133rd Ordnance Battalion History
DAS IST KRIEG . . .
During the months of October, November and early December of 1944, the Eleventh Armored Division was assembled in the Salisbury Plains area of England, engaged in the feverish task of equipping and preparing itself for combat. The 133rd Armored Ordnance Maintenance Battalion played a major role in the equipping and preparing of the Division for combat.
As Von Rundstedt's mid-December counter-offensive punched into the Ardennes, the Thunderbolt and the Maintenance Battalion were on the Channel bound for France after embarking from South Hampton. On hitting the dock at CHERBOURG, the Eleventh Armored was rushed at unprecedented speed 350 miles across France to assist in the mighty effort to stem Von Rundstedt's thrust and to relieve BASTOGNE. The Ordnance, heavily laden with extra parts, ammunition and equipment followed on the heels of the Division, issuing truckloads of bogie wheels to keep the tanks rolling toward the Bulge. No one knew what the future held, but everyone felt prepared.
This was the real thing for which we had spent two and one half years training and working. Armed with French good will and the tangible evidences of it, such as calvados and cognac, the 133rd Armored Ordnance Maintenance Battalion took off from SISSONE on December 26th to support the Division along the MEUSE River. In order to accomplish this mission, the Battalion was subdivided so that a company of Ordnance supported each Combat Command.
Immediately after Christmas, Headquarters Company, with "A" Company acting as Base Shop, rolled 80 miles from SISSONE to the vicinity of LAUNOIS. Here they were welcomed with cheers of greeting by the FFI garrison stationed at LAUNOIS. The acclamation was a joyous sound to the neophytes on their way to war. Co-operating wholeheartedly with the Americans, the FFI supplied guards to act as security for the ammunition dumps. That perpetual uninvited guest, "Bed Check Charlie" was in the skies over LAUNOIS, but at the time he was only a "Peeping Tom" and not interested in disturbing the peace. It was here at LAUNOIS that the Battalion's surplus equipment and duffel bags were left with eight enlisted men to guard them.
While Headquarters and "A” Companies were located in the vicinity of LAUNOIS; "B" Company of the 133rd took off to support CCB. After a daylong trek, they too reached their destination in an area near BALLONS, France. "C" Company, accompanying CCA, moved north along the MEUSE River line. On December 29th, the Battalion commenced moving via FLIZE to the historic site of World War 1, namely SEDAN, and on towards BASTOGNE. For the Eleventh Armored Division the Battle of the Bulge was about to begin. A rear sight vignette of the French countryside is that of ox-carts, women carrying packs on their backs, demolished homes and the international language of the French children clamoring for CHOCOLATE. Wars may come and Von Rundsteds may counterattack, but American CHOCOLATE speaks inaudibly its own sweet story forever. Throughout France, from the shores of CHERBOURG to the devastated citadel of BASTOGNE, old, gnarled fingers and skinny young ones, hold up two fingers at an acute angle to symbolize the V for VICTORY.
The Battalion crossed the Belgium border east of LA CHAPELLE on the afternoon of December 29th. The barking of our own artillery punctured the night as the column moved past FLORENVILLE. It was at St.VINCENT that Headquarters Company and "A" Company paused for the night. Many of the men were billeted in Belgium homes. Upon awakening in the morning, the men discovered that the size and stench of the steaming pile in front of the house was a definite indication of the wealth of the owner. From the odor, some must have been millionaires.
"B" Company, continuing with CCB, closed for the night of December 29th in the vicinity of MOLINFANG. It was here, that on the following night, five large evacuation vehicles of "B" Company under the direct supervision of Captain Harry W. Goedderz, went into enemy held territory and successfully recovered disabled American vehicles. "C" Company, moving along with CCA, bivouacked on December 29th in a field in the vicinity of NEUFCHATEAU. From this area, "C" Company reported that our own artillery was firing over their heads for the first time.
