18 September 1944

18 September 1944


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18 September 1944

Pacific

F+1 on Anguar: American troops from the two landing beaches meet up.

Western Front

German counterattacks begin at Arnhem

German resistance in Brest ends

Eastern Front

The Soviets arrest Antonescu

Aircraft of the USAAF drop supplies to the Warsaw resistance

War in the Air

RAF Bomber Command drops 420,000 incendiary bombs on Bremerhaven



18 September 1944 - History

Holland Situation map, 18 September, 1944

In Deadly Combat Near Best As IPW officer (prisoner of war interrogator) for the 502 regiment, Captain Joe Pangerl headed the IPW Team #1. The photo above shows Joe eating lunch at Dodewaard, Holland in October of 1944. Sometimes, his job afforded him the luxury of living in a building where he could set-up an office. The first night in Holland, he was taken in by a Dutch family, fed, and slept in a house with electricity and clean sheets. The next day, he encountered his friend Richard Daly, a DEMO lieutenant, who had spent the night in a hole, during intense fighting. Joe wrote: "he was so dirty, I didn't recognize him".

On September 18, 1944, Captain Pangerl left the 502's reserve position near Wolfswinkel and headed into the Zonsche forest at the south edge of DZ 'C, where 3rd Bn of the Deuce was embroiled in heavy fighting, and would soon be assisted by 2d battalion as well. Although not involved in the actual killing, Pangerl had a good overview of the action there, and has written a graphic account of what he witnessed during this, one of the 502's epic engagements in all of WW2. At the end of this engagement, Joe would preside over a bigger group of prisoners than he had ever imagined. The training he had received at Military Intelligence School at Camp Ritchie, MD, would serve Captain Pangerl well in those circumstances.
Joe wrote in his diary:
"In the morning, we woke up to the sounds of heavy fighting. Reports came back that our rear C.P. was overrun. About 1:30 PM went to the S-2 C.P., which was on the west side of the DZ, at the edge of a small pine woods. Went along a sandy road lined with troops walking up in single file. Warm day. Met German PWs in groups of 10-30, being brought back. Soon met wounded being carried by Germans on stretchers or shelter halves.

The Germans looked gray and dirty. All the PWs talked, low morale. The last mile, met rifle and MG fire, coming through the woods, as we came to a small pine forest, and dug-in. Very easy as ground was soft and sandy.

Origin of this was a platoon action to take the RR bridge and highway bridge over the Wilhelmina Canal. (This was) originally scheduled to be taken by the 3rd Battalion, LTC Cole, and reinforced 'H' Company, plus a section of LMGs from 3rd Bn HQ and 3rd platoon of 'C' Company of the 326th AEB, under Lts Moore, Watson, and Laier.

H Company Commander, Captain Robert Jones was supposed to go SW and come out on the Eindhoven/Bokstel road, 1,000 yards SE of Best. Got lost in pine woods and came out about 400 yards from Best crossroads. Came under heavy German fire from Best, so he withdrew back into the woods and then sent the 2nd platoon of H Company under Lt Ed Wierzbowski to take the bridges. However, so many men had been lost or missing, that only a small group was available and it was sundown.

What was learned later from captured PWs, was the British reported that the RR line from the north, which re supplied the Germans, had been cut and was not in service. Actually, the Germans had repaired it and some of the PWs taken later had been in Amsterdam, just the day before, got on a troop train and were unloaded right at Best, to go directly into combat. Some had movie theatre tickets stamped in Amsterdam just the previous day to prove their point. So instead of a small Best garrison, German troops were coming-in by the hundreds.

Colonel John H. Michaelis 502's C.O. didn't know but the 'platoon'mission was later to require a battalion, then two battalions, then half the division, plus a squadron of British tanks."

D plus 1 s/of Best, cont'd: "Was brought a large number of documents, letters and German info. Translated them and gave them to S-2 section, then dug-in and none too soon, as about 1/4 hr later, we came under heavy gunfire from the NW and the S. The pine woods was a perfect location from the standpoint of cover, and very soft ground, so we dug-in even deeper. The troops were told to move up, but soon stopped because of the very heavy resistance. All movement stopped and told to wait. We just lay in our trenches, cooling off. Again came under heavy MG and rifle fire, which when it slowed, we dug for more room for our feet and then I continued reading the German captured material and mail. Again heavy rifle and MG fire and occasional A.T. and mortar fire, from about 1-2PM, as we were stuck because of heavy German troop concentrations.

The S-3, Major Ginder, raced by jeep back to the main highway, where a British squadron of medium and heavy tanks, Cromwell, Churchill, and Sherman tanks, were stopped and making tea, ignoring all the firing going on to their left (the west). Major Ginder asked the British squadron commander to send some tanks with him so that he could rush the Germans and halt the standoff. The British officer said that his orders were to go north up the road and unless he got orders from the British HQ to their rear, he couldn't help us. Major Ginder took out his .45 pistol and told the British officer, "This is your order." The officer took his squadron and followed Ginder back to the Best bridge. About 2:15 in the afternoon, we suddenly heard the rumble of tanks and a few minutes later, we saw some British tanks and troops coming through the pine tree lanes from the west, moving past us into a small clearing, and then turned south toward the German lines. They were mainly Cromwell tanks, and with attached British infantry, disappeared through the trees. Suddenly there was the most terrific rifle and MG fire, interspersed with the dull thuds of the tank guns for what seemed like a long time. It was a good thing that we were well dug-in because it sounded like a heavy rainstorm with the bullets and shells whistling through the trees leaves and trees fell as if cut by a scythe.

Suddenly, one of the tanks came roaring back with it's gun turret completely shot off. The MG fire was so heavy at times, that it sounded like the rushing of the wind. The Germans were trying to stop the 5 tanks which were roaring down on them through the pine woods. Now the MG fire seemed to be coming from further to the south and west. About this time, C-47's were bringing in more glider resupply, and they were still receiving heavy German 20mm AA and MG fire, and even mortar fire on their LZ. Our troops moved forward to clean out the Germans and noticed that our uniforms (M43) acted well as camouflage.

About 3:45, firing was still going on further away, but we didn't see the British tanks aside from the damaged one, which had come back earlier. Once the firing stopped, the Germans came-in by the hundreds, their hands raised, walking down the sandy road, going east to the DZ. We didn't leave our trenches, so that they wouldn't notice that they outnumbered us by far. Some Military Police came up about this time and the team guided them to an empty corner of the DZ where I remembered some of my earlier teaching at Camp Ritchie. If you capture a large number of PWs, first seperate the officers from the men and put them under special heavy guard, so they can't give orders to their men. Then ask for the "Dienst Alteste Unteroffizier" to come forward. (oldest in rank NCO). An old, grizzled Sgt came forward, jumped to attention and saluted, and reported his name and rank. As previously taught, I ordered him to assemble the men according to unit and rank on the field. He roared out the commands, and suddenly there was silence and quick assembling of the Germans into orderly groups, lined-up by rank and file. Then he told them to have them sound off and report to him, one unit at a time, as to unit, and number of NCOs and EM. I couldn't believe how beautifully it went, and in a matter of minutes, as they reported, I wrote down the whole group. The PWs were then marched back toward Zon almost 1,500 PWs were taken that afternoon." Above is a single frame from a 16mm color movie shot by Captain Frank Lillyman on 18 September, 1944, as members of RHQ and Service Companies of the 502 marched an estimated 12-1500 German POWs east toward Zon from the Best battleground. Note that all the visible prisoners are wounded. Len Swartz and Rusty Quirici were among the guards. Len told me that P-47 fighters made a couple of strafing passes at the marching prisoners, causing some deaths and much panic and near catastrophe, as the cooperative and organized group of prisoners threatened to scatter. But order was maintained. Dick Ladd of S-2 recalled in his account of this battle that two of the British tanks which entered the woods earlier, were equipped with flamethrowers. Above is another view of a small percentage of the prisoners taken on 18 September, 1944 near Best, Holland. Thanks to Joe Pangerl, Len Swartz, Oreste Quirici, and Dick Ladd for contributing to this story.

History vs Hollywood- Captain Legs Johnson Captain LeGrand King "Legs" Johnson was company commander of F/502. He won the Silver Star Medal on 13 June, 1944 in Normandy, for leading a M-4 Tank of the 66th Armored Regiment to rescue part of his company, which had been surrounded by elements of the 17th SS division.

On 18 September, 1944, Johnson's battalion (2/502) was attacking west toward Best, Holland in concert with third battalion. German fire came in murderous volume and Legs called the Dog Co. commander, Francis 'Bud'Rainey on the radio.
"Bud, bring your company up on line with us!" Legs yelled.
"Fuck YOU!", came the reply.
Soon after, a rifle bullet wounded Legs Johnson in the right shoulder. Medics made him lie down and set up an IV with plasma flowing into him. Medical jeeps bearing stretchers were evacuating wounded two at a time, to a field hospital in Son. Since many of the wounded were hit more seriously than himself, Legs kept delaying his own evacuation, telling the medics to convey the others first. Even when Legs was finally loaded, he was still telling them to delay and take others. Against his objections, he was placed across the hood of the jeep on a stretcher and then the jeep scratched-off, headed for Son.
At that time, a German MG42 machinegun fired at the jeep from over 500 yards distance. One round entered Legs' helmet and tore into his head. He lost consciousness and would not wake -up until weeks later.
At the hospital in Son, Legs was briefly examined and since he was unconscious and his brains were exposed, he was relegated to the 'dead pile' of troopers who were wounded so seriously that they had no chance to survive.
Later that afternoon, Sgt Charles DOHUN (Hollywood changed his first name to EDDIE), who was Legs' runner wandered over to the hospital for a specific purpose. He knew that the captain had a substantial amount of cash in his billfold and he didn't want a stranger from another unit to get it.
Dohun spotted Captain Johnson in the dead pile and examined him-when he discovered that Legs was still breathing, he carried him into an operating room and ordered the surgeon to save him. When the doctor refused, Dohun pointed a souvenir Luger at him and threatened to shoot him (he did not use a .45 as shown in 'A Bridge Too Far', but a .45 looks more impressive).

The operation was successful. Legs regained consciousness six weeks later in a hospital, "deaf, dumb, blind, and with a steel plate in my head." As of this writing (October, 2005), Legs is still alive in Florida. Charles Dohun survived WW2 and lived in N.C. until his death about 15 years ago.

Regarding the Hollywood Depiction When I interviewed Legs Johnson in the late 1990's, he commented on how he and Sgt Dohun were portrayed in 'A Bridge Too Far', the 1977 Hollywood version of Cornelius Ryan's book about Operation Market Garden.
Legs said :"In the movie, I was a little, scared guy, and Dohun was a great big guy. Hell, in real life I would've made TWO of Dohun."

