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* 94th Infantry Division * Northern France * Rhineland * Ardennes-Alsace * Central Europe *
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Infantry Division
Historical Society
general malony Major General
Harry J. Malony
Commanding General 
94th Infantry Division
9/15/1942 - 5/21/1945

ARDENNES-ALSACE

THE BATTLE OF ORSCHOLZ

    Uncle Freddie's battalion would be involved in this battle and the battalion would suffer enormous casualties. B Company would be completely decimated and C Company along with Uncle Freddie would fight hard and lose many men during this battle in the freezing weather.  The town of Orscholz was located on a hill four hundred feet high. It was surrounded by an arc of pillboxes that ran for more than a quarter of a mile. The Saar River made a 180 degree elbow turn close by, and the landscape was heavily wooded with steep cliffs near the river. Several open fields were located south and east of Orscholz, these fields were between the 301st and their objective. This was the only approach route. The 1st Battalion was selected to make the initial attack. The battalion was first informed of this attack on January 16th, when the company commanders and certain key officers met with Battalion Commander, Lt.Col. George F. Miller to hear of the plan and to make a reconnaissance of the area. Two patrols from Company B were sent out to reconnoiter the enemy positions. The first patrol consisted of Sergeant Walter Acey and PFC's John Ankenbrandt and Calvin Lippel. As the patrol made a reconnaissance of the approach to Orscholz they came upon an enemy pillbox and decided to attack it. In doing so Sgt. Acey was killed when he stepped on a mine and Privates Ankenbrandt and Lippel were wounded and soon captured. The second patrol left for the forest of Saarburg and was never heard from again. Without a proper reconnaissance of the approach to Orscholz battalion staff was forced to use map intelligence only in planning the attack.

11th Panzer "Ghost" Division 

    While the staff planners were planning the assault with insufficient intelligence, the 11th Panzer Division had settled into the the area with orders to reinforce and stabilize the Orscholz-Oblique Switch. 11th Panzer,known as the "Ghost" division was formed in Silesia out of the former 11th Motorized Infantry Brigade. It was first sent into Combat in the Balkans in 1941 where it was credited with the capture of Belgrade. During Operation "Barbarossa" it fought at Kiev and Moscow, and in 1942 outside of Stalingrad. where it suffered tremendous losses trying to relieve the Sixth Army. In 1943 it served at Rostov and in the Summer it took part in the huge tank battles at Kursk. It was later surrounded in the Cherkassy pocket and nearly destroyed. It was reformed in the south of France , adding remnants of the 123d Infantrie and the 273d Reserve Panzer Divisions both of which suffered tremedous losses on the eastern Front. It's History of reappearing after it was reported being destroyed earned it the nickname"Ghost Division". Under the Command of General-Leutnant Wend von Wietersheim. The division was held in reserve during the Battle of the Bulge, when it received new orders to proceed to the Saar-Moselle Triangle to shore up the defenses there. Except for low fuel reserves, the 11th was at full strength in men and equipment when it arrived at the Orscholz Switch. 

The Attack

    The battalioncommander, Lt.Col. George F. Miller, selected Companies A and B to make the primary attack, while Company C remained in reserve. Reinforcing this attack was 1st Platoon of Company D (Heavy Weapons) led by Lt. Robert W. Jonscher and second platoon of Company D. Captain Herman C. Straub's Company B would be in the lead on the attack. Sgt. Ernest W. Halle of the regiment's intelligence and reconnaissance platoon would guide the attack.Company B started off at midnight on 19 January in the middle of a snowstorm. The snow was falling very heavily, which reduced visibility to less than six feet. Walking single file in total darkness the men had to grab on to one another so no one would become lost or separated from the group. The snowstorm was blinding. So heavy was the storm that the guides from the IR platoon soon became lost. Two of the companies lost contact with each other, causing the attack to be delayed even further until contact was restored.

