Indirect Fire

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

old-computer-ii-264Lt. Bob McCaleb, Troop C, 42d Squadron

15 – 19 March, 1945

Our bridgehead over the Mosel was a precarious one. Charlie Troop moved up to relieve the doughs on that high sharp ridge above Alken (map 36), and the river seemed 100 yards from our backs – straight down. Just as we got up there the Kraut 6th SS Mountain Division threw an attack at the doughs to get Hill 367 (map 36), which dominated the entire 90th Division bridgehead, and would have cut off the whole Squadron in Alken. However, Yates’ tanks came up and helped smash the attempt.

We pushed north along the ridge east of Alken, throwing a lot of small arms at the Krauts, and securing a pretty good position just south of an old medieval castle sitting right on the crag above Alken.

Bancroft’s eyes lighted up when he saw it and he suggested to Lt. Verry, the S-2, that it should make an excellent O.P. Off they went to check it.

We had our hands full right then, and it wasn’t about an hour later that I went up to check their findings.

They were all right, high in a tower room on the southeast corner. “Fearless Freddy” was kneeling at the window with his pistol out, while Verry was sitting back comfortably with a case of Champagne on either side of him, observing some Krauts on a ridge about 800 yards away.

“Quadrant 72, deflection 350; fire one”, sang out Verry, and Fred canted his pistol up on the window edge and pulled the trigger.

“Number one, on the way”, Fred growled, then noticing me he started to snicker, “those damn Krauts are too far away – we have to use indirect fire.”

This was on the 15th of March.

The 16th of March the 2d Squadron was relieved of it’s screening mission and moved to Kollig (map 33). The 42d completed the relief of the 357th Infantry. Group was ordered to protect the Corps left flank and keep contact with the VIII Corps and the 90th Division.

(Major Lambert took a section of Fowler’s tanks through the road block to enter Waldesh (map 36) from the rear – just as VIII Corps Artillery dropped a T.O.T. of white phosphorous in to soften up the town for assault. The tankers promptly withdrew, and halfway back to the 42d positions ran into a U.S. Infantry Battalion that hadn’t eaten since the river crossing, so the cases of C rations carried by the tanks were warmly received.)

The entire Group moved forward to the line of the Rhine river the next day in the vicinity of Boppard (map V)(map 36), St. Goar (map V) and Oberwesel. Corps directed that the 90th Infantry and the Second Cavalry seize the Rhine river line from Boppard to Bingen (map V)(map 37). The next two days were spent in rapidly extending our open flank further and further south and by the 19th our Troops reached the Nahe river opposite Bingen. Plans were made for the attack, which was to take place the next day.

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