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BFT 2013 Ardennes


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#1 pistol

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Posted 03 November 2013 - 08:14 AM

Herewith some impressions of the BFT 2013 Ardennes I made last Oct with a group of Officers of the Dutch Army. We visited the northern sector of the Ardennes from the German border to La Gleize. I already posted part of the recce we made last May over here:  http://www.ww2f.com/...gleize-cheneux/.

 

Hollerath: where the German 'Rollbahn A' enters the Dreiherrnwald forest (entrance indicated by the arrow). 

 

Attached File  IMG_6322 Hollerath a.jpg   186.47KB   0 downloadsAttached File  IMG_6323 Hollerath a.jpg   256.03KB   0 downloads


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Posted 03 November 2013 - 08:20 AM

Hollerath: Looking west along the 'Rollbahn A' also known as 'Schwarzenbruch Trail'. After crossing the Belgian border the path broadens a bit and now is a paved road (no cars allowed). The path descends towards the Olef Bach. Inside these woods and beyond the Olef Bach the 3rd Bn/393rd Infantry fought for its life against elements of the 277 VG Division and the 12th SS Pz Div on 16 and 17 Dec 44.  

 

Attached File  Ardennes-tour EJ 025a.jpg   427.51KB   0 downloads

 

 text of my presentation on the 393rd and 394th Infantry, 99th US Infantry Division ('Checkerboard'):

Story of the 393rd Infantry Regiment (Lt.Col. Jean D. Scott) 16 & 17 Dec 44

 

  • 1st Battalion              - Major Matthew L. Legler
  • 2nd Battalion             - Lt.Col. Ernest C. Peters
  • 3rd Battalion              - Lt.Col Jack J. Allen
  • HQ Co 393rd               - Capt. Jacob W. Gravley
  • Cannon Company     - 1st Lt. Daniel Mucha
  • Service Co                 - Capt. William H. Beacham
  • Anti Tank Co             - Capt. George G. Maertens
  • Medical Detachm.    - Maj. Milton J. Cole

 

Regimental CP locations:

010000 – 180930 Dec  Krinkelt, Belgium

180930 – 312400 Dec Elsenborn, Belgium

 

The mission of the 393rd Infantry Regiment throughout the period of 1 -31 December was to actively defend its variously assigned sectors and be prepared to employ prepared places for counterattack against possible enemy penetrations within the regimental sector, or 99th Infantry Division sector. Between 1 – 17 Dec, the Regiment held a position generally along a North-South line 4000 yards east of Krinkelt, Belgium, with two battalions on the line and one battalion in reserve. During the period 1 – 6 Dec the 2nd/393rd occupied the left of the Regimental sector and was relieved by the 3rd/393rd which occupied the Regimental left for the period of 7 – 17 Dec. 1st/393rd occupied the right sector of the Regiment for the period of 1 – 17 Dec. From 12 – 20 Dec, the 2nd Bn/393 Infantry having been attached to the 395th Infantry deprived the Regiment of it’s services.  

 

During the period 1 – 16 Dec the Regiment maintained contact with the 395th Infantry Regiment on the left (North) and the 394th Infantry on the right (South), patrolled actively to the front, and continued to improve defensive positions by stringing protective and tactical wire and placing mines both anti-tank and anti-personnel. During period 1 – 12 Dec, the defense was usually static with very little enemy opposition, other than intermittent patrols, artillery fire and fire from machine guns and mortars. During the period 13 – 15 Dec the Regiment demonstrated offensively in accordance with orders in conjunction with attack launched by the 78th and 2nd Infantry Divisions to it’s north. The demonstrations consisted of the attack by the 2nd Bn (now attd to 395th Infantry) seizing high ground to it’s front in the 395th Infantry’s sector and protecting the right flank of the 395th Infantry Regiment. Company “I” also attacked and succesfully straightened out the line of the 3rd Bn to run generally along the International Highway, thence West to Rath Hill.

 

On 16 December the enemy launched a coordinated attack in great strength along the entire front of the 393rd Infantry. At 0530 the Germans laid down a tremendous artillery concentration. This concentration in addition to their mortars including their six barrel rockets covered practically the entire Regimental sector. Enemy searchlights from the vicinity of Hollerath and positions to the north played along the front blinding front line troops to the enemy infantry which followed and pointed out objectives to them. The 393rd line was hit by an entire enemy division, the 277th VG Division. By the end of the first day the 393rd Infantry, despite the numerical superiority of the enemy, still held its sector. But the line could hardly be called solid, the rifle strength remaining was too slim for that. The 1st Bn had lost half its strength, the 3rd Bn had its right bent back for several hundred yards and had lost nearly three hundred men. The enemy wandered almost at will through the woods. 

