134th Infantry Regiment
"All Hell Can't Stop Us"
Transcribed by Roberta V. Russo, Palatine, Illinois
At 1750 the 137th Infantry left the St. Lo - Vire area. Their destination was the vicinity of Louvigne, lying southwest of Avranches, where the latest German thrust was threatening to cut off the entire Brest Peninsula. Proceeding to Pontfarcy, the motor convoy turned southwest, swung around Villendieu, then continued southwest to Ponts, within sight of Avranches on the Mont Saint Michel Bay. Turning east at Ponts to Brecey, then south, the convoy reached the devastated city of St. Hilare at midnight.
In St. Hilare there was great congestion and confusion. This was the 35th Division's first long move in combat. Countermanding orders drained the Division of guides and now, with inadequate guides, the entire Division convoy was on roads and had bottlenecked in St. Hilare. Just as the 137th was creeping through the ghostly village, driving blackout in the pitch-black night, there came the well known throbbing roar of German bombers above the sound of the idling motors of the convoy. The hideous warning flares were dropped and the screech of falling bombs filled the air. The crunch of the detonating bombs sounded like footfalls of a mythical giant crushing everything beneath his feet. Anyone who went through this bombing will remember the mad scramble for cover - the extreme fright of the troops - the woeful bleating coming out of the weird night, "Where's OUR airplanes?" Despite the vulnerability of the long convoy in the brightly lighted highway, the vehicles were damaged only slightly and the convoy moved on to the assembly area northwest of Louvigne immediately after the raid. However, four men were killed and three wounded by the bombing, with one missing.
Shortly after 1500 the 137th Infantry moved west to the area near St. Symphorien and at 1830 received the Division order to begin movement by motor to secure the high ground in the Mortain - St. Cyre area. With the enemy threatening from the northwest and already reported in the 134th Infantry area, the plan called for an attack at 2000 - only one and one-half hours' notice. The 35th Division was now under XX Corps of the Third Army. The coming operation called for the 30th Division on the left, with the 2nd Armored Division operating within the sector.
Various sources of information indicated that a large force of Germans was pocketed in the Mortain Forest.
With Company B of the 737th Tank Battalion and Company B of the 654th Tank Destroyer Battalion attached, the 137th jumped off on schedule, and met no resistance. They continued to advance until 2230, then dug in for the night, in conformance with Division orders. At this time the line was in the vicinity of Villechien.
The attack was resumed on the morning of August 8 according to schedule, and at 0720 Companies E and F were on the objective, followed by the 1st Battalion, which was about 1,000 yards back. The 3rd Battalion was released to the 134th Infantry on order of the Commanding General, 2nd Armored Division, after confirmation by the 35th Division's Commander. The 1st and 2nd Battalions, after reaching their objective, assumed outpost, roadblock, and patrol activity previously done by the 3rd Battalion.
At 1200 the 137th Infantry received orders to assume responsibility of the area occupied by the 3rd Battalion of the 120th. The troops moved into Barenton and the area between there and Le Teillul, securing the road for the trains of the 2nd Armored Division. The 1st Battalion established an outpost at St. George de Rouelle, and the 2nd Battalion at St. Mars de Egrenne, with a motorized patrol covering the road net from Le Teillul to St. Cyr, and to the regimental boundary between Barenton and Mortain.
The 35th Division was attached to the VII Corps on August 8 at midnight. On August 9 the 137th Infantry's only activity was the conducting of patrols to the front and flanks and continuing to secure the town of Barenton. The 3rd Battalion remained attached to the 134th Infantry, and that Regiment continued the attack, while the 30th Division was meeting strong resistance on our Division's left. The 3rd Battalion on the 134th Infantry was attached to the 137th on this date.
The 137th Infantry continued to occupy and secure its position on August 10. Elements of the 4th Division moved in on the 35th Division's right and began to take over part of the 137th area. The 134th continued to meet strong resistance, principally machine gun, mortar, and small arms fire.
The 1st Battalion received artillery shelling at 1300, and the 3rd Battalion of the 134th Infantry reported mortar fire and tank fire in the vicinity of St. Jean du Corail, at about the same time. No other enemy action was reported during the day.
Casualties for the past three days in the 137th Infantry were very light. No men were reported killed; one man was wounded on the 8th and three on the 10th; five men were missing on the 8th, eight on the 9th, and four on the 10th. No prisoners were taken from the 7th to the 10th.
August 11 the 2nd Battalion reverted to Division reserve, while the 1st Battalion advanced northeast from Barenton to Bourentier, then westward toward Mortain Forest. The 134th 3rd Battalion advanced also, on the left of 1st Battalion, 137th. The 3rd Battalion, 137th, continued the attack with the 134th Infantry, in the vicinity of Bion. Very little opposition was reported on the 11th, and no casualties were suffered by the 137th Infantry. No prisoners were taken.
The attack continued, and early on the morning of the 12th the ridge of high ground north of le Gil Bouillon was gained. The enemy was pushed from the north slope of the high ground and during the day a general withdrawal was reported, with long columns of enemy vehicles leaving Ger and St. Barthemy. American P-45's, (should be P-47?) punching with a lightning strike, pounced upon the fleeing Germans and bombed and strafed continuously during the afternoon. Despite the withdrawal, enemy artillery and mortar fire inflicted heavy casualties on the 1st Battalion late in the day. The terrifying "Screaming Meemies" were also brought into use by the Germans against our troops for the first time.
After reaching the vicinity of Rancoudray, the attack was ordered halted, at 2100, and the Regiment was to be relieved by elements of the 2nd Armored Division at 2200. However, both the 1st Battalion and the 3rd Battalion of the 134th Infantry were still engaged in a heavy fire fight at 2200, and the relief was not affected until the following morning, August 13. At that time the 134th 3rd Battalion reverted to the control of its parent unit.
Casualties for 12 August were the heaviest of the week, with two men killed, 43 wounded, and 12 missing in action. Seventeen prisoners were taken, including SS troops and one first lieutenant. Most of the prisoners were from the 21st Panzer Regiment of the 10th Panzer Division, and were about 19 years of age.
The Regiment, after being relieved by the 2nd Armored Division, moved to an assembly area south of Barenton. Our 3rd Battalion reverted to regimental control, and its casualty report brought the total for the day to 17 killed, 90 wounded, and nine missing. Nine additional prisoners were captured.
The Regiment prepared to move from the Mortain sector by motor, with a tentative destination of Le Mans and an ultimate destination of Orleans. Total casualties in the Mortain sector, from August 7 to 13, were 23 killed, 140 wounded, and 40 missing in action.
Shortly before midnight the Regiment departed, headed south through Le Teillul, and continued to Ernee. No enemy aircraft appeared during the night, and the convoy moved southeast without interruption. From Argente the convoy proceeded east on Highway N 157 to Varges, then south to Soulges, east to the outskirts of Brulon, then north to St. Denis. At St. Denis the column again turned east and moved into Le Mans on Highway N 157. At Le Mans, the largest French city yet entered by the 137th Infantry, the Regiment was greeted by wildly enthusiastic civilians who lined the streets and cheered the Americans as they passed by. Little damage had been done to Le Mans in its capture four days previously, and apparently the city was "open for business." During the afternoon of August 14 the Regiment closed in a bivouac area one and one-half miles east of Le Mans, where they remained for the night.
The next day the 137th Infantry proceeded on its mission - to seize Orleans, sixty-five miles south of Paris, on the north bank of the Loire River. Again organized as Task Force S under the command of Brigadier General Sebree, the Regiment was operating with Combat Command A of the 4th Armored Division as part of the XII Corps. Little was known of German strength east of Le Mans, and the Regiment was to be responsible for its own protection at all points east of St. Calis. The I & R Platoon preceded the convoy, which moved out shortly before noon.
The route to Orleans took the Regiment to the town of Change, then northwest to Highway N 157. Traveling east on this main road to Orleans, the convoy proceeded cautiously, stopping at many points as the country ahead was screened for hostile resistance. Through Ardenay and Boulore there was no evidence of Germans remaining. However, farther east, near Buslouys and Preteval, the enemy had just left that morning after blowing up ammunition and destroying supplies. Scattered Germans were rounded up, and 12 prisoners were taken at one point by the platoon. Also 12 unexploded flying bombs were located.
On the road from Le Mans was much evidence of the losses of equipment suffered by the enemy, as burned and overturned German tanks, guns, trucks, trailers, and various materiel were strewn along the countryside. In several places, complete enemy motor pools had been destroyed. Proceeding eastward, the column passed through Binas, Ouzouer, and Charlsonville. At Charlsonville, cooperative French civilians directed our troops to a large German buried communications cable crossing under the city. A crew from the Regimental Wire Section destroyed the cable.
After encountering a heavy rainstorm, the Regiment reached Coulmiers shortly after dark, and remained in that vicinity during the night. During the night, great fires were observed to the northeast, where American airmen had been playing havoc among enemy installations and transportation, and where the Germans continued to destroy their own ammunition and supplies which could not be taken with them in their rapid withdrawal.
Casualties reported on August 14 and 15 were six wounded and three missing on the 14th, and two missing on the 15th. Patrols sent out during the night and early morning worked their way to within a few kilometers of the objective. The enemy continued to occupy Orleans, and was also in strength at Chateaudun, to the northwest.
On the morning of the 16th the Regiment began its move on Orleans, with the 2nd and 3rd Battalions advancing on the city from the north and the 1st Battalion pushing south to the river, west of Orleans. Some resistance was encountered in the woods between Coulmiers and Ormes, and the 3rd Battalion suffered two casualties at this point.
At Ormes a large German warehouse was taken, with a complete stock of new kitchen and dining room supplies and equipment, including high grade china and silverware, vast quantities of pots, pans, and other utensils, brushes, brooms, and considerable heavy equipment such as electric meat slicers, mixers, etc. A large quantity of motor fuel was also taken at Ormes. The 1st Battalion captured a large enemy machine shop, with airplane motors and other ordnance, in their sector.
Pushing into Orleans, the 2nd Battalion reached the railroad crossing on the Ormes highway at the outskirts of the city at 1300. Two hours later, the 3rd Battalion was in the northwest part of the city, and at 1645 the city hall was captured. Despite machine gun fire and heavy artillery fire from German positions across the Loire River, and a constant sniper menace within the city, Orleans was captured with very few casualties in the Regiment. Only two officers and one enlisted man were wounded. There were 42 prisoners captured. During the night, occupation of the city was completed, and by morning all hostile resistance had withdrawn across the river. The Germans had left dynamite, bombs, and other explosives in the post office, telephone building, and other locations, but their only successful work of demolition was in blowing up the bridge over which the city water main passed. Thus the city was without water for two days, until an auxiliary plant could be put into operation. Mined streets were encountered near the river, and the city received artillery fire most of the day. Casualties on the 17th were 17 wounded, seven killed, and two missing.
With headquarters set up in the former German headquarters in the heart of Orleans, Task Force S set about to care for a city of 73,000 with no water or electricity. The Regimental Civil Affairs officer efficiently brought about the cooperation of city and military officials and French civilians to restore the city to normalcy. The Free French forces organized themselves rapidly in the city after the Germans had withdrawn, and were of great assistance.
Throughout the next few days, there were enthusiastic rallies, parades, and other demonstrations by the liberated French, as they crowded the streets, parks, and squares. German collaborationists were sought out and roughly treated. Orleans women who had been too friendly with the Nazis were gathered up, their hair clipped short, and paraded through the streets.
August 18 the Germans continued to shell the city from their artillery positions across the Loire. Their fire was extremely accurate, with hits on the Task Force Headquarters, the Regimental motor park, and the kitchen train. A church tower in St. Jean le Blanc was undoubtedly being used as an observation point, and a tank destroyer from the 654th Battalion removed the tower cleanly with three shots. There were 14 prisoners taken on the 17th, and 42 on the 18th. On the latter date, four men were killed and 25 wounded.
Reports of large numbers of Germans marching from the south failed to materialize, and the 137th Infantry conducted only patrolling activities within the city, as it moved its headquarters to the outskirts. Only one man was wounded on the 19th and two men were reported missing. Nine prisoners were captured.
On August 20 the Regiment moved to the vicinity of Artenay and prepared to move east upon order. The 3rd Battalion was left in Orleans. No casualties of any kind were reported on the 20th and 13 Germans were taken prisoners. In making its thrust of nearly 200 miles to seize Orleans, the 137th Infantry lost a total of 11 killed, 52 wounded, and nine missing in action. During the week of 14th to 20th of August 110 prisoners were taken by the 137th Infantry.
Private Dagenhart, a bazooka man of Company B of the 137th Infantry Regiment became the first man in the battle for France to be twice decorated when he received the Silver Star and Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster to the Silver Star.
The 137th Infantry left the 35th Division for its next operation on the 21st and became attached to the 4th Armored Division. With elements of the 4th, the Regiment was divided into three parts. The 1st Battalion combined with the CCA of the Armored Division. The 2nd Battalion with another armored Combat Command formed CCB. One battery of the 448th Anti-Aircraft Battalion was attached for the operation. The 3rd Battalion was attached to CCR. The plan for the coming operation called for a daring and spectacular move. Sixty miles southeast of Paris was the city of Sens. Located on the navigable Yonne River just below the junction with the Seine, this rail and highway center was reported to be a central supply point of the Germans for their strong points to the northwest as far as Paris, and southwest to Montargis. The mission of CCA and CCB was to capture Sens and cut this supply route. CCR was to remain in Orleans.
Moving in a column of tanks, tank destroyers, self-propelled artillery and trucks, the forces would travel approximately ninety miles, with no flank protection, a large part of the way. It was believed that the Germans were in considerable strength on the Loing River at Montargis, and further north at Fontainebleau. It was decided to move between these reported strong points and cross the Loing River at Souppes, then push east into Sens. The success of such an operation would depend largely on the surprise element, the enemy being unaware of the proximity of the American forces due to his own shattered transportation and communication lines.
At 0900, CCA left Artenay, followed by CCB at 1300. Swinging back through Patay and Ormes to Orleans, the column then turned northeast. Main highways were avoided as much as possible as far as Nibelle. The force moved through Boigny, Trainou, Sully la Chapelle, and Ingrannes, then east through the Chene Pointu Forest to Nibelle. Taking to the main highways, the column moved into Boisocommun, east to St. Loup les Vignes, then to Juranville and Corbeilles. This was the first sight of Allied troops in these towns, and in most of them the Germans had left the day previously. From Corbeilles, CCA proceeded northeast toward Sens, through Chateau Landon and Souppe, then east through Egreville, Jouy, Montacher, St. Valerien, and Villeroy.
Moving into Sens, our forces caught the Germans by complete surprise. Not a single casualty was suffered by the 137th Infantry, and almost the entire German garrison was taken prisoner. Many German officers were captured in dress uniform, and they admitted that they had not realized the Americans were within 100 miles of the city.
By 2200 Sens was completely liberated and in the hands of the American forces. In occupying the city, the 137th Infantry had now advanced farther east into France than any other Allied troops yet reported. In the meantime, CCB had reached Corbeilles at 2030, and remained east of that town for the night.
In the morning CCB moved on to Chateau Landon, then ran into enemy resistance at Souppes. This point had been passed by CCA the previous day, and at that time no Germans had exposed themselves to make a stand. By noon all resistance was wiped out, but Company F lost five men by enemy machine gun fire, two of them were killed and three wounded. CCB then moved on east, leaving Company F at Souppes. However, with Sens already securely held, the 2nd Battalion was sent to Courtenay, 18 miles southwest of Sens.
At Sens, the Americans were again enthusiastically welcomed by the liberated French, and as in Orleans, parades, demonstrations, and public gatherings were numerous. Reports of the city as being a supply point proved true, as warehouses and storage caves were found. Some of the warehouses had already been completely leveled by Allied airmen. Large stores of canned goods, flour, chocolate, coffee and other foodstuffs were taken. In addition, many enemy vehicles were seized in good repair. So complete was the surprise in overrunning the city, four German soldiers were captured as they returned from pass. On August 21, 125 captured Germans were cleared through the 137th Infantry, and on August 22, 43. In addition, over 500 more prisoners taken in the vicinity of Sens and Courtenay were cleared through the 4th Armored Division. The only casualties in the 137th Infantry during the two days were two killed and four wounded, all on the 22nd. With the exception of one man wounded, all casualties were incurred at Souppes.
On August 23 the 134th Infantry and 320th Infantry liberated Montargis, thus clearing the main route from Orleans to Sens. The 137th Infantry reverted to 35th Division control on the 24th. The 3rd Battalion was relieved at Orleans by the 319th Infantry of the 80th Division, then moved to Lorris. Elements of the 137th Infantry remained in Sens until August 25. Company A was placed on the high ground west of the city, Company B at St. Clement, north of Sens, and Company C to the southwest at Meillot. The 2nd Battalion remained at Courtenay.
