Un soir, plutôt que de m’endormir face à la TV, je me suis mis à rechercher sur GOOGLE une Revue TIME_LIFE dont Eric von Manstein faisait la couverture.
MAIS vous remarquerez certainement que le FRANÇAIS n'est pas présent (car le Blog a été construit en français).
WESTERN FRONT: TIME-LIFE Jan. 15, 1945
On the day before this crisis, slim. restless Major General Hoyt Sanford Vandenberg, commander of the U.S. Ninth Air Force, had popped into the headquarters of 40-year-old Major General Elwood Ricardo Quesada, head of one of the Ninth's chief components—the IX Tactical Air Command, whose fighter bombers were stationed back of the First Army.
For the next four hours the Thunderbolts struck in groups of four, boring in through the mist with flak-scarred wings nearly scraping the towering hills, to drop their bombs and to rake the column with rockets. One contingent found another column of comparable size on a winding road, gave it the lethal works.
Measure of Success.
These were the fundamentals which the British and U.S. air arms had followed to their successes in Africa and Europe. There were historic examples in every Allied airman's mind. in Africa, breezy his Marshal Sir Arthur Coningham had combined the three tenets to slug the Germans out of the sky, and then pace Montgomery's march across the desert with advance air strikes. The Americans used the technique to break the stalemates below Rome.
French civilians streamed out of Strasbourg, back into the Vosges Mountains. There was talk of evacuating the city. The Germans might be corning back.
To Field Marshal Sir Bernard Law Montgomery last week went Supreme Commander "Ike" Eisenhower's praises.
WESTERN FRONT: TIME-LIFE Jan. 22, 1945
Rundstedt's Choice Battered and bedevilled, the German salient in the Ardennes shrank, squirmed, changed shape. Allied counterblows from three directions forced Field Marshal Gerd von Rundstedt to make a decision.
He could stand and fight a battle that was turning against him. or he could back up with his well earned gains.
He chose retreat—and conducted it with consummate skill and minimum losses (see below).
Top U.S. military sources were now agreed that Rundstedt had aimed. primarily, to capture the Allied communications center at Liege, seize or smash the great supply dumps there.
The Germans probably never expected to reach the sea, although they might not have hesitated to push on for Antwerp and the coast if Allied resistance had fallen apart.
But they failed even to capture Liege—and thus failed to force a withdrawal of the Allied positions fronting the Ruhr.
Yet Rundstedt had achieved what was, undoubtedly. his secondary aim: to disrupt the Allied offensive for four to six months. In casualties he had probably got an even break.
The Allies claimed some 50.000 Germans dead or wounded, 40.000 taken prisoner.
Last week Secretary Stimson gave a preliminary count of 40.000 American casualties. including 18.000 missing, but this obviously did not include all the categories of losses.
Rundstedt had sacrificed about half the men, armor and transport committed to his great gamble. He therefore had left, almost intact, the equivalent of ten mobile and partly armored divisions.
He was also reported to have received four or five fresh reserve divisions from Norway. And so his striking power last week was still formidable.
It was certainly enough for a new thrust, in the west if he chose to ignore the threat of the Russian winter offensive and take another gamble.
Presumably Rundstedt had been well briefed by Goebbels & Co. on Allied psychology, and hoped to shake the Allied command structure, create dissension and mutual distrust in Britain and the U.S.
There was some U.S. bewilderment over Field Marshal Montgomery's cocky histrionics last fortnight (Time Jan. 15). some British grumbling at a statement issued last week by General Bradley' in which he said his Twelfth Army Group would resume command of the U.S. Armies north of the bulge after the bulge had disappeared.
But the Allied command team was intact and operating in harmony, which helped to quiet raucous voices. The team had work to do, It had been thrown for a big loss and the way to the enemy's goal was long and hard.
Ice, Snow & Blood.
One day the temperature went down to 9* above zero.
When the blizzards stopped. the wind blew and the snow drifted.
Water froze in canteens; motorized troops on the move built fires on the steel bottoms of their trucks.
