Kinkelt - Rocherath

German campaigns and battles 1919-1945.

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Postby Simon H » Wed Sep 22, 2004 1:42 am

Hello Reb,
Michael Reynolds is "OK" as an author, but it is stating to obvious to imply the road net South of the twin villages "might have been a better route". After all the main road from Losheimergraben passes along this way towards Bütgenbach and Büllingen. It was indeed a better route as it was used by the vanguard of Peipers SS battlegroup to advance during December 16th.

However, what the Hollywood films of the past portrayed as American units retreating pell mell before a huge onslaught isn't really the case. There were reverses initially, but as you have noticed yourself the US forces in this area did make a fairly fast recovery after their initial shock.

Although Peipers group passed through the area on December 16th the door was firmly slammed shut in the face of the 12th SS by soldiers of the 99th and 1st Infantry Divisions - although not without losses.

You've got alot of great reading to do!
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Postby Reb » Wed Sep 22, 2004 6:12 am


Having a lot of reading to do is the least onerous of tasks one can face!

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Postby Wolfkin » Sun Oct 03, 2004 7:09 pm

Hello Reb!

I agree that quite a few things could have been done differently by the Germans in this area but they were hampered by the fact that they had to stick to the original plan and the original objective- the Meuse River. This inflexability cost them many chances.

If we look at KG Peiper and KG Hansen for example, early in the battle they had a chance to outflank the U.S. line in the Bullingen (Peiper) area and could have taken Malmedy (Peiper) and St. Vith (Hansen) before U.S. reinforcements arrived. But these were not their objectives and these places were sometimes in different sectors and they were restricted to their own Rollbahn.

The situaton is similar with the Krinkelt-Rocherath area and KG Muller of the 12th SS Panzer Division. The plans to take this area were very unimaginative and lacked any flexability.


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Postby Reb » Sun Oct 03, 2004 7:33 pm


The Ardennes is one battle where I think AH had it right. Gamblers know that if you're not drawing any cards, sometimes you just have to kick
over the table! The Meuse was the objective - so they went for the Muese - they lacked the benefit of hindsight.

When I realized how understrength HJ was in NCOs and Officers (between 30 and 50 %) I began to see why they used unimaginative tactics. What else could they do?

I read in Danny Parker's book a quote from Manteufel's chief of staff that put a lot of blame on 6 pz army for lack of training and leadership - clogged roads were one of the results. With men that short of leaders and some tank crews with next to no training I think that analysis might be right. AH was betting that his SS boys had enough of their old gumption left to pull it off.

He was right. But his mistake was in thinking that gumption is enough.

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Postby Wolfkin » Sun Oct 03, 2004 7:48 pm

Hello Reb!

Some good points yes, but we must also remember that part of what old AH wanted to do was to give the Allies a bloody nose. Just racing full speed to the Meuse River would not be good enough, what to do when one got there? An envelopement of a few positions would have worked to their advantage.

Outflanking and surrounding U.S. units is the way to inflict losses and this could have been done several times. Even the U.S. Generals themselves expected that the Germans were trying to outflank them in several places. Malmedy, St. Vith, Bastogne and several other places could have been taken early on in the offensive.

But you do make good points. The German Divisions were in no shape to really achieve anything spectacular and sometimes doing the unexpected is the best idea. Plus, we do indeed have the benefit of hindsight.


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Postby Reb » Sun Oct 03, 2004 8:01 pm


I think the key is to remember that AH had rejected the 'small solution' out of hand and made it very clear to his senior officers that he was going for the whole tamale. Cutting of a few units would have seemed to him like going for chump change.

Looking back we can see that gaining Elsenborn ridge by pulling off those envelopments you speak of would have changed the whole battle but at that point the Germans were enveloped in 'friction' and probably couldn't see the big picture from their hatch of their individual tanks.

Additionally, I've been somewhat surprised in researching this battle at how poorly radio communications performed - perhaps due to the hills and weather. Ultimately - all Peiper did by racing ahead was punch air until he ran out of gas - by then the Amis had plenty of gunpower ready to face him down. But at that time Peiper's arrows on the map looked pretty impressive and the other battle groups could theoretically support him and in fact were in contact with him at different times (Knittel) - subsequenlty they tried it again with 9th SS but they couldn't get through either.

