There is a cast plaque outside Bastogne that makes this claim. The 4th AD, spearheading Patton's Third Army, attacked the Germans at Bastogne and, on 26 December, was the first unit (Company C, 37th Tank Battalion led the 4th Armored Division column that relieved Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge) [8] to break through at Bastogne and relieve the besieged 101st Airborne Division. Cobra King was first used in combat in 1944. It happened just after the Battle of the Bulge. They had seen some strange sights–so strange that they had a difficult time explaining it all to the rest of us. If he had not been recalled by divisional headquarters, Ezell and his men might have been trapped in Bastogne along with Colonel Roberts’ combat command of the 10th Armored. After jumping out of his jeep, he worked his way along the entire length of the small town. The previous day I had been told that a move was imminent and to have my troops ready to move on short notice. The armored division, according to Middleton, later achieved “some limited success,” but ultimately its commanding general had to be relieved. This division was seriously weakened during the fighting in Lorraine. Two days after the Germans launched their Ardennes Offensive, the 4th AD entered the fight (18 December 1944), racing northwest into Belgium, covering 150 miles in 19 hours. Middleton finally agreed not to commit the entire combat command, but only after Dager conceded that he would send a task force instead. Members of C Company, 9th Engineers , conduct a memorial service for those killed during the siege, 22 January 1945. It took five days of bitter fighting to relieve the 101st in Bastogne, but by December 28 the area had been cleared of the enemy, and all of our positions had been consolidated. I was also informed that during the previous night and early that morning very strong German forces had driven west and flanked the city of Bastogne on the north and south. Remarkably, we had traveled 161 miles over roads that were sometimes bad–without maps and without confusion. Arrangements were made for a simple code to indicate, via a brief telephone call, which operation would be implemented. Of all the U.S. soldiers charged with desertion during World War II, only one was executed–Private Edward “Eddie” Donald Slovik. It left Pine Camp for Camp Forrest for the Tennessee maneuvers in the Cumberland Mountains held in September and October. Seven hours after it set out for Bastogne, Ezell’s task force returned to our bivouac area with many more vehicles than it had when it pulled out. Even if the Germans had cut the Neufchâteau/Bastogne highway, the Fourth Armored Division might have capitalized on the location of CCB and attacked from Vaux-les-Rosières instead of from Arlon. Basil Henry Liddell Hart, once referred to General Wood as "the Rommel of the American armored forces." In fact, during that earlier movement into the town, those forces had come within one kilometer of the same spot to which they would return six days later, after heavy fighting. CCR, the last to head north to the Ardennes, was at that point, made up of the 37th Tank Battalion and the 704th TD. *After moving into Bastogne, why was Task Force Ezell immediately and summarily recalled, especially considering that General Middleton had argued strongly for its presence there? General Milliken also knew that the key to his III Corps three-division attack was having the 4th Armored at full strength. *Should commanders at higher levels have exploited Task Force Ezell’s rapid progress to Bastogne once they knew the unit had entered the town without a fight and returned? And should General Middleton have been allowed to hold onto CCB and use it to try to keep the Neufchâteau­Bastogne highway open, possibly preventing the encirclement of Bastogne? He was jolly, animated and interested in how we were doing. I continued with my preparations for the move the next day to the east, as well as the subsequent attack into Germany, by sending billeting parties forward to obtain billets for the battalion to occupy at the end of the march to the border. When I told him to return, Ezell was dumbfounded. He was completely unaware that CCB was then on its way toward Bastogne. "The 4th Armored: From the Beach to Bastogne" is a small booklet covering the history of the 4th Armored Division. The 37th moved out in a feathery snowfall at 0600 hours on 22 December 1944, attacking northward against German airborne troops. New York, New York: Galahad Books World War II Order of Battle p52, The Armored Sentinel, Fort Hood, Texas, 15 April 1954, 4th Armored Division Yearbook 1958 via usarmygermany.com, Army Battle Casualties and Nonbattle Deaths, Final Report (Statistical and Accounting Branch, Office of the Adjutant General, 1 June 1953), Learn how and when to remove this template message, http://www.history.army.mil/html/forcestruc/cbtchron/adcomp.html, http://www.history.army.mil/documents/ETO-OB/4AD-ETO.htm. At 