The History of the 106th Infantry Division

by Major General Donald A. Stroh
Commanding General

When the history of the Ardennes fighting has been written, it will be recorded as one of the great strategic Allied successes of the war in Europe. Tactically, for the 106th, and the other American divisions involved, it was a bitter and costly fight. But it becomes increasingly clear that the Germans expended in that last futile effort those last reserves of men and material which they so badly needed a few months later. The losses and sacrifices of the 106th Infantry Division paid great dividends in eventual victory.

These pages are dedicated to those gallant men who refused to quit in the darkest hour of the Allied invasion, and whose fortitude and heroism turned the tide toward overwhelming victory.

Donald A. Stroh
Major General, Commanding


Perrin, Jones
at Camp Atterbury - 1944

The Story of the 106th Infantry Division

December 16, 1944: Springing from the bleak vastness of the Schnee Eifel with the speed of a coiling snake, Field Marshall von Rundstedt’s desperate but mighty counter-offensive struck toward Belgium and the Ardennes. Carefully hoarded Panther and Tiger tanks, followed by crack, battle-tested infantry, launched the last-chance gamble aimed at shattering the taut lines of the US First Army, seizing the cities of Liege and Antwep and slashing through the Allied forces to the sea.

The full force of this massive attack was thrown against the new, untried 106th Infantry Division which had gone into the front lines for the first time only five days previous. Tow regiments, the 422nd, and the 423rd, with the 589th, and 590th, F.A. Bn’s., were cut off and surrounded by the sheer weight and power of the concentrated German hammer blows. The 424th Regiment was driven back. The 106th Recon Troop, 331st Medical Bn., and 81st Engr. Combat Ben suffered heavy casualties.

But, despite the vulnerable 27 mile front which the division had to defend, despite inadequate reserve supplies and lack of air support, the valiant men of the Lion Division took a tremendous toll of enemy shock troops, wrote a story in blood and courage to rank with the Alamo, Cheateau-Thierry, Pearl Harbor and Bataan. They never quit. Said Field Marshal Sir Bernard L. Montgomery, "The American soldiers of the...106th Infantry Division, stuck it out and put up a fine performance. By jove, they stuck it out, those chaps.

At St. Vith, first objective of the German thrust, the 106th held on grimly at a time when every house of resistance was vital to the Allied cause. The 106th doughs fought against superior forces, with pulverizing artillery battering them from all sides; it was men against tanks, guts against steel. Their heroism gained precious time for other units to regroup and strike back. In one of the bloodiest battles of the war, the 106th showed the Germans, and the world how American soldiers could fight and die.

When the terrific German onslaught was launched the 106th had only been on the Continent 10 days. The men had mad a three day road march from Limesy, France to St. Vith, Belgium, in rain, cold and snow. In the five days they had been in the line there had been little rest.

They landed at Le Harve from England, December 6. Next day in the dim half-light of dawn, troops piled into open trucks while a cold drizzling rain fell. Some of the men, laughed and made cracks about "Sunny France". Others cursed the rain, the cold, the fate that had sent them to the battle-scarred Europe. Still others said nothing.

In the clump of trees off to one side of the road stood what once had been a pretentious country chateau. It was decayed and rotten now. Bomb-cratered ground and the shell of a fire gutted house gave evidence of what had passed. In a field across the road lay broken remains of an Allied bomber. It looked alone and dead: there was a feeling the someone ought to bury it. The scene was one of dreary foreboding.

Trucks roared over pitted, rough roads towards St. Vith, through towns and battered remnants of villages; past burned skeletons of tanks and trucks in roadside ditches, around battlefields of World War I. People came out to smile, wave, and make the V sign with their fingers. The men smiled back and made the V sign, too.

As the long convoy wound through the mountains of eastern Belgium and Luxembourg, men saw the snow covered evergreens and thought of Christmas only a short time off. Then they stopped thinking about that because they remembered where they were and why they had come.

Arriving at St. Vith the night of December 10, the division went into the line the next day. It relieved the veteran 2nd Infantry Division in the Schnee Eifel, a wooded, snow covered ridge just northeast of Luxembourg.

This was a quiet sector along the Belgium-Germany frontier. For 10 weeks there had been only light patrol activity and the sector was assigned to the 106th so it could gain experience. The baptism of fire that was to come was the first action for the 106th. For many of it’s men it was the last.

Panzer Strikes
106th Sticks It Out

Assigned to VIII Corps, the 106th took up positions in a slightly bulging arc along a forest-crowned ridge of the Schnee Eifel approximately 12 miles east of St. Vith.

The northern flank was held by the 14th Cav. Gp., attached to the 106th. Next, in the easternmost part of the curve, the 422nd held the line. To the 422nd’s right, swinging slightly to the southwest, was the 423rd and almost directly south was the 424th. Beyond the 424th, on the division’s southern flank was the 28th Infantry Division. St. Vith was the 106th HQ’s and the rear echelon was in Vielsalm, about 12 miles to the west.

The little road center of St. Vith had seen war before. It was through St. Vith that the Nazi panzers rolled to the Sudan in 1940; German infantry marched through it in 1914. But it never had figured as a battleground such as it was to become in this fateful December of 1944.

During the night of December 15th, front line units of the 106th noticed increased activity in the German positions. At 0540 the enemy began to lay down a thunderous artillery barrage.

At first, fire was directed mainly against the northern flank sector of the 14th. Slowly the barrage crept southward, smashing strong points along the whole division front. Treetops snapped like toothpicks under murderous shell bursts. Doughs burrowed into their foxholes and fortifications, waited tensely for the attack with would follow.

The darkness was filled with bursts from medium and heavy field pieces plus railway artillery which had been shoved secretly into position. The explosions were deafening and grew into a terrifying hell of noise when Nazis started using their nebelwerfes "Screaming Meemies."

Full weight of the barrage was brought to bear on the 589th FA Bn., supporting the 422nd. Hundreds of rounds blasted there positions in 35 minutes.

At 0700 the barrage lifted in the forward areas, although St. Vith remained under fire. Now came the attack. Waves of Volsgrenadiers, spearheaded by panzer units, smashed against the division lines in a desperate try for a decisive, early breakthrough. They were stopped. A second attack was thrown against the division. Again the doughs held. Nazis threw in wave after wave of fresh troops, replacing their losses. There were no replacements for the 106th.

Lionmen settled to their grim business, dug deeper, fought with everything they had. German bodies piled up, often at the very rim of the defenders foxholes. Still the Nazis came.

All during the day the attacks mounted in fury. Hundreds of fanatical Germans rushed straight toward the American lines, only to be moved down or driven back by a hail of steel. Others came on, met the same fate. The deadly, careful fire of the stubborn defenders exacted a dreadful toll on the Wehrmacht.

Finally, under pressure of overwhelming numbers, the 14th Cav. Gp, was forced to withdraw on the north flank giving the Germans their first wedge in the division front. Enemy tanks and infantry in increasing numbers then hacked at the slowly widening gap in an effort to surround the 422nd.

In the meantime, a second tank-led assault, supported by infantry and other panzers, hammered relentlessly at the 423rd and 424th. Early next morning a wedge was driven between the two regiments. This southern German column then swung north to join the one that had broken through the 14th’s sector. The 422nd and the 423rd were surrounded. The 424th pulled back to St. Vith. The Nazis were headed for St. Vith. There, cooks and clerks, truck drivers and mechanics shouldered weapons and took to the foxholes. Hopelessly out-numbered and facing heavier firepower, they dug in for a last ditch defense of the key road center. They were joined December 17 by Combat Command B, 9th Armored Division and elements of the 7th Armored Division.

Surrounded, the 422nd and 423rd fought on. Ammunition and food ran low. Appeals were radioed to HQ to have supplies flown in, but the soupy fog which covered the frozen countryside made air transport impossible.

The two encircled regiments regrouped early December 18 for a counter-attack aimed at breaking out of the steel trap. This bold thrust was blocked by sheer weight of German numbers.

The valiant stand of the two fighting regiments inside the German lines was proving to be a serious obstacle to the Nazi plans. It forced von Rundstedt to throw additional reserves into the drive to eliminate the surrounded Americans, enabled the remaining units and their reinforcements to prepare the heroic defense of St. Vith, delayed the attack schedule and prevented the early stages of the Battle of the Bulge from exploding into a complete German victory.

Low on ammunition, and food gone, ranks depleted by three days and nights of ceaseless in-fighting, the 422nd and 423rd battled on from there fox holes and old Siegfried line bunkers. They fought the ever-growing horde of panzers with bazookas, rifles and machine guns. One of their last radio messages was, "Can you get some ammunition through?"

Then, no more was heard from the two encircled regiments except what news was brought back by small groups and individuals who escaped the trap. Many were known to have been killed. Many were missing. Many turned up later in German prison camps.

Lt. General Courtney H. Hodges, First Army commander, said of the 106th’s stand:
"No troops in the world, disposed as your division had to be, could have withstood the impact of the German attack which had it’s greatest weight in your sector. Please tell these men for me what a grand job they did. By the delay they affected, they definitely upset von Rundstedt’s timetable."

Germans kept probing towards St. Vith all during the night of December 17-18. Then as daylight came, they renewed their furious and relentless attack. North of the town, 7th Armored Division elements were in position. To the south were the 424 and CC B, 9th Armored Division. Dug in along the highway to the east were Division HQ Defense Platoon, 81st, Engineer Combat Bn., and the attached 168th Engineer.

A mighty see-saw battle churned over the entire area during the next three days. Raging at the unexpected snag in there plans and aware that precious hours were being lost with every delay, the Nazis unleashed repeated fanatic attacks along the whole, thin perimeter of the defenders. Time and time again they were thrown back.

Wounded Lions
Claw Nazi Juggernaut

Feats of individual gallantry and courage against long odds were legion. Men alone in little groups fought their way out of the surrounded units. For days, soldiers made their way back through enemy lines. Some fought with whatever outfits they found.

During the early hours of the Nazi assault, the 423rd I & R Platoon, under 1st Lt. Ivan H. Long, Pontiac, MI effectively held a road block. The Germans learning at great cost that they could not smash through the block, went around. The platoon was faced with the alternative of surrendering or making a dash through enemy territory. The men were without overcoats or blankets. Among the 21 doughs were only 4 D-ration chocolate bars. They had little ammunition. But they fought their way through the snow and gnawing cold to rejoin the division with every man safe.

Cpl. Willard Roper, Havre, Mont., led the group back as first scout. After 72 hours of clawing through the enemy patrols, tank and machine gun positions, the exhausted and footsore men, some of whom had lost their helmets, could still grin and fight.

One of the most noteworthy efforts at St. Vith was the leadership of Lt. Col. Thomas J. Riggs, Jr., Huntington, W.VA commanding the 81st Engineer Combat Bn. Once a midshipman at the US Naval Academy, Col. Riggs first won fame as an All-American full back at the University of Illinois.

On the morning of December 17, Col. Riggs took over the defense of the town. He disposed his limited forces, consisting of part of his own battalion; the Defense Platoon, 106th Hq’s Co., and elements of the 168th Engr. And waited for the coming blow. The wait was short. Soon a battalion of German infantry attacked behind Tiger tanks. Time after time more tanks and infantry tackled the engineer line, probing for a weak spot. During these attacks, Col. Riggs was in the center of the defense, rallying his men and personally heading counter-thrusts to keep the enemy off balance.

Col. Riggs was captured while leading a patrol in the defense of St. Vith. Marched across Germany, he escaped near the Polish border and made his way to the frontier. He was sheltered three days by civilians and then joined an advancing Red Army tank outfit. After fighting with it for several days, he was evacuated to Odessa and fro there was taken to Marseilles. He rejoined the 81st, in the spring when it was stationed near Rennes, France.

Ruthless concentrations of German artillery, armor, and infantry were thrown against the 81st on the eastern approaches to St. Vith. In the meantime the Head-quarters Defense Platoon was making a heroic stand in an attempt to protect the CP.

Cpl. Lawrence B. Rogers, Salt Lake City, Utah, and PFC Floyd L. Black, Mt. Crab, Ohio, both members of the platoon, along with two men whose identity never was learned, successfully held a vital road junction against Tiger tanks supported by infantry. With a machine gun, rocket launcher, two rifles and a carbine, the four-man volunteer rear-guard stopped the advancing forces. They held the enemy at bay for two and a half hours, retreating only when their machine gun failed to function.

T/5 Edward S. Withee, Torrington, Conn. 81st Engr. volunteered for what seemed to be a suicide mission. His platoon was pinned down in a house near Schonberg by four enemy tanks. All were doomed unless escape could be made whale the enemy’s attention was diverted.

Withee attacked the four tanks and the supporting infantry with a sub-machine gun. His platoon withdrew safely. When last seen, Withee was pouring fire into German infantry. He was listed as missing in action until April when he turned up in a POW camp. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross.

There was the magnificent bluff of 220 pound Capt. Lee Berwick, Johnson’s Bayou, LA 424th. He talked 102 Germans and two officers into surrendering an almost impregnable position to a handful of men. He boldly strode to the very muzzle of enemy machine guns to warn of the "huge force" supporting him, and ordered the senior officer to surrender. It worked!!

As the relentless drive of the Nazi juggernaut ground in on the surrounded units, many men and small groups made desperate attempts to cut their way out. A number were killed or captured, but a few made it. Two who succeeded were 1st/Sgt. Wallace G. Rifleman, Green Bay, Wis., and Capt. Edward H. Murray, Cabin Creek, WVA both of Co. G, 423rd.

With several others, the pair started for the American lines under cover of night. There was a bridge over the Our River guard by three Germans - - by passed; guards in an enemy motor pool and radar station - - killed in a gun fight; German guards on a building - - silenced in hand combat; two Germans rose from foxholes to tr to bar their way - - liquidated. Encounters with an enemy tank, a German artillery crew, and a close escape from a heavily armed combat patrol sent out to track them down rounded out the adventure.

Sgt. Rifleman won the Silver Star for gallantry in action in a subsequent battle.

Enemy artillery fire on the second day of the attack damaged a mortar base manned by PFC Harry V. Arvannis, Moline, Ill.,424th. He resumed fire holding the tube between his legs and aiming by hand. After firing about 10 rounds, he saw a squad of Nazi infantrymen creeping towards his position.

Training the mortar on them he shot his lat 30 rounds of ammunition, killing or disabling eight of his attackers. The other four rose to their feet and lunged at him a bayonet charge. Arvannis and his assistant gunner emptied their service pistols stopping three of the four. The fourth was upon them, bayonet gleaming.

Pfc. Arvannis threw his four pound revolver at the German hitting him squarely in the forehead, killing him instantly.

Heroes Upset
Von Rundstedt Timetable

There are stories, too, of units that fought and served in the face of overwhelming odds; the 106th QM Co., 106th MP Platoon, 106th Signal Co., Division Band, and 331st medical Bn. Each received the Meritorious Service Unit Plaque.

Despite intense enemy artillery and small arms fire the MP Platoon kept traffic flowing and performed other duties all during the German counter-offensive.

At St. Vith, when the shelling by the enemy was at it’s heaviest, the men at the traffic posts were forced to take a prone position, but they stuck to their posts and directed traffic. During this critical period, over 700 POWs were handled by the platoon. When St. Vith finally fell to the enemy, all remaining POW’s were marched to Vielsalm under cover of darkness. This operation was accomplished without the loss of a prisoner.