Must have been a frustrating time at Sepp Dietrich's HQ. One thing that annoys me about the history of this battle is so many authors just write off Dietrich as a dummy based on a few oft repeated quotes "Decent but stupid" etc. But do they tell us what was going on in his HQ? Nope. I've found very little to give me even a clue about what Dietrich did or didn't do to actually influence the battle. (other than one author who claims he was drinking heavily)

Do you have any info on that?

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Postby Wolfkin » Fri Oct 08, 2004 5:57 pm

Hello Reb!

I will have to go through my Leibstandarte books and see what is said about Dietrich. I agree with you in that I believe he was very under-rated by many authors. Dietrich was very respected by his troops because he was always visiting the front lines. I read before that Dietrich would leave in the morning and be gone all day, not arriving back at his HQ until the afternoon. He left all the administrative work up to his staff and preferred to be at the front where he could see the battle with his own eyes. In this way I guess he was in the same mould as Rommel.


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Postby Reb » Fri Oct 08, 2004 6:41 pm


Rommel? I suspect you've nailed it. Both were tactical guys with a bond with the troops. And they apparently got on well with each other despite a few oft quoted slurs ("All he can do is stand on a tank and shout I'm the king of africa")

That's the tough part of being famous or infamous - any thing you say may happen to be just the one thing that gets quoted over and over.

There is a nasty quote in Danny Parker's book and McDonald has it too - about Sepp Dietrich complaining that the allied Jabos had no respect for general's rank. Makes him sound like a stereotypical Prussian blowhard yet I'd bet you marks to swiss franks that comment was made in jest - after all - Dietrich had certainly ducked Jabos in Normandy and he was the last guy to put on airs!

I've also seen three or four authors who claim that Kraemer was foisted on Dietrich to keep him in line tactically when actually Dietrich specifically requested he be kept on as chief of staff. Annoying...I enjoy reading anedoctes - they are part of history - but a good writer can sort through all that and not draw the wrong conclusions.

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Re: Kinkelt - Rocherath

Postby BobM » Sat May 16, 2009 10:01 am

To resurrect a very old thread - quotes from various web pages:

____ ... tzfeld.htm


20 shermans of 741 and tds of 644th TD ... nzSeJk&sig



Foreign Military Studies

MS # B-273

transl. by Anne Hall

No. 11 POW Camp
Bridgend, 10 November 1946 .

served last as commander of the 277. V.G.D.


The only reserves at our disposal were the rifle, assault gun and anti-aircraft companies stationed in the

Frohnrath - Sistig area .
The following permanent units were available in the division sector : several crews manning the six gun turrets

(about 80 men), whose fighting qualities were poor, about twelve anti-tank guns with gun squads, small fortress

engineer construction units, an insufficient number of switchboard operators for the fortress cable network,

and one anti-aircraft battery (placed in the area of Reifferscheid - Rescheid - Hecken) .
On 1 December, the formation of the Division was the following :
Division Commander Oberst Viebig
Ia Oberstleutnant i.G. Frhr. v. Wangenheim
Ib Major i.G. v. Criegern
Ic Hptm. d. R. Kunisch
IIa Maj. Merbach
Commander of the 989. Inf. Rgt. Oberst i.G. Fieger
Commander of the 990. Inf. Rgt. Oberstleutnant Bremm
Commander of the 991. Inf. Rgt. Oberstleutnant Saquet
Commander of the Fues. Komp. Hptm. Hellige
Commander of the 277. Art. Rgt. Maj. d. R. Kienzler
Commander of the 277. Pz. Jg. Abt. Hptm. Grawunder
Commander of the 277. Pi. Btl. Maj. d. R. Bienert
Commander of the 277. Nachr. Abt. Hptm Schildt
Evaluation of the Division : Fit for defense .

