HEADQUARTERS 137TH INFANTRY
APO 35 US ARMY
Auth: CG 35th Inf Div
Date__13 Oct 44____
30 September 1944
SUBJECT: Action Against Enemy, Reports After/After Action Reports.
TO : The Adjutant General, Washington 25, D. C. (Thru Channels.)
1-2 SEPTEMBER 1944
Beginning the month of September, the 137th Infantry continued itâ€™s mission of protecting the XII Corps south flank on a line from Orleans to St. Romain, with headquarters south of Montargis. The regiment remained in this position as the balance of the Division moved east, with some elements as far as Briene le Chateau, 24 miles beyond Troyes.
At this time the 35th Division was still operating under the XII Corps of the Third Army. The 80th Division, also under XII Corps, was continuing an attack to the east of the 35th, and the 4th Armored Division was operating within the Corps sector. The 255th Field Artillery Battalion remained attached to the 137th Infantry.
3-8 SEPTEMBER 1944
The situation remained unchanged until September 3, when the regiment moved by way of Courtenay, Sens, Troyes and Piney to the vicinity of Briene le Chateau, where they took over the mission of protecting the south flank of the Division from Bar sur Seine to Blaise. Here the regiment remained until September 9. During this time the 134th Infantry was protecting the south flank of the Division from Sens to Bar sur Seine and the 320th Infantry from Blaise to Joinville. The 6th Armored Division of the VIII Corps took over the sector from Sens west to Montargis. The 802nd Field Artillery Battalion and Company C of the 654th Tank Destroyer Battalion were attached to the 137th Infantry during this period.
The 80th Division, east of the 35th, continued to advance toward Nancy, and on the 5th established a bridgehead in the Moselle River loop at Toul.
During itâ€™s period of comparative inactivity at Briene le Chateau from 3 - 9 September the regiment gained a well-earned rest. Replacements received during the period brought the 137th Infantry almost to full strength and as the regiment prepared to leave Briene le Chateau to resume the battle it was in very good shape.
The only casualties during the period were one man wounded and one missing. During this time eleven prisoners were taken.
With Allied forces driving north from southern France, east from Normandy and Brittany, and already reported in Belgium and Holland, the next move of the 137th Infantry was to Crepey, southwest of Nancy, to assemble for an advance across the Moselle River below Nancy and to open the way for a drive on the Siegfried Line.
9 SEPTEMBER 1944
On 9 September the 137th Infantry made the motor move to Crepey, through Louze, St. Dizier, Ancerville, Ligny, Void, Vaucouleurs and Colombey. That evening at 2115 the order was issued for the next operation.
10 SEPTEMBER 1944
On 10 September the XII Corps was to advance into a position to attack on 11 September, with the high ground west of the Moselle River southeast of Nancy as the objective. The 134th Infantry was to attack to the north, and in the 137th the 3rd Battalion was to attack on the right and the 2nd Battalion on the left. The 1st Battalion was to remain in reserve, prepared to move on order.
The regiment moved out at 0800 on the 10th, and the 2nd Battalion encountered the first enemy fire, -- intermittent artillery at 0915 east of Houdelmont. They continued to move forward, and by 1300 crossed the north-south highway between Ceintrey and the Benney Forest. A half-hour later the 2nd Battalion was in the Benney Forest itself and two miles south, the 3rd Battalion had reached Lemainville. At that time the 1st Battalion was at Ville sur Madon and by 1500 had moved into the woods south of Ormes et Ville.
By 1700 the 137th was on itâ€™s objective for the 10th and occupied the high ground west of the Moselle River, in position to attempt to establish a bridgehead on the following morning.
The only casualties reported on the 10th were 2 men wounded. With the German forces withdrawn to positions across the Moselle, only 1 prisoner was taken.
11 SEPTEMBER 1944
The Regiment jumped off at 0500 on September 11, with the 2nd Battalion attempting to cross the river near Crevechamps and the 3rd Battalion near Neuviller sur Moselle. The 1st Battalion remained in reserve in the Ormes Forest.
First across the Moselle was 1st Lt. Joseph S. Giacobello, holder of the Silver Star and already recommended for the Oak Leaf Cluster for heroic action in previous engagements. With 15 men of Company F he crossed the river, and was soon out of communication with the rest of the Battalion. The remainder of Company F was pinned down most of the day on an island in the river below Crevechamps.
The crossing proved difficult, as the Germans had blown all bridges across the Moselle from Flavigny south, and they held strong positions on the east side of the river, with machine gun emplacements on the steep bluffs overlooking the river, and artillery positions to the rear. The canal running parallel to the riverâ€™s west bank was an added barrier.
The 2nd Battalion was never able to put additional forces across the river in the Crevechamps vicinity during the day. Lt. Giacobello and his men were the only American troops across the river at that point for a day and a half, and were believed to have been lost, in the face of almost hopeless odds. The Battalion eventually abandoned a crossing at that point and withdrew to attempt a crossing farther south. Elements of the 3rd Battalion crossed the river in their sector during the day, but were pinned down until late in the afternoon. At 1730 the 1st Battalion was committed, and a coordinated attack launched by all three battalions, with the 2nd on the left, the 1st on the right, and the 3rd between them. With heavy artillery support, the 1st and 3rd Battalions each got two companies across the river by 1845 in the vicinity of Lorey and St. Mard.
