The Ninth Army Attacks

3 November—28 November 1944



THUS did the infantry regiments see their first offensive action. On 1 November 1944, after long months of training, maneuver and travel, the stage was set for the appearance of the entire 102d Infantry Division as a combat unit in the fight to destroy the might of the German Wehr­macht.

At noon on 3 November with all units on Ger­man soil, the Division plus the 771st Tank Destroyer Battalion, operating under the XIII Corps assumed full responsibility for a defensive sector generally southwest of Geilenkirchen, running from Wau­richen on the southeast, through Teveren, Hatterath and Birgden to Kreuzrath on the northwest (Map4). As this area was already held by two of our regiments, the relief amounted simply to a transfer of responsibility from the 2d Armored Division for the sector of the 405th Infantry (less 1st Battalion) on the right, and from the 29th Infantry Division for the sector of the 407th Infantry on the left. It was a thinly held line of approximately 23,500 yards. 

In furtherance of a plan to give every element of the Division front-line experience under relatively quiet conditions, the 102d Cavalry Reconnaissance Troop was attached to the 407th Infantry on 5 November. It immediately relieved Company A of that regiment in the one hot spot then existing on the Division’s left flank. It was during the defense of this sector that five men and one officer of the troop risked their lives in broad daylight to dig out three fellow soldiers who were buried alive in foxholes which had caved in as a result of a heavy barrage of enemy mortar and 88mm gun fire. For their heroism these men were the first to be awarded the Bronze Star Medal by the Division commander.

 On 7 November the 1st Battalion of the 405th Infantry returned from control of the 2d Armored Division and joined the regiment, and on 11 No­vember the 548th Antiaircraft Artillery (Automatic Weapons) Battalion was attached to the Division, an association which was to endure with but few interruptions throughout the combat experience of the Ozarks.

 Prior to this time the Division was materially handicapped by lack of adequate transportation and had to exist on what could be borrowed from sym­pathetic units in the general area. However, virtu­ally all authorized vehicles and prescribed ammuni­tion loads were on hand when the Division as­sumed control of the area on 3 November. As must be expected in a campaign waged thousands of miles from home, there were shortages of equip­ment, notably overshoes and other items of Quar­termaster issue, but nothing of vital importance was lacking.

 The initial mission of the Division was that of defending its sector, while maintaining pressure upon the enemy by reconnaissance and fire. Aggres­sive efforts were devoted to strengthening defenses, night patrolling, and to the delivery of such harass­ing machine-gun and artillery fire as the availability of ammunition would permit. Front-line troops re­mained in the line for relatively short periods of time on a rotation basis to ease the shock that usually attends the initial impact of battle. As the nights were cold and wet, and many of the men had to live like moles in exposed positions, this policy gave the maximum comfort to every soldier.

 In the left third of the sector the terrain was gently rolling and comparatively open, and the enemy’s observation was good. The German 176th Division, whose responsibility for defense extended as far west as the Maas River, held this section. There were no permanent defenses and for more than a month the enemy had been digging in con­tinually and solidly, and had reinforced his posi­tion by means of minefields and barbed wire.

 Throughout the remainder of the sector the Division was opposed by elements of the 183d Infantry Division. However, the defenses here were of a permanent nature and centered about the small city of Geilenkirchen which had a peacetime population of twenty thousand inhabitants and was an im­portant communications center of the Reich. Situated astride the Wurm River fourteen miles north of Aachen, Geilenkirchen was a major stronghold of the Siegfried Line. At this point and especially between Geilenkirchen and the junction of the Wurm and Roer Rivers eight miles to the north, the river reached its greatest depth.



The Siegfried Line, euphemistically called the “Westwall,” was based upon the first strong natural barriers east of the German frontier. In the sector of the Ninth Army these barriers were provided by the Wurm River and in the northern three miles by both the Wurm and the Roer Rivers which con­verged and joined. West of the Wurm the defenses consisted for the most part of minefields and barbed wire. The river itself which was a com­paratively narrow, shallow and very swift-flowing stream with steep, high banks, together with the cuts and fills of a railroad which paralleled it, con­stituted a serious tank and an appreciable infantry obstacle. West of the river the basis of defense was a large number of reinforced concrete-and-steel pill-boxes, mounting machine guns and antitank guns of light caliber.

The Siegfried Line was actually neither a line nor a wall but an elastic system of fortifications that extended approximately 450 miles from the Swiss frontier in the south to Cleve in Holland. It was begun in 1936 when the Germans reoccupied the demilitarized Rhineland and originally extended only to Maastricht in Limburg, the southern prov­ince of the Netherlands. At the outset of the war the Nazis worked with feverish haste to lengthen the system northward so as to link it up with the natural barrier that would be formed by flooding parts of Holland and Belgium. By May 1940 the project was largely completed and with the fall of France no further work was done on the Siegfried Line until early in 1944.

 Long before 1939 the Germans had sneered at the hard-crusted, static Maginot Line of the French. They admitted that the Siegfried Line could be penetrated and based their defenses on the theory that mobile troops and artillery behind the line could annihilate successful penetrations by equally successful counterattacks. The doctrine for the de­fense of the Siegfried Line stated very plainly that in case of a breach of the forward lines mobile troops located in suitable rear areas would immedi­ately counterattack to restore the position. This pol­icy was apparently consistently followed because the enemy’s counterattacks were usually prompt and vigorous as long as a mobile striking force existed.

Specifically the Siegfried Line consisted of a sys­tem of large and small pillboxes and bunkers with three to seven foot walls. All were protected by interlocking fields of fire and reinforced by mine-fields, fences and lines of obstacles. In addition there were antitank ditches, machine-gun nests and con­crete or steel-rail dragon’s teeth. Streams and ra­vines were turned into antitank obstacles by deepen­ing and widening them to an average depth of three and a half yards and an average width of six to eight yards. Low-lying meadows and fields were capable of being flooded to make them im­passable (See Map 5).

 Between 1939 and 1940 there were only four standard types of bunkers under construction on the Westwall: machine-gun, antitank, personnel or ammunition, and headquarters bunkers. The bunk­ers varied in size and accommodated from six to forty men. The smallest weapons used in these fortifications were machine guns.

 In shape the pillboxes were mostly rectangular. Depending upon the specific purpose of the forti­fication, there were one or more apertures which provided observation over the area to be covered with fire. From outside the bunker, these apertures appeared as long narrow slots. Inside they were covered by steel shutters about three inches thick which slid between tracks on ball bearings. Each casement was supplied with a steel stand upon which machine guns could be mounted and sited. Occasionally a track and specially built carriage per­mitted the machine guns to be rolled from aper­ture to aperture without dismounting and remount­ing the weapon. The openings were also big enough to permit the firing of the German 88mm rocket launcher.

 Where emplacements were grouped together one or more were frequently placed ahead of the MLR so that they could take attacking troops under fire from the rear. These bunkers were usually placed on a reverse slope. Fire control was directly by sight or by observation through periscopes which moved vertically as in a submarine. Sometimes a centrally located CP bunker was built to direct the fire of several pillboxes. In the latter case directions were given by telephone through underground cables. The gunner sat well below the loophole when he did not aim his weapon by sight. Embrasures on the foremost forts were sited toward the flanks so as to produce a closely interlocking zone of fire. Sighting through the loopholes of captured pillboxes readily revealed areas where entire woods had been hacked down to yield maximum fields of fire. Most fortifications were connected by slit trenches.

 All bunkers, even the smaller types, were subdi­vided into three rooms: weapons casemate, ammuni­tion storage and crew’s quarters. Larger block­houses, however, had a greater number of rooms. Each room could be sealed by heavy solid iron doors two or three inches thick, and loopholes in the doors permitted one room to be taken under fire by an adjoining compartment. In certain types wells had been sunk beneath them and water pumps installed. Many had electric power of one form or another, and nearly all had a built-in air-condition­ing apparatus as protection against gas and to pump the air when the bunkers were sealed.

 With the exception of the entrance usually be­low level, approached by a ramp trench and pro­tected by a steel grating all doors were constructed in narrow corridors or gangways. Anyone approach­ing the outer or inner doors was thus under fire from loopholes in adjoining walls. In addition tubes were built in the walls, which permitted the de­fenders to drop hand grenades on anyone attack­ing the door.

 Most pillboxes could be sealed air-tight and doors were provided with heavy rubber gaskets, refriger­ator style. When ventilation apparatus broke down the men were supplied with fresh air by a system of pipelines that ran through all parts of the pillboxes. The lead pipe usually originated on the rear­ward side or in two openings on either side of the pillbox. Like many manmade objects they had their weaknesses, and the vertical ventilators could be used by attacking troops as an inlet for high ex­plosives. The strength of construction can better be realized by the fact that the Division engineers used as much as 1,400 pounds of explosives in blowing up some pillboxes. All were practically immune to the striking power of the Division’s artillery.

 From the very beginning the concealment of the fortifications was very carefully planned. The Ger­mans cleverly utilized the existing terrain and in­terwove the artificially constructed Westwall forti­fications into the natural features of the country­side. Blockhouses, pillboxes and casemates were constructed inside the shells of houses and in heaps of well sodded earth. Blockhouses were variously concealed in piles of waste-stone in quarries, in sheds, in haystacks, and in slag heaps of foundries. Earth was piled on top and around emplacements wherever possible, and four years of inactivity and undisturbed natural growth greatly improved this camouflage, making the positions extremely difficult to locate.

