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man military thinking after all the years of war, had been raised when Dietrich proposed to make the initial breakthrough with his two tank divisions. He was overruled by Model, however, and the three infantry divisions were given the mission of punching a hole on either side of Udenbreth. Thereafter the infantry was to swing aside, moving northwest to block the three roads which led south from Verviers and onto the route the armor would be taking in its dash for Liege. Hitzfeld's corps had a less ambitious program: to attack on either side of Monschau, get across the Mutzenich-Elsenborn road, then turn north and west to establish a hard flank on the line Simmerath-Eupen-Limburg. All five of the Sixth Panzer Army infantry divisions ultimately would wind up, or so the plan read, forming a shoulder on an east-west line from Rotgen (north of Monschau) to Liege. Under this flank cover the armored divisions of the I SS Panzer Corps would roll west, followed by the second armored wave, the II SS Panzer Corps (General der Waffen-SS Willi Bittrich) composed of the 2d and 9th SS Panzer Divisions.


Dietrich's staff had selected five roads to carry the westward advance, the armor being assigned priority rights on the four southernmost. Actually it was expected that the 1st SS and 12th SS Panzer Divisions would use only one road each. (These two routes ran through the 99th Infantry Division sector.) Although the planning principle as regards the armored divisions was to hold the reins loose and let them run as far and as fast as they could, the Sixth Panzer did have a timetable: one day for penetration and breakout, one day to get the armor over the Hohes Venn, the Meuse to be reached by the evening of the third day, and crossings to be secured by the fourth. [2]


This army was relatively well equipped and trained. Most of its armor had been out of combat for some time and the horde of replacements had some degree of training in night movement and fighting. The 1st and 2d SS had not been loaded with Luftwaffe and over-age replacements as had the other divisions. The artillery complement of the Sixth Panzer Army was very heavy, albeit limited in mobility by the paucity of selfpropelled battalions. The four armored divisions had about 500 tanks and armored assault guns, including 90 Tigers (Mark VI). Lacking were two things which would markedly affect the operations of the Sixth Panzer Army once battle was joined. There were few trained engineer companies and these had little power equipment. The infantry lacked their full complement of assault guns, a weapon on which the German rifle platoon had learned to lean in the assault; only the 3d Parachute was fully armed with this critical infantry weapon. [3]


The 99th Division Sector


The southern portion of the V Corps front was occupied by the 99th Infantry Division (Maj. Gen. Walter E. Lauer),


[2] MS # A-924, Operations of Sixth Panzer Army, 1944-45 (SS Generalmajor Fritz Kraemer). Kraemer was chief of staff of Sixth Panzer Army.


[3] MSS # B-311 (Thoholte) and P-109a, Ardennes Follow Up-3d SS Panzer Grenadier Regiment (Oberstleutant Waffen-SS Guenther Wisliceny); see also ETHINT-21, Sixth Panzer Army in the Ardennes Offensive (Generalmajor (Waffen-SS) Fritz Kraemer) and ETHINT-61, Tank Maintenance, Ardennes (General der Panzertruppen Horst Stumpff).