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US Army

Monty's Line Straightening

 

 Monty's Line Straightening
 
In "It Was The Night Before Christmas" we learned of the difficulties in line straightening imposed by Field Marshall Bernard Law Montgomery on taking command of the north side of The Bulge and having an adverse effect on our Lieutenant Colonel Walter B. Richardson and his task force centered on his battalion of the 32nd Armored Regiment in the Manhay area.
 
We were not the only one affected by his line straightening or attempts in that direction.Iris Carpenter was a British war correspondent, sometimes with us at the 3rd Armored Division, but covering the First Army Front.  In her book, "No Woman's World" and her chapter on the Ardennes she said:

"The Bulge looked like a Christmas stocking with the toe snagged out of it.  Monty had taken over to move in so many divisions that we began wondering if he intended to leave the troops room to fight."

 
Torgau, Germany: Yank Who Contacted Russians. Cpl. James J. McDonnell of Peabody, Mass., who was the first Yank to make contact with Russian troops at Torgau, chats with Iris Carpenter of the Boston Globe. Image : © Bettmann/CORBIS
 
"His first suggestion upon assuming command had been to straighten the line between Malmedy and Monschau and give up the hot corner at Butgenbach.  Had General Hodges agreed it would have been a very different Battle of the Bulge story for the First Division."
 
"Instead, the general pointed out that thousands of men and vehicles could not be moved back over the one swampy road south of Eupen without enormous losses and got the British commander's permission to leave well enough alone."
 
This was beyond our left flank where the area below the Elsenborn ridge was held like a rock by the First and Second Infantry Divisions and others.
 
Over Beyond our right flank authorized VII Corps, commanded by our own General J. Lawton Collins, to make a substantial withdrawal.
 

Instead, 2nd Armored Division attacked, caught the 2nd SS Panzer Division out of gas in the Celles area and that marked the point of furtherest advancve the German made.

 
So much for Monty's line Straightening.
 
And one of the most telling accounts of it was made by a rosy cheeked English woman war correspondent, who was on the ground and knew where of she spoke.
 
Source: Haynes Dugan, letter to the webmaster, August 24, 1988

By Major Haynes W DUGAN

Assistant G-2

Public Relation

3rd Armored Division

Campaigns

Battle of the Bulge,

Belgium