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mander put his cherished concept into the army operations order by means of a paragraph which called for the XII Corps to be prepared for an attack across the Sauer River and northeast through the Prum valleyultimate objective the Rhine River crossings at Bonn as the entire Third Army swung northeast.


On Christmas Day the German commanders sensed, as their opponents across the line had done, that they were at a turning point in the Ardennes battle. How should the higher commanders now intervene to influence the course of battle, or, more accurately, could they intervene? Manteuffel's plan was to make the suit fit the cloth: put enough new troops in to take Bastogne, then swing the left flank of the Fifth Panzer Army toward the Meuse and fight the Allies east of the river-the old Small Solution. Field Marshal Model agreed that Bastogne must be taken and that additional troops would be needed for the task, but the only armor immediately available was the Fuehrer Begleit Brigade and he had just extricated this unit from the Manhay fight to give added weight to the Fifth Panzer Army drive against the American line on the Ourthe River. As it turned out, Remer's brigade arrived in the Ourthe sector only a few hours before the Americans broke through to Bastogne. It had time to put in only one probing assault when Model, on the late afternoon of the 26th, sent the Fuehrer Begleit again on its travels, this time countermarching to seal the gap in the Bastogne ring with a riposte between Sibret and Hompre.


Model and Rundstedt seem to have agreed on a plan of action which may or may not have had the Fuehrer's approval (there is no record). The Fifth and Sixth would seek to destroy the Allied forces east of the Meuse while the Seventh held on as best it could; as a first step an attack would be made to eradicate the Americans in the Bastogne area. [9] Obviously the German lines would have to be shortened somewhere, and Model, directly under Hitler's baleful eye, dare not surrender ground. This responsibility fell to the Fifth Panzer Army commander, who on 26 December (with tacit approval from Model at every step) set about creating a defensive front in the west roughly following the triangular outline Bastogne-Rochefort-Amonines. The battered 2d Panzer Division was brought back through the Rochefort bridgehead and troops from the 9th Panzer took over from Panzer Lehr in the Rochefort area, the latter sidestepping toward the southeast so that one flank finally would lie on the Lesse River with the other


[9] The German sources contributing most directly to this chapter are MSS # B-23, 5th Parachute Division, 1 December 1944-12 January 1945 (Generalmajor Ludwig Heilmann); # B-041, 167th Volks Grenadier Division, 24 December 1944-February 1945, Corps Hoecker, 2-10 March 1945 and 59th Infantry Division, 20 March-24 April 1945 (Generalleutnant Hans Hoecker); # B-068, 3d Panzer Grenadier Division, Ardennes (Generalmajor Walter Denkert); # B-151, Fifth Panzer Army, Ardennes Offensive (General der Panzertruppen Hasso von Manteuffel); # B-151a, sequel to MS # B-151 (General der Panzertruppen Hasso von Manteuffel); # B-235, Fifth Panzer Army, 2 November 1944-16 January 1945 (Generalmajor Carl Wagener); # B465, 3d Panzer Grenadier Division, 16-28 December 1944 (Generalmajor Walter Denkert); # B-592, Fuehrer Begleit Brigade, 16 December 1944-26 January 1945 (Generalmajor Otto Remer); # B-701, Army Group B, 15 October 1944-1945 (Col Guenther Reichhelm); # B-799, LXXXIX Corps, 24 January-8 March 1945 (Lt Col Kurt Reschke).