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As the civilians at home prepared to go to the polls to elect into office our new Leaders, we in Malzeville assembled in column, ready to launch new assaults on the forces who would deny us our freedom.

It was November 7, 1944, and for the impending operation Combat Command "B" was again divided into three separate Task Forces, one of them Task Force Wall consisting of the entire 50th Armored Infantry Battalion, with the exception of "C" Company which joined Task Force La Grew. Accompanied by a Company of Tanks, one of Tank Destroyers, a Platoon of Engineers and sections of an AAA Battery, Task Force Wall moved out of Malzeville with the mission of crossing the Seille River at Port-Sur-Seille and proceeding to an Assembly Area prepared to attack on order.

Weeks of heavy rain had turned the roads and fields into a veritable morass, and the continued downpour as this operation got underway presented extreme difficulty to the advancing armored column.

Progress was exceptionally slow and it was not until November 10, that the Task Force readied its assigned area in the vicinity of Buchy, France.

Less than ten miles to the North, the Third Army of which we were a part, had opened its attack on the Fortress of Metz. There was a strong possibility that the Combat Command, particularly Task Force Wall, might be in a favorable position to attack the flank of enemy forces withdrawing from Metz through the ever narrowing escape gap now closing under the pressure of other Divisions of the Third Army.

However, during the night orders came to attack to the Northeast, and early on the morning of November 11 the Battalion struck out on its mission. The enemy had withdrawn, leaving only small delaying forces to further slow our advance. The enemy utilized every means at his disposal to delay the column. His ground troops presented no obstacle, but his employment of mines and booby traps seriously affected our progress, already impaired by terrain that was now a sea of mud.

Eventually the column approached the village of Remilly, where "B" Company dismounted and advanced on foot, forcing entry into that village where a brief but brisk action eliminated the enemy defenders. Thirteen prisoners were taken in that encounter.

After setting up Headquarters in Remilly, "A" Company was sent to the Task Force Commanded by Lt. Colonel La Grew, and on the following day encountered exceptionally strong opposition. The Task Force however accomplished its mission, largely through the contribution of "A" Company. It was a costly adventure however, for Lieutenant Funnel was among the four men killed in that action.

Throughout the next six days the enemy confined his activities to sporadic artillery shelling which was totally ineffective. From Remilly the Task Force, including "A" Company which had reverted to its original place in Task Force Wall, moved to Herny where increased enemy artillery fire and an attack by two FW 190's was the only activity encountered. Hostile aircraft again were active several days later, when the Battalion proceeded to Destry. Our heavy anti aircraft fire however, drove them off. November 19 found the Battalion in bivouac just East of Morhange, aware that it was approaching strong enemy positions that would be defended with a fanatical fury.

"C" Company meanwhile was engaged in extremely heavy fighting in the zone of Task Force La Grew's operations. Spearheading the advance of that Task Force, "C" Company overcame desperate enemy resistance, and seized intact a bridge across the Nied-Francaise River. Not only did the Task Force gain by this achievement, but that same bridge permitted the continued advance of the entire SIXTH ARMORED DIVISION. The fighting that accompanied that operation was particularly severe, and casualties were unusually high. Of twenty six casualties, four men of the 50th were killed including two Officers, Lieutenants Thompson and Van Cleaf.

The Battalion had had a foretaste of the type of warfare that could be expected from now on. It was to be far different from the lightning-like thrust that brought the Battalion across the entire Brittany Peninsula so quickly.

As the advance progressed steadily and relentlessly, a clever and resourceful enemy fought against the inevitable with a maniacal fury. Backed up to the frontiers of his homeland, he would exact the highest possible price from his American opponents, though he must have sensed that the sun was slowly bu* [but] surely setting on his once vast and powerful military empire.

On November 20 Combat Command "B" ordered Task Force Wall to attack and take the towns of Freybouse and Fremestroff.

The Battalion, which had previously moved to the vicinity of Morhange, now moved up to an Assembly Area at Vintrange, and at dawn on November 21 prepared to attack the objective.

Allies Kaput
A-L-L-E-S  K-A-P-U-T
The swollen waters of the Moselle lap against the sides of two enemy self
propelled guns, that apparently teamed up in a futile effort to stop the 50th as
it crunched over such resistance, freeing Lorraine of the Nazi.

Incessant rains made the narrow dirt roads all but impassable and in an effort to speed the advance the column struck out across country, but here again great difficulties were encountered as vehicle after vehicle bogged down in the soft gummy mud. Service Company troops came forward and released those that could not be towed out by vehicles which had successfully navigated this impossible terrain. Arriving at Saint Charles Farm the Task Force halted to reorganize, the troops digging-in meanwhile as a safe-guard against possible enemy artillery. Scarcely had cover been provided, than our positions were subjected to a terrific bombardment which continued without let-up through the day.

