749TH TANK BATTALION
From Belgium to Luneville and Sarrebourg
September 6th, 1944 - November 19th, 1944
While in Belgium, the 749th was reassigned to the 7th Army (General Patch) which was approaching Alsace from the South. The tanks of the 749th were just about on their last legs as the unit made a 13-day, 250 mile trip to the northeast corner of France (Lorraine). At one point in the move, the 749th spent 6 days in bivouac in the Foret de Mathons (near Joinville, 50 miles southwest of Nancy) waiting for spare tank parts and gas (gas was being rationed as Eisenhower had decided to divert most gas supplies to Montgomery’s battle in Belgium). The 749th and the 79th Division re-engaged the Germans at Neufchateau, Mirecourt and then Charmes on the Moselle River south of Luneville. Once arrived at Luneville, the 79th and 749th spent the next 2 months trying to clear the area around Luneville and the Foret de Parroy and get to Sarrebourg - that is, 60 days to go 45 miles.
From the 28th of September until the 14th of November the 749th fought in an area about 15 miles long in the east-west direction and 8 miles deep in the north-south direction in the Foret de Parroy, which was a few miles east of Luneville. Over 90 percent of the action reported in the log entries mention five city names: Marainviller, Manonviller, Embermenil, Domjevin, La Neuveville. It is a story of constant artillery and mortar fire from entrenched positions, daily forays to capture, and recapture, small areas of the hilly, heavily-forested, marshy countryside, and many fierce battles when units met each other on narrow roads deep within the forest. One of the 749'ers remarked that they often returned to a spot where they had been days earlier, and their trash from the previous days was still there, with German trash added to the heap.
Finally the Germans were
pushed out and our troops reached Sarrebourg, 15 miles northeast of the forest
and in the valley leading toward the Vosges Forest.
Cities: St. Quentin, Reims, Chalon, Joinville, Neufchateau, Repel, Blemery, Remicourt, Poussay, Mirecourt, Epinal, Savigny, Charmes, Chatel, Bayon, Landecourt, Gerbeviller, Lamath, Xermanemil, Frambois, Luneville, Moncel, Parroy, Marainville, Manonviller, Embermenil, Domjevin, La Neuveville, Xousse, Bienville, Domjevin, Blemerey, Remoncourt, Leintrey, Amenoncourt, Veho, Blament, Autrepierre, Avricourt, Fremanville, Halloville, Badonviller, Rechicourt, Dabo, Sarrebourg.
Distance: 300 miles, 73 days.
Allied Units: 79th Infantry Division - 313th/314th/315th Infantry Regiments, 106 Cavalry Group, 2nd French Armored Division, 773rd TD Battalion, 813 TD Battalion, 312th FA Battalion, 121st Cavalry Squad, 33rd Engineering Battalion, 463rd AAA Battalion (M), 693rd FA Battalion, 242nd FA Battalion, 71st Infantry Regiment, 44th Infantry Division - 71st/114th/324th Infantry Regiments, 12th TAC, 157th FA Battalion, 217th FA Battalion, 208th FA Battalion, 398th AAA, 776th Tank Bn, 105th Cal Gp.
German Units: 221st Regiment, 21st Panzer Division, 111th Panzer Brigade, 15th Panzer Gr Division, 104th Panzer Regiment, 115th Panzer Regiment, 33rd Panzer Engineering Battalion, 16th Infantry Division, 16th Motorized Bicycle Battalion, 2113th Panzer Brigade, 11th Panzer Division, 2122 Panzer Fr Regiment, 11 Panzer Recon Battalion, 104th Panzer Regiment, Panzer Replacement Battalion, 1120th Grenadier Regiment, 56th Fortress Machine Gun Battalion, 19th Infantry Division, 110th Panzer Regiment, 209th Panzer Battalion, 59th Regiment, 1553 Engineering, 51st Fortress MF Battalion, 951st Inf Regiment, 1119th Infantry Regiment, Replacement Brigade 708, Replacement Battalion 554th Division
7 Sep: ... moved from the Belgium border to ... Reims. Distance 157.5 miles.
8 Sep: ... moved 118 miles to vicinity Joinville. Vehs and tk maintenance absolutely necessary for further operation.
9 Sep: All Co.'s will biv at Foret De Mathons. Only... 10 of Bn combat vehs are available for combat. Tks and parts for tk and vehs are urgently needed to accomplish any further mission.
10 Sep: Enemy at Neufchateau. At 0430 an ey ammo supply column came north and turned into a pos of the 106 Cavalry Sq. All trucks set afire. Entire 749th Bn in Foret De Mathons. Thirty 2 1/2 ton trucks sent to Utah Beach for tk engines, spare parts, and much needed tk tracks. One mixed platoon (5) of tanks alerted for move...... Balance ... out of action.
12 Sep: Neufchateau. Enemy offered stiff resistance to 315th at Neufchateau; ey Bn reported in the center of town. 314th captured Charmes (Route Map 3) (Map 11) in heavy street fighting and crossed the Moselle. 313th encountered heavy resistance at Poussey-Ambacourt, receiving MG and arty fire. 106 Cav at Jauvincourt fired on approx 500 enemy at 1730 near woods. Ey arty, automatic weapons, mortar, AA fire, flat trajectory fire forced 106th to move N. 1 tank hit mine, no injuries. 749th: Only 3 tks now operating. Remainder still in biv in Foret de Mathons.
13 Sep: Neufchateau. 1 BN 315th forced its way unto Neufchateau. 100 PWs. 313th captured Ambacort and Bettencourt. Pltn of 749th tanks supported 314th at Charmes. Remainder of Bn in bvc at Foret de Mathons. The 106th Cav Gp patrolled the N 1/2 of Foret De Charmes and found it clear.
14 Sep: Chatenois. 313th captured 275 PWs at Poussay and Mirecourt. 106th Cav Gp occupied Morinville and destroyed 9 ey vehs moving E from Portioux. A Cav patrol which pushed to the outskirts of Portioux reported 100 Germans in the town. Col. Wenzel (German) surrendered to 315th his entire command of 13 O's, 117 NCO's, 533 soldiers. Lt Oleson, Sgt Byke, Cpl Bush, S/Sgt Merritt and crews moved with "C" Co to join 315th Inf at Neufchateau.
15 Sep: Ramecourt. Ey troops between Chatenois and Ramecourt try at 0200 to break thru 313th and 315th. Attempt broken up and 450 Germans were taken prisoner. 749th Bn ... left biv. Traveled 65 miles to Blemery. T/4 Niemeyer, S/Sgt Lee, Sgt Eck, Sgt Fried, Sgt Cooley and crews moved ... Savigny. Lt Oleson and other crews moved to Charmes.
17 Sep: Charmes, Essegney. Armored German recon grp moved towards Moselle; 3 tks infiltrated across river into Nomexy. Captain Redford returned to duty.
18 Sep: Charmes. 106 Cavalry reported movement of tanks and Inf to NW from Rambervillers and Baccarat towards Luneville.
19 Sep: 313th advances to Lamath (Map 12). 313th CT adv to Lamath this morning and captured the town against S/A, machine gun, 20mm, and arty fire. During the afternoon 1 Bn of the CT crossed the La Mortagne River without opposition and by dark had taken Xermamenil, which was defended by 14 tks. 3 MkIV tks destroyed by 773rd TD Bn. Remainder moved E into woods. Mont was captured by 106 Cavalry and 773rd TD Bn. "A" Co 1st and 3rd plts on road to Lamath ... received heavy artillery fire. They pulled out to .... see the road leading from Xernanenil to Gerberviller. Fired on ey vehs on this road, knocked out 1Mk IV at road block. 2nd plt at Lamath knocked out 20mm AA gun and 2 MG nests. "B" Co 1st plt to Haudonville. 3rd plt fired direct at light trucks and cars moving at Gerberviller.
20 Sep: Luneville. Numerous tanks were reported on the Luneville-Baccarat road and some Infantry with tanks in Moncel. 313th with "A" Co moved into Luneville ... I tank hit by arty N of town. EM (S/Sgt Cline) LWA and EM (Pvt Rotes) MIA as crew abandoned tank. "B" Co. with 314th moved into Fraimbois after cleaning out Gerberviller. 314th captured approx 50 ey vehs in the Bois De La Taxonniere. A bridge across the La Meurthe river was destroyed by the ey who took up a position E of the river (NE of Frambois). 2nd Plt atckd NE from Frambois [at Betaigne] (Map 14) with 3rd Bn 314th, encountered heavy S/A fire, AT fire. 2 tks were destroyed by 88mm guns and one tk was hit but is repairable (saved by use of sand bags on outside of Hill). Two EM (Sgt Payne, Cpl Ruggles) KIA; 2 EM Sgt Ellet and Pfc Cooley SWA and evac. 1 EM (Pfc O'Briskie) shock. Sgt Myers and Pfc Southerland LWA, not evac. "C" Co with 315th in Div Res.