In the course of the day, the 989. Inf. Rgt. succeeded, after heavy and costly combat in the woods, in pushing

forward up to the Jans Stream, where enemy resistance increased considerably . The 990. and 991. Inf. Rgt., on

the other hand, were not able to gain much ground during their attack towards the West, due to the difficult

wooded terrain with its partially dense underbrush and numerous young trees . They failed in their intention to

penetrate the wooded region quickly and by surprise, and to thus clear the roads for the armored units . For

the moment, nothing was heard from the rifle company . Due to the fact that no other forces were following, it

had been compelled, because of strong enemy resistance; to take up an all-around defense position in the area

of the road intersection, 2 km southwest of Udenbreth . The reinforcements promised by the Korps in the form of

assault guns and engineer equipment, either failed to appear or came too late . Already during the initial

phase of the attack, the Regiments suffered heavy causualties, especially as regards officers and subordinate

commanders .
Our own brief section concentration of artillery fire and mortars did not achieve the desired effect . Although

it had temporarily compelled the enemy to seek cover, it did not succeed in shaking him, especially at the

points of penetration . Soon thereafter, the enemy artillery fire was also revived and made it extrememly

difficult for us to reinforce our attack from the depth through a box barrage laid before the West Wall line .
With the aid of an infantry regiment of the SS Division Hitlerjugend, which had temporarily been subordinated

to the Division, we succeeded, on 17 December, after heavy fighting, in reaching the western edge of the forest

region east of Rocherath and, supported by tanks, to gradually occupy Rocherath and Krinkelt . After that, the

990. Inf. Rgt., which had followed behind the 989. Inf. Rgt., advanced as the right wing of the Division in a

northwesterly direction east of Rocherath, clearing the wooded terrain north of Rocherath when enemy resistance

subsided, and reached the western edge of the forest region between Kalterherberg and Rocherath . ... 8&t=143430


The Defense of the Twin Villages
18 December

The German attempt to take Krinkelt and Rocherath during the night of 17-18 December had not been well coordinated, carried out as it was by theadvance guards of two divisions attacking piecemeal in the dark over unknown terrain against resistance which was completely surprising. By the morning of 18 December, however, the enemy strength had increased substantially despite the miserable state of the woods roads leading to the twin villages. The 989th Regiment of the 277th Volks Grenadier Division (probably reinforced by a third battalion) had reached Rocherath. The 12th SS Panzer Division, whose tanks and armored infantry carriers made extremely slow progress on the muddy secondary roads quickly chewed up by churning tracks-was able by dawn to assemble the 25th Panzer Grenadier Regiment, an assault gun battalion, and one full tank battalion east of the villages. During the 18th this force was strengthened by one more tank battalion, the final armored commitment being about equally divided between Panther tanks and the heavy Tigers.

The American strength at Krinkelt and Rocherath was substantial and by daylight on 18 December was assuming a cohesive defensive pattern as the battalions reorganized after the race south and the confused night battle. Most of the 38th Infantry (Col. Francis H. Boos) was in and around the two villages, plus about a battalion and a half of the 9th Infantry and a few platoons of the 23d Infantry (Col. Jay B. Loveless). Although these 2d Division troops had gaping ranks, so had their opponents. Fortunately in view of the number of tanks ready in the German camp, the American infantry had the means of antitank defense at hand the 741st Tank Battalion, 644th Tank Destroyer Battalion, a company of the 612th Tank Destroyer Battalion, and a few guns from the 801st Tank Destroyer Battalion. On Elsenborn ridge, but well within supporting range, lay the 2d Division artillery (which had displaced after firing from extreme forward positions), the bulk of the 99th Division artillery, and some corps field artillery battalions. The flanks of the 2d Division position at the villages were more or less covered by elements of the 9th and 23d Infantry in Wirtzfeld, to the southwest, and the battalions of the 393d deployed in blocking positions to hold the road net north of Rocherath. As yet, however, there was no homogeneous line sealing the 2d Division front, and the men and vehicles of the 99th Division still passing through to the west complicated the problem of coordinating the defense and artillery fire.

An ominous quiet prevailed around Rocherath during the early, dark hours of 18 December, but just before first light the enemy resumed the assault, this time employing his tanks and infantry in ordered company. The 1st Battalion of the 9th Infantry, deployed east of the village along the road from the woods, took the first blow. Apparently a company of tanks had been brought close to the American line during the night battle, and these now attacked with more than a battalion of infantry. While the batteries on Elsenborn ridge furiously shelled the road, a confused fight spread all along the foxhole line. The morning fog was heavy, visibility almost nil. The American infantry let the tanks roll past, then tailed them with bazookas or turned to meet the oncoming infantry at close quarters with grenades, and even bayonets or knives. This first assault was beaten off, while a number of the German tanks were crippled or destroyed by bazooka teams stalking successfully under cover of the fog.