Enemy artillery was still heavy when the Battalion moved out to the attack. Despite stiff resistance from strongly dug-in positions, the attack carried forward until the leading elements of the Task Force entered Freyhouse. As darkness approached, "A" Company forced its way through the village, waging bitter hand to hand fighting. It was dark before the enemy had been driven out of Freyhouse and the day of constant activity had drawn heavily on ammunition and supplies carried with the troops. The appearance of Lieutenant Karl Bachman of Service Company with his convoy of trucks was a welcome sight. Artillery shells continued to crash into the battered village, and scattered street fighting was in progress when the first of the re-supply column hove into view. Despite the heavy fire, ammunition supplies were replenished, rations and water were provided. Any attempt on the part of the enemy to launch a counter attack would surely fail now, the troops were well armed again and ready for any such development.

The following morning, in a masterful display of tactical skill, Captain Graydon F. Fredrikson, now Commanding "A" Company led his troops through the town of Fremestroff, occupying it within an hour after the attack began. In carrying out this mission "A" Company suffered but one casualty while inflicting a tremendous number on the enemy.

Meanwhile, the remainder of the Task Force had proceeded to the vicinity of Gros Tenquin. After a temporary halt an attack was launched against Leyviller, meeting only light opposition. That town was occupied and outposted before dark on November 21st. On the following morning, Captain Fredrikson brought his troops up and rejoined the Battalion.

"B" Company, which had previously joined Task Force La Grew, encountered intense resistance in taking the villages of Hellimer and Diffenbach. In accomplishing their mission, formidable pill poxes [boxes] were demolished and the scenes of destruction in both villages attested to the fury of the dismounted infantry assault.

With the possible exception of Bastogne which was to be endured by this Battalion, the enemy subjected Leyviller to the most vicious artillery barrage ever encountered by troops of this Battalion. It reached such intensity that had anyone suggested that it might be a typical American barrage, such a suggestion might have been accepted as a strong probability. Despite the extremely heavy concentration, few casualties resulted, but several vehicles were destroyed.

When "B" Company rejoined the Battalion, the Task Force moved out of Leyviller and marched into Saint Jean Rohrbach. The enemy was now defending a line just East of nearby Puttelange, and consequently drew heavy fire from Task Force Wall, securely dug-in at Rohrbacht. Several days later a "B" Company patrol entered the town, and finding it clear of the enemy, moved in and occupied Puttelange unopposed. The waning days of November saw the Battalion holding its positions in this area.

General Patton's attack in the Saar Valley had been slowed by heavy rains to a creeping advance by the Infantry with the added disadvantage of tanks buried deep in the mud of France. The momentum of its armor gone, the 50th Armored Infantry Battalion found itself holding a line in front of Puttelange on the first day of the month. Artillery and small arms fire were spasmodic on both sides, limiting activities to the sending of patrols to the east into the edge of Puttelange and surrounding points. Long awaited rest was in sight on the morning of December 2nd when elements of the 35th Infantry Division relieved the Battalion in place. By dusk, general withdrawal to the vicinity of St. Jean Rohrbach had been accomplished, but rest remained only a hope, for early on the following morning Task Force Wall was assigned to CC "A" and immediately moved to an assembly area at Cappel.

At dawn on December, 4th Col. Wall had at his disposal his own unit, strengthened by a Company of Tanks, Company F, 86th Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron, Company "B", 603d Tank Destroyers, and the second platoon of Company "B", 25th Armored Engineer Battalion, with the 212th and 696th Field Artillery Battalions in direct support. The first objective was Farschviller; the Division objective was to reach the Saar. The attack began when "A" Company of this Battalions plus a platoon of tanks, a platoon of Tank Destroyers and a squad of Engineers jumped off northeast of Cappel and began a crushing movement against only moderate resistance. "B" Company, also reinforced by Tanks and Tank Destroyers, paralleled Captain Fredrikson's advance against heavier opposition. The balance of the Task Force was in close reserve with the exception of the Reconnaissance elements which had the protection of the right flank as their mission. Although light at first, enemy fire was intensified with each yard gained toward the core of resistance. German artillery found the range, machine gun and 20 mm fire increased, but the attackers were relentless in their efforts to keep rolling and to overcome the stubbornly defended positions. Farschviller was in our hands two and a half hours after the attack began. Men hurriedly counted prisoners - 64 out of an estimated garrison of 225 - inspected the wreckage of Nazi equipment and then moved East of town to re-group for the next attack while "C" Company came forward for the dirty job of flushing out snipers and digging out the last ditch defenders. Our losses were one killed and eighteen wounded but there was no time to ease up since the attackers had already moved toward Diebling. This was to be a typical 50th Armored Infantry assault, with speed and tactical skill as the main features. The soundness of this plan became apparent when the Infantry, riding on Tanks, caught the enemy off guard and took the town in the face of only scattered small arms fire. This cleared the way to the day's final objective, the taking of Metzing. To this end one platoon of Tank Destroyers moved to the high ground northeast of Diebling and laid a concentration of preparatory fire on the city.

