Siegfried Line - "Operation Queen"

Our Timberwolf Tracks reminds us that the 104th had moved from Holland to Germany & relieved the 1st Div in the Aachen area. We became a part of the VII Corps (First Army) along with the 1st Inf Div, 4th Inf Div, 4th Cavalry Group & 3rd Armored Div. The 30th Inf Div (as part of the XIX Corps, 9th Army) was to our left. On 10 Nov, Gen Allen was visited by Gen Eisenhower (ETO Commander), Gen Bradley (12th Army Commander), & Lt Gen Collins (VII Corps Commander) - a lots of Big Brass! The VII Corps, with the Ninth Army to their north, others of the First Army, & the Third Army to the right was ordered to attack in the direction of Duren & Cologne - this to be preceded by a large-scale bombing by 2,400 U.S. & British bombers. Germany's "West Wall" (Siegfried Line) with roughly 1,000,000 of Hitlers troops stood in our way. The stage was set for Operation Queen!

Timberwolf Tracks states, "At 1105 (16 Nov) you heard distant continuous thunder like Niagara Falls - - This was the beginning of the biggest air assault of World War II. For over ninety minutes, 2,400 medium and heavy bombers passed over the front lines to bomb the strategic targets of Eschweiler, Duren, & Julich".

The official U.S. Army History "The Siegfried Line Campaign" by Charles MacDonald, (one of the Army's "Green Books") adds further details concerning this massive air assault, an important part of Operation Queen: "- - the bulk of the air effort was to be centered in front of the First Army's VII Corps" (our front). "Three divisions (more than 1200 planes) of Eighth Air Force" had two major target areas, "- - astride the projected route of the VII Corps main effort".

(Due to the disaster of close support bombing in Normandy, planned as 1,200 yards in front of assault troops, where 1,495 heavy bombers & 338 fighter-bombers dropped 4,790 tons of bombs, Operation Queen planned for the heavy bombers to drop their loads at a safer three mile distance). "An equal number of heavy bombers (more than 1200) from the Royal Air Force Bomber Command" was to attack in front of Ninth Army, to our north.

In total, Operation Queen had the following impressive number of planes in operation:

8th Air Force - 1200 heavy bombers Royal Air Force - 1200 heavy bombers

9th Air Force - 600 medium bombers, 800 fighters & 750 fighter-bombers.

"Thus, for Operation Queen, World War II's largest air attack in direct support of ground troops, the Allied air forces were to employ more than 4,500 planes, approximately half of them heavy bombers".

With this sensational crescendo, Operation Queen was underway as the 104th attacked toward the Donnersberg and Eschweiler woods against heavy opposition. The division fought the Battle of the Donnersberg 16-18 Nov 44 and then battled through the Eschweiler-Weisweiler industrial complex north of the Inde River 19-25 Nov, which was secured with the fall of Weisweiler after house-to-house fighting on the latter date. The division then mopped up and reached the Inde River 28 Nov and fighting the Battle of Lammersdorf 28-30 Nov and the Battle of Inden 28 Nov-2 Dec. On 1 Dec the 413th Inf was subjected to the heaviest concentration of enemy artillery yet encountered by the division as the rate of this devastating fire at times reached sixty rounds per minute. On the early morning of 2 Dec, the 413th Inf launched a renewed attack and by 1700 Inden was taken. The division crossed the Inde River at Lucherberg by surprise attack on 2 Dec and established a bridgehead which was subjected to strong German counterattacks 3-5 the 414th & 415th aggressively gained this important commanding ground. The division renewed its offensive 10 Dec to clear the west bank of the Roer, and the 414th Inf fought the Battle of Pier 10-12 Dec while the 415th Inf took Merken 11 Dec. The division reached the Roer River 13 Dec, and defended the Inden-Pier-Schophoven region until 24 Dec when it relieved and took over the 83rd Inf Div zone. It was engaged in defensive positions near Duren and Merken until 23 Feb 45.   

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