106TH INFANTRY DIVISION
27 January 1945
Action Against Enemy, Report After
The following report was found
by J. D. Bowen, a professional Researcher at the National Archives,
in the Combat Interviews in RG 407, Box 24081, Folder C1-245, 106th
infantry Division, German Counterattack.
It is an interview by Major J. F. O’Sullivan of Brigadier
General Perrin, Colonel Baker, and Colonel Brook.
The actual grammar used in the interview is cited below
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.
Gen 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troops in St Vith pocket would be withdrawn from perimeter defense in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 R (Ridgway) left, Hasbrook)
and P(errin) 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
H(asbrook) and P(errin) 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
P(errin) remained on other side of bridge till last elements of 112 had
crossed and told Gen H(asbrook) that P(errin) going
to new Div CP in order to effect reorganization as fast as
possible of combat elements of Div, mainly 424 and artillery. P(errin) 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 P(errin) call B when P(errin) arrived. P(errin) called B by phone and B stated to P(errin) 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 P(errin) 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 P(errin) 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 (See Journal) 7 Arm to furnish transport.
Gen P(errin) 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 P(errin) reconn. That in view f 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 P(errin) 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 P(errin) 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.
CC”B,” 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 InfD to the south of the 424th Inf.
At 171600A, CC”B,” 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 CC”B.”
After the arrival of the
Commanding General, CC,”B” 7th ArmdD, and his advance elements
during the afternoon of 17 Dec, he was placed in command of a sector to
the north of CC”B,” 9th ArmdD, including St Vith. Elements of the 106th InfD already in defensive positions
around ST VITH were placed under his command.
A counterattack to the east in the direction of ST
VITH-SCHONBERG-AUW was planned for 18 Dec.
At 180215A, the 422nd Inf and
423rd Inf were ordered to move to the northwest and west against the
enemy force in vicinity of the SCHONBERG-ST VITH ROAD and then continue
to the area ST VITH-WALLERODE-WEPPELER. They were not successful in
breaking through the German forces to their rear.
The enemy continued probing
during the night of 17-18 Dec and early on 18 Dec renewed his attack.
Tank and infantry units advanced against ST VITH from the east,
northeast and north. A
company of tanks and a company of tank destroyers were moved from CC”B,”
9th ArmdD to the north of St Vith to hold the enemy until the arrival of
the combat elements of CC”B,” 7th ArmdD, which committed its
elements as they arrived, so that by 180930A one battalion of armored
infantry and two companies of medium tanks had been deployed.
The engineer force east of the town maintained its position
against repeated enemy assaults. The
fight for ST VITH continued during the day but all German attacks were
In the southern part of the
division sector, CC”B,” 9th ArmdD and the 424th Infantry completed
their withdrawal to the west of the OUR RIVER and there maintained their
positions during 18 Dec. CC”B,”
9th ArmdD defended the sector just south of ST VITH and the 424th Inf on
its south. Contact was made
with the 112th Inf (28th InfD) which had been separated from the
remainder of its division. At
181300A, boundaries were changed by VIII Corps giving the 7th ArmdD that
portion of the 106th InfD
sector north of the line HOUFFALIZE-ST VITH, (both inclusive to 106th
InfD). The 14th Cavalry
Group was attached to the 7th ArmdD effective 181300A…..
During the next three days
(19, 20 and 21 Dec) a seesaw battle was in progress throughout the
division sector. Heavy
fighting continued around ST VITH and to the south.
The 112th RCT, having been pushed back and cut off completely
from its division, was attached to this division at 191600A. It was moved to the northeast and tied in with the southern
flank of the 424th Inf, so that these two regiments held the shoulder of
the German breakthrough to the south of the division sector. The 106th InfD passed to the control of XVIII Corps
(Airborne) at 201600A. All
enemy attacks were repulsed and the positions held with only minor
changes throughout the sector.
By the night of 21-22 Dec, the
fall of ST VITH became imminent and all units of the 106th
InfD and 7th ArmdD were pulled back on Corps order to form a
perimeter defense west of ST VITH and east of the SALM RIVER.
This defensive position was maintained during 22 Dec.
Late on 22 Dec, Corps ordered
the 106th InfD and the 7th ArmdD to withdraw west of the SALM RIVER,
through the 82nd AbnD which had taken up a defensive position along the
SALM RIVER and the road running west from SALMCHATEAU.
This withdrawal was effected on 23 Dec and the division moved to
the vicinity of WERBOMONT. CC”B,” 9th ArmdD and the 112th RCT then passed to control
of the XVIII Corps (Abn). The
592nd Field Artillery continued in general support as part of a Corps
During the withdrawal west of
the SALM River, a task force from the division, composed of elements of
the 589th and 590th FA Bns, stopped and held the German advance to the
north at BARACQUE DE FRAITURE and protected the right flank of the 82nd
Abn Div and the XVIII Corps (Abn), until relieved by elements of VII
On 24 December, the 424th
Infantry was attached to the 7th ArmdD and was again committed in the
vicinity of MANHAY, where it took part in the final stopping of the
German advance on LIEGE.
On 25 December, the 591st FA
Bn and some of the service elements of the division were attached to the
7th ArmdD. The 592nd FA Bn
was attached to the XVIII (Abn) Artillery.
is presumed that the 422nd Infantry Regiment, 423rd Infantry Regiment,
589th FA Bn, 590th FA Bn and the 106th Reconnaissance Troop were
eventually overpowered by the German forces east of ST VITH and the bulk
of the personnel captured about 19 or 20 December.
The strength of the German attack in the division sector and the
forces available to the division at the time prevented their being
relieved. Attempts to supply the units by air failed because of the
weather, although, as learned later, two drops were made but not within
their reach. It is known
that they were still in the fight early 19 December.
It is also known that prisoners were taken by the Germans. However, the final chapter in the defense of the SCHNEE
EIFFEL penetration of the SEIGFRIED LINE held by these units is not now
estimated losses sustained during this period were 8490, including 415
killed in action, 1254 wounded in action and 6821 missing in action.
A large part of the organizational equipment and most of the
individual clothing and equipment of CT 422, CT 423 and the 106th
Reconnaissance Troop were lost when these units were cut off in the
SCHNEE EIFFEL region. It is
believed that the bulk of the equipment was destroyed.
27 December, First US Army stated that the division would, until further
notice, consist of the 106th Division less the 422nd Infantry, 423rd
Infantry, 589th FA Bn, 590th FA Bn and the 106th Reconnaissance Troop.
The authorized personnel strength of the division would be 409
officers, 30 warrant officers and 6130 enlisted men, or a total
authorized strength of 6569. On 31 Dec, the actual strength of the division was 5534.
the Commanding General
Page last revised
James D. West