In the dark mornings the doughboys climbed out of their foxholes. sleepless, stiff-legged and red-eyed, to fight another day.
The wounded died where they fell unless they were quickly picked up.
The medics kept their morphine Syrettes under their armpits to pre-vent congealing.
When the thaw came, fog settled.
On most days Cub artillery spotters could get off the ground, and some days heavy bombers were able to attack rear bases and communications by using their "mickeys" (radar bombsights). But for ten straight days, Allied tactical air support was pinned to the ground, except for a few ineffective sorties.
It was fine weather for a withdrawal, and canny Field Marshal Gerd von Rundstedt made the most of it.
Voiksgrenadiere in trenches took up the tight, while armor and SS infantry pulled out.
In some sectors, the punching, pushing Allies encountered aggressive "counter-reconnaissance screening forces"—in others, only mines in the snow, unguarded roadblocks and the eternal booby traps.
Around Bastogne, Rundstedt counter-attacked persistently to shield the swelling stream of German tanks and transport flowing east through Houffalize and Saint-Vith.
The Berlin radio announced that the Germans were evacuating Saint-Hubert.
When the Allies entered the town a day later, it was empty. The U.S. 2nd Armored and 84th infantry found only nine Germans in Laroche.
The British, pushing against the nose of the salient, suddenly discovered nothing ahead of them, swept up 100 square miles in two days.
Rundstedt had to hold apart the Allied pincers north and south of Houffalize--- and he did. But in the "box position” -which jutted southeast of Bastogne, the Germans were mauled.
The area had been shelled by heavy Allied field guns 4 hours a day ever since Dec 27.
Finally, General Patton attacked the box simultaneously from west and south. trapped a sizable enemy force, captured 3,400, killed other thousands. chased the rest into the woods.
At Last, Airplanes.
At week's end the 30th Infantry and 82nd Airborne delivered a massive blow at the German bulge northwest of Saint-Vith.
The enemy reaction was instant and furious: the Yanks were rocked back by counterattacks with infantry and tanks.
But U.S. troops took the blow. and shoved forward again.
The weather cleared at last, and a huge swarm of Allied fighter bombers set out to smash the enemy columns on the roads.
It was good hunting, though probably too late to inflict more than superficial wounds.
Even when the Yanks cut the main highway between Houffalize and Saint-Vith, the Germans still had a net of secondary roads to move on.
Rundstech seemed in good shape to hold a more easterly defense line, or to go all the way hack to the concrete fastnesses of the West wall.
Some 4,000 Allied bombers and fighter escorts, profiting by the weather break to attack oil plants deep in Germany. raised a swarm of Luftwaffe interceptors.
At least 232 German fighters were downed, while the first count of Allied losses showed only 45 planes missing.
The Wasp and The Fire.
Meanwhile, the Germans. kept up their diversionary offensive in Alsace-Lorraine.
This show was commanded by a rough-&-tumble general named Hermann Balck, who had distinguished himself in the Nazi retreat up the Rhone valley in France, and who_had been built up in German popular esteem as a successor to the late Erwin Rommel.
When the U.S. Seventh Army held and shoved hack the German bulge south of Bitche. Balck attacked at Rimling, on the west shoulder of the Bitche salient.
He also renewed his attacks on the French from the Colmar pocket, drove to within ten miles of Strasbourg.
Considering the relatively small forces involved, Strasbourg's recapture would be a juicy political plum for the Nazis.
This week Balck was thrusting with tank and flame-throwers into the Seventh Army's Maginot Line positions near Haguenau.
It seemed likely that these harassments would continue at least until the Ardennes situation was stabilized.
To Eisenhower, Balck's offensive was like a wasp snarling around a man who is trying to put out a fire.
WESTERN FRONT: TIME-LIFE Jan. 29, 1945
That was the question: who had the initiative last week on the western front?
- The Germans had it in Alsace,
- the British had it in the north.
- Nobody had it in the Ardennes, where the Germans were successfully evacuating the last of their armor and crack infantry, and where the U.S. was successfully liquidating the German bulge.