10:45 a.m. on the 18th, CCB was placed on a one-hour alert. Patton chose as his ultimate course of action a well-planned, well-coordinated, orderly attack toward a known, specific objective. Combat Command "A" (CCA) would be the next to move out, nine hours behind CCB and along the same road. Our tank guns were still pointed to the north, and now, for the first time in the war, we were in Belgium. Other Third Army units which were trapped with … I protested vehemently, reminding him that the situation up ahead was unclear, terribly confused, and that this was no time for a piecemeal commitment of my forces. *Why did General Middleton of VIII Corps seem to exert ‘ownership’ of CCB? As events later developed, CCB shouldered an extremely heavy share of the 4th Armored’s fight at Bastogne. The 4th Armored Division was an armored division of the United States Army that earned distinction while spearheading General Patton's Third Army in the European theater of World War II. 4th Armored Division spearheaded Third Army and 25th Cav was out ahead of 4th Armored Division. For more great articles subscribe to World War II magazine today! On the 21st, I received my orders from General Dager at CCB headquarters for the attack that would take place the following day. [18] Combat Command "C" was at McKee Barracks, Crailsheim. The radical change in mission, the confusion that had preceded it, the lack of information, the uncertainty, the hasty departure in the pitch-dark and the highly unusual timing of the move–50 minutes after midnight–all combined to indicate we were involved in something serious. Although I was a participant in much that happened, I still find it a strange and fascinating tale. Early the next morning, December 20, I was, figuratively speaking, hit by a thunderbolt. Among the most famous members of the 4th AD during World War II was Creighton Abrams, who commanded the 37th Tank Battalion. We soon learned that the 8th Tank Battalion was the only battalion in the division that he visited. We moved out of Léglise at 4:30 the next morning–the 22nd–so as to arrive at the IP at 6. Undeterred by the panic around him, he kept his eye on the ball. Many of the men were exhausted, but as soon as we reached our position we sent forward some strong patrols of light tanks and armored infantry to detect any enemy movement from the north. Like Rommel, Wood commanded from the front, and preferred staying on the offensive, using speed and envelopment tactics to confuse the enemy. He had done what he had promised his commanders he would do. You and the officers and men of your command are hereby commended for a superior performance. Ironically, the battle at Chaumont was fought just four kilometers east of the quiet bivouac area we had occupied at Nives just three days earlier. The 51st Armored Infantry Battalion established dug-in gun positions about 800 yards from the pavement and along the woods. Combat Command A of the Fourth Armored Division began the morning facing east in defense of the newly-opened N4 highway that connects Bastogne to Arlon. Some of the vehicles were still idling. CCB’s orders were to move to an area in the vicinity of Longwy, France, many miles to the north. However, subsequent events lead easily to certain assumptions. I immediately called Ezell, whose radio operator told me that he was out talking to a colonel. However, their unofficial nickname "Name Enough" came into use postwar; the division commander having said, "Fourth Armored Division was name enough"; "They shall be known by their deeds alone." The move to the rest area was not only welcome and richly deserved but necessary. There is considerable speculation and some difference of opinion about what actually took place during their meeting. It was knocked out during fighting in France during November 1944, and later repaired and re-issued. General Gaffey must have wanted his combat command returned. On top of that we had absolutely no idea of what lay ahead, and we were expecting to be fired on by the enemy at any moment. Only later did we learn why CCB had gone where it did and when it did. Two other Third Army divisions, the 4th and 5th Infantry Divisions, were disclosed to be fighting the Germans in the … Middleton wanted to avoid more of the same. With the encirclement broken, the men of the 101st expected to be relieved, but were given orders to resume the offensive. His visits were brief, and he kept moving. Major General Archibald R. Kennedy commanded the division after the war. Activated 15 Apr 41 Arrived ETO 8 Jan 44 Arrived Continent (D/37) 13 Jul 44 Entered Combat: First Element 17 Jul 44 Entire Division 28 Jul 44 Days in Combat 230 December 28, 1944. But then our spirits were dashed. 