Category Archives: December 1944

Battle of Luxembourg – 2nd Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Division



Interview with:

Captain Arthur C. Newcomb, Bn S-3 (by Lt. S.J. Tobin) at Berbourg, Luxembourg, and interviews at Beaufort, Luxembourg, 21 January 1945 (by Lt. Col. Wm. T. Gayle) with the following:

Captain Robert B. McLean, Bn S-1

Captain James W. Graham, then Cmdg. H Co. 22nd, and during the action with the Bn. Command Group.

1st Lt. Harold Simon, Bn S-4

Captain James B. Burnside, Ex. O., 2nd Bn, 22nd.

The following is an official overlay map from the 22nd Infantry Regiment:

(Click the map to view a larger version)

Battle of Luxembourg - Area Map

On Dec. 16 the 2nd Bn. was in 22nd Inf. regimental reserve at Oetrange. In the afternoon orders were received to move by truck next morning to the 12th Inf. area for attachment to that regiment. The battalion moved out of Oetrange at 0730 Dec. 17 and proceeded to an assembly area about 300 yards south of Bech. About 1030 Co. F entrucked and moved to Berbourg where they mounted on tanks of Co. A 19th Tank Bn. of the 9th Armored Division, to go to the aid of Co. L 12th Inf. at Osweiler.

Co F. joined the tanks and moved from Berbourg thru Herborn, thence north towards Osweiler. As they passed the Miesbusch woods (064310) they received small arms fire. The column stopped, the infantry dismounted and fanned out, and then with the tanks advanced thru the western edge of the woods. The Germans withdrew before this attack and 16 men of Co. C 12th Inf. were recaptured.

Co. F and the tanks returned to the road and moved into Osweiler arriving in the middle of the afternoon. As they neared the town an American plane attacked the column and knocked out one tank. Panels were immediately displayed and the attack by our planes was stopped, but as the tanks entered the town the enemy put down a heavy artillery and mortar barrage. One tank suffered a damaged track from this fire but was evacuated after dark. The situation at Osweiler was well under control by this time. An enemy attack, the last made on Osweiler, had been beaten off that morning. Co F. remained, reinforcing Co. L 12th, while the tanks withdrew to Berbourg that night.


While Co. F was moving to Osweiler (Start), the rest of the battalion marched northeast from Bech, with companies in column G, E, H.

One section of heavy machine guns and a section of mortars were with Co. G and a section of machine guns with Co. E, which left four machine guns, four mortars, and 48 men, and four officers with Co. H at the tail of the column. The Battalion Command Group was between G and E. At a road junction a thousand yards south of Michelshof, the column turned right on the trail which leads to the eastern part of the woods. About 800 yards beyond the RJ, just beyond the point where the trail crosses the small road to Geyershof, the column encountered a mudhole at least knee deep.  They were never able to get any vehicles thru this obstacle and from there on the move was entirely by foot.

The advance continued, following the trail around to the north along the crest of the ridge. (Omit) Exact location was difficult to determine in the woods and the march went on past the point where they should have turned east to get on the road to Osweiler. The battalion commander, Lt. Col. Thomas Kennan, realized this about 1500 when the head of the column was at approximately 041330. He ordered Co. G to turn to the southeast and move out on the nose at the edge of the woods (046327) where they could get observation to the east. (<- out) (Start again) (No paragraph here) It was just after this move started that the column was attacked.

The Germans had evidently been moving south at the foot of the steep bank on the east edge of the woods. They came up this bank at several points, cutting and eventually passing thru the American column. The first attack hit the head of Co. H. The Germans were apparently as much surprised at the first encounter as were the men of Co. H. The first enemy seen was a single scout who reached the top of the bank, (omit) (at about 040318), to find himself face to face with the Americans. The Germans opened fire with a burp gun, but the radio operator of Co. H killed him with a carbine. Then more Germans came up attacking Co. H on the right flank and also passing across the front of their column and getting on the left flank also. Practically all of the German troops had automatic weapons and they also opened fire with a 50mm mortar. The men of Co. H had been caught flatfooted while carrying machineguns and mortars. There was a dogfight for a while until Co. H succeeded in pulling back a few hundred yards to a draw at 03613 where they formed a circular defense. There Co. H was surrounded for the rest of the afternoon, fighting off an enemy which considerably outnumbered them.

The machine gun section which was at the rear of Co. E’s column had also been involved in the first enemy attack. But as the Germans came up in force between then and the rest of Co. B, they moved forward to catch up with Co. E. It was a while before the rest of the battalion knew that Co. H was in a fight. The battalion headquarters heard the firing but it sounded so distant that they did not suppose it to be in that battalion; they had been hearing considerable remote firing all afternoon. The first information that the battalion had of this attack was when the Executive Officer of Co. E ran up to the command group and said that Co. H was in a fight. About the same time the radio operator of Co. H. – the same man who had killed the first German – got thru with a message to the same effect. Col. Kennan ordered Co. E to turn around, go back astride the trail, and relieve H. Co. E made hardly any progress before they ran into strong German forces and were stopped. The enemy had evidently come up from the east in at least company strength between companies E and H. At the same time they came up all around Co. G. For the rest of the afternoon these two companies were under heavy small arms and 50mm. mortar fire and for a while were separated from each other as well as from Co. H. The battalion suffered a number of casualties during the afternoon skirmish.

That night contact was restored between E and G and they formed a circle near the east edge of the woods, with the battalion command group and a section of machineguns completing the circle on the north. There was no contact with Co. H, the last radio message having been received shortly after the attack started when the H Co. operator said, “Don’t call me any more; the enemy are too close”.

Apparently there had been no enemy activity north of the positions of Companies E and G; during the afternoon it had been possible to move to the trail junction about 500 yards north of Co. G and back down the other trail to E without encountering the enemy. After dark there was no contact and no firing thruout the night. Evidently the hostile force had gone its way to the southwest. Co. H. also was able to withdraw after dark and returned to Bech.


When the battalion first moved out the Bn CP remained at Beck. Later I went forward to reconnoiter the supply route. Finding the mudhole in the trail at 029309 impassable, I went to Michelshof to look for a route from there. When I got near the CR at Michelshof, I came under artillery fire that followed me around so closely I’m sure it was observed. There was one TD somewhere near Michelshof, and they were taking great care to keep hidden on account of the enemy fire.

Seeing that we would not be able to use a route thru Michelshof, and having heard from Co. F that they had reached Osweiler without difficulty, I asked permission by radio to move the CP to some point on the Herborn–Osweiler road. Col. Kennan replied emphatically, “let me tell you my situation”, and he made it clear that the battalion was pretty well surrounded. He ordered the CP to move to Geyershof.

Captain Burnside, the Bn. Ex. O., brought the CP up on foot except for a few wire vehicles, but later all the battalion transportation was brought to Geyershof and dispersed in an open field just back of the CP.

An AT gun was placed about 800 yards north of Geyershof on the road to Michelshof, near the south edge of the woods. Captain

McLean moved to the same point with the radio because of difficulty with reception in the low ground at Geyershof. The cannon platoon which was attached to the battalion also went into position nearby. But this position soon came under heavy shelling. The cannon platoon and the radio moved back down to the vicinity of the building in the northern part of the village where the CP was set up.

