The Battle Plan was 1: Dramatically reduce this Siegfried line Fortress's defensive capability by heavy bombardment. 2: Blind the defenders and limit their mobility. 3:Employ tactical airpower through the P-47 "Jugs" to blind the defenders and eliminate defensive positions not destroyed in the bombardment. 4: Smoke them out into the open or kill them from the outside.
Obtaining good information through preliminary reconnaissance played a big role in the successful assault. Much attention was paid to detail. These two examples, among many, identify the danger in reconnaissance and the importance of boldness.
During one such preliminary recon night patrol, a volunteer squad led by Sgt. Donald Harris determined the extent of the wire obstacles in his Battalions zone of attack. The information was so accurate, the engineers of the 63rd were able to remove them, without difficulty, and the Battalions advance was expedited. In another recon patrol, Lt. Cecil Hunt, reconnoitered the area around Bunker 5, cutting a path through barbed wire, then bravely climbed onto the fort itself to study apertures to determine type of weapon likely to be encountered, right under the noses of the unsuspecting Germans. This detailed information was valuable in planning for the attack.
Timing was key. The American battle plan intelligently dealt with the murderous overlapping firepower of the entire Ensemble de Bitche fortress. This involved a simultaneous attack of all the forts at Bitche. This way, Fortress Simserhof must defend itself without supporting artillery barrages from other Maginot forts. The men of the U.S. 100th Division simultaneously stormed Fort Schiesseck and aided the 'boots' of the 44th and vise versa. The Germans did not employ this tactic in 1940 and paid the price. The potential for German counter-attacks to the flanks were mitigated through simultaneous flanking operations by the 324th Regiment and other U.S. units. Mobile German armor units, supported by capable German artillery units, presented another considerable threat to 71st Regiment. In 1940, the Germans had no such threat. The French defenders were isolated, cut-off from other French units and had no counter-attacking capabilities.
Source: "When Odds were Even", Keith Bonn, page 168- 170
|Observation Tower Bunker Five: 1944 and 60 Years Later|
|Hand drawn recon map (above) |
|Current photograph of Fort Four facing east (below)|