December 1944. American tanks and armored gun carriers drive over snow-covered terrain towards Samrée, Belgium.
Headquarters 7th Armored Division
Office of the Division Quartermaster
On the morning of Dec 20 1944, the Serv Btry of the 440th Armored Field Artillery Bn, DAO Section, 3967th Quartermaster Truck Co, one section of the 203rd Antiaircraft Artillery Bn (AW), Class III Section of the Division Quartermaster, the Division Quartermaster and his Class III Officer were at Samrée. At that time, one-half the 3967th QM Truck Transport Co, strength of the Serv Btry unknown, DAO absent, but two men from that office with a half-track which was out of operation, were present. Present from the QM section were the Division QM, Class III Officer, Class II Officer, six men of the QM Section, five men from the 17th Tank Bn, 3 stragglers from the Inf Replacement Center of Stavelot, who had joined our column the night of Dec 17 as it was passing through Stavelot.
About 0945 a report was received from a Belgian civilian that a small German patrol was approaching our position from the south and was about 4000 meters distant. Lt Pickford, the Class II Officer was sent out by the Division Quartermaster to contact a Collecting Point for dead south of Mont. A message was sent to Truck Transport CO stating that German patrol was attacking our position. The section of the 203-AAA(AW) was then moved approximately 150 yards northeast of Samrée, and the men assigned to the Division QM Section were placed in a defensive position around the town. Personnel of the 3967th QMTT Co were out posted approximately 200 yards from the position now occupied by the men of the Division QM Section. A 1/Sgt of HQ & Serv Trp, 87th Rcn Sq reported to the Division QM and stated he had a light tank and one half-track available for use. Division Quartermaster sent him forward to engage the enemy. One half the 440th Serv Btry also went out and engaged the enemy. A Tank Recovery vehicle armed with mortar, but with only 4 rounds of HE, the rest of it’s supply smoke, went out to recover their supply sergeant who had been wounded, but was unable to do so. The entire train of the Serv Btry and the Tank Recover vehicle then left the area.
While the Division Quartermaster was inspecting the road block, the 3967-QMTT Co was instructed to evacuate, and had pulled out all vehicles except six two and one-half ton trucks, on the road to Dochamps. The Division Quartermaster instructed the CO of the 3967-QMTT Co that we would not evacuate the position, but would defend it. The CO of the 77th Medical Bn reported in and then left. Lt Kramer of the 3967-QMTT Co was sent to Tn Hq CP to secure aid.
At approx. 1200 Lt Brownlee, of the MP Plat reported in and was sent to the main road to form a patrol and cut off the enemy patrol. No definite report was received from him except it was reported that he had proceeded down the road and stopped the traffic from using the main thoroughfare. At this time a heavy fog settled in and the enemy was able to cross the road and center some houses. This fog lifted a approx. 1215. A Lt Richardson from the 203-AAA(AW) was wounded and brought to our CP where the Division Surgeon administered first aid and evacuated him using one of our gas trucks. Lt Richardson reported that the enemy consisted of a small patrol that could be easily wiped out. About this time a half-track of the 440-FAB ran out of ammunition and left the area. At that time a colonel accompanied by a captain from a FA Group reported in and stated he had a FA Bn ready for action if needed. Approximately another Section of the 203-AAA(AW) then arrived and they were sent down the road to engage the enemy. Lt Karmer reported in at this time and advised that the 3-AD had left Marche-en-Famenne at approx. 1100 and was attacking in our general direction. Asst G-4 of the 7-AD reported in at 1220 and also reported the 3-AD was attacking in our general direction on the road from Dochamps to Samrée. At that time the Division Quartermaster gave definite instructions to the Class III Officer that neither the gasoline nor Class I supplies would be destroyed.
After the enemy crossed the road they destroyed, by bazooka fire, a number of vehicles which were proceeding southwest to Samrée approx. six 2½ ton trucks. The enemy bazooka man was killed. Soon after this, artillery fire was heard but was landing one thousand (1000) yards over our position.
