134th Infantry Regiment Crest

134th Infantry Regiment

"All Hell Can't Stop Us"

35th Infantry Division emblem

Combat History of the 137th Infantry Regiment

World War II

Transcribed by Roberta V. Russo, Palatine, Illinois

Chapter 4

The Ardennes

The day was spent in rest, with small classes held for some replacements. One hundred fifty-five more replacements were also received, which brought the 137th to nearly full strength.

The 35th Division passed from XX Corps control to III Corps control. The Regiment was notified of the movement, by motor, which it was to make the following morning to a new area.

On December 26, the 137th Infantry Combat Team, with the 127th FA Battalion attached, moved by motor from Metz, at 0645, and closed into assembly areas in the vicinity of Nothomb, Belgium, by 1450. Upon its arrival, the Regiment moved forward and relieved elements of the 6th Cavalry Squadron, in its zone.

The Regimental motor column entered Belgium via Messancy, turned west and bypassed the town of Arlon, passed through Pontellange and on to Nothomb. Regimental Headquarters was established in Nothomb, while the battalions moved on into Luxembourg and the 1st Battalion closed into Roodtles Ell, southeast of Holtz. The 3rd Battalion billeted itself in Perle, and the 2nd Battalion in Holtz.

Upon arrival, the Combat Team dissolved, and the 127th FA and the 219th FA reverted to Division Artillery Control. During the night, forward elements of the Regiment moved forward and relieved elements of the 6th Cavalry, which were screening in the 137th's zone to the north. The 134th Infantry was on the left of the 137th and the 26th Division on the right flank of the 35th Division. The 137th Infantry was to attack on the morning of December 27, passing through the 6th Cavalry and with the 4th Armored Division, relieving the pressure on the 101st Airborne Division, which was surrounded in Bastogne.

The 137th Infantry jumped off at 0800, on December 27, with the 2nd Battalion on the right and the 3rd on the left, with the 1st Battalion held in reserve at Tintange. The 2nd crossed the Surre River at 1015 and by 1110 the first elements of Company G entered the town of Surre. Company E was held up by enemy machine gun fire and was unable to enter the town. The 1st Battalion left Tintange at 1525, and moved in approach march formation toward Surre. By 1640, the entire Battalion was on the road to Surre and the point was receiving machine gun fire from its left flank. Company A was at the point and in contact with Company G in the town.

The 3rd Battalion was driving ahead on the left flank, under small arms fire and mortar barrages. In the afternoon, the 3rd Battalion was hit by a terrific artillery barrage. The Regiment was ordered to halt its advance at 1730 and organize defensive positions not later than 2000. The 137th was to resume the attack at 0600 on December 28.

The 1st Battalion had two companies in Surre by 1815 and was securing the town. Company E pushed out into the woods at 2100 and ran into strong enemy dug-in positions. The 1st Battalion CP moved into Surre at 2215. The 3rd Battalion reported enemy dug-in positions to its front. The enemy force to the front was identified as the 5th German Paratroop Division.

Company D, 5th Chemical Battalion, was attached to the Regiment this day and Company B, 654th Tank Destroyer Battalion, was also assigned in direct support.

On December 28, the 137th Infantry attacked north of Surre, against all types of heavy enemy fire and drove eastward to assault Villers-la-Bonne-Eau.

The 1st Battalion was located in Surre and the 2nd Battalion with Companies E, F, and G, in that order, on the edge of Surre Woods. The 3rd Battalion was pushing northeast toward Livarchamps. At 0620, the companies began to move into the woods, and the 3rd Battalion hit Livarchamps at 0715 and sent Companies I and K 500 yards past the town. Company L had a strong patrol on the road. At 0845 the 3rd Battalion was receiving heavy small arms, rocket, and artillery fire from Villers-la-Bonne-Eau. Two hours later the fire increased, and the enemy was delivering machine gun fire and direct fire from self-propelled 88's on the 3rd Battalion positions. The 2nd Battalion, driving into the woods, was in the face of direct tank fire and considerable mortar. Enemy tracked vehicles were located 600 yards to the direct front of Companies E and F. Company F was moving up a draw on the right flank, in the direction of a reported enemy CP and forty enemy riflemen.

