Big Red One 1945 Part I

The Sixth Panzer Army attacks the northern shoulder of the “Bulge,” 16–23 December 1944. (Positions approximate)

The optimistic predictions of the war being over by Christmas lay dead and frozen in the snow-shrouded fields of Western Europe and coagulating on the blood-soaked sands of tropical isles and atolls. The far-flung, fortified islands of Kwajalein, Truk, Hollandia, Saipan, Guam, Peleliu, and Leyte had all fallen to the Americans in 1944, shortening the road to Tokyo each day. Yet the fanatical Japanese were still holding out on many more islands, prepared to fight to the last man. And no matter how optimistically the newsreels and newspapers and magazine and radio commentators spun the facts, there seemed to be no end in sight to the awful carnage.

In Europe, too, there was little reason to hope that Hitler’s Third Reich might suddenly collapse, as had Kaiser Wilhelm’s regime in November 1918; each mile driven into Germany by the Allies was met with greater and greater resistance, like a fist being pushed into fast-setting concrete. Even an attempt on the Führer’s life by rebel Nazi officers in July had been botched; nothing and no one seemed able to stop the hate-filled Austrian ex-corporal who had started the world’s descent into madness.

As America’s fourth Christmas season since the United States entered the war commenced, there was an oppressive sense that the war might drag on indefinitely. In the U.S., the holiday was being celebrated in subdued fashion. Instead of being joyous, the hearts in many families were heavy, filled either with fear or grief.While some servicemen were safe at home, either because they had been wounded in battle; had finished their tour of duty; or because they were awaiting deployment overseas (the official draft ceiling had just been raised to age twenty-six), millions of husbands, fathers, brothers, and sons were gone, their absence symbolized by a simple, empty stocking tacked to the mantel of the family fireplace. Millions of families, to be sure, had sent packages containing millions of Christmas presents to their loved ones overseas, and the military postal system struggled mightily to assure that the packages would reach the soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen, no matter how remote or dangerous the address. So what if the cakes and cookies arrived crushed beyond recognition or if, like the dainty napkins, shoe whitening, and spats Eddie Steeg had received from home in July, they were incongruous, useless, and inappropriate in a war zone? The fact that they were remembered at all heartened even the most battle-hardened, gore-stained veterans.

Back home, Americans still intently kept abreast of developments on the battle fronts, especially where their loved ones were serving. Their hearts also ached for the Londoners who were again feeling the club of Hitler’s wrath, this time in the form of huge V-2 rockets that plunged from the sky without warning and did terrible damage.

Americans craved information, and they pored over newspapers and magazines, searching for any scrap of news that might be a harbinger of victory, or anything that would put words to the inexpressible feelings they held inside. Advertising captured the heartbreak of the season. An ad from the automaker Nash showed a wistful GI and the headline, “When I Go Home . . . .”The copy was weighted with the same yearning that filled virtually every homesick serviceman at Christmastime: “The guns fade down. And it seems to me I hear a dog’s sharp bark, and a girl’s voice, and the shrill of my own clear whistle. And the next thing I know, I’m over the gate and out of the war and it’s Christmas again and I’m home. And then, I’m walking into a room with the biggest and brightest tree in the world. . . . The music stops and the carols are stilled and the bombers come up and the fighters scream against the surfbeat of the guns and I’m back where there’s still a war to be won. But I know when I go home, I’ll go home sure that no kids of mine will ever spend their Christmases in jungles, in foxholes, or on beachheads. . . .”

Unfortunately, there would be numerous Christmases ahead when the sons of World War II veterans would be spending their Christmases in jungles, in foxholes, and on beachheads. And there were plenty of soldiers in this war, too, just inside Germany’s vestibule, that were hunkered down in snow-filled holes; or taking cover in the scant shelter of a half-demolished building that was once somebody’s home or shop; or trying to warm their hands over a jeep’s manifold or a tank’s exhaust, while longing for home and girls and decorated trees and the warmth of a real bed, without worrying about an incoming artillery round or a dive-bomber’s screaming attack or a sniper’s bullet.

Having taken all its objectives, the weary 1st Infantry Division was finally pulled off the line on 11 December and given a welcome relief by the 9th Infantry Division; three days later, General Huebner was relieved of command and replaced by his crusty Division Artillery commander, Clift Andrus. By then, Huebner was almost as beloved by his men as Terry Allen had been. Huebner was “bumped upstairs” to replace Leonard T. Gerow as V Corps commander when Gerow was promoted to command the newly created Fifteenth Army. Willard Wyman was also transferred out, and given the 71st Infantry Division to command; Colonel George A. Taylor, C.O. of the 16th Infantry, became the assistant division commander.

Andrus, born at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, in 1880 into a military family, had graduated from Cornell University in 1912, then was commissioned a second lieutenant of artillery. In Andrus, who had been head of “Div Arty” since before the North Africa campaign, and Taylor, the men of the 1st knew they had two aggressive and capable leaders; the Big Red One’s drive toward Berlin, it was felt, would not miss a beat.

As tough as the battles for Aachen and the Hürtgen Forest had been, they were soon eclipsed by a battle of even greater proportions—the so-called “Battle of the Bulge.” In his last-gasp effort to turn the tide of war in his favor, Hitler gambled everything he had in the west with an all-out blitz, code-named Wacht am Rhein (“Watch on the Rhein”), designed to crash through American lines, capture the Belgian port of Antwerp, into which hundreds of thousands of tons of Allied supplies were now pouring, and split the Allied armies along the seam between Montgomery’s 21st Army Group and Bradley’s 12th. The blow would be so severe and demoralizing, Hitler believed, that the Allies would sue for a separate peace; he could then turn his attention back to preventing a collapse of his armies facing the Soviets in the east.

In charge of the counteroffensive in the west was Generalfeldmarschall Gerd von Rundstedt, the aged but able commander of Oberbefehlshaber West (or, OB West ). Beneath him was Generalfeldmarschall Walter Model’s formidable Army Group B, consisting of the Seventh Army, Fifth Panzer Army, and Sixth SS Panzer Army. The axis of attack would be through the same forest from which the Germans had launched their surprise attack against France in 1940—the thickly wooded Ardennes, from Monschau on the north to Echternach on the south. A military historian described the Ardennes as being “at once the nursery and the old folks’ home of the American command. New divisions came there for a battlefield shakedown, old ones to rest after heavy fighting and [to] absorb replacements for their losses.” In spite of its history, the Ardennes was an area that the Allies continued to mistakenly believe was “impenetrable.”

Just as the French were caught unawares in 1940, so too were the Americans at the end of 1944. Two recently arrived, unblooded American infantry divisions—Walter E. Lauer’s 99th and Allen W. Jones’s 106th, both of Troy Middleton’s VIII Corps—were in the front line along the “quiet” Ardennes, with the 1st Infantry Division, and others, to the north, in reserve.5 They would soon be given a rude introduction to battle by an initial German assault wave of some 250,000 men—some wearing American uniforms and driving captured American vehicles—with nearly 400 panzers and 335 self-propelled assault guns, and over 2,600 artillery pieces and rocket launchers. Another 55,000 troops and 561 armored vehicles stood in reserve, waiting for orders to move up and exploit the gains made by the first wave. Facing this force along the western front were only 83,000 Americans with 242 tanks, 182 tank destroyers, and 394 artillery pieces.

On the frigid night of 15/16 December 1944, Hitler’s uncompromising directive was issued to the keyed-up assault troops, who knew that their counteroffensive would spell either victory or defeat for the Third Reich: “Forward to and over the Meuse!” Before dawn on 16 December, the spearhead of the twenty-five- division German assault burst out of the forest and slammed into the unsuspecting 99th and 106th Divisions, sending many of the green officers and troops fleeing in panic. Whole battalions melted in the face of the German onslaught, but calmer voices soon prevailed as elements of the Big Red One were quickly mobilized and trucked to the northern shoulder of the German penetration. Captain Fred Hall, S-3 of the 16th Regiment’s 2nd Battalion, noted, “On 16 December, we were sent near Robertville, Belgium, with a mission to defend a position along the northern shoulder of the Battle of the Bulge. . . .We had continual contact with the enemy, and several Germans wearing American uniforms were captured in our area. These soldiers were promptly interrogated to determine unit identification, strength and mission. . . . We had the unfamiliar task of preparing defensive positions using barbed wire and mines.”

Sergeant First Class Dorris H. Barickman, from Bowling Green, Kentucky, and a member of the 1st Recon Troop, noted the tenseness of that time: “We got word that the German armored was coming. . . .We were given orders to hold and not retreat under any circumstances. Hard on the nerve system!”

In the Army’s official history of the Battle of the Bulge, historian Hugh Cole wrote, “The 26th Infantry of the uncommitted 1st Infantry Division, then placed on a 6-hour alert, finally entrucked at midnight and started the move south to Camp Elsenborn [Belgium]. The transfer of this regimental combat team would have a most important effect on the ensuing American defense.” Arriving in the 99th Division’s panicky command post at Elsenborn, an officer of the 26th Regiment declared, “You need worry no longer. The 1st Division is here. Everything is under control.”

The 26th Regiment began establishing defensive positions between the towns of Dom Butgenbach and German-held Büllingen on the night of 17 December to stop the Sixth Panzer Army from driving through that sector. It would not be easy. The weather was miserable; food and water froze; men were evacuated with frostbite; vehicles broke down; and weapons became all but inoperable in the bitter cold. (To quickly thaw the bolts on their weapons, some soldiers resorted to the only warm water they had—their urine.) Yet, none of this seemed to matter to the Germans who, in the early morning hours of 19 December, roared out of Büllingen and smashed into the 26th’s positions. The 33rd Field Artillery Battalion, assigned to support Lieutenant Colonel Derrill Daniel’s 2nd Battalion, 26th Regiment, still understrength from its ordeal in Aachen, fired illuminating rounds that exposed the charging panzers and infantry, then hammered the enemy with white-phosphorous and high-explosive shells until the assault lost its momentum and the German troops broke and retreated.

Later that morning, the Germans renewed their attack with fresh determination. Daniel’s 2nd Battalion, reinforced by a mere five Shermans from the 745th Tank Battalion and four self-propelled guns of the 634th Tank Destroyer Battal- ion, took the brunt of a determined assault by SS-Panzergrenadiers and tanks from the 12th SS Panzer (Hitlerjugend) Division. Riflemen and artillerymen combined to stop every German attack; bodies clad in field-gray overcoats littered the snowy landscape, and flaming panzers were everywhere. Once again, the enemy fell back to regroup and await reinforcements. The American line, too, was strengthened by the timely arrival of the 16th Regiment.

Al Alvarez, 7th Artillery, had been taking it easy before the fighting began, relaxing in a warm barn when, “Kaboom! A round came through an opening in the front wall and out the back wall with a startling, crackling explosion that showered us with debris. Straw flew everywhere, and we were covered with shards of wood, powdered stone, and animal droppings. No one was physically hurt, but someone had to change their laundry!”

During the night of 19/20 December, German artillery and Nebelwerfers (multi-barreled rocket launchers) began to saturate the 2nd Battalion’s positions. For three solid hours, the fire kept up, decimating an already-depleted G Company. As German infantry closed in under the cover of the barrage, Daniel called for all the artillery within range—twelve battalions—to hit the exposed enemy with an estimated 10,000 rounds. It was a slaughter, but the Germans would not give up. At about 0600 hours on the frigid, foggy morning of 20 December, twenty German tanks and an infantry battalion struck American positions at Dom Butgenbach. The 1st Division countered with a mortar and artillery saturation that momentarily stopped the assault in its tracks, but the panzers came on and entered the village. A 57mm anti-tank unit, defending 2nd Battalion headquarters, went into action. Against the thick frontal armor of the German tanks the 57mm gun was generally worthless; the clever American gunners held their fire until the tanks had rolled past their positions and then fired point-blank at the lightly armored rear sections, sending the panzers up in flames.

Before dawn, another ten German tanks came roaring from Büllingen, heading straight for Company F at Dom Butgenbach, but heavy fire drove them off. The enemy then turned west and hit the line held by Company G; artillery fire again pushed the Germans back. The panzers continued probing to the west, next striking Company E. As the historian Hugh Cole wrote, “The 60mm mortars illuminated the ground in front of the company at just the right moment and two of the three tanks heading the assault were knocked out by bazooka and 57mm fire from the flank. The third tank commander stuck his head out of the escape hatch to take a look around and was promptly pistolled by an American corporal.”

The American corporal was Henry F.Warner, of the 26th Infantry’s Anti- Tank Company. Ralph Puhalovich, a member of Warner’s unit, recalled, “[He] was a real quiet, unassuming, soft-spoken guy. He didn’t drink and he didn’t swear. You wouldn’t suspect that he would be a hero.” According to Warner’s Medal of Honor citation, “A third tank approached to within five yards of his position while he was attempting to clear a jammed breach lock. Jumping from his gun pit, he engaged in a pistol duel with the tank commander standing in the turret, killing him and forcing the tank to withdraw.” The next morning,Warner was again in the thick of fighting. “Seeing a Mark IV tank looming out of the mist and heading toward his position, Cpl.Warner scored a direct hit. Disregarding his injuries, he endeavored to finish the loading and again fire at the tank, whose motor was now aflame, when a second machinegun burst killed him.”

On the 21st, another full-scale attempt by the 12th SS Panzer and 25th Panzer Grenadier Regiments to break through the 26th’s lines was launched and, for several hours, the issue was seriously in doubt. Two platoons of the regiment’s anti-tank company were thrown into the action and the 57mm guns accounted for two or three kills before being destroyed. A lone American tank destroyer rushed to the scene and knocked out seven panzers heading toward Dom Butgenbach. As the desperate battle raged, German panzers crushed American positions under their steel treads, only to be stopped by men with bazookas and rifles and hand grenades who refused to die.

