Posted - 06/19/2007 : 19:31:04
| originally posted by ustrader as a series of posts in another section of the forum. I consolidate it here in a more appropriate place and for easier reading. A good article.......Dfoye, Forum Admin.
Today, I post the beginning of pictorial and narrative of events welcoming any correction if inaccurate about Company C 358th Infantry Regiment, 90th Division, 3rd Army George Patton Commanding. The 358th lost in the European campaign 3,342 KIA, 14,386 WIA of which 588 later Died of Wounds.
Forming in Texas it then arrived at Fort Dix and later moved to Camp Kilmer, New Jersey. It Deployed on the M.S. John Erickson, sister ship to the famous Gripsholm, arriving at Liverpool Harbor.
From there the regiment moved south of Birmingham to Camp Strut Common, Camp Coton Hall. near the town of Bewdley and villages of Kidderminster and Bewdley.
(camped at Coton Hall ...the camp was built in 1943 the following were quartered there...90th Quartermaster Company, 358th Infantry Regiment.....1st Battalion Headquarters, 1st Battalion Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, Companys A, B, C, D, 603rd Quartermaster Graves Registration Company, 3rd Platoon, 790th Ordnance Light Maintenance Company
The camp was built on land from the Coton Hall estate which is the ancestral home the great Confederate soldier General Robert E Lee of Virginia.
Camp Llanmartin, near Newport, Wales. June 4th the Regiment packed up and moved in closest secrecy to dockside at Newport, Wales
Load aboard the ships Bienville, and the rest of the Regiment into the Excelsior. slipped from Newport Harbor at eleven o'clock on the morning of June 8th Debarkation started at 11:58, and the crafts rammed up on the beach.
First Day Ashore
The area near Azeville which the Regiment had planned to occupy was still in enemy hands, so instead the columns moved along a dirt road south of St. Martin de Varreville(Day1), and thence north and east towards Turqueville (Day1).
Less than twenty-four hours after the first troops landed on the beach, the Regiment was ordered to attack. The 1st Battalion jumped off and secured the bridge at Chef du Pont(day1), rescuing a battalion of paratroopers, and then moved on to take the town of Picauville by midmorning. Pushing on toward Pont L'Abbe they met fierce resistance and murderous mortar fire. Later in the afternoon the Third Battalion moved up on the right flank of the First and together they attacked toward the town, but so determined was the resistance, they were forced to dig in just short of the town that night. Meanwhile the Second Battalion remained in Division Reserve.
The three-quarters of a mile from Picauville to Pont L'Abbe was stubbornly defended from hedge to hedge. The famous hedgerow country of Normandy reared itself as the ugly, bitter battlefield on which the 358th Infantry was to fight some of it's bloodiest battles.
Prominent also was the sunken roads where the unforgettable odor of the dark Normandy soil was most noticeable.
On the 12th of June the Regiment made its final attack to capture Pont L'Abbe. Roaring P-47s dove on the town and massed artillery battered it to bits in preparation for a four o'clock "jump off". When they moved in with the First Battalion on the left and the Second Battalion on the right they mopped up a completely destroyed village. On the day following, the Second and Third Battalions attacked to secure an important crossroad on the west of town. (400 yards east of the town) (The 358th secured a crossroad 1000 yards northwest of Pont l'Abbe, June 14)
On the 14th of June the 82nd Airborne Division passed through the Regiment and drove on to the west. That night the outfit was moved to the vicinity of Amfreville where it attacked the next day toward Le Calais. There were stories of numerous acts of gallantry as the Third Battalion was the first to cross an open swampland which Jerry had well covered with machine gun cross fire. They were followed by the Second which had a difficult time too; but their nemesis was an open field on the other side of the swamp. As darkness approached the First Battalion crossed and the three held firm on the other side for the night. Next day all three Battalions pushed forward about three kilometers to hold along a line near Le Ham.
As the 79th Division moved thru toward Cherbourg The Regiment then moved to a defensive position extending from Coigny to Baupte, France.
