Posted by : Robert Child Saturday
"Wars may be fought with weapons, but they are won by men." Gen. George S. PattonI have been commissioned to write and direct a new project with the Joseph Small and the Ardennes Group producer of The Wereth Eleven. It is a WWII feature film which we've titled, Blood and Armor. This is a two hour theatrical release not a television documentary or a docudrama. I am beginning discussions with potential strategic partners including the visual effects firm which completed much of the special effects for Brad Pitt's WWII tank film, Fury. Although this project is still in the development stage the writing has already begun. If I were to categorize this movie it would be your classic WWII action feature with heart stopping moments and edge of your seat action. This isn't your grandfather's Battle of the Bulge movie and I will keep you regularly updated with our progress.
Here's the story:
The 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment (82nd Airborne) is ordered during the third day of Battle of the Bulge to do the impossible. Their assignment - seize and hold a heavily fortified German occupied town, capture a bridge and stop cold the thundering advance of German Waffen SS Commander, Joaquin Pieper’s armored divisions which stretch back sixteen miles.
The farthest advanced troops of Pieper’s armored SS are dug in on high ground at Cheneux, Belgium in impregnable positions. They command an arsenal of 30 tanks, a dozen 20mmm flak wagons, MG42 machine guns, 105mm howitzers and half-tracks with mounted 77mm cannons. Paratroopers of the 504th carry the M-1 Garand. The Americans have to advance across 1000 yards of open, snow encrusted ground and fourteen rows of barbed wire to attack the enemy.
Col. Reuben “Retreat Hell!” Tucker in charge of the 504th, a grizzled combat vet who Gen. Gavin calls, “the best combat field commander in the 82nd” knows for many of his men this attack will be their last. He compares his situation to the doomed final charge at Gettysburg as, “men against metal.”
With two battalions at his disposal and time running out before 25 German divisions engulf his position Tucker orders a bold daylight attack with two platoons. The assault is a disaster. Ordered to temporarily withdraw and regroup at 5:30P Tucker has no choice but to then order a nighttime attack at 7:30P. Two companies of the 504th, B & C attack Cheneux in echelon assault waves and storm the strongly entrenched enemy. Facing the heavy fire of 20 mm cannon, machine gun, mortar and small arms most of the Americans are cut down in the first 35 minutes of battle. One Sergeant reports, “the men fell like flies.
By 10P that night a wire was laid to Regimental HQ and Col. Will Harrison, was on the phone to Tucker. “Will! How’s it going?” Tucker anxiously asks his field commander.
“Pretty rough. We are in the middle of town.”
“How many men have you got?”
“15 in B and 8 in C” Harrison responds.
The blood drains from Tucker’s face, “My God Will!” What are you doing?” Harrison responds calmly, “We’re still attacking.”
* Dialog based on a letter sent after the battle.
With dog-faced determination out of ammunition but undaunted the 504th resort to primal hand-to-hand combat. The Germans match their intensity. Trench knives slit throats, rifle butts crack skulls and bayonet charges spill guts.
By the time killing ends, the First Battalion of the 504th Parachute Infantry has destroyed five companies of German SS Armored troops and large quantities of artillery, vehicles and one Mark VI tank. They seal a trap for thirty tanks and ninety-five trucks. The 504th incurs 225 casualties in 2 days. In the 1st battalion "B" company no officers remained while only 18 enlisted men survive. Only 3 officers with 38 enlisted men in "C" company walk away.
Pieper forced to reroute to the next town north Stoumont where the 30th Infantry Division finally halts his assault. On Christmas Eve, three days after the battle at Cheneux Pieper abandons his vehicles and escapes through the woods and deep snow with 800 men. 36 hours and 20 kilometers later he reaches German lines.