The crossing of the Belgium border was that dramatic line which marked the Baptism of Fire for the men of the 133rd Armored Ordnance Maintenance Battalion. It was here in Belgium also that the men saw their first snow since arriving on the continent of Europe. The might of the United States Air Force was really first seen by the men of the Battalion upon entering Belgium. The droning of hundreds of American bombers winging overhead to stymie the supply lines of General Von Rundstedt produced an exhilarating feeling in the hearts of the men who were working on the ground. Involuntarily, the men paused in their work as the bombers went over and hollered: "Give the bastards hell, boys".
Then there was the Eleventh Armored Division, the might of which consisted of little liaison L-5s that skipped over the tree tops as the seeing eyes of the artillery. Maneuvers were metamorphosed into the real thing upon entry into Belgium. The New Year found most of the Battalion in bivouac in the area adjoining VAUX LES ROSIERES in Belgium. All the companies were billeted in homes there at one time or another and some stayed in the area for as long as a month-the longest period in a domicile in the 133rd's history of warfare in the ETO. The snow was heavy and the weather was freezing in, but the stoves were warm and the steaks from the local butcher shop were tender. "A" Company was now in support of CCB and was kept on the move continually throughout the month of January, until they finally moved back to assemble with the rest of the Battalion in VAUX LES ROSIERES on January 24th.
Being converted to Base Shop on the 12th of January, "B" Company first moved to LA NEUVE and then to VAUX LES ROSIERES on the 13th of January where they stayed until February 5th. From the 29th of December to the 20th of January 1945, "B" Company repaired and returned to the line 94 combat vehicles. With CCA, "C" Company was initiated with its first strafing and direct shelling.
On January 14th, "C" Company moved to the eastern part of BASTOGNE and upon entering their new area, they were immediately fired upon by German artillery. As a result of this action the Company suffered four casualties, three of whom later returned to the unit. Two trucks were also destroyed by direct hits.
For Heroic Action in connection with the firing, Dominic A. Gezzi, a medic, received the Bronze Star. By the 24th of January, "C" Company returned to ROSIERES to complete regrouping of the Battalion. Snow, wind, freezing weather, numbed hands, casualties, dog fights, Bed Check Charlies, dead Krauts lining the roads-all this was jumbled together to form somehow or other an intelligent pattern that spelled doom for the last ditch German counter-offensive. THE BATTLE OF THE BULGE WAS OVER.
General MUD took the field and Ordnance turned road gang in an effort to keep the war rolling. Trees were chopped down, gravel was hauled, and picks and shovels were wielded-but at best it was none too good. With the Battle of the Bulge concluded, the Third Army prepared to crack the Siegfried Line. Following the retreating Germans, Headquarters and Headquarters Company crossed the Belgium border into Luxembourg.
Headquarters Company made an overnight stand at ASSELBORN, while Headquarters continued on, recrossing the Belgium border and closing at AUDRANGE, Belgium. They were joined there the next day by Headquarters Company and were immobilized there by poor road conditions until March 1st. "A" Company followed the path of Headquarters and arrived at AUDRANGE, Belgium on February 9th. They remained there until February 28th. Supporting CCB, "B" Company left ROSIERES on February 5th, moved to TROIS VERGES, Luxembourg and stayed there until February 13th, at which time they proceeded to HULDANGE, Luxembourg. Road maintenance was the principal job at this locale, where they remained until March 3rd. "C" Company, supporting CCA departed from PETITE ROSIERES on February 9th and arrived at AUDRANGE on the same night. They stayed there until the first of March.
The "man with the shovel" can best depict the activities of men of the 133rd during their stay in Luxembourg. It was the PWA all over again and it was a vicious cycle of moving one chunk of mud to fill up a hole and thereby creating another hole. It was MUD on the overshoes, MUD in the chow, and it sure was a fine place for ducks, but the vehicles only had chains and not webbed feet. Attention was being focused on the Siegfried Line at the base of the Bastogne salient in the early part of February. On 6 February, the Reserve Command of the 11th Armored Division attacked and took Hill 568 in the Siegfried Line. The Division action was then limited for a considerable period as a result of poor road conditions caused by Spring rains and thaws.
