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313ème régiment d'infanterie américaine - 1944 Texte en langue anglaise

History of the 313th infantry in World War II
By Colonel Sterling A. Wood,...
Wadhington Infantry Journal Press - Mars 1947

Chapter 18: The Race to Alsace

As the regime,t moved the division unfolded the plans of its operation. The attack was to jump off to the east toward the Saverne Gap. The line of departure was the Luneville road with the axis of advance being the road Montigny-Ancerville and to the east. The 314th was to attack on the left, the 315th on the right, with the 313th Infantry in reserve. The CP of the 313th was initially to be at Brouville five to six kilometers northwest of Montigny.
Early in the morning of the 13th the attack jumped off, and in spite of moderate resistance made steady progress. The Regiment was directed to protect the flanks of the attack as it advanced, and this was done by moving the 3d Battalion into the vicinity of St. Pol on the right flank and the 2d to the east of Magneville. The 1st Battalion was kept in reserve.
The road junction at Montigny received continuous and heavy artillery fire, because the Germans realized

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A few hours after capture the town of Ancerviller, France, is "rear echelon" with MP directing traffic

how vital a link it was in our communications. In addition, St. Pol received heavy artillery fire, as well as counterattacks from the southeast which jumped off from the town of St. Maurice.
Company L, reinforced with machine guns and mortars, was assigned the task of defending St. Pol. The Germans attacked it continually by day and by night with infantry and self-propelled guns, their object obviously being to reach Montigny and cut off our rapidly growing salient, which by now resembled a long finger pointing toward our objective, the Saverne Gap.
As the finger lengthened, the thinner were stretched the 2d and 3d Battalions, guarding the left and right flanks of the Division, respectively. The Germans seemed to realize this, and their attacks on the right flank became more determined. After one of these, Company L counted forty-nine dead Germans in front of their position, which was the eastern edge of St. Pol.
At this point the French 2d Armored Division, which had been bivouacked in rear of the 79th, seemed to stir into action. It was a member of our Corps (the XV), but little was known of its capabilities or intentions. Small French task forces began to operate in the Division area, the bulk of which seemed to concentrate to the southeast on the Division's right flank. One of these went to Badonviller and took it from a German battalion. Another blundered into St. Pol which they thought was still held by the Germans. One of their halftracks got into one of Company L's minefields and had a track blown off, which further convinced them that they were confronted by the enemy. So they came into St. Pol shooting, whereupon the Americans took to the cellars. When the French discovered their mistake they apologized profusely. No one had been hurt by the misadventure, and so it was regarded in the light of an amusing incident by all concerned.
The French forthwith picked another objective and off they went after it, this time being assured that it was actually held by Germans.
The Regimental CP had meanwhile moved to Montigny-a hot spot, as has been said. The 2d Battalion was ordered to patrol the left flank which seemed ominously quiet. The 1st Battalion which had been in reserve was ordered to Halloville on November 16, to extend the flank of the 3d Battalion and to keep contact with the advancing right flank of the 315th Infantry. Thus, all battalions of the Regiment were committed, unless you count the 2d Battalion as being free.
It was not in contact with the enemy in spite of its extensive patrolling.
On the 16th also, the Regimental CP moved to Ancerviller which was about halfway to the tip of the salient from Montigny. The French agreed to take over St. Pol, allowing the 3d Battalion to assemble south of Ancerville in Regimental reserve.
Meanwhile the 314th Infantry had advanced as far as Barbas and on the 16th was attacking that town with its 1st Battalion. The remainder of the 314th had passed on to the east, so was not in a position to aid in the capture of Barbas with which the 1st Battalion was having some trouble. The Division therefore ordered the CO of the 313th to move his 2d Battalion forward to relieve the 1st Battalion, 314th, and to take Barbas. The 2d Battalion was to be relieved from its present position by the Division Reconnaissance Troop.
Now on this same eventful day at 8:45 P.M., action flared up again at St. Pol. The French had not yet arrived, and the 3d Battalion had moved all its units except Company L into its new assembly area near Ancerviller.
