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Farebersviller Remembered

By Virgil Myers, Mortar Sergeant

Company G, 317th Regiment, 80th Infantry Division

 

From the Editor-My dear friend Virgil Myers recently wrote to me, and had the following to say: "I just re-read the Battle of Farebersviller in your Troubleshooters Pages---- I was there for 2 days myself.  [I was in] Company G, 2nd Battalion, of the 317th Regiment.  I went back to the village in June 2007 and was designated an Honorary Citizen of Farebersviller by the Mayor, Laurent Kleinhentz, who is also a member of Parliament.  This week I was notified by the French Embassy in Washington that I had been designated to receive the Title of "Chevalier" of The Legion Of Honor Medal.  It was signed by the President of The French Republic on May 13th 2008 and I was notified June 3, 2008 of this Honor.

 

[On the website], I didn't read anything about the company of 80th men that were captured in Farebersviller when they were lined up to eat supper along the stream where the monument to the 80th was erected in Farebersviller.  The plaque on the monument reads, "Today only the fish in this stream are alive in Farebersviller."  I very well remember my 2 days in the village and had a day to visit the places that I was at, when there in 1944.

 

Yes I was at Farebersviller!  The company I was assigned to, were billeted in the village of Guenviller, located about 6 or 8 miles south east of St. Avold.  We had just gone through a tough battle in the area of Falquemont and were in a rest or training posture as a company.

 

We received word that we were to march to Farebersviller, which was about 5 miles East of Guenviller, for the SS had counterattacked the 317th Regiment there and they needed help in a hurry.  We as a company gathered on the road going east to Farebersviller and stretched out in the usual 10 yards between men and 2 scouts way out ahead, and started east just after noon.

 

As we marched down the road, eastward, the Battalion Commander joined us for a few minutes to tell the Company Commander, Mike Damkowitz where he wanted his company to go when we reached Farebersviller.  As we approached the Village of Farebersviller each platoon was given their directions as to where they were to go into the town.  The 4th Platoon that I was in, as the Mortar Sergeant, were told to come into town from the northwest.  It was almost dusk by the time we reached the area.  We cut across a field and walked in mud, ankle deep.  The jeeps and tanks could not get off the roads, for they would sink deep in the mud; it had rained almost every day for the last two months.

 

With the help of the Rifle Platoons of G Co., and the GI's already in town, we were able after a hard firefight to push the SS troopers out the east side of the village.  The Nazis counterattacked early the next morning, pushing the Americans back to the center of town, where a fierce firefight carried on for several hours.  The Germans lost at least 4 tanks at the center square, as well as the Americans, who also lost tanks. {Editor's Note: Company A, 702nd Tank Battalion lost four tanks at Farebersviller in the German counterattack.  All four were knocked out in quick succession in a matter of just a few minutes.}

 

The 4th Platoon approached the village from the northwest, coming down a draw with houses and barns on each side of the road, with a stream dividing the houses.  As we neared the center of the village we heard a [German] tank coming toward us.  The Mortar Squad climbed on the roof of one of the houses; a house and barn combination structure.  The roof in the back was level with the ground so it was easy to get on the roof out of sight of the tank.  One of the machinegun men [ours] was across the stream and street and when the tank approached.  He went into the house, out the back, and climbed onto the roof of the barn.  The tank evidently saw the GI go in the house, for it pulled up to the house, stuck the 88 [cannon] in a window and fired two rounds into the house.  The roof just rose up and the tile on the roof just slid down to the ground.  The tank backed up and turned around, and as it was turning, one our tanks hit the [German] tank in the side, knocking it out of action; setting it on fire.  We found out later when the men of the [German] tank were questioned, they thought they were going toward the German lines rather than the other direction.

 

The battle of Farebersviller went on, back and forth for over three days.  Being in the weapons platoon, we had it better than the riflemen did.  We had them [the riflemen] between the enemy and us.  We not only saw dozens of the enemy fall, but many of our own men fell during those three horrific fighting days.

 

There is a monument in the Southwest of Farebersviller along a stream in the small city park where the Plaque on the monument reads, "Only the fish in this stream are alive here today."  It was the loss of life on both sides that made the Battle Of Farebersviller a historical W.W. II battle.  It was almost left out of the history books.  Yet the Mayor of Farebersviller Laurent Kleinhentz, a member of French Parliament has written two best seller books on "The Battle of Farebersviller" even if the history writers in the USA have forgotten that battle, the French come to our rescue and the people of France know all the details of what happened.  The French consider the Battle Of Farebersviller one of the 4 great battles fought in France during W.W.II."

Virgil Myers

Honorary Citizen of France, June 2006

 

 

 

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