The Battle for Hatten-Rittershofen
January 3 - January 20, 1945
(Portions condensed from Wikipedia:
The battle lasted for seventeen days allowing the VI Corps to re-group to prepared defensive positions. Once that was accomplished the 14th and supporting units withdrew south to join the rest of the army. Two Presidential Unit Citations were awarded for their actions during the battle - although four nominations were actually submitted. Col. Hans von Luck, who commanded the 21st Panzer Division at Hatten-Rittershoffen wrote in his memoirs "Panzer Commander" that the battle ".... was one of the hardest and most costly battles that had ever raged on the western front."
In his book "The History Of The 14th Armored Division" by Captain Joseph Carter (no publisher listed in the book) Capt. Carter ends his chapter on the battle thus:
"It snowed that night of January 20, and the long lines of vehicles - not as long now - moved slowly down the black streets, through the black Alsation towns; and wreckers skidded off the road and were abandoned, and a 155 MM gun skidded and blocked the column for miles; and the men sat in the tangle of vehicles and thought: "If the Krauts attack now, Jesus, Jesus." The enemy did not attack; Hatten was empty, horses and cows and pigs poking in the desolation, looking for food, and people timidly, shockedly, coming out of the cellars."....
..."And the men of the 14th, shivering in their vehicles that snowy night?
There was relief, but not a real relief.
Behind were their friends and their comrades, in the rubble of those towns and on those fields, and more of their friends and comrades were in the hospitals.
And they were reluctant to leave. They did not want to pull out. They did not want to give up the bloody vicious towns later to be compared with Stalingrad. They felt a little as if they were giving up, as if they had fought and suffered and died in vain.
Behind was Hatten and Rittershofen, and behind was the fighting. Behind were endless artillery barrages, the screaming and the waiting. Behind were the fires and the dead; and behind was the German High Command's broken offensive.
And it was a bitter grating night, that night, a night of tears in the soul, and it snowed."
The picturesque Fachwerkhäuser bely the carnage that once took place here.
The town's memorial to wartime losses which reads:
"A NOS MORTS
The only two reminders of conflict that we could readily see were the monument and this bunker which lay right off one of the main roads cutting through town
For further reading Mat recommended the following:
Website above has document detailing 48th Tank Battalion day-to-day activities in Rittershoffen…see document pages 20-30
Website has even more detailed day to day recollection and event
See Chapter 4 pgs. 37
Has book indicating story of 48th In Europe
Text that covers 14th Division
“The Final Crisis” book that we may want to read on January 1945