt Me 262 jets. In the opening phases of the battle, they would be facing only some 80,000 men, less than 250 pieces of armor and about 400 artillery guns. Many of the American troops were inexperienced; the German force included battle-hardened veterans of the tough fighting on the Eastern Front, but they, too, had green units filled with boys and with men who normally would have been considered too old for military service.

During the course of the month-long battle, some 500,000 German, 600,000 American and 55,000 British troops became involved. The Germans lost some 100,000 men killed, wounded and missing, 700 tanks and 1,600 aircraft, losses they could not replace. Allied losses—the majority of them incurred during the first week—included 90,000 men, 300 tanks and 300 aircraft, but they could make up these losses. In addition, an estimated 3,000 civilians died, some during the fighting and others executed by German combat and security forces.

The Ardennes Offensive was a massive gamble on the part of German dictator Adolf Hitler, one that he lost badly.

 (Link)

At first, Patton was not all that excited by having to delay his upcoming push. He thought that it was a small diversion by the German army to keep the Allies fooled. He quickly saw the danger and turned his troops on a dime- in and of itself an incredible accomplishment. By the end it would be one of the greatest battles in American military history- and make the final difference in the eventual outcome of the war in more ways than one.


#40- Regrouping

30 Nov - 16 Dec- Regrouping in the Saar-Moselle Triangle 


30 Nov – 1 Dec- Combat Command B (CCB) had almost reached its mission objective- the bridge over the Saar at Merzig. Just as they arrived, the Germans had blown it up. The next day,
December 1, 1944 CCB cleared Hilbringen, just west of Merzig, and continued to straighten its lines.  Company C of the 80th Armored Medical battalion had already been reassigned to the reserve Combat Command and was at Sierck-les-Bains, less than two miles from Division HQ at Apach

2 Dec - The Division Commanding General ordered CCA to relieve CCB.

3 Dec – 16 Dec- CCB assembled in an area north of Remeling and the weary tankers began the move to an assembly area in the vicinity of Montenach, ten miles northeast of Thionville. In two and a half weeks of incessant combat they had reached their objective only to find their mission – the capture of a bridge across the SAAR in the vicinity of Merzig - incapable of accomplishment. Units, however, had received their baptism of fire and had ironed out many kinks in operating technique. These and other lessons learned proved invaluable in time to come.



[NOTE: CCA continued to occupy positions overlooking the Saar until just before the Division
 move on the 17th of December. It engaged in no serious combat and was used primarily to "beef up" the depleted forces of the 90th Division who were primarily responsible for the zone. CCB remained in the Montenach area during the entire period.]
Information from a research report from the Officer's Advanced Course at the Armored School, 1948-49. 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
A summary of the Battle for Metz (edited)
from, U. S. Army in World War II
European Theater of Operations
The Lorraine Campaign
Chapter XIV- Conclusion
by Hugh Cole
(Link)

From beginning to end of the Lorraine Campaign the Third Army had liberated or conquered approximately 5,000 square miles of enemy-held territory. Tactically, the Lorraine operations of the Third Army had resulted in the loss to the enemy of three highly important defensive positions, those of the Moselle, the Nied, and the Sarre Rivers [and] had drastically reduced the German space for maneuver west of that river.

Strategically, the Third Army campaign … had forced the German high command to divert substantial forces from the defense of the Ruhr. … General Patton's persistent offensive during November and early December also had delayed the movement of key German divisions from the Third Army front to the strategic reserve that was being assembled, trained, and re-equipped for employment in the December counteroffensive. …  But the German forces had been so badly shattered in Lorraine that the Third Army was able to disengage on this front with relative ease as it turned to intervene in the battle of the Ardennes.

