WACHT AM RHEIN
(Operation Autumn Mist)
Hitler’s Last Gamble in the West
This 16 scenario is compatible with MMP’s ASL™ System and
modifiable to be used with other miniature Wargaming systems.
Wacht am Rhein uses ASL boards (2,3,4,7,10,11,16,17,19,23,24,33,39,40,42,43,46,48,49)
|16 December 1944….. The village was defended by Company B, 1st Battalion, US 110th infantry Regiment and M36 tank destroyers from the 630th Tank Destroyer Battalion. Company B was well dug in and the German assault companies assaulted the village but were unable to pierce the perimeter and were forced to infiltrate the woods north and south, heading for their primary objective, Clervaux.
|16 December 1944….. The German Volksgrenadier Division 212, made a successful and relatively uneventful crossing of the Sauer around Bollendorf in the early hours, overrunning small American outposts along the river line without giving them a chance to radio a warning. Although Colonel Chance commander of the US 12th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Division immediately opposing them was aware because of reports from the US 28th Infantry Division further north that an attack was in progress. Even though speed was of the essence, the German assault companies of Volksgrenadier Regiment 423 with their objectives the American command post in Consdorf and artillery positions in Scheidgen. Partially ignored orders to bypass pockets of resistance became involved in costly and time-consuming battle for the insignificant villages of Berdorf and Lauterborn.
|17 December 1944….. General von Lüttwitz’s orders required Volksgrenadier Division 26 to establish bridgeheads across the river Clerf by nightfall on the 16th, so any enemy resistance had either to be subdued quickly or bypassed. As it turned out, the biggest stumbling block turned out to be the Company K, 3rd Battalion, 110th Infantry Regiment and Company B, 103d Engineer Battalion in Hosingen. The American defenders were simply too well dug in to be shifted easily and the close-range battle, with dozens of individual hand-to-hand encounters, swayed backwards and forwards all day. In the evening, four Shermans arrived from the 707th Tank Battalion, but failed to bring any rifle ammunition with them. The constant delays imposed by the defenders in the handful of villages along Skyline Drive forced KoKott to unleash his reserved Grenadier Regiment 78 whose 1st Battalion was thrown into the struggle for Hosingen, supported by a few Jagdpanzer 38(t) from Panzerjäger Abteilung 26.
|17 December 1944….. Screened by the mist which aided all of the Volksgrenadier Division 352’s assault companies, the leading two battalions fortuitously struck at the junction between the US 109th Regiment’s 2d Battalion, whose Company E was in Führen and the 3d Battalion’s Company I deployed in front of Bettendorf. Lt. Colonel James Rudder, the commanding officer of the US 109th Infantry Regiment immediately drew upon his meagre reserves and sent A and B companies of the 1st Battalion supported by 1st Platoon Company C, 707th Tank Battalion into a counter-attack. Although progress was slow by nightfall Company A was in sight of Longsdorf and Company B was overlooking Tandel. The morning of 17 December brought as series of uncoordinated attacks by 2nd Battalion Volksgrenadier Regiment 915 against Führen while the 1st Battalion had its hands full with the Americans counter-attacks at Longsdorf and Tandel.
|17 December 1944….. Alerted by the Seventh Armee’s preliminary artillery barrage, Colonel Rudder moved Company G up on the right of Company F, replacing it in Brandenburg by Company C from the 109th’s reserve 1st Battalion, which was stationed in Diekirch. During the night remembering his orders to avoid confrontation and leave American strong points to be mopped up by the reserve Fallschirm Regiment 13, Oberst Gröschke took advantage of a wooded defile to continue advancing west in between the 109th’s companies F and G. But early on the 17th the 2nd Platoon from Company C, 707th Tank Battalion moved into position to block the regiment. By daybreak on 18 December the GIs were completely cut off, even though they had not been attacked Colonel Rudder ordered them to fight their way out south to Diekirch helped by the tank platoon.
