60th Armored Infantry Battalion
After Action Report and Narrative of the operations under Combat Command A, (Col Thomas J. Harrold), 9th Armored Division, (Maj Gen John W. Leonard); subordinate units : Hq Company 60-AIB, Able Company 60-AIB, Baker Company 60-AIB, Charlie Company 60-AIB, Service Company 60-AIB, and Medical Detachment of the 60-AIB.
The 60th Armored Infantry Battalion completed the last leg of its journey across France on October 20 1944. Arriving at its targeted bivouac area in the immediate vicinity of Larochette (Fels), in central Luxembourg, at 1250. The 60-AIB was then reverted under Command of CCA, 9-ID. Throughout the remainder of the period the Battalion occupied the afore mentioned bivouac performing bivouac security, routine training and duties. The necessary reconnaissance to carry out a pre-arranged counterattack plan by CCA, 9-AD in support of the VIII Corps front line like troops was performed at the beginning the period. No enemy activity was encountered during this period.
Lt Col, Infantry
November 1 1944 – November 30 1944
Day’s location : 60-AIB, December 5 1944, Steinsel – Heisdorf, Luxembourg
Operations with the following higher units :
Nov 1 0100 – Nov 2 0800, 9-AD, Maj Gen John W. Leonard, CG;
Nov 1 0100 – Nov 2 0800, CCA/9-AD, Col Thomas J. Harrold;
Nov 2 0800 – Nov 9 1230, 8th Infantry Division, Maj Gen Donald A. Storch, CG;
Nov 2 0800 – Nov 9 1230, 121st Infantry Regiment, Col John R. Jeter, CG;
Nov 9 1230 – Nov 30 2400, 9-AD, Maj Gen John W. Leonard, CG;
Nov 9 1230 – Nov 30 2400, CCA/9-AD, Col Thomas J. Harrold.
Operations with the following subordinate units :
HQ Co, 60-AIB – Capt John W. Hall, CO;
Able Co, 60-AIB – Capt John W. Scalles, CO;
Baker Co, 60-AIB – Capt Floyd D. Harder, CO;
Charlie Co, 60-AIB – Capt Roger L. Shinn, CO;
Serv Co, 60-AIB – Capt Louis Gelling, CO;
Med Det, 60-AIB – Capt Stephen E. Gates, CO;
At the beginning of the period the 60-AIB was in bivouac in vicinity of Larochette (Fels), Luxembourg making preparations to relieve the 1/121 (8-ID) began and troops of the 60-AIB were transported by trucks to that sector, leaving the major portion of the organic transportation in the former bivouac. The relief of the 1/121 was completed on Nov 2 1944 at 1050 with our troops in position. The enemy activity was confined to defensive operations, three confirmed patrols and light harassing artillery fire. The enemy strength in the immediate sector was estimated about 400, with an apparent lack of supplies. Judging from the interrogation of POWs captured in this vicinity, the moral was considered to be fair and the lower ranks had little or no knowledge of their own or our situation. Two Polish deserters stated that they were the last of the foreign element in their company and only a few remained in the others. The weather, because of much fog and rain, greatly limited observation and the possibility of larger operations by the enemy.
The terrain was such as afforded us the advantage. The Our River and the Sauer River ran between the two lines with the high ground on either side occupied by the opposing forces. The Our River can easily be forded. The ground to immediate front was high and not easily accessible to vehicles but to the right flank was low rolling ground running to Bollindorf, Germany, along the Sauer River, and with roads leading east through the hills. On the west flank the hills fell away and from Wallendorf, Germany, the terrain opened up in a gradual rise to the east. This is apparently a good tank country, open and not heavily wooded. Enemy air activity was limited to one strafing attack over our area. The mission for this period was to occupy and defend our sector. Our operations were confined to the occupation and defense of the sector and the routine defensive firing of mortar and assault guns and the dispatching of numerous small patrols with reconnaissance and ambush missions. The battalion successfully defended the assigned sector, which was not subject to enemy attack, until relieved by the 1/121 Regt, Nov 09 at 1230. Confirmed enemy casualties for the period : 1 killed and 2 captured.
Lt Col, Infantry
December 01 0100 1944 – December 31 2400 1944
Operations under the following higher units :
Dec 01 1944 -Dec 22 1944, 9-AD, Maj Gen John W. Leonard, CG;
Dec 22 1944 – Dec 26 1944, 10-AD, Maj Gen William Morris, CG;
Dec 26 1944 – Dec 29 1944, 4-AD, Maj Gen Hugh J. Gaffney; CG;
Dec 29 1944 – Dec 30 1944, 9-AD, Maj Gen John W. Leonard; CG;
Dec 30 1944 – Dec 31 1944, VIII Corps, 3A, Maj Gen Troy Middleton, CG;
Operations with subordinate units :
Dec 1 1944 – Dec 18 1944, HQ Co, 60-AIB, Capt John W. Hall, CO;
Dec 18 1944 – Dec 31 1944, HQ Co, 60-AIB, 1/Lt Leo J. Graham, CO;
Dec 18 1944 – Dec 31 1944, Able Co, 60-AIB, Capt John W. Schalles, CO;
Dec 18 1944 – Dec 21 1944, Baker Co, 60-AIB, Capt Floyd D. Harder, CO;
Dec 1 1944 – Dec 18 1944, Charlie Co, 60-AIB, Capt Roger L. Shinn, CO;
Dec 18 1944 – Dec 31 1944, Charlie Co, 60-AIB, 1/Lt Clifford E. Penrose, CO;
Dec 18 1944 – Dec 31 1944, Serv Co, 60-AIB, Capt Louis Gelling, CO;
Dec 18 1944 – Dec 31 1944, Med Det, 60-AIB, Capt Stephen E. Gates, CO.
Personnel losses :
Killed – 1 Off & 63 EM
Died of wounds – O Off & 1 EM
Wounded or injured – 4 Off & 156 EM
Missing – 4 Off & 141 EM
Captured – 0 Off & 2 EM
Sick or other non-battle injuries – 3 Off & 117 EM
Personnel replacements :
Actual replacements – 0 Off & 2 EM
Personnel returned to duty – 2 Off & 10 EM
From Dec 1 to Dec 9, the 60-AIB was assigned to CCA, 9-AD. During this period the unit was not in contact with the enemy. Approximately half of the unit was in tactical bivouac in vicinity of Larochette (Fels), and the remainder in billets in and around Heisdorf. By Dec 10, at 1110, the battalion completed relieving the 2/109, in a sector of the line assigned to 9-AD. From Dec 10 to Dec 15, the 60-AIB occupied and defended the assigned sector. We patrolled actively along our front but nothing took place to change this sectors reputation of being exceptionally quiet. Enemy activity for the above mentioned period was confined to very light artillery fire covering the Battalion sector and limited night patrolling.