The 3rd Battalion launched its attack at 1230 with the mission of getting into Villers-la-Bonne-Eau. The 1st Battalion moved out of Surre at 1405, with the mission of encircling the 2nd Battalion's left flank. One platoon of Anti-tank guns was left in Surre to block all tank approaches to the town. At 1745 the 3rd Battalion, after a bitter battle, was in the town of Villers-la-Bonne-Eau.

The Regiment was ordered to suspend the attack at 1800, consolidate for the night, and attack at 0800 the following morning. The Corps Commanding General warned all units to beware of enemy counterattacks during the night or early morning. The Surre Woods still contained many German troops.

On December 29, the 137th Infantry attacked again in the Surre Woods against bitter machine gun and tank fire. The Regiment attacked to the northeast in its zone, bounded by the 134th Infantry on the left and the 320th on the right.

The 2nd Battalion attacked through the woods, following an air strike, and met heavy tank and self-propelled gun fire. The Battalion advanced against this fire to the last tip of the Surre Woods. The 1st Battalion jumped off at 0810 and ran into heavy fire also. Companies C and A, from left to right, led the attacking troops and advanced toward the town of Villers-la-Bonne-Eau. The 2nd Battalion had Companies E and G forward, with Company E in Surre. The 3rd Battalion reported that it had two TD's knocked out from direct fire from enemy tanks. By 1550, Company I had contacted the 134th Infantry on the left flank of the Regiment. The CO of the 3rd Battalion also estimated that he had knocked out at least nine heavy machine gun emplacements during the day.

The 137th was ordered to cease its attack at 1800 and continued the attack on December 30 at 0800. All roads leading into the area were to be mined and blocked. Roadblocks were to be in depth, several on each road. The Regiment halted its attack and buttoned up for the night. Enemy artillery fire was very heavy in the Regimental area during the night, with the Regimental CP area receiving several barrages of rockets.

On December 30, the 137th patrolled vigorously to the front during the night, while the front lines and rear areas received heavy artillery and rocket fire. The snow that had fallen the previous day had frozen over, and the ground and roads were extremely slippery. Harlange and Villers-la-Bonne-Eau remained the points of enemy resistance. The 3rd Battalion was operating southwest of Villers and the 1st Battalion assembled at Livarchamps, with Company A manning roadblocks to the east, in the gap between the 3rd and 2nd Battalions. The 2nd Battalion had two companies on the edge of the Surre Woods, meeting heavy enemy fire from the vicinity of Harlange and Betlange.

At 0645 Company E advanced toward Harlange, passing through Company G. The Company advanced with moderate resistance until it reached a position within 400 yards of Harlange, when it received severe machine gun and mortar fire, which pinned it down. The enemy also opened up on them with flanking fire from the right and left flank. The threat to the right flank was stopped. Company E withdrew from the open field under a protective barrage, moved up a draw on the left flank of the enemy to outflank the enemy position, and ran into tough opposition near Betlange.

At 0645 the 3rd Battalion held four buildings in Villers-la-Bonne-Eau, and by 0900 the enemy activity and resistance in the town increased considerably. Enemy assault guns and SS troops moved into the town in the morning to reinforce the enemy garrison, and the armored guns moved in and around the town shooting into the houses occupied by elements of the 3rd Battalion. Two of these guns were knocked out by bazooka fire, and the rest withdrew out of bazooka range and shelled the houses with direct fire. Heavy fighting continued all during the day in the town, until Companies K and L were considered cut off from the rest of the Battalion.

On December 31, at 0520, Company I was counterattacked by the enemy, who had positions in the woods to their front, and at 0615, the 3rd Battalion CP lost communications with the Company. Contact was regained that same morning.

The 1st Battalion jumped off at 1330 for the town of Villers-la-Bonne-Eau. Companies B and C entered the town at 1420 and occupied some of the buildings. Two enemy tanks rolled up to their positions and started shelling them with direct fire. Men from the companies fired bazookas at them, but the tanks kept just out of range, and although several hit the tanks, they did not knock them out. The elements of the two companies were forced to withdraw to the cover of the woods.

