PFC Forrest H. Davies
Father, Soldier, Hero
Company L, 319th Infantry Regiment
80th Infantry Division
By Terry D. Janes
PFC Forrest H. Davies
I was contacted awhile back by the grandson of PFC Forrest H. Davies. The grandson is justly proud of his grandpa, and wanted to learn more about his military life. I told him that I would post a tribute to his grandfather on the site, and see what I could do about giving his family some answers. The request came at a time when I was very busy with personal matters, so my research on PFC Davies was much delayed and spread out over time. In a way, that turned out for the best, as I had more time to ponder this case, and the more I thought about it, the more intrigued and confused I became. I say confused, because some things about this case, such as the day he died, for instance, have conflicting information. As time progressed, and I dug deeper, and re-examined old material, I began to form a pretty accurate picture of this brave young father's heroism and eventual death serving his country and making the ultimate sacrifice.
From a letter in the family archives: "Forrest was born in Illinois and lived in Fillmore with his parents until he was five and one-half years old on May 10, 1914. At this time, he went with his parents four miles west of Fillmore where they went to live and prove up on a Homestead entry. When six, he attended school in Fillmore, living with his Davies grandparents.
In 1919, a schoolhouse was built in the Flowell district, and children from the farms had to get there as best as they could. Sometimes horseback, sometimes in a buggy or a roughly made sleigh the children called a Shiner. Temperatures very often in the winter dropped to 20 degrees below zero. He attended school in Flowell until he graduated from the Eighth Grade. Some of his teachers were Laura Hanson, Evilyn Bateman, Norris Jones and perhaps others. After this, children were brought to Fillmore to school by buses.
Forrest was very good at figures (math), and when in the lower grades, was always asking his father to give him problems to work without pencil or paper. He liked all kinds of athletics, especially boxing. He was very energetic; never seeming to be able to just being quiet. If he had a few minutes, he would be doing pushups or any kind of an exercise. This made him very strong for his size.
He dropped out of school early and went to Burbank, Utah to work for his Uncles Elmer and William (Bill) Davies, helping out with work on their ranch. Here, he worked until he was married and for some time after. He then went to Ely, Nevada and found work in the mines. He and his wife had differences, and were divorced. After this, he went to Provo, Utah and worked at the carpenter trade for his Uncle, Harry Hanson who was a contractor and builder. He had the custody of his three children and so brought them from Ely to live with their Davies grandparents.
In 1944, he was drafted into the service in World War Two. He was shipped overseas and saw service in Patton's Third Army. He met death January 19, 1945 while covering a retreat, being killed by a sniper near the town of Nocher, Luxembourg. He was awarded the Purple Heart (and the Bronze Star Medal for service beyond the call of duty. His body was interred in a cemetery in Luxembourg, but was brought home after three years and interred in the Fillmore City Cemetery. A military funeral was accorded him."
Private Forrest H. Davies was one of twenty-one men assigned to Company L, 319th Infantry Regiment, 80th Division on December 12, 1944 as replacements for men lost in battle. Company L was located at Merlenbach, France. Five days later, the company advanced to Singling, France on December 17th. Two days later, on December 19, the company marched four miles by foot to Hoelling, France, arriving at 4:45PM. The following day, the company was taken by truck three miles to a truck assembly area at Rohback, France, and to begin the 90-mile trip north to Dommeldange, Luxembourg. This was the famous event where General Patton turned his army around, and headed north to rescue the 101st Airborne at Bastogne in the Battle Of The Bulge. On Dec. 21, L Company moved by truck from Dommeldange to Brouch, Luxembourg. Once at Brouch, the company got conflicting orders that had them marching to and fro, but by day's end they were in defensive positions just north of Brouch.
On December 22, 1944, Pvt. Forrest Davies got his first taste of battle. At 5:00AM, the company left Brouch and marched by foot to Geiner for participation in a coordinated attack of 3rd and 12th Corps. The company marched by foot to Merzig and entered the town at noon with little enemy activity. However, before they could search and secure the town, enemy snipers, tanks and other defenses were encountered. By 5:00PM, the company had been in contact with the enemy for five hours and was preparing to engage the enemy yet again.
By the next day, someone at Headquarters must have thought that Company L was made up of supermen. From 8:00AM until 11:45AM, they were still clearing and securing Merzig, which still had Germans in the town. They took 200 German soldiers prisoner. They then received orders to march by foot to Oberfeulen, then to Heiderschied, then on to Tadler, with the mission to attack, search & secure the town, to seize and hold the bridge, and to search the river for a possible ford site. Tadler was taken by 5:00PM and three German prisoners were taken. Keep in mind that they marched through knee-deep snow in bitterly cold temps. Supermen, indeed!
On Christmas Eve, at 8:00AM, the company proceeded with the mission to establish the bridgehead at the Sauer River at coordinates 75.4-47.5, but found that the bridge had already been destroyed by the Germans. At 11:30AM, the company was ordered to organize and defend the high ground north and east of Heiderscheid. That was where they bedded down for the night. At 8:00AM on Christmas morning, they were ordered to march by foot to Tadler. They arrived at Tadler at 9:30AM and set up defensive positions and awaited further orders. After sitting and freezing for five days, the company finally got orders on Dec. 30 to proceed along the Sure River to search out and O/P river line and high ground North and Northeast of Heiderscheidergrund. Once they completed their objective, they were ordered to secure & O/P the town with reinforcements of one section of machine guns and one section of 57mm guns. At 4:00PM, two platoons of the company were ordered to march to Heiderscheid, to go into their old defensive positions North and Northeast of the town. It was in this situation that they welcomed in the New Year 1945.
From my book, "Patton's Troubleshooters":
"With the dawn of the new year, the 80th Infantry Division held a North-South line on the left (West) flank of the XII Corps. Confronting our positions from North to South were elements of three German Volks Grenadier Divisions: 9th, 276th and 352nd. With the route of the German's offensive in the Ardennes, the German attitude changed to one of aggressive defense and delay, in an effort to withdraw his battered remnants into the Siegfried Line. Enemy activity in the zone of the 80th Division from 1-5 January, consisted mainly of aggressive patrolling and moderate artillery, nebelwerfer and mortar fire throughout the sector. On 6 January, the 80th Division launched a limited objective attack across the Sure River and seized Goesdorf and Dahl. This attack took the Germans completely by surprise and caught them during the relief of elements of the 9th VG Division by elements of the 276th VG Division. Enemy resistance against our attacking forces steadily increased during the day, however, with heavy artillery and nebelwerfer concentrations slowing our advancing troops. During the ensuing three days, the enemy staged numerous counter-attacks on our Sure River bridgehead in efforts to recapture the commanding ground of this area. These attacks were accompanied by heavy artillery, nebelwerfer and mortar concentrations. All enemy thrusts were repulsed. Prisoners captured brought new identifications of the Fusilier Battalion of Der Fuehrer Brigade, elements of the 519th GHQ Heavy Anti-Tank Battalion and of the 406th Volks Artillery Corps.
The 702nd Tank Battalion S-2 Journal records the first nine days of January: “January 1; 8:00am-message that two civilians were caught in division area cutting wires. 9:00am-German plane overhead-guns open up, but did not score a hit. 1:00pm-three German planes overhead, bombing and strafing. Have red nose and German marking, resemble P-47's [see commentary at end of January's entries.]. German troops and vehicles at 79994929. 1:02pm-20 Germans moving in draw at 770447. 1:30pm-many German aircraft ten miles east of Mersch. 1:10pm-two German tanks 100 yards west of coordinates 845424. 1:12pm-two German tanks moving southwest at 847435, disappeared behind hill. 1:20pm-German activity observed at 799471. 1:30pm-eight P.O.W. deserters captured in the vicinity of Kehmen by wire patrol, identified as 6 from Engineer Platoon Company and Anti-tank Company. According to P.O.W.'s, Kehmen is occupied by an estimated 100 men from the engineer platoon. Higher headquarters reports seven tanks at P733512. 1:45pm-Flash: eight German planes reported ten miles north of Luxembourg. 1:52pm-four Germans east of Luxembourg, going south. 2:00pm-six German vehicles, one tank, troops and one horse-drawn anti-aircraft gun moving southeast at 850439. 2:15pm-German column previously reported in message of 2:00pm, coordinates now 865455, going northwest on road from Bastindorf to Brandenburg. 3:15pm-two German horse-drawn vehicles moving southwest out of Constheken, coordinates 7853 at 12:40 and 12:55pm. 9:00pm-German aircraft very active in the division sector. Germans continue to harass our positions with artillery, nebelwerfer and mortar fire. Small groups of German infantry and vehicles observed moving about the German rear areas. However, no predominant direction of movement can be determined.
January 2; 9:50am-6 rounds of estimated 105mm German artillery fell on 746455, coming from the northeast. 10:30am-one ME 109 heading south to north at 2,00 feet, at 777400. 11:35am-one diver, very high, going west. 11:40am-Haggle reports tunnel at 718461 clear. 11:55am-German standing guard in front of second building east of street in southeast part of the town of Scheidel. Four men observed working on this point. 11:59am-one jeep and one 2 1/2 truck moving east out of Goesdorf. 1:35pm-considerable small arms fire and mortar received from the vicinity of 665515. 1:36pm-an estimated battalion of Germans dug in on the high ground along the road from P706523 to P730511. Thirty Germans seen digging in along the road from P732508 to P733502. Bridge at P705538 and P712541 blown. German roadblock at P694522 covered by fire. 3:05pm-two hostile P-47's 15 miles south of here. 3:08pm-two P-47's dropped two incendiary bombs in Colmar. 5:20pm-Headache patrols are back-none out until 6:30pm. 8:25-two German tanks burning-pulled out of woods at 807444. Alot of activity at Welscheid. Twelve to fifteen Germans in the street in Welscheid at 4:30pm. 8:40pm-two trucks in the vicinity of Goesdorf. Observation post at 730500. Bridge blown at 712498. 10:00pm-German air force active in the division zone. Germans continue to harass our positions with artillery, nebelwerfers and mortar. Small groups of German infantry and vehicles observed moving about in rear areas.
January 3; 8:00am-small arms fire received in the vicinity of 823423, believed to be a German patrol. 8:30am-small arms fire coming from a point behind Burden and also from the east. 10:02am-four to five rounds of mortar fire received from the vicinity of 805408 at 9:55am. 10:45am-German artillery falling. 12:02pm-one German aircraft circling east at 7915. 2:22pm- Headache reports approximately ten rounds, estimated 120mm, artillery fell on the nose of "E" Company position at 11:55am. 12:55pm-four infantry howitzers or heavy mortars at P77504955. Three SP guns at P35154685. Five nebelwerfers at P85004900. Five nebelwerfers at 84954980. Four guns at P76555285. Four gun battery, possibly OCC at P76305290 and P79705035. 12:47pm-photos indicate bridge out at P83304170. Two SP guns at P8384425. 12:59pm-Haggle reports eight rounds of German artillery fell at Buderscheid. 1:20pm-approximately three rounds, estimated 120mm, mortar fire at 781449. 3:45pm-German small arms fire in the vicinity of Warren. Mortar received in the same vicinity, at 3:00pm-reported by Hamper. 4:12pm-civilians report 150-200 Germans in Kehmen in cellars. Field Train identified unit at P8052. Chow served at 9:00pm last night, at third house on left on the road leading to Bourscheid. Kehmen civilians report no Germans in Scheider as of yesterday. 9:00pm-several German platoons encountered during the night in the division zone. Artillery and mortar harass the division zone.
January 4; Located in the same vicinity of Rechange Les Mersch. 8:00am-small minefield at 728470, containing Teller mines. 8:30am-Germans contacted in Kehmen and Scheidel. German patrol of approximately thirty men dispersed at 788418. There was a firefight there at 6:45am. 9:00am-P.O.W. taken at 782450 from 6th Company, 208th Regiment-strength 35 men all in cellars of Kehmen-chow served along the road at 9:00pm. Between Kehmen and Bourscheid, just outside of town, there are no foxholes southwest of Kehmen. 10:00am-fourteen Teller mines at 722466. 11:52am-two German aircraft in sector P8027, altitude 5,000 feet. Noon-one P.W. from the vicinity of P782450 identified from 6th Company, 208th Regiment. P.O.W. states 6th Company strength approximately 35 men in cellars in Kehmen. Relieved engineer platoon the night of 2nd or 3rd of January. Engineer platoon reported to go into reserve, location unknown and at least another 40-50 men of unidentified infantry company also in Kehmen. P.O.W. was with six others on patrol to recon terrain in the vicinity of two burned tanks. P.O.W. not know of plans or rumors of counterattack plan. 2:13pm-German battery, estimated 75mm, firing intermittently from a position northeast of Goesdorf. Nebelwerfer battery firing from a position in Nocher-shells land in the vicinity of Kaundorf. 2:42pm-two rounds of artillery fell in the vicinity of Ettelbruck 822399. 3:00pm- Lt. Levine and Recon. made a study of routes above Heiderscheid and reported in that the only route available was Heiderscheid to Gothbay.
January 5; 7:00am-Germans heard talking in Kehmen last night. 9:43am-four to five men observed walking toward Scheidel, along the main road at 9:00am. 9:53am- unestimated number of German tanks in Kehmen at 9:15am. 10:20am-German SP gun fired one round from Kehmen at 9:15am. 12:20pm-two men on foot left woods 200 yards west of 805453, were replaced by two other men who enter woods at the same spot. 12:34pm-Germans reported walking around in Burden and Michelan. 1:07pm-one round of artillery every three minutes on railroad bridge P8239 east of Ettelbruck. 1:10pm-anti-personnel and anti-tank mine field covered by small arms fire between P838402 and P835412. 1:40pm-two Germans move from 727487 to Goesdorf at 1:15pm-fresh foxholes and tank or half-track tracks observed. 1:50pm-15 Germans in the vicinity of 852442 move northeast at 1:40pm."
It was on January 4th, that the half of PFC Forrest Davies Company L that was posted at Heiderscheid marched the mile and three-quarters and rejoined the rest of the company at Heiderscheidergund. By the next day, they were all in position to protect the high ground and maintain contact with Company K on their right. At 4:00AM on the 6th of January, the company marched by foot the two and a half miles to Buderscheid where they arrived at 5:15AM. Their orders were to proceed east from Buderscheid to take the town of Dahl at 7:00AM. When they arrived at the assembly area for their jump off, the orders were changed, and they sat and waited until 12:30PM. An hour later, the town had been taken, but they had encountered stiff resistance from the enemy who had many support weapons. The town had been shelled continuously. They were supposed to continue their attack to go take the town of Nocher, but since the 1st Battalion had not arrived at Dahl to relieve them until 5:00PM, they had to stay in place and hold Dahl. They had taken 23 prisoners and suffered 10 wounded at Dahl.
The 319th Infantry monthly report goes into more detail:
The 1st Battalion 319th Infantry moved under cover of darkness across the Sure River and proceeded to capture enemy at daybreak. Very little resistance was encountered and several prisoners were taken. At the same time, 3rd Battalion [which Company L was a part of] followed the 1st Battalion's advance north along the boundary of the 80th and 26th US Division with the purpose of attacking the town of Dahl from the west. 3rd Battalion ran into long-range machine gun & rifle fire, and was compelled to take a different route. Proceeded according to plan, and a number of prisoners were taken from the 987th and 988th Infantry Regiments of the 276th Volks Grenadier Division which was identified. 2nd Battalion occupied Goesdorf. Darkness halted operations. 66 Prisoners were taken during the day's operation.
Mission of the 319th Infantry was to carry out orders in Div FO#25. The bridge, except for one section of Treadway, was completed at 4:00AM and was passable for foot troops. 3rd Battalion (reinforced by the Mine Platoon, 319th), Company C (minus one platoon) of the 702nd Tank Battalion, Company A (minus one platoon) of the 610th Tank Destroyer Battalion crossed the Sure River at point P722466 at 4:00AM with foot elements and advanced on the road to Buderscheid and cut cross-country to be into position to attack Dahl. The Treadway bridge was completed by 4:30AM. 1st Battalion (reinforced with one platoon of Company C, 702nd Tank Battalion and one platoon of the 610th Tank Destroyer Battalion) crossed behind 3rd Battalion with foot elements at 5:30AM. At 6:50AM, 1st Battalion prepared to enter Goesdorf without artillery preparation. At 8:25AM, 3rd Battalion foot elements were 1,000 yards southwest of Dahl and began receiving very heavy enemy artillery and long range small arms fire from the north. 3rd Battalion troops were temporarily split by this fire, but Lt. Col. Cheston maneuvered his forces and reunited them for an attack on Dahl.
The tanks and tank destroyers were held up at the bridge crossing and just north of the crossing by a knocked out German tank clocking the road. The crossing was heavily shelled. One tank destroyer was set on fire by enemy artillery setting off it’s ammunition. This event further hindered movement of the tank destroyers and tanks. Company C, 305th Engineer Battalion removed the enemy tank that was blocking the road, sanded the road, and removed the tank destroyer from the road. The tanks and tank destroyers proceeded to their assigned respective battalions. At 9:50AM, 1st Battalion had nearly all of Goesdorf. Occupation of Goesdorf by the 1st Battalion was completed by 10:00AM. Company C, 702nd Tank Battalion joined 1st Battalion in Goesdorf. 3rd Battalion placed artillery concentration on Dahl, and jumped off in the attack at 12:30PM. Company I, 3rd Battalion swung northwest of Dahl, to block any threat from that direction. Company's K & L entered the town and began mopping up. At 1:35PM, Company D 702nd Tank Battalion was ordered to Goesdorf to aid in policing the town and to remain with 2nd Battalion when it relieved the 1st Battalion. The remaining tanks and tank destroyers were ordered to report to 1st Battalion in Goesdorf.
3rd Battalion had the town of Dahl at 2:00PM and were regrouping to advance on Nocher at 3:20PM. Company C (minus one platoon) of the 702nd Tank Battalion and Company A (minus one platoon) were on their way to 3rd Battalion at 2:00PM. 2nd Battalion was ordered at 3:00PM to move from Heiderscheid to Goesdorf. 3rd Battalion with tanks and tank destroyers jumped off at 3:45PM to attack Nocher. At 4:15PM, 3rd Battalion took up positions just north of Dahl and prepared for a possible counterattack from the north and northwest. They received heavy German artillery. 1st Battalion moved to Dahl and closed in town at 5:00PM. The forward Regimental Command Post was moved to Goesdorf and closed at 5:30PM. 2nd Battalion foot elements closed in Goesdorf at 6:00PM. The Regimental Anti-Tank Gun Platoon was attached to 2nd Battalion. 2nd Battalion was outposted to Goesdorf using Anti-Tank Platoon and Company D, 702nd Tank Battalion in the plan. 1st Battalion and 3rd Battalion prepared defensive positions with 1st Battalion protecting to the west and northeast of Dahl, and 3rd Battalion protecting from the north and northwest of Dahl. 2nd Battalion posted one platoon of Company F at point P728469 to guard the approach to the bridge. The I&R Platoon was sent on patrol from 3rd Battlaion, 319th Infantry to contact 2nd Battalion 104th Infantry at Buderscheid. At 11:00PM, I&R Platoon sent a patrol to guard the bridge crossing. All battalions held their positions for the night. Wire and radios were sent out to the battalions and supporting units, and radio was used to supplement wire due to heavy shelling.
The 80th Division G-3 report states that during the January 6th attack, one hundred four prisoners were captured. The next day, during a German counterattack, sixty-seven prisoners were captured. The 702nd Tank Battalion After Action S-2 report for January, 1945, filed by Capt. Carl Nordstrom stated that German units in contact, 79th VG Division, 226th VG Regt. located at Kehmen P7840, Scheidel P7845 and vicinity of Diekirch P8742. 208th VG Regt. located vicinity Ringel P7648. Elements of the 9th VG Division at Goesdorf P722466. 352nd VG Division in vicinity of Burden and Erpeldange. 276th VG Division in the vicinity of coordinates P709510. 519th GHQ Heavy A.T. Bn. in the vicinity of Dahl. Fuehrer Brigade in the vicinity of Dahl. 406th Volks Artillery Corps, in the vicinity of Roermerberg. German espionage/sabotage teams infiltrated U.S. lines in G.I. uniforms. This method caused our troops to be acutely sensitive to military security, making up for a laxity heretofore, very evident. The hills, many rivers and creeks aided the German holding action."
Bonifacio "Fish" Yraguen talked about the attack on Goesdorf January 6:
"On January 6, 1945, we made the attack on Goesdorf, across the Sure River. We well knew that we were going to get some hard opposition over there. Recon had been there and reported the day before. Lt. Prestridge told us to send all of our personal belongings home, because we're going to go into a mission, that we're going to lead on, across the Sure River, and we're going into Goesdorf. We didn't sleep very well that night, but I didn't let it bother me, because I figured they were going to kill me anyway, so why worry about it?
I started the tank up the next morning. I said to myself; "I guess this is it!" There was two foot of snow on the ground. I told the Lieutenant, "I cannot see the road." He said; "Just keep it in the middle of the road, about six feet from the ditch line. We got to the bridge at the bottom, and crossed the bridge, and started up towards Goesdorf. My tank went up that hill, and into Goesdorf. As we were entering Goesdorf, we looked off into a field to our left, and there's three big Tiger Tanks, right there! We moved a little further, and to our right, we saw four more.
Lt. Prestridge said; "Put this tank right up there, between those two buildings, and stop it right there." The Lieutenant jumped out of the tank, and was going between houses and stuff, he worked his way around to the back end, and found four more Tiger Tanks. Boy, they could have wiped us out and the whole outfit coming up the hill. One of the boys asked the Lieutenant; "Aren't we going to fire at them?" He said; "Do you think we are crazy? We are the only ones up here, and we are going to wait till the rest of them get up here, before we do anything!" We waited, and waited, and waited. Nothing coming! The Lieutenant got a call on the radio, saying that it was absolutely impossible to make it, because they were just spinning out in two feet of snow. All we did was sit there, smoke cigarettes, and sweat! Our troops didn't get in there, until way after dinner.
There was no infantry there with us [yet], we were alone. That was the scariest part of the whole war, for me. Just waiting there, knowing that at any minute, they could come and attack us, and waiting! If they had, we wouldn't have stood a chance. We were just waiting for them to come and kill us! We figured this is why the Lieutenant told us yesterday to send our belongings home. I didn't have any belongings, so I didn't send any home. We were ready to defend ourselves as best we could, because we wasn't going to give up to them! By God, we was going to defend! One tank rolled off the cliff trying to get up there. Then they got a big bulldozer on a tank. Sgt. Beard, "Pappy" used to run that blade, like a D8 Caterpillar, except this one was angled. Which was just perfect for that job. Until he got that road cleared, they just did not stand a chance of getting up that hill. "Pappy" Beard also remarked; "There isn't no tank that could go up here!" They said; "Yes, there is one, us!" Mad Dog!"
The Red Devils' S-2 Journal reported:
"January 6; Snow and ice-roads very slippery-visibility poor. 5:00am-all personnel up-attack taking off this morning. "C" and "D" Companies are in the attack. 9:20am-German column of foot troops on the road at P763491, moving north. 12:30pm-two volleys of nebelwerfer fire in the vicinity of Goesdorf, coming from the north. 12:50pm--nineteen rounds of nebelwerfer fire coming from the northeast, and falling in the vicinity of 748455. 1:00pm-Battalion Command Post moving out to Merzig. The Germans were surprised by our crossing. We now have tanks at Goesdorf. Five knocked out German tanks were encountered on the road. 2:45pm-German direct fire weapons at approximately 782439. Approximately 120mm mortar position at 75154850. Vehicular activity observed at the road junction. 105mm coming from northeast fell at 788409. 5:00pm-arrived at Merzig. 8:00pm-Division attacked toward Nocher -surprising elements of the 276th Volks Grenadier Division, who were relieving elements of the 9th Volks Grenadier Division. German resistance steadily increased during the period. Heavy artillery and nebelwerfer fire received throughout the division zone. Towns of Goesdorf and Dahl were cleared."
