(1) In compliance with the provisions of Par 10 C3 AR 345-105, submitted below is report after action against the enemy for the 137th Infantry covering the period 1-31 October 1944.
October 1 1944
On the morning of October 1 1944, the 137-IR was opposed by strong German forces from a point midway between Pettoncourt and Chambrey on the Seille River northward to the edge of the Gremecey Forest. Northeast through the Gremecey Forest the 1/320 and 3/320 (35-ID) were in position, tying in with the 134-IR southeast of Fresnes. The 134-IR line extended west to Manhoue.
Beyond them, across the Seille, was the 80-ID. On our right, the 4-AD was operating south of the Nancy – Saarbrucken Highway. The 133-ECB remained in defensive position in our own sector, after being moved to the ridge east and south of Gremecey the previous day in repulsing the furious German attack in the direction of that town.
Elements of the 6-AD had moved up from Corps reserve near Nancy, and went into an assembly area to the rear of the 137-IR, in preparation for a coordinated attack on the morning of October 1. TF Harris (6-AD) had the mission of attacking east from the vicinity of Pettoncourt to the line Chambrey – Bois de Chambrey.
The 137-IR attacked at 0930, with a mission of re-establishing its lines and, in addition, to take the town of Chambrey, which was still an enemy strong point in spite of Allied air strikes and artillery pounding. Moving over open terrain in the vicinity of Merlinsole, a short distance northwest of Chambrey, TF Harris (6-AD) received many casualties from enemy artillery, but the remainder of the force pushed through to the line Chambrey – Bois de Chambrey.
The 2/137-IR, advanced to the east and by mid-afternoon was at the southwest edge of Bois de Chambrey. At this point they were joined by Able Co. A concerted attack was launched from the south to clear the Bois de Chambrey of the enemy and reestablish the defensive position on the east edge of the woods. Baker Co advanced to the east and at 1700 was fighting in the streets of Chambrey. They captured the town at 2000, after taking 25 prisoners. Most of the enemy withdrew about a thousand yards to the east and northeast of Chambrey.
Believing an attempt would be made to recapture the town, Brig Gen Edmund B Sebree (ADC 35-ID) ordered that Chambrey be held at all costs. All of the 1/137 AT guns were moved to the Chambrey area, and road blocks were established on all routes leading into the town. Meanwhile, tanks from the 737-TB were employed to support the 2/137 and Able Co in their attack of the woods.
The mission of the tanks was to pin down the enemy in the woods as infantry advanced north. By 2000 the 2/137, with Able Co, had attained their objective along the eastern edge of Bois de Chambrey, and had established a combat outpost between the Bois de Chambrey and the town of Chambrey to maintain contact with Baker Co for the night.
Casualties in the regiment for October 1 were 6 KIAs, 28 WIAs and 5 MIAs. There were 37 POWs taken, most of them from the 1.Company, 1127.Infantry-Regiment, 559.Infantry-Division. This company had been left to defend Chambrey to the last man, and had anticipated our attempt to capture the town on that morning, even as to details of the attack.
October 2 1944
With the Germans withdrawing into the woods toward Chateau Salins, it was believed their next strong point in that direction would be Hill 300, the high ground south of Coutures. To gather all possible information on enemy strength there, Gen Sebree called for a volunteer patrol of one officer and two enlisted men to penetrate this enemy territory. Capt Roger N. Baker and two of his men from Dog Co accepted the hazardous mission.
Leaving at midnight, the party was gone for nearly five hours before returning. In carrying out their mission they had located one enemy artillery battery, and reported many new foxholes dug deep in a creek bed at the foot of the west slope of the German-held hill. A large amount of enemy telephone wire had been found. Our patrol shot one enemy wireman. In addition, the patrol reported what were believed to be ammunition vehicles moving to the area from Chateau Salins.
The 1/137 and the 2/137 were alerted for any possible enemy movement, but during most of the day, there was no enemy action to our front. At 1600, the USAAF attacked German positions in the woods east and north of Chambrey, with eight fighters strafing the area. There was believed to be an entire regiment still held in that vicinity. The 137-IR strengthened its defenses during the day, using barbed wire between Chambrey and our positions to the north, and laying extensive mine fields on all possible routes of approach. The 60-ECB (Engineer) made good use of German mine fields north of Chambrey by rearranging the mines already in place there.
One man was killed and four were wounded. Two enemy were taken prisoner, one of whom told of having seen the German V-3 one-man flying bomb which was to be used as a new weapon against the Allies.
After a week’s defense of the area and after standing off the heaviest German attacks yet encountered by this organization, our main lines of resistance had actually been pushed forward and strengthened.
Gen Patton visited the Regimental CP and personally congratulated Col Sears on the fine stand of the organization. He decorated the Regimental Commander with the Bronze Star award during his visit.
While the XII Corps was engaged in holding this sector, Allied forces to the north and to the south were approaching positions that had never fallen during World War I. On our left, other elements of the 3-A were attacking Fort Driant, commanding the medieval city of Metz, key to the enemy’s Alsatian defenses. On our right, the 79-ID, part of the XV Corps, was attacking the Parroy Forest, where the enemy strength was estimated at 5000 men and 100 tanks.
The heaviest fighting on the West Wall at this time was taking place near Aachen, where the 1-A was advancing farther and farther onto German soil, and at Arnhem in Holland, where fifteen divisions were fighting on a 35-mile front.
