Performance of Heer and Waffen-SS in the Bulge

Discussions on all (non-biographical) aspects of the Freikorps, Reichswehr, Austrian Bundesheer, Heer, Waffen-SS, Volkssturm and Fallschirmjäger and the other Luftwaffe ground forces. Hosted by Christoph Awender.
skylinedrive
Member
Posts: 57
Joined: 25 May 2009 06:44

Re: Performance of Heer and Waffen-SS in the Bulge

Post by skylinedrive » 28 Oct 2012 08:32

Let me just state a few facts:

A) All the planning, literally till the last little detail, was done by Jodl's Wehrmachts Führungsstab. Corps, divisional and Regimental staffs had nearly no leeway at all toi change or adept the staff work they had been handed.

B) All the scholars agree that the best suited terrain for armoured attack on the Ardennes front was the Losheim gap.(cf. Danny S.Parker Battle of the Bulge Page 52 "The Influence of Terrain" & Hugh M. Cole et al. The Ardennes: Battle of the Bulge Page 39 "The Terrain") It was there that were located Rollbahn D and Rollbahn E that had been assigned to the 1ste SS-Panzer Division Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler. The three northern routes of the VI SS Panzer Armee, Rollbahn A, B and C, alloted to the 12te SS Panzer Division Hitlerjugend, were not as good as the Losheim Gap, but they were definitely not worse then the terrain inbetween Our and Bastogne respct. Our and St Vith. The V Panzer Armee even had to build pioneer bridges in order to cross the Our, before they could bring their tanks into action.

C) Von Manteuffels Hutier tactics only worked to a certain degree, if at all. The infantry units that had bypassed the first roadblocks and defenses were never able to take their assigned targets, even with the element of surprise at their side. All the strongpoints of the 110th Inf.Rgt., Holsthum, Consthum, Weiler, Hosingen, Marnach, Clervaux......only fell after being assaulted by substantial armoured forces. It is not possible for armoured units to bypass road nodes or villages in the luxembourgish part of the Ardennes. So in the end valuable time was lost that allowed the 101st ABN., CCB of the 10th Armd. and CCR of the 9th Armrd. to reach Bastogne.

User avatar
BillHermann
Member
Posts: 742
Joined: 04 Jan 2012 15:35
Location: Authie

Re: Performance of Heer and Waffen-SS in the Bulge

Post by BillHermann » 28 Oct 2012 08:47

Your argument and details still don't explain why the Heer units made it almost to dinant. The is not a discussion only on details of tactics but also performance. The Heer units made it further because of planning, organization and in part due to the enemy but not because of terrain alone.
Last edited by BillHermann on 28 Oct 2012 18:54, edited 1 time in total.

skylinedrive
Member
Posts: 57
Joined: 25 May 2009 06:44

Re: Performance of Heer and Waffen-SS in the Bulge

Post by skylinedrive » 28 Oct 2012 10:21

BillHermann wrote:Your argument and details still don't explain why the Heer units made it almost to dinant. The is not a discussion on details of tactics bot performance. The Heer units made it further because of planning, organization and in part due to the enemy planning but not because of terrain alone.
Have a look at the US OOB and you will have your answer.

User avatar
BillHermann
Member
Posts: 742
Joined: 04 Jan 2012 15:35
Location: Authie

Re: Performance of Heer and Waffen-SS in the Bulge

Post by BillHermann » 28 Oct 2012 19:00

Again the terrain as so many have stated was not the only reason for the failures on the northern shoulder. Incompetence and leadership at the divisional and regimental level was part to blame.

j keenan
Financial supporter
Posts: 1471
Joined: 04 Jun 2007 11:22
Location: North

Re: Performance of Heer and Waffen-SS in the Bulge

Post by j keenan » 28 Oct 2012 21:43

The Lah's reflections of the part played by the terrain
Vol/IV.2
If the Eifel/Ardennes region, in recollection of the successful start of the 1940
Western Campaign,offered an attack axis because of the weakly occupied American
front line betwwen the Aachen and Saar deployment points,then obviously the extraordinary difficulty of the medium mountain terrain with its forested ridges and deply incised river courses for the conduct of an armored attack,had to be recognized.
Most of the roads ran in the river vallys and with the steeply rising and falling terrain on either side of the roadways offered no possibility of bypassing the defenses.
The panzers were forced to advance in column along the narrow roadways,allowing the enemy to offer a successful defence with only commitment of a few anti-tank weapons.
The arrangement of the roads imposed further difficulties in so far as,corresponding to the geographic peculiarity,the majority of the paved roads (with the exception of the Malmèdy-Lüttich road) ran in a north-south direction.
In order to stay in the east-west direction of the attack,our panzer groups continually were forced to turn off onto unpaved roads.
The byways and unpaved roads,as a consequence of the time of year and the weather,became so deep in mud by the time a panzer battalion had passed that the following wheeled units could only pass with the greatest difficulties,partially dismounted and with great loss of time.

