134th Infantry Regiment
"All Hell Can't Stop Us"
Headquarters III U. S. Corps
3rd Information and Historical Service
22 January 1945
Transcribed by Roberta V. Russo, Palatine IL, 8/30/2011
3rd Battalion, 134th Infantry Regiment
(28 December 1944 to 12 January 1945)
On the 28th of December, the battalion was at full strength. Replacements had been received at Metz, and a training program had been initiated. However on the 26th the battalion had moved from Metz to Attert (P5929) There, orders directed movement by motor to an assembly area in the vicinity of Heinstert (P5530). The order of march was Companies K, L, and I. The 134th Infantry Regiment was to be in division reserve initially, prepared to motorize and to either follow or pass through the 137th Infantry Regiment on a half-hours notice. The order to move, including an overlay, came by regimental liaison officer.
At 0800 on the 27th, the Division attack jumped off. Capt. Huston S-3, 3rd Battalion, visited regiment at 1530 and there received instructions to move to a final assembly area in the vicinity of Warnach (P5542). The time of movement was to be announced later.
On the 27th at 1810, a warning order was issued by the 3rd Battalion to its COs. At 280145 the movement order was issued. The Battalion CP opened in the vicinity of Warnach (P5542), at 0530.
At 281140, a possibility of working with the 4th Armored Division was indicated by a telephone message from the regimental S-3. Plans were underway to use the 3rd Battalion to relieve battalion of the 80th Infantry Division, at that time located in a woods north of Sainlez (P5448). General Ernest, of Combat Command B of the 4th Armored Division, indicated the need for the occupation of Lutrebois (P5653). The Armored Division furnished eight 2 ½ ton trucks which moved Company L up to make this relief. Eight trucks from the Service Company moved Company I up, and the trucks which had moved Company L made a second trip with Company K.
At 282000, contact was made with the 137th Infantry Regiment on the right, which unit had been committed while the 134th was still in reserve.
On the day of the 28th, verbal orders had been received for an attack on the morning of the 29th through the woods in the direction of Lutrebois. The regiment was to jump off in a column of battalions, 3rd, 1st, and 2nd. The 3rd Battalion planned to move out in column of companies, L, I, and K. The 161st Field Artillery Battalion and Company C, 3rd Chemical Battalion were in regimental direct support. In direct support of the 3rd Battalion were the 2nd Platoon, 654th Tank Destroyer Battalion; 3rd Platoon, Anti-Tank Company, and 3rd Platoon, Company A, 60th Engineer Battalion. The mission was to attack and seize Lutrebois, and to continue the attack to the north toward Marvie (P5756). The attack was to be launched along a narrow frontage. If the 3rd Battalion was held up at Lutrebois (P5653), the first was to bypass it, sideslip northward, and then turn eastward beyond the 3rd Battalion.
The Battalion plan envisaged Company L seizing and mopping up Lutrebois, Company I following closely prepared either to attack on the right or to pass through Company L in the town and continue the attack in that direction, and Company K following Company I prepared to attack to either the right or the left. Company I was responsible for security to the right, Company K to the left. One machine gun platoon from Company M was in direct support of Company L, and another was with Company I. The 81mm mortars were to have observers with Company L, and were to fire on Lutrebois.
Prior to the attack Company L patrolled to the front and received "burp-gun" fire about 1000 yards beyond the line. At 0800 the attack pushed off, and by 0945 the leading elements had reached (P565527). The 4.2 mortar platoon, positioned at (P5452) smoked the hill north of the town providing a screen as Company L swept into town. As some riflemen were pinned down in a field just outside of town, more smoke was called for and received. From positions along the road at (P562530) the machine gun platoon covered the riflemen as the company advanced through the town.
The town of Lutrebois consists of an elongated string of stone houses bisected equally by a stream running north and south. Beyond the stream, the road turns to the left. Each house possessed a separate field of fire.
Beyond the town to the northeast is Hill 540 (P5753), the principal objective because it dominated the line of scattered huts below. It was getting late when a decision was made to move a platoon out along the road, around the woods, and up the hill. Just outside of town enemy in the woods opened up with a curtain of small arms fire which scattered and disorganized the platoon. T/Sgt. Vanlandingman, in charge of the platoon, exhibited outstanding leadership qualities in reorganizing the platoon and withdrawing into town. The Sergeant had joined the outfit at Metz as a non-commissioned officer replacement. He was killed the next day.