By the afternoon of 22 December, the entire 1st Infantry Division was back on the line along the northern shoulder of the Bulge, along with the 2nd and 9th Infantry Divisions. An official 26th Infantry Regiment report spoke of the ferocity of the fighting and the unbelievable bravery just days before Christmas: “Coming out of the mist which cloaked movements but seventy-five to a hundred yards away, the enemy tanks loomed up in front of the riflemen, who fought back with anti-tank guns, grenades, and rocket-guns. The massed tanks broke through the curtain of fire from infantrymen and the immediate supporting fires laid down by the artillery and tank and tank-destroyer elements, and overran the company main lines of resistance. Machine gunning the foxholes, the tanks sought to open a wedge for the following German infantry. Overrun and out-gunned, many riflemen died at their posts. Mortar crews left their weapons and joined the riflemen in repelling the German infantry. Machine gunners directed heavy and accurate streams of fire at the enemy. The smashing of machine-gun emplacements by the tanks that rode over the positions failed to halt the fire of the remaining machine gunners. . . .Ammunition bearers manned the weapons or fought as riflemen against the German tanks. The hostile armor rode back and forth across the gap, but failed to silence the riflemen who still fought off the German infantry. In the close fighting that followed, German tanks confidently made for the group of buildings housing the battalion CP and two company CPs. Locked in combat, the opposing infantry forces hurled every available man into the struggle.”

Only by summoning the last ounce of their strength, courage, and endurance were the Americans able to withstand the steel tide and prevent a German breakthrough. Giving the chilling order, “We stand and die here,” Daniel rallied his troops. A platoon of self-propelled 90mm guns from the 703rd Tank Destroyer Battalion arrived at the last moment and turned German tanks into scrap-iron hulks. It was estimated that forty-seven German armored vehicles were destroyed and nearly 800 German soldiers lost their lives trying to drive Daniel’s men out of Dom Butgenbach. The Americans lost nearly 250 men, five 57mm anti-tank guns, three tanks, and a tank destroyer.

Eisenhower wasn’t worried: “With these three proved and battle-tested units (the 1st, 2nd, and 9th Divisions) holding the position, the safety of our northern shoulder was practically a certainty.” It was only to the south, in a region known as the Schnee Eifel, east of St.Vith, that the American lines gave way and allowed for a deep, but temporary, enemy penetration. As the savage battle for the northern shoulder of the Bulge finally subsided, the Germans headed toward Bastogne and Malmédy, where the resistance was not quite as fierce, committing atrocities and leaving scores of their own dead and dying comrades bleeding in the snow or burning inside their panzers. The German drive eventually sputtered and died less than halfway to Antwerp as the Allies recovered from their shock and punished von Rundstedt’s armies severely; Hitler’s last-gasp gamble to secure a vital victory in the west had failed. The end of the war was at last in sight, but it would not come quickly nor easily.

Big Red One 1945 Part II

The 1st Division’s drive from Aachen to Bonn.

On 26 December 1944, the great Allied counter-counteroffensive began; the 1st Division’s part in it did not commence until 15 January, but the violence of it shattered the soldiers’ peaceful Christmas reveries. Hundreds of thousands of half-frozen GIs and British Tommies threw themselves at enemy positions all along the Siegfried Line in a maximum effort designed to gain ground and destroy German forces. When the 1st Division finally stepped off, Major General Andrus noted, “Most of the attacks were at night and the blizzards, rains, fogs, mud, ice, sleet, and enemy resistance did not let up as the division, with the 16th in reserve, fought ahead relentlessly.” Steinbach fell the first day, and a passage was opened for the 7th Armored Division to drive toward St.Vith.

The weather was worsening. The 16th Infantry Regiment’s historian recorded, “Snow was knee deep on the level and drifted to two and three times that depth where the wind could get at it. To make matters worse, it continued to snow so hard that it assumed the proportions of a blizzard. . . .Walking through the drifts was exhausting in the extreme and the troops halted frequently to rest. . . . The condition of the men was terrible.Wherever possible, men were in houses, but hundreds had to remain in the open. Wet clothes froze on them, there was a shortage of blankets, and it was impossible to keep socks dry. Men were coming down with bad colds, were developing trench feet, and when neither of these two illnesses occurred, they were so miserable in general that their continued determination to fight is one of the finest evidences of the quality of these American infantrymen.”

On at least one occasion, the bad weather actually worked to the advantage of the Yanks. On 19 January, while trying to take the town of Schoppen, less than three miles southwest of Dom Butgenbach, Lieutenant Colonel Charles Horner’s 3rd Battalion, 16th Infantry, had been thrown back by determined German resistance and needed to come up with a better assault plan. According to the division’s newspaper, “Col. Horner thought up some free-wheeling tactics, though there was a raging blizzard which had stopped all vehicular traffic, even couriers. Before daybreak, in the worst conditions that Americans ever fought under on this front, Col. Horner sent a company commanded by Captain Karl E. Wolf over a ridge and around the town to take it from the rear. It was a hazardous maneuver, storming an enemy-garrisoned town in pitch darkness. But the Americans found the entire enemy garrison sound asleep. Col. Horner’s men are campaigning to rename Schoppen ‘Horner’s Corners.’”

About the same time that Horner and his men were taking Schoppen, another battalion, the 1st Battalion of the 26th Regiment, was also battling the elements and the enemy. The division’s newspaper reported: “The battle of Learnard’s Gulch is over, and American infantry, not supposed to be such great shakes at snow fighting, has added one for the books. Until two days ago, Learnard’s Gulch was an unnamed 2-mile-long defile. Germans were perched firmly atop a 5,000-foot-long rise commanding it, and a 1st Division battalion under Lt. Col. Henry G. Learnard was going nowhere trying to get through. Then Col. Learnard had an idea. He asked and received permission from the 30th Division on his right to swing around and pass through its lines to hit the Germans from the rear. . . . By night, through a marrow-chilling snowstorm, Col. Learnard’s men made a forced march, going by truck part of the way, and trudged through drifts sometimes chest deep up the side of the rise. The Germans did not know what hit them. Those not killed were stunned, incredulous, and surrendered. Now the defile is down on 1st Division records as Learnard’s Gulch.”

The 1st continued to push back the enemy and drive through a second line of Westwall fortifications and into the Buchholz Forest. On 28 January 1945, the British Broadcasting Corporation aired a tribute to the 1st Infantry Division by NBC war correspondent John McVane.He told his listeners:

The American 1st Infantry Division has done it again. . . .We heard that in a situation where all seemed fluid and changing, two points held firm as a rock—the shoulders of the [German] drive and Bastogne.Without knowing, I was sure the 1st Division would be in one place or another—the roughest part of the battle. Well, Bastogne was the job of the 101st Airborne. But my guess was right; the 1st Division took over one shoulder of the drive, stopped the Germans cold, and turned what might have been a wide-open hole into a tight corridor that could be handled, cut into, chopped up when the time came. In this last exploit, the 1st has gone right on with the job it has been doing for more than two years—taking on the best German divisions, the cream of Hitler’s army, and pinning their ears back. I think there’s no doubt that the men with the Red One on their shoulders have broken the hearts of more German divisions than any other single unit in the American Army.

This time it was a crack SS Panzer division. The 1st was resting when the action began. They went to work quickly and efficiently, as they always do. A forest area was cleared of German paratroops. Then the 1st hit the panzers. In two days, the 1st got forty-one tanks. A German infantry division came to the Panzer unit’s support and together they attacked the 1st. The men of the 1st are used to having the Germans gang up on them. They just went on fighting their way ahead and retook Weismes.

January passed into February, and the 1st was given a few weeks off the line by the 99th Division, which had regained its equilibrium after the Battle of the Bulge.

On 25 February 1945, the 1st relieved the 8th Infantry Division and was ordered to head for the university town of Bonn, on the southern edge of the heavily industrialized, densely populated Dortmund-Essen-Dusseldorf-Cologne metropolitan area.Once Bonn fell, the commanders decided the 1st would cross the Rhein River and drive for the Ruhr area. Harold Monica thought it sounded easier said than done. He remembered being told that, “The top-grade troops that might have opposed us now had been committed in the Battle of the Bulge, and we were advised only inferior troops of security and static level were between us and the Rhein.Maybe so, but somebody forgot to tell the Germans they were inferior troops.”

Besides an enemy that refused to give up, natural obstacles blocked the 1st’s advance. Halfway between Aachen and Bonn flows the Roer River, which had risen nearly three feet in thirty-six hours, thanks to heavy rains and intentional flooding by the Germans who controlled the sluice gates upstream; the normally sluggish current was clocked at twelve miles an hour, too swift for bridging. In the middle of February, the division started crossing the river in boats under cover of darkness. Meanwhile, to the north of the 16th’s position, elements of the 8th Infantry Division were crossing the Roer near Düren. It was finally decided that throwing a bridge across the Roer in the 16th RCT’s sector was too hazardous, and so the regiment was moved north and used the same bridge as the 8th Division.

As with every kilometer in Germany, the road to Bonn—less than thirty miles away—was long, painful, and hampered by the delaying tactics of a retreating enemy. The 1st entered Bonn on the cold, overcast morning of 8 March 1945; unlike the bloody meat grinder at Aachen, the capture of Bonn was almost textbook in its execution. Yet, strange incidents took place. In one, a column of American soldiers marched side by side down a dark street in Bonn next to a column of German troops. “Lieutenant R. H. Smith, platoon leader of the First Platoon in column,” wrote the 16th Regiment’s historian, “quickly decided against a fire fight lest more enemy be aroused, so the German squad and the American flying column marched side by side down the streets of Bonn. It seems impossible that after a few yards, [the Germans] should not have realized they were marching with Americans. However, after a block or two, one of the Germans asked, ‘What panzer division is this?’” The confusion was due to a Sherman tank armed with a new 76mm main gun that was at the head of the U.S. column; the gun had a muzzle brake on it that, in the predawn gloom, resembled the ones on German tanks. “At any rate, the two opposing forces marched side by side down Köln Strasse. At Rosental Strasse, the Americans turned left and the Germans continued down Köln Strasse.”

As the day became light, the city’s defenders suddenly discovered Americans in their midst and the fight for Bonn erupted. The battle was sharp and, given the size of the city, exceptionally short; two days later Bonn was in 1st Division hands. American casualties had been blessedly light, especially when compared to Aachen.

The division was given a few days to rest and recuperate. Harold Monica recalled that his company’s CP was set up in an abandoned German house with, for a war-weary soldier, luxurious accommodations: soft beds, overstuffed chairs, a kitchen, even a wine cellar. “The best week of the war, for me, was NOW,” Monica noted. Here the war seemed to stop; enemy resistance was nil, and the 1st enjoyed the opportunity to rest in place. And rest it did. “I established a very strenuous routine,” he admitted. “Wake up call for breakfast, eat, then park in the chair next to the phone and smoke cigars, with a bottle of wine to keep me company. Once the bottle was empty . . . like magic, a full bottle would arrive. Then lunch and return to the above procedure. After dinner, cigars and wine until sleep time. Tomorrow, just like today. What a life. This is the way war should be. Would be nice to sit here and let someone, anyone else, finish the war. But someone upstream, the 9th Armored Division, got the Remagen Bridge intact and were across the Rhein.” The good times in Bonn ended, and the Big Red One was soon back on the road to Remagen, where it crossed the river and headed into the heart of Germany, protecting the left flank of the 3rd Armored Division.

Once the 1st was across the Rhein, resistance again stiffened. Tanks, artillery, and infantry seemed to be encountered at every bridge and crossroads, at every bend in the road, at every stand of trees, at every tiny hamlet along the way. Had Terry Allen still been at the head of the 1st, he would have undoubtedly been very proud, for the men were living up to the division’s motto: “Nothing in hell will stop the 1st Infantry Division. ”Town after town fell to the Big Red One—Maren-bach, Rimbach, Niederkumpel, Werkhausen, Kuchhausen, Koppingen—as the division headed for its next major objective,Hamm, northeast of Dortmund.

Medic Allen Towne reported that his aid station began to see a lot of casualties, including a number of African-American soldiers assigned to the 18th Regiment. As the American military would not be racially integrated until after the war, this was quite a noteworthy event. He wrote,“Up until a few weeks ago, there had been no black soldiers in the 18th Infantry and perhaps in the entire 1st Division. There was now one platoon in B Company of the 18th Infantry. They had been in a firefight and performed well. Several men had been wounded. Before this incident, I had not realized there were not any black soldiers in the regiment. I had never thought about it.”

A desperate struggle took place near Hamm on 30 March at the village of Eisern. Here, elements of the 18th Infantry Regiment were attacking a well-entrenched, battalion-size enemy force. During this action, two members of K Company performed actions so heroic on the same day that both were awarded the Medal of Honor. Staff Sergeant George Peterson of Brooklyn led a platoon in an attempt to outflank the German positions when he was severely wounded in the legs. Peterson continued to crawl forward and knocked out two machine-gun nests with grenades. Although wounded again, he went after another machine-gun nest and silenced it with a rifle grenade. Only then did he allow himself medical treatment. As his citation read, “He was being treated by the company aid man when he observed one of his outpost men seriously wounded by a mortar burst. He wrenched himself from the hands of the aid man and began to crawl forward to assist his comrade, whom he had almost reached when he was struck and fatally wounded by an enemy bullet.”

During this same attack, First Lieutenant Walter J. Will, although hurt and bleeding profusely, brought three wounded men to safety. He then led the rest of his platoon in an attack on two machine guns that had his men pinned down, and destroyed the first position. “He continued to crawl through intense enemy fire to within twenty feet of the second position,” reads his citation, “where he leaped to his feet, made a lone, ferocious charge, and captured the gun and its nine-man crew.” Will then noticed that another platoon was pinned down by two additional machine-gun nests. He led a squad and lobbed three grenades at the Germans, silencing one gun and killing its crew. “With tenacious aggressiveness, he ran toward the other gun and knocked it out with grenade fire. He then returned to his platoon and led it in a fierce, inspired charge, forcing the enemy to fall back in confusion. During this final charge, Lieutenant Will was mortally wounded.”

Once Hamm was captured, the 1st Division moved on, taking other hamlets, where resistance varied from none to fierce. They were just dots on the map, of no military, cultural, or political importance, but each one represented a place where more GIs would be wounded and where more American families would lose more sons.