It was not until the end of February that road conditions permitted the Division to be ordered to resume full action. The Dragon's Teeth had been sheared and on March 5th Headquarters Company moved by a process of infiltration across the PRUM River to the vicinity of PRUM, Germany. The Pagan domain of Nazidom had been breached. On a high, windy hill overlooking the remains of the city of PRUM, a clear view was available of the still smoldering town. Again by infiltration, Headquarters Company rolled to WALLERSHEIM where they wallowed in a field of mud until March 11th. On February 28th, "A" Company moved to SCHONBERG, Germany in support of CCA. They stayed there until March 6th at which time they proceeded for reassembly at WALLERSHEIM. "B" Company winched themselves out of the mud at HULDANGE, Luxembourg on March 3rd and moved to BLEIALF, Germany, where they stayed until March 6th. On the 6th they departed BLEIALF and migrated to Budesheim. "C" Company took over as Base Shop at WEISWAMPACH which they left on March 5th and proceeded to SELLERICH, Germany. Moving out of this area on March 8th, they continued to FLERINGEN to complete assembly of the Battalion.
The impenetrable Siegfried Line had been penetrated, the road conditions were improving, the enemy was disorganized and in hasty flight, the full strength of the Third Army was poised for rapid thrusts and-THE RAT RACE WAS ON!
Quickly exploiting the breaches in the Siegfried Line created by the muddy fighting of February, the Eleventh Armored Division was ordered to attack, and drive to the Rhine.
The 133rd Armored Ordnance Maintenance Battalion was rolling nearly every day in the early part of March in an effort to keep Ordnance support close on the heels of the Thunderbolt Armor. Headquarters Company and "C" Company made a nonstop trip from WALLERSHEIM to NIEDERMENDIG along highways that were excellent. These highways that Hitler built for the Blitz of his Panzer Divisions were now being exploited by our Panzers to hasten the doom of Hitlerism. It seems that Hitler had constructed the highways leading to his own demise.
"A" Company, hard on the trail of CCA, left their bivouac area at WALLERSHEIM on May 8th, paused at KELBERG at the entrance to the 'race track' until May 12th and then continued on to MAYEN. Here they found the bomb damage to the city devastating and the spoils of war excellent.
"B" Company also went into the wine country when they took off from BUDESHEIM on March 10th and landed on the racetrack at NEUSPATH on the same day. It was on the race to the Rhine that the disintegration of the German Army first became apparent. Thousands and thousands of Nazi Supermen were moving toward the rear of the Allied lines with their hands over their heads. For them, Hitler's dream of conquest had already ended in a walking nightmare. As legitimate spoils of war, the Luger and P38s began to come into their own with American soldiers as highly valued souvenirs of conquest. And fine binoculars and even cameras were not overlooked by ever interested Americans, who gazed and seized upon these articles as the prized fruits justly deserved by the victor. A chicken in every house, a box of cigars on every table and a bottle of wine in every Gl's hand; that is the story of the paradise in warfare that the Battalion enjoyed at NIEDERMENDIG.
After resting and showering at NIEDERMENDIG, Headquarters and "C" Companies left their breweries on March 18th. A halt was made in the morning in the vicinity of HONTHEIM while the pontoon bridge at BULLAY was being cleared of vehicles. The companies were finally bivouacked at TELLIG. "A" Company moved from their apartments in MAYEN to a brewery in NIEDERMENDIG on March 12th. The wine post at KELBERG was evacuated by "B" Company in their move to NIEDERMENDIG, where the Company was billeted in a modern hotel. Immediately adjacent to their billets "B" Company discovered a cigar factory and though Kraut cigars did not come up to the American standards, the ersatz weed was found abundantly in Gl pockets.
While at NIEDERMENDIG, the 575AAA unit and other Allied anti-aircraft batteries put on some beautiful pyrotechnical displays in the evenings. However, they were not celebrating the Fourth of July; rather they were giving Jerry the American version of Glory Hallelujah. Once they must have made a slight error in identification for a British gunner shot down in the area had to be treated by the Battalion's medics. But as the good Germans used to say: "Das ist Krieg" All in all, while stationed at NIEDERMENDIG the Battalion OWNED four breweries, one cigar factory and several civilian automobiles. There were real chickens on the hoof and they laid real Aryan eggs. But like all Army "good deals", it had to come to an end; and one fine evening, "B" and "A" Companies made night treks in preparation for attacks as the Thunderbolts swung wide to cross the Moselle and make a second dash for the Rhine.
