"I" DID IT
A History of Events
355TH INFANTRY REGIMENT
89TH infantry Division WWII
February 23 to March 4
Damp and Heavy Fog
Left Camp Luck Strike at 0930 hours in semi trucks, passing through the towns of ST Vallery, en Caux and Dieppe-Arrived in Battalion convoy at Neufchatelle where the company guide, S Sgt McDermott, met us and guided us to the final destination which was the "Chateau" in the small village of Osmoy, France. Here the Company was separated, Co HQ, the 1st and 2nd Platoons were put in the Chateau; the 3rd Battalion in the garage which had painting on the walls, done by the Germans who had previously occupied the billets. The 4th Platoon was in a School House in the village proper.
The task of fixing up the billets for comfort demanded numerous details. Cement floors were too hard to sleep on so straw was brought for mattresses. Lights were fixed, requiring rewiring of the building, etc.
It was necessary to keep the company close to the billets because a great deal of the surrounding terrain was heavily mined. Training was continued-Rifles were zeroed in and the last minute details were taken care of for the big show was near at hand.
The first excitement came when trouble arose between a Nazi collaborator and an anti Nazi Frenchman. The First Sergeant left to find out what the trouble was; the guard became excited, brought word back that shooting had occurred and the First Sergeant was in the midst of it. Capt Godwin formed a patrol, fixed bayonets, and settled it without much ado.
Company assembled-Loaded on trucks at 1500 hours moved to Neufchatelle Train Station-Company broken down into groups-Systematically packed on 40 and 8's (R.R. cars that accommodate 40 men or 8 mules).
The cars, used by the French to transport stock, were taken over by the U. S. Army to move troops to the front lines. Straw was provided on the floor to sleep on. Due to the crowded conditions, many were forced to make hammocks of shelter halves and tent ropes. Fires were not permitted so C Rations were eaten cold: sanitary conditions were nil, and all the movement was an ordeal.
At 1800 hours the move to the front lines began. The 89th Division ("We'll never see action") was on its way to combat.
Enroute to front, passing through St. Quenten, Leon (Lyon?), La Feve, Crepy, Chenieviell, Sedan, and out of France.
Cloudy and Cool
Still enroute to front, nearing destination- passed through Uirton, Belgium and Luxembourg City, Luxembourg-Loaded on trucks, continued to Beidweiler, arrived at 1300 hours-- Detrained at Mersch, Luxembourg at 100 hours-Chow at 1400 hours, billets selected security put out-the first tactical phase. Enemy paratroopers were said to have landed in the vicinity the day before, and were still about-For the first time, artillery and periodically small arms fire could be heard.
Rain all day
Additional firepower was allocated the weapons' platoon, two additional BARs to each rifle platoon-Men were switched about the platoons to equalize, and fill in vacancies of men sent to other units-Men transferred to -Hq. Co. 89th Div, Paul E Finch-Hq. Co 255th Inf. Alton C. Thompson, James K Young and Willis G. Sloas-Hq. 3rd Bn. Melvin R. McIntire, Pearl Parker-Lt. William Stowell, 1st Platoon Leader promoted to 1st Lt.
At 0730 Hours, company entrucked for Germany via Eschweiler, also passing through Altrier, and Lauterbonne-Crossing German border at Echternach 0830 hours-On crossing German border a sign posted read-"You are now entering Germany, Jerries ahead."
[Unfortunately, we are unable to copy a sketch of GIs riding into Germany, as well as many more included later in the original copy]
Towns badly demolished-Passed through Sigfried Line via Irrel, Esenach, and Welschbilling-Got first actual glimpse of dragoon teeth and pillboxes-Arrived at Idessheim, Germany, 1200 hours-Distance traveled 26 miles. Got first taste of Schnapps.
Received orders to move up and relieve elements of the 5th Inf Div (Red Diamond) whose mission it was to clear up enemy pockets, west of the Mosel River-Left Idesheim at 1635 hours by motor convoy--Arrived at Wittlich, Germany 2400 hours-Relieved Co. "C", 10th Regiment 5th Div.-Pfc Leroy Sprague asked one of the 5th Div. men where the front lines were. "You are on the front lines" was the reply.
By 0300 hours the second and third platoons plus mortars and one section of machine guns had completely relieved Co. "C" of the 5th Div.-The first platoon plus one section of machine guns had the mission of guarding a bridge that the Bn intended to use at dawn, and the Krauts threatened to blow up-Our first encounter with the enemy came when a patrol, headed by Lt. Stowell, captured eight prisoners-A 0800 hours the first platoon was joined by the second platoon and attacked the town of Lutzenrath-Continued on a mile further to clear the town of Driesch-Secured the town. And billeted for the night.