When the fog lifted about 0830, three German tanks rolled right along the foxhole line firing their machine guns while the German infantry rushed forward. Lt. Stephen P. Truppner of Company A radioed that his company had been overrun and asked for artillery to fire on his own position. For thirty minutes an American battalion shelled this area. Only twelve men escaped. Company K, which had been attached to the battalion the day before, likewise was engulfed. Capt. Jack J. Garvey, sending a last message from the cellar of the house which was his command post, refused to leave because he could not get his company out. Ten men and one officer escaped. On the left Companies B and C were able to hold their ground; a few from Company B broke and ran but were sent back by the battalion commander.

The German wave carried tanks and infantry inside Rocherath, the fight eddying from house to house, wall to wall, along streets and down narrow alleys. Tanks fought tanks; men were captured, then captured again. Meanwhile, Colonel Boos did what he could to form some defense behind what was left of the 1st Battalion of the 9th.5 He radioed Colonel McKinley that as soon as the 2d Battalion of the 38th could swing into position, a matter of an hour or more, the 1st Battalion should withdraw. With his remaining two companies transfixed by direct tank fire and surrounded by German infantry, McKinley replied that no withdrawal was possible unless friendly tanks or tank destroyers arrived. "Miraculously, " as the 1st Battalion later reported, a platoon of Sherman tanks came into view. This was a part of A company, 741st Tank Battalion, which had been patrolling the Wahlerscheid road. When the platoon commander was asked if he wanted to do some fighting the reply was profanely affirmative. First the tanks joined the infantry in a counterattack to reach the positions which had been held by Companies A and K. Two of the three German tanks which had been harassing the battalion were destroyed by the Shermans, but no contact was made with the lost companies. A second counterattack by the tank platoon covered the 1st Battalion withdrawal, but the last riflemen out had the Germans yelling at their heels.

The shattered battalion withdrew through the 2d Battalion of the 38th, fell back to Rocherath, and then marched to Krinkelt, where it billeted in a deserted hotel. Approximately 240 officers and men were left of the original battalion and its attached units. In addition to the nearly total loss of Companies A and K, all of the Company M machine gunners attached to the 1st Battalion were missing in action. Of the group that had been rushed in the previous evening from Headquarters Company, 3d Battalion, only thirteen were left. It seems probable that the entire 989th Regiment had been employed in wresting the road to Rocherath from the stubborn 1st Battalion; the fight had gone on for nearly six hours and had given the 38th Infantry time to regroup to meet the enemy drive. Colonel Boos gratefully acknowledged that this gallant stand had saved his regiment.

The 3d Battalion of the 393d, after hard fighting on the 17th, had withdrawn northeast of Rocherath and tied in sketchily on the left of the 1st Battalion, 9th Infantry. Colonel Allen's battalion was about half strength and had lost all of its machine guns, mortars, and antitank guns. The furious morning attack against the 1st Battalion, with a tank platoon in the lead, also struck the 3d Battalion. Unable to combat the tanks although one was hit by a bazooka round, the battalion fell back a thousand yards to the northwest. Good radio communication with the 395th allowed its cannon company to take a hand effectively, covering the retirement and discouraging close pursuit. About noon Allen's men were ordered to Wirtzfeld, then on to the line forming at Elsenborn.

Although enemy tanks and foot troops had penetrated as far as the 38th command post inside Rocherath, they were successfully hunted out during the morning. The Germans continued to hammer along the forest road, striving to win free entrance to the village, but they found the 2d Battalion of the 38th (Lt. Col. Jack K. Norris), now standing in the way, a tough opponent. The most successful assault of the afternoon forced the 2d Battalion to retire "one hedgerow."

The battle for Krinkelt, if it can be separated from that raging around Rocherath, commenced sometime before dawn when five tanks and a body of infantry moved cautiously up to the eastern edge of the village. When the enemy tankers halted to confer with their infantry escort, Company L, 23d Infantry, which had been placed in the line after its retreat from the woods the evening before, killed some forty of the Germans and the panzers decamped. A brief period of quiet followed and during this lull the foot detachment of the 394th from Mürringen passed through the American lines en route to Wirtzfeld and Elsenborn. By 0830, however, the fight for Krinkelt was on in earnest. A number of attacks were checked by shellfire before they could make much headway. Nonetheless, a tank platoon penetrated as far as the 1st Battalion, 38th Infantry, command post before it was destroyed, and a few German tanks got as far as the road south to Wirtzfeld. In this quarter, as at Rocherath, the American tanks, tank destroyers, and bazooka teams left the German tanks smoking and broken.6

During the night of 18 December, the 2d Division still held the twin villages while the last organized units of the 99th Division moved west on their way to Elsenborn. In the dark, German bazooka teams crept along walls and hedgerows seeking the hiding places of the American tanks and tank destroyers which had done so much to foil the armored attacks during the day. The panzers again made forays into the villages, made their kills, and in turn were destroyed.

