More Action at Kommerscheidt
The men of the 1st and 3d Battalions, 112th Infantry, remained in position in their Kommerscheidt defenses in early morning of 5 November. (See Map X.) They strove to get a few fitful moments of sleep despite the intense cold which came just before dawn. Many had no overcoats or blankets to keep them warm and tried to dig their foxholes deeper to ward off the icy temperatures. Just at dawn the enemy`s artillery and mortars suddenly roared again into intensity, and the disheartened infantrymen dreaded what they believed would follow. Their positions were at best hastily organized with a haphazard intermingling, of companies and platoons, and they had only three tanks in support. A previous estimate that there were 200 men of the 3d Battalion in position was scaled down to 100. In addition, there were combat-depleted Company A and the surviving heavy weapons of Company D. Company C was in reserve along the woods line to the north but in position to contribute little by direct fire toward repelling an attack against Kommerscheidt itself, and Company B and one heavy machine gun platoon were still back at Richelskaul.
It was just after dawn when the enemy fire lifted, and through the early morning mist observers could see at least five German tanks emerge from their Schmidt hide-out and head toward Kommerscheidt, firing as they moved. A small force of enemy infantry came out of the wooded draw to the southeast and launched an attack against Company A`s left flank positions. The 1st Platoon and its heavy weapons support engaged the infantry with small arms, machine gun, and mortar fire; and supporting artillery of the 229th Field Artillery Battalion fired several heavy concentrations. The German infantry attack was stopped, but the tanks on the south continued on.
Lieutenant Fleig and his three tanks from Company A, 707th Tank Battalion, were in the shallow open draw on the northwest flank of Kommerscheidt. While the German tanks were still at long range, the three American tanks moved to the crest of the little rise south of the draw and fired, scoring seven hits on one German Mark V and immobilizing it. The remaining enemy tanks continued to fire but did not press the assault. Supporting American artillery continued to fire concentrations on enemy tanks and troops in Schmidt. At the cost of a number of casualties, among them both the company commander, Captain Rokey, and the executive officer of Company I, Kommerscheidt had held again.1
TANK DESTROYERS M-10 of 893d Tank Destroyer Battalion, moving up over an arrow, muddy forest road west of Germeter.
Tank Destroyers Try for Kommerscheidt
The preceding night the tank destroyers of two platoons of Company C, 893d Tank Destroyer Battalion, had moved to ready positions southeast of Vossenack to await word that the main supply route through the Kall defile was clear of disabled tanks. That word came after the engineers had blasted at approximately 0400, and Lieutenant Leonard, accompanied by Lieutenant Fuller, reconnaissance platoon leader, led out before dawn with his 1st Platoon. As Lieutenant McElroy`s 3d Platoon followed, one of his destroyers threw a track in moving out of the muddy assembly area, but the others continued, finding that the supply route had indeed been cleared but that to traverse it still took time-consuming caution. Leonard`s platoon reached Kommerscheidt about 0930. By the time McElroy reached the woods line overlooking the town from the north, his destroyer had developed an oil leak and was overheating. He halted to work on his destroyer, holding up the vehicles of his platoon behind him; but eventually he pulled his gun off the trail and joined another crew as the column continued into town. The 3d Platoon, 893d, joined the 1st in Kommerscheidt about 1000, making available a total of seven destroyers.2
Another Enemy Attack
About 0920 a message from General Cota, the division commander, had reached Kommerscheidt, ordering Colonel Peterson to renew the attack to recapture Schmidt without delay. That was as far as the order got. As the message arrived the men in Kommerscheidt were being subjected to another German attack. Whether it was a new attack or a continuation of the stalled dawn attack, the infantrymen could not tell in the confusion. They did know that enemy infantry again assaulted the left-flank positions, coming in from the wooded draw to the southeast. The enemy tanks joined this attack only with supporting fire from Schmidt, although several tanks moved about out of sight on a road in the woods to the east, their engines racing and sirens blasting, apparently trying to unnerve the Americans.
This second German assault of the day was in full progress when the self-propelled guns of Company C, 893d Tank Destroyer Battalion, arrived in the town. Lieutenant Leonard and Lieutenant McElroy co-ordinated immediately with Lieutenant Fleig, the tank officer, placing Leonard`s 1st Tank Destroyer Platoon near the three tanks on the right (west) flank of town and the other platoon, the 3d, on the left (east) of town. The destroyers joined with the three tank sin firing back at the supporting enemy tanks in Schmidt, but without reported success.
On the left flank, where the German infantry had again assaulted, 2d Lt. Ray M. Borders, Company M, seized an abandoned automatic rifle and sprayed the infantry attackers, knocking out almost two full squads of German machine gunners. Small arms, machine gun, mortar, and supporting artillery fire, plus the timely arrival of the tank destroyers, halted the half-hearted German effort. Once again Kommerscheidt had held.3
Events Along the Kall Trail
Except for some .30-caliber ammunition brought up by Captain Pynchon, 707th Tank Battalion, the first infantry ;supplies to reach Kommerscheidt after i:he Schmidt withdrawal arrived just before dawn on 5 November before the Germans had launched their first attack of the day. The load included enough emergency rations for all the infantry in the town and much-needed small arms ammunition. In charge of the supply convoy was Lieutenant George, motor officer of the 3d Battalion, 112th Infantry, who had earlier led the three-weasel supply train to Schmidt. He had moved through the main supply route without undue difficulty after the tanks had been pulled off the trail.
George and his supply party started back shortly after dawn. At an ammunition supply point established by the lieutenant at the exit of the Kalltrail onto the open Vossenack ridge, the group met a force of tank destroyers on its way to Kommerscheidt. George secured the assistance of the destroyers in transporting additional mortar shells and miscellaneous ammunition which had been requested and then returned to the regimental motor pool west of Germeter. There the regimental S-4 put him in charge of getting all supplies to Kommerscheidt.
Intending to lead another supply train forward after dark that night, Lieutenant George first planned a reconnaissance of the trail in the hope of taking two-and-one-half-ton trucks forward. With S. Sgt. John M. Ward, Company I supply sergeant, he again approached the entrance of the supply route into the Kall woods and was surprised to see in the distance two figures in German uniforms and another in American uniform. The American-dressed figure waved and yelled to them. Cautiously, Lieutenant George and Sergeant Ward advanced. They found that two of the men were German medics and the third a wounded American officer whom they recognized as the 112th Infantry S-2, Captain Montgomery.