  Captain Straub realizing the seriousness of the situation, called for the artillery to fire a star shell, in order for the guides to reorient themselves. After nearly ninety minutes contact was reestablished between the lost companies and the battalion proceeded. The men marched all night through the dense forest of the Saarburg, this sapped the strength from the men. At 0600 they reached the Line of Departure (LD) which was located at the Merl Branch, a small stream about one mile from the outskirts of Orscholz. Captain Straub radioed Lt.Col. Miller that "B" company was on the line of departure (code named Nickel), requesting permission to go ahead into the town (code named Dime), with light resistance. Miller agreed but he told Straub to wait for the others to catch up, once they did, the battalion then proceeded down a small gravel road just past the forest. This road continued for about a quarter of a mile until it intersected the Oberleuken-Orscholz Highway. Just as lead elements of B Company reached the intersection of this road, German 88-mm artillery shells started to randomly pour into the area dispersing the troops to both sides of the road. This barrage continued for more than fifteen minutes, when it finally lifted the men continued along the road past the intersection and to the right on the Oberleuken highway. To the left of the highway was a steep heavily wooded slope and to the right of the road lay a snow covered level field. Dragon's teeth concrete barriers lay at the edge of the field protruding above the snow. Company A advanced toward a line of houses they believed to be camouflaged pillboxes. The men crossed the open field and as some reached the edge of the field a few poor souls tripped off some land mines. Hidden under the snow and ice was a field of Shu mines, S mines, and a tangle of barbed wire. Company A was stopped in its tracks. The noise from explosions alerted the Germans to the presence of the Americans. As men from the company were scattered throughout the field, an MG42 opened fire from a hidden bunker. As the machine gun began firing, it pinned down the entire company. On the other side of the field was the lead section of D company's machine guns, led by Lt. Howard Rives. The 30 caliber brownings immediately went into action, and began firing belt after belt of ammunition into the small aperature of the German pillbox. Attempts to clear the mines were made by A Company, 319th Engineers, but these proved fruitless due to the heavy snowfall.Meanwhile, Company B had advanced alongside Company A and had missed the minefield. The company moved directly on the battalion objective, Orscholz. After attacking a few German reinforced positions and capturing some prisoners, Captain Straub placed his men in the woods overlooking Orscholz, and waited for the rest of the battalion. Lt.Col. Miller and the rest of the battalion tried to move forward. To follow Company B's route they had advanced halfway up an exposed slope when they were attacked by numerous enemy machine guns that were skillfully camouflaged and hidden further by the snowfall. The survivors of Company A managed to provide covering fire that enabled the battalion to withdraw down the slope, but advance along this route was now impossible. The enemy knew they were there, and the element of surprise that had enabled Company B to get through no longer existed. Enemy fire increased, the whole area came alive with enemy activity. Calls went out to the supporting 301st Field Artillery Battalion to assist with gunfire support so the battalion could advance.

    After the barrage by the 301st Field Artillery Battalion, Company A again moved out onto the deadly slope, only to face the same intensive enemy fire. Every weapon available to the battalion was used without results. Finally, German artillery fire began to fall among the attacking Americans. Colonel Miller came forward to see what could be done to get his battalion moving. Concerned over the plight of Company B as well as his exposed men on the open slope, he moved into enemy artillery range and was cut down by a burst of Fire and was killed almost immediately. After the death of Lt. Col Miller, the situation began to deteriorate rapidly. Captain Stuart Woodhill assumed temporary command until Major Arthur W. Hodges, the battalion executive officer, came forward and assumed command. Hodges withdrew the remnants of the battalion into the woods and began to organize a counterattack with what was left of battalion. Two platoons from Company A, one machine gun

