areas to the north and south, the Eifel possessed a substantial, crisscross net of feeder lines. There was one main lateral line quite close to the front, that via Euskirchen-Kall-Ehrang-Trier. Until 16 December the main troop detraining points were Schleiden, Stadtkyll, Prum, Niederweiss, the west station at Trier, and Konz. In addition there were four chief areas for unloading supplies: Rheinbach, Mechernich, Muesch (near Ahrdorf), and Kall.
The amount of ammunition and POL required to support the attack imposed a severe load not only upon the dwindling German war economy but on the Eifel rail system as well. Hitler had allocated one hundred trains of ammunition to nourish the counteroffensive, this coming from the special Fuehrer Reserve. Over and above this special reserve, Generalmajor Alfred Toppe, the Oberquartermeister, figured on scraping together four units of what in German practice was considered a basic load. Of these units, one was allocated for the artillery barrage preparatory to the attack, one half would be used in breaking through the enemy main line of resistance, and one and a half would be fired to keep the offensive rolling. Toppe had planned to have two basic loads of ammunition in the hands of troops when the attack commenced and did deliver the loads as scheduled. However, he had not counted on the Allied attacks, furnishing only enough extra ammunition for the normal day-to-day battle in the west. By the second week of December the two basic loads had been whittled down to one and a half. Even so, on the last day reported-13 December-Army Group B had 15,099 tons of ammunition in its dumps. The heavy concentration of antiaircraft artillery scheduled to support the attack was better off than the ground gunners: the III Flak Corps, with 66 heavy and 74 medium and light batteries, had 7 basic loads of ammunition. In net, the Army Group B logisticians estimated the attack would average a daily ammunition consumption of about 1,200 tons. Needless to say this figure was based on a fast-moving exploitation once the breakthrough was accomplished.
Motor fuel, a notorious logistic problem in German armies at this stage of the war, was the greatest headache in the Western Front headquarters, particularly in the last days before the attack. The journals of OB WEST are jammed during this period with messages attempting to trace promised trainloads of POL. By 16 December, however, the quartermaster and rail systems had combined to put the promised 4,680,000 gallons in the hands of OB WEST, although perhaps half of this was in dumps back at the Rhine.
During the period 9 September-15 December the Seventh Army, or main, concentration area received 1,502 troop trains and approximately 500 supply trains, most of which were earmarked for the counteroffensive. The Eifel rail net in this time unloaded 144,735 tons of supplies. At some point the Eifel rail system would be saturated; this point was reached on 17 December when OB WEST was forced to detrain its incoming reserve divisions on the west bank of the Rhine, a factor of some significance in the ensuing history of the Ardennes battle.
With the Allies hammering at the Roer, pushing along the Saar, and converging on the Saverne Gap, the Arden-