But in 30 minutes or so, he had worked his magic–he had ‘touched’ virtually every man in that battalion. It was fortunate that Task Force Ezell returned unscathed from its fruitless mission. It took the 4th Armored Division five days of bitter, costly fighting to break the ring of German units encircling the 101st, but only six days before the linkup, elements of that same division had actually been in Bastogne on the day it was being encircled. In Harold Coyle's 1993 techno-thriller "The Ten Thousand", the 4th Armored Division forms part of the US Army Tenth Corps, much of the novels action is depicted from the point of view of members of the division.[21]. The 4th AD was reassigned to the XII Corps on 30 April 1945. Remarkably, we had traveled 161 miles over roads that were sometimes bad–without maps and without confusion. Whatever the rationale for its mission may have been, the motivation for this decision is difficult to comprehend. The fact that we arrived was a tribute to both our men and vehicles and spoke volumes for the work we had accomplished during the recent rest period. Patton used the veteran 4th Armored Division and units of the 80th and 26th Infantry Divisions to smash the encirclement of Bastogne. During the division’s rest period my command post was in Domnon-les-Dieuze, a tiny, wet, muddy and depressing French village about 40 miles northeast of Nancy. "The 4th Armored: From the Beach to Bastogne" is a small booklet covering the history of the 4th Armored Division. What really was disturbing was the realization that the encirclement had been taking place while Ezell’s group had been in Bastogne, and it had continued with unabated fury after the 8th Tank Battalion and CCB had left the area. Dr. Edwin 'Buzz' Aldrin, second man to walk on the moon. On 23 December, the 37th Tank Battalion knocked out a German operated Sherman tank and two 75mm SPs near Begonville. The 4th Armored Division was activated during World War II on 15 April 1941 with 3,800 men (10,000 by the end of May 1941) from various other units, at Pine Camp (Camp Drum, 1951; Fort Drum, 1974), New York under its first Commanding General, Brigadier General Henry W. Baird. This combat command was located just to the east of the Bastogne … The 4th Armored Division, previously attached to the XII Corps, was now assigned to the III Corps. The 8th Tank Battalion was ordered to retrace its steps of the previous night and move southwest to Neufchâteau, then southeast to Léglise. The 4th AD fought several German panzergrenadier brigades in the Lorraine area including the SS Panzergrenadier Brigade 49 and SS Panzergrenadier Brigade 51 at this time, defeating a larger German force through superior tactics and training.[6]. The equipment seemed to be in good shape, but there was no sign of any troops. *Why did General Middleton of VIII Corps seem to exert ‘ownership’ of CCB? With a major attack coming up in just two days, he needed his division at full strength, and it would have been severely handicapped without CCB. The 4th AD cleared Bois de Serres, 12 November, advanced through Dieuze and crossed the Saar River, 21–22 November, to establish and expand bridgehead and took Singling and Bining, then Baerendorf[7] 24 November, before being relieved 8 December. The 37th became the spearhead of the 4th Armored Division's drive to relieve the paratroopers in Bastogne. To: Maj. Gen. Hugh J. Gaffey Ironically, the battle at Chaumont was fought just four kilometers east of the quiet bivouac area we had occupied at Nives just three days earlier. HistoryNet.com contains daily features, photo galleries and over 5,000 articles originally published in our various magazines. We soon learned that the 8th Tank Battalion was the only battalion in the division that he visited. Given the situation, it is absolutely inconceivable that CCB should have been sent on its merry way all the way to the outskirts of Bastogne and told to report to the VIII Corps. The following day, at Chaumont, the 8th Tank Battalion was on the receiving end of one of the most powerful tank-led counterattacks of the war, temporarily slowing its advance to Bastogne and inflicting heavy casualties. On 1 August, Gen. George Patton's U.S. Third Army became operational and the 4th AD became the spearhead of the Third Army. We moved out of Léglise at 4:30 the next morning–the 22nd–so as to arrive at the IP at 6. But then our spirits were dashed. The task force then came upon another strange sight–about two battalions of U.S. artillery stopped along the road. The 4th Armored Division was an armored division of the United States Army that earned distinction while spearheading General Patton's Third Army in the European theater of World War II. There is a cast plaque outside Bastogne that makes this claim. He arrived at high speed in his jeep, with a wide, crooked grin and all his stars blazing. Combat Command A of the 9th Armored Division had been attached to the Fourth on the 27th, and was fighting its own battle to further expand and protect the corridor to the west. 4th Armored Division Spearhead at Bastogne – Sidebar: November ’99 World War II Feature. Patton chose as his ultimate course of action a well-planned, well-coordinated, orderly attack toward a known, specific objective. Seven hours after it set out for Bastogne, Ezell’s task force returned to our bivouac area with many more vehicles than it had when it pulled out. This was shocking news, but Task Force Ezell had provided ample clues that the Germans had been on the move the previous day. The 4th Armored was on the left flank. Combat Command "A" (CCA) would be the next to move out, nine hours behind CCB and along the same road. Our tank guns were still pointed to the north, and