Members of the platoon conducted ammunition trains over routes which were under constant artillery fire. They helped "stragglers" to get back to their own units and into the fight. They reconnoitered roads, planned road blocks, crippled an enemy tank, destroyed an enemy staff car with it’s officer occupants.

The 106th QM Co., composed almost entirely of New England personnel, found itself partially surrounded at times, and had to depend on the ingenuity of it’s men to get the supplies through.

The ration shortage was becoming critical in Vielsalm. December 19 due to the enemy advance and destruction of supply depots. Twelve QM trucks set out to find a depot still open. Rations and gasoline were located at Dinant, Belgium. For security, the trucks made the 35 miles return trip in two serials. The first arrived at Vielsalm on the 20th. The second ran into a furious tank battle near St. Hubert, detoured, avoided destruction and got through to Vielsalm with all supplies intact.

As the fury of the battle mounted, maintenance of communications became literally a matter of life and death. Skill and courage of signalmen of the 106th Signal Co. and in the regiments kept the vital communication lines open whenever it was humanly possible.

Again and again through the whole division sector trouble shooters made emergency repairs on lines severed by artillery fire. For signalmen, field splices under enemy small arms fire became almost commonplace. New lines frequently were laid through territory teeming with enemy patrols.

While the town of Schonberg was under heavy bombardment by the Germans, four men of the Signal unit stayed at their switchboard while the building in which they were located was blown down around them. A shell ripped off the rear of the structure. Another reduced the right side to rubble and the roof collapsed as a third shell tore into the structure. Still the men stayed at their post.

A fourth shell landed behind the switchboard, wounding two of the operators. They destroyed the board and withdrew only when ordered to leave by a superior officer, after German infantry had entered the town in strength as the barrage lifted. These men were T/5 Seymour H. Zorn, New York City; T/5 James R. Leonard and Pfc Donald A. Allen, both of Pittsburgh, and Pvt. Archie L. King, Muscatie, IA.

Medics of the 106th, also distinguished themselves in the bloody Ardennes. One was T/5 Marshall W. Walker, Tryon, NC who made repeated trips by jeep through German-held territory near Winterspelt to evacuate 424th wounded.

Capt. Phillip J. Antrim, Wichita Falls, Kansas, 424th Bn. Surgeon, found that deep snow, rough terrain, roving enemy patrols and the number of casualties prevented litter bearers from bringing wounded to his aid station fast enough. He packed equipment on his back and went forward to treat men where they had fallen. Capt. Antrim received the Bronze Star and was decorated for two other heroic deeds in the next five weeks.

Men of the 331st Medical Bn. also followed the "Service Above Self" motto. Collecting Co’s, A, B, and C, supporting the 422nd, and 423rd, and 424th respectively, treated and evacuated the wounded so efficiently that Cleraing Co. D had only six deaths among all wounded treated in the Ardennes campaign. Co. D functioned for three days and nights as a field hospital in the Vielsalm area, although completely surrounded.

Two other units of the division won praise for a difficult job well done: the 806th Ord. Co. which worked under trying conditions, and the 106th Div. Band, which fought as infantry in the defense of St. Vith. December 19-21, the 112 CT, 28th Infantry Division on the 106th’s right flank, was cut off from it’s own division. CT 112 was attached to the 106th Division and with the 424th held against German attacks south of St. Vith.

424th Lashes Back At Manhay

The fall of St. Vith became inevitable late December 21. All units of the 106th and 7th Armored withdrew to form a perimeter defense west of the town and east of the Salm River. These positions were held against renewed attacks next day.

Orders were received on the 22nd from XVIII Corps (Airborne) to withdraw farther to the west. The 82nd A/B Division was moving into positions along the Salm River and a line running west from Salm Chateau. Elements of the 106th and the 7th and 9th Armored Divisions were move back to the northwest through new lines formed by the paratroopers.

Careful planning and leadership enabled the units to pull back, under constant enemy infantry and tank attacks. The successful withdrawal across the two remaining routes over the Slam River was completed by night of the 23rd.

It was the start of the withdrawal across the Slam that Major General Alan W. Jones became a casualty and was evacuated to a hospital in Liege. Brig. Gen. Herbert T. Perrin, Asst. CG, assumed command.

That night and the next day the weary, battle-bruised survivors of the first week of the Ardennes breakthrough took their first respite from battle. Without blankets, with barely enough rations, and unable to light fires for warmth they dug in on a windswept hill in the vicinity of Werbomont, Belgium.

Sixteen hours later, on the coldest Christmas Eve in the memory of Belgians, the 424th launched the first counter-attack of the Bulge at Manhay. This heavily fortified junction on the St. Vith–Houffalize Highway was the northern pivot point of the German penetration into Belgium. It was to be another bloody battleground for the 106th.

General Eisenhower wrote General Perrin:
"The magnificent job you are doing is having a great beneficial effect on the situation. I am personally grateful to you and wish you would let all your personnel know that if they continue to carry out their mission with the splendid spirit they have so far shown, they will have deserved well of their country."

Securing the main road to Manhay, 2nd Bn., 424th crossed open ground to the edge of town under intense shelling. It pushed into town, they was forced to withdraw. Christmas Day, the battalion punched it’s way into town again and held on against furious resistance by the First SS Panzer Division and Volksgrenadiers. Mahnay was one of the significant turning points of the Ardennes battle. It too was a story of valor.

When Co. E’s advance was halted by intense machine gun fire S/Sgt. John F. Goidesik, Chicago, advanced alone with a 60mm mortar and destroyed the enemy position with three rounds, permitting his company to advance.

Sgt. Richard J. Maslankowski, Chicago, cradled a .30 caliber light machine gun in his arms and advanced to wipe out an enemy machine gun nest. The gun jammed; he repaired it under fire, and pressed on to kill the enemy gunners with his last burst of ammunition.

Capt. Glynn Salyers, Somerset, KY., commanding Co. H, 424th, was wounded while leading his men across an open field. He refused medical attention until the objective was won and all his wounded men were care for.

After Mahnay, the 106th, continued to hack away at the Bulge. The 517th, Parachute Infantry Regiment was attached January 11th, and with the 424th, formed a tough battle-tried fighting team. The two regiments attacked on the northern side of the Bulge, jumping off along the Ambleve River between Stavelot and Trois Point and along the Salm River to the south. Terrain was rugged-barren ridges, heavily wooded slopes, deep gullies. The enemy was well dug in and had been ordered to hold at all costs.

But the men of the Lion Division had a score to settle. Determined, they smashed ahead. The attack on January 13 drove the enemy from the positions east of Henumont, and the infantry advance carried to Mohipre by late afternoon. In Henumont itself, resistance was rugged. The enemy made effective use of self propelled guns.

During an assault on the strongly defended town, sudden crossfire from well concealed machine guns halted Co. I, 424th and scattered men and mortally wounded Lt. Raymond S. Kautz, Raleigh, NC company commander, and mortar platoon leader, Lt. Robert A. Engstrom, Bayport, Minn. Although wounded himself, T/Sgt. Harold R. Johnson, Flint, Mich. Assumed command of the company. He was hit twice more while rallying the men, preparing mortar and machine gun fire on enemy automatic weapons, eventually led the men to their objective.

When his platoon of Co. K, 424th was pinned down by fire from an in place machine gun. S/Sgt (then Pfc) George S. Vasquez, St. Paul, Minn. Located the gun, went forward with his M-1 and wiped out the Nazi position single handed.

Co. C, 424th, was held up by three enemy tanks. Robert Honker, Scarbro, W. Va. Led a bazooka team which destroyed one tank and commission and a silver star.

The 106th, pressed south and east. The 1st, Bn 424th, met serious opposition in front of Coulee where the enemy was dug in on a strong and deep defensive line. Fighting was fierce, losses were heavy. While the 424th, attacked to the front, engaging the main strength of the defenders, the 117th, swept around and cleared the town in a slam-bang action before the enemy could recover and regroup.

After seizing all assigned objectives, the 106th, was given the additional mission January 15, of taking the town Ennal and high ground to the east. Ennal was held by a strong force of Germans entrenched in houses bristling with automatic weapons.

The platoons of Co. K, 424th, punched their way into Ennal but were pinned down by devastating enemy fire. Ennal had to be secured by night. Available forces were organized and as darkness approached the town was taken by assault and cleared. General Perrin personally led the attack, for which he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross.

The 117th, cut the road from Petit-Thier to Poteau on the 16th, and by nightfall was on the outskirts of Poteau. But the advance on the 30th, and 75th Infantry Divisions pinched off the 106th. The division was then ordered to mop up by-passed enemy troops in the area. On January 22, General Perrin issued the following:
"With the withdrawal of the 424th Infantry from the line on January 18, the major portion of the elements of this division completed a period of 34 days of practically continuous close combat with the enemy. Our Artillery is still engaged. The events of that period are still fresh in our minds and in those of your men. The physical hardships endured, the constant exposure to rain, sleet, and snow in freezing temperatures, and on terrain over which it was considered impossible to wage effective warfare, have, so far as I know, rarely if ever been demanded of soldiers of any nation. Those twin enemies - weather and terrain - have been our greatest problems, for certainly, wherever we have met the German, we have found that he is in no sense our equal. You and your men have met those demands and overcome them by a stubbornness of will, a fixed tenacity of purpose, and a grim and determined aggressiveness of body and spirit. You have accomplished you missions, and no higher praise can ever be spoken of any military organization."

106th Has Record of Valor and Honor

After a rest the 424th CT joined the 7th Armored Division in the mission all Lionmen had been waiting for; to retake St. Vith.

The 424th struck southeast on January 25 from a point just north of St. Vith with the objective of securing the main highway running through Amel to the northeast. A coordinated infantry-tank attacked dislodged a min enemy outpost at a road junction. By late afternoon, in the face of automatic weapons, 88mm guns, and small arms fire, doughs cleared the town of Medell.

The following morning Meyerode fell to the furiously attacking 106th. The 7th Armored then seized St. Vith while the 106th took Deidenberg and Born.

The 106th now was back at the line where it had first met the enemy. It had taken fierce punishment but had come back in some of the bloodiest fighting of the war – a pound achievement for a division that had a history of less than two years.

Activated March 15, 1943, the 106th had trained thousands of men as replacements. At Fort Jackson, SC it’s first station, the division went through tough preliminary training; obstacle and infiltration courses, storming "Nazi villages," and field problems.

In Tennessee winter maneuvers of 1944, the division learned to fight in terrain and weather which resembled the rugged, cold Ardennes. Maneuvers over, the 106th moved to Camp Atterbury, Ind. for seven months of advanced training. It’s unit commanders were prepared for the trying days to come.

The 106th left the states in mid-October, spent several weeks in the South Midlands of England, raced across France and Belgium into the line under the command of Major General Jones.

February 28th, 1945, Major General Donald Stroh now was in command of the division. Lionmen, after a short rest, were back in the line on the south flank of First Army near the Belgian town of Hunnigen. For three weeks they had patrolled and probed the thickly sown mine fields to find a weak spot in the pillboxes, concrete gun emplacements, dragons teeth and anti-tank obstacles of the Siegfried Line.

Facing the division identified as one which had been in the attack on St. Vith. With the memory of the breakthrough still vivid, Lionmen sough vengeance. They got it.

Co. C, 424th, with combat engineers from Co. A, 81st Engr. Bn. knocked out a large, particularly troublesome Nazi pillbox. The team clawed it’s way under machine gun and rifle fire, over four rows of anti-personnel mines and up to the very walls of the fort. Germans in foxholes outside the pillbox were killed or driven off. Fire from the embrasures was silenced by flame throwers, rifle grenades and bazookas.

Pvt. Dennis A. Wartigun, Kearney, N.J., Co A, 81st, approached the eight foot thick walls and with a long pole, pushed a heavy charge of TNT through an opening. The blast cracked the walls, blew open the door, killed three of the defenders. Doughs rushed in to capture nine other Germans who needed no further persuasion to surrender.

Slowly, methodically, pillboxes fell. A week later the 106th, was well on it’s way through the Siegfried Line heading towards the Rhine River. Fighting on the southern flank of V Corps and the First Army, the 106th was in contact with the Third Army to the South.

Led by the 3rd, Bn. 424th, Lionmen wrested Frauenkron from the enemy. Driving through fields of anti-tank and anti-personnel mines, the 424th crossed Lemert Creek, seized the towns of Berk, Kronenburg, and Baasem, as it advanced toward it’s objective along the Summer River.

Other divisions of the V Corps started to swing to the Southeast as the Siegfried Line was breached, pivoting on the 106th. Third Army continued to drive to the east, and the division was pinched out. After mopping-up operations, the 106th, was pulled back to the Corps reserve and the 517th was relieved from 106th, control.

Assigned to the Fifteenth Army, the division moved to St. Quentin, France, late in March. After a brief stay, it moved to Rennes, France, where reinforcements were brought in and the 422nd, and 423rd, Regiments along with the 589th, and 590th, FA Bn’s were reconstituted. For the first time since the division had gone into the line, it was up to full strength. A strenuous tough training program was started for the reconstituted units at Rennes and later resumed at Coetiquidan, France.

While at Rennes, 3rd Infantry Regiment, 159th Infantry Regiment Aleutian veterans: and 401st and 627th FA Bn. were attached to the division. The 106th, now was not only at full strength, it had a surplus – a far cry from the dark final days of December when the 424th and a few attached units were the divisions only force.

An impressive ceremony was held April 14 at the St. Jacques Airfield near Rennes. Survivors of the original 106th regiments lost in the breakthrough presented their colors to the new members of the 422nd and 423rd.

While the division stood at "present arms" on the parade ground, commanders, with the old and new color guards armed with German rifles captured in the Battle of the Bulge, advanced to the center of the field where they exchanged salutes. Colors and guidons were then presented to the new color guard. When the units reformed , the augmented division of five regiments and six artillery Battalions passed in review before General Stroh.

A similar ceremony on a smaller scale was held later in Germany by the 424th. During the hectic see-saw battle in the early days of the Ardennes breakthrough, the regiment lost it’s colors. After V-E Day, a Medic of the 2nd Infantry Division, then moving into Czechoslovakia, recovered the colors from a German prisoner and sen them back to the 106th. The colors were presented again to the 424th, in an impressive ceremony.

While in the Rennes area, the 106th constituted the reserve for the 66th Infantry Division and French units containing the strong German garrisons on the coastal area of St. Nazaire and Lorient.

Plans were being made to relieve the 66th, but orders came through for the division to return to Germany. Leaving the reconstituted units to complete their reorganization and training. The 424th, 3rd, and 159th Regiments with other units, raced across France to corral the thousands of prisoners being taken in the final drive through Germany.

Spread out along both flanks of the Rhine from Holland to Switzerland, the 106th, was reinforced to a strength of 40,000. Approximately 1,100,000 POW’s passed through the 106th cages.

It was a big job, receiving, screening, processing, and discharging the hordes of former German soldiers. But it was a job the 106th relished; many of the Germans were the same ones they battled in the Ardennes.

Meanwhile the reconstituted units of the division moved from Coetquidan, to a training area near Mayen, Germany, name Camp Alan W. Jones for the former CG. They completed their training and were ready for action when Germany surrendered on May 8, 1945.