The Regiment was ordered to assemble at Courtenay and during the morning began to move from Sens and Orleans. However, a change in orders returned the 1st Battalion to Sens. The 3rd Battalion moved to an area north of St. Germain, and the 255th Field Artillery Battalion was attached. Patrols were organized from Montargis east along the l'Ouanne River to St. Romain.
On the 26th this line was extended from Orleans to St. Romain. The 3rd Battalion moved to the vicinity of Lorris on the 26th and the 2nd Battalion to the vicinity of Chateaurenard. On August 27 the Regiment moved to an area south of Montargis, and patrols were continued from Orleans to St. Romain. Scattered Germans continued to be rounded up. On the 23rd, 21 had been taken, ten on the 24th, eight on the 25th, 22 on the 26th, and ten on the 27th. Casualties in the 137th Infantry were slight for the same period, with one officer wounded on the 24th and one enlisted man wounded on the 27th. No men were reported killed or missing in action.
The 137th Infantry remained behind with no change in location or mission, while the remainder of the 35th Division pushed on east beyond Troyes. On the 30th, two prisoners were taken, and on the 31st, 18 more. There were no casualties in the Regiment during this period. As the month came to an end, the 137th Infantry encountered its first critical supply shortage - gasoline. With the Regiment in its present status there was no serious result, although patrols were necessarily reduced, in some cases by as much as two-thirds.
On the 29th two attached artillery officers were rewarded for outstanding work in the past battles. Lieutenant Hites and Lieutenant Hacke of the supporting 219th Field Artillery Battalion were awarded the Bronze Star. By the end of the month of August, 87 men of this Regiment had received either Bronze or Silver Stars. This impressive total speaks very highly for the individual heroism of the men of this unit, but we are to be reminded at this time that only through cooperation of the unit as a whole were these awards made possible. At the close of August, after nearly two months in combat, the cumulative total of casualties in the 137th Infantry showed 213 killed, 1,165 wounded, and 31 still missing in action. During this time the Regiment had traveled nearly 400 miles, and had advanced more than halfway across France to establish itself as one of the finest units in the present campaign.
Beginning in the month of September, the 137th Infantry continued its mission of protecting the XII Corps south flank on a line from Orleans to St. Romain, with headquarters south of Montargis. The Regiment remained in this position as the balance of the Division moved east, with some elements as far as Briene le Chateau, twenty-four miles beyond Troyes. At this time the 35th Division was still operating under XII Corps of the Third Army. The 80th Division, also under XII Corps, was continuing an attack to the east of the 35th, and the 4th Armored Division was operating within the Corps sector. The 255th Field Artillery Battalion remained attached to the 137th Infantry.
The situation remained unchanged until September 3, when the Regiment moved by way of Courtenay, Sens, Troyes, and Finey to the vicinity of Briene le Chateau, where they took over the mission of protecting the south flank of the Division from Bar sur Seine to Bleise. Here the Regiment remained until September 9. During this time the 134th Infantry was protecting the south flank of the Division from Sens to Bar sur Seine and the 320th Infantry from Blaise to Joinville. The 6th Armored Division of the VIII Corps took over the sector from Sens to Montargis. The 802nd Field Artillery Battalion and Company C of the 654th Tank Destroyer Battalion were attached to the 137th Infantry during this period. The 80th Division, east of the 35th, continued to advance toward Nancy, and on the 5th established a bridgehead in the Moselle River loop at Toul.
During its period of comparative inactivity at Briene le Chateau from 3 - 9 September the Regiment gained a well-earned rest. Replacements received during the period brought the 137th almost to full strength, and as the Regiment prepared to leave Briene le Chateau to resume the battle, it was in very good shape. The only casualties during the period was one man wounded and one missing. During this time 11 prisoners were taken.
With Allied forced driving north from southern France, east from Normandy and Brittany, and already reported in Belgium and Holland, the next move of the 137th was to Crepey, southwest of Nancy, to assemble for an advance across the Moselle River below Nancy and to open the way for a drive on the Siegfried line. On September 9, the 137th Infantry made the motor move to Crepey, through Louze, St. Dizier, Ancerville, Ligny, Void, Vaucouleurs, and Colombey. That evening at 2115 the order was issued for the next operation.
On September 10 the XII Corps was to advance into a position to attack on the next day, with the high ground west of the Moselle River southeast of Nancy as the objective. The 134th Infantry was to attack to the north, and in the 137th Infantry the 3rd Battalion was to attack on the right and the 2nd Battalion on the left. The 1st Battalion was to remain in reserve, prepared to move on order.
The Regiment moved out at 0800 on the 10th, and the 2nd Battalion encountered the first enemy fire - intermittent artillery at 0915 east of Houdelmont. They continued to move forward, and by 1300 crossed the north-south highway between Ceintrey and the Benney Forest. A half-hour later the 2nd Battalion was in the Benney Forest itself, and two miles south the 3rd Battalion had reached Lemainville. At that time the 1st Battalion was at Ville sur Moselle and by 1500 had moved into the woods south of Ormes et Ville. By 1700, 137th was in its objective for the 10th and occupied the high ground west of the Moselle River, in position to attempt to establish a bridgehead on the following morning. The only casualties reported on the 10th were two men wounded. With the German forces withdrawn to positions across the Moselle, only one prisoner was taken.
The Regiment jumped off at 0500 on September 11, with the 2nd Battalion attempting to cross the river near Crevechamps and the 3rd Battalion near Neuviller sur Moselle. The 1st Battalion remained in reserve in the Ormes Forest. First across the Moselle at that point was 1st Lieutenant Joseph S. Giacobello, holder of the Silver Star and already recommended for the Oak Leaf Cluster for heroic action in previous engagements. With fifteen men of Company F he crossed the river, and was soon out of communication with the rest of the battalion. The remainder of Company F was pinned down most of the day on an island in the river below Crevechamps.
The crossing proved difficult, as the Germans had blown all bridges across the Moselle from Flavigny south, and they held strong positions on the east side of the river, with machine gun emplacements on the steep bluffs overlooking the river, and artillery positions to the rear. The canal running parallel to the river's west bank was an added barrier. The 2nd Battalion was never able to put additional forces across the river in the Crevechamps vicinity during the day. Lieutenant Giacobello and his men were the only American troops across the river at that point for a day and a half, and were believed to have been lost, in the face of almost hopeless odds. The Battalion eventually abandoned a crossing at that point and withdrew to attempt a crossing farther south. Elements of the 3rd Battalion crossed the river in its sector during the day, but were pinned down until late in the afternoon. At 1730 the 1st Battalion was committed, and a coordinated attack launched by all three battalions, with the 2nd on the left, the 1st on the right, and the 3rd between them. With heavy artillery support, the 1st and 3rd Battalions each got two companies across the river by 1845 in the vicinity of Lorey and St. Mard. The strong enemy resistance of Crevechamps forced abandonment of the construction of a treadway bridge across the river at that point.
The attack continued during the night, and by the morning of September 12, the 1st Battalion had cleared all enemy resistance in the area around Lorey. The 2nd Battalion, to the north, got across the river early in the afternoon, the worked back up the east side of the river and was rejoined by Lieutenant Giacobello with his party intact. In the 3rd Battalion sector, dug-in concrete pillboxes were located. Four of these were knocked out by means of artillery, bazookas, and grenades. The 2nd Battalion also reported concrete pillboxes near Crevechamps. At 0915, the 3rd Battalion captured a former enemy command post and a large quantity of German equipment left behind in the area. The equipment was of excellent quality, indicating superior troops in the area.
With the way cleared by the 1st Battalion, it was possible to put a ferry into operation across the river at Neuviller, and shortly afterward a treadway bridge was completed at that point by the Engineers. By the afternoon most of the Regiment was across the river.
The 1st Battalion moved as far as Lorey, where the Germans launched a counterattack with armor and infantry in a desperate effort to save ammunition stores in that vicinity. With the support of Company B of the 737th Tank Battalion, Company C broke up the counterattack, then moved in to destroy an ammunition dump at Domptall. Racing to the left, they cleaned out the hills east of the river, then swung in between the 2nd and 3rd Battalions. By 2100 the 2nd Battalion took Crevechamps, after a large part of the town had been set afire, and the Regiment was in a position to turn the attack to the north.
On September 13 the 137th Infantry attacked toward Gayviller, on the east bank of the Moselle, with the 320th Infantry on the Regiment's right. Jumping off at 0700, no resistance was encountered until shortly after 0900, when the 2nd Battalion, on the left, contacted the enemy at Tonnoy. A few minutes later the 3rd Battalion, on the right, reported opposition east of Tonnoy. The 3rd Battalion pushed past Tonnoy on the right at 1400, but the 2nd Battalion was held up until 1800, receiving heavy artillery fire from German positions in the woods south of Conviller.
Breaking past Tonnoy, the 2nd Battalion advanced rapidly, and shortly after 2100 both 2nd and 3rd Battalions were on the objective, occupying the high ground between Saffais and Coyviller, with assault guns and tanks of the 737th Tank Battalion in position to protect the left flank against attack from the direction of Flavigny, from which city the Germans had been withdrawing to the east, across the river and into the Flavigny Forest. The 1st Battalion was held up by an illuminated roadblock near Rosieres. Here again the tanks were called upon, shortly after midnight, and at 0159 the 1st Battalion was one kilometer from the objective. At 0200 the high ground half a mile southwest of Rosieres was gained, in position to attack that town at dawn.
At 0630 on September 14 the 1st Battalion, with men riding the tanks, captured Rosieres, thereby establishing the Regiment on a line from Moselle to the Meurthe River. The morning of the 14th the 2nd and 3rd Battalions were ordered to hold their positions, and the 1st Battalion was ordered to put a reconnaissance force across the Meurthe River strong enough to hold a position on the east bank. The 2nd and 3rd Battalions cleared out the wooded areas in their sectors during the morning, and at 1400 further orders were issued for these battalions to advance on a broad front, the 2nd to the high ground in the vicinity of Azelot, and the 3rd to the high ground north of Manoncourt. The 1st Battalion now received orders to advance on the left of the Meurthe River to St. Nicolas, seizing any bridgehead possible.
Jumping off at 1600, all battalions advanced to their objectives with little resistance. The Germans had already withdrawn most of their forces from the area between the Meurthe and Moselle Rivers. At 1730 the 3rd Battalion had taken Manoncourt, where the Germans left a large store of 120mm mortar ammunition and well dug-in positions. By 1830 the 2nd Battalion had moved to within a mile of Azelot, and at 1900 entered the town. By 2100 the 1st Battalion had taken St. Nicolas. At both St. Nicolas and Azelot it was learned that the enemy had withdrawn earlier in the day. French civilians reported that the Germans were withdrawing all along the Moselle River, from Richardmenil, Messein, and other points. Information gained from prisoners taken and from civilians indicated that the Germans had withdrawn one Division from that area. At St. Nicolas, between 500 and 600 of the enemy force had been withdrawn.
At the close of the four days' fighting the 137th Infantry had suffered 221 casualties in crossing the Moselle River and pushing the enemy beyond the Meurthe as far north as St. Nicolas. On the 11th one man was killed and 23 wounded. On the 12th, four were killed and 61 wounded. A total of 13 killed, 51 wounded, and eight missing were reported on the 13th. On the 13th the Regiment also lost 1st Sgt. Warren P. Schrader of Wichita, Kansas, popular topkick of Headquarters Company, the first First Sergeant of the 137th Infantry to give his life in the present war. On the 14th 12 were killed, 11 wounded, and ten missing in action. 1st Lt. Vernon W. Pickett, after having been captured by the Germans on July 15 and later escaping from a prison train to rejoin the 137th on August 30, met his death on the 14th. The Regiment also lost its second First Sergeant in two days, Claude L. Appelgate, efficient Company I Sergeant.
There were 68 prisoners taken on the 12th, 47 on the 13th, and 36 on the 14th. Prisoners were identified as from the 104th Regiment of the 15th Panzer Grenadier Division from Saarbrucken, from the 1120th Regiment of the 553rd Division, and from the 2nd Parachute Regiment. Many of the prisoners reported themselves to be Paratroopers, and some were formerly in the Air Corps, having been pressed into infantry service from the Luftwaffe.
At this time the 320th Infantry continued to operate on the right of the 137th, and had crossed the Meurthe River. Task Force T - composed of the 2nd Battalion of the 134th Infantry, 35th Cavalry Reconnaissance Troop, and 127th Field Artillery Battalion - was protecting the west bank of the Moselle River from Fort De Pont St. Vincent south. The remaining two battalions of the 134th Infantry were attached to Task Force S, which was operating in the Forest de Eaye and closing in on the city of Nancy from the west. North of Nancy, the 80th Division was holding Mousson and the high ground in the vicinity.
On September 15, Task Force S moved into the city of Nancy, and on the same day elements of the 137th Infantry began to cross the Meurthe River. During the morning of the 15th, the Regiment had driven out all hostile resistance in their sector south of the river, cleaning out the Germans from the Flavigny Forest.
On the morning of the 15th, with the 1st Battalion already on the river at St. Nicolas, the 2nd Battalion moved through Lupcourt to the high ground just east of the Canal de l'est Emb't de Nancy at 0930. They then moved north to the Meurthe River. The 3rd Battalion moved from Manoncourt to the vicinity of Laneuville, putting all battalions in position to cross the river. The Germans had generally withdrawn from the south of the Meurthe to positions across the river, from which our 1st Battalion received machine gun, mortar and artillery fire during the day. Casualties reported on the 15th were five killed, 47 wounded, and 19 missing, some of which had occurred prior to this date but had not been reported. There were 25 prisoners taken.
On September 16 the 137th Infantry crossed the Meurthe River in force, beginning at 0500. The 2nd Battalion had Companies F and G across the river near Chartreuse by 0700, and the 3rd Battalion moved up the river behind them at the same time. The 1st Battalion pushed across the river in assault boats to move into Varangeville, the Germans withdrawing to the north. By 1300, one company and most of another were across the river.
Farther south, at Rosieres, the Engineers had modified the bridge in place at that point to carry tanks, and here the armor of the 737th Tank Battalion and the 654th Tank Destroyer Battalion poured across the river, then swung north to cross the Sanon River at Sommerviller. They then doubled back to the west to rejoin and support the 137th Infantry.
As the 2nd Battalion crossed the river into Chartreuse, an alert aerial observer spotted enemy activity in the forest northeast of that town. This was first reported to be only a small group of Germans. Later reports from ground observers indicated that four tanks were also in the woods. Continued observation from the air and other sources of information soon revealed the Germans to be in great strength in the area; with between ten and twenty tanks, waiting for the Americans to bypass them. Had these Germans not been discovered, they were in a position to counterattack and cut off our forces as they advanced to the north, a situation which might easily have developed into disaster for our troops. Even before the true strength of the enemy was learned, artillery was called on observed targets in the area, and as it became known that the woods were alive with Germans, all available artillery was poured into the area. Hundreds of the enemy were killed during the afternoon, as the big guns of nine artillery battalions had a virtual field day. Attempting to break through the 2nd Battalion at Chartreuse with infantry and ten tanks, the enemy was completely annihilated by the combined artillery and supporting tanks and tank destroyers of the 737th and 654th Battalions moving in from their river crossings at Rosieres and Sommerviller.
During the afternoon of the 16th the Regiment completed its crossing of the Meurthe River. The casualties resulting during the day were two killed and eight wounded, while 62 Germans were taken prisoners.
On the morning of September 17, the 137th began an advance from the Meurthe to the northeast, pointing toward Velaine, with the 134th on the left and the 320th on the right. The 80th Division was operating north of this objective, and the 4th Armored Division had driven east as far as Bezange la Grande, south of Chambrey. However, they had bypassed large forces of Germans, who remained in considerable strength in the Champenoux Forest and other heavily wooded areas in that vicinity.
The 1st Battalion, on the right, moved north from Varangeville and by noon had entered Lennoncourt, while the 2nd Battalion advanced over a mile farther north, on the left. The Regiment held at these points, awaiting further orders. Cleaning out the area, our troops took the biggest haul of prisoners since the liberation of Sens. The medium tanks of the 737th Battalion, which supported the 137th Infantry up to this point, were now detached from the Regiment and reverted to Division control. However, their platoon of assault guns remained with the Regiment, and were attached to the 1st Battalion. Company B of the 654th Tank Destroyer Battalion was attached to the 2nd Battalion.
Resuming the advance on the 18th, our forces contacted few Germans, but before 0700 it was evident that the enemy had mined the area heavily as he withdrew, particularly in the vicinity of Buissoncourt and Cereueil. Some loss of vehicles resulted. The 1st Battalion reached the objective at 0900, coming within mortar range of the Germans north of Cereueil and received both mortar and artillery fire during the morning. The 2nd Battalion pulled up to the west of Cereueil, and the 3rd moved in on the right, as the Regiment received orders to hold and prepare for a motor movement.
