825-TDB (Able) – Stavelot – 12/44 – 01/45

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After Action Report of Able Company, 825th Tank Destroyer Battalion, Malmedy – Stavelot – Trois-Ponts and vicinity, Belgium, Battle of the Bulge, period of December 17 1944 to January 17 1945.

The company was alerted by HQs 12-AG at 1130, December 17 1944. At approximately 1600, orders where received from T Force Commander that the Provost Marshall of the 1-A directed the company move to Malmédy, Belgium, and occupy firing positions east of the town. The company was to be attached to the 526-AIB for the move to Malmédy.

Upon reaching Malmédy, the Company Commander was to report to Col Harold D. Hansen, CO of the 99-IB (S). Able 825-TDB joined the 526-AIB and passed the IP at La Reid, Belgium, at 2200. While en route to Malmédy, the column was ordered to halt and await further instructions.
Written orders were received : one company of the 526-AIB and one platoon of Able 825-TDB should move to Stavelot, and occupy positions south and southeast from the town, whereby the road blocks already established could be covered by fire. This force was placed under the command of Maj Paul Solis, Executive Officer of the 526-AIB and was made up of Able 526-AIB and the 1st Platoon Able Co 825-TDB. The group moved to Stavelot and the remainder of the column moved to Malmédy. The column arrived in the town at 0200, December 18.


I reported to Col Hansen as ordered upon arrival and he ordered my company to occupy positions already chosen to cover to road blocks by fire. Guides were furnished by Charlie 291-ECB, and Platoon Leaders moved guns into position. The 3rd Platoon took up positions on the vicinity of the road block at [803036], while the 2nd Platoon took up positions in the vicinity of the one at [792052] and the other at [778037]. One section of this platoon occupying positions at each location. Defense was setup and guns were in position at 0430.

The first platoon arrived at Stavelot at approximately 0330, December 18. Maj Solis, sent one platoon of Able 526-AIB, reinforced with one section from the Battalion’s 1st Platoon, across the Amblève River to occupy positions on the high ground south of town. The other 1st Platoon’s section and the AT Platoon of Able 526, were held in reserve.

The first section crossed the Amblève River at approximately 0545 and made contact with the enemy at approximately 0605. This section was unable to reach the positions designated due to enemy fire and upon truing to withdraw to take up positions to return the enemy fire, they were hit by direct enemy fire knocking out the two guns and half tracks. As a result of this action, 6 soldiers were reported missing and 2 were battle casualties.

At daylight, the enemy placed considerable fire on the town of Stavelot. The fire was coming from machine guns and heavy weapons which were set up in the houses overlooking the town. One gun was put in position at [721013] whereby fire could be placed on the fixed enemy positions. By 0930, the gun had set fire to 6 houses, and hit probably 10 others. At 1000, the rumble of tanks could be heard and German tanks appeared at the top of the hill.

Four German Mark VI Tigers were observed and taken under fire by the section which remained in Stavelot. Each squad knocked out 2 Panzers. A fifth Tiger had come into Stavelot by another route and could be read reconnoitering the town by fire. A gun was moved to a position in the center of the street at [719012] so as to permit firing on the approaching Panzer. Some 15 rounds were exchanged in the first fight. One of the rounds from the 3 inch gun (76.2-MM) hit Tiger # 105 at a point where its barrel extends from the turret, and the tank withdrew. In doing so, the Tiger backed into a brick building which was pulled down pinning it underneath the wreckage.

During this action the platoon leader received orders to withdraw, but due to the enemy fire it was impossible. However, at 1145, the remainder of the platoon withdrew under covering fire which came from the gun emplaced at [719012]. The gun commander and the gunner, firing the gun atTiger #222[719012] after making certain that the platoon had withdrawn, destroyed their weapon with a Thermit M-14 Hand Grenade place into the breach. The two non-commissioned officers then withdrew on foot. One Jeep and one half-track was lost during this action. One man was wounded.

On December 19, two men of the company captured 3 suspected German soldiers in civilian clothes in Malmédy and turned them over to CIC. The 3rd platoon received enemy mortar and small arms fire in their position. No casualties for the period.

On December 20, gun positions were improved. No contact with enemy during this period. An attack by the enemy was expected and all personnel were alerted at 0300, December 21. At approximately 0700, one section of the second platoon located at [778037] made contact with the Krauts, and destroyed one captured US Jeep, one half-track and one Mark VI Tiger. Inaddition, the section at [778037], inflicted heavy casualties to the enemy.

During this engagement, 2 men were battle casualties, 2 others were wounded but not evacuated. One 3 inch gun was destroyed but during this same operation, the section recaptured 1 US armored car M-8 and 2 US Jeeps in serviceable condition. Able 99-IB(S) also engaged the enemy at this point.

During the period December 22-23, platoons remained on the defensive and continued to dig and improve their positions.

On December 24, the 3 inch gun and the half-track of the 3rd squad, 1st Platoon, was repaired and put into position at 2000 at [778038]. This gun supported another one from the 2nd Platoon at [778036].

On December 25, positions remained the same and, the 3 inch gun and half-track from the 4th Platoon were recovered from Stavelot.

On December 26, the gun and the half-track of the 1st Platoon was put in position at 2000 at [778039]. All other positions remained the same during the period December 27-28.

On December 29, reconnaissance was made for location on new and better positions. The 2nd Section, 3rd Platoon moved to an occupied positions at [804039], the other Section remained in position at [797039]. Further reconnaissance was made for positions on December 30, the 1st Section, 3rd Platoon moved to an occupied new position at [803041]. During the period from December 31 1944 to January 5 1945, platoons continued to occupy defensive positions.

At 0830, January 6, orders were received from CO 823-TDB that one company of the 823-TDB would occupy positions presently occupied by the Able 825-TDB, change to be effected within a 48 hours period. At 1700, the 3rd Platoon of Able 825 moved to an occupied position in the vicinity of [758026].

At 1030, January 7, the 1st Platoon, less one section, moved to an occupied position at [765036]. At 1300, the 2nd Platoon moved also to an occupied position at [735025].

At 1400, January 8, the section of the 1st Platoon moved to an alternate position and fired 11 rounds HE at a German Command Post. Fire was effective and guns were moved back into original position at [765036]. All positions remained the same during the period January 9-15. No casualties during period although all the positions received light enemy artillery fire and concentrations of Nebelwerfer fire.

At 1630, January 16, orders were received from Col Hansen to assemble in Meiz [755042]. At 1830, 1st Platoon closed in assembly area followed by the 3rd Platoon at 1900 and the 2nd Platoon at 2000. At 2300, orders were received through the 526-AIB that Able 825 was relieved from mission and would return to T Force in the vicinity of Marneffe, Belgium.

At 0930, January 9, Able 825 moved from Meiz and arrived at Marneffe at 1530. Distance traveled 60 Miles.

Joseph H. Dibert
Captain
825th Tank destroyer Battalion

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





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(NB : Published for Good – July 2019)

 

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