509th Parachute Infantry Battalion Report – Italy – November 1943

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Report of Operations, 509th Parachute Infantry Battalion, Office of the Battalion Commander, S-3 Journal, Period : November 1943, Italy. (Headquarters 509th Parachute Infantry Battalion – Office of the Battalion Commander – S-3 Journal

November 9 1943

Departed from Naples at 1430 by truck convoy. Proceeded via Casserta, Calazzo, Avignans, Dragoni, to Macchia, attached to 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment and the unit arrived at Macchia on November 10 at 0100. Sent into positions around Macchia.

November 10 1943

After a recon by the CO of the 504-PIR and the CO of the 509-PIB, our operational areas were pointed out and boundaries set. Orders were changed. Attached to 1/45-ID in the vicinity of Venafro. Entrucked at 1700, proceeded to Venafro. Arrived at 1930. Bivouacked in olive grove near Venafro. Set up CP in building near the 45-ID’s water point.

At the 509th Officers Club in Naples. Back row L-R : Gorshe, Shaw, Berman, Martinez, Pahl, and Kelly. Front : Alden, Tracy, DeLeo, Oldham, and Livingston. (Photo courtesy of Edward R. Reuter)


Bella Napoli – Hq 509th Prcht Inf (l-r) Kelly, Tomasik, and Katz in Naples, 1944

November 11 1943

After a recon with the CO of the 1st Ranger Battalion and the CO of the 509th PIB issued verbal orders for the attack on Hill 1025 : Monte Croce, Dog Co attacked on the right using peak Hill-1025 as a right boundary. Easy Co attacking on the left using peak Hill-970 as left boundary. The Rangers were holding strong points on each of our flanks. One mortar battalion and artillery units in the vicinity of Venafro furnished the supporting fire. Fox Co held in support on line of departure. Hqs Co held support around the battalion CP.

Launched the attack under ideal artillery support at 1112. The attack progressed very favorably. The rugged terrain slowed down the assaulting companies, but they adjusted quickly to the situation. The Machine Gun Platoon of Hqs Co was committed at 1300. They closed the gap which was developing in the center due to terrain features. An intense enemy artillery barrage developed as the companies neared their objectives. Casualties occurred.

At 1700, both companies reported that they had reached their objectives and were preparing the positions for defense. Battalion CP and the support were advanced to a position from which an enemy attack could be met quickly. Enemy artillery became very active and subjected the entire battalion sector to an intense barrage. The enemy forces were so completely disorganized by the vigor of our assault that they failed to counterattack. Enemy equipment was scattered along the ridge as the enemy attempted to escape.

The town of Venafro, Italy. The base of Mount Croce is seen in the upper left

A very nice photo from the 509th PIB’s CO : William P. Yarborough, done in Tunisia, after the attack of the 509th at the Faïd Pass. He is wearing the Red Fourragère of the 3em Régiment de Zouaves of the French Army, which was presented to the members of the 509th Parachute Infantry Battalion by the commanding officer of the 3rd Zouaves at Youks-les-Bains, Algeria on November 15, 1942.

November 11 1943

Three prisoners were taken but they attempted to escape and were shot. Sixtheen enemy dead were found. Our casualties for the day amounted to 9 killed and 49 wounded.

November 12 1943

Consolidated positions. CO’s sent out patrols to Rangers on each flank. Intermittent enemy mortar and artillery fire.

November 13 1943

Fox Co relieved Easy Co on our left flank. Enemy artillery was active, several patrols were fired upon by Dog Co.

November 14 1943

Dog Co was relieved by Easy Co. LMG Plat of Hq was attached to Easy Co. Dog Co returned to bivouac area near Venafro.

November 15 1943

Dog Co took up positions in the valley between Pozzilli and Concacasale. One section of LMG’s were attached to Dog Co. Disposition of troops at this time : Easy Co, plus 1 Platoon of Fox Co and 1 Section LMG occupied positions on our left flank; Dog Co occupied positions in the valley connecting our defense with the 157-IR whose CP was located in Venafro and Hqs Co defending the battalion CP.

November 16 1943

Battalion CP moved to Pozzilli. Enemy artillery was active. Our artillery was very active. Venafro was shelled heavily by enemy. No change in unit disposition.

November 17 1943

1 Platoon Dog Co came to Pozzilli to dry out. A new pack train trail was started. Now using 25 mules from supply trains. Enemy and friendly air activity was renewed.

November 18 1943

Enemy patrols were active in areas in the front of Fox Co other activity static. Intermittent enemy mortar and artillery fire.

November 19 1943

Our patrols were active on east side of Concacasale. Mortar Platoon of Hqs Co set up for firing missions in areas near of Dog Co. Enemy artillery shelled Venafro and Pozzilli.

