US Infantry Command Group
4 metal figures to compose a US infantry command group advancing in combat in winter order:
- Sergeant running in M43 uniform and M3 Grease Gun sub-machine gun.
- Officer or NCO advancing in M43 uniform and M1 sub-machine gun Thompson.
- Officer or NCO running with M43 uniform and ‘liberated’ StG44 assault rifle.
- Corporal advancing cautiously with M43 uniform and M1 carbine.
The figures of the SNAFU team command group advancing in combat are inspired by the existing extensive graphic documentation of the Battle of the Bulge and the last months of the campaign in Western Europe.
The Battle of the Bulge
Officially codenamed “Wacht am Rhein” or Guard on the Rhine, the German counter-offensive in the Ardennes that began on 16 December 1944 is considered to be the last major operation on the Western Front designed by the German High Command capable of changing the course of the war in Europe. In fact, it was designed to deal a decisive blow by launching a surprise attack on the weak American lines in the Belgian forests of the Ardennes, which in fact facilitated the conquest of the Netherlands and France during the Blitzkrieg of 1940.
The Siege of Bastogne
Bastogne was a hub of communications because it was a crossroads connecting practically the whole region of the Ardennes. Moreover, the city was on the way to the Meuse River of the 5th Panzer Army under the command of General Hasso von Manteuffel, who had orders to surrender it as soon as possible without stopping its advance.
In the city and its surroundings, the 10th Armoured Division’s Combatant Command B (CCB) was deployed, which had come to reinforce Bastogne on 17 December from the north of Luxembourg. There they met a motley and disorganised group of various units and stragglers who had been arriving in the city in retreat since 16 December. They were fleeing the German advance and many of them belonged to the 110th Infantry Regiment of the 28th Division.
Pressure on the city from German troops continued to grow, and Eisenhower decided to use part of the reserves of the Supreme Headquarters of the Allied Expeditionary Forces (SHAEF) to alleviate this difficult situation. In particular, the veteran 101st Airborne Division was assigned to reinforce Bastogne, where it began arriving in the early hours of 19 December.
This did not, however, deter the Germans who managed to encircle the city on 20 December. It was not until 27 December that Patton’s armoured troops managed to break through the encirclement after a fierce fight.
Following the arrival and deployment of the 101st Airborne to Bastogne, General Troy Middleton, commander in chief of the 8th Corps in charge of this sector of the front, decided to hand over command of the defence of the besieged city to McAuliffe, commander in chief of the 101st. This general rearranged the defence of the city to hold the siege until Patton arrived with his reinforcements. All available resources were essential to withstand the German attack. He therefore organised the group of stragglers into different security patrols, ready to quickly cover any breach at any point on the perimeter of the encirclement.
As a joke against the American Army’s tradition of using acronyms for everything, these security patrols were generically referred to as Team SNAFU: Situation Normal, All F***ed Up.
Organisation of a SNAFU Team Platoon
To set up a Team SNAFU patrol, we took as our base the organisation of the American Infantry Platoon of 1944-45:
- Platoon Command Squad.
- 1 Lieutenant – Platoon Commander
- 1 First Sergeant – Platoon Non-Commissioned Officer
- 1 Sergeant – Platoon Guide
- 2 Soldiers – Runners
- 3 squads of rifles each with:
- 1 First Sergeant – Platoon Leader
- 1 Corporal – Assistant platoon leader
- 1 Specialist – Armed with a Browning BAR automatic rifle
- 9 Privates – Riflemen armed with semi-automatic M1 Garand rifles
- M4A3E2 Sherman Jumbo, 4th Armored Division, Bastogne
- US Combat Engineers, 3th Armored Division, Ardennes, 1944
- 3-inch Gun Motor Carriage M10 TD, Ardennes 1944