By the 9th of March, the Eleventh Armored Division had reached the Rhine at BROHL and ANDERNACH. After reassembling around NIEDERMENDIG, the Division swung south on March 16th to cross the Moselle River. The crossing of the Moselle River by the Battalion was the unit's first crossing of a pontoon bridge. And as each vehicle rolled across there was an MP standing there distributing bottles of wine. He must have had an infinite supply because he had been passing it out for twelve hours.
While the "big picture" in preparation for the crossing of the Rhine was taking shape, the 133rd Armored Ordnance Maintenance Battalion, in conjunction with their respective combat commands, was juggling for position. Headquarters Company left their area in vicinity of TELLIG on March 19th for an area one-mile southeast of KIRCHBERG. "A" Company left their temporary bivouac at DRIESCH on March 18th for PANZWEILER, where they remained until the following day. Leaving BUCHEL on the 18th of March, "B" Company then proceeded to LAUZENHAUSEN and stayed there until the 20th of March when they moved to NEUSSBACH. "C" Company, which was bivouacked two kilometers south of HESWEILER on the 19th of March, then rolled on March 21st to KIRCHBERG.
While moving frequently in jockeying for position, the Ordnance Battalion had an opportunity to see the multitudinous shades of white cloth floating from German houses all denoting surrender. Much German equipment decorated the terrain. It varied from burning Volkswagens, to rusting ammunition and rifles, and quite frequently a decaying German corpse glared open-eyed, but unseeing at the masses of American tanks and equipment that were rolling by. The roads lining the approach to the Rhine were littered with dead horses, wagons, deserted artillery pieces and Krauts, who would now find their prayer for "living space" either in Heaven or that other warmer climate. A continuous migration of all ranks of German PW's was on the march to the huge PW cage, which had been established at EISENHEIM. The rapid infiltration of American tanks had caught whole German Battalions with their backs to the Rhine and there was no escape. Blown bridges were the greatest obstacles in the path of our armor and the ever-lengthening supply lines was the particular bug-a-boo of the Ordnance.
Headquarters and "C" Companies made a feint to the south in going to SCHWEISWEILER, where they located in a factory that made muzzle brakes for 88s. Then on March 22nd, they made a one-day stand on a high hill overlooking the town of DESLOCH. From there they proceeded to BUDESHEIM, near ALZEY in order to assist in rejuvenating the 11th's tanks for the stab across the Rhine. In the meantime, "A" Company was moving from the vicinity of PANSWEILER, which they left on March 19th to set up temporary bivouac at KIRCHBERG. They made a one-day stop at DICKENSHEID and then on March 20th continued to MAXHEIM for another overnight respite.
The next stop for the "very much moving" "A" Company was MARNHEIM, where they stayed until March 24th. On that date they rolled north to DORN DURKHEIM. A field near EBERTSHEIM was the domicile of "B" Company on March 21st. Their assembly area, prior to crossing the Rhine River, was FRAMERSHEIM where they gathered on March 25th. The Nazi "Watch on the Rhine" had failed. The very heart of the Third Reich was about to be overrun by the Allies.
It was a memorable day when the Ninth Armored Division found the Ludendorff Bridge spanning the Rhine still intact, and proceeded to exploit one of the greatest blunders in military history by racing across to the east bank of the stream. The Ludendorff Bridge incident forced the Germans to rush all available troops to the area, thus weakening the entire southern portion of their defense on the east bank of the Rhine. The Eleventh Armored Division made the crossing at OPPENHEIM and the 133rd Armored Ordnance Maintenance Battalion spanned the stream on the 28th and 29th of March.
A tremendous concentration of American anti-aircraft equipment was noted on the hills on the west bank near OPPENHEIM. Jerry planes made frequent attempts at the OPPENHEIM bridges; resulting in the Rhineland sky being saturated with AA fireworks. The bridges remained safely snuggled beneath the blanket of smoke. The actual spanning at OPPENHEIM consisted of three treadway-ponton bridges. Two bridges were for eastbound traffic and the other for westbound. One special bridge accommodated eastbound heavy vehicles and was the one over which our M-25s were moved.
