An In-Depth Study
By Terry D. Janes
My deepest gratitude to Jeff Wignall for allowing me to use his research material for this article, as well as the many 80th Division veterans who so kindly contributed their memories. My reason for wanting to delve deeper into the story of this battle is simple. Most records of the time period barely mention this battle. Take a look at my book, “Patton’s Troubleshooters” and you’ll see that Farebersviller barely gets mentioned. That was not by intent, but by a lack of much source information on this battle. For several months, I have been digging into this story, and have learned much myself. Over the years, I have discovered that during the war when the 80th Infantry Division had it’s darkest days, it’s chroniclers were less than forthcoming about how bad things really were. Possibly, they did not want to talk about the failures, or near-failures. A good example is the Moselle River crossing. That was without a doubt the closest the 80th Infantry Division ever came to total defeat on the battlefield. Yet, it is glossed over by the 80th’s official chroniclers who don’t tell just how close they came to defeat. So too, Farebersviller. Farebersviller, France sat near the German frontier and the Germans were desperate to keep the 80th out of the Fatherland.
From Jeff Wignall comes the following:
“1-3 November 1944
“A” Company, 318th Regiment marched 2 miles to the regimental reserve area at Lixierres where Mike Mahoney took command on 2 November. The weather continued foggy, cloudy, and cold. S-2 reported that it had been learned from a civilian that the men taken earlier from Nomeny had been marched a few miles to the NW to dig fortifications near Sailly. He also reported that German soldiers in the town were dressing in civilian clothes during the day to avoid being spotted by aircraft. Two regiments of the German 48th Infantry Division were occupying a defensive line running from Nomeny SE to Aulnois sur Seille, with the 126th Regt on the right and the 127th on the left near Letricourt. “POW’s have expressed confidence that the line is strong enough to hold, but believe there are no other defensive lines established between this and the West Wall, which they claim has been completely rebuilt and is fully manned.” Further assessment on the 4th, however, determined that “the entire area between the Seille and Nied rivers has been prepared for defense. All roads have foxholes for cover from strafing. All villages can be turned into strong points. — Many roads have prepared roadblocks with AT (anti-tank) guns. Roads, bridges, and overpasses are prepared for mining and blasting. The Seille river, though actually an MLR (main line of resistance) as far as positions and troops are concerned could be lost to the Germans without serious consequences to their many strong points behind the river. —Delme Ridge is prepared for defense by infantry and artillery.”
Numerous unidentified aircraft, and several identified as German, were reported daily, as was the case throughout the month of October. One German plane was shot down on the 3rd, and the sounds of vehicles continued to be heard around Nomeny. General Patton returned to Div HQ in Ville au Val, a few miles to the west near Landremont, and “all field grade officers and a representative of each company” were requested to attend a lecture by the Third Army commander on 2 November. General Bradley had authorized the Third Army to move forward as soon as the continual rain of the past several days would allow it. The Belgian port of Antwerp had finally been secured, and it was expected that the harbor would be sufficiently cleared to receive shipping convoys by the end of the month. Twelve EM were transferred into A Co from within the regiment: James Arthurs (hosp 10 Nov), Wesley Sumpter (hosp 12 Nov), Clifford Keech, Tom Taylor (WIA 29 Nov), John MacKay (WIA Feb), Mike Xidekus (WIA 11 Nov), Harley McCrary, Burdette Thomas (hosp 13 Nov), Herbert Rider (WIA 8 Nov, KIA 27 Dec), Robert Baskette (WIA 22 Nov), Benjamin Suls (WIA 9 Nov), Morton Pier (WIA 8 Nov). All were from I Co except Baskette, from L Co, and Pier, from 3rd Bn HQ.
4 November 1944
We relieved the 3rd Bn at Ferme de la Borde southeast of Nomeny on the night of the 4th. Aggressive night patrolling continued..
5 November 1944
The regiment received Field Order No. 12, the attack order for 6 Nov at 1600. Louis Sobczak out, medical.
6 November 1944
It began to rain heavily early in the morning. Preparations were under way for the offensive across the Seille River scheduled for 8 November as part of an overall Third Army push to the east. Patton had been well reinforced during the lull while the Germans had been withdrawing troops from the area for the planned Ardennes offensive in December, and his numerical ratio now approached 3:1. Supply problems had been resolved and material was now being delivered over the reconstructed French railway system to Pont a Mousson. The attack was to be directed northeast towards Faulquemont, lead by the 80th Division with the 6th Armored following. The 35th, 26th and 4th Armored were to advance on their right, with the III Corps, 87th and French 2nd Armored Divisions covering the extreme right flank. XX Corps – questionably – would not attack until a day later with the 90th and 10th Armored crossing the Moselle north of Metz at Thionville and moving southeast to meet the 5th Division moving northeast from its crossing at Arnaville south of Metz. Metz at long last was to be by-passed, and isolated by the recently arrived 95th Division. At this juncture a controversy developed regarding the use of the 83rd Division (III Corps), which was to have attacked the triangular area on the 90th, left formed by the Moselle and Saar Rivers. Bradley reneged on the use of this division at the 11th hour, leaving this area in German hands, and a serious problem for the future. The attack plan was basically flawed in its continued adherence to the broad front concept. Patton was still unwilling to apply the principles of concentration. Additionally he had overreached on his objective – still the Rhine – despite prevailing weather conditions, which made it impossible, although the poor weather on the night of the 7th did enhance the element of surprise for the jump-off. The one-day delay for XX Corp’s advance left McBride’s 80th Division with an exposed left flank, another of the many 3rd Army problems resulting from poor coordination between the two Corps that Patton should have been more active in resolving. Compounding this, the flooding of the Moselle prevented the 10th Armored from crossing until five days later.
7 November 1944
The Seille River overflowed, and Clemery was flooded. The 1st Bn objective was the high ground above Montigny Ridge, and Hill 217 overlooking Mailly sur Seille. It became miserably cold and the heavy rain continued. The Regt CP moved to Manoncourt during the night. German patrols were out attempting to capture American POW’s. Cautions were issued about the use of existing telephone lines, as they should be assumed to be tapped. The concrete footbridge SE of Nomeny that we found had remained intact on the 1st was blown during the night. Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected today to his “unprecedented” fourth term as President of the United States in a victory heavily indebted to the soldier vote. Controversial throughout his political life, the debate would continue without resolution for decades as to his personal responsibility for US involvement in the war that cost so many of them so dearly. Right or wrong as any of those decisions may have been it is too often the case that: “Oft sceall eorl monig anes willan wraec adreogan (By one man’s will many must woe endure)”-Beowulf. Several months later a piece appeared in Stars and Stripes (May 16, 1945, Southern Germany Edition) by columnist, and later day politically irreverent commentator for the 60 Minutes television program, Andy Rooney, describing an attempt to fire a V-2 rocket at New York City from the deck of a submarine on this date (Nov. 7). The rocket presumably either fell short or was shot down by US fighter planes. The story was neither confirmed nor denied by officials, but on the following day a joint Army and Navy warning of the possibility of such attacks was issued from Washington, and shortly afterward fighter protection along the Atlantic coast was reinforced. The story was withheld until after the German surrender. Subsequent information about the V-2 ruled out any possibility of its being shot down, if it was in fact a V-2.
8 November 1944
The Seille River crossing was part of an attack involving the entire 3rd Army. The 80th Division was on the XII Corps left, 35th in the center, and 26th on the right. In the 24 hours preceding the assault, nearly 24,000 artillery rounds had been fired into the German positions. At 0530 in the cold, cloudy morning, after a 45 minute artillery preparation that included the use of captured German heavy mortars, we began to wade across nearly 100 yards of ankle-deep water that flooded the approach to the river to reach the assault boats, and crossed the Seille between Clemery and Nomeny under heavy automatic weapons, artillery and mortar fire. The first members of our battalion reached the opposite shore some 45 minutes later, and started north through the gap between Rouves on the west, and Nomeny on the east. The entire battalion was across by 0710. Work on both a vehicle and a footbridge commenced immediately, but the tanks were unable to cross until late afternoon. The Regt took 182 POW’s during the attack. We were halted temporarily at 1010 by heavy mortar and machine gun fire coming from hill 217 near Mailly. Russ Mitchell remembered making the crossing in the assault boats, and he and Bill Wignall digging a foxhole, and setting up their .30 cal. machine gun. At one point the Germans approached their position so closely that their voices could be heard quite plainly, and Bill laid in a short burst of fire with what Russ described as “obvious effect.” “One of the coolest men under fire that I met over there,” Mitchell said of him. Russ was later to be awarded the Silver Star and the French Croix de Guerre for gallantry at Ettelbruck in Luxembourg during the Battle of the Bulge. “I was with him from the time he came in at the end of August until he was killed. He was a lot older than the rest of us. I remember him trying to teach me how to play chess – he had a little chess set he carried in his pack – but I never could learn it.” A weapons platoon normally would consist of a .30 cal. LMG section of two squads, and a 60mm mortar section of three. The shortage of personnel during this period had limited the A Co. MG section to a single squad, and Russ, who would otherwise have been the gunner on the second gun, served as Bill’s assistant gunner.
Russ recalled that several men in the squad had made the mistake of occupying German foxholes, and were taken during the counterattack. Jack Miklacic spent the next several months in German hands, and Lucas Mapp and Bernard Stultz were wounded as a result of it. We continued forward, over-running enemy gun emplacements, only to be forced back by artillery fire. Shells exploding in the muddy ground blew mud everywhere. The sound was deafening and the smell of burnt powder overpowering. The lost ground was retaken, and we continued to hill 217, where a counterattack at 1740 by about 150 enemy troops was broken up by fire from our supporting tanks, then we moved up the hill, and dug in above Mailly sur Seille. During the evening communications between companies was lost for several extended periods, and the infantry support bridge at Clemery had to be closed when the mud in the approaches became impossible to navigate. The crossing had caught the Germans somewhat off guard as they had not expected an attempt in such inclement weather with the river flooded, and had begun to think of the Seille as the “winter line.” Frank Koproskie, Louis Antal, Alfred Basilio, Lynus Naquin, Homer Lawyer, Edward Brown, Juan Miranda, Richard Rhodes, Bernard Stultz, Carl Hepner, George Hathaway, John Noel, Lester Kline, James Culbertson, Leo Keiser, Harold Yanof, Bruce McIlhaney, Webster Smith (1st Platoon to England for two months with trench foot, rejoined 10 Jan), Joseph Kuebrich, Joseph Shuhay, Leo Keiser, Homer Kelly, Peter Verdi, Patrick Cairne, Edward Szewe, Frank Powalowski, 1st Lt. Michael Mahoney, Joe Stewart, Eugene Artinger, William Switzer, Henry Bradford, James Rigard, and James Arthurs all to hospital wounded or injured. Lumas Mapp, Jack Miklacic, Frank Wendt, Robert Owen, Delmar Hodge, Roy James, and John Simpson MIA. Ross Braumagin, Berands Lord, Norton Soloman, Robert Miller, John Kovalick, Danver Nunn, and Willard Peters KIA. 1st Lt. Gordon Goarlike joined from the 38th. One EM AWOL. Capt. Ray Roy replaced the wounded Mike Mahoney as the A Co C.O. This was Mahoney’s second wound, and he was eventually returned stateside for the remainder of the war.
9 November 1944
The regimental attack on Nomeny, considered to be the primary objective and preliminary to any other operations in the area, was launched at 0600, in cold rain and ankle deep mud against an enemy force of an estimated 1000 men. It was reported at 0730 that all bridges supporting the advance were out. The town itself was the objective of I Co supported by B Co, 702nd Tank Battalion. I Co attempted to advance unsupported when the tanks were delayed at the river crossing, but were pinned down for three hours until the tanks moved up late in the afternoon. Nomeny was secured on the following morning.
Broadcast Helps Rout Of Germans
Stars and Stripes
“With the 80th Inf. Div. – A psychological warfare sales talk with unrehearsed Air Corps sound effects helped 80th Division troops to capture Nomeny by convincing the Nazi garrison that the jig was up. While S/Sgt. William H. Stevens of New York City, S/Sgt. James E. Tracy of Los Angeles, Ca., and driver, Cpl. Johnny Carraway of Columbia, S.C. were readying their half-track mounted PA System in the town, the Wehrmacht sponsored a pre-broadcast small arms show. Stevens and Tracy replied by firing their script at the Nazis, telling them further resistance, at this hour, was useless. Just as they finished, hundreds of American heavy bombers swarmed overhead. Taking advantage of the coincidence, Captain Martin J. Wegman of Pemberton, Ohio, a [318th] Regiment S-2 officer, grabbed the mike and warned the Germans the bombers would return to wipe them out unless they surrendered. When troops entered Nomeny later that afternoon they met only feeble resistance. Prisoners said most of the Nazis had been scared out of town by the broadcast.”
Marty Loughlin remembered his company moving cautiously into the town with their 105mm howitzer in tow, and the men being “assigned to various deserted houses … the first time we had a roof over their heads since we had left England.” The battalion moved down the slopes of Hill 217 (Le Huit de Colia) at 0615 toward Mailly sur Seille, about a mile away. The town was in our hands by 1010; the Regt reported 216 casualties in the attack. C Co headed to Phlin, 2000 yards NE, where the 702nd Tank Bn. joined it, then NE again to Hill 235, at 1130. They continued on to Thezy St. Martin 2 miles SE of Phlin on D.74, which was secured at 1700 after dislodging German troops attempting to make a stand there, while the rest of the battalion remained east of Mailly sur Seille prepared to move against Delme Ridge. Over 400 German POW’s were in the regiment’s hands by the end of the day. John Meyers and Howard Lucas returned to duty. David Smith, George Fields, Homer Kelley, Herbert Rider, Harry Brown, George Kenney, James Mardis, Edgar Keen, Lt. Ralph Routier (3rd Platoon leader, RTD with B Co in March), Morton Pier, and Sigmund Wilus and Benjamin Sulz WIA. Cole Mullins to hospital, and Lewis Brown KIA. The first snow fell in the regimental area today.
10 November 1944
Friday; continued overcast and rain. We advanced 2 miles east to Foville at 0900, which we took by 1010 with only scattered resistance. Firing increased as we approached Delme Ridge, and POW intelligence indicated that the top and the rear slope were heavily mined and booby-trapped. At 1122, A Co reported taking direct fire on the tanks they were with, and had one casualty. Elements of the battalion cleared the northwest slopes of the ridge, and B Co moved on to Juville, which was reached by 1300, while A Co arrived at Moncheaux at 1430. C Co was in reserve. At 1540, the battalion consolidated in a defensive position on hill 264 near Juville for the night. 150 more POW’s were taken en route. The Regt CP moved up to Phlin. Nicholas Migaszewski, Charles Simms, William Athis, and Ralph Valente WIA, Merced Arteaga and Alfonso Ciancio to hospital. 1st Lt. George McLain (KIA 22 Nov) joined from the 38th. John Grimes to hospital, injured. Cpl. Lawrence H. Haynes MIA.
“Delme Ridge Falls To American Troops
By Gene Currivan
New York Times
“With American Third Army in France, November 10, 1944 – Maj. Gen. Horace L. McBride’s Eightieth “Blue Ridge” Division took Delme Ridge today. The ridge was one of the most important objectives in Lieut. Gen. George S. Patton’s attack and just had to be taken if the Metz-Nancy line were to be straightened. It fell after a bitter fight by troops of the 318th and 319th Infantry Regiments, but behind it all was a neat bit of strategy that caught the Germans unaware. Delme Ridge, which is a bald top plateau 1,380 feet above sea level and approximately four miles long, was set by nature squarely across a valley, blocking it completely. Its position, just northwest of the town of Delme, is at the apex of an inverted triangle with Metz at the western end of the base and Faulquemont at the eastern side of the base. From its crest troops command the entire valley, including the Seille River. The first plan to take the hill, which German prisoners considered the only sane one, was an attack from the western or Metz side. Hardly anyone in his right mind would conceive of a frontal assault on this lofty “fortress” because of the flooded areas in front of it and its steepness on the southern side. But that is exactly what General McBride decided to do. Under command of Col. Lansing McVickar of Cold Spring Harbor, LI., the 318th Regiment started the attack from the northern end of the ridge, drawing fire where the Germans could reasonably expect some part of the assault. While this part of the operation was going on the 319th Regiment, under Col. Orion L. Davidson of Terrell, TX started the other half of the attack, taking the Germans completely off their guard. Meanwhile an artillery barrage that all but scalped the bald top was thrown in….. When the hill finally had been taken it was strewn with German dead and German guns. The element of surprise and the terrific impact of our artillery were so great that entire ack-ack emplacements were captured intact, ready to turn on the first enemy planes that appeared. From the crest of the ridge observation eastward is unimpeded except for lesser ridges to the south, where fighting was still going on tonight. But the commanding view is perfect with the expansive Forest of Remilly just eight miles ahead. Whatever other important objectives fall before the American Third Army in this drive to take the kinks out of the present wavy line, Delme Ridge will in all probability be considered outstanding.”