On Dec 16, 0630, the Germans attacked our sector following over a 1000 rounds artillery preparation consisting chiefly of Nebelwerfer and medium caliber artillery. The attacking force was estimated at two infantry regiments, one to attack the battalion and the other to move through and attack positions to our rear. The enemy used infiltration tactics successfully supported by many automatic weapons. The two main routes of infiltration were through the draws at Dilligen and Grundhof. The success of the infiltration tactics was aided by the heavily wooded terrain of our front line and our thinly held position. Vehicular bridges were established across the Sauer River at Dillegen, Wallendorf and Grundhof. From the moment the Germans were seen constructing the above mentioned bridges they were heavily engaged with artillery fire by the 3-FAB and heavy mortar fire. The situation became increasingly critical due to our over extended front and, by noon, Baker Company, the reserve company, less its AT Plat was committed between Able and Charlie Cos with the mission of driving through and clearing the enemy from the near bank of the Our and the Sauer Rivers. After meeting heavy opposition, Baker Co finally succeeded in occupying a position abreast of Able and Charlie Cos. During the afternoon of the Dec 16, the enemy infiltration tactics continued with success and the last of the battalion reserve, the AT platoon of Baker Co, employed as riflemen, were dispatched to reinforce the center of our weakened line.
After continued request for reinforcements, the morning of Dec 17, CCA/9-AD, having taken command of this sector at 1100, attached Troop A, 89th Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron to the battalion, and the 3-FAB assigned 3 medium tanks. This force was placed in reserve with exception of detachments of the Recon troop which out posted Beaufort, Luxembourg, and patrolled our right flank. Also during the morning, two Recon platoons were given the mission of clearing the enemy between Beaufort and our front lines and establishing contact with each front line element. Consequently, even though the heavy woods were not cleared, contact was gained with each front line unit.
By late afternoon the situation again became more critical and by darkness snipers had worked into Beaufort. All contact was lost with the front line companies and could not be restored. The 81-MM mortar platoon was ambushed attempting to move into position and all company OP’s in Beaufort were attacked and forced to withdraw with all Company Commanders cut off from their companies. With the enemy in control of Beaufort and enemy patrols attempting to cut the only withdrawal route, Beaufort – Haller road, at 1743, the Hq & Hq Co (minus) withdrew to the Battalion Motor Park in the vicinity of Savelborn. During the night, Dec 17 to Dec 18, plans were drafted at CCA/9-AD to attack at 0300, Dec 18, to relieve pressure on our surrounded rifle companies and to permit them to withdraw. The plan was to attack with two task forces consisting of one medium tank company, one light tank company, one company of Engineers employed as infantrymen and two assault gun platoons along the route toward Beaufort.
The attack proceeded as planned but encountered heavy enemy opposition at the Line of Departure in the form infantrymen with automatic weapons, anti-tank grenades and panzerschreck. At 1600, Dec 18, after an advance of 1500 yard the task forces were withdrawn. An enemy force of approximately 70 men engaged the Command Post in a fire fight from 0730 to 1400, personnel, drivers and small administrative groups from Co CP’s threw back all attempts to take over the place and at 1400, 50 prisoners of the afore mentioned group surrendered. Throughout the day 250 enemy prisoners were taken and about 100 others were killed.
During Dec 18, approximately 100 rounds of 88-MM and 105-MM artillery fell in the vicinity of the Battalion’s CP. During the evening of Dec 18, the COs of Baker Co and Charlie Co were sent to lead their companies to the rear. During the night of Dec 18/19 the remnants of Able Co and the MG platoon successfully withdrew from their Beaufort position and were placed in the defensive line. On the morning of Dec 19, the defensive line Waldbillig – Ermsdorf was strengthened, the sector assigned to the 60-AIB remained principally the same with Baker Co, the 19-TB attached to strengthen the defenses. Enemy activity was confined to limited patrolling. The 60-AIB’s CP was moved to 9136. During the night of Dec 19/20 the remnants of Baker and Charlie Cos arrived in an area near Fels, Luxembourg. This withdrawal was executed just prior to an enemy attack by troops estimated the size of Battalion preceded by an artillery preparation to wipe out the surrounded companies.
From Dec 20 to Dec 23, our line was strengthened and Charlie Co was moved up to occupy the right portion of our sector. On Dec 21, an attack by about 60 enemy infantrymen on Charlie Co’s right flank was quickly repulsed. On Dec 23, an enemy counterattack was launched by two infantry companies and two S/P 75-MM guns on the right of the sector at Savelborn. The entire attack was repulsed with heavy losses. On Dec 24, Baker Co was attached to 19t-TB. From Dec 23 to Dec 26, the activity on both sides was limited to a heavy exchange of artillery fire and probing patrols.
At 1600, Dec 26, the 60-AIB was relieved in the Savelborn sector and as part of CCA, 9-AD, moved immediately to Longlier, Belgium. Arriving at 2345, CCA, was attached to the 4th Armored Division and orders were issued for an attack at 0800, on Dec 19, along the Neufchateau – Bastogne road to take the high ground southwest of Bastogne and make contact with friendly units in the town.. The 60-AIB and attachments were organized as Task Force Collins (Lt Col Kenneth W. Collins) and consisted of the following outfits : 60-AIB less Baker Co still attached to the 19-TB; Charlie Co, 19-TB; 3rd Plat, Able Co, 9th Armored Engineers Battalion; 811th Tank Destroyer Battalion; and 2nd Section, D Battery, 482nd AAA-AW Battalion. The first resistance encountered was in vicinity of Sibret, Belgium. 40 PW’s being taken. A PW stated they were left behind to cover the withdrawal of the main body to Saint-Hubert, Belgium. Light resistance was also encountered in capturing the towns of Jodenville and Flohamont. 60 PW’s were taken in these two towns along with quantities of arms and equipment. At darkness road blocks were established surrounding Sibret. Charlie Co patrolled the town throughout the night and Able Co occupied the high ground north of Sibret. Upon taking Sibret our direction of advance was changed to attack to attack to the north and secure the high ground north of Sibret which was accomplished by night fall, December 27.
On Dec 28, Able Co, with Charlie 19-TB attached, attacked the woods to north of the former position but were driven back by heavy enemy fire. Throughout the remainder of the 28 as well as the 29, vigorous patrolling was carried out. Enemy activity was relatively inactive. On Dec 30, Task Force Collins attacked and took Chenogne. Charlie Co lead in the attack and after stiff fighting cleared all enemy resistance from high ground south of Chenogne and heavy woods to the right. Able Co supported by Charlie 19-TB then passed through and cleared the town of Chenogne. At darkness our troops pulled back and occupied the high ground south of the town and an attached Recon platoon of Troop B, 89th Reconnaissance Squadron out posted the town. At 2000, the enemy attacked with an unknown number of tanks and infantry and drove our out post from Chenogne to our position south of the town. At 2400, the enemy probed our lines with two tanks and a platoon of infantry along the Sibret – Chenogne road but were repulsed.
