Battle of Metz

German Grenadier with Panzerschreck

German Grenadier with Panzerschreck

The Battle of Metz opposed the 1st Army General Knobelsdorff the 3rd Army of General Patton, from August 27 to 13 December 1944, during the Second World War.

Region Metz in Lorraine, was a land of battles between Allied and German forces during the Second World War. The battle took place in the region of Metz between Thionville north and Pont-à-Mousson in the south. The attack on the city by the Third Army U.S. met strong resistance from the German defense and ended in heavy losses for both parties. The city was taken on November 22, 1944, but some strong Metz did not surrender until December. The battle ended in victory for the Allies and the surrender of German forces in the area.

Background

On the eve of World War II, Metz is a walled city, situated between the rivers Moselle and Seille. In addition to the many recent works of the fortified region of Metz, belonging to the Maginot Line, the former German fortifications Moselstellung are still operational in 1939. Around the Messina city, the forts of Metz in particular form two fortified belts, apart from 3 to 10 km from the city center. These fortified perimeters are composed of eighteen forts or fortified groups of twenty infantry books, batteries and interconnected observation posts. But the city fell without a fight in the hands of German forces June 17, 1940 and the territory shortly after annexed to the Third Reich. The eyes of the Nazi dignitaries, there was no doubt that the city of Metz, who had given so many generals and officers in the army of the Third Reich was a German city. The German repression of the civilian population remained attached to France, will be only more brutal.

For annexation, the Wehrmacht did not consider the city of Metz as a strategic site and do not hesitate to reduce its defense system, disarming most forts around Metz. However, when the Allied forces begin to rise in France after the Normandy landings, Metz becomes an important strategic site for the German command, which begins to organize the defense of the city, to try to control the Allied advance. At the end of August 1944, the German forces momentarily succeed in controlling the Allied advance through defensive positions on the entire Western Front. An order of Hitler in March 1944 in order to effect commanders different strongholds of the Third Reich, as well as those of the Messina area, hold the positions until the end, without the express decision of the Führer. Commander Metz follows this order to the letter, from the beginning of September, 1944, against the advancing troops of the U.S. Army III E General George Patton. Before Verdun, the Third Army already a serious threat the defense of the region of Saarland, Germany. Hoping to gain time to strengthen the Western Front, the German command decided to stop the advance of Patton strengthening the strategic points of the front. Metz sector is the German army I re commanded by General Kurt von der Chevallerie​​. On 27 August 1944, the defense of Metz was entrusted to General Walter Krause.

July 1944

Despite a first meeting July 24, 1944 in the basement of the Kommandantur Metz on the initiative of General Schroth and von Poten, and a second meeting organized by SS Colonel Ernst Kemper July 27, 1944, the defense of Metz n ‘ is not on the agenda at Berlin. According to Kemper, the place de Metz was to be supplied for six weeks, and the civil power should hand over to the military authorities. The security police had also expel Francophile elements of the population, in order to avoid sabotage and treason. The German General Staff refused to assume the worst and believes that the Allied advance can still be contained on the Western Front. The proposals made by the commander of the city and Kemper, concerning the defense of Metz, are rejected.

Late July 1944, Metz is the rear base of: part of the staff of the Military Region XII or Wehrkreis XII, whose administrative headquarters in Wiesbaden, commanded by General der Infanterie Walter Schroth;

Staff of the 462nd Reserve Division, future 462. Volks-Grenadier-Division, under the command of Generalleutnant Krause since July 20, 1944;

Staff Command instead of Metz, headed by Generalmajor Ernst von Poten; school cadets of the Wehrmacht (Untersturmführer, Standarten-Oberjunker and Standarten-Junker), under the authority of SS Colonel Joachim von Siegroth; school students transmissions NCO SS, under the authority of SS Colonel Ernst Kemper; the staff of the health service Wehrkreis XII, since June 6, 1944; Staff of the repository back the territories of the West (since the end of 1942, the gasoline shortage forced the German army to ensure its service up by horse-drawn); the central staff services supply and stewardship; Staff general reserve service ammunition; Staff of the 4th Division of aerial hunting  of Luftflotte 3 of Generalfeldmarschall Hugo Sperrle; the General Staff of the airline industry Wehrkreis XII, based in Metz-Frescaty headed by Generalmajor Meier; Staff services war barracks and fortifications of Metz; Staff security services of Gau Westmark, including, besides the police and the Gestapo, a regiment of security under the orders of SS-Brigadeführer Anton Dunckern.

