battle of the bulge combat engineers

lt caught fire and its 105-mm. As he rolled into a ditch, he heard machine gun fire close by. The rapid pace of the advance placed a severe strain on Allied logistics, which, along with bad weather and stiffening German resistance, slowed the offensive. Also included are units of the 8th and 9th Army Air Forces. On 17 December, the VIII Corps commander ordered his 44th Engineer Combat Battalion under Lieutenant Colonel Clarion J. Kjeldseth to drop its road maintenance, sawmilling, and quarrying operations and help defend the town of Wiltz in Luxembourg. During World War II, U.S. Army combat engineers were at the spearhead of fighting in all theaters, whether the battlefield was North Africa’s desert sands, Normandy’s fire-swept Omaha Beach, the Ardennes’ snowclad forest, or the Pacific’s jungle-covered islands. Shortly thereafter, four terrified American soldiers staggered up to the roadblock. Holding the Line: The 51st Engineer Combat Battalion and the Battle of the Bulge Dec, 1944 to Jan, 1945 [Ken Hechler, Barry W. Fowle] on Amazon.com. As the American front in the Ardennes collapsed, General Dwight D. Eisenhower and his subordinates redeployed their forces as quickly as they could to meet the German attack; but while these troops were moving into position, the American commanders had to rely on rear area troops already in the Ardennes. By the evening of 18 December, the small American force at Trois Ponts had come under the command of Major Robert B. Yates, executive officer of the 51st Combat Battalion, who had come to the village expecting to attend a daily staff meeting. Unfortunately, my father passed in 2011, and I have always been disappointed in myself for not taking some time to sit down with him to hear his experiences. 4-0, War Department Battle Honors–Citation of Units: GENERAL ORDERS WAR DEPARTMENT No. Colonel Riggs ordered his men to break up in small groups and attempt to escape to the rear. This article is the first mention that I have found so far. After some time with the unit, Colonel Riggs joined a number of former Allied prisoners of war on a train to Odessa.From there, he went by ship to Istanbul and Port Said in Egypt, where he reported to American authorities. No. A makeshift force of engineers and others under the commander of Company B, Captain Preston Hodges, held the Hotton bridge. This is the order of battle of German and Allied forces during the Battle of the Bulge — specifically, at a point near the end of the battle, which lasted from 16 December 1944 until 25 January 1945.. As with any large Army organization in extended combat, forces and their assignments shifted over the course of the battle. A few small affrays occurred in the Osweiler-Dickweiler sector, but that was all. Shortly thereafter, numerically superior enemy infantry and armored columns On resistance. Army. shells exploded at irregular intervals throughout the night. While another detachment of the 291st wired one bridge south of the village, Company C, reinforced by an antitank gun and a squad of armored infantry, prepared its defenses. The 291st Engineer Combat Battalion was one of the most decorated engineering groups of the United States Army during World War II. Engineers sweep for mines in the snow during the Ardennes campaign. This is the order of battle of German and Allied forces during the Battle of the Bulge — specifically, at a point near the end of the battle, which lasted from 16 December 1944 until 25 January 1945.. As with any large Army organization in extended combat, forces and their assignments shifted over the course of the battle. By evening, German tanks closed the road again and attacked the bridge at Ortheuville. I have been looking for information concerning my father`s time in WW2 ETO. 32) Washington, D.C. Fall 1994 Engineers in the Battle of the Bulge William C. Baldwin This article originally appeared as an essay in Builders and Fighters: U.S. Army Engineers in World War II. The Battle of the Bulge demonstrated that engineer initiative and training in defensive operations could make a major contribution to the outcome of an important campaign. The 51st Engineer Combat Battalion defended this bridge over the Ourthe River, Hotton, Belgium. The 7th Armored tank fired into the opening, destroying the panzer. Although the river separating Trois Ponts from the German column was shallow enough for infantry to ford, it was an effective barrier to tanks. Peiper did not attack Malmedy, but headed instead toward Stavelot where Colonel Pergrin had sent another detachment of the 291st. Of the three army engineer battalions in the VIII Corps zone under the 1128th Engineer Group, one, the 299th Engineer Combat Battalion, already was in … As they advanced, U.S. Army engineers who had been engaged in road maintenance and sawmilling suddenly found themselves manning roadblocks, mining bridges, and preparing defensive positions in an effort to stop the powerful German armored columns.A few examples will show how these engineers imposed critical delays on an offensive whose only hope for success lay in crossing the Meuse quickly.Lieutenant Colonel Joachim Peiper, a Nazi SS officer, led one of the armored columns racing toward the Meuse. His name/rank was Master Sgt. ARMY HISTORY THE PROFESSIONAL BULLETIN OF ARMY HISTORY PB-20-94-5 (No. The battalion set up essential roadblocks and prepared hasty defenses. The tank-infantry battle raged into the afternoon, but the engineers held the bridge until reinforcements arrived from the 84th Infantry Division, one of the many Allied units now rushing to block the German penetrations. manning roadblocks south and east of Malmedy, and with the defense of the Operation Dragoon - Combat Studies Institute . He had always been very reluctant to share his wartime experiences with us as we were growing up to protect us from the atrocities he had witnessed ( perhaps the worst of which was as a liberator of Dachau Concentration Camp ). 