Fort de Pont St. Vincent

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

WWII8 September 1944

Fort de Pont St. Vincent (map 24), massive and powerful, towering 600 feet above the Moselle river, dominated the crossing over the river and the southern approaches to Nancy (map IV)(map NS) for miles.

Col. Reed ordered the 42d Squadron to take the fort to facilitate the XII Corps attack on Nancy. Troop C, reinforced by Troop E and F, was selected for the task. Troop C 2d Squadron was attached to the 42d for operational control and relieved Troop C in their zone from Bainville (map 24) to Benney (map 24). The 696th Armored Field Artillery Battalion was also worked into the fire plan.

The attack was planned for the 8th of September. That morning Troop C, under Lt. Harris, concentrated with the armor and assault guns in the Bois de Fey (map 24) on the high ground above Germiny (map 24) and Thelod (map 24). The artillery signaled the attack with a drum fire barrage that pasted the fort and surrounding entrenchments. White phosphorous shells mixed with high explosive air bursts made a pretty black and white pattern over the target. Troop E fired smoke shells to cover the deployment of the assault force. Troop C pressed forward dismounted with the tanks in close support.

Now the artillery came in for a little trouble. A Battalion of German 150mm Howitzers southeast of Nancy opened up in counter battery fire. This somewhat reduced the fire support of C Troop.

When the assault groups started up the steep hill to the fort it was found that the tanks could not follow directly. The men in C Troop paused, waiting for the tanks with their yammering guns to close up.

Lt. Harris saw that this would give the enemy a chance to reconstitute his defenses, especially since the amount of smoke was being greatly reduced. He pushed forward to the head of his men to lead them in a charge to the top. This sudden move forward permitted the tanks to use a dirt road that was uncovered by the advance. S/Sgt. Moore and Cpl. Cea were some of the C Troopers hit during the assault and mopping up around the fort itself.

The fort was found to be manned by elements of the 3d German Paratroop Division, sister of the 1st Paratroop Division that held out so brilliantly at Cassino in the Italian campaign. But this was not another Cassino, for C Troop kicked the paratroopers from their last position in front of the Moselle, having previously driven them out of Bainville and Benney.

The next day the outraged German paratroopers hit back and for some time it looked as though they might have made a successful attack on the peaceful little town of Benney.

2 Replies to “Fort de Pont St. Vincent”

  1. I found your description of the taking of Fort de Pont St. Vincent interesting but incomplete. My father was severely wounded in that fight. It is my understanding that my dad’s unit Co. A, 134th Infantry, 35th Division actually entered the abandoned fort and soon afterwards, engaged the enemy who counterattacked. The map on page 73 of the US Army Atlas of the European Theater in World War II clearly shows Co. A in possession of the fort. Your account fails to mention these facts at all. Perhaps a different battle?

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    1. Thanks Mike. This account was word for word from a 2d Cavalry book (SECOND UNITED STATES CAVALRY – A HISTORY) written at the end of the war and recounts their part in the battle only. Looking at XII Corps reports I noticed 35th Infantry was part of XII Corps at the time and 2d Cavalry Group had just been attached to the Corps days before the battle.

      Thank you for your father’s service and sacrifice during WW II.

      Like

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