(1) In compliance with Administrative Memorandum #31, Headquarters 7-AD, July 21 1944 paragraph 2 and request Commanding General 7-AD the following Battle Report is submitted. (2) During the Battle of France, the Combat Command Headquarters has functioned as a tactical headquarters in much of the capacity of the Standard Brigade headquarters. (3) The Combat Command is commanded by Brig Gen John P. Thompson, O-3741, USA. (4) The narrative history of the Combat Command during the Battle of France follows : CCB was initially assembled in tactical bivouac in the vicinity of Lessay, France.
The troops making the CCB task force were landed over Omaha Beach and Utah Beach and the complete Combat Command assembled to function tactically Aug 12, 1944 composition as follows : HQs & HQs Co CCB; 31-TB; 434-AFAB; 23-AIB; 33-AEB (Engineer) (Baker Co).
CCB as constituted moved in single march column via Périers, Saint-Sauveur-Lendelin, Coutances, Gavray, La Haye-Pesnel, Avranches, Saint-Aubin-de-Terregatte, Saint-Georges-de-Reintembault, Louvigné-du-Désert and established their bivouac. Moved from bivouac and marched in single column via Laval, Bonchamp-lès-Laval, La Chapelle-Rainsouin, Châtres-la-Forêt, Evron and bivouaced. The composition of CCB was altered in this position in preparation for an attack to the North East composition as follows : HQs and HQs Co CCB; 31-TB, 434-AFAB, 23-AIB, Baker Co 33-AEB, Baker Co 774-TDB, and attached after passing thru, 317-IR (80-ID)
The attack was canceled as well as the attachment of Baker Co 774-TDB and the 117-IR (30-ID). The Combat Command was moved from Evron in a single column via Assé-le-Bérenger, Rouessé-Vassé, Crissé, La Ferté-Bernard, Courgenard, Saint-Ulphace, Beaumont-les-Autels, Thiron-Gardais, Happonvilliers, Courville-sur-Eure. Command Post was established when resistance encountered in Courville-sur-Eure. Contact with enemy was made August 14 1944. Task force commanded by Lt Col Allison entered Courville-sur-Eure August 15 1944 after enemy resistance of infantry and AT guns was reduced. All resistance ceased at 0630 August 15 1944. Combat Command direction of movement altered to the east axis of advance Courville-sur-Eure, Chartres, Albis, Dourdan, Arpajon.
CCB moved via route in two forces under command of Lt Col Allison and Lt Col Erlenbusch. Enemy resistance encountered on the outskirts of small villages surrounding Chartres. Enemy defenses of Chartres consisted of sporadic mine fields, 3.000 troops, including one Flak-Battalion and scattered AT strong points including calibers of 20-MM and 88-MM AAA. Heavy AT Mortar, machine gun and scattered artillery pieces and rifle fire and bazooka strong points were encountered in the 3 days battle.
The Battle of Chartres consisted of one coordinated night attack by 2 forces. Force 1 under Lt Col Allison attacking east from northwest side of the town. Force 2 under Lt Col Erlenbusch attacking northeast from the south of the town. The entire attack receiving artillery support from 434-AFAB under Lt Col Dubuisson.
Force 1 penetrated enemy defenses with infantry and established a CP within the northeast quarter of the town. Force 2 encountered heavy AT fire in small towns of Luce and Luisant but penetrated to Chartres but failed to maintain continuity of the attack due to heavy losses and inability of tanks to fight in the very narrow streets of the old town of Chartres. The Infantry of Force 1 remained in the town but Force 2 withdrew to regroup.
The second attack of Chartres took place on August 17 1944 with same composition of troops but with additional artillery support from XX Corps Artillery. All efforts were made to spare destruction of historical buildings in the town of Chartres by XX Corps Commanders order. Only point targets were to be engaged under observation.
The troops of the Combat Command encircled Chartres with troops occupying the northeast quarter of town and troops in position north, northeast, southeast, south and Main Supply Route (MSR) running south of the town. Chartres garrison held positions facing the encirclement in depth from high ground outside the city to the buildings in the outer edges of the town. The coordinated attack was successful and apparently resistance was reduced. The fact that Chartres was a report station for disorganized and beaten units and stragglers from the surrounded and battered units on the western front caused the garrison to be reinforced by an estimated 200 – 300 men per 24 hour period. This fact accounted for the severe third attack on August 18 1944 which annihilated the garrison in Chartres.
The Germans lost about 1800 men killed, wounded or missing; 400 prisoners and all vehicles, weapons, material, airfield with 30 to 40 destroyed fighters, and ammunition dumps destroyed on captured. Some German troops escaped via secret routes to other report stations.
The final composition of CCB was as follows at the conclusion of the Battle of Chartres as follows, HQs and HQs Co CCB, 434-AFAB, 31-TB, 23-AIB, 38-AIB, 179-ECB (less 1 company), 33-AEB (Baker Co), 814-TDB (Baker Co), 77-MB (Medic) (Baker Co) and supporting XX Corps Artillery. During the night of the August 18 1944, CCB regrouped and moved in single column via Chartres.
Orders were received by the Combat Command to move via Chartres – Châteauneuf-en-Thymerais, Dreux, and there to establish a bridgehead north of Dreux to protect the supply lines of the XIX Corps. Movement from the area east of Chartres began at 2350 August 18 in one column with CCB and a company of the 814-TDB. The head of the column reached Châteauneuf at 0257 August 19 and closed in bivouac at Cherisy at 0930.