The Germans attacked with infantry and artillery, and it was thought that Company L would need additional fire support. As all the Division artillery had displaced or was in the act of doing so, the Regimental Cannon Company then in position in the vicinity of Ancerviller turned its guns to the rear and fired in the defense of St. Pol.
The attack was driven off eventually and that flank quieted down. The French arrived soon thereafter, enabling Company L to close into the battalion area by 10:15 A.M. on the 17th.
When the 2d Battalion reached Barbas on the morning of the 17 th they found the 1st Battalion of the 314th Infantry in possession of the town and preparing to patrol the ridge to the north that night.
The plan was that if they could take the ridge they would that night, but our 2d Battalion was to relieve them wherever they were before daylight.
That night when the 314th patrols explored the ridge they found no enemy so Lt Col "Tiger" Teague, the battalion commander, promptly ordered his battalion to occupy it. This they did but, before the dawn broke and the 2d Battalion, 313th Infantry, was en route to relieve them, the enemy infiltrated around the flanks of the 1st Battalion, 314th, so that not only was relief impossible but the battalion could not extricate itself. Therefore an attack by our 2d Battalion was imperative. The plans were hastily changed and at daylight the attack swept around the left flank of the 314th's battalion.
It was a beautiful job in spite of the short time for preparation. Companies F and G moved out quickly initially abreast but changing into column order to avoid heavy mortar and self-propelled-gun fire.
Our own artillery fire and the steady small-arms fire which was poured into the German positions kept Jerry's head pretty well down until he was overrun. As the enemy's hold was loosened on the ridge the 1st Battalion, 314th Infantry, moved out to rejoin the rest of the Regiment. As the ridge was a long one it was 8:15 A.M. on the 18th before the objective on the other end, the Bois du Trion, was reached. There were found some artillery pieces abandoned by the enemy.
The Regimental CP now moved to Barbas and plans to take Blamont just the other side of the ridge began to take shape. The presence of the artillery pieces in the Bois du Trion coupled with the report of a heavy explosion at 3:00 a.m. the night before indicated that the bridge across the stream at the southern entrance to the city was blown. Company E was ordered to patrol this area to ascertain this fact, and to contact the enemy in the town wherever he might be found.
The patrols moved out at 12:30 a.m. and at 12:45 were seen entering the edge of town apparently without opposition. At 12:47 radio reports came from the patrols that the bridge was in truth blown and that no Germans had as yet been encountered. Later came reports that twenty-one prisoners were taken without firing a shot and the town was ours.
The bridge was not repaired until midnight when the Regiment began to cross immediately. The 2d Battalion went first as it was scheduled to continue the attack at 7:00 a.m. It was followed by the 1st, and then the 3d Battalion, which did not close into Blamont until 9:30 A.M. the next day.
The attack of the 2d Battalion was unopposed and evidently Corps decided that it was time for the armor, because at 2: 00 p.m. a message came from the Division to clear all roads and streets, priority on which had been given the French 2d Armored Division. This called for a special effort on the part of the Regiment to get all its elements across the new bridge, because it had been found out by experience that if the armor broke through, trucks would be along to take us along in their wake, and it was necessary to be ready for this eventuality.

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Blamont fell, and the road to the Alsace Plain was clear. France. November 20, 1944

The armor roared through Blamont all day while the infantry laid low and waited. There were the usual diverting sights such as hair-cutting by the French of women who had been "collaborating," but the minds of most of the men were on the future. Was this a real breakthrough and if it were, how far would it go ? Would it be like those halycon days of last summer ? Where would the Germans make a stand-or could they ? How about the Saverne Gap, the Maginot Line, the Siegfried ? Many rumors and speculations such as these were voiced eagerly and the morale of the men rose high.
The Regimental CP had moved into Blamont and at 8:00 o'clock that night Division called and said the next objective was Saarburg. There was only vague information on the progress of the French, but it must have been good because they had cleared Blamont.
At 2:15 P.M. the next day (the 20th) the Regiment was ordered to move immediately by truck via the route Richeval-St. Georges, to the area formed by the triangle: Hattigny-Fragualfind-Niederhof. At 3:10 P.M. the Regiment moved, led by the 3d Battalion, to which a company of tanks had been attached. This move was made without incident and the CP was set up at Niederhof.


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