11 November 1944
Armistice Day. The weather turned very cold. We were on the regimental right and struck NE from Juville at 0800 through the Bois de Juville where we encountered small arms fire. Companies A and B attacked the high ground north of Morville sur Nied in the vicinity of the Bois des Haies, south of Thimonville. The woods were cleared by 1015 with a loss of seven men to mortar fire, and the two companies joined for the attack on Morville sur Nied. B Co of the 702nd Tank Battalion, supporting the 1st Battalion moved on ahead to take Thimonville, breaking up a German attempt to form a defensive line through Tragny and Thimonville. Increasing enemy automatic and anti-tank fire, and some from our 6th Armored Division artillery at about 1500, was encountered approaching Morville, but the town was occupied by nightfall and positions set up between Le Dideleau River to the west bank of the Nied Francaise River for the night. The main German force had withdrawn, with heavy losses, to the NE of the Nied Francaise. Rain began falling again at dusk. The 4th Armored Division was reported to have taken Morhange, and surrounded the 11th Panzer Division. A small piece appeared in YANK for the week of 10 Nov mentioning that the War Department had officially disclosed the “presence in Europe of the 80th Infantry Division.”
George Adidino, Wes Hosenstock, Mike Xidakusy, Leo Eveland, Joseph Toca, James Arthurs, Ernest Grondin, Winston Lundy, George Rhodeback, John Grooms, James Abney, Harold Hoult, and Raymond Robbins to hospital, wounded or injured. Joseph Browning KIA. Thirty-three replacements joined from the 38th Repl Battalion: William Lloyd (KIA 22 Dec), Rudolph Newhouse (WIA 5 Dec), Carl Lutz (WIA Dec), Leland Lasater (WIA Dec), Bennie Laweka (WIA Dec), Joseph Ranney (WIA Feb), Claude Mapp (WIA Dec), Everett Radio (hosp 2 Dec), Clemons King, Michael Kempel (KIA 23 Dec), David Fontius, Percey Lough (KIA 22 Dec), Chester Pyles (WIA Dec), Gerald Ghertner (WIA Dec), Joseph Terreri, James Morgan (WIA Dec), Glenn Light, Cecil Mobley (KIA 27 Dec), Lawrence Beaman (KIA 22 Nov), Burton Kellerstedt (WIA Dec), William MacLeod (WIA Dec), Raymond Rabbitt (WIA 22 Nov), Ervin Mallon (WIA Dec), Donald Rininger (WIA Dec), Jack Walker (hosp 21 Nov), Rodney Loeffler (hosp 20 Nov), Donald Nowak (hosp 23 Nov), Salvador Lopez (WIA Mar), Harold Weirich (WIA Dec), Linus Quinn (WIA Dec), Robert McCaughey, John Lovick, Maximo Lovato (WIA Mar).
12 November 1944
The rain turned to snow, and it became bitterly cold. From Morville, we crossed the Nied Francaise River at Baudrecourt with B Co. of the 702nd Tank Battalion early in the afternoon, on a bridge constructed by the 6th Armored Div. Turning south along the east bank of the river to Lucy, where B Co., 318th, was hard hit, we cleared the high ground to the east, and the Bois de Lucy to the SE (now known as the Bois de Chicourt), and were relieved at 2000 by elements of the 319th. We remained at Lucy overnight. Another 166 POW’s were taken today. It was learned from them that the troops presently in the regiment’s front, 17th SS Div, 48th Inf. Div, and 559th Inf. Div belong to the XXXX SS Corps headquartered at St. Avold. The use of small fires at night (previously restricted to daylight hours, no later than 1630) to dry feet was approved – with proper discretion. “All men will wear their Arctic’s, and socks are now being issued. Don’t throw away dirty socks as they will be sent to the kitchen to be washed…” A very aggressive program had been initiated to insure that each man received a clean pair of socks daily, with the requirement that one soiled pair be turned in daily for rotation, but most of the men were reluctant to part with them. Commanders at all levels were informed that the program was to be made to work – to the extent, it was (officially) reported, that some supply sergeants were compelled to force the surrender of the socks. Wiser soldiers carried their extra socks inside their shirts to keep them warm and dry, and changed them regularly. Many men were the grateful recipients of supplemental knitted goods – gloves and mittens, caps, scarves, sweaters, socks, and various other items – produced and mailed by relatives and friends back home from patterns such as those provided by Chadwick’s “Red Heart” Wools, and the Red Cross. Front line fashions showed evidence of a considerable amount of individuality and creativity to make up for deficiencies in the supply system as winter conditions became worse.
The clothing of soldiers in the line changed and became more varied as the year advanced. Common to everyone was the M1 steel helmet, which provided not only protection, but often served as a wash basin, cooking pot, and, on occasion, toilet, and the laminated plastic helmet liner that could be worn alone in safe areas. Helmets were sometimes altered by painting, particularly to identify medics – although officers and noncoms learned that it was safer not to identify themselves in this way, and often by the addition of netting – earlier obtained from the British and later supplied from the US inventory – as an aid in concealment. Beneath the helmet liner might be found a wool jeep cap, a knitted balaclava, an issue hood attached to the collar of a field jacket, one or two scarves wrapped around the head, or even the top portion of a sleeping bag cover – the lower section providing an extra layer of warmth to the body. During the late summer and early fall the issue wool shirt and pants, or alternatively the HBT (herring bone twill) counterparts in mix or match combinations were sufficient, with raincoats or ponchos carried for rainy weather. As the weather cooled with the approach of winter, the M1941 field jacket was often seen. This jacket was worn throughout the war, but from late 1944 on the more suitable M1943 jacket with its four pouch pockets became more common, with the heavy wool overcoat worn over either as conditions required, and a raincoat over that in a usually futile attempt to keep it dry. Footgear was, for most, the issue service shoe with the M1936 laced legging, and for some the new M1943 combat boot with the two-buckle cuff that eliminated the need for the awkward legging. A buckled, rubberized overshoe could be worn over either for added protection against cold and wet. Gear was still carried by many in the old WWI style field pack which provided carrying suspenders for the cartridge belt, to which a canteen and a first aid pouch would be attached, and often such added item as wire cutters and compasses. The bayonet and shovel, or entrenching tool, were also more often found attached to the belt for easier access by this time, where they had formerly been attached to the pack. While the old M1910 T handled shovel remained in use, the M1943 was rapidly replacing it since it had a swivel head and could be used as a mattock in hard or frozen ground. Legend has it that some men found a hand grenade to be an effective alternative in that situation, but it seems unlikely. In addition to the pack, many soldiers carried a M1936 musette bag over their shoulder (when one could be liberated – these were only issued to officers) or a now-emptied gas mask bag, to carry there necessaries and often souvenirs, thus the frequent use of the term loot bag. Most also carried one or two bandoleers of extra rifle ammunition, and at least a couple of grenades.
Marty Loughlin recorded the following description of his winter ensemble in his memoir: “I had two shelter halves and four blankets which I had sewn together. It also sounds incredible, but I wore the following clothing: summer underwear, GI fatigues, OD’s (olive drab uniform) over the fatigues, a GI sweater, combat jacket and half an overcoat, cut off at the waist. I also wore two pair of socks, combat boots, overshoes, a knitted cap, helmet liner and helmet. At night I would take off the overcoat, my overshoes, shoes, helmet liner, and helmet. I used the overcoat and combat jacket for a pillow. I would also slide my carbine or M1 into the sack with me as well as my shoes so that they would not freeze up on me. Usually I would wear the knit cap. … The real secret was to attempt to keep your feet warm and dry. I always kept extra socks in my overcoat pockets.” Russ Mitchell, also remembering the particular attention he wisely paid to the care of his feet, was one of those who carried his spare socks inside his shirt. One universal item required to be worn at all times – literally – by officers and enlisted men alike was the pair of dog tags, one worn suspended from a bead chain around the neck, and the mate suspended by a shorter length of chain looped through the first. These were small metal plates, rectangular with rounded ends, each stamped with the soldier’s name, serial number, and blood type, and, additionally, his home address, next of kin, and religion if desired. In the event of a fatality the lower tag was removed by graves registration and was to remain with any personal effects, while the other remained with the body. In combat many men found it desirable to quiet the tags with an edging originally created from rings sliced from the rubber gas mask canister hoses, others were simply bound together with friction or adhesive tape.
The flow of supplies to the front was generally good as the condition of the roads remained good despite the incessant rain. However, the need for adequate hard surfaced bivouac areas for the supply dumps in areas already occupied by large concentrations of troops, and crowding by elements of higher echelons moving forward and occupying the preferred locations, created problems that resulted in overextended supply lines and frequent moves, both of which were costly in terms of time. Suitable off-road areas quickly became expanses of bottomless mud. With the exception of tires most items in critical demand were generally provided if they were available at all. Despite heavy combat losses of equipment, an active salvage program, during and after actions, helped to return many items to service. There was a persistent shortage of Browning Automatic Rifles (BAR’s) and 60mm mortars. James Nardozza, Joseph Girina, Vincent Curcuruto, Paul Kerkes, Frank Nabors, Winston Lundy, Edmund Tierney, Edgar Keen, and Jared Brush WIA. Ernest Grondin, Patsy Barber, Charles Troutman, Raymond Rayes, Raymond Nowakewski, Stanley Grabowski, and Wesley Sumpter to hospital; 2nd Lt. Robert Gentry transferred to ETO HQ. 2nd Lt. George W. Kane was assigned to A Co. as a platoon leader. He later became executive officer (Exec. O.), and eventually the company commander. At about this time, the 80th began to encounter resettled Poles who had been forced from their homes in the early days of the war and transported to this and other areas under Nazi control to be worked as virtual slaves on the local farms, factories, or mines. They were paid minimal wages, most usually returned against expenses, but were denied medical services, and their children received no schooling. Many local people also had been held to forced labor, and most of the men of military age taken for service in the German army.
13 November 1944
We moved from Lucy at 0910 – with supporting tanks – to take Chenois, a mile to the NE on highway D.70, and continued to attack in the same direction to clear Lesse, two miles east of Baudrecourt, before noon. A Co. was the reserve company. Crossing the RR tracks, we advanced about a half mile further to seize Holocourt by 1430, and set up outposts along the Vatimont-Arraincourt highway (D.999) west and east of Holocourt. The battalion closed in Holocourt with mixed rain and snow falling, leaving about six inches on the ground. Headquarters anticipated that the next attempt at a defense would be at Faulquemont. The POW total stood at 2337, with 951 taken since crossing the Seille. Division CO, Major General McBride visited the regimental CP at St. Epvre to present Bronze Stars to Col. McVickar and executive officer, Captain Gaking. Robert Flacke returned to duty; Burdette Thomas and Bert Kelly to the hospital. William Sutton (WIA Jan) joined from the 38th Repl. Bn.
14 November 1944
It was overcast and very cold. Our positions were consolidated along the Vatimont-Arraincourt highway. The 1st Battalion then moved 1 1/2 miles east to Brulange, south of Arraincourt, and set up outposts there on the high ground north of town along the Brulange-Thonville highway (D.76) near hill 281, about 500 yards east of Thonville. A Co remained in reserve at Lesse, and the Regt CP in Holocourt. Joseph Shuhay and Edgar Fincannon to hospital.
15 November 1944
The battalion held its outpost positions east of Thonville with two platoons from the 808th Tank Destroyer Battalion in support. It remained cloudy; with snow in the morning that melted by noon leaving mud. General Eisenhower paid a visit to 3rd Army headquarters at Nancy. Patton and his staff, in order to have a good fire for Eisenhower in his room, managed to set the hotel on fire, and it was extinguished with “considerable difficulty.” Received 50 replacements from the 17th Repl Bn. at Neufchataeu: William Blassczsky (WIA Mar), Frank Kubik (hosp 30 Nov), Edward Guzy (WIA Dec), William Nunn, Connie Moody, James Burgess, George Kimler, Robert Haubner (WIA Dec), Vitus Oliveri (WIA Dec), Charles Meerhoof, Harry Cooper (radioman) (WIA 21 Dec), William Kuhl (WIA Dec, Feb), Guy Jacobs (KIA Feb), Harold Paice (KIA 22 Dec), Ernest O’Brien (WIA Feb), Robert Dixon (WIA 30 Nov), Francis Boardman (AWOL Nov 30), Albert Johnson (WIA Dec, Feb), Leonard Pollina (WIA Dec), Alfred Outhier (KIA 22 Nov), Earl Encott (KIA 23 Dec), Joseph Canby (KIA 24 Dec), Earl Klein (WIA Dec), Aloysius Ross (WIA Dec), R.B. Parker (WIA Mar), Raymond Finnegan (WIA Dec), William Davis (WIA 22 Nov), Robert Lace, Wilbur Simonson, Harry Ratkowski (WIA Dec), Fred Garcia (hosp 17 Nov, gsw/NBC), Frank Elo (KIA 10 Feb), Pedro Lopez (WIA Dec), Max Sischo (KIA 22 Dec), Edward Schiff (WIA Dec), Clifford Golding, Arlo Emerson (KIA 9 Feb), Gerald Loss (AWOL 30 Nov), Earl Smith (hosp 19 Nov, WIA Dec), Leander Schoenfelder, Henry Frosorger (KIA 27 Dec), Herbert Marshall (WIA Dec, Feb), Edgar Lord, Dale Smith (KIA 25 Dec), Clyde Hayard, Thomas Gold (MIA 22 Nov), James Nored, Arthur Magarell, Ray Trojanowski (WIA Dec), and Walter Harrison. Francis Sullivan was transferred to Div HQ. Capt. Otto Schultz (WIA Dec) joined from the 38th Repl Bn. to take command of the company. One AWOL EM was under arrest in quarters.
16 November 1944
Today was overcast again, and cold. The 1st Bn, with Co B now in reserve, moved NW at 1400 to the high ground (hill 252) in the vicinity of Bois des Tailles, west of Chemery, on the regimental left, against light resistance. The Germans counterattacked from the Bois de Neulander late in the afternoon, but we drove them back, and later could see them retreating from Chemery towards Faulquemont. William Tucker WIA and Howard Lucas to the hospital with injuries.
17-19 November 1944
The skies cleared for a while, but it continued cold and became cloudy again later. We consolidated our positions in the Bois des Tailles, near Thicourt. The German 36th Volksgrenadier Div., now in the 80th Div front, withdrew northward beyond the Nied Allemande River. We learned at this time that a standing “no retreat across the Rhine” order in the German Army had been upgraded to include officers, “— any officer authorizing the retreat of his unit would be summarily court martialled, his commission cancelled, and he would be placed on the line as a rifleman.” Intelligence estimated the current enemy strength in the XII Corps front to consist of elements of seven divisions with a combined effective strength of 35,000 men – slightly more than two full strength divisions. Eddy halted his XII Corps advance on the 16th, and once again Patton had to intercede to get it moving again on the 18th, still expecting to reach the Rhine by the 25th. XXth Corps completed the encirclement of Metz on the 19th. The 80th assumed a defensive position after 102 days of continuous contact with the enemy, with the 1st Bn in Thonville, about a mile south of Faulquemont.
Burt Kellerstedt remembered the periods spent in reserve as a constant search for food. The cellars of abandoned houses were searched first for any stored preserves – one of which he was particularly fond was pork in a heavy gravy. Then they would search the chimneys in the attics for bacon and hams stored in the brickwork. Bacon was sought for the fat that could be used for frying readily available potatoes. He recalled one incident in which he had succeeded in gathering the unheard of total of 32 eggs in his helmet, when orders were received to mount up in 20 minutes. He quickly scrambled the lot right in the helmet, and they were eaten communally on the truck. On another occasion a defensive booby trap – a grenade tied to a trip string and inserted, with the pin pulled, into an empty C ration can to hold the arming lever down – went off during the night and killed an unfortunate cow that had fouled the string. One of the men had been a butcher in civilian life, and quickly removed a hindquarter, and they all had steaks for breakfast. The supplies of other units – the 10 in 1 rations of the tankers being a favorite target for liberation – were also considered fair game when available.
At 0540 on the 17th, a curious notation was made in the S1 (Regimental Personnel) journal that a “Yellow light on plane moved approx 10 min.’s at entire arc of sky from SW to NE. Light appeared at great height, but rapidity of movement was such as to lead to belief that it was a plane or lower than it appeared.” The inclusion of the notation, in a handwriting not seen elsewhere in the reports for the period implies something unique about the observation – possibly a V-2 Rocket, or an early sighting of an ME-262, the German jet aircraft that, due to Hitler’s shortsightedness, was fortunately never produced in sufficient numbers to be a factor in the war. Clemons King joined from the 38th Repl Bn, and the following 13 men from the 17th: Sol Cohen (hosp 2 Dec), Richard Cusati, Lawrence Fralick (WIA Dec), Joseph Hollinger, Albert Holman (MIA 22 Nov), Robert Lewin, Bennet Olinski (WIA Dec), Lee Page (WIA Dec), Eugene Perkins, Clifford Phillips (WIA 22 Nov), John Revak (WIA 30 Nov), Ogle Robbins (WIA 22 Nov), Robert McCollum (WIA 22 Nov). Robert Owen WIA, and Earl Smith and Fred Garcia to hospital. Olin Alliser joined from D Co, 318th. The 8 November AWOL was arrested in Nancy.