Losses inflicted on the German forces in Lorraine were high. Although the number of Germans killed and wounded cannot be determined with any degree of exactness, it is known that at least 75,000 prisoners passed through the Third Army cages during the Lorraine operation. It is impossible to give any reasonably accurate statement of German losses in tanks, guns, and vehicles. …

In November and December, however, American tank losses incurred in the course of the slow advance through the Lorraine mud probably were considerably higher than those of the enemy. The damage and destruction inflicted on German transport and artillery by the Third Army and the XIX Tactical Air Command were very much greater than that visited by enemy action on the Third Army. Matériel losses sustained by General Patton's command in the period 1 September to 18 December:
    ◦    Light tanks          105
    ◦    Medium tanks     298
    ◦    Vehicles           1,080
    ◦    Artillery (75-mm. and larger)     34

It must be added that the German ability to replace matériel losses in any category of equipment was markedly inferior to that of the Allies. If the campaign be considered as a battle of attrition, which indeed it was during the last weeks, the Third Army had done much on this secondary front to weaken the Wehrmacht.

The Third Army had suffered 55,182 killed, wounded, and missing in Lorraine (a total casualty list substantially less than the number of Germans captured, not to speak of the enemy roster of dead and wounded).
    ◦    Killed in action              6,657
    ◦    Wounded in action     36,406
    ◦    Missing in action        12,119

[A German view of the Americans]
At the end of 1944 the German training staffs published a series of "Battle Experiences," containing the official enemy estimate of the American soldier, his tactics, and his weapons. … Since the "Battle Experiences" were prepared for and issued to the troops, they contain much that stems from the politico-military dogmas of the Nazi party or that obviously is intended to raise the morale of the individual German soldier.

Despite recognition that the individual American was a more skilled and tenacious fighter in the fall of 1944 than in the early weeks after the Normandy landings, the doctrine of the superiority of the German infantryman did not alter. Stripped of the numerous propaganda reasons put forth to support this allegation, the core of the argument is as follows:
•    the American soldier depends upon tremendous matériel support to bring the battle to a successful conclusion;
•    when he is denied heavy support by the combined arms the "drive" in the attack dwindles;
•    he avoids close combat, dislikes night fighting, and surrenders readily—
•    all symptoms of his poor quality as a soldier.

Besides including such derogatory comments, the German "Battle Experiences" described in detail those aspects of American tactics and techniques believed to be worthy of emulation. High on all lists was:
•    the effective cooperation between infantry and tanks, tanks and planes.
•    American artillery was an object of praise. It was distinguished, said German observers, by a
    o    speedy system of communication,
    o    accurate fire,
    o    a plentiful supply of ammunition,
    o    greater range than that of comparable German types,
    o    skilled employment of artillery planes as aerial OP's, and
    o    extensive use of white phosphorus.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

For many in the 10th, no doubt including Buddy's company, these two weeks in December were generally quiet.

    ✓   30 Nov - 8 Dec 1944
    ✓    Company C Morning Report

Organizational duties at Sierck (MR)

13 Dec- At this point in the month, the main direction of the Allies in the area continues to be the Saar-Moselle Triangle.  

        •     The U.S. Third Army III Corps accepts the surrender of last of the Metz forts--Jeanne d'Arc
      •     The U.S. Third Army draws up plans for an air-ground assault on the West Wall.

What happens next will be a surprise to all involved. It would appear that Allied intelligence had no idea that there was a major build-up of enemy troops, spreading out along a 75-mile battlefront. The goal would be to push the Allies west and open up a route for the Nazi troops to the port at Antwerp.  But today all was quiet. Mopping up was finishing on this phase and plans were ready for the next.

#39- End of the First Month

After Action Report
80th Armored Medical Battalion
10th Armored Division
1 Nov – 30 Nov 1944


There were 33 officers and 364 enlisted men. During the month one of the battalion was killed and five wounded. Five replacements were assigned. [Note: The member of the battalion who was killed was not in Company C. No death is noted in the company's morning reports.]

At all three clearing stations of the battalion in November 1944 there were:
    •    1962 admissions
    •    319 were returned to duty
    •    7 died in the stations
    •    1581 were transferred and
    •    55 remained in station on 30 Nov

The battalion commander had the following recommendations:
a. In some operations dissemination of information in regard to the tactical employment of the combat units did not reach this headquarters. Direct distribution of field orders and G-3 reports to the medical battalion would aid in the future employment of the supporting medical companies.

b. That all medical companies be employed in each action. ­ There is no useful purpose served by holding one entire company in reserve.

