[Lone Sentry: Brest to Bastogne: The Story of the 6th Armored Division] [Lone Sentry: Photos, Articles, and Research on the European Theater in World War II]
Photos, Articles, & Research on the European Theater in World War II
[6th Armored Division Patch]   Brest to Bastogne: The Story of the 6th Armored Division

[Brest to Bastogne: The Story of the 6th Armored Division]
"Brest to Bastogne: The Story of the 6th Armored Division" is a small booklet covering the history of the 6th Armored Division. This booklet is one of the series of G.I. Stories published by the Stars & Stripes in Paris in 1944-1945.

[6th Armored: U.S. Sherman Tank]

This is one of a series of G.I. Stories of the Ground, Air and Service Forces in the European Theater of Operations, to be issued by the Stars and Stripes, a publication of the Information and Education Division, Special and Information Services, ETOUSA... Major General R. W. Grow, commanding the 6th Armored Division, lent his cooperation to the preparation of the pamphlet, and basic material was supplied to the editors by his staff.

  [6th Armored: R. W. Grow, Major General, Commanding]

ACH member of the 6th Armored Division has ample reason to thrill with pride for what he and his comrades have accomplished in more than six months of uninterrupted combat. The following pages give but a meager picture of the gallantry and the sacrifices that mean so much to each individual. The story, as told here, briefly describes how brave and resolute men, organized to fight as a team, inspired by the heroic action of many of their fellows marched and fought from one success to another through the whole of Northern France from Normandy to the tip of Brittany, to the eastern borders of Luxembourg. I dedicate these pages to the memory of our comrades whose spirit will forever urge us on to win Peace.

R. W. Grow
Major General, Commanding

The Story of the 6th Armored Division

LOODY Bastogne—30 days of freezing hell!

This was the end of the first six months of combat for the 6th Armd. Div. Withdrawn from the Saar River area Dec. 24, 1944, and put in Corps reserve, the men under Maj. Gen. Robert W. Grow were rushed to the Third Army front on the south of the Ardennes salient, relieving the 10th Armd. Div. north of Mersch, Luxembourg.

Five days later, Super Sixth was shifted to positions northeast of the now-famous city. The pocket in which the 101st Airborne and armored units had made such a gallant stand had become a bulge. Facing that bulge was one of the greatest enemy concentrations since the Ardennes Forest offensive began.

Still trying desperately to capture Bastogne, the Germans threw everything in the book at the 6th—tanks, infantry, artillery, rockets, bombs. For 23 snowbound, freezing days, 6th and Nazis fought a see-saw battle. Yanks took towns, lost them to numerically superior forces, later recaptured them.

Slowly, the Germans relinquished their grip on the east shoulder of the bulge. Waging strong rear-guard action, they completed their 20-mile withdrawal across the Our River into Germany and the Siegfried Line by Jan. 26, 1945.

For the enemy, Bastogne marks the stumbling block in its Ardennes offensive. For the 6th Armd. Div., Bastogne, where it faced the most formidable force of SS and Wehrmacht troops since going operational, stands as the supreme test. Primed for the thrust, Hitler's troops were the elite of his army, possessing the best equipment, vehicles and supplies. The 6th was greatly outnumbered ht elements of six enemy divisions which constantly applied pressure against its entire front.
[6th Armored: Sherman Tank]

Bastogne brought a new experience. Snow, ice and sub-freezing weather provided the setting for one of the most severe campaigns ever fought by American troops. Tank turrets froze, had to be chipped free to regain traversing action. Iced breach blocks had to be manually operated. M-1s refused to function until bolts were beaten back and forth with grenades. When escape hatches and tank doors stuck fast, they got "blow torch" treatment. Ice formed in gas tanks and clogged lines. Feet froze. Men became so cold they "burned."

That was Bastogne!

HEN the Super Sixth hit the front Dec. 29, the 101st Airborne was on the left, the 35th Div. on the right flank. Entering the campaign along a line two miles northeast of Bastogne, CC A jumped off Dec. 31. A task force under Maj. Chester E. Kennedy, Detroit, took the high ground near Wardin, assisted by Task Force Brown on the right. Further gains were made the next three days against mounting resistance. Neffe and Bizery fell to CC A while a task force under Lt. Col. A.R. Wall, Denver, captured Mageret, went on to enter Michamps. Other forces commanded by Lt. Col. Embry D. LaGrew, Lexington, Ky., and Lt. Col. Frank K. Britton, Hartford, Conn., entered Wardin and took high ground to the south.