The 9-A in the meantime had moved east from the vicinity of Brest for the final push on Germany. In our own sector there was developing the possibility of unfriendliness of the civilian population. We had now crossed over into Alsace – Lorraine. This the Nazis had always regarded as rightfully theirs, and many German families had moved into the territory. Although some were evacuated with the withdrawal of the Nazi army, the population remaining was necessarily considered doubtful as to sympathy to the Allied cause, and could not be depended upon for the enthusiastic cooperation obtained from French civilians thus far. However, some assistance was gained from Polish workers who had been brought into the territory by the Nazis as forced labor.
The 137-IR improved its defensive positions and conducted patrols, with very little enemy action reported. The 3/137 moved to Pettoncourt from regimental reserve at Bioncourt, after its companies had been restored to full strength by replacements received.
At 1830 (October 4), the relief of the 137-IR by elements of the 320-IR began, with their 2nd Battalion relieving our 2nd Battalion who then assembled in Gremecey. The 1/137 was temporarily attached to the 320-IR, and later relieved to move into an assembly area at Attilloncourt shortly before midnight on the October 5. The enemy continued to shell our area intermittently during October 3, 4 and 5, particularly in Pettoncourt and Gremecey, where 105-MM and 150-MM artillery was reported.
On October 5, adjacent units reported shelling of heavy caliber, presumably from German railway guns. Rain which had been threatening for several days began to fall during the morning, and continued through the day. Casualties for October 3/5 were as follows : 3 WIAs Oct 3, 1 WIA and 2 MIAs on Oct 4, 4 KIAs and 1 WIAs on Oct 5. Only 2 POWs were taken on the Oct 3, none on Oct 4 and 5. The Germans resorted to the use of public address system to speak across the lines to our troops during the morning of Oct 5, and later shot propaganda leaflets into our area. The futility of their efforts was shown by the fact that on Oct 5/6 no one of the 137-IR was reported missing.
On October 6 and 7, the regiment remained in division reserve. Scattered enemy artillery fire continued, and German planes were reported over the area in small numbers as the weather began to clear. There were no casualties for October 6 but on October 7, 1 man was KIA, 1 WIA and 1 MIA. At 1400, October 7, the 3/137 was attached to the 134-IR, and at 2100 moved to their area near Manhoue.
October 8 1944
On October 8, with the remainder of the 137-IR still in division reserve, the 3/137 moved up with the 1/134 to a line facing the Germans who were at Chenicourt, Fossieux and Malaucourt. With a new main line of resistance (MLR) already established by our forces in the right portion of the division zone, it was planned to similarly extend this MLR of the left portion by pushing north along the front in that area.
The entire 737-TB was attached for the operation. The 3/137 moved out at 0615 on the morning of October 8, with Love Co riding tanks of Charlie Co 737-TB, driving toward Fossieux from the south, and King Co, riding tanks of Able Co 737-TB advancing on their left. Item Co, on the right, had the mission of capturing the ridge southeast of the town.
By 0930, Love Co was at the edge of Fossieux, and King Co was east of Arraye-et-Han above the Seille River. A half hour later King Co had cut the Fossieux – Ajoncourt road, and Love Co was inside the town at Fossieux. One platoon of King Co dismounted in the vicinity of the left limiting point of the division, and the balance of the company advanced on Fossieux from the southwest.
By 1230, King Co had taken over a hundred prisoners, while Love Co was mopping up in Fossieux with the assistance of the tanks. Item Co in the meantime had gained its objective by 1030, and continued to clean out the area between the Rau d’Osson and Seille River. In taking its objective the 3/137 suffered 42 casualties. This included 6 KIAs, 35 WIAs and 14 MIAs. In comparison, the Germans suffered far more heavily. The enemy lost 127 men in prisoners captured alone, more than had been taken by the entire regiment in any single day since August 21.
Although driven from Fossieux, the Germans remained at Chenicourt, Aulnois, Lemoncourt and Jallaucourt. On the morning of October 9, they launched a counter-attack with tanks and infantry, and reentered Fossieux from the north. By mid-afternoon 3 of the German tanks had been knocked out, but 5 remained in the town and 7 others had moved to the northeast across the Rau d’Osson.
The situation was not relieved until the following morning, when King and Love Cos, together with Able Co 134-IR, again drove the Germans from the main part of the town. At 1130 the enemy was holding out only in the northeast corner of Fossieux, and 1 tank remained in position to the northeast of the town. Charlie Co 737-TB was brought in to assist in cleaning out the last resistance.
By 1745 Fossieux was again cleared of Germans, and bridges on roads leading north and northwest of the town were reported to have been blown up by our engineers. During the German counter-attack and the recapture of Fossieux the 3/137 lost 67 men. For October 9, casualties were 4 KIAs, 10 WIAs, and 8 MIAs, on October 10, 8 KIAs, 23 WIAs and 14 MIAs. Only 1 POW was taken by the battalion (Oct 9), but in retaking the town on October 10, 45 POWs were captured.
The remainder of the 137-IR continued in division reserve at Attilloncourt and Gremecey during this time. Intermittent shelling was received in their area with little damage. Early on the morning of October 10 the Attilloncourt area received four rounds of heavy artillery in the vicinity of the Regimental CP and the 1/137 CP. Shell fragments recovered were over 2 inches wide by 1-1/2 inches thick and up to 14 inches long, and indicated that the shells were from 280-MM railway guns.