On 31 March, elements of the division were rushed to Buren to participate in the closing of the “Ruhr Pocket,” caught between the First and Ninth Armies; more than 300,000 of the enemy were taken prisoner in this pocket. In early April, the division crossed the Weser River, where strong enemy resistance was anticipated but failed to materialize.

General Eisenhower noted in his memoirs, “During the First Army’s advance, more than 15,000 of the enemy were cut off in the Harz Mountains. The defenders fought stubbornly and held out until April 21. The country was exceedingly difficult. The week-long fighting to reduce the pocket and to beat off other German troops who attempted to relieve the garrison was of a bitter character.”34 The 1st Infantry Division could certainly relate to Eisenhower’s words for, by 12 April, the 1st had reached the Harz Mountain region, and there was no sign that the Germans were on the verge of collapse. “The Harz Mountain campaign, while short, was a tough grind for the infantry,” reads the 16th Regiment’s history.“ Some days the going was so hard over rough, mountainous terrain that 500 yards an hour was the limit for foot troops even when unopposed. In the heavily forested mountains, road blocks were particularly effective. Sometimes the enemy would have blown trees down across the road for hundreds of yards. The terrain offered perfect positions for hundreds of strongpoints. Had the enemy been well-organized instead of in a state of confusion, it might have taken weeks to dislodge him from these gloomy mountains.”

With his battalion temporarily detached from the 18th Regiment and attached to the 3rd Armored Division as part of Task Force Y, Harold Monica noted in his diary that the task force commander, a full colonel, called all the officers together and announced, “‘Gentlemen, your objective is Berlin!’ Then complete silence for a minute or so to let this sink in. What a feeling. . . . I started to tingle everywhere, the stomach tightened up; maybe not tears, but plenty moist eyes. After thirty months over here, the end of the war is now in sight.”

The task force roared eastward, with troops riding atop Sherman tanks and in trucks through towns and villages where the retreating enemy now put up half-hearted resistance. However, Major General [Maurice] Rose, the 3rd Armored Division commander, was killed in an encounter with enemy tanks. In ten days, Monica’s task force advanced 150–175 miles and was approaching Dessau on the Elbe River, some forty miles from the outskirts of Berlin.

“The Dessau area was home to three German officer-candidate schools; these guys were not about to give up without a fight,” he said. “After a preparatory artillery barrage, two companies of tanks and infantry were deployed for the attack, one company in reserve. So 25–30 tanks and 400 infantry, all firing at the edge of town, crossed the 500 yards of open terrain. The tremendous machine-gun, rifle, and tank cannon fire kept the enemy down. . . .We were in the western edge of Dessau. As we proceeded to clean up the town, you never knew where a group of those young fanatics would show up. One of them got close enough to one of our tanks and knocked it out with a panzerfaust. . . . Still not far into town, Captain Jessie Miller, B Company commander, was shot and killed.”

Monica noted that Miller had been with the division ever since its landing in North Africa and was engaged to marry an English girl.More tragedy was to follow. “My friend, Tommy Yarborough, who had been the B Company Executive Officer, took over command of B Company. Two days later the last enemy pocket had been squeezed up against the Elbe River and B Company, with a couple of tanks, was attacking them. Tommy was shot and killed during this action. In less than an hour, thirty-five or so Jerries surrendered and resistance in the 3rd Armored Division sector ceased. . . .Dessau was secure and we had been ordered not to cross the river.

“On occasion, the thought had occurred to me: who would be the last to die? Now we knew. . . .Tommy Yarborough was the last man from the 1st Battalion, 18th Infantry, to be killed in World War II. In fact, he may well have been killed by the last bullet fired at the Battalion.Why Tommy’s luck ran out so late is anybody’s guess. Dessau, Germany, to me was, and is, a terribly expensive piece of ground.”

Just as they did not get to Paris, the men of the 1st Infantry Division did not get to Berlin. The division was detached from the First Army and attached to Patton’s Third Army, which was poised to enter Czechoslovakia. The Big Red One now encountered little resistance as it chased remnants of German units into Czechoslovakia. The “privilege” of taking the capital of the Third Reich was given to the Russians, which was probably just as well. Of all the World War II belligerents, it was the Soviet Union that had suffered the most: over 20 million dead.

The worst was saved for last. The battle for Berlin turned into a building by building, block by block meat grinder in which no quarter was asked and none given. On 30 April, as Russian troops closed in on his chancellery in Berlin, Adolf Hitler died by his own hand. Still, the fighting, sporadic though it was, continued. It is estimated that 300,000 Russians perished or were wounded in the battle of Berlin that lasted from 16 April to 2 May.37 Had the 1st been required to assist in the taking of the sprawling city, the division’s casualty lists would have, no doubt, reached catastrophic proportions.

American and Russian forces linked up at Torgau on the Elbe on 25 April. Two days later, the 16th Infantry Regiment made a long, deep plunge into enemy territory, bypassing recently captured Leipzig, and then thrusting toward Selb, on the German-Czechoslovak border. On 7 May, the 16th Regiment was in Kynsperk; the 18th was in Sangerberg and Mnichov; and the 26th was in Shön-bach when the division received orders: “All troops halt in place and maintain defensive positions. Effective at once. Details to follow.”

The next day, the orders read: “Cease firing.” A terse, bland message, conveying none of the pent-up emotion of a joyful, war-weary world, was broadcast from Eisenhower’s headquarters: “The mission of this Allied force was fulfilled at 0241 local time, May 7, 1945.”

Hitler was dead, the Third Reich was defunct, and the war in Europe was, at long last, well and truly over. A very strange sound came over Europe: the sound of silence. It was as if the war switch had suddenly been turned to “Off.” There was no more rattle of machine guns; no more pop-pop-pop of small arms; no more whistle of falling bombs; no more scream of incoming artillery and mortar shells; no more skull-splitting explosions. It was a deep and profound silence, punctuated only by church bells in the distance, tolling that peace, after nearly five years of continuous bloodshed, had finally returned to the Continent.

The Philippines 1944: Japanese Preparations and Plans II

Enemy Airfields Reported in Use, September 1944

Enemy Ground Dispositions, 30 September 1944

Army Plans

On 24 July, the IGHQ’s Army section issued the basic order governing Army operations defending the inner zone of defense. The order repeated almost verbatim the IGHQ’s directive about the decisive battle and the anticipated time of the main enemy attack on the Japanese defense zone.

The Army directive also included the deployment plan for the movement of specific ground forces from various areas along the inner defense line to the enemy’s possible landing (objective) points. CINC, Southern Army, was directed to prepare a force with one brigade as a nucleus in the northern Philippines, to be ready for redeployment to Taiwan or Nansei Shoto. The Formosa Army commander would have a similar force in readiness for deployment to the northern Philippines or Nansei Shoto. If Sho-1 and Sho-2 were activated, the IGHQ would prepare one division near Shanghai for redeployment to the Philippines, Nansei Shoto, or the Taiwan area. In case of enemy invasion, the Southern Army would concentrate all its available ground and air strength for the decisive battle on Luzon. The Fourth Air Army had the responsibility for operations in the Philippines and eastern NEI, including western New Guinea, while the Third Air Army’s responsibility encompassed the area west of and including Borneo.

On 24 July, Terauchi convened a conference of subordinate commanders in Manila to discuss the IGHQ’s directive for the defense of the Philippines. He explained that the Fourteenth Army was directed to prepare for a decisive ground battle on Luzon. If the enemy landed in the central or southern Philippines, the Fourteenth Army’s responsibility would be limited to delaying defense and defending local air and naval bases. On 4 August, as efforts to prepare the defense of the Philippines intensified, the IGHQ elevated the Fourteenth Army as the Fourteenth Area Army. The newly organized 35th Army became subordinate to the Fourteenth Area Army and was assigned the tasks of defending the Visayas and Mindanao.

In late September, the IGHQ’s Army section estimated that the enemy would mount a two-pronged attack on Luzon, with MacArthur’s forces coming from the south and Nimitz’s from the central Pacific. MacArthur was expected to seize lodgments in the Davao and Sarangani areas and then move to Zamboanga or the Leyte–Samar area prior to the attack on Luzon. For the Japanese, the only uncertainty was where the enemy’s next blow would fall. In their view, an enemy invasion of Morotai would indicate that the next target would be southern Mindanao, while seizure of the Palaus could lead to the invasion of Leyte.

The 35th Army Plans. Lieutenant General Sosaku Suzuki led the 35th Army. He came to that post from the position of the chief of the Central Shipping Transportation HQ. Suzuki also enjoyed a well-earned reputation as a first-rate organizer and an effective combat commander. On 17 August, Suzuki presented an outline of the operational plan to his subordinate tactical commanders at the 35th Army’s HQ on Cebu. The plan, later known as “the Suzi Orders,” envisaged the 100th Division to defend the Davao Area, while the Leyte area would be defended by the 16th Division. The 30th Division and two infantry battalions of the 102nd Division plus reinforcements from the Fourteenth Area Army would serve as mobile reserve, capable of quick deployment to either of these two areas. In case the enemy landed with its main forces at Davao, the main force of the 30th Division, part of the 102nd Division, plus some other smaller units would be committed to that area. In the event of an enemy landing on Leyte, the mobile reserves would land at Ormoc and destroy enemy forces on the island. If the enemy landed simultaneously at Leyte and Davao, the 35th Army’s plan was to quickly deploy the 30th Division to Leyte to destroy enemy landing forces there.

In late August, Suzuki received orders to deploy a reinforced infantry division to the Davao area and the 16th Division to Leyte. In addition, he was directed to deploy three battalions to Sarangani Bay and three other battalions to the vicinity of Zamboanga; two battalions to Jolo archipelago and one “strong” unit in the vicinity of Surigao. The 55th independent mixed brigade would be also assigned to the 35th Army.

The plans for the defense of the Leyte-Surigao area directed the 16th Division to offer strong resistance to the enemy landing. The 16th Division would assume command of all the air and naval units within its zone of responsibility. Additional reinforcements from the Visayas district would be sent as well. However, no plans were made at that time to redeploy Japanese troops from Luzon to Leyte. In case the basic defense plan failed, the 16th Division would withdraw to the mountains west of the Tacloban airfield and block the enemy advance into the island’s interior. The Japanese planned to have sufficient ammunition for half of the division and food for 20,000 men for six months.

The 35th Army plans were based on the assumption that the most likely area of the enemy’s invasion was Mindanao because of the many Japanese airfields and naval bases there. The 35th Army HQ believed that the enemy might plan to capture Sarangani Bay because of the airfields nearby. The enemy might also try to capture some lodgments in the Zamboanga Peninsula and Jolo Island. The enemy also could seize the southeastern area of Surigao, which held a key position but was weakly defended. The 35th Army HQ considered the enemy landing at Leyte secondary in importance to Davao. The enemy might also carry out airborne landings at Misamis Oriental (northern Mindanao) and the airfields on Cebu, Negros, and Panay. The likelihood that the enemy might attempt to seize Samar was considered remote because of the difficult terrain there. As it happened, the Allied planners held the same view.

Army Air Plans. Two Air Armies were subordinate to the Southern Army; the Third Air Army in Singapore was responsible for the defense of Sumatra and Burma, while the Fourth Air Army in Manila had responsibility for the defense of the Philippines. The Fourth Air Army’s primary mission was to interdict enemy shipping and, if given the opportunity, to attack enemy warships. If it had to operate alone, the Fourth Air Army would carry out raids against enemy carrier forces and air bases and interdict enemy aircraft. After an enemy landing, the Fourth Air Army’s task would shift its attacks against enemy invasion forces, particularly troop transports. These actions would start a day before the planned penetration of the landing area by the Japanese heavy surface forces. The Southern Army recommended that enemy aircraft carriers should be the targets of priority. However, that suggestion was rejected by the IGHQ. The Army section insisted that not only enemy carriers but also convoys should be attacked as well.

In October 1944, the Fourth Air Army issued a plan envisioning the destruction of enemy forces in cooperation with Army troops, and of enemy carrier–based aircraft and airfields in cooperation with the Navy’s land-based aircraft. If the enemy carriers were operating alone, Army aircraft would conduct small-scale surprise attacks at hours of darkness. The objective would be to prevent the enemy from obtaining new air bases in the Philippines. The bulk of fighter aircraft would be deployed to the central and southern Philippines to destroy enemy amphibious forces if they landed there. The Army aircraft deployed in Mindanao, Celebes, and northern Borneo would prevent enemy forces from establishing bases on Halmahera and in western New Guinea. They would destroy enemy aircraft by staging attacks from the bases in the southern Philippines. The Japanese heavy bombers would be deployed in the central and southern part of the archipelago to attack the enemy convoys approaching the Philippines.

Navy Plans

All the naval planning for the Sho operations was conducted by the Combined Fleet HQ. Naval components of the Sho-1 plans were made independently of the Army. Admiral Toyoda believed that if the enemy ever obtained a foothold in the Philippines, he would try to capture other positions in the archipelago as well. If the enemy seized the Philippines, shipping routes between the homeland and the Southern Resources Area would be cut off, derailing the plan to wage a protracted war. The Japanese would be cut off from liquid fuel sources in that area. Even if the Combined Fleet remained intact, it would have been, in his words, “a white elephant.” A continued enemy advance would put the fleet in danger of annihilation. Hence, in Toyoda’s view, there was no other option but to commit the entire fleet to defense of the Philippines. Toyoda explained in 1950 that the Navy’s plan for the defense of the Philippines was contrary to all the principles of tactics. It also represented a flagrant departure from common sense to employ surface forces without obtaining control of the air. Yet he also believed that under the circumstances there was really no other alternative. The Japanese Navy could not just stand idly by when the enemy invaded the Philippines.

The major challenge facing Toyoda and his staff was the optimal employment of surface forces in defense of selected “strategic” positions within the inner defense zone. This problem was compounded by the battering the Combined Fleet had taken during the Battle of the Philippine Sea in mid-June 1944. The Combined Fleet lacked both the carriers and the well-trained pilots to fight a major battle with the U.S. Navy. Another problem was that Japanese surface forces were widely dispersed, from the Fifth Fleet in the north to the Second Fleet in the south. Before these forces could be concentrated at the enemy’s landing objective, they first had to evade or repulse attacks by enemy aircraft and submarines. Because oil supplies were low, the Japanese had to base heavy surface forces at the Lingga archipelago, where there was an abundance of oil, but keep carrier forces in the Inland Sea to train pilots for carrier air groups. The Japanese had little hope of completing their training and reuniting carriers with the surface forces at Lingga before the enemy’s next blow.

