1st Cavalry Division’s commander General John Yeosock was discovering a potential way to bring his entire division into the battle in a decisive fashion. The loose collection of thoughts in his mind came together and a plan was taking shape. The inspiration for his plan was the brilliant thunder run pulled off by the 2nd Brigade/2nd Armored Division and a brigade of British armor four days earlier. If NATO was the victor of this war, Yeosock decided, most serious military historians would point to the thunder run as the decisive moment of the conflict.
Hindsight is always something of a bittersweet tool. Looking back at it now, Yeosock couldn’t help but wonder why the temporary gains made by the US and British armor were not turned into a catalyst to push the Soviets back across the Leine once and for all. The general was objective enough to admit there’d never be a way of knowing if such a move was even possible. He wasn’t in Martin Farndale’s shoes at the time and was unable to see the big picture as it played out. Put succinctly, at the time Farndale had more current and accurate information to make the decision on the spot. Unfortunately, given the fact the British general had been sacked, his actions leading up to the time of his dismissal were going to be second guessed and placed under a microscope by amateur and professional historians of every grain. Unless Ivan ends up winning, Yeosock amended this last observation. In that case, Farndale might become a hero in Soviet history books.
On the short ride back to Arholzen, Yeosock laid out the still-forming plan with 2nd Brigade/1st Cav’s commander. Put simply, it was a variant of a thunder run but on a bigger scale. 2nd Brigade would be the unit tagged with the responsibility of conducting the run, with the remainder of the 1st Cav rapidly exploiting the chaos and fury of the moment to thoroughly unravel and destroy the rear areas of the Soviet divisions advancing on the Weser. Thus bringing their push to a halt. 2nd Brigade’s commander liked the plan and helped his division commander fill in some blanks. He pointed out that the whole plan was time sensitive and would depend entirely on the Belgians holding the line for at least another six to eight hours. Yeosock dropped 2nd Brigade’s commander and other officers in Arholzen and ordered them to start planning immediately. He’d be in touch.
He returned to his temporary headquarters at Holzminden, a large town on the Weser where the rest of his division was presently crossing. His first task was to order his communications officer to reach General Saint at NORTHAG’s wartime headquarters. It took ten minutes, but Yeosock was finally connected with his former corps commander on the secure net.
Saint was the first to speak. “John, you’re not getting command of Three Corps. So, if that’s the purpose of your call, forget it.”
Yeosock chuckled. “Nothing like that, sir. I swear. But I do have a question. Who is in overall tactical command down here? The Belgian commander or me?”
“You’re the man in charge,” Saint confirmed, and then following a short pause asked, “Why?”
Yeosock gave a quick outline of his plan that was purposely short on details. He was smart enough not to trust the communications network entirely, even though it was supposed to be 100 percent secure.
“I trust your battlefield instincts, John,” NORTHAG’s new commander said. “But keep in mind that if you waste your division, I won’t have anything else available to stop the Russians from getting across the Weser. The Brits and Germans are still hours away.”
“I understand what you’re saying, sir,” Yeosock growled. “But I believe we’re approaching the perfect time moment for this. “Listen, Butch,” he invoked Saint’s nickname. “My troops have the best night vision equipment in the world. The junk Ivan’s got doesn’t even come close. A brigade-sized attack in the dead of night is not something the Russians would expect, or can stop.”
Another short period of silence. “Start putting your plan together, John,” CINC-NORTHAG ordered. “I will be there in an hour. Have a detailed briefing ready.”
Author’s Note: I’ve recovered. 😊 Thanks for the kind messages of support. They helped tremendously. Okay, Monday will be Part V and that’ll wrap up the NORTHAG area of operations. Central Front Part VI will be posted at midweek, covering CENTAG and southern Germany. Then we’ll wrap up the peripheries and D+16 should be in the books by 31 May.