Toujours En Avant

'Always Forward'

 

THE COMBAT HISTORY OF THE THIRD BATTALION

290TH INFANTRY REGIMENT

 

(Many thanks to Robyn Boswell - whose Grandfather served in this unit - for providing this document)

 

Dedicated to those men who fought for - and lived to remember - a Great Victory, and to those of our comrades who fought for  - and died to achieve - A LASTING PEACE.

 

William E. Gleason

Lt. Col. 290th Infantry

C.O. Third Battalion

 

Commanding Officer: Lt. Col. William E. Gleason

Executive Officer: Maj. John F. Troll

S-1: Capt. Hugh A. Coonfield

S-2: 1st Lt. Arthur C. Hawkins

S-3: Capt. Calvin O. Wilson

S-4: Lt. Gerald Ferrera

C.O.  I Co.: Capt. Maurice F. Lozier

C.O.  K Co.: Lt. Dniel J. Monti

C.O.  L Co.: Lt. Bernard Weinstein

C.O.  M Co.: Capt. Carlton Nelson

 

Editors Note

 

Apologies are in order to the men of M Company.  reference to the achievements of that company are not mentioned in the history.  During combat, M Company was always split into sections and attached to the three rifle companies.  M Company mortars were always under Bn control.  The Heavy Machine sections were attached to the three rifle companies.  To the men of the HMG's - Your exploits are part of the exploits of the company you were attached to at the time.  ' Editor'.

 

Acknowledgements

 

Sincere thanks from the editor to Major Troll, Capt. Dozier, Capt. Wilson, and Lt. Hawkins, for their cooperation in writing this history.  Their memories never failed to produce the name of some elusive town or the mission the Bn was assigned.  'Editor'.

 

Written and Edited

by

Leonard Greenburg

 

Dec. 21, 1944....The 3rd Battalion of the 290th Infantry Regiment was alerted to move from the city of HOESSELT, BELGIUM where it had arrived after a long train ride in 40 and 8's from YVETTE, FRANCE.  The battalion was to go to a forward assembly area.  The 75th Division was part of the VII Corps of the First Army, which was then engaged in repelling the German breakthrough in Belgium.

 

Dec. 22, 1944....The Bn moved up by motor convoy to the forward assembly area and immediately set up a defensive line of resistance.  The entire Division (75th) was in Corps reserve.

 

Dec. 23, 1944....A report was received at Bn HQs that German Paratroopers had landed in the vicinity of the towns of SEPTON, BONSIN(?), and BARLON.  Bn alerted one company and sent patrols to the three towns to check the report.  No trace of the paratroopers could be found.

 

Dec. 24, 1944....The Bn was alerted to move up right behind the battle line and take up defensive positions.  Two ME 109's, which had been attempting to knock out some of the huge fleet of B-17's that thundered overhead, swept low over the marching troops but did not fire.  The Bn reached its assembly area in a large patch of weeds.  From this wooded area, "K" and "L" Companies moved out in the attack of the high ground east of the communication hub of HOTTON.  The companies attacked at 2330 that night.  Because of insufficient ammunition supplies, the two companies were forced to withdraw from the hill after they had taken it.  Reorganizing, K and L Companies again attacked the hill.  They took the hill but once again were unable to hold it against the counter-attack.  Casualties were heavy in the companies.  K Company reported all officers, except the Weapons Platoon Leader, casualites.  While K and L Companies were attacking, I Company had moved up to the city of HOTTON and had relieved the garrison of the city, HQs of the Third Armored Division, which had successfully defended the city against numerous German attacks.

 

Dec. 25, 1944....K and L Companies assaulted the hill a third time, captured it, and held it against counter-attack.  The two companies had made the frontal attack.  I Company moved from its positions in HOTTON, crossed the OUERTHE RIVER via a half-blown out bridge and attacked the town of WERPIN.  Resistance in the town was light and I Company pushed up into the high ground past the town.  I Company assaulted the right flank of the German line of defenses.  In the bitter fighting that followed the Germans were driven back and I Company drew abreast of K and L Companies.  M-10 Tank Destroyers moved up on line to furnish protection against an armored attack.  (In the attack on the high ground past WERPIN, I Company was assisted by F Company of the 290th Infantry and small elements of a paratroop Bn.)