Organizational Changes. Between late July and mid-October, the Combined Fleet’s task organization underwent numerous changes, many arising from uncertainty about the time and place of the expected decisive battle. Other organizational changes seem to reflect fuzzy planning on the part of Toyoda and his chief of staff, Vice Admiral Ryunosuke Kusaka. On 1 August, Toyoda changed the tactical designation of the numbered fleets. Second Fleet became the First Diversionary Attack Force (1YB), the First Air Fleet became the Fifth Base Air Force (5 FGB), Second Air Fleet was designated Sixth Base Air Force (6 FGB), Third Air Fleet was redesignated Seventh Base Air Force, and the Eighth Fleet became the Outer South Seas Force. In early August, the Fifth Fleet was redeployed to the western part of the Inland Sea and put under the command of the First Mobile Fleet (First Striking Fleet in the Magic dispatches) for the Sho operations. Its tactical designation was changed to the Second Diversionary Attack Forces (2YB).

On 9 August, the Combined Fleet HQ took over full operational control over the General Escort Forces and Naval District and Guard Forces. Directly subordinate to the Combined Fleet were the Mobile Forces (the First Mobile Fleet, the First and Second Diversionary Attack Force); the Sixth and Seventh Base Air Forces, the Inner South Seas Forces (remnants of the Fourth Fleet plus the attached Base Air Forces); the Advance Expeditionary Force (Submarines); and the 31st Army (the Army forces deployed in the western Carolines, the Marianas, and the Bonins). On 21 August, the China Area Fleet also became subordinate to the Combined Fleet, but only during the pending Sho operations.

Another major organizational change came in mid-September when the First Mobile Fleet became the Mobile Force, Main Body (KdMB). Vice Admiral Jisaburo Ozawa remained the commander of the newly designated force. Ozawa was one of the most able and experienced Japanese naval officers. He was intelligent and thoughtful and had a dignified presence. Directly subordinate to Ozawa were Vice Admiral Takeo Kurita, commander of the First Diversionary Attack Force, and Vice Admiral Kiyohide Shima, who commanded the Second Diversionary Attack Force.

In the aftermath of the Allied invasion of the Marianas, the Japanese withdrew almost all their submarines to the Inland Sea, except for a few boats used for transporting materiel to bypassed garrisons and carrying out attacks against enemy shipping. All operational submarines in the Inland Sea were organized in three groups. The 1st Submarine Group (13 boats) was undergoing either repairs or post-repair trials. The 7th Submarine Group (two boats) was directed to conduct ambushes and transport materiel to the bypassed Japanese garrisons in the enemy rear area. The 11th Submarine Group (12 boats) was conducting shakedown cruises in the Inland Sea.

First Tentative Plans. In the first week of August, Combined Fleet HQ prepared its initial plan for defense of the Philippines. Although there were numerous changes to the plan after 17 October, the basic operational idea remained essentially unchanged. The plan was formally presented to the subordinate tactical commanders for discussion at the conference organized by the Combined Fleet HQ and held at Manila on 10 August. The principal objective would be to destroy enemy transports before they disembarked troops and materiel. The plan envisaged the timely deployment of the First Diversionary Attack Force from the Lingga Archipelago to Brunei Bay, northern Brunei, and subsequent advance to the enemy’s landing objective (then assumed to be Davao Bay), for a penetration maneuver. Mobile Force, Main Body and Second Diversionary Attack Force would sail out of the Inland Sea to attack enemy carrier groups in the area between Mindanao and the Palaus. The operational idea also envisaged attacks by land-based aircraft against enemy carriers from their bases in the central and southern Philippines. Air reinforcements would be sent from the Home Islands and China and staged through Formosa and Luzon. In case enemy transports were already disembarking troops, the First Diversionary Attack Force would penetrate the anchorage within at least two days of the enemy’s landing.

The day of the penetration maneuver was designated as X-Day; while the day of the general air offensive was designated as Y-Day (it corresponded to X-1 Day). The success of the plan depended on the timely detection of enemy forces, and proper deduction of the enemy’s intentions. The Japanese planned to conduct air searches up to 700 miles from land bases to provide sufficient warning of the approach of the enemy invasion forces.

The plan envisioned the Japanese “Defense Forces” (those deployed ashore) to make every effort to annihilate the enemy on the beaches. Should the enemy succeed in landing, the Defense Forces would “fight to the death” and prevent the enemy from capturing and using nearby airfields. Combined Fleet HQ also contemplated bringing in troop reinforcements for a counter-landing operation aimed to crush enemy amphibious forces. This effort would be synchronized with the heavy surface forces’ penetration of Leyte Gulf.

The original plan of Combined Fleet HQ contemplated that the First Diversionary Attack Force (7 BBs, 12 CAs, 3 CLs, and 20 DDs), in cooperation with Base Air Forces, would decisively engage the enemy surface force opposing its advance, then destroy enemy transports and troops at the landing objective area. Its secondary task was to destroy damaged enemy carrier forces. Reportedly, tactical factors essential for success were intentionally ignored in planning the employment of the First Diversionary Attack Force in the Sho-1 Operation. Also, no proper evaluation had been made of potential enemy strength in the area.

In the next evolution of the Sho-1/-2 plans, completed in early September, Combined Fleet HQ envisaged that the Mobile Force, Main Body (4 CVs, 3 CVLs, 2 BBs/XCVs, 1 XCV, 2 CLs, 9 DDs), and the Second Diversionary Attack Force (2 CAs, 1 CL, 7 DDs) would support the First Diversionary Attack Force penetration of Leyte Gulf by diverting enemy carrier forces to the north. These two forces would reach a position northeast of the Philippines by X-1 or X-2 Day, then attack enemy carrier forces and try to disrupt the enemy’s “rear supply forces.” Their movements would be coordinated with those of the First Diversionary Attack Force. Ozawa was well aware that his force, with its inadequately trained carrier pilots, wasn’t strong enough to conduct mobile operations. Hence, he insisted that the strength of his force should be reduced to the minimum necessary to successfully carry out the feint in the north. The new variant of the plan envisaged strengthening of the First Diversionary Attack Force by attaching to it one CarDiv as well as BatDiv 2 and DesRon 10. After CarDiv 1 became ready for combat (end of December), it would be incorporated into the Mobile Force, Main Body (or possibly the Second Diversionary Attack Force).

Combined Fleet HQ’s planners contemplated the employment of all Japanese submarines only in case of the activation of the Sho-1/-2 plans. Their principal mission would be then to “intercept” the enemy and obtain control of the invasion area.

For logistical support, two groups of supply ships were assigned to the First Diversionary Attack Force: the First Supply Force, with eight tankers and two coastal defense ships, deployed in the Singapore-Brunei area; and the Second Supply Force, with five tankers and one coastal defense ship, deployed at Sam-Urucan and Singapore-Bako areas. However, only one tanker (then based at Sana, Hainan) was capable of refueling at sea. The supply group for Ozawa’s force was not established until 18 October.

Combined Fleet HQ contemplated that in case of the activation of the Sho-1, the Sixth Base Air Force would redeploy a major part of its forces from the bases on Kyushu to southern Formosa or the northern Philippines. Part of the 8th Air Division would be moved to the Philippines. If the Sho-2 plan were activated, a major part of the 8th Air Division (minus search aircraft) would be dispersed to Kyushu and Taiwan to avoid initial enemy attacks. For the Sho-2 operation, the Sixth Base Air Force would control the Fifth Base Air Force in the Philippines, a major part of the Seventh Base Air Force in Kyushu, and the T-Attack Force initially deployed on Kyushu.

According to the original plans for Sho-1/-2, if the enemy attacked objectives in the decisive battle area, the Fifth and Sixth Base Air Forces would wait on the approach of the invasion forces, drawing the major part of the enemy’s strength as near as possible, and on X-1 Day decisively engage enemy forces in cooperation with other naval forces and the Army Air Forces. The priority targets for the Base Air Forces were enemy carriers followed by amphibious forces. In case Sho-1 and Sho-2 were simultaneously activated, the Sixth Base Force would engage and destroy enemy carrier forces in the Nansei Shoto, followed by those operating off Formosa. Afterward, the decisive battle would be fought in the Philippines.

French Cavalry 1914

The French strategic cavalry was composed of ten cavalry divisions. This strategic cavalry would be reinforced by infantry battalions and artillery. Each French corps had a light cavalry regiment assigned (six squadrons). There was no divisional cavalry. French reconnaissance patrols were to avoid combat. In reconnaissance and security the French relied on combined-arms teams to confuse the enemy concerning the location of the main body and force him to deploy. The French thereby separated reconnaissance, which was conducted far forward by the strategic cavalry, from security, which was the responsibility of the corps cavalry and at the infantry division, by local foot patrols.

In August 1914 the French cavalry failed to perform both the reconnaissance and security roles. The French cavalry divisions manoeuvred almost aimlessly. The French corps cavalry remained so close to the infantry that tactical security was non-existent. As a result, the French higher commanders were poorly informed concerning German operational movements and the French infantry was repeatedly surprised.

French Enemy Estimate

Observing the density of the German rail net behind Metz, the Deuxième Bureau, the French General staff intelligence section, concluded that the Germans would concentrate up to 11 corps behind the Metz-Diedenhofen fortress complex and in Luxembourg as a mass of manoeuvre and then shift those forces into Lorraine or Belgium. The French did not obtain any solid intelligence on the location of the German assembly areas during the German rail deployment, and therefore retained the pre-war assumption that the Germans would mass behind Metz. On 9 August the French thought that 17 German acive-army corps opposed them, while four corps opposed the Russians. Since the French had 21 active army corps, the French thought they had numerical superiority. They estimated that there were five or six German corps in Belgium, five to eight corps located at Metz-Diedenhofen-Luxembourg, with more on the way, one to three corps in Lorraine, a corps plus in Alsace. Five corps were unaccounted for.

In fact, the German armies were evenly deployed from Alsace to the north of Aachen. The German 4th and 5th Armies were behind Metz and in Luxembourg, but did not have the decisive role that the French ascribed to them. The French intelligence analysts had been trained according to the theories of Bonnal, who doctrinally employed a large mass of manoeuvre, and were mirror imaging – writing the German plan as a French officer would have written it.

The pre-war calculation of the Deuxième Bureau was that the Germans could attack as of the 13th day of mobilisation. Expecting to find the Germans in the northern Ardennes, Sordet’s Cavalry Corps of three divisions was sent into Belgium on 6 August and reached the area west of Liège on 8 August. On 9 August he found nothing at Marche. Neither he nor French aerial reconnaissance could find any German forces as far east as the Ourthe River because there were no German forces there, nor would there be any there until around 18 August. Sordet’s cavalry had moved ten days too soon. Nor did the Belgians provide much useful information. By 12 August Sordet had moved to Neufchâteau but still made no contact; he then pulled back to the west bank of the Meuse on 15 August and was attached to 5th Army. Sordet reported that it was impossible to supply the cavalry in the Ardennes and that air recon was unreliable in the dense woods. His cavalry corps had conducted an eight-day march without obtaining any information concerning the German forces. In order to find the German 3rd, 4th and 5th Armies, the French cavalry would have had to advance across the Belgian Ardennes to the border with Germany and Luxembourg; it was unable to do so. The German deployment was not completed until 17 August and the German 5th and 4th Armies did not begin their advance until 18 August. The French had great difficulty understanding why the Germans were not as far to the west as they expected them to be.

By 10 August, the French saw indications that the Germans were digging in on the Ourthe between Liège and Houffalize. The French intelligence summary on 13 August reported that in the Ardennes there were only two German corps (VIII AK at Luxembourg and XVIII at Aumetz – the latter was actually XVI AK) and two cavalry divisions. The French were beginning to get the impression that there were no German troops in the Ardennes. This was not an illogical conclusion. It is more than 100km from the sparse German railheads in the Eifel, in the German Ardennes, to the Franco-Belgian border. The Ardennes is thinly populated and heavily forested, with few and poor roads. Crossing it would pose significant problems in supply and traffic control. At the end of the approach march lay the Meuse River, a formidable obstacle. It would seem unlikely that the Germans would commit significant forces from the very start of the campaign into such an out-of-the-way and difficult theatre of war.

In the skirmishes between cavalry and foot patrols during the first week of the war, the French thought that their troops were generally victorious, returning with prisoners, horses and weapons. The chief of staff of VI CA said that ‘this filled them with great joy.’ French pre-war predictions of the natural superiority of the French soldier seemed to be justified.

Between 7 and 10 August the French VII CA had advanced towards Mühlhausen in the upper Alsace and been thrown back into France by the German XIV AK and XV AK. On 14 August the French 1st Army and 2nd Armies attacked into Lorraine. Joffre was fully aware that the German forces to the east of Metz could attack through the fortress to the south into Lorraine: he gave the 3rd Army the mission of attacking any such German sortie in the flank with two corps, while on 15 August he told the 3rd Army to be prepared to invest Metz from the west

By 15 August the French recognised the strength of the German forces in the general vicinity of Liège. Joffre told the commanders of the 4th and 5th Armies that the Germans were going to make their principal effort ‘to the north of Givet’ with a second group marching on Sedan and Montmédy. The 4th Army estimate of the situation on 16 August said that these forces represented the German mass of manoeuvre, and that aerial reconnaissance showed that there were no significant German forces at Arlon or Luxembourg in the southern Ardennes. Joffre based on his plan of attack on the idea that the Germans had left their centre weak in order to strengthen the force north of the Meuse. He therefore decided to break the German centre in the Ardennes. On 15 August GQG ordered 5th Army on the left flank to march north to an area west of Givet. 4th Army was to be prepared to attack towards Neufchâteau. On 16 August the 3rd Army was told to hand over the area between Verdun and Toul to a group of reserve divisions in order to be able attack north of Metz towards Longwy.