"B" Company moved from FRAMERSHEIM on the 28th of March and crossed the Rhine River on that same day. They made a temporary bivouac at DUDEN. On March 28th, 'A' Company made their crossing, paused for the night of TREBUR and continued on to WEISKIRCHEN. At 1600 on the 29th of March, Headquarters and "C" Companies crossed the Rhine, and then set up temporary bivouac in the vicinity of WEISKIRCHEN. DARMSTADT was but a hollow shell-a tribute to the accuracy and effectiveness of our bombers.
The Germans failed to blow the bridge over the Main River to HANAU and it was over this that the Division spanned the stream and entered battered HANAU. Roadblocks, Jerry jet-propelled planes winging overhead and enemy equipment lining the roadside gave concrete evidence that the enemy had only fled a few hours before. Rigor Mortis had not yet set in the bodies of the German corpses-so deeply and so rapidly had the Eleventh Armored penetrated the defenses. Numerous Kraut patrols were reported in the area and later the supply lines were severed in the vicinity by ambushes of German remnants drifting southward toward the Redoubt Area.
Headquarters and C Companies left WEISKIRCHEN on March 30th for HANAU. Shortly after closing in the area, German jet propelled planes appeared overhead unsuccessfully attempting to bomb out the bridge at HANAU. The ordnance companies stationed there had plenty of anti-aircraft practice during their stay. B Company departed from DUDENHOFEN on March 30th and moved to a new bivouac area five kilometers southeast of BUDINGEN. Moving into HANAU on March 30th for a one-night stand, A Company then proceeded to LANGENSELBOLD, where they again paused for the night before continuing to KRESSENBACH arriving there on April 1st.
The rapid advance of our armored columns bypassed many enemy groups and strong points. The enemy often recovered from the original shock of the armored advance and caused the supply elements at the rear of the division column casualties by ambush and small attacks. Tragedy was riding at the wheel when Headquarters Company pulled into bivouac near VOLKARSHAM and though it was April 1st, Mr. Tragedy wasn't fooling. As soon as Headquarters Company pulled into the area, Joe Augustine, the mess sergeant, took off into the woods on an urgent call of nature. When he returned he brought with him one Nazi Oberit. This revealed the fact that the surrounding woods were teeming with SS troops.
One 5/4-ton truck with enlisted men in it, part of a patrol sent out to reconnoiter the area, ran into an ambush. In the ensuing battle, the occupants of the truck were forced to flee, but not until two men of the Battalion were killed. Three others were listed as missing in action, but a letter received from one of them after the European War was over, revealed that they had been taken as prisoners of war and finally liberated with the advance of the American Seventh Army. The truck was never found.
Also on that same sinister date, April 1st, "C" Company pulled into camp in the vicinity of HARTMANSHAIN. As usual, the decontaminator, with two men in it went after water. But it was unusual when they did not return. Several days later the truck was discovered overturned and bullet ridden. The two men could not be found. One later turned up wounded in a General Hospital. The other was never accounted for.
"A" Company, following the path of CCA, moved to KRESSENBACH, where they encountered stiff resistance from German roadblocks, but fortunately suffered no casualties. On March 31st, "B" Company let BUDERIGEN on an all day drive through enemy country until they reached PFAFFENROD. The Thunderbolt was in high gear and Ordnance was traveling hard to keep an its tail. Long daily moves were a regular activity. German Infantry, unable to retreat ahead of our tanks, surrendered by the thousands. Near OBERNUST, what must have been a full regiment of German Infantry, complete with officers clogged the roads as they marched to HUNFELD. German tanks and transport littered the roadside. Charcoal burning half-tracks and personnel carriers were frequently found lying in the ditches-their ersatz fuel unable to keep them ahead of our armor. The Krauts attempted to make strong points of the small towns. Where he attempted to defend a town, he built a rubble pile as a monument to his futile efforts.
