134th Infantry Regiment Crest

134th Infantry Regiment

"All Hell Can't Stop Us"

35th Infantry Division emblem

Report of Action Against the Enemy

320th Infantry Regiment

November 1 to November 30, 1944

 

DECLASSIFIED

Authority 735017

By IM NARA, Date 4/1/06

HEADQUARTERS 320TH INFANTRY

APO 35 U S ARMY

3 December 1944

SUBJECT: Action Against Enemy, Report After.

TO : The Adjutant General, Washington, D. C. (Thru Channels)

 

1. Following report covers the period 1 November 1944 to 30 November 1944 inclusive.

 

At the beginning of the period the 320th Infantry was in reserve occupying positions as follows:

3rd Battalion west of Brin sur Seille in the vicinity of 970205; 2nd Battalion west of Brin sur Seille in the vicinity of 975215; and the 1st Battalion at Gremecey, vicinity of 025235, as a potential reserve for the 134th Infantry. The Regimental CP was at Brin sur Seille. The regiment remained in these positions to 7 November 1944. Activities during this time included range firing, checking of all clothing and equipment, ordnance inspection of vehicles and re-supply. On 6 November at 1000 the Regimental Commander issued to the appropriate commanders in the unit, Field Order #29, in substance as follows: That the regiment would move to a line of departure in the northwest portion of Foret de Gremecey and at 0600 on 8 November pass through the lines of the 134th Infantry to assault the enemy positions along the western edge of the Chateau-Salins forest and in the town of Fresnes. In accordance with this order the Regimental CP displaced to Gremecey, a distance of 5-3/10 miles, on the evening of 7 November. The 3rd Battalion began its displacement at 0030, 2nd Battalion at 0100, 1st Battalion at 0200. All elements had closed into the new area by 0500 on 8 November. The attack was carried out as planned, the 3rd Battalion attacking enemy positions in the town of Fresnes while the 2nd Battalion attacked across the open area from the eastern edge of Gremecey Forest towards the enemy positions in the western edge of Chateau-Salins Forest. There was an artillery preparation of one hour before the jump-off. During the day the 3rd Battalion was able to seize and hold approximately 2/3 of the town of Fresnes. It was completely cleared and in our hands by 1000 on 9 November. The 2nd Battalion managed to cross the open area and enter the edge of the Chateau-Salins Forest with G Company entering on the left and F Company on the right, followed by E Company, the Battalion reserve. The enemy then opened up with heavy artillery and mortar fire and fire from cannon in the forest plus enfilading machine gun and small arms fire causing both F and E Companies to be thrown out of the woods with heavy losses. Following a second unsuccessful assault in the afternoon, they took up positions along the railroad cut and embankment in the open and held these positions for the remainder of the day with G Company in position along the edge of the forest. In the meantime the 1st Battalion moved up and some of its elements were used to block the open space between the two attacking battalions. On the morning of 9 November the attack was resumed on the enemy positions in the forest, the 2nd Battalion continuing its attack on the southern half of the western edge and the 1st Battalion committed to attack on the northern half. After the completion of the mop-up in the town of Fresnes the 3rd Battalion became regimental reserve. During the day, the 1st and 2nd Battalions during heavy fighting advanced to phase line “Victor,” a general line extending from 064305 to 070297, then southeast to 085288. On the morning of 10 November the attack was continued with the 1st Battalion on the left; on the right the 3rd Battalion passed through the lines of the 2nd Battalion, the latter reverting to regimental reserve. They continued the attack through the day and by nightfall the 3rd Battalion had reached a occupied a line extending from 083294 to 091297. The 2nd Battalion after mopping up enemy pockets previously by passed was occupying a blocking position along the edge of the woods from 067292 to 062288. The 1st Battalion had secured positions along the edge of the woods from 066299 to 073298. The attack was resumed on the morning of 11 November by the 1st and 3rd Battalions which continued the advance. Shortly after nightfall they had reached and occupied positions as follows: 1st Battalion from 080319 to 087317, 3rd Battalion from 092315 to 097312. The 2nd Battalion occupied a blocking position generally from 084306 to 092302. On the morning of 12 November the same two Battalions continued their attack and shortly after noon had reached and occupied the regimental objective, the eastern edge of the Foret de Chateau-Salins. On 13 November the regiment was moved from the forest positions into nearby towns to give the troops opportunity to dry their clothing and rest. Some of the troops had been wet for almost the entire period of the forest fighting. The 2nd Battalion and the Regimental CP occupied the town of Vaxy; the 3rd Battalion at Vannecourt, and the 1st Battalion at Chateau-Brehain. The regiment was placed in division reserve. On 14 November the 2nd Battalion moved from Bellange to Pevange and was made available as a reserve force for the 134th Infantry. During the period from 15 November to 17 November the regiment remained in division reserve. At 1700 on 17 November the Regimental CP displaced to Morhange, a distance of 13-5/10 miles. All elements of the regiment were moved up to the immediate vicinity. On the morning of 18 November at 0800 the 320th Infantry resumed the attack in the sector of the 134th Infantry. In the period that followed the regiment continued to attack daily, weather was adverse, cold and wet, and lack of routes caused supply and evacuation to be largely by hand carrying. On 25 November the regimental objective was reached and occupied and the assigned mission of the 320th Infantry was completed. At the end of the period the 320th Infantry occupied positions as follows: 3rd Battalion was at Nelling with its Company L at Insming and one platoon of Company I at Rening. The 2nd Battalion was at Petit-Tenquin with one platoon at Zellen. The 1st Battalion was at Uberkinger and Kappelkinger, with Company B at Hazembourg and Company C at Wentzviller. On 27 November at 1030 the Regimental CP displaced to Pontpierre, a distance of 24-1/2 miles. All elements of the regiment then assembled in the vicinity of Pontpierre.

 

2. Mission: The mission of the 320th Infantry from 8 November to 12 November inclusive was to seize, clear and secure from the enemy the Foret de Chateau-Salins. The mission during the period from 18 November to 25 November, inclusive, was to seize, clear and secure from the enemy all ground within its assigned sector.

 

3. Information of the Enemy: In the attack on the Chateau-Salins Forest our troops encountered thoroughly prepared enemy defensive positions. All roads and open spaces were thoroughly strewn with mines. There were barbed wire entanglements and well established fire lanes for automatic weapons, well supplemented with foxholes and dug-outs. The enemy had good observation for the employment of its mortars and artillery which were used very effectively. The enemy at all times during this period had the use of armor with which he effectively supported his infantry forces. The use of the enemy mortars and artillery was very effective against our troops in the forest because of tree bursts. The efficiency and the morale of the enemy troops were very good.

 

4. Decision on Tactical Maneuver: In actions during the month tactical decisions were designed to accomplish missions assigned in directives of higher headquarters. Local tactical maneuver was in conformity with decisions of the Regimental or appropriate subordinate commanders.

 

5. Units Used: During the period the 1st Battalion was commanded by Major Frank Waring until he was evacuated on 7 November 1944. Lt. Col. James T. Walker then assumed command of the unit and directed its activities until he was wounded in action on 18 November 1944. Major Walton, Battalion Executive Officer, then assumed and remained in command until the end of the period. The 2nd and 3rd Battalions were commanded by Lt. Col. Warren T. Hannum and Lt. Col. Joseph D. Alexander respectively throughout the period. Special Unit commanders were Captain Edmund R. Casey who commanded Headquarters Company until he was evacuated on 8 November at which time Captain Dwight D. Bonham became the commander for the rest of the period; Captain Paul H. Heil, Service Company; Captain A. D. Wilson, Anti-Tank Company. Cannon Company was in command of First Lieutenant E. Cammack until 6 November when Captain Robert N. Ekstrum assumed command of the unit for the remainder of the period. Major L. A. Smith, Regimental Surgeon, was in command of the Medical Detachment. The regiment was commanded by Colonel B. A. Byrne. Lt. Col. William F. Northam was Executive Officer. The Regimental Staff consisted of First Lieutenant Milton Ginsburg, Major George W. Jamieson, Major Thomas P. McElroy Jr., and Major Harold V. Hughes, S-1, S-2, S-3, S-4, respectively.

 

6. Weapons Used: Small arms, grenades, rockets, mortars, artillery, tanks and tank destroyers.

 

7. Artillery, Tank and Air Support: Artillery support during the entire period was excellent. The regiment had the use of tank destroyers throughout the period, which was excellent, although terrain conditions often made their use difficult or impossible. In the first three days of the attack on the Foret de Chateau-Salins, 8 November to 10 November inclusive, the regiment had the use of tank support. However, this support was cut to a minimum as a result of losses incurred by the tank company on the first day of the action, and by conditions of terrain. After 11 November all tank support was withdrawn entirely and the regiment had no tank support for the rest of the period. The unit had periodic air support throughout the period.

