Ambush

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

WWII21 Sep – 9 0ct 1944

After our retreat from Luneville (map IV)(map 25)(map NS) the 2d Platoon Troop A was deployed along highway N414 north of Luneville, which was still held, since the Krauts only reached Jolivet (map 25) and Einville (map 25) in this sector.

At 0900 21 September, Lt. Harry Kellogg left to establish liaison with the 2d team under Sgt. Magnum, which was posted in a little ravine near the highway about halfway from Luneville to Einville, and with the 3rd team under Sgt. Beasley, which was located just outside Einville.

Before leaving, Lt. Kellogg kicked Woody and “Major” the French volunteer out of the bantam, saying that he didn’t need them. He then left with Wenzel driving.

We expected him back in an hour, but by noon he hadn’t returned. We were restless so Paschal and Soudoff left to get some information from Magnum’s section.

At 1600 there still was no word. Suddenly the radio came on, and Spadafino jumped to acknowledge it. We heard, “Hello, hello. Bantam has been fired on. No more information. Over.” Our hearts sank. We waited. Paschal finally arrived, quite excited, and told us in a trembling voice that Lt. Kellogg and Wenzel had just left Magnum’s team to join Beasley, using the road N414, which we had used already a few times, when the men with the 1st team heard the chatter of some burp guns, and a long burst from an American machine gun, then nothing more. We felt sure that the Lieutenant and his driver had run into an ambush.

That same night, Sgt. Magnum decided to make a reconnaissance with his team in the direction of the farm de la Rochelle, following the route taken by the Lieutenant. Suddenly they found themselves flanked by three Tiger tanks which blasted at them with their 88’s. The team was caught cold and had to abandon their vehicles in a ditch, making good their escape under cover of darkness.

In spite of the odds against him, Harry Ardilly, a French volunteer with A Troop who was with the team, decided to continue on alone to the Rochelle farm. As he approached he could see it was guarded, whether by FFI or Kraut he couldn’t tell in the dark. Harry faked a password. A gutteral “Ja” was the response which Harry in turn answered with a burst from his Tommy gun. The sentinel fell and some of his buddies started shooting wildly in the dark, which covered the noise of Harry’s strategic withdrawal.

On the 25th the Germans evacuated the farm (this marked the deepest penetration of the German thrust north of Luneville, made untenable by the 79th Division attacking Foret de Parroy (map 25) on the south) and we were able to find the farmer and ask him about Lt. Kellogg and his driver.

He told us that a German patrol had just arrived at his farm when the jeep with the Americans had driven up at high speed. The Krauts let them get close, then cut loose with their submachine guns. The driver was seriously wounded and lost consciousness. The Lieutenant had his legs smashed by the bullets but still had strength to turn his MG on the German position. With one long burst he killed three and wounded two. Both Americans were taken prisoner and seemed to be in bad shape from their wounds.

Although a few other local actions flared up here and there along the front, by the 25th the situation seemed to be approaching that of a stable line. The day of the wild Cavalry dash was over, at least temporarily, and for a long period advances were to be counted by the yard rather than the mile. From now on until the next big offensive the Second Cavalry would have to “dig like the Infantry”. The balance of September is reported as “continued assigned mission, no change in our front lines”.

October was padded with continuous patrol activity, small limited attacks and intermittent artillery daily. All in all the type of activity that causes such reports as “all quiet on the Western Front”. Usually it wasn’t so quiet for the little people.

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