Although the American hold in this sector remained firm, some of the confusion and loss of control normally inherent in a tactical situation like that faced by the 2d and 99th Divisions was beginning to tell. Orders from the 99th Division had been addressed to the 394th Infantry, at 0808, stressing that the regiment was not to withdraw to Elsenborn but instead should take position south of Krinkelt beside the 38th Infantry. The main body of the 394th already had passed through Krinkelt by that hour and probably never received the order until it arrived at Elsenborn.



The idea was to capture the Roer River dams from the south. For two days we went along wonderfully and we got ready to break thru the line for midwinter victory. It just happened that Von Rundstedt had the same idea, and on the 17th of December before daybreak, the world caved in. Co C’s 1st platoon raced down south of town to meet and destroy the point of a column coming north from Bullingen while Lt Patterson’s Recon platoons with one section went way ahead to hold off the Kraut infantry for a few precious hours before they were swallowed up. A Co set up a ridgeline defense south of Wirtzfeld with its 1st and 3d platoons, and the battalion was credited with saving the division CP from displacement to a German PW camp. The Wehremacht shelled our rear echelon at Sourbrodt and the Luftwaffe bombed it, V-1’s were traveling overhead in platoon column and for three days Co C and A’s 2d Plat fenced and feinted with the 12th Panzer Division among the ruins of Krinkelt. It will be some time before we forget the two Mark V’s that knocked out the front of the AT Co CP at a range of 20 yards with Sgt Mount’s TD sitting behind it, or the column of 12 Panthers coming down to the church, firing into every house, until Cpl McVeigh tore up the first one with HVAP at 75 yards and turned them around. Or the night of the withdrawal, with yellow tracers ricocheting into the sky and the Forward CP doing rear guard in Wirtzfeld in a nebelwerfer concentration. We found that a Panther tank gun had very little respect for the armor of an M8, but the panzers moved pretty quickly when Rcn got at them at short ranges with bazookas in a little contest which saved the skins of two infantry battalions and a regimental headquarters. Lt. Parker got the DSC for that one.
We dug in again on Elsenborn ridge, and things quieted down a bit for A and C. B Co joined us again, but went to the 1st Division south of Butgenback.


612th TD

The 20th of December 1943, the Battalion was reorganized as a Towed Battalion, and was
alerted on the 18th of February 1944, with a readiness date of 25th of March 1944.

On the 17th of December, “B’ with the 1st Rcn platoon attached, was detached from the
23rd Infantry Regiment, of the 2nd Infantry Division, and attached to the 99th Infantry Division,
moved to the vicinity of Honsfeld, Belgium and took up positions of readiness. The full force of
the enemy attack through the Ardennes struck the 1st and 2nd platoons of “B” and the 1st Rcn
p1atoon, from the Southwest with tanks and armored infantry and resulted in the platoons being
surrounded, with 3 officers and 110 men being reported as missing in action, and 1 officer and 18
men of 1st Rcn platoon also missing in action. During this action the platoons destroyed 3 enemy
half-track personnel carriers, 2 SP guns, and 3 tanks. S/Sgt. Billy F. Wilson, escaped and was
successful in returning to our lines, being wounded in action while infiltrating to safety. 1st Lt.
Gribbin and Tec/5 Charles R. Morris and Pvt. Ronayne C. White, after being reported as missing in
action, returned to duty having escaped from the enemy.
The morning of the 17th of December the Battalion CP in Wirtzfeld was in action against
the enemy, 4 enemy tanks and a personnel carrier having attacked the town at daybreak. There was
a short engagement in which the town defense destroyed the tanks, and a personnel carrier and all
the enemy personnel, and prevented the penetration of the town. The CP moved out of Wirtzfeld
that day as soon as a route was reconnoitered and opened up, across to Berg to Elsenborn and the
OP was again established at Sourbrodt.