 

1st Bn/393rd (Major Matthew L. Legler) at Weisser Stein: The battalion was hit hard by enemy artillery, mortars, and tremendous numerical superiority of enemy infantry, beginning 0530, 16 Dec 1944. The first onslaught of the enemy attack, however, was repulsed. Most of the foxholes of the 1st Bn were positioned on the very edge of the forest with clear fields of fire, and the GIs exacted a greater toll on the advancing enemy. The first wave of grenadiers broke, then fell back in disarray, leaving behind a large number of dead and wounded. Shortly afterward, the second assault achieved several penetrations. The 99th's supporting artillery laid on deadly fire that quickly put an end to attempts to break through. But by 1000 both frontline Companies of the 1st Bn/ 393rd (B left and C right) were in a precarious position, each had two platoons overrun and the remaining barely holding on. The Bn commander committed his reserve, A Co, to restore the line of B Co and called for the Regimental Commander for help for his right Co. A Co advanced and relieved the situation by advancing to within 100 yards of the front along the entire B Co line. Eye-witnesses reported that several men of B Co who had been wounded during the attack and could not be evacuated before the position was overrun were later discovered lying face down with a bullet hole in the back of the head. Other reports of a similar nature came in at that time too. The enemy then counterattacked with tremendous numerical superiority of men. By heroic action on the part of all men, A Co was able to withstand the assault after giving up 300 yards. The prompt efficiënt action of this Co prevented the annihilation of B Co and relieved the situation at this critical time and place. Due to the attachment of 2nd/393rd to 395th Infantry the Regimental Commander, Col. Jean D.Scott, had no rifle units to send to the relief of the 1st/393rd, but he resorted to sending the mine Platoon of the Regt AT Co for relief of C Co.  This force arrived at the 1st Bn CP at about 1030 and supplemented by the ammunition and pioneer Platoon of the 1st Bn, available runners and  K.P.’s, advanced to the attack in relief of C Co. The two platoons of C Co on the right had been overrun and the third held on with difficulty. The Co CP by now was surrounded. The prompt, efficient, heroic action of this group of men drove the Germans from the CP area of C Co, established contact with the remaining platoon of C Co and held the line for 24 hours.

 

By nightfall everything in the 1st Bn/393rd had been committed. Enemy patrols  in excess of 50 men roamed the area trying to create confusion and havoc. They were calling out in English: “How many men are you”, and would fire their burp guns and throw hand grenades in dugouts and foxholes. These groups also had mortars and flares which they used. The 1st Bn still held its ground though by now greatly depleted in strength.  

 

South of the 1st/393rd the 394th's 2nd Battalion had been hit shortly after the barrage had lifted early on the 16th. There, the enemy force was not as strong, roughly equal to what the 2nd Battalion had on the line. The GIs fought off all attacks, including one in which the Germans used several self-propelled guns. The 99th's supporting artillery laid on deadly fire that quickly put an end to attempts to break through.

On the afternoon of 16 Dec, the 3rd/23rd Infantry came up on the left of the 1st Bn/393rd and took positions along the BSR’s of the 1st and 3rd Bn/393rd.

 

Next day there was no enemy pressure on the sector of the 1st Bn, which well reflected the high losses suffered by both assault regiments of the 277 VG Division. By 1100 the 1st Bn received order to withdraw to a new position further west. The battalion moved into the new postion by 1400 without suffering losses and tied in on the left with the 3rd/23rd. At about 1500 the 3rd/23rd succumbed, upon being heavily attacked by enemy tanks and infantry. This withdrawal left the left flank of the 1st Bn/394th wide open and cut the BSR, the only usable road over which vehicles could be evacuated. The 1st Bn/393rd was cut off and in addition to radio casualties and telephone wires being shot out, was entirely isolated as far as communication were concerned from the rest of the Regiment. Late in the afternoon of 17 Dec, the battalion was heavily attacked by a strong infatry force and suffered heavy losses. When it became apparent that his position was impossible the Bn commander ordered a withdrawal to the southwest. The battalion, which by now numbered slightly over 250 and 20 officers, managed to tie in with the 2nd/394th and fight its way back to Elsenborn, where it arrived by midnight of the 18th. Retreating cross-country, all vehicles had to be abandoned and were destroyed as far as possible.

 

3rd Bn/393rd Infantry (Lt.Col. Jack J. Allen) in Dreiherrnwald: The action of this battalion closely paralelled that of the 1st/393rd. This battalion was hit hard by enemy artillery, mortars, and tremendous numerical superiority of enemy infantry, beginning 0530, 16 Dec 1944. Two platoons of K Co in the right of the Bn sector were immediately overrun and nearly all men on position either killed, captured or wounded. The remaining platoon on favorable terrain fought in its position causing the enemy tremendous casualties. L Co in the center of the Bn sector was hit at the same time and caused the enemy excessive casualties. This Co fought hard and held its position until the afternoon of 16 Dec 44. On the left of the Bn sector I Co had two platoons committed on the line with one platoon in reserve. This Co was not initially hard pressed. The break in the line caused by the K Co collapse caused the Bn commander to adjust his units by shifting I Co to organize an all-round defense of his Bn CP area. By 1100, 16 Dec 44, the 3rd/393rd was surrounded with enemy troops pouring in the gap between the 1st and 3rd Bns. The BSR was cut and nothing could not be sent to or from the area. There was no other usable road which could be used as an alternate route. The enemy continued his assault relentlessly without regard for casualties. Many enemy prisoners were taken and it became a problem to care for them as evacuation could not be effected. In the afternoon of 16 Dec Co I/394th Infantry was sent in support of the 3rd battalion and fought its way into the battalion perimeter. Regiment ordered the battalion to hold and hold it did. In the evening of 16 Dec the 3rd/23rd Infantry supported by a Co of the 741st Tank Battalion moved into line behind the 3rd/393rd.