At 1430 reports were received of fourteen German tanks and two companies of infantry advancing northwest toward Luneville. Another report indicated an additional six tanks and two companies were advancing north at Magnieres. Later reports increased the total to thirty tanks. To meet this threat, two companies of the 2nd Battalion were alerted for movement, and preparations made to blow the bridge near Dombasle and mine possible routes of enemy approach. However, during the evening the reports were found to be without foundation. Casualties on September 17 and 18 were not heavy. On the 17th one man was killed, six wounded, and one missing. On the 18th four were killed, nine wounded, and seven missing. On the 17th there were 96 prisoners taken, and on the 18th there were 16 taken.
On September 19 the 137th Infantry closed into an assembly area north of Buissoncourt, still awaiting orders for a motor movement, with a possibility of the Regiment following the 4th Armored Division as a Combat Team for the forthcoming operation. The 3rd Battalion was tentatively attached to CCA of the 4th Armored.
Continued reports showed that enemy activity was undoubtedly increasing to the north and to the east. French civilians reported an enemy troop train unloaded at Luneville and a large enemy concentration in the Parroy Forest. Others reported dug-in Tiger Tanks in the area between Amante and Champenoux, with infantry dug in along the railroad and the main highway northeast of Laneuvellotte. Roadblocks were also reported in the vicinity and a Polish prisoner stated that the woods north of the railroad were full of Germans.
On the morning of the 19th the 134th Infantry was counterattacked and driven from the high ground east of Agincourt. To meet this latest threat the contemplated move of the 137th Infantry was temporarily called off, and the Regiment made ready to again attack to the north. The 2nd and 3rd Battalions jumped off at 1600, and met no immediate resistance. However, the enemy mine menace soon appeared again, and Captain Theodore P. Robie, Assistant Surgeon of the 2nd Battalion, was killed when his vehicle hit a mine east of Cereueil. Captain Robie was the first of the fine medical officers of the Regiment to be killed in France.
At 1830 the 2nd and 3rd Battalions had moved up to the blacktop road leading from Velaine to Champenoux, and reported the woods to the north were full of the enemy. The Battalion Commanders recommended holding at that line, and that patrols be sent out during the night, with our forces again jumping off on the following morning. This plan was approved by the Regimental Commander, and the Regiment held up at that line. On the 19th there were 23 casualties. Of these two were killed, 15 wounded, and seven missing. Eleven prisoners were taken.
At 0545 on September 20 the forward elements of the 2nd and 3rd Battalions moved out to what was to develop into one of the bloodiest struggles in which the Regiment had yet engaged. Shortly after 0600, both battalions reached the woods south of Highway 74, main route leading northeast from Nancy to Saarbrucken. At this point the highway ran through an open valley, bordered on the north by a heavily wooded slope. From this concealment the enemy had almost unobstructed observation across the highway to the opposite slope, a thousand yards to the south. As the 2nd and 3rd Battalions came into range of the enemy they were hit by heavy machine gun and mortar fire from the German positions, and both battalions were pinned down immediately. One platoon of Company F worked its way into the enemy woods at 0715, but were forced to withdraw by hostile fire. At 0735 a German tank came out of the woods and opened up with direct fire at Company E. Ten minutes later Company I fought its way into the woods with heavy casualties and knocked out a machine gun nest.
All through the day continued efforts were made to cross into the woods, with no success. At each attempt to cross the terrain the enemy would pin our forces down with machine gun fire, then bring mortar fire upon the pinned-down elements.
During the morning of the 20th the 320th Infantry was ordered to move with CCA of the 6th Armored Division, and the 1st Battalion 137th, which was being held in reserve, moved a strong force to partially cover the 320th area.
By midnight neither the 2nd or 3rd Battalions had been able to advance, and during the early morning hours of the 21st our artillery began to lay a continuous barrage on the German-held woods. Air support became available at daybreak, and again the attack was resumed. The lack of tanks was felt keenly, and at noon the offensive was held up to await the arrival of armored support. In two days' fighting, only one platoon, from Company I, had been able to advance into the woods without being thrown back. This platoon was since out of communication and believed lost.
The 137th Infantry held their positions during the morning of the 22nd, with CCB of the 6th Armored Division moving up on our right flank. A coordinated attack was planned to begin at noon, the main effort to follow an earlier attack by tanks. The 134th was to operate on our left, and the Division mission was to destroy enemy forces in the Champenoux Forest and the Faulx Woods. Ammunition restrictions were lifted for the artillery, and the Corps Commander ordered the woods to be taken under any conditions.
Following a heavy artillery preparation and air strike, the attack began as planned. Company C, riding the tanks and attacking around the right flank, was first to reach the woods, at 1300. Jumping off the tanks at the edge of the woods, they moved in on foot, and within five minutes had captured six prisoners. At 1310 the 2nd Battalion moved out and by 1320 was entering the woods. By 1335 the 3rd Battalion was also in the woods.
The German defenses consisted mainly of dug-in positions on the fringe of the woods, and once these were cracked our forces moved steadily ahead. By 1345 the 2nd Battalion had crossed the railroad, and by 1430 Companies K and L had moved through the woods several hundred yards to reach the railroad on the right of the 2nd Battalion.
At 1535 the tanks of CCB were nearing their objective at Amanee, and the Germans began pulling out what forces they had left in the area. The highway from Moulins to Bouxiers aux Chenes became a mass of both horse-drawn and motor-drawn artillery. Retreating troops and German equipment checkered other roads leading to the north with columns as long as four miles. Here the Air Corps went to work, bombing and strafing almost at will.
In reserve up to this time had been the 1st Battalion, less Company C which had made the initial assault of the day¸ and Company D which had gone into position north of Cereueil to forestall any German move in that direction. This Battalion was committed late in the afternoon in an all-out cleanup of the woods, and by 1800 the Regiment had achieved its mission.
It was believed that some of the enemy had withdrawn to the north of Amonee, and at 2000 the 2nd Battalion was ordered to occupy the high ground in that vicinity. A patrol from Company E was sent out, followed by Company G, and by 2130 the hill was gained and 15 prisoners were taken.
With the Germans finally driven from the Champenoux Forest, it became possible to see why they had put up such a stubborn defense. The south edge of the woods was an unbroken string of dug-in emplacements, with almost perfect fields of fire. With a network of roads and trails leading in and out of the woods, accessibility of supplies was simplified, and it was possible for the enemy to move tanks out to the edge of the woods to fire, then withdraw to another position. Our forces were also running into outlying fortifications of the former Maginot Line. Blockhouses, pillboxes, and shelters of reinforced concrete construction with overhead protection were found. Old trench systems of 1917 and 1918 were also found, as the present conflict moved into the battlefield of World War I. The Germans had a strong force for the defense of the area, and their strength in the sector was reported by prisoners to be as high as 4,000 men.
On September 23 the Regiment continued to secure the area and clean out scattered Germans. The enemy, as he withdrew, had effectively blocked many routes by laying mines and by felling heavy trees across the roads, and these obstacles were removed during the day.
Our casualties for the three days' fighting on September 20, 21, and 22 had been 11 killed, 111 wounded, and three missing. Of these, two were killed, six wounded, and one missing on the 20th, eight killed, 78 wounded, and two missing on the 21st, and one killed and 28 wounded on the 22nd. On the 23th, one man was killed and one missing.
Although our casualties were not small, they were far less than those of the enemy. The Germans suffered terrific losses, chiefly from our artillery and mortar fire. The 2nd Battalion fired more than a thousand rounds of mortar ammunition on one day alone, with every round fired at an observed target. A German Captain of the Medical Corps surrendered, after all his medical supplies and equipment had been expended and further supply was unavailable. Speaking perfect English, he told his capturing officer that the casualties among their men were the worst he had ever seen. He further remarked, "You Americans now have us by the throat."
Altogether, there were 15 prisoners taken on September 20, four on the 21st, 61 on the 22nd, and 91 on the 23rd.
On September 24 the Regiment remained in the same area, establishing a line from Highway 74 near Mazerulles, extending northwest through Brin and St. Jean Fontaine Forest toward Bey. The clear weather which had been prevailing came to an end, as intermittent showers began during the afternoon and developed into a steady rain. There were no men killed or wounded on the 24th, but four men were reported missing. During the day 26 prisoners were brought in.
On the morning of September 25 the 137th prepared to move to the northeast to relieve elements of the 4th Armored Division. The enemy was reinforcing his troops in the vicinity of the Chateau Salins Forest with armor and infantry. His strength in that sector was as yet unknown, but the 113th Panzer Brigade had been identified as in the vicinity, and two infantry regiments, the 1125th and the 1126th of the 559th Division, had moved in from the north during the night of September 23. The FFI reported a concentration of enemy troops, supplies, and ammunition at Morhange. The 3rd SS Totenkopf Division and the 106th Panzer Division were identified assembling in the vicinity of Wuisse, and still another division was reported marching southeast from the vicinity of Metz, with a mission of encircling the Gremecey and the Chateau Salins Forests.
With a large-scale attack by the Germans a definite possibility, the XII Corps prepared to defend along a line from the Seille River near Manhoue east then south through the Gremecey Forest, facing the German-held towns of Coutures and Chambrey. The line then extended east and south through the Bezange la Grande Forest, and the 4th Armored Division was to move to defend this sector upon being relieved in the Gremecey area. The 80th Division was to defend the sector on the left of the 35th, with the 6th Armored Division remaining east of Nancy in Corps reserve. In the sector assigned the 35th Division, consisting generally of the Gremecey Forest, the 134th Infantry was to defend to the left of the 137th, and the 320th in Division reserve.
During the afternoon of September 25 the 137th Infantry moved by way of Mazerulles, Moncel sur Ville and Pettincourt and went into their defensive position, with the 3rd Battalion established to the north and east of Gremecey, and the 1st to their right, southeast of Gremecey and east of Pettincourt. The 2nd Battalion went into reserve near Gremecey.
All was quiet along the entire Corps front until noon September 26, except for a small counterattack on the 4th Armored Division at Marsal. Early in the afternoon of the 26th the 3rd Battalion began to receive artillery shelling in their area, and increased activity was observed in Chambrey. At 1800 a small German force attacked through the Chambrey Woods, from the direction of Coutures, but were driven back during the night. The 4th Armored Division located 33 tanks and 400 men in the vicinity of Juvelize and Lezey, but no further activity was reported during the day. There were some casualties in the 3rd Battalion on the 26th, as two men were killed, six wounded, and six missing.
During the early morning of September 27 artillery began falling in the Regimental area, and enemy planes were overhead. Company B and Company C both reported a fire fight to their front, northeast of Pettincourt, at 0600, and a little later Company K reported small arms and mortar fire to their front, with continued artillery shelling in the 3rd Battalion area. At 0640 an enemy tank attacked Company I, while five more tanks moved to the left, followed by infantry.
Shortly after 0700 the Germans, moving west on the Chambrey - Pettincourt highway, overran a 1st Battalion roadblock, captured four anti-tank guns, and by 0730 had established themselves in position to bring direct fire on Pettincourt. Two companies from the 2nd Battalion were committed to assist the 1st Battalion in defending that area. Moving tanks up from their stronghold at Chambrey, the enemy advanced to the edge of Pettincourt and the 1st Battalion's situation there was becoming serious. At 1030 the Division Commander committed the 320th Infantry, and their 1st Battalion, together with Company C of the 737th Tank Battalion, was attached to the 137th and sent to bolster our defenses in the threatened area.
By 1130 the enemy was forced back sufficiently for our Anti-Tank Company to recover three of their guns, and by 1130 the 1st Battalion had restored their lines to their original position, clearing Pettincourt and the roads leading into it from the danger of direct enemy fire. The Germans suffered heavy casualties in attempting their mission of capturing Pettincourt, and most of their officers had become casualties. In repulsing the attack, the 1st Battalion captured 24 prisoners.
Back in the 3rd Battalion area, enemy tank activity increased during the morning, and shortly before noon aerial observers located a concentration of infantry on halftracks and fifteen tanks a mile east of Gremecey. An additional ten tanks were spotted a short distance to the southeast of the first group, and two platoons of our tank destroyers moved east out of Gremecey to go into action. Within twenty minutes they had knocked out two of the enemy tanks.
To the north of Gremecey, tanks were reported in the woods during the afternoon, and were targets for our Cannon Company. One tank moved to within 200 yards of the 3rd Battalion Command Post before being blasted out by a tank destroyer. At 1800 a German force was observed approaching Fresnes, and an hour later Company K was driven from their outpost in that town.
Activity slackened during the evening, and no additional action was reported. The Regiment had held its lines intact, but in so doing had suffered 52 casualties, six killed, 45 wounded, and one missing. The Germans had lost far more heavily in killed and wounded, and 71 of their men were taken prisoners.
Enemy patrols were active during the early morning hours of September 28, and shortly after midnight had made contact with a 1st Battalion patrol at Merlinsole. A 3rd Battalion outpost was attacked by another patrol, and as daylight approached the enemy activity increased. Company C detected considerable motor movement in and around Chambrey, with tanks leaving the town and heading west and northwest. Company C also reported small arms fire to their left, and Company B reported machine gun fire about 700 yards to their right front. By 0600 the Regiment was receiving artillery fire all along its front, and at 0640 the 134th Infantry was attacked by five enemy tanks in their 3rd Battalion area.
Tanks and infantry were reported north of the 137th area, moving from the vicinity of Fresnes and Galloncourt, and by 0900 it was apparent that the enemy armor was in great strength and included heavy tanks. Our tank destroyers knocked out one tank in the 3rd Battalion area at 1045, after first losing one of their own TD's. The 3rd Battalion continued to report tanks in their area, and at noon a strong German patrol got behind the Battalion CP and attacked and captured the Battalion Motor Pool. With the 3rd Battalion command post and right flank endangered, the Battalion Commander committed his Headquarters group and all available men. Company F and one platoon of tanks were sent to relieve their precarious situation. Enemy tanks continued to move into the 3rd Battalion area, and between 1000 and 1300 Company B of the 654th Tank Destroyer Battalion had knocked out five tanks, three of them Tigers, and one self-propelled gun.
At 1440 enemy patrols again infiltrated into the area, and the 3rd Battalion wire team was attacked by Germans armed with bazookas. Late in the afternoon, with reports of enemy tanks mounting, the Air Corps was called upon to strike at Chambrey and west of Coutures, known to be concentration points of enemy armored forces. Fighter-bombers bombed and strafed these points heavily and also attacked Jallaucourt, to the northwest. Air support continued during the night and the Regiment's lines remained intact as they prepared for further attacks by the enemy. Casualties increased some on the 28th, especially among the missing. There were 11 killed, 48 wounded, and 20 unaccounted for. Nine prisoners were taken.
The Germans attacked at 0530 on September 29, moving in from the direction of Fresnes toward the 3rd Battalion lines. Company L, in position at the northeast tip of the Gremecey Forest, was hit first, and by 0830 was surrounded. Companies F, C, and E were ordered to pull in their lines. Most of Company L fought their way out of the trap, but their commanding officer was wounded and his executive officer was captured. However, the captured officer talked his twelve captors into surrendering themselves to the Americans, and brought them through the lines as prisoners.
German infantry attacked at other points in the 3rd Battalion area, and continued their tactics of infiltrating and surrounding our troops. This menace reached serious proportions during the day when Company K lost an entire platoon, and over a hundred men in the 3rd Battalion as a whole were believed captured. Air protection continued during the day, and there was little tank activity reported. Late in the day action slowed down considerably, and reports from the FFI and other sources hinted that the Germans were pulling back to organize for an all-out attack.
With 105 men missing during the day, in addition to 11 killed and 35 wounded, it was apparent that the Germans must be cleaned from the Gremecey Forest, where their many capabilities and possibilities of attack were a constant threat to the defenses of our entire sector. A plan was made for a coordinated attack with the 320th Infantry, to begin the following morning. An enemy attack was expected at 0500 from Fresnes, and to counter this the 3rd Battalion of the 320th was ordered to attack the Germans at that point at 0430. 2nd and 3rd Battalions of the 137th were to attack at 0500, with the 1st Battalion of the 320th. 1st Battalion, 137th, was ordered to hold its present position, with the 2nd Battalion of the 320th in reserve.
During the early morning of September 30 the Regiment received artillery shelling, and at 0600 the 134th Infantry was attacked after a heavy artillery preparation.
The attack began, but progress was slow. The 2nd Battalion received heavy mortar fire, and at 1000 their left flank was being infiltrated and they began to drop back to their original positions. Continuing their infiltration and encircling tactics, the Germans moved in behind Company E and opened up, cutting off one entire platoon.
With the left flank open and a 700-yard gap between companies, the 2nd Battalion's defenses were in grave danger. The Germans, throwing a barrage of mortar and machine gun fire in front of them, poured through the gap on the left flank of Company E, and moved toward Gremecey. At this point the 133rd Engineer Battalion was rushed from Pettincourt and committed to halt the advance. With their assistance, the 2nd Battalion held off the Germans until its lines could be organized. It was almost midnight before the lines were again established.