Fredrick D. Loomis
Captain, MAC.,
Battalion S-3

Looking at the daily admissions shows when the battalion's companies engaged in the heaviest battles. Again, from the 21st to the 29th, Company C was near the front.

Buddy and Company C were now back attached to the Reserve Combat Command (CC R). Located at Sierck-les-Bains, they were less than two miles from Division HQ at Apach and still only 12 or so miles west of the front!


Filling in some of the background on the medical battalions and companies:

The Army Medical Department's history describes Collecting Companies as:
...the forward echelon of the Division Medical Service. They were the connecting links in the chain of evacuation between Aid Stations and Division Clearing Stations. Their mission was to:

1) Remove evacuees from Infantry Regiment Aid Stations to Collecting Stations,
2) Prepare evacuees at the Collecting Stations for further evacuation, and
3) Transport evacuees by Ambulance from Collecting Stations to Division Clearing Stations.

Again, from the Army history:

The main task of the Clearing Company was to make decisions about what the next stage of treatment might be. This included such aspects as triage, sorting of casualties according to the nature and severity of their injuries, treatment- administering appropriate treatment to save lives, reduce suffering, and prevent permanent disability and determining which of the slightly wounded casualties could return to duty with their units.

(1) The medical detachment of the tank battalion moves in close support behind the tank companies, and directs its principal efforts at emergency treatment, either in vehicles or on the battlefield….

(3) [The] clearing stations reflect the characteristic high mobility of armor; they are organized and equipped with extremely mobile surgical trucks, and are capable of treating casualties in a short time after movement has ceased.
(pp. 1,2)
---------------
According to the manual for Armored Medical Battalions, they were in three parts:
(1) Division surgeon’s office. [Connected to the 10th Armored Division HQ]
(2) Medical detachments- provide first echelon medical service. [That is, they were at the front, near the battle.]
(3) Armored medical battalion- provides second echelon medical service. [They were behind the front lines, but, as can be see above, still well within battle distance. The greatest range of German artillery was about 18 miles, but they were often hampered by logistics and lack of ammunition.]
The manual continues with more specifics for the battalions:
Standing Operating Procedure
The armored division operates tactically in two or more combat commands… formed for a particular operation. Normally an armored medical company is included in each of the two combat commands and a part or all of the Third Company in the reserve command.

Medical units follow procedures best suited for the medical support of their individual unit. During combat, because of rapidly changing tactical situations, it may be found impractical to follow a predetermined plan. The employment of the medical detachments and the medical battalion is kept flexible and within control so that unforeseen tactical developments may be dealt with promptly.
(pp. 4-6)
A footnote to this history: What we are seeing in the development of this medical organization are the precursors of MASH units. (Wikipedia)
---------------------

Other unforeseen- or unplanned for issues always arose.
The most glaring example in these early months of the 80th Medical Battalion- and most of the medical groups in the area had nothing to do with battle.

It was trench foot.

Poor planning and a sense that the war might not last all that long now that the Allies were fully engaged led to one of the most surprising, unexpected medical concerns- trench foot. By all accounts, the fall-winter of 1944-45 was the coldest and wettest in years. Trench foot did as much damage to the Allies as the enemy due to its duration of disability and its tendency to recur. Inadequate winter supplies only added to the crisis. During November and December 1944 the total number of cases of cold injury on the Western Front was more than 23,000. This was the size of one and a half infantry divisions. 

Gen. Omar Bradley Commanding General of the 12 Army Group wrote that this had seriously crippled the United States fighting strength in Europe. Medical officers estimated to Bradley that the majority who were evacuated from the front lines would never return to combat. At times this would reach as such as 38% of all hospital admissions to the 6 hospitals in the Paris area!  This obviously added to the burden at collecting companies like Company C and the 80 Medical Battalion! (Medical Department of the United States Army in World War II)


#38- Thanksgiving 1944 and After

Diary Entries, Beula Keller Lehman

    •    November 21, 1944
Dora called and said she was coming up for Thanksgiving

    •    November 23, 1944- Thanksgiving Day
Dora came at 9.20. Had dinner. It was a lovely day

    •    November 26, 1944
Dora and I went to Bethlehem.