The AT gun remained in the exposed position.

Communication was difficult and uncertain thruout Dec. 17 and.l8. When the battalion advanced from Bech in the morning a wire vehicle accompanied the command group in the usual way, but it was stopped at the mudhole north of Geyershof. The wire crew then removed the reel from the vehicle and tried to follow the advance on foot, but they were unable to keep up. Thruout the afternoon this

crew was by itself in the woods doggedly laying wire, but they never succeeded in reaching the forward CP. Thruout the fight in the afternoon and the passage of the German battalion thru the woods, the wire crew was never attacked, but next day German wire was found tapped in on our line. Apparently the enemy deliberately allowed our linemen to go on with their work.

There was only intermittent wire communication from the CP at Geyershof to the rear. The line back to Bech was cut repeatedly by artillery fire and though repair was continuous the line was out a great deal of the time. During the night this line stayed in but just south of Bech the wire to the 12th Inf. CP was cut by shelling. Because of this difficulty with its wire, most of the communication to the rear during the late afternoon and night was transmitted thru the artillery, which managed to keep in its line from Geyershof to the battery at Bech, which had a line to 42nd FA Bn. and thence to 12th Inf.

There was, however, little positive information to transmit to the regiment that night. About all that was known at the CP about the situation was that the battalion was surrounded by enemy in unknown strength. There was no wire forward and little use could be made of the radio partly because of poor reception in the Geyershof hollow and partly because Col. Kennan was unwilling to talk much on the radio. Again the artillery battery (B44th) did an excellent job of maintaining communication in spite of the difficulties. When the artillery radio jeep was stopped at the mudhole, the radio operator showed excellent initiative in finding a way to operate in spite of being left behind. He brought his jeep back to Geyershof and parked it at the window of the switchboard room at the CP.  He remained in contact with the forward observer by portable radio, and the next day successfully controlled fire by receiving radio messages from the FO, and shouting them in the window to the telephone operator who transmitted them to the battery at Bech. (This man was killed next day when a shell fragment hit him in his hole).

Supply was also a problem. The impossibility of getting vehicles thru the mudhole on the route followed by the battalion and the fact that the enemy was putting observed fire on Michelshof, made it necessary to resort to carrying parties. Supply jeeps went as far forward as possible, which was about 200 yards east of Michelshof, and there they were met by the A & P platoon which handcarried everything for the remaining mile and a half to the battalion. It was a source of amazement to the battalion officers that in spite of the enemy battalion which was somewhere in the woods nearby, the A & P Platoon worked without interference all night and completed the carriage of supplies.

The lone TD which was in Michelshof was very uneasy about its exposed position and asked for infantry protection. This the battalion was unable to furnish and the TD wanted to withdraw. With much persuasion they were induced to remain, Captain McLean pointing out that members of the carrying party and the jeep drivers would be near their position most of the time. McLean was very anxious to keep the TD there to furnish a little protection for the sensitive transfer point on the supply line. After the last trip the carrying party remained with the TD until morning, which led to their being cut off when the Germans advanced.


On the morning of Dec. 18 the battalion up in the woods found itself free of any enemy contact. They moved south to the lateral trail, turned east, and marched toward Osweiler without any opposition from the Germans. But as they came out of the woods on the road, north of Fromburg Farm they received heavy fire from American tanks, the same tanks that were with Co. F. These tanks, which had spent the night at Herborn, had returned to Osweiler in the morning and had been sent eastward to assist the battalion. In view of the situation which had existed the previous night, it was not reasonable to expect that the battalion would march out of the woods unopposed, without the firing of a shot, and the assumption by the tanks that they were the enemy was natural. It was a difficult situation for nearly two hours with the infantry battalion pinned down and suffering some casualties. Eventually a patrol with a white flag made its way around thru the draw on the right and made contact with the tanks.

A little before noon Companies E and G entered Osweiler and joined Co. F. For the rest of that day and the 19th they remained at Osweiler taking no action except the out-posting of the town. Here the three rifle companies were reunited but were far separated from the battalion headquarters at Geyershof and the service elements and the greater part of Co. H at Bech. (Omit) Co. H after its fight in the woods had made its way back to Bech during darkness). These elements were ordered to move to Herborn but before the move could be made they became heavily involved with the German 316th Regiment. (Stop go to page 11 narrative)


All was quiet at Geyershof until about noon. Realizing how uncertain the situation was, Captain Burnside had made all arrangements for security which his means permitted. There was still the TD at Michelshof and 500 yards south of it the battalion’s AT gun. Outposts composed of battalion headquarters personnel were occupying some abandoned artillery positions about 200 yards northwest of the CP. The two infantry cannon were in position just west of the CP sighted to fire up the hill to the northeast. The only possible exit from Geyershof was via the CR to the north; the road and trails leading south were not passable for vehicles.

The CP received some shelling a little before noon. Sometime afterward small arms fire was heard to the south. This was from a platoon of towed TDs (2A802) which was in position a thousand yards south on the Jacobsberg road. This seems to have been the first American unit hit by the German 2nd Bn. 316th as it advanced southeast from Scheidgen. This platoon being unable to get out southward to Jacobsberg, retreated to the north, passing thru Geyershof. As they approached the CR 500 yards north of the village, they were fired on from northeast and northwest and were unable to get thru. About the same time a platoon of the 803rd TD Bn. (SP) which had been in position 500 yards east of Geyershof firing as artillery, tried to withdraw thru the village but found the road blocked by the towed platoon.

It was obvious now that all the Americans at Geyershof were bottled up. Accordingly Captain Burnside had the TD’s pull back to the village and put them in position on the east alongside the cannon platoon. All three of these units were manning their guns with minimum personnel and put the rest of their men out as infantry. The part of the A & P Platoon which was present took positions in the houses in the southern part of the village covering the south. The west was still held by the outposts of the battalion headquarters in the old artillery position up the hill. It was a slim defense and the enemy were now all around. They did not close in but their presence in the woods on all sides was proved by the heavy small arms fire they were delivering. Considerable numbers of enemy were also observed on the open hilltop a thousand yards to the east.

The TD and the infantry carrying party at Michelshof were completely cut off. However they seem to have escaped detection and later in the day escaped down the highway to Wolper. The AT gun south of Michelshof was overrun. Two of the crew were found dead there later, the balance presumably captured.

The enemy kept up a heavy fire on the Geyershof defense, both small arms and observed artillery fire; they scored two direct hits on the CP building. They also placed artillery on our vehicles knocking out a jeep and two trailers. When the attack first developed, an ambulance with a casualty, and a jeep, had made a run for it. The enemy poured a stream of bullets at these vehicles as they went thru the CR but they escaped. However the volume and close range of the fire decided Captain Burnside against trying to make a dash out with all the vehicles. The defenders could not reply effectively to the hostile fire since the enemy stayed out of sight in the woods, although the TDs did some firing into the woods to the northeast. What may have been the enemy’s intentions as to attacking the place never appeared, for the siege was broken by the arrival of our tanks.

