OUR 'RISK' MAY WIN BRADLEY DECLARES
War Could Turn on Calculated Chance Taken In Ardennes General Suggests
AREA HELD NOT STRATEGIC
12th Army Group Leader Hails His Men-Recieves Bronze Star From Eisenhower
12th ARMY GROUP HEADQUARTERS
Jan. 9-—Lieut. Gen. Omar N. Bradley, Twelfth Army Group commander, told the story of the Ardennes today, explaining for the first time the German breakthrough of Dec.16 When this battle is over and the salient closed events may prove, he said, that the German losses in men, matériel and morale may materially effect the enemy’s ability to resist on the western front.
He indicated, although he did not say it, that this breakthrough, which appears so disastrous at first, may be. the turning point in the war, shortening rather than prolonging it.
Discussing the actual breakthrough: and the steps leading to
it, General Bradley said that the attack was in direct result of the pressure exerted by the American First, Third and Ninth Armies along with forces of the Sixth Army group. This pressure was brought against a weakening German defense line and was threatening vital areas in the Reich. ' Some diversionary attack was indicated to curb these Allied offensives and give the Germans time to regroup. It was known that the Germans were building up their forces in the Cologne area some weeks before the counter-attack and the possibility of an attack at the spot where they later came through had been under study by General Bradley.
· "In leaving the Ardennes line lightly held. we took what is known in military terminology as a 'calculated risk' to strengthen our northern and southem drives," the General said. "In other words, instead of employing our surplus divisions in the then quiet Ardennes, we used them to attack in other sectors. This technique of striking boldly while taking calculated risks is what has gotten us to the German border." While General Bradley was praising the men who fought in the Ardermes, Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower was paying tribute to his generalship by awarding the Bronze Star to him. The citation follows:
On Dec. 16. when the enemy lauched his counter-offensive on the Ardennes front. General Bradley quickly appreciated the possible consequences and made arrangements within his army group. As the hostile attack drove forward in the center, General Bradley Instantly sensed the points at which principal defensive meuures should be concentrated. Realizing that the maintenance of communications with his northern flank would be difficult, he turned over to Field ` Marshall Montgomery temporary operational control of the Ninth and that part of the First Army on the north of the penetration while he devoted himself to the southern flank. With his tactical skill, clear in-sight, decision and unfaltering , determination, he not only made rapid counter-attacks to insure the integrity of key points of his position but eventually withstood the furious attacks of the main portion of the hostile forces and seriously disrupted the hostile plan of attack. [Prime Minister Churchill sent congratulations Tuesday to General Bradley on his receiving the Bronze Star, a, dispatch from Allied Supreme Headquarters. The Associated Press disclosed.]
BRADLEY STATEMENT ·
UNITED STATES TWELFTH
ARMY GROUP HEADQUARTERS
General Bradley's statement:
The German attack was a direct result of pressure exerted by
the Ninth, First and Third American Armies-and the forces of
the Sixth Army Group—against a weakening German defense line.
Advances made during November and December were threatening vital German areas; It was necessary that the Germans launch some diversionary attack in suificient strength to cause the Allies temporarily to stop their
offensive against these vital areas—and to try to gain time. The build-up of German forces had been observed In the Cologne area for some weeks before the
attack, and the possibility of a German attack through the
Ardennes was thoroughly studied by me and my staff. ’
In leaving the Ardennes line lightly held, we took what in known in military terminology as a "calcuIated risk" to strengthen our northern and southern drives.
In other words, instead of employing our surplus divisions in
the then quiet Ardennes, we used them to attack in other sectors.
This technique of striking boldly while taking calculated risks is what has gotten us to the German borders. In my opinion, had we followed the more cautious policies, we would still be fighting west of Paris. We felt in the case of the Ardennes that we could take this risk because the territory contains no strategic objectives or large supply instalations and when [Field Marshal Karl von] Rundstedt sent his troops into action with orders to live on American dumps, they found slim picking: in the empty pockets.
Many of the prisoners we have captured have been hungry and we have now captured many tanks and vehicles stalled for lack of fuel.
