The Bulge - 513th PIR
Tuesday December 19, 1944, 3 days after the oubreak of the Battle of the Bulge, the Regiment received order to departed Barton Stacey (England) for departure from Chilbolton Airfield located 2.9 miles south west.
From 20 to 22 Decembre, the Regiment awaited flying weather for departure while seaborne echelon departed Barton Stacey for France.
From 23 to 24 December, elements of the Regiment were flown to the Reims area (France).
Decembre 23, 1944, advance details for all unit, Regimental Headquarters and 1st Bn departed by air for an area located 6 miles north of Laon (France).
December 24, 1944, 1st echelon continued move to Mourmelon la Grande. Remainder of Regiment departed Chilbolton for Laon. 1st and 2nd echelon and seaborne echelon closed in Mourmelon.
Upon arriving the 513th PIR and the other elements of the 17th Airborne Division were attached to Patton's Third Army. The first war mission assigned to the Division was the defense of Meuse river because at this time, the german troops continue their advance on west and had reach the Marche-en-Famenne line while all the Allied divisions are engaged in frontline. There was so a real concern about a breakthrough to the Meuse river.
December 25, 1944, the Regiment departed Mourmelon for defense of Meuse river. On December 26, the 513th PIR closed in positions along Meuse river with 1st Bn and Regtl Hqs in vicinity of Chatel Chehery - Omicourt, 2nd Bn in Stenay and 3rd Bn in Verdun.
From December 27 to 31 , 1944, the men organise the defense of Meuse river while German penetration is stopped short of the river, near Dinant. During this time the men saw no action except patrolling. There was still concern about german infiltration and enemy parachute drops and the patrols attempting to pick up information. Light strafing and bombing of town, railroad and bridges along Meuse river are report.
January 1, 1945, the Regiment departed Chatel Chehery for the front line west of Bastogne. I have not yet found information about the exact timing. All I know, according to the After Action Report of the 194th GIR, is that this day the Regiment was still in the vicinity of Montmedy (France) at 14h10. It is so reasonnable to think the travel was completed during the night between January 1 and 2, like the 193rd GIR (ndlr). In all cases, the Regiment made the travel by night considering the briefness of the days at this time of year. Another point remains a mystery : the exact way used from France to Morhet ! It seems reasonnable to think the Regiment crossed the border in the area of Florenville (Belgium) but it is just a personnal assumption. However, if Neufchateau (Belgium) is generally named as the finishing city of the travel, the trucks didn't stop in the city. The assembling area being located between Neufchateau and Morhet, along the actual N85 road. My opinion is this city is usually named in the US reports because at this time it was the last city before the front line.
January 2, 1945, the Regiment is on its assembling area, closed from the front line, somewhere in the vicinity of Morhet. It received order to make movement towards the vicinity of Flamierge and Flohamont. 1st Bn takes position in woods south of Monty (Bois de Fragotte). It received artillery fires all the day and fights again German mechanical units. 2nd Bn ordered to relieve elements of the 11th Armored Division in Monty. It seems this movement toward Monty was completed during the night, just before midnight. Monty is no more than a little crossroads located very closed (approximatley 200 meters) from the greater village of Mande-Saint-Etienne. The two hamlets are parted by the National 4 road. This place is probably the worse place in this area for military operation. It is located in a bed of a basin overhang by Fragotte woods and Jacks woods on south, a crest on north-west (later called "Dead man ridge") and Mande-Saint-Etienne on east. Arriving in Monti, Lt. Col. A. C. Miller decided to take position in the village of Mande-Saint-Etienne still occupied by the German soldiers. It results a fighting for the village that evolved finally in favor of the US troops. The German soldiers give up the village but entrench in solid defensive positions in woods overhanging the village on north.
I have realised this photos during winter 2002, in the edge of the woods located north of Mande-Saint-Etienne, exactly at the place where the German troops retreated on January 2, 1945. The woods no longer exist but at this time it was still possible to see the German fox holes (bigger than american ones). These positions will be later occupied by Company C - 193rd GIR (TFH collection).
It seems Lt. Col. Miller opens his Command post in a farm located above the church. Company E remains in Battalion reserve. The positions of the second Battalion remains uncomfortable, under the direct German fire. Lt. Col. Miller organised so a strong defensive position with Companies D and F on first line and roadblocks on the roads toward Champ and Bastogne.