Cornelius Ryan described in his book, how Sgt Dohun was placed under arrest for threatening to shoot the surgeon. I have not learned the identity of that doctor, but he did NOT pardon the sgt, as shown in the film. Sgt Dohun was taken before LTC Steve Chappuis, the 2/502 C.O. and Silent Steve placed him under arrest for one minute. As Dohun stood at attention before his desk, the LTC looked at his watch for sixty seconds, then told Dohun he could go.
Captain Hugh 'Duke' Roberts, the second battalion S-1 of the 502 PIR, was among the few indiividuals who knew the story of how Dohun had ordered the doctor to perform the operation, at gunpoint. Duke wrote a letter to Mrs Johnson,(Legs' wife), explaining how Sgt Dohun had been responsible for saving his life. When Cornelius Ryan was researching 'A Bridge Too Far', Mrs Johnson sent that letter to Ryan, which is HOW the author became aware of the story. Chappuis and Roberts were close friends, and Chappuis brought Duke up to become the regimental S-1 after he (Chappuis) had succeeded Michaelis as regimental commander.

Although many European historians believe that American troops never advanced in their attack beyond the Best/Eindhoven highway (which is now a super expressway), Emmert Parmley of F/502 says that the 2nd platoon of his company did manage to attack one half mile beyond that highway after getting British tank support on the 19th of September. The attackers had been told to guide on the church steeple to the northwest. Although they never got near that church, the 2nd platoon dug-in and spent the night of 19/20 September, 1944, 1/2 mile west of the highway, inside the town of Best, before withdrawing to their former positions above the Wilhelmina Canal, east of the highway. As a point of trivia interest, he also says that Legs Johnson was shot not far east of where the McDonald's restaurant now stands, on the west side of the expressway.

When the film 'A Bridge Too Far'was first released, I heard many 101 vets discussing it. They did not appreciate the way the captain based on Legs was depicted, "having to get his courage out of a bottle."

How seldom we see actual photos of combat troopers in foxholes, on the front lines.
This excellent shot was taken in the area described above (between Best/Son, Holland), circa 18-19 September, 1944. The cameraman was Len Swartz, the regimental mail clerk of the 502 PIR. Unfortunately, the faces have not been identitifed, but they were probably members of RHQ or Service Co. of the Deuce.
This foxhole was dug next to a haypile and the occupants vacated it just in time the next day.
A C-47 bearing re-supply was shot down and crashed on this very spot soon after the troopers left it.

Cheating Death This photo was taken in November, 1944, in Nijmegen, Holland. The truck is afire, as a result of taking a direct hit from a German artillery shell.
Captain Joe Pangerl and his driver, Sgt Fred Patheiger, had driven to this building from the Betuwe (island), to take a shower. To avoid having their jeep stolen, it was necesary for one guy to stay with it at all times. So Pangerl showered first, then switched places with Patheiger. As Joe was waiting for Fred to come out, this truck loaded with 16 members of the 506th PIR, pulled-up, driven by a 506th Service Co. driver. The troopers piled out and went-in to take their showers.
Captain Pangerl got out of his jeep and sat in the pasenger seat in the cab of the truck, making conversation with the driver. Soon after, another jeep pulled up and parked next to Pangerl's jeep, a bit farther away from the truck. Joe recognized the officer in that jeep, so he exited the truck and went and sat in the jeep, to talk to the new arrival.
Soon thereafter, a random German shell, fired from miles away, made a direct hit on the cab of the truck which Pangerl had just gotten out of. The shell hit exactly whre he had been sitting and killed the driver. Joe's jeep, which was parked closer to the truck than the one he was sitting-in, also received multiple shell fragments.
It seems that all the 101st paratroopers who survived WW2 combat had similar escapes from death. Another example that happened to Joe Pangerl, can be found on page three of Souvenirs, ('Significant Scrap Metal').

Too Close for Comfort While fighting north of Bastogne, Belgium in January, 1945, a German bullet dinged the steel pot of Captain Wallace Swanson, Commnding Officer of Company 'A', 502 PIR. He escaped with nothing more serious than a headache. The photo above was taken in the spring of 1945, as Swanie posed with his helmet while wearing a Class 'A' uniform and holding his M1-A1 carbine. photo courtesy Wally Swanson

Misadventures of a Dogtag Pvt Henry Schwabe was a paratrooper in HQ/2 501 PIR. Henry's parents were from Germany, but Henry had been raised in Pottstown, PA. He joined the LMG platoon shortly before the D-Day invasion, but according to his pal, Charlie Eckman, Schwabe was considered a security risk because of his ancestry and not allowed to jump into Normandy.
Schwabe did jump into Holland and participated in the defense of Bastogne. On 3 January, 1945, Schwabe and Eckman ran across hundreds of yards of snow-covered open ground, to search for survivors in a gravel pit below the Bois Jacques Woods. Searching through a pile of about 14 dead American bodies with glazed eyes, the duo located a buddy, Harry Coffey, who was unwounded but mentally delerious, as he had been shell shocked and buried under the bodies for several hours. While dragging Coffey back to the woods, Schwabe's dogtags evidently dangled below him, snagged on something and the lower tag tore off, unnoticed as it dropped into the snow.
A year or two later, a Belgian civilian spotted the dogtag as he was strolling in the fields above Bastogne in nicer weather, and picked it up. He kept it until the spring of 1999, when he gave it to Belgian researcher Pierre Godeau.
In September of 1999 I toured the Bois Jacques area with Bruce Mabey, and told him how Schwabe and Eckman had rescued Harry Coffey there on 3 January, 1945. I added that I had written about this in my 2d book, and that Schwabe had been killed a month later in Alsace, while returning from a night patrol.
That evening while at a hotel in Bastogne, I phoned Pierre, who lives outside Bastogne and invited him to visit, asking him to bring along any recent acquisitions in his collection of Bastogne artifacts. Pierre showed up at the hotel with a variety of battle relics from the area, including two single dogtags he'd acquired from local citizens during his 1999 spring Expo.
One of those dogtags belonged to a 327th man named Schimmelpfennig, who entered the Army from the midwest. The other tag he handed me caused my heart to skip a beat-it was the tag pictured above-of Henry Schwabe. I recently worked out a trade with Pierre and acquired the tag for my collection in January of 2001. In May, 2001, I acquired this photo, the only one I've ever seen, of Henry Schwabe. This comes courtesy of Don Bartmann who also lived in Pottstown, PA before joining the US Army. Don was in F Company of the 501 and ran into Henry in a chowline at Camp Mourmelon before Bastogne. It happens they had both dated the same girl before joining-up. Don recalls that Henry was a devout Methodist. He was born 9 December, 1923, and KIA on 22 February, 1945. Don writes: "Henry deserved more than that-he was a wonderful person, a fine soldier, and as devoted to the American cause as anybody I met in my wartime experience. He gave it all."

This is a new 'permanent' feature. I will post here some excellent WW2 vintage photos, most of which have not been published before.

At Ft Benning in 1942,a typical sadistic instructor at TPS watches the wind machine blow a student paratrooper along the ground. This training taught students how to recover when being dragged in high winds, how to stand up, collapse the canopy and regain control. Musura photo c/o Senyszyn

Members of RHQ/502 PIR, mostly from the S-2 section, posed before a practice jump at Ft Bragg in 1943. photo c/o R. Ladd

Lt. Donald J. Hettrick of D/377th PFAB posed in the door of a C-47 before taking off for a practice jump at Pope Field, NC in early 1943. From Kodachrome slide c/o D.J. Hettrick

Now They are World Famous This photo was made at the beginning of 1943, just as Easy Co. 506th members were graduating from jump school. They still wear the GHQ Reserve SSI. Left to right: Johnny Martin, Angelo Dukelis, Albert Blithe, Bill Guarnere, unk., and Burton Pat Christenson-photo courtesy of the Christenson family

Troopers were trained never to pull the ripcord of their reserve chest pack unless there was a true malfunction of the main chute. This trooper obviously panicked and did it anyway. The smaller reserve canopy could go under the main one, stealing air and guaranteeing a malfunction, but this descent looks ok. The photo is instructive because it illustrates the difference in size of the 2 canopies 28' and 24'.
A certain battalion commander had a bad habit of pulling his reserve on every single practice jump. The Riggers got tired of always having to repack his reserve, so one day, they reportedly filled the reserve pack with sawdust. I'm not sure what happened, but I heard this cured the field grade officer of his bad habit. SC photo c/o Senyszyn

Night Practice Jump, Thursday, 11 May, 1944, 2230 hrs in England. This stick is from Third Bn. Headquarters Co. of the Deuce. Captain Edward 'Poop' Barrett is seated at left, while Lt. Corey Shepard is seated in the right foreground. Willis 'Bill' Cady is 7th man at the end of the left row (see Bad Bastards page for stories about Bill Cady). Joe Lofthouse a 3rd Bn HQ Co. radio operator has also been spotted in the photo. SC photo c/o Joe Pangerl IPW Team #1, 502 PIR

11 May 1944 again, the same stick of 3/502, standing in the door. Note the regular infantry uniforms instead of jumpsuits. T-5 Del Winslow the central figure in this photo is also visible in the previous photo, seated 2nd from left, next to Poop Barrett.SC photo c/o JP

Normandy in Color This is one of the amazing color Kodachrome slides taken by Captain (doctor) George Lage in Normandy. Lage was 2nd battalion surgeon of the 502 PIR, and he posed here with some of his medics. Thanks to Ernie Labadie, we have names for all the faces, but the location has not been determined. I thought it was taken in St Come du Mont, but Ian Gardner, with help from long-time residents in St Come, have ruled that town out.
Pictured standing, from l. to r.:Captain George Lage, S/Sgt John Durka (KIA soon after the photo was made), Leroy Reitz, James Milne, and unk. GRS man. below: Fred 'Oakie' O'Connell, James Learnard and another unk. GRS (Graves Registration Service) trooper. The GRS men were probably members of Service Co. 502. At the time this was taken, another 2/502 medic, Robert Haseltine, had already been killed in action.
The remarkable detail in this photo allows us to see the camo green chute canopy scarves, rigger-modified clothing, various applications of helmet scrim etc. Also note the German belt and buckle and Mauser rifle acquired by Sgt Durka.
More of Doc Lage's wonderful photos can be found in my 4th book, '101st Airborne-The Screaming Eagles at Normandy'. All Doc Lage photos appear courtesy of Allan and Brenda Mitchell, the late doctor's daughter and son-in-law.

This is one of 2 famous photos taken by S.C. personnel at the road junction directly south of Turqueville, France, on 7 June, 1944. Wilbur Shanklin posed, holding his M-1, with fixed bayonet on a rather terrified German officer (identifiable as such by his belt). Shanklin belonged to RHQ/506th PIR and the German was quite likely a member of the 795th Ost Battalion. photo c/o F. Wozniak collection

Cpl George Spear was photographed during a rest break in Normandy by buddy Eddie Sapinski. Spear was killed in action early in the Holland campaign near Best. photo c/o Sapinski

Preparing for Market Garden Joe Pangerl's camera recorded this group at Chilton Foliat, England, shortly before the Holland Invasion in September, 1944.
Standing l. to r.: Lt. Richard J. Daly (KIA), Lt. Larry Hughes, Lt. Ed Cowen, Lt. Bernard Usry, below: Captain Ike Phillips, Lt. Joe Pangerl. c/o Joe Pangerl

D-day in Holland Al Krochka, assigned as one of the divisional photographers for Market Garden, took this amazing photo on 17 September, 1944. The bazookaman at left wears a 2/501st helmet stencil, and presumably, the serial floating to earth in the distance is 3/501 arriving.
This is presumably DZ 'A', near Eerde, Holland. Another Krochka photo, taken from the same place a minute earlier, appears in Karel Margry's excellent 1st volume on Market Garden Then & Now (see Books pages). For whatever reason, the photo above was not included. You will find Margry's information to be very authoritative and his books tell you where the serials departed from, which TCGs carried which PIRs to which DZ's, and also the sequence in which they landed.