At 1700 the Regiment was ordered to dig in for the night and continue operations the following morning. At 1730 Company C received a heavy concentration of artillery, was counterattacked, and forced back slightly. This ground was immediately regained and the line re-established at 1800.

The 2nd Battalion, less Company G, pulled back to the town of Surre and moved to north of Livarchamps. Company E took over the roadblocks occupied by Company A, while Company G remained in position in the Surre Woods to protect the right flank of the Regiment.

Two hundred thirty-five men were reported as missing from Companies K and L. The majority of these men were believed to have been captured in the town of Villers-la-Bonne-Eau, where they had been cut off for two days by enemy tanks and infantry.

On January 1, on the Regiment's front, the 137th Infantry was facing the toughest opposition it had yet met in its combat experience. Elements of K and L Companies were still cut-off in Villers-la-Bonne-Eau. The 1st Battalion was in position south of Villers, while the 2nd Battalion had Companies E and F west and southwest of the Belgian town, and Company G, on the Regiment's right flank, in Luxembourg. German prisoners had stated that the SS Adolph Hitler Division and the 339th Nazi Infantry Regiment were on the 137th's front.

The Regiment ordered Company D, 3rd Chemical Battalion, to fire on the woods north of Villers at 0855, in order to flush an enemy assembly point. The 1st Battalion, 320th Infantry, was attached to the 137th and was to be committed on Division order.

The 137th jumped off at 1330 on an attack toward Villers, after patrols had been sent ahead into the town. The attacking elements had difficulty with enemy infiltration parties working around the flanks. A large number of enemy faced Companies E and F and a bitter fight ensued. At 1700, Company E relieved Company I, which had been in the wood west of Villers. Company F had nearly completed cleaning out the woods, and in the Surre Woods, Company G had beaten off several counterattacks. The Regiment was ordered to halt its advance at 1810, dig-in, mine the roads, and patrol to the front, in preparation to stepping off again at 0800, January 2. In Villers, Companies K and L were slowly being cut to pieces by tank fire and flame throwers.

Company C, 602nd TD Battalion, reverted to III Corps Control and worked between the flanks of the 137th and the 134th Regiments.

The 137th Infantry continued to attack the defenses about the town of Villers-la-Bonne-Eau on January 2, as the 1st Battalion cleaned out the woods west of the town and then assisted Company F in clearing the enemy from the woods south of the enemy-held road junction west of Villers. Company E, pressing from the south, cleared enemy points. The 3rd Battalion assembled in the vicinity of Livarchamps, and Company I took over the roadblocks on the Regiment's front. Company G remained in the Surre Woods. The enemy opposition continued to be strong, as units of the 137th were under enemy artillery, tank, mortar, and machine gun fire throughout the day. The weather was bitter cold.

Fighter-bombers bombed and strafed Villers and then struck close to the 137th front line positions. Bitter fighting was carried on along the front.

By January 2, the 320th Infantry, which was working on the Regiment's right flank, had pulled up opposite the 137th, and Company G of the 137th was facing the enemy in but two directions, rather than three. On the 137th's left was the 134th Infantry, assisted by elements of the 4th Armored. The 35th Division was bounded on the left by the 6th Armored and on the right by the 26th Infantry Division.

The Division ordered operations to halt at 1755, the forward elements of the 137th dug-in and sent patrols to the front during the night. Regimental Headquarters was located at Honville, along with the 2nd Battalion CP, while the 1st and 3rd Battalion CP's were in Livarchamps.

On January 3, the 137th Infantry attacked again, but was unsuccessful in taking the road junction west of Villers-la-Bonne-Eau. Enemy tanks thwarted the maneuvering of the 1st and 2nd Battalions. Heavy fire of all types was received by the Regiment throughout the day. The 2nd Battalion had Companies E and F attacking west of Villers, and Company G on the defensive in the Surre Woods. Companies B, C, and A, in that order, were on the line below Villers. The 3rd Battalion was guarding the roadblocks on the Regiment's front.

