78th INFANTRY DIVISION
FOR THE PERIOD 1 JANUARY 1945 - 31 JANUARY 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 - Simmerath, Germany (K994243).
- Changes in organization — See Annex #II attached.
2. NARRATIVE OF OPERATIONS AND ENEMY ACTION
At the beginning of this period, 1 January through 31 January 1945, the 311th Infantry, 78th Infantry Division, remained in positions throughout Lammersdorf, Simmerath, Paustenbach, Bickerath and part of Kesternich, Germany and held commanding ground around these towns. The orders at this time were to hold and improve these positions. As a whole the month was relatively quiet and for twenty nine days the front lines were more or less static, with small gains being made, particularly In the 1st Battalion sector. On the 30th of January the entire Regiment jumped off in a large scale offensive, which was highly successful, resulting In the capture, of the two German towns of Huppenbroich and Kesternich, as well as three thousand yards of ground. This general offensive was continued through the close of the period.
1 January 1945
On this date the 1st Battalion was active, with a platoon-size raid which resulted in the capture of one prisoner and gained information regarding enemy pillboxes which could subsequently be blown The 2nd Battalion was also active with patrols and in this instance ran into heavy enemy resistance. Plans were made for the attachment of the 3d Battalion, 309th Infantry, to the 311th Infantry, to become effective at 021700A. The 2nd Ranger Battalion, which had been attached to the 311th Infantry since 22 December 1944, was to be detached effective 022045A. Company C, 303d Engineer (C) Battalion cleared mine fields in front of the 2nd Battalion, 311th lnfantry, and started, the improvement of rear positions. During the daylight hours the weather was cold and the visibility clear, prisoner war reports indicated that elements of the enemy's 981st Regiment, 272nd Division were to the Regimental front, with the 7th Company of that enemy organization in the center of the Regimental sector. There was continued harassing artillery and mortar fire by the enemy, with approximately one hundred and seventy-five rounds falling in the Regimental area. During the day a formation of some seventy-five enemy planes was observed flying North over the 1st Battalion sector, including the one prisoner today the total number of prisoners taken to date by the 311th Infantry was thirty-three. Enemy patrols were active and numerous flares were in evidence. The Combat Efficiency Rating for the 311th Infantry continued to be Excellent.
2 January 1945
Verbal orders were received this date that the 311th lnfantry, along with other units in the line, would present small demonstrations on the morning of 3 January. The purpose of this demonstration was primarily a diversionary action to keep any enemy reserve from aiding forces which would be at that time under heavy attack by the VII Corps.
The 1st Battalion was selected as an attacking force and appropriate plans were commenced. The preparation and improvement of defense positions in depth continued and on this date the 2nd Ranger Battalion was relieved without incident by the 3d Battalion, 309th Infantry and the 2nd Ranger Battalion became Regimental Reserve in the vicinity of Lammersdorf. Patrols continued to be active and plans for blowing of pillboxes were made. Another prisoner of war confirmed the identity of the enemy units which opposed the 311th Infantry at this time. Two more prisoners were taken, bringing the total to thirty-five for the Regiment. Approximately one hundred and twenty rounds of enemy artillery and mortar fire landed in the Regimental area, twelve rounds near the Regimental Command Post. The enemy's use of flares decreased but there was considerable small arms and machine gun fire during the period. Visibility was impaired by fog in the morning, improving the afternoon. The Combat Efficiency Rating continued to be excellent.
3 January 1945
Preparation and improvement of positions in depth continued while plans went forward for future attacks by the 311th Infantry. On this morning at 1030A Company B, 1st Battalion, 311th Infantry, attacked as planned, with heavy artillery support and assisted by one platoon of tanks of the 709th Tank Battalion. This attack moved the front lines forward six hundred yards. Company B took one enemy pillbox and one troop shelter and captured sixteen prisoners. Casualties for this operation were light. The company prepared its defensive positions for the night, laid wire to the front and planned for additional attacks to the 1st Battalion front. This action was a limited objective attack, in conjunction with a larger attack being made by the 9th Infantry Division to the South. The 2nd Battalion supported the attack of Company B with fire support by Company G and the mortars of Company H. Company C, 303d Engineer (C) Battalion cleared mine fields for the Company B attack and assisted that company In the demolition of pillboxes in the area of advance. The balance of the Regiment continued the preparation of the positions in depth and continued with attack plans. The enemy continued to defend his positions. He opposed the Company B Attack with small arms and heavy artillery and mortar concentrations. Approximately five hundred thirty rounds of artillery and six hundred rounds of mortar fell in the Regimental sector during this period, primarily in the 1st and 2nd Battalion areas. A prisoner of war, taken this day, presented a new enemy unit identification as the 1st Battalion, 689th Regiment of the 246th Volks Grenadier Division. The total number of prisoners for the day was seventeen, bringing the Regimental total to fifty-two. The Combat Efficiency Rating of excellent was maintained.
4 January 1945
The enemy launched a small counter attack with about thirty men at 0355A against Company B. This attempted counter attack was stopped by that company. The 1st Battalion made preparations for taking more pillboxes and anti-tank mines were laid and all positions improved. Methods were tried on captured pillboxes to determine the most effective type of attack. The 2nd and 3d Battalions improved their positions and carried on local patrolling, with the 3d Battalion, 309th Infantry, still in 311th Infantry Regimental Reserve. Company C, 303d Engineer (C) Battalion, instructed demolition teams in the use of "beehive" charges. Visibility for the day was poor due to heavy snow. The enemy continued to defend his positions, with the small attack against Company B as his only aggressive action. Approximately two hundred and eighty rounds of artillery and two hundred ten rounds of mortar fell in the Regimental sector. Two prisoners were taken. The total number of prisoners now taken by the 311th Infantry Regiment was fifty-four. Combat Efficiency was excellent.