Reconnaissance In Force

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

WWII12 November 1944

James R. Stuckey, C Troop, 42d Squadron

Troop C was in Squadron reserve at Coincourt (map 29a)(map OHW) on November 12th, when Capt. “Buck” Harris announced we were going on a dismounted attack against Ley (map 29a). We were to be supported by a platoon of tanks under Lt. Kraatz of F Troop. It seems that Troop A patrols had determined that Ley was the Kraut strong point north of his main positions in Haut de La Croix (map OHW), but Squadron wanted to know how strong.

We moved up to an assembly area in the Moncourt woods (map OHW) behind A Troop positions. Naturally we were carrying all the junk, including machine guns and the radio that never works at the right time, that GI’s have to carry on an attack. There Capt. Harris mounted one platoon on the tanks, with orders for Lt. Kraatz to roll down the road into Ley when we opened fire. The engineers were removing our own mines outside of Moncourt (map 29a)(map OHW) so the tanks could barrel on through town once they exposed themselves.

Capt. Harris led the dismounted party down the draw west of Moncourt, so we had a slight rise of ground between us and the enemy, and were not bothered until we arrived about 600 yards due west of Ley, where we deployed for the attack. We must have been seen then, for some mortar stuff started dropping in about us. The tanks took that as a signal and began to roll.

Now we moved forward to the attack, leaving our MG’s on the rise as a base of fire. That’s when I think T/5 Dave Fearer was hit, because some heavy stuff started coming in and small arms and MG fire laced into us from the town. We reached the road the tanks were on, about 300 yards from Ley where it turned east to enter town, and found it heavily mined. The tankers saw that too, and pulled up on our right, pumping their cannon and machine guns into town like holy hell.

It was getting pretty hot, and we could see the bridge blown out over the stream about 100 yards from town. We were ordered forward and gained the creek in a rush. Some Kraut machine gun in the church steeple was particularly obnoxious. Lynch and McDonald were both hit. Then Lt. Kraatz’ boys really laid into that steeple. That stopped his water!

Now we ran into barbed wire and trenches. The grenades came in handy then, but with the mines we had seen along the creek bottom, and with the mud that was about four feet deep, we couldn’t use the tanks in a rush. A couple of guys got into town, but they had us. The wounded were helped back. The tanks smothered the Krauts small arms positions until we got back to the ridge, but they couldn’t stop those 150’s from coming in!

The tanks then roared back up the road through Moncourt, but C Troop had to slop through the mud for about two miles with that Jerry artillery walking right along beside us. Out in the open and the mud too deep to run in! That was a nightmare! Ask any man in C Troop.

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