The planned counterattack, code-named Autumn Mist, is intended to drive an armored wedge through the Ardennes Forests, across the River Meuse, all the way to Antwerp. This wedge will divide the British and Canadian forces in the north from the Americans in the south. Hitler believes Autumn Mist will create enough confusion and buy enough time to transfer German forces east, to launch a similar blow against the Red Army.
Rundstedt and Model disagree with Hitler, but to no avail. Eight Panzer divisions are reequipped and ready to spearhead the assault, aimed at four inexperienced or worn-out American divisions. The Germans maintain strict radio silence concerning Autumn Mist, so for once there is no warning from the Allied codebreakers. Even when forward units report increased activity on their fronts, Allied commanders discount the reports; they believe the Ardennes Forests are far too difficult for the Germans to advance through.
The weather plays a crucial role in the German attack. After one of the wettest and coolest summers on record, the winter of 1944 proves to be one of the coldest. More importantly, the spell of bad weather the Germans had been hoping for - with heavy cloud cover to minimize Allied air power - finally arrives in mid-December.
One Last Blitzkrieg
Crossing the Rhine