NINTH UNITED STATES ARMY

 

1 - 31 OCTOBER 1944

 

During its second month of operations, the Ninth United States Army found itself widespread, both geographically and operationally. The month of September had brought to a close the campaign against Brest and also opened up a new sphere of activity for the Ninth Army against the German Siegfried Line in the Luxembourg area between the First and Third United States Army zones. By the first of October the Army's operational troops, VIII Corps with the 2nd and 8th Infantry Divisions attached were enroute to the new area. A forward command post for Ninth Army was operating at Arlon, Belgium, and the rear echelon still located at Mi Foret in Brittany, France. The Army continued to employ the 94th Infantry Division, reinforced, on the assigned mission of containing the enemy forces in St. Nazair and Lorient, and protecting the south flank of the Twelfth Army Group until 9 October when the Division's control passed to the Twelfth Army Group. Non-operational units of the Ninth Army included the III Corps, XIII Corps, and XVI Corps headquarters, all located in Normandy. A total of six infantry and four armored divisions were assigned but were not operational, and two of each type were still in the United Kingdom at the beginning of October. The other four infantry divisions were called upon at various times to operate provisional truck organizations.

 

A change in mission was directed in the middle of the month for the Army and Maastricht, Holland, was selected as the new command post. The rear echelon was therefore diverted on its move from France and closed directly into the new area on 15 October. The entire headquarters was consolidated in this area at 1200A on 22 October. Arlon, Belgium had been approximately 500 miles from Mi Foret, France and over 75 miles from Maastricht, Holland, and these vast distances between the two echelons at various times during the month had caused many problems in communications.

 

In October the Ninth Army was concerned with operational planning and the supply and movement of units from the beaches to the new zone. there was great uncertainty as to what units the army would have available for its operations. This uncertainty and the change in mission caused delay in planning and the phasing forward of the units.

 

The supply situation was critical because of the overtaxed condition of rail and motor facilities and slow build up of stocks. Class I supplies held priority to feed the growing number of troops on the eastern front. The Army was allocated low tonnage while its future operational mission still remained indefinite. However, the mission of the Army during October caused only light expenditure of ammunition and gasoline, and supplies in the Army depots were substantially increased by the end of the period.

 

The new mission called for by the Twelfth Army Group, directed the release of the VIII Corps to the First United States Army. In exchange, the Ninth Army was to assume control of the XIX Corps. This Corps was then in contact with the enemy on the northern flank of the Twelfth Army Group and was engaged in a containing mission. On 22 October its control passed to the Army, together with its units, the 29th and 30th Infantry Divisions, the 2nd Armored Division, and the 113th Cavalry Group. Since these units had been almost continuous operation against the enemy for over four months, the Army Commander decided to utilize the three regiments of the 102nd Infantry Division for relief of Infantry elements in the line. The division was still receiving its equipment at the beaches and was not ready to move as a unit. However, sufficient equipment and vehicles were available to supply the three regiments, and they began their movement from Normandy on 17 October.

 

In the exchange of Corps between the First and Ninth Armies a major problem arose over the transfer of Corps and Army supporting troops to avoid lateral movement of units. A trade of like units was established as a guide, and where practicable both supplies and service troops were exchanged rather than transported to the new areas.

 

As early as 13 October plans for the possible operation of the Ninth Army in the northern portion of the American line led to the diversion of scheduled units direct to this area. Headquarters, XIII Corps was ordered to move to the new Army zone of action and began its march on 15 October. There it assisted the Army in receiving and assembling Corps troops.

 

III Corps was relieved from assignment to Ninth Army on 11 October and was directed to turn over its mission of receiving, training, equipping, and moving Army units arriving from the continent, to the XVI Corps. The problems at the beaches in outfitting units was complicated by the fact that many organizations were unloaded at one beach and their equipment at another. Since several identical forces were in the area, XVI Corps requested and received permission to exchange equipment and effect completely outfitted units ready for combat.

 

In the latter part of the month the 104th Infantry Division attached to the Twenty-First Army Group, British, for operational control with mission in Holland. The 7th Armored Division was assigned to the Ninth Army but remained in the British area where it had already been attached. Supply and transportation for these two units were provided by the Ninth Army.

 

The use of Storm Troops of the Dutch Interior Forces was contemplated and steps were taken to obtain authority from higher headquarters for the supply and equipment of these units. Plans were also laid for the tentative employment of these troops in line of communication duty.

 

Air support for the Ninth Army was assigned to the XXIX Tactical Air Command and its mission was assumed at 0600, 3 October with headquarters at Arlon. During the month it supported the activities in Brittany, the operations in Luxembourg, and , at the end of the month, the operations in the XIX Corps zone.

 

The troops assigned to the Army for supply by 31 October reached a total of approximately 174.000. The XIII Corps was being progressively built up with service troops and supplies. The XIX Corps with attached troops was ready for extended operations to the east and sufficient supply installations and service troops were available for its support. The Ninth United States Army at the close of October was prepared to strike against enemy positions west of the Rhine.

 

OPERATIONS

 

The 94th Infantry Division, with the 15th cavalry Group attached continued to contain the enemy garrisons at Lorient and St. Nazaire and to patrol the south flank of the Twelfth Army Group along the Loire River. The Ninth Army continued its control over this force until its rear echelon cleared the Brittany Peninsula. At 0001 on 9 October, the division passed to the control of the Twelfth Army Group.

 

On 1 October the 2nd and 8th Infantry Divisions were en route from France to their assembly areas in Luxembourg, and during the period 2 to 6 October, the two divisions of the VIII Corps began to relieve elements of the V Corps along the Our River.  The mission of the Corps was to establish defensive positions within its sector and actively to patrol the zone. Enemy activity during the period was negligible. Plans were prepared for the progressive extension of the Army's southern boundary, and an advance to the Rhine, but these were negated by the change in the mission of the Army.

 

Letter of Instructions, No. 10, Headquarters, Twelfth Army Group, dated 21 October 1944 was received by the Army on 22 October. Plans had already been made for possible action in the new sector and these were immediately effected. The XIX Corps had been patrolling the new zone and had penetrated the Siegfried Line on an 11 mile front to a depth of 6 miles. After the fall of Aachen, the enemy had fallen back to further defensive lines, and moderate artillery fire and normal patrolling were the only aggressive enemy activities reported. The XIX Corps continued to defend its zone and rotate its troops on the line. Limited attacks were made by the 30th Infantry Division on 22 and 23 October. Several minor counter-attacks were repulsed on 22 October, and a shifting of reserves to the north flank was made from 25 to 31 October to offset any possible enemy armored thrusts, but no major enemy activity developed as the month closed.

 
 

 

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