October 11 1944
On October 11 our forces held Fossieux, but were under heavy artillery and mortar fire during the day. That night the 3/137 was relieved by the 1/134 and moved to Aboncourt as regimental reserve. There were 4 men WIAs on October 11, and 6 POWs were taken.
At 1400, October 12, the 3/137 was relieved of attachment to the 134-IR and reverted to the 137-IR. The regiment remained in division reserve until October 15. During this period the 35-ID continued its defense of the sector. To the south the 26-ID, now operating in the XII Corps, took over part of the 4-AD sector.
The 80-ID remained on the left of the 35-ID, and was in the process of regrouping its forces. Despite overcast skies and intermittent showers during the period, our aircraft remained active, bombing and strafing the woods west of Lemoncourt (Oct 12/13/14). To the north and east, the rail junction of Benestroff was hit, and a railroad gun believed blown up west of Han-sur-Nied.
From October 12 to October 15, the 2/137 continued to report intermittent shelling at Gremecey, but damage was negligible. The only casualties in the regiment during this period occurred on October 13, when one man was killed and one wounded. On October 15, the 137-IR relieved the 134-IR in the left regimental sector of the division area, beginning at 1300. The 1/137 moved the CP to the vicinity of Han, and the 2/137 CP was moved to near Rhin de Bois. The 3/137, still at Aboncourt, remained at that location in regimental reserve.
From October 16 until the end of the month the 137-IR remained in a defensive status, with the regimental sector divided into two portions. The left portion extended from the Seille River east to Fossieux, then southeast along the ridge between Malaucourt and Manhoue to the west tip of the Jallaucourt Woods. The 1/137 occupied this portion of the sector. The right portion of the sector was occupied by the 2/137, and was bounded by the northern edge of the Jallaucourt Woods and the Gremecey Forest to a point south of Fresnes, where the lines of the 320-IR began.
With the assistance of the 60-ECB, elaborate defense installations were established along our lines, with mine fields, booby traps, concertina fencing and trip flares used extensively. These extended east from the junction of the Seille River and Ruisseau d’Osson. The Ruisseau d’Orson was itself a tank obstacle and added to the strength of the defense. From this ditch east to the Aulnois – Ajoncourt road was laid a 500-yard concertina fence, with anti-personnel mines and trip flares along its length, and a hasty antitank mine field behind it. From the Aulnois road east 1600 yards of concertina fence were laid to Fossieux, with antitank and antipersonnel mines and trip flares to its front. Farther to the front, four bridges had been blown, blocking all roads leading into Fossieux and Aloncourt from the north. Around Fossieux, 587 antitank mines were laid.
From Fossieux southeast, the Engineers laid 4750 yards of single concertina, to the edge of the woods. The remainder of our line, extending along the edge of the woods, was heavily booby-trapped, with antitank mine fields laid on all routes into the woods. Three triple and three double concertina installations were laid behind these installations, to complete an almost unbroken line through the forest. To the front of this line, our Engineers blew up the bridges across the Rau d’Osson on the road southwest of Malaucourt, on the Jallaucourt – Manhoue road, and due south of Jallaucourt.
The regiment’s defensive positions were manned by Charlie Co from the Seille River to the Fossieux area, Baker Co in the Fossieux area, and Able Co on their right to the Jallaucaurt Woods. The 2/137’s line was equally divided between George Co on the left and Easy Co on the right. The situation called for diligent patrolling activity to our front, and a definite patrolling policy was set down. This policy specified that two patrols would be sent out each night by each front-line battalion, with the Battalion Commander selecting his own patrolling missions when not given a definite assignment from higher headquarters.
The first patrolling mission assigned to the 1/137 for the night of October 16 was to the road junction northwest of Fossieux and east of Aulnois, to determine extent of traffic, mine fields or road blocks and defensive positions. The second mission was to the woods southwest of Lemoncourt to determine the extent of defensive positions, strength, movement and activities in general.
The 2/137 was given a mission of sending a patrol to the high ground between Jallaucourt and Fresnes to determine whether or not the enemy was extending his defensive positions in that area. One 1/137 patrol reported eight tanks and two trucks moving west from the Aulnois Woods at 2150, headed toward the town of Aulnois. Their second patrol contacted the enemy at Malaucourt, and reported horse carts on the road northeast of that town. Patrols from the 2/137 reported hearing light vehicles in and around Jallaucourt, and some Germans in the Juree Woods. They also reported the front of the Juree Woods to be mined and booby trapped. Two men in the regiment were wounded on Oct 16, but no other casualties were reported during the day.
October 17 1944
Early on the morning of October 17, Easy Co fired on a German patrol which set off a trip-wire flare to their front. Mortar fire on the area was believed to have inflicted casualties on the Germans. The regiment began to receive artillery fire also during the morning of October 17, with Fossieux and its vicinity shelled from long range. Baker Co reported shelling in Fossieux several times during the day, and the 2/137 received 120-MM mortar fire southeast of Jallaucourt at 1450.