|17 December 1944….. Before dawn on 16 December the engineers of the Fallschirm-Pioniere Battalion 5 began ferrying the assault companies of Fallschirm Regiment 14 across the Our. Their instructions were to head as rapidly as possible west to the river Clerf, establish a bridging site near Kautenbach and press on west to Wiltz to establish a blocking line behind the river Sûre south of Bastogne. Their line of advance actually lay at the intersection of Lt-Colonel James Rudder’s US 109th and 110th Infantry Regiments and immediately in their path at Weiler was Company I, 3rd Battalion 110th Infantry Regiment. Generalmajor Ludwig Heilmann’s orders to both his 14th and 15th Regiments called on them to bypass any pockets of resistance in the villages. Leaving those to be mopped up later by his reserve 13th Regiment. One such village was defended by six 105mm and three 75mm Shermans from Company C 707th Tank Battalion and a part of the 110th Regiment’s anti-tank company.
|19 December 1944….. By early evening Volksgrenadier Regiment 916 had command of the heights in the Our/Sûre triangle and Volksgrenadier Regiment 914 taking up its place in the centre of the division’s line, could begin to make more headway. The US 109th Regiment with Colonel Rudder’s command post back in Ettelbruck was now formed in an arc in front of Diekirch. However, it was a sadly depleted regiment. So far the Volksgrenadier Division 352 was handsomely repaying Colonel Rudder for his audacity on Omaha Beach six months earlier.
|20 December 1944….. While Panzer Lehr was still struggling toward the Clerf River on 18 December, Panzer Division 2 was rolling west across the river through Clervaux. In the van, was the reinforced Aufklärungs Abteilung commanded by Hauptmann von Böhm. Taking the road which skirt to the north of Donnange and Lullange, the Kampfgruppe ran into the first of the Bastogne roadblocks at the Antoniushof farm road junction a task force from CCR/9th Armored Division. The next opposition lay at Baraque d’Allerborn, where a second task force of CCR/9th Armored Division was waiting. Kampfgruppe von Böhm attacked here at dusk and within 15 minutes destroyed 24 Shermans. Kampfgruppe von Böhm had its last encounter with the Bastogne roadblocks at Herbaimont on 20 December, which was manned by an outpost of the 327th Glider Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division.
|20 December 1944….. General der Panzertruppe Eugen Walter Krüger’s LVIII Korps encountered difficulty when the Aufklärung-Abteilung 146 found that the bridge over the river Ourthe west of Bertogne had been blown. Krüger then ordered Panzer Division 116 to retrace its footsteps and head northwest through Houffalize towards La Roche and Samée instead. The US 7th Armored Division’s trains were at La Roche, but their main supply depot had been moved to just outside Samée. Early in the afternoon of 20 December, Panzer Grenadier 60 began assembling in the woods south of Samée while Panzer Grenadier 16 prepared to attack straight down the road, with Volksgrenadier Regiment 1129 on its right. The US 7th Armored Division’s quartermaster delayed destroying the supply dump because he was told a task force from CCR/3rd Armored Division was on it way to Samée. CCR was only able to send a small armoured force commanded by Major John Tucker and consisted of a company of Shermans, a troop armoured Cars, a platoon of light tanks and a battery of M7s. Task Force Tucker moved into Samée from the north.
|20 December 1944….. After helping Oberst Heniz Kokott’s Volksgrenadier in their final assault against Holtzthum, Oberst Paul von Hauser’s Kampfgruppe 901 followed the rest of Panzer Lehr, which had already crossed the Clerf at Drauffet. The division’s reinforced Aufklärungs-Abteilung, Kampfgruppe von Fallois and the following Kampfgruppe 902 had had a brief skirmish at Eschweiler just north of Wiltz but Bayerlein left the subjugation to this thorn in the division’s flank to the following Volksgrenadiers and Fallschirmjägers. However the Bastogne defences, which a day earlier had lain wide open were now being rapidly reinforced as the 101st Airborne Division deployed. Company I, III/501st Parachute Infantry Regiment started entering the village of Wardin from the northwest, unseen in thick morning mist. Part of Panzer Lehr’s Aufklärungs-Abteilung moved into Wardin from the northeast at the same time and the two groups inevitably collided in the middle.
|23 December 1944….. The biggest problem faced by Oberst Hans-Joachim Kahler’s Führer Grenadier Brigade, is that it was committed piecemeal and unable to launch a full-scale counter-attack against either of the American III Corps’ division it ran up against, the 26th in the west and the 80th in the east. Called out of OKW Reserve on 22 December the brigade was originally intended to cross the Sûre at Ettelbruck and then head directly to the support of Fallschirm Division 5 around Martelange but the threat posed to Ettelbruck by the arrival of the US 80th Infantry Division caused this to be amended. Kahler put one company of Füsiliers apiece into Eschdorf and Heiderscheid and sent two south with a platoon of Panthers to Grevils-Brésil hoping to establish contact with the leading Regiment of the Volksgrenadier Division 352. The American 80th Divisional Commander, Major-General Willard Paul, had decided earlier that the ground was unsuitable for tanks so for once it was the GI’s who had no armor support.
