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• UpThe FortressReal BitchDesignPlanArtillery"Sluggers"ArmorAssaultUnit Citation: 71st •     

Simserhof Block 5 German Siegfried LineGiven the proximity of Simserhof to Bitche, this nickname is no surprise. But the title is certainly warranted regardless of the name of the closest town. Simserhof represented a face-off. There would be no German retreat from Simserhof.  It marked the beginning of desperate give no ground German defenses built around the main battle line, German Siegfried Line.  No other option existed.  Success of the all-out gamble, high risk Ardennes offensive demanded the line hold to protect itís left flank.  And nothing else stood between the Americans and a defenseless Reich itself, if breached. The Germans had to hold.  The Germans deployed first rate troops in this world-class facility to stop the 44th at Simserhof.

Fortress 5 of the Simserhof w/o damage, and many German officers. The Germans could not get within range, in 1940. Every time they attempted to do so, the French gunners fired back with such accuracy that they usually hit what they aimed at. The Simserhof fortifications only  surrendered on 1 July 1940 after the French High Command ordered them to do so. Its weapons were still in perfect condition for the Germans in 1944
 

The fort and a key element of the  main German battle line signified a transition to the men of the 44th. Up to thisSimserhof Block Three Undamaged point, the 44th battled against bloody 'make em pay' German delaying defenses.  The drill: grudgingly give ground.  The Germans needed breathing room.  Time to free panzers and shock troops from defense to attack in the upcoming Ardennes offensive.  Time was needed to ready the main battle line at Simserhof and elsewhere. The reinforcement of defenses by slave labor and second rate army units, to supply and rebuild defensive positions, required more time.  In turn, the 44th pushed and pushed hard knowing time was the enemy.  The currency, the same, soldierís blood. The Germans grudgingly retreated.   The enemy counter-attacked to keep the GIs off balance.   Stout, bunker like, buildings of the region easily were transformed into mini-forts,  demanding elimination by 44th infantry assaults in order to proceed. But now trading time for space was over.  The Germans would not retreat at Simserhof, a cornerstone in the vaunted German Siegfried Line.

1944 Fort 6 - Simserhof This fortification, as were many of those constructed along the Maginot Line was armed with several 75 mm guns with a range of 11.9 km and with a well trained crew could fire an average of 30 rounds per gun, per minute. The Germans were never able to take a single 75 mm fortress gun out of action during their assault on the Line


The U.S. liberally employed some of its most capable elements toward its capture. Examples include taking the "Slammer",  US  tank destroyers ,mounted with the M90 cannon, the Allies best anti-tank platform, away from the sorely need anti-tank role. Another was the liberal use of US Artillery, even by American standards.  Despite a severe shortage in artillery shells and the heavy demands of the raging Battle of the Bulge,  the U.S. chose to expend much high demand ordinance on the fortress. The Germans feared and respected US 'Arty' more than any other US capability.   This respect was well earned and not due only because of the large number of guns and liberal use of shells,  which was the case on the Eastern Front with the Russians. American artillery led the world in capabilities.  These included the lethal use of proximity fuses against ground targets, timed on target barrages  and targeting.  

In the air, P47s fighter bombers, called 'Jabos' by the Germans, used  500lb bombs once the ground offensiveSimserhof Block 6 began.  The P47s were a scourge to German troops and equipment. These planes provided 'in close' support to the 71st Regiment, the storied and proven regiment tasked to storm the fort.   As always, the grunts bear the greatest burden, to capture and hold positions.

Undamaged Block 3 Simserhof circa 1940- 1944 - right


Fortress photographs courtesy of

 

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