 Although work on the fortifications was stopped in 1940, and mines and armored doors from the Westwall bunkers were shipped to France and used on the Atlantic Wall, the Germans started to re­condition the fortifications early in 1944. Factory workers and townspeople were pressed into service to lay new minefields, barbed wire, and dig new field fortifications. New barbed-wire roadblocks were erected near the old concrete or steel drag­on’s teeth obstacles. All roadblocks were covered by heavy antitank guns firing from the bunkers and all bridges were prepared for demolition.

This defensive system, however, had been con­ceived and built before combat experiences with Russia taught the German Army the principles of all-around defense. It therefore contained certain weaknesses of which the limited fields of fire from pillboxes, the inability of most of the boxes to ac­commodate guns heavier than 37mm, the lack of sufficient density of defenses to prevent well planned infiltration by foot troops, and the difficulty of in­tercommunication during combat were the most important.

 Frantic, ineffective efforts had been made within the preceding few months to correct, or at least to lessen, these defects, generally by means of ex­tensive digging. But basically the Siegfried Line depended for its effectiveness upon a mobile, ag­gressive defense. Though the Germans had per­formed a miracle in reorganizing their shattered forces after the disasters of summer and early fall, it was the lack of such mobile reserves which doomed the Siegfried Line to failure.

 It had already been pierced between Aachen and Geilenkirchen in early October and soon was to be shattered again. This time the Allied objective was none other than Geilenkirchen itself, which, despite its formidable defenses, was now potentially weak since the breakthrough of October had exposed it to envelopment from both the south and east. At the same time Geilenkirchen stood as a threat to the north flank and the rear of Ninth Army, which was about to launch its operation to the Roer. The elimination of this threat and the seizure of an addi­tional and badly needed route of communications to the east was the purpose of the operation against Geilenkirchen.




As first planned, the Ninth Army was to execute the attack, assisted on its left by elements of the British XXX Corps which was scheduled to take over that part of the Ninth Army front lying north and west of the boundary between the 405th and the 407th Infantry Regiments. The XIII Corps, under command of Lt. Gen. Alvan C. Gillem, Jr., which took over responsibility for the north flank from the XIX Corps, including the sector of the 102d Infantry Division, at 0001 on 8 November, was initially charged with responsibility for the opera­tion. The 84th Infantry Division (less 335th Infan­try, still attached to 30th Infantry Division) which was just arriving from France was chosen to ac­complish the mission. In order to facilitate coordina­tion it was later decided that the British XXX Corps should- control the entire operation and the 84th Infantry Division was then attached to that organi­zation.

 The attack was planned as a two-day operation with a double envelopment on the first day by American troops on the east and British troops on the west, to seize the general line of high ground through Prummern and Bauchem. The eastern effort was to be made by a regimental combat team of the 84th Division which would assemble behind the 405th Infantry and pass through that regiment in its advance. The western attack would be made by a brigade of the British 43d Infantry Division. On the second day another regimental combat team of the 84th Division would attack northeast astride the Wurm to seize Geilenkirchen. It was further contemplated that a third day’s operation might exploit any gains by pressing the advance to seize the line Beeck—Wurm. In preparation for the jump-off the British 43d Division relieved the 407th In­fantry in its sector at 2105 on 11 November, and on the following day the 102d Division Command Post was taken over by the British and displaced southeast to Robroek, Holland.

 In the meantime plans were being completed for the operation of the XIX Corps on the Division right to push forward to the Roer. Briefly the Corps was to attack with the 30th Infantry Division, 29th Infantry Division and 2d Armored Division abreast. In the initial phase of the attack the main objective of the 2d Armored Division, on the immediate right of the 102d Division, was to be the high ground north of Gereonsweiler—a vital but exposed area which lay well within the eventual zone of XIII Corps. When that objective had been seized, the 2d Armored Division was to take measures to se­cure it and was then to direct its efforts to the southeast, while the 102d Infantry Division (under XIII Corps) would prepare to seize Linnich which with Julich constituted the most important objec­tives and crossing sites on the Roer River in the Ninth Army zone. In furtherance of this attack the 2d Armored Division was to be reinforced by the 406th Infantry, which would later revert in place to its parent Division.

 In its attack 2d Armored Division was to make two distinct efforts. One was aimed at Gereonsweiler proper and included the intervening hamlets of Immendorf, Floverich, Loverich, Puffendorf and Apweiler. The other pointed toward the towns of Edern and Freialdenhoven whose seizure would make possible the capture of Merzenhausen and Barmen and deny the enemy use of his last north-south communication lines west of the Roer River. The Division was then to assemble in the cap­tured area, prepared for an early crossing of the Roer River and continuance of the attack to the east.

 Combat Command B of the 2d Armored Divi­sion was to strike the first blow of the effort, send­ing three task forces—TF1, TF2, and TFX—toward as many objectives. These teams were to work in­dependently in taking the three objectives, then cooperate in attaining further gains. Task Force X, initially under command of Lt. Col. James H. Reeves, 2d Battalion, 406th Infantry Regiment, was to operate on the left to secure Immendorf and pre­pare it for defense, thus protecting the left rear of advancing TF2. It included, in addition to troops of the 102d Division, Company H, 67th Armored Regiment, one platoon of Company C, 17th Engi­neer Battalion, and one platoon of Company B, 702d Tank Destroyer Battalion. The 83d Field Ar­tillery Battalion was in direct support. The remain­der of the 406th Infantry was to extend this line to the east including the important objectives north of Gereonsweiler, and on Division order that part of the CCB sector was to be turned over to the 102d Infantry Division and 2d Armored Division units were to withdraw.

 The order issued to Task Force X for the Immen­dorf attack envisaged an assault with two infantry companies in the assault echelons with close sup­port from tanks to envelop the southern flank of the objective. Once the town was reached, tanks

were to take the lead and, followed by foot troops, were to mop up all resistance in the town itself and seize the high ground to the north and north­east. Positions were to be consolidated at that point with the 405th Infantry at the XIII Corps boundary on the left.


 Aside from the area north of Gereonsweiler no key terrain features existed in the sector. Accord­ingly the small villages assumed an importance they would not normally possess, they commanded virtually every foot of high ground, crossroads and bridges. East of the line the ground was open and undulating, intensely cultivated. The height above sea level varied from 83 to 111.1 meters at extremes while the average variation was between 88 and 95 meters. This flatness resulted in slow drainage which in rainy weather made trafficability of ground a problem. Fields of fire were exceptionally good. Local ground observation was excellent. The built-up areas provided almost the only obstructions. With the exception of tree-fringed roads and scattered orchards, the villages provided the only opportun­ity for cover and concealment.

 The principal road in the area was lateral High­way 57 running generally northeast through Baes­weiler, Setterich, Puffendorf and Gereonsweiler. It was twenty feet wide and had a metalled surface. Another road in the twenty-foot class was Highway 56 extending northwest from Durboslar to Puffen­dorf. There was also a well developed system of secondary roads. The majority of these had bitumi­nous macadam surface with stretches of stone block. Minor roads were generally narrow, from ten to twenty feet wide with a dirt surface which was unable to support continuous heavy loads without constant reinforcement. All improved roads, how­ever, were generally light and like their dirt counter­parts, rapidly deteriorated under intense military traffic.

The seeming advantages for offensive movement were countered by extraordinarily extensive com­munity digging on the part of the enemy. Two for­midable antitank ditches about ten feet wide and eight feet deep were encountered in this sector. One began northwest of Apweiler and extended south to a point west of Loverich with several short gaps near Floverich. A more continuous ditch protected the western approaches to Ederen. These ditches tied in with a system of fire trenches and foxholes and gave promise of impending difficulty. Large mine-fields were also installed to block normal avenues of approach, and barbed-wire concertinas of un­usual dimensions were employed to close gaps in the defenses.



Here lay the first offensive mission for the Ozarks, and all efforts of planning and preparation were directed toward solution of the problems in­volved. These initially proved to be mostly logistical in nature since there were but two crossings over the Wurm on this portion of the front and the road-net east of that river was very limited. Unfavorable weather conditions had rendered cross-country movement for wheeled vehicles out of the question. Furthermore, it was foreseen that with the 2d Armored Division attacking east and the 84th In­fantry Division attacking north, traffic conditions in the area, and particularly at the Wurm River bridges, would be very congested. 

A further logistical complication lay in the fact that the Corps plan provided that the 113th Cavalry Group, heavily reinforced, would precede the divi­sion to the Gereonsweiler area from where it would launch an attack north to seize Lindern and the high ground running west from that town. The fur­ther mission of this unit, which was designated “Task Force Biddle” (named after Col. William S. Biddle, its commander), was to protect the north flank of the Corps and to push reconnaissance to the Roer. This force was to be attached to the 102d Infantry Division and its reinforcements were to include the 1st Battalion 405th Infantry as well as the 40th Tank Battalion and all of the artillery of the 7th Armored Division.

