St. Dizier To Wassy

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

Troop A, 42d Squadron

31 August – 2 September 1944

On the morning of 31 August, one section of the 2d platoon, under Lt. Kellogg, left St. Vrain (map III), pushed east, checked the Foret de Maurupt for enemy, found it unoccupied as far as vehicles could travel and continued through Maurupt (map III)(map IV) to Robert Espagne (map 22a).

We found three fourths of the town burned down. The stricken inhabitants were holding services for many of their men folks who had been cut down by German machine guns for attempting to extinguish the fires the Krauts had set prior to their leaving.

While still in the town we received the mission to cover the south flank of A Troop and the Second Cavalry below St. Dizier (map III)(map IV)(map 22b). As this was also the south flank of the Third Army we were really the last flea out on the last hair of the tail of the dog.

We pushed south through the Foret de Trois Fontaines, finally gaining Eurville (map 22b) at about 1400. About that time it started to rain. Wet and nasty as it was we went on through St. Dizier which the 4th Armored had cleared, and proceeded south, periodically checking the Foret du Val (map 22b) on our flank and moving at all times by bounds. At Wassy (map III)(map IV)(map 22b) the only danger was the civilian populace which turned out to great us with wine and kisses and bounced an occasional egg or tomato off our ear. Whether this last was a generous but misdirected offering of hen fruit and vegetables or an expression of displeasure by some French Nazi we were unable to determine. However, the eggs were fresh so we took it as a sign of welcome.

We fought our way through the town and turned east. Here we met some more teams from A Troop, near Magneux (map 22b), and after a short chat with them continued on to the east. Just before the Marne river we were held up by a column of 4th Armored Division tanks pounding south toward Joinville (map III) where some fighting could be heard. Now we were going to have some flank protection – how interesting! During our journey it had become dark, so we went into bivouac just beyond Chevillon (map 22b) with 60 more miles tacked on our speedometers and not a Kraut in sight.

The 2d Squadron encountered scattered elements of enemy armor and infantry on 1 September.

Troops B and C of the 2d Squadron ran into heavy resistance east of Marbotte (map 23). In the assault on St. Agnant, the 1st Platoon of F Troop, under Lt. Stine, were working with a Troop C platoon. As the lead tank went around a corner it ran head on into a Tiger tank which blasted away with it’s 88, killing Lt. Stine and T/5 Markiewicz, and wounding T/4 Young.

Sgt. Cichantk then took over the platoon and under his direction they knocked out the Tiger tank, crushed numerous MG nests, and with C Troop killed 40 of the enemy.

At les Paroches (map 23), B Troop’s Cpl. Freeman, Jay Davis and Evans Adkin drove into town against 88’s and small arms fire under the barrage of Lt. Salt’s assault guns.

Enemy air was particularly active. Troop A was strafed by eight ME-109’s and our attached ack-ack brought down two of them.

The 42d Squadron determined the enemy was using the RR between Toul (map IV) and Neufchateau (map IV). Approximately 50 tanks were reported in the Foret de Haye, and a concentration of enemy troops was located in Neufchateau.

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