This one is at the Son DZ on 17 September, 1944. Joe Crawford of RHQ/506th is in left foreground-this one has been published before. SC photo c/o JP

On 18 September, 1944, some German prisoners were taken on the edge of LZ 'W' near Son, Holland. In this photo, some HQ/502 personnel are writing down names of the prisoners and a couple of recently-landed CG-4A gliders are visible in the background. Trooper in the foreground is S-2 man August 'Gus' Mangoni, who had jumped as a Pathfinder in Normandy. Lt.Joe Pangerl snapped this dramatic photo while on the move and very busy. Charles Day did some work on this pic in late 2003, to clean up the imperfections and enhance it.

A scene along Hell's Highway in September, 1944. The occupants of the jeep are members of 101st Divarty. photo courtesy of Nadine W.

This pic shows Lt.Delmar Denson Idol of A/502 on a combat patrol near Dodewaard, Holland on the Island in October, 1944. Capt. Joe Pangerl photographed Idol as he scanned no man's land for signs of dug-in German positions. photo c/o J.P.

Epifanio Morici(rt.)and a Hispanic trooper identified only as 'Mex from Tex' in a late 1944 studio portrait somewhere in the ETO. Morici was in Service Co. Parachute Maintenance Section, 501 PIR. MARK BANDO'S WEBSITE

Arctic battleground -several troopers from Sv Co. 506th PIR existing in the snow near Savy, Belgium, December, 1944. c/o Dean Baxter

A slightly different version of this photo appears in my 'Vanguard' book. Members of RHQ/501 PIR posed with the bulletholed town sign for photographer Joe 'Gopher'Sloan. This classic sign was taken to Brussels after the war, where M/Sgt Peter Frank left it with his family. Recently, Peter Frank passed away in Austria. Sadly, the sign was presumably thrown in the trash some time after WW2. photo c/o Rollie Wilbur

A member of 101st Division Signal Company in a foxhole with his trusty M-1 at Bastogne. photo c/o F. Sheehan.

December, 1944, three members of Division Signal Company, 101st Airborne Division pose with another of the town signs, on the road coming-in from the northwest perimeter. This was taken right across the street from the Belgian Army barracks', where General McAuliffe established his divisional C.P. and where he made the classic 'Nuts' reply to the German demand for surrender. The stone wall at right is the edge of the town cemetery, and a comparison of this shot can still be made in the new milennium. The new sign is situated about 100 yards north of the position shown in this photo.
photo courtesy of F. Sheehan.

Feb., 1945 at Eckendorf, in Alsace-Lorraine, France, Captains Joe Pangerl and Fred Hancock of the 502 PIR, preparing to indulge in evening chow. c/o Pangerl

Epifanio Morici(rt) and an unknown companion from Service Co. Riggers Section (Parachute Maintenance) 501 PIR in 1945. M/Sgt Harvey might be the unidentified trooper. Ralph Smeal and Larry Loyen of B/506th having a ball in Paris after Alsace in spring, 1945. You'll note that although Larry wears the ribbon for a Purple Heart, he doesn't bother to wear his Combat Infantryman's Badge. photo courtesy Herb Clark.

At Mourmelon in spring, 1944,a member of HQ Co. 1st Bn, 501 PIR gives his impression of Der Fuhrer. c/o Paul Bebout

The infamous Eagle's Nest on Kehlstein mountain, overlooking Berchtesgaden, Germany was a special conference center built in 1938, as a birthday present for Hitler. In this fabulous 1945 photo by Captain Joe Pangerl of the 502 PIR, you can see the building in the upper distance, at the very summit of the mountain. This building is now a popular tourist attraction, known as the Kehlstein Tea House. In a verbal swipe at Hitler, many 101st troopers referred to this place as 'The Crow's Nest'.

Captain Joe Pangerl (502) of IPW Team #1, took this photo showing the interior of the Eagle's Nest, with the large, square windows (which are a fraction of the size of the panoramic window at the Berghof), in May, 1945. Taken July, 1945 at the Red Cross center in Zell am Zee, Austria, this is one of my single favorite 101st photos from WW2. It has paratroopers from all 3 PIRs of the division in a single shot.
Standing l. to r.: Harold Curry, Eddie Schultz and Ted Goldman (all A/502),Sprogue(?) (first name unk), H/506th, Bill Canfield and Joe 'Gopher' Sloan, H&H S-2, 501 PIR.

Mountain Climbers-G/506th troopers, in the Austrian alps, summer 1945. Jim Pee Wee Martin is standing in the center. c/o J. Martin

A group of officers and NCOs of the 907th GFAB, photographed at Bad Reichenhall, Germany in mid 1945. from Kodachrome slide c/o D.J. Hettrick

Jack Ott jumped as an S-2 liason to the 502 Pathfinders, in Captain Lillyman's stick on D-day. He served throughout WW2 in the S-2 section of RHQ/502 PIR. This studio portrait was made in Paris in 1945, and shows Jack wearing an Air Corps jacket with the 502 regimental pocket patch in place. courtesy Dick Ladd.


Monty's plan

In the summer of 1944 General Bernard Law Montgomery came up with an ambitious scheme to cross the River Rhine and advance deep into northern Germany and shorten the war.

Codenamed 'Market Garden', his plan involved the seizure of key bridges in the Netherlands by the 101st and 82nd US Airborne Divisions, and 1st British Airborne Division who would land by parachute and glider.

Map of the south-east Netherlands, 1944

Then the British 30 Corps could advance over the bridges and cross the Rhine and its tributaries. The bridges were at Eindhoven, around 20 kilometres (13 miles) from the start line, Nijmegen, 85 kilometres (53 miles), and Arnhem, 100 kilometres (62 miles) away, as well as two smaller bridges at Veghel and Grave that lay between Eindhoven and Nijmegen.

If successful, the plan would liberate the Netherlands, outflank Germany’s formidable frontier defences, the Siegfried Line, and make possible an armoured drive into the Ruhr, Germany’s industrial heartland.

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C-47 transport aircraft dropping parachutists and supply canisters, Arnhem, 17 September 1944

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Lieutenant Timothy Hall was wounded by mortar fragments on landing at Arnhem. His smock still shows battle damage.


Operation Market Garden – Daily SitRep – September 18th, 1944

Eindhoven is liberated by the 506 Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne after which the ground forces link up with them in the afternoon. They head for Son as soon as possible but crowds of excited Dutch citizens made fast movement impossible. At Son the engineers immediately start repairing the bridge.

The 502nd PIR is caught up in heavy fighting at Best where they try to capture the road bridge over the Wilhelmina Canal, thus allowing the ground troops to bypass the blown bridge at Son. The Germans however blow the bridge around 11:00hrs and having a strong garrison and a lot of reinforcements at Best means that a big battle erupts eventually involving the entire 2nd and 3rd battalion of the 502nd Parachute Infantry Regiment. During this battle the 101st Airborne gets its much needed reinforcements when the second lift arrives which land on the edge of the battlefield. Elements of the 327th Glider Infantry Regiment are used almost as soon as they get out of their gliders.

The 1st battalion 502nd PIR is still guarding Sint Oedenrode where the Germans made some probing attacks.

During the night the defenders of Veghel are tested for the first time, around 300 Germans sneak up through the fog along the canal from ‘S Hertogenbosch and try to regain control of the railway bridge. They are eventually stopped but at heavy cost, C Company 501PIR is decimated.

XXXcorps did not have an easy trip to Eindhoven, the Germans put up a good fight to delay them and a number of 88mm guns had to be dealt with before they could enter Eindhoven. The Coldstream Guards tried to find alternative roads into Eindhoven thus widening the corridor but the bridges across the various waterways did not support tanks making this impossible.

The 82nd in Nijmegen tried desperately to seize the road bridge at Nijmegen but all attempts are thwarted by the Germans. Around Groesbeek they have to stop heavy German counterattacks which threaten to take over the landing zones where troops and supplies would land later that day. In the nick of time they clear them allowing the gliders to land in relative safety.

An effort is made to seize another crossing over the Maas-Waal Canal, the Neerbosch or Honinghuite Road and Rail bridges. Although the bridges are taken by storm by elements of the 508th and 504th Parachute Infantry Regiments, the Germans manage to set off demolition charges which destroy the rail bridge and severely damages the road bridge. The bridge is later deemed too weak to carry XXX corps so all traffic has to pass the lock bridge at Heumen.

Heavy fighting is going on in and around Arnhem. The troops from 2nd Battalion, 1st Parachute brigade which captured the Northern approach of the road bridge are under constant attack by the Germans but the men beat back attack after attack. Early in the morning they receive their first and only reinforcements, B company 2nd battalion arrives after spending the night at the pontoon bridge a 100 yards from the road bridge. John Frosts force is now around 750 men.

On the Ginkel Heath, 15km from the bridge, lands the 4th parachute brigade under Brigadier Hackett in the middle of a raging battle as the 7th KOSB tries desperately to clear the drop zone. With the help of the 4th brigade the Germans are quickly taken care of. The rest of the division attempts to reach the men at the bridge but fail to break through. Already the Germans have set up strong blocking lines between the main part of the division and the men fighting at the bridge.


Today in World War II History—September 18, 1939 & 1944

80 Years Ago—September 18, 1939: German and Soviet troops link at Brest-Litovsk, Poland.

Polish cryptographers flee to Paris with vital information on German Enigma codes.

People of Eindhoven, the Netherlands, dance in the town square after liberation, 20 Sept 1944 (Imperial War Museum 4905-03 TR 2369)

75 Years Ago—Sept. 18, 1944: In Operation Market Garden, British ground troops link with US 101st Airborne Division in Eindhoven, Holland.

US Ninth Army takes crucial port of Brest, France.

South of Sumatra, sub HMS Tradewind sinks Japanese army cargo ship Junyo Maru 5620 killed, including Javanese slave laborers and 1477 Allied POWs, the worst maritime loss in history to date.

US troops fighting in Brest, Brittany, France, September 1944 (US Army Center of Military History)


13 Recce Squadron september 1944 Belgium reports

Hi, I'm trying to find intelligence reports on aerial photographs taken by 13 Recce Squadron in september 1944 above Belgium. Any idea if they excist and how to find them?

Re: 13 Recce Squadron september 1944 Belgium reports

A general search of the catalog turned up a few hits of finding aids for Command Chronologies of 13th Force Recon:

I also found a web site with some cool photos from 13th:

Re: 13 Recce Squadron september 1944 Belgium reports
Rachael Salyer 30.11.2017 15:48 (в ответ на Yannick Van Lierde)

Thank you for posting your question to the History Hub.

The information you are looking for may be part of National Archives Record Group 18 : Records of the Army Air Forces (AAF) . This record group (RG) contain s World War II Combat Operations Reports which sometimes include target files and intelligence gathered. The RG 18 records of the General Staff includes G-2 (Intelligence) records, as well. Some examples of potentially relevant series can be seen here in the National Archives Catalog .

