442d Infantry (less Antitank Co) in bivouac near SEPTEMES, FRANCE, during a week of cold and rainy weather. Daily training was held and new machine guns, mortars and rocket launchers zeroed. Half-day passes to Marseilles and Aix-en-Provence authorized for a 15% quota of personnel.
442d Infantry (less Antitank Co) began movement by motor convoy to assembly area near POUXEUX, FRANCE. CP at SEPTEMES closed at O830 9 Oct. The first day's movement followed Highway 7 through Aix-en-Provence, Avignon, Valence. Regiment bivouacked near VIENNE and on the 10th continued North through Bourg, Lons le Saunier, Besancon, and on the second night of the trip camped near VESOUL. On the third day the regiment closed in at destination, CP opening at CHARMOIS-DEVANT-BRUYERES (near EPINAL) at 1230 11 October 44. The trip covered 450 miles and was made under adverse conditions of rainy weather and slippery roads.
The 3d Battalion made the trip by rail, leaving Septemes in boxcars at 1400 10 October. Arrived at Vesoul 0430 13 Oct, detrained at 1900 and travelled by truck to Charmois-devant-Bruyeres, arriving at bivouac area approximately 2400 13 Oct. Organic transportation of the battalion moved at the same time in motor convoy. Last elements of the battalion closed in at 0730 14 Oct.
Effective at arrival at VI Corps area, the 442d RCT was attached to VI Corps for operations, administration remaining with Seventh Army, as per secret letter AG 370.5-C, Hq Seventh Army, 4 October 1944. The 442d Combat Team was further attached to the 36th Infantry Division for operations.
Beginning at 1400 the regiment moved up by truck from Charmois-devant-Bruyeres to an assembly area near LE VOID DE LA BORDE, detrucked and marched two miles to jump-off position in the line approximately four kilometres West of BRUYERES. One casualty was sustained in the approach march, S Sgt William Kato, Co B, wounded by enemy artillery fire. The regimental CP was established at l9l58l (Sheet XXXV-18 1/50,000 France) in Le Void de la Borde.
The regiment attacked at 0800 hours. The 100th Bn and the 2d Bn were in line abreast, with the 2d Bn on the right, and with the 3d Bn in regimental reserve. The regimental sector covered a front of approximately two kilometres on the left of the 36th Infantry Division zone, with the 143d Infantry (36th Div) on the right and the 179th Infantry (45th Div) on the left. The primary objective was the capture of the city of BRUYERES, a city of 4,000 population and the vertex of a road net to St Die and Gerardmer. The 442d Infantry was to assault the heights North of the city, which command the valley in which the city lies.
The 442d Infantry had direct artillery support from the 522d Field Artillery Battalion of the 442d RCT. The 232d Engineer (C) Company, of the 442d RCT, provided first priority mine clearance and road maintenance. Other units attached were:
- Co B, 752d Tank Bn (M)
- Co C, 636th Tank Destroyer Bn (less 1 platoon)
- Co D, 83d Chemical Weapons Bn (4.2 mortars)
- 36th Cavalry Reconnaissance Troop
- 886th Collecting Co, 56th Medical Bn
The terrain through which the advance was to be made is called the Foret de Faite, a mountainous and dense pine forest Northwest of Bruyeres known to be strongly defended by gun sites, minefields and prepared Infantry positions.
The 2d Bn crossed the LD at 0800 in a column of companies, with F Co leading, followed by E Co and G Co in battalion reserve. One machine gun platoon from H Co supported the leading rifle company, the rest of the heavy weapons provided general battalion support. F Co met resistance three kilometres from Bruyeres, engaged in a firefight at 0930, continuing until 1230. The 1st and 2d platoons, F Co, killed five Germans during the day and took 14 prisoners. The company's losses were 1 KIA, 4 WIA. Three EM from E Company were wounded by enemy artillery. Enemy resistance increased during the afternoon, and the battalion dug in. During the night a combat patrol from Co G was sent to Hill 468 (22658) to contact Co C, 143d Inf on the right. A patrol also maintained contact with the 100th Bn on the left.
The 100th Bn jumped off at 0800 through the thickly wooded hills, with B Co leading. Enemy resistance developed, strongly, estimated at two companies supported by automatic weapons and artillery and a tank which the battalion forced to withdraw. Baker Co fought continuously throughout the day, took five prisoners and suffered one KIA. C Co followed B across the LD, exchanged small arms fire with the Germans in the woods and dug in during the afternoon. A Co, the reserve company of the 100th, was subjected to a severe artillery barrage at 1430 which caused twenty casualties, 1 KIA, 19 WIA. Co A maintained contact with G Co, 179th Inf on the left flank. Co D supported the rifle companies although the thickly wooded area restricted the use of crew-served weapons.
During the day a total of 20 German prisoners was taken, from the 9th Co, 19th SS Police Regt, and from the 223d Grenadier Regt. Information from the POW's indicated that the CP of the 19th SS Police Regt was located at 243587; the ration dump at 313630, CP of the 9th Co, 19th SS Police Regt on Hill 578 (Hill "A"). All of these targets were brought under artillery fire. Also the location and pattern of mine-fields laid along the road from Bruyeres to the fork at 243587 were obtained.