Descending From Frambois to Betaigne at La Meurthe River
21 Sep: La Muerthe River. "A" Co with 313th moved SE to Moncel [see description of this battle at: http://www.bbll.com/army/ch01.html], met increasing resistance including house to house fighting. Group of buildings just outside of town manned by ey. Buildings blasted by tank guns. Moncel captured and adv continued to woods E of town. Ey used several 120mm mortars and heavy artillery to halt adv. Proceeding further, ey AT gun ... fired upon tks. 1 EM, PFC Jordan, LWA. Tank believed to be Mark IV destroyed in town. 2nd Bn 313th crossed river and destroyed tank at edge of woods. "B" Co 3rd Plt in support of 3rd Bn 314th, fired on ey emplacements. Co under hvy arty fire all day. 2 EM SWA from shrapnel Cpl Stiefel and Sgt Byke. 315th took over former pos of 313th E and NE of Luneville.
La Meurthe River
22 Sep La Muerthe River. (Map 14) 313th was c/atkd with tnks and Inf E of Moncel in the morning and in the afternoon. Both atks repulsed … ey lost 6 tks. Ey mortar and artillery fire particularly heavy in Moncel. 314th CT able to force a crossing of the La Meurthe River [near Frambois] with 5 Co’s ... against heavy machine gun and mortar. "B" Co sent 1st plat from vic Fraimbois at 1500 hours across La Muerthe River. Forded river under intense S/A fire and retrieved 2 tanks stuck in mud under heavy MG fire. Later during the day 3rd Plt plat moved behind 1st Plt, crossed and remained overnite with 2 Co’s of Inf and 1 plat TDs. "B" Co. assault gun hit on suspension system and directly on hill by 88 MM AT gun. No casualties resulted. Two EM, S/Sgtt Merrit, Pvt Marrone LWA, from MG fire. 2nd Plt in reserve.
23 Sep: Foret de Mondon. "B" Co 3rd plat atkd in support of 2nd bn, 314th. 1st Plt attacked with 3rd Bn 314th. Knocked out MG and flushed ey out of dug in pos. When ey refused to be driven from their holes Infantrymen from the 314th adv and in close hand to hand fighting, bayoneted several of the ey in their holes. "A" Co MIA Pvt Rotes, found KIA from shrapnel [at Moncel]. 313th finds ey ammo dump E of Moncel that had several trucks of artillery rds. Late in the afternoon 313th and 314th met at St Georges’s Farm.
24 Sep: 314th ... clearing Foret de Mondon ... found 2 ey tks destroyed by interdictory arty fire and found 6 light tanks and 3 assault guns ... belonging to an American Cav unit. The enemy had been making good use of the assault guns. 2nd French Armored Div occupied Thiebaumeail and Benamenil.
25 Sep: The ey reacted vigorously to all patrols operating in the vic Foret De Parroy. A patrol of the 314th recd S/A, mortar, and arty fire. 106th Cal Gp operated north of the canal as well as the NW edge of the forest and drew considerable arty fire.
26 Sep: Foret de Mondon. All patrol action around forest sharply contested by ey. 315th patrol ... SW of forest located a road block ... 4 tks and 2 plats. Caused patrol to withdraw. 106th Cavalry reported 2 ey Bns in NW of forest, and a large column of vehs and arty turned N at Xures.
27 Sep: Planned attacks in Foret de Parroy by 313th and 315th canceled. A Corp arty unit tried to establish an OP but was driven off by ey S/A, mortar, arty fire. 106th Cav Gp established an OP and recd S/A fire rom the woods."B" Co and 314th in Div Res.
28 Sep: Foret de Parroy. (Map 13) Forest bombed by friendly aircraft. 313th with "A" Co and 315th with "C" Co atkd. Rptd 5 ey tks and 2 flat trajectory wpns. ... opposition increased as period wore on. "C" Co fired 120 rds of 75mm HE. ... pulled back to biv at 1830 hours. 749th Bn, with 79th Div, asngd to the 7th US Army.
29 Sep: Foret de Parroy. "C" Co supporting 313th ... fired ... destroying 3 Mk IV tks and 3 trks. Ey artillery most active during the period and shelled all units located in the woods. Lt Christenson SWA evac, Cpl Crisafulli LWA when jeep hit a mine.
30 Sep: Foret de Parroy. 313th and 315th continued attack in the forest, gaining over 1000 yds. 2 Mark IV tanks destroyed by 313th. 813th TD at 1800 fired at three tanks which retired to Burea. The towns of Marainviller and Bauzemont were heavily shelled (by Germans) during the period. "A" Co firing 300 rds by indirect fire.
1 Oct: Foret de Parroy. When 313th 2nd Bn held up by MG nests, 1 section of "B" Co. was sent up E-W road in center of Foret De Parroy (Map 13). The lead tank fired N and S until stopped by Infantry officer because the Germans desired to surrender. ... 1 tank (American) was knocked out by a direct hit from an 88mm which penetrated through front and out through engine. Although inf. were riding atop, neither they nor tank crew were hurt. "A" Co also fired 500 rounds 75mm indirect fire. "C" Co with 315th at Crion to repel c/atk. At 1600 "C" moved to Henamenil to shell area of woods where activity was rptd by 106th Calvary. Marainviller was again extremely heavily shelled .... PW's 46.
2 Oct: Foret de Parroy. Enemy continues to bring new troops into the forest. Most trails in the forest found to be mined. New type of anti tk mine "Pappamine". Contains no metal, made of compressed paperboard, black in color, cannot be detected by usual means. PWs taken - 62.
3 Oct: Foret de Parroy. Henamenil was shelled in the morning. The ey contd to use arty and mortars profusely. At 0900 ey atked with 1 Co of Inf and 2 tks; 314th forced to give up ground captured earlier in the day. "A" Co with 4 light tks, 3 med tks, 1 assault gun advd with 314th 2nd Bn. Captured 4 mortars, 3MGs at Phase Line "Maine"....proceeded to "Texas". Inf dug in, tanks returned to Phase Line "Nevada." PWs taken - 61.
4 Oct: Foret de Parroy. Patrols of 315th located a road block covered by automatic fire. 313th and 314th received artillery fire during the night. At 0700 314th repulsed an attack by tanks and Inf, knocking out one tank by bazooka fire. At 1300 314th and 315th moved forward against extremely heavy opposition. Artillery, mortar fire, 5 or 6 ey tanks delivered direct fire against 314th. "B" Co 3 tks ... ordered into night pos to support Inf. ...received ey tk and S/A fire upon starting engines. Woods in this vicinity very dense.
5 Oct: Foret de Parroy. 20-30 rds of 120mm mortar fire fell on Marainviller (Map 13). 315th moved 700 yds SE in flanking move; leading Co of 1st Bn hit by Inf supported by 4 tks. Lost some ground, but by end of period 2 sqds were dug in on L side of the road. Ey inf could be heard digging in on S side of road. All tanks of 749th in biv.
6 Oct: Foret de Parroy. Patrol of 314th found ey foxholes abandoned. Later in the day another patrol of 314th was unable to enter the woods at the same spot because ey troops had reoccupied their former positions. W of the 15th grid line the 106th Cav Gp cleared the forest as far as the Rhine-Marne Canal. 315th engaged with ey tanks and Inf; I tk knocked out by bazooka. Marainviller was shelled heavily with 120mm mortars. 749th not active.
7 Oct: Foret de Parroy. Combat patrol of 1st Bn, 313th, sent NE of Marainviller to waylay an ey food and ammo truck. No contact. PWs confirm truck did not appear. Another patrol of 313th was able to get within 200 yds of the forest, ran into M/G nest of 10 men.
8 Oct: Foret de Parroy. Ey patrols encountered by 315th 2nd Bn outposts. A small ey atk against 2nd and 3rd Bns 315th CT by 2 tks and Inf at 1830 was broken up by artillery fire. Patrols of 106th Cav rptd M/G nest with 50 men and some bicycle troops.
9 Oct: Foret de Parroy. A (ey) tank from S edge of forest placed direct fire on Marainviller. (Map 13) 3 tks "B" company mission was to atk a strong point at road junction 709, 3 other tks to bypass strongpoint and with F Co 314th to atk and cut across roads 1000 yds N of road junction 709. Strong point defended by 3 Mark IV tanks, automatic weapons, mortars. In the atk plt ldr Lt B. Grouaski became a serious casualty when his tank was hit by a bazooka in the turret. ... a Res plat, commanded by Lt Mairowitz was admitted. While getting out of his tank ... (he) was hit in the shoulder by a rifle bullet. The 3 tks commanded by S/Sgt Rosencrantz ("B" Co) bypassed the strongpoint from the S and contd on.... Atk stalled at this strong point for 4 hrs due to heavy tank fire. Decision to go around the clearing and attack from the E. This was accomplished by a "C" Co plt ... just NW of the RJ after mortar smoke fire was placed on ey tanks. When the smoke cleared 2 ey tks were destroyed, one by Sgt Lee, "B" Co., and one by Sgt Malley, "C" Co., and one tk withdrew to the woods ... and was later destroyed by S/Sgt Merritt. "C" Co mission was to assist in reducing the strongpoint at RJ 709 and support 2nd Bn 315th to capture and hold RJ 718. I Plt commanded by Lt Lemmon was not able to maneuver to 709 due to ey tk fire, however later on the Plt did manage to assault the strongpoint. In so doing they destroyed one MK IV tk and flushed one which "B" Co destroyed. Another "C" Co Plat commanded by Lt Grigsby in support of 315th...at RJ 710 … 1 tk mired down ... Lt Grigsby led tks on foot. Lts Berounsky and Mairwitz, Pvts Niksich and Regan SWA. S/Sgt Lewis, Pvt T. Smith, R Hale LWA. Cpl Clark KIA. "C" Co one tk destroyed, 2 Em SWA, 2 EM LWA, 1 EM MIA.