August 1944

The device of the German-based services will be held in Metz in place without significant changes until the end of August 1944. After landing in Provence on 15 August 1944, the situation quickly switches for the Allies on the Western Front. On 24 August, General Schroth is finally allowed to set alert the 462nd Infantry Division based in Metz, and parked between Metz and Luxembourg. Metz is supported by elements of the LXXXII. Armeekorps general infantry Johann Sinnhuber. As I re built the German army, LXXXII sentence. Armeekorps is a broad area, from’s Arnaville south of Metz, Montmédy. On 24 August 1944, the construction of a defense line in front of the Westwall ordered. The Weststellung based on fortifications located between Metz and Luxembourg. Civilians from areas occupied by the German army requisitioned under the supervision of Himmler. Defense work begins on August 25, 1944. Most civilians conscripted called Schanzarbeiter, dig into practice anti-tank ditches. On 27 August 1944, the division instruction becomes an Army division in the country, so a new fighting division. In the new 462nd Infantry-Division, Krause incorporates the 1888 cadets of the school of Metz (Fahnenjunkerschule VI) and 1500 soldiers of different arms of the Wehrmacht to form two battalions, with guns and anti-tank guns. The ensemble, under the authority of Siegroth, quickly became homogeneous, and very combative with the determination of the aspirants. All major items of combat, such as pointers positions for artillery, or those liaison officers are entrusted to Fahnenjunkers well educated. The artillery field section is formed from the instruction section of artillery around Russian pieces 76.2mm taken on the eastern front. The artillery fortress is reinstalled in a hurry in the forts west of Metz, including the Feste Kronprinz. The German General Staff had kept the plans in 1918 and still had the necessary firing tables for artillery fortress. The ironmaster Hermann Röchling  who oversaw the installation of new artillery before 1918 and was requisitioned, with its engineers and its original plans to relocate the guns in their turrets. The two battalions of infantry training, the training battalion of engineers, as well as instruction heavy machine company, are also supplemented with soldiers requisitioned Metz. The regiment Security 1010 Colonel Richter (Sicherungsregiment 1010), stopped at Metz when he fell back, directly form two battalions of three companies of about 500 men. The 2000 Waffen SS NCO school transmissions Metz Colonel Kemper form a battalion of four companies. As for units Flak the 9th Flak-Division, they are converted into tank units 20 mm, 37 mm and 88 mm to be incorporated into the 462nd division. From September 7, 1944, the 2000 students “group leaders” of the twelfth Military Region, School of Wiesbaden, will reinforce the strength of the division. Most of these NCOs were veterans of the Eastern Front. They will be immediately placed on the ground in two battalions, supported by two artillery batteries, one equipped with mowers parts. The size of the 462nd Infantry Division stood at the time of the battle, nearly 14,000 men.

From August 27 to 4 September 1944, the situation becomes confused and German, civil and military, ebb in number to the Palatinate and Saarland. On the night of 30 to August 31, 1944, German soldiers and officials hurriedly leaving Metz, leaving everything behind. The precipitation is such that the civil authorities even forget to inform Siedler, Germanic settlers scattered in Moselle. August 31 morning, the camp Woippy is evacuated by the SS who ensured custody. Order of SS General Anton Dunckern, the German military archives and still up in stocks Metz forts, including fortified Group of Saint-Quentin, are destroyed by fire on the night of August 31, 1944. Thus burned documents Departmental Archives of the Moselle and the works of the municipal library. The people of Metz now expect a quick release.

September 1944

The Ninth U.S. Army organizes a massive bombardment of communication channels between Pont-a-Mousson and Thionville, in the day of 1 September 1944. While strong resilient to fire bombs, many military depots are affected. The ammunition depot timber including the hospital, near Chesny, burn for about a week. September 2, 1944, Metz is declared fortress Reich by Hitler. The stronghold must be defended to the last extremity by German troops, whose leaders have all sworn to the Führer. At the same time, Himmler, who knows the fortifications of West Metz to be inspected four years earlier, took things in hand. Himmler, who had also inspected the school cadets of Metz in the previous month, had insisted in his speech on the vital need to stop the Allied advance, pending the imminent production of a new secret weapon The V2 rocket, to change the course of the war. While a large number of German civilians, not fanatics prefer carefully not to return to Metz , the Reichsführer instead methodically men in all key positions in civil and military authorities. So the Nazis back in force in the city Messina. The next day, September 3, 1944, General Krause, then commander of the fortress of Metz, established his main command post (Oberkommando) in the barracks strong Alvensleben. Fort Plappeville was indeed the center of the defensive system of Metz, to the west with strong Manstein (Girardin), run by the SS Colonel Joachim von Siegroth the north the high Zastrow (Les Bordes) held by Colonel SS Wagner and south high Prinz August von Württemberg (Saint-Privat) held by SS Colonel Ernst Kemper. The same day, the troops of General Krause take a position on a line from Pagny-sur-Moselle to Mondelange, passing west of Metz by Chambley, Mars-la-Tour, Jarny and Briey. On September 4, the pioneer battalions of the 462nd Division are responsible for the destruction of bridges and road bridges railway, above the Moselle and the periphery of the Messina agglomeration.

The first attack was launched by the U.S. Fifth Infantry Division, commanded by Maj. Gen. Leroy Irwin. During a reconnaissance towards the Moselle, armored elements of the twentieth U.S. Corps contact with elements of the 462nd Division, on 6 September 1944. U.S. forces, who had not expected to meet so many German forces in this sector of the front, began to regroup, gathering their scattered units. Several skirmishes took place after that first meeting. Under pressure from the U.S. troops, the elements of the first row of the 462nd division retreated to a small area from Novéant to Hauconcourt and through Vionville and Saint-Privat. After this initial decline, the German lines now firmly rooted in the strong westerly, especially fortified groups Lorraine north, François de Guise, Jeanne d’Arc, and Driant south. South of Metz is held by the battalion Berg school transmissions SS Metz, which supports the instruction battalion Vogt , abused by U.S. units of the Fifth Infantry Division in the sector ‘s Ars -sur-Moselle. To the right of the battalion Vogt, the regiment of the school cadets Metz, controlled by Stössel , stretches between Gorze and Saint-Privat. Well equipped with heavy machine guns and field artillery, including Russian coins, regiment is composed of a three-quarters of Fahnenjunkern who fought on the eastern front and a quarter of cadets from the ” Hitler Youth. ”  On the right wing of the regiment, in the area of Sainte-Marie-aux-Chenes, is positioned regiment Security No. 1010 Colonel Richter, immediately supported by the regiment school group leaders, whose front line stretches to Maizières-lès-Metz and Hauconcourt.