On July 3rd, a memorable day in the Battle of France, the Division launched an attack southwest against a strong enemy line defended by determined, fanatical paratroopers and SS men. On the first day of the attack, the rains came and the damp dismal weather of the succeeding days made the battle one of the most unforgettable in history. Casualties were heavy and communications and supply were hampered by heavy enemy shelling. The 2nd Battalion charged through to Les Sablons, by-passed it, and continued south, while the First Battalion fought for St. Jores.( The 358th, in the east sector, chalked up 2000 yards to St Jores. ) The Third Battalion, initially in reserve, moved up to to clean out the town and tie in with the Second Battalion. These were days that put a man's courage and strength to the most severe test - days that did not end with nightfall, but dragged on incessantly through daylight and darkness, with rain and mist that apparently would never cease. Hard fighting continued until the Division faced a great hill covered with deep woods, that rose from the land like a powerful giant and engulfed all who were so bold to enter.
Foret De Mont Castre
This was the formidable Foret De Mont Castre, south of the Douve, and the famous hill 122 that looked out on the English Channel and the very beach on which the Regiment first set foot. Here was to be the supreme test. For the great courage and tenacity displayed here in routing enemy from his mighty wooded fortress, the Third Battalion was to be cited by the President of the United States.
Hand to Hand Fighting
On the 11th of July the Third Battalion executed a bold, hazardous flanking maneuver cutting in rear of the hill, hitting an enemy nerve - his main supply line. Instantly the Battalion was hit from all sides by frenzied enemy paratroopers. The most bitter hand to hand fighting the outfit was ever to see took place as the Battalion fought against very superior numbers of the enemy's best troops. In the thick brush of the mighty forest a man could see only to the next bush. Casualties were extremely heavy as the battle became a fight for the finish. Meanwhile, the First Battalion had finally seized and regained control of the eastern nose of the hill and the Second Battalion thrashed on through the thick brush along with the 359th Infantry Regiment. On the 12th of July, the entire Regimental front moved as the enemy withdrew leaving his dead on the once impregnable fortress. This was the day they finally emerged from jungle-like woods after cracking the Mahlman Line - one of the enemy's greatest defensive position.
Continuing the advance the First Battalion hit another strong enemy line in the vicinity of the town of Gorges. The Battle of Gorges was hard fought, but the enemy was forced to relent and withdraw to still another line along the Seves River. The Third Battalion moved up to the river to a defensive position while the rest of the Regiment was allowed a few days rest in - rest that was disturbed by extremely heavy enemy artillery.
Beau Coudray 1st Bn, 358th, had moved into the eastern edge of the forest July 6
On the 22nd of July, the 358th Infantry was ordered to attack and seize the Island of Seves - the Island of White Witches, by an age-old superstition, located in the Seves River little more than a mile northeast of Periers.
However, the stage had been set for the historical First Army breakthrough. In the following days, the 358th Infantry was to reap the benefits of a bloody past in the many victories that were to come. The battle of the Island of Seves proved to be the last major encounter for the 358th Infantry in the Normandy hedgerow country.
To the XV Corps of the Third U S Army on Aug 1
In WWI 90th fought at fought at St Mihiel and Meuse-Argonne.
The Race to Le Mans
By that night, Aug6, the 358th was near Montsurs est of lemans
tanks of the Third Army rolled toward Avranches. The prison-like hedgerows of Normandy were left behind and before them lay the open, rolling terrain of interior France. The ensuing days brought lightning fast maneuvers, and the 358th
The great Falaise pocket The 90th Div alone took 12,335 prisoners and killed an estimated 8000 from Aug 16 to 22. In addition, 308 German tanks, 248 self-propelled guns, 164 artillery pieces, 3270 motor vehicles, 649 horse-drawn vehicles, and 13 motorcycles were destroyed.
The 358th Inf was brought up to attack through the ForÍt de Gouffern to the west of the 359th, heading for Chambois. The 357th was in reserve.
Infantry became a leading element in the 90th Division's race across France.
