October 1944

Unit Journal, 3rd Battalion, 314th Infantry, October 1944  Unit Journal, 3rd Battalion, 314th Infantry, October 1944

The battalions were deployed at 0615, 1 October, into merciless warfare. The 313th and 315th had moved about one-third of the way eastward into the Foret de Parroy. They were facing the 15th Panzergrenadier Division, and the 113th Panzer Brigade supplied by a constant stream of reinforcements, tanks and assault guns. Mark IV tanks were everywhere.

The 314th, after 45 minutes of artillery, gained ground fast. G and F/Companies reached the forest in an hour with E/Co close behind facing heavy return fire brought on my the 314th's artillery barrage. Croismare and Marainviller were under heavy shelling as the 3rd BN started across the Vesouze.

Map of Foret de Parroy
Click map to enlarge

Ahead, the 2nd BN, after losing one tank and capturing 16 POWs, stopped at 1200 to allow 3rd BN to catch up to their position. By 1430, the battalions had regrouped, and met little resistance moving forward. They set up camp for the night holding a line 1800 yards from Parroy. The 314th established contact with the 313th on its left. In Marainviller, the 1st BN was relieved by the 313th's 1st BN, who had been in Corps reserves. B and C/Co was sent across the river to positions on the Regiment's right. This location was the southern portion of Parroy, called Les Grands Bois. An Anti-Tank Company held road blocks at Beaulieu Farms.

Artillery fell all night on the 314th's position, and trees were exploding everywhere from the bursts and mortar fire. At 0800, 2 October, the Regiment attacked again. 3rd BN made its objective through the woods to a clearing on the western edge.

K and L/Companies attempted patrols into the open area, but enemy fire drove them back. 2nd BN moved out to the left to cover the retreating and hard hit 313th position, but as it neared its objective, German machine gun fire stalled the advance. E and G/Companies attempted to advance beyond the 313th's line, but had to turn back to reorganize. The cornerstone of the German defenses in Foret de Parroy was the main supply crossroads on the Regimental boundary line. 3rd BN, leaving a small group in the western clearing, swung around to augment 2nd BNs attack on the strong point. 1st BN, still south at Les Grands Bois, was hit with an infantry company of Germans, so they were ordered to hold position. E/Co moved in behind the 313th's position to shore up a gap which had opened between the 313th and 315th's sectors.

At 0615, 3 October, 2nd BNs E and F/Companies advanced up the ridge line to take out the enemy pocket blocking the 313th. Further on, contact was made with the 315th Regiment. Moving eastward, the companies caught the enemy off guard, and had the position by 0800, with 17 POWs captured. The two companies, with the 315th, moved ahead again along the boundary road until stopped by a heavily-armed German road block. E/Co waited for tank support, while F/Co moved up on the right a few hundred yards where they startled a loose group of German infantry. On the 3rd BN's right flank, 1st BN's B/Co had regrouped with K/Co. At 0900, German infantry, supported by tanks, moved back B/Companies entire line. C/Co held fast, to the right, halting the advance. K/Co repositioned back to maintain contact with B/Co.

The tanks rolled in just in time to force the enemy for rear areas. By 1600, 2nd BN was back in line (E-left, F-center, G-right), and by nightfall F and G/Companies were on the objective with E/Co just 150 yards short. The tanks set up a blockade to the right of the position, and settled in for the night. More artillery tree bursts went on all throughout the night. Tree bursts occur when artillery shells are fused to explode super-quick. The shells hit tree tops and explode there, showering everything below with schrapnel and wood splinters.

The attack for the crossroads was set to go off a 0700, 4 October. As the companies prepared to deploy, four Mark IV tanks and a company of German Infantry moved to 2nd BNs front. Two tanks were at E/Company's line, and one was hit with a bazooka shot at five yards. The others slammed into the battalion's area, with E and G/Companies taking heavy casualties. As soon as the U.S. tanks started their engines, the enemy opened fire with a hard concentration of mortars. Before 2nd BN could reorganize, an enemy counter-attack drove into the sector between E and G/Co, and knocked a hole in the line.

