Search

December 2020
M T W T F S S
30 1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
28 29 30 31 1 2 3

US Army

The 318th Inf Regt in the Bastogne Saliant

The 318th Inf Regt in the Bastogne Saliant
 

Action of the 2nd Battalion, 318th Infantry Regiment, 80th Division, in the Bastogne Saliant

24-28 December 1944. 

Interview conducted at the 318th CP in Wiltz, Luxembourg on 25 January 1945 by Captain Dello G. Dayton. 

The following were interviewed:

Lieutenant-Colonel Glenn H Gardner, now Regiment executive Officer of the 2nd Battalion, Captain Prentiss W Foreman, Battalion S-3, 2nd Battalion, 318th, and 2nd Lieutenant John A Shuford, Battalion S-2 2nd Battalion, 318th. 

Colonel Gardner did most of the talking after the other two officers had started the action. 

Interview as conducted with a map 1/50000. 

 - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
On December 24, 1944, the 318th Infantry Regiment was ordered by the 80th Infantry Division to leave the 3rd Battalion in its present position near Ettelbruck, Luxembourg, with the mission of taking and holding the town, while the other two Battalions were to move via truck to Fauvillers, Belgium, and on reaching there assist the 4th Armored Division in getting through to Bastogne.  When the 2nd Battalion, 318th Regiment, got orders to move it was in position on Lopert Hill west of Ettelbruck.  The Battalion was told to move to Niederfulen, Luxembourg, and wait there for trucks. 
 
Because of artillery fire in Niederfulen, however, the Battalion moved to Mertzig, Luxembourg, and entrucked there.  They moved via Mertzig – Grosbous – Bettborn – Redange – Ell.  At the later place a guide from the 4th Armored Division picked up the column and directed it by way of Arlon – Attert – Martelange – and Fauvillers.  From Fauvillers the Battalion moved up to Burnon where it detrucked.  Here it spent the night of 24 – 25 December 1944. 
 
On reaching Fauvillers Lieutenant Colonel Gardner, Commander 2nd Battalion, had contacted General Dager, Commander of Combat Command "B", 4th Armored Division, for instructions.  (The Battalion was attached to CCB).  He was informed that the Battalion was to assist the Combat Command “B” to break through to the surrounded forces in Bastogne.  Intermediates objectives on the way were the town between Burnon and Bastogne.  An attack to the north was planned for 09h30 on the 25th December. 
 
The attack jumped of as planned from an LD just south of the Lambay Chenet woods.  The Battalion attacked with two companies abreast – “F” on the right and “G” on the left – “E” Company was in reserve.  Assisting the Battalion in the attack were 8 tanks from the 8th Tank Battalion, 4th Armored Division.  To the left of the Battalion was the 10th Armored Infantry Battalion, dismounted, supported by 7 tanks from the 8th Tank Battalion.  The right flank of the Battalion was exposed because, though Combat Command "A" of the 4th Armored was attacking north on that flank, they were not moving parallel to CCB.  The first real opposition hit bit the Battalion was in the Lambay Chenet woods. (516470) 
 
Here the Germans, elements of the 5th Parachute Division, had well dug in positions which they defended with automatic weapons.  It was difficult to oust the paratroopers out of their foxholes and many were bayoneted while still in them.  The Infantry advance was assisted by the tank fire which was placed indiscriminately within the woods.  When the woods had been cleared (About 40 prisoners were taken therefrom) the Battalion moved north toward Chaumont from which CCB had been driven out on the 23rd December. 
 
In their original respective positions Companies “F” and “G” swung to the east of the town and occupied the high ground which dominated Chaumont.  When this had been accomplished and during which artillery had been placed on the town,   company “E” moved into the town first with about a platoon of twenty men.  The remainder of the company then went into the town and assisted in clearing it out.  The town was clear of the enemy by 18h00 25th December.
 
In the town eleven tanks of the 4th Armored Division were recovered and after only minor repairs, five of the eleven tanks could be used.  After Company “E” had entered Chaumont “G” Company swung around to the north of the town.  “F” Company remained in Chaumont during the night of the 25th December.  “G” Company out posted it from the north.  It was reinforced with two 60mm mortars from the weapons platoon, a light machine gun and ten men from Company “E”, and 16 men and 3 machineguns from the heavy weapons company.  Company “E” remained in the town proper and with greatly depleted platoons out posted the road nets entering Chaumont.
 
During the afternoon Company “E” strength had been augmented by the addition of 24 men from the Regiment “I” and “R” Platoon.  The company Commander, Captain Rex O Kirkman, had also been replaced by 1st Lieutenant (now Captain) Edmund A Willinghoff, who had been Platoon Leader of the “I” and “R” Platoon.  The Battalion had begun the action with 350 men but after a day’s fighting was considerable reduced. 
 