The attack was resumed at 0800 and again met stiff opposition. Co F advanced against infantry and machine gun nests to within 1000 meters of Bruyeres and occupied part of Hill 555 (Haut de Heledrave 228577) Northwest of the town. Co E was committed at 0800 on the 2d Bn left, attacked Hill 555 under heavy fire, and occupied it at 1100. Further advance by the battalion across the open ground in front of Bruyeres was stopped when the Germans mounted a one-hour counterattack at 1730, preceded by an artillery barrage. The counterattack came from Hill "B" 245577 (Le Chateau Col) and included fire from SP guns, mortars and three tanks, and an attempted recovery by enemy Infantry. However the battalion broke up the attack after an hour's fighting, without yielding any of the hard-earned ground.
Meanwhile on the regimental left, B Co, 100th Bn advanced 1000 yards Northeast through the forest up to open ground at the foot of Hill 578 (Hill "A"). C Co was on the battalion right and A Co moved up to fill the gap caused by the advance of B and C Cos. Fighting was continuous throughout the day and enemy artillery especially active.
During the day a total of 21 prisoners was taken. Information from a captured document disclosed that the town of Bruyeres was also defended by the 1st and 2d Bns, 736th Grenadier Regt. Prisoners taken were from the 19th SS Police Regt, 2d Co Engineer Bn 1316, and Fortress Machine Gun Battalion 49.
The night of 16-17 Oct was spent under sporadic shelling, with a cold wind and soaking rain adding to the discomfort of the troops.
29 Officers and 300 EM overstrength were transferred to the 2d Replacement Depot at St Loup, in accordance with Seventh Army directive that T/O strength only would be taken into combat.
On the 3d day of the action the Germans counterattacked twice early in the day to drive our forces from Hill 555. At 0730, following a heavy barrage by artillery and SP high-velocity guns, two companies of enemy Infantry attacked Cos E and F on Hill 555. At the same time an attack of similar size was launched against B and C Cos on the left. The rifle companies, supported by their attached heavy weapons and fire from the 522d Field Artillery Bn, repulsed the attack at 0830. The Germans reformed on the wooded slopes of Hill A (Hill 578) and Hill B (Le Chateau Col) and again attacked at 0930, supported by artillery and three tanks. The attack drove against the 2d Battalion. Because of the impossibility of getting the 57mm Antitank guns into the forest, the battalion formed six bazooka teams to meet the armor, and with all available fire power drove the Germans back into the hills from which the attack had come.
Immediately both the 2d and 100th Bns resumed the offensive, subject again to artillery and mortar and automatic weapons fire from the German held Hills A and B. In addition the Germans had fortified the houses at the foot of these hills, arming them with machine guns which commanded the flat land between Hill 555 and Hills A and B. Both battalions found themselves pinned down by this fire and faced with the necessity of reducing these houses before resuming the advance. The Germans were well dug in, and their positions resisted artillery fire.
Baker and Charley Companies, aided by 4.2 chemical mortars, worked on the houses along the 100th Bn front, finding themselves opposed by 15 machine guns and two AT guns. G Co went around to the regimental right flank, and aided by four tanks, cleared out the houses on the road running SE-NW along the foot of Hill 555. Cos E and F advanced to the tip of the wood at 238575. The intense automatic and small arms fire corning across the open terrain from Hill B forced them to remain in this position for the remainder of the day. Prisoners taken during the day - 3.
During the night, a 15 man patrol from 3d platoon, Co G, guided by an FFI partisan, reached the road junction at the edge of Bruyeres at 0200 meeting no opposition, and returned at 0250. Additional reconnaissance patrols were immediately sent out, one from B Co towards Hill A (Hill 578) which drew fire and withdrew, and a daylight patrol from 2d platoon, Co G, which penetrated the fringe of Bruyeres at 243574 and returned at 0700 18 Oct with6ut encountering the enemy.
Fall of Bruyeres
All-out attack on Hills A and B, and occupation of Bruyeres. Following a half-hour artillery preparation, Cos F and G assaulted Hill B, with Cos I and L of the 3d Battalion committed on their right. At the same time, the 100th Battalion attacked Hill A. All units met bitter opposition.
At 1100, Baker Co had reduced resistance in the houses at the foot of the Hill A and was fighting up the slope. Co A went around to the left, where its 3d platoon silenced a machine gun nest in a house, taking nine prisoners, then dashed across the open flat and followed B Co up the hill. Hill A was taken at 1420, and the battalion dug into a defensive position to guard against possible counterattack. B Co took 45 prisoners during the day, lost 1 KIA, 14 WIA. C Co, in a day-long firefight on the hill, captured 21 prisoners; casualties 2 KIA, 9 WIA.
