41st Tank Battalion History
It is my considered opinion that there is no other military organization, which excels the 41st Tank Battalion.† In fact as a battle group it has done entirely too well and has misled some observers into the idea that perhaps the opposition did not amount to much.† But there are many who know the truth.
Bastogne was gallantly defended and has become an American epic.† Yet in those dark winter days one could feel an atmosphere of apprehension and doubt amidst the determination of the defenders.† In this atmosphere a task group headed by the 41st launched the first attack made by any American unit against the southern flank of the Bulge; the fierce spirit of the tankers, and their tenacity in holding their gains were too much for the best of Rundstedt's troops.† It was this spirit which was the inspiration of all Combat Command B on that occasion; a spirit which continued through the series of splendid achievements which followed.
The 41st Tank Battalion has always delivered a little more than the goods, and it has done so with cheerfulness; it has a fine organizational sense of humor under the almost trying circumstances.† No commander could ask for more than to be remembered as one of such a group.††††† ††††† ††††† ††††† ††††† ††††† ††††† †††††
††††† ††††† ††††† ††††† ††††† ††††† ††††† †††††
††††† ††††† ††††† ††††† ††††† ††††† ††††† ††††† Colonel Wesley W. Yale
††††† ††††† ††††† ††††† ††††† ††††† ††††† ††††† Commanding, CCB
Three years ago this organization came into being, then as part of the 41st Armored Regiment; some of you remember those days at Camp Polk, La. Fresh from the streets of Chicago, New York, Buchanan, and Fort Worth; from the cites and towns of the United States-large and small-from every conceivable walk of life.† The wealthy and the poor; the farmer, the lawyer, the businessman, and the student.† Your ideas, standards and manner of living were all quite diversified and different.† But, you were all Americans.† In a few weeks you began to live together, to work, sweat, swear and gripe together.† Many of you physically exerted yourself for the first time.† 25 miles in 8 hours caused many others, living and dead, who have demonstrated those fine body, together with a will could do.
Those days are long ago.† Much water has run under the bridge since.† Many of our friends and buddies are gone; but their memory will least forever, they were a part of a team that won, and will continue to win so long as we are truly American.
We can all be fiercely proud of this Battalion, its standards, what it has accomplished, and the effect it will have on the remainder of our lives.† Can we ever forget men like Col. Sagaser, Sgt. Jon Jones, Capt. Sucharda, Sgt. Alexander, Lt. Foote, and many others, living and dead, who have demonstrated those qualities for which we live, and die if necessary.
Today is activation day, celebrating the third year of our existence as a military unit, it is also ironic perhaps, but starting tomorrow, 16 August, the formal de-activation of the Battalion will start.† In a few days, weeks at the most, we will be transferred to various units, equipment will be turned in, and the 11th Armored Division and the 41st Tank Battalion will cease to exist.
On behalf of Colonel Sagaser and other members of the Battalion who have served with us, I would like to take this opportunity, perhaps the last when we can all be together, to say a sincere good-bye and good luck.† May the best of every thing accompany you all wherever you may go.
††††† ††††† ††††† ††††† ††††† ††††† ††††† †††††
††††† ††††† ††††† ††††† ††††† ††††† ††††† ††††† Major John J. Hoffmann
††††† ††††† ††††† ††††† ††††† ††††† ††††† ††††† Commander
The 41st Armored Regiment was activated at Camp Polk Louisiana on August 15, 1942, by General Order issued from Headquarters, 11th Armored Division.
The Commanding Officer was Colonel Thomas N. Stark a competent officer who contributed much to make this Regiment a first-class fighting team.
The cadre, for the Regiment, consisting of 53 Officers and 382 Enlisted men selected from the 32nd Armored Regiment of the 3rd Armored Division and the 36th Armored Regiment of the 8th Armored Division, arrived at Camp Polk between the 22nd of July and the of August 1942.
During October 1942, the Regiment began to receive its filler replacements direct from induction centers.† The last of them arrived on 5 December 1942, at which time the Regiment launched a rigorous basic training program of 13 weeks duration.
With the completion, on 13 March 1943, of its Fourth Phase of training the Regiment immediately began preparation for large-scale field maneuvers by participating in weekly divisional field exercises
From 23 June 1943 until 25 August 1943, the Regiment took part in Third Army Maneuvers which were conducted in Louisiana and Texas.† During this period the men learned from arduous experience the technique of river crossings and operations in wooded and swampy land.
The Regiment bid adieu to Camp Polk (nil tears) on September 1, 1943 and moved on to Camp Barkeley, Texas.
While at Barkeley the 41st Tank Battalion came into existence.† It was made up by the 2nd Battalion, plus Company At the 3rd Battalion, of the Regiment.
Major Wray F. Sagaser assumed command with Major Richard R. Seibel as Executive Officer.
The next stop for this itinerant Battalion was Camp Ibis.† California for Desert Maneuvers Due to the lack of plumbing facilities practically everyone in the Battalion (by periodic desperate night dashes) became experts in the 100-yard run.
During the months of November and December the Battalion had occasional problems and began firing the weapons on their vehicle
From the fourth to 29th of January 1944, the Battalion participated in desert maneuvers against elements of the 96th Infantry Division in the Palen Pass region of the Mojave.
We left Camp Ibis on February 8th and journeyed on to Camp Cooke, California, where great stress placed on the firing of all types of weapons and the qualification of the men with their individual arms and also the crew served guns Under the direction of Colonel Stark, CO, CCB, expert tank gunnery became Command Demand.† The Battalion also delved into the principles of direct and indirect fire with the 37, 75, 76, and 105-mm cannons extensive combat firing problems were conducted in the outlying areas of the reservation.† Consequently when the III Corps conducted the final AGF tests, they were successfully completed by the Battalion.† Armored Command inspection of TC 41 gave the battalion a rating of superior.
The remaining months at Camp Cooke were spent with WD Requirements as the unit readied itself for overseas movement.
Among the distinguished visitors who inspected the training of the Battalion were General Marshall, Lt. Gen..† MacNair, and Lt. Gen.. Lear.
We realized that our days in the States were drawing to a close when, on August 12th, we received order' to proceed to Camp Kilmer, New Jersey for staging and overseas movement.† The Battalion left Camp Cooke on two trains, each taking a different route across the country, on 11-12 September, and finally arrived at Camp Kilmer on 16~17 September 1944.
After a couple of passes to New York City we boarded HMS Samaria on September 21st for an unannounced destination.† The Samaria docked at Liverpool, England, after an uneventful crossing, on October 12, 1944.† From Liverpool the Battalion was moved by rail to Longbridge Deverill, County of Wiltshire, arriving there on the same day.
To facilitate training, the Battalion moved to Tilshead Barracks on October 24th.† Here we received and processed our equipment in preparation for movement to the combat zone.
While in England, Lt. Col. Wray F. Sagaser left for the Battle Lines across the channel to observe the method of fighting that was going on there.† Later, after his return, he told the men about some of his experiences.† Speaking of them made them seem innocuous enough; in fact they were very amusing.
Also, while in England, Lt. Col. Seibel was transferred to CCB Headquarters and Major Hoffmann became the Battalion's new Executive Officer.† Major Robert B. Knight then stepped into the vacated S-3 position.
On December 17th the Battalion made a 60-mile march with combat loaded vehicles, in very dismal weather, from Tilshead to Weymouth, England, a Port of Embarkation.† Five LST's carried us across the Channel to Cherbourg, France where we debarked on December 20,1944.
From Cherbourg the Battalion immediately moved to the vicinity of Barneville -a small resort town on the western coast of the Cotinen Peninsula.† Here the unit was alerted and told to be ready to move on a momentís notice to the western front to aid, if needed, in stopping the German breakthrough that had developed in the Ardennes region of Belgium.
On December 22, the Battalion began a 450-mile forced march across France, via Falaise, Damville, Mantes and Paris, arriving in Soissons on December 24th.† At this time the Battalion was informed that it was a part of the US Third Army under the command of Lt. Gen. Patton.† During the 36-hour halt at Soissons, track extensions were installed on most of the medium tanks the men worked almost continuously throughout the 25th of December, stopping only for religious services and Christmas dinner.
Thanks to circumstances this Christmas day was unlike any other Christmas that they had spent.† There was no rejoicing, no celebrations, just a grim determination that everyone felt.† This was no time for celebrations, their faces seemed to say.† Somehow, as if it were a sixth sense, they all knew that tougher days lay ahead.
Shortly before midnight the march was resumed, via Laon, to Poix Terran where the unit moved into bivouac and assumed responsibility for the defense of its portion of the Division assembly area As the Germans had been employing saboteurs dressed in both American and civilian clothing during the put ten days, a close check was made of all strangers entering the area.† Outposts, roadblocks, and road patrols were set up and vigilantly maintained.† Upon completion of the work of installing the track extensions the men were allowed a much needed rest, they had been working more than 18 hours a day for almost a week.† The only unusual incident during the period was the attack by a lone enemy plane on the outpost.† The plane dropped a single bomb which exploded harmlessly out of range of our positions.
There, in a very laconic retrospect, is a panorama of our Pre-Combat Days.† It is easily written in a comparatively short time but it represents more than two years of intensified training and hard work.† Two years of abnormal living and nostalgia, two years of being away from your sweetheart, your wife, your mother and father.† How lightly we passed over those two years, yet they put a dent in every one of us.† They represent the strenuous rehearsal before the curtain rise on the Big Show.
On December 29 the Battalion was alerted and it moved on to Longliers, Belgium.† Even at this late date some of us still couldn't conceive what was in store for us.† That night comic books still held more fascination for us then strategic maps.† Our perfunctory manner suggested that it would be fantastic to even think that this was the opening to the Big Show.† One will never forget the incredulous look on many countenances when we were told of the mission that was assigned to us.
Attack orders were received from CCB Headquarters the Combat Command to which we had been assigned.† Mission of the 41st Tank Battalion (Designated Task Force Poker) was to attack north from Morhet with the initial objective of destroying the enemy positions at Lavaselle.