This other photo realised in winter 2002 shows the main street of Mande-Saint-Etienne. It was realised regarding to south-east and shows the church and the farms around. The Lt. Col. Miller CP was probably located in one of them (TFH collection).
3rd Bn remained in regimental reserve in Jodenville while Regtl Hqs and Hqs Co were in the remains of Flohamont.
This map shows positions of the 513th PIR on January 1 (presumed) in red and January 2, 1945 in orange (click to enlarge). Note that on January 2, the 513th PIR is stretched on 5800 meters (TFH designing with original US map Sheet 121).
January 3, 1945. The Regiment received its first Division Attack Order. It must attack to north, from vicinity of Monty toward Flamisoul and the Ourthe river. The 1st Bn moves toward Bois des Valets (Jacks Wood). The 2nd Bn still fights in the vicinity of Monti again elements of the 29th German Armored Regiment who launch small infantry attacks supported by artillery, mortar and direct tank fires. The men captured 30 prisoners and destroyes 9 tanks but the mechanical communications were out and the Battalion was semi isolated by fire. It is so an Officer courier that sent the Regiment order for attack (on coordinate 040-815). The 3rd Bn moves to the position previously occupied by the 1st Bn (Bois de Fragotte).
Positions of the 513th PIR on the end of January 3, 1945. The German lines are (approximately) represented in red (TFH designing with original US map Sheet 121).
These artifacts are found during digs in the 80's in Bois de Fragotte, exactly in the positions of 1st and 3rd Battalions on respectively January 2 and 3, 1945. Men of the 513th PIR used .30 caliber Garand rifle ammunition with green bullet (see below). This is absolutely specific to the Regiment and these ammunitions are (to my knowledge) impossible to found nowhere else on the european battlefields. Note the ammunitions are permanently neutralized (TFH collection).
Other relics found in Bois de Fragotte : remains of K Ration food can still readable and an empty Barbasol shaving cream tube (TFH collection).
January 4, 1945, General Patton had ordered the 17th Airborne to seize the town of Flamierge where the 11th Armored and the 87th Infantry Divisions had encountered heavy resistance from the Germans units. The plan called for two regiments to push forward, the 513th PIR on the right while the 194th GIR would be abreast of the 513th on the left. The Regiment attacked at 08h15 after an ten minutes artillery fire. 1st Battalion (on left) and 2nd Battalion (on right) are engaged. The 3rd Bn remaines in Regimental Reserve while Hq Co is located in Jacks Wood (Bois des Valets).
The 2nd Battalion attacked north from Mande-Saint-Etienne with its Company E. It met heavy resistance from woods north of Mande. With heavy fighting, supreme courage and determination against heavily occupied and prepared positions, tanks and self propelled guns they forced their way through the enemy positions. E company lost three commanders in consecutive order while struggling forward. Finally, a platoon of F Company under the command of Lt Samuel Calhoun and a platoon of E company under the command of Lt Richard Manning made a fix bayonet charge that routed a superior German force while capturing many of the enemy. The remnant of one platoon reaches Flamisoul and is probably destroyed. It did not again join the Battalion. The remainder of the Battalion was held in the woods overlooking Flamisoul. A tank attack from the left flank forced the Battalion to withdraw to the woods immediately north of Mande and into the town. Fighting had been severe and casualties were heavy.
The 1st Battalion received its initial action in Bois de Fragotte soon after attack began. Resistance was mainly small arms, wich they overran and sent 25 POWs to the rear. Battalion came under heavy mortar and artillery fire as they cleared the woods south of the Bastogne Higway (National 4 road). Resistance continued heavily in the form of mortar, artillery and increased small arms fire as the echelon continued to advance across the open, snowy fields. Attack continued with heavy casualties to shelter of a depression on south side of Bastogne Higway where, as they attempted to cross this road, they were met by the direct fire of self-propelled guns from the nort west. A tank attack developed coming into their left flank down the Bastogne Highway. The remainder of the 1st Battalion was ordered to return to the woods originally occupied and defend.
Among the wounded in action during this day we found :
The 3rd Battalion was ordered into the gap between 2nd and 1st Battalion and the 194th GIR on the left. The 139th Airborne Engineer Battalion was ordered to extend the left flank to contact the 1st Battalion and 194th GIR on the left.