20 November 1944
We moved from the Thonville-Thicourt area to Bois le Kritsbesch. A Co went into position south of Bois de Neulander and hill 270, east of highway D.20, 1000 yards NE of Chemery (now known as the Dom. de Remilly). The regiment entered Faulquemont with no resistance other than the cold, wind, and rain. An attack order came down from Div HQ, but was later postponed for 23 hours. Rodney Loeffler to hospital.
21 November 1944
The rain continued. We moved to regimental reserve at Faulquemont early in the morning where quarters were located for the men in some warehouses in the town. A Co was assigned to set up a road block outside of town on highway N.410 running north to Tritteling, about 4 miles outside Faulquemont. B Co, moving further north, ran into small arms fire south of Tritteling at 1725, and a half hour later was ordered back to the next high ground by Col. Tosi. The order was either not received, or misread, since they continued to move forward, past Gonneholz Farm, to Laudrefang, where they were counterattacked at 1920, and subsequently cut off by an enemy attack from the direction of Brunstudent Farm. Short of both food and ammunition, they managed to hold on in the face of two additional enemy attacks later in the night. A Co was sent forward, but was unable to make contact during the night, and plans were made to relieve them with tank support the following morning. Patsy Barber and Bernard Stultz returned to duty. Anthony Paszkowski and Jack Walker to hospital. Paul Barton, Eugene Cunningham, Clifford Phillips, Jeston Anderson, Robert Baskette, Raymond Rabbitt (1st Platoon, RTD Jan), Ogle Robbins, and Radford Montgomery WIA.
22 November 1944
Wednesday. There was no change in the weather: cold and rainy. We moved again at 0530 to try to relieve B Co in Laudrefang, reinforced by B Co. of the 702nd Tank Bn, and reached Tritteling by 0730. By mid-morning A and C Co.’s had reached the high ground west of Laudrefang against increasingly heavy resistance, including mortar and artillery fire. Lt. George McLain, leading a machine gun platoon was seriously wounded, but continued to position his men and direct fire, allowing B Co to withdraw, with light casualties, to Goldenholz Farm by 0840, then to Faulquemont with tanks covering, to rejoin the Bn. A Co was about 400 yards from the farm at 0850, and C Co, on the right, had passed over the next ridge. The Bn had withdrawn to Faulquemont at 1010, but by 1120, two platoons of C Co had not returned. Tanks and artillery spotter planes searched for them around noon without success. Some five hours later, the missing men came in, having been forced to leave the bodies of seven men killed behind. Field Order #14 was received directing the 80th Division to break through the Maginot Line at 0800, 25 Nov, with the 318th and 319th Regiments, 317th in reserve. The Maginot Line was a fortified line built at a tremendous cost by the French in the decade prior to WW II, and, although a masterpiece of technology, proved to be worthless when the Germans simply bypassed it in the May, 1940 invasion, attacking through the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg to threaten Paris from the north, and compelling the French surrender on 22 June, 1940. Frank Koproskie, and Merced Arteaga returned to duty. The 8 Nov AWOL remained under arrest in quarters. Robert McCollum, George Fink, and William Davis WIA. Juan Miranda returned to duty. Lawrence C. Beaman, Thomas A. Gold, Albert W. Helman, Alfred Outhier, Hilary Dietzer, and George McLain KIA.
At 1130 in the morning of the 22nd, medic George Lott of the 137th Regt, 35th Div, advancing on the 80th right at Diffenbach-les-Hellimer, a few miles SE of St. Avold, was hit by mortar fragments in both arms while attempting to assist another wounded man. Lott was to become the subject of a photo essay in the January 29th, 1945, issue of “Life” magazine detailing the treatment of a wounded GI. He managed to make his way to his battalion aid station some 500 yards to the rear in the town of Hellimer where he reported on the status of two casualties he had been caring for, then began receiving treatment for his own wounds. His left arm was examined and splinted, then the flesh wounds dusted with sulfa powder and dressed, and he was given a tetanus “booster”, blood plasma to treat the shock now beginning to set in, and sulfa tablets. In less than one hour both arms had been immobilized, the morphine injections had begun to take effect, and he was ready to be transported to the rear. Transport was delayed until an enemy shelling had ceased, and he was moved by ambulance, along with the two other casualties, to a collection station. There he was checked for shock and possible hemorrhage, and evacuated by a second ambulance to a clearing station some 14 miles behind the lines. His wounds were redressed and he was given coffee to provide warmth and stimulation against shock, and penicillin against infection. Warmly wrapped in six woolen blankets, he was then transported to the evacuation hospital at Nancy. There he was again examined and given a transfusion of whole blood to strengthen his system for the three hours of surgery that followed. X-rays were taken to determine the extent of the damage to the bones of his arms; wounds were cleaned and damaged tissue removed.
When he awoke the following morning his upper body was immobilized in a plaster cast, but with help he was able to eat a Thanksgiving dinner only 24 hours after being wounded. On the 26th he was moved by ambulance again to be flow to England where he spent a day at the air base hospital before being taken by train to a hospital near London for further attention. Gangrene had been detected in his wounds delaying his evacuation to the US, but was brought under control with penicillin, and on December 18th he began the trip back by way of Paris. The flight was delayed for three days due to bad weather, and he arrived at Mitchell Field in NY on the 22nd, remaining in the base hospital until January 6th when he was sent on to a hospital in Utica, NY. The extent to which George Lott would recover the use of his arms was still in question at the time the article appeared, but he would survive as would an estimated 96% of the wounded who reached the hospitals, many of whom were returned to combat. Lott had received what became known as the “million dollar wound” – maybe. That’s the wound serious enough to get a man out permanently, but not serious enough to impair him permanently, or, in another sense, a wound that would heal but take longer to do so than the war would last.
23-24 November 1944
Little activity; the rain and cold continued. The 1st Bn, in reserve, was moved to defensive positions at Cites de Charbonnages de Faulquemont, north of Faulquemont proper, by 1500, where we were served a turkey dinner on Thanksgiving Day, the 23rd, and church services were held. Members of the 313th Field Artillery apprehended two civilians in separate attempts to sabotage American vehicles with stolen grenades. While the turkey dinner was a nice touch – even for those who had to eat it cold – the sudden change in diet resulted in a substantial increase in cases of the trots during the night, starting around midnight as Marty Loughlin remembered. The weather for the late November period was described by Col. R.S. Allen in his book Lucky Forward as being “… execrable; raw and wet with pestiferous mud and reeking dung heaps everywhere.” The rainfall for the month had been more than double the average of three inches. Donald Nowak and Anthony Lanterna to hospital. Ralph Valenta DOW. Tokyo was attacked by US bombers for the first time since the Doolittle Raid in 1942.
25 November 1944
The attack on the Maginot Line commenced at 0800. The 1st Bn, in the reserve and not being committed to the attack, moved north to Bambeiderstroff, earlier found to have been deserted by the Germans. The Regt CP arrived at Bambeiderstroff at 1700. The rain had stopped in the morning, and it became fair and partly cloudy. The 80th Division moved against the Maginot Line forts on a line running north from Laudrefang, through Bambeiderstroff, to Zimming, just west of St. Avold. It was opposed by the badly battered 36th VG Div., reinforced with two battalions of the 347th Div, and one battalion each from the 860th, and 861st Regiment’s. The attack stalled at 1000 against heavy mortar and artillery fire, but was quickly resumed, and all of the fortifications in the 80th front were taken by 1300. Marty Loughlin notes that “we had five or six short rounds from our own artillery come in on our position. Confusion reigned as we were heavily engaged in firing [the 105] at the same time. … Being hit by your own artillery is nerve-wracking and no morale builder.” Ralph White, Leroy Bishop, and David Diggs to hospital; Carl Hepner returned to duty. The 8 Nov AWOL also returned to duty.
26 November 1944
We remained in reserve, and moved across Rt. NP-3 (N.3) to Dominique Farm. A Co was moved up to cover the gap between the 2nd Bn in the Bois de Kerfent, and the 3rd Bn at Kleindahl. The weather was cloudy and cool. The retreating remnants of the German 36th Division managed to slow the 80th advance into St. Avold during the afternoon with a series of counterattacks, all of which were broken up. Omer Caouette and Raymond Kelso to hospital. Continued fair. One EM AWOL.
80th Infantrymen Penetrate Maginot Line; Nazi Border Stands Only Four-Miles Away
New York Times
“With American Third Army in France, November 26, 1944 – Splitting the Maginot Line wide open with the seizure of ten of its forts, elements of the Eightieth Division continued right through the breaks today and tonight they were on three sides of St. Avold, a communications center. These troops are two miles beyond the Maginot Line and within four miles of the German border. The Eightieth Division is now in a strong position, with its heavy guns firing into the Reich from ridges around St. Avold while its infantry is threatening the city itself. One hour after the attack on the line jumped off the first of the Maginot Line forts was taken. This was Fort Bambeiderstroff. When it fell the crack in the wall started to widen. There was considerable opposition and mortar fire was particularly heavy. One of the strongest points at the start of the attack was Fort Quatre Vents. It laid down a sweeping barrage of mortar fire but it could not seem to keep up the pace when pressure was applied from three sides. It was successfully stormed soon after Fort Bambeiderstroff fell and that was the beginning of the end for all the principal fortifications in this particular part of the famous Maginot Line. Most of the forts, like the Inseling group of three were in clusters, with outlying pillboxes. Each was capable of covering the other with interlacing crossfire. While the attack was speedy and spectacular, and carried with it the element of surprise, it was a hard fought battle over difficult terrain studded with traps. There were mine fields everywhere. There were tank traps, ditches, and intricate roadblocks.
27 November 1944
Monday. The 10th Regt of the 5th Division on the XX Corps right relieved the 2nd Bn, on the Regt left. We attacked north from Dominique Farm at 1000 with elements of the 610th and 808th Tank Destroyer Battalions, and the 702nd Tank Bn., to clear the Foret de Longeville east of Kleindahl. A Co was on Hill 189 by 1400. The Bn, and its accompanying tanks, reached the northern edge of St. Avold, a major German communications and coal center, at 1730. The German defense of St. Avold collapsed. The 36th Div continued to fall back, northward, to Cite d’Hopital, Freming, then Merlrbach, and organized resistance to the east ceased as far as the Mutterbach River where the 80th advance was halted by German troops dug in at Farebersviller. The 317th reached the area by noon.
Blue Ridger’s Seize Strategic St. Avold
Operation Lasted Only Two Days
By Joseph Driscoll
N.Y. Herald Tribune
“St. Avold – With Patton’s Army on the Saar River Front. Cleansing of the German pestilence from the invaded French soil approaches its final stages with the capture by the Americans of the strategic road junction and communications center of St. Avold, former headquarters of the German Army. St. Avold was the last stronghold remaining to the Germans in Lorraine. From St. Avold the Germans retreated toward the Saar River and the Siegfried line with the Americans chasing them all the way. Between St. Avold and the Saar there remain but a few unimportant villages to clean up. To the north of Lorraine lies the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, which previously had been rid of the Germans. To the south of Lorraine lies its sister province of Alsace, where combined American and French forces have captured the capital, Strasbourg, and have encircled and are mopping up thousands of Germans who will never get home to the Reich. Thus France is fairly freed of all her German invaders, save for the small pocket at Dunkerque and the large number trapped beyond rescue in the Bordeaux region. To a considerable extent St. Avold spells finis to the German invasion that began so well in 1940. With St. Avold the operation was completed in two days. After the Maginot line had been probed by other forces and found wanting, the 80th Division moved yesterday through the Maginot line and took the ridges overlooking St. Avold from the west, north, and south, leaving the Germans only a narrow escape gap to the east. With his artillery doing its job perfectly, Major General Horace L. McBride, commanding the 80th “Blue Ridge” Division, made up largely of Maryland and Virginia enlisted men, with many officers from Pennsylvania and New York, sent his infantry after the Germans at dawn. Last night (Nov. 26) they had fought the Germans in the western suburbs of St. Avold around the village of Bohrmuhl, where the Germans still commanded some of the important entrances. This morning, as McBride’s men began encircling St. Avold, the Germans forgot all about the entrances and concentrated on their own exits. St. Avold had been more important than its population would indicate. Because of its key location the Germans had headquarters there under the command of General Blaskowitz, who was succeeded by General Balck. In the wake of the “Blue Ridge” Division correspondents entered St. Avold. Citizens gathered around us. They had a tale to tell and they told it in fluent French, German and in halting English. Against the advice of the Germans 3,000 of them had sheltered for ten days in the crypt of St. Nabor Cathedral while the artillery thundered day and night and the Americans moved nearer every day. The others, when ordered to Germany, took to the woods. Yesterday the Germans caught five of them and shot them as a lesson to others who might disobey the Germans. One citizen of St. Avold had lived in the woods for two years. He had fought the Germans in France as long as he could, he had fled to Africa and he had come home. St. Avold is French again and pretty soon all France will be free again.”
Robert Wilson returned to duty. 26 Nov AWOL was in the civilian jail at Disier. Another EM AWOL 27 November. Secretary of State Cordell Hull resigned the post he had held for the past twelve years today due to illness. He was replaced by Edward R. Stettinius Jr., a former industrialist who had joined the Roosevelt administration in 1940 and served in several key positions, most recently as acting Secretary of State during Hull’s lengthy illness, as was reported in Stars and Stripes on the following day. 1st Army units were reported to be “through the Hurtegan Forest to open country at some places,” and —Doughboys moving eastward beyond Metz, where four small forts on the Moselle’s west bank were given up by the Germans, made new breaches in the Maginot Line, overrunning ten forts in the area around St. Avold. Latest reports said 80th Division doughboys were already two miles beyond St. Avold. Units of the 14th Air Force in China had been forced to yield the Nanning air base in Kwangsi Province to the Japanese after destroying the installation, and the second B-29 attack in four days was launched against Tokyo from the island of Saipan. Ripley says “the war is costing the US over 10 million dollars an hour! – $175,000 is spent every minute! $3,000 each second!” Believe It Or Not!
28 November 1944
Col. McVickar called a meeting of all the unit commanders at 2000 to discuss a regimental attack planned for the following day. An hour later word was received of enemy contact at the village of Farebersviller by the 3rd Bn, 317th. The 1st Bn was ordered to move four miles west of St. Avold, south of the Foret de Steinberg, to Guenviller (north of D.91C), then NE to Seingbouse by 2230, where we were to establish positions east of the town to provide a defense against any attempt at a breakthrough during the night. The 2nd and 3rd Battalions were held at St. Avold. Elements of the 17th SS Panzer Grenadier Div, and 38th SS Regt were entrenched in Farebersviller, a mile to the east, but were driven out by the 3rd Bn of the 317th by late afternoon. However, the Germans counterattacked at 1950, and had re-taken the eastern side of the town by 2000. The 3rd Bn 317th was fighting from house-to-house when night fell. The 2nd had moved on to the high ground north of the town, and we were to the southeast, continually under heavy artillery and mortar fire. The weather became overcast. Counterattacks against the 317th positions continued throughout the night. Harry Nutting, Co I, 317 recalls being wounded by grenade fragments and cut off by the German counterattack, and spending several very uncomfortable hours with his over six foot frame wedged into a cabinet beneath a kitchen sink to avoid capture before he was able to slip away in darkness to a more secure hiding place. He remained hidden in a cellar for five days before he and another GI were able to escape on December 3rd and make their way back to the American lines. Orders were received from division headquarters early on the following morning delaying the 318th attack orders for the 29th until the Farebersviller situation cleared up. During the night, we remained in the defensive position on the high ground east of Seingbouse. “Patton’s troops were reported five miles from Saarlautern and about ten from Saarbrucken. The 95th Division made a four-mile gain along a six-mile front toward Saarlautern, while the 80th Division advanced more than three miles to a town ten miles southwest of Saarbrucken.” —Stars and Stripes, Nov. 29. The 26 Nov AWOL was turned over to the MP’s at Toul.
29 November 1944
The 3rd Bn advanced to Machern, at 0930, and later to Seingbouse at 1830, while the 2nd moved to the high ground near Henriville at noon to protect the 80th Division right flank. We left Seingbouse at 1645 and had closed in west of Farebersviller by 1815 in order to cover the 317th and provide a link between the 2nd Bn on their right, and the 319th Regt on their left. The persistent rain and cold continued. The Regt CP was moved up to Guenviller late in the afternoon. The 3rd Bn 317 was still fighting inside the town and was under tank and artillery fire. The 2nd Bn fought off two counterattacks to the north, on hill 316, while the 1st Bn held the high ground to the south against small arms fire. The 317th Regt was ordered to pull back to reserve positions later in the day (2330), and the 318th was to relieve them.
Sgt. Pillinger, communications, 317th HQ recalls: “On or around 0600, 29 Nov, I was ordered by Capt. Martinez, CO of HQ Co, 3rd Bn, 317th, to set up a forward command post in the village of Farebersviller. He told me that elements of I, K and L Co.’s were in the village. As the Bn communications chief, I took my wire and radio jeep and six men into the village. Just inside the village, I found a house with a barn beside it. I moved the radio jeep inside the barn and set up the switchboard. Sgt. Frye, Sgt. Rief, and Cpl. Baldwin manned the radio and switchboard; Cpl. Allard and Pvt. Burden laid the wire lines. Pvt. Sheridan and I returned to the rear CP to pick up supplies.