UT their 12,000 yard front proved too much to hold with only three infantry battalions, and lines were shortened to 8000 yards. Then came the Germans' inning. While withdrawing at dusk Jan. 4, task forces under Col. Britton and Lt. Col. Charles E. Brown, Tacoma, Wash., were struck by artillery, tanks and infantry. Although temporarily cut off, some units withdrew to a new position, organized and repulsed the attack. Troops under Col. Wall and Lt. Col. H.C. Davall, Washington, D.C., stopped counter-attacks in CC B's sector with infantry, tanks, TDs and well-directed artillery.

Germans held the upper hand for five days, directing tank-infantry teams against the entire front. The tide shifted Jan. 9 when the 6th began to surge forward reinforced by the 320th Regt., 35th Inf. Div.

It was a grueling ordeal. Nine long, bitter-cold days were used to push back the enemy four miles, taking the ground astride the Longvilly-Bourcy highway and the by-now familiar towns of Wardin, Mageret, Benonchamps, Arloncourt, Oubourcy, Longvilly and Michamps.

Germans pulled back from the western-most tip of the salient, and the 6th ploughed forward. Troine, Crendal, Lullange, Hoffelt and Hachiville fell quickly to tank-infantry teams making five-mile dashes through heavy snow. Strong rear-guard action was encountered, but Asselborn, Weiler, Basbellain, Biwisch and Troisvierges were retaken in two days. The enemy's Ardennes salient was wiped out completely during the next three days. Wilwerdange, Briedfeld and the high ground astride the Skyline Drive were captured.

By Jan. 26, the enemy, with losses of 2298 prisoners, 87 tanks, 33 big guns, 17 vehicles and one JU-88, had withdrawn across the Our River, more than 20 miles from Bastogne.

Campaigns Made to Order

HEN the last units of the untried 6th Armd. Div. arrived at Les Mesnil, Normandy, July 24, 1944, orders for embarkation from England to Omaha Beach were but 10 days old.

Two weeks later, the Super Sixth pulled up at the gates of Brest, creating complete disorganization enroute and bottling up 40,000 Germans for eventual capture. How the division, operating in vitally important territory defended by 80,000 Nazis (about six times the division's strength) made the 250-mile drive in 10 days is a masterpiece of armored operations.

Confident but never cocky, each member of the division always felt the Super Sixth was destined for greatness. The 6th had received the best unit and maneuver training AGF could dish out at Camp Chaffee, Ark., in Louisiana, the California desert and at Camp Cooke, Calif. After arriving in the United Kingdom, the division sharpened up for the big show with five months of dress rehearsal.

This potent feeling was amplified further on the eve of the 6th's jump-off through Lessay when Gen. Grow said:

I don't care if we do get so far out in front we are completely surrounded. We've enough fire-power and mobility to punch out of anything the Krauts have to offer.

HE division maintained that spirit from the moment it passed through the 79th Div. at Lessay, cleared Brehal and Granville, shot through Avranches, swung west toward Brest, cut a 20-mile swath 200 miles into the heart of the Brittany Peninsula.

The 50-mile end run down the Normandy coast to the mouth of Brittany and the drive on to Brest paid tribute to the soundness of training and tactical principles. It demonstrated to infantrymen that their rugged operations in establishing beachheads and setting the stage for the breakthrough were not in vain.

The entire campaign was a series of engagements made to order for effective armored operations. Dashing into enemy territory without infantry support for mopping-up purposes, the division found its zone allowed sufficient latitude for by-passing, enveloping, feinting and cutting Nazi communication lines, despite numerically superior enemy forces.
[6th Armored: Jeep and Tank Advance]

Speed of its advance permitted the division to fight on ground of its own choosing. Bold marches and bypassing enemy strongpoints kept losses of men and equipment to a minimum. Because of the rapid advance, the enemy could not establish a solid defense line. Through a country laced with rivers, the Germans had time to destroy only two bridges, each involving no more than a 12-hour delay. Outflanking the enemy brushed aside his resistance.

Tactics permitted racing columns to average 25 miles a day. The greatest distance—48 miles—was swallowed on Aug. 3. The division captured 4556 prisoners while suffering only five percent casualties. An estimated 4000 enemy were killed, and 1000 guns, combat and other vehicles were knocked out or abandoned during the period. Top PW prize was Lt. Gen. Karl Spang, Commander of the 266th German Inf. Div.