The inability of the French cavalry divisions to obtain an accurate picture of the advance of the German 4th and 5th Armies led to serious mistakes in French operational and tactical planning. Due in great part to IR88’s success at Longlier, the French 4th and 9th Cavalry Divisions were pushed out of the way of XVIII AK and were not able to determine what the Germans were doing, nor hinder their movements. The anonymous author of the FAR 25 regimental history said that the French cavalry simply would not fight. From the smallest patrol up to the level of cavalry corps, the French cavalry avoided combat and when it unexpectedly did meet German forces, such as at Longlier, the French cavalry withdrew.77 The German cavalry was able to screen the movements of its own forces, while on 21 and 22 August it provided accurate information concerning the French advance.

3 DIC, Morning, 22 August

The Colonial Corps order, issued at 1800 21 August, directed the corps to march to Neufchâteau on 22 August, with 3 DIC on the right, marching through Rossignol, and 5th Colonial Brigade on the left, marching over Suxy. Because the Corps would transit the Forest of Neufchâteau–Chiny, the Corps cavalry regiment, the 3rd Chasseurs d’Afrique, would follow the advance guard. 2 DIC was held back west of Montmédy as the army reserve. XII CA was on the corps left, marching on Recogne and Libramont, II CA on the right, marching on Leglise. The corps order said that the only enemy forces in the area were those of the German 3 KD and 8 KD, which had been defeated by the French cavalry on 17–18 August.

The 3 DIC order of movement was 1 RIC, 2 RIC, Division Artillery (2 RAC), 3 RIC. 7 RIC followed, guarding the corps artillery (3 RAC); the column was 15km long. The movement order for 2 RIC conveys the prevailing attitude in the division: ‘Today a 33km march. Arrive at Neufchâteau at 1100 and billet. No contact expected.’

The advance guard battalion (I/1 RIC) missed its movement time at 0630 because it was in contact with German cavalry patrols. Then the rest of the regiment, which was to lead the main body, missed its movement time because the staffs did not know where the units were located and orders consequently arrived late. At 0800 the Colonial Corps was informed that II CA on the right was three hours behind 3 DIC, exposing the 3 DIC right flank. This was not an auspicious beginning. Heavy fog hindered movement until it lifted at 0700, revealing a clear, sunny sky.

Meeting Engagement, 3 DIC

A reserve cavalry squadron (6/6th Dragoons) provided security immediately in front of the 3 DIC advance guard. The choice of this reserve squadron, when a regiment of professional cavalry was available (the Chasseurs d’Afrique), can only be explained by the fact that the division did not expect contact. As usual, French cavalry stayed close to the infantry for protection. The Dragoons were engaged about 600m south of Rossignol by dismounted German cavalry, which withdrew. The Dragoons advanced through Rossignol and then 500m into the forest of Neufchâteau where they were again engaged by cavalry. At 0740, 23 August the Dragoons were engaged for a third time 1,500m into the woods, this time by infantry, and stopped cold. The commander of 1 RIC was told that this could not be a large German force because Germans were 35km to the east of Neufchâteau, and that it was important to move quickly through the woods. He therefore committed the advanced guard battalion, II/1 RIC. The forest was deciduous, mixed with pines. The undergrowth was very thick, and only the occasional clearing offered visibility up to 50m. A wall of fire met II/1 RIC. Immediately there were heavy casualties; the commanders of the 5th, 6th and 8th companies were killed, the CO of the 7th Company wounded. A violent standing firefight developed at point-blank range. The fight became hand-to-hand at several points. The rest of 1 RIC was committed; all three 1 RIC battalion commanders were killed while standing on the road, as if on manoeuvre.

The remainder of 3 DIC was strung out on the road. 2 RIC was entering Rossignol; the divisional artillery, 2 RAC, was crossing the bridge at Breuvanne; 3 RIC was entering St. Vincent. Two battalions of 7 RIC had taken a wrong turn and were marching cross-country to regain the correct route. At the rear of the column was the corps artillery, 3 RAC.

At about 0930 it was difficult for the commander of 3 DIC, General Raffenel, to judge the seriousness of the fight; all that he could see were the wounded coming to the rear. Although all of 1 RIC was engaged in the woods, he still refused to believe that he was in contact with a major enemy force. His concern was to bring forward 3 RIC and clear the woods.

By 0800 the lead element of the 3 DIC divisional artillery, I/2 RAC, had advanced until it was at the southern entrance to Rossignol, followed by II/2 RAC, whose last vehicles were at the Breuvanne bridge and III/2 RAC, which was south of the bridge. The firefight in the woods ahead prevented 2 RAC from advancing. As would soon become clear, the ground was too soft to move the guns off the road.

At 1015 I/2 RIC was sent into the thick woods to the right of 1/1 RIC, but became completely disoriented and strayed to the right. II/2 RIC was committed on the left. It took heavy fire from an invisible enemy, probably II/IR 63 on its left flank, lost most of its officers, including the battalion commander, and by 1100 the battalion broke for the rear.

German Cavalry

German doctrine emphasised that cavalry needed to be aggressive during the battle in developing opportunities to both participate in the battle as well as to operate against the enemy flank and rear. Doctrine also stated that cavalry was the arm best suited to conduct pursuit.

While the 3 KD and 6 KD had been very effective in the reconnaissance and counter-reconnaissance roles before the battle, during the battle they accomplished nothing. The 3 KD commander decided that the terrain prevented the division from accomplishing anything and resigned himself to inactivity. 6 KD was used to guard the army left flank. Neither division conducted a pursuit, either on 22 or 23 August, although the Colonial Corps would seem to have offered a fine target for 3 KD and the right flank of the French VI CA an even better target for 6 KD.

It appears that the cavalry learned during the approach march that a mounted man presented a fine target and that even small groups of infantry were capable of blocking cavalry movement. By 22 August the senior cavalry commanders were thoroughly intimidated: they avoided serious contact and were unwilling to attempt to move large bodies of cavalry anywhere that they might be subject to small arms or artillery fire. Coupled with the unimaginative operations of the 5th Army headquarters, the timidity of the cavalry leaders cost the cavalry the opportunity to have made a major impact in the battle.

Lessons Not Learned

Upon mature reflection, Charbonneau said that the defeat of the Colonial Corps was due to three factors; the superiority of German training and doctrine not being one of them.

The first was the failure of French reconnaissance. On 20 August the French cavalry reported the Germans moving north of Neufchâteau–Bastogne. On 22 August the Colonial Corps cavalry, ostensibly due to fog and wooded terrain, did not detect the German advance. For these reasons, the Colonial Corps was surprised. Why German operational and tactical cavalry had detected the French advance was not explained. On a tactical level, the 3rd Colonial Division and 33 DI were not destroyed because they were advancing rashly, but because the Germans counter-reconnaissance had blinded the French patrols, and the Germans manoeuvred at a rate of speed that befuddled the French division commanders.

Second was the failure of the French theory of the advance guard, that is, the idea that the advance guard could significantly delay the enemy, giving the main body time to manoeuvre. This theory had nothing to do with Grandmaison, but was the essential element of Bonnal’s doctrine, which had been implemented in the French army in the late 1890s. Charbonneau said that the advance guard concept failed if the enemy attacked at once ‘appearing like a jack-in-the-box’, not only against the front but also against the flanks. Again, French defeat was not a result of superior German doctrine, but deficiencies in French tactics.

Third, Charbonneau said the offensive à outrance failed because it did not incorporate the concept of fire superiority. He did not acknowledge that fire superiority was the foundation of German offensive tactics. He did say that disregard of the effects of fire increased in the French army as the lessons of 1870 slipped further into the past. Indeed, to Charbonneau the offensive à outrance had been taught as French doctrine for most of the period before the First World War, thereby absolving Grandmaison of instituting a radical change in French tactics.

Charbonneau steadfastly maintained that pre-war French tactical doctrine and training recognised only the offensive and that his division was defeated because it attacked recklessly. But neither 3 RIC nor 7 RIC made any attempt to conduct an attack of any kind, much less a reckless offensive à outrance. 3 RIC was pinned down by German fire, which eventually destroyed the regiment. There was no attempt by 3 RIC to ignore the effects of enemy fire charge with the bayonet. As Charbonneau well knew, his own regiment, 7 RIC, was overrun while attempting to hold a defensive position.

Given the choice between drawing conclusions from what he had seen with his own eyes and parroting the party line, Charbonneau came down foursquare on the side of conventional wisdom. Charbonneau’s cognitive dissonance is symptomatic of the subsequent problems in the discussion of the Battle of the Frontiers.

Grants – Fire Now!!!

Because British factories proved unable to build a sufficient number of tanks for their own forces, the British government received permission from the United States government to have a modified version of the M3 series of medium tanks built for use by their own army. The British-ordered M3 series medium tanks, named the “Grant,” arrived in North Africa in the standard U.S. Army olive drab. As seen here, the British Army quickly repainted over the olive drab with a more appropriate light tan color known as Light Stone (British Standard Colour No. 61). There would be variations between units in the manner of its application. The tank’s registration numbers, seen here in white, remain on their original olive drab background. Also visible on the vehicle pictured, belonging to the 22nd Armored Brigade, in May 1943, are the red tactical markings employed by the unit with which it was assigned to serve.

During World War II Lieutenant-Colonel George Witheridge served with the 3rd Royal Tank Regiment, 4th Armored Brigade, 7th Armored Division. In his letter to author Richard Hunnicutt he describes the events of May 27, 1942, when the M3 Grant tanks of his unit first engaged their German counterparts in North Africa:

“We ran for about ten minutes in the ordered direction, which was towards the Bir Hacheim area. The Stuarts (American M3 light tanks) well out ahead at about 2,000 yards; Cyril’s Grant Squadron, on the left of the line, ‘Pip,’ who at all times was in the thickest of any show which ever it was, a tank battle or horse play in the officer’s mess was in the center of the line and my squadron on the right. Except for the outposts of Bir Hacheim there was nothing between us and the approaching fast mobile enemy, who, as yet, was still out of sight to us. We believed that we would clash with a reconnaissance force in strength. There was no information to the contrary. Brigade told us that it would not be a serious threat to us.

“If there was nothing between us and the enemy, what had happened to the two Motor Brigades southeast of Hacheim, I thought? Surely there is something wrong. Some information is missing. Now as I reflect, I believe this earlier message of the day was correct in every detail and that at least one German armored division was turning our southern flank…

“Vast dust clouds were now to be seen ahead. Wireless messages came in fast, establishing that many enemy tanks were moving with purpose – never have I seen such confidence for they moved en mass[e] without protection front; not using the eyes and mobility of lighter armored vehicles ahead. They came ‘flat out.’ Here were the Panzer III and IV we knew so well. They came on without reducing speed and on a wide front at close interval of about 30 yards between tanks and in depth beyond vision. The latter was not entirely due to sand storms churned up by movement of hundreds of tanks, but to the enormous area these tanks occupied in depth. I could not possibly see them all.

“Gradually, I could see more clearly the leading tanks, each carrying infantry, clinging like flies on something sweet. Our light squadron by this time had been ordered not to engage the enemy but to protect the regiment’s right flank. The desert was flat and wide open, with no hull down positions to be found anywhere. There was not even time to break to the right to take up positions on the enemy’s flank. Heavens, a whole enemy armored division in tight formation was almost upon us…

“In our gunnery training we had zeroed our guns at 1,000 yards, and we knew that our shooting would be accurate and that we could penetrate most of the heavy frontal armor with our new 75’s at that range; while we could also create havoc amongst all their tanks by rapid fire from our 37mm guns into their armored mass. Both the 75mm and 37mm were told to stand by to engage the targets as indicated. I thought to myself – thank heavens these are American guns as they can fire indefinitely, without the frequent necessity of ‘topping up’ the buffers with oil which was essential when firing the 2-pounder (40mm) gun with which British tanks had been equipped. As long as my tanks remained in action, they must, and I knew they would, keep those guns working smoothly-but-faster than ever before because the occasion called for extreme attention to danger from without and the need to destroy before being destroyed. We must stop this headlong German drive to the north.

“‘Hullo Cambrai – Cambrai calling – Fire now!’ ‘Cambrai out.’ This was the order for 75mm guns to open fire, the enemy then being within 1,000 yards of our guns. Immediately my small world seemed to vanish in the madness of the moment. We caused chaos in the German ranks, here plain to see were Panzers turning desperately to avoid the hail of death-dealing 75mm solid shot from the Grants, soon to be augmented with shot from the higher velocity 37mm guns. Some German tanks appeared to run into each other and the infantry clinging to their hulls were being thrown off their backs. Three German panzers were on fire, crews bailing out and great indecision seemed to reign. They were brought to a halt at about 900 yards. Now the famous Chestnut troop of 25-pounders, which had been close behind us, too close perhaps, joined in the slaughter of the panzers. Colored tracers from the several guns crisscrossed the space between the contestants, the air was full of flying metal; noise and confusion and brave men were dying.

“A flash inside my tank – ammunition on fire – would explode any moment – I had experienced being ‘burned up’ in other battles and knew at most I had but about two seconds to get my crew out. ‘Bale out’ I yelled. Like lightning my crew were out and taking cover behind the tank, I then explained the bearing and direction they should take to the brigade’s center line. Then singly they moved off trying to dodge the frightening tracers of armor-piercing shot which flew in all directions.

“Mounting the next tank I was just about to throw a leg over the cupola when there was a terrific crash and the tank burst into flame with greater fierceness than the one I just left. My other tank was already glowing red along its side. Bursting ammunition from within was popping out the cupola soaring into the sky like fireworks. Soon, this, my second tank would be doing the same. I then ran to the third tank where the crew was working at tremendous speed pumping shot from both guns. The gunner with the 75mm was having his own battle fight, with but an occasional correction from me, which was only necessary when I saw a particularly dangerous enemy – dangerous to me and my crews. The panzers had recovered from the first shock and were moving forward again but bearing away slightly to our right flank. Targets abounded.

