While browsing through the 3rd Armored (SPEARHEAD) Div. Files, I found the attached memo written by Col. W. B. Lovelady, my Task Force Commander. The event occurred on our initial thrust into the Belgium Bulge, when Combat Command B (CCB) was attached to the 30th Inf. Div. The Col's item is an incident in what may have been one of the most significant battles of the Belgium Bulge. With reference to the attached map, here is the rest of the story.
The decisive role of the German Ardennes offensive was to be executed by the 1st SS Panzer Div. This Div. was known as Hitler's own, having its' origins to Hitler's first bodyguard. More specifically, the offensive was to be spearheaded by the beefed-up (5800) men Kampfgruppe commanded by SS Lt. Col Joachim Peiper, an experienced hero of the Russian Front. After the initial breakthrough, Peiper's objective was to cross the Meuse River at Huy, Belgium, between Liege and Namur.
CCB, now attached to the 30th Inf. Div., was ordered to clear the north bank of the Ambleve River between La Gleize, and Lovelady's TF, the largest of the group, was to clear the hwy. between LaGleize and Stavelot. The attack started on the morning of Dec. 20, from an area south of Spa. At this time Peiper's leading elements had passed through LaGleize and reached Staumont where they were halted by units of the 30th Inf. Div. Both Tf Jordon and TF McGeorge ran head-on into Peiper's strength, and were stopped about one-quarter mile short of their objective. However, this action changed thoughts Peiper had of turning north to Lieve. With his dangerously low fuel supply, his efforts may have been more intense had he known of the vast fuel depot located between the two TF's. TF Lovelady turned left at Grand Coo, approaching Trois Ponts they met a column of German guns, infantry, and supply vehicles which were quickly riddled to pieces. The first of many attempts to reinforce Peiper had failed. A clause in the Kampfgruppe's order expressly stated that prisoners of war were to be shot, where the conditions of combat should so require it This decree was first demonstrated at Baugnez, site of the Malmedy Massacre. Shortly after the breakthrough, the 1111th Engr. Combat Group was ordered to cover the area south of the Ambleve River, to provide a screening force for the 1st Army Hq. at Spa.
On Dec. 18, Peiper's leading elements had reached Stavelot and Trois Ponts on the north side of the Ambleve. Moments before their arrival, the 291st Engrs. had blown three bridges - one over the Ambleve at Trois Ponts and two on the Salm River south of Trois Ponts. Peiper was now forced to turn north to LaGleize, rather than to follow his planned crossing of the Ambleve for the most direct route to his objective. To further complicate matters, the river on his left and the high wooded hills on the right limited his route to the valley road to La Gleize. The noose was tightening'on Peiper. Although he had found a bridge over the Ambleve intact at Cheneux, his advance in that sector was halted by the 82nd ABN Div. The 82nd's front on the south side of the Ambleve extended east to the Salm River.
D Co. of TF Lovelady advanced to the outer fringe of Stavelot at Perfondroy. Here they witnessed atrocities committed upon Belgium men, women and children by Peiper's SS Troops.
At Trois Ponts, E Co. was engaged in clashes with the 2nd SS PS Regt. in their effort to breakthrough to Peiper's advanced units. The E Co. Commander Lt. Hope, was killed and Maj. Stallings assumed command. Capt. "Doc" Robert's medics, guarded by Lt. Pierro's Platoon of B Co. light tanks, were stationed at Petit Coo. CWO Palfey moved to the railway station at Grand Coo to relay radio messages to Stallings. The high hills in the area blocked radio communications with Lovelady's CP at Roan I e.
It was during this interval when the young Lt. from the 82nd ABN Div. made contact with Col. Lovelady, as written in the attached memo. He informed the Col. that CCB and the 30th Inf. Div. were now attached to the XVIII Airborn Corps., commanded by Major Gen. Gavin.
Some elements of the 2nd SS PZ Reg't. infiltrated across the Ambleve over a footbridge east of Trois Ponts at Petit-Spai and bypassed Stallings tanks. On the afternoon of Dec. 22 they attacked Capt. Roberts aid station at Petit Coo. Fierce fighting raged on into the night. Both D and E Co's. were now separated from the TF, however, they continued to resist efforts to reinforce Peiper from the east.
The following morning units of the 30th Inf. Div. began clearing the SS from the aid station at Petit Coo. Later in the day Petit Coo was cleared and contact was made with D and E Co 's. Another attempt to breakthrough to Peiper had failed. Obviously, this situation relieved the pressure on CCB. They then rejoined the Div. and went on to win other battles. Peiper was sentenced to death at the war crimes trial. In 1954 his sentence was reduced to thirty-five years. He was Paroled in 1956 after serving eleven years. In the summer of 1976 fire bombs destroyed Peiper's house and killed the former commander of Kampfgruppe Peiper.
A. J. PALFEY Former TFL CWO Comm. Oct. 26, 1992 References; C.B. MacDonald,"A TIME FOR TRUMPETS" 1985 Capt. A.E. Roberts,"FIVE STARS TO VICTORY", 1946 CWOX. J. Palfey, Route map of TF Lovelady, 1945. Pages following: A Memo from W.B.Lovelady, Col. AUS Ret. June 1, 1989 Map by A.J. Palfey 10-24-92 Several efforts by Peiper to breakout at Staumont, Cheneux, and in TF Jordon and TF McGeorge's sector were unsuccessful. Supplies of gasoline, munitions, food and medications were virtually exhausted. Requests to retreat were denied, having been assured that reinforcements were forthcoming. Finally, on the night of Dec. 23, .. after destroying their equipment at LaGleize, Peiper led the remnants, 800 men, of the Kampfgruppe on a foot retreat. They crossed the Ambleve on a wooden bridge south of LaGleize into the 82nd ABN. Div. area. Moving only in darkness, they finally rejoined their Div. south of Trois Ponts, after wading the cold and rapid Salm River. Thus ended the exploits of the once mighty Kampfgruppe Peiper. Starting with about 5800 men, 60 tanks(7 Tigers) 3 Flak tanks, 75 HT's, 14 20mm Flak Wagons, 27 75mm assault guns, plus 105 and 150mm SP Howitzers, the group was now trimmed down to 800 scraggly SS troopers.
On December 22,1944, about 9:30 PM, a young lieutenant from the 82nd Airborne was brought to my command post. He was wet, cold and his face was all blackened. He had swam, waded or whatever across the Ambleve River to contact one of our outposts. He told them he had information for the Commanding Officer and asked to be taken there. You can imagine my surprise and gratitude to see him, since we had not been in contact with friendly forces for three days and to learn that the paratroopers were just across the river cheered us. His message was that we were now attached to the XVIII Airborne Corps. He gave me a sketch of the disposition of forces just across the river, and asked for a similar sketch or diagram of our forces. (Generally, just strung out across the road with the Ambleve River on the right, and a steep wooded hill on our left.) Just before he left, he asked if we needed anything. We told him that the Germans were dug in on the hill to our left and we needed artillery or mortars. He offered help. He said he would shoot a line across die river at dawn and we could call for and direct the fire from their Howitzers. This was done and we soon neutralized the enemy on the hill. This experience was one of the greatest in our five campaigns. We have no record of this incident in our book, Regimental or Combat Command B logs and most if not all of the individuals that knew of this have either passed on, or are out of contact. Perhaps there is a mention of this incident in the 82nd Airborne or Regimental Journals.
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