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(9/12) Battlefield I The Battle for the Rhine Episode 11 (GDH)

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Published on Feb 12, 2009

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The strongest portion of the line was the segment constructed in 1936 along the Saar River between the Moselle and the Rhine. Lying mainly in the zone of the Third U.S. Army, this portion would be spared until December because of the fighting in Lorraine. The next strongest portion was a double band of defenses protecting the Aachen Gap. Here the First U.S. Army already had reached the very gates.
The extreme northern segment of the West Wall—from Geilenkirchen, about fifteen miles north of Aachen, to Kleve—consisted only of a thin, single belt of scattered pillboxes backing up natural obstacles. South of Geilenkirchen, the pillboxes began to appear in a definite pattern of clusters on a forward line backed up by occasional clusters a few hundred yards to the rear. At a point about halfway between Geilenkirchen and Aachen, the density of the pillboxes increased markedly and the line split into two bands about five miles apart. Aachen lay between the two. Though two bands still were in evidence in the forest south and southeast of Aachen, the pillboxes were in less density. At a point near the northern end of the Schnee Eifel, the two bands merged, to continue all the way south to Trier as a single line with pillboxes in medium to heavy density. The greatest concentration in the Eifel was near the southern end of the Schnee Eifel where the terrain is relatively open.
In many places the West Wall depended for passive antitank protection upon natural obstacles like rivers, lakes, railroad cuts and fills, sharp defiles, and forest. In other places, the German engineers had constructed chains of "dragon's teeth," curious objects that looked like canted headstones in a strange cemetery. In some cases the dragon's teeth were no more than heavy posts or steel beams embedded in the ground, but usually they were pyramid-shaped reinforced concrete projections. There were five rows of projections, poured monolithic with a concrete foundation and increasing in height from two and a half feet in front to almost five feet in rear. The concrete foundation, which extended two and a half feet above the ground on the approach side, formed an additional obstacle.
Roads leading through the dragon's teeth were denied usually by a double set of obstacles, one a gate and another three rows of steel beams embedded diagonally in a concrete foundation. The gate consisted of two 12-inch H-beams welded together and hinged at one end to a reinforced concrete pillar. The beams could be swung into place horizontally and bolted to another concrete pillar on the opposite side of the road. The second obstacle consisted of three rows of 12-inch H-beams offset like theater seats. Embedded in the concrete foundation at an angle of about 45 degrees, the beams were attached at their base by a flange connection which hooked over an iron rod in the bottom of the recess. Though this and other obstacles conceivably could be removed or demolished by an attacking force, it presumably would prove difficult under fire from nearby pillboxes.
(UNITED STATES ARMY IN WORLD WAR II: The European Theater of Operations The Siegfried Line Campaign, Charles B. MacDonald (1963) Pg.34

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