Jack B. Warden 1996

This is a story of combat unit in Hotton, Belgium, There was also another group of 23rd. Engineers, also of the 3 AD on the other side of town, neither knowing the other was there. Also across the Orth River were the 84th.Div. and the 51st. Engineers. Each unit claimed the Victory at Hotton.



Third Platoon Leader
B/36 Armored Infantry Regt.

    This action was never reported or written up by any one as heroic deeds or action. Nor is that the intention or purpose for doing it now. It is simply to pay tribute to seventeen of finest soldiers to ever carry an M1 rifle. The tenacity, loyalty and sheer guts they showed against impossible odds when the chips were down. I was then and am still very proud to have had them in my command.    B. Company was almost wiped out betweem December 10TH to 13TH on the way to the Ruhr. We returned to Stolberg Germany the night of 13TH and early 14TH to replace men and equipment. I was awakened at 0600 December 15TH to report to Battalion Headquarters to receive a Battlefield Commission from Lt.Col. William R.Orr. Also received 1st.Lt.Robert T. Bohme as the new B. Company Commander, our third CO since the company was formed and completed at Indian Town Gap ,PA. in 1943.Capt.Louis Plummer moved up to Battalion CO and was wounded September 13TH.  as we entered the Siegfried Line of Dragon Teeth. 1TH.Lt.Bryan Gruver became Co. CO and was promoted to Captain. He was wounded December 12TH.1944.Lt.R.T.Bohme was promoted to Captain December 30,1944 and led the company to the end of the war.  Lt.Bohme and I returned to the company and began to try to organize the 13 line men left into three platoons while awaiting replacements of men and equipment. We recommended Sgt.L.B.Tippie for a Battlefield Commission. This came through about a week or two later, during the Battle of the Bulge.

     The Bulge started December 16TH. 1944.B.Co.received 17 replacements Dec.17th. Most were from H.Co. third battalion. Received a few more on the 18th. This brought us up to a total of 51 men for the company. We moved out of Stolberg to the Hotton-Soy area Dec.19th., leading our vehicles by walking in front with a flashlight through the fog and cold of night. Due to the congested roads, we were pulled off somewhere after we passed Aachen. The town below us was on fire. Don't know what town it was. We moved out the next morning and got to Hotton the evening of the 20TH.Moved on through to Soy up the main Soy-Hotton road, which is bordered by the Sur les Hys woods on the south east and the Haid Hit,s woods on the north west. CCR Hq. was at Soy, with 36TH. AIR and the 36TH.rear CP in Hotton. We arrived in Soy around 2100Hr's.I was ordered to take a patrol down the back side of Hys woods to Hampteau. Two light tanks were added to my two half tracks. We took off and moved without opposition until we hit an old fort south east of Hotton. Had a little fire fight with the forward element,{ a patrol of 15 Germans}.We captured them and left them with the two light tanks to guard while we went on to Hampteau. Not a soul was to be found there, German or American. We returned as we had come, picking up our two light tanks and prisoners and returned to Soy and was put on road blocks and more patrols 21ST .through 23RD.

     Early morning of the 24TH.Orders came to take my platoon to Ny and set up a RB. We arrived about 0900 and started to choose best location to set up our guns. We heard two tanks approaching. They were from the 33RD.AR.under 2nd.Lt.John J. Modrack and then another two came in and said they were sent to help me with the road block. Two mediums under 1ST.Lt.Smith from C.Co.33RD.AR.While standing on Smith's tank, asking if he knew anything about the situation, a voice came over his radio asking for the Dough leader. He handed me the phone. I signed on with Beer 3,what's the message? It was, go to Hotton, friends in trouble. I turned to Smith and asked if he had a map? He did, and Hotton was only a couple or three miles south of us. My radio had not been replaced since getting it knocked out Dec.12TH.I led the way in my track, with Smith's two mediums following ,then my other track, with Modrack's two lights. We were unopposed as we skirted the rail road track and lower end of Haid Hit's woods to Hotton. I was about 75 yards ahead of Smith's tank as we entered the north east corner of Hotton. We began to receive rifle fire from the houses along Rue Haute street, which runs along the river Ourthe. I signaled my 2ND.track to clear the houses along Ecoles St. as I headed for the source of rifle fire, firing my fifty cal. machine gun into the houses. As we neared the houses, it appeared the turret of a dead Mark V. was being turned and I ordered my Bazooka team to get to it's rear and kill it. They did.{Later we found the tank had been dead since the 21ST.}As we cleared the houses along Rue Haute, we found a couple of Engr's from the 23RD.Engr.Bn.in the basement of a house. We sent them on their way. The riflemen who fired at us, took off down the river toward Hampteau. It was getting dark and I needed to set the defense for the night. I told Smith to try to locate any help he could find. He located an Artillery unit that knew our location and would help us on call. They fired a smoke round and confirmed our position. I set one 50Cal.MG and bazooka at the Marchel-Douvena barn at the crook in the road towards Soy. Another like team at the Richel house on Rue Des Ecoles St. and Barvaux road. Modrack,s two lights were located in the corner of Rue Haut and Ecoles St's behind the Ecole Libre. They could cover my out post at the corner. Smith's two tanks were behind the Dr.Duchateou home. Another 50cal.and bazooka team in the Rossignon home facing the barn to cover that team. The rest of us were spread out in the other homes along Rue Haute ,two to a house. I was the odd man and was in the Duchateou home behind Smith's tanks so I would have access to his radio and could be aware of what was going on. At the time I did not know there were 18 Belgium locals in that basement. At about 1900hr.the Germans came pouring across the Rahisse road out of the Sur Les Hy's woods, screaming and shooting. My men had lots of grenades and would toss one out the window every little bit. This took care of the Germans who got close to the houses. Smith was firing his 75,s and scoring pretty well. About 2300 HRS.a Panzerfaust team managed to get close to one of Smiths tanks and fired, disabling it. The crew were OK. We got the panzerfaust team. Smith kept knocking out the German tanks. They had to come over the railroad tracks and as they did, their belly was exposed and he would pop them. Meanwhile all my guns were getting a good work out, and the guys were throwing grenades and hollering, Merry Christmas, you kraut SOB's. Around midnight, they seemed to be building up along the RR and I yelled at Smith to call for a barrage on top of us. I ran from house to house yelling, take cover, barrage on the way. What ever was left of the enemy, withdrew and were picking up their dead and wounded for some time. Things were quiet the rest of the night. About 0600HRS.I heard a shot from the barn out post. I ran down to see what was happening. They were being attacked by a calf and had to shoot it in self defense. Someone else came up with three or four chickens and we had a nice Christmas Dinner.
The group of replacements were the finest I ever had the honor to serve with. My runner and best friend, Calvin McCaslin, S/Sgt. Joseph Beter,S/Sgt.Ralph W.Cavanaugh,S/Sgt.Richard Gangon,S/Sgt.Ronald L.Reynolds.Sgt's Harold E.Cain and Edward G.Reilly.PFC's Carllous C Whithey, Roy Weickert,James E.Morgan, Albert St.Pierre,Jack Schwartzchild,Robert L.Driskcoll .T/5's Eulis Barnett and Charles Fitzgerald the drivers.
     This is the way I recall and confirmed with the survivors of that night. We were called back to Soy around 1400HR.the 25TH.December.One of my men was slightly wounded by a rifle grenade.

Jack B. Warden.