Obtaining the supplies, we started back to the forward CP. On the main road, the German tanks shelled our jeep; shells exploded all around us. Sheridan yelled ‘We are going to be killed!’ I told him to press on the gas and keep going! We arrived safely at the CP. The German tanks were lobbing shells into the village. About 200 yards from us a shell made a direct hit on a house and set it on fire, and a Frenchman, his wife, and about three children, hand in hand, came running out of the house. That was the last I saw of them. Sheridan and I walked into the center of the village to locate Cpl. Allard and Pvt. Burden. I soon found out that we held the village, but the Germans held the high ground. You could see their tanks spread out on the hills.
A shell exploded in the center of the village and killed a horse. The starving villagers came running out of the houses carrying knives and in about five minutes that horse was cut up and carried away. The shelling became very heavy, and Sheridan and I went into the basement of one of the houses. There were two GI’s and three Frenchmen in there. After about twenty minutes, the shelling stopped. Sheridan and I went outside, and all hell broke loose. GI’s were running in all directions! German tanks followed by infantry were firing point blank into the houses. Sheridan and I took off, running back to the CP. We opened the door of the barn and went inside; Pvt. Burden was on the floor. His chest had been shot away … Sgt. Frye had a small black book in his hand and he was praying over the body of Burden. Burden’s eyes were closed and he was in shock. … Sgt. Rief was sitting in the jeep at the radio, and Cpl. Baldwin was standing guard, rifle in hand. Just then a tiger tank pulled up outside our barn. Sgt. Rief said ‘I am going to send a message to Regt.’ I said ‘Go ahead, the noise of the tank will cover the noise of the jeep motor.’ Rief radioed to Regt to send tanks and TD’s to Farebersviller at once. The Regt operator came back with ‘Repeat the message.’ The tiger shut down it’s motor, so we had to shut down the radio. Someone from the tank called out ‘this is Capt. Smith – everything is all right; come on out!’ I said ‘that is not Capt. Smith! Capt. Smith was CO of K Co.’ About 20 minutes later, the tank started up it’s motor and left. I heard the roar of more tanks, and peeped out the barn door just as an American tank from the 702nd Tank Battalion pulled up outside our barn.
I told Sgt. Rief to get help for Burden, and Pvt. Sheridan to come with me and stand guard while I repaired the wire lines in front of the barn destroyed by the tanks. Sheridan went across the street and stood beside a pile of German land mines, and I knelt down in front of the barn and started to repair the lines. Someone from the tank called out ‘Pillinger!’ I looked up and starring down at me from the turret of the tank was Marty Doyle, an old friend from Germantown, Pennsylvania. I did not know he was with the 702nd. After a brief conversation, I went back to work. You could still see the German tanks on the hill. An American captain and five men walked past me and got into a German truck that was parked on a driveway next to the house. I continued repairing the wire, when suddenly there was a loud explosion, and I was flung against the side of the building. I thought the tanks had opened up on us, and when the dust cleared, I saw the captain and some of his men running around the truck. They had backed into the pile of mines. I ran over – Sheridan was on the ground, the top of his head blown off … I got him into a jeep and sent him back to the aid station. I then got orders to withdraw my men from the village. The 318th covered our withdrawal. The next day, Sgt. Willis informed me that both Pvt.’s. Sheridan and Burden had died. A few days later, an article appeared in ‘Stars and Stripes’…”
A Village Lies Still in Death After War Hurtles Through
By Jimmy Cannon
Stars and Stripes Staff Writer
“With 80th INF. DIV, Dec 3. The dead hold Farebersviller now. Once the enemy did, and then we came. But they returned, and so did we. Today only the dead are there. The fish in the shallow creek are the only living things in the town, which lies prostrate in the basin between the disfigured hills. “We got into town at 10:30 AM and by dark we had driven them out,” said Lt. Col. William J. Borston, of Ft. Worth, commanding the Third Battalion of the 317th Inf. Regt. “I was in my CP when it happened,” Borston said, “The tanks came through the fog that had sprung up like a suddenly recruited German ally. The infantry followed spraying fire like insane gardeners with deadly hoses.
Returned With Tanks
I didn’t have a runner, so I took off for the regiment and came back with the tanks,” Borston said. “In the streets, the voices of the enemy shouted, “Col. Smith says its okay to surrender, Yanks.” “Col. Borston came back riding on a tank and shot the first three Germans he saw with his Tommy gun,” said Maj. E.S. Barszaz, of Pittsfield, Mass., executive officer In a barn across from the CP. S/Sgt. Graydon A. Rief, of Cincinnati, sat working at his radio as Germans battered at the door and called for him to surrender. “They made it bend, but they couldn’t break it. The funny thing was that the door wasn’t even locked,” said Rief.”
Three enlisted men reportedly transferred in from C Co. Macon Grimes and Tom Taylor to the hospital.
30 November 1944
The defensive positions west and NW of Farebersviller were strengthened. A Co. moved to a position a mile west of the town to link up with the 319th right flank in the area known locally as the Knebusch. Artillery fire in both directions continued throughout the day. Still no letup to the cold and wet weather. Macon Grimes returned to duty. Milton Perkins, Robert Dixon, and William Davis WIA. Frank Kubik, John Revak, and Melvin Onweller to hospital. One man to 80th Div confinement, and two reported AWOL. Despite the rapidly changing situation throughout the month, Regt supply services had reached a level of efficiency that even provided for the showing of movies. Theatres were set up in Serrieres, Lixierres, and Manoncourt early in the month, and in Faulquemont and Cites de Charbonnages later. Red Cross girls were serving coffee and donuts in Manoncourt, Holocourt, and Guenviller. 318th Regiment casualties in November were 1023: 164 KIA, 774 WIA, and 85 MIA. The enemy POW total had reached 2767, with 1465 taken in November, and known enemy dead for the month totaled 120.
1-3 December 1944
The weather finally cleared. The Regiment maintained its positions and patrolled enemy lines in preparation for the attack per Field Order No.19, issued 2 Dec at 1300 to “attack the high ground NE of Farebersviller on 4 Dec with 1 regiment (318) reinforced.” This was to be a limited objective attack in conjunction with an overall XII Corps move eastward. The German forces, estimated to number about 600 men, were positioned on the east and north of the town. The overall offensive was to include the 26th, 35th and 80th Infantry Divisions and the 4th and 6th Armored Divisions. A 26th Division GI, Pfc. Bruce Egger, a few miles to the 80th Division right, wrote home on the 1st: Everybody here lives in hope. Hopes the war will be over soon and that they will still be alive when it does end. Everybody talks about what he is going to do when he gets back to the states, about their children, wives, and sweethearts and you know that some of them won’t be going back. Don’t even know if you are going back yourself…. I know what it’s like to be hunted now, and be glad to see the end and beginning of each day and be glad you are still alive. By 2 December the 318th had established a line from the wooded heights known as the Knebusch, NW of Farebersviller, south across the St. Avold – Farebersviller road, through Henriville and eastward toward Farschviller. On the following day, preparatory to the scheduled attack, the 319th relieved elements of the 318th north of the road, and the 6th Armored Division those east of Henriville, allowing the 1st and 2nd Battalions of the 318th to concentrate in the area between the St. Avold road and Henriville. 80 rounds of enemy artillery were fired on the Henriville area at 1135 on the morning of the 3rd. Day and nighttime patrols had been sent out frequently during the 1st and the 2nd to identify the best approaches for the attack, and locate crossing points for the tanks and enemy strong points along the raised railroad bed.
Units of the 17th SS Panzer Grenadier Div, badly damaged in earlier fighting around Metz, established their line from the north to the south of Farebersviller. Many of their estimated 1500 replacements had been draftees from Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and Poland, of questionable loyalty to Germany and generally low morale. The defensive positions took good advantage flooded creeks and the raised railroad bed west of the town. On the right of the enemy line was a battery of four 88’s located to the north of Cocheren. General Patton noted that the replacement situation had become “extremely bad.” The 3rd Army was short eleven thousand men, which translated to rifle companies operating at 55% of their normal strength. For the second time in as many days he ordered a 5% levy on non-essential Corps and Army personnel. John Grooms and Earl Smith returned to duty. Everett Radio and Sol Cohen to hospital. All three C Co transfers of 29 Nov were reported AWOL, and the 27 Nov AWOL was under arrest in Nancy. A Stars and Stripes report on, Dec. 2, announced tons of supplies now pouring into the port of Antwerp, fully operational now for several days and reducing the link to the front from ” a 500-mile truck haul to a 100-mile train ride.” The Boston Herald on the following day reported 3rd Army troops across the Saar on 3 December. Elements of the 95th Division had crossed and secured a mined bridge at Saarlautern before it could be blown and established a bridgehead. Street fighting continued in the city against the troops of Heinrich Himmler’s Volkssturm, many not in uniform-wearing armbands to identify them. A second 3rd Army crossing was made eight miles to the south. In the Pacific, 20th Air Force B29’s flying from Saipan bombed Tokyo for the fifth time.
4 December 1944
Monday. It was raining again. Our 1st Bn, of the 318th, with B Co. 702nd Tank Battalion in support, jumped off on schedule at 0730, preceded by a heavy artillery preparation lasting more than an hour. Continuous fire from the mortars of the 319th reserve company and all three of the 318th heavy weapons companies, direct fire from Co B, 808th TD Bn, and 15 .50 caliber MG’s of the 319th was directed at the objectives until they were taken in order to give maximum protection to the advancing GI’s. The high ground northeast of the town was the initial objective. Companies B and C attacked through the town against medium resistance. Their progress was at first impeded by the natural obstacles of muddy ground, the raised railroad bed running along the western side of the town, and flooded creek at its base. Company B of the 305th Engineering Bn quickly constructed a treadway bridge across the creek to permit passage of the motorized elements who were reported across at 1038. By 0900 the two rifle companies had gained the elevation north of the town known as the Schallberg while A Co, as the reserve company, moved along the sheltered western slope of hill 316, the Winterburg, overlooking the road, railroad, and the stream running northward through the valley toward Cocheren. No tanks or assault guns had been used to support the German defense, although artillery concentrations were fired on various locations in the regimental zone from a battery located south of Bousbach, about four miles NE of Farebersviller, and a battery of three 150 mm howitzers near Diebling, about three miles due east. The 75 mm anti-tank guns of the 3rd and 4th Co.’s of the 17th SS AT Bn were all destroyed near Farebersviller, and two 150 mm howitzers and four AT guns manned by the 13th Co, 38th SS Panzergrenadier Regt. ran out of ammunition and were captured by the 2nd Bn near Theding.
By 1100, B and C Co.’s were crossing the road running from Cocheren to Theding through the valley SE of Cocheren and about two miles north of Farebersviller. By 1325 they had occupied their final objective, hill 342, a steep bluff northeast of Cocheren known locally as the “Herapel,” overlooking the village below, and were digging in. A Co., advanced along the hillside parallel to the Farebersviller-Cocheren road to cover the road on their left and provide support to the advance of B and C Co.’s if called upon. The weapons platoon was deployed behind the rifle platoons in the usual manner. Russ Mitchell recalls setting up the gun on the slope to fire on a building at the base of the hill to clear it of German troops retreating from Farebersviller who had taken refuge inside. The company CP was then set up in the building, presumed to be le Moulin Bas, or, the Lower Mill. The rifle platoons moved up to the village and, meeting no organized resistance, cleared it of the scattered enemy troops that remained, taking 34 POW’s, and established defensive positions there. The weapons platoon remained a short distance south of Cocheren where they set up an outpost in the vicinity of a cave-like opening – possibly a mine entrance – at the base of the bluff east of the road. Russ remembered returning to the CP for the night when the outpost was withdrawn after dark, and felt certain they passed no other buildings which seems to confirm le Moulin Bas as the location of the CP as it was the last building along the road south of the village of Cocheren. The “cave” opening he remembered as being a natural opening – “definitely not anything constructed” – that could be entered by stooping a little. The battery of four 88’s north of the town, manned by the 2nd Battery, 17th SS AA Bn, and with only AA ammunition at their disposal, was overrun, with only one POW taken. Company commander, Capt. Otto Schultz was awarded the BSM for meritorious service at Cocheren.
The primary opposing force at Farebersviller, the 17th SS Div, had recently undergone a piecemeal reorganization while still in the line to offset the losses incurred at Metz. Many of the troops had received little combat training. In one instance, an entire company of medics had been stripped of their armbands and thrown into the line as infantry. On the right of the 1st Bn, the 2nd, with A Co. 702nd Tank Battalion and A and C Cos. 610 Tank Destroyer Battalion., moved south of Farebersviller to the Bruskir farm then north toward the village of Theding, east of the Schallberg, against heavy automatic weapons fire. Clearing the town by 0930, they entered the woods north of the town by 1100, and occupied their objective, Hill 373 (Mt. de Theding), by 1145, overlooking Folkling at the base of the hill to the north. Both battalions commenced to organize their defenses of the ground taken. Roadblocks were set up to cover highway D29 running north to Forbach in anticipation of a possible counterattack by the retreating German troops from that area. At 1510 the 2nd Bn received orders to set up defensive positions on Mt. de Theding covering approaches from the north and NE, and on the roads into the village from the north, west, and south. The 3rd Bn moved up to Theding from its position in reserve near Seingbouse at 1815.
Extract from Bob Murrell’s 318th Infantry History: “The mission of the regiment, in line with a coordinated attack by CT 319 and the 6th Armored Division, was to clear the towns and surrounding high ground of Farebersviller, Theding, and Kochern (alt.: Cocheren). According to plan, the attack was to begin at 0730, 4 December 1944 with the 1st Bn on the left, 2nd Bn on the right and the 3rd Bn in reserve, preceded by both Corps and Division artillery preparation, by concentrations from mortars of all organic heavy weapons companies of CT 318 as well as mortars of the reserve Bn of CT319, and by direct fire from B Co, 808 Tank Destroyer Bn. This artillery fire was kept on the hill objectives until just before the troops started their attack, effectively protecting their advance through the low spots, including crossing the swollen creek. Co.’s A and C, 610 TD Bn were attached to the 2nd Bn. A and B Co.’s 702nd Tank Battalion were in support as their usual attachment. The 305th Combat Engineer Bn was attached to this regiment and built, during the first hours of the attack, a treadway bridge over the creek, which allowed the tanks to continue their close support of the infantry. The operation was one of the most successful this regiment had undertaken, and was executed completely according to plan. The commendation received from the Commanding General, 80th Infantry Division, Major General H.L. McBride, attests to the efficient planning, coordination and superb execution. 60 casualties resulted [later reports raised this figure to 100]…. the enemy suffered at least 100 casualties and 197 were taken prisoner.”
An order from Division HQ at 1815 read: “Hercules 6 directs all tanks in NS defile vicinity of Kochern move to a quarry … substitute TD’s if necessary at road blocks. Tanks so located should keep radio alert throughout night in leaders vehicles. This is approved to keep tanks from being caught in defile. G-2 looks for some possible CA from Forbach. -McVickar” This area has been identified as the road from Theding to Cocheren, along which the 6th Armored Division was advancing, in the valley north of the Schallberg. Late afternoon found Pfc. Wignall, now acting as the squad leader of the one machine gun in his section, Sgt. Jim Jameison, actually the squad leader, but covering as section leader in the absence of the recently wounded Paul Barton, and one or two other men, standing near the opening of a cave alongside the road into Cocheren, engaged in setting up the position to cover the road. Suddenly an explosion sent most of the men quickly to cover. Sgt. Jameison quickly sought the relative safety of the cave, not realizing at the moment that he had been hit, and could not later recall whether he had crawled in alone, when a swiftly following second round exploded just outside the opening filling the cave opening with dirt and smoke. The force of the first blast had knocked Bill Wignall to the ground, apparently unconscious, with wounds from shell fragments in his left thigh and hip that he would never be aware of. Sgt. Jamieson had been badly wounded in the leg below his knee by the fire, which he described as two blasts of direct fire, probably from a tank, as he felt certain it was of a larger caliber than the 57mm anti-tank guns. Jim was able to move to the rear to the battalion aid station on his own. He subsequently spent a month in a hospital in France, then another three in England, before returning to the outfit only a couple of weeks before the war ended. He remembered one of the other men coming into the aid station later with a shrapnel wound to his face, but knew nothing of what might have happened to any of the others.
Russ Mitchell was setting up the .30 cal. machine gun on the road and crawled to Bill from the gun position about 100 feet away and northward of the cave, to assist. He pulled him to a more sheltered position in a depression below the cave opening against the possibility of additional fire, and sent a runner back to the CP for help. He removed Bill’s pack in order to make him more comfortable, but remembers that he could get no response from him, and in the failing light could not determine where or how badly he had been hurt. This would place the time at about 1600. Darkness had fallen before the ambulance arrived. Burt Kellerstedt had joined the weapons platoon in mid-November, and had only the day before made Pfc. He was removing demolition charges from the railroad tracks a short distance from the cave entrance, and remembered at least one round, possibly two, of heavy caliber direct fire that appeared to have gone right into the opening as smoke and debris were pouring out immediately afterward. He thought it might have been an anti-tank gun, but in the confusion of all that was going on couldn’t be sure. He recalled the cave as being about at the level of the railroad bed, penetrating the hillside for a distance of eight or ten feet and connecting to a gallery running several more feet to the right. He remembered as many as a half dozen rifle shots being fired into the position from an undetermined source moments before the heavier fire came in.