The attack on Hill B began at 1000 and was successful after eight and a half hours of bitter fighting. F Co jumped off, found its advance held up by a machine gun at the foot of the hill, destroyed it by accurate fire from a 60mm mortar crew. At 1200 the company was engaged in a fire-fight in the open area between Hill 555 and Hill B. Co G on the right of the battalion sector also forced its way up the steep side of the hill. During the fight the 2d Bn radio RP was hit by enemy artillery and communications temporarily interrupted. I Co was next to G on its right and L Co went around the base of the hill, North of the road net into Bruyeres. At 1630 the hill was taken. F and G Cos mopped up the remnants of resistance and L Co pushed into Bruyeres, street-fighting and clearing the houses one by one. Contact was made with C Co, 143d Infantry, who entered the town from the South, at 248573, at 1830.
By nightfall the town was under control, although a barricaded group of Germans continued to resist in the center of the town. L Co sent a patrol to the eastern outskirts at the foot of Hill D, where they were informed by the French inhabitants that 15 Germans were in a house to their rear. At the same time machine pistols opened up and the patrol had to fight its way back to the company. K Co, the reserve co of the 3d Bn, entered Bruyeres at 1700, after having disposed of snipers on the way.
During the day the 2d and 3d Battalions took 61 prisoners, bringing the day's total for the regiment to 134. Enemy losses in killed and wounded were proportionately heavy.
The regimental forward CP moved up during the day, from Le Void de la Borde to a position along the trail on hill 555, grid coordinate 206576. Weather was cold and the rain continued to fall for the 16th consecutive day. Supply and evacuation presented a difficult problem, as road blocks had to be cleared by engineers and the vehicles and truck drawn weapons found themselves mired in mud over their wheels.
The 141st Field Artillery Bn and the 93d Armored Field Artillery Bn were attached during the day to the 442d Regimental Combat Team, to reinforce the fire of the 522d Field Artillery Battalion.
Additional identifications of enemy units encountered: 1st, 2d, 7th Cos 736th Grenadier Regt; 1st Co, 716th Engineer Bn; Company Rode, Battle Group Ahrens; 2d, 3d Cos, 198th Fusilier Bn; 2d Co, 192d Panzer Grenadier Regt.
While L Co completed the mopping up of Bruyeres on the morning of the 19th, the 2d and remaining elements of the 3d Bn pushed onward from the town and assaulted Hill D. The battalions jumped off at 1000 with the 2d Bn on the left and the 3d Bn on the right. Once again our forces were subjected to heavy artillery fire but the enemy Infantry was dislodged and the hill was secured by 1145. The battalions reorganized and attacked again at 1300 with the objective of reaching the railroad embankment 2000 yards East of Bruyeres on the edge of the Foret de Belmont. Cos E and G from the 2d Bn and Cos I and K from the 3d Bn made the push. Enemy troops dug in behind the embankment held up the advance at 1600, and SP guns from the vicinity of Belmont shelled the forward companies. An artillery mission was called on the SP's and the four rifle companies fought up to their objective at l800. 16 prisoners were taken. Inasmuch as the units on the flanks had not advanced, the 2d and 3d Bns comprised a salient of 2000 yards into the enemy lines. The area occupied by I and K Cos was thickly mined.
During the day, the 100th Bn was in regimental reserve on Hill A, and at 1700 moved into Bruyeres, leaving Co A on the hill to guard the roads leading down from the North. A reconnaissance patrol was sent to Hill C to ascertain enemy strength. It drew small arms and machine gun fire and retired.
The regimental CP moved into Bruyeres at 1500. The Germans shelled the town continuously during the day and night. As a result of the bombardment by both our own and enemy artillery, and the house-to-house fighting, practically every building had suffered some demolition. However the 232d Engineer (C) Co swept the road net and the military value of the town was unimpaired. Because of the shelling, combat traffic regulations were put into effect--no 2 ½ ton trucks except signal vehicles allowed during daylight hours, with a maximum of one vehicle passing every two minutes.
The day began with the 2d and 3d Bns dug in 75 yards from the railroad embankment, answering heavy sniper fire from the flanks and from Hill D. This small arms fire also interdicted the road leading around Hill D towards Belmont and the road junction at 255569, where the engineers were attempting to mine-sweep in preparation for a tank advance.
During the night German snipers had also attacked a supply party from Hq Co, 2d Bn carrying rations to the front and in the action Lt Charles O. Farnum, X-XXXXX, commanding officer of Hq Co 2d Bn, was killed. It was evident that some Germans had infiltrated under cover of darkness back to Hill D, and Co F, the reserve company of the 2d Bn, with an additional platoon from Co H armed with carbines, was ordered to neutralize this fire.
At 1000 the 100th Battalion assaulted Hill C to the North with all three rifle companies in the attack.
At 1030 German infantry counterattacked the 2d and 3d Bn front along the railroad track.
With the firefight on Hill D, the 100th's assault on Hill C, and the German counterattack increasing in intensity on the front, all our forces were committed simultaneously in heavy fighting.