Way out in front of the Infantry, Headquarters and "C" Companies arrived at DIPPACH an April 2nd. During the night, outpost guards opened up on Kraut soldiers who refused to halt when challenged. In the skirmish one enlisted man was killed. "A" Company left KRESSENBACH on April 2nd en route to HASELBACH, a distance of 81 miles. Moving 48 miles on April 1st to UNTERWEID, "B" Company proceeded with the Rat Race the following day; this time continuing to UNTERKATZ.
It was at this time that the Eleventh Armored Division enjoyed the distinction of having penetrated farther into the German Reich than any other Division on the Western Front. This notable achievement had certain unmistakable drawbacks. The only food possible to obtain was "C" rations. The men had canned spaghetti for breakfast, canned stew for lunch, and more cans for supper. Quite often there was no coffee available in the kitchen, so water was boiled for the men and they made their own coffee from individual "C" ration cans. Under such conditions did the men plunge farther and farther into the very heart of the Reich. Fresh eggs were worth their weight in gold, and some men even went so far as to bring live chickens along with them so that they could have their breakfast food.
Hoping to find a little security from the forward units, Headquarters Company moved on April 2nd from DIPPACH to CHRISTES. They continued forward to HERGESHALLENBERG on April 4th, thence to EINHAUSEN on the 7th and finally reached HILDBURGHAUSEN on the 11th of April. From April 4th to 6th, "A" Company was stationed at an arms plant in SUHL. There was an ample supply of all types of small arms there and the souvenir hunters had a picnic. From SUHL, the Company went to HEINRICHS and finally on April 7th caught up with the CCA artillery at HILDBURGHAUSEN. On April 10th "B" Company pulled into RODACH which was still smoldering. Here, also, the Company's guns bellowed almost continuously at enemy airplanes. "C" Company moved to METZELS on April 3rd and on the following day moved to VIERNAU. They departed from this beer station on April 7th and moved along good roads to EINHAUSEN. Two Germans were shot upon the high hill overlooking the town on April 8th. On April 11th, the company moved into HILDBURGHAUSEN. Continuing as the "Point" of the Third Army Spearhead, the Eleventh Armored Division bypassed those focal towns, which the enemy preferred to strongly defend. The Infantry, closely following the armor, mopped up these bypassed strong points.
The sharp protrudance of the thrust exposed the rear units of the Division column to continued airplane attack and sharp if picayune ambushes on the ground. On April 12th, Headquarters and "C" Companies moved out of HILDBURGHAUSEN into the SS barracks at COBURG. Here they were alerted via radio that German tanks were approaching the city. Upon investigation, it was discovered to be a false alarm. To be sure there were 11 German tanks on the road, but they had been abandoned.
On Friday the 13th, an ominous date, Headquarters and "C' Companies moved into an open field in the vicinity of MAINECK. Here they were attacked by five ME109s. One man from "C" Company was wounded as a result of the strafing and the A Message Center radio truck of Headquarters Company was shot full of holes. The score on enemy planes was one destroyed and another damaged. "A" Company, advancing along CCA route, moved from HILDBURGHAUSEN to OBERLAUTER on April 10th. Here they remained for two days while the Division convinced the town of COBURG that it would be the better part of valor to surrender.
On April 12th, the Company moved to THEISNORT for an overnight stay. The following day, they proceeded to STADTSTEINACH. While here they switched jobs with "C" Company and became Base Shop. They then moved to MAINECK on the 17th of April. On April 10th, nine enemy aircraft strafed the column of which "B" Company was a part. There was no damage suffered by the Company as a result of this action.
On the 12th of April they departed RODACH and moved to the vicinity of MARKTZEULN. The following day they continued on to FASSOLDSHEFT on the CCB route. BAYREUTH, the home of the world-famed Wagnerian music, was a shambles, but the famous Opera House escaped the blows of the American Air Force. A never-ending stream of C-47s circled the BAYREUTH airfield and landed. They unloaded ammunition, food and gasoline. For short distances the Autobahn provided excellent roadways for our tanks and trucks. The frequency of blown bridges reduced the efficiency of the Autobahn. German equipment, which had earlier in the campaign littered the road, was now becoming scarce. Instead of Panzers, the Thunderbolt now fought the Volkssturm with his Panzerfaust.
