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RECONNAISSANCE SQUADRON
LEESVILLE TO
BAYREUTH, GERMANY, JULY 1, 1945
c:ees( ~e ~o-rgef- To the men of the 89th Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron
who gave the ultimate sacrifice for their God and their country this work is dedicated. "Died on the field of battle" - - - Such is their epitaph. How meagerly these words portend the valiant deeds of these brave sol­ diers, and how great the debt we owe to their memory! With greatest pride in the men "over there" who have sur­ rendered their lives so courageously we raise our hands and hearts in eternal salute.
PVT. TEC. 5 PVT. LT. PVT. PVT. TEC•• CPL. TEC. 5 LT. PVT. PFC. SOT. PVT. PVT. SOT. PFC. CPL. TEC. 5 S/SOT. TEC.5 SOT. PVT. PVT. PFC.
MELVIN I BROWNSTEIN ROBERT 0. KINKADE HARVEY E. KRUEGER PAUL K. MART KENNETH R. THURMAN ALFRED A. BERO RICHARD L. SCHAEFER HARRY B. FERGUSON HENRY HANVEY RAYMOND Q. LILE PASQUALE GIANELLI LUTHER K. CAIN RAY C. THOMAS WAYLAND B. BUZZELLI PHILIP FOOELOARN RALPH C. BAIRD JAMES W. JONES HORACE M. THORNE STUART W. ·HUTCHERSON SAM R. COLTRANE WILLIAM A. MARTIN JOHN A. WEBER HOMER E. ARTINGER PETER NUNZIATA VINCENT J. GRECO
PVT. TEC.4 PVT. PVT. PFC. CPL. PFC. PVT. PVT. S/SOT. LT. TEC.4 S/SOT. TEC. 5 S/SOT. PVT. PVT. PFC. PFC. CPL. PFC. T/SOT. SOT. PVT.
CHRIS D. CHRISTENSEN NORMAN 0. WARD NICHOLAS GREGO ROSCOE EVERMAN JOSEPH BELLIOERANTE ALAN 0. BERRYHILL WILLIAM T. STUTZ LEROY J. BEIDLER OARLAND L LOUDERMILK JOSEPH T. DOUGALL RICHARD J. CLEAVER JR. RICHARD F. PLEOER ELDON RYBIN ROBERT A. DOMOOALSKI WILLARD E. SCROGGINS EMILIO LUNA ARTHUR HOST NORMAN E. LEEDY FRED R. PENMAN STEVE P. BOJTOR RALPH C. SHIRLEY WALTER P. GRUCA AUBREY E. BROOMFIELD GEORGE SURGENT
TABLE OF CONTENTS
CHAPTER TWO
THE BULGE The 89th 's role In the historic battle
CHAPTER THREE
CHAPTER FOUR
THE FINAL DRIVE Leading the First Army to the kill
CAPT. CAUSEY
CAPT. AUERBACH
MAJ. GRAHAM
CAPT. HARRISON
FOREWORD From Leesville to Leipzig, from peaceful America to
warwracked Germany, from loved ones to hated, from vibrant life into the fearful face of death. From Leesville to Leipzig. The euphony of those words are scarcely significant of the seething panorama their history por­ trays. No, for the way between was long and hard, and glory laden, for the 89th C.avalry Reconnaissance Squa­ dron.
Leesville, Louisiana, near C.amp Polk, was the last active post in America of the 89th Ren. prior to its committment into the European war as a µnit of the 9th Armored Division. Leipzig, 100 miles southwest of Berlin was the deepest penetration of the Division into Germany. This journal will show in brief, the vital role staged by the S9th in the drama that unfolded from the summer of 1944 at Leesville . to a few days before the Nazi capitulation on May Sth, 1945.
It has been written in four sections, by four officers of the Squadron. The first deals with the trip to Europe and the activities in France. The second tells of the titanic battle of the bulge. The third relates the story of the march through the Roer Valley to the famous Remagen Bridge. And the fourth brings the Squadron from the Rhine across the heart of Germany on the final crushing drive to destroy the pulse of German resistance.
This work will serve as a forerunner of larger volumes in the future. Later histories will furnish the complete story of the 89th from the days of the old Second C.avalry to the day of final de-activation and will include names and personalities which have been omitted from this volume.
CHAPTER ONE Over the Waves
W ith the completion of innumerable and elaborate preparations which had been carefully carried out,
the 89th C.avalrymen were privileged to rest the remaining few hours until midnight and train time. This day, so much like all the other hot, sultry, muggy days in C.amp Polk and Leesville, Louisiana, was yet unique, for it marked the beginning of the long-expected overseas trip.
On this night we were foregoing the u:;ual Saturday night fun-making, steeling ourselves to the fact that this was our farewell taste of garrison life. Hereafter, our entertainment would come with more difficulty, for our thoughts would of necessity be of war, of the preser­ vation of life and of all that we held deal",
Fitting it . was that we should take our leave .in the still of the night, not seeing all these surroundings we had come to know so well. Contrary to outward appea­ rances and professions, certainly many of us felt poig­ nantly this parting with the life we had known.
At midnight on the 9th of August, 1944, the 89th began its long journey . across country to the Port of Embarkation. As the wheels beat noisily upon the rails there were those who found little sleep in their Pullman berths, but rather an involuntary recapitulation of life in the mind, an attempt, based on what we had seen and heard, to visualize those events that lay ahead.
During the daylight hoqrs of our trip we amused ourselves by watching with renewed interest the pano­
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rama of life rolling past us. We were seeing our nation at work and at play, at church and in school. We were seeing the rolling farms and the small gardens, the small towns and the large cities, the hills and the moun­ tains. We were seeing the United States of America, a sight to retain in our minds until we should someday return. We rolled on across Louisiana, Arkansas, Mis­ souri, into Indiana, Ohio, and West Virginia, through Maryland, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania, and finally into New Jersey.
Dismounting with our gear at Camp Kilmer, New Jersey, we looked upon the busy rush of our last station in the United States, then plunged headlong into more pre­ parations, more examinations, more instructions and orientation. Here, too, we found time between these final preparations for passes - passes to New York Cify, to Philadelphia, and to other nearby cities - passes which w_ould give us that opportunity for one last fling, this time to "do the job up brown".
Into these hours of freedom were crammed trips to Coney Island, to Radio City, to nightclubs and Broad­ way shows, rides on the subways, nights at the Stage­ door Canteen, strolling on Fifth Avenue, and on 42nd Street, visiting Central Park - anything and everything to prevent an idle moment. It was indeed with sad hearts that we ended our stay in Camp Kilmer, and, needless to say, with flat pocketbooks.
On the sunny afternoon of 19 August, 1944, officers and men of the 89th gathered up their dufile and packs and trudged heavy-laden and heavy-hearted out of Camp Kilmer to board the train that would ·carry them across a portion of New Jersey to be discharged into the ferries of New York harbor. After a seemingly never-ending
ferryboat trip across the darkened New York harbor, the ferries docked alongside the "Queen Mary", and a few moments later the men of the 89th filed up the gang­ plank. This ship, second largest in the world, had been the scene of many gay pa(ties and the meeting place of many famous persons in pre-war years, but since Pearl Harbor she had donned a coat of gray and was being used as a troop transport.