The 2d and 3d Bns, with Cos E, G, I and K on the line, met the counterattack and repulsed it at 1100. However forward movement was prevented by the German MLR along the railroad track and at the edge of the woods beyond, and fire from Hill 505. The Germans had machine guns on the flanks and mortars emplaced in the woods which covered thick mine fields in front of them and raked the zone of advance. A prisoner reported that the forces confronting the two battalions were elements of the previously identified 736th Grenadier Regiment.
The 100th, after a battalion firefight, reported Hill C taken at 1200. However it required several more hours of sharp fighting to completely clean the hill of the numerous enemy pockets. After the hill was secured the 100th moved over to Hill D, leaving B Co on Hill C to make contact with the 2d Battalion of the 7th Infantry (3d Division), who garrisoned the hill after the 100th withdrew.
In the fighting on Hill D a soldier from the 2d platoon, Co F was wounded and his platoon sergeant, T Sgt Abraham Ohama went to his rescue. Sgt Ohama was in turn hit, and as he was being carried down the hill by litterbearers the Germans opened up again, killing him on the stretcher. Incited by this act, the company charged headlong up the hill, engaging the Germans in hand to hand, tree-to-tree fighting. Fifty Germans were killed and seven captured. As a result of the two days fighting, over 100 German bodies were counted on the hill.
At 1300 the 2d Battalion reported German tanks and infantry moving South out of Belmont 2 kilometres distant, with the evident intention of striking our left flank. The Regimental Commander ordered Felber Force out to meet them. At the same time an air mission was called on this new threat.
Felber Force consisted of a unit of tanks from the 753d Tank Bn, tank destroyers, engineers and a platoon of Infantry (3d platoon, Co A, 100th Bn), and had been attached to the 442d Infantry as a mobile striking force. Its mission for the day was to penetrate along the road North out of Bruyeres towards Belmont.
Felber Force moved out slowly, held up by mines and SP fire from Vervezelle. A TOT barrage was put on the latter target and the tanks moved as far as the hairpin turn at 264574 where they were held up.
The enemy armor moving down the road toward them was bombed and strafed by fighter-bombers and brought under artillery fire. The air support had no opposition and reported seven direct hits on the enemy column.
From 1645 to 1705 four battalions of artillery laid down a preparatory fire on the German positions in front, and at 1710 the 2d and 3d Bns attacked again. Both battalions crossed the railroad track but the dug-in Germans and fields of antipersonnel S mines halted further progress. In the fighting, K Co killed a German Major and his party and secured his documents which contained plans for the defense of the sector, and additional identifications. They were sent to G-2 by special messenger.
During the day Bruyeres was heavily shelled by enemy artillery. A total of 97 prisoners were captured.
The Task Force
During the afternoon and evening of the 20th, when the second attack of our battalions failed to make headway, and with Felber Force contained along the road on the left flank, the Divisional Commander and the Regimental Commander planned a surprise move to outflank the enemy MLR.
The plan took shape with Co F and Co L organized as a special Task Force under the command of Major Emmett O'Connor, 3d Battalion Executive Officer. A squad of wiremen and minesweepers from Hq Co 3d Bn was attached and Lt Nilges of the regimental staff acted as S-3. The mission of the Task Force was to move South behind our lines during the night to a point opposite the ridge of the Bois de Bore-mont, to move along the top of the ridge at dawn to an assembly area at 277563, and strike North at the enemy left flank at 0900. At the same hour, the 2d and 3d Bns were to renew their attack from the front, and the 100th Bn, swinging South and following the path of the Task Force, was to push further along the ridge toward the town of Biffontaine. The attack of the Third Division and the presence of Felber Force on the road to Belmont secured the left flank.
The plan was executed with precision and achieved a notable success. The Task Force crossed the IP at 0500 and reached its forward assembly area at 277563 at 0740, completing its long "end run" without opposition. At 0900 all elements attacked. The Task Force moved down off the ridge thru the wood and into the enemy flank; one company assaulting and one in support. At 0925 they reported reaching the open ground at the foot of the ridge and cleaning out resistance in houses at 278572. At 0945 Colonel Fence ordered them to turn left and strike the enemy rear.
Meanwhile the 2d and 3d Bns jumped off abreast, with the 2d on the left and the 3d on the right. They crossed the railroad track and moved into the forward slope of Hill 505. The enemy engaged them in a firefight, but, attacked from both front and rear, gave ground rapidly. At 1030 the 3d Bn reported I and K Cos going around Hill 505 against lessening resistance, at 1200 the battalion had overrun the positions on Hill 505 and was pressing forward to make contact with the Task Force. The 2d Bn was temporarily held up by tanks at 1130, but called artillery on them and resumed the advance on the regiment's left.
The Task Force engaged the retreating Germans in a stiff fight in a group of houses at 278576. They fought from house to house, killing and capturing many of the enemy foot troops, and dislodged a tank with bazooka fire.
At 1430 K Co made contact with the Task Force at 275670 and the 2d Bn half an hour later, after which Cos F and L reverted to the control of their respective battalions.
During the operation the Task Force killed 80 Germans, captured 54 prisoners, 1 Antitank gun, 3 ammunition carriers and a large quantity of rifles and machine pistols, in addition to being the key factor in a regimental advance of four kilometres during the day against positions which had previously resisted assault. The cost of the operation was three men wounded in action.
