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US Army

German Officer Vindicates 106th Recc Troop

German Officer Vindicates 106th Recc Troop
 
The U.S. Army’s official position is that the reconnaissance troop defending Grosslangenfeld collapsed under the first German onslaught.  The fact is the troopers fought bitterly for two days and were overrun only when, out of ammunition, they attempted to escape to St. Vith. 
 
        

There is now on the internet an account of this battle recounted by a Lieutenant Gerhard Wurm, who commanded a platoon of the 3rd Company, 164th Regiment, 62nd Volksgrenadiers, who spearheaded the attack on Grosslangenfeld.  In this account Lieutenant Wurm describes the murderous defense put up by the reconnaissance troop in his words:

At Left: Lt Gerhard Wurm, 62nd Volksgrenadiers       

  
"Just after moving through Habscheid we received heavy fire for the first time and the battalion got ever more spread out and had difficulty achieving the targets for the first day.  Since we received heavy fire from the north by Grosslangenfeld, a reinforced company received orders to support the regiment, which was already fighting there. 
 
"Along the road from Eigelscheid we pushed in a northerly direction toward Grosslufigenfeld and received such heavy fire from 37 mm cannon, mortars, and light and heavy infantry weapons that we withdrew into the forest on the right river bed to the left.  At the same time the Americans are under attack from west by parts of the Regiment 190, which stood on the tree covered Hill 508.  A courier from the neighboring company sent orders to coordinate the next attack which now should start at the same time in order to deny the Americans the possibility of a concentrated defense of their positions and force them to .surrender.  Our company should start the attack and five minutes later the other company should attack from Hill 508 and push into the village. 
 
"However, the attack does not go as planned.  The resistance is much stronger than we had expected and coordinated very well tactically.  The defendants of the town seem to be everywhere and defend against one wave after another.  We take heavy losses and there are rumors that our two companies are facing an entire battalion.  Until the late evening it is not possible to penetrate the town and the fight goes relentless on until 10 o'clock, when an American armored car was hit by a Panzerfaust and begins to burn.  And then "peace" falls over the village, but I do not want to leave my foxhole because every movement draws direct fire and so I hoped for break in the fire, since I would like to take a look at the rest of my platoon.  I creep up and down our positions and see a high number of wounded and dead in their foxholes.  From my platoon is not much left, only some eight men were still fit for action and most of their ammunition had been used up.  Under these circumstances we await the next morning in icy cold weather. 
 
"Just even with the dawn the attacks resumed.  The battle now took on a gruesome form, as now we could see the bodies of our comrades who were killed the day before and during the night, which were strangely frozen, preserved in their death throes, their blood turning the surrounding snow pink.  A Frew looked like they were only sleeping, but among others, one recognized the hideousness of death immediately." 
 
The lieutenant was wounded in this third attack and his account of the battle stops at this point.  But in the concluding paragraph of this account, he says: 
 
"The Ardennenoffensive did not bring the hoped for success. Apart from me, I have only met one surviving member of the company, Josef Graf who was captured around noon of December 17th.  In conversation with other comrades of the division, I learned years after the war, that our company was up to 90% destroyed and was sent to break the toughest resistance and faced the hardest fighting in the battalion’s area.  The defenders of the town were outnumbered and already shattered by our artillery fire.  Nevertheless, they fought bitterly and held out beating hack the attack of two full companies.  To these American soldiers I can only pay my fullest respect." 
 
Editor’s notes: (1) The website containing Lt. Wurm’s account plus pictures and a battle map is: www.62VGD.com/wurm and (2) the armored car referred to was actually the halftrack containing the recon troop’s store of ammunition.
 
Source: The Bulge Bugle November 2004

By Sgt Louis E CUNNINGHAM

 

106th Reconnaissance Troop

106th Infantry Division

 

Campaigns

Battle of the Bulge,

Belgium