Task Force Poker was made up of: 41st Tank Battalion; Co A, 21st Armored Infantry Bn; One platoon, Troop B, 41st Cavalry Rcn Sqdn; One platoon, Co B, 56th Armored Engr. Bn; and One platoon, 575th AAA Bn
At the time of the initial commitment of the 41st Tank Battalion, the situation on the Western front was very critical for the Allies.† Field Marshall Von Rundstedt had thrown the 6th Panzer Army into the Ardennes region of Belgium and had pushed a long, threatening, salient nearly 50 miles in length through the US First Army's line, hoping to reach the city of Antwerp.† Malmedy, St Vith, Houffalize, St Hubert, LaRoche and Ciney fell before the enemy avalanche of armor.† In Bastogne, elements of three American battalions, held on desperately in the face of the enemy advance, resisting and defeating all attempts to storm the town.† The enemy, following the Blitz tactics he had exploited to the fullest in this same region in 1940, encircled the town and swept on to the West.† An American Combat Command had driven a wedge into the ring around Bastogne, two days before the arrival of the 11th Armored Division, but the situation remained crucial with the enemy moving in more armored reserve.† We It was at this time that the 11th was thrown into the fierce battle which might well have decided the final outcome of the war in the West, had the enemy been successful in splitting the Allied armies and capturing the vital port of Antwerp.
The 11th Armored Division's mission was to attack north and west of Bastogne hoping to cut the enemy's main supply route to the west tip of the salient.† Division plans were formulated.† With combat commands abreast: CCA on the left and CCB on the right with CCR in immediate reserve.
Task Force Poker, under the command of Lt. Col. Sagaser, preceded by reconnaissance patrols and a covering force of light tanks from Company D, struck at the town of Lavaselle from the high ground that dominated the village.† There they encountered light antitank and tank fire.† Upon reaching the outskirts of the town Company D tanks deployed to the left flank while the medium tanks of Companies A, B, and C, drew up to the firing positions along the crest of the ridge.† Supported by the fire of the medium tanks, Company D successfully completed its maneuver and reached a defilade position in a valley slightly to the west of the objective.† From that position they succeeded in harassing the enemy from the side and rear.† As no supporting artillery or air was available, the tanks of all the medium companies shelled the town, with the 75 and 76 mm cannons of their tanks causing terrible destruction and setting many buildings afire.† The shelling continued for approximately 30 minutes, and when the supporting Infantry Company moved into position, the order was given to storm the objective.
Simultaneously, the entire force rushed the village, with the mediums and infantry in direct assault while the light Tank Company struck the enemy from the rear.† The assault progressed favorably with no known casualties on our side until Company D encountered swampy ground just short of the village of Houmont, a stone's throw north of Lavaselle.† Although most of the tanks became mired in the mud, a few managed to negotiate the treacherous terrain and reach the objective, moving into the town with the infantry and medium tanks which had made a direct approach. The assault was of such magnitude that it completely demoralized the enemy that were dug in there; consequently some 125 prisoners were taken.† Among these were many elite troops of Hitler's personal guard battalion a crack unit of fanatical Huns which had been thrown into Field Marshall Von Rundstedt's desperate December gamble.
After successfully seizing the town, the Task Force rallied on the high ground south of the objective to avoid the intense and unobserved artillery and mortar fire which the enemy was throwing into his recent positions.† Due to the disconcertion of the first day in battle plus the proximity of taro other small villages adjacent to Lavaselle the rally took over an hour to complete.
Although the enemy launched a small counter-attack just at dusk and maintained a perpetual barrage of mortar and Artillery fire our troops held firm.† The vehicles were re-supplied with fuel and ammunition and evacuation of the dead both enemy and ours continued through the night.† Those killed that day were:
1st Lt.†Charles R. Strothers-Co C
Tec 4 Lewis H Hansen-Co B
Besides them there were 15 Enlisted Men wounded and one officer and 32 Enlisted Men missing in action.† Thirteen medium tanks were destroyed or disabled.
Upon orders from CCB we remained in position the following day on the barren but dominant terrain north of Lavaselle and supported Task Force Hoffmann in its successful assault on the village of Chenogne.† Once again the enemy rained artillery and mortar fire on us throughout the day causing the' loss of an officer Captain William F. Gardner, Commanding' Officer of Company A, and one Enlisted Man Tec 4 Albert V. Bates of Company B. And twelve others were wounded.
That was New Years Eve.† Just the mere thought that it was New Year's Eve under these uncomfortable circumstances made it seem rather anachronistic in its present setting.† No one would be celebrating until the wee hours of the morning or singing Auld Lang Syne. Sing? Who can sing when their heart is choking with an ephemeral fear and an uncertainty as to whether they would be around to greet the New Year.† Remember how we jumped when some one use to shoot a revolver into the air at midnight of New Year's Eve back in the states?† The screaming meemies and Kraut artillery really modulates the sound of that pistol doesnít it?† Yes this is by far the most eventful New Year's Eve we ever spent; although it wasn't of our own choosing.
On New Year's Day the task force supported by the combined firing of 12 artillery battalions and a few American P-47s conducted a highly coordinated Tank-Inf.-Artillery.Air assault on enemy antitank and artillery positions in the woods to the northeast of Lavamik.† Company C of the battalion and Company A of the 21st Armored.† Inf. led the attack which lasted for 60 blazing minutes Supported by covering tire from the two remaining medium tank companies they swept down on the objective.† The Infantry also moved directly into the woods to mop up the enemy remaining there and tank companies raced around each flank to overrun the rear installations.
Company C reached its objective first and succeeded in surprising and destroying two of the three antitank guns in the woods.† A Company reached the objective a few minutes later and together the two companies held the ground until the Infantry arrived to consolidate the gains made.
After a rally had been completed the task force moved toward its second objective a ridgeline just short of the village of Mande St. Rienne.† The Infantry rode on the rear of the tanks of Company A while the J platoon and Company D provided flank and rear guard protection.† The advance to the second objective had to be made more cautiously and at a slower rate because the zone of advance was through a funnel-shaped opening in a dense forest.† Just as the leading elements crossed over a barren ridge they encountered swampy ground under the deceptive blanket of snow.† The advance was halted momentarily as it would have invited certain destruction were the cumbersome tanks to become immobilized in the narrow corridor.† Rcn. units than raced forward trying to seek a by-pass enemy artillery began to pour down upon the task force.† Consequently casualties were unusually heavy because the Infantry were riding the open rear decks of the tanks and had no protection against the hail of bursting shells Although counter battery fire silenced the enemy guns a few minutes later many men were lost.† Yet there was never a sign of panic among the doughboys or even the slightest indication that they would desert the tank for better cover elsewhere.† They had been given orders to ride the rear of the tanks and they intended to do it.
Rcn. returned with information of a route through the bog and the determined command pushed forward finally coming out of the corridor some 800 yds. short of the village of Mande.† Here the landscape changed.† The dense woods sheered off to either side and rolling open hills formed a shallow valley in which the town itself was sited.† As the point of the task force came out into the open they were fired upon by well camouflaged anti-tank guns that formed a sort of horseshoe around the town.† In a very short time four tanks were destroyed in the fierce gun duel.† The other tanks deployed as best they could but their maneuver was restricted by the soft ground in the center of the valley.† Nevertheless the intrepid tankers did manage to get their huge vehicles into position and take the enemy under fire with the cannons on the tanks.† The battle rated furiously for a half an hour.† The tankers would fire a few rounds and then change positions to avoid the certain destruction that they knew would be in store for them if they remained in one place too long.† More and more tanks poured through the narrow funnel of the woods and entered into the firing duel.† The enemy was finally overwhelmed by the prodigious mass of heavy weapons.† Above the roar of the heavier weapons could be heard the staccato fire of small arms and light machine guns which kept the German Infantry pinned to their foxholes. Meanwhile the six assault guns of the battalion went into position on an open ridge of the east flank completely ignoring the anti-tank gun threat which was being rapidly eliminated by the armor in the valley.† Surely and deliberately the heavy 105s blasted the remaining gun positions to the north of the village with powerful salvos, covering the area for 200 yd. in each direction. The Germans resisting bitterly to the end were finally uprooted from the town and forced to withdraw to more tenable positions further up the valley.† As the task force dug in the enemy continued to shell the area with artillery and mortar fire but our own artillery finally silenced the little fight that was left in them.† Many officers and enlisted men distinguished themselves that long afternoon when during the terrible barrage of enemy fire they risked their lives in evacuating the wounded from the field of battle.† It was mainly due to their heroic acts that many of the more seriously wounded were saved from a fiery death inside the blazing tanks.
2nd Lt. Newton C. Royce lost his leg and 12 enlisted men were wounded. The list of men missing in action on Dec. 30 was officially confirmed. They were:
Captain Robert L Ameno Co. B ††††† Sgt. Wallace R Alexander Co. B
Tec 4 John P. Eulosiewiicz Co. B † Tec 4 Andrew Urda Co. B
Cpl. Cecil O. Peterman Co. B†††† Cpl. Rudolph E. Schmitz Co. B
Pfc. Dage A. Hebert Co. B Pvt. Kenneth Doerecheln Co. B
Pvt. Ivan L Goldstein Co. B †††††† Tec 4 Edward L Mattson Co. B
On the day of Jan 2nd the village of Mande St Etienne fell after an overwhelming attack with the combined might of CCB.† The crushing all out assault was preceded by a tremendous artillery barrage.† When the blanket of smoke lifted over the devastated village the methodical advance began to roll forward over the blasted enemy positions One could see hardly a building left unmarked by the effects of the terrible concentration.† The Infantry Battalion and C Company entered Mande from the southeast supported by direct fire from the remainder of the battalion an eerie crimson glare was reflected in the growing dusk by the white mantle of snow that covered the burning town.† Even though the conflagration provided a ready checkpoint for enemy artillery observers it also provided a great assistance to the battling Infantrymen and tankers as they drove the remaining enemy out of the town.† After some confusion at the outset the tanks rolled through the village in front of the Infantry that followed up to clean out the smoking ruins and cellars which the enemy holed up like a bunch of rats.† Despite the fact that there were still many German troops in the town the enemy began to shell the town with all the available artillery at his disposal.† The enemy concentration was one of the most intense and sustained fires of the task force's four days of combat.† To add to the problems of re-supplying, some 20 snipers who had been left behind created a furor as they attempted to fight their way out of town.† By midnight however, comparative peace descended upon the bitterly contested little village which had lucklessly been caught in the Allied vise that was relentlessly squeezing into Von Rundstedt's once dangerous salient.† During this period three enlisted men were killed-
Pvt. Lawrence J. Oborn Jr.
Pvt. Marcus L. Vinyard
Cpl.. Louis Rossi
The next day it was relatively quiet although there was spasmodic sniper and artillery fire.† Around 0800 elements of the 17th Airborne Division began to arrive in Mande to relieve the battle weary command and consolidate the gains that had been made.† We finally vacated the town around noontime and were very happy to be alive.† But even on this day we did not escape unscathed.† While waiting for the Airborne men to show up S. Sgt. Ralph S. Harris was killed and two other enlisted men were wounded.
