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Headquarters 5th Armored Division, APO 255, Annual Report 1944

The Fight for the Hürtgen Forest

HEADQUARTERS 5TH ARMORED DIVISION

Office of the Surgeon

APO 255, U.S. Army

ANNUAL REPORT

1944

EXTRACT


38

During the month of November the Division did not operated as a Division against the enemy, but on three (3) occasions, however, units of the Division participated in combat operations.

During the period 1 thru 5 November, CCB continued patrol action and the defense of a zone in the KALTERHERBERG area. CCA was moved to the vicinity of NEUDORF, BELGIUUM in preparation for action on order of V Corps. The Division established an advance CP in the vicinity of NEUDORF in order to more conveniently control the action of CCA. The remainder of the Division continued in the WAIMES-FAYMONVILLE area with the Division CP in the vicinity of MODERSCHEID. Training for future operations was continued.

During the period 6 thru 10 November, the Division less CCA, had a defensive holding mission in the KALTERHERBERG sector of the Corps line. On November 8, CCB was placed under Army control and the Division, less CCB, was placed in Corps reserve. CCB continued the defense of the KALTERHERBERG until relieved by the 99th Division at 1500, 10 November. CCB then reverted to Division control. On November 9th, CCR was attached to VII Corps and moved to the vicinity of WALHORN on 10 November.

CCB was moved to an assembly area in the MODERSCHEID-SCHOPPEN area at 1700 on 11 November. The 85th Cav Rcn Sq was moved to the 102d Cavalry zone in general support of the 102d and the 85th Cav Rcn Sq CP was established three kilometers Southeast of EUPEN. The remainder of the Division CP moved from MODERSCHEID and closed with the advance CP in the vicinity of NEUDORF at 1500.

From 12 thru 14 November, the Division continued its preparation for action with CCR in VII Corps Zone at WALHORN preparing a plan of attack against the town of VOSSENACK .

CCA and CCB prepared plans to repel any possible breakthrough in the North sector of the V Corps Zone. The Division, in general, continued training for future operations.

During the period in which CCR, attached to the 8th Division, was engaged in the HURTGEN‑KLEINHAU area, many difficulties were encountered. Enemy mines and soggy ground made movement of tanks almost impossible and intense enemy mortar fire, artillery fire, and anti-personnel mines made dismounted advances almost impossible. The 47th Armd Inf Bn and Co C, 22nd Armd Engr Bn, suffered heavy casualties from small arms, artillery and mines. Several Tank Commanders were lost due to enemy time fire and snipers. Anti-personnel mines made evacuation of the wounded to the Battalion Aid Station difficult.

During the above period, Company C, 75th Med Bn Armd, at that times split the treatment platoon, one section operating in direct support of the Medical Detachments of the units on the front while the other section remained in the vicinity of EUPEN. At times during this action, Medical Personnel of the Company were loaned to Medical Detachments to replace lost Medical personnel of the Medical Detachments.

On 29 November, the Division, less CCR, was relieved from attachment to V Corps and attached to VII Corps at 1200. OCR remained attached to 8th Infantry Division. The 46th Armd Inf Bn (of CCA) moved to the 4th Infantry Division zone and was attached to the 22d Regimental Combat Team by VII Corps. On this date CCR captured KLEINHAU, and the high ground to the Northeast in the face of heavy enemy artillery and mortar fire. 


39

On 30 November, CCA was attached to the 4th Infantry Division and moved to the 4th Infantry Division Zone at 1000A, closing at 1400A in the vicinity of ZWEIFALL. Preparations were made for he relief of the 85th Cav Rczn Sq and  CCB, by the 9th Inf Div in V Corps Sector. The 46th Armd Inf Bn attacked with the 22d Regimental Combat Team at 0700A to seize the high ground Northeast of KLEINHAU. Resistance was strong the 46th casualties were heavy.

Although the Division did not operate as a Division most of the time during the month, Combat Commands were operating intact and Medical Service of the Combat Command remained unchanged regardless where the Combat Command operated. Medical installations of Combat Commands are independent of Medical Installations in other Combat Commands of the Division and therefore using Combat Commands as they were used during November had little effect on the Medical Service and evacuation of sick and wounded.

Due to cold damp weather and the fact that combat conditions in part of the Division were very difficult, the number of cases of Trench Foot increased during November. One case was reported on 9 November and the number of cases increased reaching a peak of 27 cases on 14 November 1944. The number of cases of Trench Foot declined from that date very rapidly. A total of 79 cases were reported during the month.