During the night of the 25th December Germans were seen in filtering into houses on the extreme south ear edge of Grandrue, the town immediately north of Chaumont.  With this information the next day’s attack was planned accordingly.  On the morning of the 26th December “F” Company jumped off first with the tanks in support and headed directly north.  After the tanks had fired into the Bois de Hargeal (526500) the infantry moved in and cleaned the southern edge out.  There the Company advance was checked. 
 
After “F” Company had jumped off “E” Company came out of the town, moved to the northeast and took up a position to the left of Company “F” about 500 yards east of Grandrue.  When Companies “E” and “F” had attained the position indicated, “G” Company moved out of Chaumont north toward Grandrue.  Before approaching the town the company ventilated the buildings with 57mm fire, both HE and AP, the company moved west of the town as if they were going to bypass it, then did a right flank and moved in on the town. 
 
They were in the town by 09h15 on the 26th December.  The Company “G” made a very good haul in the town.  They took about 40 prisoners, a US 1½ truck, US rations, US clothing, M-1 rifles, binoculars, a 57 Antitank gun and ammunition for the same.  Meantime Companies “F” and “E” were meeting heavy resistance in the woods northeast of Grandrue.  Despite the opposition, Colonel Gardner said he was anxious to get out of the woods and into the open ground to the north. 
 
Since “F” Company was so depleted, now down to only 25 men, it was instructed to hold and the other two companies were ordered to push forward.  “G” Company moved north out of Grandrue, was temporarily checked by some heavy enemy machine gun fire, but continued to push forward toward the crossroad to the north (518512), the company’s objective. 
 
When about 500 yards from the crossroad, the company Commander reported he had so many prisoners that he did not know what to do with them.  Colonel Gardner took some men from the mortar platoon and sent them forward to bring back the prisoners.  (There was only 1 guard allotted to approximately every 30 prisoners). By 15h00 the company had reached the crossroad.  The 2 officers and 49 men of the company had taken 150 prisoners in their move forward.  At the crossroad they took 2 German guns of 88mm, one of which was loaded and also picked up another US 57mm.  In the German Command Post located in a house near the crossroad three officers were taken prisoner and some mortars captured. 
 
While Company “G” was moving north toward the crossroad, Company “E” was having a terrific fire fight in the woods to the east. “The new commander Lieutenant Willinghoff was really getting a work out”, said Colonel Gardner.  He was doing a good job but was having heavy casualties, Colonel Gardner ordered the company to cease its fire, sideslip east out of the woods, and then move into the southern edge of the small patch of woods (523510) a little to the north.
 
Most of the German troops had meanwhile made their way into the northern corner of the patch.  About dark Colonel Gardner ordered Company “E” to clear out the Germans in the woods and move on to the road between Hompre and the crossroad occupied by Company “G”.  As “E” Company advanced the Jerries moved out of the woods and went into the houses along the road west of Hompre.  The company followed and cleaned out the houses.
 
From the houses more than 40 prisoners were taken and in the general area a loaded 88mm, a halftrack, a truck load of ammunition and a German staff car were taken.  An enemy Mark IV tank was knocked out by bazooka fire.  Then “E” Company dug in along the road.  Since it had been impractical to employ the tanks in the woods with the two leading companies they had moved forward with Company “F”, the reserve element.  “Company “F” out posted the tanks at a position about 300 yards southeast of the crossroad occupied by Company “G”.
 
As the Battalion advanced on the 26th December, C-47s were seen flying overhead taking supplies into Bastogne.  One of the planes crashed in front of Company “E” and a Captain, 1st Lieutenant, and some crew members came into the company.
 
During the night of December 26, 1st Lieutenant Walter Carr led a small patrol, consisting of a T/Sgt, Pfc and Pvt, into Bastogne.  About 1500 yards south of Bastogne the patrol contacted the outpost line of the 26th Engineers and was directed to the command post of the 101st Airborne Division in the town.  Lieutenant Carr obtained an overlay with the disposition of the friendly troops about Bastogne and then returned with his patrol to his Battalion.
 
The same night Colonel Gardner met with the commander of the 10th Armored Infantry Battalion, Major Cohen, on his left and made plans for the 27th December.  The 10th had seven tanks with it and had considerable more infantry troops than the 2nd Battalion, 318th Regiment, so it was decided to have the 10th move forward on the morning of the 27th December while the 2nd Battalion, 318th Regiment, followed slightly to the right and rear to clean up any enemy that were missed. 
 
