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laboriously amassed to support the attack. The Sixth Panzer Army artillery commander, for example, had pleaded for twelve to fifteen units of artillery ammunition for the first ten days of operations. [24] On 16 December there were only one and a half units with the Army Group B guns and only two additional units in prospect. Although OB WEST appears to have estimated a daily POL consumption of 260,000 gallons per day for the Ardennes force, a number of the higher German quartermasters predicted that Army Group B would burn four times that amount on each day of the operation. [25] The armored divisions had in their vehicles and trains enough fuel for perhaps go to 100 miles of normal cruising, but battle in the Ardennes could hardly be considered normal travel. Though it is a commonplace that commanders and supply officers at the tactical level always want more shells and gasoline than they probably can use, there is no question but that the Ardennes counteroffensive began on a logistical shoestring.


On 15 December the intelligence staff at Rundstedt's headquarters took one last look at the opposite side of the hill. In the days just previous there seems to have been a growing uneasiness that the Allies had recognized the impending attack and begun redeployment to meet it. Probably this was no more than a nervous reaction to the continued postponement of D-day, for on the 15th the picture was rosy. The U.S. 4th, 28th, 106th, and 99th Infantry Divisions and their respective boundaries remained unaltered. The enemy "lack of interest" in this sector was "underlined" by the paucity of aerial reconnaissance. The only new American division to arrive on the Western Front, the 75th, had been identified the day before in the Roer sector. For several days it had been recognized that the U.S. 12th Army Group lacked "large operational reserves." Agents working in France had reported on 7 December that the 82d and 101st Airborne Divisions were assembled at Mourmelon preparing for another airborne operation. These two divisions appeared to be the only U.S. forces uncommitted. The "rubber duck" operation on the VIII Corps front in which Special Troops from the 12th Army Group simulated an additional division had been reflected for some days on German situation maps by a question mark. On the 15th, however, OB WEST was satisfied that no new division existed and the question mark disappeared.


The 4th and 28th Infantry Divisions were known to be exhausted and it was doubted that they were up to strength. There appeared to be relatively little armor opposite the three assault armies, probably no more than 370 tanks at the maximum. Although restrictions on patrolling had limited any recent information on exact tactical locations, there existed a complete file carefully built up since September. New arrivals on the Ardennes front had tended to occupy the same positions as their predecessors, and on this habit the Germans counted. The three communications intelligence companies operating under Army Group


[24] The general problem of artillery and ammunition is discussed by General Thoholte, the artillery representative of Army Group B, in MS #B-311 (Thoholte).


[25] A contemporary memorandum on the supply and POL status written by a Colonel Poleck is found in Schramm's Merkbuch under the date of 3 January 1945


[26] The German Intelligence Estimate for 15 December 1944 is given in OB WEST TB.