Co. C 70th Tank Bn. had been detached that morning from TF Luckett and ordered to report to 2nd Bn. 22nd. During the morning Captain Taynton ?, having left his company in Bech had reported in at Geyershof and been instructed to bring his company there. At that time Captain Burnside did not yet know that the battalion had marched out of the woods without opposition. During the time that Captain Taynton returned to Bech and led his company forward, the enemy attack developed. As the tanks moved up the trail toward the CR north of Geyershof they were fired on by the Germans in the woods. Captain Taynton attacked into the woods but his own tank was knocked out by a bazooka. Deciding that he could not break thru the enemy without infantry support, Captain Taynton mounted another tank and returned to Bech were he called on the Battalion S-4 for assistance. Lt. Simon the S-4 had no men except cooks and supply personnel and apparently was not very encouraging about the possibility of using them for infantry. At any rate Captain Taynton then went to the 174th Field Artillery Bn. (l35G), obtained 25 men and took them back to join his tanks. The attack on the Germans in the woods was renewed, but they were unable to dislodge the enemy, who were present in considerable numbers. Then the tank captain decided to move around by the trail. The tanks did an enormous amount of firing on this move with all their guns, especially into the woods to the northeast where the main body of the enemy seemed to be. Under fire from our tanks the hostile small arms fire slackened considerably and the tanks moved down to the CP.

All arrangements for departure had been made during the tank action, which had lasted an hour and a half. The column was quickly formed, with tanks at the head and tail and a few dispersed thru the column. Just at that time the weather intervened on our side. A heavy fog came down like the dropping of a curtain. Under this concealment the column moved out and returned to Bech without loss. The enemy continued firing but with the visibility limited to a 100 yards got no hits.

When the head of the column was in motion a sergeant went back into the field where the vehicles had been parked, to unload some equipment from the damaged trailers, but was driven away by close range machinegun fire. Apparently the enemy moved in from the south the moment we pulled out to the north. On the way out a party went up the road to Michelshof. The squad was missing except for two dead but the gun and halftrack were untouched. The halftrack motor could not be started so the platoon leader removed the pin from the gun and it was abandoned.

The CP went thru Beck to Herborn.

The TD at Michelshof and the nine men of the 2nd Bn. 22nd who were with them (carrying party and wire men) remained there during the fight at Geyershof, watching large numbers of the enemy pass thru the woods just south of them. Later they rode down the highway to Wolper without interference.


About 1330 Dec. 18 I had just returned to Bech after a trip to the Service Co., when the tank company commander ran in and said, “I’ve just had a tank knocked out. How about giving me some infantrymen to help get the tank out.” Since I had nobody ready for action, the tank captain went off to 174th Field Artillery, I rounded up 22 men- cooks, KP’s, and others- and loading them in jeeps along with rations and other supplies moved forward to the RJ (023305), where the trail for Geyershof leaves the road. We stayed there at the RJ and watched the tanks a few hundred yards away trying to get into Geyershof and having a hell of a fire fight. Too much artillery was falling on the road so I sent the jeeps back to Bech. After the tanks broke thru, I tried to follow them, but the Germans were still in the woods and we could not get thru. I led my men back to Bech and was standing at the CR when the column came thru. Captain McLean told me as he went by that the CP was moving to Herborn. But the service elements remained in Bech that night.

Since the Jerries were all around the area, we had to get up a defense for Bech. I had thirty-some men of the service personnel of 2nd Bn. 22nd. I looked around the town and found several other outfits – Battery B 44th Field, Co. Hq. of A and B 12th Inf., the Service Battery 174th Field Artillery, and some TDs. We got together and organized a defense. Battery B of the 44th took the east side of the town, Service Battery 174th the northeast, and I organized cooks, clerks, and so forth, including the Co. Hq. of A and B 12th, and outposted the open hill northwest of Bech. The TDs took position to cover the west. One of the 12th Inf. companies had a 60mm. mortar, but the only man we could find who knew anything about a mortar was one of Co. B 12th who was back there awaiting courtmartial. We put this man in charge of the mortar and set it up to cover the road to the north. We took two 50 caliber machineguns off the trucks and a couple of 30’s from the jeeps. During the night Lt. Turchin brought in the part of H Co. which had been surrounded in the woods.

We were not disturbed at Bech during the night; there was no firing. But next morning just as I was ready to move my outfit to Berbourg, Bech got a terrific shelling.


The Battalion CP first set up in Herborn in a cafe at the road fork in the north end of the town. About Dec. 20 we got a terrific shelling with 210mm. – identified by the artillery from fragments. The first shelling destroyed both our radios which were on the upper floor, and cut every wire line. When we thought the shelling was over, I left the basement with several men and went back to the CP in the top floor. Immediately afterward the Jerries threw some more 201s in, one of which made a direct hit on a small basement window, taking out the whole base of the front wall of the building and completely wrecking the basement. This shelling immobilized all our transportation; the jeeps that weren’t wrecked had flat tires. We then moved in with CP of 3rd Bn. 12th, which still had wire to the rear and radio communication with Osweiler.


On Dec. 20 patrols were sent out, to Rodenhof, and to the woods where the battalion had been surrounded on the 17th. The latter got well into the woods before meeting enemy, and did not return until after dark. The other patrol found the enemy holding the high ground in front of Rodenhof strongly. This patrol got back to the battalion under cover of artillery fire called down by the forward observer who was with them.

The battalion organized an attack on this resistance, getting started in the late afternoon. They got just across the steep ravine which runs southwest from Rodenhof and were stopped by enemy strongly entrenched on the opposite bank. E and F organized their position for the night. After dark the Germans made a strong counterattack on F, which lost about 20 men.

On Dec. 21 G relieved F and at 7:30 E and G moved forward and ran head on into an enemy attack. The fire fight lasted all day with no further change of position after our initial 200 yard advance.

That night orders were received from 12th Infantry to hold our ground, and the battalion remained on the defensive until relieved on Dec. 24th by 3rd Bn. 22nd.

Co. E then had 78 men and Co. F 50.

Battle of Hürtgen Forest – B Company, 22nd Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Division

B Company, 22nd Infantry Regiment, 4th Division.
16 November – 13 December 1944
Interviews with:
Lt. Tony Bizzaro, platoon leader, 2nd platoon; later CO.
Lt. William Murray, platoon leader of 1st platoon after 25 November,
Lt. Voyage Ramey, forward observer of 44th FA Bn, with B Company.
Lt. Robert Wessman, company Executive Officer.
S/Sgt. Joe W. Forrester, platoon guide of 2nd platoon; later platoon sgt, 1st pl.
S/Sgt. Stanley T. Jozwiak, squad leader and later platoon sergeant, 3rd platoon.
Sgt. Christopher C. Neal, squad leader and later platoon sgt., weapons platoon.
Pfc. Thomas P. Ward, bazookaman and later squad leader, 2nd platoon.
Pvt. Alton Byerly, radio operator in Co. Hq.
Capt. James McLane, CO Co B., (later S-3 1st Bn, 22nd Inf Regt).
Vic. Gostingen, Luxembourg, 15-16 December 1944: Interviews by Capt. K. W. Hechler, 2nd Info & Hist Sv. (VIII Corps).

On 16 November, B Co. started to move forward at 1245, and passed through the 2d Battalion. Little opposition was encountered, except from artillery and mortar fire, and the move was carried out in columns of platoons. Nine casualties were suffered the first day from artillery and mortar fire.

