THE ARDENNES CAMPAIGN
Christmas Day was spent in Metz with religious services and a turkey dinner, plus an opportunity for many of the troopers to tour the fortress city and avail themselves of the hospitality of the citizens of Metz.
The squadron marched 68 miles to Stegen, Luxembourg, on December 26 and relieved the 1Oth Armored Division's 90th Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron Mechanized the next day, moving the CP to Schieren, Luxembourg. Troops A and C were running patrols on the squadron front, maintaining roadblocks and observation points. Troop D was attached to CCA until December 29, when it rejoined the squadron on a move of 44 miles to Anlier, Belgium. Squadron was placed under direct control of division, but on December 30 four armored cars and three peeps from Troop D were attached to each combat command. Troop B made a route reconnaissance from Sure, Belgium, to Martilage, Belgium, where it established its CP before placing guards on five bridges in the vicinity of Sure, Chene and Rodange, Belgium.
On New Year's Day of 1945 Troop A was assigned to CCB, Troop C and one platoon of Troop D were attached to CCA and two platoons of Troop B were guarding bridges as squadron moved 14 miles to Traimont, Belgium. The remainder of Troop D plus one light tank platoon from Company F were attached to CCA on January 3 and Troop B and another light tank platoon from Company F followed on January 5. Squadron moved 12 miles to Assenois, Belgium, where it prepared for future operations through January 11. It was during this period that Troop B, assigned by CCA to Combat Team 9 (Lt. Col. Frank K. Britton), was ordered to attack a dug-in German position in the woods east and just south of Bastogne. Denied tank support, Troop B nevertheless made its attack. 1st Lt. Clifton E. Gordon, in his first major battle with the squadron, was killed along with Sgt. Harold R. Brigade, Cpl. Irving Fabricant, Pfc. Edward M. Crosier, Pfc. Arthur A. Pregosin, Pfc. Robert G. Stevens, Pvt. Albert J. Abrams, Pvt. Howard N. Cowan and Pvt. Waiter L. Ware. Another 17 enlisted men were wounded. The attack failed and it eventually took a much stronger force to drive the enemy from the woods.
The 86th was under control of CCA on January 12 when it moved five miles to Marvie, Belgium. The S2 halftrack was demolished by land mines on arrival, leaving Maj. Kennon, Capt. King, driver Norman L. McLaughlin and radio operators Walter Wesolowski and Guido Frazzoni temporarily "homeless." Troop C, supported by tank destroyers and Engineers and followed by two platoons of Troop D, attacked from the woods and reached its objective--Wardin, Belgium--taking 68 prisoners without losing a man. Company F sent a platoon of light tanks north of Bastogne in an attempt to observe enemy movement on the eastward road from Lalompre to Comonge.
The squadron (-) attached to Reserve Command on January 14, moved 2 1/2-miles back to Bastogne on the 25th and marched 27 miles to Weicherdange, Luxembourg, on the 28th. There it regained detached troops, established outposts and prepared for future operations.
On January 30 the 86th was ordered to relieve elements of the 134th Infantry Regiment, 35th Infantry Division, and CCB and to contain and defend the sector on the line just north of Fischback-Heinerscheid-Kalborn with the 128th Field Artillery Battalion in direct support, the 696th Field Artillery Battalion in general support and one company of the 68th Tank Battalion attached for command purposes. The CP was moved to Hupperdange, eight miles away.
Maj. Brindle's summary for the period:
"This month brought forth new experiences in cavalry reconnaissance work. The squadron was broken down to cover most all task forces of the division. The majority of our strength was absorbed by CCA.
"The division changing from offensive to defensive status necessitated further breakdown of reconnaissance personnel. The troops were broken down into platoons and distributed over the entire division front to tie in, fill gaps, outpost task force fronts and continue aggressive patrolling to the front.
"The above breakdown of cavalry organizations did not greatly curtail the efficiency of the squadron. However, control by the troop CO was difficult at the best."
"This period covered winter conditions that had not been experienced before, such as icy roads, failure of vehicular engines due to extreme low temperatures, constantly living out of doors and use of winter camouflage. The troops were able to adjust themselves to winter conditions rapidly.
"In all operations during this period the high standard of proficiency in operations established by the squadron in prior monthly reports was even improved."
"Reinforcements were considered adequate both in officers and enlisted men."
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