Timing and Strength s Surprise
The actual. timing of the attack and its strength were some-
what of a surprise. The attack was skillfully launched and
Rundstedts movement of his reserves from the Cologne area to the jump-off position in the Siegfried Line was masterfully
executed. This was made possible by a period of bad weather which restricted our air reconnaissance and in considering possibilities through the Ardennes we recognized that lt might meet initial success but we felt that the nature ot the terrain and the size in and mobility of our forces would justify our taking risks. They would enable us to meet and stop an attack before it could do much damage. This is exactly what happened. ·
The enemy's schedule tor his attack was upset by the heroic resistance of our troops and by the speed made by all three armies : in shifting divisions to meet the attack
The result was that wherever the enemy turned along the north flank. groping toward a place where h e could break out on the Belgian lowlands, he was met by troops of [Lieut.] Gen. [Courtney H] Hodges' First Army, He lound blocking his way the same American Divisions which had been soundly thrashing his best ever since the beachhead days of Normandy.
An even greater surprise to the enemy was the quick appearance of [Lieut.] Gen. [George S.] Patton's Third Army on the south flank. Matching the speed with which [Lieut.] Gen. [William H.] Simpson [United States Ninth Army commander] and General Hodges deployed their divisions from the north, General Patton’s forces first relieved Batogne, which was of course the key to the whole battle, and then attacked with such fury that the enemy was forced to slow his drive on the north. He had ln fact to move his best SS [Elite Guard] panzer divisions across the salient in an attempt to check General Patton's unexpected advance.
The German attack launched on Dec. 16 cut both our direct telephone communications to the First Army and the dlrect road over which personal contact was normally maintained. The weather prevented making of frequent personal contacts with the First Army by plane. It was therefore decided that the Twenty·first Army Group should assume temporary command ot all Allied forces north of the salient. This was a temporary measure only and when the lines are rejoined the Twelth Army Group will resume command of all American troops in this area. The soundness and flexibility of our Allied command is illustrated by the ease with which this change of command was made. Field Marshal [Sir Bernard L.] Montgomery has made a notable contribution. Even before he took this temporary command of the First and Ninth Armies at 13:30 hours on Dec. 20 the Field Marshal had moved to station his British and Canadian forces into position to protect Antwerp in the event of any unforeseen breakthrough. It can now be announced that British troops were at that time dispatched to the tip of the salient. These troops fought with distinction, engaging the covering forces of the Germans near their farthest advance. Whenever weather permitted. American and British Air forces have seized every opportunity to strike together and the effect ot their coordinated blows has been great importance.
German losses in this offensive have been enormous. Our artillery and air forces have been able to punish him much more severely in the open than had been possible while he remained in his fortifications. Even in the matter of prisoners, despite the fact that the enemy had taken the offensive the total number taken since Dec. 16 by the First and Third American Armies is much greater then the number ot United States troops reported missing in action or captured. His dead end wounded must be many times more than the number we have suffered. Events may prove that losses in men and material and in morale when the salient is finally reduced may materially effect the German's ability to resist on the western front.
I do not mean to imply by this that the Germans are on the verge ol collapse. They are not. We have known for some time that there will be considerably more fighting ahead. But we have never had any doubt about the outcome and we have none now. What the American soldier has done ln the Ardennes in the last three weeks is to my mind one of the greatest stories in the history ot fighting men. Most of our Army are veterans now and know every trick of the trade. but there were lots of men who stopped the Germans in the Ardennes who only joined us a short time ago and had only what they had been taught in their training-ln their native courage end character-to carry them through battle. These Americans. veteran and newcomers, fought against picked German soldiers specially trained and rested and equipped just for this offensive.
The Germans had thinned the Siegfried Line to make this force possible. Their soldiers were given a pep talk before the attack and told this offensive would take Antwerp in a few weeks and end the war. They believed what they were told and fought with skill and, in most places, with suicidal determination. So lt turned out that the American soldiers met the very best fighting force that German militarism had been able to put in the field and licked it to a standstill agaln and again.
In many places Panzer tactics temporarily split our troops into small isolated units. Our men fought even more determinedly than they had in the past. They used an enormous variety of weapons with deadly effect. The stories of individual heroism that you have read in our own Army paper. Stars and Stripes, and reported in the press, far from being overstated have been, to my certain knowledge. if anything, understated. Only a small minority of the things that went on out there could have been observed or reported. The American people can be deeply proud ot the achievement of their sons and brothers in this battle.
After reading the above and Monty's press conference I have to say the whole affair seems rather petty and hardly worth the 60 years of rancour it instigated.
Bradley (like Monty) was just trying to cover his bare arse!