Captain Montgomery had gone forward the day before with Colonel Lockett, regimental executive officer, two cameramen, and a jeep driver and had not been heard from since. Now Captain Montgomery revealed that the party had proceeded toward the Kall and had been nearing the Mestrenger Muehle when it had run into a German ambush. Captain Montgomery had been wounded by the firing, and the entire party had been captured. The uninjured Americans were led away and Montgomery was left behind. Two German medics had come upon him later, and, while they attended his wound, he had talked them into surrendering.4
About 0700, Captain Hostrup, Company A, 707th Tank Battalion, started for Kommerscheidt with six tanks, including his own command vehicle. He incorporated into one full platoon the four tanks left of the 3d Platoon, under 2d Lt. Richard H. Payne, and the one tank of Lieutenant Clarke`s 2d Platoon. The 2d Platoon tank was apparently one of those that had bellied or thrown a track in the open south of Vossenack the day before. Hostrup put Lieutenant
Payne at the head of the column, and his command tank followed in the rear. Payne arrived at the woods line overlooking Kommerscheidt about 0900 and halted there at the direction of Lieutenant Fleig in Kommerscheidt. Still on the Kall trail between Company C, 112th Infantry, and the river, Captain Hostrup`s tank developed engine trouble, stalled, and could not be started again. The hill mass prevented direct radio communication with Fleig, but using Payne`s lead tank as a relay Hostrup directed Fleig to take command of the company until he could get forward in his own tank. Fleig summoned the five tanks under Payne into Kommerscheidt about 1300, assigning them the right flank positions. He and his three veteran tanks moved to the left flank.5
Action Again in Kommerscheidt
Enemy artillery against Kommerscheidt continued intermittently after the second German attack of the morning. Then, about 1400, word passed almost electrically through the thin line of riflemen in foxholes and buildings: "Tanks!" The fear of enemy tanks had become almost a psychological terror. A number of men jumped from their foxholes and headed for the rear. Only quick action by NCO`s and officers prevented a general flight.
The report that enemy tanks were approaching was half rumor, half fact. The Germans did employ tanks at intervals throughout the afternoon, one or two tanks supporting small infantry forces in what were apparently probing efforts against various sectors of the line; but no general tank attack developed. The enemy tankers contented themselves with firing, often with deadly effect, from their dominating Schmidt jbsitions some 800 yards away.
With the arrival of six tank destroyers (one was still at the woods line) and five more tanks, six destroyers and eight tanks were present for the defense. One destroyer was knocked out during the afternoon by enemy tank fire, leaving five. The infantry was strengthened slightly by the 2d Platoon of Company C,112th Infantry, under T. Sgt. Carl Beckes, moving up from the woods line on the north.
An air strike by American P-47`s hit the Germans in Schmidt in midafternoon, and men of Company D, 112th Infantry saw a P-47 blast a German tank with a bomb at a crossroads in the northern edge of Schmidt. This was probably part of an attack by a squadron of the 365th Group. At one time during the afternoon, a group of Germans tried to come in on the left flank of the Kommerscheidt positions over an exposed knoll, but mortars of Companies D and M, despite an alarming ammunition short- age, broke up the attack before it could gain momentum.
The enemy`s probing efforts continued through the afternoon but accomplished little other than harassment of the already fatigued defenders. Toward dusk came the usual intense enemy mortar and artillery barrage, succeeded by routine noise of early night movement and intermittent shelling. The riflemen could hear enemy tanks churning around to their front, and the voices of German soldiers gave the impression that the enemy was collecting his dead. One group of Germans got so close to the
defensive positions that the Germans called out for the Americans to surrender. A determined burst of small arms fire was the response s
Company B, 112th, Moves Up
The success of the 110th Infantry`s flanking drive the day before to take Simonskall was considered to eliminate the necessity of holding Company B, 112th Infantry, at Richelskaul. With Lieutenant Simon, assistant S-3, 3d Battalion, leading, the company and its attached heavy machine gun platoon moved out at midday in single file, proceeding cautiously along the edge of the woods south of Vossenack, down the Kall trail, and into Kommerscheidt. The only casualty came when a stray round of artillery fire fell as the company moved between the northern woods line and Kommerscheidt.
Company B, minus one platoon, went into position on the southeast between the 3d Battalion elements and Company A. The other rifle platoon under T. Sgt. Bruce Pitman was to go in with Company L and the 3d Platoon, Company A, on the southwest. The platoon waited on the edge of town for Sergeant Pitman to find out from Captain Walker, Company L commander, what the platoon sector was to be. As the men waited, the Germans threw in their usual early evening shelling, driving the Americans to cover. When Pitman returned, he reorganized his men in the darkness. One man was missing, and the sergeant again told the platoon to wait while he made a search for him. A burning house on the edge of town lent an eerie atmosphere to an already tense situation, and the men, feeling that every move they made was silhouetted against the flames, scattered again. When Sergeant Pitman failed to return, a squad leader and the platoon guide, S. Sgt. Roy Little hales, went to took for him. They found him about twenty-five yards away; he had been hit by an artillery shell and was beyond medical assistance.7
The Tank Destroyers
The remaining platoon of Company C, 893d Tank Destroyer Battalion, Lieu-tenant Edmund`s 2d Platoon, with only two guns, was delayed in reaching Kommerscheidt because the company commander, Captain Pugh, wanted to make a personal reconnaissance of the situation before committing his last two guns. Edmund`s two vehicles finally reached the northern Kommerscheidt woods line between 1600 and 1630. Captain Pugh placed them in the edge of the woods in a reserve position with orders to go into Kommerscheidt at daybreak. He had been unable to find his two lieutenants, Leonard and McElroy, in Kommerscheidt and left for Vossenack to try to get at least one replacement officer and to form a party for resupply of his guns.
Five operational tank destroyers were now in Kommerscheidt and three were behind the Company C, 112th Infantry, positions. One of the latter three was Lieutenant McElroy`s with an oil leak. These were all the remaining guns of
Company C, 893d.8 Although the infantry did not feel that the destroyers were sufficiently aggressive, an opinion shared by the infantry regimental commander, the addition of tank destroyers had substantially strengthened the Kommerscheidt defense.9
Command in Kommerscheidt
A forward command post group under Maj. Richard A. Dana, S-3, 112th Infantry, moved up about noon to the vicinity of the Company C, 112th, positions and later shifted slightly to the rear to a hunting lodge alongside the Kall trail. While this forward displacement could be expected to assist the Kommerscheidt defense in both command and morale, it nevertheless left the rear command post virtually nonoperative, primarily because communications were poor and because no one was left in nominal command. The S-1, S-4, and regimental surgeon had to base most of their information on hearsay from stragglers and wounded and from occasional supply groups that got through to Kommerscheidt.10
During the day Colonel Flood, the 3d Battalion commander, was evacuated for slight wounds and combat exhaustion. Before his evacuation Maj. R. C. Christensen, executive officer, assumed command. The 1st and 3d Battalions had lost so many men and had become so intermingled that Major Hazlett, the 1stBattalion commander, was placed in overall command of both battalions. Captain Walker, Company L, was placed under him in command of all infantry elements on the right flank, consisting now of one platoon of Company A, elements of Companies I and L, and, after dark, Sergeant Pitman`s platoon of Company B.11
Telephone facilities to the rear had become almost nonexistent on 5 November. Communications consisted primarily of radios, with some use made of messengers. After dark Lieutenant Simon, assistant S-3, 3d Battalion, was sent back with a message from Colonel Peterson to General Cota, delivered at about 2300. In effect, the message said that the 1st and 3d Battalions were pretty well disorganized, that the men were shell shocked, that the armor in Kommerscheidt was not as strong as desired, that the tank destroyers were not sufficiently aggressive, and that he (Peterson) would try to reorganize and hold the town. He added that if possible he would try to retake Schmidt; but apparently such optimism on the part of the regimental commander was forced.12
The 1st Platoon of Company C, 20th Engineers, which had dug in the night before with its company headquarters group to the rear of Company C, 112th Infantry, early on 5 November began
maintenance of the main supply route from the bridge to Kommerscheidt. Just before dark a nine-man mine detector detail attempted to check the roads within the town, but enemy artillery fire discouraged its efforts. Lieutenant Ossola`s platoon of Company B, 20th Engineers, continued maintenance and revetment of shoulders of the supply route west of the Kali. Company A, 20th, which had gone into defensive positions designated by General Davis in the edge of the woods on the southeastern nose of Vossenack ridge, left one platoon, the 3d, in the defense and sent the others to work on the trail east of the Kall. Some men of the company assisted Company B with the bulldozer and air compressors, and the four-man security guard remained on the river bridge.13
The Greene Hornets
Lieutenant Greene`s "Greene Hornet" patrol squad had been inactive since its first flank security patrol mission on 3 November, thus ceasing virtually the only patrolling in which the regiment engaged during the period. On the night of 4 November Greene received orders to lead a group of officers and enlisted men, who had returned from Paris passes, to their units in Kommerscheidt. The lieutenant volunteered to take an SCR 300 forward with him. He delivered it in Kommerscheidt after its aerial had been "snapped by rifle fire" in the Kall valley; after approximately ten minutes` operation, the radio refused to function. Greene then returned to the rear, stopped at the forward regimental switchboard in the former German barracks at Germeter, and began to assist the operators in placing calls. When a party from the 2d Battalion, 112th Infantry, discovered that his operator was Lieutenant Greene, he asked the lieutenant to relay fire missions-his own communications supporting fires had been knocked out. For the remainder of the operation, while his patrol group worked at bringing in prisoners, carrying rations, and performing general supply tasks, Lieutenant Greene continued to act as a fire relay which became known as the "Greene Hornet Switch" from his melodramatic answer to all calls: "This is the Greene Hornet." 14
At approximately 2000 a 707th Tank Battalion supply party with one jeep, three weasels, and one two-and-one-half ton truck carrying gasoline, rations, water, two batteries, and a tank generator reached the entrance of the Kall trail into the valley woods. With a white handkerchief tied around his helmet, Captain Pynchon, battalion S-4, led the way on foot. The column moved slowly, often being held up to allow medical jeeps to pass toward the rear. Some 300 yards past the river bridge, the party was subjected to eight or nine rounds of enemy shellfire. One helmet was blown off.