The morning of the 17th of December “C” was attached to the 99th Infantry Division, on
the same day at 1400 were relieved from attachment and attached to the 26th Infantry Regiment of
the 1st Infantry Division, and took up defensive positions at Butgenbach, Belgium. On this day
remnants of “B” were relieved from attachment to the 99th Infantry Division and placed in direct
support of the 23rd Infantry Regiment.
“A” again was attacked at Hofen by an enemy force estimated to be one Regiment and they
beat off this counterattack successfully.
At the Battalion CP in Sourbrodt, the maintenance platoon and Company Headquarters of
Headquarters Company under the command of 1st Lt. Kosak was formed and 13 attached to Task
Force Hoke and maintained defensive positions Southwest of Berg, Belgium. Our personnel section
was on the line as doughboys at this same period.
“C” was relieved from the attachment to the 26th Infantry Regiment of 1st Infantry
Division, and placed in support of the 38th Infantry Regiment of the 2nd’ Infantry Division, and
took up AT’ defense positions East of Wirtzfeld on. the 19th of December.
Once again “A” was attacked by strong enemy forces, and again they repulsed the attack, 11
of our men were reported missing in this action.
The defense platoon from Headquarters Company was relieved from their defensive
position in the vicinity of ‘Berg and returned to the CP at Sourbrodt on the 20th of December.
During the evening meal a 380 MM caliber shell struck the kitchen and mess- hall, causing 11
casualties, and I died as a result of wounds.
The Battalion Forward moved to Elsenborn to the 99th Division Advance CP, where Lt.
Col. Deeley took command of AT defenses of the 99th Infantry Division the 20th of December. ... th_tdb.pdf
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Re: Kinkelt - Rocherath

Postby sebastian » Sat May 16, 2009 3:36 pm

nice article man,thx for posting all that,must of taken some time :-)


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Re: Kinkelt - Rocherath

Postby Reb » Sun May 17, 2009 10:55 am

Yes - very nice. One correction however - no Tiger tanks there. Pz IV, Pz V and Jpz IV. There were some JadgPanthers in the attached 560 sPzJager Abt but I guess they all look like Tigers in the dark...
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Re: Kinkelt - Rocherath

Postby BobM » Mon May 18, 2009 3:20 pm

Few more bits 'n' pieces



86th Chemical Mortar Battalion
Company C in the Battle of the Bulge
From The Bulge Bugle
May 1995
The men, mortars, and jeeps and trailers were gone. They searched the gun pits for some evidence of what had happened. While thus occupied, out of the woods stepped Lt. Mike Tolmie (Deer River, MN), only recently presented with a battlefield commission. Tolmie explained to his company commander that while in charge of the company, passing units were warning of the closeness of the enemy. When the fire mission was completed, Tolmie gave: 'March Order!" and directed the men to defensive positions nearby, to be held at all costs. The company was still intact and ready to move on order.

So, in short order, the move to Rocherath was completed and the town became the focal point of the defense.

The company moved into a protected area which had a strong house for shelter. Within minutes alter digging in the mortars, a German tank fired an armor piercing shell which passed completely through the house. It missed PFC Walter J. Henning (Montrose, NY), who was later killed in action, and PVC Ed Jones (Victory, WV) by inches, blowing them down a flight of stairs into the concrete cellar, without injury.

When the barrage subsided, Sgt. Bernard McDaniel (Slidell, LA) was checking the mortar positions for damage. Sgt. Feldman was doing the same. When he saw McDaniel, he hollered, "What are you doing out here?!" McDaniel stopped in his tracks framing a reply with his lips. At that instant an enemy round hit exactly in the spot where McDaniel would have been had he not stopped to answer the question. Luckily it was a dud but it showered both men with mud, ice, and snow and they made a swan dive through a window back into the house.

All that night the position was shelled. Enemy tanks had moved much closer. The rumble of their motors and tracks could be heard above the gunfire.

Just before daylight, the Germans mounted another attack. By noon it was apparent that another move was imminent. To gain time for the withdrawal, Lt. Lindsey again called for a protective curtain of fire, this time on two German tank locations. For over an hour the men of Company C fired their mortars, traversing 180 degrees and down nearly to minimum range.

