In the CENTAG area the attacks that commenced the previous day in the V Corps sector had made good progress. CENTAG’s commander General Glenn Otis, US Army, was encouraged by the progress of the current operations. The two V Corps divisions were pressing their attacks west in the direction of Bad Hersfeld and Fulda. Beyond those towns was the border. It was not his place to decide if future operations would continue beyond that point. The decision would be made at the strategic level where the goals are always national, and in the case of an alliance like NATO multinational. For now, his command’s mission remained the same as it had been on the first day of the war: Defending the central and southern regions of the Federal Republic. Using V Corps current operations as a vehicle for pushing the Soviet 1st Guards Tank Army back across the Inner-German Border would practically guarantee the success of CENTAG’s primary wartime mission. Especially if the reports from VII Corps sector on the previous day were as promising as they seemed. The Czechs were starting to surrender in growing numbers down there. These reports coincided with news from Brussels about the growing unrest in Czechoslovakia, Poland and other Pact nations. If accurate, the enemy’s supply lines and rear areas would become increasingly vulnerable in the coming days.
Otis wanted to take advantage of this. 1st Guards Tank Army was still hanging on, but its hold on West German territory was tentative at best. The army group’s divisions were plainly on the defensive now, a role the Soviet commander probably never anticipated his divisions would have any need for. And if the situation inside Czechoslovakia and Poland were as bad as they seemed, fuel and supply shortages might not be too far behind.
At present, the focus of the 4th Infantry and 1st Armored were the respective attacks now underway. From the battalion level on up to division headquarters, each echelon of command clearly grasped the concept behind the higher headquarters orders and actions. There were no misunderstandings or deviation from the commander’s intent. V Corps two forward divisions were operating like well-oiled machines. Otis was entirely satisfied with this, but he was growing uneasy with V Corps plans and designs for the next phase of operations. Or, more accurately, its lack of plans. He was unaware of what the corps commander had in mind. With the current attacks going well, Otis hoped he would be ready to exploit and expand a major success. Jack Woodmansee had proven to be a highly capable and instinctive corps commander. Yet the present V Corps commander also had a habit of playing it conservative at times. In this case, Otis did not want to see an opportunity go to waste. Woodmansee’s corps had two divisions in reserve absorbing replacements and completing refit. 8th ID and 3rd Armored were nearly ready to be recommitted. If the attacks by 4th Infantry and 1st Armored made significant progress today, Otis wanted Woodmansee to have his reserve divisions ready to go in twenty-four hours. This would be the first topic of discussion when the two American generals met at 0600.
Of course, future plans were dependent on what happened up north. Otis was being kept current on events in the NORTHAG area by SACEUR. What he had heard in the past four hours was cause for concern. Apparently, NORTHAG had been caught looking the wrong way and the main Soviet attack was being aimed at the southern Weser river region, not Hameln as originally believed. Farndale, the British general in command of NORTHAG paid the price, having been relieved. The new commander, an American interestingly enough, was going to have to hurry if he was going to gather enough combat power to halt the Soviets before they reached the river. Otis hoped he would be successful. If the Weser was bridged by enemy, all bets were off across the board. Instead of advancing east, Otis could find himself rerouting the bulk of his corps and divisions north. Quite literally to save the entire alliance’s bacon.
Author’s Note: Decided to split this entry up because I didn’t want to skimp on the details too much. Oh and I also had a bit of a technology snafu to overcome today. That was a factor as well. 😊 – Mike