Concurrent with the above action, the 100th Battalion was working along the top of the ridge running thru the Bois de Boremont and the Foret de Belmont, following the trail used by the Task Force. They passed the point where the Task Force turned North at 1400 and continued toward their objective, the high ground around Biffontaine. B Co, protecting the rear of the battalion, was twice engaged by German combat patrols as the battalion pushed deep into enemy territory. The 100th reached its objective at 1530 and occupied a strategic position at 298582, cutting off Belmont from Biffontaine and completing a loop around the Germans in the sector. In order to reach its position, the battalion had to accept difficulties in communications and supply, as they were a mile from the nearest friendly troops and the forest trail over which they had come was patrolled by enemy combat groups. The battalion had tied into the wire laid by the Task Force and extended it, but had reason to believe that the Germans had tapped the line.
During the day a total of 72 prisoners were captured, interrogated and turned over to Division. Lieutenant General TRUSCOTT, Commanding General VI Corps, visited the regimental CP in Bruyeres during the mid-afternoon. The town was again shelled by German artillery.
During the night, a platoon from the 2d Battalion with an FFI guide established a road block at 284568 on the trail along the ridge of the Foret de Belmont, to guard against a German attack on the rear of the 100th Bn.
A patrol from Co L made contact with the 100th during the night, and at daybreak a platoon from the 3d Bn, with a jeep, left to reconnoiter a supply route.
At 0830 the 3d Battalion moved ahead, silencing small arms fire and receiving occasional shelling. The three rifle companies steadily cleared the large pocket between Belmont and Biffontaine. By nightfall the battalion reached its objective, approximately two kilometres East of Belmont.
Felber Force moved into Belmont during the morning and occupied it without opposition, captured 11 POW's and established road blocks at the two roads leading North out of the town.
A and C Cos of the 100th moved along the high ground North of Biffontaine and B Co went around the hills to the West of the town and took up a position commanding the road to Los Poulieres. The enemy counterattacked, supported by artillery, nebelwerfers and flak gun fire, and firefights broke out on three sides of the exposed battalion. The situation was aggravated by a shortage of water and ammunition and by the lack of evacuation facilities for the wounded.
To combat the threatening supply problem, five tanks from Felber Force left Belmont, with the attached platoon (3d platoon, Co A) riding on the tanks. They carried ammunition and water and attempted to reach the 100th via the Belmont-Biffontaine road, but met fifty Germans manning a road block and the tanks were unable to get through. The infantry platoon dismounted and attempted to make contact by foot but were unsuccessful because of the dense unfamiliar forest and the impenetrable darkness which soon fell. Four of the infantrymen were killed and four wounded in the fighting. Another platoon of light tanks tried the route originally used by the 100th along the ridge of the Foret de Belmont, but bogged down. The platoon from the 3d Bn, led by Lt Brenner, had more success, and mapped a jeep trail from the 3d Bn to the 100th. At 1530 a carrying party with rations, water and ammo, protected by a combat patrol from Company G reached the battalion and temporarily relieved the situation. The 100th fought off the attack and developed their positions.
Meanwhile another bitter fight was in progress on the right flank, where Cos E and F met a group of 100 Germans on wooded Hill 703. From a prisoner it was learned that the Germans had come down to Los Poulieres during the night on bicycles and had moved to Hill 703 to cut off the 100th Bn. Cos E and F, ordered to protect this line and clear the area on the right of the regimental sector, met them near Col de Arnelle, in a close combat fight with automatic weapons and grenades, destroyed the hostile force and took six prisoners.
During the day the regimental CP moved from Bruyeres to a point 254569 on Hill D. Bruyeres was again shelled. Total POW's for the day - 22. During the night of the 22d-23d, a patrol composed of 25 men from G Co and H Co, led by an FFI guide were sent on a mission to reconnoiter a route for the attack of the 141st Infantry on the following day. The patrol scouted the trail for a distance of approximately four kilometres, starting at 285580 thru Belmont and out to 320586. They investigated the roads, finding them soft but passable for light vehicles, and evidently not mined. They observed a German patrol in the darkness at 290584, but as their mission was reconnaissance only, our patrol did not challenge.
Capture of Biffontaine
The 100th Battalion had cut the Belmont-Biffontaine road, cleared the hills around Biffontaine and set up defensive positions on all sides. In the morning they were ordered to attack Biffontaine. At 1000 Co C descended on the town, supported by Co A. Co C met bitter resistance, fighting the Germans from house to house, but pushing the attack despite their isolated position. Forced to conserve ammunition, low on water and with limited communications, they nevertheless outfought the Germans, inflicting heavy losses, capturing two enemy officers and 23 men in the town. Among the prisoners was a German Major from the Signal Corps, who subsequently proved very valuable to Division as a source of inte1ligence.
