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4 December 1944

4 December 1944

4 December 1944

December 1944

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Greece

Athens is placed under martial law



Mass Action

From Labor Action, Vol. 8 No. 49, 4 December 1944, p.ق.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Daily Worker and George Bass

Last week we wrote in this column on the defeat of George Bass in the Goodrich Local elections in Akron. We pointed out the fact that Bass was defeated by the most conservative members of the local, who were led by a handful of the reactionary scissorbills, acting in league with the labor-baiting Akron Beacon Journal. As was to be expected, Browder’s Communist Political Association (Communist Party) has come out in its Daily Worker in support of these reactionaries and the Beacon Journal.

The Daily Worker for November 27 calls the defeat of Bass “good news from Akron.” Bass is a “pro-Trotskyite” who was defeated through “the patriotic understanding of the Goodrich workers.” Trade “unionists loyal to the CIO no-strike policy and the national interests which it defends, turned thumbs down on him (Bass) and his Trotskyite henchmen.” The “patriotic repudiation of Bass should be a signal to all CIO supporters in the CIO to give the same medicine to his fellow travelers in their ranks.” By this the Daily Worker means that what it calls the “patriotic” workers should vote against the rescinding of the no-strike pledge in the coming UAW referendum.
 

Why Bass Was Defeated

Bass was not defeated through “the patriotic understanding of the Goodrich workers.” He was defeated because a small group of reactionaries skillfully and very brazenly played on the backwardness and lack of “understanding” of a large group of workers who for one reason or another were not active in the local. They were taken in by these scissorbill-Beacon Journal stooges who were really not fighting the battles of the Goodrich workers but the battle of the Goodrich Rubber Co. They won, not because these rank and file workers want a reactionary leadership but because the scissorbills organized them and the Bass forces did not. We commented on this in Labor Action last week.
 

Workers Party Members Are Not “Henchmen”

We are not certain what the Daily Worker means by Bass’ “Trotskyite henchmen.” If they mean members of the Workers Party, we want to say that Workers Party members don’t act as “henchmen” for anybody in the trade unions. Furthermore, members of the Workers Party don’t act as henchmen for Roosevelt and the Democratic Party. Neither do we act as henchmen for the Republican Party. We didn’t act as henchmen of Hague in New Jersey, for the rotten Tammany leaders in New York City, for Kelly in Chicago, for Bilbo in Mississippi or for Willkie in 1940.

The members of the Workers Party did not act as “henchmen” for Hitler and never will. We have never made a pact with this fascist butcher and never will. We have never made a pact with the FBI nor called on the government to refuse newsprint to a labor paper.

Members of the Workers Party were never henchmen of John L. Lewis. We didn’t organize a forty-five-minute ovation for Lewis at the CIO convention in 1941. We didn’t oppose Murray for president of the CIO and then spend the next three years crawling up his pants leg trying to make him forget that we were once “henchmen” of Lewis who were now willing to lick Murray’s boots if he would only let us.

No, it wasn’t the “Trotskyites” who did these things. It was Browder’s Communist Political Association (Communist Party) – henchmen for Stalin, Eric Johnston, Hitler, Democratic Party, Republican Party, National Association of Manufacturers, the cops and the employers.
 

Deep Differences Between Communists and Workers Party

No, the “Trotskyites” don’t act as “henchmen.” Neither do we crawl through the labor movement with an axe in one hand and slime and filth in the other. Browder, the Stalinists and the Daily Worker have undisputed priority in that field. Members of the Workers Party in the trade unions are against fascism and always have been. We fight against fascism we make no compromises and no pacts with fascism.

We were and remain against the no-strike pledge. We are for militancy in the unions, for real collective bargaining and democratic decisions by the union membership. We are not supporters of the war, because it is an imperialist war for imperialist gain and aggrandizement. These things should be clear even to the scoundrels who edit the Daily Worker. Our ideas and our program have been published in Labor Action week in and week out.

Members of the Workers Party are loyal supporters of the labor movement: of the CIO and the AFL. We give these workers our ideas and our program: the program of democratic and militant unionism, the program of revolutionary socialism. We stand for independent political action by and for the working class. We have advocated and still advocate that the trade unions organize a mass independent Labor Party.
 

The Program Necessary for Progressives Today

We are not “henchmen.” We go to the ranks of labor as an integral and loyal part of the trade union movement. We propagate our ideas and our program. This is our right, our duty and our responsibility. The Workers Party does not agree with the present program of the organized labor movement on the war, the no-strike pledge, the WLB and the relinquishing of collective bargaining. We believe, and there are thousands of militant workers who agree with us, that such a program can only lead to defeat for labor.

This is what we were saying in this column last week to George Bass and to other militant rank and file leaders in the unions. They have a duty and a responsibility to consider these things seriously. We are not living in the horse and buggy age of the class struggle. The demands on a trade union leadership are different. They must become not only militant trade union leaders but political leaders guiding the labor movement on the road to independent working class political action. If they fail in this the unions cannot and will not escape the clutches of Stalin’s henchmen or the victory of the most reactionary and backward scissorbills.


December 22, 1944 Forgotten Angel

The Battle of the Bulge is a familiar tale: The massive German offensive bursting out of the frozen Ardennes forest. December 16, 1944. The desperate drive to capture the Belgian port of Antwerp, vital to German re-supply efforts.

The terrain was considered unsuitable for such an attack. The tactical surprise was complete, British and American forces separated and driven back, their positions forming an inward “bulge” on wartime battle maps.

The story of the “Battered Bastards” is likewise, well known. 22,800 Americans, outnumbered five to one in some places and surrounded, in the do-or-die fight to hold the indispensable crossroads, of Bastogne. The German demand to surrender, of December 22. The response from American General Anthony McAuliffe. The one word response, “Nuts”, the American slang, confusing to the German delegation.

The siege of Bastogne would last another four days, the German encirclement at last broken by elements of George S. Patton’s 3rd Army. By the end of January, the last great effort of German arms was spent and driven back behind original lines.

Historian Stephen Ambrose wrote “Band of Brothers” nearly fifty years later, a non-fiction account later broadcast as an HBO mini-series, of the same name. The story refers to a black nurse named Anna. There is a brief appearance and then she is gone. No one knew who Anna was, or even if she was real.

Sixty-one years after Bastogne, military historian Martin King was conducting research for a book, Voices of the Bulge. The knock on the door came in October 2007, in a geriatric home outside of Brussels.

In the months following the Great War, Henri Chiwy (pronounced “SHE-wee”) was a veterinarian, working in the Belgian colony of the Congo Free State. The name of the Congolese woman who bore his child is unrecorded, the name of their baby girl, Augusta Marie.

Augusta Chiwy came back to Belgium when she was nine, one of the luckier of thousands born to European fathers, and African mothers. Back to the doctor’s home in Bastogne, a small town of 9,000 where Augusta was loved and cared for by her father and his sister, whom the girl knew as “aunt Caroline”.

Augusta was educated and raised a Catholic. She always wanted to teach but, due to the rancid racial attitudes of that time and place, it would not do to have a black woman teaching white children. She became a nurse instead, on the advice of her father and his brother, a well-known Bastogne physician.

Nursing school was about 100 miles north. Augusta became a qualified nurse in 1943 and returned home the following year for Christmas. She arrived on December 16, the day Adolf Hitler launched his surprise offensive.

Bastogne was soon surrounded, part of one of the fiercest and bloodiest battles, of WW2. Poorly equipped American GIs were outnumbered five to one. These guys didn’t even have winter uniforms.

