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US Army

The 513th Parachute Infantry Regiment In the Bulge

 

The 513th Parachute Infantry Regiment In the Bulge 
 
Period: 19 December 1944 to 11 February 1945

Received from Bill Tom, Editor 17th Airborne Thunder Mail Call editor

 

19 December 44. Regiment departed Barton Stacey for departure from airfield at Chilbolton.

 

20-22 December 44. Regiment awaited flying weather for departure. Seaborne echelon departed Barton Stacey for France.

 

23 December 44.  Advance details for all units, Regimental Headquarters and 1st Battalion, departed for A-70, 6 miles north of Laon, France.  Air landed.

 

24 December 44. First echelon continued move to Mourmelon le Grande. Remainder of Regiment departed Chilbolton for A-70.  1st echelon closed in Mourmelon, 2nd echelon closed in Mourmelon.  Seaborne element closed in Mourmelon.

 

25 December 44. Regiment departed Mourmelon for defense of Meuse River to stop further penetration of German breakthrough from Rhine River between St-Vith and Bastogne, which had at this time reached the line Marche – St-Hubert.

 

26 December 44. Regiment closed in positions along the Meuse River with 1st Battalion and Regimental Headquarters in vicinity of Chatel Chehery, 2nd Battalion in Stenay, and 3rd Battalion in Verdun.

 
27-31 December 44. Organization of defense of Meuse River, German penetration stopped short of Meuse River. Regiment saw no action except patrolling, attempting to pick up reported enemy parachute drops and light strafing and bombing of towns, railroad and bridges along Meuse River.
 

1 January 45. Departed Chatel Chehery for front west of Bastogne.

 

2 January 45. Closed in positions vicinity of Flohimont.  2nd Battalion ordered to relieve elements of 11th Armored Division in Monty.  1st Battalion ordered into woods south of Monty (Bois de Fragette).  3rd Battalion remained in reserve in Jodenville.  Regimental Headquarters and Headquarters Company in Flohimont.

 

3 January 45. Received Division Attack Order.  Ordered to attack to north, from vicinity of Monty toward Flamisoule and the Ourthe River.  2nd Battalion received sharp, small actions in their occupation of Monty and Mande in the form of small infantry attacks, tank thrusts with direct fire, and artillery and mortar.  Mechanical communications were out and the battalion was semi-isolated (by fire).  Regiment order for attack sent by officer courier (Lt Stubbs) for attack at 040-815.  1st Battalion ordered into woods, Bois De Valet.

 

4 January 45. Regiment attacked at 0815, 1st and 2nd Battalions abreast, 2nd Battalion on right with 3rd Battalion in reserve in Bois de Fragette, Regimental Command Post in Bois de Valet.  2nd Battalion, attacking north from Mande met heavy resistance from woods north of Mande.  With heavy fighting, supreme courage and determination against heavily occupied and prepared positions, tanks, and self-propelled guns, they forced their way through the enemy positions and reached Flamisoule with remnants of one platoon which had pushed ahead.  This platoon did not again join the Battalion. The remainder of the Battalion was held in the woods overlooking Flamisoule.  A tank attack from the left flank forced the battalion to withdraw to the woods immediately north of Mande and into the town.  Fighting had been severe and casualties were heavy.  1st Battalion received its initial action in Bois de Fragette soon after attack began.  Resistance was mainly small arms, which they overran and sent 25 prisoners of war to the rear.  Battalion came under heavy mortar and artillery fire as they cleared the woods south of the Bastogne Highway.  Resistance continued heavily in the form of mortar, artillery, and increased small arms fire as the echelon continued to advance across the open, snowy fields.  Attack continued with heavy casualties to shelter of a depression on south side of Bastogne Highway where, as they attempted to cross this road, they were met by the direct fire of self-propelled guns from the Northwest.  A tank attack developed coming into their left flank down the Bastogne Highway.  The remainder of the 1st Battalion was ordered to return to the woods originally occupied and defend.The 3rd Battalion was ordered into the gap between 2nd and 1st Battalions and the 194th Glider on the left. The 139th Engineers were ordered to extend the left flank to contact the 1st Battalion and 194th on the left.

 

5 January 45. Regiment remained on defensive.  German counterattack began at 0945 and was stopped immediately by coordinated fires of infantry and artillery.

 

6 January 45. Regiment remained on defensive.  Shifting of 2nd Battalion from Monty to reserve in Bois De Fragette.  139th Engineers detached, 194th Glider closed in on left flank, 193rd Glider occupied vicinity of Monty.