At approximately 1400 two enemy light tanks appeared and were immobilized by fire from our light tanks. It was reported then that the enemy’s light tanks resembled ours but when they fired on our position we returned the fire. During the entire time rations and gasoline were issued to the 87th Cavalry Rcn Sq, Armd Inf Bn, 106-ID, 28-ID, 31-TB, 48-AIB, and the 38-AIB. It is believed that all Trains loaded with rations and gas were able to leave the area on the road leading to Dochamps.
The 23-AIB Tns loaded with gasoline was escorted by the light tank from CCB Hq, the Commander (Capt Barth) had been killed while coming to our area. A temporary collecting Point was then established near our CP. At approximately 1415 the Capt from the artillery Group reported he had one Battery in position and would commence firing as soon as he could establish radio contact with his Battery Headquarters. He also requested supply of ammunition for the Battery, which could not be furnished. His vehicle was parked near our CP and sometime later, left the area. About this time several air-bursts were received directly over our position. The 1/Sgt commanding a light tank of the 87-CRS reported he was out of ammo and asked for re-supply. He also reported the enemy was moving into position and that the patrol was a large force of enemy infantry. At this time the driver of the 87-CRS half-track was wounded and brought in to our CP by the commander of the half-track. The commander also requested more ammunition. The half-track then remained at our CP.
At approx. 1430 Lt Chrismon, Serv Co, 17-TB reported in and stated that the head of the 3-AD column was halted at Dochamps and that it was his belief that if the Division Quartermaster reported the situation to the CO of that column he could secure assistance. The Division Quartermaster left with Lt Chrismon and proceeded to Dochamps. Upon arriving at the head of the column he requested the lieutenant in charge of the 83-CRT to come to our aid immediately. The lieutenant stated he was part of a Task Force and commanded by a major and that he was unable to move forward unless ordered to do so by the Task Force Commanding Officer. The Division Quartermaster then contacted the CO of the Task Force and requested immediate assistance. A delay of approximately fifteen minutes was encountered before the CO in command ordered the medium tank company to the attack preceded by two armored cars. The armored cars cleared Samrée and turned northeast on the main road without difficulty. The medium tanks were brought under fire by a reported five German tanks; three of these medium tanks were immobilized by enemy fire and one enemy tank was destroyed.
At approximately 1444 a heavy barrage fell on the cross-roads at Samrée. At that time everyone except the Class III Officer and two men, and the 203-AAA(AW) Section had evacuated the area. The lieutenant in command of the 203rd platoon brought his vehicle back to Samrée and reported enemy was proceeding on Samrée from northeast and he was unable to compete with them. Cap Plyler Class III Officer instructed him to set up a road block two hundred yards south west of Samrée.
At approximately 1500 a German tank approached Samrée and began shelling our CP. Capt Plyler having seen the three medium tanks of the 3-AD immobilized, returned to the road block. Maj Skillman S-3 of Tn Hq arrived and stated the medium tanks were coming to our aid; and at this time Capt Plyler requested infantry also. Maj Skillman stated he would see what he could do and returned to Tn Hq CP located at La Roche.
Capt Plyler tried to return to Samrée but was repulsed by German infantry which as occupying the town. About this time artillery and mortar fire began falling on the road block and Capt Plyler evacuated three hundred yards to the rear. At this time Lt Averill commanding Tn Hq Co arrived with two med tanks and one TD gun. The situation was explained to him and he proceeded toward Samrée with the tanks and the TD gun. No further report was received from Lt Averill. Major Skillman then returned and instructed Capt Plyler to report to the Tn CO. The Division Quartermaster was unable to return to Samrée due to intense shelling of road and area by enemy artillery fire, and returned to La Roche via Hotton arriving at Tn Hq CP at approximately 2100.
No definite information is available except three American dead were collected at Samrée, five wounded were evacuated and approximately seven wounded were treated for slight wounds and returned to duty immediately. The dead were not evacuated from Samrée. Much credit for holding this position for a period of five hours was due to the superior work of the half-track and light tank crews of the 87th Cav Rcn Sq, who fought continuously until their ammunition was exhausted. No further information was received the composition of the enemy force except that it was an Infantry Force, supported by tanks, mortar, and artillery.