Testing the defenses of the fortified area of Metz, the first American troops tried to seize a bridgehead north of Metz. This attack, repulsed by the “group leaders” Colonel Wagner, ended in failure. The American attack on the north-west of Metz continues on 8 and 9 September 1944 in the area of Amanvillers. The line of fortifications of the area from Gravelotte to Semécourt, which consisted of a batch of concrete wall, three meters high and 10 meters wide, reinforced by four strong, covered to the west by a line outposts, trenches, barbed wire and machine gun positions, seems stunning. September 9 in the morning, the American artillery poured a rain of shells on the German positions identified, paving the way for the infantry and armored Task Force McConnell. Arrivals in wood Wood Jaumont, U.S. troops of the 2nd Infantry regiment are under fire from the fort Kellermann. The German batteries eliminate a few moments seven tanks and two self guns, forcing the column to retire precipitately. Wanting to bypass the fortifications in the north, the Americans were soon under fire against a German attack, before being stopped by the fire of strong Lorraine. The artillery of the U.S. campaign immediately resumed his shots on fortifications of the sector, but without great results taking into account the terrain and vegetation. On 10 September, three squadrons of fighter-bombers dump their bombs on the sector of Amanvillers, which are grouped fortifications. The P-47 reach their targets, but the bombs of 500 pounds have little effect on the reinforced concrete fortifications. At the time of the air attack, the commander of the 7th Armoured Division took position near Roncourt to support a new attack of the 2nd Infantry Regiment. The infantry attack was launched at 18:00, meeting fierce resistance. Despite the support of tanks, it stops short of breath three hours later. A breakthrough will be made ​​later, further north to Mondelange and Thionville, but will not be used by the commander of U.S. XX Corps. On 11 September 1944, at 6:30, the tanks of the 7th Armored Division are headed for Pierrevillers, wiping the passage of sporadic gunfire. But they finally fall on a tank roadblock under fire from anti-tank guns hidden difficult to locate. The infantry, however, manage to take a position on the wooded slopes to the north-west of the village of Bronvaux too far, however, the objective to support the 2nd Infantry Regiment. Despite several attacks against the 462nd Infantry Division, U.S. troops arrive to recover in the late afternoon, after a rolling barrage of artillery fortifications for the industry, and using smoke shells to cover. The 1st Battalion of the Task Force, hardest hit by the shelling of the 462nd Volks-Grenadier-Division and by accurate small arms fire, must withdraw with difficulty behind a screen of smoke rockets, more five hundred meters of Amanvillers. Around 14:00, an airstrike on Amanvillers does not allow the infantry to advance, the village is definitely too close to the fortifications of the sector, to be taken in full.

A second operation directed frontally on the city of Metz, also ended in failure. Side Gravelotte, in the wood Genivaux, U.S. troops face trample Fahnenjunkern of Siegroth that dominate the field. U.S. patrols face a wall of fire in front of the fort Jeanne d’Arc. The third operation of U.S. forces in the south-west of Metz, however, allowed the Allies to establish a bridgehead on the Moselle River south of Metz. 6 and 7 September 1944, the Seventh Armored Division and the Fifth U.S. Infantry Division attack power indeed south of Metz, in the area from Ancy-sur-Moselle to Arnaville under fire strong Driant on the west bank, and Sommy St. Blaise  on the east bank of the Moselle. The German lines are embedded in the sector Mars-la-Tour to Gravelotte and that of Chambley up the Moselle, Dornot in Pagny-sur-Moselle. Soldiers of the 5th U.S. Infantry Division managed to cross the Moselle, at night, in extreme conditions, thus breaking the German resistance in the sector Dornot. A bridgehead was finally established on the east bank of the Moselle.

Realizing that the defenses of Metz can not only be circumvented by the south, but also taken from the east side, the Generalleutnant Krause left the fort Plappeville to go there and see the extent of the danger. It calls for urgent support Panzers of the 17th Panzer-Grenadier-Division that fold over the last few days to Kaiserslautern. The 37th SS Panzer-Grenadier Regiment, part of the famous armored division, arrived in haste to Boulay, entering immediately into the thick of the action in the area of Jouy-aux-Arches and Corny-sur-Moselle, opposite American bridgehead Dornot. Against the attack is carried out simultaneously on the west side, from Ars-sur-Moselle, the battalion Berg, SS formed with students from the School of transmissions Metz integrated into the 462nd Infantry Division. The fights are ruthless and troops, both American than German, do not take prisoners. On 7 September 1944, Generaloberst Kurt von Einen, Chief of Staff of the XIII SS Army Korps, was ordered to hold at all cost positions between Thionville north and Arry south of Metz.

On 10 September 1944, after three days of fierce fighting, and 945 killed, wounded or missing, Americans are finally rejected on the west bank of the Moselle, Dornot. While Americans on Dornot ebb, German troops fortified group Driant organize nocturnal attacks against south, forcing U.S. troops to retreat, first of Ancy-sur-Moselle, then Dornot.

While the bridgehead opposite Dornot is evacuated, the Americans show up on the west bank of the Moselle in the sector ‘s Arnaville under the leadership of Colonel Yuill, commanding the Tenth Combat Team. For the first time in Europe, the U.S. military uses smoke screens in an offensive operation. The operation carried out by the 84th Engineer Company Chimical is a success. September 12, 1944, against the German attack is predictable. The 37th Panzer Grenadier Regiment of the 17th SS Panzer-Grenadier-Division, the 8th Panzer-Grenadier-Regiment 103 and Panzer-Abteilung of the 3rd Panzergrenadier Division and the 115th Panzer Grenadier Regiment the 15th Panzer Division are engaged with the 282nd Battalion “Vogt” in the 462nd Infantry Division, to hold the head ‘s bridge Arnaville. The German field artillery, supported by strong batteries Kronprinz and Haeseler, pounded the American troops. For its part, the U.S. responds with an artillery barrage, firing more than 5,700 rounds in this sector. The P-47 of the 406th Squadron of the 371st TAC group support ground troops, destroying itself, by a hit, a battery of high Verdun (Sommy) and heavy batteries situated near Mardigny. In this deluge of fire, the regiments of Panzer-Grenadier Battalion and Vogt bear heavy losses. More than ten Panzers and several half-tracks Germans are destroyed on September 12.

