Brits in the Battle of the Bulge?

#1
I was wondering if anyone had info on Brits fighting during the battle of the Bulge? There was a small mention of this at the end of Ambrose's Pegasus Bridge, and I've been curious about it.
 
#2
30 Corps in the North , Liege and Maastrict screening any drive for Antwerp as I remember Dad saying. Yes it was so cold the oil in the Machine Guns froze.

If the Germans had broken out and got to Antwerp , we would have had some serious dramas.
 
#4
Just a few thumbs Chief, the popular accounts (e.g. what Hollywood likes), centres on the 82nd/101st, Bastogne and Patton, (“grrr…..don’t just stand there, step on ants”). Stories well worth telling but only part of the picture. West and north of this salient was sorted by Monty, who among other things, took command of the American 1st and 9th Armies, good units pursuing inappropriate and disjoined orders. In the west across the river he threw 30th Corps who, if the Germans made it through the Ardennes in force, would need to buy time while Antwerp and the route to it was reinforced.

No.9
 
#5
Chief_Joseph said:
I was wondering if anyone had info on Brits fighting during the battle of the Bulge? There was a small mention of this at the end of Ambrose's Pegasus Bridge, and I've been curious about it.
Try reading Charles Whiting's version of the battle of the bulge....
The Battle of the Bulge, fought on the snows of the Ardennes forests in December 1944 and January 1945, was the greatest land battle waged by the US Army in the 20th century. Official history remembers this victory as being one solely for the Americans, but Charles Whiting uncovers fresh new evidence to the contrary. For political reasons, no mention was ever made of the crucial British involvement in this battle, when the XXX Corps fought a decisive action and halted the German drive to the river Meuse, which they did against a total news blackout and at the cost of 2500 men. The British role in the Battle of the Bulge simply does not exist on paper. "The main reason for adopting a low key in referring to the British contribution was political," said Field Marshall Brooke, Chief of Imperial General Staff. Using eyewitness accounts from British, American and German soldiers, even Belgian civilians, this book sets the record straight, telling the true story of the role the British played in this key defeat, and the hardship and suffering they had to endure.
:)
 
#6
British Ground Forces in the Ardennes campaign, 1944;

Elements of 30 Corps to include;

6th Airbourne Div.
51st Highland Div.
53rd Welsh Div.
29th Armoured Bde.
33rd Armoured Bde.
34th Army Tank Bde.

Total Forces Committed were;
55,000, of which 1,400 became Casualties(200+KIA)

The Krauts should have listened to the Small Solution Proposed by von Rundstedt
 
#7
As with everything after D Day, you will get a wildly different account of the Bulge depending upon whether you read an American history or a British/European version.

The US belittle the British contribution by pointing out that there were c.500,000 Americans involved in the battle, and only 55,000 British & Commonwealth - but they fail to note that it was Monty and his staff who took control of panicked and routed US formations and very rapidly created the c2 framework which stabilised the northern flank and set the conditions for the German defeat.

By this stage of the war, the US were becoming extremely anti-Monty, and this was exacerbated by Monty's arrogance and probable failure to understand the Allied political reality. By the time of the Bulge, Eisenhower and the US generals were already having to admit that Monty's view of strategy (the broad front/narrow front argument) had been correct and that they had been wrong and had caused the war to be extended through into 1945. When the US had to appoint Monty to command US 1st & 9th Armies, it was a tremendous loss of face for the US leadership and, unfortunately, Monty then chose to exacerbate this by boasting about his achievements. Eisenhower came close to sacking Monty altogether and, despite his subsequent apology, Monty ended up being targeted by the US media and the US generals in their own memoires.
 
#8
4(T) said:
By this stage of the war, the US were becoming extremely anti-Monty, and this was exacerbated by Monty's arrogance and probable failure to understand the Allied political reality.
That is putting it mildly, apart from his military talents he was an almost pathological self promoter, who negatively briefed the press about anybody who didn’t agree with him. The UK press, then as now loved Yank bashing and followed Monty about waiting for any headline – they were seldom disappointed.

Churchill himself had to apologize in the House off Commons and to the US Govt. about Monty’s quite frankly disgraceful comments concerning the Battle of the Bulge, he came within a whisker of being sacked, only Eisenhower stopped Churchill from replacing him.
 
#9
There was an issue with Montys’ comments, but I don’t see it as correct to centre on arrogance and/or ego? Monty by the Bulge was a Field Marshall, it was his job to direct the war within his control. He was not perfect, never pretended to be, and states so clearly in his memoir. As a senior commander he had an opinion of what should be done and a full explanation of why which he went to great lengths to explain. He was a soldier, not a politician unlike Ike, and was devoted to doing his job of winning the war.

When reading about the man, what he says of himself and what others say, IMHO it comes across in what he said he was frank and blunt. Praise and blame allocated fairly and accurately as he saw it, and in the cold light of retrospective day it’s hard to say he was wrong. Because he could consider the big picture, implementation required action within the theatre as a whole where often he was forced/allowed to control only a part with others following, at times, incongruous battleplans.