Ed Wizda described this day in his "C" Company, 702nd Tank Battalion diary: "Jan. 6: The morning brought with it a biting wind, freezing temperatures. Some of the turret rings were frozen. You cursed that, the war, the Heinies, everything. Approximately 6:00 A.M. the tanks left Heiderscheid with the infantry well in advance. Down the steep, slippery, winding road they went, the only road to Goesdorf and Dahl. After they had crossed the river, they proceeded up a 'spaghetti-like' steep hill, the steepest we've ever encountered. One false move meant tumbling down into nowhere. Almost on top of the mountain, the Sure River looked like a mud puddle. We were high enough now to shake hands with the observation planes that hovered over us. Goesdorf and Dahl were mainly an infantry affair with our tanks playing a protective role. Our 2nd Platoon worked with the 1st Battalion, 319th Infantry. Our 1st and 3rd Platoons were in support of the 3rd Battalion, 319th Infantry. On the approaches to Goesdorf, Lt. Marsh's 105mm Assault Gun went over an embankment. No one was injured. In taking both towns, only enemy artillery was the main hindrance. The Germans had left only a small portion of troops in both towns. A platoon of light tanks from 'D' Company remained in Goesdorf to repel any possible counter-attacks from there, while our company spent the night at Dahl. 'Screaming-meemies' played a dance of death all evening.
From my friend Bill Krehbiel's book, "The Pride Of Willing And Able", the story of Company L, 319th Infantry comes this entry for January 6, 1945:
"Sat 6 Jan 45 319th Inf crosses Sure River. The entire 3rd Bn attacks Dahl, Luxembourg.
L Company as a unit of the assault Battalion departs Heidersheidergrund at 0400 and conducts a long approach march over snow-covered wooded, and hilly terrain. It is snowing intermittently and is very cold. The attack position is occupied by 0700 for immediate jump off, but orders are changed and the company is required to remain in place until 1230. The assault is then kicked off against the village without preparatory fire. As L Company breaks from the woods it is well dispersed with all three rifle platoons abreast. The 2nd platoon is on the extreme left of the 3rd Battalion formation and also the left platoon in the Company's line of platoons. First platoon is in the center and 3rd on the right, flanked by K Company. Squads are extended in askirmishers and use marching fire to keep the enemy buttoned up. Wpns platoon is close on the heels of the rapidly advancing forward rifle platoons. German 88mm tank and artillery plus small arms fire results in several casualties during the attack phase, but the brave men of 3rd Bn advance steadily, dislodge the enemy garrison, and secure the town by 1330 hours. Intense enemy shelling resumes soon after. Twenty-three PW's are taken and several enemy are killed in the hour-long engagement. 1st Bn. in a separate action attacks and captures Goesdorf. Orders by 3rd Bn. to continue the attack and secure the town of Nocher are changed as 1st Bn. fails to close into Dahl until 1700.
The temperature is reported at eight degrees below zero. The sky is cloudy.
From Co Hqs Lt David Kirschbaum: "Referring to the Luxembourg map which I have before me containing the towns Nocher, Dahl and Goesdorf, I am prepared to describe to the best of my knowledge the attack in the snow into Dahl. The wooded ravines south and slightly west of Dahl depicted on the map reminds me of the tortuous route that Col Cheston led the outfit on that snowy morning. How he or his scouts ever found their way through snowy woods and steep ravines, with fir trees all around, with no roads to guide on is beyond me. However, around mid-morning on that day on 6 Jan 45, the company had reached a jump-off position in the woods near a road, then heavily snow-covered. The entire company was standing in the woods, on a slight down-slope, on the extreme left flank of the Bn, and freezing in the weather. We could not see the town we were going to attack, as the ridge in front of us obscured it from our view. To our front was a large snowy expanse of field, with at least one barbed wire fence and this small dirt trail leading from behind us, through our position in the edge of the woods, and across the field into Dahl. I don't recall whether the men were smoking or not, but I distinctly remember I was wearing the new leather combat boots with straps at the top I had requested, having been dissatisfied with the heavy cumbersome Shoepaks issued to the line outfits.
While we patiently waited for something to happen, all one hundred and thirty of us, very quiet in the snowy woods, I suddenly became aware that from behind L Company, three men were walking up the grade into and through our lines clad in white camouflage ponchos! Now at this time the U. S. forces did not have any white camouflage clothing, so guess who our intruders were? What I believe happened, in retrospect, is that the Germans were coming back from a patrol, or some other mission, but when they became aware they were moving through a company of enemy infantry they did the only thing they could do besides surrender. They just kept on walking and with their hoods over their heads, and rifles slung. They calmly strode thru the LD and we watched in silence as they moved across the fields towards the town. To fire and kill them would have informed the troops in Dahl that the Americans were in the woods preparing to attack. Due to the skill in Col Cheston's `stealthy approach' we were until then undiscovered. Well, I looked at one of my people or possibly Bob Grady, who knows, and said. `...well, they'll know we're here pretty soon.' Eventually we got the order to move out, and captured the occupants of an outpost in the field crouched in a shallow hole, without a shot being fired. It was a combat outpost, but when you're suddenly confronted with over a hundred armed riflemen and BAR men, all cold and menacing looking, you don't really open fire unless you have a death wish.
We managed to move halfway toward the town which by now was in plain sight, and our lead elements had bogged down in the comparative safety of a snowy sunken dirt road running from left to right. As we were expecting to be fired on any minute, I didn't blame the scouts and lead squads for making a brief halt, but we managed to get moving out thru the barbed wire fence on one side of the road, and still hopefully undetected, resume the attack. I recall giving one of our new lieutenants a `lift up' so he could crawl thru the wires, and hoped that he would not be unfortunate enough to get fired on by a machine gun and later blame me for letting him go first! Actually we managed to get into the town without too much trouble, but of course by the time the rifle platoons started to clear out the town and the Co Hq group was looking for a nice solid building for its CP, the Germans brought in a terrific artillery barrage which drove all of our men to cover in houses, cellars, garages and whatever protective security they could find. I recall being in the large house of the local burgermeister, with shells crashing all around, windows shattering and all in all an unpleasant place to be even though inside the relative safety of a building. Looking over to a large safe in a corner, I spied no one else but LTC Cheston, crouching there with a runner. How he got there with the attacking Infantry is beyond me, but he usually could manage to keep up with his men. Obviously the time interval in clearing out the town was longer than I recall, and perhaps we had the town when they fired their pre-arranged fire, but there he was. I believe he commandeered the building we wanted, so we found another building quickly as during the entire day it was unhealthy to walk around town. Later on when our kitchen came up and moved in and started preparing a hot meal, with the G. I. cans filled with hot water for washing mess kits, one of the cooks reported to me that some of his cans were punctured by shrapnel. But the real fun came later."
From Co Hqs T/5 John Balas: "Our next attack required us to go through enemy lines and attack a village about 3 miles into enemy territory. We started out before dawn and walked cross country through heavy snows, over a couple of ridges and at daybreak we were in a cluster of woods. This brought us on the flank of the village. We were to attack at 0800 after 1st Bn captured the village we bypassed. We were to hold up our assault till this was accomplished, but things didn't go according to plan. As we lay there in the snow we could hear the fierce fighting going on. We lay there for about 4 hours, no talking, smoking or doing anything which might give away our position. Suddenly, a German sentry, walking his post with a German Shepard dog, appeared on the horizon. Word went out to be very quiet. It was amazing, but neither the man or dog spotted us, I guess the wind must have been blowing over the ridge toward us. I couldn't get over it, an entire Bn of men lying there within 100 yds of that sentry and not being detected. Finally, the firing started to fade and we received word that the other town had been captured. We were to get a 5 minute barrage of artillery and then attack. After the barrage started, we got up and started to run over the ridge into the flank of the enemy. The snow was hip deep and I ran so hard that all I saw were red spots before my eyes. I definitely did not want to get pinned down in those woods. The enemy was caught completely by surprise as they expected the attack to come from their front. We were almost into the edge of the village before they were able to turn their guns on us. As we pushed forward into town, they retreated and we paused although the plan was to keep going on to the next village. By this time, the enemy recovered and started to lay down a murderous barrage of artillery and nebelwerfer (we called them `screaming meemies') rocket fire on us. My prayers were answered as we were ordered to hold up and set up a defense. We now were situated in a position like a finger tip on your hand with the enemy on three sides of us, about a mile ahead of the front lines. The enemy tried to cut us off, but K Company repulsed the counter attack. As we set up in a defensive perimeter, it started to snow heavily."
From 2nd Plt Pvt Bill Krehbiel: "In our attack of Dahl, Luxembourg, we began our approach march before daylight and descended to the bottom of the deep ravine through which the Sure River flowed, crossed the repaired bridge and began ascending a slope into the woods. Our route took us along the side of a defile that was covered with pine trees. The terrain was very rugged and though the cover was excellent, the pace was fast and through the deep snow, very exhausting. It snowed intermittently throughout the march and I recall at one point two members of 4th platoon, one carrying the base plate and the other an ammunition bearer for the 60mm mortar, dropped out of the column and no amount of encouraging could get them back on their feet, at least not at that point. A short while later I could hear German burp gun or machine gun fire to our front and flank and I remember wondering if it was being directed at us somewhere at the front of the column; however, my worst fears were unfounded. When we arrived at our assault position we were located on the left flank of our objective. We waited a long time in our attack position and were relieved that we weren't spotted and engaged by enemy mortar and artillery fire, which would have had a devastating effect. When we finally began our assault in mid-afternoon, I was the extreme left flank man in the entire Bn formation. Shortly after we cleared the tree line and out in the open area approaching Dahl, we began receiving 88mm artillery fire and I recall crouching because I was on the highest ground over which the shells were coming from left to right and I could just imagine one of these rounds parting my scalp.
As I turned my head to the right toward the lower ground where the rounds detonated, I recall having seen three of our men mortally wounded. You could always tell when a wound was instantly fatal because the victim dropped like a sack of cement. That triggered a learning point in my brain, which quickly spurred me forward. I never was to know how many casualties we sustained going in. When we neared the village, a German soldier bolted from a building and began a hasty exodus down a road heading to my left toward more secure surroundings. As he was running away with his back turned toward me I unlimbered my trusty M1 and sent a couple of shots his way only to be rebuffed by our platoon guide to hold my fire as the Kraut had his back turned. That order was difficult for me to reconcile. I'm reasonably certain that General Patton would never have approved. His philosophy was to kill the German soldiers quickly and as often as possible. I, too, thought that was our purpose, but I desisted and followed orders. It didn't take long to secure the few buildings in Dahl and our platoon went completely through the little village before coming to a halt. Immediately, we began consolidating our positions and made preparations for further action. The Jerries always counterattacked and you better have been prepared. Sure enough, that's what happened. We received a limited counterattack by some German Infantry attempting to infiltrate into town by crawling along some roadway ditches but we repelled them. The weather was extremely cold and my feet felt as though they were going to drop off, most of the freezing coming from the long wait we had in our attack position. The durability of the human body is amazing."
From 3rd Plt Lt Grady: "Our 305th Engineers completed repair of the bridge over the Sure River on 5 Jan. This had been a most difficult project, as the bridge site was subject to frequent mortar/artillery fire, plus the continued intense cold. Completion of the bridge enabled the 319th to go on the offensive, the 3d Bn, with Co L in the lead, moved out in the very early hours of 6 Jan. (Just beyond the bridge, on the far bank of the Sure, near a knocked-out American half-track, an enemy mortar burst wounded Sgt Willis Ransone of the 4th Plt. He related this incident to me years later, and further advised it was John Flynn who loaded him in a jeep, for transport to the 3d Bn aid station). Third Plat was at the head of the column. After a brisk march of above an hour, Capt Moe and I met with LTC Cheston and his S-3 to receive final instructions on how to approach Dahl, the initial 3d Bn objective. The meeting took place in a small shack next to the road. (Please understand that I was not in the habit of meeting with the 3d Bn commander). The 3d Plat was designated to remain in the lead, on the way to the attack assembly area. LTC Cheston, in a measured, firm voice gave his instructions on where Co L would leave the road, the direction of advance, the importance of maintaining silence, and where Co L would eventually halt to await the command to attack. As the Bn commander gave his orders, his S-3 held a flashlight on the map, and this shivering 2d Lt listened intently.
LTC Cheston finally removed the tip of his fat forefinger from the map, at the place we would leave the road, make a 90 degree turn to the right, to enter the woods, and in the dim light of the flashlight the contour lines seemed stacked at extremely close intervals, meaning a very sharp rise in the ground. To further complicate matters, the advance in darkness, through brush, woods, and knee deep snow, was to be made on a given compass azimuth. T/Sgt Joe Hudock and I attempted to climb the steep and rocky hill to enter the woods at the point designated, and we failed. So much for relying on a map reconnaissance. Without consulting anyone, Joe and I took an adjusted compass reading, selected an alternate and more accessible route to the ridge line, and continued on the azimuth given in the attack order. It was slow going. We cut several enemy telephone lines crossing our path, by-passed an enemy roadblock/outpost in the valley to our left and after what seemed like an eternity, arrived at the assembly point, which was in a depression, clear of the woods. With the coming of dawn, we could hear sounds of battle as another of the 319th battalions attacked Goesdorf, a town on our right front. From our position it was not possible to see our objective town, but Lt Kirschbaum snaked his way to the forward lip of the depression, and returned with the information we had hoped to hear — Dahl was directly to our front.
When the word to attack was given, we scrambled from our sunken assembley area, and out into the open. There were a few enemy positions in our line of advance which were quickly overrun. Trying to run through 18" of snow is difficult, and to make matters worse, in my path was a fence with the top strand waist high and clear of the snow. I somehow made it over the fence, but in doing so my field glasses, carried on a strap, swung around my neck and hit me in the mouth, breaking a front tooth. Dahl's buildings generally followed a `U' shaped street, with the 3d Plat responsible for the NW section of town. I found a solid looking building (it appeared to be the town hall) that would make an ideal 3d Plat CP, and made plans accordingly. Unfortunately for me, LTC Cheston and part of his command group arrived and declared `my house' would become his CP. At about this time the Germans began to shell Dahl, and I dove behind a piano while LTC Cheston took a position in back of a huge safe. (This incident was recalled in conversation with LTC Cheston at the 80th Div reunion in Philadelphia in 1964). The 3d Plat CP was established in a house occupied by a family, and it was most distressing when they showed me the body of their teen- age daughter, a victim of the attack. During our stay, the family remained in the cellar. The upper floor was one large room, with a small kitchen on the front, or street side.
Soon, elements of the 80th 702d tank battalion arrived, and took up positions on the street, including one tank at our front door. This tank was commanded by S/Sgt Farrington, and we welcomed him and his crew to share our quarters, and the heat from the kitchen stove. We were glad to have the armor with us even though they had a tendency to draw the enemy's attention and fire. On Jan 7th 'our' tank took a hit and seriously wounded its commander, who was positioned in the opened turret at the time. The 3d Plat had one squad quartered in a barn, the last building on the street, on the North side of town. They were supported by a section of LMG from our 4th Plat, and later a tank destroyer with its 90 mm gun moved up alongside the barn. The remaining members of the 3d Plat took up positions in the open ground, on a slight rise, to the front of our 3d Plat CP. Digging in the frozen ground was next to impossible, and because of the intense cold, relief of these positions was made at frequent intervals. Actually, Dahl was not the final objective for the 3d Bn that day. We were supposed to clear out Dahl and continue the attack to our final objective, the town of Nocher."
From 3rd Plt Sgt Barrett: "The night before our attack on Dahl, Frank Longo came to my squad as a replacement. I took him as my buddy as we always put a new man with a seasoned vet, to try to help him get to understand about combat. When we came out of the woods and started across the big field to Dahl, bullets were flying around and Longo laid down on the ground in the snow. I finally got him back on his feet and realized he was in shock. I slapped him and was shaking him and trying to get him moving when a bullet missed me by inches and caught Longo in the neck. He dropped. I took off. When we got things under control, I told a medic about Longo and pointed in the direction. He and another medic went back and found Longo. He was alive and they saved him. The German that fired the shot had two men standing together and almost got both in one shot. Had his shot been twelve inches lower, he would have got both of us because we were lined up just right. Frank Longo had lasted five minutes in combat. I heard later that his vocal cords were damaged. I would like to know if he is still living. I think he was from New York. In Dahl we went to the left side of town and took over a large two story stone house that had the stable built on the side. This was so the animals could be cared for in snowbound weather. The only animal left was a very large, very old billy goat and he hadn't had a bath in years. If you turned your back on him he would butt you. He would stand guard with us and became well liked and was really one of the squad. We had been there for three or four days when the old goat caught a piece of shrapnel in, I think the lungs, and was killed."
From 3rd Plat PFC Coleman: "I'll never forget Dahl with the cold deep snow. I recall that we had to cross what appeared to be a fence row which had brush projecting above the snow level. The Germans of course had this covered with machine guns. In order to cross the fence row with the snow so deep we sort of had to roll over the brush. This is where I left my overcoat. It hampered my mobility too much. We did get over this obstacle and continued into Dahl and were outposted in what I recall as a barn-like structure in the left corner of the village. When not on duty, we stayed in the cellar which was partially filled with sugar beets."
From Wpn Plt PFC Chism: "When we jumped off to take the town of Dahl, Luxembourg, it was a terrible time. Back before I was shipped over, when I was issued my raincoat, I was asked what size I wanted. I said I wanted the biggest one he had. He said you're big but not that big, but I insisted that I have the biggest raincoat. That and 5 or 6 pair of sox was the most important items I had. Wading in that deep snow was hard traveling - with my extra six, I always had a dry pair! Dahl and Nocher was where I used up all of my nine lives several times! We moved into Dahl and none of our guys were hurt, so we moved on out to the edge of town where there was a combination house-barn. We set up headquarters there. The first nite we set up machine guns to shoot out through the stall doors so we could give covering fire. A big counter attack came then but we couldn't do anything as we were too far away.
Whenever the Germans were turned back, they came by our barn in streams. We could do nothing but sit there and listen to them and hope none of them stopped by! We were glad to get out of that mess so the next day we moved back in closer and set up in a barn again. It was a big barn and had been used to raise hogs with cement stalls about four feet tall. So we cleaned one stall out and put fresh straw in there and situated ourselves there and felt safer with the concrete walls around us. We were in there the day the plane came over and bombed us. The tanks were setting outside the door to the west and had their markers up, but the plane kept coming by and dropped 2 bombs and just barely missed the roof of the barn, and never hurt anything but sure vibrated that barn roof. The second time they came around, the tanker was on the radio giving someone heck `cause it was our own planes, and he was trying to get them off of us. So he said if you can't contact them, we will, and they did not come back again so they must have gotten the message. We were sitting on guard duty, and because the ground was so frozen, we could only dig a little deeper than 20 inches, and we heard this screaming meemie coming in, so we got down in the hole. It went off about 50 yds from our hole, and the concussion about blew us out of the hole. We came back down in the hole all right and could hear the thing sizzling thru the snow towards us. It stopped just before it got to us. We were lucky enough that whenever a counterattack came I wasn't on the gun. I think there were three counterattacks. Fortunately everybody manning defenses was brave enough to hold their ground. The talk was that there was one of our tanks out there with a track off but he still got 3 German tanks while he was setting out there immobilized. Our mortars got a work-out but good during the action at Dahl.
Everytime a counterattack would start, they would keep their mortars busy with flares. We heard that between the time the third counterattack was over with, there weren't any more mortar flare shells left in the whole division - we'd shot them all up. The attacks lasted for quite a while and it gave everyone a better chance as well as the Germans. They were clad in their white camouflage uniforms and it made it harder to see them in the snow background. That was very important and the mortarman did a good job as they kept flares coming down - making quite a bit of light as they came down."
Casualty Rpt: Total (11)
BAT 11; LWA 11: T/Sgt Olan Nugent, Sgt Ervin E Janousek, Sgt Willis G Ransone, Pvt Harry E Brownworth Jr, Pvt Felix C Graniello Jr, Pvt Bolac J Kulig, Pvt Frank J Longo, Pvt Henry J Miller, Pvt John P Niedzwiedz, Pvt Hyman E Topper, Pvt Clarence VanConant
RTD: Fr 12th Evac Hosp, S/Sgt Cromer, Oscar E; Fr 101st Evac Hosp, PFC Ziech, Willie G
Company L, 3rd Battalion, 319th Morning report for the next day read:
Company remains in area 78.5-49.9 Dahl, Luxembourg. Company installations plus attached heavy weapons include defenses of sector north of town. This organization is unit of two reinforced battalions defending town. At 3:15AM, enemy counterattack was initiated with infantry, armor and strong support weapons. Enemy assaulted defenses for 2 1/2 hours without success. Enemy had many casualties. Defense of town was further improved against expected renewal of enemy counterattacks.
The Red Devils' S-2 Journal reported:
January 7; Snowy, icy, slippery hills hard to travel, and visibility poor. 10:20am-roadblock of felled trees with anti-personnel mines near 758485. 10:25am-15 to 20 man patrol of Germans at coordinates 774448. Vehicular movement to the ridge at Scheidel. 11:00am-400 German troops located in the draw south of Backlutz. Four 88mm guns reported at 7650, by Major Sammons. Germans firing in the direction of Wilwerwiltz. Artillery corps reported firing in the 80th Division Sector-six battalions, all combat companies, by Captain Nordstrom. 2:00pm-Germans moved south from Nocher to the vicinity of 735505 and digging in along a line running east to west to that point. 4:43pm-German column of troops estimated at company strength, observed moving north on the road from P758489 to Goesdorf. 10:00pm-heavy German artillery and mortar concentrations received throughout the period by our units occupying the high ground surrounding Dahl and Goesdorf. Reports from P.O.W.'s indicated German concentrations north and east of our bridgehead across the Sure River. We observed considerable movements behind the German front lines. Reported intermittent artillery and mortar fire.
The 319th Infantry monthly report for January 7 states:
During the morning of January 7, the enemy effected a strong counterattack by the Gros Deutschland Brigade and the 519th Panzer Tank Battalion. The attack was made on the north and northwest of Dahl. At the same time, a battalion of the 226th Infantry Regiment attacked Goesdorf from the east. Both attacks were repulsed with very heavy losses to the enemy. During the night, our artillery had taken very heavy losses on the enemy. The area around Goesdorf was well prepared by the 319th Infantry and although the enemy's attack was vigorous and strong, they were repulsed with heavy losses. Eight tanks and assault guns were known to be destroyed and at least two more were believed to have been hit. The enemy withdrew their previous positions and harassed our positions with continued mortar and artillery fire. Considerable number of deserters were taken from the 1st Battalion, 226th Infantry Regiment. Deserters had stated [information] of the enemy counterattack, and enabled us to prepare for it. Morale of the 226th Infantry Regiment was not good; however the morale of the Gros Deutscheland must be considered very good. Although it is known that elements of the 987th and 988th Infantry Regiments were in the vicinity of Goesdorf, they did not participate in the counterattack. Also, it is known that at least one battalion of the 212th Infantry is in the vicinity of Goesdorf. Officer prisoners from the Gros Deutscheland stated that a large scale attack would be made in this vicinity by several divisions. Exact time and place was not determined. Terrain in this area is rolling deep ravines and draws extending to the north, northeast, west and south. All infantry attacks seemed to use these. Prisoners stated that our artillery used its time fire with good effect. Maps and documents the division PW point for study. Civilians in this sector generally remained in their cellars due to the heavy fighting. Statements from various officers and enlisted men that had contacted some of the civilians stated that they appeared to be very cooperative.
The mission of the 319th Combat Team was to hold its present position. 2nd Battalion sent Company E reinforced by Company D, 702nd Tank Battalion to make a reconnaissance in force from Goesdorf to Bockholz and occupy the village. At 9:41AM, Company E moved out and at 10:00Am ran into small arms fire at point P738486. Company E became engaged in a firefight with a strong enemy force. Enemy used tanks in firefight with Company E. Company E was ordered to withdraw to its original position in the east sector of Goesdorf. Prisoners taken during the engagement stated that a force estimated as a battalion reinforced with medium tanks were preparing to attack and seize the town from the woods and draw to the east of Goesdorf with devastating effect. By 12:25PM, the enemy had withdrawn. 3rd Battalion sent a strong patrol, which swept the woods to the west of Dahl and contacted the 104th Infantry at Buderscheid. This patrol met no enemy. One platoon of tank destroyers from the 3rd Battalion sector was ordered to report to the 2nd Battalion in Goesdorf for a mechanized security of the town. 317th Infantry sent a platoon (reinforced) to guard the bridge crossing at P722446. Company F road block at point P729469 consisted of a rifle platoon plus two bazookas and one AT gun and was reinforced by one section of 80th Reconnaissance Troop consisting of two M-8's, two 27mm guns, two 50 caliber machineguns, six 30 caliber machineguns and two bazookas. The Regimental I&R Platoon maintained contact with the 2nd Battalion, 104th Infantry, 26th Infantry Division. 2nd Battalion held a perimeter defense of Goesdorf with 1st and 3rd Battalion outposted at Dahl. Company C, 305th Engineer Battalion continued to maintain roads, prepared road block of 14 AT mines at P730469. Holes dug but mines were not actually emplaced. The minefield was covered by small arms fire of Company F platoon.