On 13 September 1944 the U.S. military redeployed its troops on the front line to focus its attack on the four major fortifications of the western sector of Metz. North of the area, fatigue and stress man disorient the 2nd Infantry Regiment, who were finally identified what he now calls a hell hole , 14 September 1944. Two reinforced engineering companies of the 90th Infantry Division regiments took over in the northwest sector of Metz: the 357th Infantry Regiment of Colonel Barth takes position along the wood Jaumont, east of Saint- Privat, the 359th Infantry Regiment Colonel Bacon took position east of Gravelotte. September 15, 1944, an attack is planned on the north-west of Metz, on Canrobert and Kellermann works and the Jeanne d’Arc fortified Group. The approach is difficult, the German soldiers defending tooth and nail. The bazookas Americans have no effect on the casemates, tanks, followed by sections armed with flamethrowers, jump on the first German lines, only managed to neutralize them without taking them. General McLain includes a direct attack on the northwest sector is doomed to failure, and ordered his troops to keep the pressure on the outposts of the 462nd Volks-Grenadier-Division without attacking frontally strong Jeanne Arc and Lorraine.

September 16, 1944, in thick fog, General McLain resumed its attack on the northwest sector. The attack of the book Canrobert starts at 10:00, but it is delayed two hours later by Fahnenjunkern of Siegroth, engaged in melee without a thank you. The Americans 357th Infantry Regiment withdrew, leaving 72 soldiers on the ground. At 5:00 p.m., the 1st Battalion of the same regiment was also stopped in its tracks by artillery and small arms. South of this area the 2nd Battalion lost 15 officers and 117 men under heavy fire from mortars and automatic weapons from the forest edge, near the fortified Group Jeanne d’Arc. At nightfall, the battalion grew only 200 meters. Seeing that the Americans gradually nibble their lines, the German artillery redoubled its fire, managing to contain the two regiments and raising fears for McLain against a new attack. Before the pugnacity of the elite troops of the 462nd Volks-Grenadier-Division, General McLain, in accordance with General Walker, decided to suspend attacks, pending new plans of the General Staff of the 90th Infantry Division.

To secure the southern part of Metz and contain German troops in the forts of the fortified line West-Metz, Operation Thunderbolt, combining air strikes and ground attacks on fortified Metz groups is planned Sept. 17, 1944. The Driant fortified group will be the first target of the operation. September 18, 1944, elements of the division Götz von Berlichingen come again in contact with American units. On 20 September 1944, the Gauleiter Bürckel says southwest part of CDZ-Lothringen Gebiet “Zone of hosts.”  It is therefore forbidden to cross a line from ‘s Apach to Donon and through Sierck-les-Bains, Courcelles, Faulquemont and Sarrebourg. Despite numerous attacks against the sector and heavy casualties, the German troops were forced to give ground to the Tenth U.S. Combat Team, falling to Seille. The Battle of Metz seems at this time won for U.S. troops, who are at the gates of Metz. But September 24, 1944, the Third Army of General Patton must stop offensive Metz, ensure the defensive positions on the sector and focus on the Dutch border, where the situation becomes critical. Against all odds, the siege of Metz continues.

September 26, 1944, the bombers of the 19th Tactical Air Force perform an airstrike on the strengths of Metz, dropping napalm  of 500 kg. But the concrete fortifications and underground resistant to the surprise air attack. The next day, September 27, 1944, the 240 mm howitzers of the 19th Field Artillery Battalion prepare the ground for two assault companies of the 11th Infantry Regiment, in the area of fortified group Driant. Faced with German troops that maximize the field and fortifications, U.S. troops fail to cross networks son barbed fortified group and fold the end of the day. Before September 30, 1944, two new air raids show ineffective to dislodge the German soldiers who are hiding during raids, and found their battle stations immediately after. Incendiary bombs are ineffective on underground fortifications, or half-buried, the fortified belt Metz, the U.S. military has strengths that should be taken by storm after another, to neutralize them quickly. But the strong sector are forbidden at the time of the battle by veterans of the Eastern Front , highly motivated and determined soldiers. The U.S. military is therefore preferred to adopt a tactic of encirclement aimed at Metz around the north and south of the city. At the end of September 1944, part of German forces positioned north moved into the southern part of Metz, to contain the American offensive.