Companies I and K were moved up to the right, east of town P571531. By 1600 Company L was entrenched in the town, and Companies I and K were established east of town. At 1850, Capt. Campbell, CO of Company K, reported hearing tanks withdrawing along the road at P573529. This was the first indication of the presence of enemy tanks in the vicinity.
At 1900 artillery fire was placed on the area in which the tanks had been heard. A call from regiment was received stating that civilians evacuated from Lutrebois (P5653) the night before had given information regarding five enemy tanks, one big gun, and 500 Germans, half of them wearing American overcoats. A minefield was laid covering the northern approaches to town (P565533-569533), and the Tank Destroyer platoon took up position at P556536.
The Battalion was deep in uncontrolled ground. A gap existed between the 134th and the 137th Infantry Regiments. The 2nd Battalion of the 134th Infantry Regiment was committed to fill this gap on the right of the 3rd Battalion. The 1st Battalion, in accordance with regimental plan, bypassed the 3rd and headed toward Marvie (P5755), Remoifosse (P5554) having been taken by the 4th Armored Division. During the night of the 29th, the 1st Battalion established contact with the 101st Airborne Division around Bastogne (P5557).
At 300430 December, Companies I and K reported a counter-attack by enemy infantry along Company I's front. The Germans were moving across open ground (P569532). Artillery was placed on them at 0435 and observed results were good.
At 0515 Company L reported an infantry counter-attack against their positions in Lutrebois (P5653). The enemy moved around to the north of the town and hit the buildings adjacent to the cemetery. By 0640 contact with elements of Company L in the northeastern portion of the town was lost. Meanwhile, Company E, in 2nd Battalion reserve, had been ordered to move up. Companies I and K closed in to strengthen the flank.
A prisoner later reported that a light machine gun covering the northeast approach to town prevented the enemy from entering there and compelled them to move around and hit the town from the north.
The enemy fanned out in the open terrain and came inside the field or fire of Company L's heavy machine gun support, still located along the road at (P562530) covering the town. A prisoner reported that the advance of the enemy was held up for one hour at this point. The men manning the machine guns reported that six or seven waves moved up and were mowed down. Finally the gunners withdrew as the enemy infantry, by maneuvering, threatened to cut them off. The Anti-Tank platoon withdrew from its position at (P560537) leaving the guns, but taking the breech mechanisms.
Between 0900 and 1030 of the 30th, enemy groups of infantry continued to filter through the lines. One group reached (P558515) where they set up a machine gun interdicting the road south of Losange (P555516) where the Battalion CP was located. These infiltrating groups had apparently passed through Company E which was in the process of moving up from Losange to reinforce the 3rd Battalion.
Lt Baumberger, Company I, who had made his way back to the CP, was charged with setting up a defense. Several half-tracks with mounted cal. 50 machine guns were formed into a circle around the chateau. Germans commenced firing on the CP with small arms and were answered by the cal. 50's. Two men from the anti-tank platoon fired eight clips of ammunition with their M1 rifles and knocked out the machine gun at (P555516). Mortar fire was placed on the woods east of Losange. These combined efforts apparently stopped the enemy.
At 1000, five enemy tanks were spotted along the Lutremange (P5851) - Lutrebois (P5653) road in front of Companies I and K. An air strike was requested. The tanks were a mixed group of M IV's and M V's. An artillery reconnaissance plane reported fifteen enemy tanks approaching the town. At 1041, Capt. Gibson, Company I, looked toward Lutrebois and saw enemy tanks fanning out north of the town preparing to attack. He directed an artillery concentration at (P569533), and at 1120, he reported that two enemy tanks had been hit and that the enemy infantry was returning to the woods. Shortly thereafter, Company K reported two heavy tanks, probably M V's along their front. At 1205, Capt. Gibson adjusted the 4.2 mortars as they fired on the tanks. A direct hit set one of the tanks on fire. Meanwhile, the Tank Destroyer platoon at 556536 took care of four tanks that were spreading out north of the town. One enemy tank ran into the minefield covering the northern approaches to town. Tanks of the 4th Armored Division at Remoifosse (P5554) also fired on the enemy tanks.
