Patrol To Wincheringen

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

WWII15 – 18 February 1945

Troop A, 2d Squadron

An 18 man patrol and a 4 man boat guard, led by Lt. Brown, A Troop, 2d Squadron, crossed the Moselle river at Ehnen (map 33) at 2030 the night of the 15th. They proceeded cross country to the edge of the woods just south of Wincheringen (map 33). The prearranged plans were for the patrol to split up into three teams. Lt. Brown and three men were to approach the crossroads to the south end of Wincheringen from the east. Sgt. Fontenot was to take three men and cover Lt. Brown from the right. Sgt. Kinley, with the remainder of the patrol, was to be about 50 yards from the town on Lt. Brown’s left.

Brown and his three men circled around through an orchard and approached the crossroad from the east. He checked the houses around there but found no enemy. He also checked the schoolhouse and the house in the middle of the road junction, plus one other house close by. He found no enemy in any of these buildings. After completing this check, he moved back to pick up Sgt. Fontenot and Sgt. Kinley. Just as he was moving away, a German yelled something and one machine gun from the vicinity of the schoolhouse and one from the northwest part of town opened fire on them. At the same time several flares went up. The patrol took cover and threw a grenade at the spot in which they thought the machine gun to be. They didn’t know if they killed the crew or not, but at least the gun quit firing. Lt. Brown then moved back to Sgt. Fontenot. They saw Sgt. Kinley, with his men, moving toward the river. Lt. Brown, with his men, started walking south along the draw to the woods and then to the river. Sgt. Fontenot sent two men back to see if any of the men were behind. They searched but could find no trace of any men except some Germans who were trying to follow the patrol to the river.

Upon arriving at the river bank at 0340, Lt. Brown checked and found ten men missing. He left two men behind to wait for the missing men and guard the two boats, with instructions to leave just before daylight. Following orders, the men waited until just before daybreak then took one boat and came back, leaving the other boat for the missing men. At 0530 the ten men found their way to the river bank. Seeing one boat, they put in their two wounded and three men to row, and started it for the friendly side of the river. The boat got about 20 or 30 feet from the shore and the Germans opened fire with machine guns. The five men remaining on the bank lost sight of the boat as it disappeared into the heavy fog. As yet, this boat and the five men have not been found.

At about 0800 our OP’s saw the five men on the other bank and notified Lt. Brown, who under cover of fire from B Troop, immediately went across to get them. As they started back the Germans again opened fire, but all men succeeded in making it back to our side of the river. All OP’s were notified to be on the lookout for the missing men and the boat. Lt. Lasswell, A Troop, led a group of men along the river from Wormeldange (map 33) to Ahn, but found no trace of the boat or men.

Group report 15 February. “No changes, continued on mission.”

The Jerries must have had a feeling that trouble was on the way, because the night of the 17th some of them were evidently operating on the principle of “eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we may die”. Our outpost between Grevenmacher (map 33) and Machtum (map 33) reported hearing music from 2200 to 2300, with American music leading the German hit parade. Songs rendered for our enjoyment were, “This is the Night for Love”, “Strip Polka” and “I’ll be Seeing You.” The next day Col. Reed received orders which insured that the Heinies would soon be seeing us in a manner to which they did not wish to become accustomed.

Orders from Third Army were that we would cross the Moselle by 0200 February 19, and seize and hold the road center of Wincheringen, until relieved by CCR of the 10th Armored Division, attacking that morning from the Switch Line, then to clear any pockets of enemy resistance remaining in that area before withdrawing back across the Moselle. Troops A and C of the 2d Squadron were chosen as the assault waves and C Company, 285th Engineer Combat Battalion, was to cross later as the reserve.

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