Thursday, February 19, 2015

Following the 10th Armored (16): Replenished, Refreshed and Ready

This is part of a series following my father's 10th Armored Division in World War II seventy years ago. He was a medic with the 80th Medical Battalion assigned to the 10th Armored, part of Patton’s Third Army.

9-10 Feb 1945-
Nichols reports that the 10th received sudden orders to move north to again unite with the XX Corps of the Third Army at Metz. By dusk on he 10th they were there. There was a secretiveness to the move as they removed all identification from vehicles and put away their shoulder patches. Even with that, Nichols says
a French boy of seven bravely approached a Tiger staff officer and in perfect English said, "Welcome back to Metz, Tenth Armored Tigers.
It hadn't been two months since the 10th had been diverted from breaking through defensive Siegfried Line near Saarbrucken. They were now returning to the Saar-Moselle triangle with new strength and refreshed for the job ahead. They were the only division remaining which had participated in the November-December assault. Nichols comments that this time they were
to set a model for tank-infantry teamwork, as the Tigers were to race through an infantry bridgehead to seize important objectives deep in the enemy's rear area.
The Triangle-
The Saar-Moselle Triangle is defined by the Moselle River on the west, the Saar on the east and, across the southern end, a part of the Siegfried Line. From Wikipedia: The whole
Line stretched more than 630 km (390 mi) and featured more than 18,000 bunkers, tunnels and tank traps. It went from Kleve on the border with the Netherlands along the western border of the old German Empire as far as the town of Weil am Rhein on the border to Switzerland. It was planned starting in 1936 and built between 1938 and 1940.
The portion of the Line the Tigers were responsible for was a small section, but important to the overall goals to capture the Triangle. For that to be successful they had to capture Metz and then, with that accomplished they could capture Trier. The Germans had fortified the two rivers, the Line as well as a nineteen mile long ridge line that bisected the triangle north and south.

10-18 Feb 1945-
The Tenth began an intensive training program. The Divisions battalions, which had been impacted by the Bulge, were strengthened with experienced replacements. Plans were prepared at headquarters and then translated into field orders, A, B, and C. The Division could then be put into motion at a moment's notice.

In short, the 10th was ready to go. Their movements were mocked by Axis Sally, the radio propagandist, by calling the Tenth- the "Ghost Division." They were not the only division to be so named, but they took it as a mark of honor.

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