On Dec 31, at 0530, the enemy launched a strong attack south from Chenogne apparently with the aim of cutting the Neuchateau – Bastogne road. This attack was launched by an enemy force estimated the size of a brigade. Of this, an estimated battalion of infantry and a company of tanks attacked our position both frontally and from the flanks. Able Co 60-AIB and Charlie Co 19-TB were forced from the high ground south of Chenogne and they were ordered to fall back top their left. Just prior to the attack Charlie Co 60-AIB was ordered to occupy the reserve position just north of Sibret. Remnants of the attached tank company and TD platoon fell back to the reserve position to support Charli Co. The force of the attack struck the reserve position and was repulsed with very heavy losses. Simultaneously with the enemy counterattack a Combat Command from the 11-AD was launching an attack northeast throughout Jodenville and this threat to his flank apparently caused the enemy to withdraw his forces to the high ground south of Chenogne. By noon our troops had been reorganized and the line firmly established. Continued attacks by the 11-AD further relieved the pressure on our sector.
At the start of the action, enemy troops were decidedly aggressive and morale was high and troops appeared well fed, equipped, very young, but with little training. All troops were German. This high spirit gradually subsided until Dec 30, enemy troops were still well equipped, but poor fed and with low morale willing to surrender at the first opportunity. Troops were still entirely German. Many times the enemy surrendered when he still had AT weapons, MG’s & grenades that could have been used had they desired to make a stand. The enemy artillery fire in the vicinity of Sibret was notable because of its absence. The weather from the Dec 16 to Dec 23 was predominately cold and foggy enabling the enemy to move without fear of observation but from the Dec 23 to Dec 31 the weather was excellent and greatly curtailed the enemies daylight movements.
The terrain in the vicinity of Beaufort, Luxembourg, greatly favored enemy movement by utilizing the deep wooded draws and countless trail and roads thereabouts. Heavy vehicles could move unobserved but the terrain did canalize most all traffic and prevent the mass use of tanks. The entire area was about 50% wooded but entirely cleared of underbrush. The terrain in vicinity of Bastogne was predominately open rolling ground with the high ground affording excellent observation. The ground was frozen 10 inches deep, allowing heavy vehicle and tank traffic to proceed across country with very little obstruction. The creeks and streams were narrow and easily forded. During the month the following damages and casualties were inflicted on the enemy : Killed : 578; Prisoners : 518; Wounded : 327; AT Guns 3 (88-MM); Vehicles : 4.
K. W. Collins,
LT Col, Infantry,
January 01 1945, 0001 – January 31 1945, 2400
Location : 60th Armd Inf Bn., 6 February 1945, France
Operations with the following higher units
CCA, 9th Armored Division, Col Thomas L. Harrold, CG
Operations with the following subordinate units
HQ Co, 60-AIB – 1/Lt Leo J. Graham, CO;
Able Co, 60-AIB – Capt John W. Schalles, CO;
Baker Co, 60-AIB – Capt Floyd D. Harder, CO;
Charlie Co, 60-AIB – 1/Lt Cliford E. Penrose, CO;
Serv Co, 60-AIB – Capt Louis Gelling, CO;
Med Det, 60-AIB – Capt Stephen E. Gates, CO
KIA : 7 ; DOW : 12; WIA : 14; MIA : 6; Sick NBI : 66
Reinforcements (New Replacements) : 579
Casuals (Personnel RTD) 26
Prisoners of War Taken: – 68
From midnight to early morning, January 1 1945, Task Force Collins, as part of CCA-9-AD, held the high ground immediately north of Sibret, Belgium, from which position enemy counterattacks had been repulsed the day before. During this period orders were received by Task Force Collins to attack that morning with the mission of clearing the heavy woods to the front and right front, and seize and occupy the high ground south of the railroad between Chenogne and Senonchamps. Plans were formulated, subordinate commanders assembled, and orders issued promptly in preparation for the attack which was set for 1100. Following the counterattacks by the enemy during the previous day, his operations in the sector to our front were strictly defensive in character. The necessarily hasty reconnaissance made prior to our attack failed to locate the exact enemy positions in our zone of advance. After a 30 minute prearranged artillery barrage fired by the 3-FAB, followed by a 15 minute period of fire by heavy direct fire supporting weapons, the attack jumped off with Able Co, and an MG platoon attached leading. Task Force Collins consisting of the 60-AIB, less Baker Co, Charlie Co 19-TB, 1st Plat Charlie Co 811-TDB, 2nd Plat, Dog Co, 482nd AAA-AW, and 3rd Plat, Able Co 9th Armored Engineer Battalion. With exception of 3rd Plat Able 9th Armored Engineer, the attached units closely followed the leading elements in the attack and provided valuable supporting fires. The Task Force reserve was composed of Charlie 60-AIB and the 3rd Plat Able 9th Armored Engineer. It must be remembered that at the time of this attack all combat companies of the 60-AIB and Charlie 19-TB were far below their T/O strengths.
Because of the vastness of the woods, it was decided early in the attack to attach a platoon of Charlie Co to Able Co A (60-AIB) in order to widen the attacking force’s front. Within some five or six hours after the attack began, the woods had been flushed, and Task Force Collins was digging in on its objective. The woods were found to be relatively lightly defended by small groups of well dug in enemy without much artillery support. The enemy used mortars to cover approach trails with unobserved fire and machine guns, with apparently no plan of fire, firing direct fire only on sight. The enemy force in this woods was estimated to be 150 – 200 men. Two abandoned 88-MM guns and five other abandoned AT positions were located in the woods. Fresh tank trails found indicated a withdrawal from this sector. In these woods we captured our first prisoners other than German (Polish, Czech, etc). All prisoners had very low morale. Their equipment was plentiful, but consisted only of that which could be hand carried. Their supply transportation had broken down. Prisoners stated that they had been living off the country for the past five days.
During the day, elements of the 11-AD, attacking on our left, failed to advance according to plan, and Task Force Karsteter (Lt Col Burton W. Karsteter), attacking on our right, was driven back to its Line of Departure while on the left, Task Force Collins moved well forward but with its flanks exposed. To protect the exposed flanks and maintain contact with the flanking units, Baker and Charlie Troops of the 89th Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron (Mech) were attached to Collins Combat Group by CCA 9-AD. On the morning of January 2, these two troops attacked and cleared a small woods just north of the railroad finding therein only a few enemy stragglers. After clearing the woods, these two Recon Troops occupied positions along the northern edge of the woods. That afternoon, Charlie Troop, 89-CRS (Mech) was pulled back from its position and reverted to the control of CCA 9-AD. Later, Task Force Karsteter took the town of Senonchamps and the 11-AD made contact with elements of the 101-A/B north and east of Senonchamps. The move of the 11-AD established a front line forward of the line held by Task Force Collins and Task Force Karsteter of CCA 9-AD. TF Collins remained in position until units of CCA were relieved the following afternoon, January 3, by elements of the 17-A/B. Upon relief of CCA, both Task Forces were disbanded and all attached elements reverted to their parent units. Immediately the 60-AIB began its march to the rear, spending the night, January 4, in the vicinity of Volaiville, Belgium.