For Thanksgiving, Dora made her second trip to Pennsylvania since her new husband had deployed. Beula, as usual, shows no emotions in her diary about what is happening. Dora has become another person in her life who can help fill her loneliness. She and Dora go to the movies, visit Ruth in Bethlehem, sharing what must have been a very subdued Thanksgiving. Beula regularly comments that she receives letters from Buddy and that she writes back. There is never anything indicating she knows where he is or what is happening. Most likely, he downplayed the events knowing that in any case, the letters were censored.


In Europe, on November 21 Co. C was moved to support CC B. It was their first time on the “front line” and not with the reserve unit closer to Division headquarters. It would only last a week, but they were finally, truly, in the midst of combat casualties.

    ✓    21 November 1944
    ✓    Company C Morning Report
Departed Kaltweiler 1300 via motor convoy. Traveled 9.4 miles to Ritzing. Arrived 1600. Billeted troops and set up Clearing Station. (MR)

During this week that Buddy’s Company C was assigned to CC B:

    ⁃    21 Nov- the north column of CCB received a heavy counterattack just west of BUDINGEN but it was repulsed with heavy loss to the enemy.

    ⁃    22 and 23 Nov- CCB was patrolling to the front to determine exact location of enemy positions.

    ⁃    26 Nov- CCB cleared the woods east of WALDWISSE and then entered the town of BETHINGEN. Although the town was taken by surprise, heavy enemy artillery concentrations soon necessitated a withdrawal. General PIBURN now had three columns within four miles of his objective, the bridge of MERZIG. The head of the northern column was just east of BUDINGEN with a good road leading into the city of LERZIG.

    ⁃    27 – 28 Nov- The Germans had realized the importance of the city of MERZIG, the key to the SAAR Valley, and had taken extreme care to block all avenues of approach. The terrain along with the soft subsoil afforded the defender an excellent position. The roads, the only avenues of approach for armor, were covered with numerous roadblocks, which made going extremely slow.

    ✓    29 November 1944
    ✓    Company C Morning Report
Left Ritzing 1100. Traveled 5.2 miles via motor convoy to Sierck-les-Bains. Arrived 1200. Billeted troops and set up clearing station. (MR)

[Co C reassigned back to reserve combat command (CC R) and they moved back to the vicinity of Division HQ.]

    ⁃    29 Nov- Both the northern and the center columns of CCB pushed to the built-up area of HILBRINGEN, only one mile west of the bridge in the afternoon

    ⁃    30 Nov- As the elements of CCB were preparing to complete their mission of seizing the bridge intact over the SAAR River at MERZIG, a terrific explosion shook the area. The Germans had blown the bridge just as the engineers reached it.



All this action with CC B is taking place in an area smaller than the New York City borough of Brooklyn! It was 11 miles wide and 7 miles long.

It is interesting to note that there are no morning reports for Company C from 23 Nov - 29 Nov, the period they are assigned to CC B. While I have the end of the month After Action Report for the whole 80th Battalion which shows the activity at the clearing stations, it is not broken down by company. (I will post that at the beginning of December.)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Following the 80th Armored Medical Battalion and10th Armored Division in World War II has given me a new perspective on the planning and execution of war. I have never been in the military; I have read many books (novels as well as non-fiction); I have watched many movies; I have never studied the tactics of warfare. It is intriguing and educational to look at war from a tactical perspective, even if it is with the “perfect” vision of seventy-five years.

The staggering number of troops involved is far more than my mind can handle. As I stare at the maps I realize that each map is but a small slice of a huge story, even within the area covered by the maps. I remember that the whole 10th Armored Division would have been between 10 and 15,000 troops.

