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Questions regarding some book titles on Ardennes 1944

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Re: Questions regarding some book titles on Ardennes 1944

Postby Trackhead M2 on 29 Sep 2012 14:48

Delta Tank wrote:
Pips wrote:Highly recommend "The Battle of the Bulge, Britain's Untold Story" by Charles Whiting.

Rarely mentioned in history books, the British contribution the the final victory in the Bulge is all but unknown. The decision was deliberate, based on politics at the time and the need to mend Anglo-American relations. Yet it was Montgomery who commanded more US troops for most of the battle than did 12th Army Group Commander General Bradley. It was Montgomery too who had three (3) divisions on their way to the Front two days before Patton's celebrated turn-around and drive north to Bastogne. And it was the combined British/American force that stopped the German armoured divisions heading to the key target of the bridges over the Meuse.

No one denies that the battle fo the Bulge was a great victory for American troops. Yet to better understand just how the battle progressed, the forces at play throughout the area, and to pay honor to the 2,500 British troops who died in the battle; the above book is required reading IMHO.


Can you back up this assertion with a book that does not quote this book as its source? I think this is bullshit, or close to bullshit.

Mike

Dear DT,
I realize you are retired Military, but maybe holding back on the saltier language however accurate it may be is a good idea. As to your issues with the Charles Whiting support cited by Pips, Whiting is not my favorite author to put it politely. His book on the Huertgen Forest battle spent too much time seeing it as a foreshadowing of what would happen in Vietnam and bashing William Westmoreland than telling the tale.
Strike Swiftly,
TH-M2
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Re: Questions regarding some book titles on Ardennes 1944

Postby Aber on 29 Sep 2012 16:51

Delta Tank wrote:
Pips wrote:Highly recommend "The Battle of the Bulge, Britain's Untold Story" by Charles Whiting.

Rarely mentioned in history books, the British contribution the the final victory in the Bulge is all but unknown. The decision was deliberate, based on politics at the time and the need to mend Anglo-American relations. Yet it was Montgomery who commanded more US troops for most of the battle than did 12th Army Group Commander General Bradley. It was Montgomery too who had three (3) divisions on their way to the Front two days before Patton's celebrated turn-around and drive north to Bastogne. And it was the combined British/American force that stopped the German armoured divisions heading to the key target of the bridges over the Meuse.

No one denies that the battle fo the Bulge was a great victory for American troops. Yet to better understand just how the battle progressed, the forces at play throughout the area, and to pay honor to the 2,500 British troops who died in the battle; the above book is required reading IMHO.


Can you back up this assertion with a book that does not quote this book as its source? I think this is bullshit, or close to bullshit.

Mike


Montgomery's signal to Brooke evening 17 December (quoted in Hamilton's biography):
'I am taking certain measures myself to ensure adaquate security in my southern flank and shall get 43 Div and Guards Armoured out of the area of Maeseyck tomorrow and move them west of the Meuse. I am also moving 53 Div from the Roermond area to Tirnhout'
ie moving 3 divsions to counter the threat

From Wilmot:
'During the morning (25 Dec) [2nd Panzer] reconnaissance battalion reported there was a screen of British armour along the Meuse...' ie 29 Armoured Brigade in contact with the tip of the thrust near Celles

During the Allied counterattack 6th Airborne, 51st and 53rd Divisions under XXX Coprs were engaged on the right of US VII Corps.
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Re: Questions regarding some book titles on Ardennes 1944

Postby canambridge on 30 Sep 2012 05:27

Thanks for clearing that up Aber!
So Monty was already moving British divisions to blocking positions on the Meuse before taking command of the northern sector. And following up on your leads (thanks again), the Br 6th Airborne was moved all the from Britain. The blocking units of Br 30 Corps were in place by 22 Dec. the only on-line reference I could find to combine British-American troops stopping the Germans at the Meuse bridges was this (from the US Army Green Books):
The British 29th Armoured Brigade was conducting its own private battle west of Foy–Notre Dame while pushing reconnaissance toward the Lesse River. The British knocked out three Panthers and some infantry near Sorinne, then shot up more German vehicles and took prisoners around Foy–Notre Dame. In the skirmish near Boisselles a few tanks of the British 3d Royal Tank Regiment and some British gunners gave a hand to Task Force A (of the US 2nd Armored Div).

Do you know if any other of the other British formations were engaged other than during the 30 Corps January 4-16 counterattack? I have found figures of 1400-2200 total (sources vary widely, but seem to agree on 208 KIA) British casualties. Would you happen to have seen a breakdown, pre and post Jan 4 for example.

Did Whiting actually claim that the British role was suppressed for political reasons? If so, that looks to be BS. The rest appears correct, at worst a little exaggerated and presented out of context.
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Re: Questions regarding some book titles on Ardennes 1944

Postby merdiolu on 30 Sep 2012 09:46

I recommend

The Battle - John Toland
Hitler's Last Gamble - Theodore Duput
The Untold Story of Battle of Bulge - Charles McDonald

As for British / American involment British manpower commitment was indeed minimal compered to US. 3rd British Armored Brigade helped 2nd US Armored Div. to repel and crush the tip of German penetration in Celles / Dinant area. Later 51st Highland Div. and 6th British Airborne Division joined to counterattack to erase the Bulge. Though tactical air support from RAF can also be seen as a significant factor in lending a hand....
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Re: Questions regarding some book titles on Ardennes 1944

Postby Aber on 30 Sep 2012 09:50

Don't have a lot more detail about the fighting involving British troops - what you posted above sounds right.

