Damn with faint praise, assent with civil leer,
And without sneering teach the rest to sneer


Dawn on 16 December came with low-lying cloud, beneath which mist and fog completely hid the deployment on the VIII Corps' front from Monschau to Echternach of the 13 infantry and seven armoured divisions, followed by a further 10 and supported by 2,000 guns which together comprised the Fifth and Sixth Panzer and Seventh Armies. Suddenly at 5.30 a.m. an artillery and mortar bombardment reminiscent of the heaviest barrages of the First War lit up the front: salvoes of V1s hissed overhead flying west. Then as the darkness faded the infantry came forward with the Panzer divisions following close upon their heels. Low cloud all day prevented the Allied air forces from giving any form of close support or information of the enemy's movements. Model had achieved surprise on a grand scale equalled only by Napoleon at Waterloo or Robert E. Lee at Second Manassas.

Early that morning, unaware of developments on VIII Corps' front, Bradley had set off by car from his headquarters at Luxembourg for SHAEF headquarters at Versailles to discuss future plans with Eisenhower and it was not until late afternoon, when in conference, that they were made aware of developments on VIII Corps' front. Bradley's first reaction was to brush the news aside as a mere spoiling attack staged in the hope of forcing Patton to suspend his attack on the West Wall. He was in fact in a far more critical position than he realised: he had no reserve behind the Ardennes sector and his own headquarters in Luxembourg were out on a limb on

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Patton: As Military Commander


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