Where the road (N595) does a large left hand loop there is a, , all the woods on the left were held by the 106th, and attached VIII Corps Artillery units, you do not have to walk far anywhere along this road to find the evidence. This main tarmac road was not there during the war, but the unimproved trail to the left was then the main access. The five 2-D maps are fine (strategic situation, German planned routes, initial attacks of 6th Panzer Army, destruction of the US 106th Division, and defense of St Vith) but the maps do not fully portray the US defense of the Elsenborn Ridge and even Peiper's route is difficult to follow with these maps. The headquarters group also brings with it a second cavalry squadron (18th Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron) to screen the Losheim Gap, which is on 106th Division’s left flank. Walking the many tracks will take you back up to the Schnee Eifel. Its population in 1944 was about 2,000, and its citizens were very much pro-German. Figure 1. It was here that Cavender joined them and finally gave the order for the 423rd to surrender. About 500 yards up this road is a small monument on the left, tucked into the trees. Devine directs the squadron to take up positions on a new defense line along the ridge running from Manderfeld to Andler, on the north side of the Our River. During summer, needless to say, everywhere dries out, so fire is a big risk. Drive into the tiny hamlet of Herzfenn; the 589th FAB were based in and around here. The German southern pincer, advancing from Bleialf against scattered American resistance, closes at nightfall on the Schnee Eifel Dec. 17. Opposing the Germans were units of U.S. VIII Corps. As you come out of the woods there is a, Here there are still some original old buildings dotted about, but, as with the rest of the area, it took its share of destruction. Supreme Commander GEN Dwight D. Eisenhower gives command of all troops north of the German advance to Montgomery, commander of 21st Army Group. Ridgeway arrives in Vielsalm. Just after Wereth, on the left at the edge of a field is a newly erected monument, this was erected in honour of the eleven black soldiers of the 333rd Field Artillery Battalion, a Corps artillery battalion attached to the 106th, who were murdered by the SS. The American positions east of the Our River become the Schnee Eifel Pocket. WAHLERSCHEID – The terrible Wahlerscheid Crossroads Battle “Heartbreak Crossroads” (99th Infantry and U.S 2nd Division). Large pits dug into the ground, which once were the emplacements for artillery pieces such as 155mm and 8 inch howitzers. In the centre is the Church, it was around this, that there was particularly vicious fighting those first few days. These defenders were led by U.S. 7th Armored Division and included 424th Infantry (106th U.S. Infantry Division), elements of 9th Armored Division’s CCB and 112th Infantry Regiment of U.S. 28th Infantry Division. His body was found nearby. Approaching the centre of town from the north, a large crossroads will be found with a roundabout. Before dawn, the German LXVI Corps renews its advance on the Our River. SEE REPORT PAGE 2 for After Action Reports of preparation and fighting of the entire 30th during the St. Vith Offensive of January, 1945. If you follow this road it will take you into the area of the other 106th Division regiment the 424th. Figure 2. The Battle of St. Vith, which began Dec. 16, 1944, was part of the Battle of the Bulge. See location map of 589th FAB for more details. Show Larger Map Battle of the Bulge summary. The high wooded mass south and to the left of Brandscheid is the Schnee Eifel. Here, they hold the village for the day; after dark, they destroy their vehicles and abandon their positions, withdrawing to St. Vith. St Vith, Lion in the Way by Colonel R Ernest Dupuy, reprinted by The Battery Press, INC, The Official Divisional History Last Assault by Charles Whiting, Leo Cooper, 1994, Healing the Child Warrior by Richard W Peterson Ph.d (A member of the 106th Division) U.S. Army in World War II The Ardennes, Battle of the Bulge by Hugh M. Cole, Deputy, Theater Historian, European Theater of Operations, U.S. Army. Turn right onto the E42, marked Verviers, Spa, eventually St Vith will be reached. This area is the Prumerberg heights, scene of the desperate defence by Colonel Riggs and his Engineers. Adding to this bad news for Jones, who is hoping for deliverance by the arrival of organized reinforcements, the situation isn’t improved by the appearance of a demoralized Devine with news that German Tiger tanks are right on his heels. It was here that we found 105mm ammunition in evidence and numerous hastily dug foxholes, ammunition boxes etc. Jones also controlled the 14th Cavalry Group, which occupied a line of strong points in the Losheim Gap, just 3 north of St. Vith, in th6 "gap" between V and VIII Corps. Cross the stream and head off up the hill. They ranged from Ber… In other villages, the cavalry troops are forced to withdraw earlier in the day to avoid being surrounded and cut off. By nightfall both regiments had regrouped for a counterattack, covering three miles to the