By dusk the town had to be evacuated. Company C's mortars spoke in a final mission at the lowest range the company had ever fired, 780 yards, against panzer tanks. Then came the order to move. And Company C, for the third time in less than 3 days, got out safely. The little unit moved to an assembly area near Butgenbach awaiting orders to a new firing position.

Nothing has been said thus far about the job of ammunition resupply. For some reason, known only to history, tons of 4.2 mortar shells were located in a 1st Army ammo dump north of Malmedy. Ably assisted by Headquarters, 86th Chemical Battalion Ammunition Section, under the most adverse conditions, including ice, snow, muddy roads, where there were roads, and enemy infiltrators, the company supply section maintained a steady flow of ammunition which allowed the company to carry out its critical mission.

A final note, the company mortars were at one time located in a well defiladed position near a dam, and were able to support both the 1st U.S. Division and the 2nd Division. And support them they did superbly, for which it was awarded the Belgian Fourregiere. All of the officers excepting the C Company Commander and his Executive Officer were deployed as forward observers with defending units of the two divisions. They included, in addition to those already mentioned, the following: ... ulge2.html


"The villages and the area east of them as far as the west bank of the Jansbach were defended by (in this order) 3/23, 1/9 + Company K of the 9th Infantry, 1/38, 2/38, 3/38, Company C, 741st Tank Battalion, Antitank Company 38th Infantry and Company C, 644th Tank Destroyer Battalion. Men of the 2nd Engineer Combat Battalion and the EVER PRESENT Aid Men of 2nd Inf Div also served in the villages. A few stragglers from the 99th were also there. By the time the attacking battalion of 25th SS Panzergrenadier Regiment got through the 3rd Battalion 393rd then pushed through 3/23 all its company commanders were either seriously wounded or dead." (William Cavanagh) ... s/maps.htm


741st ... &Itemid=41


Captain Hankel's M Company was only six miles from the Krinkelt when Lieutenant Colonel (LTC) Barsanti gave him his orders. Captain Hankel, had spent the last three days preparing his company for their mission to seize the Roer River dam in Germany. The men were well fed and their equipment was ready. He ordered his .30 caliber machine gun crews, mortar platoon and Communication Sergeant to load up into the 2 1/2 trucks. He put them under the command of his Executive Officer. He ordered the First Sergeant to take the remaining men and march into town.

While they prepared to move, Captain Hankel went with LTC Barsanti, and the Battalion Operations Officer (S3) to Krinkelt to reconnoiter for the best defensible terrain. During the reconnaissance, the lead jeep carrying LTC Barsanti and Captain Hankel drove beyond Krinkelt for one mile down into a draw, and approached a creek with a bridge over it. They saw a 2 1/2 ton truck smoldering near the bridge. The driver was dead. It looked as if the truck had been hit by a tank round. LTC Barsanti decided it was too dangerous to proceed any further. The driver quickly turned around. As they started to move down the road again, the whizzing sound of a tank round passed over their heads, barely missing them. Captain Hankel looked back and saw a German tank hidden in a draw about 500 yards away. The jeep driver accelerated and sped back to the village. (note: Cavanagh, p. 72.)

At Krinkelt, Captain Hankel linked up with his Executive Officer and machine-gun crews. He placed them in positions to defend the battalion right flank while they entered the village. The sighting of the tank on the reconnaissance meant that Germans had infiltrated into the division's rear. LTC Barsanti had to set up a hasty defense of the village as soon as possible. He set his defense in Krinkelt as follows: I Company was in the south of Krinkelt, the battalion's right flank, L Company was in reserve inside the city of Krinkelt, and K Company was east of town. They were the battalion's left flank.

The terrain on the west side was rugged, and determined by the S2 as un-maneuverable for tanks. Only a light force defended this sector. After the battalion entered Krinkelt, Captain Hankel pulled Company M from their guarding position north of town and positioned them in the following manner: 1st Platoon general support to I Company, 2nd platoon general support to K Company, Bazookas and 81 mm Mortars general support to battalion, inside Krinkelt, M Company Command Post (CP) south of town. The battalion began to prepare defenses.

