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
Late Oct – Early Nov 1944
Troop C was getting hell. Here we had kicked the Krauts out of Hambone woods (map OHW)(map MD) and were breaking in the green 26th Division Recon Troop just west of Xures (map 29a)(map OHW)(map MD), showing them how to smell out the enemy, and the Krauts had spoiled our show for the last five days by knocking hell out of the section covering our little minefield.
A Jerry AT gun, estimated as an 88, was particularly nasty and seemed to hang out in the orchard before the woods called La Haut de la Croix (map OHW). “It’s in dem trees”, said one CP trooper, and we pounded away with our assault guns on the target area, but with no apparent affect.
Col. Ben decided to have a look, and brought along a T/Sgt. from the air-ground liaison detachment with his mighty jeep-filling radio. Col. Withers insisted on joining the tourist party.
Our forward trenches to the right of the road on the hill were reached by Col. Benkosky and the sergeant without incident. Col. Withers arrived hurriedly and slightly short of breath as he had been boosted up the hill by three shell bursts that walked up the slope behind him. The last one almost paid off as it hit the sod above the trench just as he slid in — safe!
The Colonels both had as little success in seeing anything as the troopers had had for the last four days. Their efforts to prove that Colonels see better than privates did manage to stir up the enemy a little more than usual.
Doubtless in an effort to discourage the tactical peering of the Colonels, the T/Sgt. stuck his head up and took a look around. Poor chap, he was color blind. The artificial color of the camouflage with which the Krauts neatly hid their gun didn’t register on his “poor” eyes, and he picked up the position immediately.
A radio call to Mustang support group, description of the target and it’s location, were presently followed by the appearance of our fighters. They circled and dove in, 50’s yammering. As they pulled up, two grand slams were heard. The orchard disappeared in a cloud of smoke and flying earth. The 500 pounders had scored and the C Troopers, now that the enemy gunners had been Christinized, slept peacefully that night with only enemy mortars to bother them.
“By God, Benkosky“, said Col. Withers, “I’m going to write you up for that!”
When the Silver Star came Col. Benkosky said, “For watching a damn good 4F sergeant do a fine piece of work.”
The first seven days of November were spent in patrol activities and preparing for the November 8th drive.
Group reported on 8 November. “2d Cavalry Squadron attacked through elements of the 328th Infantry at 0530 and by 1800 had reached 2 kilometers northeast of Xanrey (map 29a) and 1 kilometer north of Bezenge la Petite (map 29a). 42d Squadron pushed Troop A north of Moncourt (map 29a)(map OHW).”
It didn’t mention the clusters of American bodies, some scarcely 10 yards in front of their trenches, all headed toward the German positions where many of the Krauts still were – dead in their foxholes. Or the crashing artillery tree bursts, as A Troop pushed beyond the platoon that remained of the Battalion that fought, with more guts than experience, through a few hundred yards of the Moncourt woods. It didn’t mention the part played by the supporting Engineers and Tankers; not colorful, but true.