At 08h00 on the morning of the 27th Colonel Gardner contacted Lieutenant Carr at the position Company “E” had occupied the previous night and received from him the overlay he had got in Bastogne.  After taking the information from the overlay that he wanted, the Colonel sent the overlay to General Dager, the CCB commander.  The Battalion then moved north, following the 10th Armored Infantry Battalion as planned.  Company “E” moved east and took Hompre then occupied the high ground north of the town.  Company “G” pushed north and moved up alongside “E” on the left.  “F” Company followed with the tanks. 
 
As the Battalion advanced they were fired on by 88’s located near l’Ardoisière in the woods to the east.  The tanks answered the fire with WP ammunition and called for air on the woods.  (Colonel Gardner said that our air got 12 88’s in the woods).  The Battalion moved north without much resistance until Company “G” hit some enemy in the woods to the east of La Lune which the 10th had missed.  By nightfall of the 27th the Battalion had moved to positions southeast of Assenois.  The night of the 27th December Colonel Gardner received a G-2 report that there were estimated to be 4000 enemy troops in the woods to the east supported by from 25 to 40 tanks.  He said there wasn’t much he could have done about it had the enemy offered any threat because of his very much depleted Battalion but he warned his Battalion to be especially alert and sweat the night out.  (The effective strength of the Battalion at this time was about 187 men). 
 
On the morning of 28th December the attack jumped off at 08h00 with the 10th Armored Infantry Battalion still leading.  Companies “G” and “E” attacked abreast to the northeast through the woods with “G” Company on the left and “E” Company on the right.  Colonel Gardner gave the two companies an hour to reach the outpost line of the Engineers, which was the objective.  Company “F” proceeded without the tanks because the tanks had frozen up during the night and were not able to push off until 08h30; “F” Company followed in the wake of the other two companies.  At exactly 10h00 the Company commander of “G” Company reported to Colonel Gardner that the mission was complete, the enemy had reached the outpost line around Bastogne. 
 
Companies “E” and “G” then moved on and occupied the buildings along the main road in the southeast corner of Bastogne.  “F” Company, which during the past two day had been in reserve because of its low combat strength was put on outpost for the Battalion.  Besides the companies 25 men there was the Battalion Antitank Platoon of 3 guns of 57mm and 2 HMG’s.  During the afternoon the men of Companies “E” and “G” got warmed up and into some dry clothing.  In the evening the Battalion enjoyed a belated Christmas dinner with turkey and all the trimmings.  Since the ration had been drawn for 350 men, there was ample food for all.  Colonel Gardner said the Battalion fed troops from miscellaneous units in Bastogne, with the excess food.  The night of the 28 December Company “E” relieved Company “F” at the outpost, that affording the latter an opportunity to get warm and dry and to partake of the Christmas dinner. 
 
(Supplemental notes:)  The 2nd Battalion, 318th Infantry Regiment was attached to CCB, 4th Armored, Colonel Gardner said there was little communication or orders which traveled from the rear forward.  He said the accomplishment of the mission was left largely to the Battalion Commander.  Therefore communication was mostly laterally.  He said further that he received excellent cooperation from the 10th Armored Infantry Battalion, commanded by Major Cohen, that was on his left and that the tanks from the 8th Tank Battalion in direct support of his Battalion worked well with his troops and were very helpful. 
He said the use he made of the tanks depended on the terrain and the enemy resistance.  Sometimes the tanks moved abreast of the infantry.  At other time they followed until feasible routes for their movements could be reconnoitered.  They were used to fire into the woods but were generally not put in the woods. He said their fire kept the enemy resistance down in good many instances and contributed markedly to the moral of the infantrymen.  Each night the tanks were out posted by infantrymen.  Colonel Gardner said that he was always worried about his right flank because CCA did not advance abreast CCB.  He said, however he knew that CCA was advancing because firing could be heard continually to the right rear of the Battalion.  During the operation there was little artillery fire but there was plenty of fire from automatic weapons and Nebelwerfer.  The 22nd Armored Field Artillery Battalion from 4th Armored Division was in direct support of the 2nd Battalion, 318th Regiment and did a good job said Lieutenant Gardner, he said that the reinforcements received had generally not been qualified as infantrymen.  One example he gave was that of one group of 79 replacements received only four were infantrymen and one of the four 3 were returned to duty men. 
During the 1st day’s action at Chaumont 4 aid men carried back over 100 casualties – most of which were injured by small arms fire. 
 
Source: Documents N.A.R.A.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
By Capt Dello G DAYTON

 

 

Interviewer

 

Campaigns

Battle of the Bulge,

Belgium