Blocking Kampfgruppe Peiper

The 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment in the Battle of the Bulge

Frank van Lunteren

In December 1944 an enormous German army group crashed through the thin American line in the Ardennes forest. Caught by surprise, the Allies were initially only able to throw two divisions of paratroopers to buttress the collapse—the 82nd Airborne, which was rushed to the area of St. Vith, and the 101st, which was trucked to Bastogne. In this work
Date Published :
October 2015
Publisher :
Casemate
Language:
English
Illustration :
16pp photos
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Hardback
ISBN : 9781612003139
Pages : 368
Dimensions : 9 X 6 inches
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+
In stock
$32.95

Overview
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In December 1944 an enormous German army group crashed through the thin American line in the Ardennes forest. Caught by surprise, the Allies were initially only able to throw two divisions of paratroopers to buttress the collapse—the 82nd Airborne, which was rushed to the area of St. Vith, and the 101st, which was trucked to Bastogne.

After their successful campaign in Holland, Colonel Reuben Tucker’s elite 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment was resting and refitting in France when news came of the German breakthrough. Most dangerous to the Allies was the German spearhead of the 1st SS Panzer Division led by Jochen Peiper, which aimed to sever the Allied front. The 504th was committed to block the SS advance, and within 48 hours of their arrival Colonel Tucker’s paratroopers were attacking the SS-Panzergrenadiers of Peiper’s battlegroup, eventually forcing them to withdraw.

More ferocious fighting ensued as follow-up German units forced a U.S. retreat from St. Vith. In adverse weather conditions against the German 9th SS Panzer and 3rd Fallschirmjäger Divisions, the 504th lived up to it’s regimental motto--Strike and Hold. Although some rifle companies were whittled down to less than 50 paratroopers, the Americans doggedly fought on until victory was achieved.

Moving quotations of letters to the next-of-kin provide insight into the impact of their deaths both on the battlefield and homefront.

In this work Van Lunteren provides a fascinating, close-in view of the 504th P.I.R. during the Battle of the Bulge as well as its gallant sacrifice. Using never before published diaries, letters, battle reports and interviews with over 100 veterans, a comprehensive account is painted of a triumphant U.S. regiment in one of the fiercest fought campaigns in the history of the U.S. Army.

About The Author
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Frank van Lunteren was born and raised in Arnhem, the Netherlands. His interest in military history dates to the 1980’s, when as a child he first visited the Airborne Museum in Oosterbeek. He went on to study political history at the Radboud University in Nijmegen, while privately researching the exploits of the paratroopers, and at the 61st convention of the 82nd Airborne Division Association in Harrisburg, PA in August 2007, he was Guest Speaker at the 504th Regimental Dinner.He originally conducted research on the wartime service of Ted Bachenheimer (1923-44), the famous top scout of the 504th PIR during World War II. But his contacts proliferated, as did his project, and he eventually met and interviewed so many veterans that the present work – on the entire 504th PIR’s service in Market Garden – is the Result.

TABLE OF CONTENTS
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FOREWORD BY FORMER 2ND LT. ROBERT E. BRAMSON, F/504
INTRODUCTION
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

1 CAMP SISSONNE: SISSONNE, FRANCE, NOVEMBER 15‒DECEMBER 15, 1944

2 A SERIOUS BREAKTHROUGH: WERBOMONT AND RAHIER, BELGIUM, DECEMBER 16‒19, 1944

3 THE ROAD TO CHENEUX: CHENEUX, BELGIUM, DECEMBER 20, 1944

4 THE BATTLE OF CHENEUX: CHENEUX, BELGIUM, DECEMBER 20, 1944
5 THE CAPTURE OF CHENEUX: CHENEUX AND MONCEAU, BELGIUM, DECEMBER 20‒21, 1944

