May 1, 2017

1944. British Second Army Drives Into Holland; Luxembourg Captured

Third Army Driving on Nancy; Canadians Advance Through Belgium
Sherman M-4 tank of the American 5th Armored Division drives through Luxembourg, September 1, 1944 (source)
From the Italy edition of The Stars and Stripes , September 12, 1944, pp. 1, 7:
British Second Army Drives Into Holland; Luxembourg Captured

3rd Army Is Driving On Nancy

PARIS, Sept. 11 — American troops, driving on the Moselle River border of Germany, today captured the city of Luxembourg, third European capital to be occupied in two weeks, and were approaching the Siegfried Line on a wide front, while to the north the British 2nd Army breached the Beringen bridgehead on the Albert Canal and drove across the frontier of Holland.

The British crossing into the southern neck of Holland which separates the Allies from one of the richest industrial regions of the Reich was reported in a broadcast from Brussels by Bill Downs, CBS reporter, and was also disclosed in a Reuters dispatch.

The advance was made by seasoned armored troops of General Miles Dempsey after fighting said by its ferocity to indicate German intent to hold this corridor at all costs. After capturing it intact, the British were sitting firmly astride what was termed a "vital bridge" across the Escault Canal at the de Groot barrier, and forward patrols were moving eastward on Dutch soil.

Announcement of the occupation of Luxembourg, which lies just ten miles west of the Moselle River frontier, said only that increased resistance was being encountered as American troops fought their way toward the border stream. Especially heavy fighting was reported in the area surrounding Mersch, ten miles north of Luxembourg.

According to a German report, a powerful assault on a 60-mile front from Arlen to Verviers, captured yesterday, had exploded in the face of German defenders, with massed tanks and armored infantry leading the drive. There was no Allied confirmation, but reports today told of fierce fighting along the Ourthe River in the area immediately east of Marche.

At the southern end of the line where the American 3rd Army is driving on Nancy, front line reports told of the capture, after three days of assault, of the first Maginot Line fort. Fort de Villey-le-Sec, near Toul, on the Moselle, was knocked out in heavy fighting, and with its elimination a gap opened for the advance on Nancy.

The Germans were still fighting desperately immediately east of Bourg-Leopold, but a senior officer of General Dempsey's staff was reported to have commented that the enemy had everything in that area "in the shop window—not much in depth."

Secrecy again prevented word of the progress of the Americans in the Albert Canal fighting, after they yesterday captured Hasselt, four miles south of the water barrier and drive on to reach the canal at several points.

Southeast of Hasselt, the American 1st Army was spreading out from Liège. It occupied Verviers, Limbourg, the latter only five miles from Germany—and Theux. There was no official indication of whether vanguards had crossed the German border in this sector nor of whether the expected drive on Aachen was developing.

A delayed dispatch from an American correspondent today reported that the first Allied artillery shells to fall on German soil were fired yesterday in this area from American Long Toms and fell into enemy positions just across the line.

Bitter German resistance was reported from the triangular area invested against the Atlantic coastline by the Canadians. The enemy was reported to have rushed troops southward from Denmark in frantic efforts to stop the Allied advance which continued to clear the area and today occupied Ghent.

Along the seaboard the Canadians had penetrated the outskirts of Bruges, which the enemy was using as a major defense position, but had largely bypassed the town in the advance northward. The Canadians yesterday afternoon entered the famous World War I U-boat base of Zeebrugge with little opposition.

An official announcement today declared that Ostend and Nieuport had been cleared of the enemy, and the entire area between Ostend and Furnes in Allied hands. German forces still hold out in Boulogne, Calais and Dunkirk, all completely isolated, but no major ground force assault has yet started on the ports.

While the British warships Warspite and Erebus yesterday bombarded fortified positions at Le Havre, more than 1,000 RAF Halifaxes and Lancasters dropped more than 5,000 tons of bombs on the city during the day.