On the 2nd of August, the Third Battalion, led by "K" Company, raced to St. Hilaire du Harcourt, captured the town and secured a vital bridge. The First Battalion followed to seize the high ground east of St. Hilaire, while the Second Battalion occupied the town. In the days following, the race continued to the bank of the Mayenne River, where the doughboys stripped for a dip in the cool waters while Engineers repaired a bridge. Then came a long, grueling three day march to the east, to St. Suzanne.
Le Mans Captured
On the 8th of August, the outfit loaded on trucks and hit the road toward Le Mans. Detrucking and moving under the cover of darkness the First and Second Battalions circled northeast of the city. Shortly after daylight on the next day, the Second Battalion utilizing rowboats gathered together by the civilians crossed the Sarthe River northeast of Le Mans.
The remainder of the Regiment following closely behind, completed the encirclement of the city, and the resulting capture of Le Mans by other elements of the Division put the 90th farther into France than any other Allied Force. "A" Company alone at one road block northwest of the city surprised and captured, Jesse James style, two large enemy motorized columns. The 358th Infantry was beginning to get revenge for the hard fighting during it's early days in combat.
The division cut north in clouds of dust towards Alencon, following the Second French Armored Division and blocking to the West any effort of the German 7th Army to escape the inevitable and fast closing Falaise trap. No time was lost as the outfit proceeded by foot and motor through Alencon and Sees, and then swung west and attacked through Almeneches and Le Bourg St. Leonard.
The First and Second Battalions pushed against bitter resistance through the Foret de Gouffern; while the Third Battalion attacked to seize control of the roads leading northeast from Chambois.
The First Battalion captured Bon Memil and pushed west to two more villages, while the Second Battalion after capturing St. Eugenie, moved into Bon Memil.
The Rim of the Bowl
It resembled a bowl with the troops in position around the rim. This was the picture on the 20th of August, 1944 - when all Hell broke loose! The bowl became a valley of death. The Germans, caught helplessly in the trap, ran around crazily, in tanks and on horseback, on every conceivable means of transportation, attempting to escape from the iron jaws.
The Third Battalion, at the end of the trap, bore the brunt of several German attempts to break through an escape route north of Chambois. A fierce battle raged, but though outnumbered by far, the Battalion stood its ground.
Fast closing Falaise trap, a valley of death.
Upon relief by British Forces in the Falaise gap area, the 358th Infantry assembled north of Sees and awaited further orders.
Early in the morning of the 26th of August, 1944, the Division hit the road again and moved eastward one hundred and seventy miles to secure bridgeheads across the Seine River near Fontainbleau. Famous World War I battlefields, Chateau Thierry being the most notable, were fought over again as they continued to advance to secure the bridgehead at Rheims. Lucky "A" Company guarded the bridges of the beautiful city, while the remainder of the Regiment carried out security missions to the east near Warmersville. Due to a severe gasoline shortage the advance bogged down and held up movement until the 5th of September when the Third Battalion moved to the vicinity of Verdun. The remainder of the Regiment followed the next morning. Meanwhile, transport planes flew in large quantities of gas to relieve the critical shortage.
Rout at Mairy
On the following morning the Regiment attacked again to pursue the enemy towards the Moselle River. The situation, however, remained extremely fluid. During the night of the 7th of September, an enemy armored column launched a surprise attack, hit the Division command post near Mont, and then turned toward the First Battalion in the town of Mairy, where heavy fighting ensued. In spite of his formidable armor, the enemy was stopped again; the attack was routed and the force severely beaten.
The First Battalion knocked out seven tanks and blew more than forty-eight armored vehicles to kingdom come. Cannon Company accounted for itself in the melee, taking a devastating toll of enemy personnel with the direct fire of it's 105s.
The enemy fought a withdrawing action as he was pushed back through Fontoy, Hayange, and Marspich to the Moselle River. To the Second Battalion fell the task of capturing Thionville, an industrial city on the banks of the Moselle. House to house, door to door fighting took place in the town as the enemy was made to relinquish his threshold on the formidable river barrier. Withdrawing during the night, he destroyed the last remaining bridge over the river.