On 17 November the company had its first major engagement, in wooded area and hilly terrain, where the enemy had erected hasty defenses and some strong points reinforced by layers of logs and communication trenches. The first strong point was close to the crossfire breaks at (009379). The enemy had some mines thickly along the firebreak, and defended the firebreak with a pair of machine guns on each side. The left (northwest) side of the firebreak was a little more heavily wooded than the right side. Visibility was limited to 20 yards but the enemy apparently had better observation from high ground. These observation enabled the enemy to zero in artillery on the possible approaches.

Four tanks accompanied the advance of B Co. on 17 November. The tanks jumped off online with the infantry, but quickly spread out along the firebreak until it was about 25 to 30 yards between tanks. The company advanced with three platoons online, covering 200 yards to the right (Southeast) and 100 yards to the left of the firebreak. The 1st, 2nd and 3rd platoons were arranged in that order from left to right, with the 2nd being closest to the firebreak. Initially, the 2nd and 3rd had started out abreast, but the first platoon was committed on the company’s left flank in an attempt to push forward more quickly.

The tanks had advanced scarcely more than 50 yards before the lead tank hit a group of mines in the firebreak at (009379). There had been no attempt to clear mines in advance of the tanks. Shortly thereafter a second tank hit a mine, causing two casualties from concussions in the crew. The tank commander attempted to bypass the knocked out tanks, but they blocked the firebreak. Then the tank commander put the other two General Stuarts online, about 100 yards apart on the left side of the firebreak. They are machine guns sprayed in the underbrush, and a few rounds of 37 were fired from a stationary position, and no further advance was made. The tanks were initially effective as a morale factor but did not materially assist.

About 50 yards beyond where the tanks were knocked out, a machine gun on the left firebreak opened up, followed by two on the right of the road. Pfc. Marcario Garcia and Pfc. Charles Jeffries, the lead scouts of the 2nd platoon, went out with their BAR’s, 30-40 yards in advance of the rest of the platoon and about the same distance from each other. Successively, the three machine gun positions were reduced by one of these scouts opening fire to draw fire, the second working around to the flank of the gun and firing and then an assault squad of about 15 men assaulting the gun with a steady rush and a maintenance of fire superiority.

“Garcia and Jeffries were to the best scouts I have ever seen,” said Lt. Tony Bizarro. “They had just plain guts, and they were always well forward.” Regarding Jeffries, Pfc. Ward relates that throughout the campaign, he would never stay in his hole during even the heaviest artillery or mortar barrage, but would be constantly hopping around and firing at possible targets. “I wanna to make ’em think there’s a battalion here,” Jeffries would always say.

On 17 November, the light machine guns were employed right on the line with the assaulting elements. The heavy machine guns were used only for defensive purposes and were not set up for firing until after the company had dug in for the night. 18 casualties were suffered on the second day of the attack.

For the next few days, B Company was not very actively engaged. On the 18th after A and C Co. had attacked, B C. moved up and tied in with the other companies to form an all-around defense. On 19 November, B Co remained in the same position; considerable difficulty was encountered hand-carrying supplies up the hill.

On 20 November, B Co. remained in position until noon, when they went to tie in with A Co’s right flank, as A and C companies had pushed ahead for 600 yards. After remaining in position on 21 November, B Co. moved a mile on 22 November the right flank of the second Battalion to assist them in securing a vital road junction they just obtained in that area. On the evening of Thanksgiving Day, according to the company Journal, a radio message came in announcing that turkey was awaiting the company. “Believing this to be a code word for something else, a small detail was sent out to find out the score;” the turkey could not be consumed at night because the company underwent another heavy artillery barrage, but the following day it was made available.

On 24 November, B Co. rejoined the 1st Battalion, on 25 November move up to the old 3rd Battalion positions 800 yards ahead (with two casualties) and on 26 November sees five casualties from shell fire when C Co. attacked to secure the patch of woods west of Grosshau.

On 27 November, B Co. had a bitter fight to recapture the woods which C Co. had lost the previous day. The 1st platoon started off in the lead in what was to have been a column of platoons jumping off at 0900, the 17 men in personal tunes started off in an irregular skirmish line, crouching in the three-foot grass to avoid detection. They moved without detection to the 30 yards from the edge of the wood, and started firing. Lieut. Murray was in the lead, hurting his men onward, but a hail of artillery, order and small arms fire greeted the platoon as in the open fire. For two hours the platoon tried to advance and succeeded only in crawling up 5-6 yards closer. Lt. Murray was still in the lead, but fortunate enough to have the refuge of a large shell crater. The rest of the platoon behind him was annihilated; all 17 were either killed or wounded.

The company then reorganized, and the 3rd platoon prepared to advance toward the same ground, around the right flank of the 1st platoon. The platoon got about 20 yards from the edge of the woods and then received the same artillery and shell fire which the 1st platoon had received. The platoon was pulled back and there were 12–13 men left, and the company once again reorganized in preparation for pressing the attack with the 30 men it had remaining. 4.2 mortar fire was called for, and it raked the field west of the woods.

The 2nd platoon then tried to slip across the field a squat at a time in skirmish line. Ten men got up as far as 20 yards from the woods, when a machine gun had them helplessly pinned down. Pfc. Charles Edwards was the first man who endeavored to knock out the gun.

Edwards, a former member of the 4th Engineer Battalion, had asked repeatedly to join the company; his wish had finally been granted when the company was in its hottest action around Brandescheid in assaulting the Siegfried Line. Edwards crept up toward the gun, but had not advanced more than 5 yards before quick a burst drilled him. S/Sgt. Thomas F. Dyess tried to worm his way around through the woods to fight the gun from the right, but he too was wounded in the attempt. Pfc. Marcario Garcia, acting squad leader in the support platoon, then went into the woods. Lt. Bizarro heard several grenades explode, and saw Garcia’s form advancing into the edge of the woods. In a few minutes several reports from an M1 rifle were heard. Then Garcia emerged from the woods, saying: “God damn, I killed three Germans and knocked out that machine-gun.” No sooner had he said this when another machine-gun open another section of the woods and Garcia, though wounded, reentered the woods, completely annihilated the machine-gun crew of three and took four prisoners without assistance. This enabled the rest of the company to advance into the woods.

As soon as they had set up, tanks started to deliver direct fire into the B Co. position, in the same way in which they had fired on C Co. in the same situation the preceding day. Snipers were also firing from a frame house no more than 50 yards away from the B company positions. It was very difficult to spot all the places where fire was coming from but, as Bizarro put it later, “We figured we had paid so dearly for the ground that we would hold it at all costs.” Later in the evening, E Co. came over and reinforced the depleted ranks of B Co.

The tank which had been firing direct fire to the B Co. positions from west of Grosshau was not knocked out, but it withdrew during the night and B Co.’s lines held firm. There were only 25 men left in the company by the close of the day on 27 November. What few of the older men were left were redistributed and spread as evenly as possible among the platoons.

During the fighting on 27 November, B Company suffered 54 casualties, including Lt. Daniel Dickinson, CO; Lt. Bizzaro then took over the company. Lt. William Jordan, platoon leader of the antitank company of the regiment, drove his half-track and 57mm gun down the uncleared road close to Grosshau and set it up in a defensive position for the night.

