The Allied logistical situation was also a major factor in Eisenhower's future plans. To support Montgomery's offensive, the supreme commander had directed that it receive logistical priority. Indeed, Eisenhower had approved the immobilization of three U.S. Infantry divisions, newly arrived in Normandy, sending their trucks to support MARKET-GARDEN. As a result, the 12th Army Group had been fighting "with a halter around their necks in the way of supplies." For Eisenhower, the inadequacy of the Allied support structure, caused mainly by the lack of suitable ports, now became the overriding operational consideration. The fact that Brest, captured by the VIII Corps of the Ninth Army on 18 September, was utterly destroyed and unusable only heightened his anxiety over opening Antwerp. Consequently, following the failure of the drive towards Arnhem, he ordered Montgomery to make the capture of Antwerp his first priority. Finally, the surprising speed and strength of the German response to MARKET-GARDEN showed that there were "no signs of collapse in morale or in the will to defend Germany." Clearly, the Wehrmacht was not defeated, and the Allies faced the prospect of more hard campaigning.
While Montgomery made the main effort in the north, Bradley and Devers did what they could with their limited logistical support. In the 12th Army Group sector, Hodges' First Army continued to move slowly toward the German border. Simpson's Ninth Army, after reducing Brest, moved into the line between the First and Third Armies. Patton's Third Army, although constrained by critical fuel shortages, conducted operations as best it could in Lorraine, while containing a major German counterattack in the Luneville-Nancy area from 18-29 September. In the south, Devers' 6th Army Group, with its own lines of communication from Marseille, continued its advance toward Mulhouse and Strasbourg through increasingly difficult terrain.
October 1944 marked the beginning of a bitter war of attrition that would characterize the fighting in Europe over the coming months. By mid-October, Montgomery had begun in earnest the task of clearing the Schelde estuary, giving the mission to the Canadian First Army. The Germans, fully realizing the importance of Antwerp to the Allies, began bombarding the city with V-l and V-2 rockets. On the ground, the Wehrmacht fought tenaciously, particularly on the South Beveland Peninsula and Walcheren Island, holding out until 3 November. At the conclusion of the fight, the Allies had suffered nearly 13,000 casualties, while some 40,000 Germans became prisoners of war. Still, extensive mining of the approaches to Antwerp and attacks by German E-boats and submarines on Allied shipping prevented the port's use until 28 November, further inhibiting Allied efforts to improve their logistical situation.
To Montgomery's south, Bradley focused on taking Aachen and reducing the fortifications at Metz. On 29 September, the First Army began an offensive with the ultimate objective of taking Dueren and Cologne. Athwart the First Army axis lay the city of Aachen. Hodges, concerned that he had insufficient forces to drive to the Rhine while simultaneously containing the German garrison in Aachen, ordered the seizure of the city. Aachen held great symbolic importance in the Nazi ideology. Birthplace of Charlemagne, it evoked memories of the glories of the Holy Roman Empire and had captured Hitler's imagination. "The city," the Fuerher ordered, "must be held at all costs."Page 6 (The Rhineland)