Reaching the woods line north of Kommerscheidt shortly after 2200, Capt. Donald C. Kelley, Headquarters Company, 707th Tank Battalion, and 1st Lt. Charles S. Weniger, Service Company transportation officer, continued with the weasels to the slight draw just northwest of Kommerscheidt. There they went on
foot from tank to tank distributing the supplies. Lieutenant Fleig asked them to report to Captain Hostrup that the tankers in Kommerscheidt would not use their radios except under absolute necessity, because they had been under almost constant shelling all day and felt, rightly or wrongly, that the radios were drawing fire.
Now that passage of the main supply route with a two-and-one-half-ton truck had been proved feasible, Lieutenant Weniger left with a weasel for Germeter in order to get additional trucks to bring up more ammunition while it was still dark and establish a forward ammunition supply point. The lieutenant`s weasel threw a track immediately upon starting back, and he had to return for another. The second time he continued without mishap. Captain Kelley believed the excessive number of thrown weasel tracks was due to the fact that the drivers were hastily converted infantrymen who had had only three days` experience with their vehicles.
Captain Pynchon, Captain Kelley, and the Headquarters Company supply sergeant, S. Sgt. Curtis E. Walker, remained in the Kommerscheidt area, and Lieutenant Rogers left for Germeter with the remaining empty weasel, the jeep, and the two-and-one-half-ton truck just after midnight. The return column came under enemy mortar fire near the Kall bridge but escaped unscathed. At the exit of the trail from the woods southeast of Vossenack the truck found difficulty in climbing the steep, slippery grade. An engineer bulldozer close by was called to assist, and the two big vehicles drew spasmodic machine gun fire from the woods line to the southwest. There were no casualties, and the column was soon able to move on. It came under heavy enemy artillery fire in Vossenack but eventually reached Germeter safely about 0330 (6 November) .15
Lieutenant George, who was in charge of supplying the infantry in Kommerscheidt and who had earlier in the day come upon Captain Montgomery and the two German medics, went forward again around dusk with a supply force of one two-and-one-half-ton truck and several weasels. Once the group reached the wooded part of the Kall trail, Lieutenant George put Sergeant Ward, the Company I supply sergeant, in charge of the train and himself returned to Germeter for another supply train. It consisted of two trucks, one jeep, and three weasels, two of which towed 57-mm. antitank guns from the 3d Battalion, 112th Infantry. Once again reaching the entrance of the trail into the woods southeast of Vossenack, Lieutenant George told his men to take cover in abandoned foxholes near by while he made a reconnaissance on foot. Farther along the trail he found Sergeant Ward and was told by him that the advance supply train had gone through, although one weasel had thrown a track. The intense artillery fire in the area had affected Ward`s nerves so badly that George sent the sergeant to the rear to report to the medics.
Returning to his supply train, Lieutenant George slowly and cautiously led his vehicles along the treacherous trail. Nevertheless, one of the weasels threw a track. While the men detached the antitank gun, attached it again to the
jeep, and began to transfer the weasel`s supplies to the other vehicles, one squad of the 3d Battalion Antitank Platoon under S. Sgt. Leo L. Cannon moved on a head in one of the remaining weasels.
The main column under Lieutenant George started forward again and had almost reached the bottom of the gorge when the men saw a sudden bright glow up ahead and heard an explosion. A few minutes later a man from Sergeant Cannon`s antitank gun crew staggered back to them. Burned almost black, the soldier said the squad had been ambushed. The Germans had blasted their weasel with three phosphorous grenades or shells. Moving forward to investigate, the remainder of Lieutenant George`s supply group saw no Germans but found another antitank soldier burned slightly and two others seriously injured. Sergeant Cannon could not be found.
With this warning fresh in mind, the column put out security for the continuance of its movement. Six rounds of artillery fell near it at the switchbacks east of the river, but it reached the forward regimental command post unmolested. Lieutenant George established an ammunition supply point in the vicinity of the Company C, 112th Infantry, positions, and the men dug in for the night, the two 57-mm. guns going into positions with the near-by infantry.
The time was now about midnight. Although the enemy ambush indicated that the Germans planned to infiltrate the supply route, the empty vehicles of Lieutenant Rogers, 707th Tank Battalion, moved through it without mishap after midnight. There was even an engineer bulldozer working in the area as the column passed.16
Tank Destroyer Supply
Back in Vossenack to check on supply and to try to get officer replacements, Captain Pugh, commander of Company C, 893d Tank Destroyer Battalion, received a radio message about 2200 from Lieutenant Edmund, 2d Tank Destroyer Platoon leader, in the edge of the Kommerscheidt woods. The 1st and 3d Tank Destroyer Platoons from the town had by this time joined Edmund`s and all three were planning to move to Kommerscheidt before daylight. But now, Edmund reported to Pugh, an unidentified infantry captain, claiming that the infantry in Kommerscheidt were pulling out without the presence of the destroyers, was ordering them back into Kommerscheidt immediately. Captain Pugh told Lieutenant Edmund to hold the destroyers where they were.