After a relatively quiet. 28 – 29 November, on 30 November B Company moved into and outpost Grosshau. Very little except scattered my proposition was encountered in this task.

On one December, B Company attacked in the rear of C and A Companies. The second and third platoon advanced a breast across the open ground. Casualties from artillery fire, which had been extremely heavy in A Company, were not as heavy as expected – – there were only five crossing this open ground. Relatively little difficulty with experience advancing through the woods, although some direct tank fire was being received from the talents of Gey and Strass, both of which afforded the enemy excellent observation of the movements across the open ground.

On three December, B Co. was hit by a strong counterattack on its left flank, which threw back the left flank and was not stemmed until both A and C companies had rushed reinforcements to assist. The counterattack, consisting of approximately 150 infantry unsupported by armor but aided by 15 strafing planes hit B Co. in the area of vicinity (068390), 200 yards south of the Grosshau-Gey road, in a southeasterly direction for about 50 yards. C Company was on B’s right flank extending to the southeast, while A Co. extended around to the southwest and right rear. On the left flank of B Co., I Co. extended to the northwest; the previous day the enemy had counterattacked the 3rd Battalion’s positions and made a deep dent in I Co’s lines.

After daylight on 3 December, the enemy delivered heavy mortar and artillery concentrations on the house at the edge of the woods and also on the other B Co. positions. Several B Co. men were occupying the house, had dug fox holes in and around old farm and shell craters close to the house, and two-man foxholes extended every 10-15 yards toward the southeast for about 100 yards.

The enemy attack came directly down the road from Gey toward the B Co positions. Lt. Voyage Ramey, forward observer with B Co. from the 44th Field Artillery Battalion, called for concentrations on the area of approach, approximately 25 enemy infantry with automatic weapons and bazookas swarmed in around the corner of the house. Pfc. James F. Townsend, A B Co. man operating a heavy .30 caliber machine gun borrowed from D company, was entrenched at the corner of the house. Sgt. Jozwick, watching from his hole sixty yards to the right rear, saw Townsend’s position overrun. Townsend operated his machine-gun until it was destroyed by a hand grenade pitched into his position. Then he grabbed a “burp gun” from the debris around the house and continued resisting until the gun was actually shot from his hand and the enemy overpowered him. Pvt. Melvin L. McNamee also fired his rifle steadily from the same position, but probably inflicted fewer casualties than did Townsend before both positions were overrun.

Sgt. Stanton Swerlein and Pvt. William Hall of the B Co weapons platoon, the front of the B Co. lines by firing from 100 yards from the house in a northwesterly direction. Their position was not directly assaulted, but all present testified to the value of the rapid firing which Swerlein and Hall were doing across the front.

After taking the house and the position held by Townsend and McNamee, 10 to 15 infantrymen assaulted another hole held by three C. Co. heavy machine gunners (Cpl. Robert M. Adkins, Pfc. Jay B. Gaskey and Pfc. John J. Coylex, Jr.) and one rifleman from B Co., Pvt. Harry Guthrie. Two squads of enemy rushed this hole, throwing hand grenades. Two grenades lit in the hole, one blowing the gun out of Atkins hand. All four men continued firing until a bazooka round killed Guthrie and stunned the other trio and they were captured.

8-10 yards to the right rear of the captured position, Sgt. Curtis Evans, D Co. section leader, and Pfc. Thomas P Ward, B Co. squad leader held another position from which they were firing steadily. Evans and Ward were within grenade-throwing range of the assaulting enemy, and one grenade burst a tree right over there hole, but entered nobody.

10 yards farther to the rear of the position held by Evans and Ward were Lt. Ramey, artillery observer, and Sgt. Jozwiak, 3rd platoon sergeant; S/Sgt. William Sparks, T/Sgt. Nicholas J. Variano, Pvt. Melvin Brunson, and Lt. William Murray. This position was also subjected to heavy fire of all types, and just after the enemy had overrun the Adkins-Caskey-Coyle-Guthrie position, two bullets penetrated Pvt. Brunson’s helmet and rifle stock. He was unable to fire at the enemy, but continued to point his rifle up above the hole and fire into the air. “Did I do right?” he kept asking his mates; he later died from his wounds.

With the enemy milling around the Evans-Ward position, Sgt. Variano returned to Lt. Bizzaro several hundred yards back to apprise him of the situation. Lt. Bizzaro immediately mobilized his reserve personnel, consisting of approximately 16 radio operators, cooks, and headquarters personnel. Lt. Robert Westman, company executive officer, took command of this group and they pressed forward to aid B Company’s hard-pressed forces. “We worked our way down to where the fighting was the hottest,” said Pvt. Alton Byerly, radio operator, “dropped off a few men at each defensive position along the way, and set up a heavy machine gun to give covering fire for the advancing rifle. We picked up a Heinie burp gun along the way and used it with our miscellaneous weapons. As I was coming up I saw a lot of effective firing being done by Pfc. Al Benge and S/Sgt. William Sparks. Sgt. Sparks was the coolest man I ever saw. He just lay behind a stump and picked off one after another.” “Well, I think that one got him,” Sparks would say, and then after another shot with his M1: “That one got him for sure.”

Lt. Donald A. Warner, A Co. CO, rounded up 15 of his men to assist in repelling the counterattack. Grabbing a light machine gun off a nearby half-track, Lt. Warner led his men over and started firing from a shell crater.

T/Sgt. John R. Straub, D Co. platoon sergeant, mobilized the heavy machine gun squads which had been supporting A and C Co.’s and sent them over as reinforcements. They arrived just in time to prevent the position held by Sgt. Evans and Pfc. Ward from being overrun. “I’m glad to see you,” said Evans simply and unsmilingly when Cpl. Ernest Frye arrived and set up his heavy machine gun in the same hole.

Sgt. Evans, a D-Day man, said he had never faced as tough a situation in a battle as this one.

Simultaneously with these developments, Capt. Morgan Stanford, CO of C Company, informed S/Sgt Louis Pingatore, platoon leader of C Company’s weapons platoon, that 10 men were needed immediately to assist B Co. Pingatore are really rounded up 2 or 3 men from each platoon by the “you, you, you, let’s go” method. Every man was a fresh replacement. One of them, Pvt. Stanton R. Dick, had cried to Capt. Stanford and Sgt. Pingatore the day before that he was so scared he couldn’t bear to face battle. Before the day was over, Pvt. Dick had distinguished himself and at the height of one of the counterattacks said to Pingatore: “Sarge, I’m not scared anymore; I’ll kill all of those bastards.”

Pingatore’s group set up a heavy and light machine gun in one of the bomb craters, and Pingatore and five of the men started to crawl toward the house. Sniper fire from the house wounded to ammunition bearers in the other group which had come up with Pingatore.

The five who had started crawling toward the house were pinned down by machine gun fire. Pingatore then yelled to his other eight men: “Well men, we can’t do a f—–g thing sitting still.” According to Pingatore’s account: “Then I got up out of the hole, took about ten steps, and we all started shooting at once.”