platoon from Company D, C Company less casualties and the special troops from Headquarters company. Company I was attached from the 3d Battalion and a new attack was launched midafternoon. Despite effective Fire from the 301st Field Artillery, the enemy was still covering the slope. The Companies pushed forward despite the enemy fire. As they moved they encountered the obstructions left by the Germans that delayed movement and made the soldiers easier targets. Although the battalion advanced farther than previously, once again they encountered another hidden minefield and all progress stopped. C Company received sixty casualties from antipersonnel mines in a matter of minutes, when attempting to remove the obstructions. Colonel Hagerty sent his regimental executive officer, Lt. Col. Donald C. Hardin, who had previously commanded the 1st Battalion, forward to retake command and get the assault moving once again. At 1600 a renewed assault took place with C Company in the lead supportred by Howard Rives machine gun platoon of D Company. This assault shifted position further to the left. Once again mines, booby traps, and enemy artillery fire stopped the attack in its tracks. The approaching darkness aided by the long exposure of the troops, and now the presence of German armor firing point blank rounds added to the hoplessness of the situation. Company B was cut-off and on its own. Company B was trapped well behind enemy lines and the rest of the battalion was incapable of relieving or reinforcing it. There was also no way to resupply the beleagurd company. Bad weather prevented air drops and the enemy ground supply impossible. Late on the twentieth Captain Straub's reinforced company was discovered by the Germans and came under increasing fire. Moving the soldiers to positions for all-around defense, Straub had the forward observers from the 301st Field Artillery keep the unit surrounded by friendly artillery fire. As day turned into night, no solution to the situation presented itself. Patrols time and again failed to find a way through enemy defenses. Even using tanks of Company A, 748th Tank Battalion, at last assigned to the division, no progress could be made until the infantry could breach the antitank ditch. Finally Colonel Hardin phoned Colonel Hagerty and advised him that there was simply no way to reach his isolated troops. Reluctantly, the 1st Battalion was granted permission to withdraw. Withdrawal was difficult at Orscholz because the 1st Battalion had made some progress into the enemy defenses so its units were intertwined with the Germans. Once orders came from the rear to withdraw. The men could only move to the rear when the latest round from "88's" had passed over their heads this gave them a few seconds to move backwards before the next round came in. The rounds were coming in so close over the men's heads in the Dragon's Teeth that they could feel the heat on the back of their necks. For some reason the gunner's were aiming high causing most of the shells burst back toward the reserve units.

    One soldier had fought throughout the day in the cold, wet snow only to be wounded in the last hours of daylight by artillery fire. Treated by a medical aid man, he was placed in a captured bunker with others before they moved back. There were no beds in the bunker, so the wounded had to lie on the floor in an inch or more of cold water. Nevertheless, it was "warmer than out in the trenches." After he'd spent the night there the man's buddies came back to try to carry him to American lines. His buddies had been cut off, but had convinced Polish defectors from the German army to pretend to have captured them and escort them to friendly lines. A passing American officer ordered them to leave the soldier behind, however, believing that the chances for success were poor enough without trying to carry wounded with them. Later that afternoon "came the most frightening experience of all." From the open door of the bunker the soldier observed German troops approaching. There were several German aid men, wearing Red Crosses but carrying machine guns, coming toward the bunker. He passed out, to recover later as a prisoner of war tended by these same German medics.

Colonel Hagerty still had Company B cut off behind enemy lines. "Throughout the night of the twentieth-twenty-first, the German artillery relentlessly pounded the troops in the woods. The enemy shells crashed into the treetops and burst, in deadly showers of shell fragments. By the time a count could be taken of the strength of a unit, additional casualties rendered the total incorrect. The reinforced company was gradually being whittled away. " Hagerty spoke with Lt. Col. Samuel L. Morrow of the 301st Field Artillery to arrange a smokescreen to cover a withdrawal of the trapped Americans. Attempts to contact Captain Straub during the night of the twenty-first failed due to the need to preserve radio batteries. Straub had kept his radio in a bunker to prevent the batteries from freezing, and it wasn't until the morning of the twenty-second that he spoke with Hagerty. Ordered to "attack to the rear," Straub declined. He reported to the colonel that "his men were practically out of ammunition and one man had already frozen to death." Every time his men moved, they drew heavy enemy fire. Any movement would risk entry into hidden minefields. Straub determined to surrender his command to save their lives. Major Hodges. Col. Hardin, Staff and Capts. Smith and Woodill were in a group around the main radio. When Col. Hagerty ordered Capt. Straub to endeavor to break out. When Straub said "he could not leave his wounded men and that he was going to meet with the German commander to arrange for a surrender of the survivors of the units to avoid total loss of their lives". Col. Hagerty then ordered a new third attack To which Col. Hardin replied, "you just can't do it". Hagerty after a few moments reflection, reluctantly agreed. Hagerty told Straub about the smokescreen and to try and make it back if he could.

Later at the cut-off company, with the arrival of the promised smoke, Captain Straub passed the word down the trench that battalion had called on the artillery and mortars for smoke shells to try to give the men a chance to get out of the woods back to their lines. Using German prisoners captured earlier to confuse the enemy, Captain Straub led the way. Stepping over their own dead and wounded, the men went down the trench and moved into the open. Enemy fire increased and they broke up into smaller groups of soldiers trying to escape and survive. One group successfully left the trench under direct machine-gun and artillery fire to the temporary safety of a pillbox, where they found the frozen bodies of several of the men who had died during the night and six or eight badly wounded men lying on the cold concrete floor not knowing what was going on outside. Looking in all directions, the group discovered Germans everywhere. There was no way out. The bunker was a trap, and when the men thought that Lieutenant Jonscher had been killed in the trench, the fight went out of them. A few minutes later a strange silence descended over what had been a furious battlefield. The survivors of Company B, with elements of Companies A and D, attached engineers, and artillery observers, surrendered.