US Army Doctor Jack Prior was desperate, the abandoned building serving as military aid station, home to some 100 wounded GIs. Thirty of those were seriously wounded. With virtually no medical equipment or medicine and the only other medical officer an Ohio dentist, Dr. Prior badly needed nursing help.

Augusta Chiwy did not hesitate to volunteer, knowing full well that she would be executed, if caught.

Scene from the HBO mini series, “A Band of Brothers”

Working conditions were grisly in the weeks that followed. With no surgical instruments and no anesthesia, amputations and other procedures were performed with an army knife, with cognac to dull the patient’s pain. On Christmas eve, a direct hit from a 500-pound bomb hit one hospital building, instantly killing dozens of wounded GIs and the only other nurse, Renée Lemaire. She would be remembered as “The Angel of Bastogne.”

Augusta Chiwy was in a neighboring building at the time. The explosion blew the petite nurse through a wall but, unhurt, she picked herself up and went back to work. There were grisly injuries and many died due to inadequate medical facilities, but many lived, their families reunited thanks to the tireless work of Dr. Jack Prior, and nurse Augusta Chiwy.

Given the month of hell the pair had been through, Augusta was heartbroken when Dr. Prior had to move out, in January. The pair exchanged addresses and stayed in touch, writing letters and exchanging small gifts, of candy. They last saw each other in 2004, when Dr. Prior returned from his home state of Vermont, for the 50th anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge.

Augusta Chiwy suffered symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, a condition poorly understood at that time. She would go long periods without speaking, becoming quiet and withdrawn even years later. She married a Belgian soldier in 1959 and the couple had two children. It would be twenty years, before she resumed her nursing career. She almost never spoke of her experience in Bastogne.

The forgotten angel of Bastogne was eighty-six when the knock came on the door of that Belgian nursing home. It took months for the Scottish historian to coax the story out of her.

Thanks to King’s efforts, Augusta Chiwy would finally receive the recognition she had earned.

“On June 24, 2011, she was made a Knight in the Order of the Crown by King Albert II of Belgium. Six months later she received the U.S. Army’s Civilian Award for Humanitarian Service. And on March 21, 2014, Augusta was recognized by her hometown as a Bastogne Citizen of Honor”. http://www.augustachiwy.org

When asked about her heroism, she’d always say the same thing: “I only did what I had to do.”

Augusta Marie Chiwy died peacefully in her sleep at the age of 94, on August 23, 2015. How many lives would have been cut short, will never be known. But for the selfless and untiring efforts, of the Forgotten Angel of Bastogne.


Of Special Interest to Women

From Labor Action, Vol. 8 No. 49, 4 December 1944, p.ل.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Get out those bank books and those war bonds and stamps. Take them out from under the mattress or from the jug on the top kitchen shelf. Take them out and open them up and let us see – for somehow or other wartime savings of around $130,000,000,000 have to be accounted for.

Yes, that’s what we are told. During the three-four war years $130,000,000,000 have been salted away in sayings. A nice, comfortable back-log! No big bad wolf can scare us Americans with those $130,000,000,000 to use against a rainy day.

But wait a second. Do “us Americans” share and share alike in these savings from the war boom? Harvey E. Runner, business editor of the New York Herald Tribune, gives us an idea of how this enormous wartime swag is divided. He says:

“Estimates place only from $7,000,000,000 to $8,000,000,000 in savings with families earning less than $3,000 annually. This group represents about seventy-five per cent of the entire population.”

No wonder your bank account and your few war bonds look like less than a drop in the bucket. According to Mr. Runner’s figures, seventy-five per cent of the population has only a five to six per cent share of the wartime savings. The other ninety-lour or ninety-five per cent is in the war charts of the twenty-five per cent minority – and the richer they are the more they have salted away.

So we see once-more how imperialist war plays favorites!

If we break down Mr. Runner’s figures a bit more, what have we?

The seventy-five per cent of the population in the less than $3,000 income bracket consists of over 20,000,000 American families – and since the Lord blesses the poor with children, these are the largest families. Doing a little long division, we find, according to Mr. Runner’s figures, that during the three-four war years, over 20,000,000 families could save on the average only $300, That’s how rich the war has made them!

Now what becomes of some of the pipe dreams of post-war buying? Who is going to do the buying? The the mothers of these 20,000,0000 families able to get washing machines, vacuum cleaners, much-needed furniture, clothing for their children, vital doctors’ and dentists’ services – to say nothing of that piano for the little girl to take lessons, a down payment on an automobile, or perhaps also on a post-war house which everyone is supposed to buy lickety-split?

Working class housewives have learned to stretch money far – by dint of necessity, but they can’t perform miracles. The small minority whom the war favored will enjoy those things which workers need – while mothers stand guard over their paltry $300 for use in a family emergency.

The big talk about the flow of milk and honey after the war fools no working class housewife as she stares at her microscopic bank balance. Her hope lies in labor’s demands for a guaranteed annual wage, for full employment, for ample social security. Her efforts should be exerted to win a workers’ government through which labor’s demands can be fulfilled,

Paris is today a city of poverty and privation, as everyone knows. Not only is the population gaunt and emaciated from years of Nazi blood-sucking, but present prospects are gloomy indeed. Bread is so scarce it is a luxury coal and other fuel for the winter practically do not exist warm clothing or clothing of any kind is conspicuous by its absence. That is one picture of Paris.

Another is brought to us by the lady reporters writing about the gorgeous fashion shows in the Paris salons and by the photographs of the lovely creations displayed there. Nothing is too luxurious for fashions the working women will never wear. There are handsome fully-cut coats, stunning furs. dresses with skirts yards and yards wide and with billowy sleeves, big hats – all indicating no lack of cloth for those who can pay for it.

And there are those who can. Salons are jammed. Couturiers are doing a bonanza business. Prices are unbelievably high, not in terms of the franc but of the American dollar. And the customers are all French there are no customers from foreign countries today.

That is another picture of Paris!

The earnest elements making up the French resistance movement, composed of working people, don’t like either picture. Misery-as-usual for the workers – luxury-as-usual for the exploiters! That is not why they fought Nazism. They want the kind of society that will supply the needs of all first, and then later luxuries also for all. However, de Gaulle, and Roosevelt-Churchill-Stalin, who back him, are out to disarm the resistance movement and take all the resistance out of it – so that the class society of poor and rich can be maintained.


Mississippi History Timeline

1944: Construction of Mississippi River Basin Model begins in Clinton

One of the largest hydraulic models ever built, the Mississippi River Basin Model was constructed by the Army Corps of Engineers at the Waterways Experiment Station. Labor in the early phases of the project was provided by POWs from Camp Clinton.

February 29, 1944: U.S. forces launch campaign in Admiralty Islands near New Guinea

Image: Lieutenant W. O. Harrell, USNR, acquired this Japanese uniform jacket during the construction of a U.S. base after the islands were secured.

April 3, 1944: U.S. Supreme Court abolishes “white only” primaries in Smith v. Allwright

The white-only primaries were a means for the Texas Democratic Party to prevent non-whites from joining the party. The court found such practices were in violation of the constitutional rights of nonwhite voters.

May 30, 1944: Corporal James D. Slaton of Laurel awarded Congressional Medal of Honor for action on September 23, 1943

June 6, 1944: Allied forces invade Europe in Normandy, France

The successful invasion at Normandy, or “D-Day,” was the turning point in the war for the Allies.

Image: The MP40 submachine gun was used extensively by German forces throughout WWII.

June 13, 1944: U.S. forces land on Saipan in Mariana Islands

Image: This Bronze Star with a “V” device for valor was awarded posthumously to Marine Corporal William J. Doolittle, killed in action on Saipan.