By this time, the other reinforcements which had reached B company– the headquarters men from A and C Companies and the heavy weapons men from D Company– had beated off the threat to the position originally held by Sgt. Evans and Pfc. Ward. Sgt. Straub and his men advanced board, and set up in the various shall craters and foxholes along the line. Cpl. Frye set up a light machine gun in the crater with Lt. Ramey and Sgt. Jozwiak, and fired on the crater which the enemy had overrun. Five riflemen of the group which had come up with Lt. Westman then assaulted this crater by rushes. When the position was finally taken, eight dead and one wounded enemy were discovered in the position. Sgt. Straub states: “At least thirty enemy dead were within 20 yards of the position and I think that Cpl. Adkins killed most of these with his heavy machine gun before the bazooka knocked out.”

At this point Sgt. John Zolnerick came over with a heavy machine gun squad which had been dispatched from C Co. This squad delivered supporting fire on the house, and five or six riflemen started around the right side of the house, accompanied by a light machine gun. No enemy opposition was encountered within the house; apparently they had all withdrawn, and there were only three or four American wounded left in the house. About a dozen were sniped at and they escaped back to Gey, but probably enemy casualties were in the neighborhood of 75.

Our casualties for the repelling of the counterattack for approximately 15. No casualties occurred when the enemy sent over approximately 15 planes which strafed but did not drop bombs.

(Note: For that portion of the B company story concerned with the counterattack of 3 December, all of the men listed under B, C, and C company accounts were interviewed.)

Battle of Hürtgen Forest – A Company, 22nd Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Division

A Company, 22d Inf. Regt., 4th Div.
16 Nov.-3 Dec., 1944

Interviews with:
Lt. Donald A. Warner, plat ldr. of 2d plat., later CO
Lt. Richard H. Bernasco, plat ldr. of 1st plat. until 27 Nov (wounded)
Pfc. Harold Rush, squad leader, 1st plat.
Pfc. John L. Page, squad ldr and later plat leader, 2d plat.
Pfc. Fern L. Hartman, squad ldr. 2d plat.
S/Sgt. John E. Smith, mortar section leader, wpns plat.
Pfc. Elton K. Fisher, squad leader, 1st plat.
Pfc. Arthur A. Bonaldo, squad leader and later plat. ldr., 1st plat.
T/4 Leon R. Wagner, company clerk
Pfc. Percival Coggins, Jr., company hq.

Vic. Lenningen, Luxembourg, 21 December 1944; interviews by Capt. K.W. Hechler, 2d Info & Hist. Sv. (VIII Corps)

On 16 November, A Company moved out in a column of platoons on B Company’s left flank, paralleling B’s advance northeast up a fire break extending toward (012583). The front was no more than twenty yards wide during the approach march, and the men advanced in column of twos, staggered 5-10 yards apart. They moved out at 1130, and at 1430 started to receive scattered sniper fire as they advanced along a ridge. The enemy must have expected an advance through the ravines and draws, for that is where they dropped their first artillery and mortar concentrations; they soon showed, however, that they were also registered on the ridges because the company started to get casualties from shell-fire on the ridges along which they advanced.

The light machine gun section of the weapons platoon was following the 2d platoon during the approach, and was hit the hardest by the enemy mortar and artillery, being almost wiped out. Turning to the right close to the objective, the 2d platoon led the way up a hill and passed through E Company, the reserve company of the 2d Battalion. 1000 yards from the line of departure, vicinity (008380), the 2d, 3d and weapons platoons started to dig in on the left of B Company.

The 1st platoon was then given the mission of establishing contact between the 1st and 2d battalions, by tying the right flank of B Company to the left flank of E Company. When the 1st platoon started on this mission, there was a gap of about 600 yards between the two battalions, with E Company to the southeast of B. Lt. Bernasco swung his platoon around to the left flank of E Company and then started them back toward the northwest in an effort to find B’s right flank. He had his men spread out in platoon column with a 20-25 yard front, with two scouts 25-50 yards in the lead. As the column advanced, he started dropping a man off every 10-15 yards, but the platoon would not stretch far enough to reach B Company; it only reached 300 yards and there remained a 300 yard gap.

S/Sgt. Frank Espino, S/Sgt. Elvie Ingram, and Pfc. Raymond Fraher then ventured out to patrol and find B Company. By this time it was already after dark and communication had been lost with A Company because, as the men said, “the SCR 536 is the sorriest excuse for communication in this terrain that Uncle Sam ever dreamed up.” On level terrain, this radio might carry several miles, but despite the fact that new batteries were put in daily, it was found that communication was immediately broken as soon as they crossed a hill or draw. The three-man patrol stumbled ahead in the dark and fifty yards out they tripped over several sleeping Germans. The patrol drew no fire, but it beat a strategic retreat and told Lt. Bernasco that they would go out again with blood in their eyes.

On the second trip, they observed a 4-man enemy patrol advancing, allowed them to get within 25 yards, and then Pfc. Fraher from a covered position shot and killed a German officer. The patrol warned the 1st platoon’s left flank to be alert, and then ambushed another enemy patrol. This one was broken up when Sgt. Ingram fired an anti-tank grenade which hit the lead man of the patrol in the chest; two others fled. Repeated enemy patrols tried to penetrate but were all beaten off, even though the 1st platoon failed to establish contact between the 1st and 2d battalions. Documents were captured from the dead enemy, showing all the 2d battalion positions, and also plotting our mortar fires.

About midnight 16-17 November, E Company supplied a squad of men which augmented the 1st platoon of A Company and went out again to clean out the enemy between the 1st and 2d battalions. This little task force started out in squad column and when a few shots were heard it formed a skirmish line with three squads abreast and the fourth about 25 yards in the rear. The E Company squad was on the left of the skirmish line; one man from this squad threw four grenades in rapid succession into a German entrenchment, and shortly thereafter four prisoners were taken. This strongpoint was defended by barbed wire, log-covered emplacements, and some trip wires which were not mined. No casualties were suffered.

Meanwhile, the other platoons of A Company were digging in on the forward slope of a hill on the left flank of B Company. The company positions covered a 350-yard front, with three mortars set up 35-40 yards back and the machine guns defending the center and flanks. The next morning the company was due to jump off on B Company’s left flank, and they delayed until 1100 hoping that the 1st platoon would reappear. Part of the delay was also due to the extremely heavy shelling which caused a number of casualties, including the battalion commander. According to Lt. Warner, Capt. Clifford M. Henley, acting battalion commander, did yeoman work getting the attack coordinated and started under these circumstances. Having no radio contact with the companies, Capt. Henley went up and down the lines on foot, issuing orders to the leaders and urging the men forward. He stayed on the line with the assault companies until the attack was well under way.

A Company kept a skirmish line during the advance, 300-400 yards wide; about 35-40 yards to the rear of the front elements, three light mortars were set up and one light machine gun fired on the right flank between A and B Companies while another machine gun fired from the same relative position in the center of the company. The left flank of the company was uncovered by friendly troops, but protected by a draw.

Proceeding to the left/of (northwest) the firebreak up which B Company was advancing in a northeasterly direction, A Company met heavy artillery, mortar, heavy small-arms fire, mines and booby traps. The company suffered 1 killed and 23 wounded for the day.