 

8. Effects of Weather: All operations during the entire period were hampered by rain, mud and snow, which in many cases made conditions extremely difficult and uncomfortable.

 

9. Supply: During the period the supply problem was mainly one of refitting and equipping the men for winter warfare. Sleeping bags, sweaters, extra blankets, overshoes and combat boots were issued with priority to line companies. A critical shortage of tires, tubes and tube patching developed. This was due to tire failures from shrapnel and nails picked up from the roads. During this period a salvage crew was organized, comprised of men suffering from battle fatigue. The objective of this crew was to salvage lost, dropped or discarded equipment by following units through their zones of action. The recovery of considerable amounts of salvageable equipment attests to the success of having such an organization. (The following two lines are x-ed out and initialed MB) Ammunition supply was limited in availability during this period but at no time did this organization fire more than its prescribed amount.

 

10. Communications: Communications were by wire and radio, with appropriate use of messengers. The operations of the wire crews were very often made difficult by the mud and the long dark nights. The lines were often cut by shell fire and vehicles, and one wire crew was the victim of a mine explosion.

 

11. Honest appraisal of troop morale and troop efficiency: Excellent throughout the operations.

 

12. Casualties for this period:

Officers

Enlisted Men

Total

Killed in Action

5

40

45

Wounded in Action

31

684

715

Missing in Action

0

122

122

 

13. Decorations: The following decorations have been recommended.

6 - Distinguished Service Cross

31 - Silver Star

83 - Bronze Star

 

14. Prisoners Taken: 300 prisoners were taken during this period.

 

15. Complete summary of accomplishments, Remarks concerning mistakes, Incidents: All operations of the regiment during this period were performed in an efficient and excellent manner. The ability of the infantry and their attached units to endure the most unfavorable living and fighting conditions and keep up a high state of morale and efficiency has been demonstrated to the fullest extent. The living conditions and the fighting positions were the most uncomfortable and unfavorable yet encountered by this regiment. Rain, mud and snow were the rule and never the exception. In the advance through the forest almost every round of enemy artillery and mortar fire resu(lted in a) tree burst, equivalent to well placed time fire. From thi(s action the ad)vancing troops had little or no protection, while the ene(my was advancing to) defensive positions in dug-outs and pillboxes had very good (protection) from our shellfire. Because of the short hours of daylight many operations had to be concluded or carried out during the hours of darkness and because of the rainy and cloudy weather there was very little light, if any at all, in the forest after nightfall. Very often the units found themselves subjected to enemy fire from the rear and the flanks as well as to their fronts. At times their routes of supply and communication to the rear were cut by by-passed or infiltrated enemy troops. At one time the command post of Company B was attacked from the rear and Captain Frank Gardner, the company commander, was killed. Only the swift fall of darkness enabled other members of the command group to escape. Twice the reserve battalion had to be used to mop up bypassed groups and to establish blocks against infiltration from the rear and the flanks. In the second operation for the towns and villages in the open country, the flooded low ground and enemy demolitions greatly hampered the supply of the advanced troops. In the taking of one town by Company A under the command of First Lieutenant Charles W. Bell the men had to swim a flooded area, or cross on a rudely constructed foot bridge to reach their objective. The bridge was constructed and most of the crossing made during the hours of darkness. Just before daylight the last elements crossed and ran into the town as enemy tanks charged down on them from high ground nearby. In the fight that followed, the enemy tanks were knocked out by bazooka fire and their crews eliminated by the use of hand grenades, Molotov cocktails and small arms fire. Lieutenant Bell called for artillery fire on one section of the town while he and his men fought in the other sections. After the barrage had lifted his company completed the occupation of the town.

 

(Note: where parentheses appear, original text was obscured.)

 

B. A. BYRNE

Colonel, 320th Infantry

Commanding

4 Incls

Incl 1. S-1 Journal (November 44)

Incl 2. S-2 Journal (November 44)

Incl 3. S-3 Journal (November 44)

Incl 4. S-4 Journal (November 44)

 

 

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