Roer River Battles: Germany's Stand at the Westwall, 1944-45

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A selection of the Military Book Club

Following the Allied breakout from the Normandy beachhead in July 1944, the vaunted German Army seemed on the verge of collapse. As British and US forces fanned out across northwestern France, enemy resistance unexpectedly dissolved into a headlong retreat to the German and Belgian borders. In early September an elated Allied High Command had every expectation of continuing their momentum to cripple the enemy's warmaking capability, by ...

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The Roer River Battles: Germany's Stand at the Westwall, 1944-45

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Overview

A selection of the Military Book Club

Following the Allied breakout from the Normandy beachhead in July 1944, the vaunted German Army seemed on the verge of collapse. As British and US forces fanned out across northwestern France, enemy resistance unexpectedly dissolved into a headlong retreat to the German and Belgian borders. In early September an elated Allied High Command had every expectation of continuing their momentum to cripple the enemy's warmaking capability, by capturing the Ruhr industrial complex and plunging into the heart of Germany. After a brief pause to allow for resupply, Courtney Hodge's First Army prepared to punch through the ominous but largely outdated Westwall (Siegfried Line) surrounding Aachen.

During the lull in combat operations, however, German commanders such as the "lion of defense," Walter Model, continued to reorganize depleted units and mount an increasingly potent defense. Although the German Replacement Army funneled considerable numbers to the front, they all too often strained an overburdened supply system and did not greatly enhance existing combat formations. More important was that the panzer divisions, once thought irretrievably destroyed, were resupplied and reinvigorated. When the Allied offensive resumed it ran into a veritable brick wall—gains measured in yards, not miles, if any were made at all.

While combatants from both sides suffered equally in an urbanized environment of pillbox-infested hills, impenetrable forests, and freezing rain, the Germans were on the defensive and better able to inflict casualties out of proportion to their own. For the US First Army, what was originally to be a walk-through turned into a frustrating six-month campaign that decimated infantry and tank forces alike. The “Broad Front,” as opposed to a “Schwerpunkt” strategy, resulted in the demise of many a citizen-soldier.

Drawing on primary Wehrmacht and US sources, including battle analysis and daily situation and after-action reports, The Roer River Battles provides insight into the desperate German efforts to keep a conquering enemy at the borders of their homeland. Tactical maps down to battalion level help clarify the very fluid nature of the combat. Combined, they serve to explain not just how, but why decisions were made and events unfolded, and how reality often differed from doctrine in one of the longest US campaigns of World War II.

REVIEWS

“…well organized, concise, and easy to understand…both enjoyable to read and a great addition to any military history buff’s library and well as the scholar. It would be a great addition to a community or university library as well.”
Kepler’s Military History, 09/2010

“Organized chronologically from September 1944 to February 1945, this military history describes both Allied and German operational planning after the German retreat from France, recounts the protracted battles at Aachen and Hurtgen Forest, and ends with the successful crossing of the Roer River. A few b&w photographs are provided, and maps depict regiment positions.”

Book News, 10/20/2010

“…well researched and documented…”
IPMS, 10/21/2010

“Optimism for a rapid Allied victory ran high after the successful landings at Normandy in June 1944, but soon dissolved in the ensuing months as retreating German forces began to reorganize and put up a stiffening resistance to the Allied advance across Western Europe. . . . One of the main reasons for Germany’s surrender in May 1945 would be the pressure applied by Allied forces that finally pushed their way to the Roer River.”
—World War II History

“…good areas include descriptions of typical infantry regiments(US and German) and what they contained down to squad level and descriptions of tactics…”
Miniature War games, 01/2011