 

Dec. 26, 1944....The Bn S-2, while trying to get an ambulance through to I Company in WERPIN, ran over a mine and was badly shaken up.  A Lt. of the Third Armored Division entered the Bn CP and reported that enemy troops were being reinforced.  The companies on the hill were notified and alerted.  However, no counter-attack occurred. 

 

Dec. 27 & 28, 1944....Small scale patrolling on both sides.  Jerry threw a lot of artillery fire on the positions on the hill.  Enemy drive still expected.

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Dec. 29, 1944....A message was intercepted from the Second Battalion, 290th Infantry.  The report stated that two enemy tanks and a company of infantry troops were attacking their positions.  Supporting artillery units laid down a heavy barrage and at the same time, the two battalions on the line laid down their final protective line fire in front of their respective positions.  The enemy counter-attack was successfully repulsed.  A period of quiet descended on the line, punctuated by harassing fire from enemy mortars and artillery.

 

Dec. 30 & 31....The Bn was attached to the 83rd Division.  The Bn was to act as a covering force while the 83rd Division prepared to attack through the Third Battalion lines.  The Bn troops were told that they were to hold their positions at all costs.  At 1700, an enemy counter-attack was repelled by the artillery.  At 2400, 31 Dec. 1944, our artillery let go with a tremendous barrage in celebration of New Year, placing Time-On-Target fire on the enemy stronghold of BEFFE.

 

Jan. 1, 1945....The Regimental Commander, commending the Bn on its work, said that the Bn had made history.  (NOTE:...During the period that the Bn was on the hill, Army HQs was planning for the attack that was to break down the BULGE, and wipe out the Germans in Belgium.)

 

Jan. 3, 1945....The 83rd Division attacked through the Bn lines.  The attack was very successful  Prisoners were taken in droves by both the 83rd and 75th Divisions.  The Bn was ordered to remain in position on the hill.  The 83rd Division pushed on to BEFFE and turned left toward DEVONTAVE.  The 84th Division, which had also jumped through the 75th Division lines, then jumped through the 83rd Division and into the vicinity of DEVONTAVE.

 

Jan. 4, 1945....The Bn was attached to the 84th Division.  The 75th Division was working with the 83rd , 84th, and Second Armored Divisions under TASK FORCE CHURCH.  All companies were alerted to move forward.

 

Jan. 5, 1945....The Bn moved off the hill and out of WERPIN.  Bn marched to BEFFY.  I company ran into 20mm Machine Gun fire on the way.  Just as the Bn got into the approaches of BEFFY, enemy artillery opened up.  The Bn was shelled for 45 minutes.  When the shelling let up the Bn moved through BEFFY and then on to DEVONTAVE.  The Bn relieved the Third Bn of the 334th Infantry Regiment (84th Division).  The Bn mission was to defend the city of DEVONTAVE.

 

Jan. 6, 1945....Jerry through in some artillery on our positions in the city.

 

Jan. 7, 1945....The 84th Division attacked through Bn lines.  They moved out of the city to clear the wooded area on the outskirts of the city of DEVONTAVE.  Casualties within the 84th were reported to have been high.  The Bn was put in defensive reserve.  The Bn was alerted to move into the attack.

 

Jan. 8, 1945....Bn received its attack order.  Bn mission was to clear the hills and woods from DEVONTAVE to the LA ROCHE HIGHWAY.  Troops moved out at 1000 and started the long uphill trek.  Troops reached the first objective but had not met any resistance.  The rifle companies, supported by M Company (Heavy Weapons), moved on to the second objective.  Light resistance was encountered and the objective was taken.  The companies were shifted so as to make contact with the 2nd Bn 290th Inf.  Together the two Bns formed a defensive line for the night.  Bn troops were very weary, cold, and moral was low.  The troops dug in.

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Jan. 9, 1945....At 0300 Jerry started shelling the Bn defense area.  Troops were inadequately dug in.  (The night was so dark it was impossible to see the ground in which one was digging even from a height of 6 inches.  Snow covered the earth and the ground was extremely hard.  Roots in the ground made the tough job of digging in even harder.)  Few of the troops had any overhead cover to protect them from tree bursts.  The enemy shelling had a disastrous effect.  Many were wounded and some killed.  There was no way of evacuating the wounded.  The only road that could have been used by the ambulances was jammed tightly with tanks of the Second Armored Division which was preparing for a dawn attack on the LA ROCHE HIGHWAY, 1500 yards in front of the Bn's positions on the hill.  At dawn, the Second Armored pushed off in the attack and ambulances came up to evacuate the wounded.  At 0900 the Bn received orders to go into the attack of the LA ROCHE HIGHWAY.  The Bn formed and moved out.  Word from Regiment was received by Bn C.O. ordering the Bn to withdraw to a rest area.  The Bn pulled back, marched one mile to an assembly area, and entrucked.  The motor convoy reached the town of ERRIA the same evening.  Troops were immediately billeted and hit the hay.

