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

September 1 to September 30, 1944

 

DECLASSIFIED

Authority 735017

By IM NARA, Date 4/1/06

Auth: CG 35th Inf Div

Initials RGC

Date 13 Oct 44

HEADQUARTERS 320TH INFANTRY

APO 35 U S ARMY

3 October 1944

SUBJECT: Action Against Enemy, Report After.

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

 

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

 

On 1 September 1944 the 320th CT less the 3rd Bn, moved to an assembly area west of Brienne Le Chateau. The 3rd Bn. remained in defensive position on a line from Bar Sur Seine northwards to Vendeuvre Sur Barse. Pursuant to orders received on 2 September 1944, the 320th CT as part of Task Force “S” moved to the vicinity of Joinville. The leading elements crossed the IP at 2015 and the last element closed into the new assembly area at 2345. The 3rd Bn. was relieved from its former mission and rejoined the CT in an assembly area west of Joinville on 3 Sept 44 at 2045. The entire CT, with the mission of clearing and protecting the Joinville area, remained in position at this place until 9 Sept 44. Some prisoners were taken during this period and strafing by 2 enemy ME 109 was reported on 4 and 5 Sept. On 9 Sept 44 the CT moved 44.6 miles to the vicinity of Colombey les Belles and Allain, and there went into an assembly area as Division Reserve. On 10 Sept 44, the 2nd Bn. was detached from the regiment, and attached to CCB, 4th Armored Division. On 11 Sept the Regiment, less the detached battalion, began a motor march of 9-1/2 miles to the vicinity of Houdreville, and closed into assembly area there at 0130. The elements of the last shuttle closed in at 0545. On 12 Sept the CT moved to another new assembly area in the Forest of Bois D’Ormes by motor and marching where the regimental CP opened at 0935. Pursuant to Division order the entire unit was alerted for crossing the Moselle River, and at 0500 on 13 Sept, the regiment less 2nd Bn., began movement across the bridge over the Moselle, behind the 137th Inf. After a movement of 8 miles the CP was established across the river at 0800. The 1st Bn. began an attack to clear the high ground north and east of the river crossing, and after sharp fighting obtained its objective. As sundown approached, the enemy, while driven from his main positions, remained in contact with the 1st Bn. and meanwhile evidenced strength east of the battalion’s sector. The 3rd Bn, in reserve, was accordingly moved forward and made contact with the enemy, extending the 1st Battalion’s lines to the east prior to darkness. During the afternoon General George S. Patton, 3rd Army Commander, watched from an OP as the 1st Bn. and attached units drove the enemy from his positions. The enemy fought back with small arms, machine guns, mortars, artillery, tanks and anti-tank weapons. On 14 Sept the regiment continued to attack to the northeast toward the Meurthe River, with the 1st Bn. on the left, and the 3rd Bn. on the right. Both units were engaged in sharp fighting and took a number of prisoners. The CP displaced forward about 4 miles. At 1420 the 3rd Bn. began to cross the river by boats and at 1600 reported all foot elements across and that light vehicles were being ferried. The 1st Bn. reached the river in the vicinity of Dombasle, and at 0700 on 15 Sept, renewed attack on enemy positions there and on the high ground north of the river. Extremely heavy fighting resulted in heavy enemy casualties and the taking of a large number of prisoners. The 3rd Bn. moved to the Marne Rhine Canal and le Sanon River in the vicinity of Somerviller which was subjected to enemy artillery fire. By nightfall most of the foot elements of both battalions were across the river and canal in their respective areas. The 4th Armored Division was invited to use the bridge in the Somerville area, and by highly successful coordination this was done. Tanks and TD’s of the 35th Division operating with CT 320th were then crossed first and by early morning vehicles of the two battalions crossed on the bridge. All units were across by 0700. The regiment advanced in a column of battalions, the 3rd Bn. leading, and secured the town of Haraucourt after destroying small enemy forces. It was determined that enemy occupied Buissoncourt, and the 3rd Bn. accordingly attacked that town from the direction of Haraucourt situated to the southeast, with Co C, 737 Tank Bn. and Co C, 654 TD Bn. in direct support. The enemy offered spirited resistance, but under heavy fires by all arms involved, the town was secured by darkness. Prisoners included the Commander of the enemy battalion defending the town and eight officers of his staff. This action was followed by the 1st Bn. passing through the 3rd Bn. and continuing the attack to the north to secure the Regimental objective in the vicinity