A few minutes later Captain Pugh received another radio message-to report to the forward regimental command post. The trail to the command post across the Kall was blocked by a supply train, and Pugh had to wait. Lieutenant Edmund radioed again: the same infantry captain was again insisting that the tank destroyers move back into Kommerscheidt. Radioing Colonel Mays, 893d commander, for concurrence, Captain Pugh again ordered Lieutenant Edmund to remain where he was. As the company commander still waited to cross the Kall, the 1st Tank Destroyer Platoon sergeant, S. Sgt. Arlie W. Wilson, radioed that the infantry captain was "raising hell," even threatening court-martial if the destroyers were not moved forward. Captain Pugh repeated his orders, but the 1stand 3d Platoons went back into town shortly after the last call-they had apparently
tired of wrangling. Hearing an explosion in the Kall gorge that meant one o the supply vehicles ahead had hit a mine, Pugh gave up his attempt to get forward that night and returned to Vossenack.17
While Captain Pugh was waiting to cross the river, Lieutenant Fuller, reconnaissance platoon leader for the tank destroyers, attempted to move forward in an armored car to resupply the tank destroyers in Kommerscheidt. When he reached the valley trail and found it blocked by a weasel and three or four other vehicles, he returned to Vossenack with ammunition and planned to make another attempt to go through the next day. Apparently both Lieutenant Fuller and Captain Pugh had come upon the tail of Lieutenant George`s last infantry supply column.18
Back at the division command post, Colonel Mays, 893d commander, had received what must have been a delayed report that an infantry supply train was moving to Kommerscheidt about midnight. He radioed his Company B in Vossenack to be alert for this train and to attach one of its platoons to it. The train had evidently passed before Company B received the message, for the company never saw the supply column.19
On 5 November the aid station of the 1st Battalion, 112th Infantry, was still in a basement in the northern edge of Kommerscheidt, while the 3d Battalion aid station remained in the log dugout alongside the main supply route in the Kall gorge west of the river. In Kommerscheidt the 1st Battalion surgeon, Captain Linguiti, had been disturbed by continued concentration of fighting personnel and equipment around his aid station site. After a supply train had deposited its load near the aid station entrance before daylight and distribution had taken place from there for several hours, he had no doubt about the cause of an enemy shelling that centered on the house, injuring several patients and killing three medics.
During the afternoon medical weasels and available jeeps, including that of the 3d Battalion chaplain, were used to shuttle patients from the Kommerscheidt aid station to the 3d Battalion station alongside the main supply route. When all patients from the forward site had been evacuated, the medical officers decided to abandon the 1st Battalion station except as a forward collecting point and to combine the two battalions` medical facilities in the log dugout. Eight litter bearers from the 1st Battalion and a driver with his jeep were left to man the collecting point.
Many walking wounded were evacuated past the 3d Battalion aid station. They were sent on foot to the edge of the woods southeast of Vossenack where ambulances from Company C, 103d Medical Battalion, maintained a forward loading point. Lack of weasels and litter bearers prevented further evacuation of many litter cases, although all personnel of the regimental aid station who could be spared had already been sent forward as substitute litter bearers.
The first indication the medical personnel had of any impending infiltration of the Kall trail came near midnight.
Pfc. Delmar C. Putney, leading a group of walking wounded from Kommerscheidt, was stopped by enemy medics on the trail east of the river. The Germans forced him at gunpoint to carry a wounded German soldier for some distance along the trail. They then released Putney, and he made his way to the log aid station and told his story.20
Formation of Task Force R
By noon of 5 November wishful rumor had spread among the fighting men in Kommerscheidt that division was forming a special task force to take over their positions. They were to be relieved! The first indication of positive action along such lines did not come until late afternoon when Colonel Ripple, commander of the 707th Tank Battalion, was informed by General Cota that he was to command such a task force. Ripple`s men, however, were not to relieve the defenders of Kommerscheidt but to pass through them and recapture Schmidt. The Kommerscheidt defenders were to follow and assist in holding Schmidt at all costs. The attack was to be launched before noon the next day, 6 November.
Colonel Ripple learned that his task force was to consist of the 3d Battalion, 110th Infantry, already weakened by fighting in the woods to the south; Company A, 707th Tank Battalion, already in Kommerscheidt with nine remaining tanks; Company D, 707th, the battalion`s light tank comply; Company C, 893d Tank Destroyer Battalion, already in Kommerscheidt but reduced by four destroyers and possibly a fifth (Lieutenant McElroy`s with an oil leak at the Kommerscheidt woods line); and one platoon of Company B, 893d. An SCR 193 was to provide direct communication with division.
The infantrymen, only recently removed from a grueling battle against fortified positions in the wooded 110th Infantry sector, left on foot from Germeter for Kommerscheidt about 0245 (6 November) . They numbered approximately 300, a third of whom were heavy weapons personnel. The platoon of tank destroyers from Company B, 893d, was the unit that received orders from Colonel Mays too late to attach itself to an infantry supply train moving through Vossenack about midnight. Just when the light tanks of Company D, 707th Tank Battalion, were to move to Kommerscheidt was not made clear, for they had been assisting the 28th Reconnaissance Troop in blocking in the woods southwest of the 110th Infantry and did not leave those positions until 8 November.
In Vossenack the infantry column was delayed by enemy shelling. On the southeastern nose of Vossenack ridge, it was met by Captain Pugh, Company C, 893d Tank Destroyer Battalion, who asked for at least a platoon of infantry to accompany a platoon of Company B`s destroyers down the Kall trail. Colone Ripple refused. He considered his infantry force already too far understrength and planned to take his column down the firebreak to the river instead of using
the trail. Almost as soon as the infantry column entered the woods at the firebreak, it became engaged in a small arms fight which lasted almost the length of its trek through the woods to the river. With the approach of daylight, Task Force R`s infantry component was still fighting to get across theKall.21
After dark on 5 November the two platoons of Company A, 20th Engineers, which had been working on the Kall trail east of the river, returned to their former defensive bivouac just inside the woods on the southeastern nose of Vossenackridge, leaving the company`s four-man security guard at the bridge. Lieutenant Ossola`s platoon of Company B continued to work on the supply route west of the Kall and near the bridge, while the other two platoons of Company B remained all day in Vossenack. The 1st Platoon, Company C, was dug in near Company C, 112th Infantry, on the east bank near the Kommerscheidt woods line; the 2d Platoon was still on a mine-clearing mission with the 109th Infantry. The 3d Platoon, Company C, under Lieutenant Johns, whose mission to transport TNT to a forward dump had been postponed the previous night, left Germeter about 2200 with two trucks, one loaded with 5,000 pounds of explosives and the other with two squads of men. A third squad remained to guard the rear explosives dump at Germeter.
After unloading the explosives near the Kall bridge some time after midnight, the two squads crossed the river to join their company`s 1st Platoon near Company C, 112th Infantry, for the night. A heavy shelling hit them near the east bank switchbacks, wounding two men and killing another, and Lieutenant Johns returned to the Kall`s west bank to deposit his wounded at the log aid station. The remaining members of his two squads began to dig in near the trail about thirty yards west of the Kall bridge. Except for the four-man security guard at the bridge, they thus constituted the only obstacle to uninterrupted north-south German movement through the Kall gorge.22
Lieutenant Johns` two squads had been digging in on the west bank near the bridge for only about ten to fifteen minutes (they thought the time was about 0230 or 0300, 6 November), when a German jumped out on the trail some fifteen yards away, blew two shrill blasts with a whistle, and shouted something in German. The whistle blasts were the signal for a maze of German small arms fire which seemed to the engineers to come upon them from all sides.
