60 Years of Peace
at Grosslangenfeld, Germany

Saturday, 12.16.1944 and Sunday 12.17.1944

The Battle for Grosslangenfeld
from the perspective of the 190th Grenadier Regiment:

-The attack begins at 5:30.

-The 190th Grenadier Regiment (GR), under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Franke, advances from their positions and takes the wooded hill south of Grosslangenfeld (Hill 508 - "Kopp") and temporarily penetrates Grosslangenfeld.

-The forest edge northwest of Eigelscheid is reached. Here they overrun the position of a cannon company of the 424th US Regiment.

-The general attacking maneuvers of the 190th GR are advanced from the forests "Huehnerheck", "Kopp" and "Heiken", to where they have to retreat as well.

-The 190th GR is stuck before Grosslangenfeld, where they are battling the 106th Reconnaissance Troop of the 106th US-Division, who are fiercely defending Grosslangenfeld.

-The population and livestock had been evacuated some time ago by the 2nd Infantry Division.

-During the battle over Grosslangenfeld several hundred soldiers died and 17 buildings burned down.

-Since the 190th GR is stuck before Grosslangenfeld, the 3rd company of the 164th GR is dispatched as reinforcements to the 190th GR to assist in the attack. They advance northbound towards Grosslangenfeld along the road from Eigelscheid. In unison with the 190th GR a renewed attack is to be executed. The fighting continues on until late in the evening, only when an American tank is hit around 10 pm, does the situation calm down somewhat. Around 1:00 am of the 17th, the fighting starts to ebb, only solitary shots are fired here and there. At dawn the intense fighting starts up again. Estimates are that 90% of the 3rd company of the 164th GR has been rubbed out.

-The 6th Company of the 2nd Battalion of the 190th GR advances out of its position by Habscheidermuehle, after having been read the daily briefing about the grand-scale attack, across open field at the head of the 2nd Battalion of the 190th GR, towards Grosslangenfeld.

-In the sector of the 2nd Battalion rockets are positioned and shoot preparatory fire (screaming meemies) at Grosslangenfeld.

-After they reach the street (Weissenhof to Grosslangenfeld), they advance in the ditch on the right side of the road to Grosslangenfeld.

-The 6th Company is under machine gun fire from Grosslangenfeld and is forced down.

-The battle order is: conquer the village Grosslangenfeld.

-The 1st group of the 1st platoon of the 6th Company is ordered to cross the street and to penetrate the properties on the opposite side. The first porperty is reached without any losses, the second is easily accessed through a garden, as is the adjacent house. This is were the group remains until late in the evening. In the afternoon they are being shot at with grenades. The 1st group retreats into the cellar of the barn, which is attached to the house. Late in the evening the 1st group gets notified by a messenger to disengage the enemy and to return to the 6th Company.

-On the eve of the 17th, the 2nd Battalion, under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Oswald Jenne, commences to attack Grosslangenfeld. This Battalion works its way forward until they reach the barbed wire and trip mine zones, where they stop their attack and retreat to the forest edge, waiting for the Pioneers to clear away the mines, who don't show up.

-In the early afternoon of the 17th, an attack led by the 2nd Battalion on Grosslangenfeld, advancing from Ihren, runs head into the retreat movements of the 106th Reconnaissance Troop. Their attack takes place from a westerly direction. A number of Americans are taken prisoner. The 2nd Battalion remains in the village for only a few hours.

from the perspective of the 106th Cavalry Reconnaissance Troop

-The 106th Reconnaissance Troop was a part of the 424th Infantry Division and moved to the front on the 11th of December, 1944. They were to replace a rifle company of the 423rd infantry regiment of the 2nd US Division in Grosslangenfeld.

-The order was to replace a rifle company in secrecy..

The vehicles were parked in outbuildings, hidden from view, and the men were not allowed to test the new guns of their armored trucks. Radio silence was ordered and the crystals removed.

Shortly after the start of the attack on the morning of December 16th, the only telephone line to the 424th Infantry Division was severed and they were cut off from the outside.

-The defensive positions in Grosslangenfeld consisted mainly of a series of log-supported earthen bunkers, which were situated about a hundred yards beyond the edge of the village, and faced the Siegfried line. At each end the defensive positions reached around to the north in order to screen the approaches from the east and west. Clockwise from the northeast part of the village, the 1st Platoon was on the extreme left. It's left-most bunker faced north towards Winterscheid. The 1st Platoon bunkers continued around clockwise to cover the Bleialf road and around further to face the Siegfried line. The 2nd Platoon extended from the 1st Platoon to the "Y", where the roads to Winterspelt, Habscheid and Bleialf meet. The 3rd Platoon extended north of the Y and the road to Winterspelt, leading out of the village to the west. From there Headquarters Platoon curved north facing mainly west and was in part placed well out in front of the village by several hundred yards in order to take advantage of positions that overlooked steep slopes falling away towards the west. In effect, Headquarters Platoon had two interrelated lines of defense, one at the edge of the village itself and one several hundred yards to the front. Except for the handful of men who were at the Troop Command Post (TCP) in the center of the village and a few cooks, practically everyone else in the Headquarters Platoon was assigned to defensive positions.

