Patrol To Palzem

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

WWII21 – 25 January 1945

Major Andrews, 42d Squadron

Palzem (map 33) is a small German town on the Moselle river directly across from Stadtbredimus, Luxembourg (map 33). After about 3 weeks of routine patrolling into Palzem after a prisoner, I finally decided to try it myself. I had picked 16 men to go with me as this was the patrol that was going to do or die. I can remember a few of those on the patrol – Sgt. Roy, 1st Sgt. Beasley, S/Sgt. Magnum, Sgt. Benvenuto, Cpl. Francis, Cpl. Bower, Cpl. Brady.

I gave them such a pep talk about how we were going to stay over there until we got a prisoner that it wasn’t long until I believed it myself. I gave them 24 hours off prior to the jump off to rest up, and for the assistant patrol leaders to make their reconnaissance. We really had the plan down to perfection. I still can’t figure out how we missed getting a Kraut.

We were to cross at midnight in three waves. Roy, myself and Beasley in charge of the boats. From about 8 o’clock until we moved down to the river you never saw such dead pan faces as those 16 men had, as they were dead set on staying over there until we got that prisoner. At midnight, Lt. Catlett loaded us into the boats and shoved us off. Once in the middle of the river we all started going around in circles, and this helped considerably because everyone had to laugh. We got on the far side O.K. and really took the town apart. After going through the entire area, we started searching the houses with flashlights. I guess we never would have had any excitement if Brady hadn’t winged one Kraut. That started things a-buzzing as they sent in about a platoon to reinforce the town garrison, and also ran in a couple mounted 20mm’s.

Benvenuto, carrying our radio, wound up right in the middle of about 20 of the Germans, and after being stepped on by one decided it was time to leave. He had been keeping contact with Catlett for me, and consequently the Krauts started talking to Catlett on the radio. We were outnumbered considerably, and after 4 or 5 different fire fights we decided it was time to get out. It took us until 6 o’clock to get everyone assembled and we crossed back to the west side just before dawn, without a prisoner but much more experienced.

All during the patrol from midnight to 0600, we had artillery coverage from Welch’s AG’s and from Davis’ FA Bn. He was angry at us for staying over so long, said it wasn’t in accordance with the school solution for a patrol to stay over so long, and they used too much ammo covering us.

By the 22nd, high water, ice, and bright moonlight made the river extremely difficult to cross. Nevertheless patrols managed to get to Palzem and Wehr (map 33), and reported no enemy contact. On this day the Jerries added to our many war time experiences by showering us with Nebelwerfers at Kleinmacher (map 33).

Nebelwerfers, for the information of those who have never had the delightful experience of being subjected to their visitations, arrive with the wail of a banshee with hydrophobia, explode like a junior atom bomb, and shake the ground with all the vigor of a California earthquake. Our soldiers aptly call them the “screaming meemies”. Actually, however, they are not as bad as it sounds, for the effect on the average nervous system is not much worse than a severe attack of delerium tremens. To repay Heinie for this sole stirring demonstration of his new toy, our artillery and TD’s broke up a happy sounding party at the Chateau Thorn (map 33) during the night.

The 24th and 25th were passed in comparative quiet. Patrols were unable to cross the river because of bright moonlight and enemy small arms fire.

To the north, Von Rundstedt’s bulge was now bulging in the other direction and the battle of the Ardennes was officially declared at an end. So the Second Cavalry, without changing their normal activities or positions, again entered the campaign of the Rhineland.

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