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Devil's Charge

Commandos vs. Engineers:
The Guns of Malmédy
with Mike Haught

This week’s progress was all about big guns. I put the finishing touches on my four M5 3” anti-tank guns and two M1 90mm heavy anti-aircraft guns. I’ve included these platoons in my force because of their involvement during the battle of Malmédy.
Learn more about Shifting Sands 13 here... Read Commandos vs. Engineers: Part One here...
Read Commandos vs. Engineers: Part Two here... Read Commandos vs. Engineers: Part Three here...
Read Commandos vs. Engineers: Part Four here... Read Commandos vs. Engineers: Part Five here...

Heavy Anti-aircraft Guns

The 49th Anti-Aircraft Artillery Brigade supplied its guns to the defence of the Northern Shoulder. Like many of the US V Corps assets, the heavy anti-aircraft gunners formed a solid defence line at Malmédy along with other random units thrown in to stop the Germans. 

The brigade had been stationed in Belgium for several weeks. Their main task before the Ardennes offensive was to shoot down V-1 rockets heading to Antwerp. Elements of the brigade were quickly re-deployed in the anti-tank role, forming a back-stop behind the corps’ infantry divisions and their supporting tank destroyers.

Commandos vs. Engineers
Commandos vs. Engineers A pair arrived at Malmédy and Colonel Pergrin set them up along the railroad embankment to give them cover as well as a commanding view. When the Germans struck, the 90s went to work helping to drive the enemy away with their high rate of fire and powerful guns.
Another pair of guns was dispatched to Stavelot to support the 526th Armored Infantry Battalion and the 291st Combat Engineers, however their role there is a bit unknown. What is known is that after the battle, the 49th received praise from everyone they supported and they had become such expert anti-tankers, that in their after action reports, they suggested tactics and organisational changes on how to prepare other 90mm units to take on tank-killing duties.
Commandos vs. Engineers

Tank Destroyers

Tank destroyer units in Malmédy were a bit of a mystery for me to untangle. There was definitely a battalion present, the 825th, which was a towed unit, but some sources have placed M10s there as well. I suspect that the latter is because people might have been confused by Skorzeny’s “M10” Panthers and recorded an M10 battalion there, but I could be totally wrong on that assumption.

The point remains that no M10s were ever noted in the actual battle of Malmédy, other than Skorzeny’s knockoffs, and if there were some in the area, it seems suspicious that they would never have been committed to that battle. The 823rd supported the 30th Infantry Division in the area as well.

Commandos vs. Engineers
Commandos vs. Engineers

Like the 90mm guns, a platoon of A Company, 825th Tank Destroyer Battalion, was split off to join A Company of the 526th Armored Infantry in Stavelot. The rest of the tank destroyer company proceeded to Malmédy where Colonels Hansen (99th Infantry Battalion) and Pergrin deployed them to the east of town covering the Malmédy bridge over the Warche River.

The men of the 825th deployed around a small house near the river and across the road from the paper mill. At least a platoon of towed M5 3” guns was deployed around the building, giving it the name “the TD House”.

When Skorzeny’s attack hit in the early morning fog, the TD House contained some engineers from the 291st, and some bazooka and HQ men of the 825th Tank Destroyer Battalion. The Germans managed to isolated the house and there was some bitter hand-to-hand fighting to try and clear the last of the Americans out. All of the towed guns were destroyed and their crews were killed to the man. The men in the building drove off assault after assault.
Commandos vs. Engineers
Commandos vs. Engineers

To make matters worse, when the morning fog cleared, the US troops deployed along the railroad embankment thought that the TD house was in German hands and opened fire on it. However, they quickly realised their mistake and focused relieving the men in the TD house as soon as possible. The battle eventually let up and the few survivors of the TD House could proudly say they didn’t give up their position to the enemy.

Commandos vs. Engineers

So that’s what I’ve got this week! I should be all done with my heavy weapons and so I’m off to work on my engineers now—only a few weeks to go!

~ Mike.

Last Updated On Thursday, December 13, 2012 by Blake at Battlefront