We boarded this ''Queen of the Seas" at 2000, 19 August, 1944. Despite the realization that we were leav­ ing the land and the people we loved, without a gua­ rantee of returning, there was a certain gaiety, a certain excitement about this adventure. For most of us, it was a series of firsts. The first time we had ever been on a big ocean liner, and definitely the first war or battle against an active enemy, not to mention numerous others, such as first seasickness and first A.RP. drill.
The elements of adventure kept morale high and the many sights and shows aboard the "Queen Mary"· fur­ nished sufficient entertainment during the six day voyage. We traveled as a lone ship because of the "Queen's" speed and wonderful radar warning equipment. We were not given the usual troopship protection of a convoy, but the protector would have made it a two-week voyage and we were all glad to take our chances in order to move faster.
On: 25 August, 1944, we dropped anchor in the Firth of Clyde, Scotland, and waited aboard ship for thirty­ six hours before disembarking. This was a very pleasant thirty six hours for all We spent the daylight hours looking at the scenic countryside, while small boats scurried around ours like little red ants fussing around a big close-shelled turtle. Mighty warships and flattops anchored about us flashed messages back and forth.
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Once ashore we immediately boarded a train, found seats in those funny little coaches, and were served dough­ nuts and coffee by local girls representing the American Red Cross. The lingo of the benevolent maidens was most amusing, but the kind of carefree beauty we admired in our American girls was strangely missing - - - just another reminder that we were a long way from home.
An overnight train ride carried us deep into England. At Salisbury we detrained and boarded trucks to travel about six miles on the wrong side of the road to our muddy tent camp with the fancy name, "Druid's Lodge". Here we met our advance detail, Mack, Moe, and McDonald, who had, after several changes on the change of plans, set up a tent camp which became our home for the next three and a half weeks. Here we procured equipment, did last minute training, found out that one half a pound would buy the same things two dollars would in the States (if it were available), went to Lon­ don and other large cities, met our first Bobbies. We learned to drive on the left side of the road, and · soon found that it was all right to drive on the wrong side of the street as long as everybody did it. Ah, what memories! The Savoy Hotel, the Groevner House (where you could get a good meal for forty cents), and Piccadilly Cireus, with or without commandos.
Finally, on September 23rd, we got the load up and move out signal and headed for the Channel, stopping at a British Camp a few miles out from our POE to spend two nights. There we were issued anti-seasickness pills and each man was given two waterproof paper bags ­ "just in case".
On 25 September we boarded the LSTs and departed from Merrie Olde England to begin the roughest sea
ride we had taken to date. ; Those LSTs tum and roll more than anything else in the world, except the passen­ gers' stomachs. Egad! What an experience! Faces showed all colors between death white and dark green, and pretty soon you learned to recognize people by what they carried in their hip pockets, because that was all you ever saw of them. Two days at sea and we dropped anchor at Utah Beach, the scene of a bloody but victorious battle about three and a half months previous. We were to learn how that was, too, a few months hence, but we shall save that for later.
At 0830 on 27 September, 1944, we set foot on French soil and proceeded to St. Marie Du Mont in the hedge­ row country, our home for the next two weeks. Here we continued training, made necessary modifications of equip­ ment, and succumbed to general pre-battle fidgeting. Here we learned that the only difference in French mud and Louisiana mud was that it was just four thousand miles further from home.
Came the rainy season and we mounted up for a five­ day trek across France and into Luxembourg. Traveling seventy miles a day, it was slow and wet, but we were moving at last toward the war. Carentan, Harcourt, Falaise, Tours, Oomville, St. Andreas, St. Germain, Paris, Maeux, Monmirail, Bergateo, Chalons, Clennont, Verdun, Longuyon, Longwy, Luxembourg City, Ettelbruck - all these and many others we passed through. We saw bombed out cities whose ruin was far beyond our wildest imag­ iw.tion and in comparison with which the bombings in England were almost insignificant. · Some were comple­ tely gone, the tired dirty Frenchmen fighting a battle for existence, trying to build them once more. Carts, carts, carts, horsedrawn, oxdrawn, and others pulled by men
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and women. Gosh! Whoever would think there were so many carts in the world! Here, too, we had our first experience in combat - - - kids throwing apples to us. They were given with a high sense of appreciation and at a high velocity, but we survived, and thanked them, too.
At last we reached Schoenfeld, Luxembourg, near Mersch, our final assembly area before going wading in the stream of combat. We thought the stream was shallow (and it was in most places), but we were destined to get our feet good and wet. In December, not far from there, we were to step off in deep water.
Then, on the 24th of October:, we moved out of our bivouac area and proceeded to take over a supposedly very quiet sector of the Siegfried Line along the Luxem­ bourg-German border near Clervaux (Clerf). The positions had been patrolled by a TD battalion. The briefing, prior planning, and general preparation for this "wading exercise" were far more involved and thorough than for any of the other really major battles we parti~ cipated in later. This all-out orientation was entirely necessary, however, because the officers and men were plenty tense.
Here again we experienced a series of firsts. We heard our first artillery, and those 88's were never forgotten. We · saw our first Kraut flares, heard the souped-up Kraut machine guns firing at night in this "playing for keeps" exercise. We saw our first occupied pillboxes, saw and heard the famous Kraut ro-bombs for the first time. We went on our first patrols into enemy territory, contacted our first Kraut patrols, inflicted casualties on the enemy, and suffered our own first casulties. We learned a lot,
though, and fast, so that we felt at the end of two weeks that we might call ourselves experienced. combat troops.
This, the 89th's battle indoctrination, was intended to be a continuation of training we had left in the states a few weeks back, except that here the Krauts were the instructors instead of a training team from the Division Engineers or our own able :Reconnaissance Squadr~n.
Believe me, brother, the infiltration course was never like this.
Being relieved of this mission November 10th, the Squadron pulled back into Luxembourg for more training and rest after the initial shakedown. During this period, the men of the squadron made more friends among our allies than at any other time before or since. Yes, the good, friendly people of "Luxembush" will long be remembered by the 89ers.
In the latter part of November the Squadron was given a similar mission at Berdorf, Luxembourg, the famous resort town where each man boasted of having a room and bath of his own, since a platoon without a hotel was a rare thing, indeed. This mission terminated with­ out the unusual excitement we had experienced in our earlier "wading exercise". A few more patrols, a little more shelling of Kraut installations, and another enemy patrol or two had to be chased back across the. river.
The termination of this mission found us back m our former rest area among the ft>reigners we had come to know. We were all set to spend our Christmas holidays here in this quiet neighborhood because we. thought, as did all the rest of this great gullible American Army
· and nation, that the Krauts were beaten badly and were only stalling that "unconditional surrender" as long as possible.
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CHAPTER TWO The Bulge
Everyone remembers his pleasant stay in Luxembourg, It's a quaint, picturesque little country with gently rolling
hills dotted with small patches of dense woods and many neatly kept farms. Numerous streams trickle down the beautiful green-lawned terraces and draws, and from the hilltops and sununits one can see for miles on a clear, blue-skied day, taking in a view filled with scenic splendor. Her people, jndustrious and friendly, seemed glad to see our troops come, and generously shared their homes and land with us, and often their food and affection. And as time went by, the welcome did not seem to show signs of wear.
In these quiet, comforting and pleasant surroundings, the 89th dwelled and trained during November and half of December, and there appeared to be nothing in the offing which would shake us loose from these comfor­ table moorings for some time to come. In the midst of all this imperturbable calm, and without warning, came the storm, violent and terrifying.