 

This was the first rest for the Bn in 19 days of combat.  The men were tired when they reached ERRIA, but morale had already picked up tremendously.

 

(NOTE:  For the remainder of the Battalion history dates will not be used in the manner used up to here.  In place of the diary form, the remainder of the history will be in narrative form.  Editor.)

 

The Third Battalion, 290th Infantry Regiment, was at ERRIA for a well-deserved rest and reorganization.  The Bn C.O. ordered that every man have his feet examined by the Bn Medics.  Many men had frozen feet and some trench foot cases were discovered.  New socks were issued to all personnel.  The Bn received its first replacements.  Hot chow (B rations) was devoured by the men and many cases of indigestion were reported.  After thirteen days on a diet of C, K, and B rations mixed, it was a novelty to get three B rations in one day.

 

The troops rested and cleaned their weapons for two days in ERRIA.  Town security had been posted, as the town was not too far from the front.

 

On the 13 January the troops were alerted to move toward the front.  However, the move-out order was not received until the 15 January.  During this period the troops rested and saw two shows.  On the 15 January the Bn moved to GORONNE.

 

The 290th Infantry Regiment was in Division Reserve.  K Company received the mission of supporting the 289th Infantry.  The Bn took life easy in GORONNE until Jerry started shelling the town. The Germans had an OP from which they had observation into the town of GORONNE.  The Regimental C.O. ordered Bn to disperse the men.  The Bn C.O. moved the Bn into a large patch of woods half-mile out of GORONNE.  The men dug in during the daylight hours.  As dusk approached, the Bn returned to billets in GORONNE and slept there.

 

On the 17 January the Bn received orders to move out and into the attack.  The Bn mission was to pass through RENCHEUX and VIELSALM and contact the 30th Division at the town of PETIT THIERE.  Also, the Bn was to set up a roadblock at PETITE THIERE.

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The Bn moved out on its mission, passed RENCHEUX and VIELSALM.  The enemy had left many land mines on the roads.  Mine sweepers preceded the Bn.  At the far end of VIELSALM the Bn halted, waiting for the mine sweepers to come up.  While the Bn was halted, the Bn received a new mission.  The Bn was to attack and take NEUVILLE, then BURTONVILLE, and then turn right and proceed to the FARME DE FLAMANDES.  (The FARME DE FLAMANDES was an identifiable place on the map that lay on the road to the MARCHE - ST. VITH HIGHWAY).

 

The Bn could not wait for the mine sweepers and 'I' Company pushed off in the attack of NEUVILLE.  I Company cleared NEUVILLE, meeting only slight resistance in the town, and pushed on into the woods to the northeast.  In the woods, I Company ran into small arms fire, mortar and artillery fire.  Having already accomplished their mission of taking NEUVILLE, I Company withdrew back into town.

 

In the meantime, L Company had sent a patrol to a small village on the east flank of NEUVILLE to investigate the possible location of enemy troops, but found the town undefended by the enemy.  L company was then given the mission of defending the town of NEUVILLE and also of sending reinforcements to help K Company in their attack of BURTONVILLE.

 

K Company attacked BURTONVILLE at dusk and continued the attack through the night.  By 1000 the following morning, C.O. Company K reported the entire town of BURTONVILLE cleared except for a few remaining snipers on the far outskirts.  Casualties of the previous days attacks had been very heavy and the Bn Aid Station had its hands full.  The Bn Surgeon and his staff performed miracles for the wounded boys.  The Bn Motor Officer guided Collecting Company ambulances up to BURTONVILLE with their precious loads of life-saving blood plasma.

