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so badly understrength (averaging no more than ten P-61's operational) that their contribution perforce was limited. [12]


The intelligence problem presented by the U.S. air effort was not that of a paucity of information but rather one of interpretation. Both the Allied ground and air headquarters expected the enemy to reinforce those sectors to the north and south of the Ardennes where the First and Third U.S. Armies were attacking. The main special indicators of coming attack were identified in transit areas on the routes to the Roer and the Saar. The trainloads of Tiger tanks, for example, were seen on the Euskirchen rail lines. This line ran northwest to Duren and the Roer, but a branch line led south to the Eifel. The reports of searchlights, turned in on the night of 6-7 December, came from the vicinity of Kaiserslautern, opposite the Third Army. Kaiserslautern, however, was only a few miles by rail from Trier, one of the chief unloading yards opposite the VIII Corps. There was considerable information, then, of the enemy's growing strength west of the Rhine. But the interpretation of his intentions was precisely what he desired: reinforcement of the Sixth Panzer Army counterattack reserve on the Roer front and piecemeal movement to shore up the divisions being battered by the Third and Seventh Armies.


Was there any special attempt at air reconnaissance over the Eifel? A large number of missions were flown here in November, that is, before the final assembly for attack began. During the first half of December the 67th Group rather consistently included Eifel targets in its daily mission orders; however, these missions were given low priority and often were scratched. In the critical period ( 10 through 15 December) the 67th flew only three missions directly opposite the VIII Corps, on 14 December over Trier. Numerous requests for air reconnaissance were made during this time by the VIII Corps divisions, but even when accepted by higher ground echelons and forwarded to air headquarters these missions retained so low a priority, when contrasted with the demands from the Roer and Saar fronts, as to fall at the bottom of the missions list. In sum, it can be said that the reconnaissance flown over the Eifel between 16 November and 15 December gave much information on enemy activity, but that this was interpreted as routine troop movement through the Eifel way-station en route to the north and the south. Thus, the SHAEF intelligence summary of 10 December gives air reports of "continuing troop movements towards the Eifel sector" and concludes that "the procession is not yet ended."


Could the proper combination of air and ground intelligence have weakened the Allied fixation on the Roer and Saar sectors? Perhaps, but this is extremely hypothetical. One thing seems clear. Although the ground headquarters were charged with the final analysis of photos and pilot reports secured by the air, there was little cooperation and liaison between the air and ground headquarters as to the initial interpretation placed by the air forces on the data gathered through aerial reconnaissance. The official U.S. Army Air Forces account of this episode states the case justly: "Perhaps the chief fault was one of organiza-


[12] Craven and Cate, eds., Europe: ARGUMENT to V-E Day, p. 675.