10 Oct: Foret de Parroy. Extensive patrolling by all regiments of 79th. 106th Cav Sq engaged a group of inf shortly before dark. Patrols find no ey in SE part of the forest. 749th in biv. Combat efficiency impaired due to needed supplies of 76mm and 105mm ammo
11 Oct: Foret de Parroy. Enemy still occupies ground on W edge of Forest. Enemy line Vaucourt-Embermenil-Domjevin. 315th patrols N and E of the forest; no ey contact. The 121st Cav encountered art fire, occupied Mouacourt, Parroy, Coincourt. 1 EM Dilworth, LWA, from shrapnel.
12 Oct: Foret de Parroy. Battalion Hg moved to Marainviller.
13 Oct: Foret de Parroy. Embermenil. Arty fire on 313th and 314th at dawn. Ey bicycle troops and horse-drawn arty were obs ....79th Rcn reported ey dug in on crest and forward slopes of hill N and NW of Embermenil. 3 ey tanks reported. "A" company 2nd and 3rd platoons .... supporting 313th on atk of Embermenil. Tnks ordered to L of town to get a field of fire. Approaching phase line #14 encountered ey AT fire, destroying 2 tks in 2nd plat and 1 tk in 3rd plat. Both plat ldrs being casualties ... Of one crew: one EM, Sullivan, SWA, 4 others, Lt. Herring, Cook, returned, Weskerman, and Dixson, story incomplete. Of another crew, 2 EM casualty Pfc Cullen and Pvt Lang, 3 EM LWA, Sgt Bullock, Cpl Carver, T/5 Brown Of another crew one Off. Lt Lemberg LWA; Lt. Webben, SWA , At 1800 hrs. "A" Co. ordered to withdraw ... 4 tks out of action; one hit on suspension system, 2 burned (hit by AT) and one hit by AT and also burned. Casualties: known 3 officers, plat ldrs. Lt Webben, Lt Lemberg, Lt Herring and 3 EM, unknown 3 possibly. Embermenil captured by 313th late in afternoon. "B" Co with 314th captured Fort de Manonviller (Map 14).
14 Oct: Foret de Parroy. Embermenil. (Map 13) "B" Co. ... Capt Woods and Bn Comdr went on foot ... Capt Woods (LWA) was hit by mortar or arty shrapnel in arm. Co "B" with 314th inf adv to take 2 hills protected by barbed wire, concertina wire, mines, booby traps ... near phase line #13. ... Adv beyond this point stalled by strong ey arty, mortar, SA fire. Permission granted to "B" Co. to retire ... for refueling and reloading ammo. "C" Co with 3rd Bn 313th attkd at 1510 with 7 tks; managed to adv to south at slightly E of town The 3rd Plt "C" Co plus 3 tks of 2nd Plt got stuck at LD. 1st Plt advd on obj against arty fire. 3 ey AT guns, 4 MG nests, 1 AA gun knocked out by 1st Plt. 1 tk out of action from mine. Another tk hit by AT gun and burned. Plat Ldr, Lt McCrea LWI. Inf withdrawn due to heavy arty fire. ...Combat efficiency poor due to lack of plat ldrs in "A" Co., 2 officers in "B" Co. "C" Co. has only 3 tks - 10 stuck in marsh.
15 Oct: Foret de Parroy. Patrol of 315th captured 1 Plt of the 3rd Co, 115th Panzer Rcn Bn. All patrols unable to adv far because of heavy MG and mortar fire. Patrols from 79 Rcn found the ey dug in; 106th rpts the same in its sector. A 749th tk destroyed 1 Mk IV tk and the 813th TD knocked out an SP 75mm gun... . 313th reptd ey inf advg at R flank of 2nd Bn at 0545, but our artillery broke up the atk. 313th patrol rptd German mortar fire near a church at Domjevin. 106th Cav Sq found ey still dug in at the front of its sector. "B" Co. had 6 tks which stayed on front lines during nite; move back to biv area at 1000 hrs. At approx 0001 hrs tk motors were heard coming up road from the S from Veho. Tk crews thought motors were friendly TDs but as the 2 tks advd across front of "B" Co front line def pos, veh and personnel were unidentified but as it approached the 2nd plt "B" Co tk stopped directly in front and personnel spoke in their native tongue (German) shouting "Hello". Tk Comdr Eck replied with 2 shells of 75mm destroying tk at (239021) and shot comdr as he attempted to get out from turret. Entire crew killed and tk burned.. As "B" Co. tks pulled back ... ey MG nest was wiped out causing 20-25 ey to surrender. Captain Redford assumed command due to injuries sustained by Capt Woods. "C" Co, 8 tks recovered (from marsh).
16 Oct: Near Domjevin. (Map 14) At 0430 3rd Bn 314th was attkd by a Bn of ey Inf supported by 9 tanks. Nearly 50 Germans were captured during this action. 313th and 314th receive heavy arty and mortar fire. A large enemy column of vehs, horse-drawn wagons, and foot troops was seen near Montigny. Fire from our arty claimed 10 vehs, 2 horse-drawn wagons and injured about 150 troops. One "B" Co. tk put out of action by hitting mines. One EM, Hasenflue, SWA, broke arm jumping from tk, one EM, Kotowich, LWA, not evac. About 1615 hrs, area received hvy arty barrage, 2 tks receiving direct hits, one of which is unable to move, one EM, Niksish WIA. T/5 Gregory (driver), KIA, while eating, heat from stove detonated 20mm AA shell buried in ground. Gentile, LWA, not evac. After dark, ... 313th ... some Germans could be heard a few hundred yards in front ... enemy recovered some of pos lost previous day with 4 tks and Inf "C" Co 2 tks in marsh up to hill. Recovery ... futile.
17 Oct: Domjevin. After the sound of tracked vehs had been heard … an ey Bn supported by tanks atkd 313th and 3rd Bn 314th at 0300. 46 soldiers of the 1120th Gren Regt surrendered. At 0900 our arty fired at 3 tks. 106th Cav Gp reptd a possible ey withdrawal from their sector to new line Lagarde-Remoncourt. "B" Co. Three 1st pltn tks under Lt McProuty retook ground ...2 EM Merritt and Ruggiero, LWA ... direct hit from arty on front plate. 43 Pws taken. One EM, Sacre, battle fatigue. Another tank hit by arty or mortar fire on back plate - N/C. Major Barron, SWA, broken leg, kneecap, rib, punctured lung and head cuts; was regtl Ln 0ff. from 749th (executive 0ff) resulted from head on collision with French 1/2 track driving on wrong side of road at 0500 hrs. Div res at Manonviller.
19 Oct: Embermenil. Per FO #21, The 10th Cav Gp with the 44th Rcn Tr will assist 79th Inf Div by demonstration by fire .... to seize and hold div obj. 314th Inf Reg, 79th Div, with "D" Co 749th, will adv rapidly to obj leaving elm to hold pos ... . "C" Co 749th Tk Bn attchd 315th Inf Reg will seize the B. Henry area and the high ground N of Embermenil. The 813 TD Bn to provide support with particular attention to the zone of the 314th and the adv of the 749th Tk Bn. Patrols from 313th sent to Bois De L' Ourbon encountered MG and rifle fire and was harassed by mortar and arty fire. The 105th Cal Gp rptd ey dug in in their sector.