Ed Wizda's C Company, 702nd Tank Battalion entry for the 7th states:
Jan. 7: Still very cold and all crews were remaining in their tanks at all times. It was a 24-hour alert and anything could happen. Each tank became an icebox (competition for the Frigidaire after the war.) and at times the cold was unbearable. It was still hot in both towns, though as far as artillery was concerned.
From Bill Krehbiel's Pride Of Willing And Able:
Sun 7 Jan 45 3rd Bn consolidates positions and begins intensive preparation of defensive positions in anticipation of a suspected German counterattack. At 0315 a counter attack is launched by enemy armor and infantry, but after two and a half hours of intense fighting the enemy is beaten back.
The weather is blustery and extremely cold.
The 610th Tank Destroyer Battalion mentioned:
The Germans reacted to the Division's crossing of the Sure River on January 7th, when they launched a counterattack against `A' Company's positions in the vicinity of Nocher. The 2nd Platoon used 60 mm illuminating flares to light up the target and silhouette the attacking force. They destroyed two enemy tanks in this action. The Battalion CP which was located in Neiderfeulen at this time, was being paid a lot of unwelcome attention in the form of artillery fire but no damage was inflicted." McGrann
Casualty Rpt: Total (11)
BAT 11; SWA 1: PFC James W Cummings; LWA 9: T/Sgt Steve Huml Jr, PFC George R Anderson, PFC Raymond F Hillis, PFC Vernon L Knudsen, PFC James E Longanetta, PFC Nathan D Romeley; Pvt Forrest H Davies, Pvt George P Tichacek, Pvt Robert E Yergho; LIA 1: Pvt Robert T Hall
In his memoirs, Bill Krehbiel says:
Sun 7 Jan 45 - Moved to eastern edge of Dahl and quartered in a small kitchen, which had not been heavily damaged. It was a suitable shelter and provided protection from the extreme cold and blizzard type weather conditions we were experiencing as well as the enemy fire. After dark we began digging a line of defensive positions on the high ground at the forward edge of town and consolidating our positions in preparation for a suspected German counterattack. I was still equipped with one of the old issue entrenching tools (a T handled shovel World War I inventory) where tools of separate description were issued to a team of 3 men - the other tools being an ax and a pick-mattock. I had just begun digging when the handle on my shovel broke and I was forced to borrow a pick to break through the frozen ground. Lucky for me, I was able to get a hole started in that frozen, rocky soil - it later saved my life.
At Pvt. Forrest Davies' Company L, 3rd Battalion, 319th Infantry, the morning report for January 8 states:
Company remains in area 78.5-49.9 Dahl, Luxembourg. Our mission is to hold and protect the sector north of town. At 1:30AM, the company was alerted for a counterattack, which was forced to withdraw. At 5:30AM, a strong enemy again attacked with infantry and armor and many heavy artillery support weapons. Attack was continued for 5 1/2 hours. Enemy tried to breach this organizations defense across the entire company front. Five tanks, one half-track and many enemy small arms were taken or destroyed in unit's area. 13 prisoners were taken, and 45 enemies were killed.
The 319th Infantry Monthly Report for the 8th reads:
Enemy barrage directed at Goesdorf and Dahl at approximately 5:30AM, and 1st Battalion reported enemy approaching their position from the draw to their northeast. 2nd Battalion received enemy infantry attack from the draw to the east of Goesdorf simultaneously with the attack against 1st Battalion. At 6:30AM, 1st Battalion received enemy infantry pressure from the northwest. 1st and 2nd Battalions directed artillery fire on the attack forces with good effect. 3rd Battalion was attacked from the northwest with infantry and tanks. The attack was preceded by enemy artillery fire. 3rd Battalion and 1st Battalion reinforced by fires of Company A 610th Tank Destroyer Battalion and Company C 702nd Tank Battalion placed deadly fire on the enemy infantry and tanks. Eight enemy tanks are known to be knocked out and an unnumbered amount of enemy dead littered the fields. 2nd Battalion reinforced by the fires of Company D, 702nd Tank Battalion and the artillery fire of the 905th Field Artillery Battalion (reinforced) stopped the enemy and inflicted heavy casualties on enemy personnel. By 12:00 Noon, the enemy limited his activity to artillery fire. 905th Field Artillery Battalion (reinforced) continued to harass the enemy with their fire. One platoon of Company A, 610th Tank Destroyer Battalion was detached from 3rd Battalion to be attached to 2nd Battalion at Goesdorf. Due to casualties sustained by Company A 610th Tank Destroyer Battalion, 319th Infantry Regiment requested an additional platoon of tank destroyers, One platoon of Company B, 610th Tank Destroyer Battalion reported to Goesdorf and was attached to 3rd Battalion [Note: this may be an error, and they may have intended to write "2nd Battalion", because at this point, the 319th's 3rd Battalion was located at Dahl.] Two tank destroyers returned from 3rd Battalion for repair. Maj. Gen. Horace L. McBride commended 319th Infantry Regiment (Reinforced) for its determination and skill in the defense of Goesdorf and Dahl. Battalions held their positions for the night. C Company, 305th Engineer Battalion mined to the front of Company L's position and maintained the road net in the regimental zone. Bazooka, grenades and illuminating mortar shells used during the enemy counterattack.
The 319th Infantry writer above mentioned that the 610th Tank Destroyer Battalion had "casualties sustained", and further attention needs to be paid to the 610th Tank Destroyer Battalion's history written by it's Capt. McGrann regarding the Jan. 8th German counterattack:
"Another counterattack was launched at `A' Company's positions in the vicinity of Dahl at 5:00AM on the 8th of January. This attack was also supported by tanks. The company again used the flares and the 1st Platoon knocked out a Mk VI tank while the 2nd Platoon destroyed two Mk VI's and three Mk V's. During this action one of the destroyers received a hit through the motor and the crew abandoned the vehicle, believing it about to burn. Finding that it did not ignite, DePhillipus and Weinburg remanned the weapon and were successful in destroying two of the Mk VI tanks at a range of less than 100 yards. One of the 2nd Platoon probables of the day before was confirmed as a Mk VI destroyed. `A' Company had one man killed in the action."
Damaged Company A, 610thTank Destroyer in Dahl, Luxembourg After The January 8th Battle
Knocked out German Panzer V tanks, Dahl, Luxembourg from the January 8th Battle
Company C, 702nd Tank Battalion Red Devils' Bonifacio "Fish" Yraguen mentions the German counterattack on Dahl on Jan. 8th:
"Lt. Prestridge was the bravest man I ever met in my life. I stayed right with him. We went on up into Dahl, and stayed there overnight. It was just a nice big flat town, on top of a big plateau. During the night, we had a hell of a strong barrage of artillery. Just a terrible one. They were hitting every two or three feet! In fact, one hit our tank right in the back, towards the motor. We didn't know exactly where it hit, but we heard it! We were afraid that it might catch afire. We all got into positions to defend ourselves. After that big, heavy artillery, everything went quiet. Just real quiet! Man, I knew something was coming, you know! I jumped out of that tank.
I was on guard with Tom Winford on the tank. Tom said; "Boni, you better go in there and wake that Lieutenant up, and get that tank crew back here!" I said; "That's a good idea, cause sure as hell, we are going to get a counterattack!" I went into the building, and the Lieutenant was tired, asleep, hard. I shook him, and I shook him, and I shook him, to wake him up. I got him awake, and I told him; "Lieutenant, there is a counterattack coming." He said; "Oh Jesus Christ, there isn't going to be such a thing." I said; "By God, there is too, Lieutenant!" I went back to the tank. A couple minutes, three minutes, five minutes, here starts the attack on us.
They come in with infantry, against our tanks. They didn't stand a chance. We mowed them down. Then their tanks came in, and by God, we knocked the hell out of their tanks too! These were all big tanks, Panthers. Their infantry, oh man, did they come at us! They got to within ten to fifteen feet of our tanks. One wave, then two more. Boy, we just kept mowing them down. There was one of those infantry men that got to within ten to fifteen feet of us, and he could still shoot at us. The damned dummy, he should have known he couldn't penetrate that tank. We couldn't get our tank guns down low enough to get him, so the Lieutenant got him with the .50 caliber anti-aircraft machine gun. When we woke up the next morning, there were dead Germans laying all over that field, laying like a band of sheep would, all close together."
From the journal entry from Company C, 702nd Tank Battalion:
"Jan. 8; At 3:00 A.M. everything seemed peaceful. Everyone was on the alert. Then the Germans 'let loose' with a terrific barrage - the worst ever encountered. The 3rd Army's worst and strongest counter-attack had begun. A German regiment, plus tanks were moving in for the kill. They had plenty of surprises. As the white-clothed Heinies came down the hill, our infantry machine guns and the 30 cal.’s from the tanks mowed them down. Tracers were all over and they chased away the darkness with them. S/Sgt. Shaulis, looking through his field glasses, saw a mass of blackness that looked nothing more than a manure pile. When he saw a head move on that so-called manure pile, he knew he was face to face with a German Mark V. The tank was already aiming its gun on Sgt. Beard's blade. With one shot Cpl. Beadle got the tank. The shell landed under the gun. The Heinies can really evacuate tanks in a hurry, too. Those guys proved that. Our T.D.'s and infantry bazooka teams made short work of the remainder of the tanks. We had three casualties during the fierce counter-attack - Cpl. Zedalis LWA, Cpl. Porzuzek LWA, and P.F.C Sudal LWA. They were hurt when one of our hand grenades exploded inside the turret. When the sun came up over Dahl this morning, it gave us a full view of the havoc, death and destruction that we had inflicted upon the enemy. Later in the day, Prestridge and his platoon left for Goesdorf. Two platoons stayed in Dahl. Our trains were still in Heiderscheid."
The 702nd Tank Battalion S-2 Journal entry for this date:
"January 8; Vicinity of Merzig, snow all night-visibility poor and the roads are icy and slippery. 7:00am-heard considerable German air activity during the night. Heavy artillery barrage at 5:00am. 9:16am-estimated 3-inch gun firing in the vicinity of 809425-30 rounds heard from east to west. 9:18am-"C" Company recovery vehicle knocked out by German action. 9:20am-ten German tanks and infantry going down the draw southwest of Dahl to end over and retake Goesdorf from the southeast. 9:50am-three P.O.W.'s captured were identified from 2nd Company, 226th Regiment. One P.O.W., wounded, from Der Fuehrer Brigade. Sporadic artillery fire in the vicinity of Goesdorf and Dahl. 2nd Company, 226th Regiment had 30 men and suffered heavy casualties. This morning's mission to attack from the northeast to take the high ground north of Goesdorf. Battalion command post at P75194848. Six tanks knocked out by tank destroyers and one by bazooka. 10:50am-German troops observed in draw at 771, running north from 45 to 47, also observed in draw at 768479. 10:53am-estimated German platoon observed at 768498. German patrol at 790473. 12:44pm-German infantry at 818474, also southeast of Harterdach, also north of 774484 and 786495, moving along the road. 1:49pm-horse-drawn supply train at Harterdach. 88mm gun in the same vicinity. Two or three German snipers at 764487. One German tank in the vicinity of Bockholl. 2:01pm-P.W. reports light battery at 740509. Heavy battery at 739516. Most of artillery north of Wiltz flashes during preparation indication of 6-8 battalions of artillery in 72-78 grids. Enemy artillery along the road east and west of Nocher, also the high ground north of the river. Movement along the road west of Nocher. 10:00pm-heavy German artillery concentration preceded strong German counterattack with tanks and infantry from northwest, north and southeast on our positions in the vicinity of Dahl and Goesdorf. "C" Company attack was repulsed with heavy loss of tanks. Harassed with artillery and mortar fire throughout division zone. P.O.W.'s-5. Tanks destroyed today-9. Total 127 tanks. Total prisoners-11,575. Continued to snow during the period."
Over at Company B, 1st Battalion, 319th Infantry during the January 8th German counterattack, the Germans encountered Sgt. Day Turner. The official citation says it best:
DAY G. TURNER
Rank and organization: Sergeant, U.S. Army, Company B, 319th Infantry, 80th Infantry Division.
Place and date: At Dahl, Luxembourg, 8 January 1945.
Entered service at Nescopeck, Pa. Birth: Berwick, Pa. G.O. No.: 49, 28 June 1945.
Citation: He commanded a nine-man squad with the mission of holding a critical flank position. When overwhelming numbers of the enemy attacked under cover of withering artillery, mortar, and rocket fire, he withdrew his squad into a nearby house, determined to defend it to the last man. The enemy attacked again and again and were repulsed with heavy losses. Supported by direct tank fire, they finally gained entrance, but the intrepid sergeant refused to surrender although five of his men were wounded and one was killed. He boldly flung a can of flaming oil at the first wave of attackers, dispersing them, and fought doggedly from room to room, closing with the enemy in fierce hand-to-hand encounters. He hurled hand grenade for hand grenade, bayoneted two fanatical Germans who rushed a doorway he was defending and fought on with the enemy's weapons when his own ammunition was expended. The savage fight raged for four hours, and finally, when only three men of the defending squad were left unwounded, the enemy surrendered. Twenty-five prisoners were taken, eleven enemy dead and a great number of wounded were counted. Sgt. Turner's valiant stand will live on as a constant inspiration to his comrades. His heroic, inspiring leadership, his determination and courageous devotion to duty exemplify the highest tradition of the military service.
Sgt. Turner was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his actions on January 8, 1945, and was then Killed In Action one month later, on Feb. 8, 1945.
Turner House, Dahl, Luxembourg: This is where Sgt. Day Turner fought off the German assault.
Monument To S/Sgt. Day Turner at Dahl, Luxembourg
The 702nd Tank Battalion had a man awarded the Bronze Star Medal for heroism for his actions on January 8th:
Cpl. Lawrence P. Kelley - During an enemy counter-attack early in the morning of 8 Jan., '45, in Dahl, Luxembourg, Cpl. Kelley, while in his tank as gunner, observed that an explosion in a nearby tank had set fire to the tank and not only threatened to explode the ammunition store, but offered an excellent target for the enemy. Disregarding the danger from the artillery and small arms fire accompanying the counter-attack, Cpl. Kelley left the protection of his tank and with a fire extinguisher succeeded in quenching the fire, thus saving a valuable tank and removing a tactical hazard. Awarded the Bronze Star with Oak Leaf Cluster.
My dear friend, Bill Krehbiel, also of Pvt. Forrest Davies Company L, 319th Infantry was awarded a medal for heroism for the battle on January 8th:
The actual citation reads as follows: "Bill J. Krehbiel, 37746938, Sgt. (then a PFC), Co. L, 319th Infantry, United States Army. For heroic achievement in Luxembourg on 8 January 1945, in connection with military operations against an enemy of the United States. Near Dahl, Luxembourg, Sgt. Krehbiel, at an outpost, successfully withstood the weight of a fierce enemy counterattack to allow the company to deploy advantageously. When the enemy withdrew, he left his foxhole, fired as he moved, and captured a hostile enemy machinegun crew. Sgt. Krehbiel's heroic stand and sincere devotion to duty are commensurate with the highest traditions of the armed forces of the United States. Entered military service from Kansas." Sept. 21, 1945
Besides Bill Krehbiel, our Pvt. Forrest Davies of L Company was also awarded the Bronze Star for Heroism. Sadly, I do not have the actual citation, just the certificate:
While we may not have Forrest Davies Bronze Star Medal Citation, there were a unusually large number of medals awarded for the battle at Dahl, and perhaps we can get an idea of the sort of thing that Forrest Davies did to earn his medal, by examining the citations of his peers:
Edward Perdue, 35437731 Private First Class, Infantry
For heroic achievement in Luxembourg on 7 and 8 January, 1945 in connection with military operations against an enemy of the United States. During the defense of Dahl, Luxembourg on 7 and 8 January, 1945, PFC Perdue, a company messenger, volunteered to keep intact the extensive communication net of his heavy weapons company. Severe enemy artillery and rocket fire repeatedly destroyed the communications wires. PFC Perdue, disregarding the danger, worked night and day in exposed positions to find and repair breaks in the lines. His courage and unhesitating devotion to duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of the armed forces of the United States. Entered military service from West Virginia. Awarded the Bronze Star Medal.
Franklin C. Retchless, 01081524 First Lieutenant, Infantry
For heroic achievement in Luxembourg on 14 January, 1945 in connection with military operations against an enemy of the United States. On 14 January, 1945, near Dahl, Luxembourg, Lt. Retchless, a platoon leader, voluntarily led a litter squad to within seventy five yards of enemy guns to evacuate a seriously wounded soldier. Despite five hours of continuous enemy fire, he persevered in his mission successfully rendering first aid and evacuating his wounded comrades. Lt. Retchless's courage, aggressiveness and devotion to duty exemplify the finest traditions of the armed forces of the United States. Awarded the Bronze Star Medal.
Paul Puleio, 33439813, Staff Sergeant, Infantry
For heroic achievement in Luxembourg on 7 and 8 January, 1945 in connection with military operations against an enemy of the United States. During the determined defense of Dahl, Luxembourg on the 7th and 8th of January, 1945, S/Sgt Puleio, in spite of the heavy enemy rocket and artillery fire directed at his position, continued to fire his mortars effectively against the attacking enemy. His skill and daring made it possible to deliver an accurate and deadly concentration among the enemy troops. S/Sgt. Puleio's courage, leadership, and devotion to duty exemplify the highest traditions of the armed forces of the United States. Entered military service from Maryland. Awarded the Bronze Star Medal.
Euel S. Potts, 38209783, Private First Class, Infantry
For heroic achievement in Luxembourg on 7 January, 1945 in connection with military operations against an enemy of the United States. During an enemy counterattack against Dahl, Luxembourg, on 7 January, 1945, PFC Potts, a driver in a mortar platoon, volunteered to drive over slippery roads to obtain sufficient ammunition to use against the enemy attack. In spite of hazardous weather conditions and enemy artillery fire, PFC Potts successfully accomplished this vitally important mission. His courage, initiative, and devotion to duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of the armed forces of the United States. Entered military service from Arkansas. Awarded the Bronze Star Medal.
Vito A. Pugliese, 32960026, Private, Infantry
For heroic service in Luxembourg during the period 6-8 January 1945 in connection with military operations against an enemy of the United States. During the period 6-8 January 1945, Pvt. Pugliese distinguished himself in performing his duties as ammunition bearer of an infantry company in a courageous manner. His coolness under fire and disregard for personal safety have been an inspiration to the men serving with him. By his aggressive spirit and determination he has greatly contributed to the success of his company in combat. The bravery, initiative and zealous devotion to duty displayed by Pvt. Pugliese are in keeping with the finest traditions of the armed forces of the United States. Entered military service from New York. Awarded the Bronze Star Medal.
Hugh J. Fullerton, 32690414, Sergeant, Infantry
For heroic service in Luxembourg during the period 6-8 January 1945 in connection with military operations against an enemy of the United States. During the period 6-8 January 1945, Sgt. Fullerton distinguished himself in performing his duties as a light machine gun squad leader in a courageous manner. His coolness under fire and disregard for personal safety have been an inspiration to the men serving with him. Demonstrating outstanding ability as a leader, he has, by his aggressive spirit and determination, contributed materially to the success of his company in combat. The bravery, initiative and zealous devotion to duty displayed by Sgt. Fullerton exemplify the finest traditions of the armed forces of the United States. Entered military service from New York. Awarded the Bronze Star Medal.
Edward W. Ebert, 37553139, Private First Class, Infantry
For heroic service in Luxembourg on 9 January 1945 in connection with military operations against an enemy of the United States. During a counterattack near Dahl, Luxembourg, PFC Ebert, an ammunition rifleman, observed three enemy soldiers attempting to infiltrate the American lines. When he attempted to fire, he found his weapon had frozen, but disregarding the handicap, he personally assaulted the enemy and captured them. PFC Ebert's courage prevented the enemy from establishing a breach in the defense and in keeping with the highest traditions of the armed forces of the United States. Entered military service from Minnesota. Awarded the Bronze Star Medal.
Raymond Moreno, 38529655, Private First Class, Infantry
For gallantry in action in Luxembourg on January 8, 1945 in connection with military operations against an enemy of the United States. As a member of a nine-man squad which had the mission of protecting the company flank on 8 January 1945, in Dahl, Luxembourg, PFC Moreno capably aided in the fight against a powerful enemy tank and infantry attack. Finally forced to withdraw to a building after carrying three wounded men to the building with him, PFC Moreno refused to retreat further and doggedly fought from room to room using hand grenades, bayonet, and captured weapons against a numerically superior enemy. After four hours of savage hand to hand combat, twenty-five Germans surrendered to the remaining eight Americans, five of whom were wounded. PFC Moreno's outstanding courage, aggressiveness and sincere devotion to duty exemplify the highest traditions of the armed forces of the United States. Entered military service from Texas. Awarded the Silver Star Medal.
Warren Nilchee, 38580019, Private First Class, Infantry
For gallantry in action in Luxembourg on January 8, 1945 in connection with military operations against an enemy of the United States. As a member of a nine-man squad which had the mission of protecting the company flank on 8 January 1945, in Dahl, Luxembourg, PFC Nilchee capably aided in the fight against a powerful enemy tank and infantry attack. Finally forced to withdraw to a building after carrying three wounded men to the building with him, PFC Nilchee refused to retreat further and doggedly fought from room to room using hand grenades, bayonet, and captured weapons against a numerically superior enemy. After four hours of savage hand to hand combat, twenty-five Germans surrendered to the remaining eight Americans, five of whom were wounded. PFC Nilchee's outstanding courage, aggressiveness and sincere devotion to duty exemplify the highest traditions of the armed forces of the United States. Entered military service from New Mexico. Awarded the Silver Star Medal.
George R. Anderson, 36456440, Private First Class, Infantry
For heroic achievement in Luxembourg on 8 January 1945 in connection with military operations against an enemy of the United States. After liberating Dahl, Luxembourg, two infantry battalions repulsed repeated enemy attempts to recapture the town. On 8 January 1945 during an extremely severe attack, PFC Anderson, a rifle grenadier, distinguished himself by the courageous and aggressive manner in which he used his skill to repel the enemy. With utter disregard for his own personal safety, he moved from position to position to combat each fierce enemy thrust by ably performing his duties as a rifle grenadier. PFC Anderson's courage, aggressiveness and devotion to duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of the armed forces of the United States. Entered military service from Michigan. Awarded the Bronze Star Medal.
Chester P. Beben, 42025153, Private, Infantry
For heroic achievement in Luxembourg on 9 January 1945 in connection with military operations against an enemy of the United States. On 9 January 1945 near Dahl, Luxembourg, Pvt. Benben volunteered to help evacuate a wounded patrol leader who was lying three hundred yards beyond friendly lines. Disregarding the intense enemy mortar and small arms fire, Pvt. Benben advanced with two other men to the wounded officer and after placing him on a litter, took turns carrying him and firing at the enemy to cover the party's withdrawal. Pvt. Benben's courage, initiative and devotion to duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of the armed forces of the United States. Entered military service from New York. Awarded the Bronze Star Medal.
Max A. Coleman, 35750601, Private First Class, Infantry
For heroic achievement in Luxembourg on 8 January 1945 in connection with military operations against an enemy of the United States. After liberating Dahl, Luxembourg, two infantry battalions repulsed repeated enemy attempts to recapture the town. On 8 January 1945 during an extremely severe attack, PFC Coleman, a rocket launcher operator, distinguished himself by the courageous and aggressive manner in which he used his skill to repel the enemy. With utter disregard for his own personal safety, he moved from position to position to combat each fierce enemy thrust by ably performing his duties as a rocket launcher operator. PFC Coleman's courage, aggressiveness and devotion to duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of the armed forces of the United States. Entered military service from West Virginia. Awarded the Bronze Star Medal.