“Wireless again. ‘Hullo Cyril, Cambrai calling, why are you moving back, over.’ Looking to my left I saw Cyril’s squadron or what was left of it, moving slowly in reverse. No answer from Cyril. ‘Hello Cyril, tell your chaps to switch off and stay where they are, over.’ ‘Hullo, Cambrai, Cyril answering. Sorry but I can’t see a dammed thing for blood in my eyes. I’m out of bricks (ammunition) and my turret gun damaged – over.’ ‘Hullo, Cyril, Cambrai, O.K. well done – carry on.’

“Many of our tanks were silenced, some burning to my right and left. The whole situation seemed that we were about to be overrun and trampled by the mass of German armor, which by now appeared to be speeding up their move leaving many of their dead tanks behind.

“Now the shooting was even better for us as the enemy tanks gradually steered away exposing their thin flanks. We had just 19 Grants, 16 Stuarts at the start, since we were under strength in tanks due to the need to share the Grants with other deserving regiments. The German tanks, as they went past us were being hampered by our Stuart light tanks, like terriers against wild boars. The range was closed to 300–400 yards on our right as the Germans swarmed past on their drive to the north. They had now made a complete envelopment of the Bir Hacheim area, Eighth Army’s southern end of the Gazala Line.

“The inter-com crackled again. ‘37mm traverse right, 400 right, right – steady fire.’ Over the vane sight I had laid the 37mm gun in the turret onto the leading German tank which we hit – it stopped – then immediately began to move again and continued on its way. The heat and flame shot past my face and the next thing I remember was being pulled off the engine covers to the rear of the turret. Again, I told the men where to go to reach the brigade center line to our rear.

“How long it took me to recover I will never know, but as soon as the crew were away I looked for another tank to mount. That on my right had a shattered side plate. The tank on my left was on fire then for some unaccountable reason I started to look for Cyril Joly, the Commander of C Squadron, a young officer whom I looked on more as a father, although the years in age between us was no more than ten years. I ran to his tank and removed the Homolite fuel container which was on fire, left front of the turret. Then I saw that his 37mm gun had been knocked askew in its mount and that the tank had been hit by 50mm shot. It had received many hits, none of which had penetrated its frontal armor. Many had hit the turret, again without penetration.

“Cyril was out on his feet. A 50mm round had parted his hair putting him out of action for some time. I sat on the glacis plate and directed the driver to reverse the tank out of battle – then I got the crew together, directing them to what I had hoped would be safety. They carried Cyril with them. Doing this I had reversed some one hundred yards so I went back towards our other tanks. Then, either through confusion or tiredness or both I found myself trying to avoid the projectiles, whose tracers indicated their paths over the whole area, by attempting to jump over them. Of course this was a ridiculous action but I found it hard to stop as I forced myself to return to my tanks. All but five remained out of the total. I climbed up on a tank next to Pip’s my C.O. and took up the fight again, but soon realized that Rommel’s boys had either had enough of us or they decided to spare us for they flowed past on our right flank… For every penetration on a Grant there were twenty to thirty which did not. Crew members of dead tanks had either burned in their tanks or were taken away. Most of our wounded had got away but three still remained. After an injection of morphine and first aid we made them as comfortable as possible, while awaiting assistance from brigade.”

Continental Army Logistics

The Maryland soldier knew no more than any other ranker of the organization behind this state of affairs, which is to say that he knew very little. He may have been aware that the official apparatus for supplying the army began with Congress. If he did not know it, he soon learned, for the army laid most of its problems at the door of Congress—and well before the war ended most of the country agreed with the army.

Shortly after it created the Continental army in June 1775, Congress established quartermaster and commissary departments charged with providing the supplies the army required. The immediate inspiration for these agencies was similar institutions of the British army. Similar yet different, for Parliament had long since turned the whole business of supply over to the Treasury, which let contracts for all the things the army in America needed. The Treasury, which devoted most of its energies to other matters, cooperated with the colonial secretary, the secretary at war, and the commissary department in America. These agencies and later the navy board worked out arrangements with London merchants and their agents which succeeded rather well in sending out food, clothing, fuel, medicines, and forage.

The British worked against tremendous obstacles, perhaps the most formidable of which was the distance involved. The long voyage across the Atlantic forced the Treasury to look ahead. Even so there were mistakes and close calls with starvation very much on Henry Clinton’s mind in 1779 and 1780, for example. Occasionally too, ships laden with provisions sailed to the wrong ports. After the British evacuated Philadelphia, two victualers from Cork put into the Delaware bound for the city, unaware that the hungry mouths there were American—not British.

Distances and communications may have provided ample problems but the British had great resources. For one thing they had been in the business of taking care of armies for a long time. They had the experience and the institutions which, although they might be severely taxed by the scope of the task, could respond. They did not have to create a system—the bureaus and agencies, the records, the means of payment, procurement, and distribution—all at once and make it work because several thousand men needed everything from beef to musket balls.

Congress had to do all these tasks while it was engaged in a good many other things, almost all for the first time. Congress had to call an army into being and supply it in a country at war which was suspicious of the army, and yet eager to make profits selling supplies to it. The men who worked within this system of supply, in and out of the army, possessed virtually no experience with it, or with any large institution. They sought, moreover, to satisfy soldiers who did not look admiringly upon large organizations and complicated procedures.

The commissary general got off to a good start. He was Joseph Trumbull of Connecticut, a merchant who had performed a similar job for his state’s troops. Trumbull relied mainly on his own state for supplies as long as the army besieged Boston. There were ample stocks of food in New England the first year of the war, and Trumbull found that feeding the army, which was stationary, was not especially difficult. After this first campaign the ease disappeared and more often than not the soldiers suffered from an inadequate diet—and were sometimes near starvation.

The quartermaster general, Thomas Mifflin of Pennsylvania, did not enjoy Trumbull’s initial success, though the problems of his department did not make themselves felt until 1777. Mifflin, the choice of George Washington, took office in August 1775. His charge from Congress included operational responsibilities as well as supply. The quartermaster general in the British army ordinarily supervised the movement of troops. Congress decided that he would have the same duty in the American army and that he would also oversee the maintenance of roads and bridges traveled by the army, lay out and construct its camps, and furnish and maintain its wagons, teams, and boats. Mifflin resigned the quartermaster’s post shortly after the British departed Boston. His successor, Stephan Moylan, served three months, until Congress persuaded Mifflin to resume the job in September.

Congress regarded failures of supply in the way legislative bodies often regard failures—as evidence that the organization was flawed. In the case of supply, Congress evidently believed that the flaw was simplicity—and it began to make the system more complicated. To make institutions more complicated means that more offices and officials must be appointed and the transaction of business made cumbersome.

Over the next four years Congress experimented along these lines. In June 1777 it divided the commissary general’s post into two: a commissary general of purchases and a commissary general of issue. This change made sense in that it separated two demanding and dissimilar functions. Congress assumed that the two commissaries would consult one another and that they would respond to Washington’s direction. For the most part the commissaries satisfied these expectations, though at times they must have felt confused, since their ultimate master was Congress itself and Congress was not averse to speaking in several voices.

It was not ambiguity that produced most of the trouble, but the firm and clear conviction of Congress that the commissaries should not profit from office. Joseph Trumbull had assumed his post when it was Connecticut’s to give in 1775, and he and his deputies had come to expect that they would receive a commission of 1.5 percent of all the money they spent for supplies. This arrangement understandably induced a certain activity in the commissary department. Just as understandably, Congress thought the commissaries might prove rather expensive, and in the reorganization it put Trumbull and his men on salary. Trumbull resigned in disappointment two months later—half of his old post had been given to Charles Stewart, who was now commissary general of issue, and the old incentives had disappeared too. Stewart served until after the battle of Yorktown; William Buchanan, who had been one of Trumbull’s deputies, took over as commissary general of purchases. He held on until March 1778, and in April another deputy, Jeremiah Wadsworth, accepted the job. His tenure ran until January 1, 1780, when the final holder, Ephraim Blaine, assumed the responsibility, serving until the post was abolished near the end of 1781.

This procession must have yearned for combat with real musket balls at times; certainly these officers—by definition a lower breed because they were staff rather than line—received fire of every other sort. After Trumbull resigned he deflected some of it by pointing to Congress, the author of the reorganization, as responsible for making his job impossible. Every head of a department ought to have control of it, he suggested in a letter to Washington. Congress had deprived him of control: “In this establishment an Imperium in Imperio is established—If I accept to Act, I must be at Continual Variance with the whole Department, and of course in Continual Hot Water, turn Accuser, or be continually applying to Congress and attending with Witnesses to Support Charges.” What Trumbull meant was that the division of the department into purchasing and issuing sections had created an unworkable system—with the two commissaries bound to fall out. He was partly wrong, and he was not altogether straightforward in explaining his resignation. Congress’s refusal to permit him to collect commissions gnawed at him as much as his reduced authority.

Out of republican scruples, Congress had denied commissions to the commissaries. The delegates thought the salaries of the commissaries and their deputies were too high; for example, in 1775 John Adams called them “extravagant.” Congress wanted not only to hold down expenses while increasing supplies, it wished to improve control of supplies and thereby strengthen the army while protecting the public purse. At any rate in the reorganization of 1777 it included the requirement that henceforth elaborate records be kept. Lest the commissaries have any doubts about what was wanted the records were described in some detail—accounts, invoices (in duplicate), receipts, returns, and journals. Each deputy of purchases, for example, would keep a journal in which every purchase would be recorded, and in order that there be uniformity of accounts, each page was to be divided into ten columns in which the complete history of each purchase would be entered. If livestock were bought, “the number, colour and natural marks” would be entered, plus a good deal more. Naturally, few of these requirements appealed to the commissaries, but Congress, determined to defend the public interest, had good reasons for rationalizing a system that presented ample opportunities for corruption.

Congress gave even more attention to the quartermaster general’s department than it did to the commissary. The quartermaster general may have had a more difficult set of tasks, with his operational responsibilities competing with his duties to purchase and transport supplies. Thomas Mifflin, the first quartermaster general, possessed strong abilities, but he answered too many extraordinary calls on them to allow him to serve effectively. During much of 1777, he worked closely with Congress, reorganizing the service and recruiting troops. While he was at this, the department fell apart. The usual explanation for this disintegration allocates a good deal of blame to Congress. Congress deserved some of it. In 1777 it began a practice it was to stay with throughout the war—setting rates of payment for wagons and teams, which would transport supplies, below current market values. Quartermasters found merchants and teamsters reluctant to do business with them when they could do it more profitably with others. The breakdown of supply in 1777, like most in years following, turned out to be a crisis of distribution.

At times undoubtedly, Congress made matters worse by clumsy habits of supervision. Complaints brought investigations by the committees Congress worked through, and the investigations sometimes brought delay or temporary paralysis. The lines of authority always lacked clarity, though of course final responsibility for the system lay with Congress. On a practical level, however, quartermasters found it absolutely necessary to work more closely with the army command. But where money was concerned, that command had to defer to Congress, with often near-disastrous results for the army.

Congress simply did not know how to manage this business. And that inability, as common to senior commanders as it was to the delegates, lay at the bottom of the supply failures. Finance, supply, and management all presented uncharted ground. To solve the problems, Congress and the men of the army made an organizational revolution, with all the slippages and mistakes that ordinarily attend a transformation of scale.

Congress faced one additional problem—unstable public finance. Lacking a secure revenue, it was forced into various expedients to raise money. None proved altogether satisfactory.

Although Congress blundered badly in handling supply, stinting the quartermaster general and his deputies was not among its errors. For most of the war these officials divided a commission of 1 percent of all monies they spent. Nathanael Greene, who succeeded Mifflin in March 1778, admitted a year later “that the profits is flattering to my fortune.” Greene, however, lusted more for fame than money and, noting that the post was “humiliating to my military pride,” declared sadly that “No body ever heard of a quarter Master in History as such or in relating any brilliant action.” He was wrong in the first half of his assertion—quartermasters were not only heard of, they became notorious. Greene himself performed ably, though throughout his tenure he never ceased to sing lamentations about the graceless post he held.

In an attempt to relieve the quartermaster department of some of its burdens, Congress had made two important changes late in 1776 after the evacuation of New York City. First it appointed a commissary of hides and made him responsible to one of its committees, the Board of War. The hides department took over the task of keeping the army in shoes, a challenging task, given the inflated price of leather and the fact that this army marched everywhere it went.

An even more important reform saw Congress establish a separate department to supply clothing to the army. A clothier general headed this department; his name was James Mease. His performance may be estimated from the phrase soldiers coined to describe the sickness associated with inadequate clothing—they were, they grimly joked, dying of “the Meases.” Mease, a Philadelphia merchant, asked Washington for the appointment with the sycophantic wish that God grant that Washington’s future success “may on all occasions be equal to your merit and then I am sure it will be great as your Excellency’s desires.” A few months later Mease was explaining to a disgruntled Washington how it happened that one of his regiments had been dressed in red uniforms. Such an opportunity came rarely to Mease; most of the time he found his explanations had to do with the absence of uniforms of any color. Washington realized that not all of the shortages of clothing were the result of Mease’s incompetence, but he could not ignore those that were, and in August 1778 he asked for Mease’s removal. Congress delayed action until the following July.

Mease proved to be an easy target, though he clung to his post long after his chief’s patience ran out. The line officers who were so critical of him actually contributed to his problems and to the suffering of the army by their high-minded appropriation of supplies virtually wherever the opportunity arose. Supplies had to be moved from the countryside to the main army. On the road, open season on supply trains seems to have prevailed, as state commanders and units detached for some special service stopped the wagons and took what they needed—or wanted. The rationalization must have come naturally to them. They were defending the country, and these supplies had been provided for the use of the army. The officers were part of the army and they were in need. That some central intelligence, General Washington’s headquarters, for example, might have assessed the overall needs of the army and decided on rather different priorities either did not occur to them or did not matter.

