German ETO destroyed armor 1944-1945

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Shermaninterest
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Re: German ETO destroyed armor 1944-1945

Post by Shermaninterest » 04 Nov 2016 17:38

Michael Kenny wrote:
Shermaninterest wrote: I didn't know the losses were so high they had to ask for Shermans back.
The problem has its roots in the far too optimistic calcualtion made for the expected US loss rate in Normandy. Whoever made the decision got it badly wrong and it took several months to start feeding extra replacements into the pipeline that would then start turning up in France in late 1944. British stocks of spare Shermans were huge. They had a more realistic view of tank casualties and were able to cover their losses comfortably. In December 1944 an emergency transfer of 350 odd M4 were made from British depots to US forces. US ADs were running at below TOE but all this is relative. The weakest US AD (or even a Tk Batt.) would dwarf any 1944-45 Pz Divison.
I see, makes sense.

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Re: German ETO destroyed armor 1944-1945

Post by Shermaninterest » 04 Nov 2016 18:11

MarkN wrote:
Shermaninterest wrote:I was taking my information about the Armies from the order of battle on wiki. There the VIII was listed under the 3rd Army but it seems the corps was originally under the 9th Army. How would those losses then be assigned since they categorized into 3rd and 1st Army
Off the top of my head...

Initially (ie beginning of December), HQ 9th AD was under command VIII Corps which was under command US 1st Army. CCR 9AD was detached from HQ 9AD and under direct command HQ VIII Corps.

On (or around) 20 December, the whole of VIII Corps was chopped to US 3rd Army command.

***

CCB 10AD was under command HQ 10AD, part of XX Corps, US 3rd Army.

On 17th CCB 10AD headed north and left command of HQ 10AD and, on arrival in Bastogne, came under direct command VIII Corps, US 1st Army (which then became US 3rd Army on the 20th).

I forgot the date, but a few days later, CCB 10AD was placed under command HQ 101st Airborne Division, VIII Corps, US 3rd Army.

MarkNote: When under command VIII Corps and 101st AbnDiv, CCB 10AD would have sent its reports (incl. tank states) to those HQs NOT to HQ 10AD. Thus, not until CCB 10AD rejoined the remainder of the division would HQ 10AD have any idea about the 'losses' incurred in and arround Bastogne.

Those who have studied this sort of material see this as a natural and obvious obstacle put in the way of their research - but they understand what it means and the implications. Wiki 'experts' and those who have read a few books simply cannot grasp the relevance nor the context.
I see your point but that just supports Bergstrom's argument that the data is incomplete, doesn't it? Or at best it his hard to figure out which report went where. Researchers like Richard Andersons are reliant on reports from depots or what not of how many Shermans were written off, the data was then compiled and historians further tried to compile the data but at the basis we just have reports of repair facilities and of units without any way to compare them against strength reports of units. How is it possible to know if those reports were complete? We don't take German reports for face value. That's why there are no lists for losses for specific time frames of specific units unless somebody has all those lists and refuses to publish them. For Allied units, regardless of the battle, I never saw complete lists of losses per unit, never. No historian who wrote a book about the ETO was able to gather that information as far as I know. The only numbers available are the numbers used by Mr. Anderson or Zaloga which are the final compilation of the US forces. Those numbers just seem to be tallied totals of countless reports with even the Army having then having no way to counter balance them. At some point I was trying to find out about the tank battles in Tunisia, I was unable to find any hard numbers about the losses of the 1st AD. Nobody seems to have those numbers. We all exchanged 20+ messages about the 10th AD in a specific time frame and nobody listed any hard write-off numbers and their origins. If Bergstrom would be completely wrong Mr. Anderson would have just posted the actual write off number for the 10th AD as part of the 3rd Army 132 write-offs. Assuming he compiled the 132 he should know which unit lost how many tanks right? At least roughly. But there isn't such number because all the figures are compilations from different reports which were submitted independently from units and repair facilities. The same problem is there for the Wehrmacht but here historians even have counts per unit those can be verified by strength reports to get a rather accurate picture. "A" amounts of tanks went in they were reinforced by "B" and "C" tanks left the area with "D" remaining. Nobody has a clue how many replacement tanks were delivered to the units during the Bulge. Here again, I just assume that because Mr. Anderson has not posted the number. In another post. Mr. Anderson said that about 25% of tanks were kept in reserve as replacements. The two US armies supposedly used those up and still had their units understrength + 350 from the British Army. But the 3rd Army wrote off only 132 in December?

edit: Just as side note, look how mkenny on his own was able to decrypt German and British losses in several engagements in Normandy. Most "official" numbers for this time were totally of especially for the Wehrmacht. Goodwood numbers were wrongly published because the report had mistakes in them. The Wehrmacht numbers even seem easier to follow for historians due to a different replacement system. Why such trust in US numbers when nobody even has a clue about loss numbers for single units? Maybe mkenny can start digging into the Ardennes battle and unearth the truth for us :D

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Re: German ETO destroyed armor 1944-1945

Post by Michael Kenny » 04 Nov 2016 18:45

Allied Units did not decide what was a total loss and what was a casualty. They had a given TOE and when a tank was damaged/knocked out/became detached from the unit etc. they simply struck it from the unit and put in for a replacement. They reported what they had available and how many tanks they had that were damaged but repairable in under 24 hours. More damaged tanks went to workshops. At some date after the workshop received a tank it would either be repaired or scrapped. That is when a tank became a total loss. Thus an Allied Unit that shows a decrease of 20 tanks in one day is not reporting 20 tanks as total losses. It simply reports that they had to turn over up to 20 tanks to workshops. It is entirely possible that every tank they strike from the unit is repaired and put back into service. So a Unit showing a shrinkage of 20 tanks could have no 'total loss' tanks at all. A tank may be referred to by the unit as a 'loss' but that just means it is a loss to the unit and not that the tank is a total loss. An Army Group can record it lost 500 tanks in a X months whilst the workshops can record they wrote off only 300 tanks in the same period and both would be correct.
In a nutshell looking at Unit daily returns and assuming all shrinkage is to be classed as destroyed tanks is a mistake. A common mistake but a very big mistake.
Last edited by Michael Kenny on 04 Nov 2016 18:54, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: German ETO destroyed armor 1944-1945

Post by Michael Kenny » 04 Nov 2016 18:52

Shermaninterest wrote:[

edit: Just as side note, look how mkenny on his own was able to decrypt German and British losses in several engagements in Normandy.
No he has not. I can sometimes find examples where we can count wrecks on photos and thus set parameters but the more you dig the more you find it is a hopeless task. There is simply do definitive count for any nations losses. What we can do is show that every nations tank kill claims are inflated. The problem is there are those (not as many as there used to be but still a significant number) who believe one nation had a completely foolproof method of kill counting and that all their claims should be taken at face value. Don't even start me on that bogus classification of 'non combat loss'................................

Shermaninterest
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Re: German ETO destroyed armor 1944-1945

Post by Shermaninterest » 04 Nov 2016 19:07

Michael Kenny wrote:
Shermaninterest wrote:[

edit: Just as side note, look how mkenny on his own was able to decrypt German and British losses in several engagements in Normandy.
No he has not. I can sometimes find examples where we can count wrecks on photos and thus set parameters but the more you dig the more you find it is a hopeless task. There is simply do definitive count for any nations losses. What we can do is show that every nations tank kill claims are inflated. The problem is there are those (not as many as there used to be but still a significant number) who believe one nation had a completely foolproof method of kill counting and that all their claims should be taken at face value. Don't even start me on that bogus classification of 'non combat loss'................................
Well don't be humble there are still books getting printed who get it wrong with Goodwood...

BTW I understand the American system now enough to at least know that a shrinkage of 36 tanks does not mean those were write-offs, I think it is obvious that I didn't suggest anything like that. But if somebody here really implies that a unit that was likely fed constant replacements ( evidence to the contrary? ) and had a shrinkage by 36 Shermans only suffered 7 write offs, then I would think the person is entrenched in a view regardless of evidence. Those casualties likely are battle casualties with a low amount of mine/mobility damage and we are supposed to assume they repaired +80% of those even before taking replacements into account? No way...

Anyways this topic got me interested I will try to do some layman research. I think Bergstrom has a strong point worth exploring.

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Re: German ETO destroyed armor 1944-1945

Post by MarkN » 04 Nov 2016 19:10

Shermaninterest wrote:I see your point but that just supports Bergstrom's argument that the data is incomplete, doesn't it?
No. It doesn't.