Before the firing started Sgt. William O`Neal had been digging a foxhole with another soldier on the left flank of the engineer squads. They struck a rock and decided to try another spot. O`Neal had his hands full of equipment when the enemy struck. One German with a burp gun began firing from about seven yards
away. Unable to fire because his rifle was at sling arms, O`Neal half jumped and half rolled into a small patch of scrub pine. When the enemy began to sendup flares, he could see some of the engineers of his platoon lying on the ground near by, whether wounded or dead, he could not tell. It seemed to him that the Germans must have destroyed most of the two squads with their first blasts, for what little fire the Americans returned seemed to come from the other flank of the position. Waiting until the shooting diminished some thirty minutes later, Sergeant O`Neal crawled off through the trees and came upon another member of his platoon who had been left as a guard at a pile of shovels. He had tried to warn the squads, this man said, but had lost his way trying to find them. The Germans, he said, had passed right by him on their way up the trail.
Lieutenant Ossola`s 3d Platoon, Company B, 20th Engineers, had been working on the trail near Lieutenant Johns` platoon. When enemy artillery fire began to fall dangerously close, the men took cover in a ditch near a culvert. Because they had put out no local security, the appearance of the Germans took them by surprise. The enemy set up machine guns only a few feet from the ditch, but the engineers held their fire for fear of revealing their presence.
Beyond the river, men of the 1st Platoon, Company C, 20th Engineers, could hear German firing in the river valley, but they were afraid to return the fire and run the risk of hitting other Americans. And at the bridge the four-man security guard under T/4 Krieder heard the first whistle blasts and the subsequent firing. Five Germans later ran across the stone bridge, followed almost immediately by twenty-five or thirty Germans, but Krieder and his men also feared revealing their presence to this superior force and did not fire.23
About 0300 there was a knock at the door of the log dugout which the two infantry battalions shared as an aid station. The visitor proved to be a German private who quickly called up a German NCO. A 3d Battalion medical clerk who spoke German, Pfc. Joseph Cally, talked with the Germans, telling them that these were American medics caring for wounded. The Germans asked if they had rations. When Cally replied that they had enough for one day, the enemy noncoms aid he would return with more rations and some German medics; in the meantime, the Americans must remain. To insure compliance, a German guard was left at the door. At intervals throughout the remainder of the night the aid station personnel could see German patrols near their dugout, including one group which mined the Kall trail; but at daylight the German guard at the door was gone.24
The Situation in Vossenack
On 5 November the situation of the 2d Battalion, 112th Infantry, in Vossenack repeated that of the day before except that the condition of the men under the intense enemy shelling became more and more critical. Occasional enemy patrol shit the exposed forward position of the
Vossenack ridge, and shattered nerves gave rise to many reports of enemy counterattacks which did not actually develop.
Early in the morning the 2d Squad of the 1st Platoon, Company F, under SSgt. Charles W. Cascarano, in position at the head of a shallow wooded draw leading into the positions on the east, saw about twenty Germans moving in a column of twos through the wooded draw toward its positions. The squad`s automatic rifleman sprayed the Germans with fire, wounding nine, killing four, and putting the rest to flight. The wounded Germans lay where they had fallen for about: four or five hours, moaning and crying, before five German medics with a cart: picked them up.
The enemy shelled the open ridge with artillery from the direction of the Brandenberg-Bergstein ridge and with self-propelled guns and tanks, sometimes firing twenty or thirty rounds at one foxhole before shifting targets. The men noticed no lessening in the fire even when American planes were overhead. In the Company E area, four men who were using a barn for shelter were buried in an avalanche of baled hay when the upper part of the barn collapsed from a direct artillery hit. Frantic efforts by others of the company to dig out the men were unavailing, and the building burned.
The regular Company E commander, 1st Lt. Melvin R. Barrilleaux, who had returned the night before from a Paris leave, visited his platoons after dark. He found most of his men so affected by the shelling that he felt they all should be evacuated. Many were in such a shocked, dazed condition that the platoon leaders had to order them to eat, and one platoon leader was himself evacuated for combat exhaustion. Virtually the same situation existed in the other three companies.
Intra battalion communications were very poor: when Lieutenant Barrilleaux reported to the battalion CP after the building that housed his company CP had burned, the battalion officers were amazed to see him; they had thought him dead in the fire. Communications to regiment consisted of only sporadic radio operation, and the artillery`s wire to the "Greene Hornet Switch" operated only occasionally.
The battalion commander, Lt. Col. Theodore S. Hatzfeld, had himself become a virtual combat exhaustion case. He insisted on remaining at his post, but Capt. John D. Pruden, the battalion executive officer, conducted the major command functions.
Just before dark enemy shelling methodically wiped out six men in two-man foxholes of Company G along the trail that was an extension of the town`s main street. When the men near by saw their companions blown to bits, some pulled back to the houses, leaving an undefended gap of more than a hundred yards in the center of the defense. Efforts by officers of both Company G and Company F to fill this gap went for nought. The troops ordered into the holes, utterly fatigued, their nerves shattered, many of them crying unashamedly, would return to the dubious protection of the houses.
The company commanders reported the situation to battalion; battalion informed them it was being reported to regiment; and no relief came.25Higher
headquarters may have failed to act because there was no adequate regimental or divisional reserve. One possible remedy, pulling the defenses back from the exposed forward nose to the line of houses, was not tried, and the regiment`s situation report for the day listed the combat condition of its command as "excellent."
Two towed guns of Company B, 630th Tank Destroyer Battalion, in position near the Vossenack church, were damaged by the enemy shellfire. They were towed out during the night. Three 57-mm. antitank guns of Antitank Company, 112th Infantry, went into the town during the day but were supplied with only armor-piercing ammunition and never fired. The 2d Battalion`s medical aid station had been set up in the former German barracks at Germeter under Capt. Morris Katz, battalion surgeon, and a forward collecting point was being maintained near the Vossenack church. Casualties were evacuated by jeep toGermeter.26
Armor in Vossenack
The ten remaining tanks of Company C, 707th Tank Battalion, had withdrawn from Vossenack with battalion approval during the night of 4-5 November to a bivouac-ready position near Germeter. Lieutenant Leming`s 2d Platoon moved up again at dawn on 5 November to fire into the wooded draw north of Vossenack because enemy small arms and mortar fire had been reported from that direction. One of Leming`s tanks was hit by high explosive fire that put its 75-mm. gun outof action, wounded the assistant driver, and killed the driver. The remainder of the tanks returned to Germeter.
About 1300 1st Lt. James J. Ryan, company maintenance officer, went for ward with a T-2 retriever from the battalion maintenance section in an effort to fix a tank that had hit a mine on 2 November. Enemy artillery made it impossible for the repair crew to work except during occasional lulls, and the tank was eventually towed back to Germeter.