Eddie L. LaGrange, 31399093, Private First Class, Infantry
For heroic achievement in Luxembourg on 9 January 1945 in connection with military operations against an enemy of the United States. On 9 January 1945 near Dahl, Luxembourg, PFC LaGrange volunteered to help evacuate a wounded patrol leader who was lying three hundred yards beyond friendly lines. Disregarding the intense enemy mortar and small arms fire, PFC LaGrange advanced with two other men to the wounded officer and after placing him on a litter, took turns carrying him and firing at the enemy to cover the party's withdrawal. PFC LaGrange 's courage, initiative and devotion to duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of the armed forces of the United States. Entered military service from Maine. Awarded the Bronze Star Medal.
Arzie McIntyre, 35386415, Sergeant, Infantry
For heroic achievement in Luxembourg on 9 January 1945 in connection with military operations against an enemy of the United States. On 9 January 1945 near Dahl, Luxembourg, Sgt. LaGrange volunteered to help evacuate a wounded patrol leader who was lying three hundred yards beyond friendly lines. Disregarding the intense enemy mortar and small arms fire, Sgt. LaGrange advanced with two other men to the wounded officer and after placing him on a litter, took turns carrying him and firing at the enemy to cover the party's withdrawal. Sgt. LaGrange 's courage, initiative and devotion to duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of the armed forces of the United States. Entered military service from West Virginia. Awarded the Bronze Star Medal.
Leonard Mankiller, 39395130, Sergeant, Infantry
For heroic achievement in Luxembourg on 7 January 1945 in connection with military operations against an enemy of the United States. On 7 January 1945 during a heavy enemy artillery barrage preceding a German counterattack on Dahl, Luxembourg, the machine gun which Sgt. Mankiller operated was destroyed by shell fragments. Despite the danger to himself, he ran to the company command post, secured a reserve gun, and returned to his position in time to effectively fire on the attacking enemy. Sgt. Mankiller's courage, aggressiveness and devotion to duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of the armed forces of the United States. Entered military service from Californa. Awarded the Bronze Star Medal, Posthumously.
James W. Cummings, 35438595, Private First Class, Infantry
For heroic achievement in Luxembourg on 8 January 1945 in connection with military operations against an enemy of the United States. On 8 January 1945 after the liberation of Dahl, Luxembourg, the enemy launched repeated counterattacks in an effort to recapture the town. During one extremely severe attack, PFC Cummings distinguished himself by courageous and aggressive action against each fierce enemy thrust. With utter disregard for his own personal safety, he moved about under severe fire to place his rocket launcher in position from which he could deliver more effective fire on the enemy. The courage, aggressiveness and devotion to duty displayed by PFC Cummings are in keeping with the highest traditions of the armed forces of the United States. Awarded the Bronze Star Medal, Posthumously.
Bill D. Halsey, 33651687, Sergeant, Infantry
For gallantry in action in Luxembourg on 8 January 1945 in connection with military operations against an enemy of the United States. On 8 January 1945, near Dahl, Luxembourg, Sgt. Halsey, an assistant squad leader, was leading his unit into position when an enemy artillery barrage began. He quickly and skillfully placed his men in position. When the enemy infantry attack came, he and his men fought so fiercely, although greatly outnumbered, that it was repulsed. Soon, and enemy tank advanced and fired on his unit in preparation for a second attack. Heedless of his danger, Sgt. Halsey ran through intense fire to obtain aid from a tank destroyer. With this support, the tank was destroyed and the second attack repulsed. Sgt. Halsey's courage, leadership and devotion to duty exemplify the the highest traditions of the armed forces of the United States. Entered military service from Virginia. Awarded the Silver Star Medal.
Edward E. Pomerleau, 31307491, Private First Class, Medical Detachment
For gallantry in action in Luxembourg on 8 January 1945, in connection with military operations against an enemy of the United States. PFC Pomerleau, a medical aid man, advanced with a rifle company on 8 January 1945, in an attack on Nocher, Luxembourg, where the company met bitter resistance. During the close combat fire fight, he continuously subjected himself to intense fire to administer aid to fallen comrades. With the red cross on his helmet as his only protection, he continually defied enemy fire to proceed with his duties. While dashing from house to house to reach a wounded soldier, he was fatally wounded by an enemy hand grenade. His bravery, courage and sincere devotion to duty are commensurate with the highest traditions of the armed forces of the United States. Entered military service from Massachusetts. Awarded the Silver Star Medal.
Donald Olson, 37588207, Private, Infantry
For gallantry in action in Luxembourg on 9 January 1945, in connection with military operations against an enemy of the United States. During one of numerous attacks against Dahl, Luxembourg on 9 January 1945, Pvt. Olson was serving as a rifleman in an infantry company. As an enemy tank advanced to within thirty yards of his position, he crawled under intense fire to the vehicle and attempted to destroy it with hand grenades. Although his efforts were unsuccessful, the tank, in withdrawing, became an easy target for anti-tank fire and was destroyed. As the crew abandoned the tank, Pvt. Olson wounded and captured two of the enemy. His courage, bravery, and sincere devotion to duty are in keeping with the finest traditions of the armed forces of the United States. Entered military service from Minnesota. Awarded the Silver Star Medal.
Raymond H. Stone, 38481034, Private First Class, Medical Detachment
For gallantry in action in Luxembourg on 8 January 1945, in connection with military operations against an enemy of the United States. On 8 January 1945, the enemy launched a fierce counterattack in the vicinity of Dahl, Luxembourg, supported by heavy artillery fire, which inflicted many casualties on friendly troops. When ambulances could not be used to evacuate the wounded because of the intense fire directed at the roads, PFC Stone, a litter vehicle driver, volunteered to perform his task. With utter disregard for personal safety, he courageously made ten trips over the hazardous roads to successfully evacuate all of the casualties. His courageous action and sincere devotion to duty were responsible for the immediate evacuation of his comrades and are commensurate with the highest traditions of the armed forces of the United States. Entered military service from Illinois. Awarded the Silver Star Medal.
Nelson W. Arave, 39903773, Sergeant (then PFC), Infantry
For heroic achievement in Luxembourg on 7 January 1945, in connection with military operations against an enemy of the United States. On 7 January 1945, near Dahl, Luxembourg, several strong counterattacks were made by the enemy. When the enemy infiltration was at its greatest, PFC Arave, a platoon runner, volunteered to make his way to the opposite side of the town to fire mortar flares in front of his company's position. Through intense hostile fire, he crawled and ran to reach his objective. The accomplishment of this mission contributed in great part to the repulse of the enemy. PFC Arave's courage, bravery and devotion to duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of the armed forces of the United States. Entered military service from Utah. Awarded the Bronze Star Medal.
Daniel J. DeStefano, 12050709, Corporal, Infantry
For heroic achievement in Luxembourg on 8 January 1945 in connection with military operations against an enemy of the United States. After liberating Dahl, Luxembourg, two infantry battalions repulsed repeated enemy attempts to recapture the town. On 8 January 1945 during an extremely severe attack, Cpl. DeStefano, an automatic rifleman, distinguished by the courageous and aggressive manner in which he used his skill to repel the enemy. With utter disregard for his own personal safety, he moved from position to position to combat each fierce enemy thrust by ably performing his duties as an automatic rifleman. Cpl. DeStefano's courage, aggressiveness and devotion to duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of the armed forces of the United States. Entered military service from New Jersey. Awarded the Bronze Star Medal.
Joe DeArment, 39472430, Private First Class, Infantry
For heroic achievement in Luxembourg on 8 January 1945 in connection with military operations against an enemy of the United States. After liberating Dahl, Luxembourg, two infantry battalions repulsed repeated enemy attempts to recapture the town. On 8 January 1945 during an extremely severe attack, PFC DeArment, a scout, distinguished himself by the courageous and aggressive manner in which he used his skill to repel the enemy. With utter disregard for his own personal safety, he moved from position to position to combat each fierce enemy thrust by ably performing his duties as a scout. PFC DeArment's courage, aggressiveness and devotion to duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of the armed forces of the United States. Entered military service from Washington. Awarded the Bronze Star Medal.
Otto Maresh, 35929040, Private, Infantry
For heroic achievement in Luxembourg on 8 January 1945 in connection with military operations against an enemy of the United States. After liberating Dahl, Luxembourg, two infantry battalions repulsed repeated enemy attempts to recapture the town. On 8 January 1945 during an extremely severe attack, Pvt. Maresh, a rifleman, distinguished himself by the courageous and aggressive manner in which he used his skill to repel the enemy. With utter disregard for his own personal safety, he moved from position to position to combat each fierce enemy thrust by ably performing his duties as a rifleman. Pvt. Maresh's courage, aggressiveness and devotion to duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of the armed forces of the United States. Entered military service from Ohio. Awarded the Bronze Star Medal.
Oscar E. Cromer, 7006876, Staff Sergeant, Infantry
For heroic achievement in Luxembourg on 8 January 1945 in connection with military operations against an enemy of the United States. After liberating Dahl, Luxembourg, two infantry battalions repulsed repeated enemy attempts to recapture the town. On 8 January 1945 during an extremely severe attack, S/Sgt. Cromer, a squad leader, distinguished himself by the courageous and aggressive manner in which he used his skill to repel the enemy. With utter disregard for his own personal safety, he moved from position to position to combat each fierce enemy thrust by ably performing his duties as a squad leader. S/Sgt. Cromer's courage, aggressiveness and devotion to duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of the armed forces of the United States. Entered military service from Alabama. Awarded the Bronze Star Medal.
George Tokar, 33936704, Private First Class, Infantry
For heroic achievement in Luxembourg on 8 January 1945 in connection with military operations against an enemy of the United States. After liberating Dahl, Luxembourg, two infantry battalions repulsed repeated enemy attempts to recapture the town. On 8 January 1945 during an extremely severe attack, PFC Tokar, an automatic rifleman, distinguished himself by the courageous and aggressive manner in which he used his skill to repel the enemy. With utter disregard for his own personal safety, he moved from position to position to combat each fierce enemy thrust by ably performing his duties as an automatic rifleman. PFC Tokar's courage, aggressiveness and devotion to duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of the armed forces of the United States. Entered military service from Pennsylvania. Awarded the Bronze Star Medal.
Kenneth E. Woodlief, 34311326, Staff Sergeant, Infantry
For heroic achievement in Luxembourg on 8 January 1945 in connection with military operations against an enemy of the United States. After liberating Dahl, Luxembourg, two infantry battalions repulsed repeated enemy attempts to recapture the town. On 8 January 1945 during an extremely severe attack, S/Sgt. Woodlief, a squad leader, distinguished himself by the courageous and aggressive manner in which he used his skill to repel the enemy. With utter disregard for his own personal safety, he moved from position to position to combat each fierce enemy thrust by ably performing his duties as a squad leader. S/Sgt. Woodlief's courage, aggressiveness and devotion to duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of the armed forces of the United States. Entered military service from North Carolina. Awarded the Bronze Star Medal, Posthumously.
Paul I. Chapman, 16051796, Staff Sergeant, Infantry
For heroic service in Luxembourg during the period of 6-8 January 1945 in connection with military operations against an enemy of the United States. During the period 6-8 January 1945, S/Sgt. Chapman distinguished himself in performing his duties as a platoon guide in a courageous manner. His utter disregard for personal safety and his coolness under the most intense enemy fire have been a continual source of inspiration to the men serving with him. By his aggressive spirit and determination, he has greatly contributed to the success of his company in combat. The outstanding bravery, resourcefulness and zealous devotion to duty displayed by S/Sgt. Chapman exemplify the finest traditions of the armed forces of the United States. Entered military service from Illinois. Awarded the Bronze Star Medal.
Donald R. Chism, 37709331, Private First Class, Infantry
For heroic service in Luxembourg during the period of 6-8 January 1945 in connection with military operations against an enemy of the United States. During the period 6-8 January 1945, PFC Chism distinguished himself in performing his duties as a light machine gunner in a courageous manner. His utter disregard for personal safety and his coolness under the most intense enemy fire have been a continual source of inspiration to the men serving with him. By his aggressive spirit and determination, he has greatly contributed to the success of his company in combat. The outstanding bravery, resourcefulness and zealous devotion to duty displayed by PFC Chism exemplify the finest traditions of the armed forces of the United States. Entered military service from Colorado. Awarded the Bronze Star Medal.
As I said, there were many heroes at Dahl. We know of 32. There may have been more men who were awarded medals for bravery at Dahl, who just don't appear in the sketchy records that still exist. For instance, our Pvt. Forrest Davies was not mentioned in any of the official documents, yet his family received a certificate of a Bronze Star Medal Award for bravery at Dahl. And if you ask this writer, I believe they were all heroes, including the ones who didn't get medals. Dahl harbored no cowards. As you contemplate the above list of heroes, keep in mind that the 80th Division tended to be stingy about handing out medals. You can take it to the bank that each and every one of these men earned their medals, and then some. The shear number of bravery medals issued to men who fought at Dahl, gives you a good idea of just how intense and horrendous the fighting there was. On the other side of the field, I have no doubt that many German soldiers also earned medals for bravery for fighting for their country. Unfortunately, we don't have that side of the story. Should we ever get Pvt. Forrest Davies Citation for the Bronze Star Medal he was awarded, I will add it here. He was in very brave company at Dahl, and evidently, he was the equal of his peers for courage.
From Bill Krehbiel's Pride Of Willing And Able:
Mon 8 Jan 45 At 0330 hrs an intense coordinated combined arms counterattack is launched by the Germans at the 3rd Bn defenses. A devastating artillery preparation precedes the assault inflicting several casualties.
In the L Company sector, German armor threatens to breach the foxhole line but quick and decisive action by supporting tanks, tank destroyers and friendly artillery help turn the tide in favor of the harried infantrymen. The attack finally grinds to a halt shortly after daybreak following intense fighting which includes hand to hand combat. Friendly mortars firing flares to help illuminate the battlefield and expose the enemy tracked vehicles and infantry enabled the defenders to bring effective fire on the attackers. Nine German tanks and forty-five dismounted troops are destroyed during the five and a half hour long battle. An additional thirteen enemy soldiers and a number of abandoned armored vehicles are captured in the fray.
The weather is blusterous with strong winds and blowing snow. Blizzard conditions prevail throughout the day.
From Co Hqs Lt David Kirschbaum: "Apparently the enemy hated to give up Dahl. We were dug in all over the town, and Lt Wells had his platoon at a crossroads on a road leading north out of Dahl. Sometime that night the Germans made a coordinated attack on the town, with Infantry and armor. We heard them coming of course, as everything was quiet except the frightening sound of tanks attacking from north to south. Luckily for us our combat engineers had laid a mine field across their approach because one or two armored vehicles were blown up, or at least road wheels and tracks destroyed which slowed them down. Apparently our men managed to fight off and inflict casualties on the German infantry, or perhaps they were Armored Infantry troops, but a couple of intrepid medium tanks, probably the Mark IV, or Leopard tank, did enter Dahl. One tank in fact, moved into the town, where one of our men was dug in deep in what I recall was a cemetery, and like in Bill Mauldin's cartoon of Willie and Joe hiding in a deep fox hole with a huge German Panzer poised over them this rifleman had to remain calm and wait out the tank. Eventually, once the tank commander realized he was on his own in an enemy-held town, without any Panzer Grenadiers to support him, he backed away, enabling our man to return to safety. During all of this excitement naturally some of us were not firing at tanks and targets, but just doing our bit.
For example, our 60mm mortars had been firing illuminating shells as quickly as the crews could load them, but we ran out in the middle of the fight. I recall a detail running up in the darkness, bringing what they thought was a box of the illuminating shells but when we hastily pried open the box discovered it to be filled with rifle grenades. This did bring about some annoyance and harsh words, but we quickly found some more ammo and again illuminated old Dahl so our men could see where to fire. Meanwhile, to the north of Dahl, Lt Wells was having fun with his platoon and a couple of our tanks parked beside his CP. He later told me that he talked to some of the tankers who more or less enjoyed the entire fight. Apparently the M4 tank had optical equipment, consisting mostly of course of an ordinary telescope with a reticle and grids, but some ingenious engineer had illuminated the sight so all the gunner had to do was locate a slow-moving white-painted Mark IV, and pick him off. It must have been successful, the Germans suffered heavy casualties and were unable to take Dahl in the counterattack. Lt Wells did his share, but during the middle of a fight or immediately afterwards, and he related that he was sitting in what was fortunately a stone privy in the house, but unfortunately on the enemy side when a German tank put a round right beside him and a stone fragment cut his arm.
He wondered if that was worth a purple heart? I don't recall what I said, and since I had no authority to make such a decision, and particularly during a counterattack, I let the medics take care of it. Regardless, he was shot in the upper arm later on with what we called, `the million dollar wound' and was evacuatd to the rear, and France. I always got a kick out of Lt Wells because he had a boundless pride and appreciation for the opportunity of leading an Infantry rifle platoon in combat—and as Sgt Flynn and others would say, `he must have had something wrong with him, needed to be checked for head space.' One other humorous incident in the taking and holding of Dahl: one of our sergeants was caught on a road in town when the artillery came in and since the nasty vengeful Krauts had foresightedly zeroed their artillery on their own town, (the one they occupied) the shells were hitting right on target. Our sergeant had to make a run and dive into the nearest shelter which happened to be a partially opened barn door. He told me later that he thought his time had come, not from the shells and flying steel, but he landed on several Germans covered in their gorgeous camouflage capes. Luckily for him, they were all dead, and neatly lined up waiting for the German equivalent of our Graves Registration (GR) teams."
From Co Hqs T/5 Balas: "On the 8th of January, the enemy attacked us at dawn during a driving snowstorm, with many of them clad in white uniforms which made them hard to see. At times, the fighting got fierce as they were determined to drive us from our positions. We were in these blown-apart buildings and they came running up the road trying to get into town. I recall taking time out during the bitter exchange trying to tend to one of our wounded, who had caught a lot of shrapnel, in the hallway of the house. I held a candle while the medic started to bandage him up. The man had a lot of puncture wounds in his body. I then went into another room and stood by the window, which was overlooking the road, and tossing hand grenades into the road the German soldiers were using. I even put my bayonet on my rifle and waited for the enemy to come through the window which I was sure they would try, but none did. The CO called on the radio for some artillery support, and we soon had our own shells raining down on us. Fighting kept on for most of the morning, but finally the snow and fighting tapered off. We could see and hear the enemy wounded lying in the fields in front of us. Our medics tried to go to them but the enemy would open up on any movement they saw. German prisoners were then sent out to pick up their wounded and at first they were fired on too, but then the fire subsided and they started to bring in their own wounded. One prisoner caught my eye, he looked like a 14 year old boy. Part of his leg was blown away and he was in shock. Our medic gave him a shot of morphine to relieve the pain and make him more comfortable. The sun came out in the afternoon revealing these little mounds in the snow covered fields. There was a line of them, 30 or so, that led away from our positions. Each was a dead soldier. Knocked out German tanks were everywhere, and credit has to be given to the artillery, TD's and tanks supporting us for their marksmanship. After the battle, I remember standing guard in an outhouse overlooking the fields. There were two dead German soldiers in there with us, frozen solid. We used the bodies as seats while eating our rations."
From 2nd Plt Pvt Krehbiel: "At 0330 we received an intense German counter attack which was later rumored as five battalions of infantry and one battalion of tanks. In the ensuing battle, several tanks were set ablaze, including one of our own, and illuminated the entire battle area. One of their SP assault guns was knocked out just yds in front of my foxhole. A devastating artillery preparation preceded the assault and with a shallow foxhole I thought sure the end had come. One 150 mm round struck the ground just inches, it seemed, in front of my foxhole and covered me with snow and dirt. The assault by German infantry and tanks came close to penetrating our positions, but we stayed our ground. Albeit, I distinctly remember that a 30 cal MG emplacement a couple of positions to my left had been abandoned or the operator killed or wounded and slumped down in his hole. In any event, it wasn't firing and we definitely needed the fire power. The reaction by our supporting weapons and weapons systems was really encouraging. Our tanks, TD's and artillery fought with courage and intensity. I can recall that after one of our tracked supporting vehicles caught fire and the battle area was more visible, I saw one of the crew of a TD, which was positioned broadside to a building on our extreme left flank, running about fighting as an infantryman, protecting the crew from German infantry and their deadly Panzerfausts.
I also remember that a goodly number of the men in our platoon were under cover of the building which housed our CP and weren't contributing much to the defense. However, the intense German fire kept them buttoned up and we really had little time to prepare enough positions to accommodate all our available people. I captured two Krauts who were trying to set up a machine gun nest in a hedge to my front and was subsequently awarded the Bronze Star medal for Valor. As I was ushering the two prisoners to our Plt CP I was giving them commands in German and that nearly cost me my life. In the darkness the tank crew positioned immediately in front of our Plt CP couldn't distinguish uniforms and were just getting prepared to cut us down with the turret mounted .50 cal MG when I began giving a few commands in English, which spared us, so said the tank commander as we passed by. At dawn the battlefield was strewn with dead Germans, burned out tank hulls and dead cattle. (It seemed like all the action took place right when I was on sentry duty. Guess I was just lucky.) Prisoners stated they had been lying out there in their assault positions since 0200; it's a marvel they could still walk. One extension of the Jerry attack after daylight was the commencement of machine gun fire from a concealed position outside and to the left front of our defensive perimeter. The fire was coming from a wooded area at long range, with tracers visible and directed right at my foxhole. I kept raising my head to see if I could spot the weapon's location and got chewed by my foxhole mate for trying to get him killed. Perhaps by spotting his position we could have had a tank engage that upstart with a round of HE which I'm certain would have convinced him that his one man crusade was just plain foolish. Miraculously, 3rd squad had no casualties in this action, a fact which is absolutely astounding considering all the lethal projectiles and debris flying around."
From 3rd Plt Lt Grady: "In the very early hours of 8 Jan the Germans launched a counter-attack against Dahl. The attack was preceded by the most intense enemy artillery and mortar fire I had ever been subjected to, and it was terrifying. Much credit is given to the mortar section, 4th Plat of Co L, as they put round after round of 60 mm illuminating shells in the air, allowing visibility for our infantry, Armor, Artillery and mortars to fiercely repulse the attacking German Armor and Infantry. Years later, I learned from Fred Eckelmann, who was Plt Sgt of the 4th Plat during that action that the illuminating rounds carried since August had more than once almost been tossed out in favor of more rounds of HE. I'm convinced the 60 mm mortar section of Co L saved the day for the entire 3d Bn. I recall one of my men coming back from his position, and saying, `Hey, Lt, there is a tank, right there,' pointing with his rifle. I told him, `No, that's the haystack that has been there.' With a touch of sarcasm in his voice he replied, `Hell Lt, did you ever see a haystack move?' He was right, of course, and I called the `haystack' to the attention of one of our tankers.
The tank commander directed a stream of tracers from his co-axial mounted .30 Cal MG at the enemy tank, followed by a round from its 76 mm gun. The round struck home, and the German tank limped to the rear, and out of sight. I lost a good friend that morning. 2d Lt Walter C. Miles, Jr. commanded a HMG Plat in Co M. We were in the same OCS class at Ft. Benning, GA, joining the 80th at the same time in Nov 1943 at Camp Phillips, KS. He had been assigned to Co L while in the States, and later transferred to Co M. Lt Miles was found leaning forward in his position, out in the open, with an empty .45 cal pistol clutched in his hand, and .45 casings littering the ground all round his body. He was a brave man."
From 3rd Plt Sgt Barrett: "While in Dahl we were attacked almost every night. General Patton's Third Army was spearheading the Pincer Movement to cut off the enemy that had broke through our lines during the Battle of the Bulge. We must have been the point of this spearhead because they really wanted to stop us and they did for about a week. They attacked different hours every time, always at night. One of if not the last attack came just before dawn and this proved to be a terrible mistake for them. Daylight caught them with their pants down. Our side of town killed some but around to our right there was a ravine coming up pretty close to town. When the enemy came out of that ravine and started across a field our machine guns hit them with a crossfire that broke their back. Later that day I went and looked. There was no way to count the dead. It was the worst slaughter I witnessed during my career as a combat soldier. I made an extra long shot on a German that morning in Dahl. The field we were facing was very large. In fact, it went all the way to Nocher which was I think about one mile.
This German was in a ravine about one hundred fifty yards from our building. He decided he would run to Nocher across that field. He panicked because he could have gone to his left and got in the woods and walked to Nocher undetected. Max Coleman and I were upstairs looking. When we saw him, he was at least six hundred yards. I knew there was no way to even come close with regular ball ammo. I unloaded my clip and put in a tracer and held over him and shot. Max Coleman was spotting. The tracer hit low and to the right. I put in another tracer and held up more and to the left. It hit right at his feet. The third shot hit him dead center. We had three observers come and estimate the distance. They estimated between seven hundred fifty and eight hundred yards. He laid there all day. His buddies got him that night. I made a triple on three Germans the morning of their pre-dawn attack. They were running from right to left towards a small farm house about seventy-five yards away. The first two fell dead. The third one kept running when I hit him and went out of sight next to a farmhouse. This farmhouse was a thorn in our side. They would get in that house and we had trouble getting them out. I wanted to burn it. Tried to get a tank destroyer (TD) that was parked behind our building to move out so he could shoot it and set it on fire but they said if they moved out they would get shot which I guess was the truth. I took some phosphorus grenades and went out there. I threw one in the bedroom where there were some clothes and went out in the stable and threw another one in a pile of hay. It started burning pretty good.
I heard a groaning and saw the hay move and went over there and uncovered the wounded German I had shot about two hours before. His left arm was shot almost off. The bullet had hit the bone just below the shoulder socket and had blown up and had really made a mess. I caught him under the arm pits and dragged him out of the building. I started dragging him across the field to our building. His pants pulled off. He had defecated in his pants. I got it all over my hands while pulling his pants back up and fastening his belt. The Germans started shooting at me. They were a long ways off and didn't come real close. I got him to our building. He had lost a lot of blood and died about one hour later. I knocked out a tank with a bazooka while in Dahl. German tanks had slipped in under a heavy barrage and were hiding in the ravine which was close to our building. Sometime that morning they decided they would go back to Nocher. They all cranked up at one time. Scared hell out of us because they made a loud noise. We didn't know what was happening. After we got our senses and saw the first tank leave out wide open, I hollered for the bazooka. The bazooka man wasn't there at the moment so I grabbed it. Max Coleman and Jim Cummings came and I think we swapped around shooting and missing. They came out one at a time and I do not know how many there were, but I finally hit one and cut the right track off. The tank spun around several times and stopped and started moving that dreaded 88 around towards the house. I had my M-1 leaning in the window. Max, Jim and I took off running and dove down the basement steps. I took the bazooka and left the M-1 which was destroyed. The 88 hit the bottom of the window and the left and right side of the window. The tank went on over the hill. When we attacked Nocher several days later we found the tank abandoned with only one track. I don't know how the driver got it over the hill but I have asked some of our tank men since and they think there is a way to do it by using the brakes. I would like to know."
From 3rd Plt PFC Coleman: "During a severe German counter attack Jim Cummings from West Virginia acted as my loader, and I fired a bazooka round at a German tank. I fired through a window opening from a stairway. There were several tanks moving to our left and I took a shot at the closest one, but missed. Jim and I ducked down and went below. Almost immediately one of the tanks fired and hit the area where we had been a few seconds before. Result, a much larger opening. Then Sgt Jack Barrett from Georgia and I took a look and Jack said he would handle the bazooka. I loaded, he fired and hit a tank. Again we left that area in a hurry. While we were in the building Jim Cummings was on guard duty when heavy shelling took place. He was hit in the upper left back with shrapnel and bled profusely. I knew when I tried to dress his wound that he wouldn't live because the shrapnel had entered his lung. During the time we were in this building I took my squad to take a house that housed the enemy down a road and to the right of our position. We secured the house. One day Sgt Jack Barrett, who was one of the best shots I have known, placed a tracer bullet in his gun and shot a German at a considerable distance going up a snow covered hill. As I said, he was an outstanding marksman. Another memory I have of Dahl is the tank destroyer that was placed near our building. He did a tremendous job in keeping German armor at bay."
From 610 TD Bn: "Another counterattack was launched at `A' Company's positions in the vicinity of Dahl at 0500 on the 8th of January. This attack was also supported by tanks. The company again used the flares and the 1st Platoon knocked out a Mk VI tank while the 2nd Platoon destroyed two Mk VI's and three Mk V's. During this action one of the destroyers received a hit through the motor and the crew abandoned the vehicle, believing it about to burn. Finding that it did not ignite, DePhillipus and Weinburg remanned the weapon and were successful in destroying two of the Mk VI tanks at a range of less than 100 yards. One of the 2nd Platoon probables of the day before was confirmed as a Mk VI destroyed. `A' Company had one man killed in the action." McGrann
Casualty Rpt: Total (6)
BAT 6; LWA 4: S/Sgt G C Patterson, S/Sgt John J Roman Jr, PFC Harold R Bell, Pvt Neal Elam; LIA 2: Pvt Michael G Grupposo, Pvt Ernest B Martin
The S-2 Report for January 9th from the 702nd Tank Battalion states:
January 9; 9:15am-German mines were to be laid last night, south of Dahl. 9:17am-40 rounds of artillery fell in the woods at 816383, at 9:00am. 10:05am-15 rounds, estimated 105mm, fell on coordinates 816388. 10:30am-men walking around outside of foxholes at 794438. Single rounds of small arms fire heard between Goesdorf and Buchloe. 11:30am-P.W. reports outpost in the vicinity of 725514. Six men are there and the remainder of the company are in that vicinity. German guns located at 69396062, 71405437 and 70243391. Three Germans reported digging in at 738477. Thirty Germans occupied a position at the edge of the woods east of that point. 12:19pm-convoy of six vehicles moving north to east along road 785467 at 12:05pm. 1:01pm-German artillery falling in the vicinity of 734493 and Dahl-mortar in Goesdorf. 2:45pm-15 rounds of mortar landed east of Goesdorf between 12:45 and 1:15pm. 3:04pm-column of vehicles moving south of 9451. 3:15pm-one horse-drawn cart moving west in Kehmen. Horse-drawn activity going northeast in Leptenscheid. Smoke observed from the east edge Derback, also from Bourscheid. 3:20pm-two half-tracks reported at 747479. Blue Two reports 12-15 foot troops walking between 767493 and 710496 at 3:00pm. 3:30pm-60 German troops at 780466, digging in. 3:40pm-smoke shells falling northeast of Kehmen. 3:45pm-seven rounds of timed fire placed on hill 805405-appeared to be coming from the vicinity of Erpeldange. Vehicle in the vicinity of Warken. Sporadic artillery at 8039. 4:06pm-six vehicles and thirteen men seen in the vicinity of 729511, at 3:20pm-moving toward Nocher, then stopped at the road junction northwest of Nocher. 4:12pm-small group of Germans moving northeast of Bockholtz into woods at 3:34pm. 6:12pm-approximately ten rounds of mortar fell in the vicinity of Goesdorf in the last hour. 6:27pm-four German tanks move south from Nocher, then turn and move northeast. Horse-drawn artillery moving south at 7455. Considerable motor and horse-drawn vehicular movement observed in the German rear areas. Germans continue pressure on our bridgehead north of the Sure River. Heavy artillery concentrations were received in the division zone. Two ME 109's flew over the division zone. Continues cloudy and cold weather, with limited visibility.
At C Company, 702nd Tank Battalion, Ed Wizda writes:
"Jan. 9; Our 3rd Platoon supported Co. 'E', 2nd Bn., 319th Infantry in assaulting and taking the town of Bockholtz. This town is situated to the right of Goesdorf. Opposition was light; 79 prisoners were taken. They then set up positions in the town. At Dahl, our tankers were still having enough worries with mortars, artillery and nebelwerfers. While coming out of his tank in the evening, S/Sgt. Farrington was hit by shrapnel in the neck."
From the 319th Infantry Monthly Report 9 January:
The 987th Infantry Regiment [German] moved to the vicinity of Nocher on the night of 8 January. The 212th Infantry Regiment [German] was in line to the east of Nocher and the 226th Infantry Regiment [German] is in positions in the vicinity of of Marselen. Those regiments are not up to full strength and have received a lot of replacements. No special weapons have been noted. Some prisoners stated that many of the enlisted men desire to be captured since their officers and NCO's deserted them during an attack. The enemy's use of natural defenses is excellent. The enemy's use of mines had increased and demolition equipment had been found in knocked out tanks. Some armored vehicles were seen, but none were encountered. 31 prisoners were taken. Information obtained of units enabled, the units opposing and also the location of certain installations in their rear. Civilians contacted were very cooperative. All Battalions [US], tanks and tank destroyers continued to hold positions. An armored enemy attack developed in the direction of Company E's position at 2:00PM, but did not make a penetration of this position. Tank destroyers were alerted, but enemy armor withdrew to the east and north-east. No further enemy demonstrations occurred during the day. Wire and radio to the battalions and supporting units.
From Bill Krehbiel's Pride Of Willing And Able:
Tue 9 Jan 45 3rd Bn continues manning defensive perimeter at Dahl.
L Company remains in position with mission to hold and defend assigned sector. At 0445 the company is alerted for probable enemy counterattack which is later cancelled and the company returns to a semi-alert status beginning at 0730. Enemy shelling is heavy throughout the day!
The weather remains cold and blizzardy.
Casualty Rpt: Total (3)
BAT 3; DOW 1:PFC James W Cummings; LIA 2: T/5 Earl W Cole, Pvt Ira D Fisher
RTD: Fr Hosp, S/Sgt Baker, Gayle E, Pvt Moore, John
From Bill's memoirs:
Tue 9 Jan 45 - The dead German soldiers picked up in our sector were stacked by a low stone wall immediately in front of our quarters and were frozen stiff as boards. A Jerry artillery barrage got a direct hit on the bodies before they could be evacuated, and completely rearranged them. The German shelling was very systematic, every hour on the quarter hour so it was relatively easy to change duty shifts without extraordinary risks. The weather was blusterous with strong winds and drifting snow.
From the 702nd S-2 Journal: January 10; 8:02am-P.O.W. captured in the vicinity of 761474, was identified from the 3rd Company, 208th Regiment, 79th Division. Company strength 70 men, in the vicinity of 788477. Mortars at 786487, are of 4th Company, 208th Regiment. 1st Battalion Command Post at 786485. Mission of 3rd Battalion is defensive. Traffic moving east and west through Nocher. Estimated three companies digging in south of the road running east and west through Nocher. 9:40am-one German tank moving into Bourscheid from the high ground at 800463. 12:53pm-German truck behind house at 728513. 1:45pm-two Germans in camo-suits moving northeast of Bourscheid. Other activity observed in the same vicinity. 2:45pm-one P-47 flew over Observation Post #1, approximate altitude-1,500 feet, and dropped a bomb in the vicinity of 799334. Plane had a red nose and tail. 4:35pm-German troops moving south at 786483. 4:50pm-heavy traffic moving north at 683534. Three vehicles in the road at 654563. One German tank at 653522. Vehicle and a self-propelled gun in the vicinity of 650545. Large column of horse-drawn and motor vehicles moving northeast on highway through Doncal. 5:07pm-five unidentified vehicles moving southwest to Burden. 5:20pm-supply dump at 750529. German machine gun at 740508. 5:23pm-plane took infantry under fire at 786483. Approximately twenty men deployed 100 yards interval, moving southwest. German defensive attitude continued throughout period, with a noticeable change or decrease in German patrolling and artillery. Scattered snow showers. Visibility and trafficabilities unchanged during period. Morale high.
The 80th Division G-2 report for January stated that: "10 January found the German attitude definitely defensive with a noticeable decrease in enemy patrolling and artillery fire. Once again the Germans had failed in their mission to hold 'at all costs' the ground north of the Sure River."
The 319th Infantry Monthly Report for 10 January states:
Enemy used occasional artillery, mortar and Nebelwerfer fire to harass our positions. No other activity. 3 prisoners were taken. The battalions continued to hold positions and to patrol to the east and north. Contact patrols maintained contact with the 2nd Battalion, 104th Infantry, 26th Division [US]. Wire communications maintained under extremely hazardous and difficult conditions.
The Company L Morning Report for 10 January reported that Pvt. Forrest Davies was lightly wounded in action, but not hospitalized, but also not entitled to expert and Combat Infantry pay (because he had to take the day off, and thus was not paid!)
From Bill Krehbiel's Pride Of Willing And Able:
Wed 10 Jan 45 3rd Bn units continue to occupy defensive positions at Dahl.
L Company continues to occupy positions in place with mission to hold and defend designated sector against a still active enemy. Enemy shelling increases and becomes more accurate.
The weather is bitter cold causing frostbite casualties.
Casualty Rpt: Total (1)
BAT 1; LIA 1: Pvt Benjamin Young
RTD: Fr 305th Med Clr Sta, Pvt Kulig, Bolac J
From Bill's memoirs:
Wed 10 Jan 45 - Continued to outpost our defensive positions. Enemy shelling was getting more intense and accurate. Our building was hit a couple of times, but no casualties. Bennett returned to the platoon from Hospital. Bitter cold, lots of problems with frost bitten feet. We had nothing but regular footwear (Combat boots) not much protection against the bitter cold. The daily supply of change of socks probably prevented an epidemic of frozen feet.
From the S-2 Journal: January 11; 7:00am-at 2:45am, a patrol of twenty men were observed in white camouflage-came through our line in the vicinity of 823417. Patrol had password-moving south. 10:40am-artillery landed in Bockholtz. P.O.W. taken there, said town was cleared of Germans. Approximately one round of 105mm falling every 5 minutes in Dahl. 11:30am-three German tanks and infantry at 726556. 11:40am-roads at houses in Bockholtz heavily mined and booby trapped. German artillery falling there at 11:05am. 12:12pm-four German tanks moving northwest toward Ringel. Tank sighted at 766476 at 11:45am. 12:55pm-two P.O.W.'s from 212th Regiment report 60-80 men left as a rear guard in Bockholtz from 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Companies. One half of 1st Company retreated night before to Goebelsmuhle. 1:05pm-our Paddlefeet occupies town at 751485-many P.O.W.'s taken. 1:40pm-intense artillery of heavy caliber falling along route in the vicinity of 74547 to 755476 at 1:33pm. Observation post reports three to four men left woods at 728516 and entered house at 729512. Ten minutes later, they left the house and returned to the woods. 4:30pm-seven Germans seen in camo-suits move into woods at the same place, pulling sleds; could not determine if anything is on them. 5:00pm-report from Maintenance and "D" Company that two enlisted men are missing in action from a light tank that went over the side of the road. Also one man, the Driver, killed [bled to death.]. 6:40pm-all sentries will be instructed to be especially alert for parachutists. 6:45pm-guards and sentries warned about above. 6:47pm-heavy barrage of German artillery hit Goesdorf at 6:20pm-seemed to be coming from the vicinity of 768498. 6:48pm-at 6:25pm, six rockets were observed coming from the direction of Burden, traveling northwest. 6:49pm-machine pistol firing again in the vicinity of the woods at 808428. 7:23pm-six rounds of nebelwerfer fell in the vicinity of Tadler at 6:50pm. 7:25pm-P.O.W. states that the 1st Battalion, 212th Regiment retreated to Derback to be central point of coming morning attack. Barrage of German artillery landed at 743473. 7:53pm-one battery of German artillery into Goesdorf from the vicinity of 768498, also two rounds nebelwerfer received at 762476, coming from 781495 and 781496. 8:02pm-German observation post at 760497. 8:34pm-Germans digging in at 803439. 9:16pm-small arms fire in the vicinity of Bockholz. Six rounds of Nebelwerfer fell in the vicinity of Tadler at 6:34pm, came from vicinity of 781495. German defensive attitude continues in the division zone through the period. Heavy concentrations of artillery received on our positions north of the Sure River and elsewhere in the division zone. Bockholz cleared of Germans by strong combat platoon. 65 P.O.W.'s taken. Light snow during the period. Temperatures falling and visibility fair. Trafficabilities unchanged.
From the 702nd Tank Battalion A.G.O. records: "On January 11th the 3rd Platoon of Company 'C' attacked Bockholz with the 2nd Battalion of 319th Infantry, and occupied the town, meeting only minor resistance.
Ed Wizda wrote: "Snow today! How we long for the sunny South. Artillery is gradually slowing down, but we still don't go anywhere without hugging a cement wall."
The 80th Division G-3 report states that seventy-three P.O.W.’s were captured, in contrast to the sixty-five previously mentioned. To add to the confusion, the 80th Division G-2 report states: "11 January the enemy was driven further to the East by a reinforced infantry platoon in the vicinity of Bockholz. 82 prisoners of war were captured during the operation. Re-identifications of the 79th VG Division were obtained, conforming previous reports that two of the three regiments of that division held positions confronting our bridgehead, with the third regiment, 208th VG Regiment, in positions in the southern portion of the 80th Division zone."
The 319th Infantry Monthly Report for 11 January:
The 179th Artillery Regiment [German] and the 179th Engineer Company [German] were identified. Strong enemy patrols dressed in white were encountered. Occasional artillery, mortar and Nebelwerfer fire fell in our area. Bockholz was taken with very little resistance by a surprised and confused enemy. Houses in Bockholz were booby-trapped. 65 prisoners were taken.
No change in location of unit command posts or attachments. At 7:00AM, Company E, 319th Infantry moved out from their position with the mission of seizing Bockholz and destroying the enemy there. Advancing through he woods to the east of Goesdorf, Company E approached Bockholz from the southwest. By 8:55AM, Company E had reached the high ground to the southwest of Bockholz and had no close contact with the enemy. The [Company K] assault swept the woods to the southeast of Dahl, meeting no opposition and took up position on the high ground to the northwest of Bockholz to block from the northeast. Company E sent a platoon into Bockholz when enemy artillery let up, to seize the town. They met little enemy resistance and by 11:50AM had occupied town with one platoon and had captured 74 enlisted men prisoners and one officer prisoner. Company E then outposted the town with one platoon, and sent one platoon to comb the south edge of the woods from Bockholz to Goesdorf and the Sure River road east to Bockholz. Company K was released and returned to 3rd Battalion. Company E found the town of Bockholz was heavily mined and booby-trapped. One squad from the 319th Infantry Mine Platoon aided Company E to remove mines and to lay mine-fields at P753487, P758489 and P758488. Company C, 305th Engineer Battalion laid a minefield at P756484 and installed trip flares covering the Company E position. Company E sent a squad to the crossroads at P759489 and established a block there. A squad minus was placed to guard the minefield at P756484. One platoon of Company E (minus) is in Bockholz reinforced with one tank destroyer from Company A, 610th Tank Destroyer Battalion and one section from Company C, 702nd Tank Battalion outposted the town. Two platoons of Company E held the high groundto the southwest of the town. The platoon of 80th Recon moved from position at P730470 to position P752477 and set up a road block. One platoon of Company F at P730470 returned to the company in Goesdorf. One anti-tank gun left at P730470. At 7:12PM, Company E reported that an enemy patrol attempted to infiltrate into Bockholz, but Company E drove them off. Battalions held positions and patrolled to the north, northeast and west. A cable laid from Goesdorf to Dahl as wire proved inadequate due to heavy shelling.
From Bill Krehbiel's Pride Of Willing And Able:
Thu 11 Jan 45 3rd Bn continues defensive mission at Dahl.
L Company remains in area with one slight alteration to its mission. The company is ordered to furnish two patrols each day to recon areas to the North and West of Dahl for the purpose of locating suspected enemy strong points.
The weather is clear and cold.
From 3rd Plt Sgt Jack Barrett: "I want to explain about using tracers. This was a fine way to get yourself shot. They could only be used at certain times. Then you would shoot a few and get the hell out of there because enemy fire would soon be on the way. They were used to show our mortar observers a target and also to see where your rifle was hitting if your target was a long ways off. A good many times I would be missing my target and did not know if I was hitting high or low but could not use a tracer to find out because it would have meant almost certain death. Leo Wojtasiak did not understand this. He was Polish and wanted badly to shoot a German. When I made a long shot in Dahl with the tracer, Leo came to me and asked for details. He then went to one of the machine gun crews and swapped them some ball ammo for some tracers which they were happy to do. Several days later I was in the prone position shooting through a hedge row and missing but knowing not to fire a tracer to find out why. Wojtasiak came running up and stood by me and fired eight tracers in their general direction. They turned a machine gun loose on us and thank God we were spared. Wojtasiak took off running and lost his helmet and rifle on the way to a nearby building and dove through the door leading to the stable and slid into a big pile of cow manure. He was severely wounded. George Sciese went to get the medics in heavy fire when Leo Wojtasiak was severely wounded by a screaming meemie in Dahl. A large piece of shrapnel sliced off a large portion of the left side of his butt. He was really bleeding. George Sciese volunteered and went and brought two medics back. A very brave thing to do. Could have saved Leo's life. George didn't even get a thank you for this brave deed because no one reported it to the proper people. This is only one of the many many deeds that went unnoticed over there. These many men are referred to as unsung heroes."
Casualty Rpt: Total (16)
BAT 16; SWA 1: PFC Leo R Wojtasiak; LWA: 15 S/Sgt Oscar E Cromer, S/Sgt Jack A Frick, Sgt Olander J Barrett Jr, Sgt Frederick Hoffman, Sgt Walter Sosinski, PFC Nelson W Arave, PFC Frank L Beavers Jr, PFC Edwin R Graybeal, PFC R B Lamb, PFC Velo B Swearingen, Pvt Harry F Brownworth Jr, Pvt Walter T Gordon, Pvt Otto Maresh, Pvt Ray C Peters, Pvt Bernard H Quigley
From Bill's memoirs:
Thur 11 Jan 45 - Moved to a water pump dug-out on northern edge of our sector and had some real close incoming rounds. It was kind of amusing watching Frank Soloninka, our Company jeep driver making his runs to Regt Hqs. The road had a sharp turn on the edge of town which was exposed to enemy observation and artillery fire. When Frank made his runs that 1/4 ton jeep was at full throttle on that turn and skidded and jumped through the deep snow like a bob sled, with Frank hanging on the steering wheel for "dear life."
The 702nd S-2 Journal records the 12th: “January 12; 1:02am-minefield on the road, in the vicinity of 757489, and on the road bridge at 755475. 9:50am-radio half-track going to maintenance-will be off the air for two or three hours. 11:25am-fifty rounds of artillery and some mortar hit in the vicinity of Dahl in the last forty-five minutes-estimated caliber up to 155mm. Artillery position 76124960. 11:28am-P.O.W. reports one artillery position at 750561. 150mm guns at 748564. German kitchen at 740541. Counsel reports forward elements. Two 88mm guns seen firing last night at 715514. German battery at 70345416. Thirty-two rounds of artillery in the last five minutes at the south edge of Goesdorf. 12:10pm-four rounds received in the vicinity of 825410, direction-Burden. 12:12-Captain Nordstrom out on check-up on companies-brings back report that two German tanks in position at 813441. 12:30pm-tanks being painted white, as to blend with cover. 3:30pm-two P.O.W.'s deserted observation post at 700520, from 5th and 7th Companies of 986th Regiment, 276th Division say their Battalion Command Post, consisting of four officers located at Rouldinger. P.O.W.'s say company strength is twenty to twenty five men-been there past two days. 3:31pm-seven Germans observed digging in at 795452, wearing camo suits. 3:32pm-Fusilier Company of 79th Division, formerly in Kehmen, according to P.O.W. Division boundary has been moved to a line from Kehmen to Goebelsmuhle. 2nd Battalion, 226th Regiment was removed to a new position north of the Sure River. 2nd Battalion, 916th Division taken sector north of Scheidel-Welscheid. Kehmen-Derback is being held by 208th with 2nd Battalion on the south. 3:50pm-at 1:00pm, twelve rounds of mortar fell at 798428, from the direction of Welscheid. 4:52pm-unknown number of Germans dug in at 760493. 5:34pm-four rounds of artillery fell in Ettelbruck, coming from the vicinity of Burden. Germans maintained his defensive attitude. Patrolling revealed extensive digging by Germans opposing our positions north of the Sure River. Heavy artillery concentrations received at Goesdorf and Dahl.