October 1944

October 3, 1944, American troops arrive to take one of the five barracks Driant fortified group. The fighting is now suing the surface and in the communication tunnels connecting the bunkers to each other. October 4, 1944 at Bayern Kaserne, Franz Schubert, Kreisleiter Metz, requisitioned or Schanzarbeiter diggers to dig anti-tank ditches. Orders requisitions first plastered on the walls of the city are quickly sent to the men involved, as individual notices. Civil refractory are considered deserters and facing the death penalty. Despite this, many Metz hiding, or trying to be exempt by complacent Lorraine doctors. It will eventually go against one-visit to Bayern Kaserne. Among those who could not escape the Schanzen, dozens were killed on construction sites by American bombs or shells. Others will be conscripted into the Volkssturm, and will be forced to bear arms. On October 6, the troops of the 11th Infantry Regiment still besieging the fortified group Driant are identified by the first battalion of the 10th Infantry Regiment. Faced with these fresh and well-armed troops, German soldiers, supervised by junkers to the iron discipline, somehow take their positions. The wounded and the dead spot now dozens in the high, morale is low. Believing receive an overwhelming material superiority, U.S. troops launch another attack on October 7. The fighting was fierce, the German soldiers defending tooth and nail, with the energy of despair. In a final effort, they repel the American attack surface and make prisoners in underground communication. Faced with this new crushing defeat, General Gay decides to abandon the offensive on the fortified group Driant and is cautiously evacuate his troops on the night of October 12 to 13, after trapping access with 3000 kg of explosives.

While the troops of the Third U.S. Army sit listening to Marlene Dietrich , German troops take advantage of this lull in the fighting to reorganize. Troops reserves future 462nd Volks-Grenadier-Division covered the elite troops of Siegroth in strong westerly Metz. The OKH indeed decides to reorganize the German troops around Metz reallocating some units in other theaters of operations. To frame new Volksgrenadier-Divisionen, freshly out of the Fahnenjunkerschule VI des Heeres “Metz” and officers are dispatched to new units. A number of soldiers of the Wehrmacht withdrew in good order Metz towards the Saar, and are replaced by reserve troops belonging to the 462nd Volksgrenadier-Division. Following this new deployment, the U.S. XII Corps decided to launch a new attack, attack harshly opposed by the German defenders. For his commitment during the fighting, Colonel Siegroth gets Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross 18 October 1944. Is created shortly after the arm badge “Metz 1944″ , to “remember the heroic defense of the fortress of Metz against a superior opponent in numbers and equipment”. On October 19, Hitler’s decree of September 25, 1944 calling the mass uprising of men between 16 and 60 in force in the ” CDZ-Lothringen Gebiet. ”  The institution of the Deutscher Volkssturm applicable two days later, on October 21. The SA-Gruppenführer Caspary’s mission is to raise 12 battalions in the Gau Westmark. Under the authority of Vollrath Lubbe, these battalions must include strengthening the 462nd Volks-Grenadier-Division engaged in battle. The incorporation will take place in Bayernkasern Metz, from 1 November 1944.

In the southern sector, scalded by the latest fighting, U.S. troops are limited in the second half of October to sporadic attacks and reconnaissance patrols in the area of ​​Metz. Taking advantage of this respite from the attack, several units of the twentieth U.S. Corps train to fight fortress. Elements of the 5th Infantry Division including train ten days in the sector Joppécourt-Errouville-Morfontaine techniques dogfights in fortified area. To experience offensive methods to reduce the fortified defenses of the groups Moselstellung, a special training program was quickly put in place. To October 20, with an aerial reconnaissance, the 733rd Field Artillery Battalion takes 120 155mm cannon mounted on a rail, a very large caliber, immobilized in a repair shop in Metz. The U.S. intelligence services confirm the destruction of the gun and the death of many servants.

Further north, despite the support of artillery pounded the area systematically, the 90th U.S. Infantry Division stalled since September 17 to Maizières-lès-Metz. October 20, 1944, while his troops already occupy half Maizières, General Van Fleet ordered the city to be made ​​before November 2, 1944. But the soldiers of the regiment in 1216 E 462nd Volks-Grenadier-Division securely hold positions in hiding in makeshift shelters. Faced with this stubborn resistance, the 90th Infantry Division uses artillery. It pulls relentlessly on the sector, reducing the old village a few gutted ruins and piles of stones. City Hall becomes the target for Colonel Barth. To dislodge the latest German fighters, U.S. troops launched a decisive attack October 26, 1944. After a new shelling, American soldiers threw themselves en masse on the lens, cleaning the last pockets of resistance to the bazooka and flamethrower. October 27, 1944, the old town hall is taken. German losses were heavy, but the soldiers still hold certain positions. October 29, 1944, the artillery of the U.S. division triggers a new rolling barrage north of the town, destroying houses and deletions. This time, the last pockets of resistance fall. On 30 October, General Patton can visit the ruins of Maizières and savor his victory. The north and south locks Metz having fallen, the U.S. command decided to attack the back line of Metz, bypassing the city to the east.

November 1944

When hostilities resumed after a rainy months, the soldiers of the 462nd Volks-Grenadier-Division still securely hold the forts of Metz, although supplies are more difficult because of frequent shelling and bombing. A battalion of Volkssturmmänner with about 400 men, is integrated into the defense system of the city. This battalion consists mainly of former police officers and veterans aged 14-18 over 45 years, but also the young Hitler under the age of 18 years , and refractory army German. Combat capability of the battalion being considered by the German command as invalid and loyalty very small, men Volkssturm “Metz” are placed under the authority of a Major of the Ordnungspolizei and relegated to tasks of law enforcement and civil defense. The side of the Allies, with the tactics developed during combat training fortress, U.S. forces are part of the fortifications of the second fortified belt of the city, on 3 November 1944. On November 8, the noose is tightening around Metz, with the 95th Infantry Division in the north and the 5th Infantry Division south. On November 9, as a prelude to attack on Metz, no less than 1,299 heavy bombers B-17 and B-24 dump 3753 tons of bombs, from 1 000 to 2 000 pounds on the fortifications and strategic points in the combat zone of the Third Army. Most bombers dropped their bombs without having visibility to over 20,000 feet, the targets were often missed. In Metz, the 689 bomb loads for hitting seven forts of Metz identified as priority targets did nothing but collateral damage. A Thionville and Saarbrücken, the result is inconclusive, proving once again the inadequacy of massive bombing on fotifiés objectives. German officials fled on the night of 11 to 12 November 1944 and the Gestapo transfers final political prisoners arrested since September 4, to the Palatinate and Saarland. November 12 morning, the ringing of the Mutte indicates that the order of general evacuation of the city was given. It is set for the next day, November 14, 1944, but most of Metz decided not to respond and hiding in basements and shelters. Thus begins one week for them as challenging, qu’angoissante. On 14 November 1944, when the Generalleutnant Heinrich Kittel was appointed commander of the German forces, the U.S. attack takes on the northwest sector of strong Metz. The 105-mm howitzers of the 359th Field Artillery Battalion opened fire on the area located on either side of the fortified Group Jeanne d’Arc, between the strong François de Guise and strong Driant in order to pave the way to 379th Infantry Regiment whose objective is to reach Moselle. The attack focuses on strong Jeanne d’Arc, which ends up being surrounded by American troops. After two deadly attacks against the men of Major Voss belonging to the 462nd Volks-Grenadier-Division retreated soon fortified group. They will come out more. For the commander of Fort Jeanne d’Arc, the situation is bitter: the losses were heavy and did not prevent the Americans from reaching the Moselle.