2nd's HQ, along with the heavy weapons from H/Co, was thrown into battle and helped close the gap. By 1700, the major fighting had stopped, but there was a huge sag in the 2nd BN line. A/Co sent over a platoon of reinforcements for a secondary defense later than night. The other battalions remained in position.

The order for 5 October told the 314th to hold fast while the 315th moved around to the left to outflank the crossroads defenses. At 1300, the 2nd BN let loose with all its firepower to mask the 315th's movement.

There was a lull in activity for most of 5-8 October, so the 314th sent out patrols for spots to park tanks and TDs (tank destroyers) for the upcoming attack. German artillery filled the air almost constant. Rumor had it that the Foret de Parroy was Hitler's favorite forest - where he himself had fought in World War One - and he had ordered it held at all costs. A captured German Colonel was overheard saying that "...the Americans hadn't taken the forest in the last war, and this one would end with them still trying."

Late 8 October, the 314th received orders to resume the attack. German forces had counter-attacked again on the 2nd and 3rd BNs positions, but the 314th held them off until they withdrew.

At 0650, 9 October, E and G/Companies moved out with F/Co looping around to the right to take the main feed road behind the German position from the other direction. At approximately 0800, E/Co ran into a dug in German infantry position supported by tanks on the west side of the crossroads. G/Co moved left reversing for an enveloping approach. At 1300, once in position, F/Co sent off a platoon with a tank down the road behind the German position. E/Co moved out into the clearing towards the crossroads and advanced with no resistance. They discovered a house full of wounded Germans on the opposite side. At 1530, the crossroads was secured.

With its capture of the crossroads by the 2nd BN, the German's hope of holding Foret de Parroy was shattered. A weary and exhausted 2nd BN pulled out to rejoin the rest of the 314th Regiment, leaving the pursuit of the fleeing enemy to the 313th.

Manonviller and the Bois le Remabois

After questioning of the enemy POWs revealed that the Germans had retreated, 1st BN moved out to the southeast of the woods on 10 October, setting up a perimeter facing Marianviller. 3rd BN moved east of 1st's position 1000 yards, but ran into anti-personnel mines and suffered heavy casualties. On 11 October, 2nd BN moved to within Croismare, and the other battalions - facing no resistance - deployed on the line north or Manonviller to Foret de Manonviller. The Regimental orders were keep contact tabs on the Germans.

3rd BN moved forward a few hundred yards on 12 October, and the 1st moved about one-half mile to the section called Les Quatres Mamelons. On 13 October, the 314th was alerted to move out on the attack again - H-Hour, 1300. The left line was the railroad from Marainviller to Avricourt. The 3rd BN took the left along the ridge line while the 1st BN took right flank. 2nd BN remained in reserve.

1st and 3rd moved out, accompanied by a super-sized company of tankers from the 749th, and a company of the 773rd's TDs. At roughly 1600, I, L and K/Companies encountered some sporadic arms fire, but by nightfall all was secure. 1st BN tied in with patrols from the 315th Regiment to its southern flank. The weather conditions were horrid; cold winter rain, and sleep only came at the point of exhaustion.

Early 14 October, 3rd BN was sent an order to bypass the railroad station strong point, and drive to the objective: the ridge line. I/Co was shut down by machine gun fire coming from an entrenched enemy. The advance was further stalled by mines, booby traps and barbed wire. Tanks broke through the obstacles, and the Infantry was underway again. By 1650, I, L, and K/Companies established a line past the railroad station moving south to 1st BN's position. A German patrol had passed within 100 yards of the CP, and were eventually caught by M/Co troops. 2nd BNs G/Co was used to plug the gap between 1st and 3rd's positions, but the rest of 2nd BN remained in reserve.