At 1210 Capt. Gibson reported that six of the seven tanks in his area had been knocked out. At 1220 P-47's came over to deliver the requested air strike, along the Lutrebois (P5653) - Lutremange (P5851) road. Both Companies I and K were close to the target and sought protection of fox holes while the planes straffed up and down the road with machine guns, cannons, and rockets. Hence, the infantry was unable to gage the results of this air strike.
Capt. Campbell, Company K, had counted fourteen enemy tanks in the woods across the road from Companies I and K. These had come up the road from Lutremange. As they approached along the road, the riflemen opened up on them disregarding the warning of the leaders, who preferred not to have their location disclosed. (Company K had no bazookas) The tanks buttoned up and turned their barrels to face the source of the small arms fire. After firing two or three heavy rounds, and some machine gunning, they turned and hightailed down the road toward Lutremange.
155-mm artillery fire was placed on the road and in the woods opposite Companies I and K. It was believed that the fourteen tanks had taken cover in these woods (P574527). Six came out and moved southward.
It was decided to bring Companies I and K back across the draw to the ridge above the road at (P564527). By 1700 Company K had moved to its new position and had tied in with the 2nd Battalion. Enemy machine gun fire was received as the company crossed the road. Company I followed Company K and formed a line on its left. Contact was established between Company I and armored infantry of the 4th Armored Division on the left. Machine gun fire received from an enemy pocket in the vicinity of (P557526) resulted in the battalion's left flank being bent back somewhat.
On the evening of the 30th a twelve-man patrol went back toward Losange (P5551) to determine whether or not the supply route was open. At the same time the Battalion was informed that the 6th Armored Division was moving up on the left to relieve the pressure. Guides were set up to direct the armor. 1000 yards north of Losange the tanks were held up.
At the end of the 30th of December, the lines had been shortened; some gaps eliminated; and contact made with the 2nd Battalion and the 137th Infantry Regiment. The patrol sent out to investigate the supply route returned. At Battalion HQ all available bazookas were gathered to be sent forward the next morning. Artillery fire was placed on Lutrebois.
A captured map indicated the German plan of attack. The 331st Regiment of the 167 Volksgrenadier Division and the 1st SS Division were to make two thrusts. One thrust was aimed through Lutremange (P5851) and Lutrebois (P5653) to cut the Arlon (P 55) - Bastogne (P5557) highway, and thence north along the highway to Bastogne. The second thrust was to consist of a wider development through Losange across the Arlon-Bastogne highway, cutting the secondary northbound roads, and thence toward Bastogne. The attack petered out before reaching the main highway. A prisoner stated that the Germans had employed two battalions, an anti-tank company armed with fifty bazookas, and twenty-nine tanks.
A counter-attack to regain the town was launched on the 31st. At 0958 it was reported that the Germans were moving through Lutrebois. The 2nd Battalion, having moved up alongside Company K, jumped off to get across the valley Company F had attacked prior to the rest of the 2nd Battalion and ran into a hornet's nest swarming with small arms fire. The men were pinned down and artillery fire was called for. A total of eleven 60-mm mortars from the 2nd and 3rd Battalions fired 98 rounds within a minute. At 1440 the 2nd Battalion was stopped, and ninety casualties were reported. At 1830 the 6th Armored Division artillery, in support, stated a willingness to fire on any targets.
On the evening of the 31st, Corps Artillery fired a TOT on Lutrebois. Previously, infantry and five enemy tanks had been reported in the town. At 2255 Capt. Gibson reported that the enemy armor had withdrawn after the TOT, but at 0025 it was back in town.
Two prisoners from the 339th Volksgrenadier Regiment, 167th Division, stated that the enemy would attack in 1 January. The attack was to have taken place on the 31st but had been broken up by the artillery fire.
At 1300 1 January, the 3rd Battalion attacked toward Lutrebois. In side-slipping northward and turning eastward toward the town their rear would be exposed to fire from the enemy pocket which still existed in the vicinity of (P556526). Therefore a task force from the 6th Armored Division was commissioned to operate on the pocket.
The Battalion jumped off according to plan, Company K on the right, Company I on the left, and Company L, consisting of 25 men, in reserve. At 1500 enemy pocketed along high ground to the west of town were engaged in a fire fight. Company K headed for town and by nightfall was at the outskirts.
An enemy anti-tank gun was positioned at 566528. The infantry drove off the crew, but when they approached the gun, they received enemy small arms fire. However, the effectiveness of the gun was destroyed.