Bergstrom doesn't make an argument that the data is incomplete. He uses incomplete data as an excuse to explain why his numbers don't add up.
Shermaninterest wrote:Researchers like Richard Andersons are reliant on reports from depots or what not of how many Shermans were written off, the data was then compiled and historians further tried to compile the data but at the basis we just have reports of repair facilities and of units without any way to compare them against strength reports of units.
No. He is not "reliant" soley on ordnance write offs. He's already posted up here for you data on 10AD unit returns.

His point, most valid, is that the two data sets are incompatible. Incompatible because the context of the data is different - not because of lack of completness. Anybody trying to compare the two as an academic exercise will automatically fail the credibility test.

Now, why are you so concerned by the lack of completeness and compatibility? Operational units generated data which was of use to them. Ordnance units generated data which was of use to them - sadly, in the case of the US in NWE - it cause logistic problems and undersupply of reinforcements.

No military unit of any army was looking to produce data and statistics that amateur historians, war gamers and other such folk might demand 70 years later.
Shermaninterest wrote:We all exchanged 20+ messages about the 10th AD in a specific time frame and nobody listed any hard write-off numbers and their origins.
If it interests you that much, take yourself off to the US archives and read the 10AD files. If you can't get there, engage a researcher to do it for you.

Key difference in the exchange in this thread.

On one side there is a researcher who has spend many, many hours combing through primary sources to extract data and then analyse it. That poster is very generously posting up what he has found and adding little of his own interpretation to those numbers. You can take the numbers he offers, or leave them. But they are numbers from the primary records.

On the other side is somebody who has read wiki and some books. That person has what he believes is an insight that he is determined to share and "convince" others of its veracity, relevance and importance. Problem is, his insight is based on the very same sets of raw data which have been reinterpreted by an author AND THEN misunderstood and represented in a completely different context.

It's not so much that Bergstom is wrong, it's the extent to which your multiple assumptions upon assumptions and lack of historical knowledge and understanding have sent your thought process down completely the wrong alley. Remember, it is your assertion that "numbers dropped massively" not Bergstrom's and that it is you, not Bergstrom, that feels "7 write-offs sounds outlandish". You invented "7 write-offs", and your argument of massive drop in numbers is based upon your false understanding of the forces involved. When you wrote, "The figures are too low due to missing data", I laughed. The missing data is your knowledge. No more than 10 Shermans from 10AD got close to Longvilly - that's why the numbers are low. Not beacaue Richard Anderson is a bad researcher who is reliant on dodgy figures. The figures are low because the forces you imagined to be there were nowhere near there.
Shermaninterest wrote: edit: Just as side note, look how mkenny on his own was able to decrypt German and British losses in several engagements in Normandy. Most "official" numbers for this time were totally of especially for the Wehrmacht. Goodwood numbers were wrongly published because the report had mistakes in them. The Wehrmacht numbers even seem easier to follow for historians due to a different replacement system. Why such trust in US numbers when nobody even has a clue about loss numbers for single units? Maybe mkenny can start digging into the Ardennes battle and unearth the truth for us :D
Michael Kenny seems to be on a mission to rewrite the historical understanding of tank battles in NWE. He is very quick to remind people that the number of pantsers written off by the Germans to combat activity was significantly lower than the number involved and damaged. He then suggests the data which exists is deceptive in this respect because many later written off as 'captured after depot overrun' hides the true extent of battle damage. Whilst there is something in what he writes, the reality is the very same was going on in both US and British military organisations too - for pretty much the very same reason.

You will never find the information you are looking for. The people making records at the time had no interest in compiling such statistics.

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Re: German ETO destroyed armor 1944-1945

Post by MarkN » 04 Nov 2016 19:11

Shermaninterest wrote:... then I would think the person is entrenched in a view regardless of evidence. ...
Projecting again.

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Re: German ETO destroyed armor 1944-1945

Post by MarkN » 04 Nov 2016 20:37

The story of Bastogne has largely been written around the efforts of 101st Division paratroopers. Whilst nothing should be taken away from their efforts, history has not been too kind on the many others that stood side by side with the paratroopers or those that bought the time for them to dig in.

Over recent years, CCB 10AD have come in for some well deserved recognition too.