At 0915, the 1st Battalion reported that the enemy was infiltrating up the road from Villers toward the road junction, and artillery checked this move. 2nd Battalion patrols reached the junction at noon, but were unable to take it. The 1st Battalion was under tank fire throughout the day, while both the 2nd and 3rd faced heavy artillery. The advance was stopped at 1700, and all units posted security and used patrols to keep contact with the enemy. Mines were also laid by the Regiment.

The second group of men from the 137th left this day for furloughs to the United States. The quota was one officer and 13 enlisted men from the Regiment.

On January 4, the 137th hurled an attack at the road junction west of Villers, captured and defended the position against heavy enemy counterattacks. The intense enemy artillery fire forced heavy casualties on the Regiment.

The attack was launched at 0800, and Company A was on the road junction by 1045. The 1st Battalion closed into an assembly area in the rear of the 2nd Battalion zone, at 1610. The 3rd Battalion was assembled in Livarchamps, with Company I on the roadblocks. Company G was holding its 700-yard frontage in the Surre Woods, with its CP in Surre.

By nightfall, the 320th Infantry had secured four houses in Harlange and was being counterattacked by tanks and infantry.

The 137th Infantry struggled on January 5 against the stubborn resistance, as the 1st Battalion, now under the command of Major Albert Frink, moved from its position south of the Villers road junction to a position behind the 2nd Battalion, and prepared to follow the 2nd in an attack. The 2nd Battalion supported the 1st by fire and awaited its arrival in their rear before moving out. The 2nd Battalion cleared out infiltration parties and also mopped up the draw to its front. The 3rd Battalion, relieved of roadblocks on the front, secured positions vacated in the woods by the 1st Battalion after its move. Company G remained in the Surre Woods.

Company D, 3rd Chemical Battalion, continued to support the 137th with its missions. The 6th Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron took over the screening missions along the bulge into the 137th sector, between Tintange and Honville. The 1st Battalion, 320th Infantry, reverted to control of the 320th Infantry.

Heavy fire was received by the Regiment throughout the day. Three terrific barrages landed at 0720, just to the right of Company F positions. During the night, vigorous patrolling was conducted. Companies A and E turned back two enemy patrols. The Regimental listening post picked up several enemy armored vehicles moving in Villers during the night.

The weather grew colder on January 6, and the 137th Infantry continued its pressure for the second day on Villers, after capturing the all-important road junction. The 320th combined with the 137th, with the 134th continued the attack in its zone. Heavy fire was received all along the Regiment's front.

The 6th Cavalry Group relieved Company G in the Surre Woods at 2350, and the unit assembled in the town of Surre. The 320th Infantry, less the 1st Battalion, was attached to the 6th Armored, which was on the left flank of the 35th Division. The 26th Division was on the right. The 28th Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron continued to hold positions between the 137th and the 134th. The 6th Cavalry Group moved into positions between the 3rd Battalion, 137th, and the positions vacated by Company G, 137th.

The organic and attached field artillery battalions continued to support the Division attack, firing TOT's on all towns and roads in the Division sector. A heavy schedule of harassing fire continued throughout the day.

January 7 marked the 11th day that the 137th Infantry had been struggling on against the well-defended town of Villers. The Regiment continued to put pressure on the village as it was being ripped apart by thundering artillery. The 137th's front was cut down to approximately half its previous width as the 6th Cavalry Group took over the right portion of the Regiment's sector. The 137th was flanked on the left by the 134th Infantry and on the right by the 6th Cavalry Group. Within the 137th zone, the 1st Battalion, with Companies A and C on the line, held down the left flank, and the 2nd Battalion, with E and F, was on the right. Company G remained in the Surre Woods, and the 3rd Battalion was assembled south of the 2nd Battalion. The 1st Battalion had moved its Command Post from Livarchamps to Halt.

On January 8 active patrolling was conducted against the enemy and harassing fire was delivered throughout the day, as the 137th Infantry maintained its pressure on the enemy in the vicinity of Villers-la-Bonne-Eau.