Enemy casualties during the three day period were 30 killed and 68 prisoners captured, plus 20 from our sector who surrendered to a unit on our left.
The weather for this period was crisp and clear with our air correspondingly hampering all enemy daylight activity. The ground was frozen ten inches deep, but as has been indicated, the terrain was thickly wooded, almost entirely limiting the operations to infantry. The terrain under enemy control was thickly wooded in spots, but was generally open rolling ground with high points affording excellent observation. During the period January 4-10, the march toward the rear was resumed on the morning of January 4 from the vicinity of Volaiville, and that night the 60-AIB closed into bivouac in and around the town of Veil-Saint-Rémy, between Rethel and Charleville-Méizières, France. The remainder of this period was utilized for the reorganization of the battalion, reception and processing of reinforcements, reconditioning of old and receipt of new equipment, and plans for training new reinforcements. During the period January 11-31, the 11, as part of CCA, we again moved, eastward now. The next, January 12, the march was resumed with the 60-AIB closing into a bivouac area in and near Metzeresche, France. We occupied this area during the reminder of January. This period was utilize in reconstituting basic loads of supplies, reconditioning of old and receipt of new equipment, and in intensive training in preparation for our return to battle.
K. W. Collins,
Lt Col, Infantry,
February 1 1945, 0001 – February 28 1945, 2400
Location 60-AIB, March 10 1945, Germany
Operations with the following higher units
CCA, 9-AD – Colonel Thomas L. Harrold, CO
Operations with the following subordinates units
HQ Co, 60-AIB, 1/Lt Leo J. Graham, CO;
Able Co, 60-AIB, Capt John W. Schalles, CO;
Baker Co, 60-AIB, Capt Floyd D. Harder, CO;
Charlie Co, 60-AIB, Capt Clifford E. Penrose, CO;
Serv Co, 60-AIB, Capt Louis Gelling, CO;
Med Det, 60-AIB, Capt Stephen E. Gates
Killed, 1(Accident); Sick or other Non-battle, 39
Period February 1-22 : At the beginning of February the companies of the 60-AIB were in billets in and near Metzeresche, France, continuing their mission of reconstituting basic loads of supplies, reconditioning old and receiving new equipment, and intensive training in preparation for their return to battle. On February 9, Able Co moved from Mancy (Bettelainville), France, to better billets in Distroff, France, and there continued its reorganization.
Period February 23-27 : Early on the morning of February 21, an officer from the battalion was ordered to Division Headquarters to act as billeting officer for the battalion in its move to Belgium on February 23. At 0700, February 23, the 60-AIB, began marching from its billet areas in the vicinity of Metzeresche, France, to new billet areas near Trooz, Belgium, closing in the new areas at 2315 after a march of 186 miles. During the remaining days of the period, the battalion made preparations for its movement into Germany. The Companies Commanders and staff of the 60-AIB assembled at the Bn CP in Trooz, Belgium, at 0800, February 28, to receive orders from the Battalion CO for marching into Germany. The march began at 1215, with the battalion marching as part of CCA 9-AD, and at 2130 the battalion closed into its assembly area at Drove (Kreuzau), Germany. At a unit commanders meeting held at, Headquarters CCA at 2200, the CO, 60-AIB was placed in command of Task Force Collins, consisting of 60-AIB less Charlie Co; Charlie 19-TB; 3d Plat, Able, 9-AEB; 1st Plat, Able 656-TDB. The commanders of these units met the Task Force commander at Bn CP at 2345 and began receiving the plans and orders for the attack the next day.
K. W. Collins,
Lt Col Infantry,
March 01 1945 0001 – March 31 1945 2400
Location 60-AIB, April 10 1945, Germany
Operations with the following higher units
March 01 1945, CCA 9-AD, Col Thomas L. Harrold, CG;
March 12 1945, CCB 9-AD, Brig Gen William M. Hoge, CG;
March 12 1945, 311-IR, 78-ID, Col C. M. Willingham, CG;
March 17 1945, CCB 9-AD, Brig Gen William M. Hoge, CG;
March 19 1945, CCA 9-AD, Col Thomas L. Harrold, CG;
March 21 1945, CCB 9-AD, Brig Gen William M. Hoge, CG;
March 23 1945, CCA 9-AD, Col Thomas M. Harrold, CG
Operations with the following subordinate units
HQ Co, 60-AIB, March 1-11, 1/Lt Leo J. Graham, CO;
HQ Co, 60-AIB, March 12-31, Capt John W. Hall, CO;
Able Co, 60-AIB, March 1-31, Capt John W. Schalles, CO;
Baker Co, 60-AIB, March 1-31, Capt Floyd D. Harder, CO;
Charlie Co, 60-AIB, March 1-15, Capt Clifford E. Penrose, CO;
Charlie Co, 60-AIB, March 16-31, 1/Lt Vincent P. McCarthy, CO;
Serv Co, 60-AIB, March 1-31, Capt Louis Gelling, CO;
Med Det, 60-AIB, March 1-15, Capt Stephen E. Gates, CO;
Med Det, 60-AIB, March 16-19, 1/Lt John R. Potter, CO;
Med Det, 60-AIB, March 20-31, Capt Frank A. Cellar Jr, CO
Killed 116; Died of wounds 14; Wounded or injured 445; Missing 5; Sick or non-battle 104
On February 28 1945, as part of CCA-9-AD, the 60-AIB marched from Belgium to an assembly area in the village of Drove (Kreuzau), Germany. Closing shortly before midnight, the battalion prepared to enter its first combat since the en of the Battle of the Bulge. By March 1 at 0030, the CO commanding Task Force Collins, composed of the 60-AIB less Charlie Co; Charlie Co 19-TB, 3d Plat Able 9-AEB and 1 Plat Able 656-TDB, completed issuing his order for an attack that morning. Early morning, March 1, Task Force Collins began marching in vehicles toward its objective, Wollersheim (Nideggen), with the advance guard, Baker 60-AIB and 1 Plat 19-TB attached, crossing the Line of Departure, Berg (Nideggen), Germany, at 0700. As the advance guard passed through Berg, the enemy fired approximately 50 rounds of 105-MM artillery into the town causing a short delay in the advance. Upon clearing the town, the Task Force met a stubborn enemy force estimated at a rifle company supported by several MG and AT weapons firing from prepared positions south and east of the town. Because of this resistance Baker 60-AIB, was forced to dismount and continue the attack on foot. The terrain in this sector was rolling and fairly open, affording excellent defensive positions. Utilizing an extensive network of trenches for movement, the enemy gradually withdrew to high ground 2000 meters southeast of Berg, to more prepared positions, while its arty kept up a general harassing fire over our entire route of advance. The first PWs captured that morning were identified as being from the 3.Fallschirmjäger Division. The weather during the morning was cloudy and a light rain fell during the afternoon.
Due to determined enemy resistance against Baker Co, Able Co, was committed at 1400 in a flanking attack toward what was believed to be the enemy’s right flank. Utilizing a draw which led almost to the edge of the Task Force objective, Able Co advanced to the northwest edge of Wollersheim where it was immediately pinned down by heavy arty, MG and AT fire, forcing it to take cover in narrow enemy trenches in that section. This flanking attack, however, caused the enemy to withdraw from the high ground in front of Baker Co to prepared positions along the edge of the town. Immediately after Baker Co occupied the high ground about 1500 meters west of Wollersheim abandoned by the enemy, it successfully defended the hill against a counterattack by three enemy tanks and approximately 100 infantrymen. Having the exact locations of Able and Baker Cos positions, the enemy continued heavy arty & MG fire against those positions, making it impossible for either company to advance during the night. Throughout the night, the enemy used white phosphorous and amber flares extensively, which aided them in pinning down patrols sent out by Able Co in an effort to locate well camouflaged automatic and direct fire weapons.
Early morning, March 2, Charlie Co 60-AIB was attached to Task Force Collins. At 0700, Able and Baker Cos launched another attack for Wollersheim which proved unsuccessful. Able Co could not advance because of observed arty & automatic weapons fire hitting from the front and flanks. Baker Co advanced approximately 250 meters before being forced back to its original position by intensive fire from direct fire weapons in town and from automatic weapons and sniper fire from the high ground south of the town. At 1020, Charlie Co was committed in a wide dismounted flanking attack through a draw to the northeast of the town as Baker Co in position reverted to Battalion reserve. Although the attack by Able and Charlie Cos was slowed down at times by intense fire from the enemy, Able Co entered the town and began clearing it. Shortly after noon the enemy began surrendering, and at 1715 the town was officially cleared. The 195 PWs taken during the day definitely identified the enemy as one battalion of the 3.Fallschirjaëger-Division. After being cleared, the town was occupied for the night by Able Co and out posted on the high ground to the east by Charlie Co, while the remainder of the Task Force remained in position west of the town. During the night, Charlie Co 19-TB was relieved from attachment to the Task Force and Able Co 17-TB was attached.
Early March 3, Charlie Co 60-AIB with 1 Plat Able Co 19-TB and 1 Plat Able Co 9-AEB attached, moved outward from positions east of Wollerscheim and at 0845 occupied Langendorf, encountering only light enemy sniper fire in the town. When Charlie Co ( ) began its move, the remainder of Task Force Collins occupied Wollerscheim. At noon, March 4, the Task Force, in column, began its move toward a Line of Departue, Oberelvenich (Zülpich) to Nemmenich (Zülpich), with the mission of clearing the north edge of Euskirchen and seizing a crossing on the Erft River in its zone of action. At the Line of Departure, the attack was launched with Able and Charlie Cos 60-AIB abreast. The first enemy resistance, although light, was encountered soon after the leading elements cleared Frauenberg (Euskirchen). However, occasional fire from enemy automatic and direct fire weapons often pinned down our riflemen. The enemy withdrew through Euskirchen leaving emplaced 88-MM guns unmanned and stocked with ammunition. Heavy artillery was noticeable absent. In Euskirchen, some sniper fire was received, and the streets were blocked by bomb craters and rubble from fallen buildings, making it impossible for vehicles larger that a Jeep to move through the town until early the next morning. The bridge over the Erft River had been blown when the troops of Task Force Collins arrived. However, combat troops were able to cross, and a bridgehead was established by Able and Charlie Cos at 0500 March 5. Throughout the day and night of March 4/5, the weather was dull and rainy, and the terrain from the Line of departure to the objective was flat and open.
On March 5, Task Force Collins finished and occupied its portion of Euskirchen and maintained the bridgehead while constructed a crossing over the Erft River. At 2145, Charlie 60-AIB with 1 Plat of Able 19-TB attached, attacked across the Erft River with the objective of taking Palmersheim. Light resistance was encountered en route and in the town, but by 0615, the next morning, the objective was cleared of the enemy. The 200 estimated enemy troops observed withdrawing from Palmersheim shortly after daylight were brought under affective arty fire. On the morning of March 6, the Task Force less Charlie 60-AIB and the 1st Plat of Able 19-TB, moved from Euskirchen to Odendorf, closing at 0755 where it received orders to continue the attack of CCA-9-AD passing through friendly units at Rheinbach as soon as that town had been cleared. With Able 60-AIB and the 1st Plat Able 19-TB attached as advance guard, Task Force Collins moved from Odendorf, crossing the Line of Departure in Reinhbach on March 6, at 1300, with a series of towns to the southeast as its objective. At the first objective, Wormersdorf. The advance guard met enemy resistance from SP AT and AAA guns. Despite heavy fire directed at them, the enemy would not withdraw and held out until destroyed. At 2100 the first objective was cleared and occupied by the advance guard, while Charlie 60-AIB and the 1 Plat Able 19-TB passed through and assumed advance guard positions to the next objective, Ersdorf. When Charlie 60-AIB with its tanks occupied the 2nd objective at 2220 without opposition, it became evident to Lt Col Collins, that a breakthrough had been effected. Without hesitation and by aggressive and energetic planning, Collins exploited this success by pushing the attack until early the next morning when the Task Force halted for reorganization and consolidation of positions at Lantershofen.
Lt Col Collins organized, within his Task Force, three separate sub-tank forces of one rifle company and one tank platoon each. After the second objective had been taken, that attack was principally a night march involving the tactics of one sub-task force attacking until ammunition was exhausted and another Task Force taking the lead without hesitation. Using these tactics Charlie 60-AIB and the Tank Plat took Ersdorf at 2255; Geldsdorf at 2350; Vettelhoven at 0040 and Bölingen at 0115. At this point Baker 60-AIB and the Tank Plat passed through Charlie Co Lantershofen at 0205. At this point, Task Force Collins halted with Baker and Charlie Cos occupying defensive positions on the high ground just east of the town, and the balance of the Task Force closed into Lantershofen. Weather during this operation was dull and rainy, and terrain went from flat and open to hilly as we approached the Rhine River. During the attack enemy was taken completely by surprise and surrendered without opposition. Prisoners were carried on our vehicles to a PW Collection Point established in Lantershofen. Several groups of much surprised German soldiers were bypassed during the night and later surrendered voluntarily to our service units. Lantershofen was lightly harassed by arty and AT fire throughout the following day, March 7, and enemy from the surrounding vicinity kept surrendering voluntarily all day. Able Co 60-AIB relieved Charlie Co 60-AIB in its defensive sector at 1535, and that night all wires leading from the battalion CP were cut by an unknown person.