The strong enemy resistance at Crevechamps forced abandonment of the construction of a tread way bridge across the river at that point.
12 SEPTEMBER 1944
The attack continued during the night, and by the morning of September 12 the 1st Battalion had cleaned all enemy resistance in the area around Lorey. The 2nd Battalion, to the north, got across the river early in the afternoon, then worked back up the east side of the river and were rejoined by Lt. Giacobello with his party intact. In the 3rd Battalion sector, dug-in concrete pillboxes were located. Four of these were knocked out by means of artillery, bazookas and grenades. The 2nd Battalion also reported concrete pillboxes near Crevechamps.
At 0915 the 3rd Battalion captured a former enemy CP and a large quantity of German equipment left behind in the area. The equipment was of excellent quality, indicating superior troops in the area.
With the way cleared by the 1st Battalion, it was possible to put a ferry into operation across the river at Neuviller, and shortly afternoon a treadway bridge was completed at that point by the 150th Engineers. By late afternoon most of the regiment was across the river.
The 1st Battalion moved as far as Lorey, where the Germans launched a counterattack with armor and infantry in a desperate effort to save ammunition stores in that vicinity. With the support of Company B of the 737th Tank Battalion, Company C broke up the counterattack, then moved in to destroy an ammunition dump at Domptail. Racing to the left, they cleaned out the hills east of the river, then swung in between our 1st and 3rd Battalions.
By 2100 the 2nd Battalion took Crevechamps, after a large part of the town had been set afire, and the regiment was in a position to turn the attack to the north.
13 SEPTEMBER 1944
On September 13 the 137th Infantry attacked toward Coyviller, up the east bank of the Moselle, with the 320th Infantry on the regimentâ€™s right. Jumping off at 0700, no resistance was encountered until shortly after 0900, when the 2nd Battalion, on the left, contacted the enemy at Tonnoy. A few minutes later the 3rd Battalion, on the right, reported opposition east of Tonnoy.
The 3rd Battalion pushed past Tonnoy on the right at 1400, but the 2nd Battalion was held up until 1800, receiving heavy artillery fire from German positions in the woods south of Coyviller.
Breaking past Tonnoy, the battalion advanced rapidly, and shortly after 2100 both 2nd and 3rd Battalions were on the objective, occupying the high ground between Saffais and Coyviller, with assault guns and tanks of the 737th Tank Battalion in position to protect the left flank against attack from the direction of Flavigny, from which city the Germans had been withdrawing to the east, across the river and into the Flavigny Forest.
The 1st Battalion was held up by an illuminated road block near Ferrieres. Here again the tanks were called upon, shortly after midnight, and at 0159 the 1st Battalion was one kilometer from the objective. At 0200 the high ground half a mile southwest of Rosieres was gained, in position to attack that town at dawn.
14 SEPTEMBER 1944
At 0630 on September 14 the 1st Battalion, with men riding the tanks, captured Rosieres, thereby establishing the regiment on a line from the Moselle to the Meurthe River.
The morning of the 14th the 2nd and 3rd Battalions were ordered to hold their positions, and the 1st Battalion was ordered to put a reconnaissance force across the Meurthe River strong enough to hold a position on the east bank.
The 2nd and 3rd Battalions cleared out the wooded areas in their sectors during the morning, and at 1400 further orders were issued for these battalions to advance on a broad front, the 2nd to the high ground in the vicinity of Azelot, and the 3rd to the high ground north of Manoncourt.
The 1st Battalion now received orders to advance on the left of the Meurthe River to St. Nicolas, seizing any bridgehead possible.
Jumping off at 1600, all battalions advanced to their objectives with little resistance. The Germans had already withdrawn most of their forces from that area between the Meurthe and Moselle Rivers. At 1730 the 3rd Battalion had taken Manoncourt, where the Germans left a large store of 120 mm mortar ammunition and well dug in positions. By 1830 the 2nd Battalion had moved to within a mile of Azelot, and at 1900 entered the town. By 2100 the 1st Battalion had taken St. Nicolas.
At both St. Nicolas and Azelot it was learned that the enemy had withdrawn earlier in the day. French civilians reported that the Germans were withdrawing all along the Moselle River, from Richardmenil, Messein and other points. Information gained from prisoners taken and from civilians indicated that the Germans had withdrawn one Division, the 553rd, composed of the 1119th, 1120th and 1121st .Regiments, from that area. At St. Nicholas, between 500 and 600 enemy had been withdrawn.
At the close of the four daysâ€™ fighting the 137th Infantry had suffered 221 casualties in crossing the Moselle River and pushing the enemy beyond the Meurthe as far north as St. Nicolas. On the 11th, 1 man was killed and 23 wounded. On the 12th, 4 were killed and 61 wounded. 1st Lt. Charles R. Ferguson of Company B was killed during the dayâ€™s fighting. On the 13th the regiment lost another officer, when 2nd Lt. John M. Diekman of Company L was killed near Hanssonville. A total of 13 killed, 52 wounded and 8 missing were reported on this day. On the 13th the regiment also lost 1st Sergeant Warren P. Schrader of Wichita, Kansas, popular topkick of Headquarters Company, the first 1st Sgt of the 137th Infantry to give his life in the present war. On the 14th, 12 were killed, 11 wounded, and 10 missing in action. 1st Lt. Vernon W. Pickett, after having been captured by the Germans on July 15 and later escaping from a prison train to rejoin the 137th on August 30, met his death on the 14th. The regiment also lost itâ€™s second 1st Sergeant in two days, Claude L. Applegate of Wichita, Kansas, efficient Company I 1st Sergeant.
There were 68 prisoners taken on the 12th, 47 on the 13th and 36 on the 14th. Prisoners were identified as from the 104th Regiment of the 15th Panzer Grenadier Division from Saarbrucken, from the 1120th Regiment of the 553rd Division, and from the 2nd Parachute Regiment. Many of the prisoners reported themselves to be Paratroopers, and some were formerly in the Air Corps, having been pressed into infantry service from the Luftwaffe.
At this time the 320th Infantry continued to operate on the right of the 137th, and had crossed the Meurthe River. Task Force T, composed of the 2nd Battalion of the 134th Infantry, 35th Cavalry Reconnaissance Troop and 127th Field Artillery Battalion, was protecting the west bank of the Moselle River from Fort de Pont St. Vincent south. The remaining two battalions of the 134th Infantry were attached to Task Force S, which was operating in the Forest de Haye and closing in on the city of Nancy from the west. North of Nancy, the 80th Division was holding Mousson and the high ground in that vicinity.
15 SEPTEMBER 1944
On September 15, Task Force S moved into the city of Nancy, and on the same day elements of the 137th Infantry began to cross the Meurthe River.
During the morning of the 15th, the regiment had driven out all hostile resistance in their sector south of the river, cleaning out the Germans from the Flavigny Forest.
In addition to early patrols sent across the Meurthe by the 1st Battalion, the Regimental Civil Affairs Officer, Captain George T. Schneider, accompanied by 2nd Lieutenant Louis V. Marsh of the Military Intelligence Team, had already crossed the river into Dombasle, where they encountered enemy resistance unexpectedly. Their small party of only 4 men killed 3 Germans, wounded 1 and took 18 prisoners, and knocked out an enemy machine gun position and roadblock.
On the morning of the 15th, with the 1st Battalion already on the river at St. Nicolas, the 2nd Battalion moved through Lupcourt to the high ground just east of the Canal de lâ€™est Embâ€™t de Nancy at 0930. They then moved north to the Meurthe River.
The 3rd Battalion moved from Manoncourt to the vicinity of Laneuville, putting all battalions in position to cross the river.
The Germans had generally withdrawn from south of the Meurthe to positions across the river, from which our 1st Battalion received machine gun, mortar and artillery fire during the day.
Casualties reported on the 15th were 5 killed, 47 wounded and 19 missing, some of which had occurred prior to this date but had not been reported. There were 25 German prisoners taken.
16 SEPTEMBER 1944
On September 16 the 137th Infantry crossed the Meurthe River in force, beginning at 0500. The 2nd Battalion had Companies F and G across the river near Chartreuse by 0700, and the 3rd Battalion moved up the river behind them at the same time.
The 1st Battalion pushed across the river in assault boats to move into Varangeville, the Germans withdrawing to the north. By 1300, one company and most of another were across the river.
Farther south, at Rosieres, the 150th Engineers had modified the bridge in place at that point to carry tanks, and here the armor of the 737th Tank Battalion and the 654th Tank Destroyer Battalion poured across the river, then swung north to cross the Sanon River at Sommerviller. They then doubled back to the west to rejoin and support the 137th Infantry.
As the 2nd Battalion crossed the river into Chartreuse, an alert aerial observer spotted enemy activity in the forest northeast of that town. This was first reported to be only a small group of Germans. Later reports from ground observers indicated that four tanks were also in the woods. Continued observation from the air and other sources of information soon revealed the Germans to be in great strength in the area, with between 10 and 20 tanks, waiting for the Americans to bypass them. Had these Germans not been discovered, they were in a position to counterattack and cut off our forces as they advanced to the north, a situation which might easily develop into disaster for our troops.
Even before the true strength of the enemy was learned, artillery was called on observed targets in the area, and as it became known that the woods was alive with Germans, all available artillery was poured into the area. Hundreds of enemy were killed during the afternoon, as the big guns of nine artillery battalions had a virtual field day.
Attempting to break through the 2nd Battalion at Chartreuse with infantry and 10 tanks, the enemy was completely annihilated in the face of the combined artillery and supporting tanks and tank destroyers of the 737th and 654th Battalions, moving in from their river crossings at Rosieres and Sommerviller.
During the afternoon of the 16th the regiment completed its crossing of the Meurthe River. The casualties resulting during the day were 2 killed and 8 wounded, while 62 Germans were taken prisoner.