At 1840 they again reported shelling, with eighteen to twenty rounds believed to have been fired into their area from tanks. Later in the evening the 1/137 reported twenty rounds of mortar fire from the direction of Jallaucourt. During the evening the Germans began sending up flares, and this continued all during the night. 17 flares were observed during the night, mostly in the vicinity of Malaucourt, Jallaucourt and Aulnois. The regiment had only one casualty during the day, one man being wounded by enemy artillery fire. On this day, October 17, the 137-IR completed its 100th day of combat. In that 100 days the regiment had pushed almost completely across France, from Omaha Beach through the battles of St-Lô and the Mortain Forest, the capture of Orléans and the liberation of Sens, the crossing of the Moselle and the Meurthe Rivers, and the battle of the Champenoux Forest, to its present defensive stand in the bend of the Seille River.
During that 100 days the regiment had suffered 2353 casualties : 441 KIAs, 1680 WIAs and 232 MIAs. Many of these wounded had already been returned to duty with their organization, and with ample replacements received, the strength of the regiment stood at 155 officers and 3128 enlisted men, exceeding that of July 10 when the 137-IR first went into position above St-Lô. Of the 156 officers who had departed from Bodmin and Newquay with the regiment, 96 were still with the organization. Of these 8 had returned to duty after being wounded in action in earlier engagements.
October 18-19-20 1944
At this time the eyes of the world were turned to Aachen, where the beleaguered German garrison had been given a final ultimatum to surrender before 1050, October 18. This refused, the 1-A, already surrounding the city, began their final assault upon that German stronghold. At 1330 October 20, Aachen fell, the first major German city taken by the American forces.
During the period of Oct 18/19/20, the 137-IR was encountering very little enemy action. The 1/137 received artillery fire on October 18, but no casualties resulted. A patrol from Baker Co was sent out during the night of October 18 and reached a point midway between Aulnois and Lemoncourt, where they remained and observed for two hours. One Charlie Co patrol crossed the stream south of Aulnois and moved up to observe along the road leading southeast from Aulnois. Both patrols reported enemy tanks to the north, and Charlie Co observers reported a small German patrol headed south.
On October 18 and 19, the 137-IR, the 320-IR, one battalion of the 134-IR, and several artillery, tank, and TD units made preparations for possible isolation from the Division CP and MSR’s (Main Supply Route) during the week to follow. Sixteen miles east of our area, near Dieuze, was the Etang de Lindre, a large artificial lake formed by the damming of the Seille River at Lindre Basse.
By blowing out the earth dam there, the Seille Valley could be flooded through German held Sallonnes, on through Chambrey and circling our own area including Alincourt, Aboncourt, Manhoue, and Ajoncourt, and beyond into German territory again to the north. The Germans controlled the lake and the dam, in a position to release the impounded water at any time. The flooding of the valley, coordinated with an enemy attack of sufficient force, might have resulted in the trapping of considerable American troops in the bend of the river. However, at the present time the enemy was known to be incapable of attacking in such force in this sector, and an immediate inundation of the area would be to their disadvantage, bogging them down at their strong points at Dieuze, Marsal and Vic-sur-Seille. In addition to removing the possibility of a future flood at a time of their own selection.
It was planned that our own air force bomb the dam, and although engineering estimates indicated that our bridges at Brin and Manhoue could still be used at the highest stage of the flood, precautions were taken by the regiment in case the flood waters did reach a stage that would cut off our forces from the west side of the river.
A four day supply of rations was brought in, and the regiment drew 2600 gallons of gasoline for the emergency. Sufficient ammunition to bring the quota up to two basic loads each of cannon and 81-MM HE (high explosive) ammunition, and one and one-half basic loads on all other ammunition was obtained. Additional Engineer supplies were dumped on the east side of the river. The Regimental Surgeon drew extra medical supplies, and one collecting company was established on each side of the river. Amphibious 2½ ton Ducks and boats were made available for use in crossing the swollen river.
Shortly after noon, October 20, a formation of fighter-bombers flew east above the Seille River to the huge reservoir, and at 1300 carried out their bombing mission, scoring two direct hits on the dam, and two near misses on the sluice gates.
At 1600 two squadrons returned to the site to carry out further demolition of the dam. A 50-foot gap was blasted in the western end of the dam, releasing the impounded water in sufficient force to flood the town of Dieuze by 1950. Beyond Dieuze the flood began to spread out over the surrounding lowlands and moved west toward Marsal. It was estimated that no noticeable raise would reach our area until the following day.
For the 137-IR, October 20 was a day of increased German artillery activity, but little other enemy action was observed. Patrols from the I&R Platoon and the 1/137 returned from the vicinity of Aulnois in the early morning and reported small arms fire to the east in the direction of the Juree Woods. Easy Co later reported receiving long range machine gun fire from that same location. One 2/137 patrol returned at 0710, after observing Jallaucourt for 1½ hours from the road junction southeast of the town, then moving north to the Oriocourt road to observe for 1½ hours. Another patrol, composed of Lt Arthur D. Buckley and two enlisted men of George Co, was given the mission of infiltrating to the northern edge of the Juree Woods to observe enemy installations and activities in that area. This patrol failed to return, and was reported as missing in action.