When the tankers were notified of a reported counterattack against Vossenack about 1400, both Lieutenant Leming`s 2d Platoon and Lieutenant Quarrie`s 1stPlatoon went back into town. No counterattack materialized, and Leming`s tanks withdrew again to cover positions near Germeter. Quarrie`s platoon stayed intown in conformance with recent orders that the company had to keep at least one platoon of tanks in Vossenack at all times.27
Until 5 November Company B, 707th Tank Battalion, had been attached to the 110th Infantry in its attack to the south; but because the heavily wooded terrain in that sector limited maneuver, its tanks had been employed only as close-support artillery. About noon of 5 November the company commander, Capt. George S. Granger, was ordered to move his platoons to Germeter preparatory to relieving Company C, 707th, in Vossenack. Delayed by mud and by telephone lines strung almost in the trails, for the indiscriminately mined forests had
prompted communications men not to hazard movement off the trails when laying their wires, the tankers arrived in Germeter shortly after dusk.
Plans were made between the two tank companies for Company B to take over the mission of keeping one platoon in Vossenack, and about 0500 the next morning (6 November) the 1st Platoon of 1st Lt. Carl A. Anderson, Jr., moved forward. Anderson had difficulty in the dark finding the route used by the Company C tankers around the north of town. Not knowing where he would find the front-line foxholes, Lieutenant Anderson shifted his tanks into a line formation. Several infantrymen running toward the rear passed them. As the tanks crossed a slight rise before coming out on the northern nose of the ridge, the crewmen saw incoming small arms tracers from the draw northeast of Vossenack. Confused and alarmed by the running infantrymen, the small arms fire, and the lack of orientation, the tankers opened fire with their machine guns on the wooded draw to their front.28
The three tank destroyer platoons of Company B, 893d Tank Destroyer Battalion, which had moved into position with the rifle companies in Vossenack at dawn on 5 November, found the area saturated with enemy mortar and artillery fire. Before noon all four destroyers of Lieutenant Davis` 1st Platoon with Company G, 112th Infantry, had been hit at least four times. The platoon`s infantry guide had been killed as the destroyers moved into position and six men had been wounded.
Shortly after dark the 2d and 3d Tank Destroyer Platoons were moved back to ready positions near Richelskaul. The 1st Platoon, still in Vossenack, was alerted about midnight to move to Kommerscheidt with an infantry supply train. There was no sign of the supply train, and Lieutenant Davis` destroyers remained on the Vossenack ridge. An hour or so before dawn the crewmen were alarmed to see infantrymen moving back from their foxholes.29
Meanwhile, Captain Pugh, commander of Company C, 893d Tank Destroye Battalion, and Lieutenant Fuller, whose attempts earlier in the night to resupply the destroyers in Kommerscheidt had failed, moved out again about 0530with two jeeps in another effort to get ammunition and rations to Kommerscheidt. Fuller rode in the first jeep and Pugh in the second with a driver and 2d Lt. Louis J. Izzo. Izzo was going forward to take command of either the 1st or the3d Tank Destroyer Platoon in Kommerscheidt; both platoon leaders, Lieutenant Leonard and Lieutenant McElroy, were presumably missing.
Lieutenant Fuller, driving his own jeep and accompanied by two enlisted men, had gone about 300 yards south of Vossenack on the open southeastern nose when he spotted what seemed to be about forty Germans armed with machine guns, grenades, and at least one Panzerfaust. Captain Pugh, Lieutenant Fuller, and the Germans seemed to act at once. Pugh yelled, "Look out !" and fired his jeep`s machine gun, but the weapon jammed. Fuller stepped on the gas, and his companion in the front seat fired about ten rounds from the jeep`s machine gun. Captain Pugh jumped out of the
left side of his jeep almost at the same time that a Panzerfaust rocket grazed the top of the jeep, wrecking the windshield. A husky German then came at him with a bayonet. He batted it away, suffering only a gash across three fingers, and ran back toward Vossenack. His driver and Lieutenant Izzo also escaped and soon joined Captain Pugh in the town.
The Germans turned their machine guns on Fuller`s jeep and hit Fuller`s gunner as well as the enlisted man riding in the back seat. The lieutenant yelled for another burst from the jeep`s machine gun, but the gunner answered, "I can`t, Lieutenant; I`m dying right here!" Unable to give any assistance at the moment, Fuller made his way back to the southern edge of Vossenack. There he found Captain Pugh, the driver, and Lieutenant Izzo and told them he wanted to go back for the two wounded enlisted men.
At that moment Pugh and Fuller spotted several tank destroyers heading out of Vossenack toward Kommerscheidt. These were from 2d Lt. Horace L. Smith`s 2d Platoon of Company B, 893d, which had been ordered forward from Germeter to join Task Force R in Kommerscheidt. Captain Pugh and Lieutenant Fuller commandeered two of them and went forward again. It was still dark, and the atmosphere was foggy. Near the ambush site, they fired the destroyer`s machine guns, killing several of the Germans and putting the others to flight. The rescue party found Pugh`s jeep wrecked. The man in the back seat of Fuller`s jeep was badly wounded, and the gunner in the front seat was dead, shot through the stomach. A short time later the infantry of Task Force R under Colonel Ripple, 707th Tank Battalion, arrived on the southeastern nose in their move toward the Kall firebreak and Kommerscheidt.30
This action along the western portion of the Kall trail took place at a time when 28th Division headquarters thought the entire trail open to traffic. Colonel Daley, 1171st Engineer Group commander, had made the first report of enemy infiltration at 0355 (6 November) but at 0445 had informed division that the route was open and that the 20th Engineers had been told to keep it open. At 0635 Colonel Daley again reported to division that the road was open at 0500. At0715 General Cota ordered the engineer group commander to provide security for the bridge, and at 0747 Colonel Daley reported that the 20th Engineers had men along the road. Not until 0800 (6 November) did Colonel Daley get what was apparently accurate information on the situation along the Kall trail. He immediately ordered the 20th Engineers: "Get every man you have in line fighting. Establish contact with the Infantry on right and left . . . ."Nothing was done to comply with this order, for by this time another crucial situation farther to the rear had altered the picture.31
During 5 November the 229th Field Artillery Battalion, in direct support of the 112th Infantry, spent one of its busiest days, firing heavy and frequent concentrations in the Kommerscheidt-Schmidt vicinity. The battalion fired
249 missions totaling 3,947 rounds, including 247 neutralization missions, one registration, and one TOT. All companies of the 86th Chemical Battalion reverted to attachment to division artillery except Company D, which spent its time withdrawing from its precarious position at Bosselbach Farm and did nofiring.32
109th and 110th Infantry Summaries
There were virtually no changes on 5 November in dispositions of the 109th Infantry. Engineers cleared a path through the mine field facing the 2d Battalion along the Huertgen-Germeter road far enough to enable one company to place outposts on the road. (Map 27) The enemy made limited counterattacks against almost all companies; most of them turned out to be patrols in force, and all were beaten off. During the night the regiment carried out its wounded and brought up supplies. The carrying parties had to fight their way in and out through infiltrating enemy patrols.33
To the south in the 110th Infantry sector the 1st Battalion company that had tried unsuccessfully to clear the east-west portion of the Simonskall-Richelskaul road the day before was joined by a company from the 2d Battalion. The two units reduced several pillboxes and then attempted to attack due south in order to close the gap between the 1st and 3d Battalions. Their attack was stopped when they lost direction and hit the same defenses that had been holding up part of the 3d Battalion. During the afternoon Task Force Lacy, the small group formed to defend along the Richelskaul-Raffelsbrand road, is moved to the gooseneck curve where the Simonskall road turned south. When the 3dBattalion received orders to withdraw for commitment with Task Force R to recapture Schmidt, the battalion disengaged and crossed its line of departure in Germeter about 0245 (6 November) . As daylight approached, it was fighting its way down the firebreak paralleling the 112th`s main supply route toward the KallRiver.34
Supporting aircraft were over the target area as early as 0835 on 5 November and as late as 1625. It was the most favorable day thus far for air support in the Schmidt operation. The 474th Fighter Group had thirty-six P-38`s over that area from 0835 to 1015, attacking tanks and troops at Schmidt and in the Schmidt vicinity. Smoke and dust prevented observation of results. The P-38`s also bombed Heimbach and Schleiden, southeast of Schmidt, and Strauch, south- west of Schmidt. Enemy flak downed two of the planes, the first aircraft to be lost in support of the 28th Division`s attack.