HEN Troop A of the 86th Cav. Recon. Sqdn., commanded by Capt. Frederick H. Eickhoff, St. Louis, moved out at 1630, July 27, to contact the enemy, it became the first Super Sixth unit to be committed. The division moved out in force the next day when CC A, under Brig. Gen. James Taylor, crossed the Ay River at Lessay, passed through the 79th Div. and became the spearheading force.

CC B was commanded by Col. George W. Read, Santa Barbara, Calif., Reserve Command by Col. Harry F. Hanson, Elgin, Ill. In support was Division Artillery, under Lt. Col. William J. Jesse, Mexico, Mo. Other separate commands were the 86th Recon, under Col. Albert E. Harris, Reno, Nev.; and Division Trains, commanded by Col. Elmer H. Droste, Mt. Olive, Ill.

Jump-off day found Super Sixth under Maj. Gen. Troy H. Middleton's VIII Corps, then a unit of First Army. Operations with First Army were short but sweet. With CC A and B alternating as spearheading forces, the division was quick to catch the competitive spirit. During the first four days it advanced 58 miles, flushed out 841 prisoners, captured key Normandy points of Pont de la Roche, Brehal and Granville. A treadway bridge was constructed over the Seine River by the 25th Armd. Engrs. near Pont de la Roche, July 29 and 30.

The Nazis, cornered in the Avranches area by the 4th and 6th Armd. Divs., lacked gas. Their horse-drawn vehicles were cut to ribbons by tank and artillery fire and fighter planes.

On Aug. 1, when Lt. Gen. George S. Patton, Jr., commander of Third Army, was disclosed as being on the warpath in the ETO, VIII Corps and the 6th Armd. Div., among other units, came under his command.
[6th Armored: Halftrack Lays Signal Cable]

This change brought together Generals Patton and Grow for the first time since they were members of the 2nd Armd. Div. at Ft. Benning, Ga. Then, Gen. Patton was Division Commander of the "Hell-on-Wheels" outfit, while Gen. Grow was Asst. Chief of Staff, G-3.

Task Force Hanson moved out July 31 to enter the mouth of the peninsula and secure bridges northwest of Avranches and at Pontaubault. Next day, elements of the division ran into their first real engagement when Task Force Hanson encountered a roadside ambush near Bree where Germans were ready with 88s, mortars, bazookas and small arms. Initial fire was directed at Btry. A, 231st FA, the last unit in the advance guard.

ESPITE this surprise attack, the advance guard pushed ahead 28 miles to complete the mission—forcing a bridgehead across the Couesnon River at Pontorson. Attacked while passing through a narrow defile, three M-7 105mm, self-propelled artillery pieces were knocked out. Other units of the task force went into action and gained the upper hand after sharp action.

That action made veterans. Topping the list was "One-Man Army" Sgt. John L. Morton, Btry. A, 231st FA. When the enemy put three of his M-7s out of action that didn't daunt this Boonville, Mo., GI. He bagged 26 Germans with a carbine before his ammunition ran out. Then he picked up a sub-machine gun and dropped three more trying to escape on a truck. He received the division's first Distinguished Service Cross.

Courage and initiative displayed against enemy fire was outstanding up and down the line. Many tankers, including S/Sgt. Vernard T. Brock-Jones, 68th Tank Bn., Westfield, Ill.; Sgt. Paschal S. Mathison, 69th Tank Bn.; New Rochelle, N.Y., both battlefield lieutenants now; and S/Sgt. Peter Turko, 15th Tank Bn., New Hyde Park, N.Y., demonstrated their coolness and gallantry, received Silver Stars.

Armored infantrymen like Pvt. Jack Phillips, 9th Bn., Heflin, Ala.; M/Sgt. Albert Blumberg, 44th Bn., Philadelphia; and T/5 Thomas R. Sills, a medic with the 50th Bn., from Model, Tenn., also covered themselves with glory. T/Sgt. John H. Watson, 128th Ord., Pittsburgh, a volunteer ammunition trucker, showed fortitude when he drove much-needed ammunition to tankers through enemy fire.

In the Avranches bottleneck, Super Sixth men got their first glimpse of the Luftwaffe—many with a foxhole perspective. For several days, German airmen strafed 6th Armd. columns and bombed bridges that had been captured too swiftly for demolition crews to destroy. But the division passed into Brittany with negligible losses.

IGHT casualties were attributed to excellent marksmanship of the 777th AAA Bn., commanded by Lt. Col. Joseph H. Twyman, San Pedro, Calif. During a 40-hour period enemy planes were particularly active. The 777th, engaging in its first combat, knocked down 18 of 44 planes to establish a percentage record for Third Army AAA outfits.

Carrying precious gasoline, ammunition and food, