June 30, 2017

1945. Wehrmacht Collapsing After Battle of the Bulge

Enemy Traffic Moves Eastward
The 1st Battalion, Rifle Brigade moves into the Dutch village of Sint Joost alongside Churchill Crocodile flamethrower tanks, January 20, 1945 (source)
From The People, January 28, 1945:
Huns Hasten Trek From West Front

Strange things are happening on the Western Front. Along many sectors of the line the Germans are giving up without a fight territory for which they had previously battled with the utmost venom.

At the same time, the stream of enemy traffic moving eastward is increasing in volume and extending deep into Germany.

In the foulest possible weather, says yesterday's despatches from the front, our planes went up to have a look at this great German trek to the east. This is what they saw:

To the north of the Ruhr Wehrmacht forces were rolling northeast by road and rail in broad daylight.

The great marshaling yards at Hamm, the funnel for traffic to central Germany, were working at full blast. "If anything, commented a spokesman at Allied H.Q., "the retreat from Hamm is increasing."

Further east, Tempest reconnaissance planes spotted the same enemy troop movements as far as Osnabrück and Bremen.

It was a disappointing day for our battle planes. In heavy cloud conditions and bad visibility only 150 sorties could be flown, but they destroyed 13 locomotives and damaged 18.

The Luftwaffe did practically nothing to protect the jam of traffic. An RAF spokesman said that apparently German fighter planes had also been moved east to counter the Russian offensive.

In the seven-days German exodus from the Ardennes bulge they suffered a mauling reminiscent of Falaise, 7,300 rail and road vehicles being destroyed or damaged.

Meanwhile the Germans have done little to prevent the Allies from "tidying up" their positions.


Two more villages west of the River Roer, north of Heinsberg, have fallen to Dempsey's troops, and the enemy bridgehead over the river is collapsing.

Patton's Third Army have made a general advance up to three and a half miles on the 23 miles front.

They have occupied eleven more towns and pushed to the west bank of the Our river, forming the Luxembourg-Germany border.

Gen. Patton's men now hold positions at five places on the west bank of the Our.

In central Alsace where Rundstedt had hoped to make a new drive for Strasbourg, American and French troops have pushed the enemy further north and have now advanced a total of four miles.

Footnote to this story of German withdrawal came yesterday from Bill Downs, C.B.S. commentator, in a broadcast from Paris:

"We are now allowed to say that at least three German divisions and elements of some others which a month ago were fighting on the Western Front are now fighting against the Russians.

"This leads to but one conclusion—now is the time for the Allied armies in the West to give the Nazis the same medicine as the Russians are giving them."