Politically he did not excel, and as he said himself, he was aware he often ‘put his foot in it’ because he explained with frank logic and honestly which are not the tools of a politician. Also, as the press love to do then as now, certain comments he made were reported out of context from the whole text, and at the time no one bothered to ask him specifically what he meant.

Britain lost control of the driving seat with the invasion of North Africa, a legacy which endured and continues to endure. Before the second German offensive through the Ardennes, Monty had been pleading for control of all forces, including American, in that north west sector. When the Germans attacked, Ike suddenly gave it because he had to acknowledge he actually had no control or intelligence in that sector. Monty found even the American forces only knew the theoretical disposition of their forces, and did not actually know what each was experiencing day-to-day. Immediately he placed liaison officers in all units to rectify this, which met with hostility from local US commanders who regarded them as ‘Montys’ spys’. In real terms, Monty saved American lives. Furthermore, if overall theatre control had been given to Monty, and earlier on, utter carnage such as over 30’000 American men at Hürtgenwald would not have taken place.

No.9
 
#10
Its interesting to contemplate the (politically impossible) scenario of Monty remaining in command of all allied land forces after D-Day. Imagine him being able to pursue his "narrow front" strategy, but this time with total control of the logistic pot, and with a firm c2 grip over Patton and Bradley. I think he may well have been able to make the most of the best talents of both US and British/Commonwealth forces, to orchestrate the encirclement and destruction of all German forces in the west before December '44.
 
#11
Indeed 4(T), a bucketful of ‘what ifs’ here. Then, how wide does this spread, e.g. what place for Dragoon in the south of France? I have an opinion of Monty that I don’t think he was phased by scale, and also worked hard to keep sight of the small end. There’s that great instance, IMHO, of pre D-Day when Monty decided to embark on a tour of troops and also, among others, munitions factories. In their weekly meeting, Churchill briefed the King about developments and told him of Montys’ very popular tour, quipping ”I think he may be after my job?”. To which the King replied; ”That's a relief, I thought he was after mine."

No.9
 
#12
No.9 said:
There was an issue with Montys’ comments, but I don’t see it as correct to centre on arrogance and/or ego? Monty by the Bulge was a Field Marshall, it was his job to direct the war within his control. He was not perfect, never pretended to be, and states so clearly in his memoir. As a senior commander he had an opinion of what should be done and a full explanation of why which he went to great lengths to explain. He was a soldier, not a politician unlike Ike, and was devoted to doing his job of winning the war.
It's amazing how Similar him and Patton were. That's probably exactly why they hate each other so much :wink:
 
#13
From the point of self belief in their own considered opinion, I’d say you’re absolutely right Chief. Then again, if that wasn’t the case, what on earth were they doing in battle command in the middle of a war? 8O

No.9
 
#14
Chief_Joseph said:
No.9 said:
There was an issue with Montys’ comments, but I don’t see it as correct to centre on arrogance and/or ego? Monty by the Bulge was a Field Marshall, it was his job to direct the war within his control. He was not perfect, never pretended to be, and states so clearly in his memoir. As a senior commander he had an opinion of what should be done and a full explanation of why which he went to great lengths to explain. He was a soldier, not a politician unlike Ike, and was devoted to doing his job of winning the war.
It's amazing how Similar him and Patton were. That's probably exactly why they hate each other so much :wink:
To quote Patton to Bradley - 'Hell Brad, I know I'm a prima donna. So is Monty. The difference is, he won't admit it!' :wink:
 
#15
The massive difference between Monty and Patton was that Monty knew what he was doing. Monty was a professional soldier with a track record second to none. A number of his worst enemies were not American, the likes of Tedder did everything possible to hinder him and cause him problems at a political level.

The often misquoted speech given by Monty post battle of the Bulge was his biggest mistake in terms of talking to the press but as ever it only appeared in edited format. Not helped by the German use of this as propoganda, it really did him no good at all at a time when the Yanks were recovering national pride from a disaster.

Robin Neillands books on Normandy and the Rhine Crossings are great reads because they seek clarity and he offers a reasoned and impartial view of situations where myth has all but covered the truth. The chapters on Arnhem are interesting because he uses both Official US sources and orders of the day to hang some of the blame on Gavin for his failure to seize the Njmegen bridge , or even include it`s capture in his orders.

Often the argument about Monty is based on national pride and it is very difficult to be objective. As for me, I`d have served under his command quite happily.
 
#16
Dealing with Montys' Press Conference of 7th Jan, 1945 - which apart from Allied Press, the Germans put anti-American spin on and broadcast by radio to the Americans guised as a BBC broadcast - it's relevant if members review the entire speach for themselves.

“1. Object of this talk.
I have asked you to come here today so that I can give you some information which may be of use to you, and also to ask you to help me in a certain matter.