The enemy’s artillery activity began early on the morning of October 20, and the 2/137 received ten rounds of 88-MM fire at 0645. Two direct hits were scored on the Battalion CP, and communications were disrupted but no casualties resulted. The 1/137 reported four rounds in the vicinity of their CP at 0700. At 1335 twelve duds in succession landed in front of the 2/137’s positions. Shortly before 1500, Easy Co received 88-MM fire, and an hour later mortar fire fell in the edge of the Jallaucourt Woods in the George Co area. The regiment had no casualties on October 18 or 19, but on October 20 one man was killed and two wounded by artillery fire, and three men were missing in action.
On the morning of October 21, patrols from all battalions returned with reports of enemy activity. The 2/137 patrol #-1 contacted a fifteen man German patrol on the road southwest of Jallaucourt, and patrol #-2 reported Germans and horses in the Juree Woods.
The 1/137 sent out three patrols to their front, but they reported less enemy activity than the 2/137 or the 3/137 patrols. Two 1/137 patrols were sent as far as the Aulnois-Lemoncourt road, with one proceeding straight north from Fossieux and another working north past Malaucourt. One patrol from the 1/137 observed Malaucourt and its vicinity for two hours but reported no activity.
At 1000 on October 21, Baker Co, 86-MCB (Chemical) was detached from the regiment, and the entire battalion was released from attachment to the 35-ID. Enemy artillery fire slackened during the day, and that which was received fell to the front of our lines. At 1900 Easy Co again received long range machine gun fire from the Juree Woods, but no casualties resulted. The flood moved down the Seille Valley as far as Vic-sur-Seille, slowing down considerably as the waters backed up into the many tributaries of the river. It reached Pettoncourt on the following day, and moved slowly on past Attilloncourt and Brin.
October 22-23 1944
The skies began to clear on October 22, after rain had fallen intermittently for most of the past week. The dirt roads in the sector had already been churned into a mass of deep mud, and water in foxholes and slit trenches added to the discomfort of the troops. While the 35-ID front remained comparatively quiet during the day, elements of the 26-ID, on our right, attacked toward Bezange and Moncourt in an effort to straighten their lines.
In our own sector, patrols from the 2/137 returned on the morning after observing southeast of Jallaucourt, and reported movement of horse-drawn carts in that vicinity. Two patrols from Able Co had been sent out, one of which reached the road midway between Aulnois and Lemoncourt and observed enemy movement east toward the Aulnois Woods. The other Able Co patrol contacted a German outpost on the road west of Malaucourt, and later heard men driving stakes and digging in at an orchard southwest of the town. A patrol from Charlie Co set a trap for the enemy near Aulnois by cutting German communications wires there, then waiting to ambush and take prisoner anyone who came to repair the break. After waiting there 2½ hours, however, no one had appeared, and the patrol returned to our lines.
At 0415 an outpost of Easy Co reported a motorized column moving into Fresnes from the northwest. At the road junction west of Fresnes the column split up, half turning toward Jallaucourt and half continuing to Fresnes. The vehicles remained in these towns only a short time, then returned to the road junction west of Fresnes and turned northwest toward Lemoncourt. Our artillery shelled the road junction as the vehicles converged there.
During the day the 2/137 spotted a battery of 88-MM self-propelled guns north of Fresnes, and called for an air strike on the position. At 1700, the 3/137 began relief of the 1/137 in the left portion of the regimental sector. King Co moved into former Charlie Co positions, adjacent to the Seille River. Love Co took over the Fossieux area, relieving Baker Co, and on their right Item Co moved into the positions of Able Co. Relief was completed at 2200, and the 1/137 reverted to regimental reserve.
The Seille River flood reached its highest stage in our sector late on October 22. The bridges at Brin and Manhoue were not affected by the high water, and normal traffic across the river continued. During the morning of October 23, the river began to fall at Pettoncourt, as the flood crest began to move north into German territory on its way to empty into the Moselle River at Metz.
The night of October 22, the regiment increased its patrols to six, and the activities of two patrols extended to include the laying of mines on roads behind the enemy lines. One patrol received mortar fire north of Fossieux, and two others contacted an enemy patrol of about fifteen men northwest of Malaucourt. Both, 2/137 and 3/137 received artillery fire during the morning of October 23. The 2/137 reported eleven rounds from 0630 to 0650, with seven rounds of 88’s in the Easy Co area. At 0720 the 3/137 reported eighteen rounds in their CP area over a period of forty-five minutes, and during the afternoon Fox Co received artillery fire, believed to be 88-MM or 105-MM, in their right sector. The regiment had one man missing in action on October 23, their first loss since October 20.
On October 24, the 134-IR relieved the 320-IR in the right sector of the Division defense area, and the 137-IR remained in the left sector. Our night patrols again worked far behind the enemy lines and laid mines on their main roads. Battalion patrols made use of illuminating flares for observation purposes during the night. One 3/137 patrol drew enemy mortar fire northwest of Fossieux, but received no casualties. The Division rear echelon and service units in Nancy reported shelling on the morning of October 24, between 0300 and 0430. Seventeen rounds of large caliber artillery, believed to be from railroad guns, landed in the city and across the river in St Max. No damage to military installations was reported. The only shelling reported in the 137-IR area for this day was ten rounds of 120-MM mortar fire from northwest of Jallaucourt falling in the Fox Co area.
