World War II, Volume 6

W How the Allies cleared Alsace and Lorraine. By the last week of 1944 they had closed up to the Franco-German frontier-bu t the Germans on Hitlers orders continued to hold on in the Colmar pocket. A General Bethouart commanded I Corps in de Lattre s army. roads eastwards out of the Belfort gap and simultaneously storming the fortress town. In the event of success II Corps would join battle its objective being the Rhine between Huningue and Neuf-Bri- sach and the line linking N euf-Brisach- Colm ar-Ribeauville. General Devers, whose intention was to push his 7th Army onwards from Saverne to Strasbourg, fully approved the plan drawn up by his immediate subordinate and allocated him a battalion each of 203-mm guns and 240-mm howitzers in addition to other weapons. General B ethouarts first line troops consisted of the 9th Colonial Division (General M agnan) which reinforced by a Combat Command of the 1st Armoured Division was to attack between the Swiss frontier and the Doubs (it should be remarked th a this Senegalese troops were relieved by Zouaves and Moroccan light infantry and F.F.I. French Resistance forces recruited in the area) also of the 2nd Moroccan Division which was given M ontbeliard Hericourt and Belfort as objectives. The main action would devolve on this latter division so it was given two Combat Commands, from the 5th Armoured Division. On the enemy side LXIV Corps (General Schalk) was deployed on a 30- mile front. On the left was the 338th Division with its back to the Swiss frontier on the right the 159th barring the Belfort direction. These were divi­sions of poor-quality infantry mainly composed from heterogeneous elements and of differing morale (there was even one deaf battalion). They were covered by deep dense anti­tank minefields whose clearance proved to be particularly hazardous as they were protected by a fearsome array of anti­personnel devices and explosive traps. Requisitioned workers from occupied France-from the Delle district of Bel­ fort-com pleted the main construc­ 2104
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