 All troops moved forward to assembly areas dur­ing the night of 10-11 November and supporting artillery and assault-gun and mortar platoons took up indirect firing positions during daylight on the 10th. From 12 to 15 November the command was alerted for attack each day. However, it was not until 0040 on the night of 15-16 November that orders were received to attack. All units then moved to their jump-off positions, TFX assembling in Waurichen.

 The adverse effect of the cloudy and rainy weather upon traffic conditions has already been mentioned, but it had an added disadvantage for the attackers in that long-range visibility for supporting air units was generally unfavorable. H-hour was cold, clouds were moderate and visibility was fair. No rain fell but mud prevailed everywhere due to frequent rain during the past week.



Immendorf, Floverich and Loverich were struck by one squadron each of fighter-bombers prior to the attack. Damage in the towns was great although cratering fortunately was not extensive and damage to buildings and roads did not hinder passage of the assault waves and normal military traffic. Gereonsweiler and Ederen were also targets for bombings in the preliminary air show. Prisoners of war later stated that the only result achieved was the dispersion of troops into foxholes during the bombardment.

 According to plans, artillery preparatory fire be­gan at 1215 hours. The 14th, 65th, 78th, 83d and 92d Armored Field Artillery Battalions fired on suspected enemy command posts and known gun positions. This was followed by preparatory sere­nades on the three initial objectives. The 258th and 557th Field Artillery Battalions (155mm guns) joined with the 105mm howitzers of the five battal­ions already mentioned. A two-round-per-gun con­centration also fell on Immendorf, Floverich and Loverich while Setterich and Prummern, towns flanking the objectives, received the same amount of fire. Apweiler and Puffendorf were later given similar preparations as the attack progressed.


Task Force X, from its assembly area in the vi­cinity of Waurichen, struck at 1245. Company E, 406th Infantry, attacking on the right flank of the battalion’s 300-yard front with tanks leading, at­tempted to envelop Immendorf from the southeast. Company F struck from the left flank, also with close tank support. Moving swiftly, the troops en­countered little resistance during the approach to the town. German snipers inside Immendorf fought stubbornly, and it became necessary to carry out a house-to-house mop-up. By 1430 the mission was ac­complished and organization of a perimeter defense on the north and east sides of the town began. Casualties were light, although four tanks were disabled in passing through a minefield. (See Map 6).

 ask Force 2, however, was forced to retire from its position in front of Apweiler. In withdrawing it exposed the right flank of TFX. Company G, in­itially in reserve, was therefore committed to organize the high ground on the right and maintain contact with TFX, and supporting artillery and 81mm mortars fired registrations as soon as the objective was secured. All available mines were then installed on roads leading into the sector, and the defense was completed by 1900 hours. By this time, all elements of the task force were in the line except for one platoon of Company G, which was held in reserve.

 The 3d Battalion, 406th Infantry, holding front-line positions at H-hour, began reassembly at 1500 hours in the vicinity of Drinhausen and reverted to Division reserve. The 1st Battalion moved after dark on 16 November to take positions northeast of Floverich on the Puffendorf—Immendorf road be­hind Company C, 41st Armored Infantry Regiment.

 The German 330th Infantry Regiment of the 183d Volksgrenadier Division was holding the line when the American attack was launched. During the afternoon it was virtually wiped out, more than five hundred being captured from the regiment’s possible strength of one thousand men. The total killed and wounded could not be estimated but it is believed that not over 250 men remained in the unit. The results of the first day’s offensive were outstanding, all of the objectives having been at­tained with the exception of Apweiler. The stub­born defense of that village was the enemy’s first indication that his efforts might go farther than a mere delaying action toward the Roer River.

 The 407th Infantry meanwhile assembled in the vicinity of Brunssum, Holland, and on 16 Novem­ber was placed in a two-hour alert status for a pos­sible motorized movement to Gereonsweiler or to an assembly area to the south in contemplation of an attack to the east.


 Col. Bernard F. Hurless, commanding the 406th, assumed command of TFX on 17 November, after moving his regimental headquarters from Reeweg to Floverich at 2200 on the previous day. TFX troops then consisted of the 406th Infantry; Com­pany B, 327th Engineer Combat Battalion; Company C, 771st Tank Destroyer Battalion; Company H, 67th Armored Regiment; one platoon, 702d Tank Destroyer Battalion; and one platoon, 17th Engineer Combat Battalion. The 380th Field Artillery Bat­talion joined the 83d Armored Field Artillery Bat­talion in direct support of the task force.

 he scheduled operation for 0800 17 November was a coordinated attack with TF2 to seize Ap­weiler. As the attack was launched at H-hour, a terrific barrage from enemy artillery, tank guns, mortars, and machine guns halted the 3d Battalion on the line of departure. The attack by the 1st Battalion on the left was also held. The two assault companies were then withdrawn from the hail of enemy fire to reorganize and the support company was ordered to advance. Thrown off balance by this surprising display of hostile fire power, TEX was obliged to assume the defensive, and immediately started to develop their position in anticipation of a counterattack by tanks and infantry.

Actually, the enemy had taken advantage of the previous day’s failure to seize Apweiler to heavily reinforce it against future assaults. Terrain features operated against a force advancing northeast to se­cure the high ground that had been the 2d Ar­mored objective in the two previous futile attacks. A ridge, with its slopes running to the northwest and southeast, was in the center of the task force sector, the top paralleling the axis of advance. A wooded draw to the north offered some defilade but southern slopes were more gentle and dropped off into level fields north of Puffendorf. German antitank guns and Mark V tanks were cleverly dug in approximately 1,500 yards to the east, on the high ground just west of Gereonsweiler. From there they were able to observe all movement to the southwest and south, and, by virtue of heavier guns, outranged our Sherman tanks and rendered them completely ineffective.

 Meanwhile, a counterattack had been launched against TFX forces holding Immendorf. Develop­ing at 0700 hours, it consisted of approximately three companies of the 10th Panzergrenadier Regiment of the 9th Panzer Division, supported by ten Mark V Tanks. This first-line division, commanded by Generalmajor Freiherr von Elversfeidt, had recently fought the 7th Armored Division near Venlo; it had reportedly been on its way to a southern assem­bly area (for the German push of 16 December) when it was diverted and committed to action in the Gereonsweiler area.

 As the attacking Germans slowly advanced on Immendorf, heavy concentrations of artillery and mortar fire quickly broke the enemy formation and destroyed two of the three assaulting companies. Our tank destroyers left three Panther tanks burn­ing. Using every method of deception at their dis­posal to attain their objective, the remaining com­pany of grenadiers again advanced at 1100 hours under protection of the white truce flag. Upon reaching a position between one hundred and two hundred yards from our front lines the enemy dropped the flag and resumed fighting. The rem­nants were finally forced to withdraw under skill­fully placed defensive fires.

 Another counterattack against Immendorf, pre­ceded by a heavy artillery concentration on our front lines, began shortly after 1700 hours when approximately one battalion of infantry, supported by eight tanks, advanced under cover of darkness. The Germans used the ruse of firing tracers high over the front line of the 2d Battalion while using ball ammunition to pin down the troops and move forward. Friendly minefields crippled two Mark V tanks, which were immediately destroyed by the guns of the 771st Tank Destroyer Battalion. An­other Mark V tank, however, pressed on and en­tered Immendorf, followed by foot troops; it was finally destroyed at a range of thirty yards by a tank destroyer.

 The 3d Battalion was promptly brought forward to aid in repelling this enemy thrust. Company L, the leading element, formed a skirmish line directly from march column and threw back the enemy force. The line was then restored and quiet settled down over the village.




The importance of holding Immendorf to pro­tect the left flank of the 2d Armored Division drive was now fully realized. Interrogation of prisoners taken the previous day revealed plans for another enemy attack at 0600 hours on 18 November. Ac­cordingly, planned artillery fire was brought down in front of the entire sector at 0530 hours. The at­tack did not materialize at the scheduled time but a weak effort was finally made at 0700 hours which was promptly thrown back by defensive fires. Pri­soners said that artillery caused such heavy losses that all plans were completely disrupted. Eight Panther tanks supported the attack but withdrew after three were disabled.

 At 1130, TFX was again ordered to proceed with plans to capture Apweiler, this time in a frontal

attack from the west. The 3d Battalion, 406th Infan­try, was ordered to mount the attack and withdrew from its positions around Immendorf at 1145 hours. The 1st Battalion was assigned to support the at­tack with fire. The day was excellent for the XXIX TAC fighter-bombers which turned out in force and flew 407 sorties. In addition to strafing the enemy front lines, they dropped 117 tons of bombs and 5,850 gallons of the highly incendiary Napalm on other enemy troops and installations.

 The artillery preparation began at 1400 hours, and the attackers moved out. Company K advanced on the right and Company L on the left, both pass­ing through the line held by Company I south of Immendorf. After their passage, Company I reas­sembled and followed in battalion reserve. Troops of the assault companies crowded our artillery bursts across the open fields, staying within a hundred yards of the falling shells. When the artillery lifted and dropped on Apweiler, the assault troops had reached the orchard on the west side of the town. The artillery barrage had been followed so closely that German infantry occupying the fire trenches at the west side of Apweiler had no opportunity to leave their foxholes and were captured without a fight. Only a few rounds of 88mm and 20mm fire fell on the advancing troops from the vicinity of Prummern.

