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Seille River Crossing

Secret Battle Plans

By Terry D. Janes

 

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 Seille River crossing.  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.

 

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 me!  Please note: The towns listed in capitol letters were codenames for actual towns.  This was in case the plans should fall into enemy hands.  Without further ado:

 

HEADQUARTERS 318TH INFANTRY

APO 80, U.S. Army

 

4 November 1944

 

Revised Plan

 

1. 1st Battalion relieves 3rd Battalion night of 4-5 Nov; 3rd Battalion returns to LONDON.

 

2. On order, day prior to D-day, mortar platoon, Heavy Weapons Co, 3rd Battalion, takes positions in MECCA prepared to fire on preparation targets as per overlay; immediate reconnaissance.

 

3. Engineers place ten (10) small boats per Battalion in assembly area (see overlay) for use of 2nd and 1st Battalions at approximately H-4 hrs.

 

4. 2nd Battalion moves direct from MECCA to assault boat area – five(5) minute interval between companies, timed as to reach assault boats at H-30 minutes.

 

5. 1st Battalion likewise.

 

6. Commencing H-30 min Engineers put two (2) bridges across at point approximately 1/2 mile up-stream from BRUSSELS and one (1) foot bridge approx 200 yards up-stream from PLLE.  De-mine access to PLLE during night prior to H-hour.

 

7. 2nd Battalion (less E Co already crossed in assault boats) crosses on foot bridge, assumes position; two (2) companies abreast, one (1) in reserve, E Co on the right.  No troops advance N of LD along country road (see overlay).

 

8. 1st Battalion crosses (less C Company already crossed in assault boats) upon completion of Engineers bridge and, making use of PLLE bridge immediately after C Co, occupies position along LD (see overlay).

 

9. 3rd Battalion moving direct from LONDON and followed by mortar section of Heavy Weapons Co, after the preparation is completed, follows 2nd Battalion at a distance of 1000 yards.  The maintenance of this distance and liaison responsibility: 3rd Battalion.

 

10. One (1) Co, 3rd Battalion, moves, after crossing to position under ridge 1500 yards N of BRUSSELS, rendezvous with tanks.  Liaison and guide sent to CO, Co B, 702nd Tank Battalion in BRUSSELS – rendezvous point to be agreed upon.

 

11. 3rd Battalion (less above Co) moves, on crossing, to assembly area approx 1000 yards NE of BRUSSELS.

 

12. Commencing at H-30 min, one (1) platoon, Co B, 305th Engineer Battalion, assisted by one (1) platoon, Co C, 702nd Tank Battalion, constructs culvert crossing at point approximately 200 yards up-stream from LE MOULIN FME. It is anticipated that this will be completed at H+1 hr and that tanks should clear by H+1 ½ hrs. 

 

13. At H-hr one (1) platoon, Co B, 305th Engineer Battalion, plus one (1) platoon, Co C, 702nd Tank Battalion, construct infantry support bridge at MIN DE BRIONNE; expect to finish by H+ 1 ½ hrs.  A further Engineer detachment from the 305th Engineer Battalion constructs another infantry support bridge just E of the mill at BRUSSELS. This bridge is available for the 317th Inf. and 318th Inf.

 

14. By H+1 hr, it is expected to be evident whether the tanks can cross in time to be effective or not. If they can, on crossing they join the Co of the 3rd Battalion at rendezvous point, swing wide, and attack PARIS from the direction of the PORTLAND RD.  If not, this Co executes a similar maneuver and makes the attack alone.

 

15. On jumping off, the 2nd Battalion swings its right E Co and envelopes RENO from the NW. E Co becomes the Battalion reserve in RENO and the remainder of the Battalion takes up positions along the line AA for reorganization prior to attack on HILL 262, on order.

 

16. The 1st Battalion, on jumping off from LD (see overlay), swings one (1) Co around to contain PARIS from the NE; relieved on Regimental order. This Co becomes the Battalion reserve; the remainder of the Battalion continues the attack, seizes and holds the high ground S of MANCHESTER, reorganize along the line AA for a coordinated attack along successive objectives.

 

17. The 3rd Battalion (less one (1) Co) moves as ordered in Regimental reserve with particular attention to possible counter-attack from the left flank.

 

18. Co B, 305th Engineer Battalion, after initial construction of the bridges, will continue in close support with liaison officer at Regiment.

 

19. a. Tanks effect crossing under Tank Battalion supervision. Liaison officer with Regiment.  When apparent crossing can be made in time to assist in attack on PARIS “Plan 1” as indicated above will be declared effective. The liaison officer joins CO, 3rd Battalion, at rendezvous point to be selected.

