78th INFANTRY DIVISION
FOR THE PERIOD 1 DECEMBER 1944 - 31 DECEMBER 1944
- 311th Infantry Regiment, 78th lnfantry Division, Chester M. Willingham, 0-8442, Colonel, Infantry, Commanding.
- Maps (attached) Germany, 1/25000 Sheets G.S.-G.S. 5303, 5304, 5403 and 5404.
- Location at the end of the period - Lammersdorf, Germany (K970268).
- Previous locations - See part one annex one.
- Marches in contact with the enemy. None.
- Previous campaigns - None.
- Changes in Organization. See Annex #2 attached.
2. ENEMY SITUATION.
- Enemy situation at beginning of period.
(1) In combat zone not in combat with the enemy.
- Enemy units in contact during the period.
(1) Refer to overlays S-2 journal; 9 Dec 44, 15 Dec 44, 18 Dec 44, 21 Dec 44.
- Enemy action identified.
(1) During the entire period the enemy maintained an active defense limiting aggressive action only to small patrols and harassing artillery fire.
3. NARRATIVE OF OPERATIONS.
Phase 1 1 December 1944 to 3 December 1944.
At the beginning of the period the Regiment was in Piringen, Belgium K367456; having arrived at that point by rail and motor from France on 26 November 1944 and was assigned to the XVI Corps of the 9th U. S. Army. The tactical mission during this period was that of reserve for the 9th U.S. Army.
Although the length of our stay at this station wasn't known in advance an extensive training schedule was planned and executed while the Regiment remained in this location. The training schedule consisted of the following: Physical training, detailed inspection of weapons, and vehicles, special training in mines and booby traps, passing air defenses, personal hygiene, map reading, aircraft recognition, chemical warfare training and special training in small unit tactics.
During the period Regimental officers including S-2, S-3 of the staff visited units of the 29th & 30th Infantry Divisions in actual combat in front line sectors. 9th U.S. Army dispatched a SHAEF Combat Orientation team consisting, of 5 officers and 5 enlisted men who conducted a valuable two hour school for officers of the Regiment. On 6 December 1944 information regarding a new mission reached the Command Post and the Regimental Commander, S-2, S-3, Battalion commanders, all Company commanders except Service Company commander proceeded to Headquarters V Corps to receive detailed instructions from the Commanding General V Corps concerning the new mission. In the meantime, the Regiment was preparing to move to a position as V Corps Reserve in compliance with 78th Infantry Division movement orders. However, on the evening of 8 December 1944 at 2300A hours a message was received from the commanding officer, instructing Executive Officer, Lt Col W. A. Riemenschneider, to move the 311th Combat team by moter to front lime positions in the Hurtgen Forest to relieve elements of the 13th Infantry Regiment of tke 8th Infantry Division. For the purpose of this move, the 3447th QM Truck Company was attached.
Phase II 9 December 1944 to 22 December 1944.
During this period Combat Team 311, less 307th FA Battalion, was attached to the 8th Infantry Division, V Corps, 9th U.S. Army.
9 December 1944
The Combat Team, with the 3447th Truck Company attached crossed the IP at Tongeren, Belgium at 0730A hours and moved by motor to the vicinity of Jagerhaus, Germany 984310K, closing into the detrucking area at 1430A hours. During motor march, extensive AA precautions were taken, all AA weapons being manned, 60 yard interval between vehicles was maintained and blackout discipline was strictly enforced. No rest halts were permitted and radio silence was maintained. The assembly area was covered with snow and well within range of known enemy artillery positions. Relief of the 13th Infantry Regiment was commenced immediately, 1st Bn, 311th Infantry relieved 1st Bn, 13th Infantry; 2d Battalion, 311th Infantry relieved 2d Battalion 13th Infantry. 311th AT and Cn Co's moved into positions occupied by similar units of the 13th Infantry. 3d Battalion, 311th Infantry moved into Regimental reserve position. On the left flank of the Regiment was the 28th Infantry Regiment, on the right the 16th Infantry Regiment. The Command Post was established at Jagerhaus, Germany and the responsibility for the defense of the sector was assumed at 2400 hours.
10 December 1944 to 12 December 1944
The Regiment occupied the positions taken over from the 13th Infantry Regiment continued to improve these defensive positions, engaged in reconnaissance patrols and contact patrols between adjacent units. Only light mortar and artillery fire fell in the Regimental sector during this period. Two enemy ME-109's strafed the Regimental Command Post at 1425 causing no damage and resulted in one enemy aircraft being shot down by an adjacent AA unit. On 12 December 1944 active reconnaissance and combat patrolling was commenced as preparation for plan of attack scheduled for 13 December.
Pfc John Solomon, 33931579, Company "I", 311th Infantry, on 10 December 1944, was the first man killed, in the Regiment, due to enemy action. At 1600 hours on the 12 December 1944 the Commanding General of the 8th Infantry Division, at the Regimental Command Post, gave orders that a diversion attack would be launched by elements of the Regiment at 130620A to assist 78th Infantry Division in its attack on our south. The balance of the day was spent in reconnaissance, planning and preparation of the Field Order for following day's attack. (See overlay and Field Order 122045A Dec 44).
13 December 1944
At 0300 hours K and A companies left their areas of departure moving through the dense woods of the Hurtgen Forest in total darkness toward their objective, arriving in the immediate vicinity of their objectives ready to attack at 0630 hours. As these units, moved out to the attack they encountered numerous Anti-personnel mines, trip flares and booby traps in the heavy woods which allowed the enemy to immediately respond with a heavy concentration of artillery, mortar and small arms fire. The attack was pressed forward each unit moving towards its objective. Company K actual gained part of its objective just as day broke. However, the heavy enemy fire forced them to withdraw toward ground further to the rear. Company A also reached its objective but was unable to secure the area and this company was ordered to withdraw to its previous position. B and C Companies attacked at 0830 on orders from 1st Battalion Commander but were able to move only a short distance to their front because of heavy enemy fire.
The Commanding General, 8th Infantry Division arrived at the Command Post at 1340 hours and was given results of our proceedings in the morning. He stated that our attack had been very successful in accomplishing its main mission which was to divert attention of the enemy from the attack of the 78th Infantry Division and that he was well pleased with the results.
The local gains were consolidated and the attack resulted in the CAPTURE and destruction of two enemy pillboxes and the capture of one prisoner and considerable casualties to the enemy. This day's action also revealed some violations on the part of the enemy of the Geneva Convention in that, our aid men and medical vehicles were fired upon. In one instance a hand grenade was thrown by the enemy killing an officer who was being treated by an aid man. Following the action the Regimental Commander held a critique at the Regimental CP for 1st Battalion Staff and one officer from each company involved in the attack.