17 SEPTEMBER 1944
On the morning of September 17, the 137th began an advance from the Meurthe to the northeast, pointing toward Velaine, with the 134th on our left and the 320th on our right.
The 80th Division was operating north of this objective, and the 4th Armored Division had driven east as far as Bezange la Grande, south of Chambrey. However they had bypassed large forces of Germans, who remained in considerable strength in the Champenoux Forest and other heavily wooded areas in that vicinity.
The 1st Battalion, on the right, moved north from Varangeville and by noon had entered Lennoncourt, while the 2nd Battalion advanced over a mile farther north, on the left. The regiment held at these points, awaiting further orders. Cleaning out the area, our troops took the biggest haul of prisoners since the liberation of Sens.
The medium tanks of the 737th Battalion, which had supported the 137th Infantry up to this point, were now detached from the regiment and reverted to Division control. However, their platoon of assault guns remained with the regiment, and were attached to the 1st Battalion. Company B of the 654th TD Battalion was attached to the 2nd Battalion.
18 SEPTEMBER 1944
Resuming the advance on the 18th, our forces contacted few Germans, but before 0700 it was evident that the enemy had mined the area heavily as he withdrew, particularly in the vicinity of Buissoncourt and Cereueil. Some loss of vehicles resulted.
The 1st Battalion reached the objective at 0900, coming within mortar range of the Germans north of Cereueil, and received both mortar and artillery fire during the morning.
The 2nd Battalion pulled up to the east of Cereueil, and the 3rd moved in on the right, as the regiment received orders to hold and prepare for a motor movement.
At 1430 reports were received of 14 German tanks and two companies of infantry advancing northwest toward Luneville. Another report indicated an additional 6 tanks and 2 companies were advancing north at Magnieres. Later reports increased the total to 30 tanks. To meet this threat, 2 companies of the 2nd Battalion were alerted for movement, and preparations made to blow the bridge near Dombasle, and mine possible routes of enemy approach. However, during the evening the reports were found to be without foundation.
Casualties on September 17 and 18 were not heavy. On the 17th 1 man was killed, 6 wounded and 1 missing. On the 18th 4 were killed, 9 wounded and 7 missing.
On the 17th there were 96 prisoners taken, and on the 18th there were 16 taken.
19 SEPTEMBER 1944
On September 19 the 137th Infantry closed into an assembly area north of Buissoncourt, still awaiting orders for a motor movement, with a possibility of the regiment following the 4th Armored Division as a Combat Team for the forthcoming operation. The 3rd Battalion was tentatively attached to CCA of the 4th Armored.
Continued reports showed that enemy activity was undoubtedly increasing to the north and to the east. French civilians reported an enemy troop train unloaded at Luneville and large enemy concentration in the Parroy Forest. Others reported dug in Tiger Tanks in the area between Amance and Champenoux, with infantry dug in along the railroad and the main highway northeast of Laneuvellotte. Road blocks were also reported in that vicinity, and a Polish prisoner stated that the woods north of the railroad were full of Germans.
On the morning of the 19th the 134th Infantry was counterattacked and driven from the high ground east of Agincourt. To meet this latest threat the contemplated move of the 137th Infantry was temporarily called off and the regiment made ready to again attack to the north.
The 2nd and 3rd Battalions jumped off at 1600, and met no immediate resistance. However, the enemy mine menace soon appeared again, and Captain Theodore P. Robie, Assistant Surgeon of the 2nd Battalion, was killed when his vehicle hit a mine east of Cereueil. Captain Robie was the first, of the fine medical officers of the regiment, to be killed in France.
At 1830 the 3rd Battalion had moved up to the blacktop road leading from Velaine to Champenoux, and reported the woods to the north was full of the enemy. The 3rd Battalion Commander recommended holding at that line, and that patrols be sent out during the night, with our forces again jumping off on the following morning. His plan was approved by the Regimental Commander, and the regiment held up at that line.
On the 19th there were 23 casualties in the 137th Infantry. Of these 2 were killed, 15 wounded and 7 missing. Eleven prisoners were taken.
20-21 SEPTEMBER 1944
At 0545 on September 20 the forward elements of the 2nd and 3rd Battalions moved out to what was to develop into one of the bloodiest struggles the regiment had yet engaged in.
Shortly after 0600, both battalions reached the woods south of Highway 74, main route leading northeast from Nancy to Saarbrucken. At this point the highway ran through an open valley, bordered on the north by a heavily wooded slope. From this concealment the enemy had almost unobstructed observation across the highway to the opposite slope, a thousand yards to the south.
As the 2nd and 3rd Battalions came into range of the enemy they were hit by heavy machine gun and mortar fire from the German positions, and both battalions were pinned down immediately. One platoon of Company F worked its way into the enemy woods at 0715, but were forced to withdraw by hostile fire. At 0735 a German tank came out of the woods and opened up with direct fire at Company E. Ten minutes later, Company I fought its way into the woods with heavy casualties and knocked out a machine gun nest.
All through the day continued efforts were made to cross into the woods, with no success. At each attempt to cross the open terrain the enemy would pin our forces down with machine gun fire, then bring mortar fire upon the pinned down elements.