On the following day the First Battalion was sent in to mop up the north half of the city and together with the Second cleaned it out to the west bank of the Moselle.
The Third Battalion was transported south along the Moselle, near the renowned fortress city of Metz, to St. Marie Aux Chenes.
They took up a defensive position opposite the gates of Metz, facing the historic forts of Fort Driant, Jeanne d'Arc and the so-called Verdun group of Forts. This defensive position was maintained throughout the month of October. During the period, some of the men left the muddy banks of the Moselle for a few days to rest and clean up in an improvised rest center at St. Marie aux Chenes. The Paris pass policy was instituted in the Regiment at this time and some fortunate officers and enlisted men visited "Gay Paree" for the first time.
Early morning on the first day of November began an epoch that will long be remembered, it saw the front line battalions slip out from under the eyes of Fort Driant and the other mighty forts to move to a concentration area near Morfontaine, France. Election day in the United States found the 358th Infantry embarking on a momentous military operation - an assault crossing of the M The Moselle
On the 8th of the month ( November), the Regiment assembled in secrecy on the west bank of the Moselle, near Cattlenom
The Moselle River.
Confronting the First Battalion loomed the mighty bastion of Fort Koenigsmacher that stood defiant before any attacking force. "A" Company was in a hot spot after having launched a determined assault on the great fort. It finally reached the top only to sit there under a murderous hail of enemy fire. For three days and four nights "A" Company, later joined by "B" Company, sat exposed on top of the Fort, all the while subjected to heavy artillery adjusted from within the fort itself. "C" Company and the Regimental Intelligence and Reconnaissance Platoon occupied and secured the town of Basse Ham on the Division's right flank.
The battle was recorded as one of the greatest achievements of the 358th Infantry.
As the Regiment and other elements of the Division pushed southeast, the fortress of Metz ( not conquered in 1,600 years) to the south gradually became sealed in an inescapable pocket. Allied forces were now entering the city from all directions.
While other forces dealt finishing blows to Metz the 358th Infantry continued its thrust southeastward with the Second and Third Battalions leading. The renowned "K" Company, "Kraut Killers", so named because of their reputation for killing 5 Krauts each, lead the Third Battalion in the capture of Valstroff, later capturing Distroff.
After the capture of Distroff the Second Battalion was subjected to a fierce counterattack by elements of the crack 105th Panzer Brigade. After a fierce battle, climaxed by the entry of the attached armor of Company "B" of 773rd TD Battalion and Company A of 712 Tank Battalion the attackers were severely beaten and dispersed. Wrecked tanks and armored cars were everywhere to be seen and in a field in "F" companies' area, 120 enemy dead were found.
This was the punch that failed and broke the enemy. As the German forces withdrew, the Regiment was placed in Division Reserve and assembled in three towns, A Gate to the Siegfried
Attachment to the 10th Armored Division on the 19th of November had the outfit retracing its steps toward the Moselle where it turned north towards Sierck and Borg, to find the armor waiting for the doughboy to tear down all the pillboxes, blow up all the mines and booby traps, and install a swinging gate on the Siegfried Line. Until the 27th of November, the Regiment butted against the steel and concrete Siegfried Line while the armor waited for its breakthrough, and the enemy poured in fresh troops to man the fortifications. The task proved too great for one Regiment, however, and the 358th Infantry was withdrawn and returned to the Division in the vicinity of Veckring, France - stopping off place before the Saar River.
At quarter past four on the morning of the 6th of December, the First Battalion with "B" and "C" Companies in the assault crossed the Saar River in the vicinity of Wallerfangen, Germany, home of Franz von Papen. Farther down the river, the Third Battalion, led by "I" and "L" Companies scrambled down the steep banks near Oberlimberg, Germany, quietly loaded into assault boats, and made its way across the Saar. The 2nd Battalion, crossing after daylight on a footbridge, faced heavy mortar and machine gun fire from enemy pillboxes commanding the river line.