About noon a squadron of P-47`s of the 365th Group bombed and strafed armored vehicles just north of Brandenberg, but no results were observed. In early afternoon another squadron of the 365th bombed twelve to fifteen armored vehicles in a forest east of the Roer and southeast of Nideggen. The squadron
claimed ten vehicles destroyed. The same squadron also attacked fifty motor transports south of Gemuend and claimed eleven destroyed, eight probably destroyed, and two damaged. In midafternoon the 365th sent twelve P-47`s against Schmidt. This squadron claimed that all its bombs hit in the center of the town and that two motor transports were destroyed. The last mission of the day, the bombing of Bergstein, was also by the 365th. Except for small fires started, no results were observed.35
The Enemy Situation
On 5 November the German countermeasures lost impetus temporarily. The 60th Panzer Grenadier Regiment (116th Panzer Division) sent only piecemeal attacks against the 109th Infantry north of Germeter. Less determined attacks than before were launched against Kommerscheidt by the 1055th Regiment (89th Division) and 16th Panzer Regiment (116th Panzer Division).The 1055th Regiment made note of the first prisoners it had taken in the woods near Schmidt into which elements of Companies K and L, 112th Infantry, had retreated on 4 November.
Late in the day elements of the 89th Division, 36 pushing up from the southwest, and the Reconnaissance Battalion of the 116th Panzer Division, thrusting down the Kall gorge from the northeast, met at the Mestrenger Muehle. The Germans had established contact through the gorge,
but American accounts indicate that a definite line along the river or across the American supply route had not been formed.
The Germans claimed gains during the day by the 156th Panzer Grenadier Regiment (116th Panzer Division) and elements of the 60th Panzer Grenadier Regiment against Vossenack, but American reports indicate that such progress was confined to moving up in the wooded draw north and northeast of the town. To the south, elements of the 275th Division continued to hold in the Raffelsbrand area, and elements of the 1056th Regiment were committed to the defense along the Kall gorge from southwest of Simonskall northeast to the Mestrenger Muehle. The 272d Volks Grenadier Division, south of the battle area, had been continuing its relief of the 89th Division in the sector that the 89th had held before its commitment in the Schmidt fight. By the end of 5 November twenty-nine of thirty-four troop trains bringing the 272d Division from a training area near Berlin had been unloaded; the rest of the trains arrived the next day. The 272d Division assumed responsibility for the sector at noon on 5 November.
Although the German command believed that the attacks of the 116th Panzer and89th Infantry Divisions had effected "a firm containment" of the American penetration, they nevertheless on 5 November completed establishment of a secondary defensive line on the north and northeast as an added precaution. This line, running from Grosshau through Kleinhau to Brandenberg and Bergstein, was manned by "fortress troops and emergency units."
In the evening of 5 November the German commanders readied an attack to be launched by the 156th Panzer Grenadier Regiment and elements of the 60th Panzer Grenadier Regiment from the woods north and northeast of Vossenack against the shell-battered defenders of the Vossenack ridge. The Germans had sought to build a road through these woods in order that tanks and assault guns might join this attack, but their efforts had failed.37
Summary for 5 November and Night of 5-6November
As dawn approached on 6 November, the situation in Kommerscheidt was relatively stable. The infantry had held throughout the preceding day against a number of minor German assaults, and defenses had been bolstered by addition of five tanks (making a total of eight) and nine tank destroyers, although one destroyer had been knocked out during the day and one abandoned at the Kommerscheidt woods line, leaving only seven. Company B, a heavy machine gun platoon of Company D, and a rifle platoon of Company C, all 112th Infantry, had been moved into the Kommerscheidt line. Behind the town at the northern woods line sat the remainder of Company C, 112th Infantry, one platoon of Company C, 20th Engineers, the forward regimental command post, a tank (Captain Hostrup`s command tank), and two 57-mm. antitank guns. On the way forward was a decimated battalion of the 110th Infantry, and scheduled to join this battalion was a company of light tanks and another
tank destroyer platoon which, together with tanks and destroyers already in Kommerscheidt, were to form Task Force R to retake Schmidt. The attack was to jump off sometime before noon, 6 November.
In the Kall gorge the Germans had gained the upper hand. They had infiltrated the main supply route and had mined the trail, leaving both the 3d Platoon, Company B, 20th Engineers, and two squads of the 3d Platoon, Company C, 20th Engineers, unaccounted for. Company A, 20th Engineers, was still virtually intact in a defensive bivouac near the entrance of the trail into the woods southeast of Vossenack. A four-man security guard was presumably still at the Kall bridge, but for all practical purposes the enemy controlled the vital river bridge. The combined 1st-3d Battalion, 112th Infantry, aid station still functioned in the log dugout in the Kall gorge, although the Germans were allover the area. No vehicle that had tried to use the supply route since about 0200 (6 November) had been able to get through, not even medical jeeps and weasels. The 28th Division`s G-2 Periodic Report for 5 November, in making estimates of enemy capabilities, had failed to mention the possibility of such enemy action coming down either end of the undefended Kall gorge.
At Vossenack the situation was perhaps worst of all, though its seriousness was perhaps not so readily apparent. Remnants of the 2d Battalion, 112th Infantry, still held the town, but they had been subjected to three days and four nights of murderous fire from German artillery, self-propelled guns, and mortars. The men had undergone about all they could stand. The company commanders knew the situation in Vossenack, and the battalion staff knew it (the staff had a combat exhaustion case of its own in its battalion commander) ; but neither regiment nor division seemed to appreciate the situation fully.
One tank platoon of Company B, 707th Tank Battalion, Lieutenant Anderson`s, was moving onto the Vossenack ridge as dawn came. Lieutenant Quarrie`s tank platoon of Company C, 707th, and Lieutenant Davis` platoon of Company B, 893d Tank Destroyer Battalion, were already there. Also in Vossenack were two platoons of Company B, 20th Engineers, and three 57-mm. antitank guns.
The situation of the 109th and 110th Infantry Regiments (except for assignment of the 3d Battalion, 110th, to Task Force R) remained basically the same. The important development as dawn came on 6 November was still in the 112th Infantry sector, for there the infantrymen of the 2d Battalion on the forward nose of Vossenack ridge were leaving their holes. At the same time the Germans were planning a dawn attack against them.