However, would either have even managed to get to Bastogne in the first place, let alone defend and hold it, had it not been for the pre-existing VIII Corps units delaying the German advance. This extends principally to the infantry of 28th Infantry Division who were supposedly in a quiet sector to recuperate and regenerate after major losses in the weeks earlier. Similarly, 4th Infantry Division to their south and the untried and untested infanteers of 106th Infantry Division to the north.

"The first phase of the historic defense of Bastogne consisted primarily of armored action."
(John S.D. Eisenhower, The Bitter Woods: The Battle of the Bulge (New York: Da Capo Press, 1995), P.307.

And then there was the 9th Armoured Division. Also untested and in the line for the first time. HQ and CCB wedged between 4th and 28th Infantry Divisions, CCA holding another part of the line and CCR in VIII Corps reserve. A reserve that, with stragglers from 28th and 106th IDs, kept the Germans out of Bastogne long enough for the paratroopers and CCB 10AD to arrive.

Have a read of these...
http://warfarehistorynetwork.com/daily/ ... the-bulge/
http://www.battleofthebulgememories.be/ ... -days.html
http://www.battleofthebulgememories.be/ ... -1944.html
http://www.battleofthebulgememories.be/ ... lgium.html
http://www.battleofthebulgememories.be/ ... front.html

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Re: German ETO destroyed armor 1944-1945

Post by Richard Anderson » 05 Nov 2016 02:28

MarkN wrote:No. He is not "reliant" soley on ordnance write offs. He's already posted up here for you data on 10AD unit returns.
Thank you Mark. I will reply to you since you seem to actually understand. Otherwise, as a former instructor in critical thinking, I find the rampant confirmation and accommodation bias fascinating. :D
His point, most valid, is that the two data sets are incompatible. Incompatible because the context of the data is different - not because of lack of completness. Anybody trying to compare the two as an academic exercise will automatically fail the credibility test.
To be exact, we are dealing with three data sets.

One was that compiled from the vehicle record cards by the AFV&W Section for the "months" of the ETO, beginning 6-20 June and then running from the 21st to the 20th of each succeeding month. These are the only data for "write offs" since that it was they compiled from the VRC. Fundamentally, when a vehicle was "lost" it either was missing or it was damaged and unrepairable in less than 24 hours. The latter were evacuated from the unit to a Ord. Hvy. Maint. Co. (Tk) for further evaluation and possible repair. Repair vehicles were used as replacements, some many times and to different units. Those found unrepairable were "written off" - the VRC was closed and it was no longer available for issue, usually stripped for parts and the remains sold for scrap postwar (some were also cut up for use in the "Ersatz M4A3E2" program). A missing vehicle was usually eventually found - many were simply not recoverable after lost - and then went through the same process. These are the only vehicles "written off".

Note that the VRC and serial lists for U.S. Army vehicles were destroyed sometime in the early 1960s. Those are the only records actually culled.

The second was initially compiled by the Armor Section, First Army (later 12th Army Group), beginning on 1 July and then "weekly" (although 5 and 8 day periods were also tracked) of tank losses. When Third and Ninth Army went operational, they also compiled the report. These reported losses to tank units in the army during the period and included all vehicles evacuated from the units. Since they were dependent on unit reporting up the chain of command, various units were unable to report a different times.

Both these data sets were intended to track losses. They were used to argue for changing the replacement factor, demonstrating the initial assumptions were too low. They were internal Ordnance Department reports outside the tactical and operational chain of reproting.

The third set is different. It was the operational status report, done at 2200 hours each day. It reported operational status by unit in the three categories already mentioned. They were operational reports and were the concern of the G-3, since they told how effective a unit was. However, it did not report losses or write offs, just operational status.

Note the first two were not time sensitive and in many cases, what they reported, especially WRT write offs, were not always timely. Especially WRT write offs, the "loss" may have occurred days or even weeks before the write off assessment was made. The army loss reports were more timely, probably overlapping reporting periods by no more than a day, but since they reported all "losses" (evacuated or missing) they may or may not be similar to the write offs for a similar period (and the periods of the reports were never exactly the same - again, two different organizations, two different reports, two different purposes). The other problem is that it is obvious this data set is what was reported. If a unit was out of contact, then no report occurred. The last problem is that since it was a compiled army report, we do not know who reported and when...there is no divisional or battalion breakdown and we do not always know who was inclusive to the army, which is problematic WRT 9th AD and 10th AD in particular.