These records are in the custody of the Textual Reference Branch at the National Archives in College Park, Maryland. You can contact them directly a t [email protected] with questions.

Finally, you may also wish to contact the  the Air Force Historical Research Agency, which has custody of many unit histories and supporting documents of Army Air Force and Air Force units. Their website is http://www.afhra.af.mil/ .

Thank you, again, for sharing your question with the History Hub, and best of luck with your ongoing research.


Scholla: The Canal Basin (Contributed by “Betsey,” the Oldtimer) September 18, 1944

That portion of the Reading and Schuykill Canal which lay between Franklin Street and the canal locks at the Foot of Sixth Street was known as the Canal Basin, more than 60 years ago. Here the canal boats would “tie up” for the winter months when ice in the canal prevented navigation. Throughout the winter the boats were moved in and out of the one dry dock for repairs.

Canal boatmen frequently brought their young apprentices with them on their trips along the Schuykill and these young fellows, ranging from 18-21 years in age, were marooned in Reading while they waited for spring thaws to make navigation possible once more. In order to give these lads something to do they were sent to the Reading schools, there to mingle with children much younger than they were. Then too, these young fellows were not natives of Berks County. Their ways and manners of speech were vastly different from those of the boys and girls of Reading.

Because the Franklin Street Public School was closest of all schools to the Canal Basin it was in this building that these overage boys were enrolled. Their presence was a constant source of disciplinary troubles for the principal, affectionately known as “Skippy”. One group of these canal boys, known as the Long Island Gang, was especially troublesome.

One lad named “Nosey”, because of his elongated olefactory appendage, was the acknowledged leader of the gang. His confederates took their cues from him and the younger lads, natives of Reading, naturally followed “Nosey’s” lead in mischief. A signal of three soft raps on Nosey’s desk might bring a cascade of rattling marbles rolling and clattering down all of the aisles of the classroom another signal would mean that all boys would start chewing the newfangled confection chewing-gum, in unison to the dismay of the teacher who was not aware of the cause of the masticating sounds pervading every corner of the room.

“Skippy’s”, stove-pipe hat had many strange disappearances and equally mysterious reincarnations. His gold-headed cane was hung in the oddest places.

The lock on the schoolhouse door was huge. A key six inches long was needed to open it and “Skippy” kept a close guard on that key. But one day the circus came to Reading town. The boys of Franklin School wanted to attend the circus but the authorities had said a stern No! to all pleas for a holiday. The young imps then drove spikes into the lock of the door in such a way that the teacher could not insert the key. A sign was posted saying “No School”. Then the boys played “Hookey” and attended the circus.


18 September 1944 - History

The Battles of Luneville: September 1944
by Bryan J. Dickerson

The catalyst for this paper was Jenna Carpenter Smith. On Veterans Day 2012, she contacted me seeking information about her late grandfather, Staff Sergeant Joseph Carpenter, who had served in the 2nd Cavalry Reconnaissance Group [Mechanized] in World War Two. Jenna had contacted me after reading about her grandfather in my article “The Liberation of Western Czechoslovakia 1945” which is also posted on Military History Online. I knew Joe Carpenter and his wife Ellin for several years before their deaths. Joe was one of the many World War Two veterans who have assisted me with my research on World War Two in Europe and the liberation of Czechoslovakia. That night, Jenna and I spoke by phone, during which time I shared my memories of her grandfather and grandmother. I explained to her the role that her grandfather and the 2nd Cavalry Group played in the European Campaign and share with her some of the stories that Joe had told me a number of years ago.

One of the operations that I discussed with Jenna was the Battle of Luneville in September 1944. Luneville had been a hard fought battle for the 2nd Cavalry Group. Whenever Luneville had come up in my conversations with 2nd Cavalry veterans, the conversations always took on a distinctive indescribable solemnity. In our numerous conversations, Joe had said little about Luneville beyond that it had been a tough fight.

The primary focus of my research and discussions with the 2nd Cavalry veterans had been the liberation of western Czechoslovakia in the spring of 1945. After talking with Jenna, I decided to write up a short paper on the Luneville battle in honor of Joe Carpenter and the men of 2nd Cavalry Group, and the other American units that repulsed the German counter-attack at Luneville in September 1944.

Introduction

On 18 September 1944, the troopers of the 2nd Cavalry Reconnaissance Group [Mechanized] were occupying positions around the town of Luneville in the Lorraine region of France. Their mission was to screen the flank of XII Corps of Patton’s Third U.S. Army in the vicinity of the Moselle River. Unfortunately for the lightly armed cavalrymen, they were struck by a heavy force of German tanks that morning. Despite being outnumbered and out-gunned, the 2nd Cavalry Group troopers delayed the German offensive sufficiently to enable heavier American armored forces to respond and win a decisive victory both there and in the subsequent Battle of Arracourt during the following days.

Cavalry by the Book

The success of the 2nd Cavalry Group in delaying the German panzer attack at Luneville was remarkable considering that such a scenario was not in accordance with U.S. Army doctrine for the employment of mechanized cavalry. Mechanized cavalry came into existence in the early years of World War Two as the Army was transitioning the cavalry from horses to vehicles. Mechanized cavalry forces were formed into squadrons assigned to armored divisions and cavalry groups attached to corps headquarters. In 1944, the Cavalry Group consisted of a Group Headquarters and two cavalry reconnaissance squadrons. The cavalry squadrons consisted of a Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, three cavalry troops, a light tank company and an assault gun troop. The Headquarters and Headquarters Troop (HHT) consisted of a Maintenance Platoon, a Transport Platoon and a Supply Section. The cavalry troops each had a Troop headquarters, and three cavalry platoons with armored cars and jeeps. The light tank company had a company headquarters and three tank platoons. The assault gun troop had a headquarters and three assault gun platoons.[1]

As organized in 1943, the primary function of mechanized cavalry was reconnaissance. As Field Manual 100-5 Field Service Regulations: Operations, stated in 1944,

Mechanized cavalry units are organized, equipped and trained to perform reconnaissance missions, employing infiltration tactics, fire and maneuver. They engage in combat only to the extent necessary to accomplish the assigned mission.[2]

In reality, the employment of the mechanized cavalry oftentimes differed greatly from that set forth in the field manuals. During actual operations in the European Campaigns, mechanized cavalry was used in a wide variety of other roles including mounted and dismounted attacks, static defense, screening, covering gaps between forces, and counter-reconnaissance.[3]

U.S. Cavalry in Defense and Delaying Actions in the European Theater

Though primarily organized and equipped to perform reconnaissance missions, U.S. mechanized cavalry was frequently engaged in defensive battles and delaying actions during the European Campaigns. Two notable examples both occurred during the December 1944 German Counter-Offensive in the Ardennes region of Belgium and Luxembourg, more popularly known as the Battle of the Bulge. Two cavalry groups fought in the opening phase of the Battle of the Bulge: the 102th Cavalry Group of V Corps and the 14th Cavalry Group of VIII Corps. The two cavalry groups had much different experiences during the battle.[4]

The 102nd Cavalry Group was occupying strong defensive positions in the vicinity of Monschau, Belgium. On the morning of 16 December, they were struck by German forces supporting the main effort further south. The 102nd Cavalry troopers were able to repel repeated German attacks and hold their positions.[5]

The 14th Cavalry Group had a far different experience. The 14th Cavalry was tasked to screen the vital Losheim Gap for VIII Corps and maintaining liaison between V Corps’s 99th Infantry Division to the north and VIII Corps’s 106th Infantry Division on the Schnee Eifel (Snow Mountains) salient. VIII Corps and First U.S. Army gambled on holding this critical gap with small strong points and cavalry patrols. On the morning of 16 December, a major German attack struck the Losheim Gap. Despite a tenacious defense, the hapless cavalrymen were eventually overwhelmed. German forces were able to push through the gap, complete an encirclement of the two regiments of the 106th Infantry Division on the Schnee Eifel and make deep penetrations of the VIII Corps front.[6]

The Situation Before the German Counter-Attack at Luneville September 1944

After a blazing drive across north-western France in August 1944, General George S. Patton’s Third U.S. Army struggled to maintain its offensive momentum in the Lorraine region in eastern France. Unfortunately, the Allies’s stunning August drives had far outstretched their supply lines and resulted in severe shortages of fuel and other critical supplies for their advancing armies. These shortages were acutely felt by Third Army.[7]

With only enough fuel and combat supplies to support one major drive, Supreme Allied Commander General Dwight D. Eisenhower chose British Field Marshall Bernard Montgomery’s plan for a major airborne / mechanized ground assault through Holland. Known as Operation Market Garden, the objective was to seize critical bridges in Holland and most importantly, one across the Rhine River at Arnhem. Launched on 17 September, Operation Market Garden ultimately fell short of its final objective at Arnhem. Arnhem proved to be “a bridge too far.”[8]

With the supply situation a critical determinant, Eisenhower agreed to allow a limited drive by Patton across the Moselle River with the possibility of driving on towards the Rhine River and Frankfurt. In mid-September 1944, Third Army’s XII Corps was able to push across the Moselle River and establish itself on the far side in strength. The corps paused to prepare for its continued advance eastward. The main effort would be made by the 4th Armored Division striking east from the vicinity of Arracourt. The 2nd Cavalry Group was tasked to cover the right (southern flank) of XII Corps and the 4th Armored Division.[9]

The First Battle for Luneville: 15-16 September 1944

At this time, XII Corps’s attention was focused on liberating the city of Nancy, securing its positions across the Moselle River and preparing for a drive to the Rhine. The town of Luneville was not at first a priority for XII Corps. Yet in the coming days, Luneville would come to play a pivotal role in XII Corps operations. Luneville was located to the south-east of Nancy on the confluence of the Muerthe and Vezouze Rivers. To the east were two large forests: the Foret de Parroy and the Foret de Mondom. Also in the vicinity were a number of smaller villages, including Jolivet to the north and Deuxville to the north-west.[10]

In its drive to encircle and isolate Nancy, the 4th Armored Division had sent its Combat Command B near Luneville but at first had not made any efforts to liberate the town. Instead it fell upon the 2nd Cavalry Group to secure the town. As part of its efforts to screen XII Corps’s right flank, the 2nd Cavalry Group had its 42nd Squadron attack Luneville. Elements of the 15th PanzerGrenadier Division’s Reconnaissance Battalion 115 were then holding the town.[11]

On 15 September, two troops of the 42nd Squadron attacked from the south. T/4 Eugene Fehr was the radio operator in one of the M8 armored cars. During the fighting, his armored car was struck by an 88mm anti-tank shell which knocked off the right front wheel. Fehr and his crewmates dismounted to survey the damage, then immediately sought cover. Seconds later another 88mm shell struck the center of the M8 and destroyed it. Unable to overcome the German resistance, the 2nd Cavalry troopers pulled back and re-grouped.[12]

42nd Squadron was reinforced by elements of Colonel Wendell Blanchard’s Reserve Command (CCR), 4th Armored Division. Blanchard had with him the 696th Armored Field Artillery Battalion, part of the 489th Anti-aircraft Artillery (Automatic Weapons) Battalion, part of the 35th Tank Battalion, part of the 10th Armored Infantry Battalion and Headquarters and B Companies of the 704th Tank Destroyer Battalion. The next day, the combined force launched a three-prong attack on Luneville. The Squadron’s C Troop attacked from the west while B Troop attacked from the south-east and CCR attacked from the northwest. B Company of the 704th Tank Destroyer Battalion covered CCR’s left flank north-west of the city.[13]