Following the surrender of Japan, the 106th, now under the command of Brig. Gen. Francis A. Woolfley was alerted to return to the States. The division had been through some of the hardest fighting in the European Theater. It had suffered huge losses. It had no record of Blitzkrieg offensives or mile devouring advances. But it had more than that. The 106th had a story of valor and honor; of men who had "stuck it out" against the most powerful force the Germans could muster and lashed back with the courage of Lions. The men of the 106th could wear their insignia with pride.

Page last revised 04/25/2013
 
h of the Golden Lions
Convention Edition 1958

It is noon of Monday, March 15, 1943. A limousine comes to a stop at the entrance to Outdoor Theater #2 of Camp Jackson, South Carolina. From its radiator flies a blue flag with a white crescent in its upper flagstaff corner and a white Palmetto palm in its center. The rear door opens and the Honorable Olin D. Johnston, Governor of South Carolina, steps forth. He is greeted by the ruffles and flourishes of his rank and, to the music of a military march, escorted to the stage of the theater. A truly notable and distinguished assemblage awaits him, for there, among others, are Major General Wm. H. Simpson, Commanding the XII Corps, with his General Staff; Brig. Gen. Royden E. Beebe, the Post Commander; Brig. Gen. Jas. C. Dozier, Adjutant General of South Carolina; the Hon. Edgar A. Brown, President Pro-Tempore of the State Senate; Major General Withers A. Burress, accompanied by Brig. Gens. Maurice E. Miller and Theodore E. Buechler, all of the 100th Infantry Division, now in the final stages of its training at Camp Jackson; and General Alan W. Jones, with his General Staff, of the Division which is soon to be brought into being.

In the body of the theater, and facing the stage, are formed the massed units of the embryonic Division. At this moment they consist only of the cadres furnished by the parent organization, the 80th Infantry Division, amplified by such recruits as have arrived during the past three days.

As the Governor takes his place upon the stage the massed units are brought to “Present Arms” by the Commanding Officer of Troops and formally presented. When they return to the “Order” the Division Chaplain, Major John A. Dunn, steps to the lectern to pronounce the Invocation. He is  followed by the Division Adjutant General, Lt.  Col. Frank I. Agule, who reads the official birth certificate – the War Department order for the activation of the 106th Infantry Division.

As Col. Agule resumes his seat, an event occurs which, in its symbolism, stirs the emotions of all present. Coming to the microphone, Master Sergeant Jay G. Bower acting as the representative of the parent 80th Infantry Division summons from the ranks of the 422nd Infantry Regiment, Private Francis A. Younkin, one of the youngest of the new recruits. To this fledgling soldier Sgt. Bower delivers the National Colors formally entrusting their keeping to the personnel of the Division.

When he has accepted the Colors and delivered them to the Color Guard, Private Younkin takes the seat which Sgt. Bower has vacated on the stage while the sergeant goes to the private's place in the ranks.

Presented to the troops by his Chief of Staff, General Jones introduces, in turn, Governor Johnston and General Simpson. The former extends a brief, but cordial greeting to the personnel of the Division from the citizens of South Carolina, while General Simpson officially welcomes the new Division to membership in the XII Corps. General Jones then delivers a brief message to his command concluding with the statement, “In your hands is held the opportunity to fashion an instrument which will demonstrate to the world that our way of life develops men superior to any other.” With these words, followed by the Benediction, the ceremony comes to an end. The troops are dismissed and the Lion Division has assumed its place as an entity on the rolls of the Army and the United States.

As they watch the units defile from the theatre, to the music of the massed Field Artillery and 422nd Infantry Bands, the Commanding Officer of Troops turns to his Adjutant and paraphrases this verse of an unknown poet:

“I do not know beneath what sky,

Or on what field may be their fate:

I only know it will be fine,

I only know they will be great."

Such was the birth of the Golden Lions. And how prophetic was the verse of the Commanding Officer of Troops. Times without number did he, and the officer who that day accompanied him, witness its fulfillment by individuals and units of the Division; from Schönberg to Winterspelt; from Manhay to the Losheim Gap.


A Brief History of the 106th Infantry Division
Compiled by Sherod Collins, Treasurer-Historian

The Division was activated 15 March 1943 at Fort Jackson, South Carolina. Brigadier General Alan W. Jones was named Commander and promoted to Major General 18 March.

Basic Training began 29 March, followed by unit training and regimental tactical exercises. Combined training followed 3 October '43 to 8 January 1944.

The Division went through Tennessee Maneuvers in the rain, sleet and snow, along with three other divisions from 20 January to 26 March 1944.

The troops moved to Camp Atterbury, Indiana 27 Mar and trained there through 8 October 1944.

On 9 Oct a move began to Camp Myles Standish, Massachusetts and the units sailed beginning 18 Oct to England from Boston, NYC and Brooklyn aboard the Aquitania, Queen Elizabeth and the Wakefield, to land at Liverpool and Greenoch, Scotland.

Billets were in the Midlands of England from 25 Oct to 30 November. The Division sailed from England 1 Dec and landed at Le Havre and Rouen, France, moving by convoy between 2nd and 9th December to St. Vith, Belgium.

First Army moved the troops into the front lines to replace the 2nd Division, man for man and gun for gun. On 16 December enemy troops attacked along the entire front of twenty-seven miles.

On 19 December the 423rd and the 422nd were surrendered by their commanders, having run out of food, ammo, being surrounded and having received no help from General Bruce Clarke and his 7th Armored Division, nor from the Army Air Force because of bad weather.

23 December the survivors of the defense of St. Vith under command of Lt. Col. Thomas J. Riggs, and the 424th Infantry retired behind the lines of the 82nd Airborne Division.

After further combat the 424th was relieved by a regiment of the 75th Inf. Div. 30 December 1944. On 13 January 1945 the abbreviated 106th went back into the fight and were subsequently pinched out by the 75th Division on 17 January 1945.

On 3 February the 106th was alerted for its last combat assignment. On 7 February Major General Donald Stroh assumed command and on 9 February the Division was in action again. After almost continuous fighting through 7 March, the 106th was pinched out by the 69th Division and their combat role ended.  

On 14 March, the Division traveled to St. Quentin, France on its way to reorganization, rehabilitation and training, passing to 15th Army Command. The troops moved to Rennes France on 6 April, bivouacking on the airport there. Here replacements came to reconstitute the missing units and also came two attached regiments and field artillery battalions. During this period the reconstituted 423rd and 590th were in support of the 66th Infantry Division in the Nazi pocket at St. Nazaire, France. The whole division was in tactical reserve for the 66th Division who were containing St. Nazaire on the Brittany Coast.

Late in April the Division was tapped for a new assignment, to guard, administer, transfer and release a million German POWs up and down the Rhine River. Leaving the reconstituted units attached to the 66th, the Division including its attached two combat teams moved to Germany closing in by 25 April. This monumental task lasted until approximately 10 July 1945.

In the midst of all this the reconstituted units moved up from Brittany by motor following the surrender of the Nazi pockets and closed in at Nachtsheim, west of Mayen, Germany to continue their training under Division control.

On 12 July the whole Division moved on to Karlsruhe under the command of Seventh Army for occupation duty. The troops combed the area for forbidden items such as firearms, transmitters, vehicles and other war material and black market operations.

On 1 September the Division was alerted for overseas shipment to the United States. On 10 September the 422nd Infantry leading, the Division started the long trek home, spending time at Camp Lucky Strike near Le Havre and onto different ships to arrive between 1 and 2 October 1945 at Eastern United States.

Division headquarters was formally inactivated on 2 October 1945 at Camp Shanks, New York.

The total number of men assigned to the Division was 63,000 during its history, 59,000 enlisted men and 4,000 officers.

The 106th Infantry Division Association was formed at Camp Lucky Strike by order of the Commanding general and in May 1991 has a strength of 1,506 members.

Sherod Collins, 423 Service Co.
Association Treasurer/Historian


Outstanding Dates and Command Locations

12 December 1942 Division staff ordered to report for 10th New Divisions Course Command and General Staff School, Ft. Leavenworth

04 January 1943 Division staff at Ft. Leavenworth

04 February 1943 Staff and cadre report to Ft. Jackson, South Carolina

15 March 1943 Division activated Ft. Jackson, South Carolina

29 March 1943 Basic training starts

12 July 1943 Unit training starts

03 October 1943 Combined training, Regimental and Division exercises

22 January 1944 Tennessee maneuvers

30 March 1944 Camp Atterbury for advanced training

October 1944 to November 1944 Camp Myles Standish, Massachusetts, P.0.E. and overseas to Liverpool and Greenock, then to Batsford Park in the South Midlands

06 December 1944 LeHavre and Limesey, France

11 December 1944 St. Vith, Belgium and into position on the Schnee Eifel

16 December 1944 Start of the Battle of the Bulge

19 December 1944 Vielsalm

22 December 1944 General Perrin assumes command

23 December 1944 Ernonheid

25 December 1944 Awan-Aywaille and Sprimont

28 December 1944 Anthisnes (Chateau Ouhar)

10 January 1945 Spa (Chateau Havette)

12 January 1945 Moulin de Ruy

15 January 1945 Stavelot

24 January 1945 Heuchenee

07 February 1945 Hunningen — General Stroh takes over.

15 March 1945 St. Quentin, pulled back for rest and rehabilitation

01 April 1945 Rennes. Training reconstituted units and watching the  Germans in the by-passed ports.

22 April 1945 Started for the Rhine

25 April 1945 Stromberg, Germany. Start of the PW job.

04 May 1945 Bad Ems (The Kasserne)

14 July 1945 Karlsruhe (Postdirektion Bldg.)

16 August 1945 General Woolfley becomes Division Commander

07 September 1945 Staging Area, Camp Lucky Strike, Ste. Valerie en Caux

24 September 1945 Embarking at Le Havre for home

01 October 1945 Debarkation at Camp Shanks, N. Y. for Division  Headquarters

02 October 1945 Division deactivated


We Fought Back

Vol 3, No. 4 October 1946 by H.B. Livesey, Sec/Tres 106th Assoc

The impression is all too common both within the Division and among the general public, that the 106th was completely consumed in one brilliant operation.

Nothing is further from the truth. True, we lost two of three combat teams in the first four days of the Battle of the Bulge, but other than normal casualties all the rest of the Division was intact.

Always remember, the Division was fighting every inch of the way back under pressure and forward again until the whole Ardennes salient' was wiped out. After a short rest we took our place in the line, with our right flank resting where our left flank had been, holding the line while the drive was resumed to the north and remained there until pinched out by the 69th and 87th in the renewal of the drive on Germany.

Just follow the course of Division CP from 16 December to 15 March. St. Vith back to Vielsalm, Vielsalm to Vaux Chavannes, Vaux Chavannes to Ernonheid, Ernonheid to Awan. Ten days rest and refitting and then back in the line at Moulin de Ruy, again on the move forward. Cleaning out a large pocket there, never stopping until all the way to St. Vith again.

The Bulge wiped out, back to Houchenee for rest and refitting and February and part of March again on the line. Doesn't sound as though we were completely wiped out does it?

Further, during most of the fighting, in spite of the loss of the 422 and 423, we fought as a three regiment Division, with the 112th Regiment of the 28th Division with us, plus the 517th Paratroop regiment.

No, stunned and depleted though we were in the Schnee Eifel, the Division was in there fighting, the Golden Lion alive, snarling and clawing every inch of the way forward and back, until every last living German was a prisoner or had been driven back beyond the line he started from on 16 December 1944.

Colonel Dupuy, a noted military author and analyst, writing our History objectively and dispassionately says we have every reason to be proud of what we did and the official History when published next spring will tell the glorious story of the 106th, which could not be told under the censorship blackout of the Bulge.


106TH Division Commanders

(editor's note —This list of commanders was compiled by Sherod Collins, Historian, 423/SV. It was later entered into a computer disk by Gil Helwig, 423/M and forwarded to me for insertion into this CUB Review. There were some areas of unknowns and some names are missing. Your help would be appreciated if you find some data that is not accurate. According to old reports, there were in total, approximately nearly 60,000 enlisted men and 4,000 officers that cycled through the Division during its history. Needless to say, we would be hard pressed to produce a complete list of officers. It appears that this roster fits the time zone of the start of the Battle of the Bulge... editor 1991)

Division and Unit Officers

Commanding General
Major Gen. Alan W. Jones

Asst. Cmmdng General
Brig. Gen. Herbert T. Perrin

G-1
Lt. Col. Max J. Roadruck

G-2
Lt. Col. Robert P. Stout

G-3
Lt. Col. Charlie Brock

G-4
Lt. Col. Milton S. Glatterer

Chief of Staff
Col. William C. Baker

Adj. General
Lt. Col. Frank I. Agule

Chaplain
Lt. Col. William D. Veazie

Chemical Officer
Lt. Col. Herbert Livesey, Jr.

Finance Officer
Lt. Col. Royer K. Lewis

Judge Advocate
Lt. Col. Byrne A. Bowman

Ordinance Officer
Lt. Col. William T. Manahan

Div. Quarter Master
Lt. Col. Henry P. Killman

Signal Officer
Lt. Col. Earle B. WIlliams

Provost Marshall
Maj. William L. Mowlds

Special Service Officer
Capt. Harry B. Mc Neel

Division Engineer
Lt. Col. Thomas J. Riggs, Jr.

Inspector Gen
Lt. Col. Jewell K. Watt

Div. Supply Officer
Capt. Morris Piha

Division Hqdtr's
Lt. Col. Walter S. Glenney

106 Recon
Maj. Ralph Kuzell

106 Signal
Lt. Col. Donald R. Bodine

106 Quarter Master
Lt. Col. Novinski
 

331 Med. Bn
Lt. Col. Meyer S. Belzer
 

81st ENGINEERS 

Lt. Col. Thomas J. Riggs, Jr.

A/Company
Capt. Harold A. Harmon

B/Company
Capt. WIlliam J. Hynes

C/Company
Capt. James E. Wells

Hq. & Serv. Co
Capt. N. Duke Ward

Commanding. Gen. Artillery
Brig. Gen. Leo T. McMahon

Div. Art. Hdq's
Exec. Capt. Harold R. Daun

589th Field Artillery
Lt. Col. Thomas P. Kelley, Jr.

A/Btry
Capt. Aloysius J. Mencke

B/Btry
Capt. Arthur C. Brown

C/Btry
Capt. Malcolm H. Rockwell

Hdq's/Btry
Capt. Alva R. Beans

Sv/Btry
Capt. James B. Cagle, Jr.

590th Field Artillery
Lt. Col. Vaden Lackey

Exec
Maj. Meadows

S-3
Maj. Irvine Tietze

A/Btry
Capt. John J. Pitts

B/Btry
Capt. James R. Fonda

C/Btry
Capt. Albert W. Henderson

Hdq's Btry
Capt. Irving Chapnick

Sv/Btry
Capt  Robert C. Ervin

591st Field Artillery
Lt. Col. Phillip F. Hoover

Exec
Maj. Carl Wohlfield

S-2
Capt. Gaggin

S-3
Maj. Broussard

A/Btry
Capt. Arthur W. Corcoran

B/Btry
Capt. Robert A. Likins
  

C/Btry
Capt. William C. Black
 

Hdq's Btry
Capt. Bernard L. Lockridge

Sv/Btry
Capt. Martin M. Dolitsky

592nd Field Artillery
Lt. Col. Richard E. Weber, Jr.

