Report of Action of Combat Command
"B", 3rd Armd Div for the period 1
December to 31 December 1944.
WILLIAM A. CASTILLE MAJOR, S-2 C.
ENEMY SITUATION. On 16 December, the German counter offensive began on the fronts of V and VIII Corps. This attack
began on an approximate 40-50 mile front generally between ECHTERNACH, 15 miles northwest of TRIER, and
MONSCHAU, just west of MONSCHAU FOREST. The enemy employed initially approximately 13-15 divisions,
comprising two Panzer and two of the infamous SS Panzer Divisions. This force was gradually increased as his penetrations of our lines became deeper. He forged ahead to the west at varying degrees of speed, shooting columns to the northwest against the stiffening resistance of V Corps. The situation was extremely fluid and the speed of his columns and their direction of movement were not fully known.
Accordingly, Combat Command "B" of the 3rd Armd Div was attached to XVIII Corps and given the mission to proceed at once to the southwest of VERVIERS and defend vital supply installations located in VERVIERS and THEUX. Leading elements of Combat Command "B" crossed the line of departure at 191350. Units of Combat Command "B" were on the move until late the night of 19 December, and went into hasty defensive positions. The 391st FA Bn was attached to Combat Command "B" and joined the column as the Combat Command moved out of the MAUSBACH area.
Enroute, orders were received to launch an attack at daylight 20 December to the south towards the L'AMBLEVE RIVER. The enemy situation was unknown. If the river was reached without opposition, a defensive position was to be established between STOUMONT AND LAGLEIZE.
Upon arrival in assembly positions just south of THEUX, the units of Combat Command "B" went into hasty defensive positions and Col WELBORN (acting Commander of Combat Command "B") went forward to the 2nd Bn 33rd Armd Regt. CP where he organized the Combat Command into task forces and gave his attack order. His plan in general was to advance to the south in three columns. The time of the attack 200830. One platoon of infantry and one section of tanks was to move at once to establish roadblock at 620050.
The composition of Task Forces was as follows:
T/F L (Lt Col Wm B. LOVELADY, Commanding)
2nd Bn 33rd Armd Regt E Co, 36th Armd Inf Regt
1st Platoon Co D, 23rd Armd Engr Bn.
1st Platoon Rcn Co, 33rd Armd Regt
This task force to follow route 3 (east) route.
T/F M (Major KENNETH T. MCGEORGE, Commanding)
2nd Bn 36th Armd Inf Regt (-2 Cos)
I Co 33rd Armd Regt
2nd Platoon Co D, 23rd Armd Engr Bn
This task force to follow route 2 (center) route.
T/F J (Capt JORDON, Commanding)
Hq 33rd Armd Regt
A Co, 33rd Armd Regt
(-1 Platoon) F Co, 33rd Armd Regt
F Co, 36th Armd Inf Regt This task
force to follow route 1 (west) route.
COMBAT COMMAND RESERVE (CAPT MCGARVIN, Commanding)
Co D, 23rd Armd Engr Bn
(-2 Platoons) Rcn Co 33rd Armd Regt
(-2 Platoons) One Platoon Co A, 33rd Armd Regt
The attack was launched at 200830. Very rapid progress was made by all three columns. Initial contact with the enemy was made by TF/JORDON when, at 1208 they ran into a lightly defended enemy minefield at 627041. The task force pushed on through after neutralizing the enemy infantry and were in good position to overwatch the valley to the west. Changes in objectives had been given at 1240 by 82nd Airborne Div and this force went into defensive positions, awaiting further orders.
At 1240 a report from artillery channels stated that an column of enemy tanks was moving west out of LAGLEIZE towards STOUMONT. This column had evidently put out strong flank guards because at 1332, TF/M ran into small arms fire at 662040 and in pushing forward came upon a very strongly defended enemy roadblock at 660038. There were approximately two SP guns and one tank as well as infantry strong points. AT fire was coming in from both flanks. At 1548 the task force was still held up. Infantry was sent forward but the enemy staged a strong counter-attack. Ground fog was extremely heavy and observation for artillery fire was practically impossible. With the approach of darkness, the task force was withdrawn slightly into defensive positions for the night. TF/LOVELADY made excellent progress and at 1415, ran into SP guns, infantry mounted in halftracks, several medium artillery pieces, at 671022. This was evidently support elements of the advancing enemy spearhead towards STOUMONT. In the battle which took place, TF/L practically wiped out the entire column. The score was -- one 155m towed gun, one 155 SP gun, two 75 AT guns. A few moments later at 680010, five trucks and two volkswagons were destroyed. The task force was road bound on its route and orders were received to establish roadblocks and leaguer for the night. Orders were issued to launch an attack towards STAVOLOT at 210830 hours, there to contact the 1st Bn 117th Inf Regt which was to push down from the north. Strong roadblocks were to remain at 668027 and 683007.
Late in the evening of 20 December word was received by Liaison Officer that Combat Command "B" was attached to 30th Inf Div. Contact was made immediately and instructions received.
TF/LOVELADY was attached to 117th Inf Regt, 30th Inf Div
K Company of 117th Inf Regt was attached to TF/MCGEORGE.
Combat Command "B" (-TF/LOVELADY) was attached to;
TF/HARRISON (119TH Inf Regt Reinforced).