During the morning an attempt was made to evacuate the wounded to the rear. Two squads of litter bearers from the 100th and 3d Bn Medical Sections, led by 2d Lt James Kanaya, X-XXXXXXX, a recently combat-commissioned officer, made the attempt. The litter train also consisted of some PW's who were used as litter bearers, as every available man was needed on the front lines. Among the litter patients were Capt Young 0. Kim, X-XXXXXXX, S-3 of the 100th Bn, and 1st Lt Samuel M. Sakamoto, X-XXXXXX, commanding officer of Co A. After proceeding a short distance the litter train was beset by a large enemy combat patrol, working along the battalion supply route. Capt Kim, although seriously wounded in the arm and suffering a loss of blood, managed to escape and made his way back, accompanied by a litter bearer. It is believed that the wounded and medics were captured by the enemy, as no trace of them has been found.
Companies B and D maintained their positions on the hills overlooking Biffontaine. Contact patrols were sent to the 2d Bn, and to Co F, 143d Infantry, the unit on the right flank.
A carrying party, consisting of 113 replacements who had been assembled at the Service Co area in Bruyeres, protected by a patrol from G Co, reached the battalion late in the afternoon, with ammunition, food, water and medical supplies. A and C Cos occupied Biffontaine, which the Germans promptly shelled.
The 3d Battalion continued on its mission of cleaning enemy troops in the forest area East of Belmont. Because of the extent of the sector, the battalion was widely spread out. One half of K Co worked toward a point North of Biffontaine at 311584, in order to relieve pressure on the 100th Bn. Two strong combat patrols went to 287592 and reduced a pocket where 50 enemy were resisting. A patrol from Co L went North to 228613 with the mission of contacting the 7th Infantry, 3d Division, on the left flank. The patrol reached its objective at the appointed time, but the friendly patrol failed to appear. The 111th Engineer Battalion, working to clear the Belmont-Biffontaine road in the battalion sector found its path impeded by automatic weapons fire from a group of enemy manning a road block. The 3d Bn brought their mortars on the enemy position, bracketing the road block, and 18 Germans surrendered to the Engineers.
During the day, the 2d Battalion was in regimental reserve, except for a machine gun section from Co F, who were left to guard the trail on the summit of Hill 625 at 284567. The section was relieved by Co G, 143d Infantry at 1600 and came down off the hill and joined the battalion in its assembly area near Belmont.
Felber Force occupied Belmont, maintaining its road blocks as a protection to the left flank of the regiment.
During the day elements of the 141st and 143d Infantry made contact with our troops and put themselves in position to pass through our lines. A short rest was in prospect.
The regimental CP, Service Co area in Bruyeres, and Belmont were shelled heavily during the day. A total of 55 prisoners were taken. The 3d Bn also recaptured 12 British Colonial soldiers from the Germans.
The Infantry platoon attached to Felber Force (3d platoon, Co A) went over the route between Belmont and Biffontaine which the tanks had attempted to take on the previous day. They searched for two men who had been wounded and knocked off the tanks, but could not find them. A Frenchmen reported that two Japanese-American soldiers had come to his house for aid, but had left shortly afterward.
The 100th and 3d Bns maintained defensive positions until relieved by the 141st and 143d Infantry respectively. The 3d Bn closed into the assembly area near Belmont at 1400, less one platoon of L Co, which stayed overnight in its position at 300600. The 100th Bn closed in at 1730. Felber Force was detached from the 442d Infantry. Seven enemy stragglers were rounded up while the relief was being completed.
The battalions had a momentary and much needed rest, billeted in houses around Belmont. Hot food was served and all personnel, by order of the Division Commander, shuttled back to Laval for a hot shower. Clean clothes and two pair of wool socks per man were issued. The replacements who had been sent back to the 2d Replacement Depot on the 16th rejoined the regiment, and the companies reorganized. Officers and men were paid for the month of September.
Lieutenant General PATCH, Commanding General, Seventh Army, visited the regimental CP and the 100th Bn during the day.
Weather continued cold and rainy. The Service Co area in Bruyeres was again shelled.
Report was received that the 141st Infantry, which had relieved the 3d Bn, was being counterattacked. At 1400 the 2d Battalion was alerted, attached to the 141st Infantry, and prepared to resume combat on the following day.
The 2d Battalion left the reserve area at 0300, moving through the dark forest to an assembly area at 315595. From there they relieved the 3d Bn, 141st infantry and were immediately engaged in a firefight. 100 Germans were entrenched on high ground at 327598, with five machine guns set up in position to rake the valley extending Northwest. They had two 120mm mortars and SP guns in place on the left flank, reinforced by small arms fire. Faced by this interlocking fire, and heavy shelling by enemy artillery, the 2d Bn dug in, E Co at 324595, F at 322596, G at 323600.
During the day reports on the situation of the 1st Bn, 141st Infantry, became increasingly grave. The enemy had counterattacked, surrounded the battalion and cut the road behind them. They established a strong road block at 338579 and set up a defense line in back of the surrounded battalion, consisting of automatic weapons, SP guns and reinforced infantry. The battalion was ordered to fight its way back, but was unable to do so. Communications and supply were completely cut off. Division reported that emergency supplies would be dropped on the following day by plane.