After being relieved the battalion moved to Bercheux for a period of maintenance and rest.† There we were billeted in the various buildings along with the civilian population.† Although, in many cases, the quarters were crowded the men were able to sleep indoors and were somewhat protected from the austere cold winds and freezing weather.
During this period all the vehicles were whitewashed to aid in concealment in the snow covered terrain.
Lt. Justice and some enlisted men from the Rcn. platoon were detailed to search the area where Capt. Ameno was last seen.† Upon returning he reported that he had found the bodies of Capt. Ameno and Tec 4 Eulosiewicz but was unable to evacuate them because of the enemy artillery and small arm fire in that area.
On January 12th the battalion moved, on orders from CCB to the village of VILLEROUX, Belgium.† Due to the adverse weather conditions that road-march took 14 hours to complete even though the distance was only eight miles.† Vehicles lined either side of the roads, some almost sideways and helpless to move because of the icy conditions.† Even the medium tanks with their steel tracks couldn't keep traveling uninterrupted.† Everybody was infuriatingly polite-or trying to be-but some of the language that was spoken that night is unprintable.† The problem was finally solved by hitching half-tracks and light tanks to the M7's and M4's and half-pulling and half guiding the heavier vehicles along the road.† Not until 0900 of the next day did the last unit of the battalion arrive at VILLEROUX.
At 1330 hours the Battalion, again under the control of CCB, moved to an assembly area in the vicinity of LUZZERY just to the northeast of besieged BASTOGNE.† During the day the unit commanders made a reconnaissance of the sector in which they were to attack on the following day.† While they were in a forward position the enemy laid down a heavy mortar barrage on the area, but miraculously none were injured, and their mission was completed successfully.
During the early hours of the 14th, the 41st Tank Bn. received the mission of supporting by fire the attack of the Infantry task force of CCB on NOVILLE.† The attack was to be made in coordination with the other elements of the 11th Armored Division in a combined offensive action to try and close the Bastogne-Houffalize highway, and join with units of the First Army which were at that time pushing south toward Houffalize.† The successful juncture of the First and Third Armies would thus cut the Belgian salient in half and trap the remaining Germans in the bulge.
This time we were termed task force BLACKJACK and its make up was:
41st Tnk Bn -less Company B and 1 platoon of Company D
Co. B, 21st Armd Infantry Bn
One platoon of Co B, 56th Armored Engr. Bn
One platoon of Troop B, 41st Cav Rcn Sqdn
One platoon of the 575* AAA Bn.
Although the attack was scheduled to go on at approximately 0800 hours, orders were changed just after dawn because elements of Airborn Division which had been occupying the town of FOY were forced to withdraw during the night by a surprise enemy counter-attack.† Consequently it was necessary to retake Foy prior to launching an attack on Noville.† The Infantry task force made that attack with Blackjack in support.† Stubborn enemy resistance and heavy mortar fire held our units back until noon, at which time they stormed the town in force aided by our C Company which moved into the adjoining village of RECOGNE in a lightning raid.† The Infantry consolidated the position and the combat command than prepared to carry out its previous plans for the attack of Noville.
At approximately 1330 hours the attack had started but was progressing very slowly because of the enemy's mortar fire and also due to the excellent observation that they had from the high ground overlooking the objective from the northeast.† By 1500 hours the Infantry assault had entirely bogged down so the commanding officer of CCB, Colonel Wesley Yale, ordered task force Blackjack to assault the village of CORBU, which was one-kilometer southwest of Noville.† Company C of the 41st Tank Bn and Company B of the 21st Infantry moved into the town in a flashing drive and met hardly any opposition whatsoever.† But at 1545 hours the enemy launched a strong counterattack with tanks, infantry and artillery from the vicinity of Noville.† Our forces fought these attacks off successfully and continued to consolidate the ground in Corbu.† In all, about 200 German soldiers were either captured or killed.† Just before dark the enemy managed to move a tank and two antitank guns into a small group of woods on a hill to the west of the town and opened fire on our forces with deadly pointblank accuracy.† Before that threat could be neutralized we lost four tanks, including that of Captain Gene E. Sucharda, the commanding officer of Company C. He and PFC Stanley K. Chadwick were killed and one other officer and eight enlisted men were wounded.
2 Lt. Brendan A. Burns assumed command of C company and effectively directed the fire of his remaining tanks and destroyed the enemy guns.† Following this last attack the enemy gave up hope of driving our forces out of the village and retired to the northeast of Noville.† After dusk the tanks were withdrawn to high ground on a ridge overlooking the village, and there they remained throughout the night free to maneuver against any possible enemy counter thrust.
The remainder of the task force stayed in their origin positions on the line of departure, pending orders for the attack the following day.† Company B, which had been attached to the Inf. battalion, had been hard hit in a late afternoon assault on Noville.† They lost four tanks and six enlisted men were killed.
Sgt. Joe Caputo †††† Sgt. John B. Robinson
Cpl.. Frank J. Yates †† Pfc. Steve J. Krajewski
Cpl.. Harry C. Stenerson Pfc. Hubert J. Carey
As the majority of the enemyís strength appeared to be located in the woods on the hill to the northeast of Noville.† It was decided to abandon further attempts to take the village and assault the woods instead.† Capture of these positions would neutralize the enemy in Noville and make them an easy objective for the Infantry following the assault.
The following morning task force Blackjack, spearheaded by Company A, led the assault on the woods which had been covered by heavy artillery fire beforehand.† The enemy position, though strong and well situated for a determined defense fell surprisingly easily.† Apparently the enemy, battered by the heavy artillery concentration and demoralized by the assault of the large number of tanks in mass formation, decided to withdraw in the face of our troops overwhelming superiority- both in number and in fire-power.† As had been anticipated, Noville fell easily enough after the woods had been taken.
Following this endeavor further orders were issued by Colonel Yale for the attack on the ridge just 2000 meters to the north across the Noville-Bourcy highway.† Again with the tanks attacking frontally and the Infantry circling around to the left.† The attack was made and the objective was taken by a powerful smashing blow.† Although the enemy fell back before our terrible avalanche of armor and business-minded Infantry, he covered his retreat with small groups of anti-tank guns situated to cover the crest of the ridge which we had just taken.† By this method we lost one tank when it moved too far up on the skyline.† As it approached the skyline it was instantly hit by one of the antitank guns and the Tank commander, Sgt. Jon M. Jones, and gunner, Cpl..† Robert L. Roth were killed by the first shot.† The loader was seriously injured.† The tank caught on fire and began to burn but the bow-gunner, PFC Herbert H. Burr, had seen the flash of the antitank gun and he remained in the tank and fired his 30 cal. bow gun until he expended the ammunition in the belt.† Due to that effort the enemy gun crew was pinned down and could not return the fire in the face of his machine gun.† His ammunition expended, Pfc. Burr looked around to discover he was alone in the tank except for the one injured crewmember.† Despite the fire in the turret he managed to remove the loader from the tank and they both crawled back down the hill to Lt. Col. Sagaser's tank.
Here Burr discharged his patient and without further ado or orders crawled back up the hill to the tank.† Upon nearing the vehicle he jumped up and sprinted the remaining 25 yards', climbing into the tank and extinguishing the blaze which fortunately had not set the gas tanks afire.† Then he started the engine and backed the tank from its exposed position to the safety afforded by the defilade of the reverse slope.† For his gallantry and reckless' disregard for his personal safety, Burr was recommended for the Distinguished Service Cross, becoming the first man in the Battalion to win such a high award.† The action terminated the battle and the task force held onto the ridge throughout the night without further mishap.
The following day, early in the morning, The attack was resumed towards Houffalize with the initial objective being a dominant woods-covered hill just north of Vaux.† With the covering force of light tanks the task force took the lead followed by the Infantry task force in close support.† A very few enemy tanks were encountered in this initial assault and they were quickly destroyed by the high velocity cannons of the medium tanks which moved up to the light tank positions as trouble was encountered.† The Infantry, upon reaching the woods, reported it empty.† Gambling on this report the Combat Command renewed the assault upon the highway and moved north with a minimum of protection on its left flank next to the woods.† Although artillery and antitank fire was received, the task-force moved swiftly from ridge to ridge with the light tanks in front drawing the enemy fire which was quickly neutralized by a company of medium tanks following close on its rear.† The third wave of tanks were carrying infantrymen on the rear decks to provide quick infantry support should it be needed.† In this formation the Combat Command approached the little village of Wicourt.
Suddenly the enemy loosed a terrific stream of anti-tank gunfire from a nearby village, approximately 2000 yards away on the left flank.† The tanks immediately withdrew to a cover of the ridgeline and returned the fire.† Mortar and assault guns began to lay a protective cover of smoke on the flanks, and artillery was employed to assist the tanks in quickly removing the enemy threat.
On orders from the Combat Commander the infantry task force furtively moved around through the cover of the woods to the left and approached the final objective, which was a high hilltop covered with fir trees.† The tanks then shifted their fire to the dark menacing woods to their front and laid down the tremendous barrage of fire with both cannons and machine guns.† The fire was not lifted until the infantry was in position to storm the objective.† The infantry moved out on the objective, Company A of the 41st Tank Bn sped out over the barren valley laying between their positions and the enemy position and in that manner completely enveloping the enemy around his left flank.† Two enemy tanks were caught and destroyed in this swift movement.† While Company A was completing its maneuver the remainder of the task force pounced upon the objective and there the Combat Command dug m for the night.
Throughout the night the enemy continued shelling our positions with artillery and rocket fire, but he failed to cause say casualties because of the excellent dugouts which he had left behind when he was forced to abandon the positions and from two other mishaps that occurred that afternoon, the death of Pfc. Chester Kraeblen and Private James J. Walsh, Jr.† We suffered no other casualties in the Bulge.
January 17 saw the termination of our battling in the bulge when CCB sad CCA closed on their respective objectives just south of Houffalize.† The Division was relieved by the 17th Airborne late that afternoon.† The various task forces were dissolved and the 41st Tank Battalion moved to Hemoroulle Belgium.† Battalion spent their time there in necessary maintenance and rest for the command.
On the following day Lt. Warren left with a detail of men to locate the bodies of Capt. Ameno and any Enlisted Men that could be found.† He returned late in the afternoon with the bodies of Capt. Ameno, Tec 4 Eulosievicz and Pvt. Doerscheln.† Due to the heavy snow that had fallen in the past two weeks no trace of the remaining seven enlisted men could be found.
