D Company, 22nd Infantry Regiment, (4th Inf. Div.)
16 Nov. - 3 Dec. 1944
DECLASSIFIED - Authority NND735017
Capt. Reece Dampf, CO, D Company
Lt. James L. Eidson, platoon leader, mortar platoon
S/Sgt. John R. Straub, platoon sgt., 2d platoon
Cpl. Ernest Frye, machine gun platoon, squad leader
Sgt. Curtis Evans, platoon sergeant, machine gun platoon
T/Sgt.. Clarence J. Fisher, plat. sgt., machine gun platoon
Vic. Gostingen, Luxembourg, 19 December 1944; interviews by Capt. K.W. Hechler 2d Info & Hist Sv. (VIII Corps).
In general, it was difficult to use the
heavy machine guns in support of the attacking forces during the
forest campaign. Their main use was In a defensive role during the
night after the rifle companies had reached their objectives. Capt.
Dampf explained that since hitting the Siegfried Line, the heavy
machine guns had not been used in pairs "according to the book",
but had been placed singly to cover a wider front. This was
necessary in the forest fighting in order to stretch out the final
protective line, and because of the limited visibility and hilly
terrain. Each heavy machine gun was a strongpoint in itself, set up
integrally with its own local security consisting of five or six
men, half of whom would be awake at all times ready for action.
Where available, four guns would be attached to each company.
The 81mm mortars were generally (almost always, according to Lt. Eidson) fired in battery. As soon as the rifle companies had attained their objective, an immediate reconnaissance was made for new positions, and the guns were displaced forward three at a time. From the time of the jump-off, the mortars would cover the advancing troops with rolling barrages up to the objective, and then register defensive fires immediately. Smoke was used to the greatest effectiveness during the attack of C Company east of Kleinhau on 1 December; on several other occasions it was used during the night for harassing effect.
16 November 1944
On 16 November, the 1st machine gun platoon delivered overhead fire from a distance or 1600 yards into the timber in front of the troops moving forward. No observed fire was delivered and it was not possible to see the results. Six 81mm mortars delivered fire from (010379) and fired in conjunction with the heavy mortars of the 3d battalion, covering the ridge to the northeast, in the vicinity of (012384). 13,000 rounds of machine gun fire and 400 rounds of mortar fire were delivered in support.
17 November 1944
On 17 November, the 1st machine gun platoon was attached to A Co., while the 2d machine gun platoon continued to deliver indirect overhead. The 1st platoon took no part in the fire fight, but merely followed A Company in moving up. The 4 guns of the 2d platoon were situated fifty yards apart, firing singly. They traversed and elevated to cover the woodland, getting their fire information from the advancing troops and mortar platoon observers. A great deal of their fire was delivered at the road junction (012383). At the close of the day, the 1st section of the 1st platoon was shifted to C Co., while the other section remained with A Co. for the night defenses. The heavy machine guns were set up 40-60 yards apart for the night defenses, mutually tied in with the light machine guns of the rifle companies.
18 November 1944
On 18 November, the 1st machine gun platoon continued in support of A Co., and the 2d machine gun platoon had its 1st section in support of B Co., and the 2d section in support of C Co. The mortar platoon displaced forward to support the advance, also assisting the attack of the 2d Bn. by firing generally along grid-line 03.
19 November 1944
On 19 November, the disposition of machine gun platoons and the other units remained unchanged. At the end of the day, when C Company was on the side of a hill covering a draw to their front in the vicinity of (025387), T/Sgt. Clarence J. Fisher took a heavy machine gun over to that point to show the rifle company men how to set it up and operate it if necessary. While Sgt. Fisher was loading it, he saw six enemy approaching up the firebreak about thirty yards away. They apparently sneaked past our outpost, which was 75 yards away at the time, and came toward Sgt. Fisher's gun with their rifles ready for action. It was just getting dark, and thy did not see the heavy machine gun. Sgt. Fisher waited until they had approached to within ten yards and then delivered several bursts of 20-30 rounds, killing five and wounding one.
20 November 1944
On 20 November, during the attack of A Company, the 1st machine gun platoon advanced with the company and were pinned down by an enemy machine gun which, opened fire on them from their left flank. Pvt. Donald L. Cokain Jr. saved the attack from bogging down by picking up a heavy machine gun and moved toward the enemy machine gun, firing from the hip. He did not actually wipe out the enemy machine gun, before being wounded but he wounded two of the enemy and paved the way for the riflemen of A Company to move in and take the position.
21 - 26 November 1944
During the next few days, the heavy machine guns and the mortars did not fulfill a very unusual function along with the attack. They continued support the attacking companies with rolling barrages, and the heavy machine guns set up defensive positions on line with the rifle companies every night. The 2d section of the 2d machine gun platoon (only one squad in strength) accompanied C Co. on 26 November in its capture of the woods west of Grosshau, and was driven back by the enemy counterattack that day.
27 November 1944
On 27 November, B Company attacked and captured the same piece of woods out of which C Co. had been driven the previous day. The 1st section of the 2d machine gun platoon went forward with B Co., and after B Co. had reached its objective the 1st section of the 1st platoon was switched to B Co., and assisted in reinforcing this company, whose total strength was down to 18 men and 1 officer.
28 November 1944
On 28 November, the machine gun sections of D Company were disposed as follows: 1st section of 1st machine gun platoon was on the right with B Co., which had been reinforced by E Co.; the 2d section of the 2d platoon (only one squad in strength) was supporting C Co. in the center; while the 2d section of the 1st machine gun platoon was operating with A Co. on the left flank.
1 December 1944
The 1 December attack of C,A and B Companies was supported by the mortar platoon firing smoke to cover the open ground for C Company, followed by barrages in the woods to aid the advance of all companies. The machine guns proceeded across the open ground, 30-40 yards apart, but no firing was done.
3 December 1944
D Company played a major role in repelling the counterattack which hit B Company on 3 December (1), the day when the 4th Division was relieved by the 83d Division.
(1) See account of B Company, 22d Inf. Regt., for details on the force from D Co. which aided in repelling the counterattack of 3 December.
Many thanks to John R. Tomawski for providing me a bunch of documents from the National Archives.