of Mazurelles. Strong enemy resistance was encountered at Champenoux and after sharp fighting that town was by-passed and the battalion continued to its objective. The 2nd Bn. rejoined the regiment on 17 Sept. The CP displaced forward to Mazurelles. By 2355 all elements of the regiment had closed into the area in the vicinity of Mazurelles. The regiment remained in the area on 18 and 19 Sept, defending the town, during which time it was subjected to considerable enemy artillery fire. On 19 Sept orders were received detaching the 320th CT from Division and attaching it to the 4th Armored Division. At 0930, 20 Sept, the leading elements crossed the IP at Mazurelles and moved by motor to the vicinity of Juvrecourt, a distance of 17 miles. The regiment, minus the 1st Bn. which had been attached to CCB, 4th Armored Division, took up positions in the area of Rechicourt and Juvrecourt. After the battalions had assumed the assigned positions the CP displaced to Arracourt. The regiment, less the 1st Bn., remained in defensive position in this area until relieved from attachment to the 4th Armored Division to rejoin the 35th Division. During this period, the battalion positions were subjected to considerable artillery fire and Company K repelled an enemy infantry counterattack during its relief. The regiment moved to an assembly area in the vicinity of Champenoux and the CP opened 26 Sept at 2210. The 1st Bn. having been relieved of attachment to CCB, preceded the regiment to the assembly area. On 27 Sept the 1st Bn. was ordered to attack and seize the high ground south of Gremecey. Later that battalion was attached to the 137th Inf. The rest of the regiment remained in the assembly area in the Foret de St Jeane in Corps Reserve. At 1632 on 28 Sept the regiment having reverted to Division control, was ordered to move to a position in readiness northwest of Gremecey prepared to attack east to assist the 137th Inf. on order. At 1720 the leading elements began to move to the new area and the Regimental CP opened at Bioncourt at 1900, after displacement of 3.8 miles. By 2200 all elements of the regiment had closed into the area. At 0430 on 29 Sept the 3rd Bn. attacked to regain positions on the north and east edge of the forest. The battalion encountered great difficulty in attempting to clear the enemy from the woods. Tanks were employed to wipe out some enemy pockets. However, the battalion reached a position at the edge of the woods and established contact with elements of the 134th Inf. The 2nd Bn. was in an assembly area in the western portion of the woods. At 0650, on 30 Sept, the 1st Bn. continued attacks to clear a portion of the woods extending to the east. That unit encountered extremely heavy mortar and artillery fire; road blocks had barred the path of tanks which attempted to assist the infantry advance, but they did advance far enough to clear out some pockets of enemy resistance. The 1st Bn. also suffered heavy mortar and artillery fire resulting in many casualties, including the Battalion Commander, Major Wm. G. Gillis. At 1145, the 2nd Bn. was ordered to move from its assembly area and attack from a line of departure in the vicinity of Hill 282, with the entire Cannon Company in support. Positions of the 137th Infantry had been relieved and began movement to reserve positions at 1335. At about 1400, the enemy massed light and medium artillery fire on the road and woods used by the 2nd battalion in its movement from the assembly area. It was among the heaviest artillery fire encountered in an area of similar size since the Regiment entered combat. At 1430, while a group of commanders including the Chief of Staff of the 3rd Army, the Commanding General of the 6th Armored Division, the Commanding General and Assistant Commanding General of the 35th Division, three Regimental Commanders and members of their staff and other officers were holding a conference on operational plans, the Regimental CP was shelled by enemy artillery. One round struck near the entrance of the CP and resulted in a number of casualties, among which were two general’s aides. At 1535 orders were dispatched to the 2nd Bn. to halt their movement in the vicinity of the line of departure. Later the unit was moved into the woods on the right of the 1st Bn. At the close of the period, the 1st and 2nd battalions held positions generally abreast, facing to the east near the edge of the forest, the 2nd battalion receiving light artillery fire, the 3rd battalion a moderate amount, and the 1st battalion receiving heavy 120 MM mortar and artillery and small arms fire. Throughout the early stages of operations, starting 27 Sept, our efforts suffered markedly from restrictions upon artillery fires. When these restrictions were removed, marked progress was made with a notable reduction of our own casualties.