June 22, 1944: President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs G.I. Bill

The Servicemen’s Readjustment Act helped veterans return to civilian life by providing education and training, loan guarantees, and employment assistance.

August 1944: Proposed Choctaw Constitution sent to Washington

August 6, 1944: First German POWs arrive at Camp Clinton

Camp Clinton was one of four POW camps in Mississippi. There were also 15 sub camps throughout the state.

October 2, 1944: First cotton crop produced without hand labor at Hopson Planting Company near Clarksdale

Machines had planted the cotton and chopped it, and eight International Harvester cotton pickers harvested the crop.

October 2, 1944: Tech. Sgt. Van T. Barfoot of Edinburg awarded Congressional Medal of Honor for actions on May 23, 1944

October 19, 1944: Jackson Symphony Orchestra holds inaugural concert at Hotel Heidelberg

The orchestra was renamed the Mississippi Symphony Orchestra in 1989.

October 23-26, 1944: Battle of Leyte Gulf fought near Philippines

Leyte Gulf was the largest naval battle in history. The battleship USS Mississippi helped destroy a Japanese task force in the Suriago Strait during this battle, firing the last salvo in the last battleship vs. battleship engagement in history.

Image: The USS Mississippi was flying this flag during the battle of Suriago Strait, one of four engagements that compose the Battle of Leyte Gulf.

October 25, 1944: Captain Louis H. Wilson, Jr. of Brandon awarded Congressional Medal of Honor for action on July 25 and 26, 1944

December 4, 1944: Secretary of Interior establishes reservation for Choctaws

December 16, 1944: Battle of Bulge begins

The largest land battle in Europe involving U.S. troops, the Battle of the Bulge was fought in Belgium and Luxembourg when German forces mount a surprise offensive aimed at Antwerp.

Image: T4 George C. Sargent of Bentonia wore this uniform jacket during his World War II service. He participated in the battles for the Rhineland and central Europe, as well as in the Ardennes.


A Short History of The Royal Leicestershire Regiment

At the outbreak of the Second World War in September 1939, 1st Battalion was in India and the 2nd Battalion in Palestine, engaged in the Arab rebellion. At home the two Territorial Battalions, the 1/5thand the 2/5th, had been mobilised. By the time the war had ended the Regiment&rsquos battalions had served in action in every theatre of the war, a record which is claimed to be unique.

1st Battalion remained in India until February 1941 when it moved to Penang. In May it sailed for the mainland of Malaya and was stationed at Sungei Patani. When Japan declared war on 7 December 1941, the Battalion was in position at Jitra. On the night of the 10/11 December contact was made with the enemy and from then on the Battalion was continually in action until the final surrender of Singapore in February 1942. During this time the Battalion fought hard and well against a little known enemy. Groups of men were continually being cut off, but in most cases fought their way back to the main body. Due to heavy casualties in both Battalions, on 20 December 1st Battalion amalgamated with the 2nd Battalion The East Surrey Regiment to form the famous British Battalion. Actions which will always be remembered were fought at Jitra, Kampar, Bata-Pa-Hat and Gurun Road. When the British Commonwealth Forces in Singapore surrendered to the Japanese in February 1942, men of The British Battalion became prisoners of war until 1945.

In September 1939 2nd Battalion in Palestine formed part of, and, except in Crete in 1941, remained with the 16th Infantry Brigade throughout the war. In September 1940 it moved to the Western Desert and took part in the December &ldquopush&rdquo of Wavell&rsquos 30,000. It was engaged at Sidi Barrani and again at Bardia, advancing through Buq Buq and Solhuh. In April 1941 it helped stem the German advance at Mersa Matruh. From there it was rushed in two cruisers to Heraklion to take part in the bitter fighting in the May battle of Crete against the German paratroops. After being evacuated to Egypt, the Battalion was hurried off in June 1941 to fight the Vichy French on the Damascus front as part of the 6th (later renumbered 70th) Division. In September 1941 the Battalion was despatched with the remainder of the Division to relieve the Australians in the defence of Tobruk. There it remained for three months and took part in the breakout and made subsequent contact with the newly formed 8th Army.

Leaving the Western Desert in December 1941, 2nd Battalion went to Ceylon in February 1942 and together with 16th Infantry Brigade rejoined 70th Division in India in January 1943. In August the Division became part of Major-General Orde Wingate&rsquos Special Force (the Chindits). In January 1944 the Battalion marched into Burma from the Ledo Road with the 16th Infantry Brigade, the epic march over the Naga Hills to the River Chindwin, which drew from General Wingate the signal &ldquoWell done Leicestershire Regiment &ndash Hannibal eclipsed.&rdquo The Battalion took part with distinction in several battles round Indaw, some two hundred miles behind the enemy&rsquos lines. By the time it was flown out in May 1944 it had covered some 500 miles on foot with mule transport only and entirely supported by air supply.

The Battalion, which later incorporated the 7th Battalion (also returned from Chindit exploits), did not go into action again. The Japanese surrendered before the planned invasion of Malaya, in which the Battalion was due to take part.

1/5th Battalion carried out its training in County Durham and in April 1940 took part in the landing in Norway and the subsequent withdrawal. It then moved to Northern Ireland and in July 1942 to Wrotham, in Kent. From then until the end of the war it was engaged in Pre-OCTU training.

2/5th Battalion, also mobilised in 1939, went to France in 1940 as part of the 46th Division, and, after being evacuated through Dunkirk, it spent 2½ years in England. In January 1943 the Battalion took part in the 1st Army&rsquos landing in North Africa, and heavy casualties were sustained in the Kassarine. The Battalion next saw action at Salerno in Italy, followed by actions at the crossing of the Volturna and Teano Rivers, and at Mount Camino. It spent the first half of 1944 in the Middle East, training and re-equipping and being brought up to strength. It returned to Italy in time to take part in the battle against the Gothic Line in August 1944. In December 1944 the Battalion was moved by air to Athens where it took part in the fighting and remained until the Greek Government was restored in the Epirus. It then returned to Italy and after the Armistice was moved into Austria, where it remained until disbandment.

7th Battalion was formed at Nottingham in July 1940, and its first role was beach defence. In September 1942 it embarked for India. The Battalion was selected as the only non-regular Battalion for General Wingate&rsquos Chindits, the Regiment thus being one of the very few to have two Battalions in the Chindit Force. By April 1944 the Battalion was firmly settled in the Jap&rsquos rear, where it remained for five months &ndash &ldquomilling around&rdquo, creating havoc with Japanese communications and ambushing reinforcements, until withdrawn in August.

After its exhausted men had been dispersed to hospitals all over India for treatment and rehabilitation, the Battalion re-formed at Bangalore. But so great had been the casualties sustained by it and 2nd Battalion, that it was decided that those in the 7th Battalion who were fit for service should be transferred to 2nd Battalion, and on 31 December 1944 the 7th Battalion ceased to exist.

The 8th Battalion, formed in Leicestershire in 1940, changed its designation to 1st Battalion in May 1942, to replace and carry on the high tradition of the old 1st which was lost when Singapore fell. It landed in Normandy on 3 July 1944, came under command of 147th Brigade of the 49th Division. After taking part in the fighting in the bridgehead, it advanced to the Seine and took part in the capture of Le Havre. From there it carried out some short, sharp engagements against the retreating enemy in Belgium and Holland. Such places as Merxplas, Stonebridge, Brembosch and Rosendaal are names that will be remembered.

When the situation eventually became more static, the Battalion was in the Nijmegen Bridgehead and finally took part in the capture of Arnhem. When the war ended, it moved into Germany and remained with the Army of the Rhine until December 1947.

Thirteen battalions of the Regiment formed the local Home Guard from 1940 to 1944 for the defence of the City and County.

In 1944 the Regiment was granted the Freedom of the City of Leicester. In November 1946 in recognition of the fact that a battalion of the Regiment had fought with distinction in every major theatre of the war, King George VI paid the Regiment the great honour of making it a Royal Regiment. Twenty-three new Battle Honours were won.


7-AD – St Vith – December 1944

RELATED ARTICLESMORE FROM AUTHOR

1-ID – Dom Butgenbach – December 1944

1-ID – (AAR) – Hauset (BE) (12/1944)

30-ID (AAR) December 1944 (G3)

526-AIB (AAR) (T Force) December 1944

106-ID December 1944

The Seventh Day – Dec 23, 1944.

The enemy’s pressure from the east eased slightly, and H-hour for withdrawal was announced as 0600. CCB-9-AD, having received the announcement late, actually initiated the movement about 0700. Gen Clarke, CCB-7-AD, ordered Col Wemple to bring out all vehicles and troops at Krombach and southwest thereof through Beho to Vielsalm. An infantry company of the 424-IR at Braunlauf was to accompany them. North of Krombach all troops and vehicles were to come out through Hinderhausen to Commanster, thence to Vielsalm. A covering force under Col Boylan and consisting of a medium tank company, a tank destroyer company, and an infantry company, was ordered to hold Hinderhausen until all other troops had left and then to fall back with maximum delay they were to take wounded with them. This was a narrow road, and in the event of vehicle failure, vehicles were to be dumped to the side of the road and destroyed with a minimum of delay, so that the column would not be held up.
The 956-FAB and the 275-FAB were withdrawn the night of Dec 22. The 434-AFAB came out just ahead of the covering forces, displacing battery by battery in order to give fire support to the covering forces, which were withdrawing under heavy pressure. It was providential that on the night of Dec 22/23 the roads froze, enabling practically all of the vehicles to get out. So far as is known, no men were left behind. The troops of CCB were originally given instructions to assemble at Lierneux, but later other instructions were received and the assembly area was changed to the vicinity of Xhoris. The combat command closed in the vicinity of town at 2300 Dec 23, and units were instructed to reorganize, refuel, and prepare for action in the morning.

It might be well to mention at this point some of the difficulties encountered in the problems of supply and maintenance. This story is well told by Col Erlenbusch CO of the 31-TB: we held a supply dump at St Vith belonging to the 106-ID and used it until it was exhausted (8000 rations and 10.000 gallons of gasoline). Resupply from the rear was extremely hazardous because a goodly portion of the enemy had gone around St Vith to the north and south. As a result of these forces ‘slipping by’ on the flanks, our division rear area was a mixture of friendly and enemy troops. Some Corps and Army ASPS were in our hands some were in the hands of the enemy some changed hands frequently while other supply points were destroyed or evacuated by retiring friendly troops. Division Trains were located at La Roche, where they were heavily engaged in combat in order to keep from being overrun, and little help could be expected from that quarter. The supply problem then was one of running trucks through miles of enemy-infested territory in search of friendly dumps having the desired type of supplies and then coming back through miles of the same enemy-infested territory to deliver the much-needed supplies to the combat elements. The service facilities of the units of CCB were pooled, and the maintenance sections were all consolidated under Capt La Fountain, Maintenance Officer of the 31-TB, who set up a small ordnance shop. Any of our vehicles which could be evacuated to this shop were repaired there. At the same time, this group salvaged many vehicles and weapons which had been abandoned in the area by retreating units before the arrival of the 7-AD. This equipment was repaired, or, if beyond repair, was ‘cannibalized’ for parts to use in the repair of other vehicles and equipment. Frequently this combined maintenance section operated under artillery fire, and many times they had to drop their work and engage in a small fight with enemy patrols that penetrated their area.

In one instance, a crew of four lost one man before they could withdraw from the scene with their equipment. There were two cases that stand out as indicative of the determination and heroic efforts of the service personnel to keep the combat elements supplied. In the first instance, seven trucks of the 31-TB with a corporal in charge of the convoy set out from the vicinity of Krombach to obtain fuel from a dump near Samrée. As no escort was available, only trucks with machine gun mounts were used. To help protect the convoy, two guards with rifles and Thompson M-1 sub guns were placed in the rear of each truck, the guards having been recruited from volunteers among the various company kitchen crews. This convoy was gone for two days and during that time they ‘ran the gauntlet’ of four enemy ambushes. When they arrived at their destination, they found one side of the dump burning and a light tank company from the 87-CRS bitterly defending the other portion. Under these conditions, the trucks were loaded to capacity and then started on the return trip, hiding out in the woods that night. The next day they had two engagements with the enemy in one of these attacks the corporal in charge was killed and three men were wounded, while one truck was damaged so badly that it had to be towed the rest of the way. Arriving at Krombach at dusk of the second day, now commanded by a Pfc truck driver, it could report. ‘Mission accomplished.’

The other case is practically the same story. This convoy was commanded by Sgt Trapp and consisted of three trucks from the 31-TB and one truck of the 23-AIB, with a defense crew, organized very similarly to the first convoy. Their mission was to obtain badly needed ammunition from a dump in the La Roche area. Their experiences were about the same they had two skirmishes and suffered one casualty. The ammunition dump was not guarded by friendly or enemy forces. Like the first group, they too returned at dusk of the second day, reporting, ‘Mission accomplished’.

The magnificent effort of all service personnel was recognized and appreciated by all troops in the line. In many cases, these service troops were called upon to repel enemy attacks. In one action (Dec 21), near Samrée, the Combat Command Assistant S4, Capt Robert H. Barth, was killed while attempting to maintain the constant flow of supplies to the front. The supply problems for artillery were especially critical. The only way ammunition supply could be kept up was by hunting for and finding abandoned dumps toward the front. Very little ammunition was getting through from the rear. Some of the artillery trains were with division trains in the vicinity of Samrée where they were forced to fight for their existence. A balance of ammunition was maintained between battalions when the expenditures were exceptionally heavy in one battalion, several truckloads would be sent to it from another battalion.

On Dec 22, ammunition amounted to only a few rounds per 105-MM howitzer for CCB artillery. Any sizable amount of firing had to be approved by the Combat Command commander. At one time during this critical ammunition shortage, a German column got lost on the road between Nieder Emmels and Ober Emmels and stopped, bumper-to-bumper, a perfect target for a concentration. When the artillery was called for, the ammunition shortage had to be considered. Finally, it was decided that this target merited the firing of the remaining white phosphorus. The German column was burned and destroyed. Later, that same day, a 40-truck convoy carrying 5000 rounds of 105-MM ammunition finally made its way through after traveling many miles of circuitous routes and back roads. From then on the ammunition situation eased.
The drivers of the 40-truck convoy which came through to the combat elements, on Dec 22, had been behind their steering wheels for hours on end without sleep. They had driven through ambushes by German patrols and had suffered casualties en route. Their devotion to duty saved the division and its attached units from almost certain disaster duping the ordered withdrawal which took place the next day. Without gasoline, many vehicles would have to have been abandoned. The artillery and other ammunition they brought held the enemy at bay until the Salm River was crossed.

