OPERATION NORDWIND: New Year's Eve assault - Sarre Valley
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As anticipated, during the early hours of New Year’s Eve, the initial German First Army thrust came through the Sarre Valley on the left flank on the 7th Army, to the west of the mountainous Low Vosges. The attack was consisted of the 17th SS Panzergrenadier and 36th Volksgrenadier Divisions.
These German units were supplemented by super heavy tank destroyers ‘JagdTigers’, Hetzer ‘Flamm-Panzers’ and an extra company of Panthers seconded from the 21st Panzer Division. Many of the SS troops appeared drunk and attacked the well-prepared US positions manned by elements of the 44th and 100th Infantry Division in ‘suicidal open waves’. (Clarke p505)
The initial ferocity of the attack, supplemented by additional supporting armored units, forced the defending Americans back a few kilometres and opened up a small gap in the defences. However, after few days of fighting, the American defence solidified and the Germans called off their efforts on this portion of the Alsace battlefield. Without a solid breakthrough, the German First Army did not commit its armored reserve in the form of the XXXIX Panzer Corp, consisting of the 21st Panzer and 25th Panzergrenadier Divisions. A senior German commander overseeing the assault ‘caustically observe, the Sarre assault had shown only that the German soldier still knew how to fight and how to die, but little else’. (Clarke p505)
(Next: Lower Vosges)