On December 16, 1944, Squadron Headquarlers and Service Troop were securely and most luxuriously en­ sconced in the almost medieval splendor of the Castle at Berg. The view was magnificent, the surroundings unsur­ passed, the chow as usual, and worries not too over­ burdening, which was also as usual. The other troops were in less glorious billets, but no one was complain­ ing, and friendships with the natives were being daily cultivated and solidified - meaning that fraternization
was in style those happy days. A Troop was in a little village named Bissen, performing usual . organizational duties which in that day and age meant largely getting up i: the morning, eating three squares and going to sleep sooner or later and what went on in between no-one could vouch for with any high degree of accuracy. A thing called the "training schedule" was followed, how­ ever, and a man kept himself physically fit. B troop was in Orosbous, C trool' was with Squadron 1:feadq~a~ers at Berg, having jm~t returned from a patrolling m1ss1on. E troop less the 2nd and 4th platoons, which were atta­ ched to the reconnaissance troops and F company less the 1st platoon, which was guarding the Division Air Strip; 2nd platoon attached to D troop and the 3rd platoon which was at Bowingen. They were all per­ fonning usual organizational duties. At the moment, D troop was with Combat Command B far off to the North at Faymonville, Belgium, attached to the 2nd In­ fantry Division, which was attacking towards the key dams. on the Roer River. They were sweating it out, waiting to be called upon to support the attack, and per­ haps a little better preparerl for it, when the blow struck.
The first shattering note to penetrate the veil of calm and peace occurred at 1300 on ihe 16th when A troop was placed on a~ hours' alert, and at 1600 the troop was on it's way to Haller, Luxembourg, where they were attached to the 60th Armored Infantry Battalion. They learned, upon their l!-rrival, that the enemy had infiltrated through the lines. of the 60th Infantry, ~ut it didn't appear too serious - - at first.. A couple of days work,
at the most. Everyone had settled back a bit after the alert had
been passed on to A troop when the second dis.turbing 12
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note arrived. B troop was also placed on an hour's alert at 1500, and had attached to it the 2nd platoon of E troop. The men of B found themelves on the road _ destination, Christnach, which they reached at 2030 and were given the mission of protecting the right flank of CCA, which also had been infiltrated by the Germans. The extent, the intent, the strength of the enemy forces, no one knew. When C troop was attached to CCA at 2300 and alerted for movement, also to Haller, Luxem­ bourg, it was clear that something definitely was up ­ but what? No one knew. And no one knew or realized what was really up for many more days.
Meanwhile, 100 miles away, D troop was told that the Germans had attacked and seized 5 small towns on the German border. This looked like the usual counter­ atta~ to relieve the pressure that the 2nd Infantry was exertmg on Gennan positions, and at 1600 D troop sent a platoon to outpost towns west of the German border to warn of any further enemy progress. Nothing serious, though despite great numbers of buzz-bombs and intense artillery coming from the German side.
A troop was ordered to leave it's vehicles in Haller and march dismounted to the town of Beaufort which seemed to be the objective of the enemy attack. The troop out­ P?sted the town and patrolled the vicinity. By early mor­ rung of the 17th the enemy was successful in infiltrating through the inf~try lines to the extent of occupying some commanding high ground North of Beaufort. A mounted attack with six armored cars drove the enemy off the . hill, but the Germans began pouring in artillery and gathering more strength hourly with puzzling and bewil­ dering persistence. A strong enemy patrol attempted to enter Beaufort at 1500 but A troopers stoutly fought
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them back. T~ at 1710, as evening dark began to gather, Beaufort was attacked by an enemy battalion. The Com­ mander of the 60th phoned the A troop Commander, notifying him that the 60th was pulling out and ordered A troop to hold their present positions as long as pos­ sible. While ~e conversation was taking place, the enemy commanded all street intersections in town and the pitch and temper of battle had become intense, as night began to fall. Over near B troop, the enemy had also been infiltrating down an unprotected draw near the town of Mullerthal, which was on A troop's right flank. At 1000 on the 17th, reinforced by one platoon from A troop, B troop was ordered to move to Mullerthal to seize and hold the high ground surrounding it. They ran into a stone wall defending the town, finding at least an enemy infantry company in it, and an undetermined additional number holding high ground south of town. They were met with a hail of bullets, bazooka fi~ small arms, machine gun fire - - - everything in the book. Despite this they were ordered to attack Mullerthal and regain it from the enemy. Reinforced by some Tank Destroyers, and led by a lieutenant, the attack was begun' at 1330 against overwhelming enemy superiority, but despite the vigor, determination and courage with which the attack was carried out, it was unsuccessful and B troop found itself virtually encircled with seemingly little hope of extri­ cation.
When C troop arrived at Haller in the early mor­ ning of the 17th, it was ordered at once to make a dis­ mounted attack towards Beaufort to relieve pressure on the 60th Infantry and A troop. They did so immediately, advanced 1000 yards and then were stopped cold, forced to withdraw in face of terrifically intense enemy fi~
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coming from every direction and of every type of am­ munition that the Germans possessed.
At 0115 on the 17th, at Faymonville, the commander of 'ccB ordered D troop to march immediately to south of St. Vith, seize high ground there until relieved by the 27th Armored Infantry Battalion, and then reconnoiter the flanks towards Winterspelt where the Germans were reported to be in some strength. To the tune of deaf­ ening artillery bursts coming from both sides, D troop occupied it's positions at 0430 until the 27th took over. One platoon, trying to get around the German flank to carry out the reconnaissance mission, ran into a strong enemy tank-infantry attack coming from the East and fought a delaying action against them for six hours. Meanwhile, the 27th courageously pushed the Germans back 5 miles. At dark the troop was ordered to occupy a 3000 yard front on the Our River, while the 27th withdrew through them. There were no friendly forces left and right as D troop struggled in the unfriendly dark to find positions from which to defend. No one knew what caused the 27th to withdraw the 5 miles they had won no one knew what to expect - no one could tell the :Oen of D troop "why" or "what for''. Strong German patrols tried to cross the river during the night, the enemy shelled incessantly, and enemy tanks could be heard rumbling on the other side of of the river.
E troop, with one platoon attached to D troop, one attached to B troop moved with its two remaining pla­ toons to Fels, to become attached to CCA there on the 17th, and to support them with their assault gun fire. F company less the 2nd platoon was ordered to move to Berg astride the Ettelbruck-Mersch Highway.
,What were we thinking that dark unfriendly night of
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December 17 - 18? It is difficult to put the thoughts in words, to explain the confusion, the bewilderment, the hungry desire that each individual possessed for a mere morsel of information that would explain the turmoil. The sense of comfort and security that was ours only a scant day ago had forsaken us. In a rapid succession of stun­ ning events we rushed headlong into the enemy's furious thrusts, only to be beaten back. This sudden shock of battle was almost overwhelming. · The heavy artillery concentrations, the flashes of many guns, the deafeni~g
noise of battle, contradictory orders, confusion - con­ fusion - confusion. A man's mind was a fearful jigsaw puzzle. What does it mean? What was happening on my left and my right and behind me and in front of me? Was this attack local or was it everywhere? What was the extent and the intent of this sudden German break­ through? Many of us were surrounded that night - ­ and knew it. Many heard and saw unmistakable signs of great enemy strength. Few could hope for· escape or relief. Yet not a man could permit himself to ponder:­ his thoughts to lag. The present, material reality of the moment demanded priority, for a man was fighting for his• life those terrible days. We were buying the future dearly and the currency was human blood.