Headquarters and "A" Companies arrived at BINIACH, just off the Autobahn and airport on April 19th. Gas was being flown in to keep the American vehicles moving. The ground supply lines to the rear had become so long that air transport was necessary to deliver the vital fuel supply to the forward elements. While BAYREUTH was surrendering, "B" Company waited outside the city. Finally enough pressure was brought to bear and "B" Company entered the city of BAYREUTH or what remained of it, on April 17th.
On the 19th of April, they departed for ESCHENBACH and then to GRAFENWOHR. "C" Company, now in support of CCA, moved to NEUDROSSENFELD on April 18th. On April 19th, they again moved, this time to the vicinity of PRESSATH. The first Hungarian Army began to appear. At first truckloads were picked up along with Kraut PW's. Later the Hungarians, marching to the rear by regiments and divisions, became a common sight. Always the tail of a Hungarian column was made up of women and children-the families of the soldiers. The feeble horse drawn equipment and meager small arms of the Hungarians were in sorry contrast to the might of an American Armored Division.
Blown bridges continued to be a headache. The Germans seemed to be determined to "burn their bridges behind them". The Treadways and Baileys that replaced the demolished spans were a never-ending problem to the heavy ordnance vehicles-especially the M-25 tank transports. By this time, it seemed that all food grew out of cans. Chow had become "C" rations without supplement. The Battalion was redesignated the Armored Ordnance Maintenance Battalion on the 24th of April. On the 23rd of April, Headquarters and "A” Companies started for a new bivouac area somewhere, but were forced to stop at PFREIMD because of blown bridges. "B" Company moved from GRAFENWOHR on April 22nd to UNTERWILDENAU, stayed there overnight and moved to HANSENRIED. "C" Company left PRESSATH on April 23rd en route to PFREIMD, but had to pull off the road near WERNBERG. The products of Hitler's experiment in psychological warfare were trudging along the roads, as the armies liberating them were thrusting deeper and deeper into Germany.
These walking skeletons, victims of Nazi forced labor and concentration camps, were staggering along the highways often without shoes and begging for food and cigarettes. The emotional appeal of this forlorn sight had an effect which American soldiers could not resist. "C" and "K" rations, by the case, were thrown to this unorganized, pitiful, beggarly army of unfortunates. American soldiers, hardened to blood and the misfortunes of combat, were deeply touched by the sight. Such exclamations as "Sons of Bitches" (referring to the Germans) were heard from GI lips as hands clenched just a little more grimly the stocks of weapons.
While the Displaced Personnel were moving to the rear of American lines, Headquarters and part of "A" Company moved on to the recently captured airfield at CHAM, an April 24th. Communications of the Germans were so badly disrupted that several German planes continued to land at the airfield after it had been taken. American antiaircraft spoke frequently and with telling effect in this area.
Departing HANSENRIED on April 24th, "B" Company moved to PRACKENBACH. The enemy was still abundant in this area. "C" Company, traveling with CCA, rolled to PFREIMD and on to KATZBERG, where they paused for o few hours before proceeding to the vicinity of VIECHTACH, where they arrived at midnight. Snow, instead of apple blossoms in May; the cold the mud, the rain-all these did little to increase the comfort of either the Americans or the Krauts. Reports of SS troops and German Panzers on our Czechoslovakian flank came in daily. The last remnants of the Luftwaffe kept our AA and machine gunners in firing trim. Anticipation at meeting the Russians was beginning to run high. The Wehrmacht was dying, this was Adolph's Redoubt and last stand.
This was the rugged, beautiful country of Hitler's birth; the area to which he had hoped to withdraw his troops for a last ditch fight. The ruthless speed of American armor in the West and Russian pressure from the East had made any planned retreat impossible.
Headquarters and "A" Companies made a long move on April 27th from CHAM to the vicinity of FREYUNG into the Bavarian Alps. On April 25th, "B" Company moved from PRACKENBACH to REGEN through enemy occupied country. En route, the Company was ordered off the road to avoid congestion. While halted, the enemy opened up from a nearby woods with Panzerfaust. This resulted in the destruction of the Company ration truck and the injury of two officers and the mess sergeant.