30. During the afternoon of the 17th, engineers manning a roadblock on the outskirts of Malmedy heard small arms fire coming from a crossroads just southeast of their position. [6], 291st engineers disarm a booby-trapped Sturmgeschütz III during the Battle of the Bulge, The Ludendorff Bridge before its collapse into the Rhine, Sign erected by 291st declaring their bridge the first over the Rhine at Remagen. Port & harbor maintenance and rehabilitation, including beachheads: Laying roads and unloading/loading supplies, vehicles & personnel from transport and cargo ships, Establishing/maintaining supply and ammunition dumps, Building barracks, depots, and similar structures, Rescue & road patrols, bridge and road reconnaissance, This page was last edited on 23 August 2019, at 19:49. For its participation in this action, the 81st Engineer Combat Battalion received the Distinguished Unit Citation, which praised its “extraordinary heroism, gallantry, determination, and esprit de corps.”The capture of Colonel Riggs began an odyssey which eventually ended with his return to his battalion several months later. Under the cover of winter weather, Hitler and his generals massed some 25 divisions opposite the Ardennes and planned to crash through the thinly held American front, cross the Meuse River, and drive to Antwerp. The explosion which knocked out the tank blinded him. Howard C. Speck ( d. 2011 ). Obersturmbannführer (Lieutenant Colonel) Joachim Peiper was in command of Kampfgruppe Peiper of the 1st SS Panzer Division (Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler) during the Battle of the Bulge. Riggs was eligible for medical leave in the States, but he insisted on rejoining his old unit, now in Western France. Each quadrangle sheet shows the position of the 12th Army Group and adjacent Allied Forces and of the German units for each day from D-Day (6 June 1944) thru 26 July 1945. By mid-December, American armies had reached the Roer River inside Germany and the West Wall along the Saar River in eastern France. The massive German assault on 16 December quickly interrupted these routine tasks. KVK: 78264294, Goudplevierstraat 34 8043JH Zwolle, NETHERLANDS, You are now being logged in using your Facebook credentials, Engineers (Builders and Fighters) in the Battle of the Bulge, This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site, https://www.backtonormandy.org/the-history/engineers/engineer-combat/support8772.html. Indeed, the Battle of the Bulge was an important turning point in the war in the Allies’ favor, but it was not without its cost. Services such as engineers, ordnance, signal and others were considered to be supports for the combat arms. follows: The 291st Engineer Combat Battalion is cited for outstanding performance of The link has information about copies available for purchase. The 81st Engineer Combat Battalion received a Presidential Unit Citation for single-handedly repelling the German advance for four crucial days in the beginning of the Battle of the Bulge… The determination, devotion to duty, and unyielding fighting spirit Battle of the Bulge, also called Battle of the Ardennes, (December 16, 1944–January 16, 1945), the last major German offensive on the Western Front during World War II—an unsuccessful attempt to push the Allies back from German home territory. displayed by the personnel of the 291st Engineer Combat Battalion, in delaying and Trois Ponts was the headquarters of the 1111th Engineer Combat Group, and one of its units, the 291st Engineer Combat Battalion, had detachments working throughout the area. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/291st_Engineer_Combat_Battalion_(United_States) [2] These spanned such diverse activities as construction, demolition, sanitation, map production, minefield clearing, and unit intelligence. machine gun squads, anti-tank rocket and grenade launchers, and were required to fight as infantry when needed. Date of situation printed on each sheet, e.g. Before he could complete his degree in psychology from Brooklyn College, Brooks was drafted into the Army to fight during World War II. On the 20th, however, the forward positions of the 51st along the Our-the toward La Roche came under German attack, and by early morning on the next day, enemy armor reached Hotton. 9396 (sec. The span made a material contribution in facilitating the U.S. Army's drive into central Germany.[1]. Last stop in Europe was Allendorf Austria. The officer was Captain Maxey Tex (from 1943-04-12 to 1945-09-18 Germany), Back to Normandy™ building the story of d-day. The platoon crossed the river and attacked the German flanks. Though greatly outnumbered A company of armored infantry eventually reinforced the engineer roadblock, but this small American force was no match for the German panzers. 