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In a pine woods not far from Lorris, France, our troops, who for weeks had heard nothing but the whine of shells and the crack of bullets, could at last relax completely, and if ever a rest was merited by combat soldiers, the men of our Battalion had earned that right. The occasional rumble of distant guns was the only indication that a long hard road was yet to be followed despite the fact that most of France had been liberated. Tired muscles quickly healed in the peaceful setting, and, equipment once more in prime condition, we moved on to a point just West of Colomby, France, where our Battalion was committed to its first mission in the Seille River sector. As part of Combat Command "A", we left Colomby, moving toward Jallaucourt, France, where strong German forces had set up a net work of defenses following their hasty withdrawl from Nancy. The Column passed on through Jallaucourt without meeting the resistance that had been anticipated. Hardly had our troops been deployed in positions North and Northeast of the village than the waiting Germans brought heavy artillery fire to bear on our positions. Patrols operating beyond our positions reported the location of approximately fifteen Panther tanks deployed in the village of Oriocourt. Accompanied by Major Paul C. Root Jr., our Battalion Commander personally directed artillery fire on the tank formation causing them to disperse, but not before their force had sustained a number of casualities both among its personnel and equipment.

Our Battalion settled down to hold this line pending further orders. Prior to our arrival, early Fall rains rapidly converted the zone of operations into a sea of mud. Activity on both sides was confined for the most part to patrols and intermittent artillery. Hardly had we withdrawn, when the enemy launched a powerful counterattack that succeeded in forcing the recently arrived troops from the 35th Infantry Division to positions deep into the Gremecy woods. As further Nazi gains seemed highly probable, our Battalion was called upon to repel the growing threat.

A Task Force Commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Wall, consisting of Company "B" and Headquarters Company of his own Battalion, supported by a Company of tanks, as well as Tank Destroyers and Engineers, became the force that was to regain the lost ground while inflicting heavy losses on the Nazi during the process. A tremendous concentration of artillery paved the way for the movement toward the objective, and as the barrage lifted, the Task Force surged forward to the attack.

Continuous heavy rains that began nearly a week before had converted the terrain around the Foret de Gremecy into a Quagmire, but it was the only logical approach to the objective that would secure Jallaucourt.

The advance was therefore painfully slow, many vehicles, especially half tracks, becoming mired in the thick ooze. It was while struggling through this difficult area that the enemy brought extremely heavy fire to bear upon the slow moving column, hampered when it became necessary to tow several tracks unable to negotiate through the thick mud. Several of the lead tracks suffered damaged radiators caused by flying shrapnel that filled the air. These were able to proceed under their own power. One other track was completely destroyed and serious causalities inflicted on the crew which included two "B" Company platoon sergeants, Tech Sergeant Zdrodowski and Shenko, along with Staff Sergeants Hudak and Hale. In the absence of adequate medical personnel whose progress had also been retarded by the almost impossible terrain, Staff Sergeant Cybor administered first aid to his injured comrades, carrying and dragging them through a hail of fire to safety. In doing this, Cybor himself was wounded. His gallant action later brought him an award of the Silver Star.

The advance progressed with dogged determination, and by noon, six hours after the attack began, Task Force Wall had reached its objective.

"A" and "C" Companies meanwhile, attached to Task Forces La Grew and York respectively, encountering the same difficult conditions and fighting their way through intense enemy small arms fire, were equally successful in their operations. Numerous groups of strongly fortified machine gun nests were encountered, but in most cases were quickly silenced by vehicular machine gun fire, and accurately thrown hand grenades.

Although the enemy was thrown back, and our troops once more occupied the positions originally turned over to the 35th Divisions, the enemy had exacted a high price in causalities, among them Captain Alfred M. Brown, "C" Company Commander. Captain Brown's track was totally destroyed when it struck an enemy mine. First Lieutenant Leonard M. Kirk was also wounded during the attack, as was Lieutenant John G. Flanagan of "C" Company.

With its mission accomplished the Battalion was again relieved, and presently withdrew to the comparatively comfortable confines of the previous billets in Malzeville, just outside of Nancy.

Flushed out of a nearby building by members of our Battalion, this once
arrogant Nazi Officer, heads for a P W cage, riding on the hood of a Division
Military Police jeep, as a group of "B" Co. Infantryman look on.

Few expected that the Jallacourt sector would be the source of further enemy activity after the merciless pounding administered by the three Task Forces, Wall, La Grew and York in general, and by the 50th Armored Infantry in particular.

As if to demonstrate the bull-headedness for which he had long been known, the Nazi struck again at the same positions that the Battalion had only recently relinquished. Exasperated, and determined that only dead Nazis would be tolerated in the Jallaucourt sector, the Battalion as part of Combat Command "B" assembled in much the same pattern as it had during the previous assault.

It had been one week to the day since the Battalion had returned to enjoy a well earned rest, and now, on this foggy Sunday morning, October 8th, the Task Force set forth to wipe out permanently, all German resistance in that area. Sweeping forward, the column gained momentum as it approached its objective, and not even the still soggy ground could stem the tide now. If the enemy thought he had withstood our heaviest blows the week before, he was due for a rude awakening. The assault upon his newly taken positions made what took place before seem like a prologue. Half tracks crashed through his defenses, forcing entry into Jallaucourt and adjacent towns, pouring fire into every upright object, whether it moved or remained stationery. The enemy never recovered from this savage beating, and the Nazi corpses that littered Gremecy Woods bore mute testimony to the effectiveness of our fire.

Hammered into submission though he was, the enemy exacted a toll in lives. Though not nearly approaching enemy losses numerically the Battalion permanently lost the services of gallant soldiers who went down fighting, among them Sergeants Baker and Berger of "B" Company, and Staff Sergeant William Owens, capable Squad Leader of "C" Company.

Able men stepped into those vacant places, but none knew better than they themselves, of the tremendous responsibility that fate had thrust upon them, nor of the high caliber leadership that the gigantic tasks that lay ahead would demand. But each man was prepared and qualified in every respect.

Aside from comparatively quiet holding operations, the balance of October was, for this Battalion, one of complete rest and relaxation. These troops had fought hard, and now they played hard. The nearby City of Nancy, France, at once became the ammusement mecca, and with passes freely distributed, the men flocked to that famed center of French culture.

It will never be known what cultural benefits were derived from the numerous visits to Nancy made by members of this Unit, simply because the business of war does not concern itself especially with culture. But it soon became apparent that the numerous diversions available to troops in that City rapidly accelerated morale as nothing else could have done.

During that period there were duties to perform of course; [.] Equipment was repaired and overhauled, weapons were cleaned and cared for by men who had now come to regard them as something more than assembled pieces of metal.

As the month wore on, the hard cruelties of war seemed to fade from memory, not even the occasional crash of enemy artillery fired from hidden batteries (the German Ghost Guns) disturbed the peaceful daily routine.

October became November, and the new month was scarcely a day old when tell-tale preparations clearly indicated that the Battalion would soon receive a new assignment. The war was entering a new phase, one that would carry our troops into territory that Hitler had promised would never be trod by American feet.

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Last updated: November 11, 2007