 The infantry of TFX moved steadily through the town, taking a large number of prisoners from the houses as they proceeded; they reached the east side of the town by 1445 hours and began consolidating their positions. Company K on the right tied on with TF2 three hundred yards south of the town. Company L secured the northeast approaches, and at 1600 Apweiler was taken.

 On this day, while Apweiler was under attack, the 84th Division made its debut in an offensive operation on Geilenkirchen, assisted by fire of the 405th Infantry. By 19 November the city had been invested and the 84th was prepared for further ac­tion to seize the commanding ground to the north­east. Stiffening resistance was, however, already in evidence to the north.

 The 84th Division (less the 335th Infantry which was not yet available) was now fully committed and stood in need of reserves in order to continue the advance as well as to guard against counter­attack. Accordingly, at 0900 Regimental Combat Team 405 was attached to the 84th by XIII Corps order. Its actions while serving with the Rail-splitters will be covered later in this chapter.



While the 84th struggled with the Germans on the Wurm, preparations for capturing Gereons­weiler on 20 November were well under way. Com­bat Command B of the 2d Armored Division was ordered to attack not later than 0900. Task Force X in turn received orders to attack abreast with the mission of taking the north section of the town. Elements of the 10th and 11th Panzergrenadier Reg­iments of the 9th Panzer Division, the 115th Pan­zer Reconnaissance Battalion of the 15th Panzer­grenadier Division, and remnants of the 183d In­fantry Division, held the city.

 Two troops of the 2d Fife and Forfar Yeomanry Squadron, a British unit armed with flame-throwing Churchill tanks were attached to TFX for this opera­tion. It was planned to make the attack in column with the flame throwers leading the 1st Battalion, 406th Infantry. The 3d Battalion was directed to fol­low in reserve. Tanks, accompanied by elements of the 771st TD Battalion, were to be placed on the left to guard the north flank while the 2d Battalion was to hold its position in Apweiler.

 Troops were concentrated for the attack and all preparations made for the jump­off at 0900. A de­tailed artillery fire plan was developed to provide massed artillery fire to neutralize German defenses and to isolate the town from possible reinforcement or counterattack once the combat teams had entered it. However, throughout the night and early morn­ing, heavy rains fell and at the last minute the operation was postponed until 1100 hours in the hope of better weather.

 Beginning at H minus 10 minutes six battalions fired five rounds per gun per minute into the west­ern outskirts of Gereonsweiler. From H-hour to H plus 15 minutes, Corps artillery kept the com­manding ground around the objective under con­stant fire. At H plus 15 minutes the fire falling on the western edge of the objective lifted and the six artillery battalions rolled a barrage through the town. At 1100 hours the ground forces moved for­ward.

 Combat Command B again attacked with three task forces—TF1, TF2, and TEX. On the right Task Force 1 quickly secured its first objective, a small rise of ground some five hundred yards north of Puffendorf, without loss. It then continued northward to the eastern edge of Gereonsweiler where it swung east to take and secure a slight dominating rise five hundred yards east of town. No serious op­position was encountered and the line was consoli­dated on that position. 

In the center Task Force 2 initially pressed for­ward against scattered small—arms fire. As the troops began crossing the high ground to their front heavy machine-gun fire from the area south of Gereonsweiler pinned them down for a half hour. Tank fire into the objective aided the advance, however, in spite of the enemy’s heavy armor firing from the vicinity of Beeck, leading elements of TF2 reached Gereonsweiler ahead of TFX. These forces crossed the southeast corner of the town, pushed to the high ground east of Gereonsweiler (and north of TF I) and began to consolidate their positions at 1430 hours.

 Flame-throwing tanks spearheaded the attack of TFX. together with the 1st Battalion, 406th Infan­try, while six tanks of Company H, 67th Armored Regiment, moved forward on the north flank. In­tense 88mm and machine-gun fire, coming from the high ground to the north near Prummern and Beeck, was encountered by the infantry as they left Apweiler. This ground was outside the Division boundary, and a limiting line for the advance and for artillery fire had been announced as 84th Divi­sion troops were reported to have taken both places. Requests for artillery fire were therefore refused on these positions due to the belief that friendly forces were in the Prummern—Beeck area. 

Company C, 771st Tank Destroyer Battalion, promptly moved to the east of Apweiler and en­gaged the enemy guns. This maneuver was success­ful in drawing all the fire to the tank destroyers; it was costly, however, for the company lost all but three of its fighting vehicles. Once the harassing fire had been diverted the troops rapidly entered Ger­eonsweiler. Many enemy infantrymen fled. Some took refuge in cellars. Those who remained on their positions had their observation hampered by smoke from an oil reservoir, which had been set afire on the right flank, and from fires set by the flame throwers which were employed on the outskirts but did not enter the town. 

Companies B and C drove straight through the town, attained the northeastern outskirts at 1300 hours and organized for defense. Company A made contact with the tanks of Company H to the north and swung back to Gereonsweiler to complete mop­ping-up operations.


This well organized and vigorously extended at­tack completely demoralized the defenders, and German troops began streaming in a withdrawal toward Linnich. They were cut down in large num­bers by Companies B and C. The town was thus secured by 1400 hours but it was not until 1700 that all the enemy within the village were captured.

 In the meantime the 3d Battalion followed the 1st Battalion toward the objective. Its advance from Apweiler was held up an hour and a half by 88mm fire from Prummern and machine-gun and sniper fire from inside Gereonsweiler. Company I finally swung to the left and secured the high ground taken by the tanks and Company A, while Com­panies K and L went into assembly areas in the west part of Gereonsweiler.

 The 2d Battalion attacked from Immendorf. It secured a defensive line from Apweiler to Gereon­sweiler where contact was made with Company I, and a defensive line was organized around the town, tied in with TF1 on the southeast. 

The enemy situation at this time was summarized in a field order of Combat Command B, directing the next day’s operation: Enemy rear installations are withdrawing across the Roer. Our advance is opposed by elements of the 9th Panzer and 15th Panzergrenadier Division and remnants of the 183d Infantry Division. Dug-in tanks (Mark V and Mark VI) effectively delay our advance and artillery and mortar fires continue to be heavy. Casualties have reduced the enemy in our sector to approximately 1000 men and 20 tanks; no reinforcements are reported by POWs and in­clement weather prevents air reconnaissance, in the absence of which it appears the enemy will defend its present line, with a strongpoint north of Gereonsweiler, then retreat to the Roer River.

 During the entire operation, German artillery had accurately registered on all road intersections and maintained continuous interdicting fire on them. The tempo of artillery fire increased as Gereon­sweiler was invested and continued so throughout the night. For many weeks to come the church was a favorite target of the Wehrmacht gunners who gradually reduced the entire town to a pile of rub­ble. Notwithstanding this almost continuous firing by the enemy, casualties among our troops were few. It is interesting to note that a large percentage of duds was reported. As many as seven or eight consecutive rounds failed to explode. These duds later proved to be armor-piercing shells with which the enemy apparently hoped to demolish brick and concrete shelters. Aside from the artillery the night proved quiet although outposts received scattered machine-gun fire from Welz and 20mm fire from the direction of Linnich.

 The day’s coordinated attack had been completely successful. All objectives were secured and plans were immediately formulated for a continuance of the advance the next day. TFX was given the mis­sion of taking two hills on 21 November—actually no more than slight knolls—one approximately a thousand yards northwest of Gereonsweiler and the other about 1,700 yards directly north of the front lines. A heavy artillery preparation was scheduled to support the jump-off from H minus 10 to H plus 15 minutes and was to be followed by a rolling barrage through the objectives. Air strikes were also arranged to cover both objectives but misty weather later interfered. On the left, elements of the 84th Division had the task of keeping abreast of TFX.




Promptly at H-hour, the 3d Battalion, 406th In­fantry, with Company K attacking on the right and Company L on the left, moved out. The battalion followed so closely behind our artillery fire that it reached its objective twenty-two minutes later. Re­sistance, however, was light since the enemy had suffered heavily the day before.

 In conjunction with this attack, the 84th Division decided to employ the 405th Infantry and pass it through and around its infantry elements which had been stopped in front of Prummern and Beeck. Through some error, the 405th Infantry began cross­ing the front of the 3d Battalion, 406th Infantry, and by 1500 hours had completely pinched the po­sitions out. After reassembling the 3d Battalion moved to positions to the north, northeast, and east of Gereonsweiler and formed a reserve line for the task force.

 The 1st Battalion, 406th Infantry, also jumped off precisely on time. They too crowded friendly ar­tillery fire to reach the crest of the rise just as the enemy rose from their foxholes to fight. Resistance did not continue long, and by 1200 hours all the enemy had been driven back, killed or captured. Approximately two hundred prisoners were taken by the two battalions.

 Achievement of the objectives, however, had left both flanks of Company A in the air. A gap of five hundred yards had developed on the left to­ward the 3d Battalion while a similar gap of seven hundred yards separated it from Company B on the right. One platoon of Company B, sent to maintain contact, was insufficient to close this opening. Sensing this weakness, the enemy launched a deter­mined effort to drive Company A off the objective at 1600 but was repelled without penetrating the position.