base of the ridge forming the east side of the Our River valley, and are prepared to attack and capture the bridge at Schoenberg at 10 a.m. the next day. The Germans capture Steinebruck (six miles east of St. Vith), with its bridge over the Our River. Or, you can stay in any of the numerous ‘Gasthaus’ or smaller hotels scattered around the area. His timetable cded for the capture of St. Vith by 1800 hours on 17 Decem- ber. Also available: The Armor School’s publication, The Battle at St. Vith, Belgium Dec. 17-23, 1944. First, the scene-setting. This fact has caused many to lose sight of the importance of St. Vith and the gallant stand made for its defense by elements of corps troops, by remnants of 106th Division and by [Combat Command B (CCB)] of 7th Armored Division. Many of the characters in this article give their personal reflections of the battle there.) Its garrison wrote a brilliant chapter in history by denying the locality to the enemy; therefore, much of the comment pertaining to the Battle of the Bulge has centered around this important terrain feature. The region is typified by steep-sided valleys carved by swift-flowing rivers, the most prominent of which is the Meuse River. Jones had given the troops east of the Our River permission to withdraw at 9:45 a.m., but it was too late to organize an orderly withdrawal by that time. The place is littered with the clover leaf shaped trays that once were containers for shells and powder charges, and the lifting eyes for the shells are in abundance everywhere. Among the prisoners is PVT Kurt Vonnegut of 423rd Infantry Regiment, whose experiences as a prisoner of war form the basis of his novel Slaughterhouse-Five. The Losheim Gap is a 5 miles (8.0 km) long, narrow valley at the western foot of the Schnee Eifel, on the border of Belgium and Germany.Most accounts of World War II describing the Battle of the Bulge focus on the attack by the Germans around the Siege of Bastogne and the Battle of St. Vith, while the Germans' primary ambitions were actually anchored in taking the Losheim Gap. The famous American author Kurt Vonnegut was one such prisoner that passed through here. The offencive started on 16 December 1944 The Germans tried to repeat their 1940 performance and drive the Allies to a new Dunkirk Be prepared to do a lot of walking over rough terrain, so dress accordingly. Or, carry straight on looking out for a sign for Bleialf. Quite a pleasing site after scrambling around the rugged terrain. The road that goes right leads to Brandscheid, a village held at that time by the Germans. Through these localities were the road nets that, if held, would disrupt the plan of any aggressor. A word of warning here. Attacks from 1st SS Panzer Division have cut the Rodt-St. Vith road. Turn right for Bleialf. Continuing through, you will come back out onto the main road between Bleialf and the Schnee Eifel. The actual front-line foxholes of the infantrymen, are in the woods to the right of the road, about 300 to 400 yards on the forward slope. Schnee Eifel. A different group of scattered American soldiers numbering some 500 men surrender later, and by 8 a.m. Dec. 21, all organized resistance by U.S. forces in the Schnee Eifel pocket ends. Hidden from Allied air surveillance, the Germans massed their forces to attack through the Ardennes hoping to reach open ground beyond the Meuse for a dash to the coast. Some further good reading on the subject: A Time for Trumpets by Charles B MacDonald. Across the stream is a small wooden bridge. These are good value for money. St. Vith is built on a low hill surrounded on all sides by slightly higher rises. The LVIII Panzer Corps’ advance south of St. Vith threatens to close a pincer around the entire St. Vith salient at Vielsalm, 11 miles west of St. Vith, trapping most of First Army. Opposite the school is a bar, this was once Dietrich’s Headquarters for a time. As LTG Troy H. Middleton assessed in the foreword to the Armor School’s publication The Battle at St. Vith, Belgium, “Two of the most important tactical localities on the 88-mile front held by the VIII Corps in the Ardennes Forest at the beginning of the Battle of the Bulge … were Bastogne and St. Vith. St. Vith was largely destroyed during the ground battle and subsequent air attack. Six of the titan Tiger tanks attack from the Schoenberg-St. Vith road against American positions on the Prumberg. The Ardennes is otherwise relatively sparsely populated, with few of the cities exceeding 10,000 inhabitants – with a few exceptions like Eupen or Bastogne. Later as a prisoner of war he witnessed the destruction of Dresden by Allied bombers. In Andler there is the inevitable bar, Gasthaus Kessler. It is in the area where the road ends and leads into a track passing through the woods. (U.S. Army CMH) If the offensive were to succeed, the road networks running through the Krinkelt Forest in Dietrich’s zone, and St. Vith and Bastogne in Manteuffel’s zone, had to be taken in the first days of the German attack. All villages have at least one. It is now a private house. As you can imagine, any movement in this vicinity, could easily be observed from the German positions in and around Brandscheid, far on the horizon directly south. St. Vith (German: Sankt Vith; French: Saint-Vith; Luxembourgish: Sankt Väit, pronounced [ˌzɑŋkt ˈvæːɪ̯t]) is a municipality located in the Belgian province of Liège, and in the German speaking Community of Belgium.It was named after Saint Vitus.. On January 1, 2006, St. Vith had a total population of 9,169. He is aware Montgomery has already decided to withdraw from the St. Vith area. You can drive or walk up this fork road, which will lead you to the spot where the remnants of the 422nd surrendered. There are two really good museums that are worth a visit but are about an hour’s drive away. St. Vith represented the right flank in the advance of the German offensive, which intended a pincer movement on U.S. forces through the Losheim Gap and toward the ultimate objective of Antwerp. On leaving St Vith the road twists and starts to climb into the forest. Proceed straight across into Klosterstrasse and about a quarter of a mile on the right can be seen a monument dedicated to the 106th Infantry Division. The defenders’ battleground is the Ardennes. The 423rd Infantry crossed here, on its way to Hill 504. Left is signposted Schwarzer Mann, or as the Americans called it, ‘Bogeyman Hill’. Straight on will take you to Sellerich and eventually Prum. Clarke sees his first task as getting his command into St. Vith. Come back to the crossroads and turn right on to the N26. On the same day, the Germans were able to take St. Vith and Bastogne. Moving on will eventually bring you to Hill 504. It became known as ‘Little Verdun’, because it was captured and retaken so many times during the conflict. Here there are still some original old buildings dotted about, but, as with the rest of the area, it took its share of destruction. Follow the road across the bridge of the Ihrenbach stream – it starts to climb again. Moving along the Schonberg road towards Heuern (81st Combat Engineers HQ) look out for a decorative wrought iron works on the right, immediately opposite there is a small road north, on the left hand side. The 106th’s 424th Infantry Regiment is sent to Winterspelt. This was an average Belgian town, with a population of a little over 2,000 and sufficient billets to house a division headquarters. Into Schonberg, this is another place that has been rebuilt, even the bridge across the Our River is in a slightly different location. There are many hotels and guest houses in the larger towns of St Vith and Prum, both within easy reach of the battlefields. United States located in the town for their own usage. Now all is calm, the stately fir trees give welcome shade from the sun, but even now, standing alone next to a front line foxhole, starts the mind racing on how it must have been. The only significant check in the German advance is at Kobscheid, where 18th Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron had circled the village with barbed wire and dug in machineguns from their armored cars. Retrace your steps and come back up to ‘Skyline Drive’, turn left. The Ardennes’ most populous cities are Verviers in Belgium and Charleville-Mézières in France, both exceeding 50,000 inhabitants. POTEAU -VIELSALM – The Battles for Vielsalm, St Vith & the Poteau Crossroads near Recht. At the bottom is the hamlet of Ihrenbruck. Just before the large old custom house on the right, is a patch of woods, here was stationed Service Battery of the 589th FAB. When the local priest emerged after the initial battle bodies were strewn everywhere, both American and German. This spot was where the Germans started nosing up the hill towards the 589th FAB. Great care must be taken when parking, not to block the trails, these are not in constant use, but farmers or loggers have a nasty habit of creeping up on you and get fed up if they cannot get by. Timeline of Battle of St. Vith. Andler-Schonberg Road, viewed from Andler. This has the effect of breaking the defense into isolated positions, and denies corps and army commands information on events at the front line. First published on Warfare History Network, the article “The Battle of the Bulge: Avenging St. Vith” by our historian Kevin M. Hymel, recounts one of the critical battles fought during the Battle of the Bulge in the winter of 1944. As German troops mass on the opposite bank, 9th Armored blows up the bridge on the Our River at Winterspelt. The 3rd Battalion, what was left of it, was pulled back up the trail to the top. It’s quite a walk! Come back into Bleialf and pass the Church on your left, follow the road out and round until you come to a cross roads at the foot of the Schnee Eifel. This later went on to inspire him to write the classic novel Slaughterhouse Five. German soldiers find an undefended gap running between Weckerath to Kobscheid in the north. Shells, bits of half-track found at the base of Lindscheid Hill. It was a difficult place to take, owing to the many fortifications, for it was an intregal part of the West Wall or Siegfried Line. by Colonel R Ernest Dupuy, reprinted by The Battery Press, INC. by Richard W Peterson Ph.d (A member of the 106th Division) U.S. St. Vith