Once across the battalions faced the fortified cities of Pachten and Dilligen, bulwarks of the Siegfried Line. The main thoroughfares took on names like "88" Street and "Purple Heart Avenue". It became a war against steel and concrete. Troops were raked by fire from pillboxes cleverly concealed in harmless looking barns and shops.
For sixteen days and nights the battalions hit again and again into the enemy's fortifications. Continuously hammered day after day, the enemy was systematically blown out of one pillbox after another, as all three Battalions were employed to clear the major portion of Dillingen.
Then one day came the startling news of the great German counteroffensive in the Ardennes.
Where they would strike next no one knew. During the hours of darkness on the 21st of December the Division quietly withdrew across the Saar, forsaking it's sizable dent in the Siegfried Line and moved to a defensive position in the Saar-Moselle triangle, facing the Siegfried Line again. The holidays were days of patrolling and constant alert for unusual enemy activity.
On the 7th of January, the Regiment with all identification blacked-out took to the snow-covered roads and headed north through the city of Luxembourg to the Bastogne area in the Ardennes.
On the 11th of January they moved to the vicinity of Bavigne and here attacked along a narrow front northwest into Belgium through Sonlez, Doncoles, and. The bitter cold and heavy snows made progress slow and painful, and with the severe weather came the dreaded trench foot and frostbite. At night the best a dough could hope for was the chance to dig into a snow bank. Every inch of the frozen ground had to be fought for against an insane enemy determined to hold the gains of his fanatical counteroffensive.
As the Division pushed forward towards Bras, the jaws were being rapidly closed on the Bastogne Pocket and the Kraut found his rear threatened and his supply lines cut. As the push continued, Jerry made an effort to withdraw and was caught flatfooted on the roads. Again the Regiment scored knockouts on scores of vehicles, and again the Regimental Prisoner of War cage was bulging with bedraggled and beaten enemy.
This pocket eliminated, the Second and Third Battalions pushed on to secure an important railroad beyond Bras, but here the resistance was tough and they received everything the Kraut could throw. Supporting tanks, and artillery plastered his positions, however, and the Battalions moved up to hold the railroad and the tunnels which they were using as shelter.
Then came a spectacular end run play - a clever swift maneuver that sent the First Battalion in a wide flanking movement that caught the enemy completely by surprise and secured. Later "C" and "B" Companies pushed on to capture Oberwampach. On the 16th of January, however, they were hit by a series of ferocious counterattacks while they held the town of Oberwampach.
Each attack increased in intensity - as enemy tanks charged on the town from all directions. The attacks were driven off and in the end, the enemy lost more than he could have ever hoped to gain, for the country was littered with his burned and knocked out equipment - including fourteen of his tanks.
Another river crossing was at hand as the Regiment took over from the armor in the vicinity of Troisvierges, and pushed the enemy off the high ground along the west bank of the Our River. River crossings were forced on the 29th of January near Stupbach with the Second Battalion crossing first on the ice, and the remainder of the Regiment following to secure a bridgehead. The push continued over the most rugged terrain the Regiment had ever encountered, until a firm bridgehead was established just short of the Siegfried Line. Meanwhile, heavy rains continued to pour down for several days; "Ol' Man Weather" played havoc with supply lines, and roads became impassable with melting snow and mud.
Jerry Times a Blow
A few days later the Regiment was pulled out of this position for a crack at the Siegfried Line in another spot near, Germany. Simultaneously with the relief of a Battalion of the Fourth Division by the First Battalion, Jerry timed a vicious counterattack to recapture Habscheid, but the two Battalions beat him off with severe losses.
Driving on through Habscheid, the Regiment pushed up to the Prum River on its north flank. Here it was relieved by elements of the Fourth Division and a new drive toward the river was begun to the south. The First Battalion attacked from the town of Binscheid and later seized the town of Holchen, while the Third Battalion, in a bold stroke, struck for Arzfeld, and continued a lightning fast, wide-flanking, maneuver that paced the Division. All units acted with such speed the enemy had no time to reorganize. The enemy line was broken and he ran around in confusion, while the outfit again pushed up to the Prum River.