January 5, 1945, the Regiment remained on defensive position. A German counterattack began at 09h15 and was immediately stopped by coordinated fires of infantry and artillery.
January 6, 1945, the Regiment still remaind on its defensive position. The 2nd Battalion shiffted from Monty to reserve in Bois de Fragotte. The 139th AEB was detached while 194th GIR closed in on the left flank. The 193rd GIR occupied vicinity of Monty. 11 tanks of the 11th Armored Division come in Regimental support. 3 explode on anti tank mines, 1 is destroyed by 88mm German shot and the others withdraw.
January 7, 1945, with the 194th GIR on its left and 193rd GIR on its right, the 513th PIR attacks at 09h00 AM with its 1st and 3rd Bn while 2ndd Bn remained in regimental reserve. Initial objectives of the regiments were :
- for 194th GIR : villages of Milliomont, Rechrival and Hubermont.
- for 513th PIR : Flamierge and high ground south west.
- for the 193rd GIR : Flamisoulle.
The two Bns marche forward toward the hillside of Flamierge. Attack progress favorable, 2nd Battalion was ordered to join the interval between 1st and 3rd Battalion on right. Resistance was from infantry, mortar and artillery supported by a few self-propelled guns in vicinity of Flamierge. 1st and 2nd Battalions gained their objectives with medium losses. The 3rd Bn met increased resistance as they topped the high ground overlooking Flamierge. They were opposed by strong infantry, mortar, self-propelled guns and a few tanks. By continued pressure and finally a wild charge down the hill and across the open snow field, they forced their way into the town. Flamierge fells in the hands of the Regiment around 11h42. They clear the town and gain their objective. Regimental leader Lt Col Kent is wound by a piece of shrapnel. Major Morris Anderson replaced him.
At 12h40, in great confusion, the men of the 513th Parachute Infantry Regiment opened fire on Company B - 193rd GIR. Immediately, the men of the 193rd GIR intended to stopped the fires but before the first radio messages arrive in the 513th PIR, a man of Company B 193rd GIR, the Private First Class Paul Bogozelski started to run under fire to explain the error to their fellows of the 513th PIR.
Finally, all objectives of the regiment were gained while all objectives of the remainder of the Division were unobtained, which left the Regiment with exposed flanks. The night of 7 to 8 January was miserably cold with heavy snowfall.
January 8, 1945, around 08h30 to 08h50 AM, the regiment is hit by German counter attack with 15 to 20 tanks and infantry supported by artillery coming from 2 directions :
- from the north-west, by National 4 road, again the 2nd Bn, splitting 1st and 2nd Bn from Flamisoul.
- from Flamisoul in the right flank of the 1st and 2nd Bn.
These attacks overpowered 1st and 2nd Battalions and forced them to withdraw from positions under direct fire of tanks and self-propelled guns. They withdrew to the woods in the vicinity of Regiment Command Post in Bois de Fragotte.
Several attempts at penetration of 3rd Battalion defense of Flamierge by tanks and infantry were repulsed. The 3rd Battalion remained in Flamierge with orders to hold.
The remnants of 1st and 2nd Battalions were organized to defend Bois de Fragotte and salvage and re-equipping began at once.
During late afternoon, Division ordered the 3rd Battalion withdrawn. Communications had failed and 3 patrols were sent out to contact the 3rd Battalion (one from 507th PIR and two from 513th PIR). One patrol of the 513th PIR reached the outskirts of Flamierge and found the area occupied by Germans. Thinking Flamierge lost, they returned with their report. Soon after, Lieutnant McGuire arrived at the Command Post from Flamierge saying it was still in our hands and a radio had been repaired. They planned to attempt contact on the half-hour. Contact was made by this means and a message of withdrawal transmitted. They came back with the reply that they had no code facilities. Corporal Gidley than arranged a casual conversation from the CP to the OP operator into wich the 3rd Bn was listening. In the conversation, he neatly conveyed the order to withdraw from Flamierge to Monty after 24h00 in small groups leaving aid men and one officer to surrender wounded. The 3rd Battalion rogered and arrival in Monty before daylight. They were oredered into Bois de Fragotte to join in the Regimental defense, reorganize and re-equip.