9075 (sec. He also told us ( his sons and daughter ) that he was at the Battle of the Bulge ( among other actions ). officers and men of the 291st Engineer Combat Battalion stubbornly resisted all Thank you for posting this article. Engineers from the 291st demolished a bridge near Habiemont, Belgium, on … He ordered his engineers to set up roadblocks and defensive positions around the town. It was their first news of him since St. Vith.Other divisional and nondivisional engineer units found themselves in situations similar to the 81st during the first few days of the German offensive. Private Michin, who regained his sight several hours later, received the Distinguished Service Cross for his bravery under fire.During the evening of the 19th and the morning of the 20th, the 101st Airborne Division, which had rushed to the defense of Bastogne, relieved the 158th and the 35th ECBs.German panzers and troops continued to push west and north of Bastogne, eventually surrounding the American defenders in the town. 2 January 1945 Twelfth Army Group -- Situation as of 261200 July 1945. They prevailed upon the crew to join in their defense of the bridge. (7) By the evening of 16 December, it was clear that the German attack was an offensive on a grand scale from Monschau in … Both battalions found themselves fighting as infantry in a brave but ultimately futile attempt to stem the German offensive. More reluctant was the crew of a .37-mm. The author was Ken Hechler, and Barry W Fowle added a prologue and epilogue. In the meantime the Germans broke through in the Battle of the Bulge. Having delayed the enemy advance for a day and allowed some more supplies to reach beleaguered Bastogne, the 158th retired to the west to establish still more barrier lines. Combat engineer battalions also fielded defensive .30 cal. U.S. Army engineers emerge from the woods and move out of defensive positions after fighting in the vicinity of Bastogne, Belgium, during the Battle of the Bulge. After Company C had been ordered to Trois Ponts, the rest of the battalion under the command ofLieutenant Colonel Harvey Fraser established barrier lines in the area of Rochefort, Marche, Hotton, and from there a few miles f&her north. 24f, April 6, 1945, 549th Engineer Light Ponton Company History, https://www.amazon.com/Damned-Engineers-Janice-Giles, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=291st_Engineer_Combat_Battalion_(United_States)&oldid=912183432, Engineer battalions of the United States Army, Military units and formations established in 1943, All Wikipedia articles written in American English, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License, Bridge (mobile, floating, fixed), rail, & road construction and maintenance, Conducting river crossings by ponton/raft, motor-powered assault boats, Placing/de-arming munitions, including mines. Next he was assigned to the 1104th Engineer Combat Group in time to participate in the Battle of the Bulge (although he would later state that he was not at the center of the most heated action). By the next evening, the small American force was surrounded and running low on ammunition. the following unit in General Orders, No. If any content is not allowed to be published here, please contact the webmaster and the content will be removed. The name Battle of the Bulge was appropriated from Winston Churchill’s optimistic description in May 1940 of the resistance that he … The soldiers attempted to escape but few made it back safely. The 51st, also part of the 1111th Combat Group, had received orders to defend the village and prepare its bridges for demolition. The 51st Engineer Combat Battalion continued to man roadblocks and hold bridges in the area until 3 January.Throughout the Ardennes, divisional, corps, and army engineer units on the front lines and in rear areas participated valiantly in a sometimes desperate attempt to stem the tide of the unexpected German counteroffensive. Thank you for posting this article. This is the order of battle of German and Allied forces during the Battle of the Bulge.. Caveat: This Battle lasted more than a month, with assignments in considerable flux.Any hierarchy of unit within Corps within Army within Army Group is inherently a snapshot of a single moment in that flux. The narrative on the 291st's actions in the Battle of the Bulge are particularly exciting to read as is the author's description of their building the first Allied bridge across the Rhine river. Its organic engineer combat battalion, the 81st, had begun road repair and snow removal in the division’s sector. 11, WD, 1942), citation of round wedged between the turret and the hull, and as the smoke cleared, the 51st saw the German crew abandoning the tank. equipped German army was overwhelmed. The combat engineers in Scheidgen returned to Hill 313 and occupied it without a fight. When the engineers attempted to demolish it, the bridge failed to blow up. Just a few miles to the southwest, engineers of the 35th Combat Battalion occupied positions blocking another crossing of the Ourthe River and, reinforced by an engineer base depot company, held off German tanks and infantry for most of the day. The hierarchy given here is at a moment nearly at the end of the Battle. After the breakout, Allied armies raced across France, liberated Paris, and headed toward the German frontier. Fearing that the Germans would discover the weakness of his force, Major Yates tried to deceive the enemy.During the night, the six trucks of the engineer company repeatedly drove into Trois Ponts with their lights on and drove out with the lights off, simulating the arrival of reinforcements. 333, War Department, 1943, in the name of the President, of the United States Those Damned Engineers! The Germans marched their prisoners over 100 miles on foot to a railhead. [3], The range of services provided included but was not limited to:[4]. Late one night, the Polish underground discovered him, and he joined a Russian tank unit when it captured the Polish village where the underground had taken him. Wedged between the turret and the hull, and felled trees span, defended by engineers from the,. Again, I have been looking for information concerning my father ` s time in ETO. To their respective owners four terrified American soldiers staggered up to and including an Group... 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