A/Btry
Capt. Genero M. Mondragon

B/Btry
Capt. J.C. Gillen

C/Btry
Capt. Robert W. Smith

Hdq's/Btry
Capt. Bernard Richman

Sv/Btry
Capt. Bernard Weiderman
 

422nd INFANTRY

Col. George L. Descheneaux

Reg. Exec
Lt. Col. Jos. Matthews, Jr.

S-1
Capt. Robert Fash

S-2
Capt. Henry McKee

S-3
Major Henry Fisher

S-4
Major Fitz Davis

Hq's Co 

Capt. Edward Bruce Foster

AT/Co
Capt. Edward W Vitz

CN/Co
Capt. Joel T. Broyhill

SV/Co
Capt. Charles R. Gibson
 

Reg. Surgeon
Major Malison Buckly
 

1st. Battalion
Lt. Col. Thomas L. Kent

Executive Officer
Major William P. Moon

S-2
Lt. Michael Thome

S-3
Capt. John Mohne

S-4
Lt. Norman Swick

Hq's Co
Capt. Eric R. Mills

A/Co.
Capt. Bertram C. Finch

B/Co.
Capt. Thomas F. Littlejohn

C/Co.
Capt. Ralph P. Kulzer

D/Co.
Capt. Charles R. Porter

2nd Battalion
Lt. Col. Charles Scales

Executive Officer
Major Albert A. Ouellette

Hq's Co
Capt. Harry G. Meeleus

E/Co. 
Capt. John S. Crocker

F/Co. 
Capt. Neil P. Stewart

G/Co. 
Capt. William P. Kielmeyer

H/Co. 
Capt. Montague H. Jacobs

3rd Battalion
Lt. Col. Donald Thompson

Hq's Co
Capt. Clair R. Ernst

I/Co
Capt. David C. Ormiston

K/Co
Capt. Henry J. Harmeling Jr.

L/Co
Capt. Renata Spadola

M/Co
Capt. William H. Perkins

423rd INFANTRY
Col. Charles C. Cavender

Regimental Exec. Officer
Lt. Col. Fred W. Nagle

S-1
Capt. Warren H. Stutler

S-2
Major Hubert W. Johnson

S-3
Major Allen B. Willand

S-4
Major Sandra B. Helms

Hq's Co
Capt. Sam E. Davis, Jr.

AT/Co
Capt. Charles B. Reid

CN/Co
Capt. James L. Manning

SV/Co
Capt. Russell A. Freas, Jr.

1st Battalion
Lt. Col. William R. Craig

Hq's/Co
Capt. Robert S. Moyer

A/Co
Capt. Donald W. Naumann

B/Co
Capt. James D. Moore

C/Co
Capt. Julius A. Spence

D/Co
Capt. James L. Clarkson

2nd Battalion
Lt. Col. Joseph F. Puett

Exec. Officer
Major William J. Garlow

Hq's/Co
Capt. Ryan E. Tomlinson

E/Co
Capt. Maxey S. Crews

F/Co
Capt. Charles J. Zullig

G/Co
Capt. Edward H. Murray

H/Co
Capt. Durgin J. Deland

3rd Battalion
Lt. Col. Earl F. Klinck

Hq's/Co
Capt. William H. Jefferson

I/Co
Capt. Wayne J. Moe

K/Co
Capt. James K. Bricker

L/Co
Capt. John B. Huyett, Jr.

M/Co
Capt. James H. Hardy

424th INFANTRY
Col. Alexander D. Reid

Regimental Exec. Off.
Lt. Col. Orville H. Hewitt

Hq's. Co
Capt. Robert A. Burkes

AT/Co
Capt. Frank C. Davis

CN/Co
Capt. Joseph E. Freeland

SV/CO
Capt. John Foley

1st. Battalion
Lt. Col. Lamar A. Welch

Hq's./Co
Capt. Wesley D. Griffin

A/Co
Capt. William Wade Cashion

B/Co
Capt. Charles S. Peyser

C/Co
Capt. H. Hall Roberts

D/Co
Capt. Roberts

2nd Battalion
Lt. Col. Leonard Umanoff

Hq's/Co
Capt. Curtis F. Maynard

E/Co
Capt. George R. Thigpen

F/Co
Capt. Wiley L. Cassidy

G/Co
Capt. Yale B. Cohen

H/Co
Capt. Glynn Salyers

3rd Battalion
Lt. Col. Charles F. Girand

Exec. Officer
Major Knapp

S-2
Lt. Leslie Struble

S-3
Capt. Lee Berwick

Hq's/Co
Capt. Rigsby

I/Co
Capt. Raymond S. Kautz

K/Co
Capt. Richard J. Comer

L/Co
Capt. Ben Bartell

M/Co
Capt. James B. McNinch

 


A History of the 106th Under General Jones' Command

By ALAN W. JONES, Major General, USA, Retired

3 February 1948

When Colonel Livesey suggested to me that I tell the story of the first two years of the Division's existence, and that I do it in fifteen minutes, three years vanished and I saw again the demon staff officer at his skillful distribution of work. Then I sat down and made a list of topic headings, only to find that it took more than fifteen minutes to read them. So, my work consists almost entirely of elimination, and I present to you the framework of the story of my time with the Division, together with an account of certain happenings and decisions that had their effect on the lives of most of us.

Although the official date of activation of the Division was March 15, 1943, work on organization, securing of equipment and supplies, and all the many hundreds of re-training details was completed in January and February, 1943. On March 8th personnel from every state in the Union, except those of the Pacific Coast, began to arrive at our first station, Fort Jackson, Columbia, South Carolina. By March 15th we officially started on a program which was to take us through the mid-west and eastern portions of the United States, England, France, Belgium and finally into Germany.

Of the time we spent at Fort Jackson, I shall make only a few statements. Like our own early life, it was extremely important to us at that time, but in - view of later events it is difficult to recall in sharp definition. We received upon activation a grand total of 16,009 individuals, which included an over-strength of about 10% to take care of anticipated losses. Our average age at this time was about 21 years, including all the officers and the older age group of the cadre of some 1,800 from the 80th Division. The results of intelligence tests given these men showed an exceptionally high score, and our courts-martial and number of men AWOL were correspondingly low. At the time of our basic training tests, given exactly four years ago today, everything seemed to be going our way and the world looked bright and cheery. So, we started with enthusiasm and pride into the most productive of our advanced training when, in early August, the blow fell. We were ordered to send 3,000 of our trained infantry to the 28th and 31st Divisions so that they might replace their losses and go overseas. This was followed by a continuous infantry, artillery and signal, until we felt the effects of acute anemia. By late September, in spite of replacements, we were down to less than 12,000 persons.

Maneuvers

We completed our training of the smaller units in November and the Division went into the field for the remainder of the winter. A series of maneuvers under direction of XII Corps started on December 13th and continued until the middle of January, 1944. These were held in central South Carolina and for the first time we learned about living in deep mud and freezing rain. The short days of late January saw us moving, by motor, to the Tennessee maneuver area which comprised most of the central part of that State. Here, we participated with units of all kinds, including three other divisions, in daily maneuvers until the end of March. The weather almost duplicated that which we were to find a year later in the Ardennes. These months were extremely beneficial to us and we- came out of Tennessee a trained division, with much experience and great promise. We learned how to get our trucks through mud and country roads, how to make the most of supper eaten at night in the rain without light, how to wear mosquito head nets in a snow storm; we learned through days and nights of discomfort how best to take care of ourselves and, best of all, we learned that, as a fighting division, we were better than most. Looking back, I think you who were there will agree that Tennessee was probably the hardest work we experienced in the States, and that definitely it separated the men from the boys, and I do not mean on a basis of age.

Atterbury

After finishing the maneuver program, we were fortunate enough to be ordered to Camp Atterbury-and Indianapolis to make our final preparations for overseas. We expected to get new equipment and be on our way at once. But the poor planning for training and forwarding replacements to other units overseas threw us for another loss. Immediately upon our arrival at Camp Atterbury in the first week of April, 1944, we commenced shipment of 2,800 infantrymen and 800 artillerymen to replacement centers. Men to replace these people were received slowly. We were placed in the first state of alert for overseas early in June, the second stage in July and were given our month's advance notice on August 15th. During these last hurrying weeks of preparation for embarkation we lost, to my amazement which lasts to this day, practically all of our infantry lieutenants, privates first class and privates, a total of 500 officers and 3,000 men. These with losses in April totaled 600 officers and 6,600 men, all out of a division strength of about 14,000. To keep the record straight, our replacements consisted of: from ASTP, 1,200; from air cadets, 1,100; from other divisions, 1,500 and from miscellaneous sources such as disbanded military police units, special training battalions and various service commands, 2,800. These people were of the highest type, mentally and physically. We could not have received better material, but-we had one foot on the gangplank. In spite of this sad story, our tour at Atterbury was an exceptionally pleasant one. Many of the people here went out of their way to be nice to us. With them, life-long friendships have grown. There is one family I have especially in mind. You know them, the Simpsons. They had the major part in assuring the success of this reunion.

Overseas Movement

After receiving our advance movement order, we received new equipment, turned in motor vehicles and did what training we could at odd intervals. Finally, in September we moved by rail to Camp Myles Standish at Taunton, Mass. This place was known as a staging area where life reached the maximum of not letting anyone know anything at all. As a matter of fact we existed on a monotonous routine of rumors until the day we redoubled on our tracks, returned to New York and sailed in October 1944 for various ports in England. The 423d Infantry with various attached units arrived October 21, the 422d and 424th regiments arrived October 28th with the artillery and some special units delayed until November 17th. We were deployed in one of the most interesting and certainly the most beautiful midlands. The 422d Infantry was stationed some 12 miles west and northwest of Oxford, the 424th Infantry near Banbury of Banbury Cross fame and the 423d Infantry and Division Artillery near Cheltenham and Gloucester respectively. Division headquarters and special units were located centrally in this 200 square mile area. We remained in England until the last days of November, preparing for an expected early crossing of the Channel.

The Division embarked on the last day of November and first days of December for the long slow fifty mile trip from Southampton to Le Havre at the mouth of the Seine River. We disembarked at Le Havre and at Rouen, a town about one-third of the way up the Seine toward Paris, and went into bivouac in deep mud in the open fields in a cold drizzling rain, between the 1st and 8th of December. During these days liaison officers from First US Army headquarters arrived at odd intervals with conflicting and inconsistent sets of orders, so that during a 48 hour period we were assigned to three different corps in as many separate locations. Fortunately, troops and staffs were arriving in unrelated groups as the weather and the Navy allowed them ashore, so that no damage was done except to my disposition. The final messenger appeared on December 6 with instructions for us to leave for the St. Vith area, the first combat team move on the 8th followed by the others as rapidly as possible. Upon arrival we were to relieve the 2d Infantry Division, then in a defensive position, as part of the VIII Corps whose headquarters was then at Bastogne. Troops being in the throes of landing after a rough winter crossing, staffs only partly present and maps few and far between, our move to the battlefield was a rather remarkable one and highly successful in spite of its discomfort. The route carried us nearly 300 miles through Amiens, Cambrai and Maubeuge in France to Philippeville in Belgium. After an overnight bivouac in extra deep mud near the latter town, we passed through Marche and the villages of eastern Belgium to the vicinity of St. Vith, arriving during the period December 9th to 11th. The relief of the 2d Division commenced on the 11th and was completed on the 13th, responsibility for the defense of the sector passing to me on the 12th.

Schnee Eifel Positions

Partly in Belgium and partly in Germany, with the south flank of our southernmost regiment, the 424th, at the junction of the Luxembourg-Belgium-Germany borders. We joined there with the 28th Inf Div. Our left flank lay 27 miles to the north where we were supposed to have contact with the 99th Inf Div through the 14th Cavalry Group, an organization neither trained nor equipped for defensive action. Some 20 miles to the east of St. Vith lay a fifteen mile stretch of the German West Wall or Siegfried Line on the high, heavily wooded ridge known as the Schnee Eifel, and appropriately named it was. From left to right, or north to south, on this extended salient into German-held terrain were the 422d Combat Team and the 423d Combat Team. The rodent throughout the sector was entirely inadequate for our purposes, one two-lane hard surfaced road which would have been classified as a “farm to market” road in this country led from the rear to both the 422d and the 423d areas. The 424th was no better served. Reserves in the VIII Corps 90 mile sector consisted of one combat company of the 9th Armored Div. As was later so well demonstrated at our expense, reserves from other areas could not arrive in time to be of use to us.

I have taken the time to fill in to a limited extent some of the lights and shadows on the picture of the St. Vith area and of our movement to it, in order to provide a background for the crystal-clear truth that the Division was in a situation which not only was tactically unsound but which left us no choice as to our own location of men and weapons — a situation that was tactically impossible should the Germans attack with even as few as two or three good divisions. They did, with that and more, and the Commanding General, US First Army was impelled to write to the Division later “No troops in the world, disposed as your division had to be, could have withstood the impact of the German attack which had its greatest weight in your sector. Please tell these men for me what a grand job they did. By the delay they effected, they definitely upset Von Rundstedt's time table”.

The Attack

It is not my purpose here to recount in detail the action of separate units following the attack starting at 0530 on the morning of December 16.

Much has been written of this, and a great deal more will appear in the future. It is sufficient to recall now that the Germans sent four divisions, two infantry and two Panzers, to “take us out” so that their way could be opened through Liege and Namur to Brussels and Antwerp. During the day of the 16th they penetrated deeply into the wooded hills just to the north of the Division sector and into the ground held by reconnaissance units in an attempt to swing south behind the Schnee Eifel and so into our undefended rear areas. Engineers, hastily assembled, artillery and the northern units of the 422d blocked this move by nightfall. Further south in the 423d sector a strong attack penetrated our lines but was thrown back by a counterattack made up largely of service units, clerks, cooks and headquarters personnel. Similarly, in the 424th area, a series of counterattacks were necessary to restore our lines to their original locations by night.

Information reached our CP that afternoon that one combat command of the 9th Armd Div and the entire 7th Armored Div would be available in our area the next morning. Accordingly, the only division reserves, one battalion of the 423d Inf and one battalion of the 424th Inf were committed that afternoon of the 16th. Plans were drawn up for the employment of the armored divisions to block the rush of Krauts past and around our north flank and, if there were an penetrations the next day to eject or destroy them. The plans were good ones. I am sure they would have been successful. The only unfortunate development was the failure of the 7th Armored Division to arrive at the time we had been told to expect them. In fairness to them, it must be stated that their move was made extremely difficult by jammed roads and snarled traffic. Probably an early arrival was not practical and higher headquarters had been more hopeful than sure. In any event, on the 17th, penetrations around our north flank and from the southeast were made, and although they were contested with every means we had, by dark such large German forces had reached and gotten behind our lines that hope for a large scale counterattack with forces which had not even arrived looked not too good. Late on the 18th the expected armor did reach us, but by then it took their every effort to prevent the occupation of the town of St. Vith itself, which our 81st Eng Bn was engaged in holding against overwhelming German forces. On the 18th too, the 424th, on my orders, reached a position further to the west along the Our River, and the 422d and 423d were ordered to attack in the direction of Schönberg to the west, in an attempt to break out of the German encirclement.

