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You're not allowed to break the windows in Monschau

 
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You're not allowed to break the windows in Monschau - 1/6/2013 12:49:47 PM   
altipueri

 

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Cribbed (copied apart from minor edits) from a wiki, for those who have tried Hofen a few times:

For some reason Field Marshal Model wished to save the German town of Monschau from destruction and had forbidden the use of artillery there.(Among his staff it was rumored that Model wished to save the historic latticed window houses). The plan handed General Hitzfeld for the employment of his LXVII Corps (Corps Monschau) called for an attack to the north and south of Monschau that was intended to put two divisions astride the Monschau-Eupen road in position to check any American reinforcements attempting a move to the south. The right division of the Corps Monschau, the 326th Volks Grenadier Division, had been ordered to put all three regiments in the initial attack: one to swing north of Monschau and seize the village of Mützenich on the Eupen road; one to crack the American line south of Monschau, then drive northwest to the high ground on the road just beyond Mützenich; the third to join the 246th Volks Grenadier Division drive through Höfen and Kalterherberg, the latter astride the main road from Monschau south to Butgenbach. If all went according to plan, the 326th and 246th would continue northwestward along the Eupen road until they reached the Vesdre River at the outskirts of Eupen.8 The force available to Hitzfeld on the morning of 16 December for use in the Monschau-Höfen sector was considerably weaker than the 2-division attack planned by the Sixth Panzer Army. In the two nights before the attack the 326th Volks Grenadier Division had moved into the West Wall fortifications facing Monschau and Höfen. The American attack against the 277th Volks Grenadier Division at Kesternich, however, siphoned off one battalion to reinforce the latter division; in addition one battalion failed to arrive in line by the morning of 16 December. Worse, the 246th Volks Grenadier Division, supposed to come south from the Jülich sector, had been held there by American attacks. Hitzfeld was thus left with only a few indifferent fortress troops on the south flank of the 326th Division. The total assault strength in the Höfen-Monschau area, as a result, was between three and four battalions. Nonetheless, Hitzfeld and the 326th commander Generalmajor Erwin Kaschner, could count on a heavy weight of artillery fire to give momentum to the attack. Two artillery corps (possibly totaling ten battalions) were in position to give fire either north or south of the no-fire zone at Monschau, plus one or two Volks Werfer brigades-a considerable groupment for the support of a division attack at this stage of the war.

The American strength in the Höfen-Monschau sector consisted of one rifle battalion and a reconnaissance squadron: the 3d Battalion, 395th Infantry, under Lt. Col. McClernand Butler, in Höfen, and the 38th Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron (Lt. Col. Robert E. O'Brien) outposting Monschau and deployed to the north along the railroad track between Mützenich and Konzen station. The infantry at Höfen lay in a foxhole line along a thousand-yard front on the eastern side of the village, backed up by dug-out support positions on which the battalion had labored for some six weeks. Two nights prior to the German offensive, Company A of the 612th Tank Destroyer Battalion towed its 3-inch guns into the Höfen sector for the purpose of getting good firing positions against the village of Rohren, northeast of Höfen, which lay in the path of the 2d Infantry Division attack. The appearance of the guns, sited well forward and swathed in sheets for protective coloration in the falling snow, gave a lift to the infantry, who as yet had to fight their first battle. The 196th Field Artillery Battalion were emplaced to give the battalion direct support.

The 38th Cavalry Squadron was aligned from Monschau north to Konzen station, holding a continuous position with fifty dismounted machine guns dug in behind mines, barbed wire, and trip flares covering the approaches from the east. The right flank of the squadron, outposting Monschau, was at some disadvantage because of the deep, rocky draws leading into and past the town. But to the north the terrain was less cut up and offered good fields of fire for the American weapons posted on the slopes west of the railroad track. In addition to the assault gun troop in Mützenich, the squadron was reinforced by a platoon of selfpropelled tank destroyers from the 893d Tank Destroyer Battalion, which was stationed behind the left flank to cover a secondary road which entered the American position, and the 62d Armored Field Artillery Battalion. On the whole the defense in the Monschau-Höfen area was well set when the battalions of the 326th Volks Grenadier Division moved forward to their attack positions on the morning of 16 December. The German guns and Werfers opened a very heavy barrage at 0525, rolling over the forward lines, then back to the west along the Eupen road, shelling the American artillery positions and cutting telephone wires. Neither the infantry nor cavalry (gone well to ground) suffered much from this fire, heavy though it was; but many buildings were set afire in Höfen and some were beaten to the ground. Monschau, as directed by Model, escaped this artillery pounding. In twenty minutes or so the German fire died away and off to the east the glow of searchlights rose as artificial moonlight. About 0600 the German grenadiers came walking out of the haze in front of the 3d Battalion. The wire to the American guns was out and during the initial onslaught even radio failed to reach the gunners. The riflemen and tank destroyer gunners, however, had the German infantry in their sights, without cover and at a murderously easy range.