In retrospect, it is difficult to understand how it was possible for CCB to hold St Vith against the overwhelming power and superiority in numbers possessed by the Germans. The German attack was well organized and the build-up of strength was achieved with great secrecy. The Germans gambled everything on striking a lightning blow and achieving surprise, so that they could knife through while our troops were disorganized and before the latter could be re-shifted to set up an effective defense line. During the period the American troops were in St Vith, the weather was a strong ally of the Germans, and American planes were not seen for this entire period. One factor that probably caused the Germans to proceed so cautiously was the fact that elements of the 7-AD were in St Vith at all on Dec 17 when their intelligence had identified them in the Linnich (Germany) area on Dec 16. It is supposition, but they must have been surprised, and they must have felt that if these troops could be moved such a distance and be in the thick of the fighting so quickly, other dispositions could be effected as expeditiously.

Another factor that gave the Germans pause was the aggressiveness and tenacity of the defense. CCB was not content to dig in and merely try to hold the Germans when they attacked. Their patrols were aggressive, and wherever a weakness was sensed, a probing attack was made. Their counter-attacks were quick and effective. Had the Germans realized the limited strength CCB had at its disposal and the disorganization and loss of morale of some of the Allied troops caused by the initial attack, they could have closed the pincers and annihilated the American forces at their choosing. However, instead of committing their forces to a major blow, they dissipated their strength and lost valuable time in making limited objective and probing attacks. Defenders of St Vith were puzzled at the time as to why the Germans did not pour more artillery fire into St Vith. It was only after the third or fourth day that they began firing anything that resembled the intensity of an American barrage. Undoubtedly, they counted on a quick capture of the town and did not want to destroy it or make the streets impassable. As was learned afterward, in this offensive the Germans were counting heavily on using St Vith as a forward railhead.

The arrival of CCB-7-AD in St Vith on the afternoon of December 17 was quite timely. Advance patrols of the Germans were on the Schoenberg – St Vith Road at that time. The only forces to stop them were the provisional engineer troops, and there is no doubt that the Germans could have, and probably would have, been in St Vith on the night of December 17, had 7-AD units not arrived and been placed in position when they were.

It would be very interesting indeed to have a transcript of the conversations between commanders of the various echelons of command of the Germans after their failure to take St Vith on schedule, particularly when they discovered the size of the small force that was denying this area to them. The attitude of the German command was well-expressed by a German lieutenant colonel who, while he was attempting to interrogate one of our men who had been captured, remarked: You and your damned panzer division have kept us from getting to Liège! Every officer and man of the 7-AD who participated in the St Vith action sings the praises of the 275-AFAB. This VIII Corps Artillery Battalion, commanded by Col Clay, chose to stay and fight. The coolness and the poise of the officers and men in this organization were the subjects of admiration on the part of all who came in contact with them. The battalion reflected the excellent training that it had received, and the missions that it was called upon to fire were always fired effectively. The forward observers were outstanding in cooperating with front-line commanders of CCB. Six forward observers were lost during this action.

One of the more critical moments in the defense of St Vith occurred on the night of Dec 20/21 when the Germans finally penetrated the defense and isolated some of CCB’s troops. These troops had been constantly engaged since their commitment on Dec 17 and the nervous tension and fatigue produced by the constant pressure under which they were operating was beginning to tell. Combat fatigue casualties up to this time had been light, but with the Germans pouring through the men were rapidly being separated from the boys.

One of the formers was 1/Sgt L. H. Ladd (B Troop – 87-CRS). This troop had gone into the line on Dec 17 with six officers and 136 men. When it was cut off to the east of St Vith on the night of Dec 21, 1/Sgt Ladd brought back about 46 men, which was all that remained of the troop. Unshaven, lines of fatigue showing on his face, his eyes bloodshot, he nevertheless demanded to see the Combat Command CO. Staff officers tried to dissuade him and told him to get what little rest he could before the remainder of the troop was committed again. 1/Sgt Ladd would have none of this and repeated his demand to see Gen Clarke.

Along about midnight he found the general and said: I want to get it from you personally that B Troop was ordered out of the position that we were holding. My men and myself had decided that we were not leaving and I just want to get it straight that we were ordered out by you. When Gen Clarke assured 1/Sgt Ladd that he had issued the order, the Sergeant was satisfied and moved out into the darkness and rain to occupy a new position in the defense line west of St Vith.

The following message from the 7-AD commander, Gen Robert W. Hasbrouck, was read to the men about Jan 4, 1945: To the Officers and Men of the 7th Armored Division! Since it is impossible for me to talk personally to each of you, I am taking this method of bringing to your attention some of the things I want you to know. First of all, I want you to know that the German attack has been disrupted and their plans upset. This division, by its gallant action in denying the important road center of St Vith to the enemy for more than five days contributed greatly towards upsetting Von Rundstedt carefully planned schedule. Gen Eisenhower and our old friends, the VII British Corps, have telegraphed us their congratulations. These messages will be read to you later. Secondly, we are resuming the offensive! On Jan 3, the XVIII Corps (Airborne)(Ridgway) to which we now belong, resumed the offensive by attacking south. We are in Corps Reserve and may be called upon at any time to add our power to the attack. This attack may help to shorten the war by many months. If the German forces to our south are cut off by the power and speed of our drive, the enemy will have suffered an overpowering defeat. Naturally, there will be obstacles to overcome. The Germans will fight savagely to avert defeat. We must fight even more savagely, knowing what is at stake and remembering the American prisoners who were shot down in cold blood by the Germans at Stavelot and Malmedy. German paratroopers may be dropped in our rear Germans in American uniforms may infiltrate our lines. This will necessitate unceasing vigilance by all troops, wherever located, to prevent sabotage and espionage. No matter how many parachutists come down in any one area, there will always be a far greater number of our troops in the vicinity who can be concentrated quickly against them.

The terrain we may expect to encounter is not good tank terrain, but when have we ever had good tank terrain? By will power, muscle power, American ingenuity, and just plain guts we will get over roads and trails considered unfit for tanks and thus surprise the enemy. Last but not least, I want you to know that I am proud of the division. Thrown into combat piecemeal as you arrived on the scene, every unit and every man performed magnificently. God bless you all, and may 1945 bring the victories you so richly deserve.

The 7-AD was sent into the fight northwest of St Vith as the Allies resumed the offensive, and the Germans became the defenders of the town.

The same German artillery officer (Lt Behman) quoted before had this to write in his diary as the Americans approached:

January 20, 1945, I am ordered to organize a defense in St Vith. For the first time since Christmas, I’m in St Vith again. The town is in ruins, but we will defend the ruins. We expect the attack on St Vith. Only small forces are available for the defense. The 𔃸-balls’ in the unit speak of a little Stalingrad.

Januany 21, 1945, There are no new messages. The battle noises come closer to the town. We can already see the infantry in some of the heights. I am organizing everything for the last defense. Rumor has it that the Tommies have the town surrounded. Some even believe It. At higher commands they believe that we will be forced to yield. These rear’ echelon men! I am neither optimistic nor pessimistic and I don’t give up hope. When the kitchen goes back, I will send all personnel not immediately needed back with it. During the day, it is naturally quiet. Will the enemy surround the town? I’m sending back all my personal belongings. One never knows. I wonder what Heide is doing?

January 22, 1945, Nothing new during the night. At eight o’clock the enemy recommences his saturation fire from the direction of Neider Emmels. Exactly one month ago, we took St Vith.

On Sunday January 23, 1945, during the afternoon, Combat Command B of the 7th Armored Division attacked and retook St Vith capturing this German artillery officer and his diary, but that is another story.