Jim Jamieson and Burt Kellerstedt share the opinion that the source of the fire was American. Russ Mitchell was less certain, but felt it was very possible. The attack through Farebersviller had carried the 1st Battalion forward of most US troops in the area, and the location on the lower slope of the Winterburg was exposed to fire from several US firing points while protected from most of those of the enemy. There seems to be no doubt that the fire was direct – that is, fired on a line at a visible target as opposed to indirect as with artillery fired over intervening obstructions to land on a target.. There is no mention in the available reports of heavy caliber enemy weapons in the town of Cocheren itself other than the AA installation later captured north of it, and the surviving German troops had withdrawn in the direction of Forbach and Saarbrucken with their equipment. The most common of the German artillery weapons, and one that could be laid for direct fire, was the dreaded “88” which made a distinctive coughing sound when fired that would probably have been recognizable to veterans Jamison and Mitchell, if not to recently arrived Kellerstedt. At 1515 the 314th Field Artillery Bn., one of the four comprising the 80th Division Artillery, moved up from Guenviller from which it had been firing in support of the attack, and arrived at Farebersviller a half hour later. On the following day the presence of a “direct fire weapon” was reported in Nassweiller, about a mile and a half to the NW of Cocheren and having a commanding view of the town and a good bit of the valley south of it. Enemy artillery batteries had been located near Oeting and NE of Folking on the enemy retreat route towards Saarbrucken, and sporadic fire continued to fall on St. Avold, Farebersviller, Cocheren, and other locations in the area. A POW reported the presence of a 50 mm AT gun now at Oeting. Direct fire from these locations, however, would have been blocked by the interceding hills.
Bill Kuhl, Sebewaing, Michigan, recalls: “…We went through a wooded area to move up to some high ground overlooking a valley, and on the other side of that valley was Germany. While moving through the woods we took some heavy artillery fire from the Germans. A lot of the GI’s got hit with shrapnel. I don’t know how many were killed, as we moved out of the woods as fast as possible and dug our foxholes on the forward slope of the hill. …” At 2250 one of several time bombs the Germans had planted in St. Avold before their retreat exploded causing an estimated 50 casualties in the 633rd AAA Bn. Jim Jamieson, Stanley Kenetski and Roscoe Combs to hospital with wounds. William Wignall and Seigal Mercer KIA. The 26 Nov AWOL returned to duty.
5 December 1944
One of our 1st Bn patrols became the first 80th Div troops to enter German territory.
7 December 1944
Thursday; the third anniversary of Pearl Harbor. XII Corps ordered the 80th Division to a rest area after 122 days of continuous combat. CCB of the 6th Armored Division relieved the 1st and 2nd Battalions, who withdrew to the rest area at Freyming, NE of St. Avold. Preparations were begun for the next major effort: the assault on the Siegfried Line. The anticipated 3rd Army drive into the Fatherland was abruptly halted when the Germans counterattacked through the Ardennes Forest on 16 Dec in what was to become known as the Battle of the Bulge. On the 19th, the 80th was diverted to the north for the relief of the crossroads town of Bastogne for which the 1st and 2nd Battalions would subsequently be awarded the Distinguished Unit Citation for being the first infantry units to break through the German encirclement, with elements of the 4th Armored, to contact the beleaguered 101st Airborne Division troops. At 0900 on 25 December a five-man patrol from the 2nd Bn lead by Lt. Walter Carr made the initial contact with the men of the 101st. The boys were not home by Christmas as so many had optimistically predicted in the early fall. In the minds of many today the history of WW II in Europe is D-Day, the Battle of the Bulge, and the End. The reality was far less abbreviated. D-Day was followed by three months of brutal, close quarter fighting in the hedgerows of Normandy, before the Allied Breakout, then another three months of fighting in more open terrain, more favorable for maneuverability, equally vicious for its sudden, sharp exchanges, to approach the German border defenses of the Siegfried Line, then the Bulge – another month – and nearly four more to finish it. Eleven months of hell, from which thousands of men never came back, and many thousands more were to bear the scars, some visible, some not, for the rest of their lives.
During WW II, according to current (1997) Department of Defense figures, 16,353,659 men and women served in the US military forces, and 1,078,162 became casualties during the war; 292,131 killed in combat, an additional 115,185 deaths from “other causes,” and 670,846 wounded or missing, many in far off places never heard of before, and seldom since – some so small as to appear on only the largest scale maps. The US Army lost over 100,000 killed in action, and well over 400,000 wounded, missing, or prisoners of war in the year 1944 alone. Pfc. William H. Wignall, 31427326, was one of the combat dead, killed at the end of the three month period between the Breakout and the Bulge during most of which the 80th Division fought its way across the provinces of Lorraine and Alsace to the German border; a distance of little more than 60 miles from Commercy on the Meuse River. It seems most probable that he was killed instantly by the concussion of the blast from the exploding round. While his interment record notes the cause of death as “GSW left leg and hip,” and an English cent among the coins found in his pants pocket shows evidence of having been hit by a small metal fragment, Russ Mitchell found no obvious sign of injury upon reaching him, and it is unlikely that the massive bleeding that would have been necessary for such a wound to be fatal in such a short time could have escaped his notice. Originally buried in the U.S. Military Cemetery at Limey, France, a few miles west of Pont a Mousson, his remains were moved in 1949 to his final resting place in the Lorraine Cemetery at St. Avold, France, Plot K, Row 9, Grave 12.”
Jeff Wignall is the son of PFC William H. Wignall. Thanks to his tireless efforts to research his father’s war experience, we now have a clearer picture of the battle for Farebersviller. His father, I’m sure, is proud of him. I salute him!
“The final attack to the Saar River was launched on December 4. In preparation for the drive, the Sixth relinquished its zone to the 35th Division, and it sideslipped north to advance between the 35th and the 80th. The division objective was the high ground northwest of Sarreguemines just short of the Saar River. The 212th moved to its pre-attack position, seven miles north at Cappel, on December 2. It was to be in Combat Command A and in direct support of the 80th infantry. The attack went very well after a slow start, and all the objectives were taken before noon December 6. After a busy first day at Cappel, the battalion displaced just before dark to Farschviller, and had to move again early the next morning to keep within supporting range of the forward elements. This move took it December 5 to positions around Diebling, where A Battery fired the first battalion volley into Germany at 1121. Here it was learned that the division would again establish a defensive position in its zone, which extended now from Sarreguimines west almost to Forbach; and on December 7 the battalion moved east to Ippling to be in the center of the 5th Infantry’s defensive zone. At Diebling, November 6 [December? — BF], General Grow awarded Bronze Star Medals to Lt’s. Arthur M. Frederick and Elmer J. Gruber for meritorious service. “
From Harry Nutting via his Son, Ken: “I joined Company I, 317thRegiment, 80th Infantry Division during the last week of October, 1944. With the exception of a few small firefights and holding actions, I hadn’t seen a great deal of action until November 28,1944 when we were ordered to attack the small village of Farebersviller, France. My experiences during the attack on Farebersviller remain to this day my most unforgettable memory of my time spent as an American Infantryman. We entered the village in force about 1030 hours and succeeded in driving the Germans out of the village by dark. I was posted in a house on the outskirts of the village with three other men whom I did not know when the Germans counterattacked. The German counterattack was heavy and our position was in danger of being overrun. As the Germans attacked my position with hand grenades and small arms fire, I fired my BAR at the Germans wounding at least two. Looking around, I noticed that two of the men posted with me had already left the house, By then, the house was surrounded by the enemy who were throwing hand grenades through the doorway. One of the grenades killed the other American soldier and I was wounded in the left arm, side, and left leg by grenade shrapnel. I then ran further into the house and hid under a sink in the entryway. Hiding under the sink was in itself no small feat considering the difficulty of trying to fit a 6’4” frame into such a small space. The Germans entered the house looking for Americans but did not find me. They were so close to me at times that I could have reached out with my hand and tripped them. After searching the house and coming to the conclusion that the dead GI was the only one in the house, the Germans left. After spending most of the night there, I left my hiding spot and made my way to the basement of the house where I discovered several old French civilians who gave me some food. Not knowing exactly what to do or where to go, I decided to leave the building and try to make my way back to the American lines. This decision would ultimately get me in even more trouble.
I left the building and went across the back yard. At that point, I heard voices, which I thought were that of my own comrades having a “bull” session. I ran into another building where the voices were coming from and much to my surprise discovered the voices belonged to about a dozen German soldiers, who had thoughtfully left their weapons stacked against a wall. I guess they were as surprised as I was for they didn’t react for several moments, most likely thinking that I had a squad of men outside with me. I made a quick exit and ran down the street with bullets flying all around me. Thankfully, their aim was poor and by the time they came out onto the street, I had ducked into another house. I climbed down a ladder in the house to the stable area in the cellar. The Germans made a search of the house but never looked in the cellar where I was. To my great surprise, I found another American GI also hiding in the cellar. I don’t remember his name but I do recall that he was a cook transferred to the Infantry and that his home was on Long Island, NY. After spending five days in hiding, and being hungry, we decided on the morning of December 3 to leave the village. We were able to find our way back to the American lines by listening for and following the sound of the artillery shells coming in. After reporting to my outfit and Intelligence headquarters at St. Avold, I was send to the hospital for treatment of my wounds and trench foot. Upon recovery from my wounds, I rejoined my outfit in February 1945. Later, I was seriously wounded by 88 shell fragments fired from a German Tiger tank. I was hospitalized in Luxembourg and England and eventually evacuated to the U.S. for further treatment. I was discharged from the hospital at Buzzard’s Bay, MA in November 1945.
Because of the five days that I spent in the village of Farebersviller, I have been christened the “mayor of Farebersviller” by PNC E.E. Bredbenner. A report of my experiences in Farebersviller was sent to the present day Mayor, Laurent Kleinhentz. On January 5, 1995, I received a letter from Mayor Kleinhentz which read as follows: “Owing to your outstanding acts of heroism during the battle of Farebersviller in December 1944, I and my town council would like to appoint you honorary mayor of Farebersviller”. In addition to the letter and proclamation from Mayor Kleinhentz, I was presented the Gold Medal of Honor and the Gold Certificate of Honor for the liberation of Farebersviller by Mayor Kleinhentz at the 1995 80th Division reunion in Charlotte, NC.”
Harry F. Nutting
I Co., 317th Regiment, 80th Division, Infantry
From Ken Aladeen, AT Co., 318th Regiment: “My recollection of the time spent at St. Avold would put us there slightly later in December than the dates you show. We arrived there near the 15th and were told that we would probably spend Christmas there. We were all badly under strength and short of equipment. At that time R & R meant replacements and re-equip. On the second or third day in St. Avold we were ordered to mount up in trucks. Since we were not self sufficient in vehicles, we were given a Quartermaster Trucking Co. to move us. The first part of the trip we headed south toward the 7th Army front. It was thought at first that the German thrust into Belgium was a feint and that the real attack would be to the south where the weather was much more favourable for both the foot troops and armor. That same day it became obvious that the attack in the north, was, indeed, the main effort of the Germans. From the information you have supplied, I assume that St. Avold was taken several days before we arrived there. The last orders we had before being sent to St. Avold were to establish a “Static Defence” line and wait for the 2nd Armored Cavalry to pull through our positions and take up the attack in front of us. By the end of the first day, half frozen from riding for hours on the open trucks in bitter cold, we were committed to what eventually became known as the battle for Bastogne. I realize that I have not answered any of your questions. We were fragmented at that point. Patton had spread us so thin that we were extremely vulnerable – as your account points out. I must add that we were all proud of the “Seven-O-Deuce Red Devils” and their lumbering inadequate M-4 Sherman tanks were always a welcome sight. It is a shame that the Sherman had to be sent in against the more powerful Mark V Panther. It was not a fair match.”
From the 305th Combat Engineers history: “On we went. Nied Francaise, Nied Allemande, to Faulquemont, then St. Avold, where many treadway bridges were put in under fire. B Company will long remember its Bailey bridges and assault boat-bridge at Faulquemont. The road from Faulquemont to Tatting gave A Company a big headache with its craters, blown culverts, shell holes, land mines and antitank ditches. The Division climaxing our drive from the Moselle took St. Avold. For the month of November 2 EM were KIA, and 12 EM and 2 Officers were WIA. Bronze Stars were awarded LT. Col. A. E. McCollam, Major Robert M. Rawls, PFC Florian Mikulski and Pvt. John T. Rzasa.
December 1944 – The battalion continued to operate under from Headquarters of the 80th Infantry Division. Each one of our companies supported one of the division’s Combat Teams. 1-9 December – East of St. Avold, France. The attack that was started 8 November 1944 continued. The division’s original plan was to move east from the vicinity of St. Avold and establish a bridgehead east of the Saar River, between Saarbrucken and Saargemund. Engineers continued to clear all obstacles and continued supporting the division advance. Due to other United States units moving up toward Saargemund along the east Side of the Saar River, and due to heavy enemy opposition in the vicinity of Farebersviller, our main attack shifted more to the North, toward Forbach. During this period our main efforts were expended in clearing various obstacles. Roads were repaired and maintained, craters and shell hole were filled, roads were cleared of mines, abatis and other roadblocks, culverts and bridges were repaired, bypasses were built for emergency use, and debris and rubble had to be cleared in towns. The battalion constructed three Class 40 steel Treadway bridges, one Class 40-80 foot Bailey bridge and one 2-way Class 70 fixed timber trestle bridge. In addition to blocking the roads, the Germans had blown all railroad bridges and cut the rails very badly. Only where this actually interfered with the movement of the division was our engineers concerned. One example was a blown railroad overpass in Merlrbach, blocking an important road. This was a sizeable clearance job, done by Company “C”. The Germans had left time bombs in St. Avold, and the battalion spent much time checking public buildings and utilities. We were called upon to fight a fire started by one of the explosion and to clear rubble. Victims were rescued, dead bodies extricated and equipment salvaged from five blown buildings. Many aerial bombs (used as explosives), duds, and large quantities of explosives and ammunition were cleared and destroyed.”
From my own book, “Patton’s Troubleshooters”: “The remnants of the 36th Division retreating in a Northeasterly direction held the high ground Northwest and East of St. Avold, had succeeded in holding our attack toward St. Avold from the East during the afternoon of the 26th with heavy artillery fire and enfilading machine gun fire. By the morning of the 27th, all high ground south of St. Avold was in our hands and the enemy defense of the town collapsed. With the end of the defense of St. Avold, all organized resistance ceased until our advance elements reached the line of the Mauderbach River. Here the 17th SS Division Recon. Battalion reinforced by elements of the 38th SS Regiment of the 17th SS Division using the town of Pfarpebersweiler (Farebersviller) as a strong point succeeded in halting our advance. The morning of the 29th, a counter-attack by the enemy was repulsed and our lines were established on the high ground west of the Mauderbach River. After the loss of St. Avold, the 36th Division withdrew its remnants to the North and established a defensive line running from Cite D’Hopital through Merlrbach to Forbach. This line along the north flank of the 80th Division zone of advance was tied in with the position of the 17th SS Division East of the Mauderbach River. This was the enemy position at the end of the month.”
From the 702nd Tank Battalion’s AGO Records: “Company ‘A’ was involved in some very heavy fighting late in the month. It caught up with the eastward moving 317th on the 28th and supported the Third Battalion assault on Farebersviller. On the night of the 28th, the Germans counter-attacked the American position in this village and practically decimated the Third Battalion. ‘A’ Company counter-attacked in turn and reestablished the lines. In combat in and around Farebersviller, four tanks were knocked out by high velocity weapons, either AT guns or assault guns. One of these tanks, an M4E2, received nine direct hits from a ‘souped-up’ 75 AT at a range of about two hundred yards, without any penetrations or casualties. …After a determined effort to hold the Maginot Line, enemy resistance weakened, and the battle almost became a road march. At Farebersviller, enemy strength was re-energized and extensive American losses resulted. This action caused the battalion its heaviest tank losses for the month, but at best it could not be construed as to be much more than an action to delay our attack on the Saar River line.”
