1. This chapter is based on the After Action Reports and unit journals of the XX Corps, 7th Armored Division, 5th Infantry Division, 90th Infantry Division and 3d Cavalry Group, including those of infantry regiments, rifle battalions, and cavalry squadrons. Important information at the level of command has been obtained from the telephone journals attached to the daily G-3 Journals of the 7th Armored Division and 5th Infantry Division as well as from postwar correspondence with several of the staff officers and commanders involved in this operation. The Historical Division Combat interviews for this period are very detailed and extremely useful. See also The Reduction of Fortress Metz; XX Corps operational Report 1 September-6 December 1944; Pass in Review-the Fifth Infantry Division in ETO (Atlanta, 1946) (hereafter cited as Fifth Infantry Division); History at the Eleventh United States Infantry Regiment (Baton Rouge, 1947) (hereafter cited as Eleventh Infantry); Historical & Pictorial Review, 2d Infantry Regiment (Baton Rouge, 1946). Enemy information is taken from the KTBs of Army Group G, OB WEST and OKW. In addition various Anlagen to these KTB's have been used, plus the operations maps (1:300,000) of the OKH, Gen. St. d. H./Operations Abteilung.
5. MS #A-972 (Muehlen). The 559th VG Division
had been intended for the Eastern Front and was officered by young veterans
of the Russian fighting. The enlisted personnel was of fairly good caliber-some
60 percent of the division were in their twenties. The 559th had been
activated on 31 July and had little training as a unit.
6. MS #13-042 (Krause). Generalleutnant Walther Krause commanded Division Number 462. One regiment came from the 1,800 members of the Fahnenjunkerschule (Officer Candidate School), reinforced by Wehrmacht stragglers who had been apprehended as they fled through Metz in late August. Its artillery consisted of six captured Russian guns, drawn by sick horses from the veterinary hospital at Metz. The second regiment was composed of about 1,500 men from the Unterfuehrerschule (NCO School), plus one battery. The 1010th Security Regiment, which had fled east in front of the American drive in August, filled out Division Number 462. It numbered six companies, totaling about 600 men-mostly over-age and poorly armed. The Metz garrison also included two replacement battalions, one machine gun company, one engineer battalion, one or two Flak battalions, one artillery battalion, four companies of the Waffen-SS Nachrichtenschule (Signal School), and a few Luftwaffe troops.
8. Ibid. Cf. 7th Armd Div G-3 Jnl, 6 Sep 44. Here a field order, issued by 7th Armored Division headquarters at 1100 of that day, gives the division mission as the seizure of a crossing north of Metz.
9. Both banks of the Moselle at this point
were held by the two replacement battalions, the 208th and the 282d. The contingent
on the east bank crossed by ferry just ahead of the Americans. MS #B-042 (Krause).
The approach by the south column, CCB, is described in a letter from Lt. Col.
R. C. Erlenbusch to the Historical Division, 9 April 1948.
10. This sector was held by a thin outpost line, formed by troops of the Unterfuehrerschule.
11. At this point a battery of four 105-mm. howitzers reinforced the Fahnenjunkerschule positions.
14. The history of the Dornot bridgehead is taken from Historical Division Combat Interviews obtained by 2d Lt. F. M. Ludden. The S-1 Journal of the 2d Battalion, 11th Infantry, is fragmentary; that of the 23d Armored Infantry Battalion has little for this period. See Eleventh Infantry, which derives most of its information from the Historical Division Combat Interviews.
15. On this same date Brig. Gen. John B. Thompson
was relieved, despite his personal efforts to restore some order in the confused
situation at the crossing site. Lt. Col. A. J. Adams took command of CCB.
16. Pvt. William E. Hall, 7th Engineer Combat Battalion, 5th Infantry Division, had two assault boats sunk under him by artillery fire on 8 September but continued to man a third all through the night and into the next day, when he was killed by a shell. He was awarded the DSC posthumously.
17. See Chap. I, p. 20.
18. The Germans had manned neither of the two forts and, when the American advance began, had only a small covering force along the east bank. MS #B-042 (Krause).
