NINTH UNITED STATES ARMY

 

1 - 31 JANUARY 1945

 

While the battle in Belgium and the Duchy of Luxembourg progressed, the Ninth United States Army carried out a well planned and thorough defensive operation which influenced all events occurring in the Army during January.

 

On 1 January the XIX Corps protected the south flank of the Army with the 78th, 8th and 104th Infantry Divisions from right to left. XIII Corps held the northern sector with the 29th Infantry Division on the right and the 102nd Infantry Division on the left. XVI Corps was not operational.

 

The 5th Armored Division, under control of First United States Army, and 43 (British) Division, under control of the Second British Army, were in Ninth Army's area, held as counterattacking forces on orders from higher headquarters.

 

Patrolling, raiding and artillery fire comprised the Army's aggressive action during most of the month, but on 26 January the 102nd Infantry Division launched a limited objective attack in support of XII (British) Corps. Against light resistance the division advanced up to 2000 yards. Including the British sector, the enemy was cleared from all but a few pockets on the west bank of the Roer River.

 

On 27 January the 5th Armored Division was attached to XIX Corps; on 29 January to XVI Corps. Combat Command A was attached to the 78th Infantry Division and committed.

 

The Army south boundary was alerted on 27 January so as to widen the sector of the 78th Infantry Division by 2 miles, and on 30 January the division, with Combat Command A of the 5th Armored Division, attacked, making advances up to 2500 yards. On 31 January the advance was continued, and at Widdau a junction was effected with elements of V Corps of First Army.

 

On 31 January the 35th Infantry Division was assigned to Ninth Army and attached to XVI Corps.

 

Throughout January Ninth Army remained under operational control of 21 Army Group. At the end of the month the five infantry divisions occupied the same relative positions as on 1 January.

 

Elements of XXIX Tactical Air Command continued to cooperate with Ninth Army. During the month much effort was devoted to the enemy in the First and Third Armies areas. Weather during the month hampered air operations.

 

The enemy began the year with a heavy air raid upon Allied airfields, but the German Air Force suffered a defeat. No protected installation suffered any serious damage, and the enemy paid a high price for his effort. There was no recurrence of the raid.

 

Otherwise, on the Ninth Army's front, the enemy contented himself with harassing fires and interference with American patrols across the Roer River.

 

At the beginning of the month the possibility of the enemy mounting a two-pronged attack, moving northwest and southwest to recapture Aachen, was weighed. By the middle of the month this seemed unlikely. The enemy apparently was having trouble in specifically identifying and locating Allied formations. If he suspected a buildup in this area he might try a limited attack from across the Roer, supplemented by V-weapons, saboteurs and paratroopers.

 

Three enemy infantry divisions as well as drafts from others left the Army zone early in the month to take part in the fighting elsewhere, but late in the month elements of the Fifth Panzer Army moved out of the bulge into the Cologne area for resting and refitting. This army constituted a reserve for the defense of the Ruhr-Cologne region.

 

Capable of chemical warfare, the enemy revealed no intention to use it. Several V-weapons exploded in the Ninth Army's area during the month.

 

The Roer constituted an almost impassable barrier to line crossers and agents. The barrier was made effective by evacuation all civilians in the area 10 kilometers west of the river and the prohibition of all civilian travel in that zone. Numerous town checks consisting of house to house raids, identification scrutiny and screening of all civilians in conjunction with military government registration revealed that approximately one of every 200 civilians was a member of the Wehrmacht.

 

Refugees from the battle areas were dealt with, as were 300 Germans from Aachen, who fled at the news of the resurgence of the German armies.

 

An election was held in a German rural community to select the representatives of the farmers who will deal in an unofficial advisory capacity with the military government. Publication of a German language newspaper in Aachen was permitted under military government supervision.

 

An investigation of incidents in coal mines and a glass factory produced evidence that certain industrialists were left behind to protect their industries but, at the same time, deny the products of the industries to the Allies. Five persons have been arrested and investigations are continuing. The report of the investigation states that this situation foreshadows the problem of the German industrialist who is Nazi to the core but does not wear the trappings of the Nazi official.

 

The Commanding Officer, 20th Tank Destroyer Group, was designated as Security Commander in the Army rear area, relieving the Provost Marshal.

 

Efforts to build up the Army's manpower were successful; the overall gain exceeded losses by 3216, thus considerably alleviating the acute shortage of infantrymen.

 

In compliance with ETOUSA directive, M.R.U. statistics were submitted on the number of white enlisted men under 31 years of age assigned to service units within the Army.

 

Directions in ETOUSA Circular No. 124, 1944, providing that rotation to the United States be placed upon a basis of extended overseas service and efficient performance of duty, were followed out. Four hundred eighty-nine persons have been sent back under this program.

 

Advantage was taken of this month to institute training activities and conduct tests aimed at perfecting combat efficiency of units. The assault river crossing program was resumed. Reorganization of units under new TO/E's continued and studies on equipment progressed.

 

The Army was relieved of the mission of processing troops arriving in the Normandy Base Section.

 

Heavy snow and ice interfered with supply and transportation. At the end of the month a sudden thaw caused poor road conditions. In spite of this, traffic was kept moving. New bridges were built and old ones improved. The necessity of guarding the bridges was shown when a sentry fired upon an d exploded a small floating mine at Vise. The mine had penetrated two protective log booms. electro-magnetic sweepers were constructed and put on the roads to collect tire-wrecking bits of metal. Railways were maintained and improved to a point where increased tonnages could be handled.

 

Stockage was held to a minimum in forward supply points in the first part of the month, while reserves were accumulated in the rear areas. After 15 January supplies moved across the Maas river to the front. Certain critical shortages persisted, but not to the extent of former months. The camouflage factory called on local tailors and seamstresses to help make snow suits.

 
The status of tank supply improved. The new medium tank M4A3A, arrived.
 

Ammunition was still rationed and forecasts from Twelfth Army Group were not encouraging. On the basis of available information, it was possible that reported stocks would be inadequate for offensive operations.

 

German communications system were used extensively. The Netherlands Signal Intelligence personnel aided in this work. Some of this personnel entered the Linnich telephone exchange where they secured valuable data. Arrangements were unsatisfactory in regard to signal depots, and it was recommended that one be established nearby to service the First and Ninth Armies.

 
 

 

Copyright 2008, xixcorps.nl. All Rights Reserved