The 28th Division`s activities on this date had not lacked supervision from higher commanders. The V Corps commander and later the First Army, V Corps, and VII Corps commanders had visited General Cota early on 5 November. No instructions from these officers were recorded.38
1. Combat Interv 75 with Toner, Holden, Kelly-Hunter, Piercey, Quinton-Hausman-Lockwood Kertes-Norton; Combat Interv 76 with Hostrup-Fleig-Payne; 112th Inf S-3 Jnl, 5 Nov 44; 28th DivG-3 Jnl, 5 Nov 44; 28th Div Arty Jnl, 5 Nov 44.
2. Combat Interv 76 with Pugh, Fuller, and Lt Col Samuel E. Mays, CO, 893d TD Bn.
3. Combat Interv 75 with Piercey, Quinton-Hausman-Lockwood-Kertes-Norton, Ripperdam, and Kelly-Hunter; Combat Interv 76 with Hostrup-Fleig-Payne, Pugh, Mays.
4. Combat Interv 75 with George, Dana; 112th Inf S-2 and S-3 Jnls, 5 Nov 44.
5. Combat Interv 76 with Hostrup-Fleig-Payne.
6. Combat Interv 75 with Dana, Ripperdam, Kelly-Hunter, Peril, Holden, Piercey, Walker, Toner; Combat Interv 76 with Hostrup-Fleig-Payne; 112th Inf S-3Jnl, 5 Nov 44; FUSA and IX TAC Sum, 5 Nov 44.
7. Combat Intery 75 with Simon, Littlehales-Skain, Walker, Kelly-Hunter;112th Inf S-3 Jnl, 5 Nov 44.
8. One tank destroyer had developed a leaking recoil mechanism on 2 November; another had hit a mine near Richelskaul on 4 November; a third had thrown a track southeast of Vossenack; a fourth was knocked out in Kommerscheidt that afternoon by enemy tank fire.
9. Combat Interv 75 with Simon, Kelly-Hunter; Combat Interv 76 with Pugh. In view of the enemy`s terrain advantage and the lack of armor on tank destroyers, there seems to be insufficient evidence to characterize the destroyers as nonaggressive.
10. Combat Intery 75 with Dana; 112th Inf S-3 Jnl, 5 Nov 44; Ltr, Maj Berndt to Hist Div.
11. Combat Interv 75 with Walker, Simon, Dana.
12. Combat Interv 75 with Simon; 28th Div G-3 Jnl, 5 Nov 44; Interv withPeterson.
13. Combat Interv 75 with White, Lutz, Doherty, Krieder.
14. Combat Interv 75 with Greene.
15. Combat Interv 76 with Pynchon, Hostrup-Fleig-Payne, and Kelley.
16. Combat Interv 75 with George.
17. Combat Interv 76 with Pugh.
18. Combat Interv 76 with Fuller.
19. Combat Interv 76 with Mays, Davis-Murphy-Gardner.
20. Linguiti Rpt; Muglia Rpt; DeMarco-Linguiti Rpt; Maj Albert L. Berndt,112th Inf surgeon, Report on Medical Evacuation, to division surgeon, 10 Nov 44(hereafter cited as Berndt Rpt), Combat Interv File 76; Ltr, Maj Berndt to Hist Div. Major Berndt says that Germans throughout this operation wore Luger or"P-38" pistols. Later, as a German prisoner, he noted all German medics wearing pistols as "a part of the uniform." Once when an American officer asked to see one of the pistols, he found its bolt rusted tight. Berndt also said he never heard of German medics firing.
21. Combat Interv 76 with Hostrup-Fleig-Payne, Pugh, Ripple, Davis-Murphy-Gardner, Mays, and Capt George H. Rumbaugh and SSgt Martin J. Joyce, 3d Bn, 110th Inf; 28th Div G-3 Jnl, 5 Nov 44; 707th Tk Bn S-3 Jnl, 8 Nov44; V Corps Study, G-3 and TD Secs. According to Colonel Ripple the task force included Company C, 707th, instead of Company A, 707th, but the 28th DivisionG-3 Journal states that it was A, 707th. Since Company A was already in Kommerscheidt, it is assumed the G-3 Journal is correct. V Corps Study and V Corps Operations in the ETO mention neither company as part of the task force.
22. Combat Interv 75 with Doherty, Krieder, Lutz, O`Neal; Sonnefield Rpt; Sonnefield Statement.
23. Engr story is from the-following: Combat Interv 75 with O`Neal, Lutz, White, Krieder, Doherty, and Cpl Marion Martone, Co B. 20th Engrs; Lutz Statement; Doherty Statement.
24. 2d Lt Henry W. Morrison, MAC, 1st Bn, 112thInf, Report of Medical Evacuation, to div surgeon, 10 Nov 44 (hereafter cited as Morrison Rpt), Combat Interv File 76; Berndt Rpt; Linguiti Rpt; Muglia Rpt; DeMarco-Linguiti Rpt.
25. Colonel Daley says that, after having seen the situation in Vossenack on4 November, he was so concerned that he stopped by the 112th Infantry rear CP and reported it, possibly to the regimental S-3. See Ltr, Col Daley to Hist Div.
26. Combat Interv 75 with Pruden, Nesbitt, Condon, Beggs, Barrilleaux, Kauffman, Cascarano, Johnson, Crain, and Cpl Joseph E.. Phil pot, Co G, 112th Inf; 112th Inf S-3 Jnl, 5 Nov 44; V Corps Study, TD Sec; Ltr, Maj Berndt to Hist Div.
27. Combat Interv 76 with Leming-Quarrie-Jenkins-Ryan.
28. Combat Interv 76 with Anderson, S Sgt Letford W. Walling, and S Sgt John B. Cook. All of Co B, 707th Tk Bn.
29. Combat Interv 76 with Davis-Murphy-Gardner.
30. Combat Interv 76 with Fuller, Pugh. Quotes are from Fuller.
31. 28th Div G-3 Jnl, 6 Nov 44; Combat Interv 75 with Daley; Sonnefield Statement.
32. 28th Div Arty Jnl, 5 Nov 44; V Corps Study, Arty Sec; 229th FA Bn AAR, Nov 44; 86th Cml Bn AAR, Nov 44.
33. Combat Interv 77 with 109th personnel; 109th Inf S-3 Jnl, 5 Nov 44; 28thDiv G-3 Jnl, 5 Nov 44.
34. Combat Interv 77 with 110th personnel; 110th Inf S-3 Jnl, 5 Nov 44; 28thDiv G-3 Jnl, 5 Nov 44.
35. FUSA and IX TAG Sum, 5 Nov 44; V Corps Study, G-3 Air Sec; Combat Interv74 with Howison.
36. It is indefinite whether these troops of the 89th Division were from the 1055th Regiment or the 1056th Regiment. See MSS # A-905 (Waldenburg),A-891 (Gersdorff), and P-032a (Bruns), and Sit Rpts, 5 Nov, found in OB WESTKTB Anlagen 1.-10.XI.44.
37. MS # A-905 (Waldenburg); ETHINT 56 (Gersdorff and Waldenburg); Sit Rpts and rail movement schedules, 1-6 Nov 44, found in OB WEST KTB Anlagen1.-10.XI.44.; 28th Div G -2 Jnl and File, Nov 44; 89th Division Order of the Day; Entry, 5 Nov 44, found in OB WEST KTB 1. -30.XI.44.
38. 28th Div G-3 Jnl, 5 Nov 44.