 

Strength return 3rd Bn/393rd evening 16 Dec 44: (CI 3rd Bn/393rd)

I Co                : 6 officers and 150 men

K Co               : 2 officers and 45 men

L Co               : 3 officers and 130 men

M Co              : 7 officers and 90 men

I Co/394         : unknown (but about full strength & MG platoon attached).

 

The next morning, 17 Dec 44, at 0800 the battalion counterattacked to seize high ground in its rear so it could open the BSR and evacuate wounded and prisoners to regiment. This attack was succesfull to a limited extent of barely keeping the road open, as large enemy combat groups roamed the area attacking anything in sight. Later that morning enemy armor appeared and with additional infantry the enemy continued his assault without regard of casualties. By afternoon of 17 Dec the 3rd Bn was ordered to withdraw to a reseve position area in rear of the 3rd/23rd. This withdrawal was made under continuous enemy pressure  including enemy armor. Practically all vehicles and equipment in forward areas of the 3rd Bn were knocked out by enemy action.

 

Subsequently, on the afternoon of 17 Dec, a large force of Germans with accompanying tanks hit the 3rd/23rd and forced it to withdraw in a disorganized manner. This Bn did not notify the 3rd/393rd of its withdrawal, leaving his flanks exposed. Once more the 3rd Bn was surrounded by enemy and had to fight on all sides. The 393rd Regiment lost contact with the battalion around 1700. The vehicles and equipment which were saved from its original position again took a beating from artillery and tank fire. Most men hadn’t slept or eaten in two days, but their spirit and determination was high. Not being able to get back to Krinkelt the Bn commander fought his way over to join the 395th Infantry the night of the 17th and joined the Regiment at Elsenborn, Belgium, on 18 Dec 44. Due to cross country and operations at night, additional vehicles were lost because they could not be taken. All possible were destroyed before enemy capture.    

 



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Posted 03 November 2013 - 08:34 AM

Losheimergraben

 

Attached File  verkenning Ardennen 001a.jpg   158.4KB   0 downloads

Losheimergraben looking east from the crossroads towards the custom houses. The wooded hill behind the custom houses was occupied by B Co of the 1st Bn. The frontal attack by the 12 VG Division against the X-roads overran the B Co positions in mid-afternoon of the 16th. Nevertheless the 1st Bn held on to the crossroads until the evening of the 17th, thereby effectively blocking all access to the important 'Rollbahn C', which formed the route of advance of the armoured battlegroup of the 12th SS Pz Div (aka KG Kuhlmann).

 

Attached File  IMG_6320 Viaduct Losheim en losh Graben a.jpg   284.14KB   0 downloads

The railroad viaduct in the main road between Losheim and Losheimergraben. I still am not sure if the railroad bridge was out on 16 Dec. According to the Combat Interviews of the 1st Bn/394th the bridge was in.

 

 

Story of the 394th Infantry Regiment (Col. Don Riley) 16 - 18 Dec 44

 

  • 1st Battalion            - Lt.Col. Robert H. Douglas
  • 2nd Battalion           - Lt.Col Philip Wertheimer  -  1 – 27 Dec 44
  •                                    - Capt Ben W. Legare            - 27 – 30 Dec 44
  •                                   -  Maj. Robert L Kriz                - 30 – 31 Dec 44
  • 3rd Battalion            - Maj. Norman A.Moore
  • HQ Co 394th            - Capt Joseph H.Mills          - 1 – 28 Dec 44
  •                                    - Capt Andrew Gray           - 28 – 31 Dec 44
  • Cannon Company    - Capt. Frank A. Arnoldy
  • Service Co                 - Capt. Gregory Leuty
  • Anti –Tank Co         - Capt, Harold Z Moore
  • Medical Detachm.    - Capt. Stephen Gillespie

 

           

Regimental CP locations:

Hünningen (010000-171500 Dec)

Mürringen (171500 – 180800 Dec)

Wirtzfeld (180800 - 181300 Dec)

Elsenborn (181300 – 191400 Dec)

Vic Elsenborn (191400 – 312400 Dec)

 

The mission of the 394th Infantry throughout the period of 1 – 31 December was to actively defend its variously assigned sectors. Between 1 – 17 December the Regiment held a position generally along the north-south Road between Neuhof, Germany and Losheimergraben, Belgium, with two battalions on line and one in reserve; the Regt defending a 6500 yard front. The 2nd Bn occupied the left of the sector during the period of 1 – 17 Dec; the 3rd Bn occupied the right during the period of 1 – 10 Dec. The 1st Bn was in Regimental Reserve during the period of 1 – 10 Dec, and replaced the 3rd Bn on right of the defensive position during the period of 10 – 17 Dec. The 3rd Bn remained in Regimental reserve during the period of 10 – 12 December, on the latter date the Bn was designated a 99th Div reserve until 16 Dec, when it returned under control of 394th Infantry. The 3rd Bn remained in position in the rear of the 394th Infantry Sector.