An armored division’s organization included

    ▪    a Division Headquarters and Headquarters Company,
    ▪    two Combat Command Headquarters (CC A and CC B),
    ▪    a Reserve Combat Command Headquarters (CC R),
    ▪    three tank battalions (of three medium and one light tank companies),
    ▪    three armored infantry battalions,
    ▪    three eighteen-gun artillery battalions,
    ▪    a cavalry reconnaissance squadron (battalion),
    ▪    an armored medical battalion.
    ▪    an engineer battalion, and
    ▪    division services,

The division was commanded by a major general, the combat commands by a brigadier general (who was also assistant division commander) and two colonels. The division included

    ▪        77 light tanks,
    ▪        168 medium tanks,
    ▪        18 M4 105mm assault guns,
    ▪        54 M7 105mm SP artillery pieces,
    ▪        54 M8 armored cars,
    ▪        450 halftracks,
    ▪        1,031 motor vehicles, and
    ▪        8 light observation aircraft.

(Military History Online)

Eastern France was a city in the mud and rain that November seventy-five years ago. To organize, direct and carry out the maneuvers must have been incredibly complex and, of course, based on the fact that the German troops weren’t just going to fall over and quit.

So I look at the maps and read the descriptions and am finally, after seven years of this, beginning to figure it out.

    ▪    First there’s the work of Combat Command A or B (CC A, CC B). CC A went one way with one job, CC B went another.
    ▪    Then there are the different Task Forces sent out from the Combat Commands. One might come in from the rear and another from a flanking maneuver.
    ▪    On top of all that this had to be coordinated with other divisions, Combat Commands, Task Forces, air support, medical support.

The movies make it look like all the tanks did was just barrel on forward crushing everything in their path. That is obviously not what happened. There were the days or weeks when a particular group might be less involved than at other times. There were the times after a battle when they could (sort of) relax.

How much could the medics relax? What could the soldiers do in the “downtime?” It must have been nothing short of maddening on some level of awareness that they must have had to sublimate, push away, forget.

#37- A Birthday in Europe

    ◆    75 Years Ago
    ◆    November 19, 1944
Buddy’s 39th Birthday

    ✓    15 November 1944
    ✓    Company C Morning Report

Left Audun-le-Tiche 0001 Traveled 15 miles by motor convoy to Soetrich. Arrived 0700 and billeted troops. (MR)
    ✓    17 November 1944
Left Soetrich at 0700. Crossed Moselle River at 1007. Arrived at Petite Hattange 1130. Traveled 13 miles. Established bivouac and set up Clearing Station. (MR)
    ✓    19 November 1944
Departed Petite Hattange 1625 via motor convoy. Traveled 6 miles to vicinity of Kaltweiler. Arrived 1715. Bivouacked troops and set up Clearing Sta. (MR)

Buddy’s Company C of the 80th Armored Medical Battalion left Audun le Tiche after five days there. The goal was to connect with Combat Command B where they had their new assignment. They were approximately 2 - 2 1/2 days behind CC B in heading east. They were to join CC B at Ritzing on 21 November. By the time Company C set up the clearing station at Kaltweiler on 19 November 1944, CC B had already made history only 12 miles to the northeast.

    ◆    75 Years Ago
    ◆    19 Nov 1944 at 1032

Combat Command B (CC B) of the 10th Armored Division reached the Saar and crossed into Germany.



A few days before the historic moment of the 19th, the 10th’s armor was well inside German positions. It had happened so swiftly and easily they had already taken 250 prisoners. The division was in two Combat Commands, A and B.

CC A (lower left, east of front line) started one flank of the attack southeast from Kerling to Laumesfeld.  Their job was to draw fire and find the positions of the German heavy guns. It worked. The positions were located and the Tigers started hitting back. The Germans fought hard and the Tigers lost three tanks and 12 men were wounded.



CC B was to head on a direct 11-mile line to seize a bridge over the  Saar at Merzig. Smaller bridges along the way had been destroyed. CC B was slowed down waiting for the rebuilding of those bridges by the engineers. By November 17 the rebuilding was accomplished and they were ready to move.