After a brilliantly executed move, both regiments attacked early on the morning of the 19th. But it was too late, the door of Schönberg was closed by powerful German panzer forces. Without armor, with but little artillery, ammunition fast running out and no resupply of food and water for four days, they nevertheless fought through the day, until finally in late afternoon they were forced, by sheer weight of number and artillery, to submit to capture.

You have probably noted the lack of mention of air forces during this narrative. They have not been mentioned for the reason that the weather did not permit their presence.

The 112th Inf of the 28th Inf Div, having become separated from that division was attached to us on the 20th and, with the 424th Inf and Combat Command “B” of the 9th Armd Div held, with the 7th Armd Div to our north, St. Vith and the high ground to the south and southeast, constituting an island of resistance which has been credited with the all-important delay of the Sixth SS Panzer Army.

On the night of the 21st under heavy enemy pressure, withdrawal of all forces in this general area was made to the west for a distance of five to ten miles. St. Vith was evacuated at 11:00 P.M.

The following night, December 22, saw the Division and other troops withdrawn by Corps orders to the west of the Salm River, and our weary men for a few short hours took their first rest after eight days of cold and wet and sudden death.

I have tried to set down the facts as they appeared to me at the time of which I speak, and I have heard or seen nothing since to change my mind.

Official Comments

Now, having seen our side of the picture, we shall take a look at the German side and see some of the more immediate result of the action in, and around St. Vith as written in official War Department documents. The following I have taken from the First US Army Report of Operations:

The failure of the Sixth SS Panzer Army to live up to the high hopes of its commander, could be attributed to three factors: First, the failure of the II SS Panzer Corps to break through; secondly, the equally dismal failure of the 1st SS Panzer Division; lastly, but of at least equal importance, the failure to reduce in time the island of resistance at St. Vith, and on the high ground to the south and southeast. Without the communications center of St. Vith, focal point of five highways and three rail lines, the enemy s armored infantry and supply columns were all practically immobilized".

The initial phase of the German winter offensive ended December 22nd . . . The elimination of the St. Vith salient was of prime importance to the (German) C in C West. Because of the delay imposed here the offensive was already three days behind schedule. in retrospect, it can be said that almost from the second day of the offensive, Von Rundstedt's plans began to go wrong".

The salient at St. Vith not only threatened the whole of Fifth Panzer Army's north flank, but continued to hold and prevent the westward movement of Sixth SS Panzer Army. This afforded First US Army sufficient time to bring up reinforcements to a new defensive line."

This ends my quotations from the Operations Report of the First Army.

The facts are consistent and incontestable; The road through St. Vith did not become an open way to the German Army until the 22nd of December, six days after the attack was launched.


Capture of the “GREIF” PLAN by 424th

by Colonel Robert P. Stout, Division G-2

December 1946

The German counter offensive in the Ardennes struck the 106th Infantry Division at daylight on the 16th of December 1944. That morning the 424th Infantry on the south of the Division sector was attacked by a German unit which proved to be the 62nd Infantry Division; this attack reached the outskirts of the town Winterspelt, where the initial assault was thrown back and our positions reestablished. In repulsing this attack a German Battalion Commander and some of his staff, who were leading the foremost battalion, were captured. In the dispatch case of the Battalion Commander were found a copy of the orders of which the following is a translation and also an operation map showing the complete disposition and plan of the 62nd Division for the attack and capture of St. Vith.

(I do not know the exact details of the unit of the 424th or the persons who captured this document. Major William R. Perlman, S-2 of the 424th probably knows these details; in any event credit should be given to the individuals capturing this officer for their action in finding these documents before he could destroy them, in immediately recognizing their importance and promptly reporting them.) This document which follows is an exact copy of the translation as it appeared in the G-2 report of the Division for the night of the 16th of December, except that misspelling of the geographical names in the third document have been corrected.

I recall receiving a personal telephone call from either Major Perlman or his assistant around noon or shortly thereafter telling me of this document and particularly the routes of the “Greif” force, which I personally wrote down including the mistakes and misspellings and immediately thereafter checked from and plotted on the map. I told them to forward the original as quickly as possible by special messenger.

The G-2 Journal indicates that we received a message concerning this document with identification of the 62nd Division and the Regiments taking part in the attack at 1320 (1:20 P.M.). At 1359 a Staff Sergeant of Engineers told G-2-3 Operations Desk that they had received a report of the action at Winterspelt including the capture of about 32 prisoners including 2 officers and the information that the Germans intended to use captured vehicles for deception purposes and that their identification would be absence of helmets and the use of colored flash lights at night. At 1420 G-2 called VIII Corps, telling them of this captured document and requesting that they send someone to our headquarters to receive it as soon as it arrived.

The information was also given that afternoon to an Assistant G-2 of VIII Corps who was, then at our headquarters (Col. William Slayden) and I believe he personally called Corps about it. I am not certain whether Corps sent someone to receive it or whether Col. Slayden or the Sgt. from his section, a German speaking translator, took the original to Corps. In any case it was in the hands of Corps that night and the translation hastily made by the interrogators, was published in the G-2 report of midnight that night; the latter report was in the hands of Corps, 1st Army and the adjacent Divisions by morning of 17 December. The captured German Battalion Commander was forwarded to Division and further interrogated in the evening of the 16th of December and gave valuable information concerning his Division and its attack plans but insisted he knew nothing more about the “Greif” plan than was contained in the documents.

Evaluation of the importance of this report was possible because of previous information contained in SHAEF reports of the formation by the Germans of a special task force with captured allied vehicles, weapons and equipment, which they were believed to be organizing in September or October. It was believed to be about the strength and organization of two battalions of mechanized reconnaissance units and including a considerable number of English speaking German soldiers. This proved to be the 150th Panzer Brigade with the English speaking teams of “Einheit (unit) Stielau” which were organized and trained by Otto Skorzeny, Hitler's Chief of Sabotage in the SS Security Service. With this background and information the G-2 section had no difficulty in appreciating the importance of this document and the information as to the routes which this force would take. I recall that we had a hard time convincing the staff of one of the Armored units with us that this was authentic information, but its genuineness was quickly confirmed by subsequent events.

The dissemination of this information was apparently prompt and thorough throughout the 1st Army. On the afternoon of the 17th, the 9th Air Force Fighter-Bombers, getting a break in the weather for a couple of hours found enemy Armored columns massed on the route toward Malmedy through the gap between the 106th and 99th Divisions. Our Air Liaison Section, listening to the 9th Tac by radio, heard the flyers remark “Those look like our vehicles. They have white marks on them,” then “I'm going down and look- those aren't ours, let them have it.” They were also reported to have noticed white shoulder patches on the men's uniforms. These columns consisting of parts of the 1st SS Panzer Division and the 150th Panzer Brigade, including the task force of the notorious Col. Joachim Peiper who, with members of his command, were recently tried at Dachau and convicted for the massacre of American prisoners and Belgian civilians near Malmedy. That unit following the first of the two routes given in the captured plan got as far as La Gleize (near Trois Ponts on the plan) where they were surrounded and pounded to pieces, a couple of hundred men escaping on foot. (A team of three Germans in American uniforms in a jeep were captured by 1st Army MP's at Aywaille bridge on 18 December.)

Further confirmation of the authenticity of this plan came on the night of the 17/18 December as part of the 7th Armored Division was moving up to our support along the second of the two routes mentioned in the captured plan. Some of the Division staff also were moving back that night on the same route and found the road junction at Poteaux under direct fire of enemy forces coming down from the north-east from Recht. This enemy force was driven back by elements of the 7th Armored and the Mechanized Cavalry attached to our Division.

On the morning of the 18th of December a liaison detachment from a unit of Corps or Army Artillery which had come into St. Vith from the north-west reported having been fired at by enemy in American vehicles. I spoke to an officer of this detachment personally, and he also gave us the first warning of the presence of tanks in the woods just north of St. Vith, by which an attack was launched shortly thereafter. This attack was met and driven off by tanks of CCB of the 9th Armored Division about 10 A.M.

On the same first day of the offensive, 16th of December, the 422 Infantry captured and sent in an attack order giving the composition, routes and objectives of a task force of 18 VG Division with their position on the Schnee Eifel. The next day another similar task force attacked and overran the town of Bleialf, on the south flank of the Schnee Eifel salient; the orders and plans of that force were likewise captured and forwarded. These orders gave us the information that the two latter attacks had the objective of cutting off the Schnee Eifel while the 62nd Division were designated to take St. Vith from the south-west. Accordingly, when a defensive position was formed along the Our River by the 424 Infantry and CCB of the 9th Armored the main attack on St. Vith was stalled. The 18th VG Division which had cut behind the units in the Schnee Eifel could not bring their full strength against St. Vith from the east until that position was reduced. Until after the 19th, therefore, St. Vith was attacked from east, north-east and north by various units; but, with the heroic defense, on the night of 17/18 December by 81st Engineer Battalion and other troops 2,000 yards east of the town and with the arrival on the 17th of two Armored Combat Commands from the 7th and 9th Armored Divisions and a day later the remainder of the 7th Armored Division the road net of St. Vith continued to be denied to the enemy. The position on the Our River was held until the enemy further to the south had passed far beyond our flanks as far as Houffalize, 10 miles to the rear, when the defenders of St. Vith, which by then included our Division and attached units, the whole of the 7th Armored Division, CCB of the 9th Armored and 112th Infantry Combat Team of the 28th Division, took up a perimeter defense with the enemy on three and one half sides in an oval between St. Vith and Vielsalm, until ordered to draw back through the 82nd Airborne Division.

The prompt recognition and forwarding of these important orders and enemy plans together with information from prisoners enabled us to definitely identify the units against us which by the 18th consisted of at least three and parts of a fourth enemy Division (two Infantry and two Armored), together with information of two other adjacent Infantry Divisions and at least three other Armored Divisions in reserve, with elements of all of which we were engaged during the defensive of the perimeter.

The failure of the “Greif” plan to which the early capture and prompt dissemination of this document undoubtedly contributed, was attested by prisoners taken later who formerly were members of 150 Panzer Brigade and Einheit Stielau. They said that the remnants of these units were disbanded shortly after they were withdrawn from the Ardennes and that their scheme had been a total failure because “for some reason” the Americans seemed to be ready for them.

Translation Of Captured Documents

1. Soldiers of the West Front! Your great hour has arrived. Large attacking armies have started against the Anglo-Americans. I do not have to tell you anything more on that. You feel it yourself:

WE GAMBLE EVERYTHING!

You carry with you the holy obligation to give everything to achieve things beyond human possibilities for Our Fatherland and our Fuhrer!

VON RUNDSTEDT

C in C West

Generalfeldmarshall

Dist:

Feldjager Kdo z.B.V., G-3

66 Corps G-3, Chief of Section

2. Addition to the order of the day of C in C West. We will not disappoint the Fuhrer and the Homeland who created the sword of revenge. Advance in the spirit of Luther. Our password will remain now more than ever: No soldier of the world can be better than we soldiers of the Eifel and Aachen area.

MODEL

Generalfeldmarshall

Forward double time! Remember the heritage of our dead comrades as well as the tradition of our proud Wehrmacht.

VON MANTEUFFEL

General d. Panzertruppen

Dist: Feldjager Kmdo z.B.V., G-3

66 Corps G-3, Chief of Section

Subject: Undertaking “Greif”

(1) Higher Hq planned to include in the operation the undertaking “Greif”.

(2) Undertaking “Greif” could also include own forces with American equipment, American weapons, American vehicles, American insignias especially the 5 pointed yellow or white star.

(3) To avoid confusion with enemy troops, the forces employed in undertaking “Greif” will identify themselves to our own troops:

a. During the day by taking off their steel helmets.

b. At night by red or blue light signals with flashlights.

(4) Forces of the undertaking “Greif” will also indicate the employment by painting white dots on houses, trees, and roads used by them.

(5) Employment of forces of undertaking “Greif” is planned along the following roads:

a. Trois Ponts (5km SW Stavelot). Basse Bodeaux, Villettes, Bra, la Fourche, Harre, Deux Rys, Roche a Frene.:

b. Recht (8.5 km NW St. Vith), Petit Thier, Ville du Bois, Vielsalm, Salmchateau, Road crossing at point 444 (0.5 km N Joubieval) Hebronval, Regne, Road crossing at point 538 (2 km SW Malempre), Manhay, Road fork at point 430 (East of Grandmenil), Road crossing at point 200 (1 km N Mormont), Roche a Frene.

c. Roche a Frene, Aisne, Juxaine, Bomal, Road fork 2 km SW Bomal, Tohogne, Oneux, Amas, Ocquier, Veroox.

4.Reference: G-3 66 Corps

Subject: Undertaking “Greif”

The following further identification for our own troops has been decided upon:

Swastika flag, white flares, partial head bandage.

for the General Staff

SIEBERT, C o S

Cp 15 Dec 1944

62 Volksgrenadier Division G-3

The above mentioned identifications are to be followed precisely.

for the Div. Staff TROITZSCH, Chief of Staff

CP 15 Dec 1944

183 Infantry Regt., G-3

Above order acknowledged and to be followed precisely.

DUVE Major and Rgtl. CO


Col. Girand Honors Cpt. Comer on GREIF Plans

March 1947

January 24, 1947

Dear Colonel Livesey

I was particularly interested in Colonel Stout's account of the importance of the plans captured at the beginning of the Ardennes Battle, which appeared in the recent issue of the CUB. I say this because one of the officers who recognized the importance of the plans when captured, and saw to it that the plans were placed in the proper hands for immediate dispatch to Regimental Headquarters, was recommended for a Meritorious Award based on the superb handling of his company during the attack and on his capture and evaluation of the German attack plans.  The recommendation was turned down by the Division Awards Board, who classed these achievements as routine. The officer was Captain Richard J. Comer, commanding Company K, 424th Infantry. The German Battalion commander referred to in Colonel Stout's article was captured with his staff and guards by a group consisting of myself, Captain Lee Berwick- Bn S-3, Lt. Leslie Struble-Bn S-2 (Deceased KIA), Lt. Wm. Shakespeare, and a rifleman.

It may be of interest to know the full story of these plans, their capture and disposition in the combat zone. The Third Battalion, 424th Infantry, was in position just South of the Prüm — Winterspelt - St. Vith road, centering on the village of Heckhusheid, Germany; with Company L, commanded by Captain Ben Bartell on the left of the town, and Company K, commanded by Captain Comer occupying the town. On the morning of December 16th, German troops attacked all along the line, breaking through between the two front line companies and overrunning most of Company L's positions. Captain Bartell reformed his men and took up positions on a ridge to the rear of his former positions, limiting the advance of the enemy, and prepared to counterattack to recover his former positions. Captain Bartell had informed me of the situation before his company CP was overrun, and when I could no longer contact him by phone or radio.

I told the 424th Regimental Commander, Colonel Reid, that I was going to alert Company I for a counterattack and go forward to find out the situation. Taking the Battalion S-2 and S-3 along, with one rifleman and a messenger from Company I, we started forward on foot towards Company L. About halfway we met Lieut. Shakespeare, whose machine gun platoon was attached to Company L, who gave us the situation. Sending the runner from Company I back to bring up the Company for the counterattack, we continued our trip towards Company L.

