The War Illustrated No 193 Vol 8 November 10th 1944

HOLLAND' ^Julich Duren ^Maastricht .•/Aachen, BELGIUM Eupen Miles THRUST TOWARDS THE MAAS at Venlo THE BATTLEFRONTS by Maj.-Gen. Sir Charles Gwynn, K.C.B., D.S.O, Information that has now been released concerning all the measures that the Navy had to take to ensure the build­up o f the Armies and their supplies in Nor­ mandy should finally convince everyone that there was no avoidable delay in launching major offensive operations. It should also fargo to explain the nature o f the operations on the whole Allied front since determined enemy resistance was encountered. The ports available, whether improvised or under restoration, have still only a limited capacity which may further be greatly reduced by bad weather. Lines of communication have been immensely lengthened and the number o f troops engaged greatly increased, not only in the fighting line but on rearward service o fall kinds. French railways at best are working far below their normal capacity, so that practi­cally all movement o f stores, not only those required for day-to-day expenditure, but also those needed to buildup adequate reserves in forward areas before embarking on continuous offensive operations, must be moved byroad. In Normandy the fighting line and all depots were within short dis­tances o f ports o f disembarkation, and probably the main difficulty there was to avoid congestion o f roads but now length o f haulage has become the main factor in causing delay. It is not therefore surprising that the chief immediate object is to open access to the great Porto f Antwerp which so astonishingly fell into our hands intact. 'T'he partial lull which has occurred has, o f course, given the Germans opportunity to reorganize and restore morale after their shattering defeat, but the respite they have gained has been far from complete. Witness the number o f costly, and generally in­effective, counter-attacks they have been compelled to deliver to maintain their de­fensive positions, and the sacrifice o f suicide detachments they have had to make in order to deny us the use o f some ports for a time. When General Eisenhower decides that he is ready to renew the offensive on a maximum scale we can, I think, count with some confidence that he will find that the newly-formed crust o f German resistance will in places have been worn thin, even if we leave out o f account the effects o f the intensified air offensive which has been in progress. How soon General Eisenhower will be ready to strike we have no means of judging, but if he considers the opening o f Antwerp an essential factor we must reconcile our­ selves to further delays, for it is certain that the Germans will fight to the last to deny us the use o f this port. RUSSIA During the lull on the western front the Russians have made great progress in preparing the way for the great offensive which at the time o f writing seems actually to have started. With the loyal co-operation o f the Finns they have left R endulic’s depleted army no alternative but along and difficult retreat to Norway. The capture o f Petsam o, moreover, has deprived the Germans of their main source o f nickel supplies, while with the closing of the Gulf o f B othnia they will obtain little iron ore from Sweden. The German armies in the Baltic States, after costly attempts to break south to East Prussia through B agram yan's encircling force, and failure to carryout an evacuation through Riga, have been driven into the western corner o f Latvia, where they are no longer a menace to C herniakovsky’s army attacking East Prussia. Some part may escape through the ports of Libau Wand indau, but they will have to run the gauntlet of Red Air Force attacks, and it is unlikely that they will contribute a substantial reinforce­ment to German reserves. South of the Carpathians the German situation is even worse. M alinovsky's of­fensive through Rumania has penetrated far into the Hungarian plain and is approaching Budapest. His right wing threatens the retreat o f substantial German and Hun­garian *forces belatedly withdrawing from northern Transylvania. General P etrov’s Army, advancing through the northern Carpathian passes on a wide front is almost in contact with M alinovsky’s right, and anew German disaster seems to be in the mak­ing. Horthy attempt’s to surrender has apparently been frustrated, but its effects on the Hungarian Army will not so easily be eliminated. Even if they continue to fight, troops that have once been ordered to lay down their arm scan no longer be reliable, and Petrov’s rapid advance across the Car­pathians has almost certainly been assisted by Hungarian defections. BALKANS M alinovsky’s left wing co-operating with Marshal Tito ’s forces and receiving sonic assistance from Bulgarian troops has also had remark­ able successes which place the Germans, now in full retreat from Greece and southern Yugoslavia, in a desperate situation. The capture o f Nish closed their mainline o f retreat, and the alternative route through Skoplje is long and difficult, passing through country swarming with Tito ’s-partisans. To make matters worse the Germans in northern Yugoslavia, who might have kept retreat routes open, have been roughly handled. ’Several considerable groups have been sur­rounded and annihilated, and those that attempted to hold Belgrade, after a suicidal struggle, shared the same fate. Here again the chances that German reserves will be reinforced by the armies retreating from the Balkans are almost negligible, and Kessel- ring ’s chances o f withdrawing successfully from Italy at his chosen moment are also sttfidily diminishing. j The whole German south-eastern front covering Austria and southern Germany is therefore desperately exposed, and should there be any considerable defection of Hun­garian troops Malinovsky may achieve decisive results, provided always that his communications are good enough to maintain the momentum of his advance. If Rumanian H.M. THE KING returned to London on Oct. 16,1944. after a five-day tour in Holland and Belgium. He is here seen in a caravan close to the enemy lines, discussing the campaign with Field-Marshal Montgomery. Photo, Newspaper Pool PAGE 387 (indicated by arrow) by troops of the British 2nd Army developed on the fall of Venray and Overbroek on Oct. 18,1944. Map shov/s the Allied online Oct. 20. B y courtesy o f News Chronicle railways are in reasonable working order and an adequate supply o f rolling stock is avail­able they may greatly ease supply problems, therefor will be no break o f gauge to compli­cate matters. It is obvious that the Ger­ mans, with the main Russian inoffensive East Prussia and Poland in progress cannot afford to transfer troops from the north in any number to buttress their southern front even less can they afford to denude their western front, already dangerously weak. nriMtNG o f the Russian successive often' sives has again been admirable, and there has again been a notable display of patience in Russian strategy, especially so in their northern Carpathian operations, it maybe remembered that when Z h u k o v’s inoffensive the early spring this year almost reached the crest o f the passes there was something approaching general expectation that an invasion o f the Hungarian plain was imminent. At the time I can remember expressing the opposite view, that Zhukov for the time being would do moreno than establish a footing in the passes and use the mountains as a defensive (lank for his west­ward operations for it seemed clear that to enter Hungary without a co-operative attack in the south would be to invite a crushing counter-attack on emergence into the plain. M alinovsky’s offensive has supplied the co-operative factor, providing the oppor­tunity for P etrov's advance at the time when it was likely to be most effective but it meant months o f patient waiting. An army that holds the initiative can afford to wait to ensure the timing of its blows but for an army that is on the defensive, as the Reichsw ehr is, waiting leads often, as we liave seen, to belated deacons.
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