19. Cpl. William G. Rea, an aid man with the 11th Infantry, was awarded the DSC for heroic efforts to evacuate the casualties in front of his own lines. He carried one wounded soldier for three hundred yards under direct enemy fire.
20. Capt. William B. Davis, commanding officer
of C Company, was wounded in both legs but strapped a radio on his back and
continued to direct the American artillery fire. When the Germans were close
to his company he dragged himself back to organize a defense. His men forcibly
placed Captain Davis on a stretcher, but he was killed by a shell fragment
as he lay there. Fifth Infantry Division. Major Haughey, commanding
officer of the 1st Battalion, also distinguished himself by personal bravery
and leadership in repelling the fierce German counterattacks. He received
21. Ninth AF Opns Jnl, 9 Sep 44.
22. This period is covered in outline in XIX
TAC, A Rpt on the Combat Opns of the XIX TAC, 30 May 45.
23. During the night German patrols infiltrated back to the river and attacked American carrying parties. Next day 1st Lt. Eugene Dille, who had crossed with extra bazookas, was found dead surrounded by thirty-five dead Germans. Fifth Infantry Division.
24. Enemy units identified here were: the 208th Replacement Battalion (a stomach ulcer battalion); the 2d Battalion, 8th Panzer Grenadier Regiment (3d Panzer Grenadier Division); the 2d Battalion, 51st SS Panzer Grenadier Brigade (17th SS Panzer Grenadier Division); and the 4th SS Signal Battalion (part of the Waffen-SS Nachrichtenschule). A detailed report of this action (as seen from the enemy side of the hill) was prepared by the 37th SS Panzer Grenadier Regiment, 17th SS Panzer Grenadier Division. It may be found in the Feldgericht file of the same unit in GMDS.
25. Pfc. George T. Dickey and Pfc. Frank Lalopa,
both of K Company, 11th Infantry, were awarded the DSC posthumously for bravery
in the fight for the bridgehead. The two soldiers volunteered to man a forward
observation post during the night. When the Germans attacked, Dickey and Lalopa.
were warned to return to their lines. Instead they stayed at their posts and
fired into the advancing Germans until they were both killed. Next morning
twenty-two enemy were found by their bodies, some within three yards. Pvt.
Dale B. Rex, G Company, 11th Infantry, also was awarded the DSC and was cited
by his comrades as one of the leading figures in the bridgehead defense. For
three days Rex manned a machine gun at an outpost. It was later estimated
that he had killed some three hundred Germans. On the night of the evacuation
Rex swam the river four times under shellfire in order to bring back assault
boats to carry the wounded. Numerous deeds of heroism by other members of
the little force in the bridgehead went unnoticed in this battle where personal
bravery became the commonplace.
26. 11th Inf Periodic Rpt, it Sep 44. The anonymous writer of Eleventh Infantry sets the casualty figures for the 2d Battalion and K Company at 363.
27. 23d Armd Inf Bn AAR, Sep 44. Colonel Allison, commanding officer of the 23d Armored Infantry Battalion, was evacuated from the bridgehead on 10 September with a serious wound from which he died six days later. He had commanded the elements of B and C Companies, 23d Armored Infantry Battalion, that fought as a platoon of G Company, 11th Infantry.
29. 5th Inf Div G-3 Jnl, 12 Sep 44.
30. FUSA Rpt of Opns, 1 Aug 44-22 Feb 45, P. 42. On 7-8 September a shortage of gasoline in General Gerow's V Corps forced the 5th Armored Division, which had led the advance north of the Third Army boundary, to slow down. V Corps Operations in ETO (Paris, 1945), Pp. 236-238.
31. Here 2d Lt. Frederick J. Giroux on two
occasions went forward alone under withering German fire to rescue wounded
men. He received the DSC.
32. The heavy stone farm buildings formed a veritable enceinte in the center of the German field works. At this same farm the French repelled the assaulting columns of three German corps on 18 August 1870.
33. Gravelotte has given its name to the last and greatest of the three Franco-Prussian War battles fought prior to the investment and capitulation of Metz. The lines of the opposing forces on 18 August 1870 were almost identical with those of the opposing forces north and west of the Metz bridgehead in the second week of September 1944. But the machine gun and modern artillery had introduced a marked tactical change in 1944. Then the Americans committed one infantry regiment, one armored combat command, and about one squadron of mechanized cavalry, while the Germans employed approximately two understrength infantry regiments. On 18 August 1870, the combined French and Prussian forces totaled over 330,000 men; these engaged in combat on approximately the same frontage as that held by General Silvester's command.