During the morning of the 20th the 320th Infantry was ordered to move with CCA of the 6th Armored Division, and our 1st Battalion, which was being held in reserve, moved a strong force to partially cover the 320th area.
By midnight neither the 2nd or 3rd Battalions had been able to advance, and during the early morning hours of the 21st our artillery began to lay a continuous barrage on the German-held woods. Air support became available at daybreak, and again the attack was resumed. But the lack of tanks was felt keenly, and at noon the offensive was held up to await the arrival of armored support. In two daysâ€™ fighting, only one platoon, from Company I, had been able to advance into the woods without being thrown back. This platoon was since out of communication and believed lost.
22 SEPTEMBER 1944
The 137th Infantry held their positions during the morning of the 22nd, with CCB of the 6th Armored Division moving up on our right flank.
A coordinated attack was planned, to begin at noon, the main effort to follow an earlier attack by tanks. The 134th was to operate on our left, and the Division mission was to destroy enemy forces in the Champenoux Forest and the Faulx Woods. Ammunition restrictions were lifted for the artillery, and the Corps Commander ordered the woods to be taken under any condition.
Following a heavy artillery preparation and air strike, the attack began as planned. Company C, riding the tanks and attacking around the right flank, was first to reach the woods, at 1300. Jumping off the tanks at the edge of the woods, they moved in on foot, and within five minutes had captured 6 prisoners.
At 1310 the 2nd Battalion moved out and by 1320 were entering the woods. By 1335 the 3rd Battalion was also in the woods.
The German defenses consisted mainly of dug in positions on the fringe of the woods, and once these were cracked our forces moved steadily ahead. By 1345 the 2nd Battalion had crossed the railroad, and by 1430 Companies K and L had moved through the woods several hundred yards to reach the railroad, on the right of the 2nd Battalion.
At 1535 the tanks of CCB were nearing their objective at Amenie, and the Germans began pulling out what forces they had left in the area. The highway from Moulins to Bouxiers aux Chenes became a mass of both horse-drawn and motor drawn artillery. Retreating troops and German equipment chocked other roads leading to the north, with columns as long as 4 miles. Here the Air Corps went to work, bombing and strafing almost at will.
In reserve up to this time had been the 1st Battalion, less Company C which had made the initial assault of the day, and Company D which had gone into position north of Cereueil to forestall any German move in that direction. This battalion was committed late in the afternoon in an all-out cleanup of the woods, and by 1800 the regiment had achieved its mission.
It was believed that some of the enemy had withdrawn to the north of Amance, and at 2000 the 2nd Battalion was ordered to occupy the high ground in that vicinity. A patrol from Company E was sent out, followed by Company G, and by 2130 the hill was gained and 15 prisoners were taken.
With the Germans finally driven from the Champenoux Forest, it became possible to see why they had put up such a stubborn defense. The south edge of the woods was an unbroken string of dug-in emplacements, with almost perfect fields of fire. With a network of roads and trails leading in and out of the woods, accessibility of supplies was simplified and it was possible for the enemy to move tanks out to the edge of the woods to fire, then withdraw to another position.
Our forces were also running into outlying fortifications of the former Maginot Line. Blockhouses, pillboxes and shelters with overhead protection, of reinforced concrete construction were found. Old trench systems of 1917 and 1918 were also found, as the present conflict moved into the battlefield of World War I.
The Germans had a strong force for the defense of the area, and their strength in the sector was reported by prisoners to be as high as 4000 men.
23 SEPTEMBER 1944
On September 23 the regiment continued to secure the area and clean out scattered Germans. The enemy as they withdrew, had effectively blocked many routes by laying mines and by felling heavy trees across the roads, and these obstacles were removed during the day.
Our casualties for the 3 days fighting on September 20, 21 and 22 had been 11 killed, 111 wounded and 3 missing. Of these, 2 were killed, 6 wounded, and 1 missing on the 20th, 8 killed, 78 wounded and 2 missing on the 21st, and 1 killed and 28 wounded on the 22nd. On the 23rd, 1 man was killed and 1 missing. 1st Lieutenant Raymond F. Morris of Company E was killed on the 20th.
Although our casualties were not small, they were far less than those of the enemy. The Germans suffered terrific losses, chiefly from our artillery and mortar fire. The 2nd Battalion fired more than a thousand rounds of mortar ammunition on one day alone, with every round fired at an observed target. A German Captain of the Medical Corps surrendered, after all his medical supplies and equipment had been expended and further supply unavailable. Speaking perfect English, he told his capturing officer that the casualties among their men were the worst he had ever seen. He further remarked â€śYou Americans now have us by the Throat.â€ť
Altogether there were 15 prisoners taken on September 20, 4 on the 21st, 61 on the 22nd and 91 on the 23rd.
24 SEPTEMBER 1944
On September 24 the regiment remained in the same area, establishing a line from Highway 74 near Mazerulles, extending northwest through Brin and the St. Jean Fontaine Forest toward Bey.
The clear weather which had been prevailing came to an end, as intermittent showers began during the afternoon and developed into a steady rain.