January 9, 1945, the Regiment remained on the defensive until afternoon when it was ordered to relieve units east of Monti and takes a new position astride the National 4 road ("Monti Highway") while 193rd GIR, 194th GIR and 507th PIR attack German lines. The sector was small and battalions were disposed in depth in order 2nd, 3rd and 1st Battalion. At the end of the day, 1st and 2nd Bn are localised north-east of Flamierge and 3rd Bn is localised in Flamierge.
No contact was made with enemy but forward elements were subjected to intermittent artillery fire.
January 10, 1945. There is no change this day in the positions of the 513th PIR.
Men of the Company A - 513th PIR on the National 4 road on January 10, 1945. The legend says "Troops of Co. A, 513th Regt., 17th Airborne Division, walk toward Marche, Belgium, where they fought it out with Nazis, trapping them in the area near Bastogne. 1/10/1945". At this date the regiment was localised astride the N4 road. (click to enlarge) (Original US Army Signal Corps - TFH collection).
These two photos extracted from "TALON with the 17th in Ardennes" show Flamierge after the Battle, probably in spring 1945 because there is no more snow (Original photos TFH collection).
January 11, 1945. The Regiment was ordered to move north just south of woods located at coordinates 5061, one miles east of Flamisoul. Battalions again in column with 3rd Bn leading, 2nd Bn in center and 1st Bn trailing. Patrolling founds woods, formerly strongly held, to be lightly held now. The men still received intermittent artillery fire during the day.
January 12, 1945. The Division send an attack to north east with three regiments : 194th GIR on left, 507th PIR in center and 193rd GIR on right. The objectif was cleaning Flamierge and the woods in the sector of 194th GIR to protect Division left flank. During this time, the Regiment occupied Flamierge and placed 1st and 2nd Battalions in the woods north east of Flamierge while de 3rd Battalion remained in the village.
January 13 and 14, 1945. The men stayed in their positions as Division reserve while Division continued to objective with practically no resistance. Salvage work began over Division battlefield area.
January 15, 1945. The Regiment moved north east to new positions in reserve with 3rd Battalion in Gives, 1st and 2nd Battalion and Hq & Hq Company in Givry.
January 16, 1945. Salvage operations continued along with reorganization and re-equipping.
This canteen was found some years ago in a barn located in the area of Gouvy. It belonged to Private Frank D De Santo (ASN 42108420) - 513th PIR - killed in action on January 16, 1945. The soldier had engraved his canteen with his name, laundry and the 17th Airborne insignia. He is burried at Luxembourg American Cemetery (Plot E - Row 8 - Grave 35) (TFH collection).
January 17, 1945. The Regiment moved again, by marching, to vicinity of coordinates 556695. It stayed in Division reserve and re-equipping continued.
January 18 to 20, 1945. While still in Division Reserve, the Regiment moved forwared, east of Liheraine (coordinates 668727). Note it is probably Bois de Liherain near Gouvy.
January 22, 1945. The 513th PIR moved into front line in the vicinity of Limerlé. It attack north east to secure the woods located in coordinates 7376. Scattered infantry opposition was quickly overcome and objective gained. Supply problem was great due to absence of available roads. Indeed, all roads were snow drifted and impassable for vehicules. Supporting tanks were used to break trail and pull in supplies.
2nd Battalion Recon element was caught in artillery concentration and received 5 casualties. One jeep was destroyed from same cause at later time. Roads were made by bulldozer through snow-drifts to make line of communication. Patrolling active and the enemy was contacted at Wathermal (coordinates 750771) and woods (coordinates 759768).
January 23, 1945. The attack continued to east with success against small arms and little supporting artillery and mortar fire. Wathermal and woods to south east were taken and Battalions pushed on toward main highway to east. 1st Battalion occupying Griben (I have not found this place) and 3rd Battalion Schmiede (also not found. I think it os probably the village of Schmett)). The 2nd Battalion remained in woods located in coordinates 760765. Supply and evacuation were still tremendous obstacles due to deep snow.
January 24, 1945. For the third consecutive day, the Regiment continued its attack to east with 2nd Battalion taking woods in the vicinity of coordinates 792780, 1st Battalion reached coordinates 7879 and 3rd Battalion remained in the vicinity of Schmiede (probably Schmett) on coordinates 778772.
January 25, 1945. After three days of fighting, the Regiment remained on defensive with only active local patrolling.
January 25, 1945 is considered as the official date of the end of the Battle of the Bulge. The Regiment then entered in the Rhineland Campaign.