Over at Beaufort things were going from bad to worse for A troop. One platoon of A troop had been attached to B troop earlier; one Lieutenant had taken five men to relieve an outpost and didn't return, not to be heard from again until many months later. Enemy strength gathered in intensity with each tortuous moment. By 2030 A troop's position had become untenable and a withdrawal was begun. The story of A troop's escape from German encirclement reads like a Frank Merriwell
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episode. The escape route consisted of a hole cut in a fence which surrounded the CP, which in tum was sur­ rounded by the enemy. Under cover of darkness each man slipped through, one by one, as noiselessly as pos­ sible. The only way out of town was a deep draw with sheer, steep cliffs of about 30 to 50 feet high. A heavy wire was let down over the side and the men went down hand over hand until they safely reached the draw. It was in the draw where the C. 0., who was recon­ noitering a cross-country route in front of his men, set off a booby trap and was injured. He continued leading his men in enemy-infested territory until he considered them safe, and then allowed himself to be evacuated. After a hectic night of sneaking through German lines and around enemy guards and outposts, the remainder of the troop, tired and exhausted, assembled and reorganized at Waldbillig. fortunately, the only enemy action the night of the 18th was spasmodic artillery fire and the men mana·ged to get a little rest.
,
received 300 rounds more of artillery and mortar fire. When C troop's attack made no progress, but instead
received a hail of bullets and artillery and mortar fire from the vicinity of Beaufort, they were forced to with­ draw to Haller. There they became part of Task force Shuttler, commanded by the Squadron S-3. At 0230, December 18th, Task force Shuttler was ordered to move to the vicinity of Savelborn to straighten out the line and protect CCA's flank. They received artillery fire be­ tween 0600 and 0700. Small enemy patrols attempted to infiltrate without success at 1000. At 1100, 200 enemy attempted an attack on their positions but were driven off by supporting artillery fire. The enemy occupied two houses 1000 yards in front of C troop's position, but artillery fire brought a quick surrender. At the end of the day's operations it was found that 40 enemy had been killed, 61 prisoners taken and for C troop, miraculously, not a casualty!
Many miles to the north, in the vicinity of St. Vith, things were getting hotter by the minute at D troop's position. Early in the morning of the 18th, strong enemy patrols attempted to cross the bridge into Belgium over the Our River but D's machine gunners had a field day when the enemy ran into a devastating cross-fire of 50 calibre bullets. Nevertheless, enemy pressure increased relentlessly. Artillery and mortar fire. increased in inten­ sity hourly and the enemy could be seen gathering across the river for a powerful attack supported by tanks. The enemy infiltrated across the river and surrounded one platoon at 1430, so that only five men succeeded in es­ caping. By 1630, D troop was virtually encircled, the only escape road interdicted by enemy small arms and artillery fire. The order for withdrawal was given as enemy tanks began swooping down and an unbelievable
18 19
volume of enemy bullets and shrapnel fell on the posi­ tions. The tank platoon from F company fought like men possessed to hold off the enemy long enough to enable elements of D to escape. Then the tank platoon, reinforced by three armored cars from the first platoon, drove through the enemy, their machine guns spitting fire in every direction (for the enemy had by this time cut the escape route in several places), and joined the balance of the troop three miles to the rear. From there D troop was sent off to protect CCB's right flank in a lonely woods southwest of St. Vith where it spent an uncomfortable night on the 18th.
Meanwhile the C.0. of E troop was sending platoons hither and yon with alarming speed to reinforce various elements of CCA. On the 18th, one platoon was sent to reinforce Task Force Philbeck, which attacked in the vicinity of Beaufort. The platoon joined in attacks by the 60th Infantry to knock out enemy bazooka teams which were holding up Task Force Philbeck's advance. Then later the same day, the troop, less the detached platoons, was attached. to Task F,orce Blair in CCA reserve. Finally, alter several more detachments and attachments were niade, the troop wound up with all its platoons less the 4th platoon (which was with D troop) at Schrondweiler on the 19th December.
While all this was taking place, personnel from Squa­ dron Headquarters, including mechanics, mess personnel and technicians, were organized into Task force Graham, which screened the Jett flank of CCA in the vicinity of Die­ kirch and later moved to the vicinity of Redange with the same mission and to maintain liaison with the 28th In­ fantry Division in Vichten. F company less the 2nd platoon and reinforced by 100 men and officers from Division
artillery and Division Headquarters, was formed into Task force Harrison and outposted defensive positions across the strategic Ettelbruck-Mersch road in the vicinity of Berg-Colmar until they were relieved there December 22.
From the 19-26 December, CCA to which A, B, C, and E troops were attathed had the defensive mission of hol­ ding down the south anchor of the Von Rundstedt counter Divisions and the 5th Infantry Division. They accomplish­ ed this by defending the high ground which surrounds Fels, Luxembourg. Each of our troops had a sector in the tine. A troop in the vicinity of Medemach, B troop in the vicinity of Christnach, c troop in the vicinity of Savelbom, and E troop in mobile reserve and artillery sup}Xlrt at Schrondweiler. It was a gruelling, heartbreaking wee!<, during which the enemy pressure never remitted. A mo­ ment's relaxation, the slightest mental or physical lapse could very well mean the Joss of a life, for the enemy continually sent patrols into the lines and shelled us uncea­ singly and unsparingly. It was a week of constant patrol­ ling and the manning of defensive positions without relief, day and night. The weaker were cracking under the strain, and each day many were wounded by the enemy artillery and mortar fire which never ceased. But the line was held, no matter the cost.
During these days the enlisted ~en and officers acted with a heroism and coolness under fire that is unsurpassed, and although their bodies ached and their minds yearned for respite, each man fought with a dogged resolution to tum back the mighty German tide which had been so sud­ denly unleashed. On the 20th of December, the G-2 Perio­ dic Report carried an item which was revealing. Inter­ rogation of a PW revealed that the objective of the German thrust was to break through to Antwerp and the channel
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coast, thereby encircling and capturing 4 allied armies. 30 infantry divisions and 13-15 Panzer divisions were supposed to participate in the attack. With this added in­ formation we began slowly to realize what was happening and the seriousness of the situation, and began to under­ stand more clearly what was expected of us. In know­ ledge, there is strength - thus, understanding; we fought back only harder and with increased determination.
An outstanding example of coolness under fire and bravery was displayed on the afternoon of the 22nd at C troop. At 1500 two enemy assault guns moved into Savel­ born from an easterly direction supporting an enemy in­ fantry attack on our supporting AAA positions. As the first assault gun reached a road junction in Savelbom and turned left towards the AAA positions, a sergeant, reali­ zing the enemy's intentions, ran to an unmanned armored car, and doing his own loading, observing and firing, fired five rounds of 37mm into the rear of the enemy assault gun, knocking it out of action. The sergeant then killed the driver of the tank with his carbine. The second assault gun withdrew in the direction of Haller. Two men, a sergeant and a Lieutenant pursued it afoot and with their BAR and rifle killed the Tank Commander and gunner.
