Author Topic: The history of Forgotten Hope 2: St. Vith (Part 1)  (Read 2884 times)

Offline Ts4EVER

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The history of Forgotten Hope 2

St. Vith



The battle of St. Vith started with the launch of operation "Wacht am Rhein" on December 16th 1944. The Germans had divided their big counter offensive in three main sectors and the vital road junction of St. Vith was in the 5th Panzer Armee zone. In the beginning of the offensive, St. Vith formed a "pebble in the flood" between German armies rushing west, much like Bastogne north of it. To understand why it was vital, you need to take a look at some typical Ardennes terrain:



The area is dominated by wooded hills and criss-crossed by several rivers and smaller streams that often lie in deep valleys. In a modern war and especially during an offensive where speed is the key to success, it is of the utmost importance to be able to move your forces and their supplies fast. In terrain like the Ardennes, the road network thus becomes an objective in its own right, with bridges forming natural bottlenecks and cities around crossroads becoming logical strongpoints.



The town of St. Vith

When the offensive broke loose on December the 16th, the brunt of it hit the 106th US Infantry division, stationed in front of St. Vith. Even though the scope and intentions of the German attack were unclear in the first few days, the Allies decided to move reinforcing divisions into the threatened sectors. One of these was the 7th US Armored Division, which had just been refitted after fighting around Metz and was now moving south to aid the 106th Infantry in a counter attack. Their progress was slow: While the Ardennes road network was vital, it was also muddy, small and choked up with traffic.



An engineer preparing to blow down a tree across the road

The task of defending St. Vith thus fell to the 168th Engineer bataillon. More than half of its men were behind the lines in training and the ones in the field had little experience in the use of machine guns and bazookas. Still they took up their positions in a pine forest east of the city, like so many of their comrades did all over the front, waiting for the Germans to arrive. When they did come on December the 17th, they failed to make much headway at first. Some German tanks showed up, but when one of their crews dismounted, they were machine gunned and another one was knocked out per Bazooka, sending the rest into a retreat. Another attack was prepared, but broken up by fighter planes.



Armoured infantry of the 7th Armored near St. Vith

The first units of the 7th Armored finally reached St. Vith at nightfall of the 17th, but only after having cleared the jammed road at gunpoint. It was too late to execute the planned counter attack and the full scale of the German attack was becoming apparent. The Germans launched another limited attack that night and managed to take out three tank destroyers, but they didn't press home their advantage.
On the 18th the 7th Armored was just preparing to counter attack east in a desperate attempt to break through to the encircled main part of the 106th Infantry, when the German Mobile Bataillon of the 18th Volksgrenadier Division (comprising three platoons of assault guns, a company of engineers, and another of fusiliers) struck from the north. This attack was stopped with heavy losses for the Germans, but for now the Americans were on the defensive.



Viesalm, near St. Vith

The 18th attacked the American lines three times from the east and were beaten back each time. All in all the American artillery fired 900 rounds at the attacking Germans, breaking up their assaults time after time. 7th Armored was also able to reclaim the crossroads at Poteau in the north, which had earlier been lost to the Germans. On the 19th there were only some light clashes around St. Vith, allowing the Americans to reorganize their defence and bring up more artillery. Still, the situation was far from stable. Units of the 116th Panzer Division turned up far in the west, indicating that the Americans were about to get encircled.
At the same time, the last remnants of the trapped infantry in the east were being marched into captivity and the Germans set their sights on St. Vith for good. The main attack was to be made by the F├╝hrer Begleit Brigade under the command of Col. Otto Remer, a veteran of the eastern front. This force consisted of three grenadier battalions, a battalion of Panzer IVs, a battalion each of assault and field guns, and eight batteries of flak which had formed the antiaircraft guard for Hitler. They would be ready for attack on December 20th.

To be continued

Offline pizzzaman

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Re: The history of Forgotten Hope 2: St. Vith (Part 1)
« Reply #1 on: 09-08-2012, 15:08:56 »
I am loving these history devblogs!  :D
Is Keren next?
You are bathing in misery and hope, waiting for someone to come and pull the plug.

Offline Ts4EVER

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Re: The history of Forgotten Hope 2: St. Vith (Part 1)
« Reply #2 on: 09-08-2012, 15:08:45 »
First part 2 of St. Vith.

Offline DanielNL

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Re: The history of Forgotten Hope 2: St. Vith (Part 1)
« Reply #3 on: 09-08-2012, 15:08:01 »
EPIC pictures! :D
Although St. Vith is my favourite map in FH2, I won't read the descriptions to the pics... -.- :P

Offline Watchtower1001

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Re: The history of Forgotten Hope 2: St. Vith (Part 1)
« Reply #4 on: 14-08-2012, 05:08:57 »
Great Documentary on St. Vith and why it was so important.  Very obscure video with a small number of views I found awhile back after St. Vith was announced here.  Enjoy.

Youtube - Part 1
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ScVOBLlvlb8

Youtube - Part 2
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SJWXUoT_zaM
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