Of the action of the last six days of November involving “A” Company, the company diary tells: “25 November ’44 – Town of Faulquemont – Tanks all left for the attack at 7:00 A.M., but did not get anywhere. The first time they tried, the fields were too soft and started to bog down. Tried to get around a different way, but ran into mines. The third time they tried to get around, they ran into a awful big tank trap that went for miles and so they came back here at 5:00 P.M. T/4 Barr duty to hospital. Sgt. Deems to our Battalion Medics. All men upon returning receiving a portion of liquor from the Commanding Officer. 26 November,’44 – Town of Faulquemont – The tanks left for Teting at 3:30 P.M., arrived at 5:00 P.M., the trains arrived at 6:00 P.M. 27 November ’44 – Town of Teting – One platoon of tanks left at 6:30 A.M. for the attack the remaining platoons left for the attack at 10:30 A.M. All the tanks had to clear the woods by shelling it with 75 mm high explosives and 30 cal. Then continued until they came to a large and long tank trap in which they had to wait for the Engineers to bridge. Before the attack, the whole company stayed and also slept at a German (Army) concentration camp (a military barracks), all had wonderful beds. The camp was really the finest and modern in every respect. Sgt. Gerber received his tank from Battalion Maintenance. 28 November, ’44 – Town of Machern – Tanks left for attack at 4:30 A.M. Met very stiff opposition. Four tanks were hit by enemy fire. First one was Lt. Croxton’s, which was hit nine times. While dismounting the tank, T/4 Schuck twisted his knee. Sgt. Deem’s tank was hit next. Preston, the driver, was killed instantly. While dismounting, the crew was fired upon. Sgt. Deem was wounded in action in the abdomen. Connel was able to walk back to the Medics with his wound. McKinney was killed in action when halfway out of the Bog seat. S/Sgt. Larkin’s tank was hit twice by direct fire weapon. He was hit in the forehead with shrapnel. Sgt. Gerber’s tank didn’t suffer any casualties from being hit. Lt. Croxton’s tank was brought back by T/5 Winbrow when fog was low. 1st Sgt. Suglio went up to high ground and brought back Sgt. Deem and P.F.C. Kirtley to the aid station. Lt. Gifford’s platoon was sent out at 8:00 P.M. to stop a counter-attack. 29 November ’44 – Town of Sengbusch – Lt. Gifford’s platoon attacked Fairhaven and encountered a German tank, fired at it three times point blank. The shells bounced off the enemy tank and it pulled away out of sight. Lt. Gifford kept firing into the town. The Commanding Officer went out on several recon missions. The tank recovery went to pull Sgt. Deem’s tank out and was hit by A.P., knocking it out. Standing by were Lt. Brittan and T/5 Winbrow, both were hit due to enemy fire. All tanks pulled back to Machern at 6:00 P.M. in Division Reserve. Both T/5 Winbrow and Lt. Brittan duty to hospital. 30 November ’44 – Town of Machern – The whole company is here in town in Division Reserve with the 317 C.T. One platoon of ‘D’ Co. are back with us.”
From the 702nd Tank Battalion S-2 Journal: November 26; 9:32am-large explosion reported at Q244581-(radio message). 11:31am-German battery at Q267571. 4:10pm-intercepted radio message-1st Battalion, 118th Infantry Regiment with 100 to 200 men located at Q231555. 1st Battalion, 165th Regiment with 130 men located at 215565. Trains of 4th Company, 118th Regiment in Maulenneref 275571. 7:20pm-higher headquarters reports Germans moving in woods at Q255510, going into Vahlbersling(Q282503). 7:21pm-mine field at edge of woods at 164576. 7:30pm-30 Germans seen moving into woods at 268537 at 4:05pm. Movement in vicinity of 235541 has stopped. No Germans moving in Lelling. Germans moving around pillboxes on the high ground east of Lelling. 8:27pm-road mined at Q243543 and Q244546. Railroad bridge is blown at Q260547. Trees along road northeast of Volmont prepared for demolition.
November 27; 11:58am-road mined at 170630 to 179608. 1:12pm-German artillery falling at 267556, coming from an azimuth of 16 degrees from. 3:45pm-direct fire weapons fire in the vicinity of Machern. 5:00pm-Headache Blue has elements of R-87958 receiving artillery there from east. Midnight-St. Avold fell without a shot. Morale high.
November 28; Weather improving-rain has stopped. The ground is getting dry and solid. 12:25pm-German mortar at 318600, plus eight men moving behind. 1:00pm-move out for St. Avold. 1:36pm-Germans in the woods at 395563. 1:35pm-200 SS 37 apprentices and SS dug in around Farebersviller-one suspected tank in town-tank reported east of anti-tank guns. Arrived in St. Avold and set up Command Post. 7:30pm-from Message #3-reliable sources states Germans left thirty time bombs at St. Avold. Warning out to search all buildings.
November 29; 8:35pm-German tanks and infantry located at Toleda-tanks and infantry counterattacking “G” and “F” Company positions-concentrations falling on both company positions. 1:45pm-minefield south of road junction at 258639. 9:30pm-billets again searched for time bombs-30 supposedly left by Germans before retreating. Two bombs found-600 pounds of dynamite, with 5-6 day delay fuses. Midnight-no gains on Germans today.
November 30; 9:00am-to Medics, to get shrapnel hole patched up.”
On 28 November 1944, the tank company to which Cpl. Calvin W. Krum was assigned was given the mission of clearing a fortified town of the enemy. During the night there was sharp fighting and the tank in which Cpl. Krum was Gunner was sent out to repel a counter-attack. In the face of heavy hostile tank, anti-tank, mortar, and small arms fire at short range, he fired his tank guns continually and tellingly until his tank was hit five times by enemy fire and disabled. He refused to leave his post and the effect of the tank in position was such as to prevent an enemy advance and of invaluable aid in the accomplishment of the mission. Awarded the Bronze Star.
On 28 November 1944, the tank company to which Sgt. Vincent P. Jones was assigned participated as a member of a combat team, which had the mission of clearing a fortified town. Sgt. Jones, who was a Tank Commander, was injured when his tank was struck by enemy fire. Disregarding his wounds he continued in action after making necessary repairs to his damaged tank. Later that night, when a tank in the company was disabled by enemy fire, Sgt. Jones moved his tank forward to protect the evacuation of a wounded comrade. Sgt. Jones, by his constant vigilance, prevented any enemy advance and was of invaluable aid in the accomplishment of the mission. Awarded the Bronze Star.
On 28 November 1944, 1st Sgt. John A. Suglio was a member of a combat team attacking a hill position. During the assault, one of the tanks was hit by enemy fire. With utter disregard for his own personal safety and advancing heroically in the face of intense enemy mortar, small arms and anti-tank gunfire, 1st Sgt. Suglio proceeded to the disabled tank and rescued two crew members therefrom. He also carried two wounded infantrymen to a place of safety and made possible their evacuation to an aid station. Awarded the Silver Star.
During November, the 80th Division G-3 report states that three thousand nine hundred forty three Germans were captured, bringing the total number captured since becoming operational to nine thousand two hundred thirty seven Prisoners of War.
From the 80th Division G-2 A.A. report: “December 1st found the 80th Division on the north flank of the XII Corps drive across the Saar and towards the Siegfried Line. On the Division north flank, the remnants of the 36th German Infantry Division had established themselves on the high ground and heavy woods north of St. Avold, holding Cites D’ Hospital, Freyming and Merlrbach as strongpoints. To the east, the enemy held the high ground along the east bank of the Mauderbach River with the Reconnaissance Battalion of the 17th SS Division reinforced with battle groups from the 38th SS and 37th SS Regiments of the 17th SS Division. On the south flank of the division, south of the Nied Allemande River, the towns of Lixing and Laning were held by combat groups of the 17th SS Division reinforced with stragglers from the 48th Division and 559th Division. Outflanked by the attack of the U.S. 6th Armored Division towards Puttelange and the 80th Division drive along their north flank, these isolated units withdrew to join the rest of the 17th SS along the line of the Mauderbach River.
702nd Tank Battalion Headquarters and Service Company were located at Valmont as December opened. The Service Company Diary describes the first four days: “Friday, Dec. 1 – The ammo supply section is having difficulty with ‘D’ Co. The company was split with one platoon going to each medium company. This necessitated an extra truckload going to each medium company, but just when this was accomplished, ‘A’ and ‘B’ Companies sent their light platoons to the 80th Recon. This called for another change and then the light platoons came back to ‘A’ Company, calling for another switch. Some drivers are exasperated at loading and unloading in order to keep up with the situation. No money again today. We are puzzled as to whom we should blame. Last month we complimented the Finance Officer and Corporal Jansen was insulted. Now, do you want the blame Jansen? Tonight was clear for the first time in a week, and many formations of bombers were overhead.
Saturday, Dec. 2 – Well, the money finally arrived and everyone got his share. It takes quite some time to find all the personnel of Service Company, due to the spread-out conditions. Lt. Cicak went out to pay the men at other Companies. Capt. Roberts left for St. Avold at noon, to sit on the Board of two General Court Martial’s held by the 80th. Returning at 6:00 P.M., he went to H.Q. Co. to sit on an Officer Candidate Board. All personnel of the company received a typhus shot today. This was administered due to the increased findings of lice and ticks. A shower detail went to Faulquemont this morning and again this afternoon for hot showers. The kitchen received ‘B’ rations today, so we expect some better eats. S-4 issued some very nice wool knit sweaters today, and every man is now sporting one. T/S Borkus returned from the hospital this afternoon and rejoined the kitchen force.
Sunday, Dec. 3 – Capt. Roberts left early this morning to check supplies at all companies, preparatory to a new push. He reported about 1:00 P.M., completing his mission. After several days of clear weather, the rain came down again today. We had pork chops for dinner and they really hit the spot. Battalion H.Q. has requested a property check, and all sections are busy on a showdown. Sgt. Davis left this morning for a trip to the hospital, following orders from our Medics. Rumor has it that Davis has a bad ticker. Pvt. Laurencot also was sent back because of an infected foot. T/5 Stott drove the kitchen truck to Ordinance picking up a load of track grousers for Battalion Maintenance. Capt. Juckett is really putting out the work these days, with about ten medium tanks in for repairs today.
Monday, Dec. 4 – another push got off at dawn this morning, with good results. However, this afternoon reports came in that ‘A’ Company was hard hit. Following the attack, our trucks resupplied the tanks and several came back to refill. Showers were available today, so the kitchen truck was used to haul the men in for a clean up. This was the first chance our men have had to bathe in several weeks. Pvt. Rrandu was returned from special duty to H.Q. Company. Pvt. Flatand joined the company, having been reassigned from ‘C’ Company. T/5 Dunrohn returned from the hospital.”
From the S-2 Journal: December 1: “1:30pm-buildings in area checked for time bombs-two found so far. “C” Company broadcast for the populace to check for the same. 4:00pm-found some German town plans-saving it for future use.
December 2; 2:06pm-Haggle reports German small arms fire-shot up one of 1st Platoon’s jeeps in the vicinity of 373546 at 1:20pm. 2:08pm-one enemy anti-tank gun at 384554-five dismounted Germans seen in Laudershause. 3:37pm-twenty eight men observed moving on the road parallel to railroad east of Rozbruck-seemed to be entering town.
December 3; 11:15am-Heater reports men moving in the vicinity of 400583. 11:35am-Hamper White reports that at 11:30am, 8-10 troops moving about foxholes at 383572-also reports anti-tank gun going into position at 384522-also occasional troops. 7:00pm-Germans dug in at area south of Theding (Q385584), both sides of the road in the vicinity of Farschviller from Q389522 to Q393547 and Q384553. Outposts located in the vicinity of Hill 316.
December 4; 7:30am-attack taken off against Germans-“A” Company and “B” Company tanks with 318th Infantry. 10:20am-tanks in Loupersville-radio message from 80th Division. 10:38am-light German resistance reported from G-3, 80th Division. German artillery at 329608-report from artillery. 10:43am-anti-tank gun at 332611-radio report. Major James reports German anti-tank gun at 10:30am. 11:00am-battery at 443546-sent to 99 by radio (in clear). Three tanks at 443546 by artillery report, sent to 99. German resistance light-from radio, 6th Armored Division at 11:10am. Resistance light on front (radio report from XII Corps). 11:10am-tank column on road at 565402 (report to 99 and same). 11:30am-Henpeck firing on direct fire weapon in Thedinggen, 20 from 4th Company, 1797th Recon. Battalion. 11:30am-Bamboo captured ten Prisoners of War-beside Farschwiller at Q387553, from 3rd Company, 37th SS Regiment. 3rd Company in position on line running southeast from Farschweller for about 800 yards-approximately 80 men in the company strength. Mission was to defend the ground themselves, P.W. believes. Rest of his battalion in the same vicinity. No knowledge of artillery, as part of other units. Prisoner of War captured at 9:30am. 12:35pm-two rounds German artillery (estimated at 150mm) landed in the vicinity of Machern. 12:37pm-Prisoner of War from 7th Battalion, 17th Artillery Regiment claims 3rd Battalion at Grosbidstroff at Q485625. 2:01pm-railroad bridge(trestle) at R73272 heavily mined and booby trapped. 2:41pm-ten German tanks at 306616. 2:55pm-S-mines north of road at 378555. 3:18pm-German tanks previously reported-withdrawn, direction unknown. 8:00pm-German front lines; Merlrbach(Q3361), Rozbruck(Q3562), Bemsignhoff(Q3862). Germans retreated and resisted our attack from positions on east bank of railroad at Farschweiller.
December 5: 10:00pm-Germans being pushed out on all fronts-resistance light.
According to the “A” Company diary: “3 Dec., ’44 – Town of Machern; ‘C’ Company tank attached to us. Sgt. Lamb’s and Gerber’s tank came back from Battalion Maintenance today. P.F.C. Maar and Sgt. Brown from duty to the hospital with bad colds. Company is in Division Reserve. Commanding Officer had a meeting with all Tank Commanders concerning attack for tomorrow. Sgt. Gray from duty to the hospital, as of 23 Nov., ’44. All men at Ordinance were paid. Capt. McDermott received the Silver Star on the 30th of November ’44. S/Sgt. Szymanski received the Bronze Star on 22 Nov., ’44. Sgt. Vincent P. Jones received the Bronze Star on 30 Nov., ’44. Pvt. Collins from duty to the hospital with cramps in stomach. 4 December ’44 – Town of Machern; Tanks left for attack at 7:00 A.M. Lt. Springer went in place of Sgt. Brown as Tank Commander. Tanks crossed the bridge before noontime. Viewed P.F.C. McKinney’s body today, and it was pretty much mashed up. 1st Sgt. Suglio and T/5 Rider [M] viewed it.”
The 80th Division G-2 A.A. report describes the attack of the fourth: “On 4 December, the 80th Division launched a limited objective attack in conjunction with the attack to the east of the remainder of the XII Corps. The 17th SS defending along the high ground east of Mauderbach River was quickly driven back in the 80th Division sector and by afternoon the towns of Pfarrbersweiler (Farebersviller), Thedinggen and Rochers had been cleared of enemy and over two hundred P.O.W.’s taken. The following day, the 2nd Cavalry Group (attached to the 80th Division for the operation), cleared Freyming, Merlrbach and Rozbruck of remnants of the 36th German Division. Withdrawing to the East, the remnants of the 36th Division went into prepared positions around Forbach and outposted the high ground to the south of Forbach. While containing this position, the 80th Division was relieved and went into a rest area. When the 80th Division occupied St. Avold, an enemy agent surrendered himself to our front line units. Upon interrogation, the agent, an Alsatian, declared he had been sent to St. Avold to secure a hidden radio and report the effects of time bombs, which had been left in St. Avold. Search revealed the radio and two time bombs, one concealed in the city gas works and one in the artillery barracks. Extensive search failed to uncover any further bombs, however, during the period the 80th Division remained in St. Avold, a total of four time bombs detonated, totally destroying three buildings formerly occupied by Nazi Party Organizations, and a section of the Artillery Barracks.”
The 702nd Tank Battalion A.G.O. records best describe the action of the attack launched by the 80th Division, on December 4: “On the 4th, the 318th Infantry, reinforced with ‘A’ and ‘B’ Companies, had the mission of resuming the Division attack and capturing the limited objectives of Farebersviller, Machern, Thedinggen and the high ground to their immediate northeast. In the ensuing engagement, Company ‘B’ assaulted on the left (northwest) with the First Battalion, 318. Limited objectives for this assault were Farebersviller and Kochern. ‘A’ Company, with the Second Battalion attacked on the right (south to northeast) with Thedinggen and the high ground to its north to be taken. This high ground was held by elements of the 17th SS Panzer Grenadier Division, which had shown a recent return to life in stopping the onward surge of the 80th Division at Farebersviller on November 30. This division had just received 1,000 replacements from Prague. The infantry pushed off at 7:00 A.M., but the tanks needed bridges across the creek at Farebersviller before they could be used effectively. Lt. Nelson’s 3rd Platoon in ‘B’ Company did participate in the capture of Farebersviller, and had taken the town by 9:00 A.M. Both companies had crossed the river at 10:20 and immediately embarked on their supporting roles. At 11:00 A.M., ‘A’ Company was reported in Thedinggen, whereas ‘B’ Company tanks reached Kochern at 2:30. While on a reconnaissance for a supporting position for ‘A’ Company tanks on the hill above Thedinggen, Captain McDermott was wounded seriously by mortar fire and Lt. Gifford assumed command of the company. On taking all assigned objectives, the companies took up a defensive position; ‘A’ at Thedinggen and ‘B’ at Kochern. During the action, 135 prisoners were taken and three A.T. guns were destroyed. One Mark V tank was driven off. None of our tanks were damaged or knocked out. During the night, ‘B’ Company had tanks deployed as roadblocks, since the situation was very unstable in their areas. ‘B’ Company moved to Thedinggen the next day and ‘A’ Company returned to Machern.”
On December fourth, at “C” Company, Ed Wizda recorded: “Our tank recovery went out on two missions today, to help recover bogged-down tanks of ‘A’ and ‘B’ Companies. Today the company was proud to hear that the Bronze Star was awarded to Capt. Johnson, our Company Commander, who has been with us since our first day at Camp Campbell, Ky., and who intends to lead us through victory.”
