Sunday, November 02, 2014

Following the 10th Armored (4): Ready to Go

This is part of a series that, over the next year, will follow my father's 10th Armored Division in World War II seventy years ago.
02 Nov 1944

The 10th Armored entered their first combat at Mars-la-Tour.

In the previous week the Division had arrived at Mars-la-Tour having traveled across France from its start at Cherbourg. They had spent some time near Cherbourg at Theurteville getting acclimated to the war zone, putting things together and, I would guess, wondering what the future looked like.

They bivouacked near Mars la Tour that was unfortunately an area too small for movement. Then it rained and rained providing a very muddy, but relatively quiet few days. Nichols in Impact says that it was perhaps the worst bivouac area of war for them. Their purpose was to assist XX Corps in the containment of enemy troops in preparation for the attack on Metz.They were to move around behind the forts and cut off the retreating enemy.

Metz was an ancient 1500 year fortress town on Moselle River. It had been virtually indestructible over the previous millennium. The 10th was to fall into line, one-by-one behind the 90th Infantry then move through providing support and cover. From all that was reported it was not a particularly good geography (or weather) for the tanks, but the 10th managed and found its place.

When November and time for the battle around Metz came, the XX Corps under General Walton H. Walker had a total of 30 infantry battalions, 500 tanks and more than 700 guns. Their plan had two phases. One was to destroy all German forces around Metz and then to switch the advance to the northeast to catch the enemy as they pulled out of Metz.

On November 2, 1944, they were pulled into place and had their first combat. It was a generally quiet area and not much else was to happen for the next two weeks, but the enemy had been engaged for the first time. War was now a reality.

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