 Another counterattack, in much greater force, came shortly after dusk at 1745 hours. Three com­panies of the 11th Panzergrenadier Regiment were employed, again making their main effort against Company A. As in the operations two days earlier trickery was again used and a few enemy groups employed white flags. Others advanced with hands up, holding grenades ready for throwing when they reached the range.

 This attack forced Company A to withdraw to the south about three hundred yards to a better position where it obtained defilade against machinegun and small-arms fire. Here the company made a determined stand, restored the line, and drove the enemy back. Because of the heavy fighting in this area it became necessary to employ Company B, 327th Engineer Combat Battalion: The engineers acquitted themselves well as infantrymen. The 2d Battalion, which had moved to Gereonsweiler earlier in the day as a reserve, reassembled during the counterattack in order to furnish depth to the de­fense.

 Although the Germans continued to shell the en­tire area it was nevertheless possible to stabilize the front line and secure all objectives during the early hours of the night. This brought to a close the operations of the 406th Infantry under 2d Armored Division’s control and concluded the advances in the northern part of that division’s sector. Consoli­dation of the high ground was resisted furiously by local counterattacks but enemy armor was handi­capped by lack of maneuver space, and his tanks were pressed into a space small enough to make them especially vulnerable to artillery, antitank and air attack.

Poor soil trafficability throughout the operation had canalized movement of armored vehicles to roads and high ground. The enemy, however, fully exploited the heavy frontal armor of his Mark VI tanks. On several occasions he had maneuvered the Tigers into position between 3,000 and 3,500 yards from our tank destroyers and tanks and engaged in a fire fight. At this range even the 90mm projec­tile of the M36 TDs ricocheted off the front of the Mark VI German tanks while the enemy’s high velocity guns still neutralized Shermans and TDs.

 After the battle ended, Maj. Gen. E. N. Harmon, Commanding General of the 2d Armored Division, commended the 406th Infantry for having accom­plished its missions “with a dashing and vigorous fighting spirit.” Company C, 771st Tank Destroyer Battalion, received a Distinguished Unit Citation for having knocked out sixteen German tanks while de­fending Immendorf against armored counterattacks. Specifically, the Company was cited for its “audacity and brilliant tactical skill” and for the “brilliant ma­neuvering and firing” which forced the remnant of the enemy to retreat. The 771st Tank Destroyer Battalion was destined to serve with the 102d In­fantry Division throughout the remainder of its combat experience.




The 84th Division’s gains north of Geilenkirchen had been made at the expense of committing the entire division with the exception of the 335th In­fantry, which under 2d Armored control, moved into the Floverich area to effect a relief of troops in line. As a result of its rapid advances, the 84th’s flanks were now exposed. It was therefore neces­sary to eliminate this threat from the east by seizing the town of Beeck and the neighboring command­ing ground. To accomplish this mission Maj. Gen. Alexander R. BoIling, commander of the Railsplit­ters, planned to use the 405th Infantry which had been under his control since 17 November.

 Accordingly, the 1st Battalion, 405th Infantry, was ordered to by-pass Beeck to the east and seize the high ground to the north, followed by the 3d Bat­talion. The 2d Battalion was to attack the town frontally. The 334th Infantry, from its position on the high ground northeast of Geilenkirchen, was to renew its attack from Prummern toward Beeck. H-hour was set at 1000 on 21 November.

 During the night the 1st Battalion moved to its line of departure 1,500 yards north of Apweiler, and jumped off at 1000 the following morning. The battalion had advanced about four hundred yards when heavy machine-gun fire from the north and northeast stopped the leading elements. After an hour the frontal machine-gun fire was silenced, but the guns to the east continued to keep the troops down. Unfortunately, Lt. John R. Mulder, who commanded a mortar section, was unable to employ his weapons effectively as several recently arrived tanks had cut his telephone lines. He ran back a hundred yards to the leading tank to direct its fire on the machine guns, and finally neutralized the position. Company B then pushed on and secured the objective. Rain and poor visibility cloaked the men to some extent, and only scattered shots op­posed their forward advance. As they crossed the small stream running south out of Beeck, some of the men tried to clean their muddy weapons by dipping them in the water, but the attempt was useless. (See Map 6).

 The bluff southeast of Beeck was reached with­out incident and Company B made contact with Company C on its right. Both companies then took shelter in a long trench which ran in an irregular arc around the southern, western and northern slopes of the hill. There the battalion remained throughout the day waiting for other units to come abreast and cover its flanks, particularly on the west, where it was extremely vulnerable to hostile fire. The gap could not be closed however, due to conditions to the west where 84th Division elements were encoun­tering stiff resistance from the fortifications of the Wurm Valley. Armored support had totally bogged down in the British XXX Corps sector so that the attacks against Mullendorf on the Wurm and Krau­dorf and Hoven to the north had also failed. The 2d Battalion, 406th Infantry, without armor or suf­ficient artillery support, could render little assistance by fire toward Beeck. Companies B and C. there­fore, were effectively isolated and could do little other than wait for help. A light tank, attempting to supply the infantrymen, was quickly knocked out when it was exposed on the skyline. Water and supplies had to be brought up by carrying parties.

 During the night considerable enemy activity was noted in Beeck and it appeared that an armored counterattack was forming. At 0330 on 22 Novem­ber, the 379th Field Artillery Battalion, organic to Combat Team 405, was called upon for fire and responded with eighteen minutes of an intense con­centration which fell between the 1st Battalion’s positions and the town and partly within Beeck it­self. The enemy plan for a night counterattack was then and there destroyed without having a man emerge from the built-up area. At 0400 a thirteen ­minute artillery preparation started at H-hour. The light machine guns were left behind as the soil was too muddy to use them. The mortar section remained in support of the attack on the reverse slope of the hill. Scattered small-arms and automatic-weapons fire began coming in from the north and east.

 At 0730, as leading elements of the company ap­peared over the hill directly east of Beeck, they saw three German tanks on the road which ran directly through the assigned objective. The men took cover and as no fire had been received, Captain Estes deduced that the tanks had not seen the lead­ing men. He ordered his company to dig in and organize a perimeter defense of the position until armored support could be brought up. A company of tank destroyers which was to have supported the attack had failed to appear they had been stopped by the mud. Contact with Company C on the right had also been lost after the latter had been held up by enemy fire from the east soon after leaving the line of departure.

 Runners were sent back to notify the battalion commander of the situation and the company set­tled down to await developments. There was little enemy activity, although a few rounds of artillery fire landed in the companys area about 0830. Shortly after 0900, Company A, which had come forward by a covered route along the creek bed and the ravine behind Company B, moved into line on the right.

 Artillery forward observers of the 379th, Lt. I. D. Smith and Lt. H. W. Norris, were sent forward as replacements. They succeeded in reaching A and B Companies but reported that they had passed through enemy troops east of Beeck in order to reach positions on the high ground north of town and that the two companies were still isolated. Heavy enemy fires now began falling on this ex­posed ground, pinning the troops in their hastily prepared foxholes.

 Throughout the morning enemy fire varied from heavy to light and by mid-afternoon slackened no­ticeably. The enemy tanks, however, prevented much movement in Company B’s sector. Every time a man stuck his head up he drew fire. Enemy in­fantry was then observed advancing from the east and moving to the right rear of the 405th’s position. Because of fire from the tanks, it was impossible for observers to determine their number or destina­tion. Friendly artillery was directed on the tanks, but observation was denied due to almost continu­ous hostile fire on the company position.

 At 1400 calls for artillery fire from the 379th ob­servers grew more frantic. Their position was being hard pressed by the enemy. Supporting fires from 84th Division units were not available at the time, priority being given to the Wurm Valley operations, and it appeared for a while that the two 1st Bat­talion assault companies would have to fight it out with the enemy alone.

 Suddenly the whole area around Waurichen, where the 379th was in position, began to shake and tremble as every available artillery piece started fir­ing. Lieutenant Roper, Communications Officer of the 405th Infantry, who had been sitting in his jeep at XIII Corps Artillery headquarters with his radio turned on, had picked up these frantic calls for artillery support. Both Lieutenant Roper and a friend with whom he had been talking were able to secure the target locations which they transmitted at once to the fire control center. The entire XIII Corps Artillery responded at once and this concen­tration was instrumental in relieving the terrific pressure against the 1st Battalion.

 As it became obvious that the position was too exposed and could not be held nor could an ad­vance be made without terrific losses, a withdrawal of the two companies was ordered. At 1545 artillery observers requested smoke to cover the withdrawal of the two companies. The 379th Field Artillery Battalion promptly loaded all pieces and a fifteen-minute concentration was laid on the right flank to blow over the position and proposed return route. The withdrawal started at 1630, and as the Ozarks pulled back through the murky light of late after­noon they surprised the Germans behind them who, after one look of horrified astonishment, threw up their hands in surrender. No further activity oc­curred in this sector, the withdrawal marking the end of the first phase of the Ninth Army’s battle to the Roer.

