HQs 38th Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron (Mecz)
After Action Report Period 1-31 December 1944
Lt Col Robert E. O’Brien Jr
(Battle of the Bulge and Siegfried Line Campaign)
1 December 1944
The Squadron continued to defend in its assigned sector along the Siegfried Line, occupying a line of trenches, machine gun emplacements, light tank outposts, anti-tank positions and individual fighting holes. The zone included the town of Monschau, the eastern portion of Mutzenich; thence north, generally along the railroad to a point above the Konzen Station. Constant physical contact was maintained and fires were coordinated with the 102CRS on the left (North) and 395-IR (99ID) on the right (South). The troops were disposed from left to right (North to South) as follow :
3rd Plat F Co
1st Plat F Co
2nd Plat F Co
The Squadron Command Post (CP) was located in the Monschau Post Office building. The 2/60-IR and the 3/60-IR (9-ID) moved in the area in the afternoon and prepared to dig-in secondary defensive positions in support of the squadron. An unbroken MLR (Main Line of Resistance) was maintained employing machine guns Cal .50 (heavy) and Cal .30 (light), laid-in with grazing cross-fire on the final protective line and registered on range cards. These included the light tank positions using their Coaxial Light Machine Guns (Cal .30). Daily improvement of the warning trip flare system and the wiring-in of the entire front and all positions continued satisfactorily. In addition to the line of outposts troop maintained listening post well forward, which were manned during darkness and poor visibility. Security and combat patrols were dispatched regularly.
Interactive Map Centered on Monschau, Germany (B-258)
.50 Cal Ammunition
The Cal .50 cartridge (12,7-MM) was developed for use with the Browning .50 cal. heavy machine gun, in use since immediately after World War I. It has remained in use since as one of the main weapons for infantry, aircraft, armored vehicles, naval vessels and other applications of the versatile weapon. The heavy .50 cal. rounds were originally packed into wood .50 cal. boxes, later into steel chests or .50 cal. ammo cans. For aircraft and other platforms, the rounds are stored in special containers in the gun bays, almost always in long belts.
The .50 caliber Browning Heavy Machine Gun (BHMG) cartridge was developed following the First World War as a heavy machine gun cartridge. It was adopted by the US Army in 1923, and has been in continuous service since that time. The dimensions of the .50 cal M-2 Ball round are shown in the drawing from TM 43-0001-27, Army Ammunition Data Sheets, Small Arms). The 709 grain FMJ bullet is measured at 3050 fps for the M-2 Ball round in the M-2 machine gun (USMC data). The weight of 100 rounds of linked M-2 ball in ammunition can is approximately 35 pounds. The cartridge consists of a cartridge case, primer, propelling charge, and the bullet. There are more than 20 types of ammunition issued for use in the caliber .50 machine gun, color coded on the tip to enable identification of loose rounds, tabulated below. The ammunition is fed to the machine gun linked with the M-2 or M-9 metallic links in disintegrating belts.
Types of US Caliber 50 Cartridges
This listing includes most of the types used by the US military forces; Air Sea Ground
Cartridge, Caliber .50, Ball HPR-T M-1
Cartridge, Caliber .50, Blank M-1 (no bullet, crimped)
Cartridge, Caliber .50, Inc M-1 (blue tip)
Cartridge, Caliber .50, Tracer M-1 (red, maroon, or orange tip)
Cartridge, Caliber .50, Blank M-1A1 (no bullet, crimped)
Cartridge, Caliber .50, Ball M-2
Cartridge, Caliber .50, Ball AP M-2 (black tip)
Cartridge, Dummy, Caliber .50, M-2 (holes in case)
Cartridge, Caliber .50, Ball API M-8 (aluminum tip)
Cartridge, Caliber .50, Tracer M-10 (red, maroon, or orange tip)
Cartridge, Caliber .50, Tracer M-17 (red, maroon, or orange tip)
Cartridge, Caliber .50, Ball API/T M-20 (red ring/aluminum tip)
Cartridge, Caliber .50, Inc M-23 (blue tip)
Cartridge, Caliber .50, Ball M-33
Cartridge, Caliber .50, Ball SPT M-48A1
Cartridge, Caliber .50, Ball SPT M-48A2
Cartridge, Caliber .50, Ball PPrac M-858
Cartridge, Caliber .50, Ball PPracT, M-860
Cartridge, Caliber .50, Ball SLAP M-903 (plastic sleeve on projectile)
Cartridge, Caliber .50, Ball SLAP-T M-962
Cartridge, Caliber .50, Ball Prac T-249E2
Cartridge, Caliber .50, Ball High Pressure Test T-251
Cartridge, Caliber .50, API MK-211 MOD 0
– AP Armor Piercing
– API Armor Piercing Incendiary
– API-T Armor Piercing Incendiary with Tracer
– HPrT High Pressure Test
– HPrT-T High Pressure Test with Tracer
– PPrac Plastic Practice
– PPrac-T Plastic Practice with Tracer
– SPT Spotter with Tracer
– SLAP Saboted Light Armor Penetrator
– SLAPT Saboted Light Armor Penetrator with Tracer
The Browning Heavy Machine Gun Cal .50 M-2 has varying cyclic rates of fire, depending upon the model. The M-2HB (heavy barrel) air-cooled ground gun has a cyclic rate of 450-575 rounds per minute. The early M-2 water-cooled AA guns had a cyclic rate of around 450–600 rpm. The AN/M-2 aircraft gun has a cyclic rate of 750–850 rpm; this increases to 1,200 rpm or more for AN/M-3 aircraft guns fitted with electric or mechanical feed boost mechanisms. These maximum rates of fire are generally not achieved in use, as sustained fire at that rate will wear out the bore within a few thousand rounds, necessitating replacement. For the M-2HB, slow fire is less than 40 rounds per minute and rapid fire more than 40 rounds per minute.
The M-2 has an effective range of 1,830 meters (2,000 yd) and a maximum effective range of 2,000 meters (2,200 yd) when fired from the M-3 tripod. In its ground-portable, crew-served role as the M-2HB, the gun itself weighs in at a hefty 84 pounds (38 kg), and the assembled M-3 tripod another 44 pounds (20 kg). In this configuration, the V-shaped “butterfly” trigger is located at the very rear of the weapon, with a “spade handle” hand-grip on either side of it and the bolt release the center. The spade handles are gripped and the butterfly trigger is depressed with one or both thumbs. Recently new rear buffer assemblies have used squeeze triggers mounted to the hand grips, doing away with the butterfly triggers. When the bolt release is locked down by the bolt latch release lock on the buffer tube sleeve, the gun functions in fully automatic mode. Conversely, the bolt release can be unlocked into the up position resulting in single-shot firing (the gunner must press the bolt latch release to send the bolt forward). Unlike virtually all other modern machine guns, it has no safety (although a sliding safety switch has recently been fielded to USMC armorers for installation on their weapons). Troops in the field have been known to add an improvised safety measure against accidental firing by slipping an expended shell casing under the butterfly trigger. Twin M-2HB .50 caliber machine gun during a Pre-aimed Calibration Fire (PACFIRE) exercise. Because the M-2 was intentionally designed to operate in many configurations, it can be adapted to feed from the left or right side of the weapon by exchanging the belt-holding pawls, and the front and rear cartridge stops (three-piece set to include link stripper), then reversing the bolt switch. The operator must also convert the top-cover belt feed slide assembly from left to right hand feed as well as the spring and plunger in the feed arm. This will take a well trained individual less than two minutes to perform. The charging assembly may be changed from left to right hand charge. A right hand charging handle spring, lock wire and a little know how are all that are required to accomplish this. The M2 can be battle ready and easily interchanged if it is preemptively fitted with a retracting slide assembly on both sides of the weapon system. This eliminates the need to have the weapon removed from service to accomplish this task.
The terrain in the squadron’s sector consisted of a series of deep, rocky draws on the right running generally east and northeast and diminishing in depth toward the north into rolling country. The main line of resistance was devoid of woods and overlooked a country of fields bounded by hedgerows which offered concealment but little cover. The central portion of the line in the B Troop area was backed up by dense forest rendering vehicular operation practically impossible and the established road required constant maintenance by the attached engineer platoon. The elaborate wire communication system, supported by radio, linked all units and outposts and tied-in with the headquarters of V Corps, 102nd Cavalry Group, supporting artillery and adjacent units. M/Sgt George Cassateri was transferred to Squadron Hqs as communications chief and S/Sgt Henry Hill went to Troop C as communication sergeant. With its attached platoon of self-propelled TDs from C/893-TDB in anti-mechanization positions in the vicinity of the Konzen Station – Entenpfuhl (B-258 along the Belgian border), Troop A was disposed with its 1st platoon in contact with B Troop, 102nd Cavalry Squadron on the north; the 3rd platoon in the center; and the 2nd platoon on the right. A night listening post was manned at (961255). The troop command post operated well forward in a house at (949235). A four man listening post patrol led by Sgt Coombs left at 2100 advancing along an assigned route to (9606235), there remaining in observation on pillbox at (9606235) and returning at 2400 without having seen or heard any German activity.