One task force entered Launstroff; another, against heavy pressure, reached Schwerdorf.



Then, at 1032 on 19 November, TF Cherry of CC B was near Eft. Lieutenant William Brown checked his maps. He dismounted from his Sherman and walked across the German border. He was the first man of Patton’s army to step onto German soil.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~



    ◆    19 Nov 1944
This was one of only a handful of times in his life that my dad hadn't been home for his birthday.

 Instead, he was only a few miles from CC B when they made that first symbolic step onto German soil.



Meanwhile, his wife of only six months was preparing to spend the upcoming holiday with her new in-laws, both trying to get to know and understand each other. Two families who had come from such different worlds.

#36- The Final Waiting

    ◆    75 Years Ago
    ◆    3 November 1944 - 8 November 1944
Waiting for the Green Light

After arriving at the staging area at the end of October and knowing their place in the battle line, they waited! Buddy’s Company C of the 80th Medical Battalion stayed at Lauchassee, near the 10th Division’s HQ at Mars la Tour.

    ◆    9 November 1944 - 15 November 1944
The Encirclement of Metz Begins


    ✓    9 November 1944
    ✓    Company C Morning Report

Left billeting area Lauchaussee at 1545. Traveled 46 miles by motor convoy to Audun-le-Tiche. Arrived 2345 (11:45 pm)
    ✓    10 November 1944
Established clearing station at Audun-le-Tiche and evacuated patients.
Buddy's Company was still assigned to the reserve combat command for this period. Their nearness to the division HQ continues to show that.

The 10th Armored Division was to be part of the encirclement of Metz. On November 9th they were assembled in the area around Ottange, far enough west to be safe from enemy observation. There they waited for General Walker to give the order committing the division east of the river.

The terrain in the zone assigned for the 10th Armored Division drive had little to recommend it to an armored force. The road net was limited. … Any cross-country movement would be most difficult, particularly after the autumn rains had beaten into the clay soil characteristic of this country.

On receipt of the order from the corps, it was supposed to cross the Moselle in two columns, pass through the 90th Division bridgehead wrested from the  Germans and strike quickly to effect a deep penetration. The capture of this sector would give the Americans command over one of the main corridors through which German reinforcements might be sent to Metz, or through which a retreat from that city might be made.



For five days … the 10th Armored waited for the word to cross the Moselle.  The five days were marked by orders and counter-orders, new plans and estimates--all contingent on the caprices of the flooded river and the degree of success achieved by the enemy gunners shelling the American bridge sites. At this point, the floodwaters of the Moselle were constricted by two relatively high retaining walls, and the stone piers of an earlier bridge still stood.



The 1306th Engineer General Service Regiment set to the task of building a Bailey bridge on 12 November, under orders to continue on the job regardless of enemy fire. German mortars and field guns threw in one concentration after another. Once, during the late afternoon of the 12th, work had to be suspended for a couple of hours.



On the morning of the 13th, the wind shifted, blowing away the covering smoke. German gunners laid their shells within a hundred yards of the bridge but could not get a direct hit. This time work on the Bailey continued, the engineers climbing into the superstructure clad in flak suits.

Moselle River crossing at Thionville (B)

Finally, at 0930 on 14 November, the Thionville bridge was ready--the largest Bailey bridge in the European Theater of Operations. On the afternoon of that day, CCB (Combat Command B) began the move across the Moselle, the head of the column winding along the east bank northward to the 90th Division sector. Before daylight on 15 November, the whole combat command had assembled near Kerling (about 10miles NE of  Thionville) behind the screen formed by the 359th Infantry.



From US Army in World War II, The Lorraine Campaign by Hugh Cole

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
So what's a Bailey Bridge? According to Wikipedia:



The Bailey bridge is a type of portable, pre-fabricated, truss bridge. It was developed by the British during World War II for military use and saw extensive use by both British and American military engineering units.

