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War I Feuerwalze, with sixty rounds at each piece.


There were deviations from this pattern in accordance with the ground and estimated American strength. The 26th Volks Grenadier Division, for example, advanced behind a preparation fired by three hundred tubes which, for seventeen minutes, worked over targets illuminated by searchlights. The Seventh Army, which had a relatively small number of artillery and Werfer battalions, was forced to concentrate its fire on a few selected target areas. The most intensive preparation fired here was in support of the two assault regiments of the 5th Parachute Division: to smooth its advance seventy-two guns fired ninety rounds each as fast as the cannoneers could work their pieces. All three of the armies relied upon the speed and shock of the initial assault to overrun any deep American artillery groupments which might be in position to menace the infantry and armored advance.


There is no doubt that the German artillery helped the assault waves forward during the rupture of the American forward defensive positions. It is equally clear that the German artillery failed to keep pace with the subsequent advance, nor did it come forward rapidly enough to assist substantially in the reduction of those American points of resistance which had been left in the rear of attacking echelons. The relative immobility of corps and army artillery may be ascribed to bad roads, the lack of heavy, fully tracked artillery prime movers, and traffic congestion. The road jam at the Our bridges delayed the forward displacement of the LVIII Panzer Corps artillery until 19 December, and then only a few batteries crossed the river. The switch southward of the Sixth Panzer Army's main effort on 17 December blocked the roads on which Manteuffel was moving the Fifth Panzer artillery. The artillery corps attached to the II SS Panzer Corps took five days to reach firing positions east of Butgenbach, just to the rear of the original American line.


All these delays had a mirror-image in the transport of ammunition. This resulted in an early decision by the artillery officers of the three armies to leave about half of the guns and Werfers behind. Werfer battalions and brigades were not moved up to share in the battle until the end of December, and only a few reached the front lines. In the main the German assault infantry were forced to rely on the fire support given by tanks and assault guns, rather than massed artillery fire. There were exceptions, however, and by dint of great effort the Germans occasionally were able to create artillery groupments which, following the practice learned on the Eastern Front, became artillery "centers of gravity." This was done by the Seventh Army commander in an attempt to get his flank moving on 19 and 20 December, and a similar groupment was prepared by Model and Manteuffel to pave the way for the Bastogne counterattacks at the close of December.


Throughout the exploitation and stabilization phase of the German offensive the Americans enjoyed an immense superiority in the artillery arm. This was not true, however, during the first hours of the German attack to rupture the American defenses. On 16 December the VIII Corps artillery was caught off balance, since eight of its nine battalions