Metz 1944: Patton's fortified nemesis (Campaign)
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General George Patton's most controversial campaign was the series of battles in autumn 1944 along the German frontier which centered on the fortified city of Metz. It took nearly four months, from September to December 1944, for Patton's Third Army to capture the Metz-Thionville fortified zone. In part, the problem was logistics. As was the case with the rest of the Allied forces in the European Theatre, supplies were limited until the port of Antwerp could finally be cleared. Also problematic was the weather. The autumn of 1944 was one of the wettest on record, and hardly conducive to the type of mechanized warfare for which Patton was so famous. However at the heart of the problem was the accretion of sophisticated fortifications. Metz had been fortified since ancient times, heavily rebuilt by France in the post-Napoleonic period, modernized by Germany in 1870-1914, and modernized by France during the Maginot effort in 1935-40. The Germans hoped to hold Metz with a thin screen of second-rate troops, counting on the impregnable fortifications. This book covers the entire campaign from beginning to end, offering an unbiased assessment of the success and failures of both the Allied and Axis efforts.
perpendicular to the main building to provide enfilade fire along the front of the caserne. (NARA) BOTTOM Prior to the second attack on Fort Driant, 5th Division engineers created some improvised “snakes” that could be pulled behind the tanks of the 735th Tank Battalion or pushed in front of them. Once at the fort, they were supposed to be pushed under the extensive barbwire fields, but they proved so fragile that they were completely ineffective in the attack. (NARA) 44 © Osprey Publishing •
of a museum. (NARA) Lorraine (Lothringen) had been a traditional warpath between France and Germany over the past millennia. The city of Metz was sacked by Attila the Hun in April AD 451, the last time the city was taken by storm. In the contemporary era, the province has been a bone of contention between France and Germany, with Germany coveting Lorraine as a means to shield the Saar region by preventing access into central Germany via the “Moselle Gate.” In the wake of the 1870 Franco-Prussian
effective backbone for German defense efforts, especially in view of the poor quality of many of the units in this sector. Another misunderstood aspect of the German defense effort was the extensive West-Stellung field fortification effort in August–November 1944 which created several defensive lines behind Metz and which slowed the US advance in November–December 1944 with extensive tank obstacles and minefields. This was not part of the Westwall as was often assumed but a large, deliberate and
new program. The West-Stellung program was a vital crutch for an increasingly bedraggled Wehrmacht. The performance of Patton’s Third US Army in Lorraine should also be judged in comparison with other Allied field armies in the same time frame. In Montgomery’s 21st Army Group in the Netherlands, the Canadian First Army fought a brutal struggle against AOK 15 to clear the Scheldt. It faced many of the same constraints as Patton regarding difficult terrain, poor weather and extensive German field
Third Army (XII Corps History Association: 1947) Fontbonne, Rémi, Les fortifications allemandes de Metz et de Thionville 1871–1918 (Serpenoise: 2006) Fuermann, George, and Cranz, Edward, Ninety-Fifth Infantry Division History 1918–1946 (Battery Press: 1988) Gabel, Christopher, The Lorraine Campaign: An Overview September–December 1944 (Combat Studies Institute: 1985) Kemp, Anthony, Metz 1944 (Heimdal: 2003) ——, The Unknown Battle: Metz 1944 (Stein & Day: 1981) Mangin, Pierre, L’armée Patton à