In the area of its objective, vic (005579), about six dugouts were encountered. These dugouts were about fifty yards apart, surrounded by communication trenches. They were covered over with several layers of logs and dirt. According to the men of A Company, these entrenchments constructed by the enemy always seemed to be drier than the hasty ones which our forces could construct during the short period of time which they spent on each day’s objective; they had sufficient logs and dirt to prevent seepage of rain and sleet. Communication trenches surrounded these dugouts. A machine gun manned by three or four men was in each dugout, and their capture involved advancing steadily and maintaining a fire superiority. A squad of men usually advanced in skirmish line on each of the dugouts, firing rapidly as they advanced. A final rush was made when the men had advanced at walking speed to within fifteen yards of the dugouts.

On 18 November, the company started off in column of platoons, with the 1st platoon leading. A heavy barrage of mortar and artillery once again greeted the advance; tree bursts were particularly frequent, and the scrub pine was slashed and tangled across the path of advance. An artillery shell killed Lt. Donald H. McCracken, company executive who had just been promoted from his position as weapons platoon leader. Lt. McCracken’s old platoon sergeant, T/Sgt. Clement Schelsky, cracked completely upon receipt or the news; he was evacuated for combat exhaustion.

As throughout the campaign, the leading platoon advanced with the fewest casualties from artillery and mortar fire. According to Pfc. Elton K. Fisher, “I’d rather lead with an assault platoon any day than wait and have to wade through all that shellfire which the support always got.” The 1st platoon made the quickest progress initially, advancing along the firebreak commencing at (015388) and proceeding in a northeasterly direction toward the small stream which cut across the battalion front in a general north-south direction close to the north-south road. Pfc. Alfred Van Camp fired rifle grenades with effectiveness along this firebreak, blowing off the head of one enemy and killing a second by concussion.

When the 1st platoon reached the stream, the men waded across the knee-deep water. Some slipped and fell, and nearly all the men were more or less wet to the skin. “I never dried out, and neither did most of the rest of us for the next two weeks,” says Pfc. John L. Page. “The heavy mud caused most of the boys to throw away their galoshes, and the constant rain and sleet made us that much colder and wetter. Not so bad when you keep moving during the day, but not so nice when you sleep with your sopped shoes on in a foxhole which leaks.”

After crossing the stream, the company took a new formation and advanced with three platoons abreast in order to keep contact and comb the woods more effectively. The men advanced about 5-7 yards apart, but even so contact was sometimes difficult. All radios were out and S/Sgt. Elvie Ingram went back to contact battalion and make sure that no resistance was being bypassed and that the supply lines would not be harassed. On the way back, Sgt. Ingram accounted for another German with his rifle grenade.

Mortar and artillery fire increased in intensity after the platoons started out again from the stream. Contact was then broken between the 1st and 2d platoons, and the 2d platoon skirted to the right (south) of an area just north of the east-west firebreak, which was being heavily shelled. The east-west firebreak, which was the battalion axis of advance and the nominal boundary between the companies, was well covered by a machine gun which was firing from (028387) and had an excellent field of fire in a westerly direction; this machine gun was not knocked out on 18 November.

Just before reaching their objective, in a draw, Capt. William Q. Surratt, the company commander, observed a group of five enemy to the northeast. Two were standing and three were sitting, looking away from Capt. Surratt. Putting his finger to his lips for silence, Capt. Surratt beckoned three headquarters men– Pfc. James Armstrong, Pfc. Aloysius H. Masensas and Pfc. Percival Coggins– to come close. He then said quietly and deliberately: “One, two, three, FIRE!” Capt. Surratt fired his .45 caliber pistol, Pfc. Armstrong fired his carbine, Pfc. Masensas fired his BAR, and Pfc. Coggins chimed in with his M1. The five Germans hurriedly started to run, but all were mowed down. Since they were running in an area which was downhill from Capt. Surratt and his crew, and the area was clear of trees, they made excellent targets.

At dusk, Just after starting to dig in on the objective, five prisoners were captured. The 1st platoon saw them approaching, and they were fired on from a distance of about 150 yards; they then gave themselves up.

After reaching the objective, steps were taken to prepare defensive fires in front of the company. The cannon company, 44th Field artillery battalion, 60mm mortars, and 81mm mortars were zeroed in in front of the lines. There was enough time to complete the registration while the company was in position on the 19th, and several arcs of fire were planned for in front of the company. The artillery was placed far out and then it crept toward our lines, taking eight rounds to register. Three rounds each for the 60 and 81mm mortars were sufficient, while the cannon company was able to pin-point its target (a water tower) on the first round.

At 1600, on 18 November the company was informed that a battalion of enemy was moving toward them, was on the lookout for them. A patrol was sent out by Lt. Bernasco in an endeavor to draw fire, but nothing was found or heard. After dark, when everybody had settled down for the night, the two heavy machine guns covering the crossroads at (028387) suddenly opened fire at about 1900. This caused the company to call for its protective fires at about 2000. The machine gunners saw the patrol, and held their fire until it advanced within a few yards, when they annihilated them. (1)

Total casualties for the company on 18 November were 1 killed and 17 wounded—again mostly from the artillery fire.

(1) See account of D Company for details of the action of the machine gunners.

On 20 November, A Company resumed the offensive on the left of C Company, whose objective was the general vicinity of the horseshoe turn. The company started out as customary in column of platoons: 1st, 2d, weapons and 3d, with two squads forward and one in support in each platoon. The two leading scouts, Pfc. Harold Rush and S/Sgt. Richard Hopkins, were advancing through the woods about 100 yards apart when Hopkins spied a group of enemy pillboxes. Motioning back to the remainder of the 1st platoon to come up and get in on the kill, Sgt. Hopkins held his fire until the platoon and the rest of the company had swung into a 200-yard skirmish line to the left of the pillboxes. Then everybody started firing at once, advancing at a steady walk through the woods. The bunkers were actually in the C Company area, but as Lt. Sweeney, C Co.’s CO, states: “Lt. Bernasco’s 1st platoon of A Company spied the bunkers and ramrodded through in such a way that we did not have very much trouble in capturing 50 prisoners.”

The company sector was quiet on 21 November, and the troops remained in place. The following day, A Company did not participate in an attack, but made a fake firing demonstration, using all their weapons except bazookas. The platoons were echeloned to the left rear, with the 1st platoon on the right (south) flank. Therefore, the 1st platoon could fire straight to the front, while the other platoons were forced to fire up into the air. The 3d battalion then moved around the left flank of A Company; the fake attack worked so well that the 3d Battalion advanced without a great deal of difficulty. The object of the diversionary was to draw fire away from the 3d battalion, and it certainly accomplished this mission.

“It all sounded O.K. until they started returning our fire,” said Lt. Bernasco. Very severe mortar and artillery fire dropped on A Company’s positions, but they continued to stick their shelters and deliver additional diversionary fires to deceive the enemy. The 1st platoon, firing forward and making feints as though they were going to jump off on an attack, was hit the hardest by this fire. S/Sgt. Elvie Ingram, 1st platoon guide who had (according to his platoon leader, Lt. Bernasco) done an outstanding job in leadership and had personally accounted for at least three enemy with rifle grenade shots, was killed outright when a shell fragment struck him in the head as he was directing fire for the fake attack.