On the 22nd of December, Squadron Headquarters, Ser­ vice troop and F company minus one platoon, which was attached to D troop, moved to Habay La Neuve, Belgium, with the mission of outposting the locality against infil­ tration and maintaining contact with elements of the .4th Armored Division on the East and with Task Force Coker on the west. Eight outposts were made up of light tanks and Division Headquarters personnel as supporting infan­ try. Squadron Headquarters also organized Task Force Wortham for a Corps counter-reconnaissance screen and
22
counter-infiltration screen. The task force was made up of the Service Troop mess, supply and maintenance sec­ tion, 2 officers from F company, enlisted men from Squa­ dron Headquarters, Service troop, Division headquarters and F company.
Meanwhile CCB, to which D Troop was attached, was concerned with holding down the northern anchor of the counteroffensive which on the 20 December was at St. Vith, Belgium. D troop screened CCB's right flank and maintained contact with friendly elements throughout the night of the 19th. Then, on the 20th, joined a light tank company as supporting infantry in an attempt to clea,r a woods of enemy which threatened to envelope CCB around its right flank. The troop fought for three days without , rest in a gruelling struggle of give and take, was virtually surrounded on three different occasions, but in each case, with a final effort, prevented the enemy from breaking through. It was in these woods that a corporal single­ handedly wiped out three enemy machine gun nests and two bazooka crews, for which he was posthumously recom­ mended for the Congressional Medal of Honor. The enemy finally succeeded in capturing St. Vith the night of the 22nd of December, and early in the morning of the 23rd, CCB began a withdrawal through an only remaining escape route which was already being inderdicted by intense enemy anti-tank gun fire. D troop screened the withdrawal of the Combat Command and was consequently the last to make the narrow escape. From that fute on, the troop was in the line in the vicinity of Manhay, which became the northern anchor of the bulge after the fall of St. Vith. Though constantly performing patrolling missions and counter-reconnaissance, the troop's worst days were over after the escape of the 23rd, in the first hectic and deva­
23
stating week of the counteroffensive, the troop was rei.Il­ forced by one platoon of tanks from F Company, and one platoon of assault guns from E troop, lost three officers and 56 enlisted men, had done more than its share in holding the line and delaying the furious assault.
Ever since the gray, dull morning of the 17th, each man turned an anxious eye towards the heavily overcast sky hoping to see the bright blue, which would mean that our incomparable air force could swing into action with its devastating effect. Day after day rolled by, and the Ger­ mans seemed to have even the weather on their side. A thick "soup" hung low and a man could see no more than 200 yards in any direction. On the afternoon of the 22nd it turned colder and snowed. Prospects in the morning of the 23rd seemed no better, and each man began to reconcile himself to a forbidding, unfriendly depressing Christmas. Men wanted to know who that guy was who said we'd be home by Christmas of 44! The end of the war never looked further away. Then, as tho' repentant and forgiving, the skies opened up on the afternoon of the 23rd and each man turned his face and smiled up at the warm, bright sun. Soon we heard the roar of planes ­ our planes. Look out Jerry, here they come! Everyone, to a man, felt now that the worst was over, that the tide was turning. Brother, there's nothing like our air corps, and for four beautiful sunny, clear days they came wave after wave, spreading destruction and terror, beating the Germans back, preventing them from bringing up sup­ plies and reinforcements, destroying hundreds of vehicles. We ate our Christmas turkey (yes, even in hell you have your turkey on Christmas!) with hope in our hearts, and the outlook for the future a lot brighter.
On December 27, CCA received orders to attack Norlh­
east along the Neufchateau-Bastogne Highway to assist in the relieving of the heroic bastion at Bastogne. A troop had the mission of outposting Headquarters of CCA at Longlier, Belgium, and later at Vaux Les Rosieres, while patrolling the locality. B troop received the mission of screening the right flank of CCA's attack towards Bastogne, to gain and maintain contact with the 4th Armored Divi­ sion, which was also attacking towards Bastogne; and to patrol the area in the vicinity of Sibret, Belgium. On the 28th, B troop sent a patrol into Bastogne, gained contact with the IOlst Airborne, and continued active patrolling. c troop was given the task of reconnoitering in frol?t of CCA in the direction of Bastogne, and then actively patrol­ led the area around Morhet. The three reconnaissance troops, during the attack towards Bastogne, and after the relief of the forces there had been effected, actively screened the combat command, maintained contact with friendly forces left and right, and outposted key towns, roads and terrain features. Even then the ferocity of the battle had not subsided, for the enemy artillery continued to be intense, and our units were in constant contact . with the enemy, subject to his small arms fire and small patrols.
By New Year's day every officer and enlisted man had reached almost the limit of his physical and mental endu­ rance in one of the most ferocious and hotly fought battles of all military history. Body and soul yearned for respite, and a chance to lick our wounds, to rebuild and reorga­ nize, to strike back the enemy, to drive him once and for all into the abyss of total defeat. On New Years Day, Squadron Headquarters, with Service Troop and F com­ pany, less one platoon, was already relieved and billeted in the vicinity of Vendresse, France. A troop, weary and worn, returned to Squadron control on January 4 as did
24 25
C troop and E troop. B troop came "Home" the next day, a~d finally, on the 8th of January, D troop, after a !ong, icy road march from Northern Belgium, rolled in o roost. Once again the Squadron was one happy though
weary and battle-wiser, family. '
CHAPTER THREE Remagen
f riendly elements were calling the hand of Rundstedts' "all-out gamble" to the north by destroying Gennany's
last mobile reserve. The Squadron assembled and rested in its' area south of Sedan, France, with the Headquarters in Vendresse. For a period of time we remained there, licking our wounds, growling to ourselves, with mali­ cious glares in the direction of the enemy. Although weakened by fosses of men, arms and vehicles, we were potentially more dangerous than ever. We occupied a posi­ tion in SHAEF reserve in support of an airborne division on the second line of defense along the Meuse. In our experiences of the last month we had seen the worst that could happen, and we had, without losing our confidence - - - as a matter of fact, accelerating it, - - - con­ tained the most audacious military effort in all history. Our strength stood at 707 men and officers, out of an original in ex<:ess of 861. But spirit made up the differ­
,en<:e, and everyone from privates to field officers had been in the thick of it.
All of the lost territory had been regained, and Allied units were again probing all along the line, with an oc­ casional healthy punch here and there, when we moved for­ ward again during the night of 11-12 January. Few will soon forget that miles-long, winters' night march in black­ out, snow, and fog, on icy roads. C troop reconnoitered the route for Combat Command B. B troop did the same for Combat Command A. The Squadron, led by F company, disappeared into the murky darkness toward Sedan and on eastward, up and out of the valley of the Meuse River toward Carignan.
26 27
There is something of the gypsy in the good reconnais­ sance man, for as miserable with cold as we were we were as happy to be moving again. Snow muffted the sounds of the column, and night hid it, as the Squadron passed through seemingly deserted villages of Montmedy, Longuyon, to Longwy, and turned southeast through Aumetz. Continuing on until about 0430 hours we "halted for the night" in Hayange. The twilight ;f the winter afternoon found us moving again, across the pon­ toon bridge over the Moselle River aud southward along its east bank to Argancy. After kicking enemy helmets out of the billets, the troops settled down again, but not for long. It was deemed advisable to move the Recon­ naissance forward in the Division area. Consequently on 14 January, the Squadron, less B and C troops moved to Bockange, France, west of Boulay, and organized them­ selves in the deserted French garrison, contingent to the Maginot Line fortifications. Reorganization aud training for what the future might hold, was the order of the day. Every effort was exerted to capitalize on our previons ex­ periences. i\.lthough we were never quite out of an alert status, the general routine was beginning to take on the complexion of the old days in garrison at Leesville when a Red Cross doughnut truck appeared to serve ~s. In view of the past, rank and file knew this complacency couldn't last much longer, - - - at least it never had in England, in Colmar-Berg, in Vendresse.