Former Lt. “Slim” Rives, Co. B, 702nd Tank Battalion remembers: “The 318th and the 3rd Platoon, B Company, 702nd entered Farebersviller 4 December 1944. There was heavy artillery and mortar fire but little ground resistance. Lt. Al Nelson was commander of the 3rd Platoon. My platoon was assigned to take the town of Kochern where we had direct fire from a German tank or anti-tank gun. Amos Moore’s tank was hit, knocking out the front sprocket. No casualties.”
From the 80th Infantry Division Operational History, compiled by Bob Murrell: “The Division continued the attack to the east against enemy resistance on 28 November, 1944, gaining eight miles of ground. The 317th Infantry pushed far to the east, reaching Farebersviller by noon. The 1st Bn, in position on the high ground southeast of Lachambre, jumped off at 0730, meeting only scattered pockets of enemy. By 1010 elements of the 1st Bn occupied the vicinity of Hill 293. The advance was continued against moderate opposition and by 1515; the Battalion had advanced to the high ground south and southeast of Farebersviller. The 2nd Bn on the left of the 3rd Bn attacked to the east at 0730, 28 November 1944. By 1015 it had reached the high ground north of Seingbouse and by 1515 that afternoon, had advanced to the vicinity of Hill 316 where the advance was halted for the day. At 0830 the 3rd Bn jumped off with the 2nd Bn on its left and the 1st Bn on its right. By 1015 the town of Seingbouse was cleared of the enemy and elements of the Battalion had advanced east of the town to where small arms and anti-aircraft fire were encountered. However, the advance was continued and leading elements reached the outskirts of Farebersviller, where bitter fighting developed. The enemy was driven out of the town, but at 1950 they launched a counterattack and retook the eastern part of Farebersviller. Enemy resistance was fanatical and the 3rd Bn was engaged in house-to-house fighting when darkness fell. The 318th Infantry remained in Division Reserve on 28 November 1944. The 2nd and 3rd Battalions 318th Infantry, in reserve at Longeville Les St. Avold, entrucked at 1100 to move to St. Avold. Detrucking there shortly after noon, the 2nd Bn outposted the town. The 1st Bn, which had moved into St. Avold the night before, moved from the town during the afternoon 28 November, to Guenviller, closing in at 1730. During the night 28-29 November,, the 1st Bn moved to the high ground east of Seingbouse to form a defense in depth in case of enemy breakthrough at Farebersviller where the 317th Infantry was engaged with the enemy.
The 319th Infantry, advancing to the northeast, resumed its attack at 0800, 28 November 1944. The 1st and 2nd Battalions jumped off from positions occupied the previous night. The 1st Bn, moving from Hill 320 met moderate enemy resistance and seized the high ground northeast of Homberg-Bas where the advance was temporarily halted. The 2nd Bn, moving from the high ground in the southern part of Foret De Steinberg, seized the high ground northwest of Homberg-Haut. The advance was temporarily halted there. The 319th Infantry resumed the advance at 1800, with the 1st Bn seizing Betting-Les-St. Avold and Bening-St. Avold, while the 2nd Bn took the high ground north and northeast of Homberg-Haut and the high ground north of Betting-Les-St. Avold, thus tying in with the 1st Bn. The 319th Infantry now held a line facing north, with the 2nd Bn on the left and the 1st Bn on the right. The 2nd Bn held its positions with “P” Company on the left, “E” Company on the center and “G” Company on the right, tying in with the 1st Bn north of Betting-Les-St. Avold. The 1st Bn employed “C” Company between the towns of Betting-Les-St. Avold and Bening-Les-St. Avold. “B” Company held Bening-Les-St. Avold and “A” Company occupied the ground south and southeast of that town. By 1215 both Battalions had consolidated positions gained. The 3rd Bn, in Regimental Reserve, remained in St. Avold.
On 29 November, the 317th Infantry maintained its positions in the vicinity of Farebersviller against heavy enemy resistance. The 3rd Bn, engaged in house-to-house fighting in Farebersviller, continued to force the enemy from the town. Heavy fighting was in progress throughout the day and the enemy employed anti-aircraft and tank fire on our troops. The 2nd Bn, in the vicinity of Hill 318 north of Farebersviller, without losing ground, successfully repulsed two enemy counterattacks consisting of five tanks and an undetermined number of infantry. Positions in the vicinity of Hill 318 were maintained throughout the day. The 1st Bn, occupying the high ground south and southeast of Farebersviller, received enemy small arms fire. Positions here were held throughout the entire day. During the latter part of the day 29 November, the 317th Infantry was ordered into Division Reserve. Relief of the Regiment was to be accomplished by the 318th Infantry. The 317th Infantry was relieved by 2215, at which time the 2nd Bn closed into an assembly area in the vicinity of Guenviller at 2115 and closed its assembly area in the vicinity of Marienthal.
At 1645, the 1st Bn 318th Infantry east of Seingbouse began movement forward to take over the positions of the 317th Infantry. The 1st Bn was in position northwest of Farebersviller at 1815 to cover the movement of the 2nd and 3rd Battalions 317th Infantry to reserve positions. The 2nd Bn, holding outposts in the vicinity of St. Avold, began movement at 1220 to move to the vicinity of Henriville to take up positions in order to effect relief of the 1st Bn 317th Infantry. The Battalion closed into the vicinity of Henriville at 1600. The 318th Infantry now held the right and front of the Division Zone with positions extending from northwest of Farebersviller south to Henriville. Active patrolling was conducted to the front and flanks to determine hostile enemy positions. The 3rd Bn 318th Infantry, at St. Avold, moved out of the town at 0800 and closed into the vicinity of Machern at 0915. Later in the day, the 3rd Bn moved to the vicinity of Seingbouse, closing in at 1835 as Regimental Reserve. The 319th Infantry, blocking all routes from the north, continued to hold positions on the Division left (north) flank on 29 November 1944. Roadblocks were maintained constantly and active patrolling was conducted to determine hostile positions. The 1st Bn, occupying the right sector of the Regimental Zone, continued to occupy Betting-Les-St. Avold and Bening-Les-St. Avold. “A” Company, in position southeast of Bening-Les-St. Avold, cleared the woods and took up positions along the north edge of the woods Le Knebusch. The Company was through the woods and on its new position by 0840. Anti-Aircraft fire was received by this company at 1005 from the northeast. The 3rd Bn in the vicinity of St. Avold moved on the morning of 29 November 1944, to the vicinity of Hellering, remaining in Regimental Reserve. The 2nd Bn maintained its position north and northeast of Hombourth-Haut, tying in with the 1st Bn just north of Betting-Les- St. Avold.
The Division, after having advanced 18 miles in the last six days against determined enemy resistance, halted the attack for the purpose of regrouping its forces, resting its personnel and servicing its equipment. The Division Artillery fired its first round of artillery into Germany on 30 November, 1944. The first round to land on German soil was fired by the 314th Field Artillery Bn. The 317th Infantry remained in Division Reserve on 30 November, with the 1st Bn in the vicinity of Machern, the 2nd Bn in the vicinity of Guenviller, and the 3rd Bn in the vicinity of Marienthal. Defensive positions were maintained on 30 November 1944, by the 318th Infantry. The 1st Bn remained in position northwest and west of Farebersviller, dominating the town with fire. The 2nd Bn continued to occupy defensive positions in the vicinity of Henriville. The 3rd Bn, in Regimental Reserve, remained in the vicinity of Seingbouse. Enemy artillery interdiction fire was received throughout the Regimental Sector. However there were no counterattacks made by the enemy. On 30 November, the 319th Infantry continued to occupy and improve its defensive positions on the left (north) flank of the Division Zone. The 1st Bn remained in the vicinity of Betting-Les-St. Avold, and the woods Knebusch. The 2nd Bn continued to occupy defensive positions in the vicinity of Hombourt-Haut on the left of the 1st Bn. The 3rd Bn, in Regimental Reserve, remained in the vicinity of Hellering. Only light interdiction artillery fire was received throughout the day. Organic battalions of the Division Artillery fired a total of 1365 missions during the month, with ammunition expenditure of 29,876 rounds of 105MM and 5,1 873 rounds of 155MM. The 633rd AAA AW Bn,, attached to the Division, claimed one enemy aircraft destroyed and one probably destroyed during the month.
On the first day of December 1944, the Division was holding the high ground on the north flank of the XII Corps after the advance from the Seille River. Elements of the Division were occupying temporary defensive positions between Farebersviller and St. Avold, while regrouping forces and resting personnel in preparation for a drive across the Saar River toward the Siegfried Line. The 317th Infantry was in Division Reserve; the 1st Bn in the vicinity of Machern, the 2nd Bn in the vicinity of Guenviller and the 3rd Bn in the vicinity of Marienthal. Defensive positions were occupied by the 318th Infantry west of Farebersviller. The 1st Bn was on line northwest and west of Farebersviller and Henriville; the 3rd Bn, in Regimental Reserve, was in the vicinity of Seingbouse. Protecting the left (north) flank of the Division, the 319th Infantry occupied positions in the vicinity of Hombourg-Haut, Betting-Les-St. Avold, Bening-Les-St. Avold and the woods Le Knebusch. The 2nd Bn was in position in the vicinity Hombourg-Haut on the left of the 1st Bn. Hellering was occupied by the 3rd Bn which was in Regimental Reserve. Daylight and night patrols were sent (eastward) to probe the enemy’s outpost line and determine possible tank crossings over the railroad and the creeks, which provided natural barriers in front of the enemy lines. North of St. Avold, in the vicinity of Carling, the 3rd Bn, 10th Infantry, 5th Infantry Division, continued to occupy defensive positions on the 80th Infantry Division left flank. The 95th Infantry Division, also on the left flank (east of Metz) of the 80th Infantry Division, continued the attack to the east and northeast. Elements of the 2nd Cavalry Group continued to patrol the north (left) flank of the Division Zone. One platoon of “A” Troop, 2nd Cavalry Squadron, maintained contact with the 95th Infantry Division. The 1117th Engineer Combat Group, supporting the 80th Division, maintained roads and bridges within the Division Zone. On 2 December, 1944, the Division (Reinforced), prior to continuing the attack eastward, continued to occupy positions, regroup forces, rest personnel, and service equipment. The 3rd Bn 319th Infantry, in Regimental Reserve at Hellering, began relief of the 2nd Bn in the vicinity of Hombourg-Haut at 1520. Relief was completed by 1550 with the 2nd Bn reverting to Regimental Reserve in the vicinity of Betting-Les- St. Avold. The 1st Bn 319th Infantry remained in its positions north of Betting-Les- St. Avold and the woods Le Knebusch. The 317th Infantry, in Division Reserve,, made no change in troop dispositions on 2 December, 1944.
The 318th Infantry continued to occupy temporary defensive positions northwest and west and southwest of Farebersviller. Active night patrolling was conducted to determine enemy dispositions. On the 80th Division left, the 95th Infantry Division continued the attack to the east and northeast. The 6th Cavalry Group, occupying the area between the 80th Infantry Division and 95th Infantry Division, launched an attack on D’Hopital. On the right flank of the Division, the 6th Armored Division continued to occupy defensive positions. The 808th Tank Destroyer Bn (Towed) was relieved from attachment to the 80th Infantry Division Artillery and assigned the primary mission of anti-mechanized defense. Field Order Number 19,, issued 1300, 2 December, 1944, revealed plans for the XII Corps to continue the attack to the northeast early on 4 December, 1944. The 6th Armored Division, the 35th Infantry Division, the 4th Armored Division, the 26th Infantry Division and the 80th Infantry Division were to take part in the offensive. The Division was to attack with one Regiment (reinforced) early 4 December 1944, and seize the high ground northeast of Farebersviller. The 318th Infantry was to spearhead the attack. The Regiment’s front was to be shortened, with the 319th Infantry relieving elements of the 318th Infantry north of the St. Avold -Farebersviller highway and elements of the 6th Armored Division relieving the 2nd Bn 318th Infantry southeast of Henriville. In addition, the 319th Infantry was to support the attack by fire. On 3 December 1944, elements of the 1st Bn 319th Infantry completed the relief of the 318th Infantry north of the St. Avold-Farebersviller highway by 0622. The 6th Armored Division relieved the 2nd Bn 318th Infantry southeast of Henriville by 1440. The 2nd Bn then assembled in the vicinity of Henriville. These changes in the 318th regimental sector prepared the regiment for the attack planned for the following day. The 318th Infantry now held a narrow zone from the St. Avold – Farebersviller highway south to Henriville. The line–held by the 319th Infantry, stretched from Hombourg-Haut eastward to the woods Le Knebusch and thence south to the St. Avold – Farebersviller highway. The 3rd Bn 319th Infantry, holding the left portion of the Regimental sector north of Hombourg-Haut, sent a combat patrol on 3 December 1944, north to Greyming and Merlrbach to determine enemy dispositions. The 317th Infantry, in Division Reserve, remained in the same positions occupied the previous day.
At 0730, 4 December 1944, the 318th Infantry attacked to the northeast with the high ground in the vicinity of Farebersviller as its objective. The attack was preceded by both Corps and Division Artillery preparations, concentrations from the mortars of the reserve battalion 319th Infantry, mortar fire from all three organic heavy weapons companies, direct fire from “B” Company 808th Tank Destroyer Bn and by fire from fifteen heavy machine guns of the 319th Infantry. Heavy fire was placed on all objectives until the Infantry neared the immediate objectives. The 1st and 2nd Battalions were employed in the attack with the 1st Bn on the left and the 2nd Bn on the right. Attacking through Farebersviller, the 1st Bn met medium enemy resistance and by 0900, leading elements had reached the high ground west of Theding. By 1100, the Battalion occupied the ground west, east, and southeast of Cocheren. Here only light enemy resistance was encountered. “B” Company moved on to take the high ground northeast of Cocheren at 1155. By 1320, the 1st Bn occupied all the high ground northeast of the town. The objective had been taken. The 2nd Bn, attacking on the right of the 1st Bn, moved on Theding and at 0840 reached a point 500 yards southwest of the town. By 0930, leading elements of the Battalion, meeting medium enemy opposition, were fighting in the outskirts of Theding. Heavy enemy automatic fire in the town temporarily held up the advance, but by 1100, forward elements of the 2nd Bn, encountering light enemy resistance, entered the woods on Le Mont De Theding. Hill 313 was taken at 1145 and the Battalion halted for the day. Both the 1st and 2nd Battalions consolidated and organized for defense of the ground taken in the attack. Roadblocks covering all likely tank approaches were constructed. Supporting fire from the tank destroyers and tanks aided the Infantry in taking the objectives. “B” Company 702nd Tank Bn supported the 1st Bn; “A” Company 702nd Tank Bn and “C” company 610th Tank Destroyer Bn, supported 2nd Bn. The 3rd Bn 318th Infantry, in Regimental Reserve, moved from Hellering to Farebersviller on the morning 4 December, 1944, closing in at 1140. During the afternoon, the 3rd Bn moved northeast to Theding as Regimental Reserve, closing in at 1815.
On 4 December 1944, the 319th Infantry had the mission of supporting the attack of the 318th Infantry by fire. From positions on the high ground northwest of Farebersviller, it supported the attack with fire from heavy machine guns and 81 MM mortars. At 1055, the Regiment was relieved of its supporting mission. A contact point between the 318th and 319th Infantry Regiments was established west of Cocheren at 1405. The 317th Infantry remained in Division Reserve on 4 December 1944, with the 1st Bn in the vicinity of Machern, the 2nd Bn in the vicinity of Guenviller and the 3rd Bn in the vicinity of Marienthal. “All and “B” Companies of the 808th Tank Destroyer Bn displaced to Division objectives to provide anti-tank defense. Elements of the 80th Cavalry Reconnaissance Troop maintained contact with the 6th Armored Division on the Division right flank. At 2250, 4 December 1944, a building in St. Avold used as the 633rd AAA (AW) Bn Command Post was destroyed by the explosion of a time bomb planted by the retreating Germans. When the Division occupied St. Avold, an enemy agent surrendered himself to Division front line units. Upon interrogation, the agent, an Alsatian, declared he had been sent to St. Avold to secure a hidden radio and report the results of time bombs, which the Germans had left in the town. Search revealed the radio and two time bombs, one concealed in the city gas works and the other in the former German artillery barracks. Further extensive search failed to uncover more bombs, but during the period the Division remained in St. Avold, four other time bombs detonated, destroying three buildings formerly occupied by Nazi Party organizations and a section of the artillery barracks. On 5 December, 1944, the Division continued to occupy positions which were taken the previous day.”
According to Jack Edwards, Sergeant, Co. K, 3rd Battalion, 317th Infantry Regiment: “I was in K Company, 317th and we attacked Farebersviller the 27th and 28th. I saw a couple of 702nd Tank Battalion tanks knocked out in the German counter-attack. While we were in the town, we had four or five guys with us in this building, a house. It was owned by a French lady. We put our raincoats over the window, and we were smoking, because it was dark (covering the windows prevented anyone outside from seeing the cigarette glowing). Then we heard tanks coming down the road. We thought it was the seven-o-deuce (702nd Tank Battalion). But it wasn’t the seven-o-deuce, it was two German tanks coming down the road. When they came down the road, they passed the building that we were in. We had taken down the raincoats we had put up so they couldn’t see any light, but they went right past the building. But they never came in. The rest of the fellows, there was only me and another fellow left, and the rest of the men had took off. They went someplace, I’m not sure where, but I think they were all captured. There wasn’t a lot of firing going on. We were in this building, and stayed there that night. The next morning, we looked out the window and the Germans were all dug in at the back of the house. In a field there. Then we looked out another window there and saw those fellows who were in the building with us and had went out into the town, and the Germans had captured them. They were standing out there with their hands over the top of their heads. The Germans had set up an 88mm close-by. And they fired that 88mm. It was spooky. We could either die, or surrender with the rest of them.
