The 110th Holds in the Ardennes...

...the Blunting of Hitler's Last Gamble and the Invasion of the Reich, from Fonthill Media

Title: The 110th Holds in the Ardennes
Author: Walter S. Zapotoczny Jr.

Publisher: Fonthill Media
ISBN: 978-1-78155-605-4


For WW2 historians and modellers, the Battle of the Bulge, the final throw of the dice for the German Army on the Western Front remains a fascinating topic.  There are plenty of books out there which deal with the subject, but perhaps there is something of a concentration on the story of the US 101st Airborne Division, and their defence of the besieged town of Bastogne.  They were trucked in to provide reinforcements once the offensive had been launched.  However, despite stories of the collapse of some US units in the face of the unexpected German offensive, this book details the vital work of the 110th Infantry Regiment, part of the US 28th Infantry Division, who managed to delay the powerful German units which assaulted them in the first 2/3 days of the offensive.  By fighting their vital defensive actions it delayed the German units enough to allow for the US to bring in reinforcements and ultimately prevent the success of the German plan to break through between the British and American armies, and to push through to the coastal port of Antwerp.

The thing I like about this is the way the author has combined elements from other sources within his own so get the balance of the story.  He has combined content from After Action Reports along with excerpts from organisations such as the US Army Centre of Military History and the Luxemburg based Study Group on the Battle of the Bulge (CEBA).  The 19 chapters start by setting the scene of both Allied and German situations as 1944 was coming to a close, the German plan for their offensive, the situation of the US 28th Infantry Division prior to the offensive and a look at the opposing troop strengths and weapons.  It goes on to tell the chronological story of these vital opening days.  These include the fall of Weiler and Wahlhausen, and fighting around Hosingen and the German drive for Clervaux via Marnach and Munchausen.  Then there is the fall of Consthum and the threat to the 28th Divisional Headquarters at Clervaux.  These are followed by some of the After Action reports and a battle diary kept by a Staff Officer of the 110th.  The closing Epilogue summarises the story quite neatly.  This was a US unit which had been sent to the Ardennes for a 'rest' in what was thought to be a quiet area of the line after significant losses during the fighting of the Hurtgen Forest and covering an extended frontage.  Not a continual line but a series of strongpoints along a ridge which were (thankfully) set for all round defence.  The 110th was a mix of experienced troops as well as newly arrived replacements for their earlier losses.  To add to all this, a series of Appendices also hold some useful reference data.

This makes for an interesting read of what it was like for troops on both sides, as well as the civilians caught up the middle of it all.  It is also an insight into a situation where despite being in a desperate situation, suffering losses and fighting until ammunition ran out and then trying to evade capture.  Not a glamorous situation to describe, but one which did prove vital to the blunting of this significant German offensive late on in the war.