 

The Bn received orders to proceed northwest, contact the Second Bn, turn and proceed norheast to the FARME DE FLAMANDES.  I Company pushed out of BURTONVILLE and got 200 yards out of town when they were pinned down by the direct fire of several tanks.  Artillery was brought to bear and the tanks withdrew.  I Company moved up into a series of farm houses along he road. There, I Company held their ground, with B Company, 290th Infantry.  L company objective was a wooded area northeast of PETIT THIERRE.  L and B Companies cleared the woods of Jerries and proceeded to the high ground that lay between the Third Bn and the FARME DE FLAMANDES.

 

In the meantime, Second Bn had attacked the high ground from the right flank and had run into strong enemy defensive lines.  K Company received the mission of attacking he German defensive lines from the rear (see sketch).  K Company maneuvered into position and attacked.  The enemy, caught between K Company and Second Bn, withdrew.  I, L, and B Companies advancing toward the FARME DE FLAMANDES, attacked through the woods.  Night came early and the attacking force dug in for the night.  The three companies prepared to jump off in a continuation of the attack at 0800 the following morning.

 

At 0700, as the three companies were preparing for the 0800 attack, the enemy counterattacked with several tanks and infantry support.  The sever cold the previous night had frozen Bazookas, BAR's, and IMG's rendering them useless.  I Company knocked out one tank with the only Bazooka that would operate.  All three companies sustained heavy casualties and were forced to withdraw.

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[Webmaster note:  The sketch has not been included at this time].

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After being forced back by the enemy counterattack, Third Bn attacked the same afternoon.  This time, the Bn swung around the enemy's left flank.  The Bn attack was halted by several Tiger tanks in the woods and strongly dug-in infantry.  The Bn pulled back a little way and prepared a strong defensive position.  Casualties of the days actions were extremely high.  There were not enough front-line troops in the Bn to form one complete rifle company.

 

The following day the Bn moved up again, encountered no resistance and moved cautiously toward its objective, the FARME DE FLAMANDES. The next day found the Bn moving through the FARME DE FLAMANDES and into the woods east of the FARME.  News reached the Bn that it was to be relieved by the 289th Infantry.

 

(Note:  Just before the Bn reached the FARME DE FLAMANDES the Bn C.O. was evacuated because of exhaustion and exposure.  The Bn Exec. Officer took command of the Bn).

 

The following morning the 289th Infantry moved through the Bn's positions on their way toward the Marche-St. Vith Highway.  The Third Battalion was relieved.

 

The Bn moved back out of the woods.  The convoy was to move, the Bn was lined up on the road awaiting the arrival of the troops.  Just before the troops arrived, several Spitfires swooped low and strafed the convoy.  Three men were killed and seven were wounded.

 

The Bn loaded onto the trucks and moved to RENCHEUX  (See sketch).  The Bn was billeted in the 'BELGIUM BARRACKS'.  Morale of the Bn was low but picked up steadily and although the men were very tired, 300 men showed up for a movie.  The date - JANUARY 23, 1945.

 

A quartering party was sent to LIEGE to secure billets for the Bn as the 75th Division was supposed to be going into Corps Reserve.

 

On January 25, the division received orders to move to a new combat area.  The Third Battalion entrained at OLNEY, BELGIUM, detrained at LUNEVILLE, FRANCE after a two day trip by 40 & 8's.  A Seventh Army motor convoy took the Bn to the town of FRAIZIE.  A day after the troops arrived, the Bn motor arrived in town.  Two days later the Bn received orders to move out to the WESTERN SECTOR OF THE COLMAR FOREST.

 

(During the Bn's actions in the late stages of the reduction of the BULGE, cooks and mail clerks of companies went up on the line to assist the companies which had been depleted by casualties.  Their conduct while on line was above reproach.  Some earned Bronze and Silver Stars in their new role as front line fighting soldiers.  These mail clerks and cooks performed a job not normally theirs and performed it gallantly).

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(Webmaster note:  The sketch has not been included at this time.)

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'THE COLMAR CAMPAIGN'

(The sketches mentioned on this page were not provided)

 

The Third Battalion moved from its billets in FRAIZEE to its new sector in the western part of the COLMAR FOREST.  The Bn rode trucks to its assembly area in a large patch of woods to the northeast of the town of HOLZWEIR.  The troops immediately began digging in.  Early that same afternoon the Bn moved out to the town of HOLZWEIR.  The Bn mission was to protect the right flank of the division.

 

The Bn had on its right boundary the junction of the COLMAR CANAL and the ILLE RIVER.  (See Sketch).  On the other side of the river the 28th Division was moving on the city of COLMAR.