In general, the plan of attack was the 119th Inf Regt to seize and secure STOUMONT, 117th Inf Regt to seize and secure STAVOLOT. TF/MCGEORGE to seize and secure LAGLEIZE. It can be seen from the above that the Combat Command "B", as such, no longer existed. Instead, the Headquarters of Combat Command "B" acted in the capacity of coordinators between TF/HARRISON and the attached Combat Command "B" units, and, when necessary, facilitated radio communications between units. By order of the Commanding General of TF/HARRISON, Combat Command "B" was to be in command of TF/MCGEORGE.
Detailed reports and orders were issued directly to TF/JORDAN and TF/LOVELADY. As a result, only a general summary of events can be given in this report. Details of action cleared through infantry channels back to 30th Inf Div.
21 December, TF/JORDON was ordered to hold his present position and support by fire, the infantry attack on STOUMONT. By nightfall, he still occupied the same position.
TV/LOVELADY launched an attack on the east and joined up with units of 117th Inf Regt pushing down from the north. The enemy was strongly defending the town of LAGLEIZE and throughout the day he stubbornly resisted all efforts of TF/MCGEORGE to seize the town. By nightfall little or no progress had been made.
At 221320, TF/JORDON launched an attack on ROUAT (6303) and by 1509 the mission was accomplished. The bulk of the armor in this sector had withdrawn to the east but - here TF/MCGEORGE had cut the enemy's routes of escape. The infantry moved in to clean out STOUMONT and by 1609 the town was clear.
In the meantime, TF/MCGEORGE launched an attack at 1430 hours to the west towards LAGLEIZE, after a very heavy artillery preparation. Enemy units occupied the high ground at 660036 and 664029 and by very accurate, direct, AT fire, stopped all attempts to advance. Throughout the day the enemy held his positions stubbornly.
TF/LOVELADY also met heavy enemy resistance throughout his advance towards PARFENDRUY (705003). At 1500 hours, enemy infantry began crossing the river from south to north at 684993. The troops advanced to the north behind our road blocks and, turning to the west, captured a Combat Command "B" medical aid station at 682003. Other enemy elements cut roads at 686004, 682000, 686018. There were tanks operating in vicinity of 684993. Although the roadblocks established by TF/LOVELADY were cut off, they continued to hold their positions, made contact with the 82nd Airborne Div across the river, and aided materially in observing for our artillery.
It was in the PARFENDRUY area that members of TF/LOVELADY saw evidence of the atrocities committed by the 1st. SS Div. against Belgium civilians. In the vicinity of 705006 there were four adults killed in cold blood. In one house, six small children were found hacked to death with knives. At 678993, approximately 10 men, women, and children had been herded into a house and then shot. These atrocity stories were reported and 30th Inf Div sent representative to the scene to get further details.
During the night 22/23 December the enemy attempted to drop paratroopers as well as supplies in the ST0UMONT and LAGLEIZE sectors. Twenty-two paratroopers were captured in STOUMONT. At 230830, TF/JORDAN launched an attack to the east towards LAGLEIZE. Elements of the 119th Inf Regt advanced in two columns on right and left of TF/JORDAN. Enemy roadblocks delayed the advance at 645031 and the left column was held up at 650035. The right elements were held up by enemy tank roadblocks at 646031. This resistance was finally reduced and the three columns advanced to positions as shown on ANNEX No 2 Map B. Patrols made contact with TF/MCGEORGE at 664040.
At 230900 TF/MCGEORGE launched an attack on LAGLEIZE but was unable to advance beyond 665039 and 662029. It was thought that the enemy would attempt to withdraw to the north and east. TF/MCGEORGE was ordered to block all avenues of escape possible to the enemy in this direction and was ordered to hold at all costs. Every available weapon was placed in position.
The following morning, 119th Inf Regt launched an attack from the west. By 0830, leading elements were in the south edge of town (LAGLEIZE) and at 0950, TF/JORDON moved into the town from the west to assist in mopping up. Losses in enemy equipment were heavy. Twenty-six Panther tanks were destroyed and approximately 35 Halftracks, four self-propelled artillery pieces. Forty prisoners were taken. In addition, approximately 300 American soldiers were released from German Captivity.
In the meantime, urgent calls were coming in from Higher Headquarters to release Combat Command "B" from the 30th Inf Div. Combat Command "B" was to go to VII Corps, assemble in a reserve position, and thence to another sector of the front. At 1100, TF/JORDAN and TF/MCGEORGE were ordered to assemble, prepared for immediate movement out of the area. hese two task forces assembled in vicinity of 675028 by 1400 hours.
The release of TF/LOVELADY was far more difficult. This task force was still heavily engaged. Positions had to be consolidated and units of 117th Inf Regt moved in to take over the ositions. At 1355 XVIII Corps ordered 30th Inf Div to release all units of Combat Command "B" by dark. TF/LOVELADY was released at 2300 hours. They went into assembly area vicinity 580188. All units of Combat Command "B" were instructed to assemble in vicinity of SPA, prepared for further movement. On the night of 24/25 December, TF/LOVELADY (2nd Bn 33rd Armd Regt Reinforced) bivouacked at 580188. TF/MCGEORGE AND TF/JORDON (1st Bn 33rd Armd Regt Reinforced) bivouacked at 557170. A Battery of 991st FA Bn was attached to Combat Command "B". Upon arrival in assigned bivouac area, Combat Command "B" passed to Corps control XVIII Corps and became Corps Reserve.
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