27 January 1945

SUBJECT:  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  Prior to Perrin’s arrival Ridgway told Hasbrook and Jones that troops in St Vith pocket would be withdrawn from perimeter defense in front of Salmchateau, and 14 hours of darkness in which to do it.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.  424 alerted. 

                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 repulsed. 

                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 artillery group. 

                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 Corps. 

                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.

             By 30 December, all attached units except the 591st and 592nd FA Bns had reverted to division control.  At the end of the month, the division was assembled west of the OURTHE RIVER in the vicinity of ANTHISNES for reorganization and resupply. 

It 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 known. 

The 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.   

On 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.

For the Commanding General
F I Agule
Lt Colonel, A.G.D.
Adjutant General

Page last revised 09/16/2016
James D. West