In this fight for Luneville, the 35th Tank Battalion was operating without its B and C Companies which had been detached for service elsewhere. The battalion was positioned initially in the village of Deuxville then moved to occupy some high ground northwest of the city. Though the 35th Tank Battalion force did not participate in the liberation of the city, it did repel a German counter-attack. They destroyed two German half-tracks and three anti-tank guns at a cost of one M4 Sherman medium tank, two men killed and fifteen wounded.[14]

While most of B Troop, 42nd Squadron was engaged in the Luneville fight, Sgt James Hart’s section of 1st Platoon was sent to the west side of the Muerthe River to set up an outpost on a road leading to Luneville. At one point, a column of German panzers and infantry advanced up the road. Sgt Hart’s men opened fired at close range, killing a number of Germans and a tank commander. The Germans withdrew. But it would be another four days before his section were reunited with their parent troop.[15]

The Americans pushed the Germans out of Luneville by late afternoon and Reserve Command assumed responsibility for the city. The Germans had 75 men killed and another 18 taken prisoner. The following day, the 2nd Cavalry Group assembled in the vicinity of the Foret de Mondon, with its A Troop, 42nd Squadron screening in the forest to the south-east and B Troop covering the southern approaches to Luneville.[16]

Also on 17 September 1944, the 35th Tank Battalion endeavoured to clear German forces from the vicinity of Jolivet and the Foret de Parroy. One platoon of A Company attacked Jolivet and knocked out two anti-tank guns at a cost of one medium tank. Meanwhile, D Company conducted a sweep which accounted for one anti-tank gun and a half-track. They also captured fifteen prisoners from the Reconnaissance Battalion 115. Altogether, German casualties in this sector were three anti-tank guns and one half-track destroyed, 75 killed and 81 prisoners taken with another half-track probably knocked out. In return, the Americans suffered two killed, fifteen wounded and a M4 tank knocked out.[17]

But the Germans were not done with Luneville yet. Over the next day or so, they managed to infiltrate a large number of troops back into the city. By the night of 17 September, there were enough Germans in Luneville to create the mistaken impression amongst the German commanders that they had in fact recaptured the city.[18]

The Germans Plan a Counter-Attack

While XII Corps was preparing for its next advance, the German Fuerher Adolf Hitler, the German High Command (Oberkommando Wehrmacht) and the German Army Command in the West (Oberfehlshaber West) believed that there was an opportunity to strike a counter-attack against the advancing American forces. The Fifth Panzer Army headquarters was re-located to the Lorraine region and General Hasso von Mantueffel, a highly competent veteran commander from the Eastern Front, was placed in command with orders to carry out the ambitious counter-attack. The plan was for a concentric attack to cut off the U.S. 4th Armored Division. Vigorous efforts were made to hastily assemble the necessary forces. In a few days, Fifth Panzer Army included the LVIII Panzer Corps, XLVII Panzer Corps, 11th Panzer Division, 21st Panzer Division, 15th PanzerGrenadier Division, and the 107th, 108th, 111th, 112th and 113th Panzer Brigades. Few of these units were at full strength in terms of tanks and infantry. The panzer brigades had sizeable complements of new panzers but their crews were not fully trained. The army was most deficient in artillery. “The Order of Battle looked impressive, but Mantueffel’s actual striking power was very small,” wrote Generalmajor Friedrich von Mellenthin, who served as Chief of Staff for Army Group G around this time.[19]

Upon assuming command, General von Mantueffel realistically appraised the situation and concluded that Fifth Panzer Army was too weak to carry out the ambitious German plan. Pulling off this attack would also require a major shifting of German forces in this area, something which could not be completed by the date set for the counter-attack.

“Hitler’s great error was to insist on the counter-attack being delivered before all available forces were assembled,” wrote Generalmajor von Mellenthin.[20]

Nevertheless, von Mantueffel endeavored to carry out orders that he knew could not be accomplished. The LVIII Panzer Corps would strike the 4th Armored Division from the north. At the same time, the XLVII Panzer Corps with its 111th and 112th Panzer Brigades and 21st Panzer Division would strike from the south northward through Luneville to Nancy and cut off XII Corps’s penetration. The 11th Panzer Division had not arrived yet in the area to be used for the initial counter-attacks.[21]

There were some indications to the Americans that the Germans were massing tanks for an attack. However, American intelligence believed that any such attack would be made against the nearby Seventh U.S. Army and Patton was eager to resume the advance eastward.[22]

Forces Engaged at Luneville

On paper, the Battle of Luneville should have been an easy victory for the Germans. Elements of the 2nd Cavalry Group faced off against strong armored forces of the Fifth Panzer Army. The 2nd Cavalry Group consisted of the 2nd and 42nd Cavalry Squadrons. They were equipped with machine guns, jeeps, M8 armored cars and M8 assault guns. The armored cars mounted a small 37mm gun while the assault guns had a short-barrelled 75mm howitzer. They did not have any weapons capable to taking out the heavy German panzers employed by the Fifth Panzer Army.

The Fifth Panzer Army’s attacks on XII Corps would be conducted by its panzer brigades. The brigades boasted new Panzerkampfwagen V Panther tanks. Originally introduced on the Eastern Front in 1943, the Panther was the finest medium tank produced during the war. It mounted a high velocity 75 mm gun and was protected by thick sloping armor that could deflect enemy projectiles. The brigades also included the older, less capable Panzerkampfwagen IV, or Mark IVs, with a thinner armor and a less lethal 75 mm gun.[23]

Fortunately, the Reserve Command of 4th Armored Division was located to their north-west in and around Luneville. Reserve Command had M4 medium tanks with 75mm guns, M18 self-propelled tank destroyers with 76mm anti-tank guns, M7 self-propelled 105mm howitzers and half-tracks mounting fifty-caliber machine guns for air defense.

Despite being outnumbered and outgunned, the 2nd Cavalry Group had certain leadership advantages that contributed immeasurably to the outcome of the battle. The commanding officer of the 2nd Cavalry Group was Colonel Charles H. Reed. Reed was one of the outstanding American armor officers of the war. He was a Regular Army officer and graduate of the U.S. Military Academy. In January 1943, the 2nd Cavalry Group was activated under his command. His personal leadership would prove to be a decisive factor in the battle. The commander of 42nd Squadron, Major James H. Pitman, was also a USMA graduate and one of the original staff officers of the Group. Both he and his Executive Officer, Capt. W. E. Potts were also very competent combat commanders.[24]

The Battle Begins

On the morning of 18 September, the 111th Panzer Brigade was assembled in the vicinity of Baccarat. The total strength of the brigade was around 2,000 men. It consisted of 2111 PanzerGrenadier Regiment, 2111 Panzer Regiment with a battalion each of Panthers and Mark IV panzers, a reconnaissance battalion and an engineer company. Most importantly, the brigade included 17 new Panther panzers, and 40 assorted vehicles. Also, the depleted but still potent 21st Panzer Division was within supporting distance to the south. To the north, the 113th Panzer Brigade was to attack at 1100. At around 0600, the 111th Panzer Brigade began advancing up the highway to Luneville.[25]

Around 0700, the lead element consisting of seven Panther tanks and supporting infantry struck the forward outposts of A Troop. The German commanders mistaken believed that Luneville was being held by units of the 15th PanzerGrenadier Division so the presence of U.S. cavalrymen on the outskirts of the city came as an unwelcome surprise.[26]

The outnumbered U.S. cavalrymen fought a brief delaying action before retiring out of the way of the heavy German force. Their delaying action, however, gave Colonel Reed sufficient time to send forward C Troop, the six assault guns of E Troop under Captain Welsh and F Troop’s 3rd Platoon with its M5 light tanks to set up an ambush on the road leading to Luneville. Among those serving in C Troop was Staff Sergeant Joseph Carpenter of Brooklyn, New York. Carpenter had served with C Troop since the 2nd Cavalry Group had arrived in Normandy back in July 1944. The remaining platoons of F Troop were sent to cover other approaches to Luneville.[27]

Led by Col. Reed and Major James Pitman, the U.S. cavalrymen successfully sprung their ambush on the advancing German panzer / infantry force at 0800. At a range of 500 yards, E Troop’s six assault guns opened fire on the surprised German Panthers. “Although many direct hits were obtained, they just bounced right off,” recalled 1st Lt Charles E. Harris.[28]

2nd Lt A. L. Wessling was in command of two of E Troop’s M8 assault guns on Highway 59 outside Luneville. He stood outside his vehicle observing the terrain. First a M8 armored car and then a jeep barrelled past him. The jeep’s driver shouted for him to fire because German panzers were coming up the road behind him. As the young lieutenant watched the German panzers move into position, he thought, “Wessling, somebody is going to win this fight and it won’t be you!” Wessling ordered his guns to fire. Soon after, Wessling was wounded by a Panther’s 75mm shell that impacted ten yards from him. He ordered his assault guns into a better position on the opposite side of the road then went back to report to his troop commander. Seeing the bloodied lieutenant, Capt Welsh ordered him evacuated for medical treatment.[29]

While the American light armored vehicles were engaging the German panzers, the rest of C Troop was fighting dismounted against the accompanying German infantry. The dismounted cavalrymen were able to achieve better success against the infantry than against the German armored vehicles.[30]

The fighting between the cavalrymen and the Germans was fierce. The American assault guns scored a mobility kill of one Panther by knocking out one of its tracks. In return, the Germans knocked out three assault guns, an armored car and two jeeps. Several cavalrymen were killed including Major Pitman. Corporal Lawrence R. Campbell, a gunner on one of E Troop’s assault guns, was killed when a German tank shell pierced the turret of his vehicle. Colonel Reed was severely wounded and evacuated. Capt. W. E. Potts, Squadron Executive Officer, assumed command of the beleaguered 42nd Cavalry Squadron.[31]

Ultimately, the German panzers were able to break through the thin American line at around 1100 and press on towards Luneville. The surviving American vehicles and their infantry escaped into the nearby forest. From here, the Americans fought off the German infantry all afternoon.[32]

Meanwhile, F Troop’s 1st Platoon was defending a bridge and a crossroads leading into Luneville. T/4 Frank Gernonimo was in one of those tanks tasked with covering the bridge. “We were receiving frequent and accurate artillery fire as the enemy already had the road zeroed in,” he later recalled. The Group Headquarters, 2nd Cavalry Squadron and part of A Troop, 42nd Squadron all used this bridge to escape into Luneville ahead of the advancing Germans. Afterwards, Gernonimo and the tanks defending the bridge also pulled back into Luneville.[33]

2nd Cavalry Fights On and Escapes the German Noose

After the Germans broke through the cavalry screen, the Battle of Luneville split into two distinct engagements: a battle in the woods between the 2nd Cavalry and German infantry and a German attack on Luneville itself which was held by elements of Reserve Command of the 4th Armored Division.

