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
Troop B, 42d Squadron
20 Oct 1944
Troop B was assembled in reserve in Parroy (map 29a)(map OHW) waiting for C Troop to finish clearing out Hambone woods (map OHW). At 1800 we received word that their attack had been successful, and B Troop started moving up to carry the second part of the plan into operation.
We left our transportation at the canal bridge, which was blown, and slopped through the mud for the remaining two kilometers to Hambone. As we closed up in the northwest corner of the woods, which we found later from a captured artillery plan to have a Kraut concentration number, we saw Capt. Lambert and Capt. Ebrey discussing the plan of attack.
The men were pooped out already, especially those carrying mortars and ammunition, and we had equipment strewn through the woods for the last few hundred yards.
Just as we closed up to jump off from the north edge of Hambone woods, a Battalion concentration of German 150mm howitzers pasted the corner we were in. Tree bursts and falling trees slashed into the dirt as the men dove to the ground. It was so crowded that some were in arms length of each other. There were no holes. Trees fell across some of the men and fragments dug the ground beside all of us.
“Get the attack under way.” Capt. Lambert ordered when the shelling let up. Then we attacked in a column of platoons, with Lt. Lindoerfer leading the charge across the 400 yard open stretch to the Bois de Frontiere (map OHW) with his platoon yelling like Indians. He was covered by supporting fire from our positions in Hambone woods. He quickly overcame the enemy firing burp guns at the edge of the woods. The second wave followed the instant the leading platoon hit the wood. Then German artillery came alive again and began pounding the open ground between the two woods – but we were across!
Then we started mopping up, 3rd platoon on the right, 2d platoon on the left, pushing 1000 yards north through the woods, digging Krauts out of there holes, stepping over the bodies and fragments of bodies and wreckage left by our frightfully effective artillery barrage. Rapidly we rolled up the line the Germans had held on the west edge of the woods.
As we progressed the 1st platoon, in support and echeloned to the right rear, dropped off machine gun sections which dug in and covered our right against counter-attacks.
Kraut artillery was still coming in but was landing far to the rear where we had entered the woods. Like General Patton said, it paid to keep moving.
It was nasty work as it was getting dark rapidly, but we had reached the far edge of the woods when the Squadron Exec. came by in the dark, checking the combat outposts. We dug into the mud and spent that night on the alert for a counter-attack. The German artillery helped us to stay awake!
Only the Bois de Frederick (map OHW) remained in Kraut hands. Buckshot Harris sent a daylight patrol, under the ace scout Sgt. Chesser, into the woods across the 100 yards of open ground while we held our breaths. They made the woods okay. Just after they disappeared among the trees a heavy volume of small arms fire broke out, machine guns, burp guns and rifle. It ended as suddenly as it started and we heard nothing more.
After an appreciable wait, Capt. Harris called for another patrol. Since the men were shaken by the results of Chesser’s patrol, the Captain led this one himself.
This time the assault guns crashed along the edge of the woods, laying a blanket of fire ahead of the patrol which now found the woods clear. We quickly occupied it.