 

During the period of 10 – 16 December the Regiment maintained contact with the 393rd Infantry on the left and Task Force X on the right, patrolled actively to the front, and continued to improve the defensive position by construction of fighting holes, erection of wire and minefileds. The defense was generally stabilized during the period  1- 12 Dec with very little active enemy opposition, other than patrols and intermittent mortar and artillery  fire. During the period 13 – 15 Dec the Regiment in accordance with orders from Higher Headquarters demonstrated offensively from its position in conjunction  with the attack launched to its North flank by the 78th and 2nd Infantry Divisions, the demonstration consisting of several raiding parties and firing of all types of weapons and supporting artillery.

 

On 16 December the enemy launched a coordinated attack in strength along the entire front of the 394th Infantry Regiment. The assault was preceded by 90 minutes of concentrated artillery preparations, which especially covered the right sector of the Regiment. Though the Regiment held firm throughout 16 December, except for a penetration in the sector of Company “B”, a check made after dark on 16 Dec showed a discouraging situation. It was true that the 2nd Bn, in the north had not been much affected by the day’s events – but German troops were moving deeper on the left of the battalion, where enemy had penetrated the line of the 1st Bn/393rd. In the Losheimergraben area the 1st Bn had reformed in a thin precarious line; the crossroads still were denied the enemy. But B company had only twenty men available for combat, while the enemy settled down in deserted American foxholes only a matter of yards away. Four platoons had been taken from the 3rd Bn to reinforce the 1st, leaving the former with no more than a hundred men along the railroad line. Radio contact was retained with the I&R platoon at Lanzerath until 1400, when it ceased to be heard from. Everyone in the platoon was missing. The 3rd Bn bent its line back to the west, anchoring on the 1st Bn at Losheimergraben. Farther to the west, however, about 125 men of the 3rd Bn who had been on leave at the Regt Rest Center in Honsfeld formed a provisional unit extending somewhat the precarious 394th flank position. Contact with the Center and use of the road to Honsfeld were retained until 0200. Constant contact was kept with Division which realized the seriousness of the attack and informed the 394th at 2200 that it was to be reinforced by the 1st/23rd, and one company of tanks which were to go into position SE of Hunningen. Guides were sent back to bring the 1st/23rd into the positions which previously had been prepared by the 394th as part of its possible counter-attack defenses. By daybreak the reinforcing battalion was in position.

 

Throughout the night of 17 December German tanks could be heard rumbling up the road from Lanzerath and, by a fortunate twist of fate, kept rolling to the west instead of turning north. Honsfeld which was considered a very rear area was lost by 0400 on 17 December. Later that morning enemy tanks entered Büllingen. Throughout the morning the enemy kept up pressure against the 3rd and 1st Bns. It was evident that both battalions couldn’t hold much longer and finally, at 1530, division gave the order to withdraw, giving a tentative line to fall back on as the high ground generally northeast of Mürringen, and maintain contact with 393rd Infantry Regiment on the left. With the 1st/23rd in Hunningen, the rest of the 394th was to fold back to the north and west towards Murringen. The Regimental CP was moved back into that village at about 1400 and instructions were send to the Battalions. These had to come back in groups. The 3rd Bn was to organize the ground generally east and southeast of Murringen, the 1st Bn had to tie in with the 1st/23rd. The 3rd reached the assigned sector by evening. The 1st, at the Losheimergraben crossroads, however, had been so splintered by incessant German attack that its withdrawal was a piecemeal affair. Isolated groups dodged or fought their way west. Others, including the Bn CO Col. Douglas, cut north through the woods towards the 2nd Bn and joined that unit in its withdrawal. By late afternoon Regiment had lost contact with the 2nd Bn, for it had been cut off by this time and its radios were out. The battalion took a seperate route and withdrew cross-country towards Krinkelt. The 1st Bn/394th Infantry was accorded a Presidential Citation for its role in the defense of Losheimergraben. It had denied the enemy possession of the crossroads, so crucial for the armored thrust, for almost two entire days. 