now, for the first time in the war, we were in Belgium. In his memoir War As I Knew It, General Patton wrote, ‘The next morning I arrived at Bradley’s headquarters in Luxembourg and found that he had, without notifying me, detached Combat Command ‘B’ [General Dager] of the 4th Armored Division from Arlon to a position southwest of Bastogne. Not knowing how long we would be there, the men wasted no time in tackling their tasks. At the time, I was serving with Combat Command B (CCB) of the 4th Armored Division, commanded by Brig. Third Army relief force, the 4th Armored Division, broke through the German lines and opened a corridor to Bastogne, ending the siege. To give much deserved credit to Combat Command “B” of the 10 th Armored Division for saving the strategic transportation hub city of Bastogne, Brigadier General Anthony McAuliffe, in command of the 101 st Airborne Division while its Commanding General was temporarily away, stated that “without the sacrifices of the 10 th Armored CCB, there would not have been a Bastogne to be … Early that morning I was told to attend a meeting at division headquarters, but before I left for the meeting it was called off. World War II Order of Battle. As ordered, the 8th Tank Battalion crossed the IP at 12:50 a.m. on December 19. Other Third Army units which were trapped with the 101st Airborne Division in Bastogne were from the 9th and 10th Armored Divisions. Members of C Company, 9th Engineers , conduct a memorial service for those killed during the siege, 22 January 1945. He was completely unaware that CCB was then on its way toward Bastogne. The 51st Armored Infantry Battalion established dug-in gun positions about 800 yards from the pavement and along the woods. Troy H. Middleton of the VIII Corps. The 4th AD was reactivated on 15 June 1954 at Fort Hood in Killeen, Texas with the name 4th Armored "Breakthrough" Division[17] ("Breakthrough" was discontinued some years afterwards) and was deployed to West Germany in 1957 with headquarters at Cooke Barracks in Göppingen. General Patton then drove to Arlon, to the headquarters of General Middleton’s troubled VIII Corps to get a firsthand picture of the situation in the Bulge. He said that he had just made the same arguments in a tug of war with Maj. Gen. General Gaffey must have wanted his combat command returned. Major General Archibald R. Kennedy commanded the division after the war. The relief corridor into Bastogne had been secured by CCR and solidified to the east by CCB. The Sad Story of Private Eddie Slovik . He radioed instructions from his jeep, his staff relayed radio messages, he sometimes rode alongside to shout directions at me in my turret, and at tricky intersections he dismounted and pointed the way. When I told him to return, Ezell was dumbfounded. The division appears to have been part of VII Corps for most of this period. Six weeks later the 4th AD jumped off from Luxembourg City in an eastward plunge that carried it across the Moselle River at Trier, south, and east to Worms, and across the Rhine, 24–25 March 1945. He was a master at this kind of rapprochement. The end was in sight. This division was seriously weakened during the fighting in Lorraine. The men were beside themselves, chatting and shouting excitedly. I shouted, ‘Get him!’ I reached him not a moment too soon, for at that very instant Ezell had been receiving instructions for deployment from Colonel Roberts. I immediately called Ezell, whose radio operator told me that he was out talking to a colonel. Perhaps the lead German elements had been moving so rapidly that following forces had not yet caught up with the vanguard. New York, New York: Galahad Books World War II Order of Battle p52, The Armored Sentinel, Fort Hood, Texas, 15 April 1954, 4th Armored Division Yearbook 1958 via usarmygermany.com, Army Battle Casualties and Nonbattle Deaths, Final Report (Statistical and Accounting Branch, Office of the Adjutant General, 1 June 1953), Learn how and when to remove this template message, http://www.history.army.mil/html/forcestruc/cbtchron/adcomp.html, http://www.history.army.mil/documents/ETO-OB/4AD-ETO.htm. We would be moving to the III Corps zone (wherever that was) to assist in stopping a strong German counterattack in that sector. The truck was barely damaged and its driver was still sitting behind the wheel. Anne Clough, promoter of higher education. It took the 4th Armored Division five days of bitter, costly fighting to break the ring of German units encircling the 101st, but only six days before the linkup, elements of that same division had actually been in Bastogne on the day it was being encircled. A number of questions have been raised about our mission: *Why did CCB, whose original destination was the vicinity of Longwy, continue on alone until it reached a position in VIII Corps sector, only nine kilometers from Bastogne? Activated 15 Apr 41 Arrived ETO 8 Jan 44 Arrived Continent (D/37) 13 Jul 44 Entered Combat: First Element 17 Jul 44 Entire Division 28 Jul 44 Days in Combat 230 Richard Henry Lee, American Revolutionary patriot and signatory of the Declaration of Independence. Christmas Day came and went leaving the 4th Armored Division toiling slowly toward Bastogne. The division got the nickname "The Battered Bastards of the Bastion of Bastogne". At 2 p.m., CCB was reassigned to III Corps with the rest of the division. Early the next morning, December 20, I was, figuratively speaking, hit by a thunderbolt. During our rapid movements across France that summer and autumn, we occasionally had to rely on Michelin road maps for direction. That was not the time to reinforce a failing situation and risk having elements of the 4th Armored committed prematurely. Some of