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.

#50- Back to the War

Since mid-January, the 10th had been in reserve in Third Army territory. The Third Army was made up of III, VIII, XII, and XX Corps. It was mostly in a “mopping up” role from the Bulge. Meanwhile, planning had been in progress to resume the drive toward the Rhine that had been stalled with the German attack in the Ardennes. Patton was worried that his Third Army might be left behind. Nathan Prefer in Patton’s Ghost Corps says that one thing Patton did not want to do was “follow any other Army into Germany.”

The XX Corps was the only one of the four corps of the Third Army that was not engaged. They were the corps who, prior to the Bulge, had been significant in clearing the way into the fortress city of Metz and gave Patton a much-needed boost of ego. It was during that time that they came to be known as “The Ghost Corps.” The name came from POW interrogations where the  German prisoners referred to them in that way. As Prefer reports it, they “moved so fast and so often that the Germans couldn’t keep track of them.”

Now in early 1945, the XX Corps was made up of the 90th and 95th Infantry Divisions and the unattached 10th Armored sitting in reserve for refitting and regrouping after their rough time in the Bulge. To use the 10th as part of the XX Corps, approval was needed from SHAEF, Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Forces, i.e. Eisenhower. If they were to take the Saar-Moselle Triangle, much convincing would need to be done.

The Triangle was a small portion of the old German defensive line known as the Siegfried Line. A change was made in this area from Tier in the north down the triangle formed by the Saar and Moselle Rivers. The movement of war had formed the triangle and Patton needed to break it and capture Trier.

Throughout early February there were some skirmishes, attacks, and counter-attacks by other units. Due to being somewhat under-armed and understaffed, they were unable to bring the full resources to bear. Little significant progress was made. Nathan Prefer in Patton’s Ghost Corps says  “what gains were made was thanks to the skill and daring of the infantry, engineers, and artillerymen.

By mid-month decisions were being made both at SHAEF and in the Third Army. XX Corps would be going into action. The Tigers of the 10th Armored would be going with them. It was time to move back toward the war.

Company C of the 80th Medical will be assigned in support of CC B all month. They had been in Eschwiller since January 20. The Division had been in the territory of the Seventh Army. On 9 February they were ordered to move back to Patton, the Third Army and the XX Corps.

    •    Saturday February 10, 1945
Got up at 9.30. Went to the store. Did not feel so good. Came home and did not do anything
Diary, Beula Keller Lehman

    ✓    Company C Morning Report
    ✓    9-10 February 1945

9 Feb: Left Eschwiller at 1900. Traveled 39 miles via motor convoy enroute to Metz, France. Weather fair.
10 Feb: Convoy arrived Solgne, France at 0035 and billeted troops.
Departed Solgne and traveled 17 miles to Metz. Arrived 1250. Set up clearing station and billeted troops.

    •    Tuesday, February 13, 1945
Got up at 9.30. Did not do much. Called a taxi and went up and had my hair washed It is snowing.
Diary, Beula Keller Lehman

This movement was meant to be a stealth move for the Division. Company C left Eschwiller at 7:00 in the evening, were billeted just after midnight and started out again about 12 hours after arriving. Nichols, in Impact! reports that the return to Metz was surrounded by secrecy to keep the Germans from being aware of the movement. They removed all ID from the tanks and troops. When the leading forces arrived in the city which they had helped conquer in November they found a French boy with a sign:

Welcome back to Metz 10th Armored Tigers. 

They were the only Division remaining from the first assault on the Saar-Moselle Triangle in November-December 1944. This time, Nichols says, they would “set a model for tank-infantry teamwork.”

Charles Province in Patton's Third Army: A Chronology Of The Third Army Advance In World War II, described this time for the Division as :
12 Feb 1945- The 10th closed into the area around Metz
15 Feb 1945- The 10th continued rehab and training
18 Feb 1945- The 10th began movement to near the front to an assembly area
Prefer reports in Patton’s Ghost Corps that the decision was made by 16 February that the Allies would bring their full strength against the Germans on the morning 19 February.  This was issued in Field Order # 11. The 10th Armored would be used together with the 94th Infantry Division (which had replaced the 95th Infantry Division) as ordered in

Field Order#16- Clear the triangle!

The 10th was ordered to move and assemble at Perl on the left flank along the Moselle River. They were given three different plans depending on such items as advances, weather, and the development of bridgeheads. Be there and ready by 20 February. Since the 10th had been resting for less than a week behind the lines, they actually had a number of their troops on leave in Paris. They had to be quickly rounded up to return.

They were about to go back to war.

    •    Sunday, February 18, 1945

Got up at 9.30. Got dinner. It was a nice day. Ruth and I had a nice time. She left at 6. Called at 9.00 from the station
Diary, Beula Keller Lehman

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