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Arthur W. Tedder, Field Marshal Sir Bernard L. Montgomery, and Lt. Gen. Omar N. Bradley met at Maastricht to lay plans for future operations. There was general agreement that the Allies should launch an all-out offensive on the Western Front early in 1945 but considerable variance between the views of Eisenhower and Montgomery as to the future scheme of maneuver and disposition of forces. Montgomery held, as he had since September, for a single strong thrust across the Rhine north of the Ruhr and the restriction of all other operations to containing actions by limited forces. Eisenhower agreed with the proposal for a main attack north of the Ruhr by Montgomery's 21 Army Group and was prepared to give the field marshal the U.S. Ninth Army. But he was unwilling to abandon his oft-expressed concept of the one-two punch with Patton's Third Army swinging a secondary blow toward the Frankfurt Gate.

After the Maastricht meeting, Eisenhower set plans in motion to continue pressure on the enemy and chew up as many German divisions as possible before the main offensive in the north. To accomplish this the Supreme Commander gave permission for the Third Army to mount an offensive along the Saar front on 19 December and directed Lt. Gen. Jacob L. Devers, the 6th Army Group commander, to support the drive with elements of the Seventh Army. In the meantime these two armies continued heavy local attacks, Patton driving on Saarlautern while Lt. Gen Alexander M. Patch's Seventh Army turned north into the Saverne Gap.

At the opposite end of the long Allied line, Montgomery gave orders in early December for the British Second Army to "tidy up" the 21 Army Group position on the Meuse with an attack calculated to erase the Heinsberg salient. This operation was flooded out, however, and on 16 December advance parties were moving north as the first step in a major shift to the left preparatory to the attack toward Krefeld and the Ruhr, now tentatively scheduled for the second week in January. South of 21 Army Group Lt. Gen. William H. Simpson's U.S. Ninth Army liquidated the remaining enemy forces in the Julich sector and by 14 December had closed along the Roer River. Lt. Gen. Courtney H. Hodges' First Army, to the right of the Ninth, also had reached the Roer, after the bloody Hurtgen battle, but could not risk a crossing attack while the Germans held the Urft-Roer dams. A series of air attacks was launched early in December to breach the dams and remove the threat of enemy-controlled floods, but with so little success that the deal passed to the First Army. [7] Bradley ordered Hodges to seize the Schwammenauel and the Urftalsperre, the key points in the Roer valley system of dams, and on 13 December the First Army commander put the V Corps, his center, into an attack toward the dams. His northernmost corps, VII Corps, was assigned a support role in this attack and would attain its limited objectives by 16 December.

The mission and deployment of Maj. Gen. Leonard T. Gerow's V Corps later

[6] Forrest C. Pogue, The Supreme Command, UNITED STATES ARMY IN WORLD WAR II (Washington, 1954). p. 316.

[7] See MacDonald, The Siegfried Lire Campaign, pp. 597-98.