Meanwhile, south of the fort Jeanne d’Arc, 1 BatALlon the 379th Infantry regiment attack works Jussy North, South and Jussy-Saint-Hubert. Each defended by a handful of soldiers from the 462nd Volks-Grenadier-Division, they are taken around 14:00. Two hours later, the 1st Battalion was able to make the Public Infantry Bois-la-Dame, run by a German section, despite a vigorous attack against sustained fire from the fort Driant. On the evening of 14 November, the works of the Seven Dwarfs, so called to distinguish them from large fortified groups, were in the hands of Americans. The strong Jeanne d’Arc is not yet neutralized the American avant-garde is too advanced. An air parachute must supply the men with ammunition and food.

The next morning, November 15, 1944, in the northwest sector of the highlights of Metz, the works of Canrobert line in the wood beans are attacked by the 378th Infantry Regiment Col. Samuel L. Metcalfe. In the morning mist, after artillery preparation, the strong northern Canrobert line is the first to fall to 11.00 U.S. troops arriving in the wood Woippy. During the afternoon, the men of 1217 e-Grenadier Regiment “Richter”, formed by the Regiment in 1010 safety and those of the 1515th Grenadier Regiment “Stössel” the 462nd Volks-Grenadier-Division made ​​several unsuccessful attempts to repel the Americans behind the line Canrobert. Under pressure, they end up dropping out, leaving behind them, many deaths and injuries. German grenadiers, who had to withdraw to a line between the support points Leipzig and Fort Plappeville finally retreated in disorder towards Metz Woippy. On 15 November 1944, the 378th Infantry Regiment shoulder the 379th Infantry Regiment, but the attack with advanced post strong Jeanne d’Arc can only be done at night. The breath of an explosive charge placed directly on the bunker finally push the Oberleutnant and his men to surrender. On the same day in November 15 wet and cold, the 377th Infantry Regiment of the 95th U.S. Division, party Maizières-lès-Metz, between north of Metz in 1944 Woippy before being stopped by gunfire strong Déroulède (Kameke), Gambetta (Hindersin), and Saint-Julien (Manteuffel). Facing them, men of 1515th Grenadier Regiment “Stössel”, reinforced by a company subject to the 38th SS-Panzergrenadier Regiment, opposed a desperate resistance.

While fighting harassment continued throughout the day of 16 November 1944 Woippy and the strong Gambetta is attacked by the 3rd Battalion, 377th Infantry Regiment, the U.S. military decided to concentrate the attack northwest, still stalled, between strong Jeanne d’Arc and de Guise. Starting from the bunker St. Hubert farm and farm Moscow, the 3rd Battalion progresses by leaps and bounds. To prevent release of the German garrison troops of the 95th Infantry Division neutralize fortified groups undermining all access to strong. South of Metz, opposite the 11th Infantry Regiment of the U.S. 5th Division, men Matzdorff fiercely resisted on the basis of Frescaty. The GI’s of the 11th Infantry regiment think falling into a hornet’s nest when the guns MG 34 and MG 42 German, deployed all over the field, heard their cracklings. The troops of the 462nd Volks-Grenadier-Division defended pugnacity shed each and every air-raid shelter of the airfield. Under pressure from the U.S. troops, men Matzdorff however eventually retreat to the fort August Prinz von Württemberg and the last sheds. In this Nov. 16, 1944, while a cold and wet night falls on the air base, the 11th Infantry regiment lost no less than four officers and 118 men in the field. But the German losses were also heavy. The same day, in the south of Metz, elements of the 38th SS-Panzergrenadier-Regiment-attack against in vain towards Courcelles. But with good air cover, the U.S. 5th Division holds his position and takes pincer German troops in this sector. On the night of 16 to 17 November 1944, under pressure from the 377th and 378th regiments American, German grenadiers Woippy eventually retreat in disorder to Metz, leaving behind, artillery, trucks, of stocks weapons and dying. On the same night, the last elements of the 38th SS-Panzergrenadier Regiment, squeezed southeast by the U.S. 5th Division, manage to get out of this trap and withdrew towards the Saar, leaving alone with Kittel responsibilities. Proof of the plight of the defense of Metz, the men of the Volkssturm “Metz”, wearing armbands and armed with French rifles are then escorted by police and placed in the lines, between the Fort Saint-Privat and Queuleu Fort. After a night in the rain and sleet, the improvised troops seemed already destroyed.