 

In the early hours of 18 December (0100) the Regimental CO, after a radio conversation with the GOC 99th Division, in which he was told by the GOC 'to act as he saw fit', decided to withdraw. The enemy had succeeded in capturing ground southwest and west (Honsfeld & Büllingen) of the line held by the Regiment and because of this pressure as well as pressure being applied to the north flank (Krinkelt) it was determined that a withdrawal to the west was necessary. The Regiment started to withdraw at 0230 and moved to the vicinity of Elsenborn. Vehicles moved by road via Krinkelt and Wirtzfeld to Elsenborn, the infantry moved cross-country. The ‘lost’ 2nd Bn rejoined the Regiment at Elsenborn in the night of the 18th.

 

 

Point of view GOC 99th Division, Maj.General Walter E. Lauer

 

End of First Day, Dec 16th: Although hard hit and in serious trouble at the end of the First day, particularly on the right flank as General Lauer saw it. The inexperienced 99th Division had aquitted itself in a manner calculated to win the reluctant admiration of the enemy. German losses had been high. Where the American lines had been penetrated, in the 393rd and 394th sectors, the defenders simply had been overwhelmed by superior numbers of the enemy who had been able to work close in through the dense woods. Most important of all, the stanch defense of Losheimergraben had denied the waiting tank columns of the I. SS Panzer Corps direct and easy entrance to the main Büllingen – Malmédy road. The initial German failure to wedge an opening for armor through the 99th Division, for failure it must be reckoned, was very nearly balanced by the clear breakthrough achieved in the 14 Cavalry Group sector. Though the 12th SS could not yet reach the Büllingen road, the 1st SS stood ready and waiting to exploit the opening made by the advance of the 3rd Parachute Division via Lanzerath onto the Honsfeld road.

 

During the night of 16 – 17 December the entire infantry reserve in the 99th Division zone had been committed in the line or close behind it. This back-up consisted of the local reserves of the 99th and the entire 23rd Infantry. Major General Walther E. Lauer, GOC 99th Divison was “extremely proud” of the achievements of his outfit: “I personally reported by phone to V Corps Headquarters at about midnight 15 - 16 Dec [sic] that all my front line units had reported in, that my entire front was practically reestablished on its original line – that the situation was in hand and all quiet”. Lauer continues: “I was extremely proud of my men. I had complete confidence in them. We could outfight the Germans in spite of their superior numbers but my right flank was exposed when Task Force X withdrew and the 106th Division was surrounded. Without reserves to cover this exposed flank I was more than slightly worried, but could do nothing about it until aid came from Corps” (Lauer BB, p. 25). About 125 men of the 3rd Bn who had been on leave at the Regt Rest Center in Honsfeld formed a provisional unit extending somewhat the precarious 394th flank position. Contact with the Center and use of the road to Honsfeld were retained until 0200. At midnight (0100) Corps attached the 254th Engineer Battalion to 99th Division. The Engineers were send to Büllingen to defend the town (one Co covered the road to Losheimergraben; one the road to Honsfeld; the other in reserve covering the exit to Bütgenbach). At 2400 Co C, 801st TD Bn, in mobile reserve, moved into position south and southeast of Bülllingen. An armored Cavalry troop (Troop A/32rd Cav.Sq. of 1st Lt Robert B.Reppa) of the 14th Cavalry Group from VIII Corps, checked in during the night at Honsfeld and was attached to the 394th Infantry Regiment. It had been cut off from its outfit.  

 

The all quiet was only temporary. In the early morning the attack started again, only this time worse than before. Or as Lauer wrote: “the next day, Sunday 17 December, was the day hell really opened its doors – but wide!”. Dante’s Inferno.

 

End of the second day, Dec 17th: Though calling it the ‘day of Inferno’, Lauer paints an almost  rosy picture of Dec 17th (BB, p. 39): “Our extreme northern flank of our 22-mile front was holding well. Every enemy assault had been definitely repulsed. On the east front, while our troops had been pushed back, the new line they established east of Krinkelt-Rocherath was holding. A strong hostile patrol with a tank [sic] had nevertheless penetrated that front and entered the town of Krinkelt where it built a huge bonfire in front of the church at the  town square. Farther to the south the 394th Infantry had been holding off all attempts to overrun its positions, but as the enemy pushed around its flanks it had to fall back to its previously prepared and organized positions around Murringen.” In fact the 99th defense succumbed in the course of the day.  In the afternoon the 393rd completely collapsed and the Regt CP after losing contact with both battalions moved back to Wirtzfeld. In the evening the 2nd Division took over the defense of the line Wirtzfeld-Krinkelt-Rocherth, while the 395th Combat team on the left continued the line to the north. With growing enemy pressure on both flanks, Lauer late that night gave the 394th permission to withdraw from Hunningen and Murringen and move to Elsenborn.

On the southern flank the situation was fluid. Lauer: “The enemy had pushed in behind our lines and overrun Büllingen, and it appeared only a matter of hours before the attack on Bütgenbach could be expected. The loss of Bütgenbach and the junction of the two main roads, one running north toward Elsenborn and the other west toward Malmedy, would be a sore blow. Fortunately the enemy hesitated in front of Dom Bütgenbach where the 99th Division’s little defense platoon, reinforced by three 57 mm guns of the Div HQ AT platoon, headquarter clerks and the remnants of the 254th Engineer Bn, had valiantly dug in. The arrival of the 26th Infantry of the 1st Division at this critical time solved the problem”.  

