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The Battle of Lausdell
Ardennes Campaign Pt. 1
by Paul Rohrbaugh

"Our victory lies behind one more battle!”
- (Slogan scrawled throughout the German’s start-line as the Ardennes Offensive began).

Background

When the German offensive in the Ardennes opened, speed was of the essence for them to win. The capture of the crossroad at Lausdell on the first days of the attack was crucial, as this would allow the 1st SS Panzer division to breakthrough. Holding the critical road juncture was the 1st Battalion, 9th Regiment of the 2nd Infantry Division, with support from Company A, 741st Tank Battalion and elements of the 99th Infantry Division who had fallen back in the face of the overwhelming opening attacks the day before at Lanzerath. Behind this small force there was literally nothing to stop the Germans. Tasked with seizing the Lausdell crossroad were the 12th SS, Hitler Youth Division. One of the war’s truly epic fights was about to begin.

Ardennes Campaign Pt. 1: The Battle of Lausdell.
Note: this scenario makes use of Map #5 from the Expanded Rules Guide.

Aftermath

“Our mission is to defend this crossroad at all costs. I know you are in position now. When you return to your companies make sure that everyone in your command understands exactly what ‘at all costs’ means.”
--Major William D. McKinley, December 17th, 1944.

The Hitler Youth were expecting a fight for the vital crossroads at Lausdell, but not the kind they ran into. The opening volleys of zeroed weaponry, as well as minefields and barbed wire the US defenders put up, stopped the SS Panzergrenadier and tanks in their tracks. As the first day wore on, repeated German assaults were driven back. During the night both sides regrouped, but the Americans received little support as most reinforcements were preparing fall-back positions rather than rushing to the front. On the 18th, superior numbers told, and fighting degenerated to hand-to-hand with Panther tanks firing their cannon point-blank into the defenders’ foxholes. By noon the few surviving defenders received orders to withdraw. However, by that time the defenders had delayed the Hitler Youth’s advance by a crucial 18 hours, bleeding that formation white and allowing other US forces to form additional defense lines. There would not be a breakthrough by the Germans here.

Leading the defense at Lausdell was Major William Dawes McKinley, grand-nephew of the President. The 1st Bn/9th Rgt/2nd Infantry Div and its attached units received Presidential Citations for their fight at Lausdell. McKinley was among eleven US servicemen who received Silver Stars for their actions here. Two others received Distinguished Service Crosses and William Soderman, who died in the battle’s final minutes while covering the American withdrawal with his machine gun, received the Congressional Medal of Honor. On a “per capita” basis, those who fought at Lausdell during those two very cold and bitter days, are among the most decorated in US military history.

Additional Reading:

Agate, Patrick. Jochen Peiper: Commander Panzerregiment Leibstandarte. Manitoba: J.J. Fedorowicz Publishing, 1999.

Cole, Hugh M. U.S. Army in WWII, ETO, the Ardennes: Battle of the Bulge. Washington, DC: OCMH, 1965.

Eisenhower, John S.D. Bitter Woods: the Dramatic Story, Told at all Echelons, From Supreme Command to Squad Leader, of the Crisis That Shook the Western Coalition. New York: Putnam, 1969.

Gilmore, Donald L. [Editor]. U.S. Army Atlas of the European Theater in World War II. New York: Barnes and Noble Books, 2004.

Rusiecki, Stephen M. The Key to the Bulge: the Battle of Losheimergraben. Westport, CN: Praeger, 1996.

Schreckengost, Gary. “Buying Time at the Battle of the Bulge.” In World War II (January 2001), pp. 50-56, 80, 86, 88, 92.

Walter, Robert. “Baptism of Fire in the Bulge.” In World War II (March 2006), pp. 28-34.

Warnock, Bill. “Heroic Stand at Lausdell.” In WWII History (July 2007), pp. 56-64, 86










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