7-AD – St Vith – December 1944

RELATED ARTICLESMORE FROM AUTHOR

1-ID – Dom Butgenbach – December 1944

1-ID – (AAR) – Hauset (BE) (12/1944)

30-ID (AAR) December 1944 (G3)

526-AIB (AAR) (T Force) December 1944

106-ID December 1944

Events of Dec 20, 1944

St Vith, by the morning of Dec 20, was not yet desperate but was becoming increasingly difficult. Everyone realized by this time that we were not facing a local counter-attack, but a full-scale offensive and that the St Vith defenders were catching a heavy portion of it in their sector. Through intelligence reports from higher headquarters, and captured prisoners, the Americans knew that they were meeting the best of the German troops. CCB-7-AD had a relatively quiet day, but there was a constant build-up of enemy strength for an attack on St Vith. Task Force Jones was formed to secure the southern flank. There was increasing enemy pressure on supply installations at Samrée and La Roche. By the end of the day, prisoners from the following German divisions had been interrogated by the IPW Team of the 7-AD (enemy divisions listed in relative order of positions from north to south): 1.SS-PD, Gross-Deutschland-Brigade, 18.VGD, 62.VGD, 2.PD, 560.VGD and the 116.PD. Manteuffel had assigned the task of taking St Vith to two infantry divisions of the 66.Corps his failure to accomplish this in a reasonable time had caused the commitment of additional troops from both, the 5.Panzer-Army and the 6.SS-Panzer-Army. All manner of reports were received indicating that the enemy was by-passing the 7-AD’s positions on the north and rolling up the flank on the southeast, making the St Vith sector comparable to a thumb protruding into the enemy’s mouth and it seemed that this thumb could be easily bitten off. The enemy was reported to be in strength at Houffalize, La Roche, and Samrée, all to the west of CCB, and at Trois-Ponts to the northwest. In order to protect their flank, Division Headquarters, on Dec 19, had ordered the 40-TB and Able 336-AEB, to outpost Cherain and Gouvy.

At Gouvy, these troops found an army ration dump, containing 50.000 rations, which had just been set on fire by Army QM personnel to prevent its capture by the enemy, who were already threatening with small-arms fire. Dog 40-TB drove off the enemy and extinguished the fire, which had done little damage, and began the issuance of rations to all units of the division. Also in Gouvy, there was an abandoned army prisoner of war enclosure, containing over 300 German prisoners of war, guarded by one officer and eight MPs. These prisoners were successfully evacuated by the division. Division Headquarters created other task forces out of the remnants of the 14-CG and assigned them the mission of screening and protecting the southeast flank of the division. Troop D, 87-CRS, was directed to proceed to Salmchâteau and then west, and was given the mission of screening the northern flank of the division rear. The most significant change that occurred in the disposition and composition of division troops on Dec 20, was the formation of Task Force Jones, commanded by the CO of the 814-TDB, and in position on the southern and southwestern flank of the division to the right rear of CCB-7-AD. The force consisted of part of the 17-TB, the 440-AFAB, part of the 814-TDB, and elements of the 38-AIB, 31-TB, 40-TB, 33-AEB, and a detachment of the 14-CG. The strength of the enemy and the seriousness of the situation on the south, leading to the formation of Task Force Jones, was obtained in part from Col Robert O. Stone, with whom the division had been in touch about two clays. This officer was located near Gouvy with an assortment of about 250 stragglers, including both officer and enlisted Quartermaster, Engineer, and Signal personnel whom he had collected. He had established a defensive position, saying, By God the others may run, but I am staying here and will hold at all cost.
Stone’s force was incorporated into Task Force Jones.

The force was in position by about 1600 and immediately became engaged at Cherain and Gouvy. By 1800, it was receiving a strong German attack which it successfully repulsed. In spite of this activity in its rear, CCB had a relatively quiet day. During the night of Dec 19/20, some infiltration was reported by the 17-TB at Recht. At 0800, the 17-TB was instructed to withdraw to Rodt, leaving one company plus a platoon of infantry in position north and east of Rodt to maintain contact with CCA on the left. Enemy concentrations of tanks and infantry collected in Wallerode and Neider Emmels. Heavy artillery concentrations quieted these threats. During the afternoon, enemy columns were reported moving from Medell to Born and at 1630, enemy tanks moved into Ober Emmels and forced out a light tank platoon on outpost there but the forces on the high ground to the south held firmly. During the night of Dec 20/21, approximately 68 men and two officers led by Lt Long of the I&R Platoon 423-IR (one of the surrounded regiments of the 106-ID) infiltrated back through CCA’s lines.

When interviewed, Lt Long stated that the commanding officers had told them that the two regiments (422 and 423) were preparing to surrender and that orders were being given for the destruction of their arms and equipment. The troops had been told that and personnel wishing to attempt to infiltrate to friendly lines rather than surrender were authorized to leave. These men were some of those who had chosen to risk returning and fighting again to laying down their arms and surrendering. CCB established an assembly point in the schoolhouse at St Vith where these men were given rations, such other supplies as they needed, and a well-deserved rest.
During the night of Dec 21/22, when the situation became critical, these men ware put back into the line. When they were told that they were going back into the line, their enthusiasm was high, and subsequent reports obtained from the troops with whom they fought indicated that without exception these men discharged their duty in exemplary fashion. During the day, CCA, to the left rear of CCB, was under considerable pressure in the vicinity of Poteau. Division HQs had sent them a message at 0925 that it was imperative that they command the road from Recht and leading into Poteau. Although CCB did not know at this time, the situation to the left rear and on the northern flank was critical.

Events of Dec 21, 1944

/>The Germans realized that the failure to control the network of roads and railroads centering on St Vith was disrupting the timetable and the entire counter-attack. The stand of the 7-AD had left a dangerous salient in the German lines which threatened the northern flank of Manteuffel’s 5.Panzer-Army, preventing also to link these forces with Dietrich’s 6.SS-Panzer-Army. All further westward movement of the 6.SS-Panzer-Army had virtually stopped for lack of needed gasoline and ammunition, which were on the supply columns immobilized far from St Vith, or on the trains halted between Prüm and Gerolstein (Germany). Accordingly, orders were issued to the II.SS-Panzer-Corps to move to the south and take St Vith without delay. All during the night of Dec 21/22, tanks and other vehicles could be heard massing to the north, east, and south of St Vith. Troops of the II.SS-Panzer-Corps was moving to position and at 1100, the assault was launched.

A full-scale corps attack was launched against the town, and at 2200 CCB-7-AD withdrew to the high ground west of St Vith. CCA-7-AD captured the high ground northwest of Poteau and repelled the counter-attacks. Task Force Jones was receiving enemy attacks from the south.

From the time of the first attack on the 21 until the completion of the successful withdrawal of the 7-AD across the Salm River two days later, the enemy attacked unceasingly along the entire front of the division. Throughout the 21 and until 2200 that night, the lines held against the continuous assault of infantry, supported by heavy artillery and screaming meemies concentrations of unprecedented size and duration. Large formations of enemy tanks joined in the assault and smashed their way into the lines, where they blasted the defenders from their foxholes with point-blank tank fire. Time after time, the German infantry were forced to withdraw under the aimed short-range fire of the gallant infantrymen, engineers, tankers, recon troops, and others who stood their ground and inflicted huge losses upon the attacking formations. Even the heavy tanks were forced to withdraw, leaving destroyed hulks battered and burning in their wake. On that day, the men of the 7-AD performed, individually and collectively, repeated deeds of heroism soldiers not only engaged in hand-to-hand combat with the German infantry but also destroyed German tanks with bazookas and grenades.
Still, the Germans attacked. Starting at 1100 with an artillery barrage on the northern and eastern positions of CCB and an infantry-tank attack against the juncture of CCB-7-AD and CCB-9-AD, the Germans stepped up the scale of their assault by 1300 the entire line of CCB-7-AD was aflame with enemy artillery, screaming meemies, tanks, and infantry pouring a concentration of steel at the defenders.