represented the right flank in the advance of the German offensive, which intended a pincer movement on U.S. forces through the Losheim Gap and toward the ultimate objective of Antwerp. (John Jamele died May 25, 2011 with a memorial mass was held by Rev. Roads in the area are marked L: (Landes) = Country, K (Kreis) = County and B (Bundes) = National. However, even in retreat, 7th Armored presented an imposing obstacle to a successful German advance. At the end of the track another will be found running parallel to the Ihrenbach stream, turn right and follow the track until you come across a clearing. St. Vith sector. Most of the villages have been rebuilt since the war. It is a simple, inscribed cross, the monument was erected by the people of Meyerode in honour of Lieutenant Eric Fisher Wood of the 589th Field Artillery Battalion. After the mass surrender the majority of American prisoners spent their first night in the ground of this Church, before being marched off deeper into Germany. Looking up the road, there is a logging trail up on the left. Bunkers are abundant left and right of the road. Ridgway is still willing to consider holding positions in the area, but interviews with commanders change his mind. Where the road (N595) does a large left hand loop there is a lay-by on the right. This was cut through the woods and became the entrance to ‘Engineers Cut-Off’. The German Ardennes-Alsace Campaign attack is thrown in force at U.S. 106th Infantry Division. In the centre of the ridge is the Schwarzer Mann, the highest spot around. Bastogne was an important communications center and was worth the gamble made for its defense. Turning right immediately at the far end of the hamlet, will take you to the village of Laudesfeld where the 592nd FAB with its 155mm howitzers was emplaced. Moving along the Schonberg road towards Heuern (81st Combat Engineers HQ) look out for a decorative wrought iron works on the right, immediately, If you stay on this small road and get to Meyerode, there in the village outside the school is a German 75mm anti-tank gun. He had a meal in the cafe/bar opposite (Cafe Zwicker). They subsequently liberated this local area in January 1945. St. Vith area and surroundings, Monschau-Habscheid Zone, December 15-19th, 1944. Proceed up this road, first left will take you to Schlausenbach; Descheneaux of the 422nd had his headquarters in the Inn here. He turns over defense of the area to Clarke. At Spineux (Wanne), in the centre of the village there is a monument dedicated to the men of the 424th Infantry Regiment of the 106th Infantry Division and also to the men of the 112th Regiment of the 28th Infantry Division. This spot just about marks the boundary between the 422nd and the 423rd. Also here, was the 590th FAB which had only just set-up. LTG Courtney Hodges, commander of First Army, and Middleton commit combat commands of 7th and 9th Armored Divisions to support the 106th Division’s defense. This later went on to inspire him to write the classic novel, Drive south-west out of town for about one mile and you will see what used to be Bleialf railway station. This transforms them into isolated strongpoints guarding road intersections. As can be seen by the map drawn by a member of the 2nd Infantry Division on the 15/11/44, we can take it that, because the 106th relieved the 2nd, man for man, the various headquarters, motor pools etc would have been in the same positions, only the code words would have changed. Return to ‘Skyline Drive’, turn left into the village of Radscheid, Oberlascheid, Halenfeld and Buchet, where Cavender had his headquarters. There is still much to see on the top of the hill, numerous foxholes and shell craters. Here the 590th Field Artillery Battalion were in position, with Its firing batteries in the woods on the left of the road. This track was used by the 423rd Regiment and 590th FAB on their way to attack Schonberg. This is an official U.S. Army Website sponsored by U.S. Army Maneuver Center of Excellence (MCoE). Soldier Memories about the Battle of the Bulge. If you look up the open slope to the top of the hill, you will see where the 422nd Infantry came out of the woods and saw below them (where you are) vehicles ‘bumper to bumper’, the occupants of which then proceeded to open fire on them. To mark the spot there is a memorial with a 105mm Howitzer in position. COL Charles Cavender of 423rd Regiment counterattacks, which retakes the village of Bleialf. Like most towns in the Ardennes Forest, St. Vith lies in a bowl, surrounded by … Holding St. Vith has become more of a liability to the Americans than an asset. There is nothing dangerous lurking, apart from the odd wild boar, who can turn funny if disturbed or upset. Company L, 3rd Battalion, 423rd Infantry Regiment, came onto the Schonberg road at this point and met the captured Sherman tank, which opened fire on them (see page 108). Also there, is a petrol station, where somebody will serve you, chat about the weather and give the kids a sweet whilst they fill you up. Viewing south from this point, you will see where the main effort of the German attack came from, in their final onslaught to