To resurrect a very old thread - quotes from various web pages:
____http://users.skynet.be/checkerboard/Roc ... tzfeld.htm
20 shermans of 741 and tds of 644th TDhttp://books.google.co.uk/books?id=SWwR ... 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.
OPERATIONS OF THE 277. VOLKSGRENADIER-DIVISION IN NOVEMBER AND DECEMBER 1944 .
DURING THE ARDENNES-OFFENSIVE
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
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 .http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic. ... 8&t=143430
The Defense of the Twin Villages
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.http://www.history.army.mil/books/wwii/7-8/7-8_6.htm
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. http://www.644td.com/fortune.htm
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.http://www.microrap.biz/612th-tdb/_adob ... th_tdb.pdf