6 THE END OF KAMPFGRUPPE PEIPER: CHENEUX AND TROIS PONTS, BELGIUM, DECEMBER 22‒24, 1944

7 ENTRAPMENT AND ENDURANCE: BRA-SUR-LIENNE, EN FLORET, BELGIUM, DECEMBER 25‒26, 1944

8 BREAKING UP THE GERMAN ASSAULT: BRA-SUR-LIENNE, BERGIFAZ, BELGIUM, DECEMBER 26‒31, 1944

9 STRIKING BACK: BELGIUM, JANUARY 1‒6, 1945

10 VICTORY AT A HIGH PRICE: FARNIÈRES, MONT AND ROCHELINVAL, JANUARY 7, 1945

11 TWIN TOWNS: PETIT HALLEUX AND GRAND HALLEUX, BELGIUM, JANUARY 8‒11, 1945

12 RECUPERATION: REMOUCHAMPS, BELGIUM, JANUARY 12–24, 1945

13 ADVANCE BY ATTRITION: HUNNANGE AND HERRESBACH, BELGIUM, JANUARY 25–29, 1945

14 DECIMATION AT MANDERFELD: HOLZHEIM, EIMERSCHEID AND MANDERFELD, BELGIUM, JANUARY 30‒31, 1945

15 THE BATTLE FOR THE MERTESROTT HEIGHTS: MERTESROTT HEIGHTS, GERMANY, FEBRUARY 2, 1945

16 BREACHING THE SIEGFRIED LINE: MERTESROTT HEIGHTS, GERMANY, FEBRUARY 2, 1945


17 FROM ONE FOREST TO ANOTHER: HUERTGEN FOREST, GERMANY, FEBRUARY 3–21, 1945

POSTSCRIPT: UNITED STATES, JANUARY 1946–JANUARY 2015

APPENDIX A: DISTINGUISHED SERVICE CROSS RECIPIENTS
APPENDIX B: PRISONERS OF WAR CAPTURED IN THE BATTLE OF THE BULGE
APPENDIX C: B COMPANY REPLACEMENTS AT CHENEUX, DECEMBER 22, 1944
APPENDIX D: C COMPANY REPLACEMENTS AT CHENEUX, DECEMBER 22, 1944
APPENDIX E: ORDER OF BATTLE FOR THE BATTLE OF THE BULGE, DECEMBER 18, 1944
APPENDIX F: ORDER OF BATTLE FOR THE BATTLE OF THE BULGE, JANUARY 5, 1945
APPENDIX G: ORDER OF BATTLE FOR THE BATTLE OF THE BULGE, JANUARY 26, 1945
APPENDIX H: ORDER OF BATTLE FOR THE 551ST PARACHUTE BATTALION, JANUARY 7, 1945
APPENDIX I: THE PRISONER OF WAR EXPERIENCE OF 2ND LIEUTENANT HARRY ROLLINS

NOTES
CONTRIBUTING VETERANS
SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY
INDEX

REVIEWS
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"Military historian Frank van Lunteren set himself three tall-order tasks: ferret out all relevant primary sources, no matter how obscure; weave the evidence together into an engaging narrative (and crafting clear tactical accounts is among the toughest of writing chores); and produce the most thorough history of the part played by the officers and men of the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment in the Ardennes Campaign. Blocking Kampfgruppe Peiper scores high on all counts."

- D.K.R. Crosswell, author of Beetle: The Life of General Walter Bedell Smith

"Frank van Lunteren gives us the rare privilege of hearing in personal and touching detail the stories of the Battle of the Bulge as recounted by the paratroopers of the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment. Never have I actually felt the cold and desperation of the Bulge as I did while reading this book. Enduring the most brutal conditions of the winter war, the 504th went face-to-face with elite Waffen SS in Germany's final bid to conquer Europe. Blocking Kampfgruppe Peiper is a timeless sago of courage, determination and victory."

- Barbara Gavin Fauntleroy, author of The General and His Daughter: The Wartime Letters of General James M. Gavin to His Daughter Barbara.

Full of first-hand accounts by 504 Parachute Infantry Paratroopers who fought at the Battle of the Bulge, Blocking Kampfgruppe Peiper chronicles the long-overlooked contributions of the regiment in this pivotal battle of World War II. Frank van Lunteren has researched and compiled the personal accounts of these "Devils in Baggy Pants" into a story destined to be a lasting testament to the sheer determination and bravery of these men."

- Dominic T. Biello, www.ww2-airborne.us

"Blocking Kampfgruppe Peiper continues Frank van Lunteren's superb series on the famed 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment during World War II. Masterfully telling the gripping account of little-known battles against the best-equipped, most elite and fanatical troops of the Waffen SS panzer divisions, the author details the brutal battles waged on the northern shoulder of the Bulge in Germany's last, desperate offensive during the freezing winter of 1944-1945. Over a hundred interviews, including many new and never-before-published first-person eyewitness accounts by both 504th veterans and their German adversaries take the reader into the midst of the fighting as Tucker's troopers charge across open ground to attack armored flakwagons and heavy reconnaissance vehicles with little more than small arms, grenades and machine guns. Van Lunteren's work stands as a lasting testament to the tremendous heroism and devotion to duty of the tough paratroopers of the 504th. I highly recommend this outstanding book."

- Phil Nordyke, 82nd Airborne Division historian and author of More Than Courage: The Combat History of the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment in World War II and All American All the Way: The Combat History of the 82nd Airborne Division in World War II, and other titles

"The reader is thrust into the midst of the battle as if they were direct participants. One is engulfed in the personal experiences by named members of the 504th to include the verbiage of the citations for awards of bravery and self-sacrifice. One is also almost mesmerized by the, at times, excess of detail of both individual and elements of small unit actions. And this, not only from the perspective of the 504th but also, that of Peiper’s Kampfgruppe. For, in many ways, this book is a ‘two way street’ covering not only the U.S elements, but also the enemy’s—and that is what is necessary if one is to truly appreciate what the 504th achieved!"

- Airborne Quarterly

"An inspiring and heart-breaking account of just one part of one campaign in the bloodiest war on record..           "

- Books Monthly

"... exhaustively researched, compellingly written, and supported with detailed maps. It's a story of raw courage in the face of seemingly impossible odds, and it's a great read."

- World War II

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