The result was fatal. Still, the grenadiers who lived long enough came right up to the firing line-in three verified instances the bodies of Germans shot at close range toppled into the foxholes from which the bullets came. A few got through and into the village. Assault companies of the 1st Battalion, 751st Regiment, and the 1st Battalion, 753d Regiment, had made this attack. But the support companies of the two battalions were blocked out by an intense concentration of well-aimed 81-mm. mortar fire from the American heavy weapons company, this curtain strengthened within an hour by the supporting howitzer battalion. By 0745 the attack was finished, and in another hour some thirty or forty Germans who had reached the nearest houses were rounded up. Reports of the German dead "counted" in front of Höfen vary from seventy-five to two hundred. The casualties suffered by the 3d Battalion in this first action were extraordinarily light: four killed, seven wounded, and four missing.

At Monschau the 1st Battalion of the 752d Regiment carried the attack, apparently aimed at cutting between the Monschau and Höfen defenses. As the German shellfire lessened, about 0600, the cavalry outposts heard troops moving along the Rohren road which entered Monschau from the southeast. The grenadiers were allowed to approach the barbed wire at the roadblock, then illuminating mortar shell was fired over the Germans and the cavalry opened up with every weapon at hand-the light tanks doing heavy damage with 37-mm. canister. Beaten back in this first assault, the German battalion tried again at daylight, this time attempting to filter into town along a draw a little farther to the north. This move was checked quickly. No further attack was essayed at Monschau and a half-hearted attempt at Höfen, toward noon, was handily repelled. As it was, the 326th Volks Grenadier Division lost one-fifth of the troops put into these attacks.


< Message edited by altipueri -- 1/6/2013 7:11:43 PM >
Post #: 1
RE: You're not allowed to break the windows in Monschau - 1/6/2013 6:31:44 PM   
danlongman

 

Posts: 393
Joined: 3/27/2012
From: Over the hills and far away
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I remember reading somewhere that Moschau had been a popular honeymoon town
for newlyweds, especially young German soldiers on the western front during
the time when many senior German officers were at that age. They were reluctant
to smash a place that had fond memories for them.

_____________________________

"Patriotism: Your conviction that this country is superior to all other countries because you were born in it." - George Bernard Shaw

(in reply to altipueri)
Post #: 2
RE: You're not allowed to break the windows in Monschau - 1/7/2013 9:46:22 AM   
phoenix

 

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Joined: 9/28/2010
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Wow. Thanks Alti. Hadn't realised the 326 got so decimated and thoroughly beaten in reality. I assume, in our little scenario, that the heavy arty barrage spoken about to commence proceedings has just finished (and completely emptied most of the guns). It feels right, then - having read that - that I got beaten on all my first attempts at this scenario. And I feel doubly pleased to have finally succeeded - though, as I've remarked before, by the time you get to play it through so many times you acumulate a substantial advantage in 'black' intelligence, knowing just about where all the Allied units are or will be. This no doubt helps greatly in the formation of plans (for example, knowing that Hfn sth is unguarded, in effect, during the first hour, allowing you to just walk in). Without that advatage the results were as above first off, I think. Makes me say thanks to whoever designed the scenario - it mirrors the history very well. Don't know which of the Panther team it was, but good job!

I read previously that Monschau was one of Hitler's favourite little towns and the no bombardment order came direct from him.

< Message edited by phoenix -- 1/7/2013 9:54:50 AM >

(in reply to danlongman)
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