134th Infantry Regiment
"All Hell Can't Stop Us"
Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 134th Infantry Regiment
Sept. 10-11, 1944, the Second Battalion of the 134th Regiment was decimated when it attempted to cross the Moselle River preparatory to the drive on Nancy, France. Some 500 - 600 soldiers were killed, wounded, captured or lost. The 60th Engineering Battalion and the 110th Medical Battalion also suffered great losses in one of the bloodiest battles of the Lorraine Campaign. During this battle, Sgt. Carroll Crouch rescued two wounded soldiers and was awarded the Bronze Star Medal for heroic action. His citation reads:
"For heroic service . . . in the Moselle River sector, near Frolois, France, September 10, 1944 . . . When the 2nd Battalion of the 134th Infantry Regiment was committed to take the bridge, Sgt. Crouch received the order to hold a tunnel near the bridge. This he managed to do (despite all night enemy fire) until morning when in the middle of that mission, Sgt. Crouch carried out the evacuation of two wounded men . . ."
As Sgt. Crouch describes "At the time I was under the bridge near the west end and near where a culvert was located about 12 to 15 feet below road level. An enemy tank pulled onto the east end and fired into the facing 2nd Battalion attack. This prevented any more of the combat team from crossing the bridge in any direction. Well-placed artillery was raining down on the bridge and the west land area and on into the river, preventing any crossing or movement."
This is my remembrance of the Flavigny Bridge Disaster:
In the afternoon/evening of September 10th, 1944, the 2nd. Battalion entered a wooded area overlooking a river bridge and an east river bank with trees and a ridge some short distance on the landscape.
At first it seemed that we would be digging fox holes for a bivouac overnight. Scouts had been out to reconnoiter the area and reported the bridge suitable for crossing. Only a few enemy soldiers had been seen on the east river side.
This made a change in original combat objective plans and within about three hours we prepared to attempt a bridge river crossing. My squad of the pioneer platoon moved out to the bridge and took up a position under the bridge near the water. Most of the 2nd. Battalion had crossed the bridge when an enemy counterattack began and soon had the 2nd. Battalion men encircled, with an enemy tank blocking the crossing back across the bridge.
Many of the fleeing soldiers attempted to cross back in the river. Some were laden with equipment and gear and failed to complete the crossing. I was told that a flood gate or dam was opened which caused many to drown.
Heavy artillery from the east river ridge began to rain down on the bridge and surrounding area. No one could survive without some cover, such as a nearby culvert about six feet high and thirty or forty feet long. This is where I took cover and where the battalion C.P. at some time became operational from.
Late in the night the culvert began to get crowded. I took my squad and some of the wounded soldiers out of the culvert to make a zig zag run to dodge the tank firing and go back to our early evening bivouac area. On our run an artillery shell fell at our feet and hit the battalion radio operator, Sgt. Andrew Anderson. He died in my arms as I let him down to the street surface. Some others were missing or badly wounded.
I soon found several medics and sent them to the wounded in the street and in the culvert. The firing continued into the night, and later the bridge was blown up by a high explosive charge.
After I got back to the old bivouac area. I got in radio contact with regimental headquarters and told them that help was needed near the bridge. They asked to speak to a commissioned officer. I told them there wasn't one nearby. I was told to take charge and they would send help. I didn't know at the time that Maj. Roecker had been wounded again.
The next couple of days what was left of our company gathered at the company motor pool and kitchen in the edge of a forest near a high mound that had been made into a fortress: Fort de Pont-St. Vincent. It was at this location on September 12, 1944, that I noticed three large army personnel trucks traveling on the flat countryside terrain. The trucks could be seen from a good distance. It turned out that the trucks were bringing in a number of replacement men to the 134th 2nd Battalion. The trucks pulled into the motor pool area and the men unloaded.
Some of us gathered around the new men who looked to be in their thirties. Many of them said that they were given furloughs just before being sent to France. They told us about the time spent with their families, and that they only had twelve weeks of basic training. They were told that they would get additional training later. This seemed odd since most or all of us had about twenty-one months basic and unit training before going into combat.
The trucks must have been noticed by a German observer when they entered the motor pool area. Suddenly artillery coming from the enemy side began falling onto the truck area. The new replacements had no fox holes to jump into. I knew from experience to move away from the hot spot.
Paula Baker's father, Richard Harlan Evans was one of the replacements. I must have talked with him, but never knew him by name.
Sgt. Crouch fought with the 35th Division until he was wounded at Habkirchen, Germany on December 15, 1944. He currently lives in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. He is retired from the Tennessee Valley Authority, where he was a property and supply officer. He is a long time member of the 35th Division Association.
Fifty-Nine years after the battle for which he was awarded the Bronze Star, Sgt. Crouch was reunited with Pfc. Albert Bloom, Company E, 134th Infantry Regiment, one of the men who he rescued. CLICK HERE to see a photo of Pfc. Bloom and to read more about their reunion.
Thanks to Sgt. Carroll Crouch and Paula Baker for providing this information and the photo of Sgt. Crouch.
Link to Pfc. Albert Bloom's Photo and Biography
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