60th Infantry, 3rd Bn., L Company, (9th Inf. Div.)
19 Sep - 15 Oct 1944
Interview with Capt. R.E. Snelling, Commanding Officer
(Account designed to supplement and correct the account given
by battalion officers of the action 19 Sept to 15 Oct 1944.)
19 September 1944
On the evening of the 19th September, Capt. Snelling, who had only recently taken over command of the company, was given the order to move from the vicinity of 993375 northeast to man a road block at 010389.
20 September 1944
Early in the morning the company set out on its march, proceeding north ana east until it hit the road on which the block was to be established, and then following it northeast without encountering enemy resistance. As a patrol worked its way up to the place where the road block was to bo established, it hit enemy small arms fire. Snelling then deployed his company into two parallel columns, worked down each side of the road and pinched off the enemy east of the objective. The thickly wooded terrain made such a movement relatively easy.
21 September 1944
The company stayed on the road block the night of the 20th and throughout the 21st, without undue incident.
22 September 1944
In the morning the company was pulled off its position and given orders to continue farther northeast to contact the 3rd bn of the 47th lnfantry, which was reportedly receiving heavy enemy attacks. When L Company reached the position and made contact, it found the situation well in hand, and it therefore returned to the originally assembly area (vicinity of 988380).
In the afternoon, approximately 1500, L Company again moved out to establish a road block, this time three miles southeast of the assembly area. This movement was carried out, and L Company cut across country to relieve C company, 39th Infantry, on the road block. The enemy was to the east of the road, and there was a certain amount of fire fighting, and a few prisoners were taken. The two TDs were given to L Company, as were two tanks. This latter armor was detached from the main force of the company and with one platoon of infantry sent to hold a subsidiary road block to the southwest (010360).
23 September 1944
(Exactly as indicated in battalion account)
24 September 1944
L Company moved very early in the morning, and marched down the firebreak running south from 003338, until it reached the crossroad at 001329. The 3rd platoon in the lead was fired upon from the pillbox approximately 100 yards farther south (001327).
Earth covered pillbox #412/13 at map reference 001327.
(Photo taken in 2002)
Snelling sent two squads west of the firebreak down which he was moving, and kept one squad on the east. He then deployed the 2nd platoon on the left of the easternmost squads of the 3rd. The heavy machine gun section of M company, which was attached, was brought up to the position of the 2nd platoon, while two light machine guns were put over with the squads west of the firebreak. While the units on the east laid down fire on the enemy in and around the pillbox, the squads on the west moved down to a position opposite and very close to the pillbox. The flanking fire thus obtained by the squads to the west of the pillbox permitted the one squad of the 3rd platoon and the 2nd platoon to move in close to the enemy from the north. The fire thus laid down either killed or scattered the enemy, and the pillbox itself fell at 1330. A few enemy only may have escaped to the east.
L Company then sent a patrol to 998328 to contact the 1st bn.
The battalion commander, Lt. Col. Wilson, then ordered L Company to continue its advance down the same firebreak to a point some 500 yards further south. (998323). Through error, the company got to a cross-trail of firebreaks at 998317, without encountering any opposition. As it was now 1700, and it was necessary to tie in for the night, Snelling returned to the battalion CP, where it was decided to pull back to the crossroad originally designated. This was accomplished without delay. K Company, was deployed at the left rear of L in such a fashion as to face East, while I Company tied back on the right rear to contact elements of the 1st battalion.
25 September 1944
In the morning it was planned for I Company to lead in a drive southwest, with L to trail on the left flank and K to be in reserve. The actual attack did not begin until 1530, and the companies immediately came under artillery but few small arms fire. The position, some three hundred yards southwest, was reached at 1615. At this time Snelling got radio message "Can you spare any men?", and then the radio went dead. Snelling had both or his rifle platoons on the line (there being no 1st platoon at this time), and his weapons platoon in reserve. He pulled the 3rd platoon, which was next to I Company, out of the line, and ordered his executive officer to plug the gap with the weapons platoon.
Snelling then took the 3rd platoon and moved north towards the pillbox (001327), where the battalion CP was located. He heard lots of small arms fire and on approaching saw the TD's doing an excellent job of firing at numerous enemy at close range. He halted the platoon along the firebreak which crosses his form route of advance just southwest of the pillbox. One squad remained in that position, while he led the other two across the firebreak (on which the enemy had a machine gun trained) to the west, in order to attack the pillbox area from the northwest. Elements of this group contacted the mortar squads, which had come down from the north. Meanwhile the advance companies were ordered to pull back. K Company was thus able to move its left flank back to the original position, at the crossing of the firebreaks three hundred yards east of the pillbox (003326), and built up protection against a renewed enemy attack from that direction. In addition, the 3rd platoon of L Company worked east of the pillbox and contacted the left flank of K Company, thus affording additional protection towards the east.