Of course, there are also the S-3/G-3/Ordnance records of the divisions and battalions...except they also were more concerned with operational status than exact reporting of losses...and their loss reports were usually non-specific. Often we do not know if a "loss" was repairable or evacuated. They simply had other concerns than helping resolve issues for war gamers 70 years later.

Note by the way, in none of these cases have I "compiled" the reports. They compiled them. I simply took the reports and created Excel spreadsheets from them.
Now, why are you so concerned by the lack of completeness and compatibility? Operational units generated data which was of use to them. Ordnance units generated data which was of use to them - sadly, in the case of the US in NWE - it cause logistic problems and undersupply of reinforcements.

No military unit of any army was looking to produce data and statistics that amateur historians, war gamers and other such folk might demand 70 years later.
Exactly.
If it interests you that much, take yourself off to the US archives and read the 10AD files. If you can't get there, engage a researcher to do it for you.
Armored Division reports are problematic. Because of the organizational structure, status reports can be at division, CC, or battalion, and with attachments and detachments it is often difficult to tell what is being included and they rarely report "losses" again except anecdotally. 3d AD (and to a lesser extent 2d AD) were different because they had a more robust Ordnance battalion organization, which tended to track loss, repair, and evacuation issues more completely than the separate battalions and other armored divisions.
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Re: German ETO destroyed armor 1944-1945

Post by Richard Anderson » 05 Nov 2016 02:45

MarkN wrote:And then there was the 9th Armoured Division. Also untested and in the line for the first time. HQ and CCB wedged between 4th and 28th Infantry Divisions, CCA holding another part of the line and CCR in VIII Corps reserve. A reserve that, with stragglers from 28th and 106th IDs, kept the Germans out of Bastogne long enough for the paratroopers and CCB 10AD to arrive.
A bit more complex than that.

9th AD was assigned to First Army and attached to VIII Corps as of 16 December 1944. CCB was detached 12 December and attached to the 2d ID, V Corps. Elements of CCA was supporting the right of the 28th ID and the left of the 4th ID and on 17 December the division HQ (then at Walferdange) and the rest of CCA were committed there. CCR remained in VIII Corps reserve near Bastogne and was later committed to the delaying action at Longvilly.
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Re: German ETO destroyed armor 1944-1945

Post by MarkN » 06 Nov 2016 21:02

Richard Anderson wrote:
MarkN wrote:And then there was the 9th Armoured Division. Also untested and in the line for the first time. HQ and CCB wedged between 4th and 28th Infantry Divisions, CCA holding another part of the line and CCR in VIII Corps reserve. A reserve that, with stragglers from 28th and 106th IDs, kept the Germans out of Bastogne long enough for the paratroopers and CCB 10AD to arrive.
A bit more complex than that.

9th AD was assigned to First Army and attached to VIII Corps as of 16 December 1944. CCB was detached 12 December and attached to the 2d ID, V Corps. Elements of CCA was supporting the right of the 28th ID and the left of the 4th ID and on 17 December the division HQ (then at Walferdange) and the rest of CCA were committed there. CCR remained in VIII Corps reserve near Bastogne and was later committed to the delaying action at Longvilly.
I think I got my CCA and CCB mixed up. Serves me right for posting off the top of my head. At least I got CCR in the right place.

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Re: German ETO destroyed armor 1944-1945

Post by Juha » 11 Nov 2016 00:54

Shermaninterest wrote:... I am also sure Bergstrom knows the difference between temporarily losses and total write-offs.
I'm not totally sure on that, after all 12 year ago he claimed that RAF had 3 categories of damaged/lost planes
Cat. 3 is an immediate total destroyed, e.g. missing;
Cat. 2 is severely damaged beyond repair and scrapped, i.e. also a total loss;
Cat 1 repairable by the operating unit.

So according to him if the unit(squadron) could not repair the plane, it was a total loss. Totally illogical, more so when we remember that British had besides the RAF's own repair organisation the big civilian repair organization. In fact Cat 2 was repairable but beyond unit's capacity.

In fact because Christer had written a book (in Swedish) on BoB before that it is difficult to believe that he was so ignorant of the British maintenance and repair systems. Maybe he was but I suspect that the reason behind the whole exercise was to make German fighter pilots’ claims look more accurate.

