Big Picture

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

WWIISept 1944

What was first reported as “six Tiger tanks with infantry support moving through Chenevieres(map 25) soon had us sitting on our tails, especially when more appeared at Benamenil (map 25) and Fraimbois (map 25), Marainviller (map 25) and Moncel (map 25) and the next day at Einville (map 25) and Rechicourt (map 25) ridge. We heard that more armor had penetrated the Foret de Vitrimont (map 25) and that the 4th Armored was getting hit at Juvelize (map 29a) as well as Luneville (map IV)(map 25)(map NS). Radio reports spoke of 300 German tanks being destroyed, many of them new, in fierce battles in the Nancy salient.

Yes, it was a big scrap – bigger than we realized even after we had identified the 11th Panzers. It wasn’t just a Division attacking, or a Corps, on the Nancy salient whose nose was the Second Cavalry. It was the whole 5th Panzer Army with five Panzer Divisions and five Brigades (each about half a Division), the largest German armored concentration since Normandy.

The battle raged on both north and south of Luneville after the Second Cavalry delayed and helped stop the drive in that town.

Two things ruined the Kraut dream of destroying the Nancy salient when the 5th Panzer Army threw it’s steel uppercut to the lower jaw of the penetration. First, the attack by our XV Corps, which caught the German attack in the flank and knocked the wind out of it. Second, the smashing defense of the 4th Armored Division north of Luneville, which destroyed 281 German tanks in this period.

But it was a hard fight. Most of the 611 enemy tanks credited to Third Army for September were destroyed in these attacks, and most of them were new. XIX Tac flying ground support for Third Army claimed 51 tanks in four days.

It all added up to teamwork. Early warning by an alert Cavalry outfit, and valuable time gained by it’s vigorous delaying action helped secure the key point of Luneville; then a powerful Corps attack on one flank coupled with brilliant armored defense on the other, both closely supported by fighter bombers, resulted in such heavy armor losses to the enemy that they couldn’t stage another large scale counter-attack until the Ardennes, three months later.

By the 19th the main enemy attack was finally stopped and Luneville remained in our hands. Troop A 42d Squadron, screened north from Luneville to Einville, and reported enemy in Einville. Troop B reconnoitered to the north to the line Arracourt (map NS)Moncourt (map 29a)(map OHW), Lt. Pridgen’s platoon of C Troop established a road block at the crossroads west of Bures (map 29a). The Squadron still continued to protect the south flank of Corps, which at that time was the Marne au Rhin canal.

The next day enemy tanks appeared at various places on our front, and the 42d was reinforced with attached artillery and tank destroyer (602d TD Bn) units in order to enable it to meet the expected enemy armored thrusts.

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