Subject : After Action Report
Bellow is the After Action Report and Journal of the following units and General Staff Sections of the 106th Infantry Division, covering action against the enemy during the month of December 1944 : 424-IR, 106-ID (Artillery), 81-ECB, 331-MB (Medical), 106-ID (Special Troops), G-1, G-2, G-3, G-4. The commanding officers and staffs of the 422-IR, 423-IR and the 106-CRS are missing in action. Their records are presumed to have been destroyed and are not available. The action of these units is covered, but not completely, in the reports and journals of the General Staff Sections. The 14-CG (Cavalry) was attached to the division from December 11 at 1900 to December 18 at 1300. Its action, in part, during this period is included in the reports and journals of the general Staff Sections. After December 18, 1300, it was attached to the 7-AD.
The 106th Infantry Division, Golden Lions, moved from England to France and closed in its concentration area in the vicinity of Limesey, France to St Vith in Belgium along the German border, completing the move on December 10 1944 at 1830. In compliance with VII Corps orders the 106th Infantry Division with attachments, relieved the 2nd Infantry Division in place. The Commanding General of the 106th Infantry Division, Gen Allan W. Jones, assumed responsibility for the defense of the entire sector on December 11 at 1900. The major units attached to the division at this time were : the 14th Cavalry Group, the 820th Tank Destroyer Bn and the 634th Antiaircraft AAA-AW Bn (M). Early on December 16, the enemy launched a coordinated infantry-tank attack with an estimated two infantry divisions and elements of two panzer divisions preceded by an extensive artillery preparation. Captured documents taken by the division indicated the scope of the German attack. The undertaking Grief (Skorzeny’s 150.Panzer-Brigade) appeared to be part of this large scale counteroffensive.
The German attack increased in fury and continued, generally along the whole sector, during the day. Reports indicated that the divisions to the north and south of the division sector were likewise receiving strong attacks and that the enemy had effected some penetrations. Local reserves were used to expel the enemy and to limit penetrations in the division sector. The 32-CRS was released to the 14-CG on December 16 at 0705. The 1/424, was committed at 1145 to eject the enemy from the center of the sector of the 424-IR and then to hold Winterspelt. The 14-CG fell back in the northern sector, exposing the north flank of the 422-IR. At 1700, the 2/423, in division reserve, was committed in the gap between the 14-CG and the 422-IR to stop the German advance around the exposed flank. By 2000, the original positions were generally intact except in the northern sector where the 14-CG was back on the line Andler – Herresbach – Wereth. CCB-9-AD was attached 1120 at Faymonville. As soon as the unit could be contacted preparations were made for its early employment against the enemy penetration in the northern sector. Later the division commander was notified that the 7-AD was also attached and would arrive in the vicinity of St Vith by December 17, at 0700. Plans were then made for the morning of December 17 to use CCB-7-AD, to contain and eliminate the enemy penetration in the northern part of the division sector.
On December 17, at 0630, the enemy succeeded in penetrating the sector of the 423-IR in the vicinity of Bleialf, Germany. He pushed some forces north from Bleialf while other enemy forces advances south from Andler, the two forces effecting a junction in the vicinity of Schönberg during the morning. This cut direct communication by road and wire between the units east of the Bleialf – Schönberg Road and the remainder of the division. The units cut off were the 422-IR (106-ID), 423-IR (106-ID), 590-FAB (106-ID), part of the 589-FAB (106-ID), Baker 81-ECB (106-ID), Baker 331-MB (106-ID), Charlie 820-TDB and D Btry, 634-AAA-AW Bn (M). Radio communication was maintained with these units until late December 18. Arrangements were made for supplies to be dropped by air but the weather was non-operational. The 7-AD did not arrive by December 17 at 0700 as scheduled. The Commanding General of CCB-7-AD, Gen Bruce C. Clark, and some reconnaissance elements of the division arrived at St Vith at 1520 December 17. The reconnaissance elements were disposed in the late afternoon north and northeast of the town to protect the deployment of the division when it arrived.
Meanwhile, the Germans had pushed on through Schönberg towards St Vith. The remaining combat elements available to the division, the 81-ECB less 2 Cos, with part of the 168-ECB, the Defense Platoon of the 106 Division HQs Company and one platoon of tank destroyers attached, were committed to the east of St Vith. This force stopped the German advance two kilometers east of the town at 1700. In the meantime, in the sector of the 424-IR, the enemy renewed his attack and by 0830 December 17, had occupied Winterspelt and pushed northwest towards Steinebruck. This cut off the 106-CRS as well as Troop B, 18-CRS in the vicinity of Mutzenich. CCB-7-AD was committed in a counterattack when it arrived early December 17, to stop and throw back this German thrust. This counterattack was successful in securing the crossing of the Our River at Steinebruck and advancing to the north edge of Winterspelt, but against continuously increasing enemy resistance. To the north and south of Winterspelt the enemy continued to push in with tanks and infantry and he also was meeting with success in the sector of the 28th Infantry Division. to the south of the 424-IR.
At 1600, December 17, CCB-7-AD, was ordered to withdraw to a defensive position northwest of the Our River and the 424-IR was ordered to withdraw and defend west of the Our River on the south of CCB. After the arrival of the CG of CCB-7-AD, and his advance elements during the afternoon, he was placed in command of a sector to the north of CCB-9-AD, including St Vith. Elements of the 106-ID already in defensive positions around St Vith were placed under his command. A counterattack to the east in the direction of Schönberg – Auw was planned for December 18. During the night, at 0215, the 422-IR and 423-IR were ordered to move to the northwest and west against the enemy force in vicinity of the Schönberg – St Vith road and then continue to the area St Vith – Walleröde, Wepperler. They were not successful in breaking through the German forces to their rear. The enemy continued probing during the night and early, in the morning of December 18, renewed his attack. Tank and infantry units advanced against St Vith from the east, northeast and north. A company of tanks and a company of tank destroyers were moved from CCB-9-AD to the north of St Vith to hold the enemy until the arrival of the combat elements of CCB-7-AD, which committed its elements as they arrived, so that by 0930 one battalion of armored infantry and two companies of medium tanks had been deployed.
The engineer force east of the town maintained its position against repeated enemy assaults. The fight for St Vith continued during the day but all German attacks were repulsed. In the southern part of the division sector, CCB-9-AD and the 424-IR completed their withdrawal to the west of the Our River and there maintained their positions during December 18. CCB-9-AD defended the sector just south of St Vith and the 424-IR on its south. Contact was made with the 112-IR (28-ID) which had been separated from the remainder of its division. At 1300, boundaries were changed by VIII Corps giving the 7-AD that portion of the 106-ID sector north of the line Houffalize – St Vith, (both inclusive to 106-ID). The 14-CG was attached to the 7-AD effective December 18, 1300.
During the next three days (19, 20 and 21) a seesaw battle was in progress throughout the division sector. Heavy fighting continued around St Vith and to the south. The 112-IR, having been pushed back and cut off completely from its division, was attached to this division at 1600, December 19. It was moved to the northeast and tied in with the southern flank of the 424-IR, so that these two regiments held the shoulder of the German breakthrough to the south of the division sector. The 106-ID passed to the control of XVIII Corps (Airborne) at 1600, December 20. All enemy attacks were repulsed and the positions held with only minor changes throughout the sector. By the night of December 21/22, the fall of St Vith became imminent and all units of the 106-ID and 7-AD were pulled back on Corps order to form a perimeter defense west of St Vith and east of the Salm River. This defensive position was maintained during December 22.
Late on December 22, the Corps ordered the 106-ID and the 7-AD to withdraw west of the Salm River through the 82-A/B which had taken up a defensive position along the Salm River and the road running west from Salmchateau. This withdrawal was effected on December 23 and the division moved to the vicinity of Werbomont. CCB-9-AD and the 112-IR then passed to control of the XVIII Corps (A/B). The 592-FAB continued in general support as part of a Corps artillery group. During the withdrawal west of the Salm River, a task force from the division, composed of elements of the 589-FAB and 590-FAB, stopped and held the German advance to the north at Baraque de Fraiture and protected the right flank of the 82-A/B and the XVIII Corps (A/B), until relieved by elements of VII Corps. On December 24, the 424-IR was attached to the 7-AD and was again committed in the vicinity of Manhay, where it took part in the final stopping of the German advance on Liège. On December 25, the 591-FAB and some of the service elements of the division were attached to the 7-AD. The 592-FAB was attached to the XVIII (A/B) Artillery. By December 30, all attached units except the 591-FAB and 592-FAB had reverted to division control. At the end of the month, the division was assembled west of the Ourthe River in the vicinity of Anthisnes for reorganization and resupply.
It is presumed that the 422-IR, 423-IR, 589-FAB, 590-FAB and the 106-Recon Troop were eventually overpowered by the German forces east of St Vith and the bulk of the personnel captured about December 19 or 20. The strength of the German attack in the division sector and the forces available to the division at the time prevented their being relieved. Attempts to supply the units by air failed because of the weather, although, as learned later, two drops were made but not within their reach. It is known that they were still in the fight early December 19. It is also known that prisoners were taken by the Germans. However, the final chapter in the defense of the Schnee Eiffel penetration of the Siegfried Line held by these units is not now known. The estimated losses sustained during this period were 8490, including 415 killed in action, 1254 wounded in action and 6821 missing in action. A large part of the organizational equipment and most of the individual clothing and equipment of 422-IR, 423-IR and the 106-Recon Troop were lost when these units were cut off in the Schnee Eiffel region. It is believed that the bulk of the equipment was destroyed.
On December 27, the 1-A stated that the division would, until further notice, consist of the 106-ID less the 422-IR, 423-IR, 589-FAB, 590-FAB and the 106-Recon Troop. The authorized personnel strength of the division would be 409 officers, 30 warrant officers and 6130 enlisted men, or a total authorized strength of 6569. On December 31, the actual strength of the division was 5534.
For the Commanding General F I Agule
Lt Colonel, A.G.D.
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