December 18,1944 through January 26,1945


The following account is from the 80th-AA Battalion History.

November 17, through December 16,1944;
The 80th AA Battalion arrived at Camp Suippes, France at 1730 hours (7:30PM). The feeling of being "home again" was everywhere. For the next three weeks the Battalion was engaged in general clean up details and inspections of clothing and equipment.
Men of the 80th were allowed to go on day passes and the first 48 hour passes to Paris were issued.

December 17,1944;
The Battalion was spending its fifth consecutive Sunday out of combat with many troops attending Catholic and Protestant church services in the morning at Camp Suippes.
At 1400 hours, there was an amateur show followed by a movie.
At 2000 hours, there was a single presentation of "Ballet Russe". Between and during the acts, several announcements were made which made the GI audience prick it's ears. The first one instructed all unit CO's to report to the Commanding General at 2200 hours. Other announcements ordered officers and NCO's to return to certain units.
By 2300 hours all troops were instructed to get ready to leave at 0900 hours on the 18th and nobody had any more doubts that the Battalion was going on another mission. Everyone had a busy night packing and getting ready to leave.

December 18,1944;
The morning was rainy. Most men were tired from lack of sleep.
With last minute details completed, the convoy started from Camp Suippes at 0955 hours - destination - "somewhere in Belgium"
The trip was slow with many miles of it through a haze and fog. The route included Luxembourg which could now be added to the long list of countries visited by the 82nd.
The convoy arrived at Werbomont, Belgium about 1900 hours. The men proceeded to settle down and dig in for the night.
The CP tent was set up and necessary, operational maps were broken down and distributed among batteries. After that, everyone went to sleep thoroughly convinced that they had helped establish a record for speed with which a division sized unit prepared and left for a combat mission.

December 19,1944;
The ground was damp but fortunately it did not rain during the night and everyone awakened in the morning refreshed by several hours rest.
A Division Anti-tank command post was established in a house approximately 1/4 mile from the Battalion command post. The personnel under Lt. Colonel Singleton, Division AT officer, included Captain Pratt, Captain Neumann.

End of, December 1944 entries of the 80th-AA Battalion History.

December 27,1944;
Headquarters,551st Parachute Infantry Battalion, attached to the 82nd Airborne Division;

Little has been written about General Gavin's visit to the command post of the 551st Parachute Infantry Battalion on December 27th 1944. The General wanted prisoners to interrogate and to test the German resolve and readiness to fight before the 82nd Airborne Division went on the offensive in early January.

Regarding the 1944 Christmas eve pullback of the 82nd Airborne Division ordered by Montgomery:

There was an alternative option available to Montgomery; he could have committed Horrock's 30 Corps into Ridgeway's hard pressed sector. Many including Horrock's wondered why he did not. On December 23rd, the First Army HQs diarist, William Sylvan wrote, "General Horrock's said that the Americans had fought magnificently, that his corps was not yet able to get into the fray; that it was unfair for the Americans to take the sole brunt of this blow"

Ridgway recalled; " the main criticisms of Montgomery have been both his thirst for publicity and prestige and his over cautiousness....He was criticized severely because he ordered me to pull the 82nd Division back after it had taken a very prominent, key terrain feature along a ridge with great skill and very little loss. They hated like hell the order to give it up. But Montgomery wouldn't hear anything else but that I contract that position, as he was expecting a very heavy German blow.... which never fell"

And so it was, on the night of December 24th 1944, the 505th Parachute Infantry pulled back from it's Salm river positions (from Trois Ponts southwards to Grand Halleux) to Basse Bordeaux as Montgomery ordered, "to tidy up the lines"


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