21 Oct: Embermenil. The following units now atchd 79th Div will be atchd to 44th Inf Div ...
Ey front lines on E slope of high ground E of Embermenil (Map 13). All three rgmts jumped off in atk at 0635, meeting resistance from light to extremely heavy. "A" Co in support of 313th atk three hills, 1 tk hit by ey tks, one hit by AT mine. EM LWA T/4 Hash. "B" Co. with 314th moved at 0700 ... into Le Rembois Foret, 1 tank stuck. 2 tanks knocked out by mines along RR tracks. 2 EM, LWA, not evac, Lt Moore, Sgt Eck. Sgt Wanak. ... Assisted in taking 50 Pws. "C" Co with 315th SE of Embermenil 2 tks rendered inactive by ey mines, 2 tks knocked out by direct ey fire, another tk mired in marshy area. Ey tks encountered and hvy fighting took place. One of our tks was knocked out, 2 ey tanks demolished. 7 EM, LWA. Withdrew at 1700. A group of 6 tanks prevented the 313th and 315th from linking up in the afternoon. 4 ey tanks knocked out by 813th TD Bn. Near the end of the day strong ey patrols were attempting to penetrate the pos of 2nd Bn 313th. The 114th (44th division) received sporadic arty fire. "A" Co tnks knocked out 7 days ago (13 Oct) was found destroyed with 2 men KIA and 1 EM living. Survivor treated both men but they died on Sunday. Survivor Pfc Weskerna found in tank after hiding from Germans for 8 days. Reported Lt Herring DOW 15 Oct after having leg amputated by German medics. Dixon died 16 Oct after having one arm and one leg amputated by German medics.
22 Oct: Embermenil. Heavy ey arty and mortar fire fell in area all day. Ground too marshy for maneuvering. 315th with "C" Co at N-S road EMBERMENIL met stiff resistance … ey tks opposed … 2 were knocked out. 314th with "B" Co (firing indirect in woods) encountered ey in E half of Le Remabois Woods. Upon taking position, "B" Co tanks drew very hvy arty fire ....Co Comdr with plat ldrs made foot recon. Ey in woods immediate front. Fired ... killing 25-30 ey. C/atk repelled, taking several PWs and 1 88mm gun. 2 EM LWA Sgt Adams and Sgt Pingel.
23 Oct: Embermenil. (Map 13) Area heavily shelled during period. Tks were heard thru out the night. Heavy arty until 2400, then heavy again at 0600 on pos 313th. "A" Co with 313th ... 2 Bns (German) atkd with tanks. Atk repulsed. 3 tks and 150 men atkd 315th and 2 ey tks destroyed. More groups of tks and infantry ... 4 more tks knocked out. Hvy concentrations of arty received all nite and during the day. 1 tk received direct hit on turret ... no casualties.
24 Oct: Embermenil. Considerable tk activity heard ... 0500. At 0705 ... 315th was atkd by est ey Bn and 5 tks. One of our Cos. was forced ... to fall back ... Throughout the day activity persisted in front of our pos. 10 (ey) tks destroyed. Considerable ey arty fell thru out the day. A horse-drawn vehicular column carrying an est Co of riflemen was discovered by flares and fired on. At 1000 "A" Co atkd with G Co of 315th. Saw 5 ey tanks E of 315th pos. "A" Co ordered to take pos to fire on the tanks and 2 "A" Co. tks destroyed completely. One EM SWA, Black. One LWA, Osso. "C" Co remained in adv pos to repel c/atk in the morning; Ey tanks lost to "C" Co was 3. "B" Co. remained in assembly Manonviller.
Letter from Hqs 79th Inf Div: "The 79th Inf Div, with atchd units, has aided in the almost complete destruction of (ey) units: 77th Inf Div, 91st Inf Div, 709th Inf Div, 353d Inf Div, 18th CAF Div, 16th Inf Div, 15th Pz Gr Div."
25 Oct: Embermenil. During previous nite and early morning 24 Oct and 25 Oct, ey shelled our front lines and area back to Bn Cps (Manonviller) ...At 1845 ey force of unk size effected penetration 2000 yds SE of Embermenil. 324th (44th Inf Div) with "C" Co c/atkd and at 2125 our line was restored.At 2345 ey continued attack with 4-5 tks and unknown Inf strength. One Off and 2 EM, LWA and evac: Lt Kaufman (not evac), Lillard and Cangdon from mortar shrapnel while recovering a tk.
Relief of 79th Division by 44th Division was completed.
27 Oct: Xousse. (Map 13) Ey Arty fired on 2 lt tks towing 57mm guns. 2 EM, WIL-1 SWA, T/4 Hansman from mortar fire. One LWA, Sgt Wilson from mortar fire. There are signs of (ey) withdrawal.
28 Oct: Leintrey. ...(ey) music followed by loudspeaker... swing music and talking. Excerpt: "Give up your arms. We will treat you well ...." Ey PWs … deserting reptd they had not eaten for 3 days.
29 Oct: Domjevin. (Map 14) Combat patrol 114th Inf at 0500 atkd ey pos destroying 1 MG and 1 heavy mortar. Patrol withdrew under heavy mortar fire. Ey motorized columns moving forward were forced by arty fire to disperse.
30 Oct: Domjevin. Ey patrol est at 9 men at 0300 … captured 1 and wounded 2 of 4-man MP post. "B" Co 15 rds per tank to be fired at night in support of 17th FA Bn; target to be road E of Domjevin.
31 Oct: Domjevin. "A", "B", "C" Co support 208th FA Bn in harrassing fire - 2 rds per tank per hour, into Leintrey, Domjevin, vic E of Embermenil. 776th Tank Bn completed relief of 813th TD Bn.
1 Nov: Domjevin. Cold and frosty during nite. (ey) shelling of Embermenil resumed after 3 days. Ey loudspeaker ... identified presence of 44th Inf Div, ... inviting surrender. "This is the 120th day of continuous action."
2 Nov: Domjevin. One of our patrols consisting of 2 men encountered 2 Germans in foxholes. One of our men pretended he was a German and talked to them saying he was wounded and had been behind the US lines for 2 days and needed aid. The Germans requested aid by phone but would not come out of holes. On the approach of ey force to render aid requested, our patrol withdrew. 71st Inf Div reports ey evacuated Le Remabois woods.
3 Nov: Embermenil (Map 13) shelled at 1815A ... (and) CP 71st Inf at 2110A. ...extenive minefields made advance during the dark inadvisable. "B" Co at Domjevin.
4 Nov: Domjevin. (Map 14) 17 ey tanks reported at Domevre (E of Domjevin). Ey installation camouflaged as a haystack was set on fire and exploded.
6 Nov: Domjevin. A PW reports horses at night bringing wood SW from Remoncourt to make overhead covers for foxholes. Rain, visibility poor. Arty fire received in Domjevin; report of light blinking in the town five minutes before shelling began.
7 Nov: Leintrey. (Map 15) "A" Co 1 Plt attchd 71st and "C" Co 1 Plt attchd 324th fired indirect at Remoncourt. "B" Co 1 Plt set up for night indirect fire.
9 Nov: Domjevin. A patrol in the dark was addressed in German by ey troops who appeared surprised at lack of response, running around in excited manner.
11 Nov: Domjevin. Ey artillery fell in Domjevin and Manonviller. Large column of ey vehicles seen moving to Domevre. About 1000 a German Radio Station on Div frequency tried ro engage Div Operations in conversation. "B" Co and 1 Plt "D" Co assgnd to 79th Div for pending operation[Editor: Through the Saverne Gap to Hagenau].
12 Nov: Cold with rain, hail and snow, poor visibility.
13 Nov: 71st Inf atckd Leintry 3 Bn’s abreast. "A" Co with 71st jumped off 0630... Ey resisted our advance Remoncourt tenaciously, utilizing WWI pillboxes … with superior fields of observation, which were enhanced by the snow covering. 2 med tanks out of action due to mines. "B" Co and 1 plt light tanks from "D" with 314th and 315th at Ancerviller. 114th 3rd and 1st Bn’s maintaining patrols E of Bois de Remabois.
14 Nov: (Ey) regiment ... came by train from Trenchen, Czechoslavakia and has a good percentage of Czechs. German agent Daneil Quart, Alsatian, arrested while infiltrating ... Remoncourt: As a result of intense ey fire ... only minor gains were noted. "A" Co moved out on assault on Bois Des Amien. Due to heavy arty fire ... 71st Inf with "A" Co. 1st and 3rd Plt tanks were unable to advance, gained only 500 yds at end of day. 324th L Co with "C" Co ... fire from a flat trajectory weapon believed to be a high velocity prevented movement. 2 tanks hit by arty fire … no damage. Mc Crea (plat ldr) SWA, shrapnel in legs and arms while out of tank. "D" Co with 79th 314th and 315th at St Pole and Ancerviller. 40 PWs. 1 "D" Co tank knocked out by bazooka fire. Sgt. Garvey, LWA by woman sniper in German uniform. 1 tank stuck, 1 tank engine trouble. Tanks replenished with gas and ammo during the night.
15 Nov: Hallovile/Leintrey. "A" Co with 71st Div ... in atck S of Bois de Amienbois. Cpl Osso and Cpl Rink combat exhaustion. 5 ey MG nests destroyed. Lt Conway returned to duty. Halloville and Harbouey (Map 14) taken by 314th and 315th. 1st Bn 315th with "C" Co ... to support 114th in atck. Cpl Mual LWA upper lip by shrapnel. "B" Co 1 tank out in Support at Pole, 8 tanks supported advance to take Halloville, ... Harbuey. 3 ey tanks obs near town. 7 ey assault guns and 4 AT guns destroyed, 100 Pws. Only 5 tanks left for attack. 100 PWs at Harbouey. 7 ey Mark IV assault guns and 4 AT guns destroyed by "B" Co. 813 TD Bn knocked out 3 Mark IV tanks, 2 Mark IV tanks, 1 ½ track, 1 self-propelled gun, 2 staff cars.