The attack on the 2nd Battalion positions proved to be the main German effort of the day. The 3rd Battalion was relieved shortly before midnight by the 3rd Battalion of the 320th, and moved to Biocourt for a badly needed rest and reorganization period.
On the 30th there were 12 men killed, 51 wounded, and 81 missing. There were 37 prisoners taken, identified as being from the 1127th and 1128th Infantry Regiments and from the First Army Group.
September was a banner month for individual awards and decorations within the Regiment. As battle progressed deeper into enemy territory the following awards were announced for the month of September. Distinguished Service Cross: The first DSC in the Division was awarded to Captain William C. Miller, Commanding Officer of Company B; this award was presented on the 12th of September for outstanding heroism in the St. Lo area. On the 26th of September like awards were presented to Technical Sergeant Fuller and Staff Sergeant Franz, both of Company E.
The close of the month showed the 137th Infantry making a superior stand in its first assignment in a defensive position. The Regiment was drawing the commendation and praise of both Lieutenant General George S. Patton and Major General Eddy, Corps Commander, as they personally observed the performance of the organization in throwing back everything the Germans could hurl at them in their last desperate effort to stop the Allied forces.
On the morning of October 1 the 137th Infantry was opposed by strong German forces from a point midway between Pettincourt and Chambrey on the Seille River northward to the edge of the Gremecey Forest. Northeast through the Gremecey Forest the 1st and 3rd Battalions of the 320th Infantry were in position, tying in with the 134th Infantry southeast of Fresnes. The 134th line extended west to Manhoue. Beyond them, across the Seille, was the 80th Division. On the right the 4th Armored Division was operating south of the Nancy - Saarbrucken Highway. The 133rd Combat Engineers remained in defensive position in the 137th sector, after being moved to the ridge east and south of Gremecey the previous day in repulsing the furious German attack in the direction of that town.
Elements of the 6th Armored Division had moved up from Corps reserve near Nancy, and went into an assembly area to the rear of the 137th, in preparation for a coordinated attack on the morning of October 1. Task Force Harris of the 6th Armored had the mission of attacking east from the vicinity of Pettincourt to the line Chambrey - Bois de Chambrey.
The 137th Infantry attacked at 0930 on the 1st, with a mission of re-establishing its lines and, in addition, to take the town of Chambrey, which was still an enemy strong point in spite of air strikes and artillery pounding. Moving over open terrain in the vicinity of Merlinsole, a short distance northwest of Chambrey, Task Force Harris received many casualties from enemy artillery, but the remainder of the Task Force pushed through to the line Chambrey - Bois de Chambrey. The 2nd Battalion, 137th Infantry, advanced to the east and by midafternoon was at the southwest edge of Bois de Chambrey. At this point they were joined by Company A from the 1st Battalion. A concerted attack was launched from the south to clear the Bois de Chambrey of the enemy and to re-establish the defensive position on the east edge of the woods. Company B advanced to the east and at 1700 was fighting in the streets of Chambrey. They captured the town at 2000, after taking 25 prisoners.
Most of the enemy withdrew about a thousand yards to the east and northeast of Chambrey. Believing an attempt would be made to recapture the town, General Sebree ordered that Chambrey be held at all costs. All of the 1st Battalion anti-tank guns were moved to the Chambrey area, and roadblocks were established on all routes leading into the town.
Meanwhile, tanks from the 737th Tank Battalion were employed to support the 2nd Battalion and Company A in their attack on the woods. The mission of the tanks was to pin down the enemy in the woods as infantry advanced north. By 2000 the 2nd Battalion, with Company A, had attained their objective along the eastern edge of Bois de Chambrey, and had established a combat outpost between the Bois de Chambrey and the town of Chambrey to maintain contact with Company B during the night.
Casualties in the Regiment for October 1 were six killed, 28 wounded, and five missing. There were 37 enemy prisoners taken, most of them from the 1st Company of the 1127th Infantry, 559th Division. This Company had been left to defend Chambrey to the last man, and had anticipated our attempt to capture the town on that morning, even as to details of the attack.
On October 2 with the Germans withdrawing into the woods toward Chateau Salins, it was believed their next strong point in that direction would be "Hill 300," the high ground south of Coutures. To gather all possible information on enemy strength there, General Sebree called for a volunteer patrol of one officer and two enlisted men to penetrate this enemy territory, and Captain Roger N. Baker and two of his men from Company D accepted the hazardous mission. Leaving at midnight, the party was gone for nearly five hours before returning. In carrying out their mission they had located one enemy artillery battery, and reported many new foxholes dug deep in a creek bed at the foot of the west slope of the German-held hill. A large amount of enemy telephone wire had been found. Our patrol shot one enemy wireman. In addition, the patrol reported what were believed to be ammunition vehicles moving to the area from Chateau Salins.
The 1st and 2nd Battalions were alerted for any possible enemy movement but, during most of the day October 2, there was no enemy action to our front. At 1600 on the 2nd the Air Force attacked German positions in the woods east and north of Chambrey, with eight bombers strafing the area. There was believed to be an entire regiment still held in that vicinity.
The 137th Infantry strengthened its defenses during the day, using barbed wire between Chambrey and positions to the north, and laying extensive minefields on all possible routes of approach. The 60th Engineer Battalion made good use of German minefields north of Chambrey by rearranging the mines already in place there.
On October 2 one man was killed and four were wounded. Two enemy were taken prisoner, one of whom told of having seen the German V-3 one-man flying bomb which was to be used as a new weapon against the Allies.
After a week's defense of the area and after standing off the heaviest German attacks yet encountered by this organization, our main lines of resistance had actually been pushed forward and strengthened. Lieutenant General Patton visited the Regimental Command Post and personally congratulated Colonel Sears on the fine stand of the organization, and decorated the Regimental Commander with the Bronze Star award during his visit.
While the XII Corps was engaged in holding this sector, Allied forces to the north and to the south were approaching positions that had never fallen during World War I. On the left, other elements of the Third Army were attacking Fort Driant, commanding the medieval city of Metz, key to the enemy's Alsatian defenses. On the right, the 79th Infantry Division, part of XV Corps, was attacking the Parroy Forest, where the enemy strength was estimated at 5,000 men and 100 tanks.
The heaviest fighting on the West Wall at this time was taking place near Aachen, where the First Army was advancing farther and farther onto German soil, and at Arnheim in Holland, where fifteen Divisions were fighting on a thirty-five mile front. The Ninth Army in the meantime had moved east from the vicinity of Brest for the final push on Germany.
In all sectors there was developing the possibility of unfriendliness of the civilian population. We had now crossed over into Alsace - Lorraine. This the Nazis had always regarded as rightfully theirs, and many German families had moved into the territory. Although some were evacuated with the withdrawal of the Nazi army, the population remaining was necessarily considered doubtful as to sympathy to the Allied cause, and could not be depended upon for the enthusiastic cooperation obtained from French civilians thus far. However, some assistance was gained from Polish workers who had been brought into the territory by the Nazis as forced labor.
On October 3 and 4 the 137th Infantry improved its defensive positions and conducted patrols, with very little enemy action reported. The 3rd Battalion moved to Pettincourt from regimental reserve at Bioncourt, after its companies had been restored to full strength by replacements received.
At 1830 on the 4th, the relief of the 137th by elements of the 320th Infantry began, with their 2nd Battalion relieving our 2nd Battalion, who then assembled in Gremecey. The 1st Battalion was temporarily attached to the 320th and later relieved to move into an assembly area at Attilloncourt shortly before midnight on the 5th.
The enemy continued to shell the area intermittently during October 3, 4 and 5, particularly in Pettincourt and Gremecey, where 105 and 150mm artillery was reported. On the 5th, adjacent units reported shelling of heavy caliber, presumably from German railway guns. Rain which had been threatening for several days began to fall during the morning of the 5th, and continued through the day.
Casualties for October 3rd and 5th were as follows: three men wounded on the 3rd, one man wounded and two missing on the 4th, and four men killed and one wounded on the 5th. Only two prisoners were taken on the 3rd, and none on the 4th or 5th.
The Germans resorted to the use of a public address system to speak across the lines to our troops during the morning of October 5, and later shot propaganda leaflets into our area. The futility of their efforts was shown by the fact that on October 5 and 6 not one man of the 137th Infantry was reported missing.
On October 6 and 7 the Regiment remained in Division reserve. Scattered enemy artillery fire continued, and German planes were reported over the area in small numbers as the weather began to clear. There were no casualties on the 6th, and on the 7th one man was killed, one wounded, and one missing. At 1400 on October 7 the 3rd Battalion was attached to the 134th Infantry, and at 2100 moved to their area near Manhoue.
On October 8, with the remainder of the 137th Infantry still in Division reserve, the 3rd Battalion moved up with the 1st Battalion of the 134th to a line facing the Germans who were at Chenicourt, Fossieux, and Malaucourt. With a new main line of resistance already established by our forces in the right portion of the Division zone, it was planned to similarly extend the main line of resistance of the left portion by pushing north along the front in that area. The entire 737th Tank Battalion was attached for the operation.
The 3rd Battalion moved out at 0615 on the morning of October 8, with Company L riding tanks of Company C, 737th Tank Battalion, driving toward Fossieux from the south, and Company K riding tanks of Company A of the 737th advancing on their left. Company I, on the right, had the mission of capturing the ridge southeast of the town. By 0930 Company L was at the edge of Fossieux, and Company E was east of Arraye - et - Han above the Seille River. A half hour later Company K had cut the Fossieux - Ajoncourt road, and Company I was inside the town of Fossieux. One platoon of Company K dismounted in the vicinity of the left limiting point of the Division, and the balance of the Company advanced on Fossieux from the southwest. By 1230 Company K had taken over a hundred prisoners, while Company L was mopping up in Fossieux with the assistance of the tanks. Company I in the meantime had gained its objective by 1030, and continued to clean out the area between the Rau d'Osson and Seille River. In taking its objective the 3rd Battalion suffered forty-two casualties. This included six killed, 35 wounded and 14 missing. In comparison, the Germans suffered far more heavily. The enemy lost 127 men in prisoners captured alone, more than had been taken by the entire Regiment in any single day since August 21.
Although driven from Fossieux, the Germans remained at Chenicourt, Aulnois, Lemoncourt, and Jallaucourt. On the morning of October 9 they launched a counterattack with tanks and infantry, and re-entered Fossieux from the north. By mid-afternoon three of the German tanks had been knocked out, but five remained in the town and seven others had moved to the northeast across the Rau d'Osson.
The situation was not relieved until the following morning, when Company K and Company L, together with Company A of the 134th, again drove the Germans from the main part of the town. At 1130 the enemy was holding out only in the northeast corner of Fossieux, and one tank remained in position to the northeast of the town. Company C of the 737th Tank Battalion was brought in to assist in cleaning out the last resistance. By 1745 Fossieux was again cleared of Germans, and bridges on roads leading north and northwest of the town were reported to have been blown up by our Engineers.
During the German counterattack and the recapture of Fossieux our 3rd Battalion lost 67 men. On October 9, four were killed, ten wounded, and eight missing. On October 10 there were eight killed, 23 wounded, and 14 missing. Only one prisoner was taken by the Battalion on the 9th, but in retaking the town on the 10th, 45 were captured.
The remainder of the 137th Infantry continued in Division reserve at Attilloncourt and Gremecey during this time. Intermittent shelling was received in their area with little damage. Early on the morning of October 10 the Attilloncourt area received four rounds of heavy artillery, in the vicinity of the Regimental and the 1st Battalion Command Posts. Shell fragments recovered were over two inches wide by one and one-half inches thick and up to fourteen inches long, and indicated that the shells were from 280mm railway guns.
On October 11 our forces held Fossieux, but were under heavy artillery and mortar fire during the day. That night the 3rd Battalion was relieved by the 1st Battalion of the 134th and moved to Aboncourt as regimental reserve. There were four men wounded on the 11th, and six Germans were taken prisoner.
The Regiment remained in Division reserve until October 15. During this period the 35th Division continued its defense of the sector. To the south the 26th Division, now operating in the XII Corps, took over part of the 4th Armored Division sector. The 80th Division remained on the left of the 35th, and was in the process of regrouping its forces. Despite overcast skies and intermittent showers during the period, our aircraft remained active, bombing and strafing the woods west of Lemoncourt on the 12th, 13th, and 14th. To the north and east, the rail junction of Benestroff was hit, and a railroad gun believed blown up west of Han - sur - Nied. From October 12 to 15 the 2nd Battalion continued to report intermittent shelling at Gremecey, but damage was negligible. The only casualties in the Regiment during this period occurred on October 13, when one man was killed and one wounded.
On October 15 the 137th Infantry relieved the 134th in the left regimental sector of the Division area, beginning at 1300. The 1st Battalion moved its Command Post to the vicinity of Han, and the 2nd Battalion CP was moved to near Rhin de Bois. The 3rd Battalion, still at Aboncourt, remained at that location in the regimental reserve.
From October 16 until the end of the month the 137th Infantry remained in a defensive status, with the regimental sector divided into two portions. The left portion extended from the Seille River east to Fossieux, then southeast along the ridge between Mauaucourt and Manhoue to the west tip of the Jallaucourt Woods. The 1st Battalion occupied this portion of the sector. The right portion of the sector was occupied by the 2nd Battalion, and was bounded by the northern edge of the Jallaucourt Woods and the Gremecey Forest to a point south of Fresnes, where the lines of the 320th Infantry began.
With the assistance of the 60th Engineer Battalion, elaborate defense installations were established along our lines, with minefields, booby traps, concertina fencing, and trip flares used extensively. These extended east from the junction of the Seille River and Ruisseau d'Osson. The Ruisseau d'Osson was itself a tank obstacle and added to the strength of the defense. From this ditch east to the Aulnois - Ajoncourt road was laid a 500-yard concertina fence, with anti-personnel mines and trip flares along its length, and a hasty anti-tank minefield behind it.
From the Aulnois road east, 1,600 yards of concertina fence were laid to Fossieux, with anti-tank and anti-personnel mines and trip flares to its front. Farther to the front, four bridges had been blown, blocking all roads leading into Fossieux and Ajoncourt from the north. Around Fossieux 587 anti-tank mines were laid.
From Fossieux southeast, the Engineers laid 4,750 yards of single concertina, to the edge of the woods. The remainder of our line, extending along the edge of the woods, was heavily booby-trapped, with anti-tank minefields laid on all routes into the woods. Three triple and three double concertina installations were laid behind these installations, to complete an almost unbroken line through the forest.
To the front of this line, Engineers blew up the bridges across the Rau d'Osson on the road southwest of Malaucourt, on the Jallaucourt - Manhoue road, and due south of Jallaucourt.
The Regiment's defensive positions were manned by Company C from the Seille River to the Fossieux area, Company B in the Fossieux area, and Company A on their right to the Jallaucourt Woods. The 2nd Battalion's lines were equally divided between Company G on the left and Company E on the right.
The situation called for diligent patrolling activity to our front, and a definite patrolling policy was set down. This policy specified that two patrols would be sent out each night by each front-line battalion, with the Battalion Commander selecting his own patrolling missions when not given a definite assignment from higher headquarters.
Early on the morning of October 17 Company E fired on a German patrol which set off a trip-wire flare to their front. Mortar fire on the area was believed to have inflicted casualties on the Germans. The Regiment began to receive artillery fire during the morning of the 17th, with Fossieux and its vicinity shelled from long range. Company B reported shelling in Fossieux several times during the day, and the 2nd Battalion received 120mm mortar fire southeast of Jallaucourt at 1450. At 1840 they again reported shelling, with eighteen to twenty rounds believed to have been fired into their area from tanks. Later in the evening the 1st Battalion reported twenty rounds of mortar fire from the direction of Jallaucourt. During the evening the Germans began sending up flares, and this continued all during the night. Seventeen flares were observed during the night, mostly in the vicinity of Malaucourt, Jallaucourt, and Aulnois. The Regiment had only one casualty during the day, one man being wounded by enemy artillery fire.
On October 17 the 137th Infantry completed its 100th day of combat. In that 100 days the Regiment had pushed almost completely across France, from Omaha Beach through the battle of St. Lo and the Mortain Forest, the capture of Orleans and the liberation of Sens, the crossing of the Moselle and the Meurthe Rivers, and the battle of the Champenoux Forest, to its present defensive stand in the bend of the Seille River.
During that 100 days the Regiment had suffered 2,353 casualties. Of these, 441 had been killed, 1,680 wounded, and 232 missing in action. Many of these wounded had already been returned to duty with their organization, and with ample replacements received, the strength of the Regiment stood at 155 officers and 3,128 enlisted men, exceeding that of July 10 when the 137th Infantry first went into position above St. Lo. Of the original 156 officers who had departed from Bodmin and Newquay with the Regiment, 96 were still with the organization. Of these, eight had returned to duty after being wounded in action in earlier engagements.
At this time the eyes of the world were turned to Aachen, where the beleaguered German garrison had been given a final ultimatum to surrender before 1050 on October 18. This refused, the First Army, already surrounding the city, began their final assault upon that German stronghold. At 1330 on October 20, Aachen fell, the first major German city taken by the American forces.