 

In early morning of 17 Dec the 26th Infantry (1st Division) was released by VII Corps and transferred to V Corps and attached to the 99th to help plug the gap on the extreme right flank. The 26th Infantry entrucked at midnight and started the move south, to Camp Elsenborn the new location of the 99th Div CP. Lauer (BB, p. 38): “I met the the advance element of this regiment and its Lt.Col. who was in command at the time in Camp Elsenborn late that morning. The regiment, motorized, was travelling in three echelons. The men had been up all night and were tired and hungry. Even though they were needed in Bütgenbach immediately, it was deemed best to await the arrival of all echelons of the column before moving down on Bütgenbach. At the time I was not sure if Bütgenbach had as yet been overrun by the Germans. A plan of rapid advance, by leap-frogging the motorized battalions down the road from critical terrain feature to critical terrain feature was decided upon and the regiment moved out within twenty minutes after the last echelon arrived. They met no opposition on this jump and moved into Bütgenbach”.

 

From 18 Dec 44 until 7 Jan 45 the 99th Division was attached to the 2nd Infantry Division because of the intermingling and for sake of simplicity and unity of command. The COC 2nd Division (Walter Robertson) took over command with the GOC 99th (Walter Lauer) as his deputy commander of the combined force.

 

Strength Returns at Elsenborn Dec 44 (from Lauer BB, p.69)

 

393rd – 114 officers and 1750 men from a normal strength of 172 officers and 3049 men;

394th -  119 officers and 1904 men from a normal strength of 172 officers and 3049 men;

395th -  146 officers and 2653 men from a normal strength of 172 officers and 3049 men.

324th Engineer Bn – lost over 100 officers and men.

 

Break down of strength per battalion:

393rd Infantry

1st Bn   – 14 officers, and 216 men

2nd Bn  – 30 officers, and 601 men (part of 395th CT)

3rd Bn    - 21 officers, and 426 men

 

394th Infantry

1st Bn   – 21 officers, and 428 men

2nd Bn  – 26 officers, and 553 men

3rd Bn   – 24 officers, and 550 men

 

Normal battalion establishment being 36 officers, and 825 men.

 

 

BB = Battle Babies the history of the 99th U.S. Infantry Division written by General Lauer

CI  = Combat Interview


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Posted 03 November 2013 - 08:46 AM

Jansbach: site of Charles B. MacDonalds action in the Krinkelter Wald (3rd Bn/23rd Infantry)

 

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Sketch Map of the positions along the western face of the Jansbach, taken up by MacDonalds I Co on the evening of 16 Dec 44.



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Posted 03 November 2013 - 08:50 AM

Jansbach

 

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German perspective: At the bottom of the shallow Jansbach valley looking southwest. Positions of the 3rd and 2nd Plt are indicated. 



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Posted 03 November 2013 - 08:53 AM

Jansbach

 

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Same spot as previous photograph. Just past the sharp bend in the 'Schwarzenbruch Trail' the 1st Plt (Lt Goffigon) had established a small road block. The 1st Plt positions extended to the right. 



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Posted 03 November 2013 - 09:08 AM

( I am walking this tour with you in spirit, Pistol ! These are areas I have yet to explore..... :S!  )


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Posted 03 November 2013 - 09:12 AM

Jansbach: 

 

Attached File  verkenning Ardennen 010a.jpg   262.05KB   0 downloads

The Schwarzenbruch Trail at the junction with the north-south firebreak, looking east. The Pz Jäger IV of KG Müller (12th SS) chased the retreating I Co men along this road. 

 

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Capt MacDonald unsuccesfully tried to rally his men along the north-south firebreak. The enemy tanks and infantry were following too close on the heels of his retreating men. 



#9 pistol

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Posted 03 November 2013 - 09:20 AM

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Many of the slit-trenches are still visible in this area. These ones are located in K Co's position, west of I Co. 


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#10 pistol

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Posted 03 November 2013 - 09:40 AM

Ruppenvenn: 

 

Attached File  IMG_6336 Y splitsing O Lausdell a.jpg   283.05KB   0 downloads

Western exit of the Krinkelter Wald, also known as Ruppenvenn. By nightfall on the 17th the KG Müller reached the woods' exit at this point and moved on to Rocherath. 

 

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Same spot looking slightly southwest. The two Shermans of the 741st Tank Bn under Lt. Miller, in support of the 3rdBn/23rd Infantry, pulled back towards Ruppenvenn to obtain better fields of fire. Later that afternoon Miller's tanks engaged the leading Jagdpanzer IV's as they emerged from the forest and knocked out two. But in the return fire both Shermans were themselves destroyed, 



#11 pistol

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Posted 03 November 2013 - 09:45 AM

Attached File  Ruppenvenn Sherman Miller a.png   457.86KB   0 downloads

Picture of the two Shermans of the 741st Tank Bn, u/c of Sergeant Miller, that were knocked out at Ruppenvenn. 



