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79ème Division d'infanterie américaine - 1944 Texte en langue anglaise

The Cross of Lorraine; a combat history of the 79th Infantry Division
June 1942-December 1945
Ed. United States. - 1946

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[Novembre 1944]

After 16 days in rest areas around the city of Luneville, France, the 79th Infantry Division was assigned the task of forcing a passage through the Vosges Mountains and driving the enemy out of Alsace.
The Germans were established along the eastern foothills of the Vosges where they had constructed an elaborate defensive line, which in the XV Corps sector, ranged from Rechicourt le Chateau south to Blamont, then along a ridge to Harbouey and on to the vicinity of Baccarat. This line, which at times utilized World War I fortifications, consisted of anti-tank obstacles, pillboxes, fortified gun emplacements, weapons pits and strongpoints. A re-arranging of Army boundaries put this sector under Seventh Army control.
The Germans hoped to be able to hold along this line through the bitter Alsatian winter or, at least, along the Vosges Mountains themselves. Historically and militarily the Vosges Mountains had proved the efficacy of that favorite German adjective: "Impregnable."
The Seventh United States Army planned to attack and break through this line and the mountains and seize the key city of Strasbourg. XV Corps was assigned the twin tasks of capturing Sarrebourg and forcing the Saverne Gap, and was to be ready to exploit gains east of the mountains. Corps earmarked the 79th Division for a spearhead attack along the Ancerville-Nitting line. Its orders called for the capture of Sarrebourg with assistance of the 44th Infantry Division and it was to be instantly ready to continue the attack to the northeast.
On November 9th, plans for the attack, which were for 0700, November 13th, were made. It was decided that the 314th and 315th Infantry Regiments would seize the initial objective, the ridge just north of Harbouey. At the same time the Second French Armored Division was assigned the mission of exploiting the 79th Division's gains after the breakthrough.
In preparation for the attack, the Division moved to new assembly areas in the vicinity of Montigny, with the 313th Regiment placed in Division reserve in Brouville, and, by the early morning of the 13th, all was in readiness for the attack.
When all combat teams jumped off for the attack there was very little resistance, but, as the advance continued, the 314th Regiment's attack met stiff resistance with artillery fire holding them down in place. By darkness of the initial day of the attack, the regiment had occupied advanced positions and consolidated its rear for the night. On November 14th the Second Battalion moved near Migneville and, despite several hours of heavy small arms and artillery fire, the town was cleared.
The next day's plans called for the 315th Regiment to push on and occupy Halloville, after which a reconnaissance force of the Second French Armored Division was slated to move through towards Nonhigny and Paru. The 314th Regiment was to stand fast, limiting its activity to patrols, while the Third Battalion of the 313th Regiment would relieve the Third Battalion of the 315th Regiment. After Halloville had been taken, both the 314th and 315th Regiments were to be ready to move on an hour's notice up to the Division's objective, the ground north and southeast of Harbouey, respectively.
On the morning of the 15th, the First Battalion of the 315th Regiment attacked to clear the enemy from Halloville. The Battalion met heavy resistance, but, with excellent assistance from tanks and TD's, it soon had driven the enemy from the village. Five enemy tanks and several other vehicles were destroyed and 91 prisoners captured in this operation.
The enemy did not elect to make a stand in Harbouey but threw in heavy small arms fire as they retreated to prepared positions. Gradually the 79th Division was encircling Blamont, one of their main objectives. The town of Barbas, south of Blamont, was the next to fall to the rapid advance of the Cross of Lorrainers. The Third Battalion of the 315th Regiment had cut off all roads leading into the town with 79th Division men entering the sector two hours later. It was estimated that 300 enemy infantry and four tanks fled the town toward Blamont as the Division approached. Following the capture of Barbas, patrols probed towards Blamont while the Third Battalion of the 314th Regiment secured a crossing over the Vezouse River near Fremonville.
In the 314th Regiment's sector considerable difficulty was encountered because the bridge northeast of Barbas had been blown by the retreating Germans. To Company A of the 304th Engineer Battalion went the task of putting up a treadway bridge. The Engineers had to cease work several times when enemy artillery fire came too close for comfort, but on the next day, November 17th, friendly artillery laid down a protective barrage and the engineers completed the bridge.
At this point in the campaign, a task force of the French began operating in the Division's sector and captured Nonhigny, Montreux, Badonviller and Bremenil. Enemy resistance collapsed in Blamont, and the city was mopped up by the 315th Regiment on November 19th.
During this phase of the operation the Division again fought the German's 708th Infantry Division, which it had previously contacted near Le Mans. The week's heavy fighting had resulted in the Division driving into the enemy's lines a deep wedge which practically cut off the 728th Infantry Regiment from the rest of the 708th Infantry Division. This action cost the enemy heavy casualties, and 637 prisoners were taken. The past week's action was considered by high military leaders as most important for it caused the enemy to fall back each night in front of the 44th Infantry Division on the left, giving up easily defendable terrain. On the Division's right flank there was no adjacent unit, and after forcing of the Vezouse River, the enemy's withdrawal became a rout and the French were enabled to make their brilliant advance through the Vosges Mountains to Strasbourg.

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