jrutman53
Member
Posts: 82
Joined: 12 Apr 2012 22:06

Re: Performance of Heer and Waffen-SS in the Bulge

Post by jrutman53 » 28 Oct 2012 22:28

Bill,
Ok ,I will take the LSSAH as an example when I address your claim of incompetence at Rgt level(I agree with you about Div level here).
The fast armored group was assigned a rollbahn. The units were moved up in great secrecy a few days before the offensive and given strict orders against recon as it would chance giving away the units involved.
After waiting for the Luftwaffe Regt to break through in vain,the fast group advanced through it and mad a lot of audacious choices to keep up their advance,even though confined to the roads. Hindsite says"why didn't they go get the fuel dump and thus eleviate the chronic gas shortage. Well,they didn't know it was there!
Alternate routes were considered as at least twice,units from the PzIV companies were sent to recon different routes. The advance stopped in front of Stavelot mostly from the sheer exhaustion of the troops,some of whom had been on the go for 3 days. Even so,the bridge at Stavelot was forced and the fast group got through until once again they were forced to divert after the trois ponts bridge was blown.
Recon units were sent to find a way over the Lienne creek but they were smashed and no way over was found. The fast group attacked and took Stoumont and then pushed on to Stoumont station where they were stopped. At that point after you subtract all of the tanks that were knocked out,broke down or ran out of gas they were down to only 22 to 25 tanks with almost no fuel and limited ammo. The accompaning PzGren Bn was about used up as was the arty support,whish had started out with a small basic load.
Once again,after driving the route,knowing the weather,the state of training of the mostly new troops,the supply situation and above all the tenacity of the American Infantry in front of them,I am still amazed at how far the Panzer group got. I fail to see the incompetence?
I would put the failure of LSSAH onto the Div Cmdr to ot co-ordinate his various units but remember they also had the same road and supply problems.
The whole Rundstend tOffensive as a giant gamble,after all,and only got as far as it did because of the weather and the fact Hitler finally realized we had broken his code.
I am not saying the 2nd Pz was not as good but still fail to see the incompetence?

User avatar
BillHermann
Member
Posts: 742
Joined: 04 Jan 2012 15:35
Location: Authie

Re: Performance of Heer and Waffen-SS in the Bulge

Post by BillHermann » 30 Nov 2012 08:50

Just because I say that they were not great does not mean that I said they were incompetent as a whole. They just made some bad decision that help them fail earlier. This was unit organization and some tactical mistakes.

Rob - wssob2
Member
Posts: 2387
Joined: 15 Apr 2002 20:29
Location: MA, USA

Re: Performance of Heer and Waffen-SS in the Bulge

Post by Rob - wssob2 » 30 Nov 2012 15:14

Hi guys - couple observations on the conversation thread so far.

1) There seems to be a lot of hand-wringing concerning the idea that the LSSAH failed in its mission. I am seeing a lot of excuses - the terrain was bad, they didn't do their own staff work, etc.

2) While certainly the LSSAH suffered from challenges that it had no control over (the weather, the terrain, the traffic jams, etc.) its senior commanders did make multiple bad decisions. For example:

a) Peiper's decision to halt at Stavelot on the night of the 17th doomed his offensive. He had a wide open road in front of him, but he stopped his unit; permitting the Americans to reinforce.

b) The LSSAH's wanton war crimes - mostly by KG Peiper, but also by KG Knittel . Instead of "creating a wave of terror" forcing the Americans to flee; it had the opposite effect, stiffening the American defense. It's interesting how by contrast the "clean" war fought by the 2nd Panzer Division was so much more successful than the vengeful, "dirty" war fought by the SS.

3) Going back to the staff work issue, I think it's a cop-out to declare that the the German Army had all the incompetence. Look at the Dec 30, 1944 attack on Losange Castle near Bastagone, in which the LSSAH staff officers refused to coordinate efforts with the German paratroop forces. The SS officers saw the commanders of the Luftwaffe 14th Parachute Infantry Regiment incompetent - but hey, I'd counter that I'm sure the Luftwaffe commanders saw the SS as insufferable know-it-alls.

User avatar
Harro
Member
Posts: 3178
Joined: 19 May 2005 18:10
Location: The Netherlands

Re: Performance of Heer and Waffen-SS in the Bulge

Post by Harro » 30 Nov 2012 15:36

Rob - wssob2 wrote:Hi guys - couple observations on the conversation thread so far.

1) There seems to be a lot of hand-wringing concerning the idea that the LSSAH failed in its mission. I am seeing a lot of excuses - the terrain was bad, they didn't do their own staff work, etc.

2) While certainly the LSSAH suffered from challenges that it had no control over (the weather, the terrain, the traffic jams, etc.) its senior commanders did make multiple bad decisions. For example:

a) Peiper's decision to halt at Stavelot on the night of the 17th doomed his offensive. He had a wide open road in front of him, but he stopped his unit; permitting the Americans to reinforce.

b) The LSSAH's wanton war crimes - mostly by KG Peiper, but also by KG Knittel . Instead of "creating a wave of terror" forcing the Americans to flee; it had the opposite effect, stiffening the American defense. It's interesting how by contrast the "clean" war fought by the 2nd Panzer Division was so much more successful than the vengeful, "dirty" war fought by the SS.

c) allowing the Americans to recapture Stavelot and as such allowing them to cut the main route for supplies and reinforcments to the divisions spearhead Kampfgruppe.

3) Going back to the staff work issue, I think it's a cop-out to declare that the the German Army had all the incompetence. Look at the Dec 30, 1944 attack on Losange Castle near Bastagone, in which the LSSAH staff officers refused to coordinate efforts with the German paratroop forces. The SS officers saw the commanders of the Luftwaffe 14th Parachute Infantry Regiment incompetent - but hey, I'd counter that I'm sure the Luftwaffe commanders saw the SS as insufferable know-it-alls.

Return to “Heer, Waffen-SS & Fallschirmjäger”