In the late afternoon our troops again pressed the drive from the decks of the Sherman tanks. However the enemy intended to hold Metzing, and proceeded to back up those intentions with terrific artillery fire coming from the heights dominating the town from the North. After the lead tank was knocked out by direct fire of 88's, Lt. Col. Wall decided against further risk of life during the last moments of daylight. The Task Force withdrew in the face of heavy artillery fire and proceeded to outpost the area east of Diebling for the night. Dawn the following morning saw the launching of a powerful mounted Infantry attack, with "C" Company moving in a frontal assault and "A" Company attacking from the north after a short encircling march. The fast moving doughs quickly neutralized the German batteries, and sporadic small arms fire failed to stop "C" Company from entering Metzing and capturing the railroad bridge intact. This bridge incidentally, had been wired for demolition with two tons of dynamite. Deciding to press his advantage, Lt. Col. Wall sent "C" Company north into Nousseviller with "A" Company again in support. The swift maneuvering of the day proved too fluid for the enemy to pin down; resistance was shattered in the entire sector leaving cleaning up and consolidating was the only problems, After clearing Nousseviller, "C" Company moved back to Metzing while "A" Company carried the attack toward Hundling, which was captured with no opposition. The end of a successful day found "B" Company occupying Nousseviller, "C" Company in Metzing and "A" Company outposting the town of Hundling after a quick thrust against limited opposition into Ipling.

The 6th of December was to be a grim day for the 50th Armored Infantry Battalion. It started when "C" Company with attached units moved to attack Welferding against strong enemy resistance. The enemy's usually heavy artillery fire was light, but his use off 20 mm fire was especially heavy. This brought about several hours of vicious fighting, but before noon the town was cleared of its Nazi fanatics. This victory, another milestone to the plodding course of our march tooward [toward] German soil, lost brilliance because it cost our Battalion the life of one of its most capable Officers, Major Hugh A. Johnston, who was fatally wounded at the outset of the engagement. In great pain and gasping for breath, this gallant officer's last words were an order to call for artillery fire to be brought upon the enemy's positions. His order, promptly carried out, unquestionably prevented the column which he was leading from becoming disorganized and probably routed. And, without a doubt, his last words were instrumental in the successful completion of that particular mission.

On December 7 the Battalion Command Post was established in the village of Hundling, where it was joined by Service Company, now under Command of Lieutenant George L. W. Clark, Captain Blackwood having taken over the duties of Battalion S/4 while the Battalion was in the Morhange area. Contact was immediately established and maintained with the 9th Armored Infantry Battalion on the North of our position as our line Companies prepared to protect the left flank of the 35th Infantry Division. While the latter launched an attack on Sarreguemines. Sporadic enemy artillery fire fell on Hundling, but this proved totally ineffective. . . .

Not until December 14 did we leave Handling, and our stay in that village was for the greater part devoted to vehicular maintenance work. Relieved by the 68th Calvary Reconnaissance Squadron, the Battalion next assembled at Hellimer, where the troops rested until a march to Merlebach was begun on December 18. The, short time spent in this city permitted some measure of training for replacements that had joined us during the preceding month.

This brief respite, lasting just three days, was the last to be enjoyed by the Battalion until after the Battle of the Bulge, where the war's most violent fighting was to take place. Our subsequent return to the Saar River area was merely a preliminary move prior to, our departure for Bastogne. On Christmas Eve our Column set out for the City of Metz, now in American hands following the successful assault made on that great Fortress by other troops in General George S. Patton's Third Army. Christmas Day was spent in Metz and was the final day of ease, for on the following morning the Battalion moved through Luxembourg to take up positions along the South bank of the Sure River. In bitter cold weather our troops dug-in along a line running through Gilesdorf, Weileschbach, and Kopellenberg. These positions were securely held until the night of December 28 when the 3rd Battalion, 10th Infantry, of the 5th Infantry Division relieved us. Shortly afterward, the Column rumbled through the remaining portion of tiny Luxembourg, entering Belgium and closing in bivouac near Neufchateau. At the Command Post located in the village of Wittimont, Officers representing Command "B" gathered with our own staff, completing final plans for the part our Battalion was to play at Bastogne.

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Last updated: November 11, 2007