 

7 January 45. Division Attack with 194th Glider on left, 513th in center, and 193rd Glider on right.  Initial objectives: 194th - towns of Milliomont, Rechrival, Hubermont; 513th - Flamierge and high ground Southwest; 193rd Glider - Flamisoule.  Regiment attack at 0900, 1st and 3rd Battalions abreast with 3rd Battalion on right.  Attack progress favorable, 2nd Battalion ordered into interval between 1st and 3rd Battalions.  Resistance was from infantry, mortar, and artillery supported by a few self-propelled guns in vicinity of Flamierge.  1st and 2nd Battalions gained their objectives with medium losses.  The 3rd Battalion met increased resistance as they topped the high ground overlooking Flamierge.  They were opposed by strong infantry, mortar, self-propelled guns, and a few tanks.  By continued pressure and finally, a wild charge down the hill and across the open snow field, they forced their way into the town.  They proceeded to clear the town and gain their objective.  All objectives of the regiment were gained.  All objectives of the remainder of the division were un-obtained, which left the regiment with exposed flanks.

 

8 January 45. The night of 7-8 January was miserably cold with heavy snowfall.  The Germans began a counterattack at 0830, employing 15-20 tanks supported by infantry and artillery.  The attack was from two directions.  One attack came from the Nortwest down the Bastogne Highway into 2nd Battalion, splitting 1st and 2nd Battalions from Flamisoule.  These attacks overpowered 1st and 2nd Battalions and forced them to withdraw from positions under direct fire of tanks and self-propelled guns.  They withdrew to the woods in the vicinity of Regiment Command Post in Bois De Fragette.  Several attempts at penetration of 3rd Battalion defense of Flamierge by tanks and infantry were repulsed.  The 3rd Battalion remained in Flamierge with orders to hold.  The remnants of 1st and 2nd Battalions were organized to defend Bois De Fragette, and salvage and re-equipping began at once.  During late afternoon, Division ordered the 3rd Battalion withdrawn.  Communications had failed and 3 patrols were sent out to contact the 3rd Battalion (one from 507th and two from 513th).  One patrol of the 513th reached the outskirts of Flamierge and found the area occupied by Germans.  Thinking Flamierge lost, they returned with their report.  Soon after, Lieutenant McGuire arrived at the Command Post from Flamierge saying it was still in our hands and a radio had been repaired.  They planned to attempt contact on the half-hour.  Contact was made by this means and a message of withdrawal transmitted.  They came back with the reply that they had no code facilities.  Corporal Gidley then arranged a casual conversation from the Command Post to the Observation Post operator into which the 3rd Battalion was listening.  In the conversation, he neatly conveyed the order to withdraw from Flamierge to Monty after 2400, in small groups, leaving aid men and one officer to surrender wounded.  The 3rd Battalion rogered and arrived in Monty before daylight.  They were ordered into Bois De Fragette to join in the Regimental defense, reorganize, and re-equip.

 

9 January 45. Regiment remained on the defensive until afternoon when it was ordered to the east to relieve elements of 193rd Glider just east of Monty.  The sector was small and battalions were disposed in depth in order 2nd, 3rd, and 1st, generally astride the Bastogne Highway Southeast of Monty.  No contact was made with enemy.  The forward elements were subjected to intermittent artillery fire.

 

10 January 45. No Change.

 

11 January 45. Ordered to north just south of woods at 5061, one mile east of Flamisoule.  Battalions again in column with 3rd leading, 2nd in center, and 1st trailing.  Patrolling found woods, formerly strongly held, to be lightly held now.  Forward elements again subjected to intermittent artillery fire.

 

12 January 45. Division attack 0900 to Northeast with 194th on left, 507th in center, 193rd on right, clear Flamierge and woods in sector of 194th and protect the Division left flank.  The regiment occupied Flamierge and placed 1st and 2nd Battalions in woods Northeast of Flamierge and 3rd Battalion in Flamierge.

 

13-14 January 45. Regiment remained in locations as Division Reserve while Division continued to objective with practically no resistance.  Salvage work began over Division battlefield area.

 

15 January 45. Ordered Northeast to positions in reserve with 3rd Battalion in Gives, 1st, 2nd and Headquarters & Headquarters Company in Givry.

 

16 January 45. Salvage operations continued along with reorganization and re-equipping.

 

17 January 45. Regiment moved by marching to vicinity 556695 in Division Reserve.  Re-equipping continued.

 

18-20 January 45. Continued in Division Reserve, Regiment moved east to Liheraine (668727).

 

22 January 45. Moved into line vicinity of Limerle.  Attack Northeast to secure woods 7376. Scattered infantry opposition was quickly overcome and objective gained.  Supply problem was great due to absence of roads.  All roads were snow drifted and impassable for vehicles.  Supporting tanks were used to break trail and pull in supplies.  2nd Battalion Reconnaissance element was caught in artillery concentration and received 5 casualties.  One jeep was destroyed from same cause at later time.  Roads were made by bulldozer through snow-drifts to make line of communication.  Patrolling active.  Enemy contacted Wathermal 750771 and woods 759768.