Here we also received 69 reinforcements and they were immediately assigned to under strength tank crews.
The Battalion was alerted on the 20th and moved to an assembly area outride Noville where it remained in Division reserve until the 23rd.† Due to the deep snowdrifts in the hilly terrain to the east toward the German frontier, tanks were of little use in the pursuit of the enemy who was making a general withdrawal to the protection of the Siegfried line.
On the 21st notice was received that Pfc. Galen E Mattson, Co B, had died in the hospital on 12th of January, and Cpl..† Arthur J. Holub, Co B, had died in the hospital on the 13th, of wounds received in action on December 30.
The Battalion moved to the village of Bercheux, Belgium on January 24-, and there it remained in Corps reserve together with the other elements of the 11th Armored Division which had been withdrawn from the line.
There the Battalion remained in reserve until February 6th, our first real break of any length.† In fact we had so much time on our hands that we suddenly found ourselves practicing combat problems involving control advance guard formation and the tactics of pursuit and breakthrough
On the 31- of January, three former Staff Sergeants, Joseph P. Dubicki, Max Ready, and Harry W. Foote, received battlefield commissions as Second Lieutenants.† Battalion formation was held and the commissions were presented to the new officers by the Division Commander, Brig. Gen..† Charles S. Kilburn.† Upon completion of the presentations of their gold bars the General pinned the Silver Star on Lt. Col. Wray F. Sagaser for his part in the former operation.
During a formation held January 28th, Brig. Gen..† Charles S. Kilburn presented awards to the following named officers and enlisted men for their individual actions during combat.
Silver Star ††††† ††††† ††††† Bronze Star
Major Robert B Knight††† Capt. Richard L. McCoy
1st Lt. Gallio J. Marzano 1st Lt. George A. Scott
2nd Lt. Lester S. Rysnik††††† 2nd Lt. Brendan A. Burns
Cpl.. Wayne E. Van Dyke 2nd Lt. Harry W. Foote
††††† ††††† ††††† ††††† ††††† 2nd Lt. Joseph P. Dubicki†
††††† ††††† ††††† ††††† ††††† Sgt. Gordon F. McKinney
††††† ††††† ††††† ††††† ††††† Sgt. Paul R. Bryant
Sgt. Paul R. Bryant
††††† ††††† ††††† ††††† †††††
†AFTER THE BULGE
Prior to our moving out on Feb. 7th, word was received that the following officers had received promotions:
1st. Lt. Huddlestone to the grade of Captain; 2nd Lt. Justice to 1st Lt. 2nd Lt. Rysnick to 1st Lt.; 2nd Lt. Stauff to 1st Lt.; 2nd Lt. Burns to 1st Lt.; 2nd Lts. Barron and Dewar to 1st Lts.
We moved out of Berchaux in the early morning of the 7th and continued on until we reached the town of BINSFELD, Luxembourg-a distance of approximately 35 miles.† The dismal unseasonably rainy weather slowed the march down considerably; making that trip a very tedious one.† The fields, adjacent to the road on which we were traveling on, were packed with a conglomeration of knocked-out vehicles, both enemy and our own - most of which were tanks from the ninth and tenth armored divisions; manifestations of the terrible devastation the affair in the Bulge had created.† The appearance of one of the tanks left an indelible picture in our minds.† Evidently it was one of the tanks that had been captured by the Germans in the earlier stages of their surprise attack; and one which the bilingual enemy had used to confuse and surprise the Allied forces that stood in their path of advance.† This tank undoubtedly was destroyed by them when they found out their cause was hopeless and also to keep it from falling into Allied hands.† I don't know what sort of demolition was used, but one whole side of that tank was sliced off just as neat as if you were cutting a can with a can opener.
We arrived in Binsfeld just as the noonday was approaching and spent the rest of the day arranging our quarters to try and make them suitable for living.
Our light tank company was alerted for movement to the town of LEITHUM to act as support for the 1st Cavalry, which was holding a thin line of approximately 4000 yards overlooking the Our River in Germany.† At this stage quite a few of the Krauts in that area were well aware of the fact that they were fighting a losing battle, and many were trying desperately to give themselves up.† Why we even had a ferry system all rigged up purely for that purpose.† The Krauts would approach the river and suddenly discover that they had no way to cross; so all they needed was a helping hand.† A raft was constructed and a cable stretched across the river.† It was almost like Grand Central station.† As they approached the east bank they were given directions where the raft and cable affair was set-up.† All that was left for them to do was get on the raft and pull themselves across by use of the cable.
There was no feasible use for tankers until a breach could be made in the Siegfried Line in this specific sector.† As a result the 41st Tank Bn. was placed in Corp Reserve until the infantry made an opening.† Consequently we had a much longer delay in Binsfeld than we had previously anticipated.† We were not averse to that - frankly, it met with our complete approbation.† A vacation under adverse conditions-but, at least, a vacation.† Rather than sweet music to lull us to sleep at night, we had the thundering roar of artillery shells that could be heard in the distance.† It is uncanny how those artillerymen knew exactly when you were ready for bed.† Everything would be peaceful and quiet until you got sleepy, and than there was an incessant Boom!† Boom!† all through the night.
The above persiflage might give an outsider the impression that it was all play and no work.† Of course you and I know that this is not true.† Orders were issued for an austere reconnaissance of all roads in that vicinity so as the battalion could be alerted to move quickly in case of a possible enemy counter-attack.† Also, all the companies posted a continuous rigid guard and every possible effort was made to insure security.† The uncertainty of the true feelings of the civilian population necessitated issuing an order that men would not walk alone at night.
We also received more replacements while we were in Binsfield.† As they were being assigned to different companies a few artillery shells could be heard exploding in the distances.† One couldn't help but chuckle when he saw the ludicrous expression on some of their faces at the sound of those explosions.† Some bore looks of despair, others indecision.† It was an innovation to them but one could not help being impressed by the superficial front that most of them tried to display.
The perpetual rain made the roads very mucilaginous and at times traffic was not permitted on them.† Because of this as high as 75 men from the battalion had to work on the roads at certain times.
Contrary to our expectations we discovered that the civilians were not as obdurate as we thought they might be.† They were rounded up and a CIC detail issued passes to them. At only one time can I recall any reason for mistrust on our part, and then it was of a trivial nature.† The battalion was placed on alert as a search of the town was made for four German soldiers that were reported to be in that proximity.† Not being able to find them, Major Hoffman, as a last resort, told the mayor that unless he produced the soldiers, we would blow the town down.† I am sure that had the mayor the least inkling as to their whereabouts he wouldn't have hesitated a second to produce them.† They were not found, so apparently the report was false.
On Feb. 25th it was officially learned that all elements of the division except CCA were in Corp Reserve, (If you will recall, previous to this all the infantry battalions were engaged on the Siegfried Line.) but it was felt that the lines would be changed and we would move further north.† The division had been assigned an objective but it still did not change our status.† We remained in Binsfeld and continued with the same procedure that we had in the past two weeks.
On Feb. 28th the battalion received orders for a movement to the vicinity of SELLERICH, Germany.† This place was to be an assembly area for an attack which was to take place on Saturday morning, March 3rd.† March orders were prepared and given to the company commanders at a meeting that was held that night.† At that meeting, Lt. Col. Sagaser gave the plan as it was which called for the battalion to cross the Prum River on Friday night and move into an attack position on the east side.† The attack would be launched east of the city of GEROLSTEIN, Germany about six miles away from the Prum River.† All the elements of the battalion were preparing for the movement which would take place at 0723 the next morning.
The following morning we moved out at the allotted time and traveled 26 miles, in weather that had suddenly turned from rain to an intense cold, to HONTHEIM, Germany.† Arriving there we discovered that the area was heavily mined.† A Service Company truck perfunctory ran over one of the mines, but luckily no one was hurt.
Off in the distance could be heard the roar of the big guns and sounds of all types of explosions.† Expecting the worst, the men began to dig in for protection against enemy artillery.† That long layover in Binsfeld had thrown us off our stride.† When one is not contemplating danger he soon forgets the sharp sound of artillery shells, and upon hearing it again he is thrown into a dilemma.† That is why just four enemy artillery shells that landed nearby that night succeeded in putting everybody on edge.
Plans were laid to cross the Prum River on Friday night but it was purely tentative because everything depended on how much of a bridgehead the 4th Infantry Division could establish across the river while they were in the line.† As an added precaution, flame-throwers were being installed in two tanks of each company.† The word was getting around that the fanatical enemy was resisting obdurately.† Many imaginations fabricated a pending catastrophe.† Upon learning, on Friday afternoon, that the movement and attack had been postponed for 24 hours because the 4th was having trouble enlarging its bridgehead, many of the more garrulous type murmured.† I told you so.
On March 3rd word was received that this battalion was in task force Granite, with our Lt. Col. Sagaser in complete charge.† Other components of the force were:
one company of the 21st AIB
Co. B., 705th tank destroyers minus one platoon
one platoon Co. B-56th Engineers
one platoon Battery A., 575th AAA Bn.
We were ordered to move out immediately to an assembly area in the vicinity of TAFEL, Germany, and then to prepare to cross the Prum River as soon as neutralization of enemy fire permitted.† We stayed at the assembly area a very short time after which we started on to cross the river.
The City of PRUM, situated on the Prum River, came into view as we approached the very high ground that dominated it from the west, giving a magnificent birds-eye view of the city.† As you looked down on it, one almost felt as if he were suspended on a cloud that refused to move.† One sensed, rather than saw, the former beauty of those surroundings that unfortunate city caught between two hellish fires, was entirely in ruin.
The city was in a very deep valley god after we crossed the river we began to ascend again on steep snaky road, through a dense forest.† Many dead Germans were lying along side the roads -a testimonial that the 4th Infantry had done their job well, even though it did temporize our assault for one day.
After getting into firing formation on the high ground the attack started against surprisingly light resistance.† The only impediment was the threat of minefields which were many.† Still we covered almost ten miles over the incondite terrain; much to the surprise of a 1st Lt. from the 4th Infantry who viewed the advance incredulously.† He just couldn't get over it.† He remarked to Maj.. Knight that his outfit had been beating their brains out for three days trying to gain 400 yards, and here we advanced ten miles in just one day. †Shocking as it was he did say that he was very happy about it, though.† Many prisoners were taken that day at the cost of just one tank from A Company, which ran over a mine.† Night found us resting at a point just 400 yards vest of FLERINGEN, Germany.