 

I and K Companies moved out of HOLZWEIR and took up defensive positions south of HOLZWEIR.  K Company faced the COLMAR CANAL.  I Company faced the ILLE RIVER.  Bordering the ILLE RIVER and immediately to the front of I Company's positions was a small patch of woods in which it was reported that Germans were dug in.  I Company sent out a combat patrol during the night to enter the woods.  The patrol was unable to enter the strongly defended woods.

 

The following day the 28th Division drove to the outskirts of the city of COLMAR.  (See Sketch for relative locations of COLMAR and the patch of woods).  The main German force in the woods facing I Company withdrew.  At 1300, I Company attacked and cleared the woods and the corner at the junction of the canal and the river.  At the same time, K Company had spread across the COLMAR CANAL.  (There were five bridges in all).  L Company, which was in reserve, had taken up I Company's former positions.

 

That evening K, I, and L Companies were ordered to move to the town of BISCHWEIR where they were billeted for the night.  K Company sent out a roadblock to the east of town, while I Company set up a roadblock on the main road between the COLMAR CANAL and BISCHWEIR.  The date - FEB. 2.

 

The next morning the Bn formed in BISCHWEIR and moved out along the road east of the town.  The Bn objective was the WETZELHOURST FARM.  Bn CP was set up at the LINDENKUPPEL FARM.  The troops passed the Bn CP, crossed the railroad and entered a thick patch of woods.  Friendly tanks were already in the woods and the entire area was being subjected to severe enemy mortar fire.  The three rifle companies moved into the woods and dug in for the night.

 

The next morning the three companies pushed off in a continuation of the attack toward WETZELHOURST FARM.  All companies were on line and moved through the woods in a Bn front, clearing the woods as they went forward.  The Bn reached the WETZELHOURST FARM and continued though the woods until the troops reached the southern edge of the woods.  There the three companies dug in for the night.  The fighting in the woods had been short but intense and enemy mortar fire had taken its toll of casualties.

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The next morning the Bn moved out of the woods, crossed some open fields, and moved into the town of HETTENSCHLAG.  The town had already been taken.  The Bn set up a defense line on the outskirts of the town.

 

While the Bn was at HETTENSCHLAG, the First Bn, 290th Infantry, moved up to the Third Bn's former positions in the woods southeast of WETZELHOURST FARM.  At 0800, the next morning, First Bn pushed off across the fields and into the attack of WECKOLSHEIM.  Third Bn followed the First Bn into WECKOLSHEIM by one hour.  The Bn entered the town and set up defensive positions to hold the town.  I and L Companies sent patrols to the canal east of WECKOLSHEIM to guard the one remaining foot bridge across one of the locks.

 

The next morning the Bn moved out of WECKOLSHEIM and crossed the canal.  The French troops had already been in the next town and the Bn moved into OBERSAASHEIM.  From OBERSAASHEIM the Bn sent out two patrols to investigate the possible presence of German troops between OBERSAASHEIM and the RHINE.  Both patrols reported the area clear.  The Germans had withdrawn across the RHINE.  At 0200, 2 February, the patrol sent out by I Company reached the RHINE.

 

That evening the Bn was relieved by elements of the 28th Division.  There was no more fighting to be done in the COLMAR POCKET since the Germans had withdrawn across the RHINE.

 

The Bn moved back to the town of ANDOLSHEIM, where the troops were billeted and caught up on some lost sleep.  It was in the town of ANDOLSHEIM that the Bn S-2 set up a course in firing of weapons for the Bn.  The Bn S-2 explained and illustrated the technique of marching fire with every type of weapon in the rifle company.  The lessons taught at ANDOLSHEIM were not forgotten and were used to good advantage in the fighting in the RUHR POCKET.

 

The Bn proceeded with its training program until orders were received to move to an entraining point for a 40 & 8 ride to another zone of action.  The Bn moved to BAYON where it entrained.

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After a two and a half day ride in the cattle cars, the troops detrained at VISE, BELGIUM.  A motor convoy met the train and took the troops to the town of HOUTAIN ST. SIMEON.  Once there, the troops were billeted in civilian homes.  The little town served as a rest camp for the Bn.  There were several beer halls, a dance hall, an establishment that made ice cream, a movie, and enough girls to go around.  Weapons were cleaned and the troops readied for their next combat mission.  For the first time since the Bn entered combat, the troops received their duffle bags.