 

23 January 45. Continued attack to east which was successful against small arms and little supporting artillery and mortar fire.  Wathermal and woods to Southeast were taken and Battalions pushed on toward main highway to east.  1st Battalion occupying Griben and 3rd Battalion Schmiede, 2nd Battalion remained in woods 760765.  Supply and evacuation still tremendous obstacles due to deep snow.

 

24 January 45. Continued attack to east with 2nd Battalion taking woods vicinity 792780, 1st Battalion 7879, 3rd Battalion remained vicinity of Schmiede, 778772.

 

25 January 45. The Regiment remained on defensive with active local patrolling.

 

26 January 45. Continued attack to east to take Espeler.  Early in day, 1st and 2nd Battalions were pushed forward to high ground flanking town, then 3rd Battalion was sent in gap between to enter the town.  The attack was a surprise to the enemy, and 3rd Battalion entered town with little opposition, catching the enemy off-guard.  185 prisoners of war were taken and it is believed that the enemy was in the process of reinforcing the Espeler garrison with the strength of a Regiment.  Our supporting artillery was very effective in engaging several columns and boxing the town.  One of many prisoners of war taken was an American Medic that had been with the Germans since the German Offensive in December, when his unit was overrun.  Division objective was taken and Regiment was relieved by 87th Infantry Division.

 

27 January 45. Moved by motor to Nortrange (691550) in Division Reserve. Battalions began shuttle to rest area in Virton for 24 hours and partial issue of winter shoes and gloves.

 

28-29-30 January 45. Rotation to rest area continued.

 

31 January 45. Moved into line vicinity of Hosingen (822588).  Vigorous patrolling begun.  Enemy contacted immediately west of Our River.

 

1 February 45. Patrolling continued active with no enemy contact west of river in Regimental zone.  Strong outposts were pushed to within 1500 yards of Our River with Observation Post overlooking and within 800 yards of river.  Having relieved the 193rd Glider Infantry in the line in vicinity of Hosingen, 31 January 45, the Regiment at this date is occupying defensive positions on the west bank of the Our River facing the German Siegfried Line fortifications.  The Regimental boundaries are limited on the north at the Our River at 853615 and on the south at 864578.  The 507th Parachute Infantry is to the north and the 6th Cavalry to the south.  The Regiment is disposed with 3rd Battalion on the north, 2nd Battalion on the south, and the 1st Battalion in reserve at Bockholtz along with the Regimental Command Post and Headquarters and Headquarters Company.  The Our River was frozen over on the night of 31 January 1945.  Active patrolling was initiated at once to the Our River.  Elements which the Regiment had relieved reported the enemy to have about 120 men, believed to be of the German 5th Parachute Division, along the west bank of the Our River.  Company "E" was sent to clear the enemy from the draw in the north part of the Regimental sector.  Much evidence of recent occupation was found, but he had withdrawn hastily to the east side of the Our River, and no actual contact was made.  Continued patrolling found the west side of the Our River in the Regimental sector to be clear of the enemy, though he was reported by adjacent units to be occupying Rodenhausen and Eisenbach to our north and south flanks, respectively.

 
On the night of 31 January - 1 February, a patrol of the second Battalion crossed on the ice to the east side of the Our River to probe the enemy defenses and capture prisoners.  The patrol located several enemy positions but were fired upon by MG's from these positions as they closed in.  They were forced to retire.  During the day of 1 February patrolling continued and Battalions reported west bank clear.
 

2 February 45. Defensive positions were improved.  Patrols attempted to cross Our River again but due to warm weather during this day the river ice had melted and they were unsuccessful.  Late in the afternoon, Hosingen was subjected to heavy Arty and Mortar fire.  The enemy remained quiet except for intermittent shelling throughout the night.

 

3 February 45. No change in mission. Improvement of defensive positions continued.  Five observation posts established across the Regimental front.  Enemy Artillery & Mortar fire continued to harass our positions with the 2nd Battalion Observation Post receiving constant and accurate fire.  Our Artillery was active in placing accurate concentrations on all enemy movement seen by our forward observers.  Roads and draws were found to be heavily mined with anti-tank and anti-personnel mines.  1st Battalion patrol during the night 2-3 February attempted to cross the Our River but melting snows and ice blocks made the river extremely difficult and dangerous.  One try with an assault boat resulted in overturning and spilling its occupants into the swift water.  All personnel were rescued.  Two attempts were made at wading and swimming, but the current was too much.

 

4 February 45. Defensive positions continued to be improved.  1st Battalion took over sector of 6th Cavalry Group on the south, extending the Regimental sector to the south to limiting point on Our River at 862575.  Patrols again attempting to cross Our River met with misfortune from the swift and rising river, frustrating every attempt with boat and swimming.  Increased enemy activity was reported from Observation Post.  In the area of Ubereisenbach a group of twelve men were seen repairing a blown bridge.  Thirty to forty enemies were observed in and around the buildings of Ubereisenbach. Artillery was called in with excellent results.  Enemy continued shelling our positions with 2nd Battalion Observation Post receiving several direct hits.