There were no men killed or wounded on the 24th, but 4 men were reported missing. Twenty-six prisoners were brought in during the day.
25 SEPTEMBER 1944
On the morning of September 25 the 137th prepared to move to the northeast to relieve the 4th Armored Division. The enemy was reinforcing his troops in the vicinity of the Chateau Salins Forest with armor and infantry. Their strength in that sector was as yet unknown, but the 113th Panzer Brigade had been identified as in the vicinity, and two infantry regiments, the 1125th and 1126th of the 559th Division had moved in from the north during the night of September 23. The FFI reported a concentration of enemy troops, supplies and ammunition at Morhange. The 3rd S S Totenkopff-Division and the 106th Panzer Division were identified assembling in the vicinity of Wuisse, and still another division was reported marching southeast from the vicinity of Metz, with a mission of encircling the Gremecey and the Chateau Salins Forests.
With a large-scale attack by the Germans a definite possibility, XII Corps prepared to defend along a line from the Seille River near Manhoue east then south through the Gremecey Forest, facing the German held towns of Coutures and Chambrey. The line then extended east and south through the Bezange la Grande Forest, and the 4th Armored Division was to move to defend this sector upon being relieved in the Gremecey area. The 80th Division was to defend the sector on the left of the 35th, with the 6th Armored Division remaining east of Nancy in Corps reserve. In the sector assigned the 35th Division, consisting generally the Gremecey Forest, the 134th Infantry was to defend to the left of the 137th, with the 320th in Division reserve.
During the afternoon of September 25 the 137th Infantry moved by way of Mazerulles, Moncel sur Ville and Pettencourt and went into their defensive position, with the 3rd Battalion established to the north and east of Gremecey, and the 1st to their right, southeast of Gremecey and east of Pettencourt. The 2nd Battalion went into reserve near Gremecey.
26 SEPTEMBER 1944
All was quiet along the entire Corps front until noon September 26, except for a small counterattack on the 4th Armored Division at Marsal.
Early in the afternoon of the 26th the 3rd Battalion began to receive artillery shelling in their area, and increased activity was observed in Chambrey. At 1800 a small German force attacked through the Chambrey Woods, from the direction of Coutures, but were driven back during the night.
The 4th Armored Division located 33 tanks and 400 men in the vicinity of Juvelize and Lezey, but no further activity was reported during the day.
There were some casualties in the 3rd battalion on the 26th, as 2 men were killed, 6 wounded and 6 missing.
27-28 SEPTEMBER 1944
During the early morning of September 27 artillery began falling in the regimental area, and enemy planes were overhead. Company B and Company C both reported a fire fight to their front, northeast of Pettencourt at 0600, and a little later Company K reported small arms and mortar fire to their front, with continued artillery shelling in the 3rd Battalion area.
At 0640 an enemy tank attacked Company I, while 5 more tanks moved to the left followed by infantry.
Shortly after 0700 the Germans, moving west on the Chambrey-Pettencourt highway, overran a 1st Battalion road block, captured 4 antitank guns, and by 0730 established themselves in position to bring direct fire on Pettencourt. Two companies from the 2nd Battalion were committed to assist the 1st Battalion in defending that area. Moving tanks up from their stronghold at Chambrey, the enemy advanced to the edge of Pettencourt and the 1st Battalionâ€™s situation there was becoming serious. At 1030 the Division Commander committed the 320th Infantry, and their 1st Battalion, together with Company C of the 737th Tank Battalion, was attached to the 137th and sent to bolster our defenses in the threatened area.
By 1130 the enemy was forced back sufficiently for our anti-tank Company to recover 3 of their guns, and by 1330 the 1st Battalion had restored their lines to their original position, clearing Pettencourt and the roads leading into it from the danger of direct enemy fire.
The Germans suffered heavy casualties in attempting their mission of capturing Pettencourt, and most of their officers had become casualties. Twenty-four prisoners were captured by the 1st Battalion in repulsing the attack.
Back in the 3rd Battalion area, enemy tank activity increased during the morning, and shortly before noon aerial observers located a concentration of infantry on halftracks and 15 tanks a mile east of Gremecey. An additional 10 tanks were spotted a short distance to the southeast of the first group, and 2 platoons of our tank destroyers moved east out of Gremecey to go into action. Within 20 minutes they had knocked out 2 of the enemy tanks.
To the north of Gremecey, tanks were reported in the woods during the afternoon, and were targets for our Cannon Company. One tank moved to within 200 yards of the 3rd Battalion CP before being blasted out by a tank destroyer.
At 1800 a German force was observed approaching Fresnes, and an hour later Company K was driven from their outpost in that town.
Activity slackened during the evening, and no additional action was reported. The regiment had held its lines intact, but in so doing had suffered 52 casualties, 6 killed, 45 wounded and 1 missing. The Germans had lost far more heavily in killed and wounded, and 71 of their men were taken prisoners.