 

The 75th Division was attached to the 21st Army Group, under Field Marshall Montgomery.

 

On the 20th February, after three days at HOUTAIN ST. SIMEON, the Bn motored to KESSEL, HOLLAND.  There the Bn relieved elements of the 6th Airborne Division (British).  The Bn mission was to protect the river line along the MAAS RIVER, and to reconnoiter the area on the enemy side of the river.

 

I Company was on the left, L Company on the right, and K Company was in reserve.  During the day necessary OP's were maintained.  From dusk to daylight positions along the river were fully manned.

 

The HAWKINS PATROL was the first Bn patrol to cross the MAAS.  Lt. Hawkins of K Company and 4 men from the Bn I and R Platoon crossed the MAAS, searched out a boathouse on the river's edge, and returned with vital information concerning enemy fortifications and the condition of the river bank.

 

Two nights after the HAWKINS PATROL, the SIMONTON PATROL, led by T/ Sgt Simonton of I Company, and the KIRBY PATROL, led by Lt. Kirby, the Bn S-2, crossed the river.  The two patrols were two join forces after landing.  Their mission was to reconnoiter the enemy positions along the river and also to bring back a prisoner.

 

The patrols crossed safely, reconnoitered their assigned areas, and stalked a German sentry standing in a trench.  At the opportune moment, Lt. Kirby jumped the Kraut, hitting him a butt stroke with his Tommy Gun.  The Jerry fell to his knees.  Staggering to his feet the Jerry cried out for help.  One of the patrol silenced the German with his trench knife.  The dead Jerry was then searched, papers and Soldbuch taken.  The patrol, having completed its mission, returned to the boats and recrossed the river.

 

The following night the Bn again organized two patrols to cross the river.  I Company provided the MIERS PATROL, led by Sgt. Miers;  L Company provided the LITTLE PATROL, led by Lt. Little.  Sgt. Miers' patrol had just launched their boat when Jerry MG fire and small arms fire was directed at them.  Unable to get their boat into the river and on its way the I Company patrol did not cross the river.

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The LITTLE PATROL, led by Lt. Little, pushed out into the river and crossed under the fire that was directed at the other patrol.  The L Company patrol got to the far bank, landed safely and reconnoitered their assigned areas.  The patrol avoided several groups of Germans who had been alerted by the fire on the I Company patrol.  After getting the necessary information about the enemy positions, the patrol headed back to its boats.  On the way back the patrol bumped into a group of Jerries in a communication trench.and a fire fight ensued.  One man was critically wounded, 2 others were shaken badly by concussion from a German percussion grenade and the patrol leader was wounded in the chest.  All returned to the boat where, with the rest of the patrol, they crossed the river.  The patrol landed close to the I Company machine gun section OP called PRAWN.  The wounded were taken into a building and first aide administered.  The critically wounded man died at the OP but the others were evacuated and later returned to L Company.

 

Two nights after the :LITTLE PATROL went out, the Bn had a hand in a feint attack.  Artillery was to place Time-On-Target fire on a town across the river.  At 0200 the big guns opened up.  M Company (Heavy Weapons Company of the Bn) laid down a barrage with their 81 mm mortars, while their heavy machine guns placed fire on the enemy positions across the MAAS.  I Company set off smoke pots at the river's edge that covered the river with a blanket of fog. 

 

While the Bn was pulling the feint attack, other troops attacked and took ROERMOND.  The 17th Cavalry Recon troops moved across the Bn front and cleared the Jerries from their positions facing the Third Bn.

 

With the Germans cleared from the Bn front there was no longer the need for the Bn to stay in position.  The Bn withdrew to BORN, HOLLAND, a little town behind ROERMOND.

 

(While on th MAAS RIVER, the Bn received replacements that brought battalion strength up to T/O in EM.)

 

The Bn rested at BORN for two days.  On March 4th, the Bn was alerted to march to SHANDELO at 1300.  The alert was called off and at 1900 the Bn was ordered to pack and be ready for a motor movement that night.  Trucks did not arrive to move the Bn and the troops returned to their billets for the night.  The Bn received a group of officer replacements and each company had a full staff of officers before the Bn moved out of BORN.  The Bn entrucked the following morning and motored to SHANDELO.  There, the Bn set up roadblocks throughout the area.  The Bn was to stalemate the Germans who were trapped in a pocket 8 miles west of the Rhine.  There was an estimated 20,000 Germans in the pocket.  While the Bn held its end of the line, the British were cleaning out the pocket.