December 20 1943 : Venafro area, Italy. The 45-ID pack mule train on its way to the front. The are loaded down with 5 gal cans of water, K rations and other supplies. The train left from the 157-IR CP located in the vicinity of Venafro and is headed for the 3/157-IR CP in the mountains located approximately 8 miles by trail north of Venafro. The town of Pozzilli is in the background

December 15 1943 : Venafro sector, Italy. Bodies of men killed is mountain fighting are carried on the backs of mules to roads where vehicles can take them to US cemeteries. Each body is wrapped in a blanket and then lashed on the mule

December 12 1943 : Venafro sector, Italy. Rations for 504-PIR are carried on mules led by Italian soldiers under American supervision.

November 20 1943

Heavy fire came down on Dog Co position. Fox Co minus 1 Platoon was moved from hill to dry out.

November 21 1943

Fox Co relieved Dog Co. Bn CP Hqs Co Supply section moved back to Venafro and set up in the vicinity of roads intersection. Mortar Platoon moved to a position in the rear of Easy Co and set up for firing an Observation Post was established and concentration registered. Fox Co withdrawn under cover of the darkness and returned to Venafro. To date, the communication section has lade 25 miles of wire. 4 bundles containing LMGs and ammunition were dropped by Cub to troop on Monte Croce.

November 22 1943

One Squad Dog Co reinforced Easy Co’s right flank. Dog Co, Fox Co refitted and dried out equipment. Defensive positions were inspected by CO and Exec Officer, Dog Co and Easy Co were alerted to support Ranger attack. Enemy forces reported moving in Ranger position and our left flank (1053). They were reported moving in a skirmish line of approximately 40 men followed by a column. Plan were made for Fox Co to support Rangers in event enemy attack dawn.

November 23 1943

Fox Co moved out at 0400 to support position in the rear of Easy Co defensive line. Support positions were reached at 0615. Heavy rain and fog prevailed at this time. At 0912 the enemy attacked the Ranger positions on hill (1053). They were beaten off by the Rangers aided by mortars. The counterattack followed after a short regrouping pause by the Germans. The enemy attempted to flank out our right but Fox Co was committed to meet the attack. Fox Co rolled the enemy’s flank back and broke up the attack. An enemy mine field was encountered and caused casualties. They slopped up a portion of the forward slope with bayonets and grenades, then withdrew to the Ranger positions. A patrol spotted carts in Concacasale. One Platoon of Fox Co was withdrawn and one Platoon of Dog Co was used as reinforcement on the Ranger’s left flank (Hill 1053). Artillery and mortar fire pounded Concacasale during the night. A few casualties resulted from this attack.

November 24 1943

Tokay 6 & 5 were recalled to Lightning for a conference. Venafro was shelled by the enemy. Two rounds bracketed the CP at about 1200. The enemy made another counterattack but was repulsed. Dog Co used the same flanking play as Fof Co had used previously. The enemy had 9 men killed and several wounded. We had one men wounded. Our lines shifted to the left and left an open flank to on right. One Squad of Fox Co filled the gap. Demolition section moved to mine the area in front of Easy Co’s position. Mortar fired intermittently during the night.

Naples area, Italy. Members of the 509th Parachute Infantry Battalion leap from a C-47

November 25 1944

Enemy attack Ranger and Dog Co positions at dawn using using clouds as a screen. Support artillery was not used. They were thrown back. One hour later enemy artillery opened up and counterattack followed. This attack was beaten off again. Several prisoners were taken. Gen Mark W. Clark (CG 5-A) visited battalion CP and looked the situation over. He congratulated the battalion on the excellent job we had done and were doing now. He asked about our turkey dinner and etc. Mortars (81-MM) fired 10 rounds into enemy positions. Tokay 5 & 6 returned from Naples. Mine field laid in front of How Co positions by Demolitions Section. Sent turkey dinner to the men in the front lines. Our artillery fired intermittently during the night.

November 26 1943

Usual duties. Lt Katz took over S-3. S-3 returned to Naples to rig Cub for aerial delivery. Lt Katz went on patrol with Fisco, Brenner, Brenner, Laudicina, Moffo and Trahan. Heard enemy digging and heard one screaming when one of our shells hit. Saw enemy activity in Concacasale. Received verbal commendations from Lt Col Darby of Rangers on giving report. Capt Howland notified of appointment as S-3 on return to Venafro. T/4 O. H. Rundell showed up from hospital in Africa. Enemy shelled our positions intermittently.

November 27 1943

Cpl Leone returned to Piscinola. Silver Star awards arrived yesterday for Lt Mc Carthy, Gunderson, Wilson and Sgt Fontanesi. Patrol went up Monte Croce and reported suspicious characters claiming to be from Concacasale. Possible enemy observer on this hill. Patrol was shelled accurately while on this hill. Found caves extending well into the hill. Fox positions attacked by enemy. 2 killed and 5 wounded including Capt Boettner and Sgt Vitterito. Pvt Dial (Reported MIA) found in 118 Hospital doing well. Green flares fired by enemy over Lt Shermans position. Pvt Simons wounded in action died in hospital.