As best as I can remember, I only saw two seven-o-deuce tanks, and they must have left for the division when K Company left out of there. K Company had left a bunch of fellows in the town, who they didn’t know was in there. We went upstairs, in this three-story building. This was before I saw the seven-o-deuce’s tanks. We went as far as we could go upstairs in this building, and we stayed there. We heard some noise, and here the Germans come back down to this same damned building! And stayed downstairs! Of this same building that we were in! We stayed there all night, real quiet, and the Germans never came upstairs. The following day, this French lady come back that owned this house. She said that the Germans were pulling out. Pulling everything out. We waited awhile, and finally they moved on. We went out the back way of the house. We went over the field and run into another infantry outfit. We told them we were in Farebersviller. So, they gave us a lift back to our company, because they knew where our company was. Captain Smith was my commanding officer. He hadn’t known where we were. He was later wounded at Kehmen, losing fingers off of his left hand. He was later awarded the Distinguished Service Cross. Altogether, my company had five or six different commanders. Lt. Garver, from the 82nd Airborne became our company commander. He was really gung-ho. He was a stuntman for Hollywood. He got wounded on a patrol. He asked me to go, and I said, “Yeah, I’ll go with you.” We started out late at nighttime. It was pitch dark. We were coming across this road, and the Germans opened up on us and they hit Lt. Garver. We took him back to the company. We all went back. We never saw him again after that.”
Update: Jeff Wignall informs me that not only did Harry Nutting get the honor of being made Honorary Mayor of Farebersviller, but so too did Charlie Pillinger. Charlie has since passed away. He & Harry were close friends, and both stand tall among the “good guys”. Bob Smith from Company K, 317th also stands ten feet tall in the minds of his comrades.
Thanks to our good friend, “Slim” Rives, former Platoon leader of Company B, 702nd Tank Battalion Red Devils for the following formerly secret battle plans of the re-capture of the town of Farebersviller. The battle plans were printed on a very lightweight, almost transparent type of paper used in World War Two by US forces, designed to be easy to destroy in case they should fall into enemy hands. I have heard of this paper, but in 20 years of working on this history project, I have never seen an example before. I guess that is a testament to how well it was designed. Lt. “Slim” Rives, as Platoon leader of the tank battalion was given these plans just before the attack, as were all the other line officers involved, so that he and they would all know what was supposed to happen, and who would be doing what.
The 317th Infantry Regiment had captured Farebersviller on November 28, 1944. That evening, as the sun set, the 317th was hit with a massive counterattack by the German 17th SS Division. The 3rd Battalion of the 317th was nearly annihilated. Many men died that night on both sides during the desperate door-to-door fight that ensued. A Company, 702nd Tank Battalion lost four tanks almost immediately, and within seconds of each other. The Germans were heavily armed and determined to retake the town and prevent the Americans from entering German territory. The German attack was a success, and many GI’s died or were taken prisoner. On December 4, 1944, the 80th Infantry Division attacked to retake the town, and avenge their losses. On their right was the mighty 6th Armored Division and on the left was the veteran 35th Infantry Division. As a historian, I only knew what happened in that battle after the event. The battle is described as fully as I was able to, elsewhere on this website. I have never seen documents indicating what the American plans actually were before the battle. I do know that this battle was costly to both sides and many men died. My special thanks to our good friend, Jeff Wignall for transcribing this for us! Jeff’s father was killed in action towards the end of this battle. I am sure he found these plans as interesting as I did. Please note: The towns listed in capitol letters were actual names for actual locations. Presumably by this point, the 80th wasn’t concerned with these plans falling into enemy hands. With the weaponry and manpower at their disposal that day, their success was all but a sure thing. Lastly, unlike the Seille River crossing plans, “Slim” Rives had also preserved the original hand-drawn map overlay of Farebersviller. I present it here as well! Without further ado:
HEADQUARTERS 318TH INFANTRYANTRY
APO 80, U.S. Army
2 December 1944
PLAN FOR ATTACK 4 DECEMBER
1. Troops opposite the Division consist of elements of the 17th SS Division with most of the 38th Regiment opposed to us. This Regiment has recently received replacements of foreigners. There have been some desertions and the morale is not high. There are some tanks against us. The most that have been seen are seven or eight.
2. The XII Corps continues its advance Eastward. The 26th Division and 4th Armored Division have crossed the SAAR in the neighborhood of SAARUNION and are moving North. To facilitate this movement the 35th Division, the 6th Armored Division, and the 80th Division attack at H-hr, 4 Dec. The 35th Division advances in its zone to obtain a bridgehead over the SAAR. The 6th Armored Division and 80th Division have limited objectives (see overlay).
3. The 6th Armored Division attacks with CCA (Hines) with two columns abreast.
50th Armored Infantry
One (1) Co Medium Tanks, 68th Tank Battalion
One (1) Co Light Tanks, 68th Tank Battalion
One (1) Platoon of Engineers
One (1) Co 603 TD’s
In reserve – 69th Tank Battalion (Kennedy)
The Battalion Assault Gun Platoon – 6 – 105’s
Arty support – 212th FA and 696th FA
44th Armored Infantry
One (1) Co Medium Tanks, 68th Tank Battalion
One (1) Co Light Tanks, 68th Tank Battalion
One (1) Platoon of Engineers
One (1) Co 603 TD’s
In reserve – 69th Tank Battalion (-) (Duval)
The Assault Gun Platoon (6 – 105’s) of 68th Tank Battalion
Arty support – 128th FA and 276th FA
General support – 231st FA and 191st FA (155)
General reserve – (Britton) 9th Armored Infantry
4. 2nd Cav Group attacks to our North, captures MORSBACH, and moves in the direction of FORBACH with the 6th Cavalry Group North of that.
5. This Regiment, with Companies A and B of the 702nd Tank Battalion and Co C of the 610 TD Battalion, supported by Co B 305th Engineer and Battery A 633 AA Battalion, attacks with two (2) Battalions abreast at H-hr, 4 Dec, and seizes the Division objective. The Regiment is further supported by the 314th FA Battalion (Reinforced).
6. The 2nd Battalion on the right; with one (1) Platoon of Regimental AT Co, one (1) Platoon of Co C 610 TD Battalion, and Co A 702nd Tank Battalion, advances and seizes a bridgehead over the railroad track to its direct front and covers the construction of a tank passage made by the Platoon of Co F 305th Engineers in direct support. It then advances in its zone of action and seizes the high ground East of PFARREBERSWEILER, seizes the woods around the cross road South of THEDINGEN, THEDINGEN, and Hill 373 to the North. Line of departure and boundaries (see overlay).
7. The 1st Battalion on the left; with one (1) Platoon of Regimental AT Co, Co C of the 610 TD Battalion (-), and Co B 702nd Tank Battalion, attached, advances and seizes PFARREBERSWEILER and a bridgehead to support the construction of a tank passage over the railroad and stream in PFARREBERSWEILER by the Platoon of Co B of the 305th Engineers in support; it continues its advance in the zone of the Battalion (see overlay), seizes the high ground at Hills 316 and 317, advances further to Hill 326, and takes the high ground and woods in the vicinity of Hills HERAPEL, 342, and 296.
8. The 3rd Battalion, in reserve, moves to PFARREBERSWEILER on command or executes plan 1, 2, 3, or 4 (see overlay).
9. Co B 305th Engineer Battalion, less two (2) Platoons supporting the 1st and 2nd Battalions, remains in reserve during the initial period of the attack in the vicinity of SEINGBUSCH. The Co has attached to it two (2) tank recovery vehicles from the 702nd Tank Battalion and a tank dozer (if obtained from any source available); the latter to be used in connection with the bridgehead of the 2nd Battalion. The Co will be prepared to place approximately thirty (30) feet of treadway bridge at either or both crossings and will make available the Engineer bulldozer for use in the town. Both Platoons supporting Battalions will be prepared to de-mine all roads within the zone of the Battalions and will commence this operation as soon as consistent with the construction of the tank passages.
10. Tanks: Co A of the 702nd Tank Battalion (8 tanks) will be attached to and operate with the 2nd (right) Battalion. It will provide a radio in the same channel as the tank Co Commander, to be available at the rear CP of the 2nd Battalion in HENRIVILLE, and the radio will move with it. Co A 702nd Tank Battalion will remain headed East and in defilade along the main road HENRIVILLE – PFARREBERSWEILER (see overlay). It will move on command through the PFARREBERSWEILER tank crossing or the southern tank crossing and act in conjunction with the 2nd Battalion when across. Co B of the 702nd Tank Battalion, less detachments, will move initially with the attack of the 1st Battalion on PFARREBERSWEILER; one (1) Platoon acting in conjunction with Co C and approaching the town from the Southwest, the other Platoon with Co B approaching the town from the Northwest. The remaining Platoon of Co B 702nd Tank Battalion will remain in position on the ST AVOLD – PFARREBERSWEILER road and will move on command through the crossing at PFARREBERSWEILER or the Southern crossing. Co B 702nd Tank Battalion will act in conjunction with the 1st Battalion, not only in seizing PFARREBERSWEILER, but in the completion of its objectives. A liaison officer from the 702nd Tank Battalion, with a radio capable of operating in the same channels as Co A and Co B of the 702nd Tank Battalion, will report to the Regimental HQ at GENWEILER at H-hr minus 60. In their work in conjunction with the Infantry, tank companies will move from objectives or vicinity only on command of the Infantry Battalion Commander to which they are attached.
11. TD’s: One (1) Platoon of Co C 610 TD Battalion is attached to the 2nd Battalion. It will move, with Co A 702nd Tank Battalion, across the tank crossing immediately after the crossing of the tanks and take positions to defend the tank crossing against attack by enemy tanks. Upon moving on successive objectives, the TD Platoon will accompany Co A of the 702nd Tank Battalion and protect them from enemy tank attack. Co C 610 TD Battalion, less one (1) Platoon, is attached to the 1st Battalion; it will remain in defilade along the road ST AVOLD – PFARREBERSWEILER. It will cross the tank crossing in PFARREBERSWEILER or the Southern crossing, as directed, immediately behind Co B 702nd Tank Battalion, and will take positions to defend the crossing from enemy tank attack; will accompany Co B 702nd Tank Battalion in its movement on successive objectives and continue this protection. Both Platoons have the mission of aiding the tanks in knocking out enemy emplacements. The Reconnaissance Platoon of Co C 610 TD Battalion will be used for normal reconnaissance purposes at the discretion of the Co Commander.
12. AA: Battery A 633rd AA Battalion, from positions along the East flank of the KNEE BUSCH woods, utilizes four (4) to eight (8) quads and such 40mm Bofors as can be put into position, will take Hills 316, 317, and 326 under fire during the period of Arty preparation and accompanying fire. They will lay a line to the CP of the 1st Battalion in SEINGBUSCH and lay also to the 314th FA Battalion. They will coordinate this support with the fires of the 314th FA Battalion; will lift fires at their command, the command of the 1st Battalion, or on seeing flares and smoke signals (see later paragraph).
13. Cannon Co: The Cannon Co, with a Fwd Observer with each assault Battalion, will move to positions from which they can reach a line 500 yards beyond FOLKLINGEN; register with one (1) gun 3 Dec and move during night 3-4 Dec. They will coordinate fire with the 314th FA Battalion during preparation and accompanying fires and be prepared to fire smoke on call.
14. Regimental AT Co will attach one (1) Platoon to each assault Battalion; will attach the Mine Platoon to Co B 305th Engineer Battalion, to take effect 3 Dec. Co, less detachments, remain under Regimental control.
15. The 81mm Mortars of the 3rd Battalion, from positions West of the woods BARSCH BUSCH, will assist the Arty preparation and accompanying fires. Fires to be coordinated by Arty Liaison Officer. Special attention to cut Southwest of Hill 316 and positions on slopes.
16. Mortars of the 319th Infantry to be requested to fire on HARTE BUSCH woods throughout the attack; lift fires on call. Coordinated by Arty Liaison Officer.
17. The 808 TD Battalion will execute direct fire on the Regimental objectives; fires to be
coordinated by the Arty Liaison Officer; lifted as in paragraph 12.
18. 314th FA Battalion (Reinforced); 15 minutes preparation and 30 minutes accompanying fires; will coordinate fires of AA, 808 TD’s, 3rd Battalion 81 mm mortars, mortars of 319th Infantry, and reinforcing fires; will smoke Hill 373, TENTELINGEN, Hill 305; and be prepared to smoke Hill 326 on call.
19. Liaison and Communication:
a. CCA will send officer, liaison, with radios and appropriate channels, to HQ 2nd Battalion at HENRIVILLE and HQ 318th Infantry at GENWEILER.
b. 318th Infantry will lay a line and send liaison officer to 319th Infantry.
c. 318th Infantry will lay to CP of Co B 305th Engineer Battalion; the latter will have a Sgt with vehicle at this HQ.
d. The 702nd Tank Battalion: Liaison, radio vehicle in same channel as Co Commander at rear CP of 2nd Battalion, as in above paragraph. Similar procedure with 1st Battalion. Officer with radio vehicle in appropriate channels with both A and B Co’s at Regimental HQ (see above paragraph). Communications also through CO 702nd Tank Battalion by telephone and radio.
e. Regiment will run line to Regimental CP and supplement communication by 284 radio.
f. Regiment will run to each CP. Battalion Commanders will lay telephone line forward and supplement this communication with 300 radio.
20. The I&R Platoon will be prepared to move out on Regimental order and effect physical
contact with the 2nd Cavalry Group on the North or the 6th Armored Division on the South.
PFARREBERSWEILER Bridge and crossings – Lt WALSH in charge. Priorities:
b. Co B 702nd Tank Battalion.
c. Co C 610 TD Battalion (-).
d. Co A 702nd Tank Battalion (if southern crossing unavailable).
e. One (1) Platoon Co C 610 TD Battalion (if southern crossing unavailable).
f. AT guns plus Regimental attachment of 1st Battalion (immediate mission – protection of bridgehead).
g. Battalion ammunition train 1st Battalion.
h. AT guns plus Regimental attachment and Battalion ammunition train of 2nd Battalion (if southern crossing unavailable).
Southern Crossing: Lt GLASIER in charge. Priorities:
b. Co A 702nd Tank Battalion.
c. One (1) Platoon Co C 610 TD Battalion.
d. Co B 702nd Tank Battalion (if PFARREBERSWEILER bridge unavailable).
e. Co C 610 TD Battalion (less one Platoon) (if PFARREBERSWEILER bridge unavailable).
f. AT Platoon plus Regimental attachment of 2nd Battalion (initial mission – protection of
g. 2nd Battalion ammunition train.
h. AT Platoon plus Regimental attachment and 1st Battalion ammunition train (if PFARREBERSWEILER bridge unavailable).
22. Civil Affairs: Civilians will be kept in cellars until cleared by the CIC in all towns occupied. Their control will be under the Battalion Commander occupying the town. Coordination through Maj. PEARSON.
23. Regimental CP will remain in GENWEILER until ordered forward; Regimental OP vicinity Hill 313 West of PFARREBERSWEILER – Capt WEGMAN; PW to PFARREBERSWEILER on command.
24. Straggler lines as in Memorandum, dated 19 Nov. Salvage and burials as in Memorandum, dated 10 Oct.
25. Flares and smoke signals:
a. Fires on Hills 316 and 317 will be lifted on signal: two (2) orange smoke pots and/or two (2) amber star parachute flares.
b. Fires on Hill 326 will be lifted on signal: two (2) green smoke pots and/or two (2) green star parachute flares.
c. Fires on Hill 373 will be lifted on signal: two (2) red smoke pots and/or two (2) white star clusters.
d. On arrival of 1st Battalion at HERAPEL and Hill 342 fires will be lifted on command of forward observer.
Colonel, 318th Infantry
Thanks to our buddy Jeff Wignall, we have these photos from Mayor Laurent Kleinhentz of Farebersviller, France where they recently (Nov. 28-Dec. 4, 2004) celebrated the liberation of their town, and remembered the many who died in the process. As anyone who has read our article regarding the battle for this town near the French-German border knows, Jeff Wignall is the son of one of the many G.I.’s who died there. It is good to see that Farebersviller has erased the physical scars of that period. Actually, they didn’t have much choice. After the shooting stopped, there was not much left of Farebersviller. As a newspaper said at the time, “Only the fish are alive in Farebersviller!” The people of the area have bounced back quite well, and let’s pray that they shall always know peace and prosperity! I would like to thank all who participated in the celebration for the gratitude they have shown for the men who fought, bled and died to liberate them. You can be sure that the men who fought there and survived, never forgot Farebersviller!