True to form, orders came to move. With Stalin's Reds closing in on Berlin, it was time we did something any­ way, we thought. Friday, 23 February found us on the road again. A rejuvenated Troop A was escorting Com­ bat Command A again, and Troop B was back with the Squadron. The Squadron marched during the entire sunny,
. g day to Metz northwest to Longuyon, on to Vir­ sprUI • ' . ton, Florenville, Bouillon, Marche, along the Ourth~ River to Barvaux, into the valley of the Ambleve to Aywa11le and Sprimon:t. After covering 1~7 miles from Bockange, we billeted with friendly Belgians where the Ourthe and Vesder Rivers join the Meuse, south of Liege. After our sojourn with the famed Third Army, we were back again
with our favorite First Army. And obviously something was about to happen. A
glance at the map showed us south of Liege. In a direct line eastward was-the III Corps, with two of the best In­ fantry Divisions in the game, that had been busily engaged in taking the Roer River dams!
Like a great snake coiled and ready to strike, the Divi­ sion, in its assembly area, made complete the last ~inute details of preparation. General Eisenhower had said, on 24 February, "We expect to destroy every German west of the Rhine and within the area in which we are at­ tacking." We figured he meant it. But why stop there, we
thought? Orders already covered the attack, and our part in the
big picture was clear. We were confident we k~ew ho~ to handle the details that would be ours. The First Uruted states Army was to attack across the Roer River with VII Corps on the left (North) and III Corps on the right (South) with the V Corps maintaining defensive positions
on the III Corps' right (South). For several days now, the III Corps had been attacking,
with the First Infantry Division to the north, the 82nd Air­ borne Division in the center, and the 78th Infantry Divi­ sion to the south in the Corps' zone. They were to be prepared to pass the 9th Armored Division through the
bridgel1ead on III Corps orders.
28 29
The orders came - - ­ Early in the morning of the 28th February, the snake
struck! Starting away back, with increasing momentum in every mile, the division approached through Pepinster, crossed the border of Germany in the vicinity of Bildchen, between Moresnet, Belgium and Aachen, Gennany. The mighty ~olumn roared on through Aachen into Stolberg, Gressemch, Grosshau, Gey, halted for more gas at Unter­ manbach, continued on across the Roer River in darkness
' and fanned out in attack columns within the bridgehead. Drove and Soller were its points of arrival. Seventy miles had been covered in the march. Troop A was heading Combat Command A in Drove. C troop made contact with enemy for CCB near Soller. Troop D was ready to support with Combat Command R at Busbach. Troop E had a platoon with each. Its headquarters traveled with Squadron Headquarters, F Company and Troop B, then attached to Combat Command B, in the vicinity of Soller, also. Their mission was one of security of the right flank of Combat Command B. The division mission was to attack southeast from the vicinity of Drove and Soller on arrival, the two combat commands abreast, Combat Com­ mand A on left (North) and Combat Command B on the right, - - - the reconnaissance troop leading, of course!
A short halt was in order to await daylight. Squadron Headquarters, Service troop, Troop B, Troop E minus, and Company F minus slept in the fields of Soller with the enemy dead. They might have been more choosey had they been able to see.
During the early morning, the troops lead their combat commands across the line of departure, - - Troop A south of Zulpich toward Euskirchen, C troop at Mudders­ heim toward Sievernich. To the southward, Troop B
maintained contact with infantry units to the south out of Bessenich, to screen and protect the flank during the
attack. On the 3 March, Troop A was near Wollershain, Troop
B took Bodenheim, Troop C reconnoitered Lommersum, while Troop D in su'pporting role, closed up in Siever­
nich. The Armor hit with a terrific impact. "feind hort mit!"
said the signs on the walls of the homes of the enemy. Indeed, "the enemy was among them!", he was every­ where. Resistance was stiff at first, later crumbling. It couldn't stand against the iron force which wrathfully tore houses from foundations with the snulrnosed assault guns, and flooded down the roads and by-ways, and across
the fields. By the 5 March, Troop A ha~ closed in Euskirchen,
Troop B in Frauenberg, Troop D in Bovenich.
On the 6 March, Troop A left the 309th Infantry Regi­ ment behind at Rheinbach as a result of the startling mes­ sage, "Push Reconnaissance Vigorously, Objective Rhine."
The crust of resistance was broken! They went on through Stadt Meckenheim to Eckindori. Troop C skinned through Esch, Essig and flergheim. Troop D, gratefully relieved from its' idleness in a supporting role, joined Squadron Headquarters and Troop B during a miserable, black night at Esch, from whence all continued on to the heaps of rubble that bad been Stadt Meckenheim. There, on the 7 March they fanned out on the left flank of the armored effort to protect and screen to the extent of their elasticity. The more slow moving foot soldiers of the 9th Infantry were way behind now. Contact had to be kept with them. The villages of Merl, Gudenau, Villip, Lannes­
30 31
dorl and finally Mehlem fell to Troops B and D as they closed up on the Rhine .River on the 9 March.
Meanwhile Troop C with Combat Command B had raced into Bad Neuenahr and Remagen, not without some resistance, to find the Ludendorl Bridge looming in front of them. Quickly swinging to the south flank, to make the ground secure for their armored infantry to pour across, they tied up with Troop A along the Ahr River. Troops B and D had the north flank well under control. By the morning of the 9 March, the 9th Armored Division had closed up all along the Rhine River.
The history books will tell that "The First Army reached the Rhine at Remagen on 8 March". Part of them did more than that, - - - they crossed it! On 8 March, Troop C crossed over into Erpel, in support of the 52nd Armored Infantry Battalion. The Troops' lst platoon did road reconnaissance for that unit, the 2nd platoon patrol­ led the high ground to t.he north of the bridgehead, the 3rd platoon screened between the 47th Infantry Regiment's left flank and the right flank of the 310th Infantry Regi­ ment of the First Infantry Division. The tank platoon assisted in this mission. Troop A was making secure from sabotage the Ahr River Bridges between the two Corps. Troop B was manning observation posts along the west bank of the Rhine River, as the only means for several days, of communication from friendly units across the way; they reported enemy activity and harrassed it with Troop E's assault guns. Troop D was busy combing the Division's zone for hidden enemy means of communica­ tion, - - - a profitable racket! Squadron Headquarters, situated at Berkum, supervised these near shore activites.
The -Remagen Bridge didn't last long, but it has been recorded that "it was worth its weight in gold while it
was there." The units that crossed over attracted sixteen German divisions like flys to honey; subsequently, these divisions were in the wrong place when the Third Army to the south attacked ..
In the words of the Commanding Genera~ the action of the 9th Armored division was a typical armored force maneuver, - - - approach, assault, shock, cutting across the enemy lines of communication and supply, exploitation of the breakthrough. The reconnaissance units were uti­ lized in every conceivable interpretation of their mission, - - - finding the enemy and gathering information. The whole German order of battle was over-run and exposed by the maneuver, and this included all of their troops from front line fighters to non-commissioned offi­ cers schools and replacement 'training centers. Over 200 separate identifications were made from 110 units. The total number of prisoners taken from the 1 - 9 March was 3,885 in the Division zone.
