78th INFANTRY DIVISION
FOR THE PERIOD 1 FEBRUARY 1945 - 28 FEBRUARY 1945
- 311th Infantry Regiment, 78th lnfantry Division, Chester M. Willingham, 0-8442, Colonel, Infantry, Commanding.
- Maps - Germany, 1/25,000 G.S. 4141 -Sheets No. - 5703, 5304, 5403, 5404.
- Location at Beginning of Period - Simmerath, Germany (K 986243).
- Changes in organization — See Annex I attached.
2. Narrative of Operations and Enemy Action
The period of action covered by this report actually began with an aggressive attack on the morning of 30 January 1945. In waist deep snow and clad in snowsuits, the three battalions of the 311th Infantry Regiment with the second platoon, Company B, and the Assault Gun Platoon of the 736th Tank Battalion, and Company A, 893d Tank Destroyer Battalion attached, jumped off from Simmerath, Germany. In the first nine hours of this. action, a two to three mile piece was torn from the Siegfried Line. Upon completion of the two days of action, the 3d Battalion had taken the town of Huppenbroich and had moved well beyond the assigned objective. The 2nd Battalion had captured Kesternich and the commanding ground surrounding that town. The 1st Battalion had participated in the capture of Eicherscheid as a part of Combat Command A of the 5th Armored Division, which was attached to the 78th Infantry Division.
The accomplishments of these two intensive days had been attained against an enemy well emplaced in villages and towns as well as an enemy who occupied the dominating terrain positions. . Kesternich was a good example of house to house fighting with the enemy well dug-in, in a defensive position in which each house was its own fortress. There were mines which hampered the progress of tanks; snow which hindered the movement of the foot elements; and extremely heavy enemy mortar, artillery, and small arms fire which harassed all concerned; nevertheless, each mission was accomplished, and every objective taken.
1 February 1945
With the offensive of 30-31 January completed, units of the 311th Infantry Regiment made preparations to reorganize and improve positions for future operations. Upon Division order the 2nd Battalion, 310th Infantry, began to relieve the 1st Battalion, 311th Infantry, 78th Infantry Division at 1300A.
By 1340A, the battalion was relieved and moved to an assembly area north of Eicherscheid. The 2nd Battalion, 311th Infantry with Company K of the 310th Infantry attached, continued to clean out the enemy found in cellars of houses at the eastern end of Kesternich. This action was supported by Company C, 303d Engineer (C) Battalion which cleared the roads of mines, and the 307th Field Artillery Battalion which continued normal missions in direct support of the regiment. The 3d Battalion, 311th Infantry, occupied and improved its positions on the high ground to the east of Huppenbroich; while plans were being made for the battalion to support the future operations of the 1st Battalion. During this time the second platoon, Company B, and the Assault Gun Platoon of the 736th Tank Battalion were held in mobile reserve. Company A, 893d Tank Destroyer Battalion placed one section with the 2d Battalion and one section with the 3d Battalion. Twenty-five PW's taken for the day increased the regimental total to 508. Combat efficiency for the regiment was excellent.
2 February 1945
The assistant Division commander of the 78th Infantry Division passed along comments that the Nineteenth Corps Commander was "pleased with plans we had made for operations just completed and pleased with reports showing that these plans had been carried out to the letter". The enemy remained static during the day. The three battalions continued to reorganize and improve positions while plans were being made for future operations. The 3d Battalion participated in active patrolling against the enemy, capturing eleven PW's including two Poles and one German officer. The regimental total of PW's was increased to 519, with the capture of 11 prisoners. At 2400A the 1st Battalion, 310th Infantry, relieved the 3d Battalion from its Huppenbroich positions. Combat Efficiency for the regiment remained excellent.
3 February 1945
At 0300A the 1st Battalion jumped off in a fast and aggressive drive southeast of Huppenbroich with the mission of capturing Dedenborn. The battalion advanced and fought throughout the day over rugged, heavily wooded, and mined terrain and by mid afternoon, the Roer River line was reached. Approaches to the river were found to be so steep and wooded that the use of engineer equipment was impossible. The weather was freezing and the river, swollen by earlier melting snow and rain, was approximately 35 feet wide and was flowing at an estimated flow of 8-9 miles per hour. It was too deep to wade. The approach to the river was through heavy mortar fire and the last fifty yards to the stream was through cross machine gun and small arms fire. After several attempts were made to effect a crossing for the battalion, elements of three platoons of Company C managed to get across. This group included two officers and thirty-two enlisted men who crossed by entering the river and allowing themselves to be swept by the far shore under hostile mortar and small arms fire. In this crossing, approximately twelve of the men who were successful lost their rifles and were, as a result, armed only with grenades and trench knives. Upon its landing, this small group was organized into two assaulting platoons and promptly attacked Dedenborn. According to PW reports, the volume of small arms fire, fresh vehicle tracks, and the amount of equipment left behind, along with the bodies of some twenty enemy dead, it was estimated that the town was defended by over 100 Germans. The two assault platoons reduced the enemy resistance at the edge of the town and cleared the enemy from the town itself by house to house action. After dark the attack continued until the organization had accomplished its mission and the town of Dedenborn was secured. Casualties for this operation totaled thirty and prisoners of War taken by the battalion totaled forty three. For this action Company C has been recommended for a Presidential Unit Citation by the Regimental Commander.
At 0540A, same day, the 2nd Battalion, less Company F, was relieved from its positions on the eastern edge of Kesternich by the 3d Battalion. The battalion then moved back to an assembly area near Simmerath where it reorganized and prepared for an attack the next morning. At 2005A, Company F was returned to the control of the 2nd Battalion. Meanwhile the 3d Battalion improved its defensive positions and prepared to support the next day's attack. Antitank company, 311th Infantry, occupied and improved its defensive position while Cannon company carried out normal fire missions. The second platoon Company B, and the Assault Gun Platoon, 736th Tank Battalion, were released to the control of the 78th Infantry Division, while Company K, 310th, reverted to control of that regiment.