|24 December 1944….. Recognizing that Fallschirm Division 5 was out on a limb and although Volksgrenadier Division 352 had finally captured Diekirch that a wide and dangerous gap had opened between the two divisions. Heersgruppe B Commander Field Marshall Model reassigned the former to LII Korps on 22 December and reinforced it with the Führer Grenadier Brigade. At the same time he also released Oberst Alois Weber’s under strength Volksgrenadier Division 79 from reserve and assigned it to Kniess’ LXXXV Korps. The village was weakly defended by Colonel Bandy’s 2d Battalion US 319th Infantry Regiment who had captured in a fierce fight the night before from the Führer Grenadier Brigade. The Führer Grenadier Brigade StuG’s and Sdkfz 251’s would spearhead the attack.
|24 December 1944….. The Battle of the Bulge was only days old and Fritz Bayerlin’s Panzer-Lehr Division pressing westward throughout the day. Kampfgruppe von Poschinger took St. Hubert without any resistance late that night. The advance continued towards the important road centre of Rochefort. Early the 23 December the town was shelled and a German reconnaissance patrol was sent in and reported that the town was empty. Rochefort was in fact well defended by some of the US 3rd Battalion, 335th Infantry Regiment reinforced by with Regimental anti-tank guns and one platoon each from the 638th Tank Destroyer Battalion, 309th Engineer Combat Battalion and 29th(Separate) Infantry Regiment. At about 0200 hours, Panzer-Lehr Division resumed the advance and was stopped by intense crossfire. Bayerlin was forced to set up a systematic and time-consuming attack. The American defenders fought back stubbornly from house to house. The Panzer Lehr’s field guns were brought up to pound the eastern approaches. Then supported by weight of Panthers the Grenadiers of Poschinger’s Kampfgruppe launched their assault crossing the L’homme River by early afternoon.
|24 December 1944….. The intention was to cut the Hotton-Marche road capture Marche and advance toward Ciney on the right flank of Panzer Division 2. Brigadier General Boiling’s US 84th Infantry Division had deployed along a 12-mile defensive front from Hotton to Jamodenne west of Marche. Von Waldenburg began his attack towards the Hotton-Marche road by infiltrating two companies of his Aufklärung-Abteilung 146 through the woods southwest of Verdenne on a ridge just to the north of the village. This lay at the junction of the 84th Infantry Division’s 334th and 335th Regiments outflanking them both. They were detected and thrown back in an American counter attack at noon on Christmas Eve. At the same time Oberst Voightsberger’s Panzergrenadier Regiment 156 supported by five panzers from I/Panzer Regiment 16 launched the main assault against Verdenne.
|25 December 1944….. By midday of 23 December, Kampfgruppe von Böhm had reached Buissonville and by nightfall was just outside Achêne, only 20 kilometres from the Meuse at Dinant. Montgomery was given command of Allied ground forces in the northern sector of the bulge, had begun deploying British forces to support the American defences and the under strength 3rd Royal Tank Regiment was now at Dinant. During the night 23-24 December, patrols scouted out the positions of Kampfgruppe von Böhm and shellfire began rain down around Foy-Notre-Dame. Sherman Fireflies with high-velocity 17-pounder guns took a toll on the Panthers on Christmas Eve blocking von Böhm’s planned attack towards Anseremme, just south of Dinant. For Kampfgruppe von Böhm things turned from bad to worst as low on fuel and ammunition and now cut off with no realistic chance of resupply, the Allies struck.
|30 December 1944….. The forces immediately facing Generalleutnant Karl Decker’s XXXIX Korps were the under strength US 134th Infantry Regiment of the 35th Infantry Division around Lutrebois and the US 137th Regiment around Villers-la-Bonne-Eau with companies K and L actually in the village itself. The attack on Villers-la-Bonne-Eau began at 0445 hours on 30 December with Fallschirm Regiment 14 leading companies closely following the Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler’s attached 501 schwere SS-Panzer Abteilung seven Tiger II’s.