The 2/60-IR moved in to the rear of the troop and began digging in. B Troop was dug-in with its 3rd platoon on the left, tying-in with A Troop, 1st platoon in the center and 2nd platoon on the right. The Command Post occupied a house on the Mutzenich – Monschau highway (932201). A night listening post was maintained at (942201). A daylight reconnaissance patrol of seven men led by Cpl Borsello proceeded to investigate a pillbox at (948218). Reaching a point 15 yards to the right of their objective, they were fired on by small arms, first from the pillbox then from their front and right front. In withdrawing under this terrific cross-fire they managed to locate five enemy positions. Suffering only on slight casualty they avoided a flanking patrol and returned under supporting artillery and direct 37-MM and .50 cal machine gun fire from their platoon positions at (938218). T/4 Ballantone distinguished himself by ably assisting the exhausted radioman and, at the risk of his life, carried his radio and equipment to safety. T/5 Buchman and Pvt Chernock were each credited with killing a German. Commencing at 1430 the 3/60-IR moved in behind Troop B to lend support.
Overlooking the enemy held town of Menzerath and the draw to its immediate front C Troop occupied a line of trenches on the hill above Monschau with its 3rd platoon on the left, tying-in with the 1st platoon F Co : its 2nd platoon in the center and its 1st platoon on the right (South). The CP occupied a house in the town directly below at (942184). An ambush was maintained throughout the night of November 30 at (949190). Patrolling was limited in this sector due to the barren terrain almost devoid of concealment. During the 24 hour period the six 75-MM howitzer assault guns of E Troop fired 645 rounds from their battery emplacements in Mutzenich (908187). Adjustments on their fire missions were sensed by units of the line, by their own observation posts at (931208), (947187), (943182) and by a post in charge of Sgt Poll and a crew from C Troop with the 395-IR (99th ID) at Höfen (945177). Attached to the 102nd Cavalry Group, the 62-AFAB continued to lend the support of its 105-MM concentrations which were coordinated by the Squadron S-3. At 1220 the FA observation plane was fired upon without effect by small arms from the vicinity of Konzen.
F Co continued to outpost the approaches to the town of Monschau from the North, East and South, using its light tanks in, mutually supporting, concealed positions. The two attached SP tank destroyers were positioned in vicinity of the railroad station. The company headquarters operated from a house near the town hall with excellent motor maintenance accommodations nearby. One daylight patrol of 3 men under Sgt Petrucci reconnoitered Stillbusch (crossroad K-16 Kirschensteinweeg – Hengsbruchelchen) as far (945205) and (945204) without incident. A seven men patrol under S/Sgt Lindquist again remained in observation of Stillbusch all night and examined the grounds and houses at first light without detecting signs of German occupancy.
The attached A Co, 3rd platoon, 112th Engineer Combat Battalion assisted all troops in placing and maintaining warning trip flares and in laying concertina wire along the entire front and around the outpost positions. Several German mortar and artillery shells were removed and destroyed. It also continued to maintain the road net in the Squadron area. The Squadron Medical Detachment continued to function in its routine duties of sick call and the care of the sick in quarters at the infirmary adjacent to the Squadron command post in Monschau. Headquarters and Service Troop (Rear Echelon) carried on with the administration, motor maintenance and supply of the Squadron from its base on the outskirts of Eupen, Belgium.
2-15 December 1944
The Squadron defended along the Siefgried Line, making no changes in the positions of its subordinate units except to improve emplacements for better fields of fire and to strengthen the Main Line of Resistance. Most of the work of laying concertina wire, warning flares and building up defenses had to be done under cover of darkness because of excellent visibility. All machine guns on the line were periodically test fired. On the afternoon of Dec 3, 40 to 50 aircraft of the ME-109 (Messerschmidt 109) and FW-190 (Fockwulf 190) type ranged throughout the squadron sector, strafing, bombing and shooting rockets, but causing absolutely no damage to personnel or material. It was observed that even though no enemy targets had appeared in several months, the local AAA units proved to be efficiently alert and immediately opened fire on the low flying planes. This attack resulted in many losses to the enemy and was excellent demonstration of the growing inefficiency of the Luftwaffe.
The 2/60-IR and 3/60-IR dug-in behind A and B Troops. The B Troop line was greatly strengthened by overlapping position of the 2nd Bn but the 3rd Bn’s support line was some distance to the rear of A Troop. On Dec 6 the 2/60-IR was relieved in position by the 2/16-IR (1-ID). B Troop reverted to its original responsibility when the 16-IR moved out on Dec 13. Contact was maintained with the 78-ID as well as with the 102nd Cavalry Squadron to the north and, in addition to Lt Peterfreund from the 99-ID, Lt Wilson reported the 2-ID to the south. Lt Peterfreund was replaced on Dec 12 by Lt Hare from I Co. Capt Scott reported as liaison officer from the 6-FAB and 7-FAB (1-ID) but he and their support were removed after three days. Capt Hazeltine, who remained as representative from the supporting 62-AFAB, lent valuable assistance in coordinating the fire of all artillery. Lt Dickson of A Troop remained with the 310-IR as radio liaison officer during the attack by the 78-ID to Kesternich.
Extensive instruction in the 81-MM mortar was conducted by the reconnaissance troops, including increasingly accurate practice firing on enemy targets which caused known casualties and damage. Lt Dickson supervised the training in A Troop. B Troop had the added assistance of mortar platoon sergeant of the 395-IR also assisted Lt O’Brien in C Troop. Personnel of the headquarters platoons were included in all the training and manned mortars in vicinity of the troop command posts. During the period, 643 rounds of enemy artillery and mortar were reported to have fallen in the Squadron zone causing few casualties or little damage. Realizing the importance for rapid submission of “Shell-Reps”, all personnel were constantly alert to pick up pertinent information. “Diver Reps” were also submitted on Robot Bombs. Improvements in the protection of personnel, tires and other material was constant. On the 2nd T/5 Nuay, the China-born Squadron draftsman, was wounded by a mortar shell in the command post and was evacuated. A Troop remained in contact with B Troop, 102nd Cavalry Squadron on the left. One night listening post patrol went to the vicinity of (962225) on Dec 3. On the night of Dec 4, Cpl Leone took a patrol of four men to the houses at (94702250) and (94952240), and without being observed determined that they were enemy occupied. Again on Dec 5 a patrol of 4 men under Sgt Schulse examined the pillbox at (954225) and found it to have been demolished by a unit previously occupying the area. With the mission of reporting on the pillbox at (961238), a patrol under Sgt Turner proceeded there under cover of darkness and upon returning without incident, reported the pillbox was constructed with the entrance on the southwest side and gun ports on the north, south and southeast. Cpl Pace took a midnight patrol on Dec 8 which observed German activity in a house at (947226). A German deserter surrendered at (955229) on Dec 10. On the night of Dec 11, Sgt Abrams and 3 men established a listening post at (959230). Sgt Schulse was credited with hitting a German with one shot as he crossed the Konzen highway. On Dec 16 S/Sgt Briglie went out with three men before dawn to investigate a reported anti-tank ditch across the highway at Konzen. At first light they arrived at the designated spot and found the report to be in error. They were suddenly observed and came under aimed small arms and machine gun fire which dispersed them. S/Sgt Briglie returned, wounded by a hand grenade, and reported he knew nothing of the whereabouts of the other three men. Later the same night Fedak, Garoia and Lapa returned. They had been in hiding all day in the cellar of a house (952223) while Germans came and went upstairs.
On the night of Dec 2, Lt Portorfields’s 1st platoon of B Troop laid machine gun fire on a section of Konzen known to be occupied by the enemy. This was followed shortly by a time-on-target concentration fired by both E Troop and the 62-FAB. The intent was to arouse the German’s curiosity and cause him to leave his shelter to investigate the machine gun fire, then to kill him with a powerful artillery blow. Due to darkness, the results were unknown except for scattered small arms fire in return. On Dec 8, T/5 Misch and a daylight patrol found that the pillbox overprinted on the 1/26,000 map at (943206) was nothing but a large rock. On the same night a patrol under Sgt Rusen with 7 of his own men and engineer mine seeping team, swept the roads up to (943207) without finding mines or meeting enemy. Due to the effect of buried shrapnel on the mine detector, the operation was quite lengthy and tedious. On Dec 10, Cpl Sousa took out a night listening post patrol to (947224) where enemy activity and voices were clearly heard. On Dec 14, a section of Tank Destroyers were attached to the 2nd platoon and put into position. On the same day S/Sgt Whittard was lightly wounded but not evacuated, when an artillery shell hit his house command post. The B Troop commander, Lt Joseph R. Sain, was promoted to the rank of Capt on Dec 7.