November 17, 1944, the 10th Infantry Regiment of the 5th Division enters Borny. Two battalions of the 10th Infantry Regiment, supported by tanks of the 735th Tank battalion enough to circle the fort Queuleu. Further south, the 11th Infantry Regiment of the U.S. 5th Division encircles the fortified group Verdun (Haeseler) takes Augny before encountering strong resistance in the aviation field Metz-Frescaty. Fighting continues in effect from northeast of the base, where a German style clings to the last buildings. But the fire soon come mainly from Fort Saint-Privat. The strong August Prinz von Württemberg, headquarters Von Matzdorf almost impregnable, finally surrounded in the evening. General Kittel decided to blow one at a bridge connecting the island Saint Symphorien Island Saulcy and the Chambière to hinder the entry of U.S. troops. In this Nov. 17, 1944, U.S. forces have managed to isolate most of the forts of the outer fortified belt, now attacking the city of Metz. The FFI, “hero” of the last hour, finally emerging from the shadows. A Woippy, bloody fights that end November 17, 1944 around Gambetta very, very isolated from the day before, which eventually surrender to U.S. troops. On the evening of November 17, 1944, the situation is critical for general Kittel, commander of the fortress of Metz. Bodied men of the Grenadier Regiment in 1215 were identified in the fortified group of Saint-Quentin. The Sicherungs-Regiment 1010 “Richter”, completely disorganized, was gathered around the fort Plappeville. The Divisions-Füsilier-Kompanie 462 had also collapsed in the fortified group Jeanne d’Arc, where she was joined on the same day by the majority of members of the staff of the 462nd Volks-Grenadier-Division. The Grenadier-Regiment 1217 “Richter”, thinning the ranks, formed a new line of defense around the fort Driant. The 22nd Regiment fortress broke into fragments with detachments in and around the forts of Saint-Privat, of Queuleu and Saint-Julien. About four hundred stragglers also integrated into the 462nd Volks-Grenadier Division had been gathered to defend the former barracks of the island of Chambière. But these provisions, taken in extremis by General Kittel, were not based on any comprehensive plan, and did not allow any coordination between now isolated units.

November 18, 1944, west of Metz, the 1st Battalion, 378th Infantry Regiment launched a first attack on Fort Plappeville. On the shelf and in the fort, the men of 1217 e-Grenadier Regiment “Richter”, formed by the Regiment in 1010 security are exhausted by four days of continuous combat. Yet they defend tooth and nail on the set of bunkers bunkers. After a brief respite, a second American attack, more deadly than the first, lets take the edge of the fort, forcing the defenders to hide in the precincts of the fort for protection from artillery fire from American campaign disposed on the tray. Fort Plappeville is now completely surrounded by the 379th Infantry Regiment. During the day of 18 November 1944, the fireworks of the 462nd Volks-Grenadier-Division blow up the bridge of wild between Longeville and Ile Saint-Symphorien, by sinking an assault section of the 378th Infantry regiment of the 95th American Division. General Kittel waited last minute to blow the bridge, because it was the last direct link between its limited staff and troops still holding strong on the west shore. The battalion Major Voss, sent in support of strong Jeanne d’Arc was the last to cross the bridge. The 378th Infantry Regiment, supported by an armored unit, is now stuck on the left bank of the Moselle. The 379th Infantry Regiment also stops in front of the destroyed bridge of Moulins-lès-Metz, receiving the order to monitor on-site German troops strong Driant and Joan of Arc, in order not to be taken aback.

North of Metz, in foggy November 18, Colonel Bacon gives the signal for the attack to the 2nd Battalion, 378th Infantry Regiment on Fort Saint-Julien. His position lock on the main road from Metz in fact an essential goal. The assault battalion circle silently strong and precise attack at 7:00. The road down to Metz is then held by a company of the 462nd Volks-Grenadier-Division, the American artillery campaign finally dislodged houses against there, completing the encirclement of the fort around noon. American tanks and self-propelled guns then took position around the fort. For an hour, the 240-mm howitzers of the Task Force take tirelessly preparing the infantry attack. The soldiers of the 378th Infantry Regiment then rush through a gap at the rear of the fort, but came under fire from machine guns. Two light tanks provide covering fire while a tank destroyer takes position near the door and shoot the fort, yet resistant. Finally, a self-propelled 155 mm gun manages to break the door. In the absence of heavy weapons, 200 German soldiers of the 462nd Volks-Grenadier-Division can now nothing against the American firepower.

On the same day, November 18, 1944, the 1st Battalion, 377th Infantry Regiment attacked the fort Bellecroix and barracks Steinmetz. After a firefight fed, a column of a hundred soldiers of the 462nd Volks-Grenadier-Division finally surrendered to the Americans. Shortly after, around 14:00, while American infantry takes this path to enter Metz, two powerful explosive charges placed in the barracks Steinmetz just blow fifty American soldiers. Like other access the fortress of Metz, this area was trapped. If Americans still struggling on the outskirts of Metz, they are now, to the relief of Metz, near the city.