44th Armored Infantry soldiers and 6th Armored Division tanks near Bastogne, 31 December 1944 General Patton 's jeep in Bastogne, 1 January 1945. On 19-20 December 1944, 4th Armored Division began moving north towards Belgium. The 26th Infantry Division would move on December 20 to the vicinity of Arlon, with advance detachments starting at once. The task force then came upon another strange sight–about two battalions of U.S. artillery stopped along the road. It did not have any significant impact on any campaign. Troy H. Middleton of the VIII Corps. Since the Combat Command had not been engaged, I withdrew it to Arlon [not Arlon but Léglise].’, Historian Martin Blumenson, in the second volume of The Patton Papers, quotes from General Patton’s diary entry of the same day, December 20: ‘In the morning I drove to Luxembourg, arriving at 0900. All agreed that there should be a counterattack at the earliest possible moment. It clarifies how the counterattack was planned and provides some fascinating sidelights on the men who made the decisions and brought about the dramatic linkup at Bastogne. Just before dark on the day after Christmas 1944, elementsof Lieutenant General George S. Patton, Jr.’s 4th Armored Division, attacking from the south, succeeded in making contact with the beleaguered Americans at Bastogne. The dramatic linkup of the two forces broke the siege of Bastogne and was one of the great turning points in the Battle of the Bulge. Patton used the veteran 4th Armored Division and units of the 80th and 26th Infantry Divisions to smash the encirclement of Bastogne. In sharing my own experience and research, my goal has been to shed a little light on an obscure, yet telling, incident that had formerly been shrouded by the fog of war. Amazingly, the combat command had but one map, and that was with General Dager. At 2 p.m., CCB was reassigned to III Corps with the rest of the division. But to be completely without maps was a new experience. Much later that same day he issued the order that got CCB moving just after midnight. Once the column was on the road, we rolled mile after mile into the unknown. He jumped off from ground that was firmly in his hands. The 4th AD was reactivated on 15 June 1954 at Fort Hood in Killeen, Texas with the name 4th Armored "Breakthrough" Division[17] ("Breakthrough" was discontinued some years afterwards) and was deployed to West Germany in 1957 with headquarters at Cooke Barracks in Göppingen. If he had not protested, CCB probably would have been in Bastogne before Patton was aware that it had been given away by Bradley. I could not help but think about what could have happened. But the top of his head had been blown off above the eyes, apparently by an armor-piercing round. Patton’s counteroffensive not only broke the ring enclosing Bastogne but also destroyed a portion of the German penetrating force, eliminating hundreds of enemy vehicles and thousands of troops. The 4th Armored Division was activated during World War II on 15 April 1941 with 3,800 men (10,000 by the end of May 1941) from various other units, at Pine Camp (Camp Drum, 1951; Fort Drum, 1974), New York under its first Commanding General, Brigadier General Henry W. Baird. www.dday-overlord.com La 4e Division Blindée le 24 novembre 1944. Patton’s decision was revealed when Task Force Ezell was ordered out of Bastogne shortly after noon and CCB was directed to move to the rear, which it began to do by midafternoon. On 23 December, the 37th Tank Battalion knocked out a German operated Sherman tank and two 75mm SPs near Begonville. Gen. Anthony C. McAuliffe, commander of the 101st Airborne Division, learn about the situation in Bastogne, receive instructions and render support if so ordered. During our rapid movements across France that summer and autumn, we occasionally had to rely on Michelin road maps for direction. Moving a little farther down the road beyond the ditched truck, the troops noticed tank tracks running across the asphalt pavement. Most important, there had been no enemy contact. After maintaining a defensive line, Chambrey to Xanrey to Hénaménil, from 27 September to 11 October, the 4th AD rested briefly before returning to combat 9 November with an attack in the vicinity of Viviers. Pursuit of the enemy continued, and by 6 May the division had crossed into Czechoslovakia and established a bridgehead across the Otava River at Strakonice, with forwarding elements at Pisek. But finding the answers to some of the more puzzling aspects of Ezell’s mission helps to enrich our understanding of the Battle of the Bulge. This legendary event has often been described in histories of World War II, but there is a fascinating subplot to the story that is little-known. Because of his rapidly organized and well-executed counterattack, he was able to snatch the momentum from the Germans and seize the initiative. After training in England from January to July 1944, the 4th Armored Division landed at Utah Beach, on 11 July, over a month after the initial Normandy landings, and first entered combat on 17 July; on 28 