 

5 February 45. Continued improvement of defensive positions.  Patrol of 3rd Battalion, during the night of 4-5 February, approached the Our River with equipment for crossing.  They walked into an anti-personnel minefield in the pitch darkness.  Four mines were tripped, causing several casualties of the eight-man patrol.  A patrol of the 2nd Battalion succeeded in crossing the river.  An enemy outpost was located and in closing in upon it, they were discovered.  A hand-to-hand fight ensued in which an enemy NCO and three others were killed.  Our patrol suffered four injuries, all of which were returned when the patrol withdrew to the west side of the river.  Enemy activity was practically nil during the day.  Very little movement was noted and shelling was less than usual.

 

6 February 45. Continued defensive mission on Our River.  The enemy is becoming sensitive to our patrol efforts.  He is making extensive use of flares and frequently fires bursts from automatic weapons at the slightest sound in the darkness.  The 2nd Battalion Observation Post again was subjected to intense shelling with several direct hits being scored upon it.  A patrol of the 3rd Battalion again had difficulty with mines.  "S" Mine explosions killed one and wounded two of a patrol.  A patrol of the 1st Battalion, in attempting to cross the Our River, failed because their boats were capsized by heavy ice flows and the raging current.  One man was lost.

 
7 February 45. Enemy shelling of our positions was light during the day and night.  However, the 2nd Battalion Observation Post continued to be harassed by accurate mortar fire, getting two direct hits, but no casualties.  The 1st Battalion reported the enemy infiltrating to west side of Our River in adjacent unit's sector to the south.  A patrol of 1st Battalion fired upon two enemies in vicinity of Eisenbach and reported seeing about 20 enemy on east side of Our River in Ubereisenbach.  Outposts were alerted for possible enemy attempts to gain a foothold on west side of Our River during the night, and several ambush patrols were set up.   However, the enemy made no attempts to enter the Regimental sector during the night.
 

8 February 45. Defensive mission continued. 1st Battalion patrol during the night of 7-8 February succeeded in crossing the Our River in assault boats.  Their landing was opposed by heavy small arms fire from extremely short ranges.  The patrol was pinned to the river bank.  They withdrew under heavy fire, protected only by the darkness of the night.  When all had returned, Arty fire was directed upon the enemy positions with excellent results.  The 2nd Battalion was successful in getting an eleven-man patrol across the river with the intention of establishing a bridgehead across a long, narrow strip of land edged by the Our River.  This patrol discovered a massive pillbox that was unoccupied.  Continuing, they found a tremendous concrete and iron bunker which they blew open with grenades and bazooka, killing at least three enemies.  Another compartment was fired into with bazooka rounds.  The patrol continued with its mission and established their bridgehead.  Soon they were attacked by an enemy force of about 20 men, which they destroyed. The enemy counterattacked shortly afterwards with about 40 men.  The patrol was successfully holding this attack and a company was about to enter boats to reinforce them when the bridgehead was ordered withdrawn.  They withdrew with the loss of one officer.  The enemy had succeeded in getting small groups to the west side of the Our River during the night in the vicinity of Eisenbach.  The 1st Battalion sent a patrol to clear them out.  They had great difficulty in approaching the town due to the enemy's first use of his direct firing artillery from emplacements on east side of river.  Four such artillery positions were exposed during this action.  The patrol succeeded in entering the town of Obereisenbach, capturing one prisoner and driving the enemy from the Regimental sector to the south.  The 3rd Battalion again had mine trouble. One killed and three wounded from "S" Mines.  Enemy continued harassing our positions with Artillery and Mortar fire throughout the day and night.

 

9 February 45. Defensive positions improved.  Battalions report that enemy activity again cleared from west side of Our River within the Regimental Sector.  Mines were extensively laid according to the defensive plan, particularly in the vicinity of Hosingen.  The enemy remained quiet except for his sharp watch for our movements.  Every exposure brought immediate mortar or artillery fire.

 

10 February 45. Regiment was relieved by 184th Combat Engineers at 0730, and proceeded to vicinity of Chalons, France for reorganization and rest.

 
11 February 45. Regiment closed in new area vicinity of Chalons, France, 455390,at 1130.  Work was begun on completion of bivouac area and reception of replacements.
 
The 101st Airborne held the area around Bastogne surrounded by the blue circle.  Flamierge, on the left side, was where the 17th Airborne broke through.

Colonel James W. COUTTS

513th Parachute Infantry

Regiment

17th Airborne Division

Campaigns

Battle of the Bulge,

Belgium