106TH INFANTRY DIVISION
SUBJECT: Report After Action Against Enemy
27 January 1945
The following Report is based on the Interviews from Major J. O’Sullivan with Brigadier General Perrin, Colonel Baker, and Colonel Brook.
Gens Jones and Perrin arrived at St Vith, 8 Dec. Conference between Gen Jones and Robertson at 1530 8 Dec. Gen Perrin not present at conference. Only two generals at conference, and Gen Perrin not know actually what said. Gen Perrin met Col John Stokes, 2nd Div acting Div CG and Stokes gave orientation on defense maintained by 2nd Div and was Stokes understanding that 106 was to replace 2nd man for man. Gen Perrin not know who or how this method of relief was arrived at. Wanted relief done quickly for 2nd Div on another mission.
General Jones remained with Div until 22 Dec. Gen Perrin took over 1900 22 Dec at CP 7 Armored at Vielsalm by command of Gen Ridgway in person. Present were Jones, Ridgway, Hasbrook and Perrin. Prior to Perrin’s arrival Ridgway told Hasbrook and Jones that troops in St Vith pocket would be withdrawn from perimeter defense in front of Salmchateau, and 14 hours of darkness in which to do it. When Ridgway left, Hasbrook and Perrin started to prepare plan to withdraw troops but it was evident that withdrawal would extend into Saturday. Worked out plan which was flexible and changed because CCB 9 Armored and CCA 7 Armored were actively engaged vicinity St Vith. Withdrawal began with displacement of artillery shortly after midnight but troops not across river till after dark 23 Dec. Withdrawal continued during daylight. 592 FA 106 out first. 112 Inf shifted to defensive positions east of bridges through which troops could withdraw. 9 Arm, then 424, then CCB 7 Arm withdraw almost concurrently over center and then CCA 7 Arm (TF Rosebaum), CCR 7 Arm, 1st Bn, 1112 Inf, 2nd and 3rd Bn 112 Inf which were maintaining defensive positions at bridges east of Vielsalm and Salmchateau. Gens Hasbrook and Perrin left CP 7 Arm when reported that enemy tanks in Vielsalm and an enemy tank in street as leaving building and fired at half track and two peeps – front of CP. During withdrawal were able to infiltrate small units of 14th Cavalry Groups and odds and ends of Corps unit within pocket. Withdrawal successful and all personnel except a few got across. Very few vehicles left behind in proportion to what there.
In meantime Div CP echelon had moved to Vaux Chevain. Rear at Ferriers. Gen Perrin remained on other side of bridge till last elements of 112 had crossed and told Gen Hasbrook that Perrin is going to new Div CP in order to effect reorganization as fast as possible of combat elements of Div, mainly 424 and artillery. Perrin went to Werbomont to locate new Div CP and met en route by B Gen Buechler who flagged jeep in dark, inquired who was senior officer and informed him that that Corps CP that all available troops be used for roadblocks at Manhay. Told Gen B that as soon as 424 found this would be done. Git there at app 0200 24 Dec and C/S informed him that Gen B had called and asked that Perrin call B when Perrin arrived. Perrin called B by phone and B stated to Perrin that if Cos not already out not to do so; other arrangements had been made. Arrangements known to units.
Div Staff arrived at Vaux Chevannce at 0500 23 Dec. From that location Div Staff supervised and directed movement of Div units after withdrawal over Salm River. Directed combat and service elements to previously designated assembly areas and CP at forward edge of combat elements. During AM 23 Dec C/S received from Gen Perrin to have repres. Meet C/S 7 Arm Div and Corps and 82 A/B at 82 CP at Bra. Col Glatteaver G-4 went and Lt James Willis went, attended conference and received change in ass. Area, calling for assembly of whole 106th Div in area just north or east, west of Werbomont. Col Baker changed previous designated unit areas and got units started to new ass. Area. After talking with Gen Perrin decided to move CP to new Ass. Area vicinity of Faiveux. And in PM 23 Dec when units moved and moving in did move CP to Faiveux. This was location that Gen Perrin came to and called Gen B.
About 0300 24 Dec Gen Ridgway called with message that he desired all troops be given a message that this was Germans’ last gasp (message in journal). Meanwhile 0330 Corps called for Col James Reid CO 424 to report to Corps relative to getting his regt collected as rapidly as possible for Corps use. Bns called for 7 Arm to furnish transport. 424 alerted.
Gen Perrin and Col Baker went to Corps Hqrs as result of phone call from Corps C/S in which he told of plan to use 424 Inf. At conference Gen Perrin reconn. That in view of urgent situation such units of 106 as might be required be attached to 7 Arm, to facilitate defense. Stated that there were no combat elements of 106 available since 424 was to be utilized as indicated by Corps C/S. 592 FA Bn was firing under Corps control and left 591 FA and Service units available. Gen Perrin and C/S returned to Div CP and Corps C/S called and said that Corps CG had concurred in plan as discussed except that Gen Perrin to report to 7 Arm about 1900, 24 Dec. From then on was CG 106 and asst Div CO 7 ARM. Col Baker in charge. Remained at 7 Army until 27 Dec when relieved by phone calls from Corps and directed to return to 106 and proceed to reorganize and re-equip 106 Div.
At 170630A December, the enemy succeeded in penetrating the sector of the 423rd Infantry in the vicinity of BLEIALF. He pushed some forces north from BLEIALF while other enemy forces advances south from ANDLER, the two forces effecting a junction in the vicinity of SCHONBERG during the morning. This cut direct communication by road and wire between the units east of the BLEIALF – SCHONBERG ROAD and the remainder of the division. The units cut off were the 422nd Infantry, 423rd Infantry, 590 Field Artillery, part of the 589th Field Artillery, Co B 81st Engineer (C) Bn, Co B, 331st Medical Bn, Co C, 820th TD Bn and Btry D, 634th AAA (AW) Bn (M). Radio communication was maintained with these units until late 18 December. Arrangements were made for supplies to be dropped by air but the weather was non-operational. The 7th Armored Div did not arrive by 170700A as scheduled. The Commanding General of CC“B,“ 7th Armored, and some reconnaissance elements of the division arrived at St Vith at 171520A.
The reconnaissance elements were disposed in the late afternoon north and northeast of the town to protect the deployment of the division when it arrived. Meanwhile, the Germans had pushed on through SCHONBERG towards ST VITH. The remaining combat elements available to the division (the 81st Engineer (C) Bn less 2 Cos., with part of the 168th Engineer (C) Bn, the Defense Platoon of Division HQs Company and one platoon of tank destroyers attached) were committed to the east of St Vith. This force stopped the German advance two kilometers east of the town at 171700A.
In the meantime, in the sector
of the 424th Infantry, the enemy renewed his attack and by 170830A had
occupied WINTERSPELT and pushed northwest towards STEINEBRUCK. This cut
off the 106th Cavalry Reconnaissance Troop and Troop B, 18th Cav Recon
Sqdn in vicinity of MUTZENICH. CCB, 9th Armored Div was committed in a
counterattack when it arrived early 17 Dec, to stop and throw back this
German thrust. This counterattack was successful in securing the
crossing of the OUR RIVER at STEINEBRUCK and advancing to the north edge
of WINTERSPELT, but against continuously increasing enemy resistance. To
the north and south of WINTERSPELT the enemy continued to push in with
tanks and infantry and he also was meeting with success in the sector of
the 28th Inf. Div. to the south of the 424th Inf. At 171600A, CCB, was
ordered to withdraw to a defensive position northwest of the OUR RIVER
and the 424th Inf was ordered to withdraw and defend west of the OUR
RIVER on the south of CCB.