As part of the German defensive network, a railroad car was lowered into the ground at the northernmost part of the forward line of defense to the west. It was sunk almost to the rooftop and was used as living quarters for men manning a machine gun bunker nearby which was designated Lenny 8. A few hundred yards to the south of this was Lenny 7. And a further several hundred yards south there was yet another bunker, the 2 man MG bunker Lenny 7-Able. The two latter bunkers overlooked steep slopes which began at the far edge of the open fields extending beyond the fringes of the village and dominated this part of the valley. An isolated farm house was used for living quarters the the rear of Lenny 7-Able.

The 1st, 2nd and 3rd Platoons each had three or four bunkers, plus various prepared foxholes and firing pits. Headquarter Platoon had more.

The platoon leaders were spending the night inside houses adjacent to their bunkers. The bunkers were set several feet into the hillsides and were constructed of logs from the nearby forests and were covered on top and exposed sides with sandbags. Most bunker gun ports had aiming stakes restricting the machine guns traversing fields of fire in order to coordinate the coverage of each gun with its neighbors. There were also ground cards so the machine guns could be switched to various pre-set positions to lay down a solid curtain of fire even in total darkness. There were trip wires that set off flares in front of some of the bunkers. There were fragmentation grenades attached to barbed wire in places and tin cans with pebbles inside which rattled when the wires were disturbed. There was also fine wire stretched across ditches with grenades attached. The bunkers had field telephone contact with one another.

The 106th Cavalry Reconnaissance Troop consisted of:

6 Officers
149 enlisted men
13 M8 armored cars
99 .30 caliber M1carbines
13 .30 caliber light machine guns
3 .50 caliber machine guns
30 .45 caliber machine guns (with ammo belts)
5 Rocket Launchers A.T.
9 60 mm mortars
26 .30 caliber M1 Rifles
24 jeeps - 1/4 ton trucks
5 M3 armored halftracks
1 2-1/2 ton truck (mess truck)

-On December 16th, there was no radio contact with the 424th regiment, and the 106th Recon was on their own.

-During that day several attacks, occurring from alternating directions, were thwarted successfully.

-In the night leading to the 17th, their munitions depot is hit and goes off like a fireworks display. Grosslangenfeld is burning in several places.

-Midmorning December 17th, the officers get together to discuss the general situation and possible strategies and come up with these two options:

1.to hold the position until they've used up their ammunition, then face capture or death; or

2.to disengage the enemy and fall back to Schönberg, where they believe they can join the division reserve.

The second option was chosen. The oral order was given to disengage from the fighting, position by position, and commence a retreat northward towards Schönberg, upon receiving the signal. The orderly retreat was supposed to proceed along the following succession:

first the 1st platoon, then Headquarters and Headquarters platoon, then the 2nd platoon and last the 3rd platoon.

-The retreat began shortly after 1 pm of the 17th of December.

The 1st platoon successfully disengaged the enemy and retreated according to plan. Headquarters and Headquarters platoon followed them and began their retreat.

The 2nd platoon was partially able to disengage the enemy and fall back, a third of the platoon got cut off by German troops and couldn't manage the retreat.

The leader of the 3rd platoon was either in misunderstanding of the planned retreat route or had to face the fact that the planned route had been taken over by the Germans, he decided to retreat along the same road the 106th had come into Grosslangenfeld a week earlier, the western road to Winterspelt, in the territory of the 424th US regiment.

-The German forces were able to overrun the scattered troops that were left behind relatively quickly, after short and fierce fighting the complete 3rd platoon, parts of Headquarters platoon and the remaining third of the 2nd platoon were captured.

Those 106th Recon troops, who got away successfully, drove north on the paved road to Bleialf. To avoid further enemy contact, they chose to leave the road and head north across the fields. Shortly after leaving the road, they got to Winterscheid. (Territory of the 423rd US regiment of the 106th US Division)
Continuing on their way to Schönberg, they met up with parts of Group B of the 18th cavalry reconnaissance unit and joined them.

In the evening the officers decided to make camp in a lumber hut in the forest behind Winterscheid. They disabled all the vehicles and machinery and decided to wait out the night.

The next morning, the 18th of December, the remainder of the 106th Recon was awakened by the Germans and taken prisoner.

Contributed by Josef Reusch and Sebastian Pusch