The 314th was ordered to "dig in" - fortifying the positions on 15 October. G/Co moved up to fill out the thin line and managed to capture an entire German platoon. Patrols brought back the news that a full regiment of the 15th Panzergrenadier Division awaited ahead.

At 0330, 16 October, the Germans sent a small task force consisting of two companies of infantry and twelve tanks forward into G/Companies line. After resisting for nearly two hours, the Company finally fell back. F/Co, coming up from reserve, counter-attacked at dawn with tank support, and captured 45 POWs. G/Co was back at its original line by mid-morning, 17 October.

The Germans attacked again, at the same location - the G/Co line - but this time had almost a battalion strength of troops and nine tanks. G/Co had to scatter. F/Co moved back in at daybreak 18 October to regain the position, but found it vacated. It was beginning to seem like harassment tactics, and later that day when E/Co moved forward to relieve G/Co, they captured 49 more German's moving forward.

Rumors were floating that the 79th would soon be relieved by a new division - the 44th, fresh from the United States. The 79th had spent over 120 days in combat and needed a rest. But before they got it, one more objective came down from Regimental HQ. Take ground at Bois le Remabois.

The movement was going to be a little difficult. It would require a "wheeling maneuver" because the left sector was too far away to implement a full-scale attack scenario. On the evening of 19 October, the 114th Regiment of the 44th Division took over 1st BNs position on the extreme right so the 1st could move over 2500 yards southeast of the railroad station.

From this point, the 1st BN was to time its advance to coincide with the 3rd BN reaching Le Remabois, and continue up the tracks. 3rd BN, after taking Le Remabois, would keep moving to the central objective - Bois le Remabois. 2nd BN, leaving E/Co to guard the southern position, would follow up behind 3rd BN setting up defenses.

L/Co spent 20 October clearing a section of the woods to be used as the launch area. The remaining 314th Regiment stayed in position. H-Hour, 21 October was scheduled for 0635, but it was delayed for one-half hour to allow for the tanks to arrive. The rainy and cold conditions had slowed their advance. In less than two hours, L/Co, the spearhead, along with I and K/Companies were inside the Bois le Remabois. There was brief mortar and small arms fire, but by 1300, the objective was taken with 2nd BN filling the line. To the north, 1st BN began its attack, and lost two tanks almost immediately. A/Co, on point, kept moving forward and was on its objective by 1145.

The ground was peppered with trenches and pillboxes still in place from World War One, and the 1st BN gathered in them, grateful for the shelter from enemy mortar fire. 1st BN patrols spotted some enemy troops and tanks, and artillery fire dispatched them quickly. The only real enemy attack came around 1200, 22 October, as a small German patrol came through a hole between the I and L/Co line. A C/Co platoon quickly sealed off the gap.

In the afternoon of 23 October, the 314th's 2nd and 3rd BNs were relieved by their counterparts from the 44th Division's 71st Infantry. A few of the 314th's officers and enlisted were left behind for a day as advisors, but the remainder of the battalions wasted little time in leaving. 1st BN was temporarily attached to the 315th Regiment, and it was relieved 24 October, 1944.

The 314th Regiment had been withdrawn from combat after 127 days.

The much deserved break at Luneville gave the 314th men hot meals, clean clothes, a place to sleep with an actual roof, and a meal or drink from a cafe or two still opened for business. The billets were located in a series of old factory buildings left virtually untouched by the Germans. There were replacement troops brought in, and they acclimated quickly under the training and drilling from the seasoned veterans. After USO shows, movies, ompany parties and so on, came 30 October. This date marked the beginning of a planned two-week training schedule. It lasted one day.

This outline is compiled from research material provided by personal accounts, unit diaries, online sources, "The Complete History of World War Two" edited by Francis T. Miller (1948) and the 314th Infantry Association's "Through Combat." A special thanks to J.W. Campbell and Dwight Pruitt.
17 September 2003
Lori Cutshall
http://lorwings.net/314/start.shtml

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