Initial concerns by the men; that because their captors were from the 11th Panzer Division, the Germans would repeat the atrocities of the Malmedy massacre; proved unfounded. Later reports indicated that ten officers and 230 men, including Captain Straub, went into German captivity. The remnants of the 1st Battalion, 301st lnfantry, were withdrawn from the front line. The residual units continued the evacuation of casualties and the next morning marched back to Ober-tunsdorf. The 2d Battalion assumed the front-line positions. General Malony met with the survivors of the 1st Battalion to encourage them and to find out how things had gone wrong. He determined that no further effort would be made against Orscholz until fighting in other sectors had been resolved. The remaining men of first battalion reverted to reserve from January 23rd until the 30th, during which time all of the units from the decimated battalion were given available replacements. In addition to the three hundred men and eleven officers lost as prisoners, heavy casualties in C company were lost in the last attack. Both A and D Companies likewise shared the problem. Capt. Woodill of D Company ordered the break-up of men from the old second platoon of D Company into two groups as to form a cadre for the replacement of the first platoon. First platoon had essentially been lost in its entirety. When this was completed completed the task, he sported a very special smile and congratulated 1/Lt. Rives's promotion to the new platoon leader of the first platoon. Lt. Howard Griffin who was transferred from Headquarters Company took over the second platoon. Capt. C. B. Smith, of C Company was relieved of his command for vehemently criticizing the decimation of his men in the ill advised attack through the mine fields. 1/Lt Al Drenzik, was promoted to C.O. of C Company. 1/Lt. Joe Cancilla was given B Company. Captains Colgan and Woodill remained C.O.'s of companies A and D respectively, while Capt. Howard Mckee remained as Headquarters company commander. Major Hodges was given command of the Battalion and Major McBride was made the Executive Officer. Staff remained the same with 1/Lt McKee as S-1. 1/Lt Don Hultz as S-2, Captain Robert U. Cassel as S-3 and 1/Lt. Stephenson as S-4. In the new C company. 1/Lt. Ted Shoush was transferred in from HDQTR's company and a former sergeant named Stempect was made a battlefield 2nd Lt.

Final capture of Orscholz

According to the summary of events of the Division's official unit history, on February 20th , the 1st Battalion 301st took a nice little walk down the Orscholz-Weiten Road from the Northerly approach and strolled into the town . While it is true, that one month to the day from the previous effort to take the city, the capture was effectively made, but the entry was definitely not a cake walk. As the attack got underway heavy mortar, and small arms fire was coming from the left and front. A machine gun to left was making the crossing of open ground especially hazardous. From the right rear with all guns blasting came Captain Hocker of B Company, 778th Tank Bn. This was the first ever one on one support by a tank unit and they were the most fearless bunch of men we had ever worked with. Capt. Hocker taking the phone line for his lead tank, spoke with 1/Lt. Howard Rives of the machine gun platoon D Company. Rives quickly told him of their problem with the machine guns to the left. In an instant, he had his cannon of the tank blasting away at those guns joined by his machine gun. This Cleared the way to continue rushing toward the city. Rives was almost as worried about the muzzle blast of his cannons and spraying machine guns as I he had been of the other enemy fire. The machine gun platoon from D Company joined the leading elements of the newly reconstituted A Company in entering the town and immediately set up the machine guns. Firing not only at the street, but spraying the second story windows and every visible aperture the Germans could ossibly hide. Within a few minutes the Companies captured a number of prisoners and from there, moved the machine guns to cover riflemen in the clean up of the city. By mid-afternoon, the town was fully secured. 1/Lt Rives after securing the town went to the western edge of town with Sgt. Kelly, the great 1st Sgt. Of B company to see the area where ill fated assault had been a month earlier. Rives found a cartridge belt and canteen belonging to his friend, Lt. Herndon Inge, Jr. of Mobile, Alabama, that had been cut off of him at his capture. "Wank" as he was so affectionately called, was a great Mortar Section Leader, in whose home Rives had visited when they were stationed at Camp McCain. Rives had resolved then that if he survived the war that he would go to see Inge's parents to tell them what he knew about his fate, but that it would be greatly unfair for him to say what I he had found until it would be certain that their son would not return. So concluded the fight for Orscholz but the war for the men of the 94th would continue.