C Troop continued to defend from its trenches on top of the Hills surrounding Monschau. On the night of Dec 2, a machine gun position was moved forward to (94501850) and dug-in. On Dec 5, three C Troopers in charge of an engineer Sergeant went out to fix warning flares on concertina wire. The Sergeant accidentally tripped a friendly booby trap wounding the entire patrol to the extent that the Sergeant, T/5 Jordan and Pvt Nemeth had to be evacuated. After medical treatment Pvt Dunlap was able to return to duty. Sniper fire increased daily causing no damage until Dec 12, when Pvt La Fazia was wounded while entering a dugout. Listening posts continued in operation well forward of the Main Line of Resistance. On Dec 15, T/5 Van Order and T/5 Anderson volunteered to go out and get the sniper. Before dawn they departed on their mission with T/5 Anderson carrying an SCR-300 radio and by first light were in position at (952187). As the Germans came down a trail carrying his rifle, T/5 Van Order hit him at 100 yards with one shot. Both men then carried the wounded prisoner to the bottom of the stoop hill into Monschau but he died before receiving medical attention. They then volunteered to return to the ambush and await anyone who might come looking for the sniper. They waited all day in vain and returned under cover of darkness. The sniping, which had wounded an officer and two men, thereafter ceased. Lt James Farmer, formerly of B Troop, returned from hospital after recovery from wounds and was assigned as Executive Officer of C Troop.
From its battery positions in Mutzenich, E Troop fired 2548 rounds during the period on fire missions observed by its own forward Ops and those of the 62-FAB and outposts of units on the line. Unobserved harassing missions were executed nightly. With the helpful cooperation of Capt Hazoltine, the liaison officer from the 62-FAB, the service of their Piper Cub observation plane was made available to the Squadron and on several occasions it adjusted fire missions for E Troop using direct radio communication. On Dec 5, at the request of F Co, fire was adjusted upon a self-propelled weapon firing HE directly at F Co positions. The gun was silenced. On the same day S/Sgt Zuckoff at CP #1 adjusted on Germans digging-in at (955017) and five casualties were definitely observed. On Dec 7, the first close counter-battery fire was received, two rounds exploding between gun positions without causing damage or casualties. Large caliber friendly batteries began to move in and take up positions on Dec 12. For artillery, they moved well forward, one battalion of 155-MM howitzers setting up behind Monschau at (935188), in the front of the C Troop’s mortars. During Dec 13, a troop CP adjusted a mission on enemy infantry west of Roetgen with air bursts followed by ground effect, completely dispersing the personnel. An estimated 20 to 25 casualties were inflicted and six litter teams were seen in operation. A battery of 155-MM Long Toms set up behind the command post and, in supporting units to the north, broke all the windows in the area. On Dec 5, 1/Sgt Loak and his driver narrowly escaped injury when their bantam was hit by a 150-MM shell while they took cover in a ditch along the highway in Mutzenich. During the period F Co kept the Stillbusch draw and its environs constantly under surveillance by day and night patrols, none of which contacted enemy. On Dec 9, Pfc Seitz led a patrol to (949199) where they discovered a pillbox to be unoccupied. Another patrol under Sgt Petrucci, on Dec 16, reconnoitered beyond the winding road to (945193). Due to the character of the terrain and the proximity of enemy occupied pillboxes and emplacements, patrolling in the Monschau draw was limited to listening posts. Lt Jack and Pvt Douvris were wounded by a sniper on Dec 16. This marksman, who had also deliberately killed a seven year old German girl, is believed to be the same sniper that was brought in by T/5 Van Order and T/5 Anderson of C Troop on Dec 16. Lt Jack had been evacuated once before during the Normandy breakthrough. The Squadron Medical Detachment continued to operate its infirmary in Monschau. During the period the battle casualties treated consisted of twelve wounded. Several civilians were also treated for wounds resulting from the German shelling. On Dec 12, the inoculation of the entire Squadron against Typhus was accomplished. The various sections of Headquarters and Service Troop (Rear Echelon) continued to efficiently operate in their duties of servicing the Squadron. Except for several enemy planes over their bivouac on Dec 3, no activity was reported.
On the night of Dec 15/16 1944, numbers of large enemy planes were heard over the Squadron sector, and reports of paratroops being dropped in rear areas began to come in from higher headquarters. On this same night, it was decided to increase the barbed wire and flare field in the deep draw south east of Monschau (K945185), which was defended by the 2nd Plat, F Co. At 0200, E Troop placed a twenty minute concentration on the Menzerath Hills using 180 rounds out the night to complete task, retiring through the F Co tank positions at 0445 on the morning of Dec 16 1944. There was no activity of any kind for the next forty-five minutes. 16 December 1944 : Without warning, at 0525, the entire squadron front was subjected to a terrific barrage of artillery, mortar and rocket-fire. A series of “time on target” concentrations, starting on the main line of resistance, rolled on back to the artillery installations three thousand yards or more to the rear. An estimated two hundred (200) rounds fell in the immediate vicinity of the Squadron command post, and the main supply route, Monschau – Eupen road, received and followed, throughout the day, by severe interdiction and harassing fires as well as concentrations on our known emplacements. Obviously the enemy was attempting to isolate the Monschau area by fire, and this in itself was a tip-off for the attack which followed. All telephone communications were thoroughly disrupted with the first hail of enemy shells, and the Squadron went on the air. Lines crews, made up of volunteer radio operators and electricians, were out and working on the severed wires, long before the artillery had lifted. T/5 Hanson and Carducci, from the Hqs Plat of B Troop, raced back from Mutzenich to the Assault Gun Battery, their vehicle torn by shell fragments, to restore vital communications with the guns. For a brief period, A Troop, five thousand (5000) yards to the north, was kept in contact by a lone operator, T/4 Ruggiere, B Troop, who stuck to his radio car to relay traffic in spite of the continuous shelling which literally rocked his vehicle. At approximately 0600, the enemy artillery fire lessened and all units, now thoroughly alert, waited in the last remaining hours of darkness for the expected enemy attack. At 0605, S/Sgt Bielicki, commanding the 2nd Plat, F Co, reported hearing the noise of enemy movement in force in the Menzerath Hills, and on the Rohren and Hammer Roads.
At 0615 came word from A Troop of an enemy attack on the positions of the 78-ID in Kesternich. Simultaneously, the 2nd Plat, F Co, was attacked by three platoons of the 3.-Company, 1.-Battalion, 751.-Regiment of the 326.-Volksgrenadier Division. Despite the severe shelling he had just received, and the fact that all wire communication to his widely separated tank section had gone out. Given only a few minutes warning of the enemy’s approach, he found time to report his troop headquarters and to coordinate the following plan within his platoon, all guns and tanks were manned, but fire was to be held, the enemy was to be allowed to approach to the very outposts when, upon the signal burst from his (the S/Sgt’s) gun, all positions would open fire. 37-MM tank guns were loaded with canister and the men united. As the leading elements of the German infantry reached the outer perimeter of the platoon’s wire, a ground flare was tripped. All weapons commenced firing instantly, and illuminating shells from a 60-MM mortar lit up the entire area. In the resulting light the enemy was soon to be in headlong retreat, back along the Rohren and Hofen roads. C Troop, on the left flank of this section, placed 81-MM mortar fire on the routes of withdrawal and artillery defensive fires were called for and maintained until daylight. 1/Lt Pepper, troop executive officer, brought reinforcements to the platoon from company headquarters and, at 0745, the enemy counterattacked from the dense cover of the Menzerath Hill. Due to superior numbers and the most aggressive section, the enemy was partly successful in infiltrations between the two tank sections, following the bed of the Roer River.
As the enemy build up in thin wedge increased, endangering the flanks of the platoon’s positions, Sgt Messane, a tank commander, seized a light machine gun and bravely exposing himself to the enemy fire, placed it in action to close the gap. He was immediately reinforced, and the enemy repulsed. German casualties as a result of these two actions were severe (estimated at thirty two) but, due to the continued conflict in this area for the succeeding forty eight hours, could not be accurately counted. The nearest enemy dead, as a result of the first attack, had fallen only fifty (50) yards from the platoon outposts (13 in number, counted by S/Sgt Bielicki and his section sergeant), others were seen on the roads, up to two hundred (200) yards distant, including wounded who were evacuated during the second attack. Two prisoners were taken.