As true as it is that troops of the First Army led the way across the German frontier, broke through the "Sieg­ fried Line", the break-through was executed by the 9th Armored Division, whose combat commands were spear­ headed by the reconnaissance troops of this Squadron. This long, vigorous, vicious thrust of fifty road miles from the Roer to the Rhine, established the Remagen bridge­ head, and expedited as well as facilitated the junction with the Russians on the Elbe, - - and the end of the war in Eurof!el
32 33
CHAPTER FOUR The Final Drive
As the skies over Remagen cleared of the heavy clouds that had frowned on us for weeks, the 89th found itself
engaged in numerous and varied missions. Persistent enemy patrols intent on destroying the Ludendorf bridge had the unit on its toes. Harassing artillery concentra­ tions were being lobbed in along the Rhine, booming through the river bed, the thunder crashing in a thousand echoes through the steep-walled mountains overlooking the valley. Speedy jet propelleds zoomed over the moun­ tain tops and tried again and again to score on the famous steel structure and the sturdy pontoons laid up-river.
With the exception of Charley, all troops were under squadron control for the first time in many moons. C troop had got the break - - - They were the first unit in the 89th to cross the Rhine. The balance of squadron was straining at the bit like a spirited charger waiting for the barrier to fall signalling the start of the final race to victory. We did not know what Jerry had left, but we were certain that we had dealt him a punish­ ing blow in the days just past. Reports were relayed from the North and South of devastating pressure strang­ ling the Germans still left on the Rhine's WestertJ. Banks. Our job ltere was done - - - "When do we cross the Rhine?" But a war is never completely one-sided. The action behind us had taken its toll. We spent anious days regrouping and re-equipping. During this period, F company exchanged its old light tanks for the new
M-24's with unanimous approval on the part of the tank
crews. Then, like the first gentle breeze that ushers in a ·violent
storm, the squadron began to move. On the 23rd of March the unit crossed the Rhine, stopping at Honningen, Berdorf, Hammerstein, and Neuwide. We pushed South, with recon troops assigned to the Combat Commands, with the platoons of E and F attached to the recon troops. A troop is believed to have been the first element of the division to cross the autobahn. At Baumbach, the troop met anti-tank fire, and at Montabour lost one tank and a quarter ton. It was in Montabour that the A troopers found and liberated forty wounded British and American officers, one of whom was A troop's former executive officer, missing since the Bulge. For the first time it was learned that many of those men missing since the Battle of the Bulge were prisoners of war. The infor­ mation that these men were relatively safe was received with rejoicing, and the result was a heightening of "esprit de corps" and a strengthened determination on the part of men and officers to push forward relentlessly.
At Wallendar, B troop relieved the 60th Infantry, dug in, and a short time later received artillery and 20 milli­ meter fire. On March 24, C troop was given the mission of taking Rothemuhle, then of securing the left flank of CCA. They pushed on to Langerscheid on the 26th. The same day D troop lost two one quarter tons at Wallendar and knocked out three 20 millimeter guns.
On the 27th of March, A troop was directed to attack, seize, and hold the bridge at Amenau. They captured the bridge intact and proceeded to the east to establish a bridgehead. After taking Villmar, Langeneck, Gladbach, and Munster, the troop was ordered to withdraw from
34 35
I
its foremost positions to the eastern bank of the Lahn .river. The toll of Gennan prisoners taken during the day was nearly six hundred.
Also on the 27th of March, B troop was assigned to protect the right flank of CCR, attacking along the auto­ bahn towartl Limburg. Stiff resistance was encountered at Limburg, and the troop ran into bazooka and sniper fire along the autobahn. On the 28th the B troopers made contact along the autobahn with the 3rd Army. C troop was attached to CCR on the 27th, collecting pw·s along the autobahn, with one armored car on the highway acting as radio relay. During this period, the troop accounted for five enemy armored cars, one truck, and five enemy killed. Given the mission to protect the right flank of CCA, the outfit headed for Warburg.
In the meantime, on the 27th and the 28th, Troop D had been broken up into platoons for the purpose of providing division liaison with the combat commands. Its third _pla­ toon was with CCR in its quick drive down the autobahn from Limburg to Niederselters'. Radio lia,ison provided division headquarters with descriptions of the division drive through Giessen on the 29th.
A troop, given the mission of reconnoitering the route for CCB on the 29th, went a_ll the way to Niederklein, elements of the troop encountering heavy panzerfaust fire at Wetzlar. Continuing the same mission on the 30th, the · troop met stiffened resistance, and during the ensuing action destroyed ten supply wagons, five trucks, and accounted for nearly 150 enemy, captured, killed, or wounded. Towns taken by the troop were Rimbeck, Nord, and Menne, all of which were heavily defended.
The expert reconnaissance done by the squadron in this whole period, together with the flank protection, and
li~ison between combat commands helped measurably to speed up the advances.
During the first week in April, Troop B continued its patrolling activities in the vicinity of Breuna, maintaining contact with the 60th and the 27th Infantry battalions, and later effecting contacts with the 14th Tank battalion. Then, moving through Dehausen and Lippoldshausen, the troop patrolled the zone of attack for CCA near Hebenhausen.
Still on their mission of handling PW's, C troop stop­ ped briefly in Warburg, then settled down for a few days a Lutgeneder. During this period the troop performed observation and reconnaissance duties in addition to guar­ ding vital points. Pushing forward with CCA the unit shouldered the responsibilities of handling PW's, providing security for the Combat Command CP and the Division CP, while furnishing radio relay vehicles for transmittal of vital information between Division Headquarters and CCA.
D troop, having reassembled its personnel, was called upon to furnish vehicles for necessary d~vision errands
'81ld for liaison between commands while securing its area in the vicinity of Volkmarsen. Assigned the mission of contacting Third Army units in Kassel on April 2, ele­ ments of the three platoons pushed as far as Kalden befo.re being halted. Enemy resistance was overcome in the vil­ lage, only to find that the main route to Kassel was in the hands of a well fortified body of men to the southeast of town. The first platoon attempted to outflank the enemy, but met powerful forces blocking the i:oute at Dornberg. In reaching the town, the platoon had cleared three others on the way. Having established that Kassel still remained under enemy cohtrol, the mission was then recalled.
Moving from Warburg to A.rolsen on the 4th, the
36 37
troop was given the task of reconnoitering possible routes to the Weser river for use by the combat commands. While the Division was assembling beyond the Weser, D troop gave reports on movements of the column and fur­ nished radio relay cars. On the 10th the troop once more assumed the task of play-by-play reports of the combat commands' leading elements as they knifed eastward.
The assault guns of E troop were in continual support of the recon troops attached to the combat commands with the exception of the headquarters section and the 3rd platoon with Squadron forward.
Company E, too, had the greater portion of its vehicles assigned to reconnaissance troops, with the remaining personnel manning outpost and roadblocks within the division area. On April 2, E troop and F company each downed an enemy plane, E troop near W ethen and F company near Ossendorf. Both E and F continued to man outposts and roadblocks with little or no enemy contad until April 9 and 10.