The 23-AIB and the 31-TB out posted both east and west flanks north of Dreux. Road blocks were established in all avenues of approach within our sector. Tight enemy resistance was encountered and driven back of Out Post Line. At 0530, August 20, this command took over the bridgehead formally occupied by CCA. The Command Post moved west of Cherisy but moved back again to original position after coming under artillery fire. CCB was placed in the XX Corps reserve at 1620 on August 21.
The movement to Rambouillet in one column began at 2200 on August 21 and regrouped at 0700, on August 22, in assembly area 2 miles west of Rambouillet with 774-TDB attached. Orders were received from the XX Corps to move at once via Limours, Courcouronnes, Melun. The Command left the present area at 1535 on August 22, bypassed Corbeil-Essonnes to the south and arrived in Bondoufle on August 23 at 0025. Division Field Order #5 were recieved and movement in one column started at 2030 on August 23 to Mennecy via Bondoufle, Vert-le-Grand, Vert-le-Petit, Ballancourt-sur-Essonne. The head of column closed in the bivouac about 1 mile northwest of Mennecy at 1740. The Command was notified by the Division to follow CCA across Seine River, proceed thru the CCA bridgehead, attack and capture that part of Melun along the Seine River. CCB reverted to the 7-AD at 2002. At 0200 on August 24, Field Order #5 Headquarters CCB was given to command. The composition of forces was as follows : Force 1 (Allison) : 23-AIB, Baker Co 33-AEB, Able Co 434-AFAB. Force 2 (Erlenbusch) : 31-TB. The Combat Command troops : HQs Co CCB, 434-AFAB (-), 774-TDB (- 1 Co). Division Trains : Trains, Baker Co 77-AMC, 1 company 129-Ordnance.
On August 25, the attack jumped off at 0200 held up until 0400 by hasty mine fields. Infantry assault passed through the tanks and were in Melun at 0715. The 23-AIB mopped up small pockets of resistance during most of day and out posted the town of Melun. Also on August 25, Division Order were received to move East in the direction of Tours. 23-AIB attempted to move through Melun but was held up by 81-MM mortar fire. The attack begun at 0630, artillery concentration was laid down on enemy position east of Melun.
Force 1 proceed axis of advance to Nangis. Force 1 proceed south within our zone cleaning out all enemy before them, coordinating with Force 2. Force 1 ran into an AT gun fire 1 mile east of Melun, 2 half-tracks knocked out but overcame resistance pushed on to vicinity of Châtillon-la-Borde from south and knocked out 4 AT guns. Both forces pushed on to approximately 4 miles east of Nangis. CCB given order to push north to Reims splitting into 3 forces.
August 27, head of the column moved at dawn to 2 miles east of Vulaine-lès-Provins halted by AT and machine gun fire. Proceeded to move north to bypass Provins. Moved north passed through the town of Sézanne and halted in march column 5 miles north of Sézanne. CCB was then divided into 3 forces to move north on parallel routes.
On August 28, vehicles were gassed and moved out at 0730. Moved along axis of advance Soizy-aux-Bois, Le Petit Morin, Baye, Montmort-Lucy encountering small pockets of resistance. Knocked out 4 AT guns south of the town, entered Epernay at 1800, tanks leading followed by infantry commanded by Lt Col Allison. Tanks got as far as bridge over the Marne River but were halted by heavy AT gun fire and bridge was blown by enemy electric mines.
Command held in Epernay until 0700 August 29 then moved out of Epernay and crossed Marne on pontoon bridge at Port à Binson. Forces were halted all along the way due to running together of different units and columns. Marched all night arriving in Warmeriville where enemy resistance was encountered. Warning orders were received from Commanding General 7-AD to prepare to move to Verdun. Notified to reconstitute command less CCR and move to assembly area vicinity west of Pontfaverger – Moronvilliers. At 1300, Field Order #9 Headquarters 7-AD notified CCB to advance east in multiple columns prepared to reinforce left flank guard of Division.
Seize bridgehead over the Meuse River in route of its advance. Force A under Lt Col Erlenbusch ran out of gas 6 miles west of Monthois at 0600 August 31. All efforts was being made to supply gas to this force. Force B at Autry, Force C, tail of column Force B. Force C was sent along a northern route to try to obtain crossings of ford at the Aisne River; successful obtaining ford at Vaux-lès-Mouron.
After crossing ford 2 blown bridges and mines were encountered east of Vaux-lès-Mouron, reconnaissance was made up and down river, no bridges or fords disclosed and force was withdrawn to vicinity Bouconville. Force B after vigorous reconnaissance located bridge site east of Autry. 2 squads of engineers (Baker Co 33-AEB) committed to form; bridgehead relieved by infantry at 1645 (Able Co 23-AIB) Bridge company arrived approximately 1750. Recon crossed bridge at 2030 (Able Co 87) 1 platoon on each of 2 routes, 1 platoon reserve. 1 platoon in reserve. Reconnaissance moves quickly as possible to Aire River to reconnoiter for and secure bridges Chatel-Chéhéry.
Column A (Erlenbusch) followed reconnaissance across bridge and moved into assembly position on north route. Column C (Johanson) to follow. Column B (Allison) across bridge and go into assembly position on northern route. Recon disclosed all bridges blown across the Aire River. Columns A and C moved out of respective routes ready to cross river soon as fords or bridges were located by reconnaissance.
No officers or enlisted men distinguished themselves in this command. T/5 Earl D. Applegarth, 35375098, was killed in action on August 26 1944 1½ miles west of Nangis.
For the Commanding General :
(signed) – William W. Rosebro Jr
Lt Col, Infantry,
For all purposes :
European Center of Military History
Gunter ‘Doc Snafu Gillot
rue des Thiers 8
Email : gunter [at] eucmh.be
Thank You for your support !
(Published for good May 2019)