At 0830, concurrent with the above section, C Troop observed enemy, in about company strength, seven hundred (700) yards to their front. This appeared to be an attempt to build up a line along the dragons teeth in the vicinity of (K948195). Machine gun fire, from the trenches, and supporting artillery affectively dispersed this force, inflicting several observed casualties. At the same time, enemy activity was observed about the farm known as StillBusch (K945205). It was believed that mortars were being put into place and Lt Kots sent a patrol from the 1st platoon, F Co, to investigate. This patrol met and drove off a German patrol, capturing one prisoner from the 1.-Battalion, 751.-Regiment, 326.-Division. Enemy activity centered on F Co and C Troop fronts for the balance of the day, with B and A Troops reporting small patrols operating on their fronts. Artillery continued to harass our lines, and the area east of Monschau was subjected to continual machine gun and sniper firing. Snipers became particularly dangerous in the deep ravines about Merzerath Hill, where the dense cover provided ample protection. One German rifleman was eliminated in a daring one man patrol by an F Co tank driver, T/5 Lucore, who volunteered for the mission when all other efforts had failed. For his gallantry in this action, T/4 Lucore has been recommended for award of the British Military Medal.
At 1015 it was ascertained that retreating enemy, from the first attack of the morning, had holed up in a group of buildings on the Rohren Road. Tank Destroyers (M-10), which had been brought up to support the 2nd platoon of F Co, placed direct fire on these targets and caused on unusually large explosion, which blew out the sides of the house. Results could not be ascertained but, at 1115, a large group of enemy, estimated to be from sixty (60) to eighty (80) men were caught in the open at (K954177) and placed under effective artillery fire. Casualties were observed, but could not be accurately counted. Later in the day, three Germans who had been thought to be dead were observed moving in front of the platoon. T/4 Steiner called upon them to surrender, but fired upon. In the resulting fire fight, all three Germans were killed. At 1130, a C Troop outpost, under command of Cpl Paul J. Ridge, captured one German at (K947188). At 1455 an enemy patrol was observed by B Troop in the vicinity of (K950198). One of the Germans was killed and the rest withdrew before further action could be taken. A Troop repulsed several patrols, taking two NCO prisoners when they shook out of a haystack with hand grenades. They were members of a reconnaissance party from the 2.-Company, 751.-Regiment 326.-Division and were sent to headquarters of the 102nd Cavalry Group for interrogation.
Throughout the afternoon, observation and out-posts reported the enemy loading pillboxes. Prisoner of war statements indicated that the attack of the morning had been in battalion strength and, because enemy patrols were composed of officers or senior non-commissioned officers, it was believed that these were reconnaissance patrols preliminary to a large scale attack. At 1240, immediate reinforcement was requested of the 102nd Cavalry Group. For the night of Dec 16/17 1944, our patrol activity was increased and additional listening posts were put well out in front of all troops. Two additional armored cars, with crews, were brought from the Squadron rear echelon in Eupen to supplement the command post security in Monschau. Capt Robert Marvel, CO Headquarters and Service Troop, was assigned as commander of a V Corps security area, with the mission of coordinating the security of certain road nets, bridges and towns in the Corps rear areas; in addition, armored car patrols were maintained on the roads west of Corps Headquarters. Six (6) machine guns and crews, furnished by the 186-FAB and attached tank destroyers, were attached to F Co. The guns were put into position at dusk in support of the 2nd Plat; two in school building at (K945135); and four between the platoon right flank and the 395-IR, in the vicinity of (K944181). The Squadron suffered seven (7) casualties on this date. Six prisoners (all of the 751/326.-Division) were taken and in excess of fifty (known) casualties inflicted. E Troop fired thirty two (32) missions and seven hundred and sixty rounds in support of the Squadron during the twenty four hour period.
At about 1700, Capt Ball, commander of A Co, 146th Engineer Combat Battalion, reported to the Squadron Headquarters. He was given his mission and proceeded with Capt Meyer in a radio halftrack to his company which was mounted and waiting at (989202) on the Eupen highway. A guide was assigned from B Troop to the 2nd Plat and one from C Troop to the 3rd Plat, and both proceeded to reinforce those units. Capt Hall took his headquarters to the Squadron command post and Capt Meyer led the 1st Plat under Lt Anderson to (938187) where they dug in on the hill to the west of Monschau. The personnel and three heavy machine guns were positioned with the excellent fields of fire overlooking the draw to their right flank, Höfen Hill to their right front; the draw occupied by F Co and Monschau Hill occupied by C Troop to their direct front; the dragons teeth to their left front; and the Stillbush draw to their left flank. To prevent detection when daylight appeared, the emplacements were camouflaged with snow and brush. Ammunition and rations were provided. In the meantime at 2000 Capt Meyer placed his half-truck behind the hill near the C Troop mortar battery (934187) and the radio operators reported into the 102nd Cavalry Group and the Squadron nets, thereby establishing an alternate command post.
December 17 : The night of 16/17 December was marked by unusual enemy air activity, accompanied by the use of many and varied types of pyrotechnics. Artillery continued to fall in the sector and many robot bombs passed overhead. As many as five searchlights lit up the Mutzenich Hill and Imgenbroich. Several reports were received from higher headquarters of enemy paratroopers being dropped in areas both north and south of the Squadron sector. Large, low flying enemy planes passed over all troops, flying from east to west and returning same dropped flares and others carried wing lights. The enemy did not attempt to penetrate our lines during the hours of darkness, although indications of movement beyond our listening posts were reported. Heavy interdiction and harassing fires were maintained by our artillery throughout the night. At about 0400, T/4 Anderson, in charge of a C Troop listening posts at (K948189], reported a large body of enemy (estimated to be sixty or seventy) moving southwest into the draw from Menzerath. In the dark, the Germans were almost on top of the listening post before they were detected. A fire fight developed and T/5 Anderson called for and adjusted artillery on the enemy which forced them to withdraw into Menzerath. Casualties inflicted could not be counted, but cries of wounded were heard in the draw until daylight. At 0650, C Troop reported the noised of considerable movement in Menzerath. At 0650 the enemy attacked. Accompanied by a repetition of the previous day’s preparation barrages, a company of the enemy attempted to drive a wedge into Lt Cullinan’s 3rd Plat positions, of F Co, on the railroad cut at (K938197), in an effort to out the Squadron main supply route at the railroad junction and thus isolate the town of Monschau. This effort proved to be the advance elements of the regimental attack which was launched on Monschau and the Mutzenich Hill. Simultaneously, all troop fronts were subjected to severe small arms fire in addition to the heavy artillery concentration. The C Troop mortar positions and the alternate command post half-track at (934187) came under a direct 50-MM round mortar concentration at this time, despite the fact that they were defiladed in a draw with unusually steep sides.
Between 0700 and 0715, the 3rd Plat, F Co was engaged in a fierce fire fight. Employing all tank weapons as well as artillery support, they finally succeeded in driving the attackers back into the ravine at (K940220) with heavy losses. Eleven (11) enemy dead were counted at the railroad cut and in the ravine by S/Sgt Lindquist, as a result of this action. Two Germans, who had been pinned down by machine gun fire at the railroad embankment, were captured and brought in by Sgt Strubble and Pvt Terrell. Upon withdrawing, the balance of the enemy split into two groups; one proceeding up the draw to the north, and the other south, towards Monschau. The record wave of the German attack had come up, however, and at about 0800 commenced the assault of the hight ground in Mutzenich. They were engaged by the 1st and 2nd platoons of B Troop, who defended positions along a line of over two thousand (2000) yards from (K930203) to (K936220). The 3rd Plat, F Co continued to lend support by firing with their tanks along the line of the railroad tracks, to the north.