 

2. Mission: The mission at Joinville, between 1 Sept and 8 Sept was to clear the area of enemy and secure it from any attack while protecting the south flank of the division. Between 9 and 11 Sept, the regiment, less 2nd Bn., was in Division Reserve. Starting 12 Sept the mission of the unit was to attack to the north and drive the enemy successively from his prepared positions until the regiment reached Mazurelles on 18 Sept, and then defend that area. While attached to the 4th Armored Division, the mission was defensive. From 27 Sept to 30 Sept the Regiment was to defend certain positions in the Foret de Gremecey. However, to accomplish this the regiment necessarily undertook a great deal of offensive action to clear the woods and to eliminate enemy penetrations.

 

3. Information of the Enemy: In the vicinity of Joinville the enemy forces consisted of remainders of units attempting to escape from southern France to Germany. Their morale was poor, they were disorganized and were easily captured. The enemy encountered from 12 to 20 Sept. were fairly well organized and had the mission of defending and delaying our advance as much as possible. Some were fresh troops with new arms and equipment, but they lacked ample artillery support. However, they used a considerable amount of artillery to hinder the crossing of the Meurthe River and the Marne Rhine Canal. In the period 20 to 26 Sept. the enemy used large tank forces. However, these enemy attacks with armor were stopped by our defending armor and A-T weapons before much harm could be done to the infantry positions. An increase in enemy artillery was noticeable. Between 27 and 30 Sept, that period has been a part of a larger and well coordinated effort. There have been repeated thrusts by enemy infantry supported by armor and artillery. The enemy’s use of artillery and mortar had increased, become extremely accurate and efficient until it compared favorably to our own.

 

4. Decision on Tactical Maneuver: Between 12 and 20 Sept. the local tactical decisions were made in accordance with the situation existing at the moment and in furtherance of the regimental mission. In all other actions during the month, tactical decisions have been in conformity with directives of higher commanders.

 

5. Units Used: The 1st Battalion, commanded by Major Gillis until Sept. 30 when he was killed in action, was thereafter commanded by Captain Walton. The Second Battalion was commanded by Lt. Col. Hannum. The 3rd Battalion was under the command of Lt. Col. Greer until 5 Sept. and thereafter commanded by Lt. Col. Alexander. Headquarters Company was in command of Captain Edmund R. Casey, Service Company commanded by Captain Paul H. Reil, Anti-Tank Company commanded by Captain A. D. Wilson. Captain H. A. Smith commanded Cannon Company until 20 Sept, and after then the Company was commanded by 1st Lt. E. Cammack. The Medical Detachment was in charge of Major M. Mack for a portion of the period and thereafter in charge of Major L. A. Smith. Major M. V. Hughes, Major T. P. McElroy Jr., Major G. W. Jamieson and 1st Lt. M. Ginsburg were S-4, S-3, S-1 and S-1, respectively.

 

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

 

7. Artillery, Tank and Air Support: Artillery support was excellent throughout the period extending from 1 September to 18 September. In the period of 18 September to 20 September a number of definite targets were located and given to the artillery, which for some reason failed to deliver fire on them. During this period and from 21 September to 26 September a number of rounds were fired into our own positions by friendly artillery resulting in a number of casualties. Tank support was available throughout the operations and was excellent. There was air cover throughout the entire operations and fighter bombers aided materially in repelling the thrusts by enemy armor and disrupting enemy convoys of supplies and troop movements.

 

8. Effects of Weather: Almost all operations from 12 September to the end of the period were hampered by rain and mud.

 

9. Supply: During the period supply lines were greatly increased in length. The 3905 QM Truck Company was attached to the regiment for additional transportation. Gasoline became very critical and was strictly rationed during the period 2 September to 15 September and 28 September to 30 September. Captured German gasoline was used and found to work very satisfactorily in the 2-1/2 ton trucks. Ammunition was also rationed for weapons other than small arms. Control here was exercised thru the Regimental Ammunition Officer.

 

10. Communications: Communication by wire and radio was normally employed throughout the operations.

 

11. Honest Appraisal of Troops’ Morale and Troops Efficiency: Excellent throughout the operations.

 

12. Casualties for this period were:

Officers

Enlisted Men

Total

Killed in Action

6

51

57

Wounded in Action

23

490

513

Missing in Action

3

71

74

 

13. Decorations: The following decorations have been recommended for this period: 48 Silver Star; 127 Bronze Star.

 

14. Prisoners Taken: 116 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 withstand exceedingly heavy enemy artillery during the last four days of the period while operating under unfavorable combat conditions marks them as troops of the highest quality.

 

B. A. BYRNE

Colonel, 320th Infantry

Commanding

Incls

Unit Journals with supporting papers.

 

319.1 1st Ind RGC/mla

(3 Oct 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.

Adjutant General

Incls

n/c

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