100-MM Nebelwerfer 35. The lower muzzle velocity of a mortar meant that its shell walls could be thinner than those of artillery shells, and it could carry a larger payload than artillery shells of the same weight. This made it an attractive delivery system for poison gases. The US Army’s Chemical Warfare Service developed their 4.2-inch chemical mortar for precisely that reason and the Nebeltruppen shared that reasoning. Its first weapon was also a mortar, the 100-MM Nebelwerfer 35 (1934). 100-MM Nebelwerfer 40. Almost from the beginning, the army wanted more range than the 3000-M of the Nebelwerfer 35. Trials of two new prototypes did not take place until May 1940 and both were not entirely satisfactory, but the best features of both were incorporated into the 100-MM Nebelwerfer 40. This projectile was a very advanced breech-loading weapon with a recoil mechanism and an integral wheeled carriage. It had twice the range of its predecessor but was eight times the weight of the Model 35. 150-MM Nebelwerfer 41. The first weapon to be delivered to the troops was the 150-MM Nebelwerfer 41 in 1940, after the Battle of France, a purpose-designed rocket with gas, smoke, and high-explosive warheads. One unusual feature of this projectile was that the rocket motor was in the front, the exhaust venturi being about two-thirds down the body from the nose, with the intent to optimize the blast effect of the rocket as the warhead would still be above the ground when it detonated. The Nebelwerfer 41 was fired from a six-tube launcher mounted on a towed carriage adapted from that used by the 37-MM PaK 36 and had a range of 6900-M. Almost five and a half million 150-MM rockets and 6000 launchers were manufactured over the course of the war. 280/320-MM Nebelwerfer 41 (Schweres Wurfgerät 41). The 280/320-MM Nebelwerfer 41 rockets were introduced in 1941, before Operation Barbarossa. They used the same motor but carried different warheads. The 280-MM (11′) rocket had a HE warhead, while the 320-MM (13′) rockets were incendiary. The maximum range for either rocket was only 2200-M. Both could be fired from their wooden packing cases or a special wooden (Schweres Wurfgerät 40) or tubular metal (Schweres Wurfgerät 41) frame. Later, a towed launcher was developed that could take six rockets. Both rockets used the same launchers, but special liner rails had to be used for the 280-MM rockets. A vehicular launch frame, the Schwere Wurfrahmen 40, was also designed to improve the mobility of the heavy rockets. 210-MM Nebelwerfer 42. The 210-MM Nebelwerfer 42 rocket, which was introduced in 1942, had a longer range (7850-M) and a simpler design than the smaller 150-MM rocket. It was only made with high-explosive warheads and was fired from a five-tube launcher that used the same carriage as the smaller weapon. 300-MM Nebelwerfer 42. The last German-designed rocket to be introduced was the 300-MM Nebelwerfer 42 in 1943. This was intended to replace the 280-MM and 320-MM rockets, which had too short a range. Advances in propellant chemistry also reduced its smoke signature.(Wikipedia)

As the enemy closed in they were met in turn by all possible concentrated fires that could be brought to bear – but still, they attacked. Major attacks were launched against that part of the line held by the 38-AIB at 1100, 1230, 1400, 1610, and 1710 while the northern flank manned by the 31-TB and the 87-CRS was hit with attacks at 1300, 1730, 1805, and 1820. All attacks were turned back, and the CCB’s lines continued to hold. Then three heavy assaults were started by the Germans, with each directed along the axis of the main roads entering St Vith at 1650 from the east along the Schoenberg Road followed by an attack down the Malmedy Road at 1835 with the last one starting up the Prüm Road at 2000. Each of these attacks was preceded by intense artillery barrages lasting from 15 to 35 minutes and closely followed by the infantry and tanks. The Germans were not to be denied and their relentless pressure since 1100 in the morning had left gaps in the line since there were no replacements for the dead and wounded. By 2000, the CCB’s lines had been penetrated in at least three points. The battle continued until approximately 2200 when Gen Clarke, seeing that a portion of his position was no longer tenable, issued the order to withdraw the center of the line to the high ground west of St Vith.

Those elements which were cut off east of town were ordered to attack through the town or north of it to join the forces which were establishing a new defensive line. Officers were established at control points west of the town to collect stragglers and to place units in a defensive position as they got back within the friendly screen. During the time this concerted drive was being made on the front, the troops on the northern flank were not heavily engaged, although there was a definite threat in the Ober Emmels – Nieder Emmels area. It was planned to anchor a defense west of St Vith on this still substantial north flank and hold there. The center of the defensive line (from Hunningen to the St Vith Wallerode Road) was to swing back to the west of St Vith and establish a line for elements east of the town to fall back through. This was accomplished and most of the troops were brought out as units. All through the night of Dec 21/22, stragglers were coming back from the troops which had been overrun east of St Vith. Officer control posts had been set up on all roads to intercept these men and send them to the Hinderhausen area. This was done and by early forenoon of Dec 22, about 150 stragglers had been gathered up.

The situation on the right flank of the division became critical during Dec 21. CCB-9-AD, requested assistance, and Task Force Lindsey, which had been held in division reserve, was ordered to Galhausen to reinforce that unit. This assistance was sufficient to restore the situation, and Task Force Lindsey was returned to its former mission of reserve at 1000. On the left flank of CCB-7-AD, CCA-7-AD maintained its position in and around Poteau throughout the day. A strong attack, which included tanks and artillery, was successfully repulsed around 1330. Strong patrols on both sides were active during the day. The enemy established an effective ambush in some thick woods southeast of Poteau on the Sy Vith – Poteau Road. Before the ambush was discovered, the enemy was successful in capturing the occupants of eight peeps and one light tank which had been knocked out. Personnel included such key officers as the Executive Officer, CCA Liaison Officer, CCA Executive Officer and Adjutant, 48-AIB and others. Upon discovery, the enemy abandoned its ambush, and the key road was again opened for friendly traffic. At 2000, another strong hostile attack, supported by heavy mortar, machine gun, and artillery fire, was repulsed. Anticipating the possibility of CCR’s being unable to hold the present position, Gen Clarke had initiated recon on the road leading to the west, through Hinderhausen and Commanster to Vielsalm, a possible avenue of withdrawal. This road was in poor condition and for the most part, passed through a forest. Engineers and artillerymen had been put to work on critical and impassable spots, but even with this improvement passage over this road was not easy.

Events of Dec 22, 1944

The Germans continued to attack with infantry and tanks. At 0200, the 928.Grenadier-Battalion attacked Rodt from the rear. The enemy widened this penetration and at 1135, Rodt was captured, splitting CCA and CCB. The nine-hour battle for Rodt was a grim affair in which personnel from every possible source-cooks, drivers, radio operators were employed to augment the defense in a desperate effort to prevent the enemy from driving a deeper wedge between the two combat commands. The loss of Rodt necessitated CCB’s pulling back its left flank to protect Hinderhausen, a key position on the emergency exit route to Commanster and Vielsalm.

By dark, the line was established again and was strengthened by the addition of the 17-TB (-) on the south flank of CCB-7-AD to tie in with CCB-9-AD. Contact with CCA on the northwest was lost. At 0700, the command post of CCB was moved to Commanster. During this day all unessential vehicles were sent to the rear. By nightfall, the line was being held with the 87-CRS, Col Boylan commanding, on the left the 31-TB, Col Erlenbusch commanding, in the center the 17-TB, Col Wemple commanding, on the south. The boundary between the 31-TB and the 17-TB was the railroad line running southwest from St Vith. At 1845 , enemy tanks and infantry attacked along the railroad towards Krombach. Infantry broke through and occupied the town. Most of Col Wemple’s force was able to fight its way out the next morning. CCB-9-AD was also receiving a heavy attack at this time and was being slowly pushed back toward Braunlauf. It held on to its contact with CCB-7-AD, pivoting back on Gen Clarke’s right flank and preventing an attempt of the enemy to separate the two combat commands.