January 12, 1945 was a big day for Pvt. Forrest Davies. It marked the one-month anniversary of him joining the 80th Division, but it also was the day that he was promoted along with 31 other Company L men, from the rank of Private to Private First Class.
The 319th Infantry Monthly Report for the 12th was brief:
Considerable increase in artillery, mortar and Nebelwerfer fire. No other activity. No change in mission. Company E continued to hold positions in the vicinity of Bockholz.
Fri 12 Jan 45 3rd Bn units begin intensive patrolling action, continue to man defenses.
L Company mission and activities are unchanged.
The weather is cloudy and COLD.
From Co Hqs T/5 John Balas: "During a lull, Sgt Flynn had me and a jeep driver go to the rear to Regimental Hqs and rummage through the men's barracks bags and bring back all the GI long johns we could find, so that the men could at least change their underwear. The driver and I were driving back slowly along an ice-covered trail leading back to Regimental Hqs, slipping and sliding, when to our rear, someone began blowing their horn. We paid little attention to it, but then the horn blowing got more intense and I began wondering out loud, `Who is nuts enough to try and pass on this rutted trail?' After looking back, I told the driver to pull over as quickly as possible. We no sooner pulled over when a MP jeep, two staff cars, and another MP jeep came speeding by; it was Gen Patton and his group. We saluted them and got a return salute from the other officers, but only got a glare from Gen Patton. When they passed, we fell in behind them, but they soon outdistanced us. Upon our return, we distributed all the socks and underwear to the men of the company. It was a welcome relief to have clean underwear."
RTD: Fr 305th Med Clr Sta, PFC Anderson, George R, PFC Hillis, Raymond F, PFC Knudsen, Vernon L, PFC Lucas, William J, Pvt Vergho, Robert E
Promotions: Pvt to PFC, Clovis D Alexander, Clarence D Amstutz, Lloyd E Anderson, Edward P Anthony, Benjamin F Aud Jr, Walter S Bartosiak, Samuel M Craig Jr, Forrest H Davies, Charles E Davis, Joe DeArment, George T Fesler, Glen E Fulfer, Walter T Gordon, Trivette Hatfield, Earl C Jones, Cicero D Jordan, Joseph T Kirley, Bill J Krehbiel, Robert B Lamb, Paul H Legates, Maxwell E. Hollis, Omer A Perreault, David D Poppen, Bernard H Quigley, Paul D Sherrill, Robert Snyder, Charles F Stribley, George P Tichacek, George Tokar, Hyman E Topper, Clarence VanConant, Raymond H Williams
From Bill's memoirs:
Fri 12 Jan 45 - Sgt Burden, myself and Williams went on a recon patrol to locate a reported Jerry road block in a nearby wooded area. After locating it's position in the afternoon, I was dispatched to lead a combat patrol after dark to knock it out. The patrol leader was S/Sgt Cromer and his squad of men from 1st platoon. The roadblock was located several hundred yards from our positions and needed to be destroyed so that our tanks and other vehicles could use the road on our next attack. We escaped with only one slightly injured, but added two Hun to outdoor temperature. I was promoted to Private First class (PFC) I'm in big money now.
From the 702's S-2 Report For 13 January:
January 13; 9:48am-German artillery was falling in the vicinity of 755475 at 9:30am. 9:50am-German mortar fell in the vicinity of 760480 at 9:00am. 11:30am-two German barrages hit Goesdorf at 10:30am and 10:50am, possibly 15 rounds each. Two rounds of artillery fell in the vicinity of 7944 at 11:03am, in the vicinity of Burden-caliber unknown. 1:50am-P.W. reports road mined between 734525 and 733529. 3:10am-five rounds of direct fire in the vicinity of 769447 at 1:45pm. Fifteen German troops caught in the open at 76994760-mortar and small arms fire disorganized them at 2:05pm. Two men observed entering possible pillbox at 796477 at 2:25pm and 2:45pm. 3:55pm-2nd Battalion, 226th Regiment in position at the south edge of the woods-square 7450. Main line of resistance at edge of the woods. Observation post located 100-200 yards off woods, possibly a company of the 79th Division in position northeast. 10:00pm-Germans maintain defensive attitude throughout period. Continued harassing artillery and mortar fire.
At Company L, 319th Infantry, the morning report recorded that on 13 January, two men were sent to the hospital with self-inflicted gunshot wounds. One was a shot to the leg, the other was a shot in the big toe, in an attempt to escape the situation, and for the men to be shipped to the rear. Shooting oneself was a military crime, and these men would end up in lots of trouble. The cold, fatigue and constant intense combat this company had been through was taking a toll.
The 319th Infantry Monthly Report for 13 January states:
Two prisoners were taken. Prisoners stated that morale was very low due to shortage and inferior quality of food; that men were given whole tobacco leaves as their tobacco factory was destroyed. Usual movement in enemy rear areas was observed. Very little artillery fire fell in the area. One platoon of Company B, 619 was relieved and rejoined its company. No other change in location of units. Battalions maintained same positions. The enemy increased his shelling of Dahl, Goesdorf and Bockholz.
From Bill Krehbiel's Pride Of Willing And Able:
Sat 13 Jan 45 3rd Bn continues to outpost defensive positions at Dahl. A break in the weather results in clearing skies and the materializing of the US Air Corps in great numbers for the first time in days.
L Company remains in assigned sector with mission to hold and defend against an active enemy. Reconnaisance and combat patrolling is included in the company's assigned mission. The weather is clear and cold.
Casualty Rpt: Total (1)
NB 1: PFC Carmen F Santariello
From Bill's memoirs:
Sat 13 Jan 45 - Continued to outpost defensive positions at Dahl. Today we had a break in the weather and a flight of B-17's on a bomb run into Germany flew right over our positions. We all cheered them on. Shortly after they crossed our lines, however, they began receiving a heavy volume of enemy flak and to our dismay, we observed two of our 17's get shot down. Several crew members were able to hit the silk and we watched helplessly as they floated to the ground in enemy territory. Enemy activity was reduced mainly to artillery barrages. Late this evening, William Lucas returned to 3rd Sqd from a hospital where he was convalescing after being wounded somewhere in France. We all stayed awake real late reminiscing.
From the 702's S-2 Journal 14 January:
January 14: 9:00am-Captain Nordstrom out to Dahl, to check on plan. Airborne attack Germans with "C" Company and "D" Company. 10:20am-one German aircraft at P8034, flying northeast. 10:30am-Captain Nordstrom called in. He is in Goesdorf. 10:55am-Air corps reports numerous German vehicles at P8549-no movement reported. 11:00am-twenty five German aircraft approaching P8836 from the southeast. 11:20am-three rounds, estimated 105mm fell in the vicinity of 777456 at 11:05am-direction unknown. 11:40am-eighteen German aircraft at P9732, flying southwest at 15,000 feet. 1:50am-observation post reports Erpeldange on fire at 11:10am. 12:03pm-eighteen German planes at 8915 flying southwest to P7915 at 15,000 feet. 12:40pm-daylight patrol located one mortar at 761506, another at 761506 and 756504. 1:13pm-two P.O.W.'s state that 100 engineers are in the mill at 740522. Bridge and railroad bridge at 740552 prepared for demolition. 2nd Company, 987th Regiment is dug in at 719507. 1:50pm-one German observed at 762495. 1:55pm-observation post reports two Germans observed at 767498. 2:45pm-three German troops in white capes walking around at 797408. Small arms fire in the vicinity of the chateau at 1:00pm. Five rounds of 88mm fire in the vicinity of 776456 at 10:20am. 3:43pm-four Germans observed at 759496. German artillery falling in Ringel and Tadler. 4:30pm-one German plane flying to the northeast at 8195. 6:19pm-thirteen Germans seen coming from 738497, move along the edge of the woods and enter woods at 762496. Tank seen approximately 756497. German vehicle at 761497. Well used path along edge of woods. 7:35pm-two heavy concentrations of 150mm artillery and nebelwerfer fire at 7:00 and 7:03pm in Dahl. 7:39pm-three rounds of artillery fell at 741473 at 7:10pm. 8:10pm-two barrages of nebelwerfer fell on 720498 at 7:05pm. Guns seem to fire from 742519. Some sort of light flashes off and on at azimuth 45 degrees from 723492. Germans continue to occupy defensive position. Our combat platoons cleared Scheidel of Germans. German artillery concentrations were received in the evening of January 13th, in Neiderfeulen, Ettelbruck and bridgehead north of the Sure River.
The 319th Infantry Monthly Report states:
Many heavy concentrations of enemy artillery fell in our area. Enemy tanks were heard in Nocher. Very little activity otherwise. Six prisoners were captured. Upon division order, Company D, 702nd Tank Battalion was released from 319th Infantry and reverted to 702nd Tank Battalion control. The battalions, reinforced by their support weapons, continued to hold and improve their present positions. Battalions and Regiment conducted patrols to the north, northeast and east. Contact maintained with adjacent units.
From Bill Krehbiel's Pride Of Willing And Able:
Sun 14 Jan 45 3rd Bn remains in position at Dahl. There are reports of German armor being shifted to other sectors
L Company in addition to manning defensive positions in its assigned sector immediately North of town, furnishes reconnaissance patrols Southeast of Dahl and takes one PW during the early morning hours. At 1700 the company is relieved of fox hole duty for 48 hours, but is ordered to furnish one combat patrol leader to eliminate an enemy observation post and road block. The company continues providing its own local security.
The weather continues clear and cold.
Casualty Rpt: Total (5)
BAT 4; LWA 3: T/Sgt Steve Huml Jr, S/Sgt Charles D Burden, Pvt Sterling W Snyder; LIA 1: Charles D Teller
NB 1: 2Lt George E Wells III
From Bill's memoirs:
Sun 14 Jan 45 - Continued to man defensive position. Our artillery was using a new fuse called "POSIT" which caused the shell to explode before impact and scatter shrapnel over a wider area. We also fired a lot of white phosphorus shells. The Jerries dug in positions and individual foxholes within view on the opposite ridge were really getting plastered. Today I saw a couple of huge Tiger tanks vacating positions at Nocher and moving perpendicular to our front along a distant ridge. I tried to get one of our TD's to engage them but they said it was useless because they were out of range so I tried to get them to contact the supporting artillery with no avail. Those guys should try facing one of those babies on foot like we in the infantry, sometime. Today someone in our squad swiped a box of 10 in 1 rations off a tank and we had a real feast. Canned bacon and other delectables we never get in our K rations. I'm sure similar foraging expeditions are planned for the future. Why is it that the guys who have to do the dirtiest fighting always get the shitty end of the stick?
From the 702nd's S-2 Report:
January 15; 8:00am-Hayseed reports German tanks in the vicinity of Nocher-number unknown, at 12:40am. 9:00am-Captain Nordstrom, S-2, out to companies, to check German situation. 10:45am-smoke seen at 728516-lasted five minutes. 11:28am-P-47 drew anti-aircraft fire over Lepperscheid. Noon-Captain Nordstrom back from companies-nothing to report. 12:10pm-thirty rounds of mortar fire received in Dahl. 1:05pm-one horse-drawn vehicle moving northeast at 794491 at 10:30am. Six to seven German troops at 798492 on road. Eight P-47's strafing and bombing at bridge 794784 at 12:35pm. One P-47 with a red nose and tail markings, circling Tadler at 11:15am. 4:53pm-twenty rounds of mortar fire fell at Dahl, at 3:50pm. Three rounds of German mortar fire at 778456, at 3:50pm. 5:01pm-one German plane flying east at 9603 at 1,000 feet. 5:56pm-minefield located in the vicinity of 791444, runs across the road, at southeast of wooded area. 6:30pm-troops along road at 8148050518-appear to be mining the road. 7:17pm-German machine gun at 724504. Several barrages of nebelwerfer fire at Dahl, at 7:05pm. 7:36pm-thirty five rounds of artillery and fifteen rounds of nebelwerfer fell in the vicinity of southeast of Scheidel at 7:20pm. German patrol attempted to infiltrate at 6:35pm, but retreated when fired on. 9:23pm-P.O.W. reports two minefields on hill at 791445, located somewhere on top of the hill.
The Company L Morning Report for 15 January states:
Company remains in area 78.5-49.9 Dahl, Luxembourg. At 5:00PM, on 14 January, the company was relieved from line positions for 24 hours. One patrol leader was furnished for combat patrol on two observation posts were company responsibility plus necessary local security.
From Bill Krehbiel's Pride Of Willing And Able:
Mon 15 Jan 45 3rd Bn remains in position at Dahl.
L Company continues in reserve posture consistent with Battalion orders.
The weather is clear and very cold.
Casualty Rpt: Total (4)
BAT 3; LWA 3: Sgt Olander J Barrett Jr, PFC Max A Coleman, PFC Glenn W Gainer Jr
NB 1: PFC Bernard H Quigley
RTD: Fr Hosp, Pvt Kirk, William H
From Bill's memoirs:
Mon 15 Jan 45 - One nice thing about a static front is class A rations. With the bitter cold and the necessity of loading up and transporting the chow in marmite cans to the platoon positions, I thought our company cooks and mess steward did very well. We were receiving one hot meal per day and this evening following our daily hot meal, Sgt Burden and I were returning the marmite cans to the company kitchen when we got caught in a Nebelwerfer (screaming meemies) attack. Sgt Burden was slightly wounded as he sought the protection of a stone wall. I managed to dive under a GI trailer located in the doorway of a barn and didn't get scratched. After the rounds detonated I emerged from the barn and was trying to locate Sgt Burden to see if he was OK. When he emerged from his position he didn't have his weapon - we found only pieces. Sgt Burden was subsequently evacuated to a medical facility and Big Hal took over as squad leader.
From the 702nd's S-2 Journal Report 16 January:
January 16; 12:55am-ten barrages of nebelwerfer landed east of Dahl. Three guns seem to fire barrages. 9:56am-two dismounted Germans at 762497. 10:00am-means of identifying observation post cub planes put out with passwords, to companies (Streamers). Two vehicles move out of woods northeast at 825463. One gun observed pulling out of woods at the same coordinates. 10:08am-considerable movement in Scheindernanderscheid-half track. 10:12am heavy vehicular activity observed on Scheindernanderscheid Hill at 803495 and P7961016. Intermittent mortar fire falling in Dahl. Two-man German observation post at 799446. 10:31am-two trucks go northeast out of woods at 825463, at 10:28am. 11:03am-Hamper reports three rounds of artillery fell in the vicinity of Warken-heavy caliber, direction unknown at 10:55am. 11:50am-motorcycle going along the road to Michelan at 825403 at 11:30am. 12:30am-vehicle reported going along the road at 705538, towards Eschweiler at 11:50am. 1:20pm-two trucks and several men traveling northeast on the road from Burden to Michelan 825440. 2:43pm-one round of artillery came from the vicinity of Harerbach, landed on the ridge south of Ringel-estimated 105mm, at 2:30pm. 4:00pm-aircraft attack on artillery position. Five planes bombed and strafed. Anti-aircraft let loose at them. Germans continue defensive attitude throughout period. Moderate German artillery, nebelwerfer fire received on our positions, with the heaviest on the bridgehead north of the Sure River.
A 633rd AAA Aw Battalion quad-fifty anti-aircraft gun
From the 319th Infantry Monthly Report 16 January:
Ten barrages of Nebelwerfer fire fell east of Dahl early in the morning. An enemy patrol of six men was encountered and in the ensuing fire fight, one American and three Germans were killed. Sixteen bombs were dropped in the vicinity of Tadler and Bockholz by six German twin-engine planes. The vicinity of Nocher, Dahl, Goesdorf and Heiderscheid were straffed and bombed by what was believed to be American P-47's. [These were lend-lease planes of the Brazilian Air Force who had been involved in many "friendly fire" incidents where they attacked US forces out of pilot error] Intermittent artillery fire fell throughout the day. Battalions continued to improve present positions. Preparations were made to comply with Division Field Order #26 which had the mission for the 319th Infantry to attack and seize Nocher and the high ground in the vicinity of Masseler.
From Bill Krehbiel's Pride Of Willing And Able:
Tue 16 Jan 45 3rd Bn positions at Dahl are attacked in the afternoon by two US P-47 Thunderbolt fighter aircraft which bomb and strafe visible friendly targets.
L Company remains in Battalion reserve, but continues to receive enemy artillery fire in its assigned sector. There is little space in which to take refuge as all the buildings have been heavily damaged. At 1700 L Company relieves K Company in prepared defensive positions South of Dahl.
The weather is partly cloudy and cold. The ground remains covered with a deep blanket of snow.
From Co Hqs T/5 John Balas: "By now, things had quieted down considerably, except for occasional shelling by `screeming meemies' and artillery. Today the sun came out, and so did our airforce. One, a US fighter plane (P-47) dived down while we were standing in the doorway of a house, which actually was a doorway for the animals, and we started to wave at the pilot when we suddenly realized that the plane was firing its machine guns at us as we could see the flicker of lights coming from his wings. We immediately dived through the doorway opening and landed in the stalls. The bullet holes left by the plane were about 6 inches off the frame of the door. He also dropped a bomb on the guys forward of us and I believe some of them got either killed or wounded. The tankers in the tank started to wave their panels as the plane came around for a second pass, but just then he pulled up and waggled his wings. He must have seen the panels waving or got word that we were friendly forces. In a way I couldn't blame the pilot for his error in judgment, as there were an awful lot of knocked out German tanks around this village and we were way out in front of the lines. This was the second time that we got strafed by our own planes and suffered casualties. It was a good thing the plane pulled up as we were going to shoot back at him on his second approach. The tanker had his machine gun trained on him and we infantrymen standing in the doorways joined him with our rifles."
From 3rd Plt Lt Grady: "One day during our stay in Dahl, we were attacked by one of our own P-47 Thunderbolt fighter/bombers. Our marking panels were spread on the ground, designating our position, and using the established color for the day. This form of identification had been in use for months, but for some unknown reason the area near our Co Hq was the target selected for the P-47 attack, and he dropped what must have been at least a 500 pounder. If curses could have been converted to ack-ack fire, that pilot would have been dead. On another day in Dahl I heard a throbbing sound, like an approaching freight train, and over the horizon, at an altitude of about 300 feet, appeared one of the German V-2 rockets that had malfunctioned, as it was traveling parallel with the ground. This was a huge, torpedo like object, moving at about 30 mph, in a Westerly direction, over the back edge of town. About this time, I saw a GI jump onto the front seat of a 2 1/2 ton truck, and swing around the ring mounted .50 cal, pointing it in the direction of the flying bomb. The gun jammed, fortunately, and he was shouted down from his position. About 5 min. later I heard a tremendous explosion from the direction the bomb was heading."
Promotions: Pvt to Sgt, Carl C Lucci
From Bill's memoirs:
Tue 16 Jan 45 - Today we were bombed and strafed by our own planes even though we had our cerise panels displayed on our vehicles. Those pilots were either blind or the enemy. One of our squad members ran outside to wave them off while I headed for the cellar occupied by another platoon. When I hit the foot of the steps there was a GI down there completely nude taking a sponge bath during the air attack. It broke me up. One of the bombs landed approximately 50 feet from our building but little damage was done and no one was wounded. One of our tankers started shooting at them he was so disgusted, but that didn't help, they unloaded their ordnance and disappeared. I can't believe our fighter bombers could do that twice in such a short time span. Especially to us. That P-47 Thunderbolt is a diving fool.
From the 702nd's S-2 Journal 17 January:
January 17: 8:30am-eighteen anti-personnel and anti-tank mines at 811434. 12:50pm-large farm building at 834420 is a German command post. Another German command post is in the rear of the mill at P834421. Another command post is in the power plant at 834421. Another command post is in the house north of the chateau, opposite the burned down building. A command post is in the ruined building at the rear of the bridge at 834414. Bridge at 833419 is destroyed-debris is mined, with barbwire erected. Germans continue their defensive attitude throughout the division zone. Continued harassing artillery and mortar fire.”
The 319th Infantry Monthly Report for 17 January:
Considerable activity in Nocher. Tanks, men and vehicles moving about. Slight patrol activity in our sector. Two mortar barrages reported in the vicinity of Dahl. Two prisoners were taken. Preparations were made for 3rd Battalion's attack on Nocher. Battalions and supporting units held present positions. 3rd Battalion, 317th Infantry moved into Goesdorf under cover of darkness and organized a perimeter defense of the town. Regiment and battalions patrolled vigoriously to the north, northeast and east to determine enemy dispositions.
At Company L, the Morning Report states:
Company remains in area 78.5-49.9 Dahl, Luxembourg. At 5:00PM 16 January, the company relieved Company K of this regiment in position of defense of the south of Dahl.
From Bill Krehbiel's Pride Of Willing And Able:
Wed 17 Jan 45 3rd Bn receives warning order for impending friendly attack.
L Company in addition to normal defensive measures begins intensive preparations for offensive action. Weapons are closely checked for proper functioning in the extreme cold. Rifle squads are issued an additional Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR) to add firepower to the company.
The weather is foggy, cloudy and continued cold.
Casualty Rpt: Total (1)
BAT 1; LWA 1: S/Sgt Gayle E Baker (OW)
From Bill's memoirs:
Wed 17 Jan 45 - Today two Browning Automatic Rifles (BAR's) were authorized for each rifle squad, the additional fire power should help. Sgt Burden returned today and was restored as our squad leader. We were alerted for an attack early in the morning. Now I understand the purpose for the additional BAR's. Because of the extreme cold we were cautioned not to oil our weapons too heavily as the extra lube in this extreme cold might cause them to malfunction. In order to remedy a frozen malfunction in an M1 due to the cold it was not uncommon for GI's to urinate on the working parts to thaw them out so the weapon would operate.
From the 702nd Tank Battalion A.G.O. records: “Company 'D”, with the Mortar Platoon attached, was attached to 319th Infantry, sub-attached to 2nd Battalion for the purpose of supporting the attack of the 319th Infantry, previously mentioned. The Company crossed the River Sure behind Company 'C' and joined the 2nd Battalion in Goesdorf. The unit occupied a defensive position in Goesdorf until 14 January and assisted the infantry in repelling numerous counter-attacks during that period. One tank was lost during this operation. The company was detached from the 319th Infantry on 14 January and assembled at Vichten in Division Reserve. The 3rd Platoon was attached to 80th Reconnaissance Troop on 17 January, with the mission of protecting the west flank of the 319th Infantry. However, the platoon did not engage in any action while on this mission. On the 18th, one platoon of the Company ['A'] was to make a diversionary attack on the town of Kehmen to draw enemy attention from the attacks of the 318th and 319th Infantry Regiments. The platoon moved into a firing position on the high ground west of the town and after firing on the town for one-half hour, withdrew to the assembly area. The platoon received no enemy fire while on this mission."
At 5:00 P.M., the 702nd S-2 Sergeant heard a report on the radio that the Russians were now across the German border. From the S-2 Journal: “January 18; 8:00am-four gun battery at P74355620. Three gun battery at P74005660. 9:20am-Hamper Observation Post reports a battery of nebelwerfer firing east of town at 828455, at 8:55am. Six shells fell in the vicinity of P745440, at 8:05am, from the northeast, estimated 88mm with a delay fuse. 12:12pm-seven rounds of artillery received at 763479, at noon. 12:13pm-small arms fire received in the vicinity of Kehmen at 10:00am. Eight to ten rounds of mortar fell in the vicinity of Ringel at 11:30am. Seven rounds of heavy artillery fell at 763475, at 11:40am. 12:14am-20mm fell in the vicinity of the south edge of Kehmen, coming from a northeast direction. Artillery, mortar and nebelwerfer fell on the road from Dahl to Nocher at 11:55am. 12:14pm-minefield reported south of the road west from Nocher at 773512. 12:38pm-P.W. identified 3rd, 4th, and 5th Companies, 212th Regiment, 79th Division. Also identified 1st Battery, 1st Battalion, 179th Field Artillery Regiment and 1st Battery, Headquarters 179th Field Artillery Regiment. Artillery falling in Ringel and Tadler from the northeast-at least two guns, estimated 150mm. 1:29pm-ten rounds of artillery fell at the east end of Tadler, from 1:00 to 1:15pm, from northwest. 1:57pm-P.W. reports anti-personnel and anti-tank minefields at 735508, between large tree and chapel. 2:40pm-four rounds of artillery fell in the vicinity of Ettelbruck from the north. Our tanks are on their objective. 5:00pm-report from the radio that Russians are now across the German border. 8:30pm-minefield at P736508, 738508, 737509 and 739509-consisting of anti-personnel and anti-tank mines. Captured map indicates 352nd Division to fall back to the Siegfried Line with Veandon P9049 as their right boundary. P.O.W. states 79th Volks Grenadier Division to occupy positions on their right, on the Siegfried Line. Moderate German small arms fire and very light artillery was encountered by the 319th Infantry during the early morning, as they attacked and seized Nocher P7352. Strong resistance was offered from dug in positions around crest west of town. Nocher cleared of Germans by noon. Attack of 1st Battalion, 319th Infantry to Masseler met fierce resistance at P760495, west of Masseler, during the remainder of the period. German artillery and nebelwerfer increased after 9:15am, over entire division zone, with the heaviest concentrations at Dahl, Nocher, Tadler, Ringel and southwest Kehmen. 11:10pm-Anti-personnel mines on trail at 773477.”