 A Bailey bridge had the advantages of requiring no special tools or heavy equipment to construct. The wood and steel bridge elements were small and light enough to be carried in trucks and lifted into place by hand, without requiring the use of a crane. The bridges were strong enough to carry tanks.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
What's a Combat Command? Again, according to Wikipedia:


A Combat Command was a combined-arms military organization of comparable size to a brigade or regiment employed by armored forces of the U.S.  Army from 1942 until 1963. The structure of combat commands was task-organized and so the forces assigned to a combat command often varied from mission to mission.

The combat command was a flexible organization that did not have dedicated battalions. Instead, tank, armored infantry, and armored field artillery battalions, as well as smaller units of tank destroyers, engineers, and mechanized cavalry were assigned as needed to accomplish any given mission.

This Combat Command organization would become very helpful to all concerned within the next six weeks when the Germans made their last push in what is known as the Battle of the Bulge.

#35- Entering the Battle

    ◆    75 Years Ago
    ◆    2 November 1944
The 10th Armored Division officially joined the front line forces.

The 10th Armored and attached troops have now been on the Cotentin Peninsula for a month. They have trained, planned, waited, and watched the weather. The troops were no less frustrated than Patton himself was. They were in Europe, but not yet in the war.

As October ended it became time to move.

The 80th Armored Medical Battalion, Company C, consisted of 18 officers and 104 enlisted men.

    ✓    Company C Morning Reports- Record of Events
    ✓    26 October- Departed bivouac area 2.1 mi NW of Quettehou [at] 0405. Traveled 127.2 mi via motor convoy to bivouac 1 mi east of Falaise arrived 1715. (MR)
[13 hours travel. 9.8 mph]
    ✓    27 October- Convoy left bivouac area 1 mi east Falaise [at] 0905. Traveled 74.7 mi to bivouac area 1/2 mi east of Damville. Closed bivouac 1830 (MR)
[9 1/2 hours travel. 7.9 mph]
      • Charles M. Province in the book Patton’s Third Army, reports that During this week the “10th Armored continued to move toward the XX Corps assembly area."
    ✓    28 October- Departed area 1/2 mi east of Damville at 0906. Motor convoy arrived at bivouac sire 1/2 mi west of Claye Souilly at 1725. Traveled 83.4 mi  (MR)
[8 1/2 hours travel. 9.9 mph. Co.C most likely passed around or through Paris on this day.]
    ✓    29 October- Departed area 1/2 mi west of Claye Souilly at 0907. Motor convoyed 69.2 mi to bivouac 1 1/2 mi east of Bar Le Duc. Closed bivouac 1632. (MR)
[7 1/2 hours travel. 9.2 mph]
    ✓    30 October- Left Bivouac vicinity of Ba Le Duc 0907. Traveled via motor convoy 98 mi. Billeted company in village of Lachaussee.  Arrived 1700. (MR)
[8 hours travel. 12.3 mph]
They have traveled 452 miles in 5 days, on the road for 46.5 hrs, with an average speed of 9.7 mph. Today that trip could be made in 8 1/2 hours (with tolls).

    ✓    31 October- Set up clearing station and evacuated patients. (MR)
They were assigned to the Reserve Combat Command (CC R) and were located 8 miles south of the 10th's Division HQ at Mars Le Tour and about 20 miles southwest of the fortress city of Metz where they would soon be engaged in their first battle.

They were bivouacked in an area that was unfortunately too small for movement. Then it rained and rained  providing a very muddy, but relatively quiet few days. Nichols in Impact says that it was perhaps the worst bivouac area of war for them. Their purpose was to assist XX Corps in the containment of enemy troops in preparation for the attack on Metz. They were to move around behind the forts and cut off the retreating enemy.



The 10th was to fall into line, one-by-one behind the 90th Infantry then move through providing support and cover. From all that was reported, it was not particularly  good geography (or weather) for the tanks, but the 10th managed and found its place.



This was part of what Province in Patton's Third Army says was the continuing practice of rotating and regrouping Third Army units in contact with the Germans. It had two purposes. One was to give as much rest as possible to those troops in extended contact with the Germans for the greatest amount of time. The other was to keep the enemy guessing as to the plans of the Third Army.