At 0800, the enemy attacked from the draw at the hairpin turn (K941199) and down the “Snake road” from Imgenbroich (K946197) in company strength. Both forces were engaged by Lt Ketz with the 1st Plat, F Co and the left flank of the C Troop trenches. Simultaneously, the C Troop listening post at (K949189) manned by T/5 Anderson and Van Order which had reported the enemy concentration at 0400, observed about twenty five (25) Germans crossing the draw from Menzerath towards their troop front. Artillery was placed on this latter group immediately, effectively dispersing them and inflicting a few known casualties. Meanwhile, the fight in the deep ravine, north of Monschau and along the “snake road”, became an enemy debacle. In addition to the artillery supporting fire, light tanks and .50 cal machine guns from the C Troop trenches all delivered a terrific fire at the enemy advancing through this canalized approach. Company F’s attached tank destroyers were employed to fire directly into the buildings along this road, denying their use to the enemy. Anti-aircraft batteries, in position on the hill north of the railroad junction (K937197), were contacted by Capt Meyer, assistant S-3, and delivered overhead fire along the dragons teeth, across the top of the C Troop trenches. An enemy build up which had commenced along the left flank of C Troop was thus driven back with heavy casualties. Also during this engagement, enemy concentrating in the vicinity of Stillbusch (K944202) and in the woods at (K940208) were taken under long range machine gun fire by the 1st and 3rd tank Plats. E Troop fired counter battery on and destroyed an enemy self propelled gun which had moved forward from Imgenbroich to a position at (K954204). The 1st Plat, F Co, took seven (7) prisoners at the blown bridge (K942196) who had been pinned down by their tank fire surrendered. Also at 0600, enemy paratroopers became active behind our lines. A number of chutes were found in troop rear areas and headquarters platoon were organized for patrols and all around defense. Although it was later learned that approximately one battalion of Col Von der Heydte’s paratroop regiment had been dropped in the woods in the rear of the Squadron sector, only one attack in force materialized from this threat. As the large scale assault was developing on the B Troop front, an estimated platoon of paratroopers struck at the rear of the Troop’s 3rd platoon position (K935229).
Forced to draw on his already lightly held MLR, the platoon commander organized a combat patrol under Sgt Becker, which entered the dense forest in this area and, flanking the Germans, drove them to the south. One casualty and prisoner taken, who confirmed the unit identification. At 0830, the 2nd Plat, F Co, repulsed a strong patrol which approached from the Menzerath Hill. One prisoner was taken and two battalions of the 751.-Regiment were now identified on the Squadron front. Accurate enemy shelling continued to fall on the platoon positions during the balance of the day. By 0900, the attack had built in full battalion strength on the B Troop front, the Troop Commander, Capt Joseph Sain requested tank support. A section of light tanks under Sgt Petruci was dispatched and placed in support of the 2nd Plat. The enemy continued to maintain constant pressure on the 3rd Plat, F Co and commenced to infiltrate among the B Troop outposts from the draw at (K941203). C Troop and forward observers continued to place artillery and mortars an enemy reserve forces concentrating in the Menzerath and Imgenbroich areas at (K947193), (K951191), (K948196) and (K938197) observed an enemy mortar 900 yards to the left front, and put it out of action with 37-MM fire. At 0930, the situation in the B Troop sector grew critical, and the Squadron Commander left the command post, then under artillery fire, to give the threatened enemy break through his personal attention. At 0939, tank destroyers in support of B Troop right flank positions reported the enemy closing in the area (K9320). At this same time, infiltration of about sixty five was confirmed by the 1st and 2nd Plats of B Troop, and a message sent to headquarters 102nd Cavalry Group reporting infiltration in the south sector and requesting help.
At 0950, the 955-FAO post at (K93052110) reported their position surrounded and that they were destroying their equipment. The 62-AFAO post at (K93052050) was also forced to abandon their position to avoid being overrun by the attacking infantry. It was later learned that the 17-FAO observation post at (K930217) had been taken by the Germans, who killed one of the observers and seriously wounded another before passing through the position. The first (center) platoon of Troop B continued to hold to the front and attacked to protect their open, right flank by a combat patrol led by Sgt Rusen, which engaged the enemy break through on their South. The second (right) platoon, finding themselves hopefully out flanked on their left, employed their light tanks and armored cars to face the enemy on their North, between their positions and the 1st platoon. A four man (Privates Bottini, Lewis, MacDonald and Jacobs) machine gun outpost at (K 933209) was completely surrounded and forced to take cover, from flanking fire, in a nearby home.
At 0945 Maj Edgerton, Squadron S-3, ordered Capt Meyer to take the 1st platoon of the Engineers to reinforce Troop B. They were brought down from their positions on the hill (K933187) and proceeded in two trucks, using the road towards the Mutzenich church because of small arms fire heard in vicinity of the railroad crossing (K937195) along the shorter route. They turned right on the highway and as they rode through a dense cloud of black smoke given off by three vehicles burning alongside the church, they came under a heavy enemy artillery concentration which burst on the road and on both sides, but which inflicted no damage or casualties. At 1010 Capt Meyer arrived at the B Troop CP with the platoon ready for action. From 1000 to 1030, observers caught supporting waves of enemy infantry advancing from Imgenbroich in the vicinity of (K957198) and (K952197). This advance was broken up by the fire of the 62nd Armored Field Artillery Bn; casualties being observed at (K947198). Also at 1000, the enemy succeeded in cutting the Monschau – Eupen road at the hairpin turn above Monschau (K941198), and a small force actually placed a machine gun in motion on the high bank overlooking the road at (K94001975). This was eliminated by Sgt Martin and a four man patrol from the 1st platoon, F Co, who assaulted it with grenades under their own covering fire, killing three and capturing two of the enemy. Eight (8) additional Germans surrendered in this immediate locality, presumably as a result of this action; making a total of ten (10) captured in this action.
At 1035, approximately forty fie (45) enemy had infiltrated among the second platoon positions of Troop B and Lt Yontz, the platoon commander, prepared to counterattack with the engineer reinforcements brought up by Capt Meyer. During the first fight which followed, Sgt Oxenham and four men went to the aid of the isolated outpost at (955208) with an armored car. Firing the 50 cal. machine gun from the turret himself, he directed the dismounted men to employ marching fire, and together, they advanced straight at the attacking enemy. The Germans withdraw before this determined action and a number took cover in a stone barn, which Sgt Oxenham surrounded, forcing the surrender of eight. As the platoon, reinforced by the engineers, counterattacked to restore their beleaguered outpost and to close the gap between themselves and the 1st platoon, Troop B, they were joined by two NCO forward observers from Troop B, S/Sgt Fisher and Sgt Sullivan. These men had the mission of setting up an observation post in support of Troop B, but finding their intended location in the center of the fire fight described above, they joined forces with the counterattacking platoon. While engaging several enemy with their personal weapons, they observed Germans reinforcements coming out of the draw and across the railroad tracks at (K940203). Disengaging themselves from the fight, they immediately called for and adjusted fires by the Assault Gun Troop which inflicted what were probably the heaviest casualties of the day on an enemy reserve platoon. Actual German’s determined the total of enemy dead in this area to be from fifty (50) to Sixty-five (65) resulting from both small arms and artillery fire. The platoon successfully restored all of its positions and, with the aid of the engineers, closed the gap and joined forces with the 1st platoon.
At the time of the above action the Troop B command post came under enemy small arms fire and found itself engaged in a fire fight among the hedgerows at (K93420). The combined efforts of all headquarters personnel, employing personal weapons and machine guns of the command post armored cars, turned this enemy attack away from the Eupen road and to the north where they were engaged by the new reinforced 2nd platoon. T/5 Harold S. Hill, a half track driver in the troop supply section was severely wounded in this action and died later, in the hospital. At 1023, in the midst of the above attack on Troop B, a message came from the 102nd Cavalry Group that reinforcements consisting of a company of Armored Infantry and a company of medium tanks were on the way. Twenty enemy fighters strafed the Troop B and Company F sectors, and Cpl Fitzpatrick, manning a .50 cal machine gun of Troop B headquarters set one afire which was seen to crash in enemy territory, south of Imgenbroich. Also at 1030, the Troop C right flank outpost overlooking the crew at (K946236) was attacked by a squad of Germans who attempted to flank their position. This was repelled after a short fire fight in which Sgt Messano and his light tanks at (K946184) assisted. Three casualties were inflicted before the enemy withdrew. At 1100, the 3rd platoon, Troop B, reported some enemy infiltration between their positions and the 1st platoon.
At 1111, two companies of Germans attempted to assault both of these platoons form the draw (K943205). Observers for the 62nd Field Artillery Battalion adjusted on this target and broke up the attack before the enemy could cross the railroad tracks in front of Troop B. Defensive fires were maintained on this dead ground for several hours after the attacking forces was broken up. Shortly afterwards, friendly planes appeared over the area and the artillery marked Imgenbroich with red smoke. From 1000 to 1100, the attack along the “snake road”, north of Monschau, was renewed and supported by heavy machine gun fire from the Stillbusch house (K945202). All artillery being employed on the Troop B front at this time, the 1st platoon of Company F and Troop C met the attack with 37-MM tanks, machine guns and mortar fire. Tank destroyers continued to shoot at houses along the road (K945196) and the tanks placed 37-MM high explosive shells into the Stillbusch positions until all machine gun fire was silenced.