By late afternoon, the 42nd Cavalry Squadron was nearly surrounded but holding onto its positions. The situation was very tenuous. “We didn’t know to what extent the enemy had advanced and the route we had planned to use for escape was cut off,” recalled 1st Lt Harris. Fortunately, an American artillery spotter plane located an undefended trail. Using this trail, the cavalrymen attempted to escape the German encirclement. On the east side of the forest, they met up with the cavalrymen of A Troop, who had been forced out of their positions further east by the Germans.[34]

Together, the re-united force located another undefended trail out of the forest and used it to get to Highway 4 some four miles east of Luneville. Here they joined up with two platoons of B Troop and continued to Luneville.[35]

The next obstacle to overcome came in the form of a railroad bridge. The Germans had the bridge covered by artillery and small arms fire. The cavalrymen were able to locate the German positions and called down friendly artillery fire on them. Covered by the American artillery barrage, the cavalrymen rushed their vehicles two or three at a time over the bridge and onto into Luneville. In Luneville, they joined up with elements of the 4th Armored Division and with the remainder of the 2nd Cavalry Group.[36]

The Attack on Luneville

Having broken through the cavalry screen in the morning, the German Panthers, reinforced by elements of the 15th PanzerGrenadier Division, pressed on to Luneville. The initial assault forced elements of 4th Armored’s Reserve Command from the south-eastern part of the town back into its center and northern part. Most of Reserve Command’s strength was located outside the town. In addition, the 113th Panzer Brigade was now heading towards Luneville from the east in the vicinity of Vezouse River.[37]

The American commanders reacted quickly to the German counter-attack. In mid-morning, A Company of the 35th Tank Battalion moved into blocking positions north-west of Luneville.

The rest of the battalion took up blocking positions north-east of Deuxville. Forced to withdraw by the German advances, the 2nd Cavalry Squadron joined up with Reserve Command in the eastern part of Luneville. B Company, 704th Tank Destroyer Battalion sent its 3rd Platoon into Luneville and its 1st Platoon to reinforce the 10th Armored Infantry Battalion positions north of the town. Combat Command A (CCA) of 4th Armored Division was ordered to dispatch a task force to reinforce Reserve Command and the 6th Armored Division’s Combat Command B (CCB) was ordered from the area east of Nancy to Luneville as well. Further support was ordered from the 183rd Field Artillery Group’s 273rd and 738th Field Artillery Battalions. The latter was equipped with massive 8-inch howitzers capable of firing a 200-pound artillery shell over 18,510 yards.[38]

CCA 4th Armored Division immediately began forming a task force to help repel the German panzer attack. Named Task Force Hunter after its commander, this force consisted of A Company of the 37th Tank Battalion, B Company of the 53rd Armored Infantry Battalion, C Battery of the 94th Armored Field Artillery Battalion, and 1st Platoon, E Company of the 704th Tank Destroyer Battalion. TF Hunter started out for Luneville at 1300 and arrived at an assembly area northwest of the town three hours later.[39]

The arrival of Task Force Hunter and the additional tank destroyers and field artillery enabled Reserve Command to attack to re-take the lost section of Luneville. In and around Luneville, the various American units engaged the Germans. Aided by one of its forward observers located in a house in Luneville, C Battery of 94th Armored Field Artillery Battalion fired 105mm shells at German infantry, vehicles and anti-tanks guns in the streets of the town. Infantrymen from the 53rd Armored Infantry Battalion and tanks of the 35th Tank Battalion attacked to drive out the Germans. A Company, 37th Tank Battalion remained as a mobile reserve in Deuxville.[40]

The big 8-inch howitzers of the 738th Field Artillery Battalion went into position just two miles west of Luneville. The battalion commander, Col. William Garrison, and the Executive Officer Major Horace Frierson went forward to a hill that incidentally had a World War One monument atop it. This monument provided convenient protection for Garrison and Frierson when the Germans started shooting at them. From their vantage point, Garrison and Frierson were able to observe retreating U.S. vehicles and German anti-tank guns firing at them from a section of woods. Immediately recognizing the danger, Garrison ordered his howitzers to fire on the German anti-tank guns. The range to the targets was only 1,500 yards. For howitzers designed to fire at targets over 18,500 yards away, this was far, far less than the range they normally fired at. The shells from the American big guns quickly neutralized the German anti-tank guns.[41]

Around 1630, General Patton visited XII Corps Headquarters and was briefed on the situation at Luneville. Patton was unconcerned about the German counter-attack. He was still focused on the upcoming drive on the Rhine River.[42]

In the midst of the fighting, German communications broke down. By this point, the 111th Panzer Brigade and elements of the 15th PanzerGrenadier Division had fought their way into the southern part of Luneville. Mistakenly assuming that the Americans had been driven completely out of Luneville, LVIII Panzer Corps Headquarters ordered the 113th Panzer Brigade to disengage from the battle around Luneville and head north.[43]

By nightfall, the strength of the German attack on Luneville had dissipated significantly. Heavily pressed by the American reinforcements, the Germans gave up their earlier won gains. After darkness fell, General von Manteuffel ordered the 111th Panzer Brigade to retire from Luneville and reform at Parroy.[44]

Around 2000, elements of the 10th Armored Infantry Battalion and 42nd Cavalry Squadron both entered the southern part of Luneville from different directions and found that the Germans had retreated. Defensive outposts were set up on the outskirts of Luneville and a coordinated defense was set up by Reserve Command and Task Force Hunter.[45]

After realizing how vulnerable the 738th Field Artillery’s big howitzers were at their present location, Third Army headquarters ordered them moved further to the rear. “If Luneville is taken during the night, Jerry will be looking down the throat of our entire battalion which is only two miles west of Luneville itself,” 1st Lt John H. Daniels wrote in his diary. With herculean efforts, the battalion’s soldiers relocated to the rear. “How those canoneers manhandled and bulldozed their fifteen-tons howitzers out of positions axle deep in mud will always be a mystery,” wrote Lt. Daniels.[46]

Battling through the Night

By nightfall, the Americans had amassed a considerable mixed force of armor, infantry, cavalry and artillery in Luneville and its vicinity. Detachments of the 10th Armored Infantry Battalion were holding the high ground north-east of Luneville. Most of the 35th Tank Battalion was in and around the town along with a company of the 53rd Armored Infantry Battalion from Task Force Hunter. On the high ground between Luneville and Deuxville were D Company, 35th Tank Battalion, and elements of the 704th Tank Destroyer Battalion and 10th Armored Infantry Battalion. A Company, 37th Tank Battalion of Task Force Hunter was in reserve west of Deuxville.[47]

The Germans made sporadic attacks throughout the night. To the east of Luneville, 3rd Platoon, B Company, 704th Tank Destroyer Battalion knocked out three Panther panzers. Nevertheless, the American position at Luneville was not seriously threatened.[48]

Aftermath of Luneville

The following day, both the Americans and Germans shifted their forces in reaction to the past several days of fighting. The Germans abandoned efforts to capture Luneville. Instead, the 111th Panzer Brigade was shifted to support the 113th Panzer Brigade’s advance near Arracourt while the 15th PanzerGrenadier Division went on the defensive to hold the line near Luneville. Meanwhile, CCB of the 6th Armored Division arrived in the Luneville area and relieved Reserve Command of the 4th Armored Division by 1800. Thus relieved, Reserve Command headed north and went into an assembly twelve miles north near Serres.[49]

On the morning of 19 September, Major Hunter learned by radio that the Germans were attacking CCA, 4th Armored near Arracourt. He immediately requested permission to detach from Reserve Command and return to his parent command. The XII Corps commander Major General Manton Eddy happened to be on scene and so he gave permission. Major Hunter left B Company, 53rd Armored Infantry in Luneville and then raced north with A Company, 37th Tank Battalion and C Battery, 94th Armored Field Artillery Battalion. They arrived in time for A Company to assist B Company of its parent battalion in the final stages of repulsing a German panzer attack.[50]

B Company, 704th Tank Destroyer Battalion remained in and around Luneville for most of 19 September until it left with the rest of Reserve Command. In the morning, 3rd Platoon knocked out a Panther, a self-propelled gun, and a heavy machine gun and took five prisoners. Early in the afternoon, the Battalion headquarters area in Luneville was struck by German mortar fire. The battalion commander, Lt. Colonel William A. Bailey, was killed along with one other officer and six enlisted men. Another officer and sixteen enlisted were wounded in the barrage.[51]

For four days, battle had raged in and around the town of Luneville. First the Americans had seized the town and then fought off several German attempts to retake it. Altogether, Luneville had been costly for the Germans. They lost 13 panzers, 16 large calibre guns and 232 miscellaneous vehicles. They had also suffered 1,070 killed or captured. The Americans, too, had sustained losses. The 18 September battle had cost 2nd Cavalry Group three assault guns, an armored car and a jeep, as well as severely wounding its commanding officer and killing the commander of its 42nd Squadron. Reserve Command, 4th Armored Division lost three killed, fifteen wounded and four tanks. The 704th Tank Destroyer Battalion lost its commanding officer and seven other members.[52]

Aftermath – The Battle of Arrascourt

The Germans had expected to drive through Luneville and strike a decisive blow against the American XII Corps flank. They had not anticipated running into the 2nd Cavalry Group. The stubborn delaying action by the cavalrymen had three important effects. First, it enabled Colonel Reed to pull back his 2nd Squadron and the rest of 42nd Squadron into Luneville and prevent the annihilation of his command. Second, it enabled the 4th Armored Division to reinforce Luneville and thus stop the German counter-attack at this point. Lastly, the delaying action severely disrupted the German counter-attack plan and forced them to shift their counter-attack to the north and east. In doing so, they ran straight into Combat Commands A and B of the 4th Armored Division.[53]

For the next several days, the 4th Armored Division fought a brilliant defensive battle against units of the Fifth Panzer Army, effectively destroying several of them in the process. “At Arracourt, the 4th Armored proved that it was as tough on the defensive and in the counter-attack as on the offensive, claiming the destruction of 281 German tanks, three thousand enemy killed, and another three thousand POWs,” wrote Patton biographer Carlo D’Estes.[54]

The Battle of Luneville was a costly affair. Colonel Reed later stated, “We had one of our worst times at Luneville.”[55] Nevertheless, the courageous actions of the outnumbered 2nd Cavalrymen delayed the German counter-attack sufficiently to enable heavier American armored forces to respond to the threat and neutralize it. Over the next several days, the 4th Armored Division and supporting units fought one of its most decisive battles. Their victory was in part attributable to the stubborn and skilful defense of some outnumbered U.S. cavalrymen near the town of Luneville.

I had the pleasure of knowing Joe Carpenter and his wife Ellin for several years before they passed away earlier this century. I even accompanied them to the annual reunion of the 2nd Cavalry Association in October 2001. They were two of the nicest people I’ve ever known. Joe had served our country with honor and distinction during a time of great peril. Yet, like so many others of the Greatest Generation, Joe never acknowledged that he had done anything heroic or extraordinary. To him, he was just doing his job. May God bless him and Ellin for all eternity.

[1] Robert Stewart Cameron, Mobility, Shock and Firepower: The Emergence of the U.S. Army’s Armor Branch 1917 – 1945 . Washington DC: Center of Military History, 2008. See Chapter 14. See also U.S. War Department. Field Manual 2-20. Cavalry – Cavalry Reconnaissance Troop Mechanized. 24 February 1944. Hereafter cited as FM 2-20. Major Louis A. DiMarco, USA. The U.S. Army’s Mechanized Cavalry Doctrine in World War Two. Masters Thesis. U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. June 1995. DiMarco retired as a lieutenant colonel and is now a professor at the Command and General Staff College.