As we opened our eyes the next morning we saw that it was going to be a very cold day; the snow was mingling with the rain.† As soon as we got the sleep out of our eyes we moved out.† We made good progress against light resistance.† Once again our biggest headache was minefields, this time accentuated by an occasional anti-tank.† When the high ground, two miles east of WALLERSHEIM, was reached we settled for the night.† Darkness fell quickly and everything took on a complacent setting.† The trains had trouble in re-supplying the Battalion that night due to the persistent muculent mud, so it was necessary for tanks to pull the trucks around.† The plan for the nest day was not yet known as this was the objective which had been given to the Battalion at the start of this rampage.† It was the high ground which overlooked the Kyll River and the towns of LlSSINGEN and GEROLSTEIN, Germany.† During the days' operations Tec 4 Glynn S. Lowery of C Company was killed by a sniper in the afternoon.† The injured list counted for eight others.
On the following day, March 5th, the Battalion remained in its position with a new attack planned.† We were to move north, but because the bridges had been blown and plus reports of heavy minefields, the plans were not carried out.† The kitchen trucks were brought up during the afternoon and a much-needed hot meal was fed to the entire command.† During the evening heavy enemy artillery fire was received, but our own artillery opened up and silenced them immediately.† We suffered just one battle casualty that day.
On March 6th the attack started early in the morning and the Battalion moved north through the towns of BUDESHEIM, OOS, SCHEUERN and then into the fight for the main objective, OBER-BETTINGEN, Germany, a large size town overlooking the Kyll River.† At the outset much trouble was caused by the muddy terrain with many of the vehicles bogging down and slowing up the attack.† Upon reaching the high ground to the southwest of the objective Lt. Scott, Commanding Officer of Company A reported that the enemy had blown the bridges over the river.† Upon receiving that information Lt. Burns and his C Company was given a separate mission to try to flank the town and at one time were erroneously reported across the river.† Due to the type of terrain that was encountered the Infantry moved into the town first closely followed by the tanks Lt. Graysonís Company B then lined up and fired their guns indiscriminately into the woods on the other side of the blown bridge hoping to keep the snipers down while the Infantry was establishing a bridgehead so as the Engineers could work uninterruptingly and try to repair the bridge.† The Infantry succeeded in establishing that bridgehead, but at a prodigious cost.† I think they had 39 casualties in doing so.† The Engineers laboriously worked on that bridge the remainder of that day, all night, and part of the next day.† They were almost finished when we learned that plans had been changed.† Everyone was heart-sick-here, after all that work by the Engineers; unnecessary risk by those brave Infantrymen; experiencing of hundreds and hundreds of rounds of ammunition by the tankers, we learn that we are not going to use the bridge after all.† The inexorable uncertainty of war is one thing we will never get used to.
The Battalion received orders to move, via road for a change, to the vicinity of Gerolstein, for an attack which would be in the form of a road march through Germany.† The move was made under extreme road conditions but the Battalion continued on through the night to the vicinity of HINTERWEILLER, Germany.† That night we got our first glimpse of artificial moonlight.† Not having had any previous experience with it, it scared us a little.† It gave the night a ghost-like appearance and any of us would have welcomed total blackness instead.† Then too, due to the congestion on the roads supplying of vehicles became a major problem.
The next day a rat race developed that to us up until then area inconceivable how can one plunge through enemy territory for 80 miles without being completely obliterated?† Why it's fantastic!† But that's precisely what happened.† Sharp action and the swiftness of the attack resulted in the surrendering of many, many Germans.† They resembled a menagerie as they came plodding down the road with their hands over their heads, walking around and over destroyed equipment and dead horses, which they had used to try and pull their large artillery pieces away.† Our only mishap that day was when Capt. Stephan J. Bielaska's peep hit a mine near 0ss Germany.† He was killed instantly and his peep driver was seriously wounded.
A few hours sleep and we were off again with Company A in the lead.† There would be no stopping until we reached the Rhine.† We went into high gear and dashed madly along.† The 90th Infantry Division was motorized so that they could follow closely behind.† The Battalion assisted in the capture of approximately 3,500 prisoners of war, and a complete field hospital with a staff of nineteen officers and about 400 enlisted men.† The disorganized enemy fled in terror.† Kraut vehicles kaput; German soldiers kaput-all is kaput.† There was nothing that could halt us until we reached the town of WEHR There Company A and the reconnaissance ran into a well defended road-block situated in the heart of the city and very tough one to get around.† Capt. Scott, while trying to assist the reconnaissance outfit in clearing the road block, which was protected by a manned anti-tank gun, had two of his tanks trapped in the town, and they couldn't back out to allow the assault gun Section to give that town a dose of 105 mm shell fire than risk hitting the tanks by shelling the town, it was decided that this was a job (or the Infantry.† The Infantry methodically commenced to clear the town.† Time being of the greatest importance, Lt. Col. Sagaser decided to send Capt. Huddlestone around the town and have them continue on to the next town to see whether they would draw any enemy fire.† The town was finally cleared, and after the Engineers blew the roadblock to pieces, we continued on our way.† Company D succeeded in reaching the next town and were impatiently waiting for us when we arrived.† Upon reaching that town- incidentally it was the town of BURGBROHL-the Battalion cleared it of enemy soldiers.† We set up a hasty defense and then bedded down for the night.† Before night fell a chance enemy artillery shell fell among the B Company tanks and killed Cpl..† Louis R Meredith.† Tec 5 Frank L. Mcintyre of A Company was killed in the action around Wehr.† Besides those two unfortunate deaths we also had three men wounded.† All from Company A; the company that did a magnificent job on this march.
You can rightfully say that this period saw the breaking of the proverbial camelís back The enemy never did recover from the blow dealt to it by all the Allied troops on the western front.† At the culmination of his campaign all Allied armies command except for a sector in the Saar Section, the western bank of the Rhine.† Many of us for the first time, had substantial reason to conceive a possible termination to all this drudgery.† The collapse of the Nazi regime was not too farfetched.† A lot of folderol but a man in combat clings to any hope that presents itself.
The Battalion remained in Burgbrohl the following two days and the service trains and company mess trucks arrived on the first morning.† A good hot meal was prepared and the men were given a chance to rest and clean up.† This was the first German city that the men had a chance to stay in, and it was in wonderful condition.† It had all the modern facilities that they were accustomed to at home.† Frankly we almost had forgotten what modern sanitary conveniences looked like.† Being able to indulge in one of man's favorite pastimes without having to carry a shovel and an old Stars & Stripes along was a pleasure undreamed of-and in a comfortable position too.
The men didn't hesitate to take over all the civilian cars, and they were having a grand time racing inadvertently up and down the streets of the town.† It was a marvelous outlet for their pent-up emotions, and the soldiers were given as free a hand as possibly could be given them without causing any infractions of military orders.† The inglorious Germans watched this innocuous display of fun with indifferent eyes.
The Battalion was assigned an area to be cleared of all German soldiers, and set out on this mission the following morning, Approximately 100 prisoners of war were rounded up.† Just one man from C Company was wounded that day.† Also, on that same day, a billeting party left for the town of Wehr where the Battalion was to stay, being in Corps Reserve for a short period of time.
We moved into Wehr on March 12th and the length of our stay there was unknown to us.† Everything went along fine with nothing unusual happening.† The only thing that kept reminding us that there was a war going on was the occasional sound of the ack-ack guns as they fired at lone enemy plans that went flying over.† Small tank problems were had there, with much stress placed on advance guard movements.
The men had a lot of time to pursue their hunt for eggs, which by that time had become the favorite meal of all the GI.s.† The tremulous chickens would run for dear life at the sight of a uniform.† Because of such stubbornness. †I know of a lot of chickens that are kaput today.
On March 16th we received orders to move to the vicinity of GENEICH, Germany.† The march was made that night and once again the weather was against us.† It was cold and clammy and nobody got any sleep.† The tired Battalion arrived at Geneich about five o'clock the next morning.† There we received order to cross the Moselle River some time around noon.† During the interim a hot meal was served to the troops.† About one o'clock in the afternoon we crossed the Moselle at BULLAY with Lt. Graysonís B Company in the lead The march continued on against light resistance and we didn't stop until we reached the town of LANZENHAUSEN, where a blown bridge and a road-block obtrusively blocked our progress After disposing of the enemy in that locality it was decided that we spend the night there while the Engineers repaired the blown bridge.† During the day's action Capt. Richard L. McCoy, our S-2 officer, was injured.
Throughout the night the Engineers worked and at the first sign of day the bridge was all ready for us to cross over.† We took off in column with Company B still in the lead.† Mile after mile went racing to the rear as the enemy tried desperately to retreat from our advance.† Aside from a disastrous occurrence to the Reconnaissance platoon everything progressed smoothly enough Momentarily held up because of an anti-tank gun in one of the towns, the reconnaissance platoon, plus two tanks from Company B decided to make a run for it and try to sweep past the anti-tank gun and through the town.† As they sped by the Kraut, deserted the gun and they were able to clear the town.† As they neared the outskirts they had to pass through an undefended roadblock and round a very big bend in the road-all the time not being able to see beyond the bend.† The Reconnaissance, with their speedier armored cars, easily out-ran the two tanks and by the time they rounded the bend they were way ahead.† The enemy guns opened up on them simultaneously and all but one of the vehicles was knocked out.† By that time-all this had happened in the flash of a few seconds-the tanks finally arrived and they succeeded in knocking out the guns and scaring the rest of the enemy away.
We continued on with the march against hardly any resistance whatsoever until we reached the town of BERGEN around 1600 o'clock in the afternoon.† Many of the enemy were giving up and the bag of PW's was swelling.† At 1630 orders were received to enter the town of KIRN and try to secure any bridges that may be intact. †A light tank platoon from D Company collaborated with Company B on this mission.† No resistance was met in the town, but the bridges were all destroyed.† While Company B was moving into the town one of its tanks hit a soft shoulder in the road.† It started rolling down a steep hill and turned over many times.† Sgt. Francis H. Wood, the Tank Commander, was killed due to this accident.
We spent the night in the town and started rolling again early the next morning, with Company C in the lead.† We moved north back through BERGEN, where a crossing of the Nahe River was made at the town of KIRNSULZBACH.† The tanks insatiably ate up the miles and 1700 hours found us in the vicinity of ROCKENHAUSEN, Germany.† Because of our fast move the trains were unable to keep pace with us, and our vehicles were very low on gas.† The Battalion stayed there that night hoping that the gas trucks would show up before dawn.
