The action of Gen Rose’s 3-AD during the same period the 2-AD was gaining the area situated along the highway Vielsalm-Samrée-La Roche up to Houffalize, parallels also quite closely. The division’s mission was to seize Cherain and Bovigny, and the zone of its advance on these objectives was bounded on the west by the road Manhay-Houffalize, inclusive, and on the east by the road Salm-Château – Hierlot. The western boundary was later changed to exclude the Manhay – Houffalize axe.
The background of activities of the 3rd Armored Division is quiet comparative to the one of the 2nd Armored. Both divisions saw many combats in France, in Belgium and even in Germany before being withdraw back to Belgium at the start of the Battle of the Bulge.
Activated on Apr 15 1941 at at Camp Beauregard in Louisiana, the 3AD moved on Jun 14 1941 to Camp Polk, also in Louisiana. One year later the division moved to the Mojave Desert (Desert Training Center) in California (Jul 1942). Oct 1942 saw the 3AD moving to Camp Pickett, Virginia, to Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania (Jan 1943) and finaly, on Sept 5 1943, Boarding ships for England. The 3rd Armored arrived in Liverpool and Bristol on Sept 15 1943 and started it’s combat training period till late May 1944. On Jun 24 1944, the division crossed the channel to land on Jun 24 on Omaha Beach, Normandy (D+18). The race trough France and Belgium started there : Villiers-Fossard – Jun 29, St Lo, Jul 26, Mortain, Aug 5-8, Argentan – Falaise Gap, Aug 13-18, Crossed into Belgium, Sept 2, Sept 3, captured Mons, September 8, captured Liège, Sept 12 crossed into Germany. Siegfried Line Breakthrough on Sept 13, Attacking Stolberg on the 21 while taking care on Aachen and it’s entire vicinity at the same date. On December 18 1944, the 3rd Armored was ordered back to Belgium to join VII Corps and these started the Battle of the Bulge the the 3rd Armored Division.
Jan 1945, Action of the 3rd Armored Division
VII Corps had attached the 330th Infantry Regiment (83rd Infantry Division) to the 3-AD and Gen Rose had attached one battalion of this regiment to Combat Command A, the remaining 2 battalions to Combat Command B. CCA was organized into 2 task forces, Task Force Doan and Task Force Richardson. CCB was similarly organized in Task Force McGeorge and Task Force Lovelady.
TF Doan – (Lt Col L. L. Doan)
Hq, 32nd Armored Regiment
2nd Bn, 32nd Armored Regiment
3rd Bn, 36th Armored Infantry Regiment
1st Plat, A Co, 23rd Armored Engineer Battalion
1st Plat, A Co, 703rd Tank Destroyer Battalion
54th Armored Field Artillery Battalion
TF Richardson – (Lt Col Walter B. Richardson)
3rd Bn, 32nd Armored Regiment
2nd Bn, 330th Infantry Regiment
2nd Plat, A Co, 23rd Armored Engineer Battalion
2nd Plat, A Co, 703rd Tank Destroyer Battalion
62nd Armored Field Artillery Battalion
TF Lovelady – (Lt Col William B. Lovelady)
2nd Bn, 33rd Armored Regiment (-3rd Plat, B Co)
3rd Bn, 330th Infantry Regiment
1st Plat, D Co, 23rd Armored Engineer Battalion
1st Plat, B Co, 703rd Tank Destroyer Battalion
2nd Plat, Rcn Co, 33rd Armored Regiment
1st Plat, AT Co, 63th Armored Infantry Regiment
391st Armored Field Artillery Battalion
TF McGeorge – Maj Kenneth T. McGeorge
Hq, 33rd Armored Regiment
1st Bn, 33rd Armored Regiment (-3rd Plat, A Co)
2nd Bn, 36th Armored Infantry Regiment
2nd Plat, D Co, 23rd Armored Engineer Battalion
2nd Plat, B Co, 703rd Tank Destroyer Battalion
3rd Plat, Rcn Co, 33rd Armored Regiment
83rd Armored Field Artillery Battalion
The 3rd Armored attacked on Jan 3 with combat commands abreast, each combat command with task forces abreast in order to take advantage of the existing road net. Initial resistance was heavy and consisted of infantry, tanks, defended mine fields and road blocks. Despite this fact, the 3-AD made somewhat better progress during the initial days of the attack than was enjoyed by the 2nd Armored Division on its right flank. It is interesting to note, however, that throughout the operation the the progress made by the two armored divisions was essentially the same.
The attack continued through Jan 9, which date found elements of the division disposed along the line Provedroux – Ottré – Regné. On that date the 83rd Infantry Division passed through the 3-AD with a mission of seizing the line Bovigny – Baclain – Montleban. A new attack order (Field Order #25) directed continuation of the attack on Jan 13. In the continuation of this attack, CCB was directed to seize the high ground northwest of Baclain and proceed rapidly to secure Cherain while CCR was to follow and be prepared to move on the objective if the attack of CCB was slowed. CCA was to protect the left flank of the division. Circumstances necessitated changing the plan of attack, and the plan that was put into effect involved the attack of CCR and CCB abreast. CCB was ordered to siege Cherain and CCR to take Vaux and Sommerain. This phase of the attack began on Jan 13 and continued against the resistance of infantry, tank, and artillery elements through Jan 16. Jan 17, found the 3-AD in possession of the line Sommerain – Sterpigny.
Summary of Action
In drawing conclusions from the operations of the 2nd and the 3rd Armored Divisions, the effect of weather is most difficult to assess. Additionally, the weariness of the divisions, even at the outset of the offensive, is a factor deserving careful consideration. Certainly the weather was as bitter as any encountered by US forces in Europe during World War 2, and its effect on air operations and on the observation of artillery fire was tremendous. Tank elements were road bound and the mobility of these elements was reduced to a fraction of the normal figure. The VII Corps attack was characterized by the advance of two armored divisions abreast on a fourteen-mile front. Shortage of organic infantry in these armored division was overcome by the attachment of an infantry regiment to each division. VII Corps did not give mission type orders to the armored divisions, but rather required them to advance within zones. the restrictive orders given to the divisions imposed the requirement of liaison and contact with adjacent units, and it precluded attack in column, factors which may have slowed the advance materially.