Hit The Leather And Ride

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

WWIISgt. H.P. Grigsby

28 August-2 September 1944

On the Chauffour (map 21) road through the Bois de Bailly (map 21), 15 miles southeast of Troyes (map III), the morning of 28 August, we of Lt. Hueffner’s platoon encountered a strong enemy roadblock across our only escape route. We had had more than our share of trouble already that morning so we decided to drive directly through the enemy lines, cross-country on a compass bearing.

Almost immediately after we started we found a logging trail which led in the direction we wanted to go. After ten or fifteen minutes of rough riding along the trail we came to a vast clearing. Halting only long enough to check our direction, we proceeded on. As we entered the next clearing we received heavy small arms and automatic weapons fire. It was at this point that the order came over our radio, “Hit the leather and ride!” Throwing a heavy curtain of fire at the enemy, we shoved on.

A few hundred yards further along we came to a large barn housing an indefinite number of rats, heavily armed with automatic weapons. We promptly set the barn on fire with our 37’s and machine guns and it gave us no more trouble. The Germans who were dug in a few hundred yards farther along were so confused at seeing Americans so far in the rear of their lines that we were able to capture a man walking down the trail, evidently on his way to wash or shave himself. Gardner snagged him. A little farther down the trail we came to a large tent. We received the usual inaccurate return fire as they seemed even more confused than we were at the time.

A few minutes later we came into another clearing, checked directions, and driving through a fence, headed down a little gravel path leading to the main road. We found two of F Company’s tanks roadblocking at that point and new that we were home at last. We had passed through the enemy’s rear area and scattered hell and confusion in general but were sure glad to get back. (Eds. note: About 30 minutes before the story related above, Lt. Hueffner’s platoon lost two men killed, Patrick and Pollack, and one wounded while attempting to re-enter our lines in the vicinity of Courtenot (map 21), east of the Seine river. Sgt. Campbell’s section of Troop B, on a reconnaissance with the Squadron S-2 , had passed through the enemy lines to gain contact with a large enemy column, reported by air to be in the vicinity of Bar sur Seine (map III)(map 21), and met Hueffner on the way. They covered his withdrawal and held until Lt. Pridgen’s platoon of C Troop, also working in the enemy rear area, arrived. This group by-passed the enemy positions, picked up the bodies of Hueffner’s men and returned unscratched).

The next day enemy aggressiveness east of Troyes increased. The advance of the 42d Squadron was met by vigorous action in the vicinity of Lusigny (map III) and the Bois de Bailly by elements of the 15th Panzer Grenadier Divisions. Both Divisions had been newly identified by the Second Cavalry after they arrived from the Italian front.

From 29 August to 2 September, when the Moselle-Madon river line was reached, Group advanced rapidly, preceeding XII Corps in it’s drive to the east from Vitry le Francois (map III). Once again resistance was spotty, but vicious, as the retreating enemy attempted to delay our advance with rear guard actions.

One Reply to “Hit The Leather And Ride”

  1. The “Patrick” killed on the morning of 28 August 1944 is my uncle, Pvt. Thomas A. Patrick. I’ve heard versions of what happened to him that morning many times as told by a couple of his friends. I stopped by his grave today for no apparent reason and while reading his plaque realized that today, 28 August, is the 69th anniversary of his death. I have not been there in several years but for some reason seemed driven to visit today. Still trying to understand the reason why. He would have been 21 years old on 1 September 1944 and from what I have heard was a great guy.

    Thank You for this website!

    Sincerely,
    Mitchell E. Patrick

    Like

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