1ST INFANTRY DIVISION
FOR THE PERIOD 1 SEPTEMBER - 30 SEPTEMBER 1944
HEADQUARTERS 26TH INFANTRY
APO .NO. 1, U.S. ARMY
30 September 1944
The following is a summarized account of the activities of the 26th Infantry during the month of September 1944, submitted in accordance with Par. 10 (c3) AR 345-105, and letter Hq 1st U.S. Army, 319.1/401 (c), subject as above, dated 13 July 1944.
1 September 1944
The regiment was alerted for movement by Division at 0935 hours and the Colonel was ordered to report to Division Headquarters. The movement order set the time for crossing the IP at 1400 hours, and for moving towards Saint-Pierremont (***), (Sains-Richaumont), France. A motorized point consisting of 4 jeeps preceded the battalion columns by 30 minutes, each battalion to be responsible for its own flank security.
The movement started promptly at 1400 hours with the battalions reporting steady progress towards the new objective. The I & R Platoon in advance scouted out a serviceable bridge over which heavy equipment could be transported. Engineers in the column were pulled out and sent forward to remove mines that had been discovered by the point, and to strengthen the bridge structure of the crossing that Lt. Yelverton had located.
While the battalions were closing in on the new area, the new alert came through, placing the battalions in readiness to resume movement the next morning. The unit was closed in at 2320 hours.
Four Germans who were hiding in the bivouac area - scattered groups of the many that were to be encountered during the next week or so - were turned over to the PW enclosure.
At 2400 hours Division ordered one battalion to move to to relieve elements of 47th Infantry without delay. Immediately the 3rd Bn was alerted.
2 September 1944
By 0200 hours the 3rd Bn reported that it had relieved a battalion of of the 9th Division, of the 47th Infantry. (Six to eight flying bombs were observed heading southwest - later to eight flying bombs were observed heading southwest - later reports indicated that the bombs had landed in the Soissons area. The 2nd Bn moved out at 0800 hours to Avesnes (Avesnes-sur-Helpe) as scheduled. The 3rd Bn remained at Lemé, close to the 18th Infantry troops, and awaiting orders to move out. A small enemy group was placed under combined attack by our 3rd Bn and 18th Infantry Troops, and this resistance was crushed inside of one hour. All organizations were notified to be on the alert for partisans who were infiltrating throughout the area, awaiting our advance, identification of these to be made through the password and countersign: Toulouse and LeClerc.
At 1100 hours the 2nd Bn was ordered to hold up its advance, pending the clearing of the 3rd Bn from Lemé, France, which proceeded to the original objective of the CT.
CP was set up in Avesnes in the afternoon, and the battalions were closed in by early evening. We were close to the Belgian border, but no contact had been made with the enemy by either the 1st and 2nd Bns in their forward movement. Whatever groups seen were isolated pockets of the enemy that had been left behind by the advancing armor for the following infantry. The FFI and the infantry were co-operating perfectly in picking up and sending back to the rear these enemy groups that were encountered and captured. While hundreds were passed through the regiment, credit is not taken for these since the partisans had already rounded them up for our disposition.
2000 FFI (Francais Force Independent ) were fighting a strong enemy force in the vicinity of Felleries and these asked for help, but the battalions were committed to the Division plan and it was not possible to send any helping elements in that direction.
The town of Avesnes gave an unprecedentedly warm welcome to the troops of the Combat Team. At one of the crossroads leading out of the town, a group of civilians out to welcome one of the tanks attached to the team was taken under fire by an enemy SP 88, and 9 civilians killed. The Civil Affairs Officer moved into town, and finding that both Mayor and Sub-Prefect had left the town since they had collaborated with the enemy occupying forces, an election was held and a new Mayor elected by the Town Council. The new administration began clearing out the debris littering the highways and streets, and posted the new proclamation.
The regiment was alerted for another move in the morning. Both bridges across the Avesnes were in excellent condition and capable of bearing heavy burdens. A battalion was alerted to join the 3rd Armored Division.
3 September 1944
This is the day we entered Belgium. The 1st Bn was ordered to move with CCA, 3rd US Armored Division in its forward drive. The 3rd Bn prior to moving out located some enemy in the woods at 255925. A temporary CP was set up at LONGUEVILLE (La Longueville).
Throughout the morning, enemy columns moving in the vicinity of Frameries, Belgium were strafed and dive-bombed by friendly planes. Horse-drawn artillery units were caught between planes and our unit. Other enemy columns further east were also subjected to strafing. The I &. R platoon reported contact with the enemy at La Bouverie, Belgium.
The 1st Bn was placed under command of Colonel Gibb, whose group was moving towards Mons, Belgium. The remainder of the CT cleared up enemy pockets throughout the day. The 3rd Bn in a motorized move from Avesnes to La Longueville, France encountered several enemy groups that offered resistance, but the leading Company, "L", Captain Chaplin leading, so effectively smashed this that the rest of the battalion was able to proceed to La Longueville and then to Frameries, Belgium. Another enemy column, estimated at about a regiment, was caught by Company ”L" at a crossroads just past La Longueville, and so disorganized by that company's aggressive attack, that the following battalion elements were given the comparatively simple task of collecting the prisoners and sending them to the rear. Retreating enemy columns on the de l'Erelle Road were taken under air and artillery bombardment which completely shattered the columns, inflicting heavy casualties upon the enemy and wrecking the hostile transportation. Early in the evening at Sars-le-Bruyere an enemy column collided head-on with the Regimental Field Train, and in the initial attack the head of the hostile column, German medics in six ambulances, was taken. A sharp fight with the rear end of the column, which were German infantry, followed in which Mr. Midan, assistant ammunition officer, was killed while he was covering the supply train's return to the protection of the 33rd Field Artillery. Most of the Field Train was able to turn back.
4 September 1944
Instead of advancing, the battalions were ordered to remain in their present vicinity and clear up the pockets that prevented further progress without endangering the rear columns. Gas, ammunition were needed for all battalions and service elements. The road to the rear, towards France, was blocked by small enemy resisting units and by wrecked vehicles. Battalion patrols were sent back to check this, and encountered some enemy groups which they easily overcame. Other enemy units were threatening the 33rd FA and a call was sent to the 2nd Bn and to the 18th Infantry to send tanks, M-1Os and infantry to help the artillery out.
Through the Belgian partisans arrangements were made with the 1st Bn to accept the surrender of enemy units. The first 100 turned themselves in at 0700 hours. The sight of unescorted prisoners walking along the road until they met a road guide who directed them to the Bn PW Cage was a common one. By 1045 hours over 700 prisoners were held, awaiting transportation to the Division PW Cage. When transportation was not available, these were marched to Maubeuge. Throughout the morning both 2nd and 3rd Bn partols mopped up in the fields and woods, and by 1230 hours had cleared the road back to the artillery and the Field Train units. Several trucks that had been left by the Field Train at Sars-le-Bruyere were found intact and driven to the Regtl CP area at La Bouverie, Belgium. Lt. Fuller with several platoons supported by tanks and tank destroyers attacked an enemy force six times the size of his group, and in the attack killed about 50 of the enemy, captured some and scattered the rest.
He then accompanied the artillery and field train forward. Lt. Jones of "F" Company, sent out on patrol to get the situation north of the CP area encountered a groups of 125 Germans and brought these in. Throughout the day, news came in from the battalions of German officers negotiating for the surrender of their units to us. At 2020 hours two of the Medics reported a group of about 250 Germans who agreed to surrender to them, and not to line troops. The prisoners that were at hand in the Regtl PW Encl. were to be held until morning since no transportation was available.