Troopers of the 509th Parachute Battalion in the Anzio Area, 1943

November 28 1943

We are now the 509-PIB. Brought in a prisoner by Fox Co. A 30 year old Austrian named Alois Koninger. Talked readily and said he was from 4.Kompanie, 71.Panzergrenadierregiment, 29.Panzer-Grenadier-Division. Said many of his men are tired of war and would desert if not for the officers. Interrogated thru Pfc Bickle and turned over to 157-IR IPW Team. One late afternoon air-raid. Patrol went up on mountains to remove Italian civilians. Found 1 man and 2 women who came from Concacasale. One of these women came from Providence, Rhode Island. She said she was very very sorry that she had left back to Italy. She had left the USA 14 years ago. Intermittent shell fire from the Germans today.

November 29 1943

2 prisoners – Luxembourgers – in at 0300. Talked readily but knew little. Body of Pvt Sexton – AWOL from ABTC in Oujda – came down. Someone had stolen the boots from the body. On Map 1/25.000 and sheet 161 III SW we located a German Radio Station at 001216 and on sheet 161 IV SW a CP in a house at 998229. (Cpl Bath ‘Ranger’ Platoon, 3rd Bn Hq, 157th Inf Regt). Telephone line remained in all day.

November 30 1943

Received a Photographer from APS who arrived to make a documentary pictures. Counterattack by enemy. Heavy barrage. 1 killed (Vallauhi) and 3 wounded. Lt Col Yarborough went to see Gen Clark (5-A). 3 delivery units dropped containing ammunition and water.

16 Jan 1944 Naples Area, Italy, 509th Parachute Inf. Bn. An auxiliary (P40) Belly gas tank filled with K and D rations is installed on the bomb rack of an A36 Invader. Sgt Clarence P. Haynes, Toledo, Ohio, is examining the installation

Naples area, Italy 13 Jan 44. Sgt. Joe Hall, Sastonia, N.C. (left) and PDC. Earl Bennett, Eaton Ohio, lift an auxiliary gas tank filled with K and D rations in place on the bomb rack of the wing of an A36 Invader. The food is released and dropped the same as a bomb to troops in inaccessible places.

Naples Area, Italy 13 Jan 44 A-5 containers loaded aboard a C47 (interior view) Cpl William D. Ates, Holt Florida, Left, receives from T/5 Robert Kealin, Quincy, Ill.

December 1 1943

Enemy shelled our positions on hill, few rounds in Venafro. Dog Co took up Easy Co’s positions. 2 drops made from Cub. Photographer took pictures of Dog Co position in the mountain.

December 2 1943

Checked positions on Monte Croce. Gathered enemy equipment. Mortar has fired 2500 rounds to date. Intermittent fire on targets area during night. Routine duties. Enemy inactive. Fox Co withdrawn to bivouac area. Our aircraft bombed and strafed Monte Cassino.

December 3 1943

Enemy still inactive except for patrols during late afternoon, our patrols were active. Mine field completed. Aircraft were active again today.

December 4 1943

Slight enemy artillery activity. More friendly air activity around. Enemy attack Ranger positions in the late afternoon, they lost 6 men.

December 5 1943

Easy Co relieved Charlie Co of Rangers. Fox Co alerted – contemplated enemy attack. Rain hampered air activity.

December 6 1943

Usual duties. Patrol activity (S-2) activity around the Ranger left flank. Light shells from in vicinity northeast of Concacasale. American aircraft were active again today.

December 7 1943

Unit on our right gained Hill 769. Usual camp duties. Improved our defensive positions, cleared field of fire. Established a Bn CP on 1083. Issued defensive order.

December 8 1943

Patrols active. Unit on right were pushed off Hill 769, but regained it in the late afternoon. Approx 8 rounds enemy mortar shells landed near Easy Co. Activity on our left.

December 9 1943

Activity on our left flank, 143-IR. 504-PIR in vicinity San Pietro and Hill 1205 which was taken by 180th Inf. 3rd Ranger took Hill 950 after 2 unsuccessful attacks. Our line quiet. Our mortars fired on concentrations. Total rounds fired to date 5800.

December 10 1943
Continuing improving our positions. Enemy inactive except for some occasional artillery fire.

December 11 1943

143-IR bogged down on the road to San Pietro. 1205 and 950 occupied by 504-PIR. Enemy planes bombed Ceppagna, some casualties. Maj Morrow, Fisco, Nunn, Thahan and Capt Howland went on patrol and captured 2 prisoners. They were sleeping in a MG nest.

December 12 1943

Usual duties on the morning. Made preparations to be relieved.

Decemner 13 1943

Battalion relieved and went to bottom of hill. Total amount of mortar ammunition fired to date, 8860. Departed for Naples, moved out 0830 in truck convoy, arrived 1030, strength 122 men and 9 officers.

(This archives and photos courtesy of Jim T. Broumley)

For all purposes :
European Center of Military History
Gunter ‘Doc Snafu’ Gillot
rue des Thiers 8
Francorchamps 4970
Belgium
Email : gunter [at] eucmh.be





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(NB : Published for Good – March 2019)

 

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