With plans laid and orders issued to continue our attack in a southeasterly direction toward the Rhine River on the morning of March 8, Task Force Collins received last minute orders about midnight to cancel all prior plans and move to Sinzig with the mission of protecting the Remagen Bridgehead in a sector west of the Rhine River. On March 8, at 0645, the Task Force moved into Sinzig and by noon Able and Charlie 60-AIB occupied defensive positions on the high ground south of the town. Friendly patrols reconnoitering forward of our positions encountered dug in enemy infantry and road blocks at Bad Breisig and at a crossroads 450 meters to the southeast of this town. Since no ground attacks were made by the enemy against the bridge from the west bank of the Rhine, the situation remained unchanged until the afternoon of March 9, when all attached units reverted to the control of their parent units, and the 60-AIB was relieved from defensive positions by elements of the 23-IR (2-ID). A new defensive sector along the west bank of the Rhine was assigned to the 60-AIB on March 10, and was occupied by Able Co at 0400. The battalion was relieved from its defensive sector along the Rhine by elements of the 23-IR (2-ID) on March 11, and placed on a one hour alert. The next day the alert status was changed to two hours. During the period March 8-12, when the companies were not defending a sector in the vicinity of Sinzig, their time was consumed in receiving, processing and training reinforcement, maintenance of vehicles, arms and equipment, and reconstituting basic leads. Enemy arty continually harassed the town of Sinzig and its vicinity during this period, and enemy air was active, but neither bombed nor strafed the area.
Effective March 12, 1800, the 60-AIB was attached to CCB-9-AD. Immediately orders were received to move the battalion to the vicinity of Unkel, and at 2025, the battalion began marching from Sinzig closing in its new assembly area at 2315. During this march the battalion crossed the Rhine River, using a pontoon bridge constructed by US Army Engineers in the vicinity of Kripp, approximately 2000 meters southeast of the main Ludendorff bridge in Remagen. Upon closing into its first assembly area east of the Rhine River, the 60-AIB was attached to the 311-IR (78-ID). On March 13, the battalion was ordered to Rheinbreitbach, for a short time and then to Bad Honnef where it was assigned the mission of securing the town which had been taken by another unit that day. In addition to occupying a defensive sector near the northeastern edge of the town, Able Co was given the mission of clearing a small woods to the east. Our units encountered light small arms resistance and arty fire while moving through the southeastern section of town to their positions. At 1700 all companies were ordered back into town and established a system of road blocks.
On March 14, as part of the 311-IR (78-ID), the 60-AIB was assigned the mission of taking as series of numbered objectives, high hills and towns in a sector north and east of Bad Honnef. From an attack position east of this town which had been moved into before daylight, Baker Co pushed off at 0700 in an attack of a high hill, Objective #14. The hill, although steep, rocky and heavily wooded, was lightly defended by the enemy, and by 0830, Baker Co was on its objective. When Baker Co reached its objective, Charlie Co was ordered to attack around the right flank of the position with the mission of seizing Objective #15, the town of Perlenhardt (Königswinter) and the surrounding high ground. As Charlie Co began its attack, the enemy threw a small counterattack against Objective #14 which was repulsed. At 0950, Able Co was ordered to move around the left of Objective #14 and attack another hill to the left front of Baker Co, Objective #17. About noon the enemy increased its shelling of Objective #14 with heavy concentrations of artillery and followed with a second counterattack which was also repulsed. In spite of heavy small arms fire, Able Co reached its objective at 1445 and began digging in for defense. Later, at 1600, and following a terrific artillery barrage, the enemy launched the third counterattack against Objective #14 with over 150 men supported by direct fire weapons. The counterattack was successfully in bending back the right flank of the position held by Baker Co and cutting the road between Able and Baker Cos. After approximately two hours of heavy fighting, during which time many hand to hand battles took place, the enemy was driven back and the position held by Baker Co was restored. However, the enemy still controlled the road between Objectives #14 and #17 and part of the area around #17, making physical contact between Able Co and other units of the battalion impossible. Until the next morning, when a Motorized Msg from Bn Hq reached Able Co, the only means of communication with the unit on #17 was the radio and that failed several hours at a time.
Initially Charlie Co gained ground in its attack toward Objective #15, but later ran into a stiff and determined enemy who had not yielded the objective. By 1900, when orders were issued for the company to hold up for the night in its position. From captured PWs during the day the enemy was identified as a group of miscellaneous units organized under a unit of the 3.Fallschirmjäger-Division.
The attack was resumed at 0630, March 15, with Baker Co having the mission of taking two hills a few hundred yards in front of Objective #14, and Charlie Co, the mission of continuing toward its objective. At about 1030, a Motorized Msg from battalion reached Able Co with orders for that unit to attack at 1230, and to seize and occupy Objective #16, Margarethenhof (Königswinterer) and the nearby villages. Early afternoon, Baker Co had secured its objective and by 1800, both, Able and Charlie Cos were on their objectives preparing to hold up for the night. In all the attacks this day only scattered ground opposition was encountered by our troops. However, the enemy used its arty to fire intense and accurate barrages on all positions. Because of the hilly terrain, the actions engaged in by our troops from the crossing of the Rhine River to this point were all dismounted, without the use of vehicles or vehicular weapons. Since communications within an Armored Infantry Battalion are dependent upon vehicular participation in the fighting, communications during the dismounted fighting engaged in by our troops over this hilly rugged terrain would have proved a serious handicap had not SC 300 radios been issued to us prior to the actions. Even though we could have used more, the mix sets issued and distributed one each to the rifle companies, one to Bn Hq and two to the mortar platoon proved to be the answer to a difficult problem. In this type of action an Armored Infantry Battalion had to fight as regular foot infantry without the advantages of T/O communications personnel and equipment peculiar to the latter.
On March 15, a tank plat of Charlie Co 774-TB and 1 Plat of TDs were attached to the 60-AIB. Late that night, orders were received from Regimentat Hq, changing the direction of attack for the battalion from north to northeast and assigning Objective #34 and #35, the city of Ittenbach, to be taken the following morning. At 0600, March 16, Able and Charlie Cos complied with the orders to move further into Objective #16 to secure better positions from which to launch an attack against Ittenbach. Upon receipt of the Regimental Order to attack Objectives #34 and #35, Able and Charlie Cos abreast jumped off at 0910 with a tank plat attached to Charlie Co. Baker Co was then ordered to occupy Objective #16 as battalion reserve. The enemy, registering a battalion of artillery on both, Ittenbach and Objective #16, kept an intense concentration on our troops throughout the day. Able Co, although faced with intense artillery barrages and direct fire from large caliber AT guns, during its advance, met only alight small arms resistance in its sector and by 1515, gained its objective, that portion of the city west of the creek. However, Charlie Co, in addition to receiving heavy artillery poundings in its sector, met an enemy force of about 200 men supported by two Mark VI Tiger tanks.
