This was a British special forces operation by the 4th Régiment des Chasseurs Parachutistes (4th Special Air Service) to support the left flank of Major General Troy H. Middleton’s VIII Corps of Lieutenant General Courtney H. Hodges’s US 1st Army in the region of Houffalize and St Hubert during the German ‘Wacht am Rhein’ offensive in the Ardennes (24 December 1944/25 January 1945).
Forced back from their original line by ‘Wacht am Rhein’, the two understrength formations of the VIII Corps, Major General John W. Leonard’s 9th Armored Division and Major General Norman D. Cota’s 28th Division, needed considerable reinforcement to check the progress of the advance on the northern shoulder of the German advance. One of the elements which was thrown into the fray was the force of 186 troopers commanded by Commandant Pierre Puech-Samson, currently based at Montmirail and possessing considerable mobility in the form of its 21 Jeeps inherited from the ‘Spencer’ operation in the Loire river area. This ‘Franklin’ force departed Montmirail for Bertrix and St Hubert in the Ardennes, and proved very useful in providing information about German dispositions and movements, but was often forced to fight in the line alongside the American infantrymen.
The ‘Franklin’ party was pulled back to Bertrix on 25 January, and four days later was back at Montmirail awaiting transport to East Anglia in the UK.