The CUB of the Golden Lion
Compiled and Edited by
Birth of the Golden
Convention edition 1958
It is noon of Monday, March 15, 1943. A limousine comes to a stop at the entrance to Outdoor Theatre #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 theatre. 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 theatre, 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 <%4>followed by the Division Adjutant General, Lt.<%0> 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.
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 sequently 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.
12 December 1942 Division staff ordered to report for 10th New Divisions Course Command and General Staff School, Ft. Leavenworth
4 January 1943 Division staff at Ft. Leavenworth
4 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
3 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
6 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
7 February 1945 Hunningen — General Stroh takes over.
15 March 1945 St. Quentin, pulled back for rest and rehabilitation
1 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.
4 May 1945 Bad Ems (The Kasserne)
14 July 1945 Karlsruhe (Postdirektion Bldg.)
16 August 1945 General Woolfley becomes Division Commander
7 September 1945 Staging Area, Camp Lucky Strike, Ste. Valerie en Caux
24 September 1945 Embarking at Le Havre for home
1 October 1945 Debarkation at Camp Shanks, N. Y. for Division Headquarters
2 October 1945 Division deactivated
Vol 3, No. 4 October 1946<R>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.
(editor's note —This list of commanders was compliled 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
Major Gen. Alan W. Jones
Asst. Cmmdng General
Brig. Gen. Herbert T. Perrin
Lt. Col. Max J. Roadruck
Lt. Col. Robert P. Stout
Lt. Col. Charlie Brock
Lt. Col. Milton S. Glatterer
Chief of Staff
Col. William C. Baker
Lt. Col. Frank I. Agule
Lt. Col. William D. Veazie
Lt. Col. Herbert Livesey, Jr.
Lt. Col. Royer K. Lewis
Lt. Col. Byrne A. Bowman
Lt. Col. William T. Manahan
Div. Quarter Master
Lt. Col. Henry P. Killman
Lt. Col. Earle B. WIlliams
Maj. William L. Mowlds
Spc. Service Officer
Capt. Harry B. Mc Neel
Lt. Col. Thomas J. Riggs, Jr.
Lt. Col. Jewell K. Watt
Div. Supply Officer
Capt. Morris Piha
Lt. Col. Walter S. Glenney
Maj. Ralph Kuzell
Lt. Col. Donald R. Bodine
106 Quarter Master
Lt. Col. Novinski
331 Med. Bn
Lt. Col. Meyer S. Belzer
Lt. Col. Thomas J. Riggs, Jr.
Capt. Harold A. Harmon
Capt. WIlliam J. Hynes
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.
Capt. Aloysius J. Mencke
Capt. Arthur C. Brown
Capt. Malcolm H. Rockwell
Capt. Alva R. Beans
Capt. James B. Cagle, Jr.
590th Field Artillery
Lt. Col. Vaden Lackey
Maj. Irvine Tietze
Capt. John J. Pitts
Capt. James R. Fonda
Capt. Albert W. Henderson
Capt. Irving Chapnick
Capt Robert C. Ervin
591st Field Artillery
Lt. Col. Phillip F. Hoover
Maj. Carl Wohlfield
Capt. Arthur W. Corcoran
Capt. Robert A. Likins
Capt. William C. Black
Capt. Bernard L. Lockridge
Capt. Martin M. Dolitsky
592nd Field Artillery
Lt. Col. Richard E. Weber, Jr.
Capt. Genero M. Mondragon
Capt. J.C. Gillen
Capt. Robert W. Smith
Capt. Bernard Richman
Capt. Bernard Weiderman
Col. George L. Descheneaux
Lt. Col. Jos. Matthews, Jr.