the vehicles were still idling. No one who learns about Ezell’s trip to the city during its encirclement can help but be struck by the story’s ironies and might-have-beens. Lauterbach fell 29 March, Creuzburg across the Werra on 1 April, Gotha on 4 April – where the 4th AD liberated Ohrdruf concentration camp, the first Nazi camp liberated by U.S. The 8th Tank Battalion and the rest of CCB were part of the 4th Armored Division’s attacking force, coordinated with the 80th and 26th Infantry divisions of III Corps. I continued with my preparations for the move the next day to the east, as well as the subsequent attack into Germany, by sending billeting parties forward to obtain billets for the battalion to occupy at the end of the march to the border. As December 20 passed, events continued to move swiftly. Just before dark on the day after Christmas 1944, elementsof Lieutenant General George S. Patton, Jr.’s 4th Armored Division, attacking from the south, succeeded in making contact with the beleaguered Americans at Bastogne. Neufchâteau, another milestone, came and went as we continued to roll, still without enemy contact. The move to the rest area was not only welcome and richly deserved but necessary. World War II: Battle of the Bulge – 4th Armored Division Help End the Siege of Bastogne Just before dark on the day after Christmas 1944, elementsof Lieutenant General George S. Patton, Jr.’s 4th Armored Division, attacking from the south, succeeded in making contact with the beleaguered Americans at Bastogne. We began our journey in darkness and were to end it in darkness, as night came upon us again. His force would henceforth be known as ‘Task Force Ezell.’ Ezell’s mission was to report to Brig. He jumped off from ground that was firmly in his hands. The story of Hitler’s Bodyguard, the 1st SS Panzer Division Leibstandarte (LAH), in the battle for Bastogne does not begin until after the siege of that city had been raised by the U.S. 4th Armored Division, part of General George Patton’s Third Army, on December 26, 1944. The encircled 101st Airborne Division had occupied that critically vital Belgian town for several days, categorically refusing German demands for surrender. Tanks … Shortly afterward, I also received word the move to the east the next day was off. Most important, there had been no enemy contact. It clarifies how the counterattack was planned and provides some fascinating sidelights on the men who made the decisions and brought about the dramatic linkup at Bastogne. We began our slow, difficult return to Bastogne. The division was organized as a full Armored Division in May and June 1942 under the command of Major General John Shirley Wood. The 4th was named the "Breakthrough" division in 1954, but that name was eventually discontinued.[5]. A stronger force, he said, would take several more days to assemble and would forfeit surprise. Units of the 25th Cav often found themselves separated from the main column by elements of the German Army. The distinction as to the front line was often vague. The 4th Armored Division would move at once toward Arlon via Longwy. [15] In 1949, it was redesignated the 4th Armored Division and inactivated on 20 May 1949.[16]. If he had not been recalled by divisional headquarters, Ezell and his men might have been trapped in Bastogne along with Colonel Roberts’ combat command of the 10th Armored. The III Corps’ main effort would be up the Arlon–Bastogne road. The 4th AD, spearheading Patton's Third Army, attacked the Germans at Bastogne and, on 26 December, was the first unit (Company C, 37th Tank Battalion led the 4th Armored Division column that relieved Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge) [8] to break through at Bastogne and relieve the besieged 101st Airborne Division. With no order for the next day, the men settled in for the night after the evening meal. Further reading: A Time For Trumpets, by Charles B. McDonald; and Battle: The Story of the Bulge, by John Toland. But finding the answers to some of the more puzzling aspects of Ezell’s mission helps to enrich our understanding of the Battle of the Bulge. [10] The 4th AD received the following Letter of Commendation:[11]. It should be emphasized that at this meeting Patton pledged a three-division counterattack with the entire 4th Armored Division as the key division in the corps. In popular lore, a battalion of the 4th Armored Division is credited with relieving Bastogne and lifting its siege. Which would have spared many officers and men of the Fourth Armored Division a great deal of misery and, in some cases, death.’ The following additional information about the events leading up to the Battle of Bastogne provides answers to some of these nagging questions. The U.S. M-1 tank is named after him. *Why did the rest of the 4th Armored Division not close up behind CCB instead of leaving CCB near Bastogne while the rest of the division assembled well to the rear, in the Arlon area? *Once CCB had moved into its bivouac at Vaux-les-Rosières, should the rest of the 4th Armored Division have capitalized on the situation, moving up to attack from the bivouac location only a short distance from Bastogne rather than consolidating for the attack farther south and then fighting its way north along the difficult forest axis from Arlon to the encircled city? Later that same day, Patton met at Verdun with Supreme Allied Commander General Dwight D. Eisenhower and a distinguished gathering of senior commanders that some have called perhaps the most historically significant conference of the 1944-45 campaign. All the U.S. soldiers charged with desertion during World War II, only one executed–Private! 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