The next day, March 20th, orders were received to move out and the vehicles bad only enough gas for 15 miles.† Right after the Battalion left, 300 cans of gas were received and they were turned over to Lt. Smith, Battalion Maintenance officer, who was to gas any vehicle that might fall out.† During the morning, the tank in which Lt. Harry W. Foote was riding, was hit by a bazooka shell, killing him and his gunner, Cpl..† Daniel B. Buckley -both from Company C. The speed of the march carried the Battalion to LAUTERSHElM, Germany by noon.
Orders were received at 1300 that the march would continue until we reached the historical city of WORMS.† We started at 1500, with Company B in the lead, and pointed our guns toward Worms.† Good progress was made against light enemy resistance, but our march was halted when once again the orders were changed.† Present plans called for a movement against an airport very close to Worms.† Night was falling fast so the Battalion stopped a few miles short of Worms and remained there for the night.† During the days action, 1st Lt. John G. Grayson's tank was hit by a bazooka shell killing his radio operator, Tec 4 Clifford K. Mock.† Lt. Grayson and his gunner were wounded from the shell fragments.
On March 21st the Battalion moved out to an assembly area south of WENHEIM, where it awaited word to move into the town of Worms, a city with a prewar population of 50,661 people.† Orders were finally received around noon-time, so the Battalion moved into Wenheim where elements of the 89th Infantry Division were mounted on the rear decks of the tanks.† The Battalion then moved into the outskirts of Worms, and 200 PW's were taken without a shot being fired.† The city of Worms was in complete ruin.† Some of the streets were so cluttered up with building that had been leveled to the ground, that it was impossible for the tanks to use them.† Many of us, through our History books, are familiar with the Diet of Worms-what we saw before us this day could easily be termed the Death of Worms.† In one section, about four square blocks, I saw not one single building undisturbed.† What a terrific pounding the Air Force must have given that now utterly useless city.
Because the 4th Armored Division and the 5th Infantry Division had cleared out the rest of the city, our work was done.† The Battalion then moved to the outskirts of the town, where the buildings were still standing and all the men were billeted and given their first real nights' west in over five days.† That same night the kitchen and gas and ammunition trucks arrived.† Not a single casualty was suffered that day.
We stayed in Worms for three days, living the Life of Riley.† A wine cellar was found with 60,000 liters in it.† Everybody but the teetotalers had a beautiful time.† .
On March 24th the Battalion moved to FRAMERSHEIM Germany where we joined the 20th Corps and went into Army reserve.† We could look back on a job well done.† All the escape routes for the enemy were cut off and what few forces he still had west of the Rhine were surrendering in droves to the infantry units which were at that time closing up behind all the Armored outfits.
Framersheim, too, was dotted with wine cellars and during the time we werenít busy conducting maintenance and cleaning up.† We really did justice to the Rhineland wines.† On March 27th during a Battalion formation, General Dager, who had succeeded General Kilburn as Commanding General of the 11th presented awards that had been earned in previous operations to some of the men--
Pfc. Herbert H. Burr *Distinguished Service Cross
Major John J. Hoffman *Bronze Star
Capt. James V. DeMaio * Bronze Star
1st Sgt. Lenwood Ammons * Bronze Star
Sgt. Warren Foster * Bronze Star
2nd Lt. Max Ready * Silver Star
Pfc. Gerald R. Tomlin * Bronze Star, First Oak Leaf Cluster
Pfc. Joseph Foster * Bronze Star
Sgt. Clarence Busch * Bronze Star
Pfc. George Jacenko * Bronze Star
Pfc. Edward Phillips - Bronze Star, First Oak Leaf Cluster
On March 28th word was received that we would move out cross the Rhine at night, and reassemble on the other side.† All the necessary preparations were made and the Battalion was lined up at 1800 hours ready to pull out after orders were received that are would not leave until morning.† So back we moved into town and set up for the night.
The next morning at 0630 hours, the Battalion pulled out of town and started crossing the Rhine River, at OPPENHEIM, at C7W hours.† This crossing of the river there was made possible by elements of the 5th Infantry Division supported by some amphibious tanks of the 748th Tank Battalion.† Their securing a bridgehead there was strictly an assault crossing made with assault boats, contrasting to the earlier crossing at REMAGEN where First Army Forces seized the large Ludendorff Bridge intact.† Within 36 hours they had a pontoon bridge laid across the river and forces of the 3rd Army poured across.
After passing through the town of DARMSTADT and HANAU-or I should say what remained of those two towns- the Battalion reached an airport where they set up for the night.† In all the Battalion covered over 68 miles that day.† This airport was located a short distance from the town of LANGENDIEBACH.
On March 30th the Battalion moved out of the airport, and with A Company in the lead started its flagrant trudge across the plains of the Germany that was east of the Rhine, the part of Germany that the Nazi big shots said we would never see.† We watched the towns of BUDINGEN, RINDERBUGER, WOLFERBORN, KAFENROD disappearing to the rear.† When we reached the town of Nord SEEMAN we called it a day and made ready for the night.† During this march the Battalion had to cross over a lot of muddy open country, and because of the unsuitable terrain the days gains were only 28 miles, against surprisingly light resistance.
On the following day the audacious movement continued from where it left off the preceding night.† The tanks flagrantly tore through one town after another-GREBENHAIN, Ndr. MOSS.† The Battalion was rolling along at a fast clip when antitank gunfire was received from the town HAUSWURZ, just as we were approaching it.† The leading vehicle of the 41st Cavalry Reconnaissance was hit and an officer and enlisted man were killed.† In accordance with the new policy of General Dager- That any town that offers any resistance whatsoever will be blown to oblivion-all the medium tank companies A, B, and C, were placed around the town and told to blow it to hell.† The town instantly became a blazing inferno as round after round went smacking into its buildings.† Big pillars of smoke went jutting high into the noonday sky.† The enemy soldiers came out of the town in a daze, followed by the remaining civilians there.† The Battalion had no time to tarry.† Soon we were racing through the burning town, as the flames were still spitting sparks and smoke and we continued in a northward direction until we reached the town of HOSENFELD.† There the Battalion turned right and moved through a heavy woods to the outskirts of FULDA.† Here heavy fire was received and from the sound of it one could tell it was from very large guns.† No doubt the enemy was going to try tenaciously to hold on to that important manufacturing town.† Further proof of their determination was the fact that all the bridges leading into the city had been blown.† Capt. Chester D. Wilkins, Commanding Officer of Headquarters Company, in an effort to ascertain whether or not the conditions of the bridges were true, moved his light tank boldly right down towards the riverbank.† An unseen bazooka-man fired at the tank and scored a direct hit.† Capt. Wilkins was killed instantly.† The news of his death infuriated the rest of the command and everyone area eagerly willing to comply as soon as the order to shoot up the town given.† But luckily for Fulda, another one of those inevitable change of orders came down telling us to by-pass the town and move on to the town of GROSSEMIDER.† A day or so later the 26th Infantry Division, which had been mopping up behind us on this operation, moved up and cleared the town of Fulda.
On April Fools Day, at 0300 hours, a change of orders was again received, and this time the Battalion was headed for the town of ARNSTADT.† This was supposed to be the center of the whole German communication system, and with the 4th Armored Division on our left flank and CCA of the 11th on our other flank, we were told to head straight for this important place.† It was even intimated that Hitler and high officials of his regime were there.† We gasconaded, if he is there, weíll get him.
The Battalion moved out at 0630 hours in the morning with Company C leading.† Under ideal weather conditions we moved north toward Schlitz, then east through the town of NUST where we encountered our first resistance.† Pfc. James T. Holeman of Company D, was killed when the tank that he was riding in was hit by a German bazooka.† That lit the fuse off, and from there on in it was a hell of a fight.† Company C, with Lt. Burns commanding, blasted their way along the road for 41 blood-covered miles.† It was one of the greatest and precisionly coordinated moves ever made by this unit.† The system that we adhered to was that if a town did not have any civilians on the streets, and if they didn't have any white flags flying, then the were enemy soldiers present.† As he approached each town, Lt. Burns would look to see if the flags were displayed conspicuously and whether or not there was a noticeable number of civilians on the street.† If there were not he would in no time have his Company set up on the overlooking hills, shoot hell out of the town for a while, and then return to the road and continue the march.† The elements of the Battalion and task force following Company C found nothing but a path of destruction in their wake.† Dead soldiers lined the road, sprawled out in the ditches, and lay over the fields alongside the road.† Many, who were fortunate enough to escape the furious guns of C Company could be seen walking to the rear with their bands high over their heads.† Enemy vehicles, horse drawn or otherwise, were strewed all over the highway.† Beyond a doubt, the knell was being rung on the formerly crack German 11th Panzer outfit as its filthy members were being trampled on by this thundering herd.† The Battalion fought its way to the town of KALTENSUNDHEIM by 1400 hours, but due to the gas situation and the ammunition which Company C had expended, a halt was called for the day.† We stayed there through the night and got a comparatively refreshing rest.
The Battalion left Kaltensundheim the next morning, and continued on for twelve more miles.† The towns of OBERKATZ, WAHNS, WASUNGEN, fell along the way.† Resistance was nil but a blown bridge held up operations.† The Engineers worked all day trying to repair the bridge.† Due to the length of time that it took to finish the bridge, just the Infantry and A Company moved across that night so as they would be already to continue on in the morning.
On April 3rd the Battalion moved across the bridge and with the infantry following Company A, the march was resumed.† On we went through WALLBACH, HETZEL, SPRINGSTILLE, STEINBACH, HALLENENBERG, OBER-SCHONAU towards OBERHOF.† Upon reaching the outskirts, two roadblocks well defended, were found blocking our entrance into town.† The Infantry and Engineers finally reduced this menace while the Battalion coiled alongside the road.† It wasn't until after dark that elements of the Battalion moved into Oberhof.† At 0400 hours two of A Company's tanks were hit by an overlooked bazooka-man in the town, which resulted in the death of one enlisted man- Tec. 5 Loyd A. Colby.
The Battalion was alerted for further movement, at 0700 hours to the town of Arnstadt.† After getting on the road and practically moving, orders were received to hold up and not go any further than Oberhof.† All the tank companies, except Company A remained outside of town, but Battalion Headquarters moved into the town.† Company A placed its vehicles on all roads leading out of town and the Infantry outposted them.† A short counter-attack was attempted by the enemy in the afternoon, but it was repulsed immediately.† Oberhof was an important Nazi center and in it were a lot of German military hospitals filled with wounded German soldiers.† It was formerly a great summer and winter resort, and it is situated about 3000 feet high in the mountains.† Some of the homes were very lovely and the scenery around there was extremely beautiful.† One couldn't help but wonder why these people, who had such a lovely country, wanted to start a war in the first place.† Of all the countries that we had gone through we saw nothing to emulate the scenic beauty of this land.† And the people, they didn't appear to be gullible- couldn't they foresee the uselessness of all this bloodshed?† That will always be an enigma to us.