16 Nov: Amenincourt. "A" Co to support 3rd Bn 71st Inf Regt ... Amenincourt and Igney. 1st plat plus 3 assault guns took position on high ground at 1500 yds and 2nd plat (400yds) at edge of woods. Plts fire on Amenincourt until 71st entered the town. "C" Co to Avricourt with 324th. . Lt Lemmon evac - combat exhaustion. During the nite 313th heard movement ... placed 40 mortar. Patrols counted 45 Germans killed. "B" Co moved out at 0735 with 314th (4 tanks) and 315th (2 tanks) to atk Blamont. T/5 Engle, combat exhaustion. 1 tank stuck. Pfc Redal SWA, Pvt Defrisee LWA, S/Sgt Hayden LWA. 1 tank in crater and covered by Engrs. 1 med tank hit mine. 2nd Lts Ashby, Moore, Grigsby promoted to 1st Lts.
17 Nov: Igney. PW reports heavy loses in horses, forcing men to pull Town Hows by hand in withdrawal. "A" Co with 71st "D" captured Igney and Amenincourt. "C" Co with 324th … 3rd pltn moved out ... Avricourt, knocking 3 M/G nests outskirts of town. ... 12 M/G nests were destroyed in the town and many Germans killed. Tank crews dismount and assist Inf in cleaning out houses. 124 Pws. I Plt "D" Co with 114th ar Bos de La Gfarrene. "B" Co with 314th and 315th at Blamont ... held up by AT fire. Ey holds high ground … S/Sgt Rosencrantz, Pfc Dedrick, LWA, stayed for full duty. Eight tanks rolling. Elms of 2nd Fr Armd Div occupied Badonviller.
18 Nov: Autrepierre. (Map 15) "A" Co one plat to Autrepierre to support 2nd Bn 71st Inf. 5 ey M/Gs destroyed and many Germans killed, 25 PWs."C" Co attached 324th from Avricourt to Rechicourt and Bois De Retzing 8 M/Gs destroyed, 40-50 Pws. Aided by 106th Cavalry unit. EM WIA Cpl Cripe LWA, Pfc Lawson SWA. "B" Co with 314th 2nd Bn to Fremonviller ... Heavy ey opposition … S/A, mortar, arty encountered all day. "B" Co 1st Plt fired 350 rounds on town. 9 tanks for duty.
19 Nov: Richeval: (Ey) delayed our advance, especially when threatened and fired on by SS men in their rear, as was obs on 1 occasion. "A" Co with 1st and 3rd BNs 71st … 2 Cos. Riding on tanks, remainder on foot …from Foulcrey to Ibigney. Tanks destroyed AT 88mm, 2 ammo trucks, 2 bazookas, SP gun, 2 MG's, and took 200 PWs. L Co tank hit by ey 20mm AA gun with one round penetrating telescopic site and wounding (LWA) 3 of crew Cpl Pappas, Sgt Hansen, Pvt Hansen). Another tank hit on periscope by arty … no damage. "C" Co. with 324th at Bois de Ketzing... subjected to heavy and intense arty and bazooka fire. Inf pinned down. Ey tanks encountered.3rd Plt tank scored direct hit on MK IV. Co. Cmdr., Lt. Veney, SWA, and plat ldr Lt Grigsby evac (combat exhaustion). 1 tank "C" Co hit on bedrolls by bazooka from 50-75 yards, bazooka was destroyed. Capt Swenson assumed command "C" Co. Destroyed 5 M/G, 3 vehicles, 6 pillboxes, 10 PWs. "B" CO with 313th, attacked N of Blamont, no ey encountered.
Editor: Why do you think you went to Belgium, then turned around and drove 300 miles to Luneville?
Kincheloe: We were just moving from one battlefront to another, from the
3rd Army (Gen. Patton) to the 7th Army (Gen. Patch). The country we were passing
through had already been taken. The 7th Army had come up through Italy. That's
why, when I got wounded, they sent me to a hospital in Italy.
Editor: As the 749th raced across northern France, trying to maintain contact with the Germans, many of their tanks gave up the ghost. But even while most of their tanks were idled for repair near Joinville, some of the 749th were still at work. The following account was provided by Ron Harris, son of Ralph Harris. The incident occurred near Chaumont, south of Joinville, southwest of Neaufchateau:
Harris: Based on the written account by the journalist who was one of the captives, my dad and five other soldiers from the 749th were traveling by jeep near Chaumont, France on September 12, 1944 when they came upon a place where trees and brush were blocking the road. When they saw another empty vehicle, they realized it was a trap, but as soon as they slowed, the Germans began firing. The heavily armed Germans had set up an ambush and quickly overwhelmed the soldiers. It turned out that the other vehicle had been occupied by three war journalists and their army driver, who were in the process of being taken prisoner when my dad's group arrived. The journalist who wrote the account of this event was a guy named Mecklin (he never stated his first name in the story) who worked for the Chicago Sun newspaper. Other members of his party were Edward Beattie, Jr., of Unipress; Wright Bryan, Atlanta Journal, and driver pvt James Schwab. Mecklin reported that two members of the 749th were killed in the initial ambush and a third was missing; he did not give their names. Members of the 749th who were taken prisoner were my dad Sgt. Ralph Harris, T5 Charles Padgett and Sgt. Forrest Eadler.
At the time, the Germans were retreating from France and were short on vehicles and food. The Germans and their prisoners walked for most of the next three days with mainly bread and lard to eat. Initially, the captives were threatened with death if they didn't walk faster so they made it a challenge that they would out-walk the Germans. On the third day, the captives and a few Germans who were guarding them were several hundred yards ahead of the main group. When they rounded a curve, the guard in charge, named Gefeiter, told them they were free to go, urging them to hurry so they could make it to the woods before the others came around the bend in the road. At first, they thought it was an excuse to shoot them, but they quickly decided to take the chance. Running across the field, they expected to be shot, but it did not happen. They ran through the woods, swam a river and by nightfall made it to the small village of Jonvelle (Joinville on map) where they were taken in by French villagers, who hid them from Germans who were all over the area, and treated them like royalty. Two days later, the village was liberated of Germans; the journalists went their way and the G.I.'s returned to the 749th.
At one point on the march the guard caught dad looking at a picture and the German demanded to see what he was looking at. When he saw the picture of my mom and their baby boy (my brother), he was touched by it and he showed my dad a picture of his family. Dad thought that incident might have influenced the guard's decision to set them free later. The guard's decision was probably also influenced by the fact that this group of Germans was hungry, weary and trying to get out of France before they themselves were captured.
Editor: Does anyone remember battles near Luneville?
Baker: Luneville is an old military point for both the Germans and the French. The French had used it for artillery training and had a huge hospital base there. Luneville was one of the few places that I remember where both German and American forces were in a city at the same time; the battle was fought from building to building. Outside the city is the Forest of Parroy, which is honeycombed with trenches and tunnels ( some 40 feet below ground level) used in World War I. The area is rugged with good-sized hills; very swampy terrain. Casualties were heavy; I don't think that the military had anticipated the resistance we met there. Residents of the town would retreat to their cellars while their houses were occupied one day by Germans, the next day by Americans. They quite often would break out a bottle of wine and share it with the American troops when the Germans were thrown out.
About the story you mentioned from the 749th log book [above, 1 Oct] that talked about a tank being hit head on by an 88mm shell that went straight through the tank and out the other side without hurting infantrymen sitting on the tank or those inside the tank - there were four kinds of shells in a tank. Armor-piercing which, if it doesn't hit shells or people can pass right through with a hole being the only damage. High-explosive shells which, depending on the kind of cap it has, will either explode when it hits the tank or will explode after it burrows through the turret a certain distance - a very dangerous shell. A grape shot used for shooting at a mass of troops, like a heavy duty shotgun. And a smoke shell to conceal.
By the way, Infantrymen rode on tanks usually when you were passing through a town. The infantry would focus on the 2nd and 3rd stories to detect snipers or Germans who tried to lean out an upper window and drop a grenade on an open tank turret.
About your comment that your Uncle Willie mentioned that at Luneville we first ran into the new German Tiger tank - I'm not sure about that, but the Germans always seemed to be one step ahead of us. If we had 75mm, they had 76mm and then 88mm. And not just barrel size but barrel length, which led to higher velocity and larger projectile. We were always behind in individual armaments but made up for it in numbers.
It was November and colder. Snow is not a problem for tanks, but mud is. They will get through mud OK on level ground, but will have difficulty when moving uphill.
Editor: My uncle mentioned an incident at Luneville. It's a little hazy in my memory, but I remember him telling me that it involved a bridge.
