The Central Front D+7 (16 July, 1987) Part III

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As the day went on, conditions were developing in the northern, and central sectors of NORTHAG which were starting to favor maneuver-oriented offense, and defense. Soviet pressure continued to build in three areas: Southeast of Bergen and Hermannsburg in I NL Corps area, just east of Celle, and southeast of Hanover. Even though the danger of an enemy breakthrough at some point in the next eight to twelve hours had greatly diminished, the danger had not passed. NATO recognized this, and despite heated West German protests, it was decided that Hanover would not remain defended any longer than necessary. The exact amount of time would be determined by the results of the fighting north and south of the city.

Celle was ultimately going to end up in Soviet hands. That was certain, though NATO intended to hold the small city for as long as possible, then block and delay from Celle west to Autobahn 7. Responsibility for defending Celle fell to the 11th Panzergrenadier Division, while two brigades from the NORTHAG reserves were moving forward to join the effort.

South of Hanover, the situation changed as the day continued. 3rd Shock Army was shifting forces in order to continue the assault on Hildesheim. Beyond it was the Leine River, and west of that was the Weser. The later river, and surrounding region was the real prize for 3SA. If a bridgehead was established on the river, the army group would be aimed at the industrial heartland of the Federal Republic like a sledgehammer. Both sides saw this clearly. The Soviets were moving to make it  reality as NATO scrambled to enhance its defensive strength.

NORTHAG recognized the shifting paradigm on its front. General Farndale planned to use his reserve brigades as fire brigades, ready to be rapidly dispatched about the battlefield to reinforce threatened positions, and counterattack when and where possible. The dilemma was that his reserves were low at the moment, especially south of Hanover where he had little aside from a refitted British armored brigade as the reserve force. He brought this up with SACEUR more than once throughout their conversations on D+7. SACEUR finally decided on a compromise. He released the US 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment from the theater reserve and gave it to Farnham to use as he saw fit. The rest of the US III Corps would remain untouched in reserve, until either the time came for a counter-offensive, or NORTHAG’s lines showed signs being irreparably ruptured.

For the Soviets, even though the day had not gone exactly according to plan, the situation was developing favorably. 3SA’s successful thrust was opening the door to a host of enticing prospects for the future.  Meanwhile, 20th Guards Army had exploited the seam between I West German Corps and I NL Corps almost flawlessly. The war of attrition that had defined the Soviet/Warsaw Pact advance on the Central Front was coming to an end. Soon enough maneuver warfare would take hold and the race to the Rhine and beyond would begin in earnest.

2 Replies to “The Central Front D+7 (16 July, 1987) Part III”

  1. This is amazing. I’ve had such a great time reading these.

    How can we, your readers, help you get these posts out faster!!! A gofundme so you can quit your day job? A book deal! Anything!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! Happy to see you’re enjoying the blog. I’ve actually been thinking about starting a narrative novel based on this blog. Keep an eye out, I may mention more in the coming weeks.

      A Kickstarter might be coming over the summer 🙂

      Like

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