It is felt that the increase was due partially to the fact that large sizes of arctic overshoes were not available. Information pertaining to the prevention of Trench Foot was distributed to Unit Commanders previous to this outbreak of Trench Foot.

Five (5) cases of Venereal Disease were reported during the month of November.

On 17 November 1944, a Division Combat Exhaustion Center was opened at WAIMES , BELGIUM for treatment of Combat Exhaustion casualties under the supervision of the Division Neuropsychiatrist. Eight enlisted men of the 75th Med Bn Armd assisted the Division Neuropsychiatrist in operating the Combat Exhaustion Center . During November, 76 patients were admitted, 39 of which were returned to duty, 8 transferred to the 618th Clearing Station and 29 were remaining at the end of the month.

Division casualties were evacuated to the 2nd, 5th, 44th, 45th, 67th, 96th Evacuation Hospitals and 618th Clearing Station during the month of November.

Losses of medical Department personnel for November 1944 are as follows:

 

Officers

EM

Total

Battle Casualties

0

6

6

Non-battle casualties

0

23

23

Killed in action

0

3

3

Total

0

32

32


During the period from 1 December thru 4 December, the Division, less CCA and CCR, continued to train for future operations. At 1200, 1 December, the 4th Cavalry Group Headquarters (plus 1 light tank company), was attached to the Division. The Division CP moved from the vicinity of NEUDORF , BELGIUM to HAHN , GERMANY at 1300, 1 December. The Division Ammunition Office was opened at HAHN pending forward displacement of Division Trains. CCA continued to operate in attachment to the 4th Infantry Division. At 1800, 1 December the 46th Armored Infantry Bn was relieved from attachment to the 22d Regimental Combat Team, and reverted to the


40

control of CCA. This Battalion had been attached to the 22d Regimental Combat Team for the purpose of seizing high ground Northeast of KLEINHAU. The Battalion succeeded in driving a small salient East of GROSSHAU and Northeast of KLEINHAU but suffered very heavy casualties. Vehicular casualties were generally of a temporary nature consisting of punctured radiators and tires. Losses of mortars and machine guns were comparatively heavy. CCR remained attached to the 8th Inf Division, (V Corps) and was held in reserve pending orders for a new mission with the Infantry Division. The 15th Armored Infantry Battalion (CC) was relieved from its mission in the LAMMERSDORF-ROTT area by a RCT of the 9th Infantry Division.

At 0730, 2 December, CCR attacked in the direction of BRANDENBERG. After gaining about 3 kilometers, the advance was completely held-up by anti-tank and anti-personnel mines. At 1000, the 4th Cavalry Group Headquarters (plus 1 light tank company), was ordered back to Corps control by VII Corps. CCA reverted to Division control at the same time and the Division Commander immediately submitted a request for the relief of the 46th Armored Infantry Battalion for the purpose reorganization. The 46th had been attacked during the day by the 1st Battalion of the 943 Regiment (353rd Infantry Division). Three companies of this enemy

battalion participated in a general attack on the 4th Infantry Division position. The 46th Armd Inf Bn killed 75 enemy personnel before it was forced to withdraw at 1500. However, no ground was lost as elements of the 4th Inf Division took over. The 85th Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron was relieved by the 9th Inf Division of its mission in general support of the 102d Cavalry Group. 

On 3 December, CCR resumed its advance, after Engineers had removed the mines during the previous night. BRANDENBERG was captured by the combat command at 1115. 276 prisoners were taken by OCR on this date. Its advance reconnaissance elements penetrated as far as BERGSTEIN and some prisoners were taken from the 189th Anti-tank Battalion, reported guarding that city.

The 46th Armd Inf Bn of CCA was withdrawn to the Northwest of KLEINHAU to reorganize. The Division area was attacked about 1400 by an estimated 35 to 40 enemy planes (ME 109). There were no casualties and the Division Artillery Command reported that one of its units, the 387th Anti‑aircraft Battalion, had destroyed a total of 14 enemy planes and had damaged 8 others.

CCR remained in place on the 4th of December in BRANDENBERG and utilized its time in mopping up any remaining enemy resistance. The only other action taken against the enemy in that area, by CCR, was the placing of mortar and artillery fire. CCA reorganized in preparation for the assembly of its units in the area of the CCA CP North of ZWEIFALL.