A battalion of German tanks (about 20-30 tanks) and Company of German infantry (from 90-130 men) attacked K Company as soon as they arrived in town. Company K was unprepared, but repulsed the attack. This attack was probably a probing mission to determine the American's defense. The main attack occurred at 2100 hours. This time Captain Hankel's mortars, bazookas and 30. caliber machine guns were in position to support K Company. The attack by the Germans was intense. Some Germans entered the perimeter, and it seemed the enemy would overrun K Company. Captain Hankel ordered his machine guns to fire their final protective fire (FPF). FPF means all of the weapons in the company fire along a pre-assigned firing line, creating a massive wall of lead in a certain area. The FPF killed Germans right on top of K Company's defensive positions. "Company K...counted some fifty-two dead SS men on the battlefield..." (note: Cavanagh, p.98)

All during the night, and into the morning, the Germans attempted to seize Krinkelt. Each time the battalion repulsed their attacks the same way, with mortars, artillery, .30 caliber's and bazookas. The next morning, 18 December, stragglers from the American 99th Infantry Division, which was south of Krinkelt and in front of the 2nd Infantry Division, entered into the 38th Regimental forward defenses. The stragglers were demoralized and said the situation was lost. Captain Hankel was concerned these soldiers would have an adverse effect on his men's morale. He told his subordinate leaders that no one was to surrender their position without his permission. Surprisingly, his men were in good spirits. Captain Hankel took the Division Commander's orders, "to hold at all costs," literally.

He formed stragglers into a provisional platoon. Sometimes the Germans were right behind the soldiers as they entered the lines, making it difficult to engage the enemy. On 18 December, at 1100 hours, Captain Hankel received a note from one of the stragglers written by a German officer. An SS officer said he had about 100 Americans, about 500 yards south of his position in the forest. He wanted to trade them for German prisoners. Captain Hankel's notified LTC Barsanti of the situation. The only exchange that SS officer got was another concentration of 81 mm mortar fire. Reports indicated the area he hit was an enemy attack position. Once again, the battalion halted the German attack.

The morning of 18 December, L Company was detached from the 3rd Battalion to the 2nd Battalion's area, where the situation was critical. This left the 3rd Battalion even more vulnerable. About that time an enemy tank, accompanied by a company of infantry, broke through in the vicinity of L Company's previous position. The infantry were killed or dispersed immediately. The tank continued towards the vicinity of M Company's Command Post. Captain Hankel saw an American Sherman Tank with it's 75 mm gun trained on the enemy tank's side panel. Since the German tank's turret didn't move, he believed it was damaged.

The big 88 mm gun was facing away from the Sherman tank. Instead of firing, the Sherman tank crew dismounted, saying the German tank could easily defeat them. Captain Hankel reacted quickly. He forced the crew back in the tank with "physical persuasion." The crew reluctantly got back in their tank, but by this time, the Battalion Logistics Officer (S4) and driver, rounded the corner in a jeep and ran face to face with the Tiger Tank. They jumped from their jeep as the Tank reduced their vehicle to scrap metal. Finally, a tank destroyer arrived on the scene and fired one round, hitting the tank broadside. It burst into flames. Two German soldiers jumped out firing their sub-machine guns. They then surrendered. A machine-gunner killed a third soldier, as he was climbing out the top hatch of the tank. His body blocked any other soldiers from getting out. Later, two other dead soldiers were found inside. The Battalion S2 interrogated the two SS prisoners. They were arrogant and boasted that they would be in Paris by Christmas. They were from the elite 12th SS Panzer Division, "Hitler Jugend." These were not old men, but indoctrinated, fanatical youths, some of the best troops Germany had to offer. (note: Hankel, p. 21.)

From 1600 - 2000 hours, 18 December, German shelling increased, to include 70 mm, 88 mm tank rounds, nebelwerfer (multiple rocket launchers), and 120 mm mortars. The artillery destroyed some communication wires from platoon positions to company command posts. However, Company M's communication continued because their Communication Sergeant had laid two wires to each position. The uninterrupted communication between Captain Hankel, his mortars and bazooka teams was a key factor in defeating enemy attacks. ... &Itemid=41

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Re: Kinkelt - Rocherath

Postby RandJS » Sat Jun 06, 2009 5:01 am

Hi all,
Interesting discussion. Anyone have any details on manpower stength, numbers and types of weapons, before and after figures for the German Divs? Especially interested in 12VGD.
Many thanks,
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Joined: Thu Nov 27, 2008 6:35 am


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