If you read the reports of it that appeared in the US Newspapers you have to wonder exactly what all the fuss was about.Tom from Cornwall wrote:BTW I think that is what he was trying to say at the infamous press conference, and of course, in typical Montgomery fashion, "I told you so!"
The almost pathological US 'hatred' (I put it that strongly) of Monty appears to have no basis in reality.
—Field Marshal Sir Bernard L. Montgomery Sunday said Allied team work and especially the inherent “courage and good fighting quality” of American troops has halted the German drive into Belgium.
The battle is “far from over,” he asserted, but the Germans “have been halted, then sealed off, and we are now in the process of writing them off,” with the initiative in Allied hands.
At his first press conference in months, the colorful Briton, commanding four armies north of the German bulge told how Field Marshal Karl von Rundstedt’s thrust developed, and how he moved to meet it.
Time and again he stressed that above all it was the fighting ability of American doughboys and their “tenacity in battle that makes a great soldier” that has really saved the situation by the stands at St. Vith, Bastogne, and south of Monschau.
He singled out two American armored divisions, the 2d and 7th, and two United States airborne division, the 82d and 101st, and the 106th infantry as doing a great job. He also lauded the United States 7th corps, and praised Gen. Dwight Eisenhower’s leadership.
“What was Von Rundstedt trying to achieve? I don’t know,” Marshal Montgomery said in an hour-long talk. “The only guide we have is his order of the day which told his soldiers they must go all out on this last big effort.
“One must admit that he has dealt a sharp blow and he has sent us reeling back, but we recovered and he has been unable to gain any great advantage. He has therefore failed in his strategic purpose, unless the prize is smaller than his men were told.
“Von Rundstedt attacked on December 16,” he said. “He obtained a tactical surprise. He drove a deep wedge into the center of the 1st army and split American forces in two. The situation loomed as if it might become awkward. The Germans had broken right through the spot and were heading for the Meuse.
“As soon as I saw what was happening, I took certain steps myself to insure that if the Germans got to the Meuse they could certainly not get over that river. And I carried out certain movements so as to provide balanced dispositions to meet the threatened danger.”
Marshal Montgomery at the time had command only of the British 2d and Canadian 1st armies, and on his own he shifted some troops south to meet the threat.
“Then the situation began to deteriorate, but the whole Allied team rallied to meet the danger. National considerations were thrown overboard; General Eisenhower placed me in command of the whole northern front.”
“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 American lines of communications. Finally it was put into battle with a bang, and today British divisions are fighting hard on the right flank of the United States 1st army . . This is a fine Allied picture.
“We have halted the Germans, sealed them off, and are now writing them off. German divisions have suffered heavily, but I say this about a battle. It is a very great mistake to think it is over. The worst parts are over, but a great deal more must be done.
“There are two main reasons why Von Rundstedt was sealed off from achieving what he was after, The first of these is the good fighting qualities of the United States soldier, and- the second is Allied teamwork.
“I formed a very high opinion of the American soldier in Italy and Sicily,” Marshal Montgomery con¬tinued earnestly. “I have spent my life with the British soldier and I love the British soldier, but I have formed a great affection for the American soldier, who is a very brave fighting man who has that tenacity in battle which makes a great soldier.
“He is basically responsible for stopping Von Rundstedt from what he set out to do. “He held out at Elsenborn there south of Monschau (the 1st, 2d, 99th and 30th infantry divisions) when the great blow hit him and he stopped those SS panzer divisions.
“At St. Vith many United States troops were cut off and isolated but in little groups they fought and held on to those vital road junctions, forcing the Germans to halt. It was a very fine perform¬ance that the 7th armored division and the 106th infantry division borne division at Bastogne which put up a great performance.
“On December 20-21, I consulted General Hodges (Lieut. Gen. Courtney Hodges, United States 1st army commander) and suggested we must get those fine fighting men out of the St. Vith area and back in our lines
“The 82d American airborne division moved forward and got in contact with these elements and we pulled them back behind our lines. Then we ordered the 82d back to better positions but they did not want to come and they protested, but I assured them they had accomplished their mission and could withdraw with honor.
“I take my hat off willingly to such men.”
Discussing Allied teamwork, Marshal Montgomery said, “It was to me a remarkable thing how in the time of danger the Allied team rallied together. This thing of Allied solidarity is terribly im¬portant. Teamwork wins battles and battle victories win wars.
“On our team the captain is General Ike. I am devoted to him. We are great friends. We are all in this fight together and we must not allow any wedges to be driven between us. As an illustration of our friendship, the other day my plane was damaged, and I asked Ike for another, and he sent his own at once.”
In questions after the conference, Marshal Montgomery said the Germans still were “fine soldiers” and formidable enemies. He cited the January 1 attack of the Luftwaffe on Allied airfields as an example of German potentialities, saying “the enemy pulled a fast one on us.”
But this does not mean the German has air superiority, he continued, and “the biggest terror of the German soldier is our air force. On good days they shoot up every¬thing behind the German lines.”
The field marshal, in contrast with his press conferences last summer, declined to go into any predictions as to how long the war would last, or to estimate German capabilities.
But “in the balance, I don’t see how Von Rundstedt has gained very much.” he said