November Offensive

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

WWII8 – 21 Nov 1944

Troop C, 2d Squadron

November 8th, the bedrolls and ditty bags were reloaded on the vehicles, and C Troop moved out in the cold, drenching rain to screen and protect the YD’s (26th Division) right flank in the Division’s latest push.

The mission was to occupy Xanrey (map 29a), and proceed northeast to the Flottage Canal where all the bridges within our assigned sector were to be held. Attached to the Troop at that time were a platoon of F Company’s tanks, a platoon of E Troop’s assault guns, a platoon of TD’s and a squad of engineers.

Before we entered Xanrey, the engineers and our own 3rd platoon dismounted to check it. Reconnaissance proved the town cleared of all enemy.

The CP moved into a muddy field on the outskirts of Juvrecourt (map 29a). The three reconnaissance platoons and the tanks moved on to their respective areas on the canal, but quickly moved back to higher ground when enemy artillery began to make their sectors entirely too warm for November.

After failing to observe any enemy activity along the canal’s edge for three days, during which the tanks, TD’s and engineers were recalled, a four man daylight patrol was sent to the edge of the canal to spot enemy positions on the other side. Under T/5 Douglas Hamm, the patrol succeeded in pin-pointing enemy positions and returned without casualties. Two more daylight patrols were dispatched to cross the canal, but both returned, unable to find a suitable crossing site. That night an enemy patrol was sighted reconnoitering the opposite bank with flashlights.

(Group report November 14, “Patrolling continued. No change in front lines.”)

The succeeding night, the 14th, a combat patrol under Lt. Little was sent out to cross the canal, and finally succeeded, only to return about 0200 the next morning, wet and chilled to the bone from an enforced swim in the canal. The same morning another patrol, under Lt. Tooley, made a second crossing of the canal and reached it’s objective, Hill 264, unmolested by the enemy. When morning came the entire Troop crossed the Flottage Canal on a bridge our engineers built during the night, relieved the patrol, and set up on the high ground between Lezey (map 29a) and Marsal (map 29a).

Subsequent moves that day put the Troop CP in an empty building in Juvelize (map 29a), and the recon platoons on the road to Dieuze (map 29a) in combat positions. A patrol was sent out to ascertain the disposition of the enemy in Dieuze. It returned with it’s mission unaccomplished, unable to cross a blown bridge leading into the town.

(Group report 18 November, “Reconnaissance by 2d Squadron showed enemy defending town of Dieuze. Enemy shelled our Troops at every approach to the town.” 19 November, “Repeated attempts by 2d Squadron were repulsed by enemy artillery.”)

On November 19th, the Troop was relieved of it’s mission and returned to Squadron reserve at Bathelmont Chateau (map 29a). Shortly after pulling into the bivouac area, a totally unexpected and surprisingly accurate enemy artillery barrage opened up.

“I won’t ever forget that”, said T/4 Nielsen, one of the CP radio operators. “The first one, luckily a dud, landed just beyond our last vehicle. The rest hit right in around us, and they weren’t duds. Two men, T/5 Lane and Pfc. Hancock, got caught out in the middle of the big field that was supposed to be our bivouac area and were hit almost immediately by shrapnel.”

“By that time everyone who had been in the open had found some sort of cover. The CP halftrack was parked in some nearby woods, and we thought it was pretty well under cover. I guess it wasn’t though, because T/4 Rowland, who was on the radio at the time, was wounded in the eye by a piece of shrapnel. We had no sooner got him started on the way to the medics than another shell hit directly in front of the halftrack. I was just getting inside to take Rowland’s place on the radio when I heard Lt. Tooley call, “Nielsen, you’d better go get the medics, that last one got the Captain.” I ran through the woods to the medics at the Chateau and told them what had happened. 1st Sgt. Capewell was there. He jumped into a bantam along with a couple of medics and a litter and drove back to the halftrack to pick them up.”

Captain Warner was already dead, and both Lt. Tooley and Pvt. Jack Hillhouse badly wounded. When the barrage let up we moved our bivouac to another area, and Lt. Chrisman took over as Troop Commander.

The following day the Troop moved on to Dieuze. That night, for the first time, C Troop was able to watch long convoys of armor, men and supplies move up to the front. Here-to-fore the men had worked alone, far from any large units.

November 20th, 2d Squadron bypassed Dieuze to the north and proceeded to Guenestroff (map 29a), Vergaville (map 29a), Bidestroff (map 29b) and Bassing (map 29b). Troop F, less the 1st Platoon, assisted the infantry with the attack on Dieuze. Little resistance was met since the enemy line fell back during the preceding night.

For two days the 42d attacked to the east with Troop B clearing the great woods called Haut de la Croix (map OHW), which was formerly strongly held, against very light resistance. Troop A passed through to take the woods southwest of Bourdonnay (map 29a) by nightfall on 20 November, and then took Bourdonnay and Marimont Chateau (map 29a) after dark. During this attack all supplies and ammo had to be hand carried for several kilometers through the mud as the roads were heavily mined with Reigals and Tellers. They were placed in batches, 100 yards deep, covering the roads and the bypasses to blown bridges. However, our engineers were busy all this time and by midnight of the 20th had swept the road Bures (map 29a), Lagarde (map 29a), Bourdonnay and put in treadway bridges over the canal. A Troop vehicles were able to move up that night, and the Troop jumped off mounted on the morning of the 21st.

By this time C, 42d had reached Gueblange (map 29a) by dismounted action, and it was clear that the Krauts were withdrawing. B, 42d passed through C on the 21st, moving rapidly to the east.

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