Enemy patrols were active during the early morning hours of September 28, and shortly after midnight had made contact with a 1st Battalion patrol at Merlinsole. A 3rd Battalion outpost was attacked by another patrol, and as daylight approached the enemy activity increased. Company C detected considerable motor movement in and around Chambrey, with tanks leaving the town and heading west and northwest. Company C also reported small arms fire to their left, and Company B reported machine gun fire about 700 yards to their right front.
By 0600 the regiment was receiving artillery fire all along its front, and at 0640 the 134th Infantry was attacked by 5 enemy tanks in their 3rd Battalion area.
Tanks and infantry were reported north of the 137th area, moving from the vicinity of Fresnes and Galloncourt, and by 0900 it was apparent that the enemy armor was in great strength and included heavy tanks. Our tank destroyers knocked out one tank in the 3rd Battalion area at 1045, after first losing one of their own TDâ€™s.
The 3rd Battalion continued to report tanks in their area, and at noon a strong German patrol got behind the Battalion CP and attacked and captured the Battalion Motor Pool. With the 3rd Battalion CP and right flank endangered, the Battalion Commander committed his Headquarters group and all available men and Company F and one platoon of tanks were sent to relieve their precarious situation.
Enemy tanks continued to move into the 3rd Battalion area, and between 1000 and 1300 Company B of the 654th Tank Destroyer Battalion had knocked out 5 tanks, 3 of them Tigers, and 1 SP (self-propelled) gun.
At 1440 enemy patrols again infiltrated into the area, and the 3rd Battalion wire team was attacked by Germans armed with bazookas.
Late in the afternoon, with reports of enemy tanks mounting, the Air Corps was called upon to strike at Chambrey and west of Coutures, known to be concentration points of enemy armored forces. Fighter-bombers bombed and strafed these points heavily and also attacked Jallaucourt, to the northwest.
Air support continued during the night and the regimentâ€™s lines remained intact as they prepared for further attacks by the enemy. Casualties increased some on the 28th especially among the missing. There were 11 killed, 48 wounded and 20 unaccounted for. Nine prisoners were taken.
29 SEPTEMBER 1944
The Germans attacked at 0530 on September 29, moving in from the direction of Fresnes toward the 3rd Battalion lines. Company L, in position at the northeast tip of the Gremecey Forest, was hit first, and by 0830 were surrounded. Companies F, C and E were ordered to pull in their lines. Most of Company L fought their way out of the trap, but their commanding officer, 1st Lieutenant Rex Hopper was wounded and his executive officer, 1st Lieutenant Lawrence Malmed was captured. However, Lieutenant Malmed talked his 12 captors into surrendering themselves to the Americans, and brought them through the lines as prisoners.
German infantry attacked at other points in the 3rd Battalion area, and continued their tactics of infiltrating and surrounding our troops. This menace reached serious proportions during the day when Company K lost an entire platoon, and over a hundred men in the 3rd Battalion as a whole believed captured.
Air protection continued during the day, and there was little tank activity reported. Late in the day action slowed down considerably, and reports from the FFI and other sources hinted that the Germans were pulling back to organize for an all-out attack.
With 105 men missing during the day, in addition to 11 killed and 35 wounded, it was apparent that the Germans must be cleaned from the Gremecey Forest, where their many capabilities and possibilities of attack were a constant threat to the defense of our entire sector.
A plan was made for a coordinated attack, with the 320th Infantry to begin the following morning. An enemy attack was expected at 0500 from Fresnes, and to counter this the 3rd Battalion of the 320th was ordered to attack the Germans at that point at 0430. Our 2nd and 3rd Battalions were to attack at 0500, with the 1st Battalion of the 320th. Our 1st Battalion was ordered to hold its present position, with the 2nd Battalion of the 320th in reserve.
30 SEPTEMBER 1944
During the early morning of September 30 the regiment received artillery shelling and at 0600 the 134th Infantry was attacked after a heavy artillery preparation.
Our forces began their attack, but progress was slow. The 2nd Battalion received heavy mortar fire, and at 1000 their left flank was being infiltrated and they began to drop back to their original positions. Continuing their infiltration and encircling tactics, the Germans moved in behind Company E and opened up cutting off one entire platoon.
With the left flank open and a 700 yard gap between companies, the 2nd Battalionâ€™s defenses were in grave danger. The Germans, throwing a barrage of mortar and machine gun fire in front of them poured through the gap on the left flank of Company E, and moved toward Gremecey. At this point the 133rd Engineer Battalion was rushed from Pettencourt and committed to halt the advance. With their assistance, the 2nd Battalion held off the Germans until its lines could be reorganized. It was almost midnight before the lines were again established.
The attack on the 2nd Battalionâ€™s position proved to be the main German effort of the day. The 3rd Battalion was relieved shortly before midnight by the 3rd Battalion of the 320th, and moved to Bioncourt for a badly needed rest and reorganization period.
On the 30th there were 12 men killed, 51 wounded and 81 missing.
There were 37 prisoners taken, identified as being from the 1127th and 1128th Infantry Regiments and from the 1st Army Group.