From the 702nd Tank Battalion A.G.O. records: The 3rd Platoon of Company 'C', plus the Assault Gun Section supported the attack of the 3rd Battalion against Nocher on the 18th of January. The tanks were to wait in Dahl until the battalion reached a position near Nocher and then advance due north to support the infantry's entrance into Nocher. The infantry was able to approach within a short distance of the town under cover of darkness, but was met by heavy sniper and mortar fire upon attempting to enter the town. The tanks immediately moved forward to assist, and supported the infantry's advance into the town. Two tanks were disabled by mines while approaching Nocher."
At "C" Company, Ed Wizda wrote: "Jan. 18; it was a 'ceiling zero' morning, visibility at its worst. What a day for an attack! Our 1st Platoon was in support of 3rd Battalion, 319th Infantry. The infantry had advanced into Nocher before it became light. In their advance, they left behind a few enemy pockets. Our 1st Platoon had to contend with those scattered pockets on its way to Nocher; however, enemy artillery was terrific; almost as bad as the morning of the great counter-attack. Lt. Schroeder's tank was knocked out by bazooka fire. Two men from his crew - Cpl. Caira and P.F.C. Rowden are listed as MIA. Pvt. Bryon is listed as KIA. Cpl. Otto received slight wounds and has been evacuated. 'Terry' Kinnare met a sad fate when shrapnel hit him in the chest. His loss came as a blow to all of us. Jack Kelly said anytime we hear the song 'Melancholy Baby' to remember Terry because it was his favorite tune. We'll all miss him, yet remember him for the man and soldier he was. After advancing into Nocher, the remainder of the platoon aided in the taking of the high ground northwest of Nocher. Early in the afternoon our 2nd Platoon supported 1st Battalion, 319th Infantry in taking high ground east of Dahl and the town of Masseler. Visibility was still poor then. Opposition consisted of A.T. guns and approximately two companies of enemy infantry. Sgt. Kelley's tank was knocked out by artillery. He and Pvt. Capri are listed as LWA With their mission completed, the 2nd Platoon returned to Dahl. Our 1st Platoon remained in Nocher. The 3rd Platoon was attached to 2nd Battalion, 319th Infantry, located at Bockholtz. Their mission was to support the 1st Battalion, 319th Infantry by fire, when needed.
From the 319th Infantry Monthly Report 18 January:
Interrogation of prisoners indicated the presence of the 212th Regiment [German], 79th German Division and the 179th Field Artillery Regiment on our front. This regiment relieved the 986th and 987th Regiments on the night of 13-14 January 1945. The enemy continued to mine all roads and towns with anti-tank and anti-personnel mines as they were forced back. Heavy concentrations of heavy caliber artillery fell in our sector throughout the day. No civilians were encountered. 178 prisoners were taken. 80th Recon. Troop and one platoon of Co. D, 702nd Tank Battalion were attached to the 319th Infantry. The mission of the 319th Infantry is to attack and seize Nocher and the high ground in the vicinity of Masseler. 3rd Battalion reinforced with Company G, 2nd Battalion; one platoon of Company C, 702nd Tank Battalion; one platoon of Company A 610th Tank Destroyer Battalion; and one platoon of Company C, 305th Engineer Battalion. 1st Battalion reinforced with one platoon of Company A, 610th Tank Destroyer Battalion; one platoon of Company C, 702nd Tank Battalion; Mine Platoon, 319th Infantry. 2nd Battalion (minus Company G) reinforced with one platoon of Company A, 610th Tank Destroyer Battalion; one platoon of Company C, 702nd Tank Battalion.
3rd Battalion jumped off in the attack at 7:00AM on Nocher minus any artillery preparation to effect the element of surprise. 1st and 2nd Battalionsremained in position. The foot troops of 3rd Battalion advanced on Nocher in two columns. Company K had the mission of blocking any hostile approaches to the town from the west and northwest at point P730512. I and L Company's with Company G in reserve approached the town from the southeast with the mission of seizing and occupying Nocher. At 7:40AM, I and L Company's reached the southeast edge of town and Company K advanced to the northeast edge of the woods at P730510 meeting no opposition. Enemy artillery opened up on Dahl with a heavy concentration. The tanks and tank destroyers of 3rd Battalion had been ordered to join the 3rd Battalion at 7:40AM. 2nd Battalion was ordered to leave Company E in position at Bockholz to support by fire 1st Battalion when 1st Battalion moved out. The remainder of 2nd Battalion was ordered to move to Dahl. At 8:20AM, 3rd Battalion minus Company K occupied Nocher and received heavy enemy shelling. Company K was held up by enemy in dug-in positions at P730512. The Commanding Officer of Company K directed artillery fire on the dug-in enemy. The movement of tanks and tank destroyers was hampered by direct hostile fire, enemy minefields and large snow drifts. At 9:15AM, one platoon of tank destroyers had reached Nocher. By 9:35AM, 2nd Battalion (minus) had completed the move to Dahl, and Company K prepared to move against enemy positions. One battalion of the 317th Infantry in the vicinity of Ringel prepared to place fire on the high ground just west of Masseler, commencing at 11:15AM to support the attack of the 1st Battalion (reinforced) on this high ground.
1st Battalion foot troops jumped off with Company's A and C as the assault companies and with Company B in reserve. Progress was slow due to deep snow and poor visibility. At 12:15PM, 3rd Battalion had taken the following positions: Company L protecting Nocher from the north and northeast, Company I from the east and south, Company G from the west and north. Enemy shelled all positions. At 12:25, leading elements of 1st Battalion were at P750495; heavy hostile shelling at Dahl. At 2:10PM, Company C was located at P758498 and was receiving heavy small arms fire from the draw to the north; Company A was at P758496 and was receiving small arms fire from the east, and Company B was located at P750496. One platoon of Company I was sent out to contact Company K and made contact, but were cut off by enemy infiltration. The platoon of Company I joined Company K. At 3:00PM, Company K was about 300 yards east and southeast of the road junction at P729512 and had a stiff fire fight with the enemy. 3rd Battalion shifted positions with Company L protecting from the north, Company I from the east, Company G (minus one platoon) from the west. One platoon of Company G tied in with Company K. Company K held position. Ammunition for Company K was hand-carried-a halftrack was used to get additional ammunition up to the tank destroyers and tanks. 1st Battalion was ordered back to Dahl and by 7:30PM the battalion had occupied positions with Company A defending from the east, Company B from the north, and Company C from the south. 2nd Battalion outposted Dahl defending from the outskirts. The 80th Recon Troop patrolled between Dahl and Nocher on the flanks by dismounted patrols. Contact was maintained with the 104th Infantry Regiment and with the 317th Infantry Regiment. Battalions maintained their positions for the night. The enemy continued to shell Nocher and Dahl. Wire and radio communications were maintained but were interrupted by heavy hostile shelling.
The Company L Morning Report for 18 January states:
Company left area 78.5-49.9 Dahl, Luxembourg at 7:00AM with the mission to attack, search and seize Nocher, Luxembourg 78.5-51.4. Entered town at 8:00AM. Distance marched approximately one mile. Enemy OPLR was breached at 7:30AM. Company entered to encounter strong enemy infantry. Enemy has been shelling town all day. Heavy fighting has been continued, but troops have cleared the town and are preparing defensive positions north and northeast of town. 70 prisoners were taken. Enemy casualties were moderate. The company had five enlisted men killed, and 15 wounded.
From Bill Krehbiel's Pride Of Willing And Able:
Thu 18 Jan 45 XII Corps opens offensive with attack across Sauer River. The 319th Infantry's 3rd Bn makes Division main effort, taking Nocher. Enemy resistance is tenacious and casualties are excessive in the day-long action.
L Company departs Dahl at 0700 with mission of attacking, searching and seizing Nocher, Luxembourg. The Company crosses the line of departure with two platoons abreast. Second Platoon is on the right, 1st on the left and 3rd in reserve. Approximately 200 yards from the nearest buildings, the Company formation encounters an enemy outpost line, which is quickly eliminated. After breaching the outpost line at about 0720, 2nd Platoon veers to the right and begins skirting the edge of town as ordered. First Platoon followed by the 3rd takes a direct approach into town. As the Company hits the first of the fog shrouded buildings it is met with a fusillade of small arms fire from enemy infantry who are well deployed with good fields of fire. As the battle is joined, all four of L Company's platoons are fully committed. Heavy fighting continues for much of the day before the enemy is finally subdued and the town secured just prior to dusk. Enemy shelling begins while the fire fight is still in progress and intensifies as it becomes obvious that this important communications center is being lost. Seventy PW's are taken but German casualties are moderate. The attacking elements sustain heavy casualties. Supporting armor is slow in providing close support, which contributes to the high friendly casualty rate suffered by the infantry. After clearing the town, L Company troops begin preparing defensive dug-in positions North and Northeast of town.
The weather is foggy, cloudy and continued cold.
From Co Hqs Lt Kirschbaum: "On the morning we attacked Nocher, Luxembourg I doubt that we ate anything or perhaps had a hasty K ration or even a bite of the chocolate D bars which were refused by the Russians and British, so we had to eat them in the US Infantry. How we managed to get a line rifle company out of houses, and into some semblance of formation in the dark, in a strange, alien and even unfriendly country, into two-plus feet of fresh snow, without coffee or a shot of Cognac, I'll never understand. All I know is that the lead elements of the company were mushing through this deep snow in the dark, snow still falling, and I was congratulating myself that at least I didn't command a rifle platoon and be up front aiming my compass at some errant snowflake! It was still dark when I heard a couple of shots from the head of the column. This portended bad news, because even the German infantryman knows that the good burgers of Luxembourg aren't out firing rifles in the dark. Even if they were allowed to have guns. So I guessed that whoever was in the town now realized that we were marching toward them and just might be alerted that somebody was out in the snowstorm walking around and shooting rifles. Eventually the column passed what turned out to be a German listening post off to one side, but obviously they weren't doing what they should have, and instead of opening up on our scouts they got themselves shot. When I try I can still hear the breathing of one of them who must have taken a .30 caliber thru the lungs. Well, the rest of the morning passed uneventfully. The company reached and entered a pleasant farm village, with two-story houses with barns and springhouses attached, whitewashed and clean. Unfortunately, it was warm inside these houses, and we had quite a busy time convincing the Germans to move out and leave via the woods to the east of town.
While all this was going on, some entrepreneurs were firing Panzerfausts out of the windows at our men moving between the houses, and everyone was shooting and milling around. In an effort to do our bit I moved with the company Hq into a large building, and once inside we were in some sort of spring house which was filled with large metal milk cans. By the time I was inside, one of our riflemen cut loose with his M1 rifle in the darkness, firing all 8 rounds into what seemed to me innocent milk cans and walls. When I politely inquired just what might be going on, he said he thought he `saw something move.' Well, while we were sorting this out we became aware that we were't occupying much of this house other than the ground floor, the ventilated springhouse, and the other occupants were having a picnic upstairs firing out windows and raising hell in general. I had my runner, Berman, call up to them thru the winding wooden stairs that they had better surrender and just come down. He forwarded this information to them and we all waited at the foot of the stairs and I heard steps coming down: `...thud, thud, plop, plop,' and realized this didn't really sound like a man coming down in hobnailed boots. As my agile mind registered this amazing fact we all saw a cute little egg-shaped black concussion grenade merrily bounding down step by step. As the well-trained combat-hardened soldiers we all were, we didn't bother to wait for orders, but evacuated the farm house just as the grenade exploded, hastening quite a bit our departure.
We moved into a more friendly house, and eventually the line platoons took over the town, chased the German troops back into the frigid Luxembourg woods, and we outposted the town for the night. In the evening after clearing Nocher, the company had just received hot chow, or we had made our own, but as I recall, we were all sitting in this little stone house, on the floor, and balancing clean white china plates on our respective laps and getting ready to thoroughly enjoy some hot roast beef, potatoes and gravy and odds and ends. Things were comparatively quiet, which means that the obnoxious artillery battery firing into now what was `our' town, kept lobbing 105's into the outskirts, but since every round was hitting around 500 yards short, in the same area, I knew this gun was firing from coordinates, somewhat like old Larry M. from A. T. Co. when he did his map rocons. So we had just begun to eat our evening meal, and not talking much but just trying to keep the canned peaches from moving over into the gravy.
During this familiar, homey, provincial setting, we suddenly hear a little sort of by now familiar `pop!'. Usually these little surprises mean all sorts of unpleasant things like the primer cap of a grenade, or a German bouncing Betty, or even your own pistol going off and firing thru the bottom of your holster, but that's still another story. Well, we all hear this little innocuous pop and while we look up, the little lieutenant in command of the platoon of medium tanks who was dining with us, said, `...I'm shot!' Now any reasonable person could understand a comment like this if the Germans were around, or a round came in thru a window. However, then he more or less collapsed, causing all of us to put our plates down and holler for the medics. The medic came in smartly and proceeded to get out his surgical scissors capable of cutting anything from a small dinosaur to new tanker's coveralls, which the armored guy was wearing. This brought on a comment, `...hey, don't cut them, I just got `em...' and other appropriate comments to the effect that he would rather bleed to death before parting with either his tankers jacket or trousers. Our medic of course ignored all of this and cut the trousers open. We all crowded around so as not to miss anything; I was hoping the accident wouldn't be too gory as I planned on finishing off the roast beef supper before it got cold. Well, there was no blood, and as the medic exposed the top of the tankers boot, and heavy OD sock, he said `...look at that...' and there nestling in its own `pristine' condition was the .45 slug. Shining like it had just come out of an armory instead of the soldier's leg. Apparently the .45 had been loaded and cocked and the safety got knocked off, and in moving around and adjusting himself, the weapon fired. The round entered right above his calf, leaving no visible entrance wound, then traveled down his calf which was well muscled, perhaps fortunately, and when it hit the edge of the heavy leather boot, deflected out of the flesh, and stopped atop the boot. I did not see any blood at all. I assume our medic evacuated our buddy, and I don't recall whether my dinner stayed warm or not. It was quite a unique episode, when one thinks of what some bullet wounds can do to a person."
From 1st Platoon PFC Pfeiffer: "My next recollection of infantry action was when we made a dawn attack on a town when the weather was horrible. It was snowing, it was foggy, thick more like clouds, windy and the temperature around zero. We marched out of town in a combat formation heading for the next village in the dark. When our approach was about a hundred yards from the homes, we received small arms fire. No one stopped or hit the ground, but instead ran as fast as we could toward the houses, every one firing as we went. About ten feet from safe cover I got pinned down. I flattened my body and head as close to the ground, face in the snow, as I could possibly get. I then pushed my body sideways on a reverse slope leading to the side of the building and safe cover. In the meantime I had taken about twenty hits into my back pack. I finally got out of his range, and next to the building and up to the corner of it. So I was able to start firing again. After awhile I crossed the street and up against a stone wall. I was walking along this wall when a gust of wind cleared out the fog, and I found myself face to face with two Germans and another GI. We all identified each other correctly, and every one began firing. Two seconds later there were two dead Germans and a wounded GI. He took a bullet high on the top of his leg. We then made our way into a building. He attended to his wound, and I continued my job as a rifleman. For the next hour or so we became a pair, he loading the rifles and I running to the back of the house emptying them. This battle went on all day and into the night. As for my back pack nothing survived. My mess kit that had two holes in it side to side, was taken away from me by Sgt Francis our former A.T. Co cook. He gave me his mess kit nice and shiny and clean. I really wanted to keep it and did not want to hurt his feelings by rejecting his kindness. Sgt Francis took care of us all as though we were his children. I sure would like to meet that man who got hit in the top of his leg, who was my partner in the `shoot out at the OK corral.' In this same encounter, I spent the afternoon in the attic of a home that had three stories in the front and four in the back. In other words, you walked into the cellar at ground level. My partner in the attic was Jack Yelaca. We spent the afternoon shooting down into a steep gorge at Jerries who were packing up to move out. That night I got the opportunity to direct artillery on our counter part who were shooting eighty-eights at us."
From 2nd Platoon PFC Krehbiel: "The attack jumps off at 0700, it is extremely foggy. We are the Div main effort assaulting the town of Nocher, Luxembourg an important communications center. A Jerrie outpost a couple of hundred yards from the outskirts of Nocher engaged us first and a Kraut machine gun firing on the MLR right across my path nearly caught me. It brought me to an abrupt halt and my feet went right out from under me. On each burst I could see the bullets picking up the snow directly across my front on the same azimuth so I just waited until a burst was completed and then dashed across the line of fire. There seemed to be no attempt to adjust the fire. I recall that immediately after this I could hear some GI's shouting, `get those ___s', and the outpost was permanently silenced. Slim (Hal) Sgt Bill Halsey and I were able to reach the first building without getting hit, but just as we started moving along a rock wall on the near edge of town Slim was struck in the left hand by small arms fire which shredded one finger.
I'll never forget how angry he got and how he eliminated that threat with a well-placed grenade, a perfect strike. He had asked me to throw one of my grenades, but both the grenades I had fastened to my harness prior to the attack were gone. I must have lost them on one of the occassions I hit the ground when we were fired on. That's the last time I saw `Big Hal' until after the war. Our platoon's assigned mission was to skirt the town to the right and cut off the enemy escape route. We needn't have bothered, we ran right into the stiffest resistance of the war for me. There certainly was no evidence that the enemy garrison was attempting to flee out the backside of town. We were confronted by a number of die-hard, radical Waffen SS (Schutzstaffel), and it was patently obvious that they had no intentions of fleeing. Our platoon was making good progress, but as we were crossing an opening on the backside of town, I was suddenly flattened by a small arms round, in the left hamstring, from a treeline to our right. When Ebert approached me to see if I was seriously wounded he was struck just below the knee.
As I was lying there I could observe bullets picking up the snow near my head and knew if I wanted to survive I had better get out of there - those dirty Krauts were trying to kill us. We decided to try to find protection in a building, the first one we saw on the backside of town. We were preceded by a few other GI's but when two of them skirted the blank wall facing us, to the left side, they received a fusillade of small arms fire from the basement window of an adjacent building and were both killed instantly. When another GI attempted to go to their aid he was seriously wounded. I made an effort to get to them by crawling on my stomach, but was forced to back off because of the withering fire. One of the KIA's was a Squad leader. Another incident relative to this heavy volume of enemy small arms fire took place when three of the Kraut soldiers who had fired on me decided they were ready to capitulate and approached our position with their hands in the surrender position - hands on head. Being in a firefight, we were in no position to take them captive so we waved them on down the street in the direction of the center of town.
However, when they popped into the clearing to the left of the building which was providing us with a measure of cover, they came under the same fire which was plaguing us. The surrendering Germans were now moving on the double, but I observed at least one of them being struck by small arms fire from his own comrades as he was turned at least a quarter of a turn during their volley. However, they never broke stride as they scuttled to safety. Lucky jerks, for them the war was over. I then decided to try my luck on the right hand side of the building with no better results. Immediately German small arms fire began to disintegrate the corner of the building. When I attempted to return the fire, my weapon began to malfunction due to the cold. Fortunately I was able to pick one up nearby in good working condition dropped by a wounded comrade. Moments later a potato masher grenade landed approximately 10 yds from me and I hit the dirt and escaped unscathed. As I stood up to assess the situation, I noticed this Kraut trying to sneak up on me behind a snow drift no more than 10-12 feet away. When our eyes met, he was attempting to bring his rifle into action which he mistakenly carried underneath himself while crawling. It cost him his life, that was a close call.
Early in the battle we didn't have tank support, but when they finally came into town in mid to late afternoon, we directed one to the building we were having so much trouble with. Our tank rolled up close to the building and pumped a few high explosive (HE) rounds into the cellar setting the building ablaze and gutting it. When a couple of Krauts that escaped the gun blasts and inferno came running out the front door, their bodies were perforated by our small arms fire. Our platoon took only 12 prisoners but killed several at a high cost in friendly casualties. Our platoon was really riddled and down to 17 fighting men including a couple of walking wounded. We lost our Squad Leader S/Sgt Chuck Burden who was injured in the head and Bernard Cohen was killed by small arms fire. Other squad members including Ebert, Slim, Kirley, Legates, and I were shot up. One member of the Company had both legs taken off by an incoming artillery round. I don't believe he made it. I refused evacuation for the time being because my wound appeared to be only superficial. I sprinkled sulfa-powder on it and dressed it. What was left of our platoon, except for our platoon headquarters, took up residence in a barn at the extreme far side of town and began preparations for the defense of our hard won real estate. We had to guard our 12 Kraut prisoners all night in a barn before we could turn them over to battalion. We also dug a couple of positions next to the barn and manned them all night. Later, I checked in with our (medic), PFC Marion Stiles from Hutchinson, Kansas and was placed on report for the purple heart."
From 3rd Platoon Lt Grady: "The attack on Nocher was made without the usual artillery preparation. It was cold and dark that Jan morning, and L Company moved out fast, with the hope of achieving surprise. 3d Plat was in support. (NOTE: Being in support was a small measure of relief for a rifle platoon, as it meant the other two rifle platoons would be in front during an attack. Careful track was kept by the rifle platoon leaders to insure when it was their turn to be in support). Surprise went out the window when firing to the front told us the enemy was awake. We soon passed the scene of action, and credit is given to the attacking platoons for quickly overcoming the German outpost. The 3d Plat lost its support role at the near edge of town, and it was tough going, as we worked our way to positions generally on the NW side of Nocher. At the head of one street the Germans had an Aid Station established in a barn-like building with a Red Cross flag clearly visible, but from this same building there came a steady stream of machine pistol fire, and 3d Plat took casualties, including S/Sgt Hank Einolf and our platoon aid man, T/5 Ritter. It was a frustrating experience for us and the tankers, who were unable to come to our assistance because of the icy roads.
I told the tank commander the problem we were having with the German Aid Station, but the tank's rubber treads afforded no traction, and what a ridiculous sight it was to see GI's trying to push a medium tank up an icy street! Later on, the first day in Nocher, I was told to make contact with a unit on our right, and while doing so saw an enemy artillery shell explode near my position, and in moving forward, saw the round had killed a Sgt whose identity was unknown to me. While checking him, another shell hit the same spot and tossed me in the air. Other than a hard fall, and a severe ringing in my ears, I was uninjured. Joe Hudock saw what had taken place, and figured I was a goner. I'm not sure of what was established as the life expectancy of a Rifle Platoon leader in the ETO, or for that matter, what the life expectancy was for any member of an Infantry Rifle Platoon, but after 5 1/2 months the odds could not have been in my favor. (This thought is in retrospect, as my thinking in those bad days was always positive). On that first day in Nocher I have a very vivid memory of seeing an old German soldier with full field pack and equipment, sitting down, leaning back against a low stone wall, very dead, with the contents of his wallet strewn in front of where he sat, and clutching in his two hands a picture of what must have been his family. War is Hell. While in Nocher, the 319th Regt Catholic Chaplain, Fr. Henderson, put out the word that he was going to say Mass in the local church (no roof, only walls standing). Half-way through the service, the `screaming meemies' arrived, and Fr. Henderson put on his helmet, and gave a final `Amen' to one of the shortest services I've ever attended."