    The decision to replace the 94th Infantry division in Brittany was decided not by a Generals Eisenhower, Bradley or Simpson but rather by Adolf Hitler and a lone U-boat Commander. Two separate incidents that decided the fate of the 94th Infantry Division. The 90th Infantry Division was deployed in anticipation of an attack on the "Switch" but when Hitler launched his Ardennes Offensive, the 90th broke off its attack on the “Switch” and was ordered North to help repel the breakthrough. The Division that was chosen to replace the 90th was the 66th Division, "the Black Panthers", but one of the troop ships the S.S. Leopoldville which was carrying the 262nd and 264th Infantry regiments of the Division was torpedoed by Oblt. Gerhard Meyer in U-486 about six miles from Cherbourg on Christmas Eve. The 66th division lost over 800 men. This action severely shook the fighting ability of the 66th. So it was decided that the 94th would be called up from the Lorient-St. Nazaire Pocket to replace the 90th Infantry division in the ”Siegfried Switch”.

All Points East
    The 66th relieved the 94th on New Years Day 1945. Following their relief the division assembled in Chateaubriant and Plouay. On January 2nd the division boarded trucks and proceeded to Rennes. On January 5th, after a three day encampment the men shuffled into boxcars. “40’s and 8’s” as it was marked on them. The trains were designed to carry 40 men or 8 horses. However, each cramped boxcar only held 27 men with packs and weapons. For three freezing days the train alternately sped then crawled toward its final destination Reims, France near the Luxembourg and German Border. The division was allowed three days to travel by motor to Reims. As the 94th moved east the names on the signposts became too familiar: The Marne, Chateau-Thierry,  Meaux,  Dormans,  Epernay, and Soissons, cities and towns famous from the First World War. Once at Reims the divisions continued its journey past Verdun until it reached the final destination of Sierck on the French border. After relieving the troopers of the 3rd Calvary the 94th settled in to their defensive position south of the "Siegfried Switch."

"SIEGFRIED SWITCH"

   On January 10, 1945 the 94th Division officially became part of the XX corps of the U.S. Third Army under General George S Patton, Jr. XX Corps was under the command of General Walton H. Walker a classmate of General Maloney. The Saar region was always considered by the Germans as a key area in the defense of the German Reich. The Saar-Moselle triangle began at the meeting point of the Saar and Moselle rivers. It extended along a line running east to west along the Luxembourg border. The base of the triangle was 13 miles long and ran from Nennig in the west to Orscholz in the east. The Germans called this line of defense the Orscholz Oblique Switch. The Americans dubbed it the “Siegfried Switch” in the fall of 1944. The Switch consisted of defensive positions up to two miles in depth. Protected by dragon’s teeth and anti-tank ditches. In addition to the Siegfried defenses there were pillboxes and concrete bunkers, and the entire area was located on high ground. Although the division was in a defensive position it was well understood that this was a temporary arrangement. 

Piercing the Switch: TETTINGEN-BUTZDORF

On January 12th the 376th the 1st battalion was given the order to attack and take the city of Tettingen. The plan was to attack key positions within the Triangle in order to wear down the enemy thus forcing him to move his reserves from the Ardennes sector and relieve pressure from the Bulge. Facing the Americans were the troops of the 713th Regiment of the 416th Infanterie Divisionen. The 713th was a veteran regiment that fought in Russia. The unit was low on food and morale but well rested. The commanding officer of the 1st battalion of the 713th Regiment was a Major Becker. His entire strength was approximately 500 men between Tettingen and Nennig. For artillery he had a wide variety of mortars and 88mm guns scattered throughout the hills and wooded areas, ammunition was low, but they were available for fire support upon request. 

