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"Battle of the Bulge - the second half." Topic

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362 hits since 16 Apr 2024
©1994-2024 Bill Armintrout
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Korvessa16 Apr 2024 4:03 p.m. PST

Is there a book that deals with the second half of the battle? I am specifically looking for info on the 17th Airborne's part of the battle – their first action was against the Furher Begleit Brigade around January 3rd or 4th.

I have read a couple of good books lately (Danny Parkers as well as Snow and Steel), but they both pretty much just sumarize things after the relief of Bastogne.

The 17th was a "green" unit – except for the 507th who were Normandy vets. It seems to me that an inexperienced elite, but basically light infantry unit against an equally elite, if not more so, veteran panzer unit would be a good read.

TimePortal16 Apr 2024 4:35 p.m. PST

It was in early January when the HQ began to fill losses in the ranks. They took volunteers from support units . My uncle was about Sargent with the MPs at a fighter base in England and volunteered to join a Mech infantry battalion of the 7th Armored Division. I have his shoulder patches from both units.
The level of casualties by many units were very high in the push back phase of the battle.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP16 Apr 2024 5:14 p.m. PST

Might find something useful here:
There's also a divisional history, 17th Airborne Division by Bart Hagerman. Turner Publishing Company 1999.

Note that if the Official History is right--and I regard Charles B. MacDonald as highly trustworthy--there's a tradeoff on the German side. The 11th Armored fought the Fuehrer Begleit, but when the 17th Airborne relieved them about 3-4 January, they wound up opposed to the 3rd Panzer Grenadier Division.

I'm not finding attached armor on 4-7 January, but by the 15th-17th, they've got the 761st Tank Battalion and the 811th TD Battalion attached. Both units have published unit histories, which might be helpful The 761st was the "Black Panthers"--the only black tank battalion in the ETO, and 811th would have had M18's.

Good luck, and let us know what you find.

Korvessa16 Apr 2024 6:52 p.m. PST

Thanks for the reply, Robert.
I am somewhat familiar with the Scions. I should probably join them (My dad served in the 507th), likely would have except they are on east coast and I live in California.
In answer to your request about what I have learned so far, from books that I have:
Battle of the Bulge, by Danny S Parker (also a wargame designer by the way).
West of Bastogne, the newly arrived 17th Airborne Division moved off in near zero visibility into a disastrous attack against the Fuhrer Begleit Brigade. Some battalions lost 40% of their strength in the violent German Counter attack which swirled through the villages of Pinsamnont, Rechrival and Hubermont. (p. 247)
In Patton's Army, the 87th Division continued its assault southwest of Bastogne, still frustrated by fanatic resistance from the Fuhrer Begleit Brigade before the village of Tillet. Nearby, the "gung-ho" paratroopers of Miley's 17th Airborne rushed Rechrival and Flamierge in spite of withering fire from the 3rd Panzer Grenadier Division. (p. 260)

Snow and Steel, for all its 700+ pages doesn't mention it at all. Interestingly, this book lists the book above as one of its sources.

Thunder from Heaven, by D R Ray
Has a few pages on what they call the battle of "Dead Man's Ridge" but is lacking on specifics. It does not name the German units, but does mention tanks and assault guns, even "Tigers."
The book I have that talks about the 17th in the Bulge the most (about 8 pages) is actually a book on Operation Varsity entitled, "Fout Hours of Fury," by James Fenelon. What follows is just a little bit from pp. 5-6.
Patton's Third Army Intelligence Officers assured General William Miley, the 17th's commander, that the enemy was fleeing before them…
Mailey's troopers, Naively trusting Third Army's Intelligence reports, left the line of departure in piecemeal fashion. It was there first mistake. Just as forward elements began their advance, Oberst Otto-Ernst Remer's Fuhrer Begleit Brigade launched an unexpected counter-attack. The brunt of the German force, lead by Panther tanks and half-tracks filled with two battalions of of crack panzer-grenadier infantry, hit the unprepared Americans like a brick in the face, stunning them to a halt.

Apparently Patton threatened to relieve Miley of he didn't keep moving, not realizing they had engaged the enemy's main attack. One corporal was awarded (posthumously) the CMH here. General Middleton said they, "Saved the Day" but criticized their aggressive spirit. The 17th had 519 KIA and almost 3500 WIA.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP16 Apr 2024 7:21 p.m. PST

You're welcome.

I caught a mention of them hitting and disrupting a German counter-attack without specifying a unit, so that tracks. But I hate to wargame poor visibility. Ruins the appearance of the game, and you really need a non-playing umpire.

And I'll confess to always wanting to check the German side when someone reports Tigers. I used to teach tank ID, and the results were bad enough in daylight and no one shooting at the observer. Not that I would have put my head up or tried for a good close look, you understand.

This just in. I have a very old memory--well into the previous century--of an account of the Bulge with enough detail of Remer's troubles getting the Brigade organized to suggest a first-hand account. Can't find a memoir, but OCMH (Office of the Chief of Military History) might very well have some sort of debrief made when he was a US POW 1945-47.

TimePortal16 Apr 2024 7:53 p.m. PST

Check Library loan programs for copies of units histories. I have several from my uncles and a Dixie Division from Korea, my fathers.
A lot can be found in major universities libraries which are also Federal Depositores. I have two within two hours of me.

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