To its credit, Congress did not give up its attempt to bring order to disorderly supply arrangements. By late 1779 it had decided that much in the old procedures would have to be discarded in favor of going directly to state governments for what the army required. Early in December 1779 Congress resolved to requisition “specific supplies” from the states much as it requisitioned money. This resolve led to just about the same sort of results as the states sought to comply, sometimes succeeding, but more often failing. The plan, which went into effect in 1780, would have yielded uneven results even had the states been able to collect the supplies. Delivering beef, flour, forage, and the like to Washington’s army, which was located in New York, would have been immensely difficult for the southern states. Robert Morris, the superintendent of finance, recognizing this difficulty when he inherited the problem of supply in 1781, attempted to make the best of things by ordering supplies collected at a great distance to be sold and the proceeds used to buy food and clothing located as close as possible to the army. Time and transportation costs were thereby saved.

By the time Morris was to begin his tenure as superintendent, in June 1781, in those states which had tried to carry out congressional wishes more bitterness than supplies had been produced. These states had set up their own agencies of procurement, several with powers to impress what their citizens refused to sell, and set about to do their share in supplying the army. Their citizens—those in New Jersey, for example—did not lack patriotism, but they did not wish to accept paper money or certificates for what they had worked to accumulate. To accept such paper, it was pointed out, was the equivalent of giving goods away. Naturally they protested, and their government began to back off. New Jersey severely reduced the authority of the state superintendent of purchases and the county contractors in June 1781 and soon gave up impressing supplies altogether. Elsewhere, where an apparatus to procure supplies had been constructed, the attempt to compel citizens to “sell” their property was discarded even earlier.

The states soon stopped most of their efforts to impress, but the army did not. Under Washington’s sensitive guidance, impressment was used only as a last resort. He had grown weary of civilian failures, but he also saw the dangers of impressment. Thus, though in July 1781 he characterized the subsistence of the army as “miserable,” he continued to avoid as much as possible measures that would alienate civilians.

When Congress placed public finance in the hands of Robert Morris, a most capable and resourceful man, it made an important attempt to revise the supply system. Morris was a wealthy Philadelphia merchant with financial connections that extended far beyond his own city. In giving him power to procure all sorts of supplies for the army, Congress did not discharge the quartermasters and commissaries of the army. It bestowed on Morris considerable power to let contracts and to use the resources of the Congress to pay them off. Since in 1781 those resources were temporarily replenished by large loans from France, Morris began with a certain advantage. He used his power well, if at times somewhat summarily, and in the last great campaign of the war, the entrapment of Cornwallis at Yorktown, his contribution was clear.

In the end, however, the intangible played as great a part as organization or system in keeping the army going. The army’s will to survive and to fight on short rations, its willingness to suffer, to sacrifice, made the inadequate adequate and rendered the failures of others of little importance. The army overcame the worst in itself and in others. It was indomitable.

2nd (Royal North British) Regiment of Dragoons

The Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle was signed on October 7th, 1748, and the Greys returned to England, and were stationed at Leicester, Coventry, and Warwick. By the usual mean and miserable policy, or want of any policy, the Regiment was at once reduced to 285 officers and men! (In time of peace, always take care not to be prepared for war.) In December, 1749, the Regiment went into quarters in Kent, and was employed on revenue duty on the coast. In 1750 they were in Sussex and Devon, and in 1751 in Dorsetshire. The Regiment marched into Lancashire in the spring of 1753; with detached troops in Somersetshire, where it was stationed during the following year; and in the spring of 1755 proceeded to Northampton and other towns in that part of the kingdom. Complications now coming to a point about British and French possessions in North America, the Regiment’s establishment was made up to 357 of all ranks, and very soon a light troop was added, in the same way as light companies had been added to regiments of infantry.

In the summer of 1755 the Greys occupied quarters in Herefordshire and in the winter months were dispersed in cantonments in Kent. In the next spring they marched into Surrey, and afterwards into Dorsetshire, and in June encamped with several other corps near Blandford.

In April, 1757, they went into cantonments in Essex, staying there four months, and then going into Suffolk. In October four troops proceeded to Newmarket.

An expedition was now made ready for a descent on the coast of France, and the “light troop,” commanded by Captain Francis Lindsay, was ordered on this service.

The following is from the “Weekly Journal,” 23 May, 1758:—

“The nine troops of Hussars (Light Dragoons) belonging to the nine regiments of cavalry, are now preparing to go upon this expedition. The flower[Pg 42] of these Hussars is the troop commanded by Captain Lindsay, quartered at Maidenhead, where they have been practising the Prussian exercise, and for some days have been digging large trenches and leaping over them, also leaping high hedges with broad ditches on the other side. Their Captain on Saturday last, swam with his horse over the Thames and back again; and the whole troop were yesterday to swim the river.”

On June 5th, 1758, the Brigade landed on the coast of France about nine miles from St. Malo, and on the 7th set fire to the shipping in St. Malo.

The troops having succeeded in this, now came home again.

In August the Greys light troop formed part of another expedition which captured Cherbourg. After returning to England the light troop was quartered in towns on the coast of Sussex.

The Greys were among the troops sent to Germany under the command of Prince Ferdinand of Brunswick in the year 1758, at which time the Duke of Argyle commanded the Regiment. These troops landed at Embden on the 20th of July and were headed by the Duke of Marlborough and the Lord George Sackville.

Still did their gallantry and good conduct preserve to them the high opinion which the Regiment had so justly merited in every conflict to which its squadrons were exposed.

The following notes are from a volume (belonging to the Regiment) lettered outside

“Regimental Orders, 1759.”


“Copied from an old Regimental Order Book in possession of R. B. Wardlaw Ramsay, Esqre., of Whitehill, Laeswale.

“Piershill Barracks.



“Tule, 8 January 1759

“Weaver 12 January

“Wever 19 January

“The Major recommends it to the commanding officers of Troops, that before they clear their men, they will stop from each man for a pair of new shoes to carry into the field with them, as he apprehends those they have will be wore out before that time.

[Pg 43]

“Wever, 22nd January

“A stiver to be stopped from each man for having his hatt cocked, which the Major hopes the men wont be against paying as it is for their own advantage.

“Wever, 25 January

“The Troops to send the Bread waggons for their Hatts and Gloves on Monday next, and no man to presume to alter the Cock, otherwise it will be done over again, and he be obliged to pay every time it is not in shape.

“Tule, 6 January

“George. Farrier of Captain Douglas’s Troop to be sent to Head Quarters to cock all the New Hats.

“The men not to dispose of their old Hats, as they will serve for the Nosebags.

“Wever 27           January

“Engern                 21           March    1759

“Neider Meiser   22           “

“Ober Velner       24           “

“Rangershausen 26           “

“Hanven                27           ”              Tuesday

(Buff caps sold here)

“Herschfeld          28           “

“Grebenan           29           “

“Affhausen           30           “

“Ofhausen            1              April,      Sunday

”              4              “

”              5              “

”              6              “

”              7              “

”              8              ”              Sunday

”              9              “

“Richlos                 10           “

“Heldenbergen   12           “

(13th fighting.)

“Wendroken Camp            14           “

“Waryenburn      15           April       1759

“Bergesernesde 17           April “

“Neidierbessingen             18           “

(19th fighting.)

“Alsfelt 20           “

“Gabersdorff       22           ”              Sunday[Pg 44]

“Neidzuren           27           Friday

“Neiderzueren    29           April       1759

“Steinhausen       17           May

“Beringbrocet     19           “

“Beren Broick      21           “

“Gronenberg       26           “

“Werle Camp       7              June.

”              9              “

“It is Lord George Sackville’s orders that for the future, the officers and men of the Cavalry carry their swords upright, with the hilt resting on the Right Pistol, that the Regiment march by Sub-Divisions, and the officers strictly keep their posts. These to be standing orders for the whole British cavalry for the future.

“Toest Camp        11           June

“Aurnchte Camp                 13           “

“Brink Camp        15           “

“Overhagen Camp             19           “

“Ritberg Camp    22           “

“Marienvelt Camp             30           “

“Disson Camp      3              July

“Osneburg Camp                8              “

“Stoltzenaw         15           “

“Hilbs Camp         31           “

“Petershagen Camp          23           “

“From the “London Gazette,” Saturday, September 6th, 1760.

“Hague, Septr. 1st.

“By the last letters from Prince Ferdinand’s Army, which are of the 28th past, we have received information that the French under Marshall Broglio, left their camp upon the Dymel in the night between the 21st and 22nd, marching off by their right, and that the Hereditary Prince crossed that river on the 22nd at the head of 12,000 men, in order to gain the left flank of the enemy. That the advanced troops of that corps came up with their rearguard near Zierenberg; and that, after the light troops on each side had been engaged with different success, the Hereditary Prince arrived in person with the Greys and Iniskilling Dragoons, supported by the English Grenadiers, and put an end to the affair in a quarter of an hour, by forcing the enemy to a precipitate flight with great loss.”

[Pg 45]

The “London Gazette,” Saturday, September 13th, to Tuesday, September 16th, 1760.

“Prince Ferdinand’s Head Quarters at Buhne, Sept. 9.

“On the 5th past, a very considerable body of the enemy, amounting to 20,000 men and upwards, attempted to make a general forage in the neighbourhood of Geismar; But Prince Ferdinand, having received previous intelligence of their design, crossed the Dymel early in the morning of that day, and went in person with a corps of troops to oppose them; and though His Serene Highness was much inferior in number to the French, yet he took his precautions so well, by occupying some advantageous heights, and placing artillery there, that he rendered the enemy’s attempt totally ineffectual, notwithstanding a large portion of their Army was in motion to cover the foragers.

“On the morning of that day likewise, the Hereditary Prince (upon intelligence that the volunteers of Clermont and Dauphiné, consisting each, when compleat, of 600 Horse and 600 foot, were cantoned at Zierenberg; and, from the very small distance of the French camp at Dierenberg, thought themselves in perfect security) went from his camp at Warbourg to Maltzberg, which is not much more than a league from Zierenberg, without seeing any of their Posts, or meeting any of their Patroles. This made His Serene Highness resolve on an attempt to surprise them; for which purpose he ordered five Battalions, a Detachment of 150 Highlanders under the command of Captain McLeon, and eight squadrons of Dragoons to be ready to march at eight at night.

“They left their tents standing, and passed the Dymel near Warbourg; Maxwell’s Battalion of Grenadiers, the Detachment of Highlanders, and Kingsley’s Regiment, forming the Head of the Column. These were followed by two other Battalions of Grenadiers and by Block’s Regiment. The eight squadrons of Dragoons were Block’s, the Greys, and Iniskillings. At the village of Witzen, about a league on the other side of the Dymel, we found all the light troops, which were under Major Bulow’s command, and whose destination was to turn the town of Zierenberg, and to take post between it and Durenberg, in order to intercept whoever should attempt passing to the enemy’s Camp. At the entrance of a large wood, near Maltzberg, the Greys and Iniskillings were posted. At Maltzberg, a Battalion of Grenadiers. The other Battalion of Grenadiers, the regiment of Block, and Block’s Dragoons, were posted at proper distances between Maltzberg and Zierenberg to cover us, in case we had been repulsed and pursued. At a mill, about two English miles from the town and within sight of the fires of the enemy’s grand guards, Maxwell’s Grenadiers took one Road, Kingsley’s Regiment and the Detachment of Highlanders another. When we came within less than half a mile of the Town the vedettes of their grand guards challenged us, but did not push forward to[Pg 46] reconnoitre us. Our men marched in the most profound silence. In a few minutes we saw the fires of their piquets, which they had posted close to the Town. The noise of our trampling over gardens gave them the alarm, and they began to fire; upon which our Grenadiers, who had marched with unloaded firelocks (as had been agreed on), ran on towards the town, pushed the Piquets, and having killed the guard at the gate, rushed into the Town, and drove everything before them. Never was a more compleat surprize. The attack was so sudden, that the enemy had not time to get together in any numbers, but began to fire at us from the windows; upon which our men rushed into the houses, and for some time made a severe use of their Bayonets. They afterwards loaded and killed a great many of the enemy, who had mounted their horses. It was about two in the morning when we got into the Town, and about three the Prince ordered the Retreat, after we had taken M. de Norman, Brigadier, who commanded the volunteers of Dauphiné, and M. de Comeiras, Colonel of those of Clermont, with about 40 more officers and 300 private men. The number of killed and wounded is very considerable, from an ill-judged resistance of those who were in the houses; but in justice to our men, it must be said that they gave quarter to all who asked it; and there are several noble instances of their refusing to take money from their prisoners, who offered them their purses. General Griffin, who went into the Town at the head of Kingsley’s Regiment, received a thrust in the breast with a Bayonet (as it is supposed from one of our own people) upon hearing him talk French to a soldier whom he had seized, and who would not quit his firelock, but the wound is a very slight one. What makes this affair the more satisfactory is that it has not cost us ten men, which is wonderful in a night attack, where we might have expected to have lost more by our own mistaking friends for foes.

“The behaviour of the Officers and the bravery of the Troops upon this occasion deserve the greatest commendation. Lord George Lennox was a volunteer in this expedition, and had his horse wounded under him by a shot from a window. With our prisoners we brought off two pieces of cannon, and had we had time to search the houses the number of our prisoners would have been doubled; but as day was coming on, and we might have been cut off from Warburg, we returned the same way we came, and arrived there at eight in the morning of the 6th without being at all molested.”

In 1763 a treaty of peace was signed, and as early as February, 1763, the Greys quitted Germany, and marching through Holland, embarked at Williamstadt in North Brabant, landed at Gravesend, and proceeded to Hereford. Soon the light troop, which had remained in England, was disbanded, but 8 men per troop were now equipped as Light Dragoons. The establishment was reduced to 213 men![Pg 47] In November the Regiment marched to Scotland, and were stationed at Dalkeith and Musselburgh; but soon returned South, and in 1764 were stationed at Manchester and Warrington. In April, 1765, they marched to Worcester and Pershore. In 1766 they went to Sussex.

At this date “Drummers,” who had been on the establishment from the foundation of the Corps, were ordered to be replaced by “Trumpeters.”

In May, 1767, the Regiment marched to Canterbury, and in the winter of 1768 it was in winter cantonments in Lincoln and Boston.

In 1769 they went to Scotland, returning the next year to Warwick, Lichfield and Stratford-upon-Avon.