34. The 695th Armored Field Artillery Battalion fought not only as artillery but also as infantry and suffered heavy losses. The battalion was awarded the Distinguished Unit Citation for its part in this prolonged engagement.
37. Capt. Cud T. Baird, III, 358th Infantry,
stopped one of the enemy columns by disabling the leading armored vehicle
with fire from a bazooka. While the road was thus blocked Baird knocked out
the second vehicle, all the while in the midst of a bitter return fire. Though
wounded he later led a company in a successful counterattack. Baird received
38. The 106th Panzer Brigade was reduced to a total of nine tanks and assault guns. Army Group G KTB Nr. 2, 9 Sep 44. Infantry losses also must have been substantial. OB WEST received reports that the 106th had sunk to one-quarter of its normal combat strength. OB WEST KTB, 9 Sep 44.
44. Pfc. Andrew A. Kalinka did much to repulse
the Germans on the flank of the 11th Infantry, serving a light machine gun
and maintaining a deadly, point-blank fire until he was fatally wounded. He
was awarded the DSC posthumously.
45. These were probably elements of the 1st and 2d Battalions, 37th SS Panzer Grenadier Regiment.
46. In the period 10-16 September the 10th
Infantry alone is reported to have lost 24 officers and 674 men killed in
action. See Fifth Infantry Division.
47. The reports of the 38th Armored Infantry Battalion contain little on the battle for Sillegny. The action has been reconstructed largely from the telephone messages attached to the G-3 Journal, 7th Armored Division. A letter from Col. Pete T. Heffner to the Historical Division (29 May 1947) has helped to clarify the sequence of events.
48. The Sillegny garrison seems to have been composed of the 3d Battalion of the 37th SS Panzer Grenadier Regiment and the 2d Battalion of the 38th SS Panzer Grenadier Regiment, reinforced by the bulk of the division artillery of the 17th SS Panzer Grenadier Division.
49. At this time Heffner had only two rifle companies of the 38th Armored Infantry Battalion.
51. The German reinforcements probably came from a regiment of the 559th VG Division which was withdrawn from the Thionville sector on 20 September, as American pressure eased, and assembled cast of Metz.
53. Information on this engagement has been
obtained from Historical Division Combat Interviews, correspondence, and postwar
interviews. The 2d Battalion reports and journals are of little value. A letter
from Capt. Harry E. Arthars (then 2d Battalion S-3) to the Historical Division
(21 February 47) gives a detailed story of the battle.
54. Private Catri received the DSC.
57. The exact German dispositions in this
line of fortifications are still uncertain. The western sector, from Fort
Driant to Kellermann, was manned by the Fahnenjunkerschule Regiment and
miscellaneous fortress units. Several of the works were not occupied, for
example, some of the Seven Dwarfs. The 1010th held the Canrobert line.
See MS #B-042 (Krause).
58. The story of the 90th Infantry Division fighting in Normandy is given detailed treatment in R. G. Ruppenthal, Utah Beach to Cherbourg.
59. Flame throwers had been stocked in the Third Army depots in preparation for the anticipated assault against the West Wall. However, the flame thrower seldom was employed in the operations of the Third Army. Little training was given in its use, and most of the troops regarded this weapon with a very jaundiced eye.
60. After the German attempts to cross the draw in 1870, one of the participants in the battle east of Gravelotte, General von der Goltz, wrote: "A stronger position in the open field can hardly be imagined." All of the Americans who fought over this ground in 1944 had reason to agree with von der Goltz' earlier estimate.
61. Sgt. Donald E. Zweifel, G Company, 359th
Infantry, was awarded the DSC for bravery in this action. When the 2d Battalion
was halted by the murderous enemy fire Sergeant Zweifel went forward alone.
Although wounded in the process he knocked out two machine guns and killed
all but one of the German gunners.
62. 90th Inf Div AAR, Sep 44.
Last updated 12 October 2004