    At 0500 on January 14th the 1st battalion of the 376th Infantry moved up past the town of Wochern to get in position. At 0710 the attack commenced with an opening round of artillery fire from the 919th Field artillery battalion. After twenty minutes of fire the GI’s from A and C Companies advanced in a Pincer movement on the town. The Germans were taken completely by surprise. The Americans quickly routed through the houses in town and captured 23 prisoners. The entire battle was over in an hour. Quickly the men of the 376th set up defensive positions in town an awaited a counterattack. The success of Tettingen was so complete that the decision was made to exploit it. After a quick preparation the men continued their attack towards Butsdorf. They seized it after another short intense battle. Now the Americans had taken two towns and penetrated about two miles into the Siegfried line. The Americans dug in for the night and waited. The Germans were not about to sit still and let the Americans have their victories. Immediately artillery fire began to fall on the two towns throughout the day and into the evening. The GI’s scrambling for cover wherever they could find it, several men were wounded from the shelling. Next came the expected counterattack. A battalion from the 714th Grenadier regiment of the 416th Division attacked the town in the darkness of early morning. Hundreds of Germans streamed down the hill and surrounded Butsdorf and advanced to the buildings in Tettingen. For three hours the fighting ensued with many casualties on both sides. The German attack was repulsed, Tettingen and Butsdorf remained in the 94th ‘s hands, over sixty prisoners were taken, with many enemy casualties of dead and wounded scattered throughout the two towns. The successful defense of Tettingen and Butsdorf was a tribute to the training and discipline of the 94th. The men would be tested again as the Germans were not about to give up so easily. 

Counterattack on TETTINGEN

    The 11th Panzer division was enroute to Trier when it received the order to divert towards the penetration in the Siegfried line on January 15th . After arriving on the 17th the 11th Panzer Division nicknamed the “Ghost” Division went immediately into action against the towns of Butsdorf and Tettingen. The 11th panzer committed its tanks and assault guns into the battle along with an entire battalion of Panzer Grenadiers. They attacked the right flank in between the two towns. After intense artillery barrage and tank shell fire the towns literally disintegrated. The GI’s were receiving a pasting; the panzers rolled right into the town and were firing point blank into the houses. The Germans advanced into the center of Butsdorf and retook several houses in north Tettingen. The GI’s countered the onslaught with mortar, artillery, bazooka and concentrated machine gun fire. But the men of 1st battalion held on and the Germans were unable to capitalize on their gains. At 0900 the Germans withdrew from the towns. Two hours later a second assault came from the north of Butsdorf about ten Mark V “Panther” tanks moved in against the towns. The panzers along with 3 battalions of infantry managed to penetrate the defenses. The panthers roamed the town at will firing point blank into the houses with armor piercing and high explosive rounds. The men from A company were the only defenders left in Butsdorf and they were hanging on by their fingernails. The Germans managed to capture most of the houses in Butsdorf and the decision was made to abandon the town. Later that night under a cover of darkness the men withdrew to Tettingen. The attack of Tettingen was over, but the Americans could claim success. They managed to destroy many of the panzers deployed against them with bazooka fire and satchel charges. In addition they seriously depleted the Germans ranks of men. Even though the GI's had to retreat form the gains made the previous day they still had Tettingen and had pierced the impenetrable Siegfried Line. 


Capture of Nennig, Berg, And Wies


    The rest of the 376th was not idle as the 3rd battalion was ordered to capture three small towns situated on the mud flats of the Moselle River. Nennig, Berg and Wies. Nennig was a town comprised of fifty stone buildings. Wies was a smaller village with about thirty buildings and Berg was the smallest town with but twenty buildings and a castle. At 3:00 A.M., on the morning of January 15th the 319th engineers began sweeping a path through the minefields. At 0715 the 3rd battalion launched its attack. However due to some faulty navigating the attacking company had come out of the woods too far to the North. Adapting to the situation, K Company improvised and attacked from the North rather than from the west as planned. The attack on Nennig was a complete success as the Germans were expecting an attack from the south. The GI’s came at them from behind and quickly overran the town. They captured 23 prisoners and inflicted 95 casualties on the enemy. The remaining Germans fled north towards Sinz. Once Nennig was secured the next objective was Wies 2nd platoon from k Company ran into about fifty Germans there and bloody house-to-house fighting erupted. During a lull in the fighting town a small detachment from 2nd platoon came under intense fire, and was soon pinned down by enemy machine gun, as they attempted to cross an open field just north of the town. The men hopelessly trapped, accepted a German surrender proposal in order to save the lives of their wounded comrades. The men from L Company took over the assault on Wies. Enemy machine guns located in the northern section of the town would continue to harass the men as they attempted to take the town again. Only after concentrated artillery fire on the positions were the men from L Company able to clear the town. After Wies was finally secured the attacked movedon toward Berg and that small town was cleared by 1730, which completed the battalions mission. Two days later the enemy mounted a counterattack. About 100 men stormed into Berg and for over two hours fought hand to hand with the GI’s after a bloody battle the men from 2nd battalion repulsed the assault. The Germans lost sixty dead and scores wounded. After they secured the area and mopped up all remaining resistance the men of the 376th were relieved by 2nd battalion of the 302nd Infantry regiment. The 11th panzer division launched several counterattacks on Nennig on January 21st and 22nd but the resilient GI’s held their ground.