From 3rd Platoon Sgt Barrett: "We jumped off about daylight the morning we took Nocher. My squad went around the right side of town. It was foggy. We had a hard time seeing. A German officer came running to us. He had a Burp gun. He was shouting. He thought we were some of his men slipping out of town. He ran right up in our lap before he realized what was what. The most startled look came on his face. He turned and started running back but he never made it. A little further on James Longanetta was just in front of me. He was carrying the bazooka. A German jumped up and started running straight away. Longanetta shot him with the bazooka and hit him in the head. When the bazooka shell exploded, his head was blown completely away. When we got bedded down in a building on the edge of town we got to looking around and found a young cow that had been killed during the shelling of the town prior to our taking it. One of our squad had worked in a butcher shop. He hulled out a good portion of the loin. We had steak three times a day. About 2:00 a.m. one morning, I came off guard duty and looked over at our steaks that we were going to have for breakfast. There was a cat sitting there having a feast. I had a little Walther .32 pistol that I had taken from a German officer. I crawled up real close to the cat and shot him between the eyes. One of the squad woke up and asked what was wrong. I told him nothing. He went back to sleep. Now one of the squad had pulled a bad trick on me and I decided now was a good time to get back at him. I eased over to where he was sleeping and slid the dead cat under his blanket right next to his chest. That morning when we got the call to get up, I watched. When the fellow started moving around and felt the dead cat in bed with him, he almost messed up his pants. He never did know what happened until now if he reads this."
From Weapon Platoon Sgt Lemoin Vaughn: "The battle for Nocher was one of the most heated engagements of the war for our company. It was a struggle which lasted nearly all day. Our rifle platoons were having a tough time clearing all the buildings due to the heavy volume of small arms fire directed at them from well-concealed positions. When our tank support finally arrived on the scene late in the day the enemy was directing artillery and mortar fire on our positions as well as continued small arms fire. For leading our tanks into the positions while under enemy fire where they could be the most effective in providing support for the riflemen, I was awarded the Bronze Star Medal. The arrival of the tanks overbalanced the melee in our favor and the town was abruptly cleared of the enemy but their artillery fire intensified."
From Weapon Platoon PFC Chism: "It was even hotter at Nocher than at Dahl as we had a heck of a time taking the town. K Company in reserve came around from the woods to help us, and ran into resistance and couldn't help us. So after a long battle, like all day, we finally took the town. So we set up in a building that had a winding staircase with a landing and then it turned and went back to get the height it needed. It had received a hit on the roof so a whole corner of the house had been torn off. So I set my M-gun up on the landing overlooking the field to the edge of the hill and also the road coming up from the canyon. The road came out in front of a barn by our right, and to the extreme left there was a cement building with a window in the loft. We went into the house to clean it out and lifted up a door and could see the Germans in the basement. I had a grenade out and someone said that it was a first aid station. So we closed the lid. I walked into another room and had my gun ready and saw some movement so I let him have it like I was taught - and heard glass shattering - I had shot myself in the mirror! We ended up setting our guns up. Cocco had his gun set up on the ground level facing this barn on their left flank. We were around holding our position, and some rifle platoon sergeant said a German was picking the guys off - shooting the guys in the head. So he wanted me to fire into the window in the cement building. Cocco didn't want to, so I stepped down to his gun and just reamed that window out, and that sure put a stop to the sniper! In about 15 minutes we saw a wisp of smoke coming out, so we knew they would have to come out pretty soon. So I went back to my gun, and they did come out and I bet we got them all.
One day we were standing outside enjoying the sun, and a German prisoner came up and gave himself up. We could see no weapons on him and we didn't search him sufficiently which we should have done because he jerked out a potato masher grenade and pulled the pin on it and dropped it. Everybody scrambled - but the grenade didn't go off - so we were lucky again! We sent him on back with a detail. Later on we were standing outside and we heard a shell coming in and it was an artillery shell which is a little faster than a mortar shell. So by the time we heard it coming, there wasn't much we could do. That dad gum thing hit and we were doing an Indian rain dance trying to keep that shell from hitting us in the feet or legs. All of us were jumping and dodging the shell as it ricocheted in our midst. It finally ended up whirling in the ground and never went off. All we could figure out is that it was one of our timed shells that didn't go off. The next day or possibly the same afternoon, we had moved our gun out of the building to the point of this hill in back of the house. The town had already been cleared for about two days by now and we were kind of relaxed. We saw a van going up the hill and it was German. We just sat there and watched it and everyone wanted me to take a shot at it. It was quite a ways across, as the road went down our side of the mountain and crossed the river and went up the other side of the mountain on probably a seven percent grade. Finally some officer out there said go ahead and take a shot at it. I pulled down on it and was lucky and ended up setting it on fire. A couple soldiers got out of it and over to the ditch. One of them started running down the hill. One of the guys said it was one of their supermen! He looked like it as he was a big tall guy with hobnailed boots and a long overcoat like the German soldiers wear. The poor guy ran about a mile down that hill - going faster every time we gave him a burst! So it was a really fast downhill trip for him!"
From 610 TD Bn: "The 1st Platoon of `A' Company supported the attack of the 319th East of Dahl on the 18th of January but met unexpectedly heavy resistance and was forced to draw back. `A' Company also had a destroyer slide off an icy road into a gulley, and because of the bad road conditions could not recover the vehicle. The attack on the towns of Nocher and Harderbach continued on the 19th. A Mk VI in the vicinity of Nocher was confirmed as destroyed." McGrann
Casualty Rpt: Total (33)
BAT 27; KIA 8: S/Sgt Frank M Buzun, S/Sgt Kenneth E Woodlief, T/5 Bernard Cohen, PFC Forrest H Davies, PFC Vernon L Knudsen, PFC Hyman E Topper, Pvt Nick D Maddaloni, Pvt Donald Olson; SWA 2: PFC Edward W Ebert, PFC Patricio Ornelas; LWA 16: S/Sgt Henry C Einolf Jr, Sgt Bill D Halsey, PFC Julian G Aguilar, PFC Clarence D Amstutz, PFC George R Anderson, PFC Rudolph Berman, PFC Henry Bulwin, PFC Thomas B Consford, PFC Joe DeArment, PFC Joseph T Kirley, PFC Bill J Krehbiel, PFC Edward G Kush, PFC Paul H Legates, Pvt Felix Graniello Jr, Pvt Frank Horvat, Pvt Ray C Peters; LIA 1: S/Sgt Charles D Burden
NB 6: S/Sgt Jack A Frick, PFC Loyd S Cooper, PFC Ernest B Martin, PFC Earl A Ross, Pvt Harry F Brownworth Jr, Pvt Bolac J Kulig
RTD: Fr 12th Evac Hosp, PFC Sakaly, Joseph G; Fr 104 Evac Hosp, Pvt Graniello Felix Jr.
From Bill's memoirs:
Thur 18 Jan 45 - The attack jumps off at 0700, it is extremely foggy. We are the Div main effort assaulting the town of Nocher, Luxembourg an important communications center. A Jerry outpost a couple of hundred yards from the outskirts of Nocher engaged us first and a Kraut machine gun firing on the MLR right across my path nearly caught me. It brought me to an abrupt halt and my feet went right out from under me. On each burst I could see the bullets picking up the snow directly across my front on the same azimuth so I just waited until a burst was completed and then dashed across the line of fire. There seemed to be no attempt to adjust the fire. I recall that immediately after this I could hear some GI's shouting, `get those ___s', and the outpost was permanently silenced. Slim (Hal) Sgt Bill Halsey and I were able to reach the first building without getting hit, but just as we started moving along a rock wall on the near edge of town Slim was struck in the left hand by small arms fire which shredded one finger. I'll never forget how angry he got and how he eliminated that threat with a well-placed grenade, a perfect strike. He had asked me to throw one of my grenades, but both the grenades I had fastened to my harness prior to the attack were gone. I must have lost them on one of the occasions I hit the ground when we were fired on. That's the last time I saw `Big Hal' until after the war.
Our platoon's assigned mission was to skirt the town to the right and cut off the enemy escape route. We needn't have bothered, we ran right into the stiffest resistance of the war for me. There certainly was no evidence that the enemy garrison was attempting to flee out the backside of town. We were confronted by a number of die-hard, radical Waffen SS (Schutzstaffel), and it was patently obvious that they had no intentions of fleeing. Our platoon was making good progress, but as we were crossing an opening on the backside of town, I was suddenly flattened by a small arms round, in the left hamstring, from a treeline to our right. When Ebert approached me to see if I was seriously wounded he was struck just below the knee. As I was lying there I could observe bullets picking up the snow near my head and knew if I wanted to survive I had better get out of there - those dirty Krauts were trying to kill us. We decided to try to find protection in a building, the first one we saw on the backside of town. We were preceded by a few other GI's but when two of them skirted the blank wall facing us, to the left side, they received a fusillade of small arms fire from the basement window of an adjacent building and were both killed instantly. When another GI attempted to go to their aid he was seriously wounded. I made an effort to get to them by crawling on my stomach, but was forced to back off because of the withering fire. One of the KIA's was a Squad leader.
Another incident relative to this heavy volume of enemy small arms fire took place when three of the Kraut soldiers who had fired on me decided they were ready to capitulate and approached our position with their hands in the surrender position - hands on head. Being in a fire fight, we were in no position to take them captive so we waved them on down the street in the direction of the center of town. However, when they popped into the clearing to the left of the building which was providing us with a measure of cover, they came under the same fire which was plaguing us. The surrendering Germans were now moving on the double, but I observed at least one of them being struck by small arms fire from his own comrades as he was turned at least a quarter of a turn during their volley. However, they never broke stride as they scuttled to safety. Lucky jerks, for them the war was over. I then decided to try my luck on the right hand side of the building with no better results. Immediately German small arms fire began to disintegrate the corner of the building. When I attempted to return the fire, my weapon began to malfunction due to the cold. Fortunately I was able to pick one up nearby in good working condition dropped by a wounded comrade. Moments later a potato masher grenade landed approximately 10 yds from me and I hit the dirt and escaped unscathed. As I stood up to assess the situation, I noticed this Kraut trying to sneak up on me behind a snow drift no more than 10-12 feet away. When our eyes met, he was attempting to bring his rifle into action which he mistakenly carried underneath himself while crawling. It cost him his life, that was a close call.
Early in the battle we didn't have tank support, but when they finally came into town in mid to late afternoon, we directed one to the building we were having so much trouble with. Our tank rolled up close to the building and pumped a few high explosive (HE) rounds into the cellar setting the building ablaze and gutting it. When a couple of Krauts that escaped the gun blasts and inferno came running out the front door, their bodies were perforated by our small arms fire. Our platoon took only 12 prisoners but killed several at a high cost in friendly casualties. Our platoon was really riddled and down to 17 fighting men including a couple of walking wounded. We lost our Squadd Leader S/Sgt Chuck Burden who was injured in the head and Bernard Cohen was killed by small arms fire. Other squad members including Ebert, Slim, Kirley, Legates, and I were shot up. One member of the Company had both legs taken off by an incoming artillery round. I don't believe he made it. I refused evacuation for the time being because my wound appeared to be only superficial. I sprinkled sulfa-powder on it and dressed it. What was left of our platoon, except for our platoon hqs, took up residence in a barn at the extreme far side of town and began preparations for the defense of our hard won real estate. We had to guard our 12 Kraut prisoners all night in a barn before we could turn them over to battalion. We also dug a couple of positions next to the barn and manned them all night. Later, I checked in with our (medic), Pfc Marion Stiles from Hutchinson, Kansas and was placed on report for the purple heart."
NOTE: It was right in the midst of this battle, that a brand new 2nd Lt was committed to battle as our platoon leader. However, in the face of the withering small arms fire, he lost his courage and bolted to the security of protected buildings and I never saw him again. The squad members of the platoon never had an opportunity to meet him and thus didn't know his name. This was our 2nd case of battle fatigue since my arrival.
As you can see above, Bill Krehbiel reported that PFC Forrest H. Davies was killed in action on January 18, 1945. The Company L Morning Report of January 26, 1945 reported his death as taking place on the 20th, so, I will continue with what we do know:
From the 702nd's S-2 Journal: “January 19; Snow thawing. Rain and slush, below freezing. 5:36am-minefield on the west side of the road at 823429. Schu-mines 100 yards northwest of 815436. 7:00am-password, "Latchkey" out to companies, and white streamer on rear right left strut will identify our planes. 11:45am-three rounds of 150mm artillery fell on the road in the vicinity of 728446, at 11:20am from the northwest. 12:14pm-P.O.W. captured in Diekirch from the 3rd Company, 208th Volks Grenadier Regiment, 79th Volks Grenadier Division said that the 1st Battalion, 208th Regiment left the vicinity of 813510 yesterday to reinforce elements of the 352nd Division in Diekirch and that the 79th was supposed to pull out of line yesterday to reorganize-but when we attacked, they did not. 12:35pm-two vehicles at 825464 going in opposite directions. 1:44pm-received message 16-5, counterattack in 5th Division zone. 1:47pm-twenty tanks and infantry at 875485. 2:11pm-P.O.W. states that the 212th Regimental Command Post is at the bend in the road at 744527, and another installation in the mill at 741523, and the main headquarters of the division is in Weiler 8453. 212th Regiment is the westernmost regiment in the 38th Corps. 2:31pm-two teams of horses pulling big guns on the road from Burderbilerg to Burden, moving to Burden at 2:11pm. 2:58pm-four horses pulling big gun at 812453, at 1:45pm. Installation and German movement observed in draw. 3:22pm-vehicle going north at 73425850. Traffic between 720570 and 727528. 3:16pm-thirty five rounds of artillery and mortar, estimated 105mm, in the vicinity of 772421 and time fire in the vicinity of Tadler at 1:35pm. 3:45pm-ten to twelve men seen in the woods north of Nocher. One 150mm firing direction of Dahl and Nocher from P74255175. 4:20pm-motor column moving out of the woods at 753538, east to Alscheid. 5:27pm-two vehicles and twenty foot-troops on road going southeast from Weltz 746524-troops are moving twenty feet apart. 5:37pm-three large trucks going northeast out of Michelan. Forty-five infantry, two horse-drawn wagons and one vehicle moving southwest at 814444, at 4:35pm. 5:59pm-two tanks observed at 778492, at 5:15pm. Infantry and self-propelled artillery at 783492, at 5:15pm. 6:37pm-seven rounds, estimated 75mm, fell at 755476, at 6:00pm. Ten-man observation post observed at 770479, well dug in and camouflaged. German artillery remained very heavy during the period, with the heaviest concentrations on Nocher and on the road from Nocher to Dahl. Germans increase the use of mines on the roads. Heavy eastward movement in German rear areas at the close of the period.
From the 319th Infantry Monthly Report for 19 January:
Enemy continued to withdraw to the north and east covering their withdrawal with strong rear-guard action. Several concentrations of heavy caliber artillery fell in the vicinity of Dahl and Nocher. Very little tactical information of value had been obtained from the prisoners. No change in location of unit command posts. Mission of the 319th Infantry to hold and improve present positions. At 8:37AM, Company K continued the attack against enemy held positions and by 10:30AM had occupied all the buildings east of the road junction P729512. They found one building heavily booby trapped. Regiment received word from Division not to push on the north or east, but to hold and improve present positions. One platoon from Company K made contact between Company K and 3rd Battalion in Nocher. Trip flares were installed in the vicinity of Nocher. Company G was released by 3rd Battalion and returned to 2nd Battalion in Dahl, closing at 7:00PM. 1st Battalion continued to hold present positions.
The Company L Morning Report says:
Company remains in area 73.8-51.3 Nocher, Luxembourg with the mission to hold and secure sector North and Northeast of town. Company has established defensive positions and furnishes regular patrols. Enemy still very active. One prisoner was taken.
From Bill Krehbiel's Pride Of Willing And Able:
Fri 19 Jan 45 319th Infantry continues to maintain defensive positions and patrolling action. 3rd Bn units consolidate gains and prepare perimeter defense.
L Company improves its defenses in its assigned sector North and Northeast of town in the face of continued enemy shelling.
The weather continues cold and snowy.
From Bill's memoirs:
Fri 19 Jan 45 - Under heavy German artillery fire. The Krauts began shelling us pretty heavily as soon as we had secured our objective yesterday afternoon. We had to dig additional foxholes this morning under enemy shelling. This afternoon Frank Soloninka and I loaded up a trailer load of our dead comrades and delivered the KIA bodies to Regt. This was really an unpleasant task even though the bodies were frozen stiff as boards - sure makes you take stock. Every now and then I pulled the metal covered Bible Dad and Mom presented me before departing for overseas duty and read a few passages. Somehow, that always gave me some comfort and a sense of security.
From the 702nd's S-2 Report 20 January:
January 20; Ten Germans go into a house at 828439, at 8:20am. Smoke along a 100 yard front northeast of Burden observed. Four Germans go into the smoke at 8:20am. 8:51am-two Germans go into foxhole near building at 800444, at 8:35am. 9:15am-machine gun previously reported in foxholes in the vicinity of 800444, moved into building at 8052. 9:32am-four Germans observed going over slope at 829443, at 9:26am. 9:39am-infantry dug in at 797466. Horse-drawn vehicle on the road at 794468, at 9:15am. 10:00am-twelve horse-drawn vehicles move north on the road at 817525 at 9:15am. Also, foot-troops in Conshaw at 9:15am. 10:19am-one of "C" Company's vehicles hit a German mine last night. 10:43am-Schu-mines on trail at 729431. 10:36am-six Germans move in two groups of three each, into house at 799467, at 9:40am. 987th Regimental Observation Post in mill in Tauterenachle P721532-strength of 1st Battalion, 987th Regiment is 120 men. 1:38pm-Captain Nordstrom out checking companies security. Ten German infantry at 845476. German patrol at 862480. 1:40pm-German horse column moving north at 815495, at 1:10pm. 2:44pm-twelve rounds of 88mm fell in the vicinity of 760470, between 1:50 and 1:56pm. 2:45pm-one horse-drawn vehicle on the road between 814510 and 830519 at 2:30pm. 2:46pm-German tank at 741533. 2:47pm-three horse-drawn vehicles on road between 814510 and 830519. 2:53pm-three vehicles reported earlier are now stationary at 815509, at 2:45pm. 2:54pm-German tank at 719553 and 741533. 3:31pm-troops of 5th, 6th, and 14th Companies, 916th Regiment are drifting over into Dynamite Sector. 4:53pm-small arms fire at 753500. Germans observed in the woods, digging positions at 756499. 5:13pm-trains of 1st Battalion, 987th Regiment located in Kallenbach 7652. 5:47pm-six rounds of 80mm mortar falling at 733498 and twelve 80mm at 733. 10:00pm-conditions remain quiet along entire front during the period. Artillery moderate. 57 Prisoners of War taken today.”
From the 702nd Tank Battalion A.G.O. records:
"Late in the afternoon of January 20th, one platoon of Company 'A' assisted by a company of the 317th Infantry moved into the town of Kehmen and succeeded in clearing the town. Resistance in the town proved to be very light and twenty-five P.O.W.’s were captured without any losses to our troops. Company 'B', attached to the 318th Infantry remained inactive until the 19th of the month, at which time two platoons moved into attack positions south of Burden, and the third platoon from Neiderfeulen to Ettelbruck. The plan of attack was to push from the South with the 2nd Battalion of the 318th Infantry and capture the town of Burden. The attack progressed as planned, jumping off at 5:40 P.M., January 20th and capturing the town at 7:50 P.M. The attack was continued the next morning with Bourscheid the objective. The attacking infantry encountered extremely heavy sniper fire from the town; therefore, two platoons of Company 'B' moved through them and attacked the town. The tanks succeeded in entering the town, destroying two enemy tanks and one anti-tank gun in the resulting action. The infantry moved into town after the tanks and had occupied the town by noon. After the capture of Bourscheid, the 318th Infantry was ordered into Division Reserve to assemble in the vicinity of Neiderfeulen. In compliance with this order, Company 'B' assembled in Neiderfeulen on the 22nd, and moved from there to Buderscheid on January 23rd."
The 80th Division G-3 reports state that on the 20th, eight P.O.W.’s were taken, on the 21st, one hundred-six were taken, and on the 22nd, another sixteen were taken. According to the 80th Division G-2: "The enemy was completely cleared from 80th Division's zone south of the Sure River on 20-21 January. Enemy artillery fire remained moderate. A general withdrawal towards the Siegfried Line was now apparent along the entire front. In rear areas, large concentrations of vehicular and horse-drawn movement to the East was observed."
From the 319th Infantry Monthly Report for 20 January:
Battalions continued to hold positions. Trip flares were installed in the vicinity of Nocher by 3rd Battalion with assistance of Company C, 305th Engineer Battalion. At 10:28AM, Company K had a fire fight with approximately 30 enemy, but the enemy withdrew. Contact was maintained with the 317th Infantry Regiment on our right and with the 28th Cavalry on our left through the attached 80th Recon Troop. Battalions conducted patrolling to the north, east, and west of positions.
The Company L Morning Report states:
Company remains in area 73.8-51.3 Nocher, Luxembourg with the mission to hold and secure the sector north and northeast of town. Company has established defensive positions and furnishes regular patrols. Enemy still very active. One prisoner was taken.
From Bill Krehbiel's Pride Of Willing And Able:
Sat 20 Jan 45 3rd Bn elements continue occupying defensive positions.
L Company mission and disposition is unchanged. Recon patrols continue to be furnished and one PW is taken by one of the company patrol formations. Enemy continues harassing fire.
The weather is overcast and snowy, there is no relief from the cold.
RTD: Fr 60th Fld Hosp, Pvt Brownworth, Harry F Jr
From Bill's memoirs:
Sat 20 Jan 45 - Continued occupying defensive positions outside the barn and standing sentry duty in shifts. We scrounged up a pot bellied wood burning stove and some stovepipe to help heat up our little area in the barn but whenever we started a fire the smoke emission alerted the Kraut observers and gun positions and we drew artillery fire. Still bitter cold and overcast. Today we had an opportunity to personally clean up a bit - including sponge bath and shave. Redressed my wound.
The official date of the death of PFC Forrest H. Davies is 20 January, 1945, as stated in the Company L Morning Report of 26 January. This creates several questions about why it took six days for his death to be recorded, and where and exactly how he died, if he died on that day. Until then, the Company L Morning Reports are pretty timely about mentioning men killed or wounded. Why, in this case, did it take six days? According to the same Company L Morning Reports, not much eventful happened on the 20th, and no enemy contact was mentioned except taking one prisoner. If you look back at the 319th Monthly Report for the same day, the only significant enemy contact was one patrol from Company K who had a firefight with the enemy. That event would not have involved PFC Davies. In the map below, the red markings show where the patrol of Company K moved and ran into the Germans in the red circled area before withdrawing. L Company, which PFC Davies was assigned to, was located in the area marked with a "LX" in the upper center of this map.
On the other hand, Bill Krehbiel, a rifleman in Company L, who knew Forrest Davies, clearly says that Davies died on 18 January. The 18th was the day that Company L took Nocher. On that day, there was a fierce firefight at close range with the enemy that lasted quite some time. In the letter written by PFC Davies' daughter, the situation is further complicated because she gives the date of his death as 19 January. Again, the records don't indicate any significant combat on 19 January either. In the same letter, she says that he met his death while covering a retreat and being killed by a sniper near the town of Nocher. On neither the 20th, nor the 19th is there any mention in the records of a retreat or sniper activity resulting in Company L casualties. However, on the 18th, in Bill Krehbiel's Pride Of Willing And Able, there was indeed an active German sniper in Nocher, who was then in turn killed by a Weapons Platoon machine gunner. Barring any hard evidence to the contrary, I have to believe Bill Krehbiel's version of when PFC Davies died. The events fit with what his daughter was told, and the clerk who wrote the Morning Report on 26 January was obviously getting his information second-hand. It is my hope that someone may have further information regarding the time & circumstances of Forrest Davies death, and that someday we may locate the actual citation of his Bronze Star Medal.
Should anyone have information to contribute to this story, or know anything about PFC Forrest H. Davies, please contact the Webmaster, and I will forward it to the Davies family.
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