At 1124, Group Headquarters informed the Squadron that the expected reinforcements should be arriving at about that time. A message was sent to Group, in return, that a battalion of Germans had penetrated to the Mutzenich Hill and that PWs statements indicated the main attack was to follow that afternoon. Due to the heat of the engagement it was impossible for Squadron Headquarters to keep abreast of the situation on all troop fronts, and the fact that the fight on the Mutzenich Hill was slowly coming under control was not known until later in the afternoon. Actually the number of Germans penetrating our lines did not exceed 100, although the exact figure could not be reckoned. Company A, 47th Armored Infantry Battalion, commanded by 1st/Lt Weirsma, reported to the Squadron at 1000 and were directed over the unimproved road which ran north-east from the Eupen road at (K899199), and through the woods in rear of Troop B. Here they deployed, three platoons abreast, to move to the East, through the woods and map any enemy which had infiltrated through the Troop B lines. The Company’s anti-tank platoon was given the mission of patrolling the roads in rear of the troops, and covering the main road intersections with their guns.
At approximately 1120, Capt Whitley and his Company C (less 2 platoons) of medium tanks from the 10th Tank Battalion, were intercepted on the EUPEN road by Capt Meyer at (K899199) where he was issuing instructions to Company A, 47th Armored Infantry. Capt Whitley was given orders to take one platoon as far down the highway as the B Troop CP and, without stopping, to dispatch it under its platoon leader astride the road leading off to the left at (K981201) and to proceed in combat formation ready for action. They were to gain contact with Lt Yontz in vicinity of (K930205) and lend him direct support. They proceeded on their mission and upon reaching the turn-off point, were met by the Squadron Commander. As the Troop B situation was now under control, he directed the tanks to disregard their assigned mission, and to take cover while awaiting further orders. At 1201, Group Headquarters radioed that the 47th Regimental Combat team was advancing into the sector from Eupen and that the Squadron would become attached to them upon their arrival. Confirmation that the “main attack” was to be launched by the Germans that afternoon was received as a result of a prisoner of war statement sent by Troop A. At Squadron Headquarters in Monschau, all personnel had been alerted and formed into security groups against the threat of penetration from the Mutzenich Hill and at the hair-pin turn (K941198). Armored cars and crews were placed at strategic points in the town and on the hill above the command post itself. Machine guns and riflemen were stationed at the doors and windows of the post office building occupied by the command post. Prisoners, as many as thirteen (13) at one time, were sent to the rear in 2 ten trucks, being forced to lie down in the body of the vehicles. Ration and ammunition trucks, which continued to come forward from Eupen throughout the engagement, were used for this purpose, with supply and mortar maintenance personnel acting as guards. Several of the headquarters troop mechanics were pressed into service to provide additional local security, as were a number of convalescent patients from the Squadron aid station in the building next to the command post.
From 1200 to 1300, there was a slight slackening of the pressure on the Troop B front, and heavy defensive fire were maintained on possible routes of enemy withdrawal west of Imgenbroich, form (K941203) to (K944208). Concentration were placed on these areas by the 62nd Armored Field Artillery and Troop E of the Squadron. At 1322, the 1st platoon, Troop B, began to receive more small arms fire and, at 1330A, Company F took another prisoner at the blown bridge North of Monschau (K942196). At 1350, five medium tanks were put in support of Troop B positions, now completely restored. Two platoons of engineers were in the line with Troop B and the infantry continued to mop up in the woods to the rear, attempting to drive the enemy penetrating force to the East. At 1420, artillery was placed on enemy groups forming about the bunkers and pillboxes in the vicinity of Imgenbroich. Troop E fired on enemy mortar positions near Staffelbusch (K938210) and Laufenbuch (K942208).
From 1600 to 1700 the enemy commenced to withdraw at (K 940207). Long range tank and machine gun fire by 3rd platoon, Company F, drove a force of about thirty (30) Germans to seek cover in the woods at (K940208). Troop E was immediately registered on the woods and inflicted heavy casualties; only a few escaping. Twenty bodies were later evacuated form this particular area. At 1645, the infantry cleaned up in rear of Troop B broke form the woods and were integrated in the Troop positions for that night. The medium tanks were disposed in support of the Squadron, one platoon at (K930205), one section at (K937185), the remaining section at (K936195). Defensive, interdiction and harassing fire for the night were arranged with the 406th Artillery Group, 62nd AFAB and Troop E.
The 47-IR arrived in Mutzenich at 1836, the command post locating at (K916195). The regiment bivouacked astride the Eupen road, west of Mutzenich for the night. Liaison was immediately established using the alternate command post half track. At dark all listening posts were put out, and as many patrols maintained throughout the night as practicable. At 2200, Troop C observed about twenty enemy in the vicinity of the house and dragon’s teeth to their immediate front. This report was quickly corroborated and both the 62-FAB and Troop E were called upon for fire. Illuminating mortar shells were thrown over the area and an estimated force of two hundred (200) Germans were caught advancing west from Imgenbroich with the evident intention of coming into our lines through the StillBusch (K945202) and “snake road : (K945196) draws. Approximately one hundred (100) Germans were trapped by artillery fire on the “snake road” itself, and a larger number at (K952200). Heavy enemy casualties were caused by the artillery with 37-MM and machine guns of Company F and Troop C accounting for a number of the Germans who had reached the blown bridge at (K942196). The firing was continued for about forty five (45) minutes under the constant light of 60-MM mortar illuminating shells. Shortly after 2100, the enemy force withdraw after suffering severe loses. At 2200, Troop E was given a mission to walk up the snake road again, employing battery fire in fifty yard jumps.
Again at 2230, Company F and Troop B outposts reported movement in the StillBusch (K945202) draw, and the area was illuminated. An estimated one hundred (enemy) were seen advancing from Imgenbroich in the area (K948198). Troop E put over one hundred and fifty (150) rounds in this area and effectively dispersed the enemy groups with unknown casualties. At 2300, towed 57-MM anti-tank guns from the 47th Infantry were attached and two were placed with Troop C and one with Company F. At 2320, a Troop B patrol reported that they had recovered the two vehicles abandoned by the 955th Field Artillery Battalion observation outpost at (K930211) earlier in the day; no personnel were found in the locality. Unusual enemy use of pyrotechnics and searchlights continued throughout the night.
0000, Dec 17 1944 found the Squadron literally holding its breath. Warn by the strain of the days fighting, nevertheless all personnel were fully alert and still possessed a good reserve, mental and physical, for what might come. The most remarkable feature of the entire day had been the negligible two (2) casualties received. Over two hundred (200) enemy dead were reported, by actual count, on the fronts of Troops B, C, and Company F. Troop E had fired eleven hundred and five (1105) rounds of 75-MM howitzer ammunition for a total of twenty three (23) total of 73 missions in direct support of the Squadron. All of the Squadron positions were intact and strengthened by reinforcements. The balance of the night, until 0300, was marked only by a repitition of the previous nights pyrotechnics and searchlight activity. Numerous planes passed over the sector and there was the usual enemy harassing artillery fire. At 0125 Lt Krupnick and his engineers completed a minefield on the road at (K942207) in front of Troop B. The 3rd Battalion commander of the 395th Infantry reported that the enemy appeared to be infiltrated and digging in on the flanks of his outposts.
18 December : At 0300, a terrific enemy artillery and rocket barrage fell on the Monschau and Hofen areas and wire communication with the 393rd Infantry went out. Contact was maintained by radio through observation post on the Höfen Hill, manned by Sgt Joseph Poll of Troop C. Shortly after 0330, enemy planes circled over Monschau and dropped a number of flares. Troop C called for artillery on suspected movement along the snake road. Heavy enemy mortar and artillery fire fell on the Mutzenich Hill and Troop C reported receiving small arms fire from the draw immediately west of Menzerath (K948189) at 0440. At 0445, the enemy attacked the 395th Infantry Regiment in Hofen, capturing one outpost. This was followed by a report that there had been a penetration in the infantry lines at (K951170) but that the gap had been sealed. Troop A reported, also at 0440, that Lt Warren McCray, Pvt William Dube and Pvt Robert Wynn had been killed while laying anti-tank mines in front of the troop sector. At 0515, the 395th Infantry again reported enemy to their front, and with the aid of mortar illuminating shells. Sgt Poll picked up the enemy at (K953173). 99th Division was adjusted on the targets presented through this observation post.
The remaining hours of darkness passed without unusual incident. With the first light at 0746, Troop B outposts fired on a small German patrol to their front without results; and at 0814, Troop C placed artillery on an enemy squad at (K948196). At 0830, the Squadron Commander left for headquarters 47th Infantry.