On April 5th Battalion Headquarters moved (naturally) into the grandest and most commodious house in town.† The separate companies still remained on the outskirts of town, and they were kept pretty busy all day long routing the Germans out of the woods.† Sporadic sniper fire could be heard going on all the time.† Many prisoners were rounded up and shipped to the rear.† On the next day we were told to be on the alert and to be prepared to move on a moments notice.† Maintenance was not allowed so the men tried to make themselves as comfortable as they could in the cold and damp weather.† That night the orders we were expecting arrived, telling of a movement to the vicinity of ZEIFELD, Germany the next morning.
The Battalion Headquarters reluctantly left their pleasant surroundings and at 1100 hours the next day we became itinerant rovers again.† At the beginning we traveled behind the Division artillery.† Later on they took a separate road and the Battalion continued on through EICHEN8ERG, GRUB, 0BERSTADT, HENSTADT, WACHENBRUNN, and on until we reached the city of ST. BERNHARD.† In all, it was a distance of about 30 miles.† Harassing small arms and sniper fire was all the pestered us that day.† It's amazing how lightly we articulate about small arms fire.† When we first went into battle one would have been in danger of soiling his underclothing if a rifleman shot at him.† Now it didn't even seem to faze us.
The next day was a repetition of the preceding day.† We continued on with our march to Zeifeld, and then to PFERSDORF.† When we arrived there we were told that we were on a 48-hour maintenance break.† The tanks were in hideous condition and all our time was spent working on them.† The weather was beginning to hint that summer was not very far off.† Our present location was out in flat and open country and the weather was ideal; so unlike the cold and damp weather of the mountains around Oberhof.† The unsalutary condition of the houses was the only thing that upset us.† Unlike other German towns this place was absolutely crummy.† Months of combat still hadn't blunted our nostrils enough to allow us to unconcern ourselves with this populated cesspool.† Purely because of this no one felt sad when orders were received to move out again.
Company C was chosen to lead the Advance Guard with Major Hoffmann commanding.† The Advance Guard left Pfersdorf at 0620 hours, on April 10th but the main body didn't budge until 0800 because the forward elements met resistance at the first town.† The sun was very late in coming out so trying to coordinate an air-attack with the forces on the ground proved to be very difficult.† The forward elements finally cleared the town and moved on.† The next town to hinder our march was STEIINFELD and orders were given to level the town.† The artillery moved into position and started blasting away.† As the 105 and 155 mm shells went ripping into the town white flags started popping out from everywhere.† Those large guns are a marvelous inducement to obstinate Krauts.
The Advance Guard then moved on through ADELHAUSEN and kept on moving along until they were a mile away from RODACH, Germany.† As they rounded a bend they found that the road was blocked by fallen trees.† The Engineers were immediately called up and the roadblock was quickly reduced.† C Company then started into the town only to be met by Panzerfaust and heavy sniper fire.† Major Hoffmann then gave the order to blast the town to hell.† A thousand artillery shells went pouring into the town.† Suddenly white flags, pillowcases, bed-sheets, etc., began showing out of all the windows.† The Infantry then moved into the town but the dazed and bewildered Krauts had no fight left in them.† Approximately 80 German soldiers were more than willing to surrender.† After they were rounded up the Battalion moved out again.† From NEIDA to WIESERFELD the going was easy.† We coiled on the other side of Wieserfeld while a reconnaissance was made of COBURG.† From our positions we could see a majestic castle on the high ground overlooking the city.† Reconnaissance reports and interrogation of PW's left us with the impression that Coburg was heavily defended.† In anticipation of a tough struggle, the artillery was allowed to hammer the city promiscuously throughout the night.† The busy artillerymen never let up and the city took a terrific beating.
The Battalion was all prepared to move out at 0700 hours the next morning but the city of Coburg decided to surrender.† The 70th Infantry Division, which had been following us up, moved through and cleaned the city out.† Due to this sudden turn of events the Battalion stayed in the same place.† The men took advantage of this unexpected lull by lying around and taking things easy.† The weather was beautiful and the sun shone all day long-wonderful catnapping weather.
A Company relieved C Company the next day, and with Major Knight in command we moved out of Wieserfeld at 0600 hours.† Plowing through the enemy we were successful in clearing BEIERSDORF, LUTZELBUCH, OBERFULLBACH, PRIESENDORF, ROHNLACH, SONNEFELD and WEIDHAUSEN.† It was quite a lucrative accomplishment but the enemy wasn't being very troublesome.† Their main concern was to get as far away as they possibly could from this crazy bunch that was tearing their lines apart.† At Weidhausen the Battalion split into two forces, each going a separate route.† The Advance Guard moved on to OBERSETTLITS and the remainder of the Battalion moved to MARKTGRAITZ, via of TRUBENBACH.† The Advance Guard, after fording a stream because of a blown bridge, continued on to the vicinity of OBRISTFELD.† The Battalion, at this time, moved through REDWITZ to the main road on the other side of Obristfeld.† There both the Advance Guard and the rest of the Battalion coiled for the night and waited for further orders.
Plans were handed down saying that orders once again had been changed.† Our final objective now was HOF, and we were supposed to head for it the first thing in the morning.
On April 12th the Advance Guard, still under the command of Major Knight, started at 0630 hours.† The towns of NEUSES, BURGKUNSTADT, MAINROTH, SCHWARZACH fell easily.† When we reached the town of MAINLEUS we halted while a reconnaissance was made by the Advance Guard.† The recon reports were favorable so the Advance Guard continued on to MANGERSREUTH, passing first through KULMBACH.† That night the Advance Guard received orders to move to the vicinity of BAYREUTH where it would join forces with the 41st Cavalry and together they would take the city.† The rest of the Battalion remained at Mainleus for the night.
The following day, while the rest of the Battalion remained in place, the Advance Guard, with A Company as its most important part, moved on to Bayreuth and assisted in taking that beautiful city.† After the complete surrender of that Wagnerian famed city, and because the 4th Armored Division and the 6th Cavalry Group were all around the city, Major Knight and Company returned to where the Battalion was located.
The whole Battalion moved to Bayreuth on April 17th and took up a defensive position in the southern part of that city.† There we remained for two days and ran patrols around the city to see that no disturbances occurred.† If Wagner could have seen his beloved city in its present state he would have ha conniptions.† Air raids had done considerable damage to it, but at least the famous opera house was spared.
With Major Hoffmann in charge of operations, and with B Company in the lead, we left Bayreuth on April 19th an' moved in a southeast direction through the town of OREUSSEN We encountered our first resistance when we approached the village of VORBACH.† In a few minutes the village was in smithering ruins.† From there we kept right on going and didn't stop until we reached the demolished city of GRAFENWOHR which was formerly a large training center for the German soldiers.† This particular city had a firing range on its outskirts and for targets the Germans had wooden images of tanks strung all over the fields; One platoon of B Company's tanks sent many shell flying in that direction before, to their consternation They discovered that they had been firing at decoys The ammunition they expended wasn't completely wasted though, because it did succeed in terrifying a lot of Krauts that had been hiding in the woods.† Thinking that the tanks were firing at them, they didn't wait long to come out in the open with their hands over their heads.
Preparing for the night the Advance Guard took up formations south of the city, while the Battalion settled in the remains of the training camp.† The distance covered that day amounted to approximately 22 miles.† There V# 00 movement the next day so we just sat around retrospecting our past achievements.† We werenít too enthused about moving into the buildings because of the filthy state that they were in.† We all preferred the salubrity of the open air instead.
Many German vehicles were found in the surrounding woods Apparently the enemy left in such baste that they didn't even bother to destroy them.† Our Engineers set out to do the job for them.† And daylong could be heard toe charges of dynamite that they set off in those vehicles When we left on the following day those vehicles were ready for the scrap pile.
KALTENBRUNN was reached the next day without any difficulties whatsoever.† The Battalion remained there while the Advance Guard and Major Hoffmann, on orders, returned the way we had come.† They were to remain in support while CCA took the town of WElDEN in the morning.
On April 22 the Battalion, without the Advance Guard, left KALTENBRUNN, at 0715 hours, and moved through HUTTEN to the village of MANTEL Here they got off the road and coiled while the Recon went forward in a swift move to try and secure the bridge over the river that led to the main road.† It was a considerable distance away and speed was of the greatest importance.† Around noon they reported that they had reached the bridge and found it intact.† Higher Headquarters kept insisting that we should reach our objective that same day, so the Battalion kept plugging away.† The rain was falling heavily.† To add to our discomfort the roads in that specific locality were in atrocious condition.† But we kept going on as best as we possibly could under such adverse conditions, and finally at 1900 hours the objective came into view.† Thirty-five difficult and discouraging miles were covered by then, and many swore that they hoped higher Headquarters were satisfied.
We stayed in the town of SCHWARZENFELD that night, but sleep was out of the question.† On April 23rd the sleepy procession took off and traveled at a terrific pace to NEUNBURG where we had our first glimpse of the starving laborers that the Germans had imported from the other countries of Europe.† Evidently they were being marched along the road by SS men, who hope to get them farther back into Germany before we arrived.† When they saw the American column of armor approaching, the guards deserted and took off, leaving the starving refugees strung out along the highway.† What a ghastly sight it was!† Many of the pitiful devils who were too weak to go on bad been shot by their cruel guards and they were lying all over the fields.† Many, though still alive, were so weak from malnutrition that they were barely able to move and they sat in the ditches alongside the road pleading for food.† It's incredible that people who profess to be human beings could treat another human so outrageously.† The animosity that flared up in our hearts even frightened us a little.† Just watching those poor refugees-many of them were so happy to find that they had finally been freed, that they lost control of their emotions and wept like children.† The grateful look in their eyes was touching and we tossed to them all the available K rations that we could lay our hands on at the moment.† Some of them hadn't eaten in so long that they vent wild scrambling after those rations, and hoping that they could get to it before someone else.† Many of them in trying to show their appreciation cluttered up the highway making it impossible for us to get by.† We were in a hurry to move on and try to catch up with the beasts who were responsible for alt these atrocities.