  Counterattack on Nennig

    The 11th panzer division under the Command of General Weitersheim had simple orders: push the Americans out of their gains in the Siegfried Switch and restore the German lines back to their original positions. After the 376th gained a foothold in the Nennig area, the Germans were determined to push them back. The first attack came in the morning of January 20th, five Pzkw Mark IV’s loaded with Infantry on them, stormed into Nennig from the North. The Americans responded with artillery fire and broke up the assault. Another assault was launched later that evening, but it too was repulsed. The next day was quiet until about 2100 when an intense artillery barrage rocked Nennig. German infantry and tanks rolled down the hill to the east of Nennig and made another attempt to take the town. This time the Germans managed to get into the town, and the Panzers were firing point blank into the houses. By the next morning the Germans had pushed the Americans back into the southern half of the town. Meanwhile, at Berg, the Americans were pushed back into the castle known as Schloss-Berg. The Panzers blasted holes in the castle walls at the range of only a few meters. The intended idea was to knock out the Americans resistance. The attacks were so severe that the Americans were barely able to hang on. Only artillery called in from the besieged men and bazooka fire kept the Germans at bay. But the Panzers and Panzergrenadiers were persistent and the Americans were almost out of ammunition. The remaining men withdrew from the castle and retreated back to Wies.

The next day the Germans started to push the Americans out of the southern half of Nennig and things looked pretty bleak for the GI’s. It was at this time that General Maloney decided to commit his armor.  Combat Command A, of the 8th Armored Division was on loan to the 94th for two days, and General Maloney immmediately sent them in to assist the battered 302nd. Once the 8th Armored was committed, a knock down drag-out fight ensued through most of thenight. The Germans still managed to push the GI’s back, they captured a few more houses and the town’s church. Concerned that he might lose his foothold in the Switch General Maloney committed his reserves. On the Morning of the 23rd, the 2nd battalion of the 376th which was in reserve was committed. For the next two days after concentrated artillery, bazooka, machine gun fire and infantry assaults the 94th and CCA of the 8th Armored pushed the Germans out of Nennig, Wies and Berg. On the 24th they recaptured the Schloss Berg. They kept pushing and drove the Germans out of the town proper, they retreated back towards Sinz leaving their dead and wounded to the Americans. 

Disaster at  ORSCHOLZ

Uncle Freddie's 1st Battalion, 301st Infantry  would be involved in this intense battle and the battalion would suffer enormous casualties. "B" Company would be completely decimated and "C" company along with Uncle Freddie would fight hard and lose many men during this battle in the freezing weather. 