At 0850, enemy artillery and rocket concentrations again fell on the area, and groups of Germans were observed in the vicinity of pillboxes to the East of Hofen. The 395th Infantry line on Hofen Hill came under heavy small arms fire and, at 0938, reported a penetration in that town. Ten (10) enemy tanks struck on the 395th Infantry line on Hofen Hill came under heavy small arms fire and, at 0938, reported a penetration in that town. The 2nd platoon, Company F, began to receive some action as a result of this attack on the Squadron’s right, and captured one German in the draw to their front. The Troop C observation post on the Hofen Hill at (K944177) became a vitally important contact and relay point for liaison with the 395th Infantry as telephone communications with that unit went out. Sgt Poll, in command of this position, maintained a constant and invaluable flow of reports to Squadron Headquarters, via his radio and telephone, keeping the command post informed as to the infantry situation at all times. At about 1000, the infantry squad in position to Sgt Poll’s immediate right was taken out to be used in a counterattack role elsewhere. Realizing that his small observation post was, in effect, the right flank of the Squadron, Sgt Poll, directing his small forces, calling for and adjusting artillery fire, and himself firing a light machine gun; successfully repulsed a frontal assault on his position. For this gallant action which placed an important part in the defense of Hofen, Sgt Poll has been recommended for the Distinguished Conduct Medal (British) and appointed acting platoon sergeant. At 1030, the 395th Infantry reported enemy penetration to (K948173), almost to Kalterherberg, and at 1110, the 406th Field Artillery Group reported a concentration of an unknown number of enemy tanks at this same location.
Troop B took four (4) prisoners at 1117, who were driven out of a haystack in front of the 1st platoon. All stated they were members of a reconnaissance patrol, and were turned over to the 47th Infantry. Later, the Troop brought in six (6) wounded prisoners from the vicinity of StillBusch (K946202), who had been left on the ground as a result of the previous night’s action. At 1345, Troop C observed two high ranking enemy officers, one dressed in the Panzer uniform and the other in field gray-green, observing with field glasses and a map from a pillbox in front of Imgenbroich. There German officers appeared to be interested in the approaches to Monshau.
Enemy actions for the period 16-18 December, in the area held by the 38th Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron indicate that all elements of the 751.-Regiment and the 1.-Battalion of the 732.-Regiment, 326.-Volksgrenadier Division were employed in a full scale defensive effort to gain control of the Monschau area and with the mission to dominate the Monschau-Eupen road.
On Dec 16 1944, the enemy made a frontal attack, on Monschau, in battalion strength, employing both battalion and regimental support weapons. The attack was preceded by a series of time on target concentrations which lasted form 0525 to 0600. At 0615, companies attacked simultaneously from (K94197) and (K950180). All three efforts were successfully repulsed. It is interesting to note that the enemy did not commit reserves in the furtherance of the attack. Another attack was launched at 0745 from Menzerath Hill (K949185). This was also repulsed and the enemy confined his actions to heavy harassing interdicting fires and strong patrolling for the remainder of the day. German paratroops from combat team von der Heydte were dropped behind the Squadron line during the night. From 0400, 17 December 1944, it was evident that the enemy was endeavoring to mass troops at strategic points in preparation for a major effort. At 0650 the attack was made with a combat team composed of three battalions; two battalions of the 751st Regiment and one battalion of the 752nd Regiment. The third battalion of the 751st Regiment was held in reserve position in the vicinity of (K957205). Simultaneously, paratroops became active behind the Squadron lines, and a minor attack was repulsed at (K935229) at 0800. The main attack developed into a frontal effort against Monschau, as on the previous day, and an envelopment to the North in an attempt to out the Monschau – Eupen road from the Mutzenich Hill.
Prisoners of war from all companies of the 1. and 2.-Battalions of the 751.-Regiment were taken in the area in front of the Mutzenich Hill from the snake road to the north. This fact plus the observation of the defenders of the line indicate tat the entire 751. Regiment was committed for the attack on Mutzenich Hill and the Monschau – Eupen road. The assembly for this attack took place in the draw out of Mutzenich prier to daylight. At dawn the attack jumped off south towards the hairpin turn (K941199) and west on the hill itself. The southern attack, which was coordinated with an attack in company strength west down the snake road was repulsed by 0800, but the attack on the Mutzenich Hill succeeded in penetrating the B Troop line in the vicinity of Staffelleusen (K937210) before it was counter attacked and driven back. The attack was definitely stopped by 1300 after all reserves had been committed. At 1700 the enemy made another approach in strength down the road leading due west from Imgenbroich, which was broken up by the fire of the 186th Field Artillery Battalion before it could be developed into another attack. The enemy then tried twice more during the night of 17-18 December to break through. At 2200 approximately two companies were observed massing in the area (K945202) and (K945196). These groups were dispersed by heavy artillery concentrations and small arms fire. At 2230 another enemy concentration of approximately 100 troops was observed and broken up.
At 0300, 18 December 1944, heavy artillery and rocket barrages were placed on the Höfen and Monschau areas. This was followed by an attack at daylight in an attempt to flank the Monschau positions from the Höfen Hill. After some penetration this attack was repulsed late into the day. The 326.-Volksgrenadier Division, after three attempts on successive days, had failed to accomplish their mission. Heavy enemy shelling continued to fall on Squadron positions and, at 1615, enemy infantry commenced to build up in the River ravine at (K947181). The 2nd platoon, F Co, heard whistle signals and reported much movement. All available artillery was put on the target and the enemy withdrew. Shortly before 2400, a Troop B outpost at (K942198), manned by a squad of attached engineers, heard the noise of movement approaching down the draw from Stillbusch (945202). Their position was heavily wired in and all approaches covered by trip flares, so they alerted their gun crews and waited. Within a matter of minutes one of the flares was set off, revealing an enemy patrol and machine gun crew. All weapons were directed at the target thus exposed before the Germans could fire a shot. The element of surprise was complete; four of the enemy were killed, one of whom was an officer, and six wounded; two more were captured unharmed. The latter stated that it had been a fourteen man patrol, led by an officer sent out by the 751st Regiment. Their mission was to reconnoiter to the Konzen Railroad station to determine whether the Monschau-Eupen road was mined at this point. Mine detectors found among the equipment dropped by the enemy confirmed this point. This action served to make it clear that the use of trip flares is more profitable that the use of booby traps in an alert defense.
At 1130 Troop A, with its attached I Co, 121st Infantry, and the platoon of light tanks from F Co, 102nd Cavalry Squadron, was detached from the control of this Squadron and, remaining in position, was attached to the 3rd Battalion of the 121st Infantry. Thus, A Co, 47th Armored Infantry, became the left (North) unit of the Squadron. The platoon leaders and noncommissioned officers of Troop B reconnoitered proposed new areas to be occupied by their units on the following day. The troop now had attached (1) one platoon of medium tanks form C Co, 10th Tank Bn, positioned in vicinity of (931205) and (931208); (2) one section of M-10s from C Co, 893rd TD Bn, in vicinity of (933197); and (3) one platoon plus 2 squads of A Co, 146th Engineer; thickening the MLR positions. When Troop C was relieved of its positions in the 500 yards of trenches on the Monschau Hill by A Co, 1st Bn, 47th Infantry, they began the arduous task of moving equipment down the steep hillside and prepared for a night movement to assume a portion of the Squadron front between Troop B and A Co, 47th Armored Infantry. Troop E fired 218 rounds of ammunition during the period on observed point targets and unobserved harassing missions.
F Co, loss the 1st and 3rd platoons, was relieved of its mission in the defense of Monschau by the 1st Bn of the 47th Infantry, and proceeded at 2105 to the Monschau railroad station, in the basement of which the command post was set up. The 2nd platoon remained in reserve in that position. The 1st platoon continued to defend in vicinity of the blown-out bridge (941196) and at the hairpin turn (94051965), while the 3rd platoon remained at (934201). Both platoons were in support of Troop B. The commanding officer and his headquarters of C Co, 10th Tank Bn, operated from the F Co CP. At dusk the Squadron command post moved to Mutzenich (920199) and the headquarters of the 1st Bn, 47th Infantry, occupied the previous location in the Monschau post office.
20 December :
Beginning with the movement of Troop C at 0200, the following reliefs and changes in position of platoons were affected :
(1)1st of Troop C relieved 1st of Troop B
(2)1st of Troop B relieved 2nd of A Co (AIB)
(3)2nd of A Co (AIB) relieved 3rd of Troop B
(4)2nd of Troop C relieved 3rd of A Co
The Squadron Medical Detachment moved out of Monschau to Mutzenich, where another infirmary was set up at (910188). The Squadron (less Troop A) with A Co attached, was then disposed along a 4000 yard front, from right (South) to left (North); Troop B supported by two light tank platoons, a section of self-propelled tank destroyers and a medium tank platoon; Troop C; then Co A, 47th Armored Infantry, in direct contact on its left with Troop A (attached to 121st Infantry Regiment). Troop B had all three of its reconnaissance platoons committed on the MLR with its attachments in support. Troop C and A Co each had a platoon in dug-in supporting positions behind the two platoons on the line. The 57-MM anti-tank guns of A Co were placed and sandbagged covering the road net and terrain approaches from the North.