On 19 November, the situation became critical for the German defenders, the telephone exchange to the main station of Metz is blasted by bomb the 462nd Volks-Grenadier-Division. The 5th U.S. Infantry Division attack indeed strong Lauvallière (i-werke Belle-Croix) and St. Julian (Manteuffel). Without heavy weapons, the garrison of Fort St. Julien agrees to make the 378th Infantry Regiment, followed shortly by the other strong sector. To the west of Metz, strong resist better. The attacks of the 95th Division against the forts of Plappeville of Saint-Quentin and Jeanne d’Arc fail despite the support of artillery. In the south, the 11th Infantry Regiment of the 5th Infantry Division now cleans the outskirts of Montigny-lès-Metz, while the 10th Infantry Regiment load east neighborhoods Queuleu and Sablon. Shortly before the arrest of Dunckern, and the Kittel, the U.S. military is spread leaflets referring to the arrest of Colonel Mayer  to encourage German soldiers to surrender in mass. While most remaining outside German forts of Metz resist to form, preferring to go to die on the spot, some are entrenched in administrative buildings and are determined to defend the city until the end. On the night of 19 to 20 November 1944, the SS-Brigadeführer Dunckern Anton, head of the Gestapo of Metz was captured by Patton’s troops.

November 20, 1944, SS-Obersturmbannführer von Matzdorf out of Fort Saint-Privat with a white flag. Shell Commander of the 11th Infantry Regiment, who thinks that the officer will go, means meet him and his men are ready to fight to the death “if necessary”. The Obersturmbannführer only wish evacuate wounded twenty of his most seriously affected. The fighting continued intermittently Metz, American infantry raking areas of the city, house by house.

On November 21, a patrol of the 95th Division is the general Kittel, seriously wounded and morphine in a field hospital set up in the basement of the tobacco factory in Metz. He had participated in the latest fighting in the barracks Riberpray. Kittel but refuses to surrender, saying that he had surrendered his command to Colonel Von Stössel, commander of fortified group of Saint-Quentin. The American infantry now holds all parts of Metz, with the exception of the island of Chambière where lies barracks Sere de Rivieres and Saint Vincent neighborhood, where the barracks Riberpray. After negotiations, the 2nd Battalion, 10th Infantry Regiment captured the fort Queuleu in the day.

On 22 November 1944 a new attack on the strengths of Plappeville and Saint-Quentin fails, despite taking two advanced batteries located between the two forts. An air attack on the forts of Metz is canceled on the day, the main division is now the city of Metz goal. Hostilities continue in effect on the island of Chambière where men of 377th Infantry Regiment to dislodge shot phosphorus grenades last German defenders. At 10:00, General Walker officially handed the city of Metz General Dody, the new governor of Metz. Shortly after, while Americans always pull on the area of the prefecture and the barracks Riberpray, Dr. Eugen Ewig, German director of departmental archives, negotiates with resistant funds to preserve the architectural heritage of the city. After a last skirmish between the prefecture and the barracks Riberpray, hostilities officially ceased November 22, 1944. At 14 h 35, the commander of the 377th Infantry Regiment inform the general effect Harry Lewis Twaddle that the city was taken. But though the city is now released by U.S. forces, the last strong isolated north and west of the fortified belt Metz, continue to hold, according to the order of Hitler.

On the night of November 22, 1944, men of the Fort Saint-Privat, held by SS Lieutenant Colonel von Matzdorf, desert and go to the U.S., saying that morale in the fort is at its lowest. But like other forts west of Metz, Fort Frescaty resist, despite the circumstances. To preserve U.S. stocks of arms and ammunition, and especially to avoid unnecessary losses, the U.S. command decided not to tackle head-strong held by German troops. The use of a shootout, for pushing the besieged to surrender, is preferred. Thus the 2650 German soldiers still occupying at the time of the fall of Metz, the forts on the south and west of Metz, that is to say, the fortified groups Verdun, Driant, Jeanne arc, and strong Saint-Privat, of Saint-Quentin, and Plappeville set no less than 9000 U.S. soldiers. After the fall of the strong-Wood Lady of Marival and Saint-Hubert, too isolated, the Feste Haeseler went to turn November 26, 1944, short of food and ammunition. Two officers and 148 enlisted men come out, exhausted. The old fort August Prinz von Württemberg, commanded by SS-Sturmbannführer Werner Matzdorff , falls in turn November 29, 1944, after a barrage supported by four artillery pieces and a self-propelled gun 155 mm. Matzdorff went with 22 officers and 488 men, with 80 wounded. The flag is the swastika flew over the air base, giving the lie to the monumental inscription it was painted: “Der Mann kann fallen, die Fahne denies”. At the end of November 1944, the strong Driant, Joan of Arc, Saint-Quentin, and Plappeville still hold, forcing the General Irwin to use most of the infantry available to contain them. To this extent at least, the garrison of Metz executed the orders given by Hitler.

December 1944

At the beginning of December, strong surrounded by U.S. troops since November 16, 1944 still stand, but the food and ammunition are now counted. The strong Prinz Friedrich Karl held by Colonel Von Stössel, which numbered 600 men, and the strong Alvensleben, commanded by Colonel Vogel, who still had 200, finally make 6 and 7 December 1944 , to the 5th Infantry Division of General Irwin, two weeks after the surrender of German troops in Metz. By the hazards of war, strong Kronprinz commanded by Colonel Richter, and 610 officers and enlisted men, surrendered to the 5th Infantry Division, fifteen minutes before it is raised. It is soon followed by the strong Kaiserin held by the 500 men of Major Hans Voss, December 13, 1944. The strong Jeanne d’Arc, probably because it was controlled by the staff of the 462nd Volks-Grenadier-Division and defended by a battalion of riflemen, then, was the last of the forts of Metz to go, after three months of siege.

In conclusion, the German resistance, determined, weather and floods, untimely, and a general tendency to underestimate the firepower of the fortifications of Metz, helped slow the U.S. offensive, giving the opportunity to German army to retreat in good order to the Saar, to organize a new defense line on the Siegfried line. The objective of the German General Staff, which was to save time by setting the longest possible U.S. troops in front of the Siegfried Line, will be largely achieved.

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