Few prisoners were being taken by any of the units along the Corps front, and that mission became a high priority among our nightly patrols. The determination of our patrols in this respect during the night of October 24 when one 3/137 party attempted to enter enemy-held Malaucourt, intent upon seizing and bringing back a German soldier. This patrol reached the first house on the west edge of the town, when it was discovered and three enemy machines guns opened up on them. The patrol was forced to withdraw after two of its members had been wounded. Both of the wounded men were evacuated safely to our lines. The 2/137 again sent patrols toward the Jallaucourt-Fresnes road, and reported that route to be strongly out posted by the enemy. Repeated attempts were made by one patrol to approach the road at several points, and each attempt drew enemy small arms fire.
On October 25, 120-MM mortar fire was again reported in the Fox Co area, from the vicinity of Jallaucourt. At 2305 the 2/137 CP area received five rounds of 105-MM artillery, the only other shelling reported in the regiment during the day. A five-day psychological warfare drive was begun on this date, and during the afternoon ten rounds of safe-conduct leaflets were fired over the German lines. The drive also called for the use of the public address system to announce the news, dressed up psychologically, to the German soldiers.
October 26 1944
The situation remained unchanged on October 26, with scattered artillery fire falling in the area. The Regimental CP at Abincourt received five rounds in the early morning shortly after 0100, and at 0545 shells fell to the rear of the 2/137. Easy Co reported concentrations of enemy artillery fire fell in their area shortly after 1000, and during the evening the same company began receiving direct fire from what was believed to be a self-propelled gun in the vicinity of Fresnes.
The left company of the 134-IR reported direct fire from the same location. Enemy medium artillery, 150-MM or larger, landed to the southeast of the 3/137 positions from long range during the day. Our patrols again ranged far behind the enemy lines, but were still unsuccessful in their attempts to capture prisoners. Enemy patrols were also active, and shortly before midnight on October 26 infiltrated into our area southeast of Manhoue, wounding one man of AT Co.
During the early morning of October 27, there was increased activity of horse-drawn wagons and carts in the Juree Woods, in Jallaucourt and Malaucourt, and on the road between. Repeated reports of horse carts along the German lines during the past few nights indicated that this was the principal means of transportation being used by the Germans in this sector.
At 0515 enemy smoke shells were fired into the draw to the front of Item Co and Love Co, but there was no further action by the Germans in the area. The 1/137 relieved the 2/137 at 1300, with Able Co moving into the right portion of the battalion’s lines in the Gremecey Forest, and Baker Co taking over on the left. Our artillery again fired leaflet concentrations across the German lines during the day. Seven concentrations were fired into the area from Fresnes to Aulnois.
At 1705 the enemy again began to lay smoke to the front of Item Co and Love Co, and in fifteen minutes the entire draw between Fossieux and Malaucourt was covered with smoke. Again there was no further action by the Germans in that area. At 2135, King Co wounded and captured a German paratrooper behind their lines. The prisoner claimed to have been hiding the past six weeks in our rear areas, and was trying to get back to his own lines at the time he was captured.
October 28 1944
Patrols from the 1/137 and 3/137 returned on the morning of October 28 with reports of the enemy digging in on the slope of the ridge and in the draw northwest of Jallaucourt. One patrol from Lovee Co reached the north edge of Malaucourt and found dug-in positions. They also found and cut a communications line. Returning from Malaucourt the patrol hit a booby trap or mine, wounding four of their party, including Lt Fredrick L. Bach.
At 0940, two Russians walked into the 1/137 area and reported themselves as prisoners who had escaped from the Germans. Three of them had slipped through German territory all the way from Metz where the Nazis had taken them to work, but one of their party had been killed in coming through the lines southwest of Fresnes. Leaflets were again shot over the German lines.
The 161-FAB fired three leaflet concentrations near Aulnois, two south of Oriocourt, and two west of Fresnes during the day. At 1005 three enemy mortar shells hit near an AT gun in our 1/137 area, but caused no damage. However, half an hour later six more rounds of mortar fire fell in the battalion area and wounded two men of the A&P Platoon. At 1450 five shells landed in Manhoue, one of them a dud. One man was wounded, bringing the total casualties for October 28 to eight men wounded.
October 29 1944
The Germans again shelled the 3/137 at 0300 the following morning, with ten rounds landing south of Manhoue. Again at 0330 the battalion reported shelling, with five rounds of 105-MM received near Ajoncourt. Our patrols were again behind the enemy lines, chiefly on the hunt for prisoners. Lt Constantine Mims, leading a patrol from King Co, returned at 0600 after having encountered two Germans at an outpost south of Aulnois. The Germans were evidently caught off guard, and did not have their weapons immediately at hand. Both withdrew far back into a covered dugout, and refused to surrender. Hoping to capture the men alive if at all possible, Lt Mims entered the dugout and attempted to drag the unwilling Germans out.
Within the close confines of the narrow dugout this proved to be very difficult, and it was decided to resort to some other means to take the men. Both were screaming and shouting, and one became hostile to such an extent that it was necessary to shoot him. The patrol then tore the top off the dugout, and Lt Mims again went in after the remaining German. Using Judo methods, he forced his burly captive out into the open, and the patrol started back with their prisoner.