take Bleialf on 17 December. Attacking after dark at 5 p.m., the tanks fire star shells into American positions, blinding the defenders, and follow up with armor-piercing shells, destroying American defending vehicles. Typical of the sort of rusting artifacts to be discovered throughout the area of the Battle of the Bulge. These two regiments survived the initial onslaught in December, and joined together to form a Combat Team which went on to push the Germans back. LUXEMBOURG TOURS Come back to the crossroads and turn right on to the N26. CHAPTER XII. It is now a private house. Munitions are still lying about and are very dangerous, be careful what you pick-up. In Auw turn left again by the Church. He is now buried in the American War Cemetery at Henri Chapelle. Smoking in the forest is ‘Verboten’. This is the southern end of the Losheim Gap. OVERALL VIEW of the 117th St. Vith Offensive..Jan. 13th to 24th, 1945 Detailed map link found below: . Unless you visit the area in the depth of winter when there is two or three foot of snow on the ground and the temperature is well below freezing you cannot start to imagine how much the men suffered. This was the sight of Divisional Headquarters. A little before 5:30 a.m., a selective German artillery bombardment begins to fall on 106th’s forward positions on the Schnee Eifel, moving gradually back to the division headquarters in St. Vith. This is a sketch map, not to scale, but the furthest German advance covers about five miles. At the very sharp bend half way up the hill is a trail on the left. This is because the area was fought over for quite a long time, and many units passed through during the conflict from September 1944 to the beginning of February 1945. Editor’s note: The U.S. Army marks the 70th anniversary of the Battle of St. Vith in mid-December 2014. The town was virtually flattened in December 1944, little now exists of the original town buildings, although the road lay-out still remains the same. The people are very friendly on both sides of the border, each village no matter how small, seems to have a bar. Left is ‘Skyline Drive’, right and down the hill is Bleialf. The logging trail used by 3rd Battalion 423rd Infantry Regiment. Large pits dug into the ground, which once were the emplacements for artillery pieces such as 155mm and 8 inch howitzers. This monument was erected by the 106th Infantry Division Association and is cared for by the people of St Vith. A brass plate on the stone has an inscription to the men of the 106th and says, ‘Dedicated to the Men of the 106th Infantry Division who fought and died for their country 1944–45.’. You can get back on track by turning right in the village, and heading towards Wereth and Herresbach. Monument to the 106th Infantry Division in St Vith. More than 8,000 Americans were captured as German formations rampaged west, The American attack on Schoenberg launches at 10 a.m. as scheduled, but comes under German assault-gun and anti-aircraft gunfire from armored fighting vehicles on the ridge to their front and from German troops firing small-arms fire. In mid 1995 a new memorial was erected in front of the old. Viewing south from this point, you will see where the main effort of the German attack came from, in their final onslaught to take Bleialf on 17 December. This goes for the entire battleground. The famous American author Kurt Vonnegut was one such prisoner that passed through here. You cannot go any further by car. This is bad enough, but then tanks appear behind them and it is the last straw – the Americans are under fire from all sides and running low on ammunition. The 106th Infantry Division took over position for position. + Add to calendar 2020-12-16 11:00:00 AM 2020-12-16 12:00:00 PM America/Mexico_City 945 Magazine St, New Orleans, LA 70130 Lunchbox Lecture: "The Battle of St. Vith" by Mike Alexander During this Lunchbox Lecture, Mike Alexander will discuss how an unlikely collection of combat units delayed both the 5th and 6th Panzer Armies from a complete breakthrough in the … December 21 st, 1944 – United States forces were able to re-take Stavelot, Belgium. You are now in the thick of it, as they say. Just look for the ‘Bit Burger’ signs, an excellent local brew. At 9 a.m., 422nd and 423rd’s positions come under artillery bombardment. And St. Vith was the only place along the entire front where a railroad line crossed from Germany into the battle area. Winterspelt falls early in the day. Under orders from Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery, 7th Armored gave up St. Vith Dec. 21, 1944, and U.S. troops fell back to positions supported by 82nd Airborne Division to the west, as noted. The large hill on the left, covered in trees, is the famous Hill 504. Later as a prisoner of war he witnessed the destruction of Dresden by Allied bombers. As you come out of the woods there is a turning right that leads to Amelscheid, immediately opposite this in the open field, was the final position of the 589th Field Artillery Battalion, before it drove ‘hell for leather’ through Schonberg and some of it onto St Vith.

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