Capt. Robert Fash
Capt. Henry McKee
Major Henry Fisher
Major Fitz Davis
Capt. Edward Bruce Foster
Capt. Edward W Vitz
Capt. Joel T. Broyhill
Capt. Charles R. Gibson
Major Malison Buckly
Lt. Col. Thomas L. Kent
Major William P. Moon
Lt. Michael Thome
Capt. John Mohne
Lt. Norman Swick
Capt. Eric R. Mills
Capt. Bertram C. Finch
Capt. Thomas F. Littlejohn
Capt. Ralph P. Kulzer
Capt. Charles R. Porter
Lt. Col. Charles Scales
Major Albert A. Ouellette
Capt. Harry G. Meeleus
Capt. John S. Crocker
Capt. Neil P. Stewart
Capt. William P. Kielmeyer
Capt. Montague H. Jacobs
Lt. Col. Donald Thompson
Capt. Clair R. Ernst
Capt. David C. Ormiston
Capt. Henry J. Harmeling Jr.
Capt. Renata Spadola
Capt. William H. Perkins
Col. Charles C. Cavender
Regimental Exec. Officer
Lt. Col. Fred W. Nagle
Capt. Warren H. Stutler
Major Hubert W. Johnson
Major Allen B. Willand
Major Sandra B. Helms
Capt. Sam E. Davis, Jr.
Capt. Charles B. Reid
Capt. James L. Manning
Capt. Russell A. Freas, Jr.
Lt. Col. William R. Craig
Capt. Robert S. Moyer
Capt. Donald W. Naumann
Capt. James D. Moore
Capt. Julius A. Spence
Capt. James L. Clarkson
Lt. Col. Joseph F. Puett
Major William J. Garlow
Capt. Ryan E. Tomlinson
Capt. Maxey S. Crews
Capt. Charles J. Zullig
Capt. Edward H. Murray
Capt. Durgin J. Deland
Lt. Col. Earl F. Klinck
Capt. William H. Jefferson
Capt. Wayne J. Moe
Capt. James K. Bricker
Capt. John B. Huyett, Jr.
Capt. James H. Hardy
Col. Alexander D. Reid
Regimental Exec. Off.
Lt. Col. Orville H. Hewitt
Capt. Robert A. Burkes
Capt. Frank C. Davis
Capt. Joseph E. Freeland
Capt. John Foley
Lt. Col. Lamar A. Welch
Capt. Wesley D. Griffin
Capt. William Wade Cashion
Capt. Charles S. Peyser
Capt. H. Hall Roberts
Lt. Col. Leonard Umanoff
Capt. Curtis F. Maynard
Capt. George R. Thigpen
Capt. Wiley L. Cassidy
Capt. Yale B. Cohen
Capt. Glynn Salyers
Lt. Col. Charles F. Girand
Lt. Leslie Struble
Capt. Lee Berwick
Capt. Raymond S. Kautz
Capt. Richard J. Comer
Capt. Ben Bartell
Capt. James B. McNinch
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.
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 headnets 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.
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.
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 roadnet 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”.
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 panzer, 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 mit 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.
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.
by Colonel Robert P. Stout, Division G‑2
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 sequent 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.
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!
C in C West
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.
Forward double time! Remember the heritage of our dead comrades as well as the tradition of our proud Wehrmacht.
General d. Panzertruppen
Dist: Feldjager Kmdo z.B.V., G‑3
66 Corps G‑3, Chief of Section
(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, Roadcrossing at point 444 (0.5 km N Joubieval) Hebronval, Regne, Roadcrossing at point 538 (2 km SW Malempre), Manhay, Road fork at point 430 (East of Grandmenil), Roadcrossing 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
ject: 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
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. Shakespear, 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. Shakespear, 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. Shakespear “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 jected 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 sequent value to our operations has received wide publicity. The handling of these papers immediately ‑ sequent 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.
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.
THE HISTORY OF THE 106th from 22 DEC. 1944 TO ASSUMPTION OF COMMAND BY GENERAL STROH
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.
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, gruelling 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 stantial 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."
February to August, 1945
The History Of The 106th Under General Stroh's Command
By Donald A. Stroh, Maj. Gen., USA, Retired
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.
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.
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.
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.
by Francis A. Woolfley, Colonel, Infantry
Senior Instructor, Louisiana National Guard
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.
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.
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.
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" diam) 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
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