With the help of prepared dug in positions and fortified houses, the enemy was successful in holding Charlie Co, to which was also attached the TD plat, from clearing its objective that night. The next morning, at 0930, a German Captain, representing the Commanding Officer of the unit defending the town, under the white flag of truce, contacted Lt McCarthy, CO Charlie Co, in an effort to arrange a two hour armistice during which they could collect German dead and evacuate civilians from town. Without hesitation and with stern determination and force, Lt McCarthy answered the request by giving the Captain a warning that if the German Commander did not surrender his position and all his officers and men as PWs within 20 minutes, he would call on all his artillery and tanks to burn the town, and then would have his armor overrun the German strong points killing as many soldiers as possible. Failing to get better terms after a short discussion, the Captain took the message to his commander. At 1000, a full Colonel with his staff reported to Charlie Co’s CP to accept terms of unconditional surrender. By noon, the 14 officers and 175 men had been collected and surrendered by the staff, and Charlie Co occupied and secured its objective. Upon interrogation it was found that the full Colonel had been the CO of an artillery unit whose guns had been taken away and its men attached to the 3.Fallschirmjäger-Division. However, at the time of his surrender, this officer was the senior left in the division, and his unit the largest. Their mission was to protect the autobahn highway in that sector.
That night, when its positions were taken over at 1900 by the 2/310-IR (78-ID), the 60-AIB was relieved from attachment to the 311-IR (78-ID) and reverted to control of CCB-9-AD. Upon leaving Ittenbach the battalion marched to Bad Honnef closing in at 2330. There it received orders to move to the vicinity of Linz the next morning at 0700 and over the same route used in its march to Bad Honnef. This movement was completed on March 18 at 111. On March 19, 2400, the battalion in place was attached to CCA-9-AD, and on March 21, 1200, reverted back to control of CCB. During the period March 18-21, the battalion was out of contact with the enemy and used the time for maintenance of vehicles and equipment, receipt and processing of reinforcement and sending a few officers and men to Paris on 3 day passes. Enemy activity for the period consisted of sporadic concentrations of long range arty fire and some air activity.
Receiving orders during the night of March 21 to move to an assembly area in the vicinity of Hammerstein in preparation for an attack early the next morning. The battalion moved at 0230 closing into its assigned area at 0350. Without vehicles the three rifle companies in the order of Able, Charlie, Baker moved from their assembly area at 0600 and followed the 27-AIB across the Line of Departure where they turned left into a sector on the left flank, parallel to the 27-AIB’s assigned sector. The battalion mission was to move eastward as quickly as possible, seize a crossing and establish a bridgehead over the Wied River in its zone. With Able and Charlie Cos abreast, Baker being in support, the battalion attacked on schedule. The extremely hilly terrain in the battalion sector coupled with a stubborn enemy supported by artillery, mortars & numerous 20-MM AA guns made movement toward the objective slow. Toward nightfall both Able and Charlie Cos reached the river to find that all bridges had been blown. However, Charlie Co was successful in locating a small foot bridge in its sector, and without hesitation pushed over the river at 1830 gaining and organizing the high ground on the east bank by 1930. As soon as Charlie C crossed, Able and Baker were ordered to cross at the same point. Able Co was, then, given the mission of occupying the high ground on the right flank of Charlie, while the mission of Baker Co remained unchanged.
Early on the morning, March 23, Baker 14-TB, crossed the river over a blown but passable bridge a few hundred yards north of our battalion sector, and in the zone of the of the 2-ID, to help support the bridgehead established. At 1000, the battalion, plus other units attached to CCB-9-AD, reverted to the control of CCA-9-AD. A little later, Able and Charlie 60-AIB moved forward approximately 650 meters to better defensive positions where they remained that day. When patrols from Able and Charlie Cos reported no contact with the enemy at midnight in the sector for 1500 meters to our front, orders were issued to move forward some 2000 more meters abreast of the unit on our right flank to straighten the Combat Command front line. With Able and Baker abreast, Baker on the right, and Charlie following Able in support, the battalion attacked on March 24 at 0200. Meeting only light scattered resistance the companies consolidated their objective by 0600. A fragmentary order received from CCA-9-AD during the night, attached Baker 14-TB and one platoon Able 9-AEB, to the 60-AIB. The order assigned the Task Force the mission of crossing the Sayn River, in this case, the Saynbach, a Streamer, in its zone of action and then moving south to take, in order, the town of Bendorf, the town of Vallendar, and the high ground of the Mallendarer Berg (Hill). Lt Col Collins, issued the following plan and order : Charlie C would send a combat patrol across the Streamer and into Bendorf to determine the enemy strength and disposition, then report back by midnight. Based upon information brought back by the patrol, Charloe Co would attack immediately in an effort to cross the Sayn River, and if possible, take Bendorf. Whether this part of the plan was successful or not, Baker Co, followed by Able, would cross the Line of Departure on March 25 at 0500. If Charlie Co was successful in its attack on Bendorf, Baker 60-AIB with Baker 14-TB attached would bypass the town and seize the next objective, Vallendar. When this was completed, Able Co would bypass Vallendar and seize the final objective.
The patrol returned shortly after midnight with the report that an enemy force of some 200 men supported by automatic weapons and SP guns was defending the west bank of the Saynbach. On March 25, at 0200, Charlie Co attacked and advanced steadily without difficulty until reaching the river, when alight confusion, due to darkness and enemy action, forced the company to withdraw to the west of Bendorf, thus preventing a crossing. The main body of the Task Force crossed the ine of Departue at 0500, and by 1110, Baker 60-AIB followed by Able 60-AIB, supported by fire from Baker 14-TB, succeeded in crossing the river over small foot bridge and entered Bendorf. Approximately 150 PWs surrendered without much fighting. AT mines hastily laid in the streets by the enemy were removed by civilians before our troops entered. The tanks and Charlie Co were then ordered to cross the river over the main highway bridge between Engers and Bendorf which was captured intact by the 27-AIB.
As soon as Charlie Co following the Sherman Tanks entered BendorfF, they were ordered to move south on the main highway parallel to the Rhine River, bypass Weitersburg, and attack Vallendar. Able Co was ordered to follow the Task Force to a point in the vicinity of Weitersburg, send a platoon to occupy the town and await further orders. The platoon gained its objective taking approximately 40 PWS. Able Co in Weitersburg where it would revert to battalion reserved. This was accomplished by 1400. Against very light opposition, the sub-task force advanced to the outskirts of Vallendar by 1320 where its progress was slowed down and stopped on numerous occasions by terrific barrages from 20-MM and 40-MM AA guns on the high ground which was the battalion final objective. Because this force was making very slow progress, Able Co was ordered at at 1710, to move around the left flank of Charlie Co with the mission of neutralizing the AA guns firing on the troops and occupying the battalion’s final objective. By 2000, the northern edge of Vallendar had been cleared, and Baker Co moved in. Charlie Co continued its mission of clearing the town and completed it shortly before midnight. At 0400, Able Co reported all AA guns destroyed and the 60-AIB’s final objective occupied.