When November and time for the battle around Metz came, the XX Corps (part of the Third Army) under General Walton H. Walker had a total of 30 infantry battalions, 500 tanks, and more than 700 guns. Their  plan had two phases. One was to destroy all German forces around Metz and then to switch the advance to the northeast to catch the enemy as they pulled out of Metz.



On November 2, 1944, the 10th was pulled into place and had their first awareness of combat. It was a generally quiet area and not much else was to happen for the next two weeks, but the enemy had been engaged for the first time.

War was now a reality.


#34- Metz Before the 10th Arrived

    ◆    75 Years Ago
    ◆    25 September to 31 October 1944
The Battle of Metz stalled due to material and fuel shortage.

The battle for and around the ancient city of Metz began well before the 10th Armored entered the fray. The Third Army, under General George Patton had been activated in August in Normandy. Then, beginning in late July the swept across 400 miles of France in one month. It got to the Lorraine region where it met the German First Army intent on defending the line along the Moselle River. This began the Battle of Fortress Metz.

Here is a summary of the battle for Metz prior to the beginning of November. It is abridged and adapted from the Warfare History Network.

Metz before the 10th Arrived
    The 12th Army group was running short on fuel. On September 25 12th Army Group commander Lt. Gen. Omar Bradley had ordered Patton to go on the defensive. That meant that Patton was unable to follow up his plan that might have allowed his troops to reach the West Wall before the onset of bad weather.
    Patton was too impatient to sit idly by with German forces within striking distance and no amount of  grumbling would help. At the end of September 1944 fuel wasn’t the only commodity in short supply for the Third Army. Patton’s men also lacked howitzer ammunition, rain gear, blankets, and sufficient rations. Morale dipped as a result, and Patton set about finding a way to keep his troops in the fight––regardless of the dismal supply situation.

    [He] submitted to Bradley a plan …to continue limited offensive operations. “The whole plan was based … on maintaining the offensive spirit of the troops by attacking at various points whenever my means permitted it,” Patton wrote in his memoirs. In addition to keeping his various units in fighting trim, these limited attacks were meant to adjust the Army’s line in key places so as to give the units favorable departure points for resuming full-scale offensive operations once more fuel became available.

    Meanwhile Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force General Dwight D. Eisenhower and his staff envisioned a two-pronged offensive to capture the Ruhr and Saar industrial regions that fed the Third Reich’s belly. … First Army and Ninth Army would lead the primary attack against the larger Ruhr in the north, while in the south General George Patton’s Third Army would strike at the smaller Saar and therefore face Metz.

    Metz was an  ancient, 1500-year old fortress town on the Moselle River. It had been virtually  indestructible over the previous millennium with defenses that had prevented any army from conquering the city since Atilla the Hun in 451 AD. The sprawling fortress system spread six miles west of the River and reached back another four miles to the east of the old city. Metz was therefore the most heavily fortified city in Europe at the time, consisting of 43 forts arrayed in an inner and outer belt that together mounted 128 heavy guns.

    Bradley arranged for Patton to receive three fresh, untested divisions for the upcoming offensive…  [One of these was] Maj. Gen. William Morris’s 10th Armored Division, which did not take up its place on Walker’s left flank until November 2. Patton waited as the battle went nowhere for a month and a half.

    The fuel began arriving the first week of November. The only thing holding the Third Army back now was the inclement weather- neither the first nor last time that the weather would have an impact. Heavy rains transformed fields into quagmires, swept bridges off their moorings, and made existence miserable for GIs who lacked the most basic foul-weather gear. Shortages of galoshes and waterproof shoepacs caused an epidemic of trench foot.

It was in this stalled offensive that the 10th Armored Division would soon get its introduction to war.

    ◆    75 Years Ago
    ◆    25 October 1944
        The 10th Armored Division and Buddy’s 80th Armored Medical Battalion were spending their last day on the Cotentin Peninsula. Tomorrow morning at 0405 they will start their move toward the war.