July, battle action as part of the VIII Corps exploitation force for Operation Cobra, the 4th AD secured the Coutances area. General Patton then drove to Arlon, to the headquarters of General Middleton’s troubled VIII Corps to get a firsthand picture of the situation in the Bulge. With a major attack coming up in just two days, he needed his division at full strength, and it would have been severely handicapped without CCB. The hours and miles passed, and Longwy loomed closer. Bessy Colman, first African American aviator. Neufchâteau, another milestone, came and went as we continued to roll, still without enemy contact. He said that he had just made the same arguments in a tug of war with Maj. Gen. Some of the division’s units remained in Germany and change to constabulary duties, while the remainder of the 4th Armored Division returned to Camp Kilmer, New Jersey where it was deactivated on 26 April 1946. The loss of a tank company, an armored infantry company and an artillery battery would have considerably weakened CCB. Lauterbach fell 29 March, Creuzburg across the Werra on 1 April, Gotha on 4 April – where the 4th AD liberated Ohrdruf concentration camp, the first Nazi camp liberated by U.S. Third Army relief force, the 4th Armored Division, broke through the German lines and opened a corridor to Bastogne, ending the siege. What really was disturbing was the realization that the encirclement had been taking place while Ezell’s group had been in Bastogne, and it had continued with unabated fury after the 8th Tank Battalion and CCB had left the area. The relief of Bastogne cost the 4th Armored Division about 1,000 men killed and wounded. But in 30 minutes or so, he had worked his magic–he had ‘touched’ virtually every man in that battalion. Abrams later rose to command all U.S. forces in South Vietnam during the Vietnam War and served as U.S. Army Chief of Staff in the 1970s. Joy Adamson, British author and naturalist (Born Free). The encircled 101st Airborne Division had occupied that critically vital Belgian town for several days, categorically refusing German demands for surrender. All of the above was done with the intent of CCB being attached to the 101st Airborne Division in support of an attack toward Noville (north of Bastogne) to be conducted the following day. The 4th Armored Division was activated during World War II on 15 April 1941 with 3,800 men (10,000 by the end of May 1941) from various other units, at Pine Camp (Camp Drum, 1951; Fort Drum, 1974), New York under its first Commanding General, Brigadier General Henry W. Baird. At 5 p.m. the one-hour alert was canceled. *If General Dager had not protested dividing his command, what might have happened to CCB if it had rolled into Bastogne as ordered, on the day when the enemy was very much on the move? Early that morning I was told to attend a meeting at division headquarters, but before I left for the meeting it was called off. I shouted, ‘Get him!’ I reached him not a moment too soon, for at that very instant Ezell had been receiving instructions for deployment from Colonel Roberts. The 37th became the spearhead of the 4th Armored Division's drive to relieve the paratroopers in Bastogne. It was time for refitting and rest so that the division would be better prepared to cross the border and continue its assault to the east. He was a master at this kind of rapprochement. Stories published by … It was not clear whether the artillery units had been attacked and their positions overrun, or if they had been spooked by the sight of German tanks crossing the road just to the north of them and had abandoned their guns and vehicles. "Order of Battle of the US Army - WWII - ETO - 4th Armored Division", "Longines Chronoscope with Gen. John S. Wood (2 April 1952)", https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=4th_Armored_Division_(United_States)&oldid=998387002, Armored divisions of the United States Army, United States Army divisions during World War II, Military units and formations established in 1941, Military units and formations disestablished in 1971, Articles with French-language sources (fr), Articles needing additional references from July 2012, All articles needing additional references, All Wikipedia articles written in American English, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License, "They shall be known by their deeds alone" (WWII), Headquarters & Headquarters Company, 4th Armored Division, Headquarters & Headquarters Company, Combat Command A, 25th Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron (Mechanized), Headquarters & Headquarters Battery, Division Artillery, Headquarters & Headquarters Company, Division Trains, Roosevelt's Butchers (by Nazi propagandists), French Croix de Guerre with Palm, World War II (MOSELLE RIVER, 12–29, September 1944; DA GO 43, 1950), This page was last edited on 5 January 2021, at 04:16. 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