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expected, demurred. His own army was readying for a major attack on 19 December, an attack which had been the subject of controversy between Eisenhower and Montgomery and which represented the Third Army's last chance to be the chief ball carrier in the Allied push to cross the Rhine. Bradley, however, was firm and Patton at once gave the order to assemble the 10th Armored.


Bradley's second call went to General Simpson whose grueling attack to close along the Rhine River had come to a halt on 14 December beside the muddy western banks of the Roer. Here the choice fell, as Eisenhower had suggested, on the 7th Armored Division, which was resting and refitting in the rear of the XIII Corps zone. The 7th was turned over to the First Army and now Bradley had a fresh armored division moving in to shore up each of the endangered VIII Corps flanks. More troops, guns, and tanks would be moved out of Simpson's army on 16 and 17 December, but the authorization for these reinforcements is hard to trace. In many cases the transfer of units would be accomplished in simple fashion by telephone calls and simultaneous agreement between the higher commanders concerned. [2] Hodges and Simpson had been comrades in World War I, and when Hodges asked for assistance Simpson acted promptly and generously. On the 16th, for example, Simpson offered the 30th Infantry Division and the 5th Armored on his own initiative.


Prior to the invasion of Normandy there had been a great deal of staff planning for the creation of a SHAEF strategic reserve for use in the first ninety days of the operation in western Europe. The Allied successes during the summer and autumn put these plans in moth balls and the subject was not reopened until early December when Eisenhower ordered that a strategic reserve be assembled and placed under the 12th Army Group, but for employment only at his direction as Supreme Allied Commander. Two days before the Ardennes attack the SHAEF operations section submitted a plan calling for a strategic reserve of at least three divisions. The concept, quite clearly, was to amass a force capable of exploiting a success on any sector of the Allied front without diverting divisions from other parts of the front. Some operations officer, possibly imbued with the Leavenworth doctrine of "Completed Staff Work," inserted the observation that "a strategic reserve could be used to repel a serious breakthrough by German forces," but hastened to add: "In view of current G-2 estimates, it is unlikely that such employment will become necessary." [3]


To understand fully the position in which the Supreme Commander found himself on 16 December, it should be


[2] The general story of the command decisions on the first days of the battle will be found in Dwight D. Eisenhower, Crusade in Europe (New York: Doubleday and Company, 1948); Omar N. Bradley A Soldier's Story (New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1951); and Conquer: The Story of the Ninth Army. The Sylvan Diary and the Gay Diary give details of the reactions at the First and Third Army headquarters, respectively. Details of troop movements are given in the First U.S. Army Report of Operations and the AAR's of the V and VIII Corps. A good analysis of troop strengths will be found in a British study by the Directorate of Tactical Investigation, War Office, entitled The German Counter Offensive in the Ardennes (n.d.).


[3] Hq SHAEF files: GCT 322-12/Ops(A), sub: SHAEF Reserve.