The Central Front D+11 (20 July, 1987) Part IV

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Author’s Note: Apologies for the short post today. Since I’m considered an essential employee I had to dedicate the lion’s share of the afternoon to work related issues. Next post will be up on Friday. I hope everyone’s healthy and doing well during this time. –Mike 

 

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Control of the 1st Guards Tank Army was back in the hands of its commander Lieutenant General Anatoli Tchernitsov. It was solely his responsibility now to determine where and when the 9th Tank Division was to be committed. This was a greater problem than it had been in the late of D+11 when the situation at the front appeared to favor 1st GTA. Five hours later saw doubt, and second-guessing move into Tchernitsov’s mind. 20th Guards Motor Rifle Division suffered heavy losses in men, and equipment in the past twenty-four hours. Its ability to set the stage for a breakthrough of US lines was in doubt. Tchernitsov had read the reports from the division’s headquarters and was current on the situation. The OMG tank division was moving forward right now and expected to be ready for commitment by late morning. A plan needed to be put together before then.

US V Corps was planning for the day’s coming battles as well. The corps commander, Lieutenant General John Woodmansee learned from his intelligence section at 0200 that a fresh enemy division was moving west towards the forward edge of the battle area. They identified the formation as the 9th Tank Division, and estimated it would reach the Fulda area by noon. From there it would go into action against one of V Corps two current frontline divisions. Woodmansee believed it was going to be the 4th Infantry Division, but some of the more senior members of his staff thought 1st Armored Division’s sector was going to be the focal point of 1st GTA’s next push. The general admitted this was possible, though not likely. In any case, revised plans were needed. Like their Soviet counterparts, the staff officers at V Corps forward command post settled down to the task at hand as the time approached 0300.

To the north in West German III Corps area little had changed over the past 36 hours. The lines remained static with neither side looking to change the situation. Soviet and East German divisions bogged down in the suburbs of Kassel now looked to be digging in. In the northern corps area the West German 12th Panzer Division remained vigilant to a possible southerly swing by the Soviet divisions now crossing the former Inner-German border. Such a move was not considered likely given the developing picture around Hanover. All Soviet reinforcing divisions  appeared committed to that area, with little desire to open a new avenue of advance into I Belgian Corps sector, and consequently the northern zone of the III WG Corps area.

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