Troop E's first platoon, with CCB, pushed forward on April 10 toward a union with the rapidly advancing Russians, and encountered heavy concentrations of mortar fire in the vicinity of Hain. Its third platoon on the 11th lost one M-8 assault gun, while destroying an enemy anti-tank gun, one armored car, two machine guns, and an undetermined number of men with panzerfausts.
Company F had contacted the Third Armored and the 104th Infantry Divisions on the 9th of April. Encountering stiffened resistance on April 11, the tanks reduced anti­ tank, 20 mm. flak, and machine gun installations on the route of advance. In one day the company took a pool of automobiles and motorcycles, a fuel dump, and a complete
38
battery of horsedrawn artillery pieces. Heavy enemy resistance was successfully neutralized at Zangenburg.
Once more assigned to CCB on April 10, A troop ran into occasional stubborn resistance in the form of dug-in bazooka teams while reconnoitering the zone of advance. From April 11 to 13, the troop did patrolling, reconnoi­ tering of routes, and establishing of roadblocks. On the 14th the attached tanks worked with the 38th Infantry re­ giment in spearheading the drive. On the 16th of April the troop was sent to guard the large German airfield at Polenz.
Thrusting forward with CCR, B troop captured numbers of German prisoners, moving through Schilfa, Hobendorf, and Regis. Patrols encountered Hitler Youth bands armed with grenades in the vicinity of Regis and Ballendorf, then pushed on .to clear Glasten. In the meantime the troop continued to outpost CCR headquarters along the route.
Troop C on April 11 was assigned to contact the enemy ahead of. CCA and encountered enemy positions in the Oberspier area. During the ensuing week the troop was attached to the 14th Tank battalion for reconnaissance. The unit pushed forward to the Mulde river to find the bridges blown just before arrival. Returning then to CCA, the unit set up outposts in Grimma and while the troop was located there the town was the target of twenty-five rounds of rockets.
Along with C troop, troop D was given the task of pa­ trolling the German ammunition dump and airfield in the vicinity of Altenhain. While here the installation was endangered by fire and was saved after hard work in bringing the flames under control
Having been relieved by elements of the 69th Infantry Di­
39
vision a portion of the squadron assembled at Eula. Squadron Headquarters, D troop, E troop, and the head­ quarters section of F company there succeeded in accom­ plishing much needed maintenance and refitting. The newly assigned M-5 tanks were given a thorough going over by drivers, and a course of instruction in operation and maintenance was begun.
Moving to another division assembly area in the vicinity . of Jena, the Squadron was still incomplete. Units with the S.uadron in Stobra continued the tasks of maintenance and preparation for supervising occupied territories. Other troops remained with the combat commands, encountering slight resistance and outposting towns.
During the month of April the squadron had marched with division a distance of approximately 250 miles into Oennany, thrusting the final steel shafts into the fast col­ lapsing Third ~eich. Squadron units had proceeded from Breuna at the beginning of the period to Warburg, thence to the vicinity of Lucka, and as far as Grimma before retouming to the Jena area at the end of the month.
Encircling the city of Leipzig had been one of the more important phases of the entire drive east-ward. Elements of the division led by our own squadron reconnaissance having surrounded this final bastion of fanatical Nazi resistance, the infantry went in to finish the job of clear­ ing the battered city.
On May 4 and 5 Squadron headquarters and attached units travelled 168 miles south to the vicinity of the Czech border to set up in Oberkoblitz and Unterkoblitz. In addition to the usual maintenance and orentation pro­ gram, an athletic program was initiated. Preparations had been underway for some time for the transition to occupation duty, for the end was seen to be near.
Advancing with CCA, C troop had taken the town of Arnoltov, and at 0715 had pushed forward toward Falk­ nov. At 1030 in the vicinity ·of Falknov the "cease tire" order readied the troop. Turning back to Falknow, the troop was billeted there in Hotel Hahn. The troop, with attachments, liberated Jand controlled a women's concentration camp in the vicinity, which held 1000 starv­ ing women.
At 1200 on May 7 Squadron Headquarters received the following confidential message through the liaison officer; "A represenatative of German high commarid signed un-. conditional surrender of all German land, sea, and air forces in Europe to the Allied expeditionan forces and simultaneously to the Soviet High Command at 0141 hours central European time, 7 May, under which all forces will cease active operations at 0001, 9 May. Effective imme­ diately all offensive operations will cease and troops will remain in present position". There! The end had come. In the hearts and minds of millions songs of thanksgiving rang out, but in the outward appearance of these battle­ weary men the rejoicing was not perceivable.
'There was yet the thought ~f tasks ahead, of more work to be done here in Germany, and of the great task of completing ltnother conquest before· the world might once again enjoy peace. But whatever the future, the road behind had earned the pride and praise the men of the 89th so well deserved. Somewhere along that road - · from Leesville to Leipzig - we had become soldiers.
40 41
9\:bove 3\nd 13eyond­ The 89th c.avalry Reconnaissance Squadron can attri­
bute the high measure of its success in the European conflict to a great extent to the men whose names are listed here. The qualities of leadership which they put forth in moments of gravest stress, the spark of their exemplary actions which enkindled the Squadron's fight­ ing spirit, and the initiative and courage with which these actions were fulfilled can scarcely be forgotten. We uphold these awards-not for the medals themselves­ but for the lasting admiration their glitter mirrors from our hearts.
CONGRESSIONAL MEDAL OF HONOR CPL. HORACE M. THORNE
DISTINGUISHED SERVICE CROSS CAPT. VICTOR C. LEIKER LT. ROBERT L. WESTBROOK
SILVER STAR LT. FREDERICK R. HENDRICKSON SGT. RAY C. THOMAS l.T. RICHARD FORKE TEC. 5 ALLEN J. CAMPBELL
TEC. 5 HAROLD V. FLEMING
BRONZE STAR LT. Col. CAESAR F. FIORE SGT. : JAMES H. NICHOLSON MAJ. ROBERT D. SCHUTTLER TEC. 4 !>AUL POPOVICH MA~ WILLIAM J. GRAHAM TEC. 4 JOHN M. DOBBINS MA • JOHN L. MACK TEC. 4 JOSEPH C. FORGIE CA • VERNON S. ATWOOD CPL. KENNETH TRINKLE LT. JAMES E. HAYNES TEC. 5 WAYLAND B. BUZZELLI LT. CHARLES C. BALLARD TEC. 5 VERNON V. FEHR LT. RAYMOND Q . LILE TEC. 5 RAYE FIRL LT. HARRY I'. BUCK TEC. 5 HAROLD E. LEE LT. FREDERICK W. CHARTIER TEC. 5 LYLE A. MALTSBERGER LT. FLOYD D. CARTER TEC. 5 SOL R. SATRAN S/SGT. HENRY B. LYMAN TEC. 5 JAMES A. TEMPLETON S/SGT. JOSEPH T. DOUGALL, JR. PFC. CLYOE E. BABBS S/SOT. LOUIS W. JORGENSEN PFC. AUGUST L. SMITH SGT, RALPH C. BAIRD PVT. CLARENCE J. KESKE SOT. FRANK R. BLATNIK PVT. ROBERT W. LOTZER SOT. FRANK BIFFAR, JR. PVT. DONALD R. MAAHS
Other award• pending are the Croix de Guerre. Legion of Honor and a deco­ ration from the Duchess of Luxembourg.
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