On the 26th, the Company moved to NUDBACK, where they stayed for one night and then continued on to WALDKIRCHEN on April 27th. "C" Company left* VIECHTACH on April 25th for GRAFENAU. The next night, they again moved through enemy territory to FURHOLZ. Peace rumors were in the air as the month of April came to an end. In the early days of May, the Eleventh Armored Division crossed the German border into Austria; this being the fourth country on the continent of Europe to be overrun by the Eleventh in a period of less than six months. The speedometer of an Ordnance Battalion vehicle, from the time of departing CHERBOURG, France to the end of the war for the 133rd Ordnance in URFAHR, Austria, registered 1,600 combat miles.
On May 1st, Headquarters and "A” Companies ploughed through flurries of snow to POLZED, Germany. On May 3rd, they crossed the Austrian border and bivouacked one mile south of HOGLING, Austria. Owing to congested roods, blown bridges and stubborn Krauts, they remained there until May 6th, when they moved to URFAHR on the north side of the Danube River, immediately opposite the city of LINZ. "B" Company left WALDKIRCHEN on April 30th and rolled to URFAHR.
With almost continuous daily movement, "B" Company finally crossed the Austrian border and on May 5th were located in GALLNEUKIRCHEN, Austria. In moving to SANNEN GERM, "C" Company crossed the Austrian border. They then proceeded to GERETSCHLAG, where they rested for two days before continuing to HERZOGSDORF. From there, on May 5th, they made their final move of the war to ZWETTL. On May 2nd the Germans in Italy and western Austria capitulated. On May 5th the troops in Holland, northwest Germany and Denmark laid down their arms. On May 7th, two years and six months after the landings in North Africa, all German land, sea and air forces surrendered unconditionally to the Allies. At OOO1, 9 May 1945, the war in Europe was officially declared to be over. IT WAS V-E DAY.
During four and one half months of combat, the 133rd Armored Ordnance Maintenance Battalion supported the Eleventh Armored Division and numerous attached units without the assistance of any higher echelon of Ordnance support. The results of the maintenance work during the four and one half months speak for themselves
Combat Vehicles Repaired 1305
General Purpose Vehicles Repaired 1616
Artillery Jobs Completed 800
Small Arms Repaired 4968
Fire Control Equipment Repaired 1809
Watches Repaired 559
Miscellaneous Instruments Repaired 187
Service Section Jobs 6738
(Welding, Blacksmith, and Machine Work)
Major Parts reclaimed from salvaged or
Evacuated vehicles 1886
The volume of ordnance parts consumed by the Thunderbolt reached 15 tons daily at times. During the combat period, 15,847 major parts assemblies were issued and used by the Battalion.
LEST WE FORGET. . .
KILLED IN ACTION
WILBERT C. PFUEHLER T/5
HERMAN A. MAURER T/4
OBERT A. NELSON T/Sgt.
ADOLPH GAWORSKI T/5 MISSING IN ACTION
HERBERT A. LAUREN T/4 CAPTURED IN ACTION
HENRY G. FERBER T/5 CAPTURED IN ACTION
PAUL L. KELLER Pfc. CAPTURED IN ACTION
JOSEPH H. MERINO 1st Lt. WOUNDED IN ACTION
WILLIS G. REDFIELD CWO WOUNDED IN ACTION
CLYDE E. PETERSON M/Sgt. WOUNDED IN ACTION
GILBERT J. POULIOT S/Sgt. WOUNDED IN ACTION
PETER R. UMATUM T/3 WOUNDED IN ACTION
JAMES R. HODGES T/5 WOUNDED IN ACTION
JOHN E. TILLMAN T/5 WOUNDED IN ACTION
ALPHONSO A. DUNCH Pfc. WOUNDED IN ACTION
PAUL L. HAMIL Pvt. WOUNDED IN ACTION
CLYDE E. REED Jr. Pvt. WOUNDED IN ACTION
ANTHONY SERRA Pvt. WOUNDED IN ACTION
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