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Editorial Reviews

Keplers Military History
“…well organized, concise, and easy to understand…both enjoyable to read and a great addition to any military history buff’s library and well as the scholar. It would be a great addition to a community or university library as well.”
Book News
Organized chronologically from September 1944 to February 1945, this military history describes both Allied and German operational planning after the German retreat from France, recounts the protracted battles at Aachen and Hurtgen Forest, and ends with the successful crossing of the Roer River. A few b&w photographs are provided, and maps depict regiment positions.
IPMS
...well researched and documented...
World War II History
“Optimism for a rapid Allied victory ran high after the successful landings at Normandy in June 1944, but soon dissolved in the ensuing months as retreating German forces began to reorganize and put up a stiffening resistance to the Allied advance across Western Europe. . . . One of the main reasons for Germany’s surrender in May 1945 would be the pressure applied by Allied forces that finally pushed their way to the Roer River.”
Miniature War games
"…good areas include descriptions of typical infantry regiments(US and German) and what they contained down to squad level and descriptions of tactics…"
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781935149293
  • Publisher: Casemate Publishers
  • Publication date: 8/26/2010
  • Pages: 264
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Table of Contents

Preface 1

Acknowledgements 3

1 Strategic Overview (Summer 1944) 5

Normandy Breakout 8

2 Approaching the Reich (Late August-September 12) 13

Allied Operational Planning 14

German Operational Planning 16

The Race Across Northwest Europe 18

To the German Border 21

3 Breaching the Westwall (September 12-30) 23

German Response 30

"Reconnaissance in Force" 36

Hitting the Westwall 38

Ersatzheer 44

Into the Schill Line 45

Stalemate 48

A Dark and 50

Missed Opportunities 53

4 Encircling Aachen (October 1-7) 57

Isolating Aachen from the North 59

Across the Wurm 64

Köchling's Counterattack 68

Preparations at Aachen 71

5 First Schmidt (October 6-16) 73

US Tactical Plans 74

German Tactical Plans 74

Clearing the Kall River Valley 83

High Water Mark 89

Enter Kampfgruppe Wegelein 91

Stalemate 94

6 The Fall of Aachen (October 8-31) 97

South of the City 98

The Last Corridor 101

Urban Fighting 105

Into the Closing Vice 107

The Vice Closes 108

Planning for Operation Queen 111

Endgame 112

7 Second Schmidt (October 21-November 9) 117

US Tactical Planning 119

German Tactical Planning 120

Delays 121

Second Schmidt 123

Vossenack 124

Schmidt and Kommerscheidt 129

The Germans Retake Kommerscheidt 135

8 Operation Queen (November 16-18) 139

Allied Planning 140

Aerial Support 142

German Buildup and Deception 144

German Planning 145

Hastenrath, Gressenich, and Hamich 148

Ground Offensive 150

Eliminating the Triangle 153

9 Operation Clipper (November 18-23) 155

Allied Planning 155

German Planning 157

Phase I: Prummern 159

Phase II: Bauchem, Süggerath, and Tripsrath 162

Phase III: Geilenkirchen Virtually Encircled 164

Phase IV: Hoven, Müllendorf, Würm and Beeck 166

10 Ninth Army (Queen) (November 19-26) 169

Gereonsweiler Falls 170

On to Aldenhoven 171

Linnich to Jülich 172

Securing the Inde River 174

11 First Army (Queen) November 19-26) 179

Dürwiss to Laufenberg 180

Push to the Inde 182

Spearhead 184

Merode 185

12 Escape from the Hürtgen (November 17-28) 187

Out of the Forest 189

V Corps' Turn 191

Taking Hürtgen 192

13 Operations to the Ardennes Offensive (December 8-16) 195

Along the Aachen-Cologne Reichsautobahn 196

VII Corps to the Roer 200

From the Hürtgen to the Roer 201

14 Operation Blackcock (January 14-27) 203

British Planning 204

German Planning 206

Angel 209

Bear 210

Dolphin 211

Crown 214

Eagle 214

Fleece 215

Hart 215

Jug 215

15 Capturing the Dams and Crossing the Roer (Feburary 1-27) 217

Fourth Schmidt 219

Crossing the Roer 222

The Roer and Beyond 224

Afterword 227

Appendix The Westwall 229

Bibliography 235

Index 245

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