The Guard cavalry comprised one regiment designated as Garde du Corps, with three companies forming a single squadron, and mustering at the outset a total of only 188 officers and men. A second regiment was designated as Grenadieren zu Pferde (Horse Grenadiers), and while organized in two companies rather than three it had a near identical establishment of 187 officers and men.

Both regiments wore red coats, with straw-coloured waistcoats and breeches. The Garde du Corps were distinguished by red cuffs, dark blue turnbacks and silver lace; the Grenadieren zu Pferde had black cuffs and lapels, red turnbacks, and cloth mitre caps in place of cocked hats. These had black fronts bearing the arms of Hanover in gold with gold scrollwork; the frontal `little flap’ was red, with the white horse of Hanover and the motto Nec Aspera Terram in white. The rear of the cap was in reversed colours, the main `bag’ part being red piped in gold, with a black headband embellished with gold grenades.

As quasi-dragoons the Grenadieren zu Pferde carried infantry-style cartridge boxes on the right hip and belts in buff leather, and a `booted’ musket (i. e. slung from the shoulder, with its butt held in a pocket or `boot’ strapped to the saddle in front of the right leg), in place of the carbine hooked to a crossbelt, as issued to cavalry regiments proper such as the Garde du Corps. Both regiments had red saddle housings (horse furniture), bordered in silver for the Garde du Corps and in yellow and black for the Grenadieren zu Pferde. One source states that the former were mounted on grey horses.

The Line cavalry were similarly divided, between cuirassiers and dragoons; the principal difference between the two was in internal organization. The Leib-Regiment (`body[guard] regiment’) and seven regiments of Kürassiere each comprised six companies, formed into two squadrons, with a total establishment of 361 officers and men. The four dragoon regiments were considerably larger, each having eight companies organized in four squadrons, with a total of 715 all ranks.

All cavalry regiments wore white coats with facing-coloured collar, cuffs and turnbacks; straw-coloured `smallclothes’ (waistcoats and breeches); and either tin or brass buttons matching their hat-lace colour. Notwithstanding their designation, none of the cuirassiers actually wore armour at this period. Dragoons differed in having facing-coloured lapels on the front of the coat, and their original status as mounted infantry was also marked by one of the eight companies being designated as grenadiers, distinguished by wearing mitre caps. Equipment comprised buff belts, a steel-hilted sword, a pair of pistols in saddle-holsters and a carbine. Like the Grenadieren zu Pferde, dragoons carried infantry-style cartridge boxes, belts in buff leather, and a `booted’ musket in place of the carbine and belt issued to cavalry regiments.

Regimental numbers were not allocated until the post-war re-organization; as was customary in most armies, each unit was instead referred to solely by the name of its current Inhaber or colonel-proprietor.

Regimental distinctions – Cuirassiers

Leib-Regiment Yellow facings and lace; white/red hat pompons. Yellow saddle housings, red edging with black half-circles; device of cypher within crowned garter, with white and red scrollwork

Skolln Orange facings, yellow lace, white pompons. Orange housings edged with two bands of light blue with a double zig-zag in yellow; white horse badge within crowned garter, no scrollwork

Dachenhausen Light green facings, white lace, white pompons. Light green housings edged with yellow/white/red scroll pattern; white horse within crowned garter

Hammerstein Dark green facings, yellow lace, green/white pompons. Dark green housings, with a border of yellow and white rectangles edged in red; cypher within crowned garter, with red, yellow and white scrollwork

Grothaus Crimson facings, yellow lace, silver pompons. Crimson housings, edged with white spiral scroll edged yellow between two yellow stripes; white horse within crowned garter, yellow and white scrollwork

Hodenburg Scarlet facings, white lace, blue pompons. Scarlet housings edged with border of three stripes of red and black diagonals edged yellow; cypher within crowned garter, white and yellow scrollwork

Walthausen Dark blue facings, yellow lace, blue pompons. Dark blue housings edged with white and yellow diagonals; white horse within crowned garter; red, white and yellow scrollwork

Gilten Sky-blue facings, white lace, white pompons. Sky-blue housings, with broad red border edged yellow/blue/yellow; white horse within crowned garter, no scrollwork.

Regimental distinctions – Dragoons

Dachenhausen Red facings, white lace, white pompons. Red housings with border of the same edged white and black; white horse within crowned black and white scrollwork

Breidenbach Light blue facings, white lace, white pompons. Light blue housings with narrow outer edge of one red stripe on white, and an inner border of two red stripes on white; white horse within crowned garter, white scrollwork

Bussche Bright blue facings, yellow lace, white pompons. Bright blue housings with outer border of white edged yellow with blue zig-zag, and inner border of red edged yellow, with white scroll intertwining a white central stripe; white horse within crowned white scrollwork

Bock Scarlet facings, yellow lace, white pompons. Scarlet housings, yellow border bearing pattern of red diamonds with blue centres, edged first with blue, and then on either side a red stripe edged with white with a white zig-zag. Device of white horse within crowned garter placed entirely within unusually broad border.


Aside from the Fussgarde, which boasted two battalions, Hanoverian infantry regiments each comprised a single battalion of seven companies, with an authorized establishment of 122 officers and men in each company, and a regimental staff of 19 (the Fussgarde had 20 staff, covering both battalions). Each company included (administratively) eight grenadiers, who were detached to provide the personnel for a composite company; this was itself assigned to one of three consolidated grenadier battalions for the duration of the campaign (except in the case of the Fussgarde, whose grenadiers were permanently assigned to protect Ferdinand of Brunswick’s headquarters). The initial establishment of 29 battalions thus consisted of two Fussgarde battalions, 24 musketeer battalions and three grenadier battalions. Two further musketeer battalions were subsequently raised in 1758, with only five companies apiece and apparently without grenadiers.

A notional increase of a different sort was the decision to take a number of composite grenadier battalions into the line as units in their own right. Grenadier battalions were always regarded as a drain on their parent units, because the nature of their duties resulted in a higher degree of attrition than normal; these casualties then had to be made good by taking drafts from the musketeer companies, which in consequence sometimes dwindled alarmingly. Turning the consolidated grenadier battalions into permanent formations did not therefore increase the actual establishment of the army, but compelled the grenadiers to maintain themselves by regular recruitment rather than by simply milking the musketeer units.

All regiments wore red coats, with regimentally-coloured facings and (usually) waistcoats, and straw-coloured breeches. The grenadiers’ cloth mitre caps had facing-coloured fronts and red `bags’. As with the cavalry, regimental numbers were not allocated until the post-war re-organization, and until then units were referred to by the name of the current Inhaber; those listed below are the designations in 1757.

Regimental distinctions

Fussgarde Dark blue facings, yellow lace; white/yellow hat pompons

Scheither Dark green facings, yellow lace; green/yellow pompons

Alt-Zastrow White facings, yellow lace; red/yellow pompons

Spörcken Straw-coloured facings, yellow lace; red/yellow pompons

Fabrice Straw-coloured facings, white lace; straw/red pompons

Knesebeck Black cuffs and lapels, white lace; white waistcoats and turnbacks; red/black/white pompons

Druchtleben Black cuffs and lapels, yellow lace; yellow waistcoats and turnbacks; black/red pompons

Ledebour Medium blue facings, white lace; red/blue/white pompons

Stolzenberg Black cuffs and lapels, red turnbacks, white lace; straw-coloUred waistcoats; yellow/white pompons Grote Deep yellow facings, white lace; red/yellow/white pompons

Hodenberg Orange or straw-coloured facings, yellow lace; yellow pompons

Hardenberg Orange facings, white lace; red/yellow pompons

Caraffa Yellow facings, white lace; yellow/red pompons

Wangenheim Straw-coloured facings, white lace; straw-coloured pompons

Hauss Straw-coloured facings, yellow lace; straw/red pompons

Diepenbroick White facings and lace; red/white pompons Block White facings and lace; red/white pompons

Sachsen-Gotha Green facings, white lace; green/red pompons. (Until absorbed into Hanoverian army in 1759, white coat faced green)

Jung-Zastrow Dark green facings, white lace; dark green/white pompons

Post Green facings, white lace; white turnbacks and waistcoats; red/green/white pompons

Marschalk Red facings, white turnbacks and waistcoats, white lace

De Cheusses Yellow facings, yellow lace; straw-coloured turnbacks and waistcoats; red/yellow pompons

De La Chevallerie Yellow facings and lace; yellow/red pompons

Kielmansegge Light green facings, white lace; green/white pompons

Brunck Red facings and waistcoat, white turnbacks; white lace on hat only, green/white pompons

Halberstadt Blue facings, white lace; blue/red pompons

Wrede Red facings, white turnbacks and waistcoats; white lace on hat only, white/red pompons


At the outset of the war the Hanoverian artillery comprised six companies each of 67 officers and men, but under Ferdinand it was reorganized into four field brigades each of two to three companies.

All artillerymen wore light blue-grey coats, sometimes referred to as steel-grey, with red cuffs, lapels and turnbacks. Officers had straw-coloured waistcoats and breeches, while all other ranks had red waistcoats and straw-coloured breeches. Lace was yellow or gold according to rank, and equipment was buff leather. As with the infantry, they started the war with a generous amount of lace trimming on the lapels and waistcoats, but this was soon abandoned. Drivers had red coats with red turnbacks, but bright blue cuffs and lapels, with brass buttons in pairs. Waistcoats were straw-coloured, and buff breeches were worn with heavy boots; the hats were plain black.


The Hanoverian light troops fell into two ill-defined categories: those which were specifically raised as part of the Hanoverian Army, and those paid for by the British government.

It would appear that there were no light troops of any description prior to the war, but in May 1757 a Jäger corps was formed by Graf von Schulenburg; as was customary, this comprised two companies, one of mounted and one of foot Jägers. At about the same time Luckner and 54 of his `free hussars’ came over from the Dutch service (see above), and from this modest beginning a considerable expansion soon took place.

Luckner’s Hussars mustered 90 men by the end of 1757, but in the following year they doubled their strength to two companies totalling 8 officers and 174 men. In 1759 they redoubled to four companies, and by 1760 there were no fewer than eight companies, paired in four squadrons, with an official establishment of 32 officers and 632 hussars. The original uniform of Luckner’s light horse. However, as the combination of black Flügelmütze `winged cap’, green dolman and pelisse, and red breeches was virtually indistinguishable from the uniform of the French Army’s Chasseurs de Fischer, a different outfit was soon adopted – probably during the first increase in establishment. This comprised a white dolman and breeches, and a red pelisse with yellow cords and black fur edging; the `winged cap’ was replaced with a grey fur Kolpack with a red bag, and the original green barrel-sash was exchanged for a yellow one, though the original yellow boots were retained. The saddle cloth was red with yellow trimming, and officers seem to have had a dark brown fur shabraque with red vandyked edging.

The expansion of the Jäger corps was at first less dramatic, with only two additional foot companies being added in the course of 1758, and then an additional mounted company during the following year. At that point Col Freytag succeeded to the command of the corps, and the strength was raised considerably thereafter. It was expanded to no fewer than six companies each of Jäger zu Pferde and Jäger zu Fuss, and while the establishment of the mounted companies remained at 106 all ranks, that of the infantry companies went up from 156 to 206 – on paper, at least. In the long run this expansion proved unsustainable; in 1762 Freytag’s Jäger corps was amalgamated with another raised by Maj von Stockhausen, to make a single battalion of just four companies, with a total of 804 officers and men. Stockhausen had first raised a Schützen battalion in 1759, comprising one grenadier and two Jäger companies; although he added two companies of Jäger zu Pferde the following year it seems unlikely that the full 500-man establishment was ever achieved, hence the amalgamation with Freytag’s unit in 1762.

The uniform of both corps was broadly similar. All wore the traditional dark green coats, with green facings, green waistcoats, tin buttons, straw-coloured breeches, plain black hats, and either boots or gaiters depending on whether they were mounted or on foot. Horse furniture for the mounted element of both corps was green with white or silver trimming. The only distinguishing features were the absence of lapels from the coats worn by the mounted element of Stockhausen’s corps, and the curious grenadier caps worn by some of his men. These resembled the Kaskett then being worn by some Prussian and Austrian light troops, with a cylindrical leather skull and low frontal plate, similar in size to fusilier caps but more rounded. In the case of Stockhausen’s grenadiers the caps were green and bore the arms of Hanover on the front in silver; although it is uncertain whether these were embroidered, or if the front was tin with a green-painted ground, the latter seems more likely. In theory, as Jägers all of the men in both corps should have been armed with rifles, but it is more likely that ordinary infantry muskets predominated, and these were certainly carried by Stockhausen’s grenadiers.

Scheither’s Freikorps was formed by Capt H. A. Scheither in May 1758 as part of the process of expansion of light troops following the lessons of Ferdinand’s first campaign. Initially it comprised a single company apiece of carabiniers, grenadiers and Jägers, but by 1761 it had increased somewhat to muster four companies of carabiniers and two of fur-capped grenadiers, besides the Jäger company and an artillery detachment. There are also suggestions that there may have been a troop of Uhlans, but this was most likely the one which ended up in the Brunswick Auxiliary Volunteers as `Bosniaks’.

The carabiniers had a very pale straw-coloured coat or Kollet with dark green collar, cuffs, turnbacks and trimming, a straw-coloured waistcoat and breeches, and green horse furniture trimmed in white. Hats were plain black with a green cockade; as their designation suggests, they were armed with straight swords and short hussar-style carbines slung on a swivel belt. Both the musket-armed grenadiers and rifle-armed Jägers wore green coats with green facings, and straw-coloured waistcoats and breeches; apart from the grenadiers’ brown fur caps they were further distinguished from Freytag’s men by a vandyked lace pattern on collar and cuffs.

To improve their self-sufficiency each infantry company had a six-strong detachment of Zimmermen or carpenters, wearing the same uniform but distinguished by a low-crowned helmet with a crest and a green turban trimmed with white, bearing the white horse of Hanover on the front. The corps’ artillery were probably detached from the regulars, as they appear to have worn the same steel grey/blue uniform with minor distinctions as to the cuffs and waistcoat.