However, the Germans’ excessive shouting and other noise had evidently been heard by their own men, and in a short distance the patrol was fired on by enemy machine guns. With their prisoner still with them, the patrol worked their way a few yards farther, and then released smoke grenades. The enemy again opened up with machine gun fire. The prisoner took this chance to turn and dash back through the smoke, in the face of his own men’s fire, to make his get-a-way. Our patrol slipped over the ridge to their front and returned intact. Other patrols crossed the Rau d’Osson, and were out for over eight hours, but observed no activity north of that stream. Two men of the regiment were reported wounded on October 29, both from artillery fire.
October 30 1944
At 0130, King Co again captured an enemy prisoner, from the vicinity of Aulnois. The German told of a new antitank gun called ‘Pupchen’ in Aulnois. This was described as a compact and easily-handled weapon with a barrel about a meter long, effective against tanks at two hundred meters and firing a shell similar to a mortar. It could also be used as an antipersonnel weapon with an effective range of seven hundred meters.
The Division reported decreased enemy artillery, mortar and flare activity on October 30. The only shelling in our own area was reported by Able Co. A German tank fired on their right outpost at 1130, and from 2200 to 2225 the company reported twenty-four rounds of mortar fire, all from the direction of Fresnes. The fire was ineffective and caused no damage.
The day was of special significance for forty men and four officers of the regiment who gained a well-earned trip from the combat area to Paris, as that city was placed ‘On Limits’ to soldiers and 48 hour passes authorized in limited numbers to combat troops. The first of these passes in the 137-IR were restricted to Pvts and Pfcs among the enlisted men, and Platoon Leaders among officers. At 0600, October 30, two men from each company of the regiment, with Lt Victor W. Schultz of Charlie Co, Lt Albert R. Krider Jr. of How Co, Lt Joseph F. Doherty of Item Co and Lt Howard S. Brown, Regimental Special Service Officer, departed for the French capital.
During the day two volunteers from Charlie Co, S/Sgt William L. Smith and Sgt Robert L. Deem, determined to bring in a German prisoner, obtained permission from the Regimental Commander to attempt to slip into Jallaucourt under cover of darkness, then await an opportunity to pick off one of the Germans in the town. The two men circled half way around Jallaucourt and approached from the northwest, but at the edge of the town were discovered and fired upon by the enemy, and were forced to pull out and return to our lines.
October 31 1944
At 0445, a German patrol reached the outskirts of Fossieux and fired what was believed to be a round from a bazooka gun into town. Love Co fired on another enemy patrol estimated at ten men, northeast of Fossieux, and it was believed they inflicted some casualties with mortar fire. A German ambulance was later observed in the vicinity, and upon searching the area after daylight the body of one dead German was found.
Aside from early patrol activity, October 31 was comparatively quiet. There were no casualties in the regiment, and no enemy shellfire was reported. Our own artillery continued its firing missions, and additional support was being provided by the guns of 737-TB and the 654-TDB. On the right of the 35-ID, the 26-Yankee-Division had succeeded in driving the enemy from the Moncourt Woods and were continuing their defense of the area south of Highway 74. The 80-ID remained on our left. The water level of the Seille continued to fall, and the river was back within its banks as far north as Ajoncourt.
As the month of October ended, the regiment lost its capable and well liked Regimental Commander of the past three months. Col Sears, who had assumed command of the 137-IR north of St Lô on July 25, received orders which took him away from the regiment that he had led all the way through its brilliant sweep across France. At midnight, on October 31, command of the 137-IR was officially assumed by Col William S. Murray, formerly of the 5-ID, already thoroughly familiar with the present campaign and a capable leader for the future operations of the regiment.
Awards to soldiers of the regiment for meritorious service and gallantry in action reached a new high in October, with a total of 203 during the month. Four officers, Lt Col Stowers, Capt Simpson, Capt Giacobello and Lt McCamey received the Oak Leaf Cluster to the Silver Star, after having already been decorated with the Silver Star Medal prior to this month.
Capt Trees and S/Sgt William L. Smith were decorated twice during October, both receiving the Bronze Star and the Oak Leaf Cluster. Capt Decker, Sgt Allan C. Allburty, and T/5 Paul D. Bahr and Harvey E. Parsons received the Oak Leaf Cluster to the Bronze Star.
Thirty-eight officers and enlisted men were awarded the Silver Star, including Lt Col Butler, Lt Col O’Connell, Capts Bothwell, Gray, Richardson, Robie, Myers and Stephens; Lts Cain, Diekman, Howard, Morris, Tichenor and Malmed; T/Sgt Gerald Jones; S/Sgts William V. Gegan, Meredith Hammers, Delbert J. Rathbun, Charles F. Salisbury, William I. Wagner, George J. Zimmerman and Harold E. Hudson; Sgts Robert H. Ady, Robin L. Finlay and Raymond Meir; T/5 Rudolph E. Buckner and Max E. Sawyer; Pfcs Class Russell I. Cook, Robert Ditmore, Thomas J. Murray, Ernest C. Pugh, Davic W. Simpson, John Slacter, William W. Southerland and John E. Tahany; and Pvts Francis G. Hansen, Wilbert Moretsky and Joe Smith.
Officers receiving the Bronze Star award during the month were : Maj Gleason; Capt Donnellan, Capt Friedman, Capt O’Connell, Capt Robinson, Capt Rodebaugh, Capt Ruff, Capt Scott and Capt Seberg; Lt Carlton, Lt Davy, Lt Fox, Lt Lynch, Lt McKenzie, Lt Parkhurst, Lt Reynolds, Lt Riggs, Lt Schuwerk, Lt Smith and Lt Cleveland; and CWO Mudge.
