Page 656

ed VT fuze in halting the German advance are grossly exaggerated. [4]

American records on the causes of combat wounds and deaths are woefully inadequate and German records for this period do not exist. In the Third Army it is reckoned-in a very broad manner-that during the period 1 August-31 November 1944 the causative agent for between 27 and 30 percent of the total wounded admitted to Army hospitals was the gunshot wound, while high explosive agents (artillery shell, mortar shell, bombs, mines, and the like) accounted for between 50 and 60 percent of the monthly rosters of wounded. During December these two causative agents respectively accounted for 25 percent and 60 percent of the wounded. There is no accurate accounting for the causative agent in the case of men killed in action.

The Artillery Arm in the Ardennes

The dramatic and successful offensive operations of the German Army in the early years of World War II had featured the extensive employment of assault aircraft to punch the holes through which the panzers poured. At the close of 1944 the Third Reich lacked the planes which once had provided the airborne "artillery" of blitzkrieg. So Hitler, the infantryman of World War I, turned to the time-tested tactic he knew, massive artillery preparation for the ground assault. In many ways the German use of the artillery arm on 16 December was a carbon copy of the artillery preparations for the great offensives in 1918. But there were some major differences. Intense counterbattery fire, a necessary feature of the artillery preparations in 1918, no longer was possible; Germany lacked the huge ammunition stocks required. Captive balloons and observation planes had directed the movement of artillery fire in 1918. These auxiliaries were missing in the Ardennes, and ground observation there normally favored the Americans. Ludendorff had been able to mass ninety heavy caliber guns per kilometer for the March offensive. Model would have fewer than twenty tubes for each kilometer of the assault front.

Hitler, looking back to 1918, had demanded a massive artillery preparation lasting for two or three hours, and this in full daylight. Probably at Manteuffel's instigation, he finally agreed that a short, sharp, predawn artillery preparation-of the sort conventionally practiced on the Eastern Front-would be used in the Ardennes. There seems to have been no gigantic, homogeneous artillery fire plan on 16 December, as had been the practice in 1918. In the Sixth Panzer Army a 30-minute preparation was fired on villages and deep assembly positions to the rear of the American line, and followed by unobserved area fire along the main line of resistance. The guns and Werfers in the Fifth Panzer Army fired forty rounds per tube in the first twenty minutes against predesignated targets, then commenced a rolling barrage, the old World

[4] As an example see Vannevar Bush, Modern Arms and Free Men (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1949): "The proximity fuze may well have saved Liege," p. 31. The conclusions reached in the text above are based on the rigorous analysis in Royce L. Thompson's Employment of VT Fuzes in the Ardennes Campaign (1950). MS in OCMH files.