On 2 January, the attack was resumed at 0830 in the same formation. Company K was to enter the town. Company I was to eliminate the enemy pocket and then move into town. Company L was to support with fire. By 0930, Companies K and I were in the town, and at 0940 twenty prisoners had been taken by Company I. At 0950 troops assaulting the town reported enemy machine gun fire on both flanks. Companies I and K, using bazookas, mortars and grenades, eliminated the enemy house by house. Company K, the first in town, was held up by a machine gun nest in the first house. T/Sgt. Cunningham, platoon leader, leaving his men in comparative safety, took off by himself, climbed to the roof of the building and tossed in white phosphorous and hand grenades, thereby eliminating the obstruction. He was responsible for the killing of twenty-six Germans.
Meanwhile, the 2nd Battalion had succeeded in crossing the valley south of town. A squad of Medics, attempting to reach the leading elements of the Battalion, were captured.
A wounded man from Company L found in the town, stated that the enemy had three tanks and a company of infantry in the neighborhood and planned to launch an attack that night (2 January).
AT 1110, an artillery TOT was requested on the northern half of town. In one hour the fire was on the way. During the night of the 2nd, the 3rd Battalion cleared the town as far as the stream which bisected it.
On the 3rd, more artillery fire was put on the far edge of town. Enemy small arms fire was received as the companies moved against the remaining portion of the town.
On the 4th of January, the 1st Battalion was moved from a line east of Marvie (P5755) back through the town to Sewe (P5654), whence it made a pre-dawn attack to the southeast on the woods above Lutrebois (P5653) to effect contact with the 3rd Battalion at (P569533). In the attack Company C pushed beyond the Lutrebois trail deep into enemy territory and lost physical contact.
On the 4th, the 3rd Battalion, without Tank Destroyer support, sneaked through the town, and reached the edge of the woods beyond town. Company I was on the left, Company K on the right, and Company L with the machine guns along the road west of town. No contact was made with the 1st Battalion attacking down through the woods. The town was outposted for the night. However the regimental right flank was open. The 3rd Battalion Anti-Tank platoon minus guns, the regimental I and R platoon, and the MP platoon were formed into a task force outposting the right flank in the vicinity of (P565526).
On the 5th the woods were heavily defended by the enemy. The 3rd Battalion was pinned down by machine guns. The Tank Destroyers in support of the Battalion fired tracers, adjusting by radio. The battalion 57mm's then opened up on the targets designated by the tracer fire. This combined fire effectively pinned down the enemy and enabled the battalion to push into the woods. However, the tenacious resistance put up by the enemy required the battalion to pull back and give the woods a thorough mauling before attempting another penetration. At 1100, Tank Destroyers, artillery, 4.2 mortars, and machine guns firing across the valley participated in the softening up of the area. At 1150 all fires were lifted. The machine gunners were telephoned, the anti-tank gunners and Tank Destroyers radioed. At 1152 the infantry assaulted the woods. On the right the 2nd Battalion placed diversionary small arms fire to their front, to which the enemy replied. The 57mm's knocked out an enemy machine gun nest, the target having been designated by a runner. The Tank Destroyers knocked out a tank with HE. By 1310 penetration of 125 yards had been made.
At 1510 the enemy, attired in American overcoats counter-attacked on the left flank of Company I, and at 1640 the right flank of Company K was also hit. Both companies pulled back into town and reoccupied their former positions. At this time the average company strength was about seventy men. The woods were shelled by artillery and mortars on the night of the 5th.
The order for the 6th involved another attempt, this time with reinforcements. The 1st Battalion of the 320th Infantry Regiment had moved up the Bastogne highway to an assembly area at 560551. From there it was to move southeast through the woods, join the 1st Battalion of the 134th Infantry Regiment at 0700 on the 6th, and move forward abreast of the latter. At 0940 contact between the 3rd Battalion 134th and 1st Battalion 320th was made, but the fresh battalion was stopped as Companies I and K had been.
On January 7, there was a warning of counter-attack. At 0330 a 100% alert was announced. The 2nd Battalion at 0820 pushed as far as the Lutremange - Lutrebois road where it was flattened by machine gun fire. A prisoner stated that the enemy had been strengthened by 200 artillerymen the night before.