The 1st Battalion relieved elements of the 28th Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron with Companies B and C. Company G was relieved at noon by Company A, and then assembled in the rear of Company B. The 2nd Battalion continued to occupy its original positions on the right flank of the Regiment with E and F, as Company G moved from Surre to its battalion to effect the relief of Company F. The 3rd Battalion continued to occupy positions southwest of Villers until it was relieved by elements of the 6th Cavalry Group, at 0915. The Battalion then assembled in the vicinity of Livarchamps. Company C, 735th Tank Battalion, and Company D, 3rd Chemical Battalion, were attached to the 137th.

The entire III Corps was to launch an attack into the Belgian Bulge on the morning of January 9. At 1500, the 3rd Battalion moved from Livarchamps and assembled between the 1st and 2nd Battalions. The 134th was in position on the left of the 137th and on the right was Task Force Fickett, the 6th Cavalry Group. The 6th Armored Division was to attack on the left flank of the 35th Division.

With the 1st Battalion working on the left flank and the 2nd Battalion on the right, the 137th Infantry launched an attack on January 9, to take Villers and the ground to its north, but the enemy checked the thrust. The Regiment's zone was so laid out that the 137th would be pinched out by the 134th Infantry and Task Force Fickett. The Regiment jumped off at 1000, supported by Company C, 735th Tank Battalion, along with Company B and one platoon of Company C, 654th TD Battalion, and was to attack in its zone until it was pinched out by its adjacent units.

The 1st Battalion stepped off, with B and C leading the attack, and Company C striking to the right of Company B. Supported by a company of tanks, the 2nd Battalion hit toward Villers and also protected the right flank of the Regiment's zone. E and G Companies were on the line while Company F was in battalion reserve. The 3rd Battalion occupied a position to the left of Company A and maintained contact with the 134th Infantry.

The 137th Infantry suffered heavy casualties as the enemy stopped the attack.

The 1st Battalion was hit at 0230 by a heavy enemy patrol, which drove into the OP line. The stab was repulsed and casualties were inflicted upon the enemy. The OP line was re-established and reinforced at 0330.

The 2nd Battalion was heavily shelled, at 2335, by artillery and mortar fire.

Supported by tanks and tank destroyers, the 137th Infantry pushed ahead against the enemy again on January 10, making a slight gain and capturing the much sought and fought for town of Villers-la-Bonne-Eau, a target of the Regiment for the past thirteen days. The Regiment attacked at 0915 with its attached units, the 735th's Tank Company C, along with Company B and one platoon of Company C, 654th TD Battalion, and Company D, 3rd Chemical Battalion.

The 1st Battalion, with one platoon of Company C, 654th TD Battalion, a platoon of the Regimental Anti-tank Company, and Cannon Company in direct support, advanced up the center of the 137th sector and gained slightly. The Battalion located a C-47 which had apparently crashed four to five days before.

With a company of tanks and one of tank destroyers attached to the 2nd Battalion, Company G entered Villers and by 1400 held two buildings on the edge of the battered town. Later in the afternoon the entire village was cleared.

On the Regiment's left flank, the 3rd Battalion was prepared to move on order and patrolled actively to its front and flanks, maintaining contact with the 134th. The 6th Cavalry Group maintained contact with the 137th on the right flank.

At 1400, the road leading from Lutremange was choked with enemy vehicles, and an air strike and artillery pounded the column.

The 137th was to attack again at 0800, January 11, supported by the 735th tanks and 654th Tank Destroyers, along with Company D, 3rd Chemical Battalion. The Regiment suffered heavy casualties this day, the majority being from the 2nd Battalion.

The 137th Infantry had one of its coldest days on January 11, as it took the town of Lutremange and was pinched out in its sector by 1700.

The 1st Battalion, with a section of tanks and a platoon of TD's, attacked in its zone at 0800, and by 1015 Companies B and C were on the Battalion's initial objective. The Battalion continued through the woods and out into the open, securing its final objective by 1625. The Battalion took over the ground above Lutremange.

