THREE BATTLES: ARNAVILLE, ALTUZZO, AND SCHMIDT. By Charles B. MacDonald and Sidney T. Mathews. (1952, 1989, 1991; 443 pages, 44 maps, 44 illustrations, order of battle, bibliographical note, glossaries, index, CMH Pub 11-7.)
The three engagements presented in this book are described in detail to illustrate the nature of battle in Europe during World War II at the small-unit level. They supplement the campaign histories of the European and Mediterranean Theaters of Operations where the amount of small-unit material that can be included in a history is limited by the large size of the forces that have to be followed. In these three studies a microscope is applied, so to speak, to actions which either have been or will be related, minus the detail of these presentations, in the campaign histories of those theaters.
The three battles here described were selected not for their importance but for two other reasons. One was the availability of information, including contemporary interviews, which would permit the author to maintain the small-unit level through an entire operation or to a natural conclusion. The other was a desire for actions in which the role of arms and services other than infantry could be presented in a variety of tactical situations. Each study therefore provides an opportunity to examine the interplay of small parts on an actual battlefield.
The first of the three, "River Crossing at Arnaville," is an account of two attempts to establish bridgeheads across the Moselle River near Metz, France, in September 1944: one a failure, the other a success. Two infantry regiments of the 5th Division and a combat command of the 7th Armored Division were the major units engaged. "Break-Through at Monte Altuzzo" describes a successful but arduous attempt by elements of a regiment of the 85th Infantry Division to penetrate the Giogo Pass in the Appenines, also in September 1944. "Objective: Schmidt" is primarily the story of the 112th Infantry of the 28th Division in an unsuccessful operation against the village of Schmidt within the Huertgen Forest in Germany in 1944.
The narrative in each case goes down from regiments, battalions, and companies to platoons, squads, and individuals. The story of higher headquarters and of high -level communications and decisions is related only as necessary for an understanding of the operations of these lower units. Attention is focused on the problems and achievements of soldiers and officers of small units on the battlefield.
The tactical framework of the three studies is varied: a river crossing, mountain warfare, and forest and village fighting. Accounts are included of most of the normal offensive and defensive assignments to be expected of infantry units under these tactical conditions. Detail is sufficient in text and maps for study of all three actions as case histories with little or no recourse to additional material.
In addition to the overall accounts, fairly complete instructional examples may be obtained on a number of subjects, including the following:
1. Inadequate intelligence (Arnaville, Ch. I; Altuzzo, Chs. I, II; Schmidt,
2. Poor command coordination (Arnaville, Ch. I; Altuzzo, Ch. II).
3. Smoking operations to conceal bridge-building activity (Arnaville, Ch. III).
4. Employment of artillery against fixed defensive works (Arnaville, Ch. I).
5. Engineers in role of infantry (Schmidt, Chs. IV-VII).
6. Engineer bridging operations (Arnaville, Ch. III).
7. Communications failures (Altuzzo, Ch. II).
8. Erroneous messages and situation reports (Altuzzo, Chs. I-III; Schmidt, Chs.
9. Organization of a deliberate defensive position (German) (Altuzzo, Ch. I).
10. Supply problems (Arnaville, Ch. I; Altuzzo and Schmidt, passim).
11. Methods of counterattack (German) (Arnaville, Ch. I; Altuzzo, Chs. II, V; Schmidt, Chs. III-VI).
12. Inadequate security (Schmidt, Chs. II-VI).
13. Tanks and tank destroyers in close support (Arnaville, Chs. III, IV; Schmidt, Chs. III-VI).
14. Panic (Arnaville, Ch. II; Altuzzo, Chs. II, III; Schmidt, Chs. III, V, VI).
Other general subject areas found throughout the work include: morale, misdirected artillery fire, attempts by tactical air to isolate a local battlefield, close support artillery, reluctance of the individual to fire, combat fatigue, loss of direction, patrolling, medical evacuation, propaganda leaflets, personnel replacements, equipment shortages, tank-infantry coordination, tanks in an antitank role, and employment of armor under adverse conditions of weather and terrain.
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