During the period of October 18, 19, and 20, the 137th Infantry was encountering very little enemy action. The 1st Battalion received artillery fire on the 18th, but no casualties resulted.
On October 18 and 19 the 137th Infantry, 320th Infantry, one battalion of the 134th Infantry, and several artillery, tank, and TD units made preparations for possible isolation from the Division CP and MSR's during the week to follow. Sixteen miles east of our area, near Dieuze, was the Etang de Lindre, a large artificial lake formed by the damming of the Seille River at Lindre Basse. By blowing out the earth dam there, the Seille Valley could be flooded through German-held Sallonnes, on through Chambrey and circling our own area including Alincourt, Aboncourt, Manhoue, and Ajoncourt, and beyond into German territory again to the north.
The Germans controlled the lake and the dam, in a position to release the impounded water at any time. The flooding of the valley, coordinated with an enemy attack of sufficient force, might have resulted in the trapping of considerable American troops in the bend of the river. However, at the present time the enemy was known to be incapable of attacking in such force in this sector, and an immediate inundation of the area would be to their disadvantage, bogging them down at their strong points at Dieuze, Marsal, and Vic - sur - Seille, in addition to removing the possibility of a future flood at a time of their own selection.
It was planned that our own Air Force bomb the dam, and although engineering estimates indicated that our bridges at Brin and Manhoue could still be used at the highest stage of the flood, precautions were taken by the Regiment in case the flood waters did reach a stage that would cut off our forces from the west side of the river. A four-day supply of rations was brought in, and the Regiment drew 2,600 gallons of gasoline for the emergency. Sufficient ammunition to bring the quota up to two basic loads each of cannon and 81mm HE ammunition, and one and one-half basic loads on all other ammunition was obtained. Additional Engineer supplies were dumped on the east side of the river. The Regimental Surgeon drew extra medical supplies, and one collecting company was established on each side of the river. Amphibious 2 ½ ton "Ducks" and boats were made available for use in crossing the swollen river.
Shortly after noon on October 20, a formation of fighter-bombers flew east above the Seille River to the huge reservoir, and at 1300 carried out their bombing mission, scoring two direct hits on the dam, and two near misses on the sluice gates. At 1600 two squadrons returned to the site to carry out further demolition of the dam. A 50-foot gap was blasted in the western end of the dam, releasing the impounded water in sufficient force to flood the town of Dieuze by 1950. Beyond Dieuze the flood began to spread out over the surrounding lowlands and moved west toward Marsal. It was estimated that no noticeable raise would reach our area until the following day.
The enemy's artillery activity began early on the morning of the 20th, and the 2nd Battalion received ten rounds of 88 fire at 0645. Two direct hits were scored on the Battalion CP, and communications were disrupted, but no casualties resulted. The 1st Battalion reported four rounds in the vicinity of their CP at 0700. At 1335 twelve duds in succession landed in front of the 2nd Battalion positions. The Regiment had no casualties on October 18 or 19, but on October 20 one man was killed and two wounded by artillery fire, and three men were missing in action.
The flood moved down the Seille Valley as far as Vic - sur - Seille on the 21st, slowing down considerably as the waters backed up into the many tributaries of the river. It reached Pettincourt on the following day, and moved slowly on past Attilloncourt and Brin.
The skies began to clear on the 22nd, and after rain had fallen intermittently for most of the past week. The dirt roads in the sector had already been churned into a mass of deep mud, and water in foxholes and slit trenches added to the discomfort of the troops. While the 35th Division front remained comparatively quiet on the 22nd, elements of the 26th Division, on our right, attacked toward Bezange and Moncourt in an effort to straighten their lines. During the day the 2nd Battalion spotted a battery of 88mm self-propelled guns north of Fresnes, and called for an air strike on the position.
At 1700 the 3rd Battalion began relief of the 1st Battalion in the left portion of the regimental sector. Company K moved into former Company G positions, adjacent to the Seille River. Company L took of the Fossieux area, relieving Company B, and on their right Company I moved into the positions of Company A. Relief was completed at 2200, and 1st Battalion reverted to regimental reserve.
The Seille River flood reached its highest stage in our sector late on the 22nd. The bridges at Brin and Manhoue were not affected by the high water, and normal traffic across the river continued. During the morning of October 23 the river began to fall at Pettincourt, as the flood crest began to move north into German territory on its way to empty into the Moselle River at Metz.
The night of October 22 the Regiment increased its patrols to six, and the activities of two patrols extended to include the laying of mines on roads behind the enemy lines. One patrol received mortar fire north of Fossieux, and two others contacted an enemy patrol of about fifteen men northwest of Malaucourt. The Regiment had one man missing in action on the 23rd, their first loss since October 20.
On October 24 the 134th Infantry relieved the 320th in the right sector of the Division defense area, and the 137th remained in the left sector. Our night patrols again worked far behind the enemy lines and laid mines on their main roads. Battalion patrols made use of illuminating flares for observation purposes during the night. One 3rd Battalion patrol drew enemy mortar fire northwest of Fossieux, but received no casualties.
The Division rear echelon and service units in Nancy reported shelling on the morning of the 24th between 0300 and 0430. Seventeen rounds of large caliber artillery, believed to be from railroad guns, landed in the city and across the river in St. Max. No damage to military installations was reported. The only shelling reported in the 137th area on October 24 was ten rounds of 120mm mortar fire from northwest of Jallaucourt falling in the Company F area.
Few prisoners were being taken by any of the units along the Corps front, and that mission became a high priority among our nightly patrols. The determination of our patrols in this respect was apparent during the night of October 24, when one 3rd Battalion party attempted to enter enemy-held Malaucourt, intent upon seizing and bringing back a German soldier. This patrol reached this point when the first guns opened up on them. The patrol was forced to withdraw after two of its members had been wounded. Both of the wounded men were evacuated safely to our lines. The 2nd Battalion again sent patrols toward the Jallaucourt - Fresnes road, and reported that route to be strongly out-posted by the enemy. Repeated attempts were made by one patrol to approach the road at several points, and each attempt drew enemy arms fire.
On October 25, 120mm mortar fire was again reported in the Company F area, from the vicinity of Jallaucourt. At 2305 the 2nd Battalion CP area received five rounds of 105mm artillery, the only other shelling reported in the Regiment during the day. A five-day psychological warfare drive was begun on the 25th, and during the afternoon ten rounds of safe-conduct leaflets were fired over the German lines. The drive also called for the use of the public address system to announce the news, dressed up psychologically, to the German soldiers.
Our patrols again ranged far behind the enemy lines, but were still unsuccessful in their attempts to capture prisoners. Enemy patrols were also active, and shortly before midnight on the 26th infiltrated into our area southeast of Manhoue, wounding one man of Anti-Tank Company.
During the early morning of October 27 there was increased activity of horse-drawn wagons and carts in the Juree Woods, in Jallaucourt and Malaucourt, and on the road between. Repeated reports of horse carts along the German lines during the past few nights indicated that this was the principal means of transportation being used by the Germans in this sector.
At 0515 enemy smoke shells were fired into the draw to the front of Company I and Company L, but there was no further action by the Germans in the area.
On the 27th the 1st Battalion relieved the 2nd at 1300, with Company A moving into the right portion of the Battalion's lines in the Gremecey Forest, and Company B taking over on the left.
Our artillery again fired leaflet concentrations across the German lines during the day. Seven concentrations were fired into the area from Fresnes to Aulnois. At 1705 the enemy again began to lay smoke to the front of Company I and Company L, and in fifteen minutes the entire draw between Fossieux and Malaucourt was covered with smoke. Again there was no further action by the Germans in that area. At 2135 on the 27th Company K wounded and captured a German paratrooper behind their lines. The prisoner claimed to have been hiding the past weeks in our rear areas, and was trying to get back to his own lines at the time he was captured.
At 0940 on the 28th two Russians walked into the 1st Battalion area and reported themselves as prisoners who had escaped from the Germans. Three of them had slipped through German territory all the way from Metz, where the Nazis had taken them to work, but one of their party had been killed in coming through the lines of Fresnes.
On October 29 the Germans again shelled the 3rd Battalion at 0300 the following morning, with ten rounds landing south of Manhoue. Again at 0330 the Battalion reported shelling, with five rounds of 105mm received near Ajoncourt.
Our patrols were again behind the enemy lines, chiefly on the hunt for prisoners. Lieutenant Constantine Mims, leading a patrol from Company K, returned at 0600 after having encountered two Germans at an outpost south of Aulnois. The Germans were evidently caught off guard, and did not have their weapons immediately at hand. Both withdrew far back into a covered dugout, and refused to surrender. Hoping to capture the men alive if at all possible, Lieutenant Mims entered the dugout and attempted to drag the unwilling Germans out. Within the close confines of the narrow dugout this proved to be very difficult, and it was decided to resort to some other means to take the men. Both were screaming and shouting and one became hostile to such an extent that it was necessary to shoot him. The patrol then tore the top off the dugout, and Lieutenant Mims again went after the remaining German. Using Judo methods, he forced his burly captive out into the open, and the patrol started back with their prisoner. However, the German's excessive shouting and other noise had evidently been heard by his own men, and in a short distance the patrol was fired on by enemy machine guns. With their prisoner still with them, the patrol worked their way a few yards farther, and then released smoke grenades. The enemy again opened up with machine gun fire. The prisoner took this chance to turn and dash back through the smoke, in the face of his own men's fire, to make his get-away. Our patrol slipped over the ridge to their front and returned intact. Two men of the Regiment were reported wounded on the 29th, both from artillery fire.
At 0130 on October 30 Company K again captured an enemy prisoner, from the vicinity of Aulnois. The German told of a new anti-tank gun called the "Pupchen" in Aulnois. This was described as a compact and easily-handled weapon with a barrel about a meter long, effective against tanks at two hundred meters, and firing a shell similar to a mortar. It could also be used as an anti-personnel weapon with an effective range of seven meters.
The day was of special significance for forty men and four officers of the Regiment who gained a well-earned trip from the combat area to Paris, as that city was placed "on limits" to soldiers and 48-hour passes authorized in limited numbers to combat troops. The first of those passes in the 137th Infantry were restricted to Privates and Privates 1st Class among the enlisted men, and platoon leaders among officers. At 0600 on the 30th, two men from each company of the Regiment with four officers departed for the French capital.
During the day two volunteers from Company C, Staff Sergeant William L. Smith and Sergeant Robert L. Deem, determined to bring in a German prisoner, obtained permission from the Regimental Commander to attempt to slip into Jallaucourt under cover of darkness, then await an opportunity to pick off one of the Germans in the town. The two men circled halfway around Jallaucourt and approached from the northwest, but at the edge of the town were discovered and fired upon by the enemy, and were forced to pull out and return to our lines.
On the right of the 35th Division, the 26th Division had succeeded in driving the enemy from the Moncourt Woods and were continuing their defense of the area south of Highway 74. The 80th Division remained on our left. The water level of the Seille continued to fall, and the river was back within its banks as far north as Ajoncourt.
As the month of October ended, the Regiment lost its capable and well-liked Regimental Commander of the past three months. Colonel Robert L. Sears, who had assumed command of the 137th Infantry north of St. Lo on July 25, received orders which took him away from the Regiment that he had led all the way through its brilliant sweep across France. At midnight on October 31, command of the 137th Infantry was officially assumed by Colonel William S. Murray, formerly of the 5th Infantry Division, already thoroughly familiar with the present campaign and a capable leader for the future operations of the Regiment.
November first found the 137th Infantry in its sixth week in a defensive status, as XII Corps continued its mission of defending that portion of the Third Army front from Cheminot, ten miles south of Metz, to the Marne - Rhine Canal near Xunes, 20 miles east of Nancy. The 137th, in position from Ajoncourt to a point near Chambrey, was bounded on the left by the 134th Infantry and on the right by the 26th Division. Colonel William S. Murray assumed command of the 137th Infantry at 0001 on November 1, just one hundred days after his predecessor, Colonel Robert Sears, had taken over the Regiment in its first days of combat.
Within the sector, the 2nd Battalion came out of reserve on November 1 and relieved the 3rd Battalion on the line from Ajoncourt through Fossieux and southeast to the tip of the Jallaucourt Woods, following the ridge south of enemy-held Malaucourt and Jallaucourt. Relief was completed at 2130, with Companies E, F, and G on the line from right to left. To the east, the 1st Battalion remained in position, occupying the Jallaucourt Woods and the Gremecey Forest to a point south of Fresnes, where they tied in with the 134th Infantry. At 2150, 88 fire began falling in the draw east of Fossieux, and at 2205 eight rounds fell on the south edge of the town. The 2nd Battalion, which had just moved into the area, lost five men, of which two were killed and three wounded.
The Germans were feeling the force of our own artillery also during the day. Upon request of our 1st Battalion, the 127th Field Artillery Battalion fired into Jallaucourt with 155mm fuze delay shells. Buildings were wrecked, fires were started, and an ammunition dump was believed hit. In direct support of the Regiment, the guns of Company C, 737th Tank Battalion, fired seven missions during the day. Late in the evening one of our men, returning from repairing an anti-personnel minefield, was wounded when he ran into a booby trap, bringing the total casualties for November 1 to two killed and five wounded. These were the first men killed in the Regiment since October 20.
During the afternoon, the 319th Infantry (80th Division), across the Seille River on our left, attacked with a mission of clearing the enemy from west of the river in the Abaucourt - Letricourt area. Their attack began at 1300, supported by tanks and tank destroyers. By 1600 their 2nd Battalion had cleaned the Germans out of Letricourt, and the 3rd Battalion was mopping up at Abaucourt. In that three hours' fighting the 319th took 140 prisoners. With the Germans cleared from the loop of the Seille River, the Regiment left small groups in observation of all known river crossings and its main force returned to its former defensive position.
On the morning of November 2 patrols returned with reports of much activity near Fresnes, and across the creek from Fossieux. A 3rd Battalion patrol cut enemy communication lines east of Fossieux, and radioed Battalion Headquarters to direct mortar fire upon what was believed to be a mine-laying crew.
On November 3, patrols returned from missions of inspecting bridge sites to our front, near Aulnois, Fossieux, Malaucourt, and Jallaucourt. Five bridges were examined for possibility of use by tanks and trucks. Of these, one was reported as possibly strong enough to hold a 2 ½-ton truck, and it was believed that the bridge northeast of Fossieux, constructed of reinforced concrete with ten-inch I-beams, could be repaired sufficiently to hold tanks. All other bridges had been damaged beyond use. Showers fell intermittently during the day, and all was quiet to our front until after dark, when enemy patrols became active. One Company A outpost fired on a German patrol shortly after 1900. At 2025 Company E reported a patrol to its front, but rifle fire forced the Germans to withdraw. Our wires were out in the Company A area at about 2200, and linemen sent out to repair the break contacted an enemy patrol of five or six men behind our lines. The wire crew fired on the Germans, and the patrol fired back, then made a getaway. Again on the 3rd, there were no casualties in the 137th Infantry.
Patrols sent out on the night of the 5th were very successful. German troops in Jallaucourt were deprived of their nightly hot meal when a strong patrol from Company C made their way to the Malaucourt - Jallaucourt road and there ambushed a horse-drawn kitchen wagon coming from Fresnes. One prisoner was taken, and he reported that his company was receiving one hot meal each night, eating concentrated food during the day. The prisoner revealed that his company consisted of only 80, commanded by a twenty-year-old lieutenant. He reported that the morale of the troops, including noncommissioned officers, was very poor.
Rains swelled the Seille River to flood stage, and for the second time in two weeks the valley was inundated as far as Ajoncourt. The 60th Engineers, working constantly on the roads in the sector, kept all routes open in spite of the mud and high water. Company C of the 737th Tank Battalion was relieved by Company B of the same organization in direct support of the 137th Infantry on the 6th. During their last day in support of the Regiment, Company C fired 250 rounds of artillery in performing fifteen firing missions.
Elsewhere on the Western Front, the clearing of the Scheldt Estuary, which would make available to the Allies the great port of Antwerp, was almost completed. In Holland, nearly all of the German Fifteenth Army had been driven back across the Maas, and the Allies held all but one of the bridges across the river.
After its short period of comparative inactivity, the Third Army prepared to resume the offensive in the Metz - Nancy area, to encircle the German fortress city of Metz, and to continue the drive on the Siegfried Line. At 1330 on November 7, Division Field Order No. 26 was passed down to the 137th Infantry, and the Regiment, after more than six weeks in a defensive status, again prepared to attack.
In the new operation, XII Corps was to attack to the northeast to seize rail and road facilities in the vicinity of Falkenburg, and prepared to continue the advance to the northeast and seize a bridgehead east of the Rhine River. Within the Corps, the 26th, 35th, and 80th Infantry Divisions were to attack from their present positions, with the 26th operating on the right of the 35th, and the 80th, with the 4th Armored operating in the zone of the 35th, passing through the west and north portion of our Division zone after our troops had secured a bridgehead across the Rau d'Osson.
