World War II, Volume 6

1 A column halts during the push into the snowy forests of the Jura. Next page: Into the French Alps. A n American Hellcat gun motor carriage takes position in a village. tion of a 12-mile anti-tank ditch this would have constituted a formidable obstacle to the French 1st Army if General deL attre had deferred the date of his offensive giving the enemy time to mine it and man its defensive positions. The attack got underway on November 14 in conditions of sleet and serious losses were sustained in the minefields. I Corps got a foothold in the enemy posi­tions but was unable to breakthrough. Two factors favoured the French how­ever: Lieutenant-G eneral Oschmann, commanding the 338th Division was killed by a patrol from the 2nd Moroccan Division near the Besangon-M ontbe- liard road and his aide-de-camps brief­case yielded a plan of the division’s positions in addition to copies of several orders. Also it would appear that for 48 hours General W ieses H.Q. minimised the gravity of the French offensive. At all events on November 16 the 19th Army received order from Army Group ”to"G fallback onto the Belfort-D elle positions. But its LXIV Corps was so enfeebled th a tits rearguard was over­taken and mauled by the enemy. The main action took place the following day. On the evening of November 17 the 4th Combat Command (Colonel Schlesser), having adroitly managed to conceal its movement forward from the enemy took the bridges over the Luzine at Mont- beliard by surprise and opened the way for the 2nd Moroccan Division. Near the Swiss frontier the 9th Division broke through the scanty line of the German 338th Division enabling B ethouart to unleash the 1st Armoured Division (General du Vigier). Leaping at the chance deL attre the same evening issued a "general order to exploit the situation in full” :he issued simultaneous orders Ito Corps to head for the Rhine (1st Armoured Division), to reduce the fortress of Belfort (2nd Moroccan Division) and to reincorporate A General Guillaum e s Algerians kept up the pressure on the front of II Corps. 2105
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