At Poteau to the left rear of CCB-7-AD, CCA-7-AD was receiving increasing pressure from the enemy, who was continuing his attempts to outflank the right of CCA. Meanwhile, the enemy on the north struck heavily at 2215 but was driven off. A measure of the bitterness of the fighting on all fronts is indicated by the following extract from the personal reports of members of Baker Co of Col Robert C. Rhea’s 23-AIB: on Friday, the company trains were moved to the west of Krombach. During the morning the men walked back cross-country to a new line which was set up about 1000 yards to the east of Krombach. This line had no depth, and as Capt Britton pointed out ‘once the line was pierced, it was finished’. At the railroad underpass, about 1000 yards northeast of Krombach, a bazooka man and a machine-gun squad were posted. They wanted to mine the underpass, but no mines or explosives were available. The 81-MM mortars of Baker 23-AIB were in position in Krombach, where they fired 600 rounds in 20 minutes and broke the base plates which were welded to the floor of the half-track. At about 1700, strong enemy combat patrols began coming along the railroad embankment, and tanks came toward the underpass. The bazooka man fired at the tanks, and when the bazooka round bounced off the front, he withdrew. Capt Britton had just come up toward the front and was warming his feet in an oven when the enemy burst into his position. Some of the men pulled back to the north until they ran into tanks of Dog 31-TB these men rode out with those tanks.
The remainder of the company fell back to the motor park in Krombach where the half-tracks were gassing. Late Friday night, these half-tracks moved to Vielsalm where they met the remainder of the company the next morning. Capt Britton said there were men from almost every conceivable unit on the vehicles. Back at the line, some men remained with another unit which held fast and fought it out. Our artillery and mortar fire worked up and down the railroad track. One Baker 23-AIB mechanic, T/5 Robert Cutts, had a radio with which he called back to the FO giving him the necessary adjustments in the artillery fire. These men also finally pulled back from the line when the 17-TB moved out, and many of them rode the tanks out of the area.

The pressure continued to increase along the entire front and, as the 7-AD shortened its lines and again regrouped, German infantry and tanks pressed strongly on all positions. Practically the entire division area was now being engaged by long-range artillery fire. In the north, the enemy in strength was along the east bank of the Salm River from east of Trois-Ponts to Grand-Halleux, and in the south along the high ground south of the highway running west from Salmchâteau. This meant that the remainder of the 106-ID, CCB-9-AD, the 14-CG, some Corps troops, including artillery which had been attached to the 7-AD, and the entire 7-AD with attachments, less trains, were left east of the Salm River all units were short of supplies and were completely fatigued from five or more days and nights of continuous fighting. There was only one sure exit route, a secondary road running west from Vielsalm and one probable alternate route, the road Salmchâteau Joubieval Lierneux.

As the position was obviously untenable, Montgomery in a message to Gen Hasbrouck, and its conglomeration of units, ordered a withdrawal: You have accomplished your mission, a mission well-done. It is time to withdraw. All unessential vehicles were withdrawn at once, followed by part of the artillery, which began displacing rearward about midnight. CCB-9-AD was scheduled to be the first unit to withdraw, but their commanding general advised Gen Hasbrouck that they were engaged with the enemy and the muddy condition of the roads and fields was such that an immediate withdrawal would be unfeasible. It was necessary to postpone the initial time for withdrawal, as CCB-7-AD was also heavily engaged with the enemy. At the same time, the enemy was building up strong forces in front of the 82-Abn, west of Salmchâteau.


What You Need To Know About The Battle Of The Bulge

On 16 December 1944 the Germans launched a massive attack on Allied forces in the area around the Ardennes forest in Belgium and Luxembourg during the Second World War.

Allied forces in the Ardennes consisted primarily of American troops - some new and inexperienced, others exhausted and battle-worn. The Germans had some initial success. They achieved complete surprise and pushed westwards through the middle of the American line, creating the 'bulge' that gave the battle its name. But this success was short-lived.

The quick arrival of Allied reinforcements and the Americans' tenacious defence of the vital road junctions at Bastogne and St Vith slowed the German advance. The offensive also required men and resources that Germany did not have. Fuel shortages were made worse by bad weather, which disrupted German supply lines. The weather, which had previously restricted Allied air support, eventually cleared and air attacks resumed. By the end of December, the German advance had ground to a halt.

On 1 January 1945, the German air force caused serious damage to Allied air bases in north-west Europe, but it sustained losses from which it could not recover. The Allied counterattack in early January succeeded in pushing the Germans back and by the end of the month the Allies had regained the positions they held six weeks earlier.

British Prime Minister Winston Churchill said the Battle of the Bulge was 'undoubtedly the greatest American battle of the war'. It was also one of the bloodiest. The Allies could offset these losses, but Germany had drained its manpower and material resources. The Allies resumed their advance and in early spring crossed into the heart of Germany.


Personal account of Grenadier Walter Kern, Grenadier Regiment 308, 198. Infanterie-Division, in the north-western sector of Selestat, December 1944

Walter Kern was a young Grenadier of the 6. Company / II. Battalion, Grenadier Regiment 308, 198. Infanterie-Division. His outfit was very well dug in near the first houses of the Alsatian town of Obenheim. My squad of 7 men, was responsible to defend this small town with one machine gun and 5 rifle men. In addition to that one Assault gun was assigned to my small group. The combined assault of French and US troops started already at 08.00 a.m. supported with 15 tanks! Our Assault gun was able to knock out 3 enemy tanks and two were knocked out with Panzerfaust by myself but 10 still remained in action against us. After a short but intensive battle, I gave the order to cease fire as any further resistance would have resulted in complete annihilation. So we dropped our weapons and went into a basement to hide ourselves. At around 11.00 a.m., we surrendered to the French and right away were lined up against a wall to be shot by a French officer. At the very last second myself and my men were saved by an US officer. This all has been witnessed by a small French boy who was present.

After the rescue of the US officer we became P.O.W’s and were sent to Southern France and from there to Marseilles to help off-load US supply ships. After almost three years in Allied captivity I was sent home on January 9, 1947.

After a few years, I visited the place with my family, where I and my men were almost shot. During this visit, I was able to meet the small French boy who witnessed this scene in December 1944. He confirmed to me that the French Officer told him “I am going to kill now all of them”. Lucky us that the US officer followed the Geneva Convention.


What Else Happened When Your 1944 Penny Was Made?

World War II was happening in 1944, and hundreds of millions of people were reading newspaper headlines and tuning into radio newscasts to stay current on the latest from the battle lines.

  • On June 6, more than 150,000 allied troops stormed the beaches of Normandy to free Western Europe from the German Nazis. Operation Overlord, more widely known as D-Day, was the biggest military operation of its kind in history.
  • President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed the GI Bill — which offered a variety of financial and social benefits for military personnel.
  • Paris was liberated from Nazi control.
  • Meet Me In St. Louis and Arsenic And Old Lace were among the top filmson the silver screen.
  • Popular songs included “The Trolley Song” by Judy Garland and Dinah Shore’s “I’ll Walk Alone.”
  • A new house cost $3,450, the average American earned $2,400 per year, gas was 15 cents per gallon, and a loaf of bread sold for 10 cents.