The plan called for continuous, close fighter-bomber support, and five additional artillery battalions were made available to the 35th Division for the operation. Within the 35th Division, the 137th Infantry was to operate on the left, and the 320th on the right. The 134th remained in Division reserve at the beginning of the operation.
The initial mission of the 137th Infantry was to attack to the north and northeast, secure a bridgehead across the Rau d'Osson, and seize the first objective, five miles to the northeast of our present position, cutting the main highway between Chateau-Salins and Metz in the vicinity of Laneuveville. In direct support of the 137th Infantry was the 737th Tank Battalion less one company, Company B of the 60th Engineers, and Company A of the 654th Tank Destroyers.
The Regiment attacked at 0600 on the morning of November 8, after a heavy artillery preparation. The 2nd Battalion, on the left, encountered the first resistance, one enemy machine gun, at 0611. On the right, the 1st Battalion attacked Jallaucourt, and by 0720 had one platoon of Company C in the town. Two platoons were pinned down west of the town by heavy enemy fire, and Company A was sent into the fight for the shell-wrecked village. The Battalion was also receiving fire from German position in the Juree Woods, which hampered operations to the east of Jallaucourt.
In the 2nd Battalion sector, two platoons of Company E reached the edge of Malaucourt by 0750, but to their left Company G was having difficulty in crossing the swollen Rau d'Osson, where flood waters of the Seille River had backed up into that stream. By 1000 all of Company G were across and on the ridge northwest of Malaucourt. At the same time, Company E was in the town, had cleaned out four buildings, and was working its way on through house by house.
The Engineers completed a bridge south of Jallaucourt by 1040, after being held up part of the morning by enemy machine gun fire on the site. At 1130 our armored support began to cross, losing one tank just after it had cleared the bridge. Shortly after noon eight tanks were moving in on Jallaucourt, with Company B attacking from the southeast. By 1240 the 1st Battalion had two full companies in the town, and heavy fighting was in progress. Steady rain set in shortly after noon, and our air support was called off during the afternoon.
By midafternoon the enemy had been cleared from all but the north edge of Jallaucourt, and at 1500 the 3rd Battalion was ordered to move companies to both Malaucourt and Jallaucourt to relieve troops there. At 1700 the 1st Battalion was in possession of Jallaucourt, but the Germans were still battling between the town and the Juree Woods, and still occupied the latter.
A second bridge was completed by the Engineers at 1610, south of Malaucourt, and at 1630 Company F crossed on tanks and moved into the town, where Company E was still engaged. Direct artillery fire was received, and the lead tank was knocked out. The remaining tanks fanned out, and Company F dismounted and proceeded on foot. At 1750 both Company F and Company E were on the north edge of the town, and at this time orders were received from the Division Commander to hold up the attack at 1800, consolidate positions and outpost security, and to prepare to attack the following morning at 0600.
Fighting continued in the Juree Woods, however, until midnight. Company A, supported by Company A of the 737th Tank Battalion, finally cleared the enemy from the woods, then prepared to resume the attack from that point the following morning. The 3rd Battalion, less Company I and Company K, was directed to move to Jallaucourt at 0500 on the 9th. Company I was sent to occupy Malaucourt, and Company K to occupy Jallaucourt at 1600 on the 8th when the 3rd Battalion was ordered to move troops to those towns. On this first day of the new offensive, the 137th Infantry took 134 prisoners, most of them from the 1125th Regiment. Our casualties on the same day were six killed and 76 wounded.
The Regiment resumed the attack at 0600 on the 9th, with the 1st Battalion striking toward Oriocourt, two miles northeast of Jallaucourt. The 2nd Battalion, leaving Company I to clean out the last resistance in Malaucourt, moved north, and at 0755 Company G called for lifting of our artillery fire on the Aulnois Wood and attacked German positions there. Company E and Company F followed closely. Moderate resistance was encountered 150 yards inside the woods, but the Battalion advanced steadily during the morning, and at 1400 had cleared the woods. The Battalion then reorganized and moved toward Lemoncourt.
The 1st Battalion, in the meantime, was making steady progress to the northeast, and by 1400 captured Oriocourt, taking 150 prisoners and a battery of enemy field artillery. Turning to the east toward Laneuveville, the Battalion drove on toward the initial regimental objective. At 1415 the 2nd Battalion captured Lemoncourt, taking fifty prisoners, and by 1700 Company F and Company G were moving into Delme, two kilometers to the north. The German withdrawal was becoming more and more hurried, and as our forces overran one enemy position after another, the prisoner total mounted rapidly. The Germans were surrendering in large groups, and during the afternoon it became evident that this would be the largest number of prisoners yet taken in a single day by the 137th Infantry.
The 2nd Battalion attack on Delme resulted in the capture of that town at 1915. The Germans withdrew to the east, and began shelling the town heavily with mortar and artillery fire. To the south, the 1st Battalion had crossed the Metz - Chateau Salins railroad and highway, and by dark had seized Laneuveville, then occupied the high ground to the east of the town. This placed the Regiment on its initial objective, after two days of fighting. In regimental reserve, the 3rd Battalion, assembled at Oriocourt, prepared to follow the 1st Battalion in their next move.
The 4th Armored Division moved up during the day, crossing the bridge at Malaucourt, and passing through Lemoncourt. Elements of the Division then thrust beyond our lines into Viviers, but during the night the Germans retook that town, capturing two ambulances and four wounded Americans. Prisoners taken by the Regiment during the day reached the record-breaking total of 445. Morale was very low among a large number of those taken. Many of them, wet and shivering from the cold rain which fell intermittently during the day, were generous in divulging information on their own forces. Our casualties were five killed, 24 wounded, and four missing in action.
The Regiment attacked at 0700 on the 10th, with the 1st Battalion jumping off from the high ground east of Laneuveville toward Fonteny, two kilometers to the northeast. The 2nd Battalion set out to recapture Viviers, and to occupy the woods south of that town. From the Delme - Donjeaux area the Battalion moved east to the woods, leaving Company G to clean out that spot. The remainder of the Battalion, operating with the armor, attacked Viviers from the south shortly before 1100. Here they met stiff resistance from the Germans who had moved back into the town during the night. In addition to small arms fire from the town, the Battalion began receiving long range artillery fire from the east. At 1245 they had not yet been able to enter the town, and our tanks were having difficulty in maneuvering off the roads due to the mud.
The 1st Battalion moved to the ridge overlooking Fonteny without opposition, then ran into heavy small arms fire from the tip of the Chateau - Salins Forest. The Germans also had tanks in the vicinity, with two reported moving from Fonteny into the woods at 0955, and four others just south of the town. Tank destroyers of the 4th Armored moved up to meet this threat. At 1335 two enemy tanks were reported northwest of Fonteny, moving to the rear between the 1st and 2nd Battalions, and soon after this number had increased to six. One anti-tank gun and reinforced platoon was rushed to Delme by the 3rd Battalion. No further reports of enemy armor were received until 1730, when the 1st Battalion received fire from five tanks north of Fonteny.
The 2nd Battalion, after fighting most of the afternoon, had Company F and one platoon from Company E in Viviers by 1600. An hour later, two full companies were in the town, and fighting was still going on. At 1800 Viviers was aflame and the 2nd Battalion occupied most of the town. Fifty Germans had been taken prisoner and many more wounded or killed. The four wounded Americans captured by the Germans when they had retaken the town the day before were rescued, and one of the two ambulances recovered.
The 1st Battalion was unable to take Fonteny during the day, and the Regiment was again ordered to hold up the attack at 1800. Extensive patrolling during the night was ordered, with an SOP distance of one and one-half miles if necessary.
Adjacent units were progressing on schedule. On the right, the 320th Infantry was advancing through the Chateau - Salins Forest and the 134th was attacking Gerbecourt. The 26th Division captured the city of Chateau - Salins during the afternoon. On the left, the 319th Infantry moved into Tincry.
There were 125 prisoners taken on the 10th, most of them being from the 43rd Fortress Battalion and the 110th Panzer Regiment of the 11th Panzer Division. This unit had left the Metz vicinity on two hours' notice and had been committed in the Chateau - Salins Forest east of Laneuveville. Casualties in the 137th during the day were 11 men killed, 34 wounded, and five missing.
The attack was resumed at 0800 on November 11, and the 2nd Battalion quickly cleared Viviers of the Germans left there and at 0830 moved northeast toward the Serres Woods. An early patrol from the 1st Battalion revealed that the Germans had not withdrawn from Fonteny during the night, but remained in considerable strength and were dug in on the high ground behind the town and in the woods to the southwest. The 1st Battalion again attacked the stronghold, but were held off until 1330, when Company A got into the town. By 1500 much of Fonteny had been cleared, and a column of CCB of the 4th Armored moved through the town, heading toward Oron.
The 2nd Battalion in the meantime began to clear the way toward Oron through the Serres Woods. With tanks in support they moved from Viviers to the edge of the woods, and by noon two companies, E and G, were in the woods.
At 1530 Company F, with Company B of the 737th Tank Battalion supporting, moved as a task force to seize Faxe at the southeast corner of the woods. Running into an anti-tank ditch west of the village, the armor was unable to move up to attack, and heavy machine gun fire forced the task force to withdraw. Our artillery was then called on to shell German positions at that point. It was evident that a stronger force would be necessary to take the town, and plans were made for a renewed attack on the following morning, with Company K assisting Company F.
In the Serres Woods, Company E and Company G advanced steadily until 1600, when they were held up by two pillboxes and two tanks protecting the road junction halfway through the woods. Tank destroyers were brought up, and at 1815 this resistance was knocked out and the two companies pushed on to the road junction. By dark the 1st Battalion had taken three-fourths of Fonteny, but were receiving continuous mortar and artillery fire, and the casualties in the Battalion were heavy. Plans were made for the 3rd Battalion to relieve the 1st in Fonteny before daylight the following morning, and for the 1st Battalion to assemble in Laneuveville in regimental reserve. The Regiment again held up the attack for the night, and made ready to continue the following morning. On the 11th the Regiment lost seven killed, 67 wounded, and seven missing. A total of 43 German prisoners were taken during the day.
The 3rd Battalion, less Company E, relieved the 1st Battalion in the Fonteny area at 0400 on the morning of November 12, and the 1st assembled at Laneuveville in regimental reserve.
The fresh troops of Companies I and L attacked at 0600 to clear Fonteny of the enemy, and by 0800 they were mopping up in the town. Three Mark V tanks, apparently in good shape, were captured.
Company K, in the meantime, was attacking Faxe, with Company F. They entered the town at 0730, and by 0810 Faxe was clear of Germans. However, they left the town heavily mined and booby-trapped. At 0845 Company F moved on out of Faxe to the Serres Woods, to rejoin the 2nd Battalion. Meanwhile, Company G had patrolled the woods almost to its north edge, and reported no enemy. The Battalion moved on through the woods, then dashed to the east and seized Oron. Our troops advanced on the town with such speed that the Germans were unable to carry out planned demolition of the bridge across the Niad Francais Rau west of Oron, and that highly important crossing was captured undamaged. In Oron, 150 prisoners were captured, members of a work battalion, mostly older men of decrepit appearance.
The 3rd Battalion, moving cross-country toward Chateau Brehain, advanced rapidly, meeting light resistance consisting only of a covering force. By 1100 the leading elements of the Battalion were half-way to the Chateau - Salins Forest, and an hour later had begun to skirt the north edge of the woods. Advancing on Chateau Brehain swiftly, they captured the town at 1400, taking 16 prisoners. The 3rd Battalion then pushed forward and seized Brehain just prior to dark.
The 1st Battalion left Laneuveville and followed the 3rd into Chateau Brehain. At this town a new situation had confronted the occupying forces. Up until this time in the present engagement, civilians had left the battle areas as the Germans withdrew. However, at Chateau Brehain civilians had remained in the town, and it was necessary to place these people, 80 in number, under the supervision of the Civil Affairs Officer for evacuation to the rear. Our casualties on November 12 were 12 killed, 54 wounded and six missing. Including the members of the work battalion captured at Oron, a total of 179 prisoners were captured during the day.
On November 13 enemy resistance stiffened, as the 137th Infantry hit a strong defense line from the woods north of Villers - sur - Neid to Achain. Jumping off at 0800, the 3rd Battalion attacked northeastward, while to the north the 2nd Battalion advanced on Villers - sur - Neid. Both received heavy artillery and mortar fire immediately after jumping off. After two hours' fighting, Company G pushed on into Villers, and at 1130 two companies were in the town. Street fighting was in progress until shortly after noon, when our forces cleared the town of Germans. The 2nd Battalion then reorganized and continued the attack toward Marthille, a mile to the east, which they entered at 1530 and captured at 1700 after a fight. After taking Marthille, the Battalion quickly moved on Destry, two miles northeast.
The 3rd Battalion, just outside of Brehain, ran into small arms fire from the hill to the east. However, engaging the enemy with frontal fire, the Battalion slipped sufficient troops around the hill to get behind the German positions, capturing 25 of their number and forcing the remainder to pull out. Moving northeast, the forward elements of the Battalion reached the crossroads midway between Marthille and Achain where the Battalion ran into strong German positions to the left of the highway. These positions were immediately attacked and taken, but the Battalion was then brought under fire from the high ground to the northeast. Again attacking, our forces dislodged the Germans from that point, putting the Battalion within two kilometers of Baronville. Here they held up until the following morning.
The 2nd Battalion, in their attempt to capture Destry, reached the ridge south of the town at 1700, where they were stopped by heavy mortar and artillery fire. With CCB of the 4th Armored Division moving into the area, an attack on Destry the following morning with that unit was decided upon.
The 1st Battalion, still in reserve, moved from Chateau Brehain to Marthille at 1600. This day was the coldest yet, and during the night snow fell over the entire sector.
Ninety-seven prisoners were taken during the day, bringing the total for the first six days of the campaign to 1,023. Our own casualties dropped on this day, with 30 men reported wounded and none killed or missing.
The 2nd and 3rd Battalions resumed the attack at 0900 on the 14th. The 3rd, moving on Baronville from the southwest, encountered no opposition until 1020, when they were met by heavy machine gun fire on the ridge in front of the town. Mortar fire and direct artillery fire were received by the Battalion as they maneuvered to attack the stronghold.
The Germans were defending the town stubbornly, with tanks and infantry, and held out from dug-in positions until late afternoon, despite repeated assaults by our troops. The Battalion finally broke through at 1600, with house-to-house fighting again developing as the last resistance was cleared from the town. At 1710 the 3rd Battalion reported Baronville clear.
Meanwhile, the 2nd Battalion had attacked Destry, with CCB of the 4th Armored. However, the armor was held up one kilometer south of the town until almost noon by enemy artillery. Shortly after noon the tanks entered the town, and Companies E and G fought their way in at the same time. Here again house-to-house fighting resulted, and the town was not fully occupied by our troops until late afternoon. Securing the town, the 2nd Battalion held up for the night but sent patrols to the front as far as the railroad two kilometers northeast, which was the Division objective.
Again, civilians were found to have remained in the besieged towns. The 3rd Battalion alone found two hundred civilians in their occupation of Baronville.
Casualties in the Regiment were two killed and 29 wounded on the 14th. There were 34 prisoners taken. Prisoners captured during the past two days gave the information that they were recently brought from the Polish front and placed in Marthille, Baronville, and other points in this sector; that they had been given no orientation on the situation, only ordered to hold these towns at all costs.
On November 15 the 137th Infantry, nearing the Division objective, continued the attack for the eighth consecutive day. Both 2nd and 3rd Battalions moved to seize the Metz - Benestroff railway in their zone.
Jumping off at 0900, the 2nd Battalion was the first to reach the railroad, and moved onto the objective at 1035. The 3rd Battalion, in their zone, had to clean out the Grand Bois, which they entered at 1000 and cleared by noon.
After moving onto the objective from the woods, the 3rd Battalion was given an additional mission of advancing, seizing and holding Hill 264, north of Etang DeMutche, and overlooking the railroad. The Battalion jumped off for its new objective at 1400, and at 1635 occupied the hill in the face of heavy artillery fire. The Battalion Commander, instituting a rotation system for the night, left one platoon from each company to secure the hill, the remainder of the Battalion withdrawing to the shelter of the railroad station at the foot of the hill to dry clothing and clean equipment.
The 2nd Battalion, after cleaning out the woods to their left, tied in with elements of the 80th Division on their left flank, dug in, and secured the area.
The north and south columns of the 4th Armored CCB, continued to operate in our zone, converged at Baronville during the day, then moved east toward Morhange.
The 1st Battalion continued in regimental reserve, but were alerted to be prepared to relieve the 2nd Battalion upon receipt of the next attack order.
Twenty-eight prisoners were taken on the 15th, the smallest number yet captured in one day since the start of the present offensive. Our own casualties were one killed, 13 wounded, and 13 missing in action.