The key issue is Montgomery's press conference on 7 January. He said:

I employed the whole available power of the British group of armies: this power was brought into play very gradually and in such a way that it would not interfere with the American lines of comminacations. Finally it was put into battle with a bang and today British divisions are fighting hard on the right flank of the United States First Army. You thus have the picture of British troops fighting on both sides of American forces who. have suffered a hard blow. This is a fine Allied picture.


This caused a major reaction from Bradley and his staff, who thought that Montgomery was over-claiming credit. Whether they heard a BBC broadcast by Chester Wilmott or a spoof German version remains unclear. This blew up into a transatlantic spat (mostly in the press) and Churchill made a statement in the House of Commons emphasising that it was very much an American battle.

Thereafter British involvement has tended to be down-played eg the major history of the RAF (Terraine's - Right of the Line) makes no mention that as well as Montgomery taking over ground command, the RAF took over air command north of the Bulge. Again a kernel of truth stretched somewhat to sell books.

On the other hand Ralph Ingersoll, who was on Bradley's staff published in 1946 in 'Top Secret' -
[Eisenhower] lost [his nerve] when his British advisers lost their nerve and Montgomery panicked...

Leaving only a skeleton force in the line, and with remarkable agility for a man who was often so cautious, Montgomery moved the bulk of the British 2nd and Canadian 1st Armies back from Holland to a defensive semicircle around Antwerp, prepared for the last ditch battle he apparamntley thought he would have to fight there.


Whether Ingersoll believed this to be true, or knew he was stretching the truth (a long way), the Ardennes Battle, and the British role, has been a bone of contention to some authors.
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Re: Questions regarding some book titles on Ardennes 1944

Postby canambridge on 01 Oct 2012 10:19

Aber & merdiolu,
Thank you both for the information, it looks like I have more research to do on an interesting part of the battle.

merdiolu: I'll look into the books, but do you know if they also mention (or if they do, downplay) the British role? If they do cover it adequately, it looks like the claim that the British role was downplayed for political reasons is pretty much BS.

Aber, I do recall seeing something claiming that Montgomery had said something to the effect of "the "battle was lost" and that the allies should retreat to the line you outlined above. I don't think I've ever read "Top Secret" but just maybe ... I've read a lot of books over a lot of time. Some of the more forgettable ones, get ... forgotten. "top Secret" appears it would be in that category.
In any case that all sounds decidedly unlike Montgomery and doesn't seem to be in line with someone who just moved a full corps (and asked for reinforcements, 6th AB, from home) to the battle. Do you know if this story shows up anywhere other than "Top Secret". Which sounds like a marvelous piece of fiction by the way.
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Re: Questions regarding some book titles on Ardennes 1944

Postby merdiolu on 01 Oct 2012 16:45

sorry it would be Hitler's Last Gamble - Trevor N. Dupuy. My mistake. This book is most detailed one I have ever read so far and I think there is a part about British troops too. I am not certain. Read long time ago.

Another detail , Blood Dimmed Tide written by Gerard Astor has a most interesting description about 3rd Royal Tank Regiments ambush and engagement with advance guard of 2nd Panzer Divsion just short of Meuse. It also shows that when conditions are right and ably led Allied units could also triumph against larger German formations in small scale engagements.
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Re: Questions regarding some book titles on Ardennes 1944

Postby Aber on 02 Oct 2012 23:26

canambridge wrote:In any case that all sounds decidedly unlike Montgomery and doesn't seem to be in line with someone who just moved a full corps (and asked for reinforcements, 6th AB, from home) to the battle. Do you know if this story shows up anywhere other than "Top Secret". Which sounds like a marvelous piece of fiction by the way.


As far as I know it doesn't appear elsewhere (as it is untrue), but given that Ingersoll was on 12th Army Group staff I believe it reflects rumours and half truths he heard (eg if you didn't know that XXX Corps was out of the line already, then the instructions to move the divisions to new locations could be interpreted differently) and things he would like to be true rather than outright fiction.
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Re: Questions regarding some book titles on Ardennes 1944

Postby TedJ on 15 Nov 2012 07:56

I would highly recommend "A Time For Trumpets" by Charles B. MacDonald. The author was an infantry company commander during the battle and some of his narrative that concerns small unit action is gripping.

Regards, TedJ
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Re: Questions regarding some book titles on Ardennes 1944

Postby Christer Bergström on 15 Dec 2012 14:10

I am not recommending my own book on the Ardennes Battle in the winter of 1944/1945; I'm just saying that it will be published in the spring of 2013, first in Swedish, then hopefully followed by an English edition:

http://www.bergstrombooks.se/ardennerna.htm

All the best,

Christer Bergström
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Re: Questions regarding some book titles on Ardennes 1944

Postby Felix C on 19 Jan 2013 14:37

Have plenty of narratives histories but looking for book with large maps noting units defending/attack and location at given date.

Also, looking for a detailed look at Battlegroup Peiper.I have the Cook and Evans book but it is choppy in coverage.
I enjoy the Dupuy book but would like to have an oversized integral map/OOB to match the movements in the text.
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Re: Questions regarding some book titles on Ardennes 1944

Postby Dutto1 on 20 Jan 2013 22:14

Felix C wrote:Have plenty of narratives histories but looking for book with large maps noting units defending/attack and location at given date.

Also, looking for a detailed look at Battlegroup Peiper.I have the Cook and Evans book but it is choppy in coverage.
I enjoy the Dupuy book but would like to have an oversized integral map/OOB to match the movements in the text.


If you were to buy one book on the Battle this is the one.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Battle-Bulge-Th ... 409&sr=1-1
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