The 2nd Battalion had patrols stop off from Villers and advanced toward Lutremange to determine whether the town was occupied by the enemy. By 1300, Companies E, F, and G had patrols going through the town and found it to be clear. The Battalion was supported by fire from Company C, 735th Tank Battalion, and Company B, 654th TD Battalion. Lutremange was found to be almost as badly demolished as Villers.

The 3rd Battalion prepared to move on order and maintained contact on the left with the 134th Infantry Regiment.

By 1700, the 137th Infantry was pinched out by the advance of the 134th and Task Force Fickett. The 137th then went into 35th Division reserve. The 2nd Battalion remained in Lutremange, the 3rd moved into Livarchamps, while the 1st assembled in Hompre and its vicinity. Regimental Headquarters remained in Honville.

The 137th Infantry remained in 35th Division reserve on January 12, with the 1st Battalion assembled in and about Hompre, the 2nd in Lutremange, the 3rd in Livarchamps, and Regimental Headquarters in Honville.

The 137th Infantry remained in Division reserve on January 13, with all units occupying their original towns.

The Regiment received the tentative defense plan which it was to follow if ordered by Division.

The Regiment remained in Division reserve on January 14 and also conducted reconnaissance parties over the area which the Regiment was to defend if ordered. Unit commanders conducted a reconnaissance of the defensive sectors during the morning and submitted individual plans to the Regiment by 1500. The 1st and 2nd Battalions were to have two rifle companies on the line and one in reserve under Regimental control. Routes were reconnoitered to the positions, with the use of the main highway prohibited, except for the use of Cannon and Anti-tank Companies. The 3rd Battalion reconnoitered the Battalion reserve area and the routes to the area. An alternate route and area was to be selected, in case the 320th Infantry would be released to the 35th Division. Caution was exercised, since the MLR of the tentative defense plan was in the vicinity of the present front lines.

On January 15, the 137th Infantry remained in 35th Division reserve.

The 137th Infantry conducted rehabilitation and training again, on January 16, as the Regiment remained in 35th Division reserve. Regimental Headquarters was located in Honville, the 1st Battalion in and about Hompre, 2nd Battalion in Lutremange, and the 3rd Battalion was billeted in Livarchamps. The 35th Division was in III Corps control.

Companies B and C reported that they had been fired on at 0415 by what was believed to be a self-propelled gun.

On January 17, the Regiment received orders that CT 137 would move by motor on January 18 to the Fort Moselle Barracks in Metz, France. The combat team was to cease upon its arrival in Metz. Three Quartermaster Truck Companies, the 658th, 6968th and the 4051st, were attached to the 137th at 1900, providing 89 trucks for transportation on the move down into France.

A Field Order was issued from Regiment, at 2300, to all units of the 137th.

CT 137, exercising certain counter-intelligence measures, moved out of Belgium on the morning of January 18, and went by motor to Metz, France, where the combat team ceased and the 137th Infantry Regiment was billeted in Fort Moselle.

On this move from Belgium into France strict secrecy was observed, which included the covering of Division patches, bumper markings, and any other markings which would disclose the unit. Route markers on this move did not show any unit designation or number.

The IP was in Martelange at 0930. The 3rd Battalion serial cleared the IP at 0945, Special Units and one platoon of Company B, 60th Engineer Battalion, cleared by 1017, the 219th FA Battalion cleared by 1027, the 2nd Battalion by 1037, and the 1st Battalion by 1054. The Combat Team departed from Martelange, Belgium, by motor and moved south through Arlon and then went on into Longwy. The column turned southeast and moved through Uckange, turned south and traveled on into Metz, and closed into Fort Moselle.

The 137th closed its Command Post in Honville, Belgium, at 0914 and opened it immediately at the head of Serial No. 2 in the Combat Team motor column. The 3rd Battalion closed into Fort Moselle at 1525 and was followed by Regimental Headquarters and Special Units at 1625, 2nd Battalion at 1650, and the 1st Battalion at 1705. The 219th FA Battalion closed into Metz on the opposite bank of the Moselle River at 1730. Fort Moselle is located in northern Metz.

PHOT0GRAPHS and Maps - Chapter 4

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