The 100th and 3d Battalions, enjoying their second day in division reserve had their rest abruptly ended at 1730, when they were alerted for an attack on the following morning.
Operational instructions issued on the night of the 26th-27th called for the 100th and 3d Bns to attack abreast, with the 100th on the right and the 3d on the left. The 2d Bn protected the left flank of the division and maintained contact with the 7th Infantry, 3d Division, the organization on the left flank. The mission of the regiment was to break through the reinforced German line of resistance and relieve the 1st Bn, 141st Infantry.
The following units were attached to the 100th Bn: Co B, 753d Tank Bn (M); Co D (-1 platoon) 83d Chemical Weapons Bn (4.2 mortars); Co C (-1 platoon) 636th Tank Destroyer Bn.
Attached to the 3d Bn: Co D, 753d Tank Bn (M); Co C, 3d Chemical Weapons Bn (4.2 Mortars).
The fire of the 522d Field Artillery Battalion was reinforced by the 133d Field Artillery Battalion.
The 3d Bn crossed the IP at 0400, followed by the 100th Bn an hour later, and marched to the forward assembly area under cover of darkness.
The attack moved slowly through the thick Foret Dominiale du Champ, meeting small arms and automatic fire. At 1400 the battalions were in line abreast, 100th at 314585, Blue 314595, White 3l5598. Companies I and K, leading the 3d Battalion, received a tank-led counterattack at 1530. A bazooka team from Company K knocked out one tank, one half track, and forced another tank to withdraw. The attack was broken in the early twilight.
During the day the forward CP moved up to 308586, sharing the CP with the 141st infantry. 43 German prisoners were taken during the day's fighting.
Antitank Company rejoined the regiment, closing into the train bivouac at the French Cavalry Barracks in Bruyeres at 1900 27 October. Antitank Co had been detached from the 442d Infantry on 14 July in Italy, as previously reported, and attached to the 517th Parachute Infantry Regiment, had taken part in the glider-borne invasion of Southern France on D-Day. The history of Antitank Co for the period of its detachment is contained in separate inclosure.
The return of Antitank Co was effected by secret letter, Headquarters First Airborne Task Force, 24 October 1944, which relieved Antitank Co from attachment to the First Airborne Task Force effective 0001 23 October 44 and directed movement to vic EPINAL and return to control of parent unit.
Secret letter AG 200.6/040 P-O, Headquarters NATOUSA, 18 Oct 44, Subject: Battle Participation Awards, awarded battle honors to Antitank Co, 442d Infantry for campaign entitled "Southern France".
All battalions resumed the attack. Cos I and K made 350 yards and ran into the first of a series of manned German road blocks. Automatic weapons fire and mortars pinned the battalion down. The jungle-like forest gave excellent concealment to the many German snipers. After a fifteen minute barrage on the road block at 1400, the battalion pushed again, reduced the block and progressed to 330589, where they dug in for the night.
The three rifle companies of the 100th Bn advanced on the right, meeting stubborn resistance from the German infantry. At 1500 the battalion was subjected to a barrage originating from enemy batteries in the hills around Laveline. A characteristic of the forest fighting was that the numerous tree bursts increased the hazard of artillery against our advancing troops, while the German positions were elaborately prepared and roofed over. The A&P platoon of the battalion Headquarters Co constructed dugouts for the forward CP and litter patients at the aid station. The Antitank platoon was used as litter-bearers.
While the 3d and 100th Bns were pushing through the forest to rescue the lost battalion, the 2d Battalion began its assault on Hill 617 (328608). The plan of attack called for G Co to make a holding attack on the front, while the main strength of the battalion, making a semi-circular sweep, enveloped the enemy right flank. Accordingly, Cos E and F moved along the road from Grebefosse (315607) North to Halley (304616), at which point they entered the sector of the 7th Infantry. The two companies cut across Hill 585, occupied by friendly forces, and by nightfall completed their turning movement and were deployed on the Northern slope of Hill 617. In their approach, the two companies cleared the houses between Grebefosse and Halley, and neutralized several isolated pockets at the base of Hill 617. Twenty prisoners were taken, including the battalion commander of the 202d Mountain Troop Battalion, a newly arrived enemy unit.
Heavy shelling caused several casualties in the headquarters area, and forced the regimental CP to change position, to 302593.
A total of 90 prisoners were taken during the day, additional identifications being the 3d, 5th, 7th, 8th Cos of the 933d Regt, 338th Division, and the 198th Fusilier Battalion.
Continued freezing weather was a hardship to the troops, and cases of trench-foot were becoming more numerous.
In an attempt to provide emergency food, Division Artillery shot chocolate "D ration" bars into the area occupied by the lost battalion.
On the 29th the 3d Battalion moved forward at daybreak, following the trail Southwest through the Foret Dominiale. Cos I and K led, with L supporting. At La Croisette crossroads the battalion was stopped by a mined road block, which the enemy was covering with machine gun nests. The enemy artillery unloosed a concentrated barrage on the battalion and heavy casualties en-sued.