 Considerable reorganization was necessary before operations could be resumed under 102d Infantry Division control. Our troops had fought hard and well and would henceforth fight as an all Ozark team. Admiration of the British was shown by a letter to the Division Commander from the Com­manding General of British XXX Corps, which is here reproduced:


FROM:           Lieut-General B. G. Horrocks, GB, DSO, MC

DO/9                                              Main Hq 30 Corps
                                                         26 Nov 44

My dear Keating,

I am writing to thank you for the co-operation which you have shown to my Corps since we have been in this area. All my units report that they received the maximum amount of help from your battalions when the 43d Division was taking over the front from 407 RCT.

When additional troops were required in order to main­tain the momentum of the attack around Geilenkirchen, 405 RCT was placed under my command.

I cannot speak too highly of the way these troops operated in the offensive operation NE of Prummern. Al­though the regiment was unable to capture the village of Beeck, the attack was pressed forward in the face of considerable fire from the elements of three German divi­sions. Throughout these operations 405 RCT was most ably handled by Colonel Williams.

We shall watch for the continued success of your division with sympathetic interest.

Yours sincerely



Brigadier General Frank A. Keating, Commanding General

102 US Infantry Division.





By now the problem of moving the Division to the east for further combat had become relatively simple. With two regimental combat teams already across the Wurm River, there remained but one main task that of transporting the 407th from its reserve position near Brunssum to a forward as­sembly area in the towns of Puffendorf, Floverich, Loverich, and Beggendorf. This operation was ac­complished on 24 November and on the same day the Division headquarters moved to the vicinity of Ubach.

 By this time the situation in the Division’s pros­pective zone of operations was generally as follows:

To the front, the 406th Infantry was holding a de­fensive line running generally from Ederen north­west to the Linnich—Lindern road. On the left of this sector, the 335th Infantry of the 84th Division held a defensive position extending northwest to the high ground one mile south of Lindern. In this position the 335th Infantry was in contact on its left with the 405th Infantry, still in the 84th Infan­try Division sector.

 At 1800 on 24 November, both the 406th Infantry and the 335th Infantry came under Ozark control and the Division thus became responsible for a 7,400-yard defensive line on the crucial left front and flank of the army. The 406th Infantry, which had fought under the 2d Armored Division for eight days, was in need of a brief rest; therefore, the 407th Infantry with Company B, 771st Tank De­stroyer Battalion, in support, relieved it during the night of 24-25 November and the 406th Infantry passed into Division reserve in the area in which the 407th Infantry had assembled.

 XIII Corps now began to regroup its forces in order to return all units to parent control. Com­mencing on the night of 26-27 November, the 405th Infantry was relieved by the 334th Infantry Regi­ment of the 84th Infantry Division. On the follow­ing night the 405th Infantry, once more under Divi­sion control, relieved the 335th Infantry. By 28 No­vember all moves had been completed and the Division was reassembled and in position to strike to the east.

 Two new units joined the Ozarks at this time. Late on 22 November the 771st Tank Battalion (less Company A) was placed under 2d Armored Division control and was employed the next day in support of the 406th Infantry in the Gereon­sweiler attack. It later reverted, with the 406th In­fantry, to the 102d. This unit and especially the 252d Field Artillery Battalion, which was attached to Division Artillery on 23 November, were to see much combat service with the Ozarks.

 The magnitude of the fighting up to this time may be measured to a certain extent by the Divi­sion’s ammunition expenditure. Despite the fact that certain types of ammunition, notably artillery, were strictly rationed, the Division expended nearly 24,000 rounds of 105mm ammunition, 8,184 rounds of 60mm mortar ammunition and 1,712,550 rounds of small-arms ammunition aggregating a total of 1007.5 tons.

A more conspicuous memorial to these terrific battles, however, was the debris which littered the stinking beet and cabbage fields throughout the winter months. At the Gereonsweiler—Puffendorf crossroad, still under interdictory fire, one could count forty-three knocked-out armored vehicles of all types. Eight of these were Tiger Royals, burned out and blackened, a bitter remembrance of the struggle to reach the Roer River.

 Two important noncombat activities might well be mentioned at this time. On 26 November at Vaals, Holland, the Division opened its first rest center, an installation which proved of inestimable value in resting combat-exhausted men. Also, a Di­vision reception center was established during the month, initially just north of Heerlen in Holland. Here a three-day processing and training program for replacements was instituted to orient new men concerning the Division’s background and history and to give them battle indoctrination under com­bat-experienced officers.


IMMENDORF and the high ground to the north was secured 16-23 November after seven days of hard fighting in which the following men earned- the Silver Star Medal.


T/Sgt. JAMES B. AUSTIN, Company L, 406th Infantry instrumental in breaking up a counterattack . . . captured two prisoners with valuable information and succeeded in evacuating them despite enemy fire.


S/Sgt. JOHN A. BARTTUCCI, 771st Tank Destroyer Battalion skillful handling of his platoon in the attack …..against heavy enemy armor and numerically superior forces.


2d Lt. HANES F. CAIN, Co. F, 406th Infantry ... after lead­ing a successful assault he was killed while supervising the disposition of his troops to insure their personal safety.


Capt. JOHN E. CZAJKOWSKI, Co. E, 406th Infantry inspiring leadership under intense artillery fire . . . directed the establishment of defense after a successful attack


Lt. Col. CECIL R. EVERETT, First Battalion, 406th Infantry superior leadership . . . and great personal bravery in battle.


2d Lt. EGON E. FRIEDMAN, 771st Tank Battalion . . . de­spite a direct hit on his tank .. . he succeeded in maneuver­ing to locate and destroy an antitank gun.


Pfc. ALBERT F. HURLEY, JR., Company H, 406th Infantry crawled 300 yards across open ground to knock out a tank with an antitank rocket, thus blocking an approach and forcing two other hostile tanks to withdraw . . . coun­terattack repulsed.


S/Sgt. NORBERT E. KARL, 771st Tank Battalion . .. evac­uated a wounded crew from a tank under an artillery bar­rage.


Capt. KENNETH K. KEOWN, Second Battalion Medical De­tachment, 406th Infantry . . . surgeon . . . working under continuous artillery and mortar fire . . . evacuated casual­ties wounded in a minefield.


S/Sgt. FRANK LECCI, Company H, 406th Infantry his unit hard pressed by the enemy . . . his coolness and bravery inspired his comrades to rally.


Capt. JOSEPH A. MANN, Company F, 406th Infantry successfully led his company in the capture of a small town set up defenses . . . which he inspected despite heavy fire . . . killed by a near miss . . . inspired company re­pulsed a counterattack.


TjSgt. JAMES F. MALONE, Company F, 406th Infantry exceptional bravery in repulsing a counterattack reorganized troops after an enemy penetration . . . elimi­nated the pocket thus formed.


Sgt. ANTHONY A. MASLULLO, Company C, 771st Tank De­stroyer Battalion . . . rescued a crew member from a flam­ing vehicle . . . later destroyed two PZKWVs . . . was mor­tally wounded when his own vehicle received a direct hit.


S/Sgt. MATT MIERZWA, Company M, 406th Infantry assumed command of his platoon after his leaders had been wounded in a counterattack . . . reorganized his force and accomplished a successful withdrawal . . . returned to evac­uate wounded comrades.


Lt. Col. VERLE D. MILLER, Third Battalion, 406th Infan­try . . . gallant and skillful leadership of his battalion in the attack.


Lt. Col. JAMES H. REEVES, JR., Second Battalion, 406th Infantry . . . courageous and skillful leadership of his bat­talion in the attack.


T/5 THOMAS I. PUGH, Battery A, 380th Field Artillery Battalion.., servicing a broken communications line under fire he rescued a wounded officer, and was himself wounded in accomplishing . . . hazardous mission.


1st Lt. WILLARD W. WHITE, Third Battalion, 405th In­fantry . . . assistant surgeon . . . who inspired his men . in evacuating wounded in mid-battle.



APWEILER fell on 19 November 1944 after a furious three-day battle during which the following men, because of their heroic and gallant actions, earned the Silver Star Medal.


1st Lt. ALBERT F. ABATE, Company K, 406th Infantry boldly charged and annihilated a machine-gun em­placement holding up the assault.


Sgt. CONRAD P. AUER, Company C, 77 1st Tank Destroyer Battalion . . . suffered severe burns when his tank destroyer was hit and set afire . . . extricated his wounded comrades amid exploding ammunition . . . carried one man to safety.


Capt. WALTER S. BRAVER, Company C, 771st Tank De­stroyer Battalion . . brilliantly maneuvered his tank de­stroyers under intense direct fire . . . successfully repelled enemy tanks . . . thereby saving lives of hard pressed in­fantry.


1st Lt. CHARLES A. BROWN, Company L, 406th Infantry a platoon leader under fire . —. captured a half track and eliminated several snipers impeding his unit’s ad­vance.


Sgt. CURTIS D. BROWNING, Company L, 405th Infantry when his platoon had been pinned down in the battle for the high ground north of Apweiler... he courageously rallied the men . . . by ignoring enemy fire.. . and leading the assault.


Pvt. THOMAS J. CLANCY, JR., Medical Section, Second Bat­talion, 406th Infantry . . . deliberately entered a minefield being detonated by heavy enemy fire in order to succor and evacuate his wounded comrades.


