Hostau break-through

From:
SECOND UNITED STATES CAVALRY – A HISTORY
Compiled, edited and published by Historical Section, Second Cavalry Association
Maj. A. L. Lambert and Cpt. G. B. Layton, 2d Cavalry

26 Apr – 8 May 1945 VE-Day

old-computer-ii-147Lt. Bob McCaleb, Troop C, 42d Squadron

The night of 26 April, two British and one American escapee were picked up by one of the outposts of Sgt. Carpenter’s section, 3rd platoon.

Their information stated that there was a moving prisoner group of about 350 British and American prisoners in a town on the plain in front of and between us, and some 10km to the right.

At first under suspicion, they were thoroughly questioned. They then requested we try to release the prisoners. They offered to guide us and also act as intermediaries to get the Krauts in charge to surrender.

After talking it over with Col. Hargis and getting his permission, C Troop, reinforced with one platoon of light tanks, prepared to dash out to their task. Sgt. Carpenter requested to point the attack, as he had made the original contact. This granted, the attack was launched through the wooded strip along the ridge and poured into the first town. The people seemed to be completely surprised and unaware of the previous proximity of the Americans. This helped to chase away the last lingering doubt as to the integrity of our “guide”.

I followed Carpenter’s vehicle until he was just outside of his objective, the entire distance being covered without incident. I went back and consolidated the rest of the command so as to cover the open route of the “spearhead”. Due to a small town being passed through which did not show on the map (and therefore was mistaken for a different town farther along the route) Carpenter was delayed an hour under direct orders of Col. Reed, pending arrival of additional forces in the form of A Troop, which was heading for one of the greatest prizes of the Squadron’s experience. This objective was unknown to C Troop at the time, and the Sergeant was literally champing at the bit with impatience to be on his way. Finally he did get the go-signal upon identification of his location as being one town west of what was understood originally. He then sped forward and was highly successful in accomplishing his mission and completing a dash of 12 kilometers into enemy territory to the town of Bela nad Radbuzou (map 43).

old computer II 157A Troop then passed through C Troop and captured the great horse breeding farm of Hostau (or Hostoun) (map 43), one of the most outstanding in Europe.

In the meantime Headquarters sent up all available trucks to help evacuate the exceptional load of 670 Allied and German prisoners. All night long the trucks droned by with the shipment of “sour” Krauts.

old computer II 158That is, they did until a road block of heavy logs was placed across the road through the woods between the C Troop CP and the 1st platoon at about 0230 hrs. The 1st platoon was cautioned by radio to be on the alert, and a pre-dawn check proved the block unmanned. It was left till daylight to commence to remove the block due to the danger of booby traps, plus the fact that the day’s action had well established there was no longer an organized force before us of any size to be a threat.

Troop A, reinforced, passed through on the 28th to seize Hostau (Hostoun) and Cecin (map 43). The enemy tried a counter-attack at Hostau, but A Troop beat them off. When the opportunity arose to capture a valuable horse breeding depot intact, near Hostau, Capt. Thomas M. Stewart, accompanied by a German guide, proceeded on horseback through the mountains at night, evaded outposts of SS troops along the border, made contact with the commander of the depot, and by tactful presentation of the strength of the American forces, persuaded the depot commander to surrender if the border outposts of the SS troops could be overrun. Later, Capt. Stewart returned with a task force, attacked and disposed of the outposts and received the surrender of the depot. Upon being counter-attacked he organized a force of liberated Allied PW’s, and with them and his small task force, not only repelled the attack but also captured 200 prisoners. In addition to the human prisoners, which were getting to be a drug on the Cavalry market, 670 horses and 750 new aircraft engines were captured.

In accordance with a Corps Directive which directed the Group to secure the pass northeast of Regen (map VII), and protect the Corps flank, the 2d Squadron and Group Headquarters moved far to the south to Zwiesel (map VII)(map 44) on the 29th. The following day 2d Squadron established a screen to the northeast and received the surrender of 4,696 White Russian troops. 42d Squadron moved south of the 2d to Grafenau, contacted the 5th Infantry, and established a screen facing generally northeast.