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Re: German ETO destroyed armor 1944-1945

Post by Sheldrake » 11 Nov 2016 09:38

MarkN wrote:
Richard Anderson wrote:
MarkN wrote:And then there was the 9th Armoured Division. Also untested and in the line for the first time. HQ and CCB wedged between 4th and 28th Infantry Divisions, CCA holding another part of the line and CCR in VIII Corps reserve. A reserve that, with stragglers from 28th and 106th IDs, kept the Germans out of Bastogne long enough for the paratroopers and CCB 10AD to arrive.
A bit more complex than that.

9th AD was assigned to First Army and attached to VIII Corps as of 16 December 1944. CCB was detached 12 December and attached to the 2d ID, V Corps. Elements of CCA was supporting the right of the 28th ID and the left of the 4th ID and on 17 December the division HQ (then at Walferdange) and the rest of CCA were committed there. CCR remained in VIII Corps reserve near Bastogne and was later committed to the delaying action at Longvilly.
I think I got my CCA and CCB mixed up. Serves me right for posting off the top of my head. At least I got CCR in the right place.
CCB played a heroic role at St Vith, the northern counterpart to Bastogne, where it was arguably more important in imposing delay

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Re: German ETO destroyed armor 1944-1945

Post by Richard Anderson » 11 Nov 2016 17:47

Sheldrake wrote:CCB played a heroic role at St Vith, the northern counterpart to Bastogne, where it was arguably more important in imposing delay
Yep. Few seem to realize that the first reinforcement sent to the 106th ID was CCB, 9th AD and not the 7th AD. Hoge's actions ensured the defense would not collapse, even though he was unable to rescue the two regiments of the 106th in the Schnee Eifel.

Of course, the 424th Infantry, 106th ID and 112th Infantry, 28th ID also played major roles, tying in to the southern flank of the defense and providing a welcome addition of infantrymen.

In a similar vein, everyone focuses on the 101st AbnD at Bastogne and misses the roles of CCR, 9th AD, CCB, 10th AD, remnants of the 110th Infantry, the 333d FA Bn, 755th FA Bn, 771st, 775th FA Bn, 969th FA Bn, and the 705th TD Bn. The stories of the 333d FA Group (333d FA, 771st FA, and 969th FA) and the 705th TD are remarkable. The 333rd FA Group displaced from the Schnee Eifel under attack and moved to Bastogne on order with the 333d and 771st FA Bn (it's two "Colored" battalions) losing heavily to German attacks, while the 705th TD displaced on orders from Ninth Army to get to Bastogne.
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Re: German ETO destroyed armor 1944-1945

Post by Sheldrake » 13 Nov 2016 12:37

Richard Anderson wrote:
Sheldrake wrote:CCB played a heroic role at St Vith, the northern counterpart to Bastogne, where it was arguably more important in imposing delay
Yep. Few seem to realize that the first reinforcement sent to the 106th ID was CCB, 9th AD and not the 7th AD. Hoge's actions ensured the defense would not collapse, even though he was unable to rescue the two regiments of the 106th in the Schnee Eifel.

Of course, the 424th Infantry, 106th ID and 112th Infantry, 28th ID also played major roles, tying in to the southern flank of the defense and providing a welcome addition of infantrymen.

In a similar vein, everyone focuses on the 101st AbnD at Bastogne and misses the roles of CCR, 9th AD, CCB, 10th AD, remnants of the 110th Infantry, the 333d FA Bn, 755th FA Bn, 771st, 775th FA Bn, 969th FA Bn, and the 705th TD Bn. The stories of the 333d FA Group (333d FA, 771st FA, and 969th FA) and the 705th TD are remarkable. The 333rd FA Group displaced from the Schnee Eifel under attack and moved to Bastogne on order with the 333d and 771st FA Bn (it's two "Colored" battalions) losing heavily to German attacks, while the 705th TD displaced on orders from Ninth Army to get to Bastogne.
Bruce C Clarke, when SACEUR, tried to raise the profile of the defence of st Vith with a very good set of stuidies and a documentary film.
St Vith is still eclipsed by Bastogne with "band of brothers" making it the No 1 destination and the Malmedy Massacre and Battle of the Bulge film making the route of KG Peiper the #2. It is a struggle to sell the virtues of St Vith as a battlefield destination, despite lots of extant trenches and some great stories

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