2. The story of the present battle.
Rundstedt attacked on 16 Dec; he obtained tactical surprise. He drove a deep wedge into the centre of the First US Army and split the American forces in two. The situation looked as if it might become awkward; the Germans had broken right through a weak spot, and were heading for the Meuse.

3. As soon as I saw what was happening I took certain steps myself to ensure that if the Germans got to the Meuse they would certainly not get over that river. And I carried out certain movements so as to provide balanced dispositions to meet the threatened danger; these were, at the time, merely precautions, i.e., I was thinking ahead.

4. 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 the American lines of communication. Finally it was put into battle with a bang, and today British divisions are. fighting hard on the right flank of First US Army. You have thus the picture of British troops fighting on both sides of American forces who have suffered a hard blow. This is a fine allied picture.

5. The battle has been most interesting; I think possibly one of the most interesting and tricky battles I have ever handled, with great issues at stake. The first thing to be done was to 'head off' the enemy from the tender spots and vital places. Having done that successfully, the next thing was to 'see him off', i.e. rope him in and make quite certain that he could not get to the places he wanted, and also that he was slowly but surely removed away from those places. He was therefore 'headed off' and then 'seen off'. He is now being 'written off' and heavy toll is being taken of his divisions by ground and air action. You must not imagine that the battle is over yet; it is by no means over and a great deal still remains to be done. The battle has some similarity to the battle that began on 31 Aug 1942 when Rommel made his last bid to capture Egypt and was 'seen off' by the Eighth Army. But actually all battles are different because die problem is different.

6. What was Rundstedt trying to achieve? No one can tell for certain. The only guide we have is the message he issued to his soldiers before the battle began; he told them it was the last great effort to try and win the war, that everything depended on it; that they must go 'all out'.
On the map you see his gains; that will not win the war; he is likely slowly but surely to lose it all; he must have scraped together every reserve he could lay his hands on for this job, and he has not achieved a great deal. One must admit that he has dealt us a sharp blow and he sent us reeling back; but we recovered; he has been unable to gain any great advantage from his initial success. He has therefore failed in his strategic purpose, unless die prize was smaller than his men were told. He has now turned to the defensive on the ground; and he is faced by forces properly balanced to utilise the initiative which he has lost.
Another reason for his failure is that his air force, although still capable of pulling a fast one, cannot protect his army; for that army our Tactical Air Forces are the greatest terror.

7. But when all is said and done I shall always feel that Rundstedt was really beaten by the good fighting qualities of the American soldier and by the team-work of the Allies, I would like to say a word about these two points.

8. I first saw the American soldier in battle in Sicily, and I formed then a very high opinion of him. I saw him again in Italy.
And I have seen a very great deal of him in this campaign. I want to take this opportunity to pay a public tribute to him.
He is a brave fighting man, steady under fire, and with that tenacity in battle which stamps the first class soldier; all these qualities have been shown in a marked degree during the present battle.
I have spent my military career with the British soldier and I have come to love him with a great love; and I have now formed a very great affection and admiration for the American soldier. I salute the brave fighting men of America; I never want to fight alongside better soldiers. Just now I am seeing a great deal of the American soldiers; I have tried to feel that I am almost an American soldier myself so that I might take no unsuitable action or offend them in any way. I have been given an American identity, card; I am thus identified in the Army of the United States, my fingerprints have been registered in the War Department at Washington — which is far preferable to having them registered at Scotland Yard!

9. And now I come to the last point.
It is team-work that pulls you through dangerous times; it is team-work that wins battles; it is victories in battle that win wars. I want to put in a strong plea for Allied solidarity at this vital stage of the war; and you can all help in this greatly.
Nothing must be done by anyone that tends to break down the team spirit of our Allied team; if you try and ' get at' the captain of the team you are liable to induce a loss of confidence, and this may spread and have disastrous results. I would say that anyone who tries to break up the team spirit of the Allies is definitely helping the enemy.

10. Let me tell you that the captain of our team is Eisenhower. I am absolutely devoted to Ike; we are the greatest of friends. It grieves me when I see uncomplimentary articles about him in the British Press; he bears a great burden, he needs our fullest support, he has a right to expect it, and it is up to all of us to see that he gets it.

And so I would ask all of you to lend a hand to stop that sort of thing; let us all rally round the captain of the team and so help to win the match. Nobody objects to healthy and constructive criticism; it is good for us.

But let us have done with destructive criticism that aims a blow at Allied solidarity, that tends to break up our team spirit, and that therefore helps the enemy."
 
#19
Thank you for the comment, and thanks also for the invitation to a bun fight. :D I’ll pass if I may, as (a) everyone seems to be doing OK without me, and (b) I’m not the best informed on Arnhem detail never having gone the full 9 yards in its research. Very interesting to read your conclusions though, always pleased to learn. :thumright:

No.9
 
#20
The Free French 2°RCP which was part of the SAS Brigade under British command took part in the battle with 200 paratroopers and armed jeeps in order to plug holes in the front. It was engaged on December 30th and fought until the 11th of January in the St Hubert sector of the Belgian Ardennes.
 
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