Leit Driesch at 0800-Marched 51/2 miles to the own of Bushel-No enemy encountered. -4th Armored Task Force withdrew through us to the rear, are to regroup and rest. Was joined by the remainder pf the company at 1600 hours.
Damp and Foggy
Left Bushel at 0800 hours, marched to the town of Gevenich-Took billets and had a short rest-At 1230 hours, entrucked and moved to a forward assembly area. Detrucked, Organized, and marched to the town of Ediger arriving at 1900 hours-There we relieved Co F, 355 Inf. Encountered out first artillery fire-At 2000 hours, the company was maneuvered in position preparing for a night attack on the town of Nehren-At 2130 hours, under cover of darkness, began the attack-Here we got our first baptism of rifle fire-By 0200 hours, the town was cleared and security posted. --Three prisoners were taken, and P.F.C. James L. Cody was seriously wounded.-Preparations were make to continue the attack on the town of Senhal,--At 0530 hours the company pushed off for the attack as planned, encountered stiff enemy resistance from pill boxes, and held up the attack until artillery support made it possible to advance and take the town-20 prisoners were taken. Several killed, some wounded. -P.F.C. Andrew Vander Velden and P.F.C. Robert E. Groves were seriously wounded, and had to be evacuated. -At 2200 hours two patrols were sent our to cross the Mosel river, to gain information concerning the strength abd disposition of the enemy.
Damp and foggy
Company withdrawn on orders, consolidated at Ediger, 1st Platoon maintaining security at Nehrea.
1st Platoon withdrawn from Nehren and rejoined company-company left Ediger at 0930 hours marched to Eller arriving at 1000 hours, and billeted for the night.
Left Eller in trucks, and moved along Moselle river to the town of Alf, --there we crossed the river to Bullay, moving into position with the 11th Armored Div., staying there for the night.
Assembled in open field at 0800-A truck movement to Kern was made at 0830 hours-The city was taken by units of the second battalion-We moved into reliving G company outposting the railroad yards-A bridge was blown, forcing us to stay overnight-Received our first replacements.
Left Kern at 0600 in support of the 11th Armored Div.-A motor movement to Harchheim-Highways and surrounding country strewn with dead horses and kaput German artillery. Most villages left in flames-Arrived in Harchheim at 2000 hours.
Left Harchheim at 1200 hours, advanced on tanks to Worms-enroute we were staffed by enemy ME-109's-Company completed mission at 1300 hours-City of Worms in ruins tanks had difficulty advancing to debris-chocked streets-There we saw the Rhine river for the first time.
Left Worms in trucks, traveling all day, passing through Kern enroute to Hennweiler, for a rest.
Rested in Hennweiler, hot meals for a change, were greatly appreciated.
Left Hennwieler at dusk, in trucks traveling until midnight-We bivouacked in alpine forest, and rain made the foxholes very uncomfortable.
We spent Sunday in the woods, where we made plans for crossing the Rhine river-Marched on foot some 14 miles reaching ground commanding West Bank of Rhine-Again spent night in sodden fox holes, but fatigue was so great that we were glad to sleep.
This days was remembers for its exciting events, plane attacks, turning in of French money, and the eventual trek down to the Rhine itself, which took place about 1600 hours in the afternoon-We marched down the winding road to the town of Oberwessel where we crossed the Rhine in ducks, operated by the U.S. Navy-The ascent up the hill on the other side will always be remembered for it's steep and narrow path up which we struggled and down which the prisoners and wounded crowded-The 353rd Inf, to which we were attached, established themselves about seven miles inland near a small town on the outskirts of which we dug in for the night.
Moved out in skirmishes the next morning at dawn, took the next town after all morning of scouring the woods-The second platoon discovered three twenty millimeter's dug in outside of town and disarmed them without casualties-Held for a short time until we were relieved by elements of the 353rd Inf.-Marched back on (stubbs) to Kaub where we billeted.
Personal hygiene and rest.
0800 hours company formed and loaded on trucks, and left Kaub, following the banks of the Rhine River, to the town of Eltville.-There we billeted for the night.
0900 hours company loaded on trucks and moved out to clear three towns one of which contained an insane asylum. After the mission was completed, we returned to Eltville--Had lunch, and were shuttled to Hattenheim, got billets overlooking the Rhine.
Champagne rations were issued. Morale high!!
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