#12 pistol

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Posted 03 November 2013 - 01:39 PM

Dom Bütgenbach

 

The stand of the 26th Infantry at the Domäne Bütgenbach, to the E and SE of the village of Bütgenbach, is another one of the incredible feats by the US Army in the Ardennes. From 18 until 22 Dec 44 the American GI's held off all German attempts by the 12th SS Pz Div to break through the position. 

 

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Picture of the Bütgenbach area as seen from the forward line of E Co, 2nd Bn. The Domäne Bütgenbach. an ancient stock raising farm, is hidden by the trees in the background. The village of Bütgenbach is visible to the left.

 

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Another view of the same area, now looking a bit further to the NW. Beyond Bütgenbach, in the distance, the heights of the 'Hautes Fagnes' (High Moors), with Mont Rigi, are clearly visible. Mont Rigi was the objective of Von der Heydte's abortive paratroop operation. 



#13 pistol

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Posted 03 November 2013 - 01:53 PM

Dom Bütgenbach

 

Attached File  IMG_6355 BP rg NE pos Fcoy a.jpg   346.71KB   0 downloads

View to the NE from the same spot as the previous picture. Looking at the forward line of F Co, 2nd Bn, 26th Infantry, which extended the line of E Co and followed the tree line to the NE. The Schwarzenbüchel Hill, later occupied by elements of the 3rd Bn, 26th Infatry, overlooked the town of Büllingen, which is located behind the trees and was occupied by the Germans.   

 

The sunny hill mass on the left, behind the Schwarzenbüchel, is the Elsenborn Ridge. In between lies the dam reservoir of Bütgenbach.



#14 pistol

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Posted 03 November 2013 - 02:03 PM

Dom Bütgenbach 

 

One of the factors that decisively contributed to the American succes at Dom Bütgenbach was the deployment of the US 57mm AT-guns.  In an unorthodox move, Lieutenant Colonel Darrill M. Daniels, CO of the 2nd Bn/26th Infantry, put the 57 mm anti-tank guns on the perimeter with the infantry. Normally the AT guns would be placed further back from the main line of resistance. Daniels thought that the heavy fog would hide the guns from German view, and moving the guns up would make them more accurate against the enemy. Also the 57mm guns were using British Sabot-ammunition which proved very effective against the German armor.

 

 

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The forward defensive line of E Coy contained a number of dug-in 57mm AT guns. One of the AT-gunners was corporal Henry F. Warner who received a Medal of Honor for his actions in this battle. Unfortunately he was killed on the early morning of Dec 21st, while succesfully engaging a MK IV tank.

 

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One of the AT guns was later salvaged from the battlefield. It served for some time as a memorial at Bütgenbach, but now rests in a private garden in the town. 

 

 

Warner's citation reads: 

 

Serving as 57-mm. antitank gunner with the 2d Battalion, he was a major factor in stopping enemy tanks during heavy attacks against the battalion position near Dom Butgenbach, Belgium, on 20–21 December 1944. In the first attack, launched in the early morning of the 20th, enemy tanks succeeded in penetrating parts of the line. Cpl. Warner, disregarding the concentrated cannon and machinegun fire from 2 tanks bearing down on him, and ignoring the imminent danger of being overrun by the infantry moving under tank cover, destroyed the first tank and scored a direct and deadly hit upon the second. A third tank approached to within 5 yards of his position while he was attempting to clear a jammed breach lock. Jumping from his gun pit, he engaged in a pistol duel with the tank commander standing in the turret, killing him and forcing the tank to withdraw. Following a day and night during which our forces were subjected to constant shelling, mortar barrages, and numerous unsuccessful infantry attacks, the enemy struck in great force on the early morning of the 21st. Seeing a Mark IV tank looming out of the mist and heading toward his position, Cpl. Warner scored a direct hit. Disregarding his injuries, he endeavored to finish the loading and again fire at the tank whose motor was now aflame, when a second machinegun burst killed him. Cpl. Warner's gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of life above and beyond the call of duty contributed materially to the successful defense against the enemy attacks.



#15 pistol

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Posted 03 November 2013 - 02:11 PM

Attached File  IMG_6375 57mm uit Dom B a.jpg   469.61KB   0 downloads

Another view of the 57mm AT gun. After they had overrun the gun-position, the German infantry turned the gun against the US positions. It subsequently was knocked out by US artillery, hence the damage on the gun.



#16 pistol

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Posted 03 November 2013 - 02:26 PM

Dom Bütgenbach

 

 

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The old manor of the Domäne Bütgenbach, an ancient stock raising farm. Picture of the site as it was in 1906. During the battle the Bn CP of Col Daniels was established in the cellar of the building..