 

The Bn was at SHANDELO for three days.  On the 7th March, the Bn was ordered to march to HULST, GERMANY.  The Bn moved out on the 11 mile march to HULST that morning.  The third hour out of SHANDELO found the battalion taking a break at the border of GERMANY.

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'GERMANY'

The Third Battalion, 290th Infantry, crossed the GERMAN border at 1100 hours on March 7th, 1945.  Arriving at HULST, the troops were billeted in the finest homes of the town.

 

The bn mission in HULST was to screen the surrounding towns for prisoners of war, weapons, and also to make a report of all installations (pillboxes, etc) and ammunition.  For three days the Bn troops went through town after town, house after house, and all the wooded areas around HULST performing their job of screening the area.

 

On March 11th, after spending 4 days at HULST, the Bn moved to BAUREN.  At BAUREN, the Bn relieved a battalion from the 35th Division.  The Third Bn was in Regimental Reserve.  While at BAUREN, the Bn screened several surrounding towns for displaced persons.  On March 14th, the Bn moved to DRUPT, where for two days the troops performed a most unusual task. Cattle-chasing squads were organized, horses were acquired, and the Doughs of the Third Bn rode here on the cattle that wandered aimlessly about the fields.  On the 18th March, the Bn moved up to BUDERICH where it relieved the 1st Bn, 290th Infantry.  BUDERICH was a little town just behind the Rhine.  I, E, and L Companies went down to the river and took over the First Bn's positions.  The Bn mission was to protect the river line and reconnoiter the terrain on the enemy side of the Rhine.  This mission was similar to the one the Bn had when it was on the MAAS RIVER, however, there was one exception.  That; the Bn was to prevent detection of the massing of power for the 9th Army crossing of the RHINE.

 

OP's were manned during daylight hours by all companies.  At dusk, the entire river line was manned at the water's edge.  The Bn mortars fired numerous illuminating shells and lighted the river when it was thought that enemy patrols were attempting to cross the river.

 

Two patrols were sent across the RHINE while the Bn was at BUDERICH.  The MC INNIS PATROL, led by Lt. Mc Innis of I Company, and the HOLMES PATROL, led by Lt. Holmes of K Company.  Both patrols were to reconnoiter the enemy positions and take a prisoner for questioning.  Neither patrol took a prisoner, but each patrol returned with vital details of the enemy fortifications.

 

While the Bn threw up a barrier against German attempts to learn what was happening behind the river line, the 30th Division's 119th Infantry was massing behind the Bn in preparation for the RHINE crossing.

 

In the early hours of the morning of the 24th March, the 30th Division crossed the RHINE.  Their crossing was preceded by a thunderous artillery barrage.  Landing, the 30th Division found enemy resistance light and pushed forward.  By dawn the bridgehead was 8 miles deep, and engineers were rushing construction of a bailey bridge.

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On D+1 the Third Bn crossed the RHINE and moved into a bivouac area astride an unimproved section of the AUTOBAHN.  While the Bn was in the bivouac area, a British Typhoon crashed in a nearby field.  The pilot escaped injury and was brought to the Bn CP.  The flyer was returned to his unit through channels.

 

On the 28th March, the Bn was attached to the 8th Armored Division.  The Bn was to take to trucks and, following the 8th Armored Division, was to get to HAMM in two days.  The distance to be covered was 55 miles.  The following day this mission was canceled.

 

The Bn received a new mission.  That of attacking DORSTEN from the south.  The Bn jumped off in the attack just north of KIRCHHELLEN and pushed to its first objective, a junction of a railroad and a highway.  There the Bn was relieved.  Trucks arrived and the troops loaded on the vehicles and moved to DORSTEN.  The troops detrucked and moved through that part of DORSTEN that had already been taken.  The Bn took up positions to defend that part of the city that had been taken.

 

The following day the Bn cleared the remainder of the city and pushed into the outskirts of DORSTEN and secured the line of departure for the 291st Infantry.  The same night the 2nd Bn of the 290th Infantry relieved the 3rd Bn.  The 291st Infantry was moving up to take positions from which to jump off in a continuation of the attack out of DORSTEN.  The Bn assembled the companies and moved back for the night to billets.  ( I and L companies had been attached to the 49th Armored Infantry Battalion.  Both companies reverted to Bn control).  The following morning the Bn marched to BRASSERT.  At BRASSERT, the Bn troops were paid, fed, and billeted.  That same night, the Bn marched to MARL.