General Dahlquist, the Division Commander, ordered both the 3d and 100th Bns to push at all cost, and the fight to relieve the lost battalion reached a climax in savage hand to hand combat as the troops of the 3d Battalion charged into the machine guns nests with bayonets and grenades. The battalion broke through the road block after killing scores of Germans and a tank dozer was sent up front to remove the obstruction so that the three medium and one light tank attached to the 3d Bn could move ahead. Mortar and arti1lery fire continued to fall on the battalion, and they dug in for the night at 1715, tied in with the 100th Battalion on the right. Co I in the day's engagement had 5 men killed and 40 wounded. K Co had no officers left and an I Co officer temporarily took command. Supplies were brought up to the battalion under a guard furnished by Antitank Co. Antitank Co also furnished litter bearers for the battalion.
Companies B and C, leading the attack of the 100th Bn, also ran into prepared positions and heavy shelling. They skirted the minefields and set sweepers to work. One firefight broke out on the right rear of the battalion as the aggressive enemy attempted to infiltrate and General Dahlquist ordered that Co A move to the edge of the woods, guarding the flank against possible counterattack. The 100th moved along on the right of the 3d Battalion, maintaining contact and overcoming the same type of desperate resistance.
Meanwhile on the regimental left flank, the 2d Battalion was developing its attack on Hill 617. Two platoons of G Co moved ahead up the hill and were met with a heavy concentration of small arms, machine gun and mortar fire. Finding themselves unable to advance, the platoons withdrew to their original position at the foot of the hill. However their attack had diverted the main enemy effort on the hill, and Cos E and F, assaulting from the North, got behind the German positions and killed 100 and captured 41 of the surprised enemy. At 1530 Co E started downhill, to meet Co G moving forward, and clear up the remaining enemy between the two companies. The cost of the operation was 8 KIA and 10 WIA.
During the day, Colonel Pence, Regimental Commander, was injured in action and Lt Colonel Miller assumed command of the Combat Team. Lt Col Singles became Executive Officer, and Maj McKenzie was assigned as CO of the 100th Battalion.
Relief of the Lost Battalion
A heavy artillery and 4.2 mortar concentration was laid down on the ridge separating our forces from the lost battalion, and at 0900 both battalions jumped off again. The disposition of companies was the same as on the preceding day. The 3d Battalion moved up to the road block at 338578 (La Baignoire Oiseaux), reported mined and manned by 50 Germans, and reduced it after a firefight. The heavy losses inflicted on the enemy in the previous day's encounter resulted in lightened resistance, and the battalion made good progress. The artillery preparation had also been well directed, and large amounts of enemy clothing and materiel were found scattered about.
At 1400 came the first unconfirmed report that advance patrols of' the 3d Battalion had broken through to the lost battalion. Shortly afterward the anxiously-awaited news was confirmed by radio. The 3d Battalion moved up and dug in on the hilltop around the relieved unit. The 100th moved up on the right flank at the same time.
The fifteen days of hard fighting, under continual fire, and in wet and freezing weather, had taken a heavy toll of our troops. The front line strength of the 3d and 100th Bn at the time of the rescue of the 1st Bn, 141st Infantry was: Co A 77; Co B 76; Co C 80; Co I 71; Co K 78; Co L 85; Co M 102.
The 3d and 4th platoons of Antitank Co were committed during the day to protect the right flank of the regiment.
The 2d Battalion finished cleaning Hill 617, and Co F garrisoned the hill. Co C established road blocks at Grebefosse and on the trail coming into Hill 617 from the North at 318615, and kept open the Maillefaing road between Halley and the 3d Bn rear. In patrolling the road, several men from G Co were killed by mines. The battalion maintained contact with the 7th Infantry (3d Division) on the regimental left, and protected the left flank of the Division. After obtaining contact with the 3d Bn, 141st Infantry, the 2d Battalion was attached to the 141st Infantry for operations.
Following the relief of the 1st Bn, 141st Infantry, the 3d and 100th Bns were ordered to push on to the high ground overlooking La Houssiere and the Corcieux Valley (Hill 595). The battalions attacked at 1100, with the 3d Bn on the left and the 100th echeloned on the right and slightly to the rear, protecting the trails and draws that come up from the Southwest, and guarding the right flank of the regiment.
A patrol from the 3d Battalion observed 20 Germans setting up a road block on the trail at 349573. The patrol returned and an artillery mission was called on the target. CO I, leading the battalion, reached the road block at 1530 and after a fight reduced the opposition, taking 8 prisoners. Because of the presence of enemy tanks and flak wagons in the sector, the road block was not removed and a company of the 100th Bn garrisoned it while the 3d Bn pressed on to its objective.
Both battalions reached their objectives by nightfall, despite constant and heavy shelling, and Co I went back and took over the road block.
The 2d Battalion remained in position during the day, with Co F reinforced by a machine gun section from Co G, on Hill 617, and the rest of the battalion in the valley around Halley and Crebefosse. Fighting was confined to patrol actions. The end of the month found the 100th and 3d Battalions digging in on Hill 595 under artillery fire.