Squeeze on Strasbourg.
Liberated France, cold, hungry and disillusioned. waited tensely for news as the threat to her beloved Strasbourg increased from day to day.
At Gambsheim, eleven miles north of Strasbourg, the Germans beefed up their bridgehead with men and tanks from across the Rhine.
From it, they struck north, west and south.
On the north, they joined with other Nazi units attacking Hatten—a village whose shelltorn, fire-blackened ruins had been fought over for more than a week—and thus established a front from Gambsheim dear across to the Lorraine salient south of Bitche.
The blow to the west drove the U.S. Seventh Army back five miles.
Then the Germans shoved south to a point nine miles from Strasbourg.
From the big Colmar pocket south of Strasbourg, the Germans had already probed within ten miles of the city. Thus, in their 19-mile strip of the Rhine's west bank, the French defenders of Strasbourg were squeezed on both sides.
At week's end the French in the Belfort-Mulhouse area attempted a diversion by smacking the Colmar pocket's broad southern flank. Launched in a heavy snowstorm, this at-tack cut a deep gash in the enemy lines before it was slowed.
The Germans wanted Strasbourg for its prestige value; the Allies wanted to bold it for the same reason.
Strategically it was not worth a heavy commitment of reserves. But Major General Jean Delattre de Tassigny promised a last-ditch defense.
Holding the Funnels.
The Ardennes bulge dwindled to a strip which reached only twelve miles into Belgium at the widest point, east of Houffalize.
The Germans evacuated their funnel at Houffalize. which had served its purpose, but seemed determined to hold the funnel at Saint-Vith for a few days longer.
Clearing weather enabled Allied tactical pilots to take a last crack at German vehicles, of which they destroyed more than 1,000.
On the south, General Patton's onrushing Third Army came within range of German guns firing from the casemates of the Westwall itself.
The Germans' 10th and 11th Armored Divisions, which had spearheaded the Ardennes offensive. suddenly reappeared in other sectors
- one in the battle for Strasbourg,
- the other on the Third Army's front, south of Trier.
In the north last week General Sir Miles C. Dempsey's British Second Army launched an attack on the German salient between Roermond and Geilenkirchen.
This appeared to be no more than a line-straightening operation, to bring the British up to the Roer, in line with the U.S. Ninth and First Army positions.
Yet Dempsey's white-painted tanks and white-clad infantry advanced seven miles in three days, swept up a dozen villages, beat down with flame-throwers a counter-attack by Nazi paratroops.
LIEUTENANT GENERAL ELWOOD R. QUESADA
Elwood Quesada was a member of the famous Question Mark endurance crew of 1929.
Lieutenant Quesada flew Davison and explorer Martin Johnson all over Africa on a mission to collect animals for the New York Museum of Natural History in the summer of 1933.
Quesada became commanding general of the 9th Command and the 9th Tactical Air Command in Europe in November 1943. In April 1944 he became a major general.
General Elwood Quesada's medals and awards include Distinguished Service Medal with oak leaf cluster; Distinguished Flying Cross; Purple Heart; Air Medal with two silver stars; American Defense Service Medal; European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal and seven bronze battle stars; World War II Victory Medal; British order of Bath (Degree of Companion); Commander of British Empire; French Legion of Honor; French Croix de Guerre with Palm; Luxembourg Croix de Guerre; Order of Adolphe of Nassau; Polish Pilot Badge; Commandeur de l'Ordre de la Couronne with Palm; Croix d'Officier de l'Order de la Couronne with Palm.
The Story of the IX Tactical Air Command
With one officer and one enlisted man as a start, IX TAC was on the way to becoming an outfit at Drew Field, Fla., in March 1942.
QUOTE: OH, HOW WE LOVE YOU GUYS OFFICERS and GIs behind the scenes may never rate an Air Medal, but the pilot depends on their work.
At present all three types of fighter planes, Thunderbolts, Lightnings and Mustangs, are represented.