 

When the Bn reached MARL, K and L Companies received the mission of filling the gap in the line between the 75th Division and the 8th Armored Division.  L Company was pulled back into MARL and I Company went out to reinforce K Company.

 

At 0930 hours, the following morning, the Bn moved out in the attack with the 744th Tank Bn.  The Bn was to attack for 6500 yards and then be relieved by the 116th Infantry.  When the Bn reached its objective it was ordered to continue the attack forward another 3200 yards.  After covering this distance the Bn objective was again moved forward another 900 yards to a railroad.  The Bn arrived at the railroad at dusk and began digging in. Company Commanders were called to the Bn CP where they were told that the Bn would have to move up to the DORTMUND - EMS CANAL.  The Company Commanders returned to their companies.  At 2300 hours the Bn started on its march to the canal, a distance of (?) miles.  The Bn marched all night and at dawn arrived at a distance of 1 mile from the canal.  The companies reorganized and prepared to move to the canal.  I and L Companies, with K Company in Reserve, moved down to the canal and set up OP's along the canal.  That afternoon the Bn was relieved by the 3rd Bn of the 289th Infantry.

(13)


The Bn moved back to SUDERICH.  There the Bn rested for two days.  There the Bn troops received inoculations.  On the morning of the 2nd of April the Bn moved up to the city of ICKERN.

 

The Bn jumped through the lines of the 289th Infantry at ICKERN and moved into the attack.  The Bn pushed through DINGEN, BODELSWEIG, WESTERFIELD, and FROHLINDE.  Moving through the four towns the Bn ran into heavy sniper fire, artillery, and mortars.  Most of the artillery was from SP Guns.  At FROHLINDE the Bn was relieved by the 2nd Bn of the 290th Infantry.  Second Bn moved through the battalion lines and attacked KIRCHLINDE.

 

After a day of rest, the Bn moved up to LUTGEN DORTMUND, relieved the 2nd Bn, and pushed off to continue the attack to the RUHR RIVER.  K Company took the town of STOCKUM.  L Company moved through K company and set up roadblocks 1500 yards in front of STOCKUM.

 

I Company was sent to MENGEDE, where the company went into Regimental Reserve.  After spending two nights in MENGEDE, I Company moved by motor convoy and returned to Bn control at LUTGEN DORTMUND.  There, I Company received the mission of attacking, filling a gap in the line between the 290th and 289th Infantry Regiments.  On the 6h of April, having completed its mission, I Company rejoined the Bn at OSTEN.

 

K and L Companies moved out of STOCKUM and into the attack of ANNEN.  I Company took up L Company's former positions around STOCKUM.  That afternoon, I Company moved to ANNEN, where it joined K and L Companies.

 

K and L Companies moved out of ANNEN, attacked and took AUF DEN-SCHNEE.  The following morning I Company jumped through K Company and with L Company pushed off in the attack toward HERDECKE.  However, on the outskirts of HERDECKE, resistance stiffened.  L Company moved into the city by infiltrating a few men at a time.  I Company followed L Company into HERDECKE shortly afterward.  The CO of L Company contacted the Burgmeister of HERDECKE and found him ready to surrender the city.  At 1000 hours, on the morning of the 14th of April, the city of HERDECKE officially surrendered to the 3rd Bn.

 

In HERDECKE, I and L Companies set up OP's on the RUHR RIVER.  At 1600 on the 14th of April, the battalion was relieved by the 315th Infantry of the 79th Division.  The Bn moved back to KIRCHENDE where the troops remained for two days.

 

On the 17th April the Bn motored to the town of WALTROP.  There the troops rested for five days.  On the 22nd April, the Bn motored to the town of HEMER where it took up the duties of occupation.

 

Little did the men realize that the combat days of the THIRD BATTALION were over.

 

After a stay in Germany of over 6 weeks, the Bn moved by 40 and 8's to BUOY, FRANCE.  There it undertook the job of running CAMP PHILADELPHIA.  (One of 17 camps under the ASSEMBLY AREA COMMAND).

(14)

 

END.

 

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