Among the enlisted men awarded the Bronze Star were : M/Sgt Chester V. Jackson and M/Sgt Wallace L. Webb; 1/Sgt Herman T. Ashmore, 1/Sgt Clarence R. Blair and 1/Sgt Roy J. Payne; T/Sgt Vernon L. Allbright, T/Sgt Paul W. Harder, T/Sgt Floyd H. Kaechele, T/Sgt Wilfred L. Lafferty, T/Sgt George A. Puskas, T/Sgt Garret A. Scott, T/Sgt George C. Steed, and T/Sgt William H. Sachs; S/Sgt Miriona Anderson, S/Sgt Lloyd E. Brown, S/Sgt Frank Buchholz, S/Sgt Clark E. Frost, S/Sgt Cleatus E. Gammill, S/Sgt David A. Goodell, S/Sgt Clyde A. Haas, S/Sgt Heredith H. Hammers, S/Sgt Ralph E. Hunt, S/Sgt Fred F. Johnson, S/Sgt Curtis M. Junkings, S/Sgt Eldon G. Kline, S/Sgt Merence J. Micheals, S/Sgt Lawrence W. Miller, S/Sgt Wilber D. Robuck, S/Sgt Lloyd W. Smith, S/Sgt John P. Tritsch, S/Sgt Orville K. Warner, S/Sgt Ernest M. Williams and S/Sgt Chester H. Wilson; Sgt Garra O. Cooper, Sgt Ernest H. Erickson, Sgt Gerald C. Exterline, Sgt Paul S. Flores, Sgt Garth E. Floria, Sgt Carl R. Hammond, Sgt Vivian F. Hoover, Sgt Charles Kovacs, Sgt Harry B. Mearing, Sgt Steven E. Nicholas, Sgt William I. Patee, Sgt George E. Trainham, and Sgt Robert L. Deem, T/4 Leroy Malecki and T/4 John J. Waldron, Cpl Richard J. Lange, Cpl Russell O. Milz, Cpl Ray H. Rawlings and Cpl James F. Wells, T/5 Ralph S. Ammerman, T/5 Clements J. Betzen, T/5 John L. Bungard, T/5 John G. Gamberone, T/5 Milton S. Hambelek, T/5 William F. Hughes, T/5 Jack W. Ogden, T/5 Alvin E. Snead, T/5 Leslie R. Vennard and T/5 John W. Wright were similarly recognized.
Others awarded the Bronze Star during October were : Pfc Vernon K. Anderson, Pfc Franklin M. Beaty, Pfc John M. Beving, Pfc Auleye R. Boyd, Pfc Leonard F. Bunselmeyer, Pfc Walter F. Cooney, Pfc Everett P. Dabbs, Pfc Louis B. Davis, Pfc Steve L. Elkins, Pfc Micheal P. Fircak, Pfc James M. Hau, Pfc Samuel R. Hawthorne, Pfc John J. Hayden, Pfc Andrew B. Heimerman, Pfc Dallas R. Henke, Pfc Henry H. Jordan, Pfc Glenn A. Kaegle, Pfc Richard K. Keeshan, Pfc Lewis J. Krail, Pfc Thomas E. Kurr, Pfc Arnold H. Link, Pfc Dell Logan, Pfc Eugene M. McDermott, Pfc Theodore Mattson, Pfc Arthur Martin, Pfc Burwell C. Mellum, Pfc Richard E. Moore, Pfc Thomas J. Murray, Pfc Joseph Oliva, Pfc Lawrence G. Pearce, Pfc Joseph A. Pirc, Pfc James S. Pogue, Pfc Richard Rankin, Pfc Joseph D. Smith, Pfc John L. Taylor, Pfc Elroy S. Teague, Pfc Clyde M. Thompson, Pfc Herbert E. Walls, Pfc Emery P. Woolery, Pfc James H. Cunningham, Pfc William M. Kehoe, Pfc Thomas J. Kane, Pfc R. C. Morgan and Pfc Roland J. David, Pvt U. M. Alexander, Pvt Ronald R. Boerst, Pvt Charles I. Broom, Pvt Harold Callahan, Pvt Kenneth M. Condon, Pvt Raymond A. Connell, Pvt Quitman B. Drake, Pvt Joseph F. Fedesco, Pvt Richard G. Flores, Pvt Richard D. Gerdes, Pvt Howard E. Hobbs, Pvt Wilfred B. Holton, Pvt Louis E. Jacobs, Pvt Troy G. Kay, Pvt John J. Kelley, Pvt Raymond P. Lukaszewski, Pvt Clarence E. Marshall, Pvt Raymond B. Myers, Pvt Chester T. Peters, Pvt Steven Senko Jr, Pvt Clarence F. Sheehan, Pvt Dan Smith, Pvt Gabriel T. Tufano, Pvt Ernst H. Loan, Pvt Eugene E. Marcoux and Pvt Rudolph J. Derganc.
W. S. MURRAY
For all purposes :
European Center of Military History
Gunter ‘Doc Snafu’ Gillot
rue des Thiers 8
Email : gunter [at] eucmh.be
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(NB : Published for Good – Mai 2019)