January 1945, around Strasbourg, France.
During Operation Nordwind parts of the german 19. Armee (General der Infanterie Siegfried Rasp) started a small supporting offensive. When the german army attacked around Bitsch to break through the lines of the 7th US Army the US army send in all available units. The quiet Rhine river line was thinned out to send in more units. General Rasp used the situation to start an local offensive of his 19. Armee. The army was waiting for revenge since the alliied landings in southern France. General Rasp started Operation Sonnenwende (Operation solstice). He send in a Kampfgruppe (combat group) of the 553. Volksgrenadierdivision. The 553. VGD crossed the Rhine with 3300 soldiers close to the french town of Herrlisheim. US General Brooks, commander of the VI US Corps, was ordered to eliminate the "Gamersheim cancer" by US General Patch, 7th US Army at the 6th January 1945. General Brooks thought that the german bridgehead was defended by 700~800 old men and Hitlerjungen. He send in the 12th US Armored Division. The division was a young formation without any experience in combined armed operations or urban combat. The division send in a combat group to eliminate this german defenders of Herrlisheim. The 12th armored division attacked on January 8. The division took heavy casualties in the streets of Herrlisheim. The 8,8cm Flak guns from the german side of the Rhine, Panzerfaust hunters and mobile Panzerschreck squads killed 12 Sherman in a couple of hours. The 12th US armored division stoppend the first attacked and reinforced the combat teams. Motivated by the success of the 553. VGD the german high command decided to send in reinforcements to take advantage of the Gambersheim bridgehead. The 39. Panzerkorps with the 10. SS-Panzerdivision 'Frundsberg' enforced the 553. VGD. During the night of January 15/16 dozens of ferries transported 50 Panzer IV and 40 Panther tanks over the Rhine into Herrlisheim. Because of the bad weather and the stress by the german offensives in the Ardennes and in the Vosges the US army hadnt recognized the german reinforcements for Herrlisheim. When the 12th US armored division had regrouped for a new and strengthened attack the german defenders were prepared. January 17 the 12th armored division started a new assault and run into the Panzers of the 10. SS-PzDiv. The battle was bloody and brutal. The 43rd US tank battalion and the 17th US armored infantry battalion were annihilate by the german forces. Further attacked were called off. Motivated by successful defense the 10. SS-PzDiv started an own offensive to captured Hagenau from the south and to encircle the 7th US army around Strasbourg. During the next days the region around Herrlisheim became the "Kursk of the western front". The 10. SS-PzDiv and the 12th US armored division fought a bloody battle. Both sides were losing tanks, weapons and soldiers. After 3 days of fighting both sides were exhausted. Unfortunately for the germans the US army was able to stop the northern ambush of Operation Nordwind. The 7th US army was now able to send reinforcements to Herrlisheim. With this reinforcements the US army was now on the offensive again. The german side wasnt able to replace the casualties. Forced by the enforced US troops the german 19. Armee started the evacuation of the "Gambersheim cancer" pocket.
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