From 5 December thru 9 December, the Division, less CCR, continued plans and training for future operations. CCR remained attached to the 8th Inf Div (V Corps) in the BRANDENBERG-BERGSTEIN area. At 1400, 5 December, CCR began the attack on BERGSTEIN along the West bank of the ROER RIVER and by 1530 hours, its advance elements were fighting in the streets of the village. At 1630, OCR had completed the mopping up of remaining resistance in the village and immediately formulated plans for the defense against enemy counter‑attacks. Fifty prisoners were taken in the operation and at the close of the day a determination of the number of enemy dead had not been completed. Extremely severe enemy resistance coupled with very difficult terrain was the cause of heavy losses sustained by CCR in both personnel and equipment. Enemy artillery and mortar fire was especially severe


41

throughout the operation and continued during the entire period. Many enemy planes were over the Division area but no offensive action was reported. CCA moved the 46th Armd Inf Bn, Co A, 22d Armd Engr Bn, and elements of the 34th Tank Bn, to its assembly area in the vicinity of ZWEIFALL, and all units were closed in the area at 1450. Troop "D", 85th Cay  Ron Sq was relieved from attachment to CCA and reverted to Squadron control.

CCR in continuing defense of BERGSTEIN, sustained 3 enemy counterattacks during the day on 6 December. The first attack was launched at 0700 by approx­imately 500 enemy infantry supported by 10 tanks. This attack lasted until 0930 and the strong determination of the enemy succeeded in their temporary seizure of a few houses in the southern part of the village.  However, this gain was nullified and  the enemy driven completely out of the village by 0930. This engage­ment cost the enemy 6 of their attacking tanks and five anti-tank guns which were knocked out by CCR. Again at 1130, a second counter-attack was made by a weaker force of enemy infantry, supported by 1 tank, but this attack was quickly repulsed. At 1420, a third counter-attack was made by enemy infantry, approximately company strength. No armor was in support, and the attack was beaten off by 1515. During the whole day and throughout these attacks enemy artillery and mortar fire con­tinued to be extremely heavy.

CCR reported 41 prisoners of war taken, including one officer. The enemy units participating in the attacks were identified as the 1st and 2nd Battalions of the 980th Inf Regiment (272nd V.G. Div.) Prisoners claimed that this Division moved to the BERGSTEIN area from SCHMIDT during the night 3-4 December.

Throughout the night of 6-7 December, CCR received intermittent artillery and mortar fire in BERGSTEIN. The 2nd Ranger Battalion arrived during the same night to help CCR in its defense of the village, and on the morning of 7 December pushed out an OP line in a rough semi-circle of about 500 yards to the East, around the village to the Southwest. Light enemy resistance was encountered. CCR continued to hold the inner ring of defense; East, South and Southwest of the village. In the meantime elements of the 8th Inf Div attacked the wooded area, North of the village and successfully outposted the area. This move gave some assurance that

BERGSTEIN would not be endangered by counter-attacks from the North. Approximately 69 prisoners were taken in this operation and the previous move by the 2nd Ranger Battalion. Continued heavy artillery and mortar fire fell on BERGSTEIN throughout the day.

CCR was relieved during the night 7-8 December and moved to the vicinity of WALHORN on the morning of 8 December. The command remained attached to V Corps and was placed in Corps Reserve. Refitting of the CCR units was given highest priority by Division Supply agencies. Losses in tanks had been extremely heavy due to anti-tank fire and mines. Recovery operations were hampered by artillery and mortar fire, minefields and difficult terrain. Heavy traffic and long hauls over poor roads from the forward collecting points created quite a problem in vehicular evacuation.

The Division CF moved from HAHN to ZWEIFALL at 1330, 8 December 1944. Division Artillery moved from ROETGEN to ZWEIFALL, and were joined in the Division assembly area, one kilometer West of ZWEIFALL, by the 400th Field Artillery Battalion. This battalion was attached to the Division at 1600 after having been detached for a long period. The 71st Armored Field Artillery Battalion moved in the vicinity of WALHEIM.


42

On 9 December 1944, CCB was alerted for movement to the KLEINHAU area. During the afternoon of the 9th, the 15th Armd Inf Bn, (plus 3 platoons of tanks of the 81st Tank Bn), was sent to the new assembly area. Co "B", 628th Tank Destroyer Battalion was attached to CCB in place. The 71st Armd FA Bn was ordered to reconnoiter firing positions in the COB assembly area and to move thereto without delay. The battalion was placed in the direct support of COB,

CCA moved to the vicinity of HAHN and set up its 17 in the village. The Division prepared for action at an early date.


[signed]

JOSEPH O. BOYDSTONE
Lt. Col., Medical Corps
Division Surgeon

SOURCE:  National Archives and Records Administration, Record Group 112, Records of the US Army Surgeon General, Entry 54A, 5th Armored Division Surgeon, Annual Report 1944, Box 387.