The terrain was thickly wooded, and we were suddenly confronted by Germans. Lt. Shakespeare “got the drop on them” with his Carbine and we made the group our prisoners, to find that we had captured the German Battalion Commander, his reconnaissance officer, and two guards with burp guns. Contents of the German commander's map case showed his objective for that day to be Krombach, Belgium. (The Germans entered Krombach on the night of December 22-23, six days later). Sending Lt. Struble back with the papers and the prisoners, we continued on to contact Captain Bartell and plan the counterattack to restore his positions. This very successful counterattack restored all positions by noon of the 16th, captured over 200 Germans, and killed a far greater number. Over 100 prisoners were captured by a small group under the direction of Captain Berwick, for which he was awarded the Silver Star medal. During this time Company K had repulsed several attacks, some at the point of the bayonet; and between attacks being subjected to severe nebelwerfer fire (screaming meemies) which demolished the town of Heckhusheid. During the close fighting in the town, a German officer was wounded and captured.

His papers were immediately examined by Captain Comer, and discovering that he had the plan of the German attack, he risked his life to get in touch with me to see that these plans would receive top priority in their dispatch through channels to the proper people. I instructed Major Knapp, the Battalion Executive Officer, to see that these papers and officer prisoners were immediately sent back to regimental headquarters. Later, I found out from Lieut. Struble the importance of the papers and marked maps that were captured that day, and since that time the capture of the plans and their subsequent value to our operations has received wide publicity. The handling of these papers immediately - subsequent to their capture was not routine, as every Jerry soldier had a pocket full of letters, papers, etc., and it took real work to separate the valuable material from the run-of-the-mill stuff that we picked up that day-especially since it was printed or written in German. Once Captain Comer realized the value of the papers carried by the wounded officer, he returned to his company CP from his forward position, where he was directing the defense of his company's position, through nebelwerfer and artillery fire to contact me and get the papers started to the rear.

Later, I recommended Captain Comer for a suitable award in recognition of his fine work in directing the defense of his positions, and for his alertness in handling these captured plans. The recommendation was returned to the regiment with the notation that he should be given a letter of commendation, as it was felt that Captain Comer's achievements were routine for a Company Commander. After reading in many publications of the value of the information we gathered that morning, and the effort under difficulties to see that the information reached the proper people in time to do the most good, the least we could do was to see that the people concerned with gathering this information should have been rewarded. Many Legion of Merit Medals were given for less, as we all know, yet Comer could not rate anything better than a Letter of Commendation. Lieut. Struble, Bn S-2, occupies a grave in Belgium as the result of shrapnel wounds in Bracht, Belgium-but so far as I know, his name has never been mentioned in connection with his efforts in rounding up the information at the Bn CP and getting it back to regiment.

I would appreciate your publishing this information in the CUB so that the full story and credit for the capture of the important material could receive wide publication.

Sincerely,

CHARLES F. GIRAND

Lt. Col. Inf. Res.

P.S.—One of the things which immediately impressed us that something was going on in a big way was that the German troops captured immediately threw-off their steel helmets and put on their long-billed caps. Asked why, they replied that it was to keep from being identified with the Americans. This bit of information went back along with the papers, and tied-in with their orders as published. I still have one of their flashlights with the red and green (blue??) disks that I picked up as a souvenir that day.

Retreat and Counter-Attack


THE HISTORY OF THE 106th from 22 DEC. 1944 TO ASSUMPTION OF COMMAND BY GENERAL STROH

December-January 1949

On the late afternoon of 22 Dec., 1944 the 106th, The 7th Armd. Div., Combat Command “B” of the 9th Armd. Div. and the 112th Combat Team of the 28th Inf. Div. occupied an elliptical figure, with one end of the oval just west of St. Vith and the other resting on the Salm River. The 7th Armored was on the north side, CCB of the 9th on the east, and the other elements on the south. One battalion of the 112th Inf. extended along the Salm River in the rear to provide an anchorage and protected flank for the 82d A/B Div. which was moving south into position west of the river. It was a fortified goose-egg against which the Germans were maintaining an incessant attack at all points except in the rear where our troops held the only remaining exits from the position - the bridges at Vielsalm and Salm Chateau.

As he left the schoolhouse at Vielsalm, which was the headquarters of the 7th Armd, General Ridgeway— commanding the XVIII A/B Corps— informed General Hasbrouck of the 7th Armd. that all American troops within the pocket would be withdrawn west of the Salm River that night and that 14 hours of darkness remained to complete the task. That statement would have been true had it been made at five p.m., but it was now seven and two precious hours had gone. Furthermore, no plans had been prepared for such a retrograde movement involving the passage of some 22,000 troops and their material' over an inadequate road network and two bridges, while at the same time maintaining a firm delaying action.

Two battalions of the 112th Inf. were hastily moved to a position east of Vielsalm to cover the movement and provide a corridor through which the other troops in the pocket could retire. The medium artillery of the division moved under cover of darkness, but it was not until 1130 the following morning that the 591st FA Bn. could make the crossing at Vielsalm. No time-table could be maintained. As part of a unit would disengage and start its rearward movement by bounds, it might have to be— and often was— recommitted at a point where the fragile goose-egg showed signs of cracking. Bit by bit the oval gradually shrank - the infantry riding out on the tanks of the two armored units. At five p.m. on the 23d, just as dusk had fallen and almost 24 hours after receiving the withdrawal order from General Ridgeway, Gen. Hasbrouck and the one officer who accompanied him received word at the CP in Vielsalm that the final elements of the several commands had just crossed the bridge.

As these officers left the CP a German tank rounded the corner and opened fire on the three American vehicles remaining in front of the schoolhouse - a half-track and two jeeps. The first shell hit the half-track, disabling it. Fortunately the jeeps responded immediately to their starters and the two officers and their drivers were able to cross the bridge which was blown up as the jeeps cleared it.

The Command and General Staff School, in its time, has presented some weird retrograde problems to its eager and aspiring students. Never, in its wildest imaginings, did it concoct a situation such as that presented on the night of 22 Dec.

Had this been a graded problem Gen. Hasbrouck and his staff would have had their solution returned as thoroughly unsatisfactory, for they could not comply with the Corps Commander's directive to complete the withdrawal by daylight of the 23rd. On the other hand, prolonged and arduous as the operation was, no living American within the pocket fell into German hands, and all transportation that could move under its own power passed safely through the lines of the 82d A/B Div.

The success of this withdrawal is a lasting tribute to the courage and tenacity of the junior officers and enlisted men in the pocket. The deception they practiced in their troop movements prevented the Germans from realizing until too late that a wholesale evacuation was in progress. The coolness they manifested prevented the slightest outbreak of disorganization or pandemonium. With characteristic sluggishness the Germans failed to correctly evaluate the movements. Had they placed concentrated artillery fire on the bridges at Vielsalm and Salm Chateau, very few of our troops would have reached the west bank of the Salm in safety.

In the meantime a gallant action was taking place at Baraque de Fraiture, west of the Salm— a crossroads important to the German advance for it is on the main highway between Bastogne and Liege. Here Major Arthur Parker and the three remaining pieces of the 589th FA Bn. conducted such a defense against repeated tank and infantry attacks that the place is now known as Parker's Crossroads.

Manhay

After its passage of the Salm the 7th Armd. had been immediately placed in position west of the 82d A/B, sealing the gap between that division and the VII Corps which was moving down from the north. American troops had been on the Vielsalm-Marche road the night of 23 Dec. and occupied the town of Manhay, a key crossroad. But in the confusion west of the Salm that night, and the attempt to untangle units and readjust positions, the front of the 7th Armd. was now north of the Vielsalm-Marche road. To deny the use of this road to the Germans it was considered necessary to re-gain and hold Manhay.

On Christmas day, the 2d Bn. of the 424th, with the 48th and 23d Armd. Inf. Bns., jumped off astride the Werbermont-Houffalize road and attacked Manhay, which patrols had reported as being lightly held. But, as the leading elements of the attacking units approached the town, from every cellar and from Grand Menil to the west where the 3d Armd. was held up, came a terrific machine gun crossfire in knee-high sweeps, while in front of the town the enemy laid down a barrage from 88s dug in on the heights to the south. The attack got within 50 yards of Manhay and was stopped. That night the 424th's 2d Bn., badly cut up, was withdrawn to high ground to the north. During the night patrols again reported that Manhay was being evacuated by the Germans and the town was hastily reoccupied by elements of he 7th Armd. But the Germans struck again before dawn with tanks and infantry and by daylight it was again in Nazi hands.

The morning of the 26th, the 424th, with CCB of the 7th Armd., again jumped off in conjunction with an attack to the west by the VII Corps. It was a bitter, grueling fight, but by five p.m. the 424th was in undisputed possession of Manhay and the northern flank of the German penetration in the Bulge was definitely established and sealed. For the regiment and the division it was a real triumph. It was their first offensive action and definitely showed to them, and the higher echelons of command, that given even a partial chance, the 106th could be counted on to justify the earlier predictions of its capabilities.

In these positions at Manhay the regiment remained until relieved on 30th Dec. by the 75th Inf. Div. Then the 106th, less the artillery which remained in action, moved to Anthisnes, Belgium, in Corps reserve for much needed equipment and reorganization. Here it was learned that the division would remain active— less, for the present, two combat teams and the reconnaissance troop— and with an authorized strength of 6,569.

In the meantime the Bulge had been stabilized. To use Marshal Montgomery's expression “the battlefield had been tidied up” and it was now time to begin pushing the German back where he belonged.

The Salm and Ambleve Rivers converge at the town of Trois Ponts. The 82d A/B Div. held the west bank of the Salm from Trois Ponts south to Vielsalm. To the northeast the 30th Inf. Div. held the north bank of the Ambleve and extended east through Stavelot and Waimes. Thus a salient existed in the American lines east of the Salm. Corps' plans was to reduce this salient by an attack south across the Ambleve. The 106th and 30th Inf. Divisions were selected for the initial attack south from the Ambleve. As the attack progressed, and on Corps order, the 75th Inf. Div. would pass through the 82d A/B and drive directly east on St. Vith. On the night of 7 Jan. the 424th CT was moved to Moulin du Ruy where it relieved the 112th CT which had been temporarily attached to the 30th Inf. Div. Two new partners were acquired by the division for this action - the 517th Parachute Inf. and its CT artillery which belonged to no division but were part of the 1st Allied A/B Army. The division also regained the 591st FA Bn. which had been supporting the 82d A/B since the night of 23 Dec.

Liquidating the Bulge

On the night of 12 Jan. a footbridge was constructed and thrown across the Ambleve by the 81st Engr. (C) Bn. near Stavelot and a platoon of the 517th Prcht. Inf. went over and established a shallow bridgehead. At 0430 on the morning of 13 Jan. the attack jumped off in the division zone with the 424th on the right and the 517th on the left. The 517th was an unique and astonishing outfit. The division early discovered that they not only appropriated everything in the area that was not nailed down, but in their attack procedure they casually by-passed any resistance that appeared to offer more than momentary delay. Dusk of the 13th found this regiment well forward to the east and offering a definite threat to the German garrisoned towns of Henumont and Coulee. But in its advance it had left in its rear large and small by-passed groups of isolated Nazis, as well as un-swept mine fields which the 106th Sig. Co. - endeavoring to maintain communication forward — soon discovered to their sorrow. The speed of the 517th Prcht. Inf's. advance had completely outstripped the 30th Inf. Div. on its left. Twice the Corps Chief of Staff had to be reassured that the 106th was not unduly exposed to enemy counterattacks moving across the front of the 30th Div. which by nightfall was o the left rear.

The 424th had stiffer going. It did not have the maneuver space available to the 517th and had to attack the German main line of resistance virtually head on. By noon the 1st Bn. had taken Lavaux and turned east toward Coulee. But as it crossed the ridge south of Neuf Parcs— within the hostile main line of resistance— artillery fire from the south and east and from enemy tanks and self-propelled assault guns caught the battalion and tied it down. Both the Bn. CO and his S-3 were casualties and the Regimental Executive was sent down to take command. Under cover of darkness the battalion readjusted its position and dug in. The 3rd Bn. also ran into difficulty. Advancing on Henumont, they found it strongly defended and in the open spaces before the town they were stopped by intense concentrations of artillery and automatic weapons fire. A platoon of tanks was ordered up to continue the attack but mechanical failures and the icy and snow-filled paths stalled the tanks and the battalion dug in 1,000 yards west of Henumont.

The advance was resumed the next morning. The 517th attacked Henumont from the east and found the Germans had withdrawn during the night. It then advanced rapidly to its part of the division objective. The 424th advanced south across the Coquaimont Ridge and by nightfall it, too, had reached its objective. In the meantime the 75th Div. had started its attack south of the 106th's objective and toward St. Vith. Outside the division's objective - but within that of the 75th - was the town of Ennal. The town and the hill mass to the east were heavily fortified with numerous bunkers. The northern flank of the 75th was being held up by these defenses and its attack showed signs of bogging down. Late in the evening of the 14th the 106th received a call from the Corps Commander asking if the division could extend its boundary and objective in that part of the zone of the 75th and reduce this town. He was told, of course, that the division could.

Company F, 424th, Takes Ennal

The next day, Company F in a frontal attack - stormed its way into and through the town, while E and G Companies reduced the eastern hill masse. The Corps Commander called in person at Division Headquarters to extend his congratulations to the 424th Inf. for the Ennal attack which, he said, “removed a thorn from our side.”

That evening the 106th was firmly entrenched along its final objective. The 16th and 17th of January were spent in rounding up numerous parties of Germans within the division zone while the 75th Div. - its north flank now secure - moved across our front toward St. Vith. Pinched out by the juncture of the 75th and 30th Divisions, the 106th reverted to Corps reserve for reorganization and supply.

It was a proud outfit that assembled in the area Stavelot-Trois Ponts. The division had not only defeated the German on organized ground of his own selection but had literally pulled along an older combat division as well as stepped out of its zone to remove an obstacle which was holding up the advance of a younger division. There was no organization in the division which had the slightest doubt that it was more than a match for the German wherever he might be met.

On 20 Jan. the 424th CT was alerted for the final blow in the reduction of the Bulge. On 23 Jan. It was moved to the vicinity of Diedenburg where it relieved the 508th Prcht. Inf. in the zone of the 7th Armd. Div. Here, on 25 Jan., with the 16th Inf. of the 1st Div. on its left and its old friend, the 517th Prcht. Inf., on the right it jumped off, crossed the Bullingen-St. Vith highway and captured the towns of Medell and Meyerode. By 26 Jan. the regiment had secured and consolidated the Deperts Berg ridge, its final objective. On the 28th, the 82d A/B assaulted through the 424th, and the regiment rejoined the division at Houchenie. It was retributive justice for the 424th, this final attack, for it had driven the Germans out of some of the same ground they had overrun in December at St. Vith, five miles to the south.

The 106th remained at Houchenie in 18th A/B Corps reserve until 3 Feb. when it was again alerted to move east for what was to be the final battle west of the Rhine. It closed in its new area in Hunningen, Belgium, on 7 Feb., the right flank unit of the V Corps and First Army, and established contact with the 87th Inf. Div.— the left flank unit of the Third Army. Here Major General Donald A. Stroh assumed command.