On November 15, after eight days of continuous fighting, the 137th Infantry gained a brief rest, remaining in its present position and awaiting further orders.
During the day the Division Commander visited the Regimental CP and presented the Silver Star award to Colonel Murray in recognition of outstanding performance in the present operation. Since November 8, the first day of the attack, the Regiment had advanced 25 kilometers, capturing 17 towns and taking well over 1,000 prisoners.
The enemy had left the area heavily mined, and although these were being cleared as quickly as possible, some casualties resulted from this menace on the 16th. The Regiment also continued to receive scattered artillery shelling. Twelve Germans were taken prisoner.
The Regiment continued to remain in its present position on November 17. There was no letup in the cold weather, and the skies were overcast. A light snow fell late in the day.
Two men were reported missing on this day, but none were reported killed or wounded. Only two enemy prisoners were taken.
The order to continue the attack was received, and at 1330 Regimental Field Order No. 22 was issued, calling for the 1st and 3rd Battalions to attack at 0800 the following morning. The advance was to continue to the northeast, following generally to the north of the Morhange - Sarreguemines highway. The 137th Infantry was to be on the left in the Division zone, and the 320th on the right, with CCB of the 6th Armored Division operating initially in the 320th sector. The ultimate objective was the Saar River at a point south of Sarreguemines.
The 2nd Battalion, after having been on the line all the way from Malaucourt to Ia Houve, was placed in regimental reserve for the coming operation.
The 1st Battalion made a night march from Marthille, starting at 0400 on the morning of the 18th, moved through Baronville and jumped off with the 3rd Battalion at 0800. Swinging around the lake, Etang de Mutche, the 1st proceeded toward Harprich from the south. Very little resistance was encountered, and the Battalion entered the town at 0900. They were immediately subjected to artillery and mortar shelling, and the Germans began laying down a terrific barrage along the road leading to Berig - Vintrange to harass any advance along that route. However, the Battalion moved on out of Harprich and advanced on Berig - Vintrange, to meet the most stubborn resistance the Germans offered during the day. The enemy had considerable armor in the town, and they held strong positions on the high ground to the east.
Artillery directed on Berig - Vintrange knocked out three of the German tanks, and shortly after noon tank destroyers were moved up with the 1st Battalion. With their support the enemy was driven from the town after several attacks. Those German tanks which were not knocked out withdrew to the high ground to the east, however, and the Battalion was subjected to direct fire from their guns, making a continued advance impossible at the time.
The attack was held up at 1800, but Engineers worked on into the night removing mines and obstacles left by the retreating Germans. At Berig - Vintrange a massive roadblock at the south edge of town prevented the use of the main road into town until 1930, and then it was only sufficiently cleared to allow passage of quarter-ton vehicles.
Similar obstacles, though generally of less elaborate construction, were now being encountered blocking the way into every town, as the enemy resorted to every possible means to delay the Americans. The Germans were throwing everything available into these obstacles, ranging from sturdy log and stone structures to hayrakes and other farm implements.
The 3rd Battalion had advanced rapidly during the day, seizing the town of Bening and by mid-afternoon had two companies in the village of Bistroff. The Battalion had moved swiftly across muddy terrain and surprised the enemy by this daring maneuver of operating far in advance of supporting weapons, which were road-bound because of the mud. The enemy surprise was so complete that a counterattacking force was not brought into use until carrying parties of the 3rd Battalion had brought up ammunition and supplies. Anti-tank mines, hand-carried more than three miles, were placed to cover tank approaches into the Battalion's position.
The Germans had blown the bridge on the Birstroff - Berig Vintrange road, and shortly before midnight the Engineers moved up to repair the bridge, to establish a supply route to the 3rd Battalion. Vehicles, however, did not reach the town of Bistroff until approximately 1400 the following day.
Three men of the 137th Infantry were killed on October 18, and seven were wounded. Fifteen prisoners were taken.
On the morning of the 19th the 3rd Battalion received a counterattack at 730, with enemy infantry and two tanks trying to get into Bistroff. The attack was repulsed after one German tank had been knocked out by mines. These mines, hand-carried and laid by the Mine Platoon of the Regimental Anti-tank Company only a few hours before, figured prominently in breaking up the attack.
CCB of the 6th Armored Division moved into the regimental zone early in the morning, and upon resumption of the attack at 0800 their tanks passed through the 1st Battalion toward Bertring. They were met by heavy artillery and anti-tank fire, but advanced almost to Bertring, where they were held up by an anti-tank ditch along the forward slope of the ridge west of the town. Company A and Company B moved up at 1100, crossed the ditch and attacked the town. The Germans resisted stubbornly, and held them off until almost 1500, and then had to be cleared from the town from building to building. In the meantime, the tanks were still held up west of the ditch, their assistance in the assault hindered by the protection of the ridge between them and the town. Tank dozers were brought up to fill in the ditch sufficiently to allow the armor to cross, but one tank destroyer had been knocked out and burned by artillery in the meantime.
With CCB then supporting the advance beyond Bertring, the 1st Battalion moved swiftly on Gros - Tenquin. They entered the town at 1530, quickly cleaned out all resistance and seized the high ground to the northeast.
The 3rd Battalion, after beating off the early counterattack by the Germans at Bistroff, followed through at 0840 with an attack on Hill 315 to the northeast, taking a machine gun nest and 30 prisoners, several mortars, and a 20mm gun. The Battalion then remained in the positions already held for the rest of the day.
The 3rd Battalion moved up to Gros - Tenquin during the night to relieve the 1st Battalion.
The Regiment again took a big haul of prisoners on the 19th, with a total of 208 captured during the day. Our casualties were one man killed, 27 wounded, and four missing.
At 0725 the following morning the 3rd Battalion moved out from Bistroff toward Freybouse, situated four kilometers east beyond the north tip of the Freybouse Woods. The Battalion moved east through the Meisenbruck Farm, which they passed at 0745, then swung wide to the left and reached the tip of the woods at 1100. At 1300, Company K led the attack on Freybouse. Resistance was stiff, and the Company received tank fire from the town which held them off for almost an hour. At 1350 Company K got their first men into the town, and fighting continued all afternoon. By dark Company K had two platoons in Freybouse, after the Company Commander had been wounded. The Germans were still holding out stubbornly, and the attack was halted for the night, with two platoons remaining in the town.
In the meantime, the 2nd Battalion had jumped off at 0900, in conjunction with CCB of the 6th Armored, and moved to attack the Freybouse Woods to their front. Heavy artillery fire was received as the Battalion jumped off and advanced steadily, and at 1015 punched into the woods north of the Gros - Tenquin Hellimer highway. By noon they had cleared the woods in their zone. Emerging from the east edge of the woods, however, the Battalion was subjected to terrific fire from the high ground to the north and east. With perfect observation, the Germans brought deadly mortar, small arms, and direct artillery fire on our troops with every attempt to advance over the open terrain to the front. By dark the Battalion had made no appreciable gain, and the attack was stopped for the night.
Six officers were wounded in the day's attack, the largest loss in a single day among officers since the Moselle River crossing. These included two company commanders. Captain Clyde R. Mills, who had led Company G through every engagement since the first day of combat, was one of those.
Casualties among enlisted men were four killed, 51 wounded, and six missing. Forty-two Germans were captured on the 20th.
The 2nd Battalion resumed its attack toward Hellimer on the 21st. Again attempting to advance east along the Hellimer highway, they moved five hundred yards past the Francaltroff road junction, when enemy small arms fire opened up. From 0730 until almost 0900 they again were subjected to heavy fire from Hellimer. Shortly after noon they were in a position to attack the town, but the first assault was thrown back by heavy machine gun and tank fire. The Battalion attacked again at 1300, but the Germans had five tanks in the northwest corner of the town holding up the approach, and it was almost 1500 before any sizable force could get into the town. Company F led the way in the final assault, and bitter street fighting again developed as the Germans were cleared from the town house by house. Two enemy tanks were knocked out in the fight, and another was abandoned in perfect condition as the Germans withdrew to Diffembach to the northeast.
The 3rd Battalion, with two platoons already in Freybouse, resumed its attack on that town at dawn and after fighting most of the morning, cleared out the enemy and sent a force to the north in an attempt to capture Fremestroff. With elements of the 6th Armored, they moved north out of Freybouse, but after going a short distance were held up by a blown bridge. The infantry moved on across the creek at 1630, while the armor awaited the arrival of Engineers to repair the bridge. An hour later our troops were in Fremestroff, and the tanks had moved up and surrounded the town. However, darkness found the enemy still in the town, and our forces waited until the following morning to attempt to clear the last resistance.
Three men were killed on the 21st, and 55 were wounded. Thirty-eight Germans were captured.
Plans of November 22 were for the 6th Armored Division to send two task forces out from Hellimer, one north to Leyviller in conjunction with an attack on that town by the 1st Battalion, then east to St. Jean - Rohrbach, and the other northeast to Diffembach, and on to St. Jean - Rohrbach. A third task force, already in the vicinity of Fremestroff, was to assist in cleaning out that town, then move east into the zone of the 1st Battalion.
On the morning of the 22nd, forces of the 3rd Battalion cleared Fremestroff early, and the 3rd Battalion moved on to Diffembach, where the Germans had withdrawn from Hellimer. Company E was first in town, and pushed the enemy out shortly after noon. The rest of the Battalion moved up, and at 1400 jumped off for Hilsprich, four kilometers east.
Meanwhile the 1st Battalion moved up from reserve and attacked Leyviller, four kilometers to the north of Hellimer. Coordinating with the tanks, Company A moved in on the town from the right and Company C from the left. By 1100 Leyviller was partially surrounded by tanks and infantry, and at 1400 they took the town after hard fighting, with the Germans withdrawing to the north. The Battalion quickly turned the attack toward St. Jean, four kilometers to the east and formerly heavily-garrisoned by the Germans. Enemy tanks on the outskirts of St. Jean brought heavy fire on the doughboys, and SS troops were defending within the town. Fighting continued until after darkness, with the Battalion pushing the enemy from the town shortly before 1800. Immediately the Germans began shelling the area, and this continued throughout the night.
The 2nd Battalion moved half the distance to Hilsprich then was counterattacked at 1540 by Germans from the Habst Woods north of the Hellimer - St. Jean highway. The enemy was stopped with severe losses from our combined machine gun and mortar fire, and the surviving Germans fled back into the woods.
The 3rd Battalion reverted to regimental reserve and moved into Leyviller during the afternoon. After dark, the Germans moved a patrol back into Fremestroff, and plans were made for Company I to send a motorized patrol to clear them out the following morning.
Six men were killed, 17 wounded, and five missing in action in the Regiment on November 22. There were 58 prisoners captured, including members of the 36th SS Division.
On the morning of November 23 all battalions were attacking. The 2nd, jumping off at 0800 from the high ground midway between Diffembach and Hilsprich, moved through the Machweld Woods and swung right, to the southwest of Hilsprich. The 1st Battalion moved out from St. Jean to approach Hilsprich from the northwest. The 3rd Battalion, at Leyviller, moved their motorized platoon from Company I around through Freybouse to clear Fremestroff. Other elements of the Battalion moved on Altrippe, while another force attacked the Habst Woods to clean out those Germans which has escaped after their counterattack on the 2nd Battalion the day before had failed.
Fremestroff was cleared by 0900, and before noon the 3rd Battalion had gained all objectives, with Company K occupying Altrippe, Company I occupying Fremestroff, and Company L returning to Leyviller after clearing the Habst Woods.
The 2nd Battalion entered the woods north of Zennen at 0930, and by noon was emerging from the southeast tip of the woods. Here they received direct fire from the high ground to the east, and were pinned down and unable to advance during the afternoon.
The 1st Battalion encountered stiff resistance in its advance on Hilsprich. The town was well defended with heavy tanks and infantry, and surrounding high ground was bristling with dug-in enemy positions. Six hundred yards west of the town the 1st Battalion ran into terrific fire from the German positions, and at 1330, with heavy tanks discovered operating in the town, the Battalion Commander requested that all artillery possible be thrown into the objective. The Germans threw back the first attempt to enter the town, and only after hard fighting and heavy casualties were our forces able to get into the stronghold. Company A suffered serious losses, including Captain Sidney K. Strong, their Commanding Officer, killed by 20mm fire while leading his men in the attack.
The main enemy force withdrew to the east, but shortly before dusk came back into Hilsprich with tanks and inflicted further losses on troops of the Battalion there. Breaking into the town at both ends of the Main Street, the enemy tanks worked toward the center of town, firing point-blank on buildings and troops. Company C lost heavily, with the Company Commander, three company officers and 29 others missing. The remaining troops withdrew to St. Jean.
The Hilsprich engagement was a costly one to the 1st Battalion, as they lost four men killed, 26 wounded, and 39 missing during the attack and the enemy counterattack that followed. Total casualties in the Regiment were ten killed, 76 wounded, and 40 missing.
Sixteen Germans were captured on the 23rd.
On November 24, with the 1st Battalion withdrawn to St. Jean and in the process of reorganization, the 737the Tank Battalion and the 1st Battalion of the 134th Infantry attacked Hilsprich at noon and recaptured that town. The 2nd Battalion held its position southwest of Hilsprich, covering any possible enemy withdrawal to the south. The Battalion then outposted the high ground to the southwest with one platoon of Company F, and the remainder of the Battalion moved back to Diffembach.
The 3rd Battalion continued to occupy the area to the north of Hellimer, with companies in Leyviller, Altrippe and Fremestroff. Late in the day the Germans began shelling those towns incessantly.
There were three killed, three wounded, and two missing in the Regiment on the 24th. Twenty-two Germans were captured. Some of these were from the 38th Regiment of the 17 SS Division, and reported that this Regiment, and possibly the entire Division, was withdrawing to Saarbrucken, and that they were in the force left to cover the withdrawal.
On the morning of the 25th the Germans continued their relentless shelling of the 3rd Battalion area. During the morning they subjected Leyviller to a terrific bombardment, with the shelling reaching its height shortly before 1100 when the Germans poured in 168 rounds of 120, 105, and 88mm mortar and artillery fire in fourteen minutes.
On this date the 2nd Battalion moved to the Hilsprich area to occupy the town and prevent reoccupation by the Germans.
On the 26th and 27th the 137th Infantry remained in place and continued patrolling and strengthening defenses in its area. The skies cleared on the 26th, for the first time in over a week.
Scattered shelling was received in the area, but few casualties resulted. On the 25th two men were wounded. On the 26th no casualties were reported. On the 27th, one man was killed when a lone round of 88 fire landed near the 1st Battalion Headquarters in St. Jean. On the same day two men were wounded by mortar fire at an anti-tank gun position.
On November 28 the 137th Infantry, less the 3rd Battalion, moved to an area approximately seven miles to the west, with the 1st Battalion locating at Herprich, the 2nd at Bistroff, special units at Viller, and Regimental Headquarters at Bening. The 3rd Battalion remained at Leyviller.
On the 29th and 30th the Regiment remained in these areas, to gain a well-earned rest. There were no casualties during the last three days of the month. Two Germans were taken prisoner on the 29th.
In the month of November had developed some of the hardest fighting yet engaged in by the 137th Infantry. Although comparatively inactive the first week, the Regiment was in the attack more days during November than any previous month. Since November 8 our troops had advanced over thirty miles to the north, and had taken nearly 1,500 prisoners.
The 137th's casualties in the drive had not been light. It had lost 76 killed, 573 wounded, and 98 missing. However, of those missing, only 66 were unaccounted for at the end of the month.
In this drive, the 137th Infantry had played an important part in the great Third Army offensive which already had resulted in the capture of Metz and the crossing of the Saar River.
Forward elements of the Regiment now stood eleven miles from the German border at Sarreguemines, 22 miles southwest of the industrial city of Saarbrucken, and awaited the orders which would carry them into the Reich itself.
As November drew to a close the 137th Infantry Regiment had set an impressive record in total number of medals awarded to its members. This total, amassed in less than four months, was 537 awards, broken down into classifications as follows: Six Distinguished Service Crosses, 122 Silver Stars, and 409 Bronze Stars.
The 35th Infantry Division maintained its position in XII Corps reserve on December 1. On November 24, the 137th had been relieved from contact with the enemy, after driving for sixteen days through the retarding mud and rain to seize and hold Hellimer and St. Jean - Rohrbach. This day marked the Regiment's 146th day on French soil, 111 days of which were spent in actual combat, with 137th elements opposing the enemy on the front lines. A training problem was scheduled for this period of relative inactivity which consisted of pillbox assault activity, handling of demolitions, and staging of attacks on fortified positions. The Regiment's vehicles were washed, weapons cleaned and inspected by the 735th Ordnance Company.
The 137th Infantry remained in reserve on the 2nd and made preparations to move the following day to a new assembly area. The 137th moved seven miles approximately northeast, to its new assembly area on the morning of December 3 and remained in Division reserve. Regimental Headquarters, Special Units, and the 2nd Battalion closed into Erstroff by 1000. The 1st Battalion moved to Linstroff by 1055 and the 3rd Battalion was billeted in the town of Grening by 1140. Service Company continued its stay in Villers. The Regiment was ordered into Corps reserve, and suitable reconnaissance was conducted, in view of the fact that the 137th might be employed in any sector of the Corps.
