35th Infantry Division Memory

For never forget...
Santa Fe
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The Beginning of the End

Ardennes Campaign, 16 Dec 44 - 25 Jan 45

Chapter 11

South to the Vosge Mountains


The Santa Fe (less Combat Team 134) moved to Metz on 18 and 19 January and remained there until the 23rd. Then it shifted quickly to the vicinity of Bidestroff, Wingen sur Moder, Soucht and Chateau-Voue, France, where it joined the XV Corps of the Seventh Army.

In this snowbound sector the Nazis threatened an attack through the Domaniale Forest. The 35th relieved elements of the 45th and the 100th Divisions and took up front line positions approximately 25 miles southeast of Sarreguemines, the city through which the Santa Fe had broken into Germany in mid-December. In these positions, the 35th was flanked by the 45th Division on the right and the 100th Division on the left.

Three main lines of defense were planned so that the division could defend each line of resistance with only a small holding force in the event of a withdrawal. An attacking division, the 35th was nevertheless as well prepared for defense as it had always been for offense. The 60th Engineer Battalion maintained a 24-hour ice patrol each day, hauling and spreading traction material on all important roads in the sector. The battalion snow-plow cleared the air strip near Struth, installed anti-tank mined road blocks and prepared 22 bridges for demolition. Extensive surveys were made to determine the amount of anti-tank and anti-personnel mines, concertina wire, pickets and warning devices required to make positions as impregnable as possible.

Supported by the 654th and 807th Tank Destroyer Battalions, the 35th artillery fired numerous harassing and interdiction missions. In the five-day period, from the 24th to the 29th, over 2,600 rounds were fired. Within definite ammunition allowances, it was possible for the big guns to play their roles in psychological warfare, too. On the 28 January the 216th Field Artillery Battalions fired 40 rounds of propaganda at 15 different points in the 320th sector.

Compared with the "Battle of the Bulge," the southern sector was very quiet. But the 137th and 320th were both active in reconnaissance patrols. These infiltrations through enemy lines determined locations of automatic weapons, fortifications, wire entanglements, minefields, booby-trapped areas, fields of fire through woods, roadblocks and observation posts. Regular motorized patrols were also conducted in the forward areas to detect any enemy infiltration.

Snow fell thickly and troops worked continuously to improve their positions and fight the cold.

* * * *

During this period Combat Team 134th remained in the Bastogne area under the 6th Armored Control, continuing its eastward advance to clear the Nazis from the shrinking Bulge. The 3rd Battalion occupied Basbellain, advanced six kilometers and outposted to the northeast.

Attached to Combat Command A, 6th Armored, the 1st Battalion, 134th, drove ahead on 24 January in snow and high wind until it reached the woods south of Wilwerdange. There it met heavy artillery and small arms fire and had to fight hard to secure the west portion of the woods. Next day the 2nd and 3rd Battalions were relieved by the 17th Airborne Division and assembled near Hachiville. On the 26th, 1st Battalion was attached to Combat Command B and attacked at 0600 with the armor to take the town of Wieswampach and the area to the north and east.

Reaching the edge of a wooded area past Wieswampach, the 1st Battalion was halted by mortar and small arms fire. The woods were studded with enemy anti-tank guns which prevented supporting tanks from advancing with foot troops. The unit being temporarily pinned down, renewed the attack the next morning and took the town. Then the 2nd Battalion relieved elements of the 359th Infantry in the vicinity of Heinerschied. All units of this regiment then consolidated their positions and sent out patrols to the German border along the Our River.

On the 27th, the 1st Battalion (still with Combat Command B), relieved the 1st Battalion of the 329th Infantry shortly after the seizure of Wieswampach. The 2nd Battalion went into reserve at Hupperdange and Grindhausen after relief by the 3rd Battalion. Forward positions reported artillery coming in from the Siegfried Line.

Early on the morning of 29 January, Company I (reinforced) attacked against light small arms resistance and took Kalborn without suffering a casualty. Next day, all units sent patrols across the Our River and continued active patrol work through the end of the month.

In the late afternoon of 31 January all units of Combat Team 134 relieved and prepared to rejoin the division which had begun a move by rail and motor to the Ninth Army sector in Holland on 30 January. Organic vehicles were moved on highways, foot troops and other elements traveled by rail.

The 35th's 292-mile trip from the Seventh to the Ninth Army sector was one of the longest infantry moves of the war. In the month of January alone the Santa Fe had traversed a total of approximately 450 miles.

Motor elements arrived in the vicinity of Sittard, Holland, where the division was assigned to the XVI Corps, on 31 January and rail elements on 1 and 2 February. General Simpson's Ninth Army was ready for concerted action and the 35th was expected to add veteran punch and tenacity to the fresh and eager Ninth. The Santa Fe was especially pleased in being assigned to an Army commanded by one of its former division Commanders.

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