On the 25th of February the Division was relieved and assembled in the same general area as SHAEF Reserve. the Regiment attacked across the Kyll River and captured Gerolstein and Pelm, creating a bridgehead over the river for the Eleventh Armored Division and the race to the Rhine was on. For five days the battalions followed the armor mopping up bypassed groups of enemy until on the 15th of March the Moselle River once again obstructed its advance. The Moselle was breached in the vicinity of Hatzenport and a bridgehead was secured, this time for the Fourth Armored Division. In the expansion of the bridgehead, hard fighting was encountered when fanatical mountain SS troops resisted before the Rhine.
On the 18th of March, the Regiment reached the Rhine River. The First and Third Battalions swept up along the Nahe River to its juncture with the Rhine, while the Second Battalion cleaned up the woods east of Rheinbollen to the bank of the river. Once reaching the Rhine, the advance did not stop, for they attacked across the Nahe River and on the following day they pushed forward through the bomb-torn city to the river. Mainz Captured
Cross the Rhine but there was no stopping now, and the advance continued to the Main River.
Early on the 28th of March, the Regiment once again took to assault boats, and forced a crossing of the Main River. Only scattered resistance was encountered as the race continued across Germany, through Stockheim, Schlitz, Vacha and Merkers to Bad Salzungen, which was captured on the 3rd of April, 1945.
When the Third Battalion seized the town of Merkers and the salt mine there, it captured a fortune in the form of the Reich gold reserve and a storehouse of priceless art treasures, stolen by the Nazis from occupied countries.
The extremely rugged wooded terrain of the Forest provided a new obstacle as the Unit raced to the Czechoslovakian border, Volkstrum, misguided armband soldiers, put up road blocks that succeeded in slowing down the advance. However, these very people could be seen an hour later clearing the road for American vehicles.
On the 15th of April, the Regiment seized Hof, a large city near the Czech border that was stubbornly defended by SS Troopers and the remaining Wehrmacht. However, here the advance was halted temporarily, because of an international restraining line that prevented chasing the enemy to the east.
The news spread like fire, when, on the 18th of April the 358th Infantry was the first to enter Czechoslovakia, with the Second and Third Battalions and the Regimental Intelligence and Reconnaissance Platoon sending patrols across the border. These elements were the first of the Western Allies to cross Germany completely from border to border.
At Flossenberg, on the 23rd of April, the Regiment liberated a large concentration camp with a capacity of eight thousand inmates, and rescued over a thousand starving Poles, Russians and French in the disease-infested prison.
It continued the advance into Czechoslovakia toward Susice. Sudeten hills Meanwhile, great events had taken shape. Berlin had fallen to the Russians, American troops had joined hands with the "Ruskie" in several places, and Allied troops in Southern Germany had swooped through the Brenner Pass and made contact with Allied Forces in Italy. German resistance had been smashed to bits - the end was bound to come soon.
At noon on the 8th of May, the battalions were ordered to stop in place and cease offensive action. The war ended with the Regiment well into Czechoslovakia and within a stone's throw of the Russian Armies.
The unit contacted the Russians within the next few days, and was immediately hurled into the gigantic task of corralling the wandering soldiers of a broken and defeated German Army.
So ends this tale of a battle-tested, hard fighting outfit. Through five foreign countries; France, Luxembourg, Belgium, Germany and Czechoslovakia, the 358th Infantry carried the motto "Peragimus" - symbol of accomplishment. And so, rightly enough, the story is dedicated to the fighting men of a fighting outfit, and especially to those who laid down their lives, or today bear the pain of an old battle wound in order that the job might be accomplished.
May those few now still living be saluted for their service to our country at its greatest time of peril. For those who have left us in honor and valor they won, may they proudly be remembered for their sacrifice, valor and honored patriotism, values, virtues and characteristics seen little of in this new material era of Me-ism we live in today...
That is all!