SINZ: The Lynchpin

        On the morning of January 26th the attack for Sinz, Germany commenced. The 302nd holding on to its gains in Nennig needed to be relieved of some of the pressure the Germans were inflicting on them. Taking Sinz about one mile north of Butzdorf, would do the job. The 376th was chosen to make the main effort with the 302nd attacking the left flank and the 301st was chosen to clear Munzingen ridge afterwards. The attacked commenced during a blizzard with a smoke barrage laid on the approaches to Sinz from a platoon from the 81st Chemical Mortar Battalion. Men from the 3rd battalion of the 376th ran into trouble immediately. I Company walked right into a minefield, and many of the men were seriously wounded. The Germans had placed wooden and plastic Schu mines in the path of the GI’s. Due to their construction the mine detectors had been unable to pick them up. AS soon as the first mines went off the enemy was alerted to the attack. The Germans started lobbing mortar rounds on the Battalion, the 376th ‘s attack was stalled. The 2nd battalion of the 302nd managed to advance up to the woods before they too ran into mines. The engineers of the 319th came to the rescue and with primacord blew a path through the minefields so the attack could recommence.The GIs of the 2nd battalion 302nd fanned out through the woods and waited. 1st battalion of the 302nd meanwhile attacked towards Butsdorf to reclaim that town. Company A supported by Tank destroyers advanced into the town at a high cost. The Germans had reoccupied the pillboxes and made the GI’s pay for every yard of ground. 3rd battalion 376th was withdrawn from the minefield and sent into the Monkey Wrench woods for the night. Then the CCA of the 8th Armored joined in the attack. 1st battalion, 376th and 2nd battalion, 302nd followed the tankers as they pushed towards Untersie Busch and Sinz. The Shermans engaged three Pzkw Mk IV’s and knocked them out. The enemy was cleared up to the edge of the woods, at a cost of seven tanks. After the armor was eliminated, 1st battalion advanced through the woods. The Gi’s came under intense machine gun and tank shell fire and were halted. Meanwhile, 2nd battalion, 302nd continued the attack and advanced two companies into Sinz by nightfall. But the combined strength of these two companies equaled less than a full company. But the two days that General Maloney was allowed to use CCA of the 8th Armored Division had expired, and they were ordered to leave. With their armor support gone, this left the men of the 94th dangerously weakened and vulnerable to armored attack from the 11th panzer. General Maloney decided under the circumstances that without armor support he had to withdraw from Sinz. The Sinz attack was costly in men and material and the 94th had to regroup and re-supply in order to proceed. It would be another week before the Americans would try to take Sinz again. From February 1-2 the division made a limited objective attack and cleared the Campholz Woods southeast of Tettingen. Once the woods were clear the 94th set it’s sights on Sinz again. This time Uncle Freddie’s 301st Infantry would be involved. fought a house-to-house battle and captured Sinz, Germany on February 8th.

Seizing Sinz and the Bannholz Woods

    After the failed attempt to take Sinz on January 27, left the 94th's top commander stinging. General Maloney held a meeting with his staff and the regimental commanders on February 3rd to discuss how to best implement the XX Corps order to engage the enemy with a force no larger than a regiment. It was decided at the meeting that the best way to implement this policy would be a regimental assault on the town of Sinz. Two days later general walker came to the division to review the plan. Known as Field order number 10 the 301st Infantry was assigned to attack the Sinz-Bannholz the 376th would later attack Munzingen Ridge and the 302nd a would take Oberleuken. General Walker approved the plan, with a kick off date of February 7th. The attack went off as scheduled 2nd battalion, 301st was the first to reach the town. Company E began securing the houses as the enemy dropped mortar, tank and artillery shells on them. Aided by their own artillery support. The men from Company E continued clearing the town of the Germans taking many prisoners. Storming house to house the men from Company E cleared all the houses on their sector. Meanwhile Company G advanced towards their objective and started clearing the northern half of Sinz. After another house-to-house battle the two companies managed to capture the town and bag 208 prisoners. At the same time Company F moved past Sinz and entered the Bannholz woods. As the company moved through the woods they stumbled into two German Panzers. The company’s bazooka team went quickly to work and attacked the Panzers. After an exchange of fire one of the Panzers knocked out the Company’s bazooka team with a tree burst. Without the bazooka team the company retreated from the forest. Panzergrenadiers from the 4th panzer company assisted the Panzers in driving the GIs from the forest area. The Americans retaliated later that day with Artillery fire and managed to clear the forest of the Germans. The following morning Company L cleared the remaining pillboxes immediately around the area of Sinz. Tank destroyers from the 704th TD battalion moved forward from Sinz came under intense tank fire from the superior guns of the Panzers. Four groups of 25 men each fromsecond battalion were sent back into the Bannholz woods to attempt to take and hold it. The men became lost as they moved through the forest and soon only one group of about ten men remained. This group located several enemy tanks. They dug in and waited for the TD’s to move up. Six M-18“Hellcats” came up and proceeded into the woods. After a mixed battle with the Panzers from 11th Panzer five of the TD’s were destroyed and over 20 prisoners taken by the Germans. The one remaining TD left the forest with some wounded men to bring back to Sinz. The 301st suffered another defeat at the hands of the 11th panzer. The capture of Bannholz woods would have wait for another day. 

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