April 16, 2015

1945. The United States First Army Advances Toward the Siegfried Line

The Battle of the Bulge

Bill Downs

CBS News

January 28, 1945

The United States First Army tonight is advancing towards the Siegfried Line, and the pressure which broke the Germans in the east now is being brought to bear from the west.

First Army infantry elements jumped off at 4 o'clock this morning, attacking in the dark during one of the heaviest snowstorms of the winter. The Germans thought that an attack under such conditions was impossible. They were keeping warm in their dugouts and pillboxes. But the Germans were wrong. Our troops sometimes waded waist-deep through the snow to get to their objectives.

The surprise of their attack paid off in gains of up to a mile and a half. The 1st Infantry Division took three towns east of Malmedy. Other infantry elements took another town. Two hundred surprised and resentful Germans were captured in the opening stages of the attack, and our losses were light.

The First Army troops have struck on a front stretching north of St. Vith. The Siegfried Line curves inward towards Germany along the Ardennes ridges in this sector, but at the nearest front the 1st Infantry Division stands about two and one-half miles from the Siegfried, and the advance continues.

Don't expect fighting on the scale of the Russian gains from this renewed First Army attack. The Siegfried is more than a single line of fortifications, and the deep snow in this hilly, forested country is a difficult obstacle without any enemy opposition. The coming battles are going to be bloody and bitter—an infantry dogfight. But the important thing is that the pressure is on from the west and the east.

Out on the front tonight, thousands of cold and tired doughboys are climbing through the snow. It's so deep that you literally have to climb through it. Dressed in their white snowsuits, they move like ghosts through the forests and over the hills. And six hundred miles to the east, the same kind of cold, tired, white-clad soldiers are moving towards the west. It forms the world's greatest military squeeze play. The squeeze play will end when those American doughboys shake hands with those Russian soldiers somewhere in Germany.

And this is Bill Downs with the First Army returning you to Admiral.