Plans for a Limited Offensive
The following extract is from the US Seventh Army Report of Operations, Battery Press, 1988, pp 665 - 669.

Plans for a Limited Offensive

This attack was not to be on a grand scale. It was specifically designated as a limited objective attack, and its purpose was "to rectify and shorten present front lines." Shortening the line would make for economy of force. Fewer men would be required to man its defenses. In addition, the objectives to be gained represented terrain more favorable for the launching of a future great offensive. There were two prominent "sags" in the corps line: at Gros Rederching in the 44th Division sector and in the area of the 63rd Division at Welferding. These were what must be "rectified", and at the same time it would be necessary for the 70th Division on the left to keep abreast by moving its entire front forward. (see map 5)

Following a series of diversionary raids to be carried out by units of the 100th Division on the night of D minus 1, it was planned that the 44th Division would attack on D-Day in conjunction with the right elements of the 63rd Division to eliminate the Gros Rederching "sag". On D plus 2 the left elements of the 63rd Division would attack in conjunction with the 70th Division on their left, wipe out the Welferding "sag", and advance the entire western half of the corps front. It was originally planned that the 101st Cavalry Group would attack on D plus 3 in conjunction with the left elements of the 70th Division, but this last drive in the series of limited objective attacks was later postponed. The entire operation was to be carried out in secrecy in order to confuse the enemy as much as possible. It was felt that knowledge by the enemy that these attacks were being planned for the XV Corps sector only and were only limited in objective would impede the success of the operation and dispel any nervousness on his part over a possible major, coordinated Seventh Army advance.

"To rectify and shorten present front lines"' was to mean a slugging offensive, for some a quick raid, and for others a complicated crosswater movement. Each small and sharply limited action was a drive to seize high ground a few miles farther on, to give the Seventh Army a taut line behind which it could build up offensive strength. D-Day was set for 15 February, and H-Hour at 0646 hours.

The initial attack was a problem in planning for the 44th, 63rd, and 100th Divisions. The objective assigned to the 44th Division was a

rimling.jpg (35558 bytes)

"...The objective assigned to the 44th Division was ... between Rirnling and Epping- Urbach..."

general east-west line from a point between Rimling and Epping-Urbach west to the northern fringes of the eastern third of the Bliesbrucken Woods. On the left flank the 255th Infantry of the 63rd Division was to attack the middle third of the Bliesbrucken Woods in conjunction with the 44th Division. The western third of the woods, separated from the larger mass by a clearing of about 500 yards in width, was already within the lines of the 63rd Division. On the right of the 44th Division the 100th Division was to move its left flank elements slightly forward to conform to the general advance.

The plan of attack formulated by the 44th Division called for the employment of all three infantry regiments, to be supported by the 749th Tank Battalion. A number of considerations were responsible for such a plan. First, the nature of the terrain made a natural division of the objective into three parts. Secondly, the necessity for withholding a large division reserve was reduced to a minimum since the objective of the attack was limited and detailed knowledge of enemy dispositions gave reasonable assurance that no large enemy force would intervene prior to the seizure of the objective. A suitable division reserve was provided for, therefore, by the requirement that each regiment maintain one battalion in reserve to be committed only on division order. A third reason for the decision to strike with all three regiments on the line was the desire to inflict the maximum damage possible on the enemy. Since the distance to be covered was short, no more than two miles, it was considered advisable to strike with maximum power and speed so as to penetrate the enemy line rapidly and take his positions from the flank and rear. The desirability of maintaining centralized control over the division tanks was influenced by two factors: the poor condition of the ground made it questionable whether tanks would be able to function effectively in all parts of the division zone, and better results were anticipated if the tanks were to be employed in mass for shock action to exploit a penetration anywhere along the front.

The 324th Infantry on the right and the 71st Infantry in the center were to attack at 0545 hours. This was an hour before daylight. The open terrain and the high rolling hills gave the enemy excellent observation. On the left the 114th Infantry and the 255th Infantry Regiment of the 63rd Division were to jump off half an hour later. Contact in their zone was closer, and a good deal of their sector was heavily ,wooded. At 0645 hour, as soon as visibility would permit coordinated action with the infantry, the 749th Tank Battalion was to attack, passing through the infantry regiments to seize regimental objectives and dominate them until they could be consolidated by the infantry units.

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"...Contact in their zone was closer, and a good deal of their sector was heavily wooded..."

Although eight battalions of field artillery were under division command for this operation in addition to the supporting fires of corps artillery, it was decided to attack without an artillery preparation, Because the enemy positions were well dug-in with overhead cover, it was thought that artillery would have little effect. Moreover, it was felt that the surprise gained by attacking without artillery would outweigh the possible destructive effect of a preparatory barrage.

On the right flank of the 44th Division the 324th Infantry had for its objective the Buchenbusch Woods between Rimling and Epping - Urbach and the high ground beyond. The enemy in that area was the 37th Panzer Grenadier Division, at least two of whose companies had been identified as manning a main line of resistance that ran generally on an east-west line through the woods, which were about 1,300 yards wide. Active patrolling of the past weeks had made the men of the 324th Regiment well acquainted with the terrain and the principal strong points in the enemy's defense. It had been discovered that while the south edge of the woods was heavily mined and wired with many emplacements and machine gun positions, the open slopes east and west of the woods were either unguarded at night or held by only a weak outpost that could be avoided or quickly subdued.

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