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the supply officers at OKW were able to say that before the U.S. counterattack on 3 January 1945 there was no shortage of artillery ammunition in the field. This statement merely reflects the rarefied and isolated view of the high headquarters, for despite the 100 ammunition trains of the special Fuehrer Reserve the troops in the Ardennes operation did suffer from a shortage of ammunition. [9] This shortage was reported as early as 21 December by the divisions attacking at Bastogne. Thereafter, as the American front solidified, the Germans consumed ammunition at a rate of 1,200 tons per day, a rate much higher than predicted by the OKW planning staffs but less than the tactical requirements of the battle. The lack of ammunition should be charged to transport failure rather than to paucity of artillery shells at the Rhine dumps. The Panzer Lehr Division, for example, first reported that it had run out of gas, then on 28 December reported a shortage of ammunition because of the "lack of transport."


The American troops, by contrast, never suffered any notable failure of ammunition at the guns. In fact, the only munitions which appear to have been in short supply during the German offensive were antitank mines and bazooka rounds. The demand for these items and rifle and machine gun ammunition was constant, but the supply line was kept full by calling forward bazooka rockets and small arms ammunition from ships in the English Channel and North Sea. Also, the 12th Army Group had built up a very sizable reserve of artillery ammunition during the first half of December in preparation for the Roer River attacks. Most of the American ammunition stocks were put on wheels (trucks or railroad cars) after 19 December. The Third Army, for example, was able to move an average of 4,500 tons of ammunition per day during the last half of December and consumed, on the average, only 3,500 tons per day.


German tank losses during the operation are unknown but appear to have been very high, probably as much from mechanical failure as from battle damage. For the 1,700 to 1,800 tanks and assault guns in Army Group B, there were only six tank repair companies. Even worse was the shortage of tank retrievers, and, after 23 December, the few available were extremely hard hit by air attack. The spare parts situation was so bad that new German tanks were cannibalized at a depot west of Koblenz. Three hundred and forty new tanks were assigned to the Western Front during the campaign, but only 125 can be traced as actually reaching the armored divisions.


The First and Third U.S. Armies had a full complement of medium tanks when the Germans struck, that is, 1,882 between them. During the last half of December the two armies lost a total of 471 medium tanks. These losses were partially made up when 21 Army Group released 351 Shermans which had been allocated for British use. A few American ordnance companies were overrun in the first hours of the battle, but most of the tank maintenance person-


[9] This reserve was only fifty of the normal ammunition trains; each had been divided in two for protection against air attack. On 13 December the ammunition on hand and in shipment for Army Group B totaled 15,099 tons, but 5,353 tons were allocated to the Fifteenth Army, which did not, as planned. take Dart in the offensive.