Baker: A platoon of tanks were sent to secure a bridge near the Luneville area. The intelligence was that there were no Germans in the area on the other side. When the five tanks got onto the bridge, the Germans hit the first tank and the last tank, thus trapping all five. The intelligence was bad; the German tank was sitting on the other side of the bridge. They had measured the distance exactly so they could hit the Americans with the first few shells. [Editor: See log entries and pictures for 20-28 Sep NE of Frambois where the road crosses a river and leads into the Foret du Mondon. See Left-center portion of ( Map 14 ).]
Kincheloe: Our platoon was set in a defensive position along a river; this occurred before we reached Luneville. Your Uncle Willie's tank was told to move forward by Sgt. Merritt, the platoon leader. They were proceeding along the river and Merritt got hit. He slumped over in the tank and Minielli got on the radio and told his driver Sacre to back up and get out of there: "Sacre: Back up! Back up! Let's get out of here. Merritt has been hit." The captain got on the radio and told Willie to stay up there, that we needed that tank up there. What Willie didn't know was that he had his radio set to broadcast over the air instead of within the tank. (Editor: see log entry for 22 Sep)
Editor: Mr. Baker had mentioned a platoon of tanks that got trapped on a bridge. Do you remember that event?
Kincheloe: Yes, it's the same event as I was just describing. The 2nd Platoon was sent down to cross the river and the Germans knocked out the first tank and the third tank. The men started bailing out and the Germans began machine-gunning them, but most of them got back. The next morning the 3rd Platoon, my platoon, was sent down to the same place. It was real scary going down through there thinking about what had happened the night before. But we got there and set up our defense near the river and sat there all day. That night a big German tank pulled out of the woods and went over the hill on the other side. Just sitting there waiting for us. This was the event I just mentioned when Willie told his driver to back out of there. One tank was hit, the shell went in the front, killed the tank commander and the gunner, went through the radio and out the back end. The boy who was the loader got a piece of his leg blown off. The medics went down there in the morning and found him in a ditch. [See log entry for 20 Sep]
Kincheloe: Yes. They couldn't understand why he didn't bleed to death. I talked a few years ago to the driver of that tank - I can't remember his name. He said that he had left the boy in the ditch because he couldn't bring him out because of the machine gun fire. I think the log book is wrong about the names; I think it was Sgt Cooley and Pfc Ellet instead of the other way around. Cooley was a tank commander; he said he got hit in the back by machine gun fire when I talked to him a few years ago.
Editor: The log book shows that Merritt was hit on the 22nd. Was the incident reported on the 20th a part of the story?
Kincheloe: Yes. On the 20th the tanks were hit as I mentioned. On the 21st our platoon was sent down there. We went to the left (northwest) of the bridge a few hundred yards and then parked by the river all day. The Infantry had patrols out trying to find the German tank or tanks. They finally found something and threw a lot of artillery at it. That night we stayed out there. Just as night was falling we saw a tank start up, come out of the woods on the other side of the bridge, and head over the hill. He could have fired at us at any time; don't know why he didn't. Then the next day - I guess it was 2 days later on the 22nd when another attempt was made to cross the river. The infantry found a place where the German tanks had forded the river because the bridge was down and the 2nd platoon tanks crossed over. That's when Merritt got hit and Willie came on the radio. They finally made it across and we followed shortly after - it was shortly before dark. Our first tank (Nichols was the driver) got stuck trying to get up out of the river on the other side. My tank commander told me to get up enough speed to make it. I did, and we used a cable to pull the 1st tank out of the water.
I think your uncle Willie became a tank commander after this incident; two of the tank commanders - Payne and Cooley - were lost here. Before the event, the tank commanders for the 2nd platoon were Oleson (the Platoon commander), Cooley, Payne, Rosencrantz (platoon sergeant), and Merritt. In our platoon the tank commanders were Lt Moore, Lee, Lewis, Byke, and I can't remember the 5th one.
After we crossed that river, we were in those woods fighting the Germans for several more days. Patrols did reconnaissance, finally located a bunch of tanks, and planes were sent over to run them out.
The mention of Stiefel and Byke on the 21st - they were in my platoon, but I don't remember what happened.
Tribbey: About the Luneville incident on a bridge - we were on high ground, and there was a two-lane highway heading down a hill, fairly steep, which ended at a creek - they called it a river. The General - we were with the 79th Division - Aaron G. Witchie - said to send one platoon of tanks and one platoon of infantry; they should be able to cross the river easily. I was in a jeep with the Company Commander and a driver. The second platoon - Bob Myers was the Platoon sergeant, I forget who the officer was. Anyway, they hadn't gone very far down the road when a guy named Hubert Payne called me and asked if I would go look for his rifle which he thought he had left hanging on a tree. I did, and before I got back to the jeep his tank had been hit and he had been killed (See 20 Sep). They hit the first, last, then middle tank. Just about fifty feet before they got to the bridge. They clogged up the road and we were there the rest of that day and several more before we got across that bridge. They knocked out a lot of our people there.
Editor: According to the log book and other comments on the story from Mr. Kincheloe, it took several days to get those tanks out of their problem. What happened?
Tribbey:I know what happened. We were halfway down the hill on the side of that road. On the other side of that creek there was a dense woods. The Germans had the road zeroed with 88's and other artillery. In addition, they had some people dressed in American uniforms who came over the radio and said that they had some of our infantry on the other side and I said "Like hell you have. We're sitting right here looking at them." But that added to the confusion. I remember one infantryman came running up the hill, trying like hell to get out of there. I tried to grab him but he threw his gun down and kept on running.- just out of his head. We had medics at the top of the hill that took care of him. (Editor: perhaps O'Briskie mentioned 20 Sep). It was a bad situation. One of the things that helped get us across that river was they dive-bombed that woods with jelly bombs. When we finally got across the bridge (22 Sep) we pulled into the woods and there was the remains of the 121st Cavalry (see 24 Sep). The Germans apparently had let those light tanks get across the bridge and then attacked them. They had taken all the radios and other stuff out of the tanks. The people they didn't kill had been taken prisoner. We were in those woods (Editor: Foret de Mondon) so long we had time to set up a mess hall.
Editor: The log book says that on 20 Sep Sgt Payne and Cpl Ruggles were KIA and Sgt Ellet and Pfc Cooley were SWA.
Tribbey: They had a reunion here in Englewood back in September and Cooley came up from Athens, Ohio.
Editor: Mr. Kincheloe mentioned that one of the men in the tanks on 20 Sep had his legs severely wounded and someone had placed him on the side of the river and he laid there all night.
Tribbey: Yeah, we got a call the following morning from the 79th Division asking if we were missing any tankers. He was laying on the west side of a ditch. He was incoherent. I picked him up, laid him on top of the jeep and backed the jeep up the hill. I think his name was Moran from New York I think. The only thing that kept him from getting gangrene was that there was clear water running through the ditch.
Editor: Since you were in the 2nd platoon you must have been involved.
Kohler: Yes, I remember the event; I was the driver in the 3rd tank. We went down this hill and into a valley. Our tanks were about 15 yards apart. There had been some TD fire at us. My gunner swung the gun around about 30 degrees to the right, and that's when the shell hit. It came in right between the turret and the little cup that's around there. Killed Ruggles (gunner) and Payne (tank commander). It's a wonder it didn't kill all of us. Me and the assistant driver (Sacre) got out. I reached up under there to get my Tommy gun. Then I heard a shout - it was Ray Ellet (loader). He said "Get me out of here." There is a hole in the basket - the driver's hatch - just big enough to pull him out. I got him out and started to see how the others in the tank were. He said "Don't bother." I started to carry him with me back up to where we came from. He was just too much for me so I laid him down in a ditch. I told my commander about it and he sent the medics out, but they couldn't find him. I wanted to go with the medics since I knew where he was, but Woody (Captain Woods) said "No, you'll just get what I got." He took off his helmet and showed me the crease on his skull from a bullet wound. It was all bandaged up. I remember that. I can see that clearly to this day. As we were making our way out, the Germans fired at and hit my tank several more times, trying to get it to burn. But it never did.
The next morning when they went down there he was still alive. He has one leg about three inches shorter than the other today.
The bodies of Payne and Ruggles were in the tank for 2-3 days before they could get them out. I was there the day they took Payne out. They had to put a strap around his shoulders to pull him out. Heck of a site.
Editor: What about Ruggles?
Kohler: I didn't stick around to see that.
It was 2 or 3 days before I got into a tank again. I had to clean up the tank before we used it again. I found Payne's ruby ring on the back end. I still have the set. I didn't know who to send it to.
Editor: Since you were in the 2nd Platoon, I'm sure you remember this incident.
