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US Army

317th Infantry Regiment in the Bulge

 317th Infantry Regiment in the Bulge
 
 Interview held on 16 January 1945 at the CP 317th Infantry Regiment,at Hederscheid, Luxembourg.
 
Interviewer: Lt S.J. Tobin
 
On 17 December 1944, the 317th Combat Team less 313th Field Artillery Battalion with “C” Company and “D” Battery 633rd AAA Bn left at 07h00 and moved by motor to the area east of Sarre Union.  The 317th CP was established Altwiller, France, (445370).  There they established roadblocks and divided their sector into Battalion areas for patrolling.  1st Battalion was given the northeast, 2nd Battalion the northwest, and the 3rd Battalion was given the southeast and east sector. 
 
The 18th December 1944 was spent continuing the training of units in assault of fortified position preparatory to attacking the Siegfried Line.  That night the Command Post moved to Rahling, France (620437).  At 22h30 Colonel Fisher (?) returned from Division Headquarter and said that all units must be prepared to move northward a distance of approximately 80 miles.
 
On 19th December 1944, Lt Colonel Elegar, 80th Division G-3 caused telling Major Hayes that they must move out by 09h30; the IP would be Sarre Union and their final destination would be in the vicinity of Luxembourg.  The ….. and the march tables arrived and the first elements of the march column reached the IP at 10h20.  The orders were to march to Bascharage, Luxembourg, where a representative of III Corps would meet them.  At 19h30 on 19 December, Captain Zukerman, who was in charge of the quartering party had arrived in Bascharage and had gone on to arrange for quarters in the vicinity of Arlon, Belgium (P615225).  The 1st Battalion reached Bascharage in the lead of the march column, followed by the 2nd and 3rd Battalions respectively.  Meanwhile the Commanding General, 80th Division, had received orders to remain at Bascharage.  The 1st Battalion was then ordered into position southwest of the town.  1st Battalion had just pulled off the highway when the Assistant Division Commander received information that the orders were rescinded and that the Division was to move along highway N5 to Luxembourg where a guide from III Corps would be at the west edge of the city.  They were able to stop the leading element of the 2nd Battalion in time to keep the Division moving on route to Luxembourg. 
 
The 1st Battalion was given instructions to join the end of the Division column.  The Combat Team move on in the following orders: 2nd Battalion, 3rd Battalion, Special Units, 313th Field Artillery Battalion and finally 1st Battalion.  At about 21h50, as the Division was continuing toward Luxembourg, five German fighter planes swooped down to strafe the part of the column containing the 313th Field Artillery.  The night visibility was good owing to a full moon.  The portion of the 313th they strafed was one platoon of “A” Company, 633rd AAA Battalion which opened up on the planes with all weapons.  Their volume of fire limited the Jerries to one strafing run and they flew on towards the east without further molesting the Division column.  After meeting the III Corps guide, they found heavy and congested traffic in the city of Luxembourg.  Vehicles were constantly breaking in and out of their column.  They moved through without undue delay or trouble.  Major Hayes said they used 75 guides along the route through the city to facilitate their movement.
 
On the morning of 20th December, the 80th Division closed on the area in rear of the 5th Infantry Division in the vicinity of Gonderange, Luxembourg (U927227) at 05h30.  There they received orders to prepare reserve defense positions and to be prepared to counterattack in any direction.  The regimental areas were as follows:  317th on the right, 318th on the left, and the 319th in reserve.  The 317th put the 1st Battalion in reserve with the 2nd and 3rd Battalions in defensive position.  At 08h30, orders came to the 317th that they would be responsible for the defense of Radio Luxembourg northeast of Junglinster, Luxembourg (U930250) which was about 8 kilometers from the front lines.  Major Hayes ordered that one Platoon be sent to relieve the engineers who were guarding it at the time.  During the afternoon, the 317th received orders to prepare to attack to the north, northeast, or southeast with Company “A” 702nd Tank Battalion in support.  The Division mission at the time was to protect the right flank of the III Corps.
 
On the morning of 21 December they moved out from Gonderange to the vicinity of Steinsel, Luxembourg (U836210).  They moved at about 10h00 by motor and marching, arriving in position at Uckange, France, about 17h00.
 
The regimental mission was still unchanged and they moved out in attack formation at 06h00 following the 318th Infantry on the morning of the 22nd.  At 10h30 Division G-3 visited the 317th Command Post and Told Major Hayes to concentrate his troops north and west of Berg, (U805362) and that they would be committed in between the 318th and 319th Regiments.  As the 317th was already underway, Major Hayes issued orders to attack northward immediately going through Merzig, Luxembourg (U785410) on to Welscheid, Luxembourg (U800445) to proceed to the river and take over the sector of the 318th.  While Lt Col Elegar, Division G-3, was there, General McBridge, Commanding General, called from the 318th rescinding the order, saying that the 318th could do it.  Lt Col Elegar said for them to be prepared to execute the plan.  The Command Post then moved up to Berg (U815362).
 
At 14h00 Lt Col Elegar called Major Hayes and told him to execute the plan as before being rescinded.  Major went to Berg and contacted Colonel Fischer giving him the mission.  The Battalions started at 15h00 with 2nd Battalion in the lead followed by the 1st Battalion with the 3rd in reserve.  They had no artillery at the time, however “A” Company 702nd Tank Battalion was in support.  Colonel Fischer gave instruction to move the CP to Heiderscheid, Luxembourg (U786410).  The roads were jammed with traffic near Heiderscheid and it was about a half hour after dark when the CP opened.  The 2nd and 1st Battalions passed through with the 3rd following.  The 2nd Battalion advanced through the night to Welscheid (U800445).  Resistance was met at Welscheid and “E” and “F” Companies were sent around the right to bypass Welscheid and take Bourscheid (U800470).
 
On the morning of 23rd December, 9h00, the 317th Regiment completed relief of the 318th.  The 3rd Battalion was ordered to take Kehmen (U780460) and then Bourscheid.  The 3rd Battalion started off but met heavy machinegun and small arms fire from the vicinity of Welscheid in addition to heavy artillery and nebelwerfer fire estimated to be about 1000 rounds.
 
The 3rd Battalion withdrew with 24 casualties including 2 killed.  At 15h00 a message was received from the 319th Regiment to expect a counterattack in their area (Kehmen-Welscheid).  Lt Colonel Roberts, 317th Executive Officer, withdrew the unit to a defensive position on the high ground south east of Kelmen in vicinity of (780450).  However, the expected counterattack did not come.  During the night, the 2nd Battalion was relieved in the line by the 1st Battalion.
 
On the morning of 24 December, the 1st Battalion attacked Kelmen on the left, but was unsuccessful; they withdrew to the original position about 1000 yards from Kelmen after having 197 casualties including dead.  The units of the 317th Regiment continued to maintain their positions at the same places as on the 23rd December.  Heavy fighting took place all day in the sector of the 317th Infantry Regiment. 
 
On the morning of 25th December, the 317th attacked with the 1st and 3rd Battalions abreast and took the high ground south and east of Scheidel (U785451).  The 1st Battalion Scheidel and the 3rd took about a quarter of Kelmen (U780460).  They were ordered to withdraw to their original positions by the Commanding General, 80th Division.  During the they suffered 161 casualties including dead.  The Regiment spent the next three weeks maintaining its defensive positions in the vicinity of Heiderscheid, Luxembourg.  The period being spent in training and rehabilitation. 
 
Source: Documents N.A.R.A.
By Major James H HAYES

 

S - 3

 

317th Infantry Regiment

 

79th Infantry Division

 

Campaigns

Battle of the Bulge,

Belgium