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US Army

Stoumont Action

Stoumont Action

Document from N.A.R.A.

Interview held on 9 January at the CP near Spa of the 823d TD Battalion.

Present were the following members of the Battalion:

Major Ashby Lohse, Executive Officer; Captain Bruce A. Crissinger, CO of Company "A"; Lieutenant Thomas Springfield, leader of the 1st Platoon of Company "A".

 
The “A” Company, less the 2nd Platoon and Maintenance section, attached to the 3rd Battalion, 119th Infantry Regiment, entered Stoumont, Belgium about 18h00 on December 18, 1944.  At that time through the evening darkness the cat-eye lights of an unknown quantity of enemy armor was observed and their motor purred about 1200 yards South East of the Town.  Immediate reconnaissance for gun positions was made and the 2 platoons, the first under Lieutenant Thomas Springfield and the 3rd under Lieutenant Ward Jacobson, went into positions East, South and West of town.  Two belts of mines were laid in a hasty field by the infantry on the road leading to La Gleize.
 
At approximately 23 hours the Germans sent a small vehicle West toward our lines along the main road leading into Stoumont.  It advanced almost as far as the first mine field, halted and then withdrew without suffering any damages.  At about 02.30 hours the morning of 19 December 1944 the same maneuver was attempted but this time the vehicle, a jeep, hit a mine and was destroyed.
 
About 0500 Hours German armor, led by a Mark V tank and infantry launched a determined attack on Stoumont.  The early morning darkness was intensified by a heavy fog which made it impossible to see through the telescopic sights in the towed 3” guns.  Although a request was made of the infantry for mortar flares to assist observation at sighting targets, this request was denied.  With foot troops the lead tank moved along the main highway leading to Stoumont until it reached the first mine barrier at which time the tank personnel with the aid of flashlights removed first mines.
 
Private Sanchez threw a hand grenade at these Germans and their return fire from automatic weapons drove Pvt Brinkoetter from the .30 cal. machine gun with which he was about to open fire, wounding him slightly.  The tank then moved through the mines flanking N°1 gun on its right and as the gun could not fire on the tank or move to positions from which it could fire, the crew was forced to withdraw.  The tank continued its advance, turning off the road to the North, and then driving West parallel to the main highway until N°2 gun was flanked and its crew forced to retire.
 
At this time N°3 gun adjusted its position so that it could cover the main road junction and N°5 moved to the alternate position where it covered the North bank of the highway and road junction.  The Mark V returned to the highway and moved slowly West until it reached the road junction, where it was fired upon N°3 gun.  No damage to the tank was done as all shots ricocheted off the front of the glacier plate.  The tank then opened up with machine gun and 75mm HE knocking out the 3” gun.  At about 0730 hours with light conditions improving the tank edged forward and came within range of N°5 gun and a 90mm AAA gun on the right flank.  Both opened fire at the same time and the tank burned.
 
By this time enemy armor had left the main highway and was attempting to flank the town from the South and North.  Enemy infantry small arms fire upon N°4 and crew forced the crew to withdraw. N°6 gun became engaged in a fire fight and after holding infantry off for some time with small arms fire the German tank suddenly appeared around the South West corner of the cemetery and knocked out the 3” gun with HE.  This tank then continued West between gun N° 6 & 7 automatically flanking and coming into the rear of 7 & 8 guns which were unable to swing around for their protection.
 
During this action fire from tanks and large caliber assault guns had been moderate.  After all guns had been neutralized and friendly infantry was withdrawing from the town at about 0930 hours, instructions were given to withdrew (at Remouchamps) in all vehicles that could be removed.
 
Source: Document N.A.R.A. January 1945
Signed by Lt Col Sidney DETTMER

Commanding Officer

823rd Tank Destroyer

Battalion

Campaigns

Battle of the Bulge,

Belgium