The unit command post were located at follow :
A Co, 47th AI Bn (935231)
C Tr (928208)
F Co (936194)
B Tr No change (932201)
E Tr No change (908187)
Squadron again moved 100 yards to (920198). A 170-MM shell went through the house just vacated. Troop B and F Co coordinated fire plans and physical contacts with A Co, 47th Infantry in Monschau on their right. Daylight security patrols were dispatched by each line unit. These were followed by all-night patrols working far in front of the listening posts. All elements, including the Squadron command post group, took added measures of security against German paratroopers still known to be at large in the rear areas.
The Squadron continued to improve by digging in, sandbagging and building overhead cover against shelling and the winter elements. The placing of many bands of concertina barbed wire with pickets and fixing of warning trip flares were emphasized. By the end of the month each position was encircled with at least 3 bands and the entire front was protected by at least 6 bands. A total of 3500 rolls of wire was used between 20 and 31 December. The ever present snow covering the ground somewhat hampered operations, restricting movement to darkness and fog and forcing the personnel in most of the outlying positions to remain under concealment and to refrain from making tracks or spoil. White snow suits were provided and worn by patrols by day and night. The camouflage of vehicles and emplacements was effectively accomplished by the use of any available white cloth. The enemy, of course, were confronted with the same difficulties and offered our artillery forward observers many lucrative targets. On 24 December the Squadron was attached to the 60th Infantry Regiment. On the 21st, A Co of the 146th Engineers was relieved of attachment to the Squadron and on the 25th and the 27th, respectively, C Co, 10th Tank Bn and the tank destroyers of the 893rd TD Bn reverted to control of their parent units. With their leaving, the reserve platoon of F Co and two platoons of I Co, 2nd Bn, 60th Infantry, took up positions in support of Troop B. I Co was reinforced with elements of the 57-MM anti-tank company.
Officer liaison was maintained with the headquarters of the 102nd Cavalry Group and the 60th Infantry Regiment and an armored car was assigned to the 2nd Bn, 60th Infantry, in case of telephone failure. Capt Wilson reported as liaison officer from the 60th FA Bn and Capt Haseltine was relieved as liaison from the 62nd Armored FA Bn and replaced by Lt Cerutti. Lt Davis reported from the 186th FA Bn. Early in the morning on the 21st, Pfc Ashwell, on an armored car outpost at the Squadron CP, challenged and captured four Germans paratroopers. Troop A remained detached for the period. On the 21st of December the 3rd Bn, 121st RCT, was relieved by the 3rd Bn, 311 RCT, 78TH Infantry Division, and Troop A, remaining in position, became attached to the latter. Thus, Troop A was with XIX Corps in the 9th US Army while the Squadron remained under V Corps in the 1st US Army. On the 21st, Lt Sacammano and six men, all former members of the Squadron, returned from hospital and were assigned to Troop A. The troop suffered a great less on the same day when a large caliber enemy shell made a direct hit on the command post killing Tec/5 Baxter and Pvt Wheeler and causing the evacuation from wounds of Tec/4 Diana, Cpl Scirole. Tec/5 Howe, Tec/5 Walters, Pfc Trucker, Pfc Lucijansky, Pvt Dyer and Pvt Wickliff. Pfc Meyer, Major Rousek’s driver, died of wounds and the Squadron Executive Officer narrowly escaped injury. Other members of the troop and attached units suffered miner wounds and returned to duty after medical treatment.
A Co, 47th Armored Infantry, dispatched radio equipped patrols each night which traveled along the company front, east of the railroad, and set up successive listening posts, returning at first light. Under cove of darkness on Xmas night one 57-MM gun from the anti-tank platoon was man-handled into a barn at (939221) and well concealed by daylight. This gun, within 50 yards of the 2nd platoon forward positions on the MLR, commanded an excellent 90° field of fire. The other two guns were emplaced covering the road covering the roads at (940235) and (935229). Nightly reconnaissance and security patrols were operated by Troop B with on enemy contacts and little to report. Several points were investigated, such as the vicinity of (945208); a trench reported at (947209) which proved to be a drainage ditch; and, a pillbox at (952208). On the night of the 28th, Tec/5 Buchman and Pvt Cherneck provided the point for an infantry patrol from the 60th Infantry and set up an ambush at (946208) where a four-man German patrol was surprised. After a short fire fight they killed one and brought in three prisoners.
During the period Troop B captured 14 prisoners. From a civilian report on the 22nd, the “Riot Squad” of headquarters platoon – Cpl Fitzpatrick, Tec/5 Wearmouth, and Pfc Willaba, assisted by Sgt Belcher and two men from the second platoon, captured four paratroopers. They surrendered and searched a house and barn (932199). Finding nothing they threw in four hand grenades and fired their small arms, whereupon the Germans came out form under the hay. On the same day Pvt Grossi, while stringing wire between the 1st and 2nd platoon, saw 8 paratrooper. He fired his carbine at them and they all surrendered to him. On the 22nd two more paratroopers were captured by Tec/5 McCauley’s outpost as they tried to return through the lines to the Germans. Troop C continued to send out all-night security patrols without enemy contact. On the 21st Pfc Benham of the 2nd platoon captured four paratrooper attempting to pass through the lines to the east. Coincidently, Pfc Benham was wounded by long range, harassing machine gun fire on the 22nd. The six assault guns of Troop E fired 1915 rounds of ammunition during the period. The troop maintained three observation posts, No. 1 at (936220) and No. 2 at (930208), both of which were manned 24 hours a day. No. 3 was manned only during daylight and was used as an excellent observation post for the squadron staff and others who had reason to inspect the terrain to the front.
During the month of December, Troop E fired 8199 rounds of ammunition, which amounted to a 60.2 ton projectile weight. A detail under Sgts Guidry and Oliver captured three German paratroopers on the 21st. The light tanks of F Co occupied supporting positions behind Troop B with the 3rd platoon in reserve. On the 27th that platoon was also committed to fill the vacancy left by the medium tanks of the 10th Tank Bn. Which had reverted to V Corps control. Five paratroopers were captured on the 26th. S/Sgt Wright returns from hospital after recovery from a wound received in September at Manderfeld. The attached 3rd platoon of A Co, 112th Engineer laid mine fields at (941207) and (940212); and crated the road at (94352238). The platoon continued to assist the troops in wire laying and setting trip flares as well as maintaining the road net. The Squadron Medical Detachment continued to maintain its infirmary, caring for the sick in quarters and conducting daily sick call. During the month of December a total of 39 Battle Casualties and 40 Non-Battle Casualties from the Squadron were processed through the aid station. The battle casualties consisted of 5 killed in action, 34 wounded, and one battle injury. The Rear Echelon continued to supply and service the Squadron from Eupen, Belgium. A truckhead was established at the Troop B rear command post at Mutzenich (910196) and placed in charge of S/Sgt Gang from S-4. All supplies were distributed from this point in small vehicles. The rear echelon bivouac escaped damage on several occasions when Eupen was subjected to shelling and bombing. A number of enemy planes were knocked down by an efficient anti-aircraft crew 300 yards away. In conjunction with the V Corps defense system, Capt Marvel, Hq and Service Troop Commander, was placed in charge of the area in vicinity of his bivouac and conducted bantam-armored car night patrol.
December – General
On the night of Dec 21st the Squadron Commander, accompanied by Maj Rousek and Capt Meyer, visited Troop A at Konzen Station, and surrounded by the atmosphere of the typical front-line command post, presented the decoration of the Silver Star for gallantry in action to the Troop Commander, Capt Buenzle, 1st Lt Tully, and Pfc Glinski. The party then proceeded to the command post of the 2nd platoon of Troop C along the MLR and there presented the same award to 1st Lt O’Brien. Troop kitchens fed B rations with the exception of isolate platoons, which used 10-in-1 menus prepared by attached cooks. However, on Christmas Day all personnel were served a full course turkey dinner. The closing of the old year marked the 111th consecutive day that the Squadron had been in direct contact with the enemy along the Siegfried Line. On New Year’s Eve of 1943 the entire Squadron had been engaged in an ambitious practice firing schedule at the Southampton Range on Dartmoor,England.