Pvt. CLELL CRANE, Company B, 406th Infantry . . . un­der heavy fire rendered first aid to his platoon leader with whom he stayed for three hours before he could safely evac­uate the wounded man . . . then returned to his squad.


Pfc. JOHN M. DEGROVE, Company K, 406th Infantry

although wounded he eliminated an enemy machine-gun section which endangered his company, killing and wound­ing 12 enemy and . . . capturing 35 others.


Pvt. JOHN F. FLYNN, JR., Company C, 406th Infantry successfully laid a communications wire at night under

heavy artillery and mortar fire . . . gravely wounded

mission accomplished.


S/Sgt. FRED GUILLOZ, JR., Company L, 406th Infantry advanced under intense fire . . . successfully neutralized two enemy gun emplacements camouflaged as hay stacks.. capturing 25 prisoners.


Pfc. KENNETH B. HARRIS, Company B, 406th Infantry although wounded, he remained as an aid man, to treat his comrades.


Sgt. DOMINIC G. KALLAS, Company I, 406th Infantry .. ignoring enemy fire he left his position to deliver effective antitank rocket fire against attacking armor.


Capt. WILLIAM C. HUNGATE, Company B, 406th Infantry led the attack with complete disregard for enemy fire assisting his men with grenades and fire.


Pvt. THOMAS W. ILES, Company B, 406th Infantry during a counterattack he killed two machine gunners al­though his rifle had jammed . . . thus assisting in repelling a numerically superior enemy.


Pvt. FRANCIS F. KELLEY, Medical Section, 1st Battalion, 406th Infantry . . . led his team beyond the front lines dur­ing the battle to evacuate wounded . . . until exhausted.


T/Sgt. EDWARD B. KLACZA, Company L, 406th Infantry fought forward against intense fire . . . successfully neutralized two enemy machine-gun emplacements camou­flaged as hay stacks . . . captured 25 prisoners.


2d Lt. JOSEPH 0. LANE, Company K, 406th Infantry Inspiring leadership under intense fire . . . led his unit to the objective . . . killed 12 enemy.



1st Lt. ROBERT C. LEMLEY, Company C, 771st Tank De­stroyer Battalion . . . skillfully led his unit against superior forces . . . destroyed five counterattacking enemy tanks enemy repulsed.


Pfc. HARRY LUKASEWSKI, Company K, 406th Infantry. wounded during a counterattack he refused to leave his position . .. and delivered effective fire until the enemy was repulsed.


2d Lt. PATRICK W. LYNCH, Company K, 406th Infantry personally led his men in the assault . . . eliminated a

machine gun holding up the attack.


T/5 EDWARD I. MALONEY, Company C, 771st Tank De­stroyer Battalion . . . evacuated wounded comrades to safety...Assumed command of vehicle in the battle.


Pfc. EDWIN E. MILLER, Company K, 406th Infantry …although wounded he assumed command of his squad . …courageous example inspired his men in the fire fight, ac­counting for twenty enemy dead.



Pfc. OLIVER A. OBERG, Company L, 406th Infantry . …crawled over open ground . . . under enemy fire . . . to knock out an enemy tank with a rocket launcher.


S/Sgt. CARL S. PAUL, Company A, 406th Infantry mortally wounded after crossing two hundred yards of fire­swept terrain to successfully eliminate enemy snipers.


Pfc. ROBERT B. PHILLIPS, Company L, 406th Infantry ... fatally wounded in intense enemy fire, he successfully as­saulted two enemy machine-gun nests threatening the ad­vance of his platoon.


Pfc. JOSEPH D. H. WATCHORN, Company C, 406th Infan­try . . . successfully laid a communication wire at night under heavy artillery and mortar fire.., seriously wounded mission completed.


2d Lt. ROBERT J. WILSON, Headquarters Third Battalion, 406th Infantry . . . rescued a wounded comrade despite a heavy artillery barrage.



PUFFENDORF was a hotspot after its capture by the 2d Armored Division. Five men earned the Silver Star Medal in this action.


Pvt. FRED STERN, T/5 JAY W. COETRIGHT, Company B, 327th Engineer Combat Battalion . . . constructed emplace­ments for twelve tank destroyers . . . within 150 yards of enemy lines . . . silhouetted by burning haystacks . . . un­der heavy artillery fire . . . guided TDs into positions where they were able to repulse an armored counterattack.


Sgt. CHARLES W. SHORT, Company C, 407th Infantry assumed command of a patrol when commanders were wounded in a mine field . . . succeeded in extricating entire patrol from . . . precarious position.


Pfc. HAROLD H. STEGEMAN, Company A, 407th Infantry wounded while attempting to rescue his squad leader hit by artillery fire . . . administered first aid and remained with his comrade.


Capt. KEITH G. CHATFIELD, Company C, 407th Infantry with undaunted spirit... he led his company against fierce enemy fire . . . killed while helping rescue one of his men who had been wounded.


GEREONSWEILER was defended for three days, 17-20 November, before it capitulated after which our troops were severely counterattacked and were able to retain their positions only by skillful and courageous defense.


S/Sgt. WILLIAM R. WILSON, Company B, 406th Infan­try, earned the Distinguished Service Cross in this action when, on 20 November, he led three companions through a hail of fire in a series of bold assaults that netted twenty-one prisoners and two armored half track personnel carriers. He then spearheaded an attack through the town, shattering resistance and capturing twenty-nine more enemy.



The following men earned the Silver Star Medal in battles in and near Gereonsweiler:


Capt. GEORGE C. ARMENTROUT, Company C, 406th In­fantry . .. during a severe counterattack he rallied his men repulsed the enemy.


Sgt. VERN E. BARNES, Company D, 405th Infantry although wounded he covered the reorganization and prep­aration of defenses after a successful attack.


1st Lt. GEORGE F. BEELE, Sgt. RAYMOND J. HALFMAN, Company B, 407th Infantry . . . rescued much needed equipment and ammunition . . . drove a burning ammu­nition truck to a safe area, thereby saving many lives.


Cpl. STANLEY BERNSTEIN, Company C, 771st Tank De­stroyer Battalion . . . supported the infantry against superior enemy armor until killed by a third direct hit on his tank destroyer.


1st Sgt. WILLIAM E. BLOOM, Company B, 406th Infantry carried a wounded comrade through 200 yards of fire swept terrain to safety.



S/Sgt. CHRISTOPHER W. CROSSETT, Company L, 406th In­fantry . . . succeeded in carrying a message to a unit isolated by a counterattack, thereby insuring its safe withdrawal.



S/Sgt. JOSEPH C. DEC, Company M, 406th Infantry ….assumed command of his platoon . . . leader killed . . . in­spired his men to repulse a counterattack.


Capt. ROBERT B. DEXTER, Company A, 406th Infantry reorganized his company after a severe counterattack and successfully held a precarious defensive position, thus insuring that hard won gains were consolidated.


S/Sgt. NICHOLAS J. DI CANIO, Company F, 405th Infan­try . . although under continuous small arms fire he at­tacked and blew open with a pole charge a concrete em­placement . . . captured seventeen enemy.


Sgt. JOSEPH CAPOZZI, JR., Company D, 406th Infantry rescued a wounded driver from a flaming vehicle ... under an artillery barrage.


1st Lt. ROBERT E. DICKINSON, Cannon Company, 406th Infantry . . . as forward observer he accompanied the in­fantry into battle, thus insuring effective support . . . gallant action beyond call of duty.


1st Lt. ALBERT H. DUCKWITZ, Company A, 771st Tank Destroyer Battalion . . . directed artillery fire . . . from ex­posed position . . . forcing enemy withdrawal.


S/Sgt. GEORGE M. DUNN, Company C, 406th Infantry with Private Vavra . . . immobilized two armored ve­hicles by placing grenades in the track mechanism . . . killed four enemy . . . secured four prisoners . . . thus enabling his platoon to advance. *


Capt. WILLIAM H. ELLIOTT, Company-B, 327th Engineer Combat Battalion . . . inspired leadership . . . under critical battle conditions . . . insured safety of his command.


Lt. Col. LE Roy E. FRAZIER, First Battalion, 405th Infan­try... led his command forward in the face of heavy enemy fire . . . to successfully gain his objective . . . inspired lead­ership.


S/Sgt. JOHN R. GARBUTT, JR., Company B, 406th Infantry alone he disabled an armored vehicle, capturing and evacuating three prisoners with vital information.


Pfc. PASCUAL JUAREZ, S/Sgt. JOSE T. MONTOTA, S/Sgt. JOSEPH M. SMITH, Company B, 406th Infantry ... isolated, they fought on against a superior force ... capturing twenty-one prisoners .. . then rejoined their company to spearhead an attack . . . captured 27 more enemy.


1st Lt. CHARLES E. KINNEY, Company D, 406th Infantry inspiring leadership . . . and exceptional bravery in

battle . . . skillful attack . . . minimum losses.


1st Lt. ST. CLAIR A. KNIGHT, Company 1, 406th Infantry eliminated, in the face of furious fire, a machine gun which was holding up the attack.


Pfc. ABE M. KUZMINSKY, Company C, 406th Infantry although alone on an exposed flank . . . he wiped out an attacking squad . . . with a BAR . . . during a furious counterattack.


Pfc. JOSEPH J. MCCARTHY, Company B, 406th Infantry ... knowing that his secure position would be jeopardized by the disclosure, he nevertheless gave warning of the pres­ence of penetrating enemy . . . thereby enabling a successful counteraction to be mounted.


Sgt. JOHN F. O’DoNOVAN, Company B, 406th Infantry...   instrumental in capturing two enemy armored vehicles.


2d Lt. ERVO A. TARSI, Battery C, 380th Field Artillery Battalion ... directed artillery fire for two days and a night from positions at times behind the enemy lines . . . assisted in repulsing several vicious counterattacks.


Pvt. JOSEPH R. VAVRA, Company C, 406th Infantry with Sergeant Dunn... immobilized two armored vehicles by placing grenades in the track mechanism . . . killed four enemy . . . secured four prisoners . . . thus enabling his platoon to advance.


Sgt. Lotus KLEIN, Pvt. WAYNE J. WALDEN, Company C, 771st Tank Destroyer Battalion - . . boldly supported in­fantry against superior enemy armor . . . although receiving three direct hits they continued until Private WALDEN was wounded.


Sgt. NORTON R. SMITH, Company L, 406th Infantry immobilized a tank by crawling over fire swept terrain to drop a hand grenade down the open hatch.


1st Lt. BOYD M. WITHEROW, Company L, 406th Infantry crawled forward toward a machine gun to divert fire toward himself so that his men could safely follow …successfully eliminated the hostile gun with a grenade.


S/Sgt. JOHN L. SCHLER, Company F, 406th Infantry his squad isolated by an armored penetration during a coun­terattack he rallied his surviving comrades and succeeded in defending the position . . . killed by a direct artillery hit.



BEECK and the high ground of Apweiler was a furious battleground from 21 to 23 November. The fighting raged back and forth with some of the most furious tank battles of the war occurring here when armored counterattacks were repulsed.


Sgt. JOSEPH J. WILD, Company E, 405th Infantry, although painfully wounded in one attack crawled through small arms fire to a haystack which concealed snipers. Set­ting the hay on fire with incendiary grenades, he forced  the enemy into the open, killing two and capturing a third  Then he diverted enemy fire to himself by throwing hand grenades, thus enabling his platoon to establish a secure defense. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross his bravery.




The following men won the Silver Star Medal in the battle for BEECK:


Capt. JAMES W. CORNER, S/Sgt. LEROY D. HAINES, Pfc. ARHUR H. LABAIRE, 1st Lt. ROBERT M. LEACH, Company A, 405th Infantry . . . reconnoitering a route of advance for their company . . . they surprised a troop shelter, cap­turing nineteen prisoners . . . later led the company in a furious and successful attack.


Pfc. HARRY BEAN, T/Sgt. PAUL J. PADGETT, Sgt. HAROLD T. SAGE, Headquarters Company, 405th Infantry . . . in­sured the success of an attack . . . by successfully patrolling in the face of an ambush . . . through a minefield . . . and returned with vital information.


2d Lt. HAROLD R. ANDERSON, Battery A, 379th Field Ar­tillery Battalion . . . led his forward observer section over a thousand yards of open terrain . . . supported an assault company from exposed positions until mortally wounded.


Pfc. RAYMOND J. BELANGER, Medical Detachment, 405th Infantry . . . in battle he moved fearlessly over no-man s land administering first aid to his comrades . . . although constantly under sniper fire . . . fatally wounded by ma­chine-gun fire.


S/Sgt. EDMOND A. BISSAILLON, 771st Tank Destroyer Bat­talion . . . after his tank destroyer received a direct hit he continued to fire, knocking out one tank, and then success­fully evacuated his entire crew under fire.


Pvt. JOHN A. BOORAS, Company B, 405th Infantry assumed command of twelve men isolated in battle . . . led them through intense fire . . . neutralized a machine gun with grenades . . . rejoined his unit.


1st Lt. MERRIT G. BRAUM, Company E, 405th Infantry boldly led his men in a furious assault against a forti­fied building . . . under heavy fire . . .permitting the com­pany to advance.


Pfc. VESTER J. CHILDERS, Medical Detachment, 405th In­fantry . . . constantly exposed himself to enemy fire

moving back and forth over open terrain . . . to treat cas­ualties.


S/Sgt. JOHN C. BISCHOFF, Company F, 405th Infantry although wounded he remained at his post .. . and fired until his ammunition was exhausted.


Pfc. EMMANUEL J. GIL, Company D, 450th Infantry volunteered to make contact with adjacent units ... crawled over shell-swept terrain . . . eliminated several snipers . . -accomplished his mission.


S/Sgt. CLIFTON GROVES, Company B, 405th Infantry single handedly charged a strong enemy position . elim­inated resistance with grenades.


T/Sgt. WARREN M. DAVIS, Company C, 405th Infantry

singlehandedly assaulted and neutralized a position that

had pinned down his company with murderous fire . . . en­abling his unit to advance.


T/Sgt. HOWARD F. DELWO, Company G, 405th Infantry assumed command of two platoons whose leaders were casualties . . . later fatally wounded.


1st Lt. CLYDE ELLIOT, 548th Antiaircraft Artillery (AW) Battalion . . . with utter disregard for enemy fire . . . he led aid men through minefields to the rescue of wounded soldiers.


2d Lt. BENTON HUGHES, Company d, 405th Infantry ... although wounded he remained with his company to lead a furious attack against the town.


1st Lt. COOLY S. JASPER, Battery B, 379th Field Artillery Battalion . . . led his forward observer section through in­tense fire to the assistance of an assault company . . . suc­cessfully placing smoke to cover their withdrawal.


Capt. BOLES S. KNAPIK, Company E, 405th Infantry . disregarding enemy fire he led his company over open ter­rain . . . to drive the enemy back in retreat . . . fatally wounded.


Pvt. JOSEPH A. LEONI, Company C, 405th Infantry …enabled his company to press an attack . . . by single hand­edly assaulting and eliminating a machine gun impeding their advance.


Capt. HAROLD J. LOEANO, Company C, 405th Infantry although wounded he continued to direct the prepara­tion of defenses . . . assuring that his men were protected.


T/5 LAWRENCE E. MOSER, Medical Detachment, 405th Infantry . . . moved fearlessly over shell-swept terrain to treat the wounded . . . refusing to seek shelter until all had been cared for.


Capt. WILLIAM A. MILLER, Company D, 405th Infantry assumed command of the battalion . . . and successfully accomplished a withdrawal under heavy pressure.


Sgt. FRANCIS J. MURPHY, Company G, 406th Infantry observing a counterattack developing, he advanced alone to place his machine gun in position . . . where he was able to disperse the enemy forces . . . mortally wounded in this action.


Pfc. THURMAN E. NAMOMANTUBE, Company H, 405th Infantry . . . ran fifty yards over open terrain under fire to take over a machine gun.



Capt. ROBERT T. NEALON, 771st Tank Battalion . .. dis­regarding heavy artillery fire he reconnoitered in advance of friendly lines . . . to find lanes of advance for his tanks.


Sgt. ZYGI NOWICKI, 548th Antiaircraft Artillery (AW) Battalion . . . led rescue parties through dense minefields under an enemy artillery barrage . . . to rescue a wounded soldier.


Capt. WILLIAM C. PETERSON, Company F, 405th Infantry . . crawled forward to locate two tanks holding up his company then returned for armored support which he mounted and guided into position . . . thus destroying the enemy armor . . . and enabling his company to advance.


Pfc. FOSTER L. PORTER, Company B, 405th Infantry his company halted by grazing fire .... he courageously ex­posed himself in order to determine the enemy’s position

then directed fire . . . enabling his unit to advance.


Pfc. BILLIE PRESLEY, Company B, 405th Infantry with only one round of ammunition left he rushed a ma­chine-gun position . . - seized the enemy’s weapons…neutralized the position.


T/Sgt. STEVE T. PUSKAR, Company B, 405th Infantry ...crawled alone against a strong enemy position which he successfully eliminated.


1st Lt. JAMES D. RAPP, Medical Detachment, 405th Infantry . . . established a forward collecting station . . . and working under hazardous conditions . . . insured that all wounded were evacuated.


1st Lt. IRVIN D. SMITH, Battery C, 379th Field Artillery Battalion . . . led his forward observer section over open terrain against intense fire to support an assault company successfully adjusted fire which dispersed strong coun­terattacking forces.


1st Lt. JAMES M. SHARKEY, 771st Tank Battalion . . . ac­complished a foot reconnaissance of terrain under enemy fire and successfully led his tanks in the attack.


1st Lt. ROBERT S. SMITH, Company B, 405th Infantry located and single handedly silenced a machine gun

holding up the attack . . . then led a furious assault which led to the ultimate capture of the objective.


1st Lt. JACK L. WEIGAND, Company F, 405th Infantry exposed himself to intense fire in order to guide armor

to the support of his unit.


Col. LAURIN L. WILLIAMS, 405th Infantry . . . for out­standing leadership and gallantry during the attack by his regiment.


Back to Home Page

I hope you enjoy the web site. Feedback is always welcome. I can be contacted via email at bill@hobbydog.net