 

b. If crossing so delayed as to make tanks ineffective against PARIS, “Plan 2” will be put into effect. In this case Co B joins 2nd Battalion along line AA.  Liaison officer reports to CO, 2nd Battalion at rendezvous point to be selected and tanks form part of the coordinated attack on HILL 262.

 

c. If “plan 1” is put into effect, tanks swing back to the N and join 2nd Battalion on line AA on release by Co Comdr, 3rd Battalion, taking PARIS. Liaison officer then reports to CO, 2nd Battalion, at rendezvous point to be selected.

 

20. Cannon Co reinforces 314th FA and has forward observer with both assault Battalions – fires missions on call. Released to Regiment after preparation; moves forward on Regimental order.

 

21. One (1) platoon, AT Co attached to each assault Battalion to be appointed to take selected targets under direct fire in conjunction with the organic AT guns of the Battalions. Co, less two (2) platoons, remains under Regimental control, takes positions in front of MECCA to cover Engineer support bridge at MIN DE BRIONNE, crosses as soon as bridge constructed to defend it from positions on N side of river.

 

22. TD Co under Regimental control. Co, to include 50 cal machine guns, less one (1) platoon, from previously reconnoitred positions within 1000 yards of targets, executes continuous fire on PARIS until ordered otherwise. Liaison officer at Regimental CP must be in immediate contact with these units. One (1) platoon takes position initially on the S bank of the WABASH covering bridgehead at BRUSSELS, moves across as soon as infantry support bridges constructed, covering bridgehead from positions on the N bank.

 

23. Arty:  Preparation from H-30 min to H+15; moves from targets at a greater range to those of a lesser range from H-30 min to H-hr; from a lesser to a greater range from H to H +15. Numbered concentration points to be used for location code.

 

a. 314th FA – 300 rounds; 15 concentrations; 30 min preparation; 2 Battalion volleys per concentration (see overlay).

 

b. 315th FA – 250 rounds; 10 concentrations; 30 min preparation; 2 Battalion volleys per concentration.

 

c. 775th FA (4.5) – 250 rounds; 10 concentrations; 30 min preparation; 2 Battalion volleys per concentration.

 

d. Cannon Co – 300 rounds; reinforces fires of 314th FA; 2 Co volleys per concentration.

 

e. After the 319th Inf. has accomplished its mission, the 905th FA reinforces the fire of the 314th FA.

 

f. After the initial 30 min preparation, artillery fires will be on targets of opportunity and on call.

 

24. AA Battery (two (2) Platoons of four (4) 40’s and four (4) quads each). One (1) Platoon supports 314th FA from positions as recommended; 2nd Platoon covers bridgehead at BRUSSELS from previously reconnoitred positions, moves in at approx H+1 hr.  This Platoon has liaison to CT CP.

 

25. Battalions will put straggler line under supervision of 1st Sergeants and HQ personnel, or other reliable personnel selected, behind their front lines and will have straggler patrols in all towns in their zone of advance. Near installations, Battalion and Regiment, will take special precautions to patrol their area and transport stragglers immediately back to their organizations.

 

26. Civilians encountered in zone of advance will be held in cellars where they are; immediately report to CIC for check. They will then continue to be held in position and wait instructions from CAO.

 

27. The Regimental Surgeon will have a 1/ ton and two (20 EM with a Dental Officer at the Regimental forward CP.

 

28. The rear echelon, Regimental CP, and trains move forward on order.

 

29. All sleeping bags and overshoes will be taken up without delay and re-issued subsequent to the attack.

 

30. Battalions will make sure that ammunition carried on vehicles crosses on the infantry support bridge at the earliest possible moment.

 

31. Axis of Signal Communications: Forward CP 318th CT, to include S-2, S-3 sections, Regimental Surgeon and Guard, with minimum equipment, opens Cellar Chateau MECCA during night prior to H-hr. Moves forward through RENO and on to PARIS to MANCHESTER.      

 

32. Regimental C.P.’s at crossings vicinity BRUSSELS and PLLE. Telephone lines will be run prior to D-day in secure fashion to appropriate points.           

 

33.   Liaison:  Two (2) liaison officers at Div, one (1) with 319th Inf. Telephone line laid to 317th Inf.  Plans for coordination of assistance from 319th Inf. against high ground S of MANCHESTER to be made without delay.

 

L. McVickar

Colonel, 318th Infantry

Commanding

 

 

 

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