General Stroh brought with him from SHAEF news the division had long been hoping to hear; the Reconnaissance Troop and -the 422d and 423d Combat Teams were to be reconstituted and the 106th would again take its place as a fully organized combat division. Staff officers were immediately dispatched to Hq. Fifteenth Army — to whose control the division was to pass— and to St. Quentin, France, to make preparation for a short period of recuperation at that place. The division moved to St. Quentin on 15 Mar. and on 1 April went to Rennes, France, which was to be the area for the reconstitution. Replacements began to arrive almost immediately and on 14 April an impressive reactivation ceremony was held at the St. Jacques airport. On the following day the reconstituted units began their move to Camp Coetquidan, a French artillery post west of Rennes, for their intensive training.

Concurrently with their training program the reconstituted units were given the mission of being prepared to support the 66th Inf. Div. in its task of containing the Germans still holding out in the Lorient and St. Nazaire pockets. Following an abbreviated AGF training program the reconstituted units were making substantial progress when— on VE Day— they were ordered to move to the areas of Lorient 2nd St. Nazaire. There they were in the midst of relieving elements of the 66th Div. when the German command in the pockets capitulated. Camp Coetquidan was no longer available but Division Headquarters had selected a training area in the vicinity of Nachtsheim, Germany, and there the new units proceeded in a combined rail and motor movement.

The new location was a splendid training site in the Eiffel District and provided every opportunity for unit and combined training. An enthusiastic spirit pervaded all ranks of the reconstituted units as they looked forward to taking their places in the division at an early date. On 14 July, however, the French took over that sector of the Rhineland and once again the two combat teams and the Reconnaissance Troop had to move - this time to the vicinity of Oestringen, about 25 miles from the division CP at Karlsruhe.

Here, in the middle of August, they completed their training with a formal ceremony in which Gen. Stroh proclaimed the 422d and 423d as combat infantry regiments and attached the streamers to their guidons. They had thoroughly absorbed the tradition and esprit de corps of their predecessors. As a result of the enthusiasm and intensity with which they had undertaken their training there can be little question but that they would have proven themselves, in their first action, worthy successors to the units lost on the Schnee Eifel. Much has been written and said— and deservedly so— in praise of the organizations and units (and they were legion) who distinguished themselves in combat during the period covered by this narration. All too little recognition has been given, however, to other unit and men who made many of these accomplishments possible. The Quartermaster and Ordnance Companies who furnished the supplies and weapons to keep the combat teams in action; the Engineer Battalion which labored unceasingly to open and maintain roads, bridge streams and sweep the ever present mine fields; the Signal Company which never failed to maintain a truly superior communications network; and the Medical Battalion which, when the last reports of the war have been compiled, will be found to have a record second to none in the ETO. And behind them all were the commissioned and non-commissioned staff officers and their assistants who worked without thought of time or self in seeing that the combat units were provided with the means with which to fight.

The memories of most of those who served with the division during this period are grim— for some they are bitter. Confused and shaken by the body blow they had received the personnel of all echelons were groping for an anchor to sustain them. Then it was that the Chief of Staff, Colonel William C. Baker, Jr., stepped to the fore and provided the leadership needed so desperately. Calmly, but with unshakable tenacity, this modest and unassuming officer welded the remnants of the division into a cohesive striking force. Without the inspiration of this man and the loyalty he evoked the story of - the 106th Division might well have been a tragedy in the saga of American history; with it the division arose from the ashes of its Armageddon to take an honored place.

There are many reasons why the 106th Infantry Division should be kept alive. Were there only this one, however, its continued existence would be more than justified. In the dark hours of the Bulge an American columnist broadcast an unverified and unconsidered report traducing the character and valor of some of the bravest men you will ever know. This report went unchallenged until Cedric Foster took up the cudgel to deny point blank the implications which had been drawn. The living members of the division owe it to themselves to keep the memories of these men alive for future generations of Americans. The Association can well adopt as its own these words of Lawrence Binyon:

“They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;

Age shall not weary them nor the years condemn.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning

We will remember them."


The Last Big Missions

February to August, 1945

The History Of The 106th Under General Stroh's Command

By Donald A. Stroh, Maj. Gen., USA, Retired

April 1948

The final combat advance of the 106th - St. Quentin - Rennes and reactivation of the reconstituted units - the overwhelming immensity of the Division's POW mission, and the Division's splendid performance of its difficult assignment - the Karlsruhe occupation task: these are fragments of the story which General Stroh places before us in this concise summary of the activities of the Division under his command, We present this article as a part of the series of division history speeches made by our generals at the 1947 convention.

The first week in February found the 106th back on familiar ground. Relieving the 99th Division, the Division took over a defensive position centering at the crossroads of Losheimergraben, less than 12 miles in an air line northeast of St. Vith. It will be recalled that Losheimergraben was the contact point between the cavalry group and the 99th Division in December. To make the coincidence even more marked, the 106th found itself again confronted by the 26th German Division, which had participated in the big push two months before and had been badly mauled at Bastogne. This division had been reduced to between 450 and 850 men.

The 106th was assigned to the V Corps, First Army, and charged with the protection of the extreme southern flank of that Army. The 87th Division, Third Army, was on our right, and the 69th Division, in combat for the first time, on our left. The 424th occupied a position nearly four miles in width, tight up against the pillboxes and dragon's teeth of the Siegfried Line. The next four weeks passed without major incident. Days and nights were spent in vigorous patrolling and minor raids, one of the largest and most successful of which took place 28 Feb. when a platoon of Company C captured a bunker. Orders from Corps prevented more forceful offensive operations but our whittling tactics resulted in the complete elimination of the German 26th Division by the first week in March. It was the lull before the storm of the last great American offensive. Existing units of the Division were brought up to strength by the arrival of nearly 2,500 replacements.

On 7 March the 106th began its last combat advance into enemy territory. Against practically no opposition the 424th advanced on that day nearly six miles over hilly country as far as the Simmer River, about 40 miles due west of Koblenz. Here the advance was stopped by higher authority in accordance with plan, and by the converging advances of the 69th and 87th Divisions.

One week later the Division, now under the Fifteenth Army, started back to France for rebuilding. St. Quentin was reached on 16 March and there we stayed for about two weeks. Every unit participated in at least one ceremony during this time, and many individual decorations were presented. All organizations of the 424th were decorated with combat infantry streamers, symbolic of the fact that at least 65% of all personnel in the Regiment had qualified for that coveted honor.

Rennes

By 6 April the Division had completed another move this time to Rennes in Brittany. There reactivation of the 422d and 423d Infantry, the 589th and 590th FA Battalions, and the 106th Reconnaissance Troop was to take place. Receipt of some 9,000 officers and men, organization, and training was ordered to be completed by 5 May - one month - on which date the 106th was to relieve the 66th Division in the investment of St. Nazaire and Lorient, nearby ports where the Germans were still holding out. Until organic units could be trained and made ready, two infantry regiments, the 3d and 159th, and two artillery battalions, the 401st and 627th, just arrived from the United States, were attached to the Division. By April 14 all personnel had arrived, and plans were complete to begin training on the 16th.

Reconstitution Ceremony

On the 14th an inspiring ceremony was held on the Rennes airport. The reactivated units were formed on one side of a hollow square. Directly opposite were the survivors of the Bulge, formed in the same order. On a third side of the square were the remaining organic units and those attached, in all 29 massed battalions of nearly 25,000 men. The survivors of the Bulge carried the colors, standards, and guidons of the units to which they belonged. At a signal, the bearers of these advanced to the center of the square, where the flags were transferred to bearers from the newly activated units. All then marched to rejoin the newly activated units and the entire command passed in review. The 422d, 423d, 589th, 590th, and Recon Troop were reborn.

Plans changed abruptly. On the very next day, 15 April, orders were received to move the Division 600 miles to the east again, to take over a desperate situation involving prisoners of war. The newly activated units remained at Rennes, attached to the 66th Division to complete their training under the immediate command of General Perrin.

The 159th Inf. led the way on 17 April and the entire Division closed into the valley of the Rhine eight days later.

POW Mission

The job confronting the 106th was staggering. Hundreds of thousands of prisoners of war, sent to the rear from four American Armies, were overwhelming the facilities set up to care for them. Supplies of all sorts were inadequate. Shelter was almost completely lacking. Tens of thousands were sick. The weather was cold and rainy. Guards were pitifully few in number. Prisoners were confined largely in open fields, each surrounded by a single barbed wire fence. Fourteen different nationalities were represented in German uniform. There were individuals of both sexes, men of eighty and boys of eight. Sixty-eight generals were confined in a single building.

The 3d Inf was rushed to the north to take over a group of enclosures near the border of Holland. The 159th Inf. remained in the center, between Bonn and Koblenz. The 424th took over further south, near Bingen, and the Artillery manned the most southerly group, near Heilbroon, not too far from the border of Switzerland, The Division was deployed on a front of 340 miles and a depth of 600. Attachments of individuals and service units raised its strength to 40,000 men. Every company and battery was 100 men overstrength. In general, one battalion guarded each of the 16 enclosures, each of which contained up to 100,000 prisoners.

Every man and unit in the Division did a magnificent job for the next ten weeks. Without precedent to guide them, and in the face of almost prohibitive odds, order was gradually brought out of chaos, the camps organized, food and other supplies procured, medical installations set up, a thousand and one almost insurmountable obstacles overcome. The peak load was reached 18 May with nearly 920,000 men under guard, said to be 15 times the number of prisoners captured by the entire AEF during World War I.

The strain on the Division's service units was especially severe. Imagine establishing signal communications on a front of 340 miles with a division signal company; of caring for l,750,000 men on sick call with a division medical battalion; or building 28 miles of roads and 65 miles of barbed wire fence with a division engineer battalion. These are the briefest of highlights.

Soon after the peak was reached, the prisoner population began to decline - by shipments to the west for labor, but principally by discharge. Having been carefully screened to insure that no dangerous Germans would be released, the others were processed for discharge, paid, and transported by train or truck to their homes all over Germany. Never has a division accomplished such a mammoth transportation job. As many as 19,000 prisoners were discharged and transported on a single day. On 12 June the British took over in the 3d Inf. area, and on 10 July the French assumed responsibility elsewhere, except in the extreme south. The prisoner population had by that date been reduced to 170,000. By that time, the Division had processed a million and a quarter through its enclosures. It moved to occupational duty near Karlsruhe with the satisfaction of superb accomplishments.

There remains for me to describe only two isolated incidents of much dramatic importance in the history of the 106th.

During the fury of the Bulge the colors of the 424th had been captured. Months later they were recovered in Czechoslovakia by the 2d Division and returned to the 106th. At an impressive regimental ceremony, on the bank of the Rhine in June, these honored emblems of a proud outfit were returned to the custody of the regiment.

After the cessation of hostilities in Europe the 106th was scheduled for deactivation. In anticipation of possible assignment to the Pacific, the training of the 422d, 423d, 589th and 590th was continued until early in August. By that time it appeared certain that the Division would never again participate in combat during World War II, so these units, trained and ready, began occupational duty with the remainder of the Division. For the first time since December, the entire 106th was operating as a unit.

The conclusion of training was marked by a graduation parade, during which all companies of both the 422d and 423d received combat infantry streamers - an award not earned by the bulk of the men who marched that day - but by their predecessors in the Schnee Eifel.


Karlsruhe – Camp Lucky Strike– Camp Shanks

by Francis A. Woolfley, Colonel, Infantry

Senior Instructor, Louisiana National Guard

December 1947

All who attended the 1947 convention in Indianapolis will long remember the stirring session at which each of the 106th's General Officers spoke on the history of the Division. Brigadier General Francis A. Woolfley, CG from 16 August to 2 Oct 1945, was unable to attend the convention, but in response to our request, has submitted a resume of the highlights during his period of command.

At Hof, Germany, on 6 August 1946, orders were received relieving me from duty as Assistant Division Commander, 76th Infantry Division, and transferring me to the 106th Infantry Division, then located at Karlsruhe, Germany. Having received several days' warning of my new assignment, I was able to depart without delay and on the evening of 7 August reported to General Stroh at his quarters in the former Swedish Consulate at Karlsruhe.

Neither the 106th Infantry Division nor its commander were new to me, for I was even then well acquainted with the glorious sacrifices made by the Golden Lions in the Battle of the Bulge, and Don Stroh and I had entered the service together and had served together on the faculty of The Infantry School.

Upon joining I found the 106th Division performing occupational duties in the BRUCHSAL-KARLSRUHE area and preparing for redeployment to the United States. The 159th Infantry, a Class II unit, was attached to the Division and undergoing training at Camp Alan W. Jones. Low point men were scheduled for transfer to Class 1 and II units and further combat service against the Japanese. However, the week that followed brought a great change in the situation.

The Stars and Stripes headlines on 5 August featured the first use of the atomic bomb against Japan at Hiroshima. On succeeding days this paper bore equally startling headlines: on 9 August, “Russia Declared War on Japan”; on 10 August, “Nagasaki 2d Atomic Bomb Victim”; and on 11 August, “Japan Sues For Peace”, and on 15 August news was received by the Division in Karlsruhe that the Japanese had accepted the surrender terms. The whole picture had changed. The grim prospects of fighting, in the Pacific faded for the Golden Lion.

On 16 August, Major General Donald A. Stroh, who had commanded the 106th Infantry Division since 7 February 1945, left for reassignment in the United States, and I became the fourth and last commander of the Division.

On this same date, warning instructions were received by telephone from the Seventh U. S. Army to begin preparations for movement to an assembly area and for ultimate redeployment to the States. This was followed by written orders received 24 August to move the 106th Division, less the Band, to Camp Oklahoma City, arriving there 11 September 1945. On 25 August, the 159th Infantry relieved the 106th Division of occupational duties in the KARLSRUHE-BRUCHSAL area, was relieved of attachment to the 106th Infantry Division, and was attached to the 100th Division. On 27 August, the 106th Reconnaissance Troop which had been operating the Division Recreation Center at EUPEN, BELGIUM, closed in the KARLSRUHE area.

During the month of August, the transfer of personnel to and from the division continued and constituted a major problem. 209 Officers and 7,238 enlisted men were transferred from the division during this period and 239 officers and 10,344 enlisted reinforcements received. Thus the division received almost a complete turn-over in personnel in a single month and it became the task of commanders and staffs to make these combat veterans feel at home in their new outfit and to inculcate in them in a very short time in the proud spirit and bearing of the Golden Lions. A fine record of soldierly conduct and appearance in the march across Germany and France, and during the voyage home, leads me to believe we were successful in this and gives us reason to be proud of our last reinforcements.

On 2 September; a new movement order, dated 26 August 1945, was received which called for the movement of the division (less band) “direct to the appropriate port” and not to Camp Oklahoma City, in the Assembly Area Command, as previously ordered. On 6 September, the call from the LeHavre Port Commander was received through the Seventh Army. It specified that the division would arrive at Camp Lucky Strike 11-13 September, 1945, and that the advance detachment would precede the main body by 72 hours. This call was confirmed by Movement Order, Headquarters XXI Corps, 6 September 1945. Orders were also received on 6 September transferring the 106th Infantry Division Band to the XXIII Corps for the 3d Infantry Division. The Band departed on 7 September for REINHARDSHAVEN, GERMANY.