[2] Quoted in Cameron, p. 474.

[3] Ibid. Major DiMarco’s Masters Thesis examines the development of mechanized cavalry doctrine and its actual application in World War Two.

[4] For a more detailed description of the Ardennes battles, see Charles B. MacDonald, A Time for Trumpets. NY: William Morrow & Co, 1985. Hugh M. Cole’s The Ardennes: The Battle of the Bulge . In the Series The U.S. Army in World War II. Washington DC: Center for Military History, 1965. and John Toland’s Battle: Story of the Bulge . NY: Random House, 1959.

[7] Hugh M. Cole’s The Lorraine Campaign. In the Series The U.S. Army in World War II . Washington DC: Center for Military History, 1950, pp. 209-214. To avoid confusion with his previously cited work on the Battle of the Bulge, this work is being cited by its title.

[8] The Lorraine Campaign, pp. 209-212. The words “a bridge too far” were used by British Lt. Gen. Frederick Browning, deputy commander of the First Allied Airborne Army, in voicing his concerns to Montgomery about the operation being too ambitious. Cornelius Ryan later used the phrase as the title of his epic account of the operation, which was later made into a movie of the same name.

[9] DiMarco, p. 94. The Lorraine Campaign, pp. 209-212. Dr. Christopher R. Gabel. The 4th Armored Division in the Encirclement of Nancy. Fort Leavenworth, KS: Combat Studies Institute – U.S. Army Command & General Staff College, April 1986. This provides a general overview of 4th Armored Division’s operations in this area during September 1944. Lt. Col. George Dyer. XII Corps: Spearhead of Patton’s Third Army. Privately published by the XII Corps Historical Association, 1947. Dyer served as a Special Assistant Chief of Staff for XII Corps.

[11]. Ibid. Dyer, p. 212. Dyer draws upon the XII Corps After Action Report and an account by Capt. Charles E. Harris of 42nd Squadron for his account of the Luneville battle.

[13]. Ibid. U.S. Army. Third U.S. Army. XII Corps. 4th Armored Division. 704th Tank Destroyer Battalion. After Action Report for 1 September to 30 September 1944. 19 March 1945. Record Group 407. National Archives and Records Administration. Archives II – College Park, Maryland. Hereafter cited as 704th TD AAR. Major Richard H. Barnes, USA. Arracourt – September 1944. Masters Thesis. U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. June 1982, pp. 54-6. For his thesis, Major Barnes drew heavily on the after action reports of several participating units obtained at the National Archives and elsewhere. The Combat Command of a U.S. armored division typically consisted of a battalion each of tanks, armored infantry and self-propelled artillery and attachments of combat engineers, tank destroyers, medics, and self-propelled anti-aircraft artillery. 4th Armored Division, however, primarily used its CCA and CCB as its manuever forces and thus Reserve Command was typically under strength in comparison.

[18]. The Lorraine Campaign, p. 220. Barnes, p. 59.

[19]. The Lorraine Campaign, pp. 215-217. Barnes, pp. 58-9. Generalmajor Friedrich von Mellenthin. Panzer Battles: A Study of the Employment of Armor in the Second World War . Trans. by H Betzler. Ed. By L C F Turner. NY: Ballantine Books, 1971, p. 377.

[20]. Ibid. von Mellenthin, p. 377.

[21]. Dyer, pp.218-219. DiMarco, p. 94.

[23]. Several of the primary sources mention that German Tiger panzers were present during the Battles of Luneville. Most often this was a case of mistaken identity as these reported Tigers were actually Panthers.

[24]. Major Pitman biography from the Camden County War Dead website accessed on 7 December 2012 at http://www.dvrbs.com/Monuments/waterford/WaterfordWW2-JamesHPitman.htm

[25]. The Lorraine Campaign, p. 220. 111th Panzer Brigade’s strength is listed in Barnes, p. 61 and p. 175. Also consulted for this paper were Major Arthur L. Lambert and Captain G. B. Layton’s The Ghosts of Patton's Third Army: A History of the Second US Cavalry . Munich, Germany: Muenchner Graphische, 1945 and The Ghost's of Patton's Third Army: A History of the Second US Cavalry (Group): Central Europe, Normandy, Northern France, Ardennes, Rhineland . Munich, Germany: Muenchner Graphische, 1946. These are two different works privately printed by the 2nd Cavalry Group Association. The first is a large book while the second is a short booklet.

[27]. Ibid. Dyer, p. 212. DiMarco, p. 95.

[28]. Ibid. 1st Lt Harris is quoted on p. 212.

[29]. 2nd Lt Wessling quoted in Lambert and Layton’s book. An excerpt of this is posted on LTC Louis DiMarco’s website, http://www.louisdimarco.com/2ndcavlune.htm

[30]. The Lorraine Campaign, pp. 220-1. Dyer, p. 212. DiMarco, p. 95. Major Pitman was buried at the Lorraine American Military Cemetery in St. Avold, France. He left behind a wife Theodosia and a 15-month-old son James in Pennsauken, NJ. Corporal Campbell was originally from Missouri. According to the American Battle Monuments Commission website www.abmc.gov , Cpl Campbell is officially listed as Missing in Action and his name is inscribed on the Tablet of the Missing at the Lorraine American Military Cemetery. Both Pitman and Campbell were recipients of the Silver Star.

[33]. The Ghost's of Patton's Third Army, pp. 7-9.

[37]. The Lorraine Campaign, pp. 220-1. Barnes, pp. 61-63.

[38]. Barnes, pp. 65-66. The Lorraine Campaign, pp. 220-1. U.S. Army. Third U.S. Army. XII Corps. 183rd Field Artillery Group. 738th Field Artillery Battalion. Staff Sergeant John Rodosevich. The History of 738th Field Artillery Battalion. Privately printed by the author and re-printed by John H. Daniels of the battalion in 1998.

[39]. Ibid. U.S. Army. Third U.S. Army. XII Corps. 4th Armored Division. Combat Command A. 37th Tank Battalion. Battalion Diary. 15 October 1944. RG 407. National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, Maryland. Hereafter cited as 37th Tank Bn Diary.

[41]. 1st Lt. John H. Daniels, USA (dec.). War Diary. Camden, SC: privately published by the author in 2000. See pages 35-6. Copy provided to the author by 1st Lt Daniels prior to this death in 2005. Hereafter cited by title. Sharon Garrison, the daughter of Colonel Garrison, has written an account of this engagement based on her own research. It is posted on the 738th Field Artillery Battalion website: www.oocites.org/pentagon/7381/hist44.html

[43]. Barnes, pp. 65-66. The Lorraine Campaign, pp. 220-1.

[46]. War Diary, pp. 35-36.

[47]. Barnes, p. 66. 704th TD AAR.

[49]. The Lorraine Campaign, pp. 220-1.

[50]. 37th Tank Bn Diary, p. 9.

[51]. 704th TD AAR, p. 2. According to the American Battle Monuments Commission website, Lt Col Bailey is buried at the Lorraine American Military Cemetery in St. Avold, France. He was the recipient of the Silver Star.

[52]. 704th TD AAR, p. 2. Barnes, p. 66.

[53]. The Lorraine Campaign, pp. 222-232. DiMarco, pp. 95-96.

[54]. The Lorraine Campaign, pp. 222-232. Carlo D’Estes. Patton: A Genius for War . NY: Harper Collins, 1996, p. 663. 37th Tank Bn Diary, p. 10. See also Dr. Gabel’s The Fourth Armored Division in the Encirclement of Nancy.

Published online: 12/23/2012.

Written by Bryan Dickerson. If you have questions or comments on this article, please contact Bryan Dickerson at: [email protected].

About the author:
Bryan J. Dickerson is a military historian specializing in World War Two and a Navy Reserve veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom. He earned a Masters of Arts in American History from Monmouth University in New Jersey in 1999. He is the former Editor of Cold War Times - the online newsletter of the Cold War Museum in Virginia.


Romania's History

Romania's history has not been as idyllically peaceful as its geography.
Over the centuries, various migrating people invaded Romania.
Romania's historical provinces Wallachia and Moldova offered furious resistance to the invading Ottoman Turks.
Transylvania was successively under Habsburg, Ottoman, Hungarian or Wallachian rule,
while remaining an (semi) autonomous province.

Romania's post WWII history as a communist-block nation is more widely known, primarily due to the excesses of the former dictator Nicolae Ceausescu. In December 1989 a national uprising led to his overthrow.
The 1991 Constitution re-established Romania as a republic with a multiparty system, market economy and individual rights of free speech, religion and private ownership.

Some of the history that has shaped Romania
What is now Romania has been inhabited since the Paleolithic Age
as evidenced by carved stone tools unearthed there.

10,000 B.C.
Approximate date of the first known art in present day Romania: cave paintings in northwest Transylvania.

4,000 B.C.
Approximate date of pottery (dated to the Neolithic Age) that is found in all regions of Romania.

3,000 B.C.
Thracian tribes of Indo-European origin, who migrated from Asia, occupied the actual territory of Romania.

2,000 B.C.
A distinctive Thracian sub-group emerged in what is now Romania.
The Greeks called these people Getae, but to the Romans they were Dacians.
Herodotus called them "the fairest and most courageous of men"
because they believed in the immortality of the soul and were not afraid to die.

700 B.C.
Greeks arrived and settled near the Black Sea.
The cities of Histria, Tomis (now Constanta) and Callatis (now Mangalia) were established.
Western-style civilization developed significantly.

70-44 B.C.
Dacian king Burebista controlled the territory of modern-day Romania.
Burebista created a powerful Dacian kingdom.

100 A.D.
Dacian civilization reaches its peak.

106 A.D.
Romans conquer and colonize Dacia (modern-today Romania).

106 - 274 A.D.
Dacia is a province of the Roman Empire.
Dacians gradually adopt numerous elements of the conquerors' language.

271 A.D.
After fighting off the barbarian Goths, most Roman troops abandon Dacia.

4th Century
Christianity is adopted by the Daco-Roman, Latin-speaking people.

4th - 9th Centuries
Nomadic tribes from Asia and Europe (Goths, Visigoths, Huns, Slavs) invade Dacia.

896 — late 1100s
Magyars (Hungarians) invade regions in western and central present-day Romania
(Crisana, Banat and Transylvania).
The local population — Romanians - were the only Latin people in the eastern part of the former Roman Empire and the only Latin people to belong to the Orthodox faith.
The oldest extant Hungarian chronicle, "Gesta Hungarorum" or The Deeds of the Hungarians,
(based on older chronicles) documents the battles between the local population in Transylvania,
lead by six local rulers, and the invading Magyars.

12th Century
Saxon (German) settlers begin to establish several towns in Transylvania. (Germans were invited to settle in Transylvania by the king of Hungary who wanted to consolidate his position in the newly occupied territory).
Szeklers people - descendants from Attila's Huns - were also brought to eastern and southeastern Transylvania as border guards.