Troutman: A one-star general had a meeting with the officers in this small town [Frambois or Betaigne], and Lt Oleson told us they wanted our platoon to go down the road and take care of a machinegun nest that had pinned down the infantry. It was on the right side of the road on the other side of the bridge. That's what reconnaissance reported was down there. I was in the lead tank with Lt. Oleson. We went down the road, a blacktop road, trees on both sides. The road was built up about three feet. Out in the distance was a wooded area, a railroad track, and a river - a creek- and a blown bridge. The bridge was about 1/4 mile down the road.
The Germans evidently had a spot marked out. We were 50 yards from the bridge when an 88mm - a positioned gun - began to fire at us. I recall that there were some German tanks on the left behind some farm houses. The first shot went right over the front of our tank. I could hear it; I could almost smell it. I speeded up a little bit, then slowed down. When our second tank got up to the same spot - we were still moving slowly - a shot hit that tank; I believe that was Cooley. It bounced off the front I was told. The Germans were firing at us on an angle. They got the third tank, which is the one that Ruggles and Payne were in. I think the 4th one was set on fire, but I don't think it was destroyed.
We backed down off the road and started firing everything we had; we didn't see anybody out there, we just kept firing. The Lt. called for smoke; that's probably what saved us. After about 15 minutes we got out of there and headed back up the hill. I think the 4th and 5th tank went back with us. I think only 3 tanks made it back. O' Briskie was either a loader or assistant driver, I don't remember which.
We found out later that over in the woods they [Germans] had some of our tanks which they had captured and were using to fire at us. When we finally got our tanks back Lt Oleson looked into the tank where Payne and Ruggles were and he cracked up. We lost him for a while; he went back to the rear. I think that's when Rosencrantz took over.
Editor: Cooley says Bob Myers put him on the back of a tank after he was injured. Was it your tank?
When we were back at the top of the hill, I saw this soldier standing by a truck. I thought I recognized him. I got out and talked to him. Sure enough it was Joe Mattingly from Washington, Indiana.
Editor: On the 22nd mention is made of crossing that bridge again. Were you involved? Kincheloe tells about my uncle getting on the radio when Merritt was hit.
Troutman: I don' t think so. At least I don't remember it. We shot so many rounds that we almost burned the barrel out. Whether they pulled us out of action or not, I don't remember.
Editor: What do you remember about the event?
Cooley: They "mouse trapped" us. They let our tanks get in, then they closed off the path and hit us from the back. I heard shells landing around us. Then our tank got hit and we all came out flying. They were firing machineguns at us and I got hit. None of the other guys in the tank got hit. One of our guys (Bob Myers) threw me on the back of another tank. And you know what? That's the last thing I remember for a few days.
Editor: What did Mr. Osborne say about the incident? [Editor: Mr. Kincheloe asked Mr Osborne my questions because Mr Osborne was unavailable due to illness].
Kincheloe: He had little to add to what was said above, except that he said the bridge was still open on the first day. Cooley's tank was already on the bridge and Payne's tank was just about to roll onto the bridge.
Rosencrantz: At Luneville, we had four tanks when we were attacked near that bridge. They were firing 88mm's at us. The only thing that saved us was the smoke that was laid down, probably by somebody in the 79th Infantry Division artillery. The infantry was pinned down, so they couldn't do us any good. Lt Oleson's tank and my tank were the only two that made it back. I think I was the third tank that day. I think Payne was behind me in the 4th tank. The shell that hit that tank went in the front of the turret and out the back. The whole battle lasted less than 1/2 hour.
Editor: Cooley told me that Bob Myers put him on the back of somebody's tank and Bob Myers confirms that. Was it your tank?
I became Platoon Leader when Oleson got sick - battle exhaustion. When he looked inside Payne's tank. I think he spent the rest of his time in the headquarters group. Reader McDonald became Platoon Sargeant.
Editor: Did he come from the 2nd platoon?
Rosencratnz: No, I don't think so.
Myers: We were sitting outside our tanks in a small town when we got orders to head down this narrow road and clear out a machine gun nest near the river that had the 314th pinned down. The road was elevated so there were ditches on either side. Bob Cooley told me that his driver was sick and asked if I would drive for him; that’s why we only had four tanks instead of five – my tank stayed on top of the hill. I think our tank was following Payne’s tank. When we got close to the bridge some 88’s opened up, Payne’s tank was blown up, and we were forced to stop. You didn’t want to come to a stop when you were facing 88’s; if you stopped, it was Katie-bar-the-door. And a few seconds later we were hit on the back side and the gas tank exploded. I was getting out of the tank when Cooley jumped over my head and headed for the ditch on the right side of the road. Bad mistake; that’s where the machine gun fire was coming from. Cooley was yelling "Get down! Get down! then was hit in the back by that fire.
We lay in the ditch for a few minutes, hugging the ground. Cooley told me to get out and save myself. I was afraid we’d get killed by parts of the tank hitting us; shells were going off inside the tank, bogie wheels flying around. I yelled for a medic. A medic from the 314th finally reached us; he told us the 314th had been given the order to pull back. He asked me how Cooley was and I told him he was hit in the back. As he was looking at Cooley, he noticed the Lugar in his holster and asked if he could have the pistol. I told him I didn’t care. We started carrying Cooley across the road; a 314th guy came over, handed me his BAR, and said he would help carry Cooley. He told me to fire the BAR at those bushes (he pointed) if they (Germans) stuck there heads up. I’d never fired a BAR in my life. Finally some other tanks came down the road throwing smoke and we managed to put Cooley on the back of one of those tanks.
I didn’t know about Payne and Ruggles being killed until we got back to safety on the hill. Ruggles was from my home town; in fact, he lived just down the street from me. The medic who helped us that day eventually got a medal – Silver Medal I think.
Editor: Any other memories of the area near Luneville? The fighting must have been rough since you guys only moved about 20 miles in more than 2 months. It seems from the log book that the city named Embermenil had become your home; the name is mentioned nearly every day for 5-6 weeks.
Kincheloe: The fighting was real fierce. There was a German SS school there where they trained the SS soldiers. And they were fighters. We'd take a town, that night they'd take it away from us, the next day we'd take it back again. I also remember that at Charmes (17 Sept) Bing Crosby performed for us. In a factory. When we arrived, there weren't any chairs left so we cleared some large tables that were covered by German aircraft parts. Made a lot of racket; everybody turned around to see what was going on.
On 9 Oct where it mentions Sgt Lee - he went out with an infantry man on his belly and located the tank, then came back, asked me for a pair of pliers to use to cut some fence wire that got in his way, took a bazooka and went back and knocked that tank out. Lee was from eastern Kentucky, tough old bird, he could see in the dark like a hoot owl.
On 14 Oct Cap Woods got his helmet knocked off by a mortar round; just gave him a small scratch. But I think he got his arm wounded badly a few days later [15 Oct] and Redford took over temporarily.
On 16 Oct the tank of our platoon leader was heading for the front when they hit a mine. Hasenflue, the loader, broke his arm when he jumped out of the tank in a hurry and Kotowich the gunner got a slight wound. The log book mentions Niksich - I thought he replaced Hasenflue, but I guess not. Gregory I don't remember. I think Niksich was driving for the Lieutenant a little later when the tank was hit by a bazooka. Niksich was hit by a machinegun as he was trying to get away; I think the loader, named Regan, lost his leg.
Baker: I remember Luneville for a particular event. After the Germans were finally cleared out of the town, I and a member of our group were walking on the east side of town headed toward the Forest of Parroy. We were the only two on the street at that time. Mortar fire began to fall near us, like someone was watching and focusing on just us two. I remember a wall at the end of the street. We were both running and dodging the fire and I think we set an Olympic record by jumping over the wall. Within seconds, the firing stopped. It shows you how closely sometimes the Germans could watch you.
Editor: The story noted above that occurred on November 2 is weird. I guess anything can happen in war.
Kincheloe: Here's an event that occurred after I was hit. The Germans had a big artillery gun mounted on a railroad car. It would fire a few rounds and then retreat back into a cave. A guy named Johnny Jones volunteered to take his tank and sneak up during the night and hide close to where the artillery piece was. He got his crosshairs out, put them on the gun, and zeroed in on the cave entrance. Next morning when the gun came out of the cave, Jonesy fired and knocked the gun out. They were planning to give Jones a Silver Star, but he insisted that the whole crew get the Silver Star. So they all got Silver Stars.
Editor: Did you get hit near Luneville?
Kincheloe: 24th October Manonviller. We had pulled back from the front to get more tanks and men. We sat there all day, cleaning our tanks - my tank had lots of barbed wire in the treads. In the evening the kitchen crew came up and cooked supper for us, which was unusual - usually we had C or K rations. I got on the front of the tank to get my mess kit out. An artillery shell landed on a nearby house and blew the roof off. I thought I'd better get down into the tank. Just then a shell landed in the street and a piece of shrapnel went through my arm. The shell landed about 300 yards away. The boy from Evansville, Clem Osborne, saw me get hit. He told me where the shell landed. We were six miles behind the front lines.
Editor: Had there been some shelling earlier?
Kincheloe: No, the second shell got me.