The 137th Infantry made a motor move approximately 15 miles east through the early morning rain of December 6 and closed into its forward assembly area by 0900. The 3rd Battalion had remained in Grening. Regimental Headquarters opened in Hirbach at 0730, 2nd Battalion in Bettring by 0840, and the 1st Battalion in Helving by 0900. No enemy artillery fire was received by any units of the Regiment during the day.
The 137th Infantry Regiment moved by foot to another forward assembly area approximately nine miles east, in the direction of Sarreguemines, on December 8. Regimental Headquarters, Anti-tank Company, and the 1st Battalion located themselves in Hambach by 1345. The new Regimental Command Post was opened at 1245. The 3rd Battalion closed into Neufgrange by 1500, while the 2nd Battalion moved into the Foret de Sarreguemines, just south of Siltzheim. Service Company was situated in Gueblange. The 1st Battalion was alerted to move by foot from Hambach to Sarreguemines, to occupy the town and patrol the south bank of the Saar River. The Battalion prepared to move at dawn on December 9. Reconnaissance was conducted with a view to moving east of the river on Division order. All was quiet in the towns occupied.
At dawn on December 9, the 1st Battalion of the 137th moved up from Hambach to Sarreguemines to occupy the town. The riflemen occupying the city proper were constantly bothered by snipers, who killed one man and wounded six others of the 1st Battalion. Service Company moved up to the town of Hambach and was closed in by 1130.
The 137th Infantry was to attack the following morning, marching from its assembly area and across the Saar beginning at 0500, by using the railroad bridge south of the town. The 2nd and 3rd Battalions abreast were to attack at 0730. The 2nd on the left was to take that portion of Sarreguemines that lay north of the river and attempt to seize intact the bridge that crossed the Blies River within its sector. The 3rd Battalion was to attack within its zone and seize the high ground south of the Blies River. The 1st Battalion, from positions on the south bank of the Saar, was to support the advance of the 2nd by fire and cover the bridge across the Blies, in an attempt to keep the enemy from blowing it. Anti-tank Company was to support the attack from positions on the Saar River and the I & R platoon was to establish an OP on the forward edge of the woods, southwest of Sarreguemines.
On December 10, the attack moved smoothly with the 3rd Battalion crossing the railroad bridge on the southeastern outskirts of Sarreguemines without receiving any enemy fire. The battalions completed the crossing at 0545 and the 3rd Battalion Command Post opened on the north bank of the river at 0700, just north of Remelfing. The 2nd Battalion completed crossing right behind the 3rd, and both battalions closed into their assembly areas north of the river. With poor visibility from an overcast sky, but no rain, the two battalions jumped off at 0730, the 2nd on the left and the 3rd on the right.
The 2nd Battalion met bitter resistance from the enemy which was strongly organized in the Pottery Plant southeast of Sarreguemines. After a four-hour battle, Company F captured the factory and moved again into Sarreguemines proper. Company E was cleaning out the building north of Sarreguemines while Company F worked in the factory. Company E had tough opposition in these houses and finished routing the enemy from their area at the same time Company F cleared the factory. During this battle the 1st Battalion fired long range machine gun fire on the retreating enemy from positions across the river.
The 3rd Battalion operating on the right flank was receiving heavy fire and bitter resistance in its sector. At 1002, the 3rd Battalion called for air support on the town of Neunkirch when enemy tanks were seen in the village. Company L moved off into Neunkirch and at 1500 had cleared the town. The 1st Battalion across the Saar was still in support of the 2nd Battalion and encountering sniper fire when darkness fell on the city. The 2nd hadn't quite cleaned out the city and the 3rd Battalion was occupying Neunkirch.
The 137th Infantry continued the attack on December 11 as the 2nd Battalion cleaned out the remainder of Sarreguemines, liberating 995 ex-PWs left behind by the Nazis, while the 3rd Battalion pushed on from Neunkirch, took over the Sarreguemines airfield, and went on the capture the town on Frauenberg, on the Blies River.
At 0800, the 2nd and 3rd Battalions shoved off again; the 1st received orders to secure Sarreguemines on the eastern bank of the river after the 2nd had moved on. The 1st Battalion was to follow the 2nd at a distance of 800 yards. One platoon of the Anti-tank Company was in support of each battalion, and one platoon remained on the high ground with the 1st Battalion. One platoon of the TD's also supported each battalion. The 2nd Battalion experienced considerable difficulty in ridding Sarreguemines of the remaining enemy. All the buildings were honeycombed with passages and mouseholed for machine gunners and snipers.
The 3rd Battalion left Neunkirch at 0800 and at 0900 called for artillery fire to be placed on the high ground overlooking the Blies River from the north, where the enemy had commanding observation. They secured the high ground by 1000 and secured the position from where they continued the attack toward Frauenberg. One platoon from Company K, supported by Company M machine guns, entered the town, and one hour later the entire Company was engaged in fighting in the German border village. By 1700 the whole town was cleared of enemy and Frauenberg was taken. The 1st Battalion had crossed the Saar River and closed into eastern Sarreguemines.
At 0100, December 12, the 137th Infantry had the first man in the Division to enter Germany. This day the Regiment was to develop the situation and patrol its flank, the left flank of the Division. No crossings were to be attempted except with Division approval. The 134th Infantry was to cross the Blies at 0500. The forward elements of the Regiment were heavily shelled throughout the day and quite a few casualties were suffered. Frauenberg was rapidly turning into the hottest town ever occupied by 137th troops.
While elements of the 137th Infantry's 3rd Battalion crossed the Blies River into Germany before dawn on the morning of December 13 and encountered severe artillery fire throughout the day, the 1st Battalion contained the large number of troops on the north bank of the Saar and Blies Rivers north of Sarreguemines, and the 2nd Battalion maintained contact between the 1st and 3rd.
Beginning at 0430, riflemen of K and L Companies crossed the river in assault boats near the town of Frauenberg and were the first Regimental troops to make the assault crossing of the Blies. Six of the eight boats attempting the crossing were successful. Two overturned in the water. These troops crossed in the face of heavy grazing fire from enemy machine guns emplaced on the high ground north of the river. Terrific artillery and mortar barrages met the boats as they reached the opposite shore and most of the boats were so riddled with bullets that they were unable to make the return crossing. No further crossings were attempted in daylight, since at each attempt to cross an intense barrage was laid down on the crossing site, which was in direct observation of the enemy from the high ground across the river. In general throughout the Regimental area, the artillery fire was unusually heavy.
The 1st Battalion continued to defend the left flank of the Division and at 1300 reported considerable activity observed in the German sector. Heavy artillery fire was directed on this activity and it subsided. Company B Observation Post received some direct fire from the woods opposite their position. Artillery fire was placed on the woods, and the fire ceased.
The 3rd Battalion began crossing the Blies within its sector again at 2300, and by 2350, all of Companies K and L were over on the German side of the river.
The 3rd Battalion of the 137th Infantry was entirely across the Blies River into Germany shortly after midnight and on December 14, pushed ahead to the high ground north and northeast of the river. The 1st Battalion continued its defense of the Division's left flank, protecting Sarreguemines and the Regimental sector all along the Blies River while the 2nd Battalion remained this side of the river and prepared to follow the 3rd Battalion. Company E also was in position protecting the left flank.
The 3rd Battalion jumped off at 0630 under heavy small arms fire. The rifle units, I, K, and L, in that order, were established in positions along the high ground north and northeast of the Blies River. In the woods, to the Battalion's front, the enemy was delivering intense tank and mortar fire on the forward elements of the Battalion.
The enemy continued to shell the entire Regimental area throughout the day, the 3rd Battalion receiving a particularly heavy barrage. Vehicles running along the road from Neunkirch to Frauenberg did so at their own risk. The enemy had perfect observation on the road and the town.
The enemy opposing the 3rd Battalion continued to hang on bitterly to the Breiterwald Woods on December 15, despite the fact that P-47's in close air support were bombing and strafing their positions.
After reorganizing its forces, the 3rd Battalion launched another attack on the Breiterwald Woods. Companies I and K advanced against fierce Nazi fire and took the small patch of woods just southeast of the Breiterwald Woods while Company I was driving onto the larger woods. L Company remained in the smaller patch of woods, while K Company, in conjunction with I Company, attacked the larger woods. Supported by armor, the two companies reached the center of the woods, meeting fanatical German resistance all the way from Nazi armor to infantry. Shortly before dark, the two 3rd Battalion units were counterattacked and driven back a short distance, but not out of the woods. During the night they were very heavily shelled by enemy artillery and mortar fire.
The 1st Battalion remained in position with the same mission of protecting the north flank of the Division until it was relieved by the 42nd and 2nd squadrons of the 2nd Cavalry Group.
Company E remained south of the Blies River and assisted the 1st Battalion. Company G, attached to the 3rd Battalion, operated on its left flank for protection while Company F remained in reserve in Frauenberg. The 2nd Battalion was to be committed the following morning with the mission of capturing Bliesmengen and Bliesbalchen.
This day's casualties were the heaviest of any day since the Regiment started its Saar River operation.
Pushed back to the edge of the Breiterwald Woods by the enemy on December 15, the 3rd Battalion again attacked the well-defended enemy positions in the forest and regained a portion of the lost ground. The enemy artillery fire remained extremely heavy throughout the day, and Frauenberg received its usual pounding of intense artillery and mortar fire. At the same time our air support bombed and strafed Bliesmengen and the woods to the east of it. The 1st Battalion was protecting the Division's left flank in Sarreguemines and along the Blies River pocket. The 2nd Battalion had Company G across the Blies protecting the rear flank of the 3rd Battalion, while E Company was aiding the 1st Battalion. Company F was being held in reserve at Frauenberg.
The 3rd Battalion launched its attack at 0750, with Company I working toward the Breiterwald Woods and Companies K and L aiming at the small patch of woods southeast of it. Company K, entering a corner of the woods at 0830, captured some prisoners, and by 1030 K and L Companies occupied a small portion of the enemy-held woods. Company I had encountered two enemy tanks on the edge of their woods at 0820 and had not been able to advance into Breiterwald. At 1230, Company I, supported by friendly tanks, penetrated the woods, meeting fierce resistance. Companies K and L found their patch of woods quite a problem and by 1615 had not yet cleared it completely. Company L remained to hold the woods for security and Company K went on to assist I Company in the woods. Before dark the 3rd Battalion elements were counterattacked by German tanks and infantry and driven back to the edge of the woods.
The 1st Battalion was relieved at 1725 by the 2nd Cavalry Group. The 2nd Battalion elements on the defensive were relieved at 2130 by the 2nd Cavalry. The 3rd Battalion had occupied the edge of the Breiterwald Woods for the night and was receiving sporadic enemy artillery fire and occasional flares.
The 2nd Battalion was to attack on December 17 with the mission of driving for Bliesmengen and Bliesbalchen, and the 3rd Battalion was to continue on into the woods.
On December 17, 137th Infantry elements were fighting under the heaviest artillery fire they had ever experienced in France or Germany.
The 3rd Battalion forces in the Breiterwald Woods were unable to move against the savage enemy resistance and were taking a severe shelling all day. Though our direct support artillery pounded enemy positions in the woods, and the air support bombed and strafed the German positions unmercifully, the enemy still held tenaciously to the forest.
Elements of the 2nd Battalion fighting in Bliesmengen were faced by direct enemy tank fire, and other elements were pinned down all day. The enemy continued to shell the Regimental area regularly during the period. Frauenberg was hit very heavily again and again during the day.
All units of the 137th Infantry were alerted at 1125 for bomber-support and at noon fighter bombers were hitting the enemy in Bucholz Woods ahead of the Regiment's positions. The 737th Tank Battalion, less Company C, was attached to the Regiment at 1231.
The 3rd Battalion was relieved by the 1st Battalion at 2200. Company A took over the patch of woods below the Breiterwald, while Companies B and C relieved the 3rd Battalion elements in the woods proper. The 137th was ordered to resume the attack at 0800, December 18.
On December 18, the enemy was heavily pounded by P-47's in the Regimental sector throughout the day. Breiterwald Woods was again the scene of fierce battles between German and American infantry and tanks. The enemy was unable to stop the assault of our forces and was driven back to the rear edge of the woods.
The 2nd Battalion of the 134th Infantry, attached to the 137th Infantry, attacked the enemy at the edge of Reinneimerald Woods, on the 137th's right flank, just south of Bebelsheim.
The Regiment was ordered to stop its attack at 1830 and to consolidate its positions on the most favorable ground. At the conclusion of the day's operations the 2nd Battalion of the 134th was at the edge of Reinneimerald Woods. The 137th's 1st Battalion was holding all of the Breiterwald Woods and a small patch of woods near Bannholz. The 2nd Battalion had elements in Bliesmengen and east of the town, while the 3rd Battalion was held in reserve at Neunkirch.
On December 19, Frauenberg continued to receive terrific artillery and mortar fire. The enemy fired again and again at the Frauenberg - Habkirchen bridge, but never scored a hit.
The 1st Battalion continued to hold its position on the edge of the Breiterwald Woods and repelled numerous German counterattacks. Roadblocks were established on all entrances to the woods and minefields laid on all logical mechanized approaches. Several enemy tanks fired on the 1st Battalion from a distance of 1,000 yards and were driven off by Yank artillery.
The 2nd Battalion also improved its positions and placed roadblocks and mine fields on its flanks. Fire was delivered on the enemy, who was extremely active to the Battalion front. The Battalion Command Post was shelled heavily, but no casualties resulted.
The 3rd Battalion remained in Neunkirch and continued reorganization of its elements. It also conducted training for its 67 new replacements who had not had much previous infantry training.
On December 20, the 1st Battalion was attacked repeatedly during the day, and Company B had two companies of SS troops infiltrate into its positions. This attack took place in the neck of the woods. The attack was held off by one squad of B Company until one friendly tank was brought up, and the combined fire of the infantry and tank drove the enemy from the position. Several enemy tanks made sorties toward the 1st Battalion positions, but direct fire from our TD's and artillery fire drove them off.
The 2nd Battalion remained in position on the high ground near the woods and improved their positions during the day. Companies F, E, and G, in that order, were on the line. The Battalion received heavy enemy artillery fire on the ridge during the period. During one two and a half hour period, 1,000 rounds of artillery and mortar fire fell on the ridge and portions of the woods held by the Battalion.
The 3rd Battalion remained in Neunkirch and continued its reorganization and training for replacements. The Battalion was also placed on the alert status as per the counterattack plans of the Regiment.
On December 21, the 137th Infantry received orders that it would be relieved by the 324th Infantry of the 44th Division prior to 2400 that day. The Regiment was to assemble temporarily in the vicinity of Frauenberg, Habkirchen, and Neunkirch until ordered to move to an assembly area.
In the morning the 1st Battalion continued its defense of the Regimental sector. With a heavy artillery barrage, the enemy launched a heavy counterattack on the 1st Battalion positions. This attack was repulsed with heavy enemy losses. During the day the enemy artillery and mortar fire was extremely heavy on enemy positions.
The 2nd Battalion improved its positions and also delivered harassing fire on all known and observed enemy targets.
At 1300 the 3rd Battalion closed its CP in Neunkirch and moved to its new assembly area in Richeling, where it closed in by 1500. The Regimental CP moved from Neunkirch to Remering, closing shortly after midnight. The Special Units cleared into Ballering at 1500. The 1st Battalion's relief by the 324th Infantry was completed by 2245, and the Battalion assembled and prepared to move to the new Regimental Assembly Area. The 2nd Battalion was relieved by elements of the 324th Infantry by 2200, and the units assembled to move to the new area.
On December 22, the 2nd Battalion arrived at Remering from Neunkirch and was billeted by 0315 in the new assembly area. The 1st Battalion cleared into the town of Grundweiler by 0415. During the day an ordnance check was made and all ordnance items and several 50 calibers were tested for anti-aircraft defense.
The Regiment received more replacements which helped raise the strength of the units. Eight officers and 220 enlisted men were received.
The 35th Infantry Division was ordered to move by combat team to Metz sometime during the day. Later the IP time was set at 2330. The Regiment had 78 trucks assigned for the move. The 137th Infantry Combat Team, less the 219th FA Battalion, cleared the IP at Puttelange by 2330 and moved northwest toward Metz and its new assembly area, and, going through St. Avold, Boulet, and Metz, arrived at its destination, Moulins, by 0400. Moulins is just west of Metz. The Regiment rested, and cleaned and repaired equipment. They also attended movies and washed clothes, uniforms, and spent Christmas in this location. The 137th remained assembled in the German barracks in Moulins. At 1140 on December 24, the 35th Infantry Division was assigned to the XX Corps from the XII Corps.
PHOT0GRAPHS and Maps - Chapter 3
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