We finally succeeded in getting beyond those poor creatures and we sped toward Cham, shooting every German soldier that was in our way.† The effects of the sight of the refugees was still fresh in our minds, so we had no scruples about how we killed those German soldier.† Some must have weighed double their combat weight from all the lead that we poured into them.† I am ashamed to admit that we still took a lot of prisoners that day
While en route to Cham D Company's tanks branched off to capture a German airfield that had its planes on it and also a lot of AA guns all ready to fire.
Although Cham was the objective of CCA, we arrived there first and cleaned out the town The whole Battalion moved In sad thin had become so quiet that we thought we would be able to get a good night's sleep.† Around 2030 hours, it was reported that 3 German planes were trying to land on the airstrip.† Our dash was so swift that they were unaware of the fact that the town had been taken.† A platoon from Company D raced to the airfield and they captured one of the planes with a surprised pilot and his girlfriend in it.† Our total advance that day netted us 34 miles.
By this time we were well into the heart of Germany.† Upon learning of a similar push that the Russians in that sector were putting on, we could hardly wait to shake hands with lvan.† Once that contact was made, we knew that Germany's hope for continuing the war would receive a terrible shock. We set out the following day with that uppermost in our minds.†
The advance guard consisting of Company B, left at 0830 hours and rapidly passed through ZANDTVIECHTICH and PATERSDORF.† It was at this latter place that a column of enemy vehicles was sighted in the valley to our left.† The air corps was called and very shortly 12 Thunderbolts arrived and gave them a working over.† The planes would dive down and when they were almost on top of them they would let loose with their rockets.† The sight was beautiful to behold, and we just sat back and calmly watched the planes as they annihilated the whole column.† The demonstration was much too short and after its completion we were on our way again.†
Arriving at the outskirts of Regen around noontime, it was discovered that the main bridge leading into the town had been blown by the enemy.† It was imperative that a by-pass be found, so Company B and Major Hoffmann swung around to the south of the town in the hopes of finding a way through.† Just as they were approaching a railroad under-pass that would lead them into the town, the enemy set off their charge of dynamite and blew it right in their faces.† As if that was a signal the enemy suddenly opened up from the woods on both sides with bazookas and small arms fire.† One of the tanks was hit by a bazooka shell and two of its members were killed.† They were Cpl..† Andrew Bobela and Tec 4 Everitt B. Hunley. The tankers then opened up, blasting everything with in sight.† Half the city of REGEN was in flames.† The Infantry was then ordered into town, and with the Advance Guard they cleaned it out by 2000 hours.† The enemy fought desperately but they were finally subdued.†
The reason that the resistance was so strong was because there was an OCS school there and its 300 students were probably very angry because they wouldn't be able to get their commissions now.† Seriously though, they fought as if they were possessed by the devil.† B Company lost another tank in town when it was hit by an anti-tank gun, but luckily none of the crew were hurt.† The by-pass that B Company had used was unsuitable for the rest of the vehicles of the Battalion.† Because of that the remainder of the Battalion stayed at MARCH for the night while the Engineer went to work on the bridge.
With the bridge repaired we were off again at 0630 hours on the following day.† Company C had relieved Company B and was now the Advance Guard.† We rolled steadily along until we were confronted by sniper fire and bazooka-men in the town of EPPENSCHLAG.† How surprising it was to learn that the resistance was being offered by a bunch of fanatical young kids who refused to discontinue fighting.† A round fired by a child is just as deadly as a missile fired by a grown-up, so we had no other alternative except to fight back.† Sniper fire was very heavy, but we were soon able to overcome all that and continue on our way.† The same identical type of opposition was had in the town of SCHONBERG.† The only thing that we could do was set the town on fire, eliminate the opposition, and keep going.† The Advance Guard, after clearing the town, took up positions on its southern end while the Infantry cleared the adjacent woods of snipers.
At 1300 hours the Advance Guard moved through the woods to the village of PREYING.† Unable to find the main roads leading east they kept traveling south and ran into very heavy resistance.† Before the enemy could be quieted Company C lost one of her tanks and the supporting Infantry suffered many casualties.† After this hard nut was cracked the Battalion moved to the vicinity of HAUS, where they halted and coiled for the night.† Cpl.. Leo E. Campbell, of the Medical Detachment, was shot in the head by a sniper and he died instantly.† Although the Battalion was halted, the Advance Guard kept right on going to a river crossing west of the village of PROMBACH.† There they too decided to call it a day' and settled for the night.† Company D, with its light tanks, were sent along to protect the supply trucks -that were headed for he Advance Guard.
Major Hoffmann was put again in charge of the Advance Guard as we moved out the following day.† Because the whole outfit \was so split up, it caused a little confusion and it took some time to get them together again.† Besides all this disconcertions, the bridge that the Advance Guard had found intact on the preceding night gave way, so it was almost noon before the whole Battalion was able to move.
Very light resistance was met in the towns of ALZESBERG, ROHRBACH and WALDKIRCHEN.† When we arrived at the last place, orders were received to halt in place, and to send patrols forward to the Austrian border.† The Recon elements of the Advance Guard made the trip to the border and returned to report that activity by the enemy was at a minimum.† The main body of the Battalion took up the defense of Waldkirchen and stayed in that town overnight.† Major Hoffmann went on to the town of WOLLABERG with C Company and the Infantry.† Were it not for the fact that German aircraft was very active overhead, the men would have enjoyed the reception that they received.† Passing through the town they were met by cheering throngs throwing flowers to them.† Many signs were allocated through the town stating the people didn't intend to do any shooting.†
The bothersome planes overhead were met by a flourish of fifty caliber shells.† The forces on the ground succeeded in knocking down two of the planes.† The shower of lead was too much for the planes and they didn't tarry too long in that place.† The Battalion remained in its present position for the next day, allowing the men a chance to work on their vehicles and also giving them a much-needed rest.
The Battalion again remained in the town the 28th of April, but the Reconnaissance platoon was sent out on a reconnoitering mission.† While in the throes of this mission two of their vehicles run over some mines and four men were injured.† At 1300 hours of that day, one platoon-of tanks from D Company and elements of the Infantry moved down to occupy a stretch of high ground north of the town of TANNENSTEIG, in preparation for the movement of the Battalion toward PASSAU the next day.
Because the rest of the Division was busy clearing an area south of the town Passau, the Battalion, although alerted, did not move out until late in the afternoon.† At 1600 hours, Company A and Lt. Col. Sagaser moved out to the vicinity of KREMPELSBERG, where they coiled and waited for the rest of the Battalion.† The entire Battalion arrived there late evening and stayed there for the rest of the night.† While all this was going on Company C had been attached to the Infantry and was helping them clear out the woods north of Passau.† Late in the afternoon six enemy tanks were sighted and Company C knocked out three of them.† These were the first German tanks we had encountered during all this desultory fighting east of the Rhine.
The next day, with the Infantry in charge of the Advance Guard, 20 more miles were added to our conquest.† The only disturbance was a defended roadblock near the approach to OBERKAPPEL.† That held the column up for five hours before it was liquidated.† Still, at 1730 hours, the Battalion was able to move into the town of GRIESBACH, and there we stayed for the night.
The beginning of May was a highlight in-our push through Germany.† On this day we crossed the border and were the first troops to set foot on Austrian soil.† The column moved along very slowly until LEMBACH was reached, and here progress was stopped because of another roadblock.† A very lugubrious occurrence took place.† Capt. Scott of Company A, while assisting the Infantry in clearing the road block, was killed from a bullet fired by a 14 year old kid.† How very sad that one had to die; especially now with the inevitable termination of this war in sight.† Capt. Scott had often demonstrated his bravery on the field of battle, and his death was a shock to all of us.
After removing the roadblock, the Advance Guard was sent to KRONDORF where they secured a bridge across the Muhl River.† The main body of the Battalion coiled at Lembach for the night.† That day 18 more miles were lopped off of the little territory that was still in enemy hands,
On May 2nd the Battalion was inactive while the Engineers were building another bridge in the vicinity of STARZ.† That was deemed necessary when-it was discovered that the roads on the original route were unsuitable for travel.† On next day the bridge was completed and the Advance Guard, this time Company B, got rolling around noon and managed to reach the final objective for that day just as the last signs of the day were disappearing over the horizon.† The march had carried them through the towns of ST. JOHANN, ST. VELT, WAXENBERG, OBERNEUKIRCHEN and ZWETTL.† It was at Zwettl that the main road running north and south from LINZ was cut.
Next day, via HELLMONSODT, REICH, ENAN, SCHWARZENDORF, ALTENBERG, the Advance Guard finally moved into GALLNEUKIRCHEN where they halted while the rest of the command caught up.† This move was made so quickly that over 100(0 prisoners were taken.
On May 5th we were still in Gallneukirchen, but our patrols were always out trying to make contact with the Russians.† Also our own Reconnaissance platoon was sent out to assist the 41st Cavalry in taking care of 6000 prisoners which had been taken in.† During this one particular night all hell spontaneously broke loose and guns were firing from all directions.† A misconstrued report gave the men the impression that all Germany had capitulated.† Everybody began celebrating ala New Year's Eve style.† The misinterpreted report was finally straightened out and the men were made to realize that all the report meant was that all German troops in Austria had decided to surrender.
But to us who had fought day in and day out for so long that was the end of the actual fighting.† The few following days were spent in gathering prisoners together; having some barracks that we intended to stay in all cleaned out by German prisoners; turning over approximately 18,000 PW's to the Russians; and sending hundreds of displaced persons back to MAUTHAUSEN and GUSEN, former Nazi concentration camps where many atrocities had been committed.
The news of the complete German surrender came to us on V-E Day, May 8th.† It had finally happened.† Here was the thing we had been perennially waiting and hoping for.† It was like a dream and you felt as if someone was going to wake you up at any moment.† Then the final realization that it was actually true caused ripples of joy to go shooting up and down your spine.† The end of the war in Europe.† The obdurate and iniquitous Hun had finally cried Uncle.† He has had enough.† All of you have helped to lick him.† You have endured hardships; slept little; suffered from wounds and injuries and even lived like an animal at times-just for the sight of this moment.† And now, here it is.† Let your eyes roam magnanimously around you.† What do you see?† Some of the old familiar faces are missing, aren't they?† It's tragic that they are not here to view this historical happening.† They were the unlucky ones: the unfortunate that lost the most precious thing on earth, -Their lives -because an abominable sybarite lunatic had illusions of world conquest.† How very unbalanced the scale is; so many endearing lives on one side and the death of a few detestable bastards on the other.† Yes, the cost was high, but through the efforts of those who died bravely on the field of battle, and yourselves, the menace to humanity- has been obliterated- And it is our job to see that that menace never rises again.† We owe it to THEM.