On May 1 the entire screen moved toward the Czech border. In the 42d zone there was no resistance. The 6981st Rifle Co (Prov) was attached to the Squadron and designated Troop D. The 2d cleared Eisenstein Pass against moderate small arms fire and reached Prokop (map 44) with Troop F. Troop C cleared the woods near Lindbergmuhle (map 44). 42d patrols the following day reported no enemy encountered except small groups of deserters. The 2d was established with Troop A north of Zwiesel, Troop B at Rabenstein (map 44) and Ragenhutte (map 44), Troop C at Ludwigsthal (map 44) and Eisenstein (map VII)(map 44), and Troop F at Mestys Zelezny Ruda (map VII)(map 44) and Hotprokop (map 44). Thus disposed, the Squadron lined the entire Eisenstein Pass, keeping the gateway into Czechoslovakia open. 463 PW’s were taken during the day.

The following day we continued to work our way through the forests and mountains into Czechoslovakia, some slight resistance was met by elements of the 2d Squadron as they pushed out to the flanks of the Eisenstein Pass.

Resistance stiffened on the 4th. The 42d Squadron started Troops forward to cross the Czech border in difficult terrain. 40 prisoners were taken during the day, and some fighting occurred where Troop D was pushing northeast through the forests. There was also a defended road block at Hohenrohrn.

The situation was a little rougher in the 2d’s zone. 1st platoon of A Troop, attacking Zejbis, was forced to withdraw when the Germans suddenly and violently came to life and almost enveloped them. Troop C had one of it’s worst days. The 3rd platoon, under Lt. Capewell, was with the A Troop platoon attacking Zejbis, and had to fight their way back when they found the enemy had moved to their rear. The 2d platoon lost an armored car and had Pvt. Lubus and Pvt. Williams wounded. The unlucky 1st platoon, under Lt. Gannaway, had reached and set up a strong point in Paseka, Czechoslavakia. The Lieutenant had reported to the Troop CP and was on his way back to the platoon when his jeep was fired on by bazooka and small arms. The enemy had surrounded and set on the 1st platoon in strength. The platoon leader, sizing up the situation, abandoned his jeep, which had fallen in a ditch and was stuck, and returned to the CP for help. The 3rd platoon and a platoon of tanks were dispatched to the aid of the beleaguered 1st. As they neared the town they ran into determined resistance and killed ten enemy and captured two. An officer PW informed them that the platoon had been captured and was already gone, so the woods were held for the night and the enemy area well watered with artillery.

The survivors of the 1st platoon were rescued by B Troop of the 42d a couple of days later. Sgt. Bonte, T/5 Corell, and Pfc. Hancock were wounded, and Pfc. Buttron and Pvt. Ashley were killed in the fight. These were the last two men of the Second Cavalry to die in action. Troop C of the 2d Squadron, who lost the first man back in Normandy, France, on August 3, 1944, lost the last two on May 4, 1945, in Czechoslovakia.

A PW captured shortly after this fight stated that he was in the reserve squad which attacked the reconnaissance platoon. The attack was well planned the day before when, under a Captain, 50 men observed the platoon from a hill to the northwest of their position. The Germans decided to attack the next day if the platoon was still there, and it was, by breaking up into three groups and encircling the village from the north, south and southeast. The prisoner belonged to the squad in reserve which was located on the southeast side of the village. To the prisoners knowledge, one American was killed and 22 captured. The prisoners were taken away in two jeeps.

The 2d Squadron pushed to Klatovy (map VII)(map 45) on the 5th of May, and there 936 Germans surrendered without resistance. The 42d continued to push through the mountains, meeting some resistance north of Mouth at 1400. Troop D reached Praisly (map 44) after cleaning up one small pocket of resistance. B Troop moved through the 2d Squadron zone and then swung east and south to meet our Troops advancing from the south. Troops C and E were combined into Task Force Welsh to make a drive to the north on the flank of the 5th Division, independent of the Squadron. The 6th still found the 42d meeting spotty resistance, though nothing of a serious nature. Troop D met small arms fire from the forest south of Praisly. B Troop, which had moved far to the east, was contacted by enemy officers who wished to arrange the surrender of a Regimental size unit. The 2d Squadron continued north and east of Klatovy. Group Headquarters moved to Klatovy.

The following day the 2d pushed A Troop to Zinkovy (map 45) and Stibrin (map 45) and B Troop to Nepomuk (map 45). The 42d Squadron accepted the surrender of OCS Rotekan, an officer candidate unit of Regimental size.

On the 8th, A Troop, which had been left in Hostau to guard the depot there, rejoined the 42d Squadron. Task Force Welsh dissolved and Troops C and E rejoined the Squadron. The remainder of the Group held their positions as the European campaign ended officially at 0001 9 May 1945.
old-computer-ii-161

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