13th Century
The first formal division of the formerly unified Romanian population. The principalities of Wallachia, Moldavia, and Transylvania are established. Transylvania becomes an autonomous principality under Magyar rule, until 1526. Magyar forces tried unsuccessfully to capture Wallachia and Moldavia.

14th-15th Centuries
Wallachia and Moldavia offered resistance to the Ottoman Empire expansion.

1526
Transylvania (a semi-autonomous principality) becomes subject to Ottoman (Turkish) authority.

16th-17th Century
Threatened by the Turks who conquered Hungary, the three Romanian provinces of Wallachia, Moldova and Transylvania are able to retain their autonomy by paying tribute to the Turks.
The principality of Transylvania prospered as a vassal state of the Ottoman Empire.

1600
Wallachia, Moldavia and Transylvania (map) are briefly united under Mihai Viteazul (Michael the Brave), prince of Wallachia. Unity lasted only one year after which, Michael the Brave was defeated by the Turks and Hapsburg forces. Transylvania came under Hapsburg rule while Turkish suzerainty continued in Wallachia and Moldavia.

1699
Transylvania and Bucovina (smaller region north of Moldavia)
are incorporated in the Habsburg Empire.

1765
Transylvania was declared a Grand Principality of Transylvania,
further consolidating its special separate status within the Habsburg Empire.

1821
Moldavia loses its eastern territory east of river Prut (also called Bessarabia) to Russia.

1856
The principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia
— for centuries under the suzerainty of the Turkish Ottoman Empire -
secure their autonomy.

1859
Alexandru Ioan Cuza is elected to the thrones of Moldavia and Wallachia.

1862
Wallachia and Moldavia unite to form a national state: Romania.

1866
Carol I (German born) succeeds Alexandru Ioan Cuza, as prince of Romania.

1867
Transylvania falls under the direct rule of Hungary and a strong push for
Magyarisation (of names and official language) follows.

1877
On May 9 the Romanian parliament declared the independence of Romania from the Ottoman Empire.
A day later, the act was signed by Prince Carol I.

1881
Kingdom of Romania officially proclaimed.

1892
The leaders of the Romanians of Transylvania sent a Memorandum to the Austro-Hungarian Emperor,
Franz Joseph demanding an end to persecutions and Magyarization attempts.

1914
King Carol I dies. He is succeeded by his nephew King Ferdinand I (1914-1927).
Romania enters WWI on the side of the Triple Entente aiming to regain its lost territories
(part of Transylvania, Bessarabia and Bukovina).

1918
During large public assemblies representatives of most towns, villages and local communities in Transylvania, Bessarabia and Bucovina declare union with Romania.

1930
Carol II, Ferdinand's I son, becomes king of Romania and establishes royal dictatorship.

1939
Germany demands a monopoly on Romanian exports (mainly oil, lumber and
agricultural products) in exchange for the guarantee of its borders.

1940
The Soviet Union annexes Bessarabia (eastern Romania - today Republic of Moldova)
and Northern Bucovina (NNE Romania).
Germany and Italy force Romania to cede Northern Transylvania to Hungary.
Widespread demonstrations against King Carol II. Marshall Ion Antonescu forces him to abdicate
in favor of his 19-year-old son Michael. Carol II flees Romania.

1941
Marshall Ion Antonescu imposes a military dictatorship.
In order to regain Bessarabia, Romania enters WWII against the Soviet Union.

1944
King Michael I engineers a royal coup and arrests Marshall Ion Antonescu.
Romania reenters war on the Allies side.

1945
The Yalta Agreement makes Romania part of the Soviet system.
Communist-dominated government installed.

1947
With Soviet troops on its territory, Romania enters the sphere of influence of the Soviet Union.
The communists, who gradually took the power, force King Michael I to abdicate
and proclaim Romania a People's Republic.
King Michael leaves the country and moves to Switzerland.

1950s
After Stalin's death, Romania begins to distance itself from Moscow.

1964
Romania declares autonomy within Communist Bloc.

1967
Nicolae Ceausescu becomes President of the Council of State merging leadership of state and party.

1968
Romania condemns the Soviet-led Warsaw Pacy invasion of Czechoslovakia
Romania's communist leader Nicolae Ceausescu, earns praise and economic aid from the West.

1974
Romania was the first country of the Soviet Bloc to have official relations with the European Community.
(and sign a treaty that included Romania in the Community's Generalized System of Preferences).

1980s
Obsessed with repaying the national debt and megalomaniac building projects Ceausescu orders a ban on importation of any consumer products and commands exportation of all goods produced in Romania except minimum food supplies. Severe restrictions of civil rights are imposed.

1982
Romania calls on Soviet Union to withdraw from Afghanistan.

1987
Ceausescu indicates Romania will not follow Soviet reform trends.

1989
Romanians unite in protests against the communist leadership and local demonstrations sparked a national uprising that finally ousted communist ruler Nicolae Ceausescu and his cabinet.

1990
First free, multi-party elections after WWII are held in Romania.

1991
Romanians vote for a new Constitution.

2004
Romania joins NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization).

2007
Romania becomes a member of the European Union.


A Finnish soldier on a foggy evening, lighting a cigarette to keep warm . Harlu September 18, 1944

This is a cool photo, though as a smoker I definitely do not light cigarettes to keep warm.

I should mention, the caption is by Kim Borg himself.

Perhaps he doesn't mean physically warm. The calming effect is probably what i means by keeping "warm".

I was about to say they don't really have that affect

Photographer: Lieutenant Kim Borg / Finnish Armed Forces

Date taken: September 18, 1944

Digitized by: Finnish Armed Forces

Note: The photographer, Lieutenant Kim Borg, was incredibly talented, and he would later go on to become an operatic bass.

Hey I know it's been a while, but do you have a mirror for the original image? The link seems to be dead.

An honest critique: so much light information was lost. the spark around the mouth is one of the most compelling elements in the original, it seems like a shame to mask it. Also,the distinction around the rifle is so much less I didn't even notice it was there when I first clicked. The color choice is beautiful, but it would be nice to have some of those original elements back.


18 September 1944 - History

Basic Organization of Panzergrenadier-Regiment in Panzer-Division During 1944

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Table 16. Panzer-Division 44

Table 17. Panzergrenadier-Regiment 44

Table 18. Panzergrenadier-Regiment (mot) 44

Table 19. Firepower of Panzergrenadier-Regiment 44

Table 20. Firepower of Panzergrenadier-Regiment (mot) 44

Table 21. Panzer-Lehr Division in 1944

Panzergrenadier-Regiment in SS and Luftwaffe Panzer-Division

Facing the fierce fighting in all front lines, the Panzer-Divisions were once again reorganized. It was not until 3 Aug 1944, that all the Heeres Panzer-Divisions (with the exception of the Panzer-Lehr Division and the 21. Panzer-Division) were immediately reorganized in accordance with the standardized "Gliederung Panzer-Division 44", so called the famous "Type 44 Panzer-Division" (Table 16).

Panzer-Division 44

Panzer-Regiment I. Abteilung
II. Abteilung
Panzergrenadier-Regiment I. Bataillon
II. Bataillon
Panzergrenadier-Regiment (mot) I. Bataillon
II. Bataillon
Panzer Jaeger-Abteilung
Panzer Aufklaerung-Abteilung
Heeres Flak Artillerie-Abteilung
Panzer Artillerie-Regiment
Panzer Pioniere-Bataillon

Table 16. Major combat components of "Type 44 Panzer-Division".

The "Type 44 Panzer-Division" remained the same structure as before, many armored fighting vehicles were upgunned and upgraded. There were still four battalions of Panzergrenadiers in two regiments, but at least three differences were observed in regimental organization as compared to previous one (Table 17 and Table 18). First, due to the shortage of manpower, the company size in the regiment was reduced to ten, rather than previous eleven. Second, the Flak-Kompanie was disbanded and the self-propelled 2 cm flaks were integrated into heavy company. Third, the supply section within each company was concentrated into a supply company under the battalion command.

Panzergrenadier-Regiment 44

Table 17. Basic organization of Panzergrenadier-Regiment in "Type 44 Panzer-Division".

Panzergrenadier-Regiment (mot) 44

Table 18. Basic organization of Panzergrenadier-Regiment (mot) in "Type 44 Panzer-Division".

The firepower of Panzergrenadier-Regiment in 1944 was reduced due to removal of all anti-tank guns as compared to previous one (Table 19 and Table 20). Its anti-tank guns were given over to the Panzer Jaeger-Abteilung but the Panzergrenadiers were equipped with Panzerschrecks and Panzerfaust (anti-tank bazookas).

Firepower of Panzergrenadier-Regiment 44

LMG/HMG 2 cm Flak/FT 7.5 cm/15 cm IG 8 cm/12 cm Mortar
Stab 15/0
I. Bataillon 105/12 21/0 12/0 6/4
II. Bataillon 60/12 6/0 6/4
9. Kompanie 7/0 0/6
10. Kompanie 27/2 1/24 2/0
Total 214/26 28/24 12/6 14/8

Table 19. Firepower distribution of Panzergrenadier-Regiment in "Type 44 Panzer-Division", LMG: light machine gun, HMG: heavy machine gun, FT: flame thrower, IG: infantry gun.

Firepower of Panzergrenadier-Regiment (mot) 44

LMG/HMG 2 cm Flak/FT 7.5 cm/15 cm IG 8 cm/12 cm Mortar
Stab 4/0
I. Bataillon 60/12 6/0 6/4
II. Bataillon 60/12 6/0 6/4
9. Kompanie 7/0 0/6
10. Kompanie 12/2 0/18 2/0
Total 143/26 12/18 0/6 14/8

Table 20. Firepower distribution of Panzergrenadier-Regiment (mot) in "Type 44 Panzer-Division", LMG: light machine gun, HMG: heavy machine gun, FT: flame thrower, IG: infantry gun.

The Panzer-Lehr Division was the strongest one among the Heeres Panzer-Divisions. It was formed on 10 Jan 1944 from staff, instructors and demonstration units of various panzer training school, thus the formation naturally made it something of a crack unit. Although it had only two panzer battalions, nevertheless equipped all its Panzergrenadiers and engineers with SdKfz 251 SPW, and had all its artillery self-propelled (Table 21).

Panzer-Lehr Division in 1944

Panzer-Lehr Regiment 130 I. Abteilung
II. Abteilung
Panzergrenadier-Lehr Regiment 901 I. Bataillon
II. Bataillon
Panzergrenadier-Lehr Regiment 902 I. Bataillon
II. Bataillon
Panzer Jaeger-Lehr Abteilung 130
Panzer Aufklaerung-Lehr Abteilung 130
Heeres Flak Artillerie-Abteilung 311
Panzer Artillerie-Regiment 130
Panzer Pioniere-Lehr Bataillon 130

Table 21. Major combat components of Panzer-Lehr Division in 1944.

The organization of Panzer-Lehr Division demonstrated the ideal equipments of Panzergrenadier-Regiment with all half-tracked SdKfz 251 SPW to cooperate with panzers across country. As Guderian was to argue: "It is better to have a few strong divisions than many partially equipped ones. The later type needs a large quantity of wheeled vehicles, fuel and personnel which is quite disproportionate to their effectiveness they are a burden, both to command and to supply." The Panzer-Lehr Division was the best example.