Shortly before midnight, on March 25, work was received from CCA-9-AD that we would be relieved in place sometime the following day by elements of CCR-9AD, after which time the battalion would be prepared to attack eastward. By noon, March 26, relief of our units by the 27-AIB was completed, and the battalion began readying itself for crossing the Line of Departure at 1500 in its new attack. With the mission of clearing the town of Hillscheid and then following the Yellow route to a point some 5000 meters, further east, the 60-AIB marched at the head of the main body of the CCA’s column in the order of Baker Co with one Tank Plat and one Engineer Plat; Able Co; Baker 14-TB (-); 60-AIB Hq; Charlie Co and the Medical Detachment. Hq Co and Service Co reverted to control of the CCA trains. Hillerscheid was passed through without opposition although Baker Co delayed its advance long enough to check the town thoroughly. As the column marched to its assigned objective, encountering no armed resistance and delayed only on three occasions by prepared road blocks or blown craters in the road, CCA ordered the 60-AIB to continue its advance on route Yellow to the Lahn River in Diez. Reaching the west bank of the Lahn at 1950 without opposition, the 60-AIB met there its first resistance from a group of stubborn enemy dug in on the east bank of the river. When a crossing was attempted by our troops, it was found that all bridges over the river in the sector had been blown. Lt Col Collins ordered the attached Armored Engineer Plat to construct a foot bridge. However, because of the width, depth and swift current of the river, such a bridge could be constructed only at points well covered by observed enemy small arms fire with the result that the Engineer mission could not be accomplished. Attempts to ford the river failed, and patrols were unable to find crossing sights on either flank of the CCA sector. The order was then given for the Tank Co to move into firing position on the west bank of the river and pulverize the buildings and possible enemy firing positions on the east bank. This mission was accomplished with excellent results.
The next morning, at daylight, Baker and Charlie Cos were sent north to the vicinity of Limburg, where a crossing had been established by friendly units, with the mission of crossing the river and attacking Diez from the north and east. While this maneuver was in progress an engineer soldier swam to the east bank of the river at the south edge of Diez and untied a long barge anchored there. Since the barge was longer than the river was wide at that point, it was pulled diagonally across the river forming a foot bridge over which Able Co passed without hesitation. For the first time, the 60-AIB had available for its use a powerful public address system which it set up on the west bank of the Lahn River. Warnings were broadcast to the civilians and soldiers on the other side while Able Co cleared the city. Due to the effects of the tank firing during the night, the speedy crossing of Able Co and the warnings which had been broadcast to the people and soldiers, the dug in enemy on the east bank of the Lahn River and those in position in the town of Diez, numbering one Major, several officers and approximately 200 EM, surrendered without further resistance. Able and Baker Cos then took up defensive positions around the town.
After Diez had been cleared, Enginers of the 1st US Army & Able 9-AEB began constructing a tread-way bridge over the river. However, at mid-afternoon, orders were received to cease all bridging operations, and the 60-AIB was informed that all orders for movement were cancelled for 24 hours. The battalion remained in position until 1115, March 28, when it was relieved in place by the 2nd Ranger Battalion. Upon relief the battalion made plans to comply with an order to march northeast, as part of CCA-9-AD, to an assembly area in the vicinity of Hofen (Runkel). Charlie Co 60-AIB was attached to CCA and assigned a special mission of moving without delay to Aumenau and there relieve elements of CCB-9-AD protecting a bridgehead over the Lahn River. This change of direction was the beginning of the march of the 9-AD to join forces with elements of the Ninth Army and seal off the Rhur Pocket.
At 1400, CCA began moving to the new assembly area with the 60-AIB less Charlie Co marching near the end of the column behind seven other units. This was a new experience for the 60-AIB since it usually led or followed the advance guard of any CCA column. At 2000, the battalion closed into Hofen and immediately set up road blocks and a system of all-round security for the night. During the night, orders were received that CCA would continue the advance in one column at 0600 the next day to an assembly area in the vicinity of Hausen and the 60-AIB would maintain its same place in column. CHarlie Co would revert to battalion control when the battalion crossed the Lahn River at Aumenau. By noon, on March 29, the advance of CCA was making such progress that the column was ordered to continue to phase line Denver. The 60-AIB closed into billets at Oberhausen at 1945 and set up security for the night awaiting orders for the next day. The Letter of Instructions from CCA, March 29, stated CCA would continue the attack in one column on the morning of March 30, with the 60-AIB in the lead crossing the Line of Departure, Kirtorf, at 0600. The mission for the day was to order of march was Able Co with one plat Baker 14-TB, and one Plat of Engineers which were to be picked up at the Line of Departure attached; Baker 14-TB (-); Bn Hq; Baker 60-AIB; Charlie 60-AIB; Hq Co 60-AIB; and Service Co 60-AIB. The battalion also had attached a tank from the 738-TB with a public address system.
The attack moved to within 3000 meters of its objective by 1330 with only one delay of an hour and a half at Treysa due to sniper fire. 3000 meters outside Fritzlar the enemy had a 150-MM AT gun and a 20-MM AA gun serving as an outpost for an airfield just south of the Eder River. After the tanks at the head of the column fired a few rounds of HE in and near the positions, the enemy surrendered the two guns without firing a shot. After the outpost was taken care of, Able Co and attached tanks moved without delay to the left flank of the airfield catching most of the air corps personnel on or near the field completely by surprise causing great confusion within the enemy ranks. As one German plane tried to take off in the face of fire from our tanks, it was shot down when a tanker knocked off the tail with a round from his big gun. The enemy immediately registered approximately two batteries of artillery on our units trying to gain the river, making the advance very slow. As Able Co approached the river and found the bridge over the Eder River blown, Baker Co, at 1350, was ordered to move west along the river road and secure the bridge at Wega. Enemy dug in between Fritzlar and Wega coupled with observed direct and indirect fire delayed Baker Co in its advance. However, because of this attack from the east, a friendly unit from the west was able to secure and hold the bridge. When Baker Co reached Wega it was ordered to remain there until further orders.
At 1630, Charlie Co was ordered to cross the river east of Fritzlar and attack the town form the northeast in an effort to ease the resistance on the front of Able Co. By 1900, Able Co crossed the river by wading, but it was unable to advance in the face of intense small arms, mortar and observed arty fire. Charlie Co occupied a few houses on the northeastern edge of town by 2200 with great difficulty facing heavy small arms and panzerschreck fire. A counterattack was thrown against Charlie Co, about 0230, March 31, and within a few minutes its position was surrounded. Able Co was immediately given the mission to move around the eastern side of the town to make contact with Charlie Co. Leaving one plat to hold the bridgehead at its point of crossing, Able Co moved out and gained contact with Charlie Co at 0500. At this point both units held ground until daylight and then strengthened their positions. Baker Co moved to the southern outskirts of Fritzlar at 0700, and there, reverted to Battalion reserve. Upon order from CCA-9-AD it was attached to the 14-TB, and moved out at 1300 to join the new organization. The 27-AIB moved into Fritzlar with the mission of relieving the 60-AIB, and by 1515 the relief was complete even though part of the city north of the river had not been entirely cleared. Upon relief the 60-AIB and attachments less Baker Co began marching toward the new assembly area in the vicinity of Wettesingen Due to darkness and heavy traffic on the roads, the column moved very slowly and was a few miles from Wettesingen at midnight.
K. W. Collins
Lt Col, Infantry