The readjustment of personnel continued with a total of 677 officers and men being transferred from the Division and 624 being received during the first eleven days of September. All Regular Army officers were transferred to other assignments, exception being made only in the case of the Division Commander, Colonels William B. Tuttle and John T. Zellars, commanding officers of the 422d and 423d Infantry Regiments, respectively, were permitted at their request to move with their regiments to the Port prior to their relief and reassignment to other duties in the XXI Corps; and Colonel William C. Baker, Chief of Staff received special dispensation to accompany the Division to the States with the proviso that he return to a new assignment at USFET by air. Thus Colonel Baker satisfied an ambition to serve with the Golden Lion Division until its day of deactivation. As far as I know, he is the only member of the division to serve continuously with the division throughout its entire existence-from activation to deactivation.

In spite of transfers of personnel and preparation for the movement home, the many and varied activities of the division continued right up to the minute of their departure from Karlsruhe. This is best exemplified by the Golden Lion Baseball Team which played its last game on the day preceding the movement of the division and left Germany leading the Seventh Army Baseball League. The division completed its movement from Karlsruhe, Germany, to Camp Lucky Strike near St. Valery, France, during the period 7-11 September in accordance with Movement Order, 106th Division, dated 7 September 1945. The Division Command Post closed at Karlsruhe and opened at Camp Lucky Strike 11 September 1945, at which time the 106th Division was relieved from assignment to Seventh Army and attachment to XXI Corps and passed to the control of Chanor Base Section. The motor movement consumed three days, and included many places of historical interest in both World War I and World War II, on its route: Karlsruhe, Zweibrucken, Saarbrucken, Metz (first bivouac), Verdun, Ste. Menehould, Chalons, Reims, Soissons (second bivouac), Compiegne, Clermont, Beauvais, Gournay, St. Saens, Yerville, St. Valery, Camp Lucky Strike.

The stay of the Division at Camp Lucky Strike was brief. Here was held its last formal ceremony during which it was my honor and privilege to decorate the colors of the 81st Engineer Combat Battalion with the Presidential Unit Citation for their courageous action in the Battle of The Ardennes in the vicinity of St. Vith, and to pin the unit citation badge on all original members of the battalion still present.

The Division commenced its embarkation on 20 September with the loading of the U. S. Victory at LeHavre. The complete story of the embarkation and journey home cannot be told. Loading plans were out of Division's hands and troops were loaded as ships became available. The second ship out carried Division Headquarters and we never knew on what ships the remainder embarked or where they landed. Division Headquarters and 3,700 troops of the division loaded on the “Marechal Joffre” during the afternoon of the 21st of September and sailed from LeHavre, France, Saturday, 22 September 1945.

The sighting of mines during the first morning out caused a flurry of excitement and the firing of the ship's guns in an effort to detonate these mines brought to many of those aboard memories of more exciting channel crossings.

The remainder of the voyage of the Marechal Joffre was uneventful. At 1030, 1 October, land was sighted and at 1300 the Marechal Joffre entered New York harbor with a huge Golden Lion proudly displayed on her side. We received a noisy welcome as we proceeded past the Statue of Liberty and up the Hudson. As the troops of the Marechal Joffre debarked at Camp Shanks, General Stroh was on hand to meet old friends and to extend the official welcome of the War Department.

The last order of the Division, its deactivation order, was issued 2 October 1945. Within less than twenty-four hours all troops arriving on the Marechal Joffre had cleared Camp Shanks for separation centers. The Golden Lion Division with a great record of courageous achievement passed into history.


Reconstitution Ceremony – Rennes, France – 14 April 1945

3 October 1946

The official re-birth of the 106th Infantry Division was typified by an impressive ceremony on the Rennes airport on the afternoon of 14 April 1945, participated in by approximately 20,000 men.

The troops, all dismounted, were formed on three sides of a hollow square.

On the west, or to the left of the reviewing officer, facing east, were the newly arrived officers and men of the 422d and 423d Infantry, the 589th and 590th Field Artillery Battalions, and the 106th Reconnaissance Troop. All large units were formed in battalion masses.

Directly opposite, on the east side of the square, facing west, were the officers and men of the same units who had survived the, Ardennes. Suitable guards and bearers among these carried the colors, standards and guidons of all regiments, battalions, companies, batteries and the troop. The originals had been lost in combat, but surprisingly good facsimiles had been manufactured locally.

On the north side of the square, facing south toward the reviewing officer, were the remaining units of the Division which had escaped the Ardennes as such, 424th Infantry, 591st and 592d Field Artillery Battalions, 81st Engineers, 331st Medical Battalion and Special Troops,- and the attached 3d and 159th Infantry and 401st and 627th Field Artillery Battalions. All units were formed in battalion masses.

After the command had been presented by the Commanding Officer of Troops, Brig. Gen. Herbert T. Perrin, Assistant to the Division Commander, the Division Commander addressed the formation as follows:

“Today we are taking the first step to rebuild the 106th Infantry Division. It will be a task which will require the best efforts of every officer and man here. I'm counting on you to do your usual good job. “

“Our Division emerged from the shock of the Ardennes last January to snap back vigorously, take the offensive and assist in breaking the Siegfried Line in March.

“Like a boxer knocked groggy but not out in the first round, you came back in the second, took the fight to your opponent in the third, and are now awaiting the gong for the knockout. Further victories lie ahead. We will be in at the kill.

“Our new division will be formed from various sources. On my right are the survivors of the 106th Reconnaissance Troop, 422d and 423d Infantry and 589th and 590th Field Artillery Battalions, the units which fought to the death near St. Vith last December and held the line until additional American forces could be formed behind them.

“On my left are the officers and men of the new units of the same numbers who will carry on the heroic traditions of Belgium and Germany established by their predecessors. Some of these men have come from other units of the Division, some from our attached units. Already the blood of the old Division flows in the veins of the new.

“In front of me are the remaining units of the Division, and certain attached units, which we are happy to welcome into our official division family. These are the 3d and 159th Infantry and the 401st and 627th Field Artillery Battalions. The 3d Infantry is one of the oldest regiments in the Army and has a combat record starting with the War of 1812. The 159th Infantry, formerly a part of the 40th Division, has seen service in Alaska. We will be proud to have them wear our shoulder patch. ”

“Today we will transfer the colors, standards and guidons from the survivors of St. Vith to the new units which carry on the fight. It is fitting that we do this, because these bits of silk and wool are symbols of the pride and esprit of the Regiments, battalions and troop which they represent. Old soldiers know well the sentiment which attaches to the colors and standards especially. In former wars they were carried into battle by the strongest and bravest men available. Many men gave their lives that the colors should not fall or be captured. Today we no longer carry the colors into battle, but they deserve our utmost respect and admiration. They represent the heroic achievements of the past, and the hopes for a victorious future.

“So when, in a few moments, the veterans of the Schnee Eifel, who have figuratively carried these colors through the hell of combat, transfer them to the newest units, I charge you with receiving them with the pride and reverence which they deserve. Your color guards are armed with weapons captured from the Germans. This too is symbolic of the fact that these colors will accompany us into Germany. They will be present when the last enemy soldier is killed or captured.”

At a signal from General Perrin, designated color and guidon bearers and guards advanced in one rank from the units on the west side of the square. On a north and south line midway between the western and eastern sides they met the veteran members of their units, who had advanced simultaneously, carrying the colors, standards and guidons.

After the command had been presented the band played the National Anthem.

The colors, standards and guidons were then transferred to the bearers and guards of the reconstituted units, who returned with them to their normal locations with the battalion and troop masses.

The veteran officers and men, moving by the flank, simultaneously marched to join their respective organizations within the reconstituted units, thus amalgamating the old with the new.

The entire command, 29 massed battalions and one troop, then passed in review before the Division Commander.


 Lest We Forget — What Was the 106th doing 12 Years Ago

Jun-Jul 1957

The Division moved out of the battle zone on 14 March, 1945, traveling by rail and motor to St. Quentin, France, passing from First Army to Fifteenth Army command. Its mission was to reconstitute and train new units with same designation as those of the elements which had not been operational since the Ardennes. At the same time it became tactical reserve for the 66th Infantry Division against the Nazi pockets of Lorient and St. Nazaire.

So the Division moved again; this time to Rennes, ancient capital of Brittany, closing in the vicinity on 6 April '45. To it came two new combat-team partners, the 3d and 159th Infantry regiments and the 401st and 627th Field Artillery battalions and replacements totaling 6,600 officers and men. On 15 April in solemn ceremony, the 422d Infantry (Col. Wm. B. Tuttle) and 423d Infantry (Col. John T. Zellars), the 589th and 590th Field Artillery Battalions and the 106th Reconnaissance Troop were reborn, receiving their respective colors, standards and guidons. Two veteran officers commanded the artillery units. Major Arthur C. Parker III —Parker of Parker's Crossroads— recovered from his wounds, led the 589th; Major Carl H. Wohlfeil, smart executive of the 591st, was at the head of the new 590th. Next day big Tom Riggs, who had stopped the Nazis at the threshold of St. Vith, after escaping from prison camp and fighting for a time in the Russian ranks, returned to take command of his 81st Combat Engineer Battalion.

And the next day the Division was tapped for its new assignment -Germany and the POWs. Leaving the reconstituted units attached to the 66th Division, the revamped 106th moved to the Rhine, the 159th Infantry to Remagen, Division Artillery to Mannheim and the remainder of the Division to the vicinity of Stromberg. By 25 April all elements had closed in.

During this period the reconstituted units in the west saw some action. The 627th Field Artillery Battalion (Lt. Col. Harris) supported the 66th Division Artillery from positions southwest of Nantes, and the 423rd Infantry, with the 590th Field Artillery Battalion in support clashed with the Krauts in the St. Nazaire pocket, shortly before they surrendered.

Meanwhile the Division, reinforced to a strength of 40,000 stood guard over 920,000 German POW's. It processed through it's cages in 11 weeks more than a million and a quarter individuals, including 68 Axis general officers, from the rank of Field Marshal down, 2,600 women, representing the equivalent of WACs and nurses. Some 18 nationalities were represented.

While the Division was in the middle of the POW business, the reconstituted units moved up from Brittany by motor, following the surrender of the Nazi pockets and closed in at Nachtsheim, ten miles west of Mayen, Germany, by 27 May, to continue their training under Division control. Brig. Gen. Perrin, Asst. Division Commander and G-3: personnel of the Division staff moved in to supervise. The training area was christened Camp Alan W. Jones, in honor of the first Division commander.

On 12 July another move began. The Division would take over the Bruchsal-Karlsrhue Landkreise from the 84th Division, moving into the vicinity of Karlsrhue where the Division command post opened. It was now under command of Seventh Army. The Division now settled down to occupational duty. The reconstituted units continued their training at another Camp Alan W. Jones at Oestringen, thirty miles north of Karlsrhue. The shakeups of redeployment went on, life was one continual turmoil. Came word of Hiroshima, of Nagasaki, and then V-J Day.

On 1 September came orders that everyone was looking for, the 106th was going home. On 10 September the 422d Infantry leading, the Division started on the last, long trek. The various outfits came back individually. They arrived by different ships and at different ports, between 1 and 2 October 1945 between New York and Hampton Roads. Divisional Headquarters, at Camp Shanks, N. Y. received the formal inactivation order 2 October 1945.

World War II was over for the Golden Lions.


Memorial Planned for Camp Atterbury

April-May-June 1991

On Saturday March 23, 1991 Paul Merz, 422 Service Company attended a meeting at Camp Atterbury. Paul describes this first board meeting in a letter dated March 26, 1991 to John Gilliland, president of our association. He states as follows:

“The meeting was very informative. The main emphasis of course, was the raising of monies to complete the Atterbury Memorial. So far approximately $50,000 has bee raised through corporations and interested individuals in Central Indiana. It is anticipated that another $50,000 will be needed to complete the Memorial.

“Work has already started on the site. The pond has been dug and the grading has started. There is enough money (Government money cannot be used for this purpose) to build the basic park. By this I mean the parking areas, graveled walks, the wall and the plaques, the pads which the Army vehicles will be placed, as well as the basic landscaping. We were shown the surplus vehicles that have been pledged to this use.

“It is estimated that the bronze statute will cost $35,000, concrete walks instead of gravel, a completely illuminated fountain and pond for another $15,000. This is the extra $50,000 mentioned above.

“I can tell you this much, Colonel Stachel and his staff are dedicated to this project. This will be a non-profit organization and any monies donated by our members will be tax deductible.

“The board will meet again on September 7, 1991. There were present, at this first meeting, representatives from the 83rd Division, 30th Division and several smaller units that had something to do with the history of Atterbury. Many corporate people were also present. Paul Merz

CONCEPT FOR
CAMP ATTERBURY VETERANS MEMORIAL PARK
AND DISPLAY AREA

A fitting memorial to the Veterans of WWII, the Korean conflict, Vietnam and Desert Storm, who passed through Camp Atterbury, as well as a commemorative to the 50th anniversary of Camp Atterbury becoming a post. It will serve as a memorial and outdoor display of WWII type weapons systems to be visited by the public.

The area bounded by Hospital Road, Fairbanks Street, Eggleston Street, Mess Hall Road north of 8th Street was chosen as the site.

The entire block will be fenced with a single entrance/exit being constructed off Hospital Road.

The entrance to the site will be constructed by culvert, concrete headers and driveway crossing the ditch from Hospital Road and leading to the fenced, gravel parking lot. The walkway from the parking lot will circumvent the existing pond in both directions and lead to the memorial wall and statute, as well as to connecting walkways to the equipment displays.

The existing pond will be outfitted with an illuminated fountain to add a touch of tranquility to the scene. A 6' bronze statute on a raised platform is planned as funds become available.

Backdrop to the statute will be an elevated, reinforced 40 foot concrete 8 foot wall with 24 foot wings at a 30 to 45 degree angle. Mounted on this wall will be limestone plates approximately 4' x 6' 4" emblazoned with the crests, name and contributions of the 10 major organizations that passed through Camp Atterbury during World War II, the Korean conflict, the Vietnam conflict and Operation Desert Storm. In ground lighting will be installed to illuminate the statute as well as the wall mounted crests. The rear of the wall will be back filled with soil on a 5:1 grade and seeded to ensure that erosion will not take place and the grade will assure easy mowing. The top of the wall will be furnished with covered receptacles for flag poles (2" diameter) to accommodate U.S., Division, Army colors and standards for commemorative events.

The equipment display area will be laid out to achieve a balanced effect and the connecting walkways will provide easy access. Each display item will be furnished with a plaque denoting the nomenclature and characteristics of the weapon.

A plaque recognizing all individual and corporate donors who contributed in excess of $2,000 will be placed in the center walkway.

(editor's note — Included with the above was the proposed program for the dedication to be held 15 August 1992. Notes on the history of Camp Atterbury were also included and both of these can be included in The CUB at a later date.

Of prime importance at the moment is for the members of the 106th Infantry Division to respond, as they see fit, to the plea of the Camp Atterbury Veterans Association for help in this interesting and well meaning salute to the units that passed through Camp Atterbury. 

Camp Atterbury Veterans Memorial Association, Inc Attention; Comptroller Office, Bldg 1 Hospital Road Edinburgh, IN 46124-1096

Page last revised 04/25/2013