Sgt. George Mahner was firing to the front when a tree was felled in front of his field of fire. Unable to continue his mission, Sgt. Mahner ran out to try and clear a place to fire. He had hardly left his hole when a tree burst killed him instantly. S/Sgt. Hopkins came over to Lt. Bernasco’s hole, and informed him that a shell had struck his hole and badly injured Pfc. William Delaney. Pfc. Delaney died before he could be evacuated.

Total casualties in the 1st platoon alone were three killed, 8 wounded, and 1 battle fatigue– 61% or their effective strength at the start.

On 23 November (Thanksgiving Day), the company remained in position behind the 3d battalion. On 24 November, a patrol was sent out to the 3d Battalion, and a portion of the company moved up to protect the left flank of the 3d Battalion. Enemy shelling continued, but not as heavily as during the fake attack or 22 November. Each platoon made a reconnaissance with the Executive Officer of Company I, to ascertain the positions which were to be occupied on 25 November.

The company moved out on schedule at 0830 on 25 November to take over the positions formerly occupied by I Company. Sniper fire and heavy mortar fire, with many ricochets along the enemy front, hampered the replacement. The 2d platoon froze from the mortar fire while crossing an open field before reaching the I Company positions, and the 2d and 3d platoons had to go around it.

This move on 25 November was part of a coordinated battalion move behind the attacking 2d and 3d battalions. A Company suffered few casualties in mopping up small pockets of enemy left behind by the attacking forces. At the close of the day a line of defense was established 200 yards west of the town of Grosshau. The move was made in column of platoons in the following order: 2d, 3d, 1st and weapons. One squad was on each side of the road and the third squad split in two so the move-up took the form of two columns in approach march. The advance was made up a firebreak, then south down a draw, where some casualties were suffered from the artillery fire; at (0595925) they crossed the road, and then tied in with I Company for the night, also tying in with C Company on A Company‘s right flank and rear. With 27 men, the company covered a front of approximately 300 yards.

On 26 and 27 November, the company remained in the same position, and casualties were not unduly heavy. However, on 27 November one shell hit very close to the foxhole of Capt. William Q. Surratt, the company commander, and he had to be evacuated. Lt. Donald A. Warner took command of the company after the company commander had been evacuated.

On 28 November, the company moved again– this time to take over the area of K Company. No casualties were suffered during the move. On 29 November, after the 2d Bn. had seized Grosshau, the 1st Bn. reverted to regimental reserve, and A Company moved to the black-top road running north-south into Grosshau. A Company was placed on the left flank of the battalion, with B Company in the center. The following day, 30 November, the company moved across the black-top road and went into a defensive position at the outskirts of Grosshau on the northeastern edge of the village. A defense was established with A Company and one section or the 2d platoon of heavy machine guns of D Company on the left.

On 1 December, A Company was the second in line of the three companies which crossed the open ground in the vicinity of (062387) and attacked enemy positions which were holding up the 2d Bn. east of Kleinhau. The plan was for A Company to attack across the open ground and then turn right (in the direction of Kleinhau) and clean out the enemy pockets which were holding up the 2d Bn.’s front to its east.

A smoke screen was provided for C Company prior to crossing the open ground. According to the CO, Lt. Warner, and the men of A Company, this smoke screen had dissipated by the time A Company got ready to jump off. Furthermore, C Company had had the assistance of tanks, which were not designed to accompany A Company. A Company’s heaviest casualties were suffered in crossing the open field in a southeasterly direction. The field was about 500 yards in width and the first and third platoons advanced abreast, with the second platoon in support. A line of skirmishers was established across the field, 400-600 yards wide, in a continuous line. The enemy had excellent observation from the Gey area and also from the woods into which the 1st battalion was advancing, and was able to place accurate mort ar and artillery fire on the advancing troops. “Every step you’d take there’d be a shell to help you along,” said Pfc. Arthur A. Bonaldo.

Three tank destroyers were supporting the attack, firing generally in a northeasterly direction from the point before the company crossed the open ground. At (061385) the enemy had emplaced a towed 88mm gun, which was later knocked out and found at that spot. This 88mm gun was delivering direct fire on the advancing troops; direct fire was also coming from the northeast edge of the woods, delivered on the open space across which the troops were advancing.

Since the entire weapons platoon had been wiped out prior to the start of the attack, it was impossible to use any mortars or machine guns in support. BARs were distributed as liberally as possible on the flanks, but for the most part the company had to rely on the standard M1s for the bulk of their firepower. The advance continued in a skirmish line, which was unbroken despite heavy enemy fire.

“C Company had apparently barreled through the wooded area without too much trouble, but they stirred up the commotion which greeted us,” Lt. Warner states. That day, A Company suffered 65% casualties, 20% of which were killed, and at the close of the day dug in with 35 men. The next day these 35 were given the mission of holding the left flank of the battalion at all costs; six of these men were then attached to B Company to help strengthen the lines and to maintain contact. The remaining men repulsed several enemy attempts to infiltrate into the battalion’s left flank.

On December, the 2d platoon of A Company was almost annihilated. “The enemy captured two of our men and they must have talked or something,” said one of the company officers, “for soon afterward mortar fire started coming down on our positions. “It wasn’t just the ordinary type of mortar fire which came near our positions, but the shells walked our lines and dropped with uncanny accuracy every ten yards precisely into the holes of the men of the 2d platoon. There were only one or two men left and thereafter the 2d platoon was not considered as a fighting unit and its survivors merged with the 3d platoon.”

On their final day of the Hurtgen Forest fighting, A Company sent 75% of its strength (15 men) under command of Lt. Warner, the company commander, to assist in repelling the counterattack which hit B Company. (1)

(1) See account of B Company for the way these A Company men assisted in repelling the counterattack.

At the close of the day’s fighting on 3 December, A Company had 20 men left, plus the company commander, Lt. Warner. Six of these men had started the forest campaign on 16 November; the remainder had been killed, wounded, or captured. Included among the killed and wounded were eight platoon leaders. During the final three days of the campaign Pfc. Arthur A. Bonaldo led the 1st platoon, while Pfc. John L. Page was the platoon leader of the 2d platoon. All of the platoon leaders among the officers had been killed or captured, and there were insufficient officer replacements to fill the vacancies.

During the campaign, water shortages became more serious as the days progressed. “We had plenty of rats, food and ammunition, but never enough water,” said one of the boys. At one point toward the end of the campaign, the men of A Company went for three days without water. “We put raincoats over our holes and tried to catch some of the rain and sleet,” said Pfc. Fern L. Hartman, “but inevitably a shell would come along and splash some mud into what we had carefully collected.” Much of the water supply early in the campaign was obtained from the north-south stream which paralleled the north-south road. Thereafter, it was a question of finding small streams or springs which could be utilized to fill canteens and hand-carry to the front line troops.

Replacements which streamed into A Company throughout the operation were generally of a high caliber, according to Lt. Warner and Lt. Bernasco, platoon leaders of the 1st and 2d platoons. “They had to be good quick, or else they just weren’t,” Lt. Bernasco stated. “They sometimes would take more chances than some of the older men, yet their presence often stimulated the veterans to take chances they otherwise would not have attempted. Wherever possible, the lines were rearranged in such a fashion that there were never two veterans together, and they were spread as thinly as possible in order to give the replacements benefit of their experience.”