NORTHAG 1200-1700 (Southern Sector of the Weser Defenses)
NATO combat strength in the southern sector of the Weser defense was currently anchored around the Belgian 16th Armored Division. This division’s title is somewhat misleading. It was actually organized more along the lines of a traditional 3-brigade mechanized infantry division once the absorption of reserve units and wartime deployments were factored in. On D+15 two of the division’s brigades were deployed forward.
4th Brigade had reluctantly ceded Wezen to the enemy in the later hours of the morning but continued to skirmish with the Soviet 202nd Guards Motor Rifle Regiment into the afternoon. 17th Brigade, another mechanized infantry formation, had its line centered at Dassel a small town situated at the edge of the Solling hills 12 kilometers west of Einbeck. This was the point where the terrain became more favorable to the defenders and offered few viable avenues to the Weser for the Soviets. The division’s third brigade remained in place on the right bank of the Weser at Hoxter, serving as 16th Armored Division reserve.
The early afternoon moved along with continued skirmishes between Belgian and Soviet forces from Eimen south to Einbeck. The Soviet unit opposing the Belgians was the 6th Guards Tank Division. Much of this division was already across the Leine and proceeding southwest and west from the bridgeheads at Freden and Greene towards Einbeck. The bulk of the division was anticipated to begin deploying in force from Wenzen to Einbeck later in the day and start the next phase of operations around sunset. By all appearances the 6th Guards primary mission was to conduct a supporting attack and keep the Belgians busy and unable to affect the growing battle to the north.
As fighting in the Hameln area intensified through the afternoon the Soviet tank division displayed its cards even more. Engagements with the forward Belgian units became longer, with the Soviet units displaying more reluctance to disengage. Their intent was clearly to keep the Belgians preoccupied as the battle to the north played out.
Around 1500 concern over the southern Leine bridgeheads was growing. With the bulk of 2 ATAF’s airpower committed in the north the number of sorties directed at the enemy’s southern crossing points was limited. Many pilots returning from these missions reported heavier SAM and anti-aircraft defenses around the bridges. Even more curious were reports indicating an increase in ground traffic on the roads approaching Freden and Greene. This information was recorded and sent up the line.
NORTHAG’s intelligence officers were not overly alarmed by the sightings. They assumed the pilots had seen straggler 6th Guards sub-units running dangerously behind schedule and rushing to their crossing points. It was mentioned briefly to General Farndale and elicited minimal interest. He accepted the conclusion of his intelligence officers and did not give the topic a second thought. The Belgian division’s commander, on the other hand, was more troubled by the reports. His forces would be responsible for stopping those units now queued up to cross the Leine. 16th Armored Division matched up very well with its Soviet opponent, a Category B tank division. But if the enemy was introducing additional forces into his sector, this was inevitably going to alter the calculus of his defensive plans. He needed more accurate intelligence about just what was happening on the other side of the Leine and put a request for it to NORTHAG through I Belgian Corps headquarters.