 

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Though the big sheds at the back of the manor are gone, the main building hasn't changed much.



#17 pistol

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Posted 03 November 2013 - 02:53 PM

Dom Bütgenbach

 

Attached File  IMG_6371 Klooster Dom Ba.jpg   169.87KB   0 downloads
Backside of the building. The low structure to the left is a postwar addition. The Domäne nowadays is in use as a nunnery. 
 
Attached File  IMG_6363 CP in Klooster a.jpg   144.66KB   0 downloads
The cellar of the building which housed the Bn CP has changed little, except it is now inhabited by garden Gnomes. 
 
The massed artillery were another factor that contributed to the American succes at Bütgenbach. The commanding general of the 1st Infantry Division, Maj General Clift Andrus, who was in command of the division for less than a week, previously had been the Divisional artillery commander and his mastery of artillery placement saved the 1st Division.General Andrus coordinated not only the 1st Division artillery, but also the 99th Division’s and V Corps reenforcing artillery. From a position across the lake from Dom Butgenbach, the artillery decimated the German tanks and infantry. When Lt. Col. Daniels’ command post was overrun the artillery fired inside to drive out enemy tanks.


#18 pistol

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Posted 03 November 2013 - 03:02 PM

The 26th Infantry’s command post was overrun three times by German tanks. Each time heroic individuals used the limited materials at their disposal to push the Germans back.
 
Attached File  IMG_6369 Klooster Dom B a.jpg   129.42KB   0 downloads
One of three MK IV tanks, which had penetrated into the CP area and took up position behind one of the wooden outbuildings at the back of the Domäne. American M10 TD's, which ran a gaunlet of fire from Bütgenbach to reach the Domäne, engaged the MK IV's by firing straight through the wooden sheds and thus chasing them away. Two MK IV's were knocked out, only one got away after it had set fire to the roof of the main buidling.
 
Same spot today


#19 KodiakBeer

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Posted 03 November 2013 - 08:58 PM

Great series of photos!


A Kodiak Bear Mauling (shameless plug): http://www.amazon.co...tmm_pap_title_0


#20 George Patton

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Posted 03 November 2013 - 09:52 PM

Great photos pistol. I can't wait for more.


Best Regards,
Alan


#21 LRusso216

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Posted 04 November 2013 - 01:41 AM

Amazing photos, pistol. I'll never see the area, so your pictures and commentary are a great stand-in. Thanks.


image001.png

Lou


#22 Kai-Petri

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Posted 04 November 2013 - 10:05 AM

Thanx for sharing the photos,pistol!!


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#23 denny

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Posted 04 November 2013 - 03:13 PM

Wow.!

An amazing tour.

Sorry if I missed it.....Did you see/photo The Wereth Memorial.?

Thanks



#24 pistol

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Posted 04 November 2013 - 09:37 PM

Denny - no, we did't move further south than Lanzerath and Buchholz Station. 



#25 pistol

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Posted 04 November 2013 - 10:21 PM

Krinkelt-Rocherath:

 

There was so much to tell about the battle for the 'Twin villages' of Krinkelt and Rocherath (17 - 20 December 44), that we almost forgot to take pictures. BTW the same accounts for the battle fought by the 99th Div along the Belgian-German border. Since that was my part of the program, I prepared some maps for the sectors of the 393rd and 394th Infantry, but they are too large to post them here.

 

 

Attached File  IMG_6344 Rocherath a.jpg   158.4KB   0 downloads

In the town center next to the church is a panel with information about the battle for Krinkelt-Rocherath. Looking again at the picture, I now see that the info is given in Dutch, French and German (the three languages spoken in Belgium), but not in English. This is my translation of the text:

 

Krinkelt-Rocherath, which was re-incorporated into Germany on 10 Mai 1940 [eastern Belgium, roughly the area Eupen - Malmédy - St.Vith was taken from Germany after WW1; hence the people still speak German in this part of the country], was taken on 13 September 1944 by the Americans. Since then the front was very close-by and on 6 October 1944 the civilian population was evacuated to Malmédy. 

 

When the Ardennes Offensive started on 16 December 1944, the villages lay in the path of two German divisions: the 277 VG Div and the 12th SS Pz Div. These had to achieve a breakthrough to Elsenborn and Liège. The soldiers of the 2nd and 99th US Divs held on to Krinkelt and Rocherath till, on 20 December 1944, a new defense had been established at Elsenborn. Both sides suffered heavy losses during the fighting in the woods near Rocherath. The battle then moved into the villages. Each crossroads, every single house and especially the area around the church was bitterly contested. On the road between the water-tower and the church many a knocked out and burned out armored vehicle was left behind.

 

As the US troops retook Krinkelt and Rocherath on 30 January 1945, the villages were almost entirely destroyed by heavy shellfire. 

 

Attached File  IMG_6343 Rocherath a.jpg   174.44KB   0 downloads

Second part of the info panel






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