September was a banner month for individual awards and decorations within the regiment. As battle progressed deeper into enemy territory the following awards were announced for the month of September. Distinguished Service Cross: The first DSC in the Division was awarded to Captain William C. Miller, Commanding Officer of Company B. This award was presented on the 12th of September for outstanding service in the Mortain Forest. On the 26th of September like awards were presented to T Sgt Fuller and S Sgt Frantz both of Company E.
Silver Stars were awarded to Sgt Hollar of M Company; Tec 5 Long, Pvt Larimer of the Medics; Sgt McAfee, Pfc Graber, Pfc Vogel, Lt. McCamey, Lt. Ball, Sgt Neinheuser, S Sgt Hoyt and Pfc Hansen of Company B; Capt Brady of the Regimental Staff; Lt Col Stowars, Lt Davis, Pfc Nivison of the 1st Battalion Headquarters; Pfc Kingsbury of Antitank; Pfc Mundt of 3rd Battalion headquarters; Capt Parker, Lt Lawson and Lt Moran of 2nd Battalion headquarters; Capt Mills and Sgt Meier of Company G; Capt Simpson, Lt Riggs, Pfc Butler, Sgt Oyler and Lt Kay of Company C; Lt Giacobello of Company F; S Sgt Whiting of Service Co; Lt Krider of Company H and Pfc Andring of Company L.
Bronze Stars were presented to Pfc Sherman, Capt Huff of Company E; Pfc Kelly, Tec 5 Reynolds and Maj Breneman of 1st Battalion headquarters; Pvt Jarvis and Pvt Ermoyenous of Company A; On the 2nd of September, Lt Col Oâ€™Connell and Lt Col Butler were awarded Bronze Oak Leaf Clusters to previous Bronze Stars; Tec 5 Bahr, Tec 3 Herrington and Capt Schneider of the CIC team; Capt Richardson of Antitank Co: Capt Hogg, Tec 3 Everman, Pfc Parsons, Pfc Funari, Sgt Hines, Tec 4 Craft and Tec 5 Strope of the Medics; Lt Ashley, Pfc Rider, 1st Sgt Applegate of Company I; T Sgt Dumler, Pvt Mumford, Pfc Hall, Pfc Francisco, Sgt Gross, Pfc Bator, Pvt Reisdorf, Cpl Bailey, Pfc Scott, Pfc Snow, Pfc Wallace, Cpl Selman, Pfc DeLong, Pvt Pettigrew, Pfc Lighter, Pfc Weiland, Cpl McGee, Pvt Black, Pfc Rota, Pvt Yevich, Pfc Collella, 1st Sgt Feldman, T/Sgt West and T/Sgt Cheatum all of Company D; Capt Richmond, Maj Stansbury, Capt Freeman, Lt Roberts, Lt Decker, 1st Sgt Williams, Sgt Boyd, Pfc Ritter, T/5 Lewis, Sgt Decker, Sgt Olind, T/5 Bentz, Pfc Stanford and T/5 Carey of 3rd Battalion Headquarters; Lt Brown and Maj Frizzelle of Regimental Headquarters; Lt Bodine and S/Sgt Venneman of Cannon Company; 1st Sgt Aeby of Company K; 1st Sgt Screen, Lt Malmed and T/Sgt Morris of Company L; Pfc Lampman, Sgt Janus, Pfc Prendergast of 2nd Battalion Headquarters; 1st Sgt Hudson, Cpl Mierzejewski, Pfc Weaver and S/Sgt Owen of Company M; Sgt Stephenson of Company E; T/5 Umland, S/Sgt Schowengerdt, T/Sgt Brohammer, S/Sgt Story, Pfc Everham, Pfc McDonnel, Pvt Traham, Pfc Gernentz and Pvt Kleiner of Company H; S/Sgt Salisbury, S/Sgt Wilson and Pfc Weaver of Company G; T/Sgt Austin and Sgt Engle of Company C; Capt Baker of Company D; T/5 Sawyer of Company L; Lt Hesser and Pvt Moritz of Company F; Cpl Lindenman and 1st Sgt Schrader of Headquarters Company; T/5 Morgan of the Medics; Pfc Spejewski and S/Sgt Hancock of Company B; 1st Sgt Flory and S/Sgt Gipson of Company G; and S/Sgt Swanson of Company M. In less than three months of actual combat 236 men of this regiment had been decorated for gallant and heroic actions in the Battle for Western Europe.
The close of the month showed the 137th Infantry making a superior stand in its first assignment in a defensive position. The regiment was drawing the commendation and praise of both Lieutenant General George S. Patton and Major General Eddy, Corps Commander, as they personally observed the performance of the organization in throwing back everything the Germans could hurl at them in their last desperate effort to stop the Allied forces.
Incls: 1 Journal and Supporting
Papers for Sep/44
319.1 1st Ind RGC/mla
(30 Sep 44)
HQ 35TH INF DIV, APO 35, U S Army, 12 Oct 44
TO: Commanding General, XII Corps, APO 312, U S Army
Forwarded in compliance with paragraph 2, letter Headquarters Third U.S. Army, AG 314.7 (GNMCF), subject: Action Against Enemy, Reports After, dated 24 September 1944.
For the Commanding General:
RICHARD G. CHADWICK
Lt. Col., A. G. D.