On the 7th and 8th of January little progress was made.
At 081935 orders were issued for the next day. The three battalions of the 134th Infantry Regiment, the 1st Battalion of the 320th, a Task Force from the 6th Armored Division, which included the 2nd Battalion of the 320th were to coordinate in a attack on the high ground northeast of Lutrebois. On the evening of the 8th, the 1st Battalion 134th Infantry Regiment relieved the 1st Battalion of the 320th, thereby extending its line. The 1st Battalion 320th, together with the 3rd Battalion 134th moved by foot to the north and assembled at (P570546). From this Line of Departure, the Task Force from the 6th Armored Division on the left, and the 3rd Battalion 134th Infantry Regiment with the 1st Battalion 320th on the right attacked southeast clearing the woods as far as the Lutrebois trail. There the attack swung to the northeast, joining with the 1st and 2nd Battalions of the 134th advancing from Lutrebois. Supporting the attack was the 161st Field Artillery Battalion. To screen the assault of the 1st Battalion 320th and 3rd Battalion 134th, the flank of the wood (P570540 - 574543), was smoked from five minutes before jump-off time until fifteen minutes after the attack started. Company C of the 3rd Chemical Battalion had been lost, so the 81mm mortars delivered the smoke. Company A, 654th Tank Destroyer Battalion, employed as tanks, fired direct support missions into the woods.
At 0500 on the 9th, the 3rd Battalion moved to an assembly area, wires being used to guide the men. At 1000 the attack jumped off. While the Tank Destroyers sprayed the woods with cal. 50 and (illegible) fire, the 3rd Battalion attacked with Company I on the left, Company K on the right and Company L in reserve. Company I was the base company. One section of heavy machine guns supported each support company.
On reaching the woods, the battalion fanned out. Moving fast against slight opposition, the riflemen prodded the Germans out of their holes. Because of the quick progress, the regimental line was bent somewhat, and patrols were used to maintain flank contact. By 1400 the Battalion had reached the Lutrebois trail.
Meanwhile the 2nd Battalion, with one company holding the town, cleaned out several pockets to the rear. The 1st Battalion pushed eastward and made contact with the battalions attacking to the southeast.
On reaching the Lutrebois trail, the axis of the attack angled to the left moving up the trail to the northeast. The line from left to right was formed as follows: 2nd Battalion 320th Infantry Regiment on the left of the trail, 3rd Battalion 134th Infantry Regiment on the right, 1st Battalion 320th echeloned to the right rear followed by the 1st Battalion 134th deployed similarly. The 2nd Battalion 134th guarded the right rear.
On the 10th of January reinforcements were received.
There were indications that the enemy was withdrawing. Plans were made to press the attack on the next day, the 11th. The 2nd Battalion 320th Infantry Regiment was attached to the 134th Infantry Regiment.
The attack pushed northward at 0800. The 3rd Battalion had Companies I and K abreast with elements of Company K echeloned to the right rear, and Company L in reserve.
The 81mm mortars displaced to Sewe (P5855), and the pocket to the rear was eliminated by the 2nd Battalion.
On the 11th, the line (P584548 - 594538) was reached.
In the woods orientation was difficult. To overcome this, flares were fired by the troops and artillery planes reported locations by radio.
Many dead Germans in the woods were mute testimony to the effectiveness of the artillery fire.
On the 12th of January, the 1st and 2nd Battalions of the 320th Infantry Regiment and the 3rd Battalion of the 134th, abreast, coordinated in attacking Hill 550 (P5853) which had been holding up the advances of the 6th Armored Division. The attack commenced at 0830 and followed an azimuth of 72 degrees. The assault elements fanned out in a skirmish line which maneuvered in frontage to hasten progress. The objective was reached by 1415.
The Battalions of the 320th Infantry Regiment reverted to their parent unit and the 3rd Battalion of the 134th remained to hold the Division objective.
On the 13th the battalion was informed that the 90th Infantry Division and the 6th Armored Division had made contact. At 1048 patrols of Company L made contact with Company C of the 358th Infantry Regiment.
Source - Capt. J. A. Huston, S-3, 3rd Battalion, 134th Infantry Regiment
Interviewer - T/Sgt C. J. Angulo
Date of Interview - 15 January 1945
Map Reference - GSGS 4040 - Sheet 121, 1:50,000.
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