Tribbey: In another incident near Luneville after the battle for the Forest Du Parroy was essentially over, a friend of mine, Allen Clark from Cincinnati, got out of the tank to get something to eat [9 Oct]. On the back of our tank we had a box we kept our rations in. One of our own 150mm hit a tree and Allen was cut through by a piece of shrapnel the size of a pie plate.
By the way, that was apparently the first time that the Forest had been captured. They had a large bunker built by combat engineers. General George Marshall and General Jacob Devers and a whole flock of other generals came to see the bunker. Devers came and talked to some of us at the time.
The biggest thing about Luneville was that they underestimated the forces we would need. That's why we lost so many men.
During the time near Luneville the 44th Infantry Division, which was the New Jersey National Guard, was brought up to replace the 79th Division, which was pretty well shot up like we were. They traded places during the night to try and fool the Germans so they won't know they had a fresh division in front of them. The next morning we hear on a loudspeaker "Welcome to the something-or-other front - I can't remember exactly - to the 44th Division from New Jersey. If you throw down your guns now we have hot sausage, eggs" I can't remember the rest. I heard that a few actually did give themselves up, but I can't vouch for the accuracy of the rumor.
I also remember when we were in the middle of a town with the 76th division and I heard jazz music coming from a band on the back of a truck. There was still some mopping-up going on around the edges of the town. I talked to the guy who played saxophone - he came from Chicago.
You mentioned the incident on 14 Nov about Sgt Garvey being hit by a women sniper - that reminds me that at times we would find women's clothing in some of the more elegant bunkers or super-duper foxholes. I do remember seeing a few women in the Russian Army when we linked up with them.
Kohler: The people weren't allowed to cut down trees for wood at winter time, so we would accidentally run into a few of them. By the next morning there wouldn't even be a twig left. So we helped out the French people. They helped us out by letting us know when the Germans were around.
I think I was one of the 10 tanks stuck in the mud that you mention on 14 October. The mud was right up to the escape hatch. I couldn't get out.
One day we were sitting on a hill firing at the Germans who were on a hill too. My tank commander was trying to tell me on the radio to back up but I didn't hear him. Then the assistant hollered at me without the radio. It's a good thing because I wouldn't be here today. A shell landed right where we had been setting.
A day or two later they wanted to send me back up to the front, but I didn't want to go. I told them they could court martial me, they could throw the book at me, but I am not going up there without communication in that tank. I told Redford right to his face. None of the boys I was with wanted to go back.
Troutman: When we went from Belgium to southern France, that was a pretty long ride. Maintenance had to put in new engines and new tracks. That was pretty tough area near Luneville, Bittwiller, Bitche. Lots of pillboxes, hilly. Woods.
Sometime in September we were sitting on a hill where we shouldn't have been and we heard an 88 go off. He got us in a bracket. He hit us on the third shot. Right in the middle on the lower part of the tank, cut the drive shaft in two. Everybody in the tank got little pieces of shrapnel. It blew all the periscopes out, so glass flew everywhere. Some of the black plastic stuff in the periscopes embedded in my hands and knees. I was picking it out all day long. Not serious enough for reporting or a purple heart. That shell went right behind my seat and out the other side - didn't even slow down. Everybody bailed out safely; we were just lucky to be alive. Rosencrantz was never in a hurry about anything. He walked around in front of the tank to see the hole the shell had made. The rest of us were halfway down the hill before he started down the hill. Then the Germans put one through the gas tank and blew it up. Fireworks going everywhere as the shells exploded. The worst part was that we had just got all new supplies; McFadden had just gotten cookies from home.
McFadden: Rosencrantz yelled at me "Don't Fire the gun. Don't fire the gun." A shell had hit the end of the gun and split it right in half. If we had tried to fire a shell it would have destroyed the tank, and us. We all finally got out and jumped off the tank. Let me tell you that's a good jump off the deck of a tank. We all took off running like hell to get away from the tank. Then a shell hit the back of the tank where we had a big wooden box filled with souvenirs - German flags and lots of other stuff. Blew the box right off the tank. I could see German flags flying everywhere. [Editor: Troutman and McFadden were in the same tank].
Troutman: About the incident mentioned on 15 Oct: We took this hill at night that had changed hands several times. We were supposed to be relieved by the TD's but they never showed up. So we had to stay there all night - pitch black. Germans all around us. One of them even came up to our tank and hit it with his gun butt. McFadden was on guard duty with his head sticking out of the turret. The German soldier wanted to know where the CP was. McFadden could speak German so he told him to go a few yards off to one side, and the German walked right into some of our doughboys. Sometime during the night we heard what we thought was one of our tanks or TDs. It was a German tank and it ended up on the other end of the line. Come morning when they could see each other, one of our tanks fired at the German tank from point-blank range.
Editor: I guess the other end of the line would mean near the 5th tank since you were in the 1st tank.
Troutman: Yes. But I don't know exactly which tank. They would have been 50-60 yards away from us. We had backed off the road and they were further up the road.
The incident on 15 Oct - Sgt Eck was the Commander of one of the Company's assault guns, a tank specially mounted with a 105mm howitzer (short barrel gun). He was in the headquarters unit.
Editor: This night-time event sounds very much like one of the stories my uncle told me. He said his tank (and I guess the others) had backed off the road a few feet when they stopped for the night. The road they were on was leading up a hill in a forest. The road was very narrow and snaked around many deep ditches. It was too cold in the tank to sleep very well, and several noises had kept him awake. So he had made a cup of coffee. Some time in the early hours of the morning they heard motors; they thought it was one of their own TD's. Uncle Willie said that from the sound of the noises the tank was about 30 feet away from them. It was absolutely black outside the tank. Whatever it was, the noise stopped and, after a some time (my uncle said it may have been a half hour, but it seemed like hours), they heard someone say "Hello" in German – apparently the Germans in the tank thought the American tanks were German tanks. Or they didn’t see the American tanks and were talking to some other German tank nearby. They sat there for a few minutes deciding what to do, wondering what would happen if they didn't respond with a Hello. My Uncle Willie said that his tank was positioned on a slope which made it impossible to fire in the direction of the noises. He wanted to take a sip of coffee from his cup, but he was afraid to move for fear of creating some noise which would betray where they were. They didn't know if the German tank knew they were there.
He wasn't sure how long they sat there. He began to wonder what would happen when morning came and the other tank could see them. At some point he heard the turret on the tank next to him (15-20 feet away) move. He wondered if the Germans heard the noise. Then it fired a shell. And then another. Willie opened his turret and in the dim light could see the German tank slide down off the road into a deep ravine. As the tank burned, two Germans came out of the tank and were killed by machine-gun fire. The American tank, Willie said, was probably only 50 feet away from the German tank when it fired. The concussion moved his tank.
Troutman: The guy mentioned on 16 Nov - T/5 Engle - has been to several of our annual meetings. Sgt Hayden was in our platoon during training. But later he transferred to another Company.
The mention of Sacre for battle fatigue on 17 Oct reminds me that I had the same thing, but I don't remember if it was in October or early November. They sent me to Marseille; I think I was there for about two weeks. I know I was back with the platoon for Thanksgiving. There's no record in the log book. I was surprised to get back into the same outfit, much less get back into the same tank crew. That also reminds me that some other Platoon had killed a deer and a cow and had them prepared for eating at Thanksgiving.
On 17 Nov. I remember the town of Avricourt. I don't remember Rosencratz being injured while I drove for him. I'm looking at a map. I remember Joinville, Charmes, Luneville. I also remember Rohrbach and Bitche.
Editor: Do you remember the Foret De Parroy?
Osborne: That was a bad place for us - the forest of Parroy. We were there for at least 6 weeks. While we were there General Marshall and General Patton showed up and basically said " Get up off your butts and clear the Germans out of there".
Rosencrantz: In the Forest de Parroy, my gunner got killed by a tree burst. He was standing on the back of the tank at the time. He was a replacement for Lombardi for 3-4 days; Lombardi had a problem with his nerves. I think his name was Jolly. He was a great big guy with blonde hair. He fell off the tank right at my feet after he was hit.
The day McFadden mentioned - the first thing we heard was a loud crack. I thought some German was getting us bracketed. So we got out of there. Then the Germans destroyed the tank.
Kincheloe: About the Allen Clark (Oct 9) mentioned by Jack Tribbey. He was a big, blonde guy. He lost a lot of weight during the first month or so of the war, and his pants were always hanging real loose on him. He had replaced a gunner for a few days who was sick. I think the name was Talley or Talick. The Guy named Jolly mentioned by Rosencrantz was a Sergeant. In the first few weeks of the war he was knocked off a tank by Battigaglia, I think on purpose. Hurt his arm or leg. I don't remember seeing him after that. A guy named Keneipp replaced him as Tank Commander.
Tribbey: Sgt Jolly was from Arkansas, I think. As best as I remember, he was assigned from "B" Company to "D" Company. I'm pretty sure he didn't get killed in the war. I think he was at our 1983 reunion.
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