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
4 – 21 December 1944
On the 4th of December, C Troop was given the mission to take the town of Freyming (map 30). We were to be helped by B Troop, and two platoons of tanks from Company F. In the morning before sunrise we sent out a twelve man patrol led by Sgt. Dale Rosnett. Before the patrol could get back they were trapped in the house at the edge of the town by artillery and sniper fire.
On our first two attempts we failed to get completely into the town, because of the heavy enemy artillery and small arms fire, and also because tanks were unable to support us sufficiently due to the intense shelling and sniper fire.
Lt. Haverty led his tank platoon into the town in support of the dismounted reconnaissance men. When they were halted due to enemy firing from cellar windows, he moved his five tanks forward in front of them. Because it was impossible to direct the tank and machine gun fire with the hatches closed, he opened his tank hatch and although leaving himself exposed to the enemy fire moved on, raking the cellars with 37mm and machine gun fire. While thus exposed Lt. Haverty was killed by an enemy sniper, and the attacking force was forced to withdraw.
At about 1500, after the 80th Division placed a fifteen minute artillery barrage on the town, we tried a third assault. This time we completed our mission. Three men from Company F were killed and three men from Troop C slightly wounded in the artillery and sniper fire encountered when entering the town. We counted 15 enemy dead and found another 15 wounded in the town.
It was not until late in the afternoon, about 1730, that we heard from the men that were on the patrol. They all returned and helped in securing our positions for the night. They suffered no casualties, but did do an unusual amount of sweating throughout the day.
We left Freyming at noon of the next day and took Rosbruck (map 30) without appreciable resistance. That night Cpl. Elmer Burke led a five man patrol on foot into Forbach (map 30). The patrol captured six prisoners and returned without loss at daybreak.
December 6th, 42d Squadron relieved 2d Squadron on line in position. Troop A, 42, attacked northeast to Morsbach (map 30) and held positions east of town under light enemy artillery, AT and 20mm fire, which skipped along the road to Rosbruck behind them. Next, Sgt. Roy pushed east to locate Kraut MG nests and pillboxes south of Forbach. Troop C seized Grande Rosselle (map 30) and from there dispatched a patrol to Forbach.
The 2d Squadron was still in Group reserve on the 7th, and continued to outpost Freyming with Troop B, 42d Squadron, pending relief of the 86th Cavalry Squadron. Active patrolling continued in the Group zone, reaching as far as the high ground south of Oeting (map 30) where Troop B reported 10 enemy in position. Troop E fired upon this point with their assault guns with unknown results. Forward elements of Troop C were at a point approximately 3,000 yards due west of Forbach, also on the crossroad a kilometer east of Karlsbrunn (map 30), and in Morsbach. By mid-morning the 42d sent mounted patrols from Troop A to observe enemy activity in the southeastern outskirts of Forbach. This patrol was unable to reach it’s objective because the enemy’s 165th Infantry Regiment was found to be entrenched in and around Forbach. This patrol reported enemy dug in, supported by machine gun on the dominating terrain between Forbach and Oeting, and two AT guns guarding the southwestern approaches to the latter city. These reports enabled the Group to present the complete and true picture of the situation between Grande Rosselle and Behren-les-Forbach (map 30), where previous reports by elements of the 80th Division indicated that the region was only lightly outposted by the Division Combat School of the German 36th Infantry Division.
The troops of the 86th Squadron (6th Armored Division) relieved the 42d Squadron in position, and they closed in their rest and retraining area in St. Avold (map 30) at 1930. Thus in his final report to the 80th Division, the Group Commander was able to give the unit dispositions as, 2d Sq and Group Headquarters in Longeville (map 30), 42d Squadron in St. Avold. The rendering of this report concluded the Group’s attachment to the 80th Division and returned it to XII Corps control.
From the 8th until the 14th of December, the Group was busy with maintenance, cleaning, inspections, range firing, and one move to a new area. On the 14th the Group Commander made a personal reconnaissance of the Sarreguemines (map 31) – Frauenberg (map 31) area where the Group was ordered to screen and protect the left flank and rear of the 35th Division as they attacked to the northeast.
On the 15th, the Group moved to the vicinity of Sarreguemines according to schedule; the 2d Squadron assembled in a former hospital approximately one kilometer south of Sarreguemines on the east bank of the Saar river, and the 42d Squadron in a workers settlement in the southern outskirts of the city. The entire Group closed at about 1700, with the exception of Troops E and F and both Squadron’s maintenance sections. The 2d Squadron occupied the positions of the 137th Infantry that night, jointly with troops previously holding these positions. Troop A and B were employed to form a strong dismounted outpost system, with Troop C being in the Squadron reserve. The 2d Squadron did not assume responsibility for the area until the following noon. Because of failing daylight and the exposed position in his area, the 42d Squadron Commander was unable to make a proper reconnaissance and therefore waited until the next day before beginning to occupy his area. However, after meeting the CO of the 137th Infantry, he made tentative plans to use Troop B dismounted to form an outpost system in his area similar to that of the 2d Squadron, with the exception that his plans included more forward night listening posts and strong points on the north side of the airfield in his area. It was planned that day contact between Squadrons would be maintained in the vicinity of the southwestern corner of the airfield with a night contact point approximately 800 yards further out toward the enemy positions in the vicinity of a platoon strong point reported to have been occupied by the 2d Battalion of the 137th Infantry.
The night passed without event for both Squadrons and Group Headquarters, except for the fact that their assembly areas were in the midst of several Battalions of light, medium and heavy artillery which fired incessantly. The 2d Squadron completed the relief as planned, assuming responsibility finally and completely for their area at about 1300. First action was at 1300 when Troop B reported taking two prisoners of the 3rd Company, 37th Regiment of the 17th SS Panzer Grenadier Division. Information obtained from them confirmed previous reports the 2nd, 3rd and 5th Company, supported by the 4th Company (total estimated strength about 250), were in position from left to right along a line which followed the Blies river, continuing across the south edge of the woods in the neck of land to our direct front.
The first message received from the 42d Squadron which indicated they were operating in their area, reported capturing a prisoner in the vicinity of their night contact point with the 2d Squadron. This prisoner further confirmed the information obtained the previous day, with the additional information of one gun position, the location of the 3rd Company and 1st Battalion CP’s, and of the bridge which all supply traffic in this area used. Fire was placed on all four points by the 219th Field Artillery Battalion. Some artillery and mortar fire, only sporadic, was reported by both Squadrons as falling in their areas.
During the day of the 17th both Squadrons pulled back from their night positions and remained in observation. The 42d sent a daylight patrol around their own right flank along the line of the Blies river, further developing the enemy positions. Three strong patrols were sent out during the night. The 1st platoon, commanded by 2d Lt. Stephen C. Mitchell, moved dismounted into a wood northeast of the city, crossed the Blies river by raft, and was caught by machine gun fire which caused them to withdraw. T/5 Berion L. Lemmond and Pfc. Richard Garret were lost while recrossing the stream under fire.
Having moved into their night positions the evening before, the early morning of the 18th was spent observing the enemy’s movements from their advanced OP’s and listening posts, along with normal patrol activities in attempting to penetrate the enemy’s lines. One patrol, which was sent out by B Troop of the 42d, became engaged in a short fire fight with enemy riflemen and machine guns along the eastern flank of the Squadron area. Sporadic artillery and mortar fire fell throughout the entire area, with the bulk of it in the eastern half of our zone. All of our OP’s made reports which indicated the enemy was still in position and not intending to withdraw. Of two 2d Squadron patrols, one attempted to cross the Blies river and the other to work along the river east of the Bliegersmeiler Wald. Both found the enemy very alert. The first was able only to cross the river before being detected, and the second was discovered before penetrating the enemy’s positions.
In the very early morning of the 19th, patrols of the 42d found the extreme tip of the Bliegersmeiler Wald unoccupied. This was probably as a result of heavy artillery concentrations directed at the area based on reports from the evening patrols and those of the preceding two or three days. However, a daylight patrol found the enemy back in their old positions. Patrols sent to our direct front reported the enemy unusually alert.
One of the patrols dispatched by the 2d at about 2300 the previous night was able to cross the Blies river in the northeastern outskirts of Sarreguemines. However, it was able to penetrate no further than the north bank of the river and returned shortly after midnight on the 24th. Until noon our only reports of enemy activity were concerning his artillery fire. It was falling intermittently all along the general line of our forward positions. The 2d Squadron was charged with pushing its listening posts to the very bank of the Blies and Saar rivers and keeping one Troop on the alert. They were also made responsible for the main bridge in Sarreguemines. Both Squadrons laid mines in the roads entering our positions from the north.
The 21st, both Squadrons continued patrolling and keeping the enemy under surveillance. The only sign of aggressiveness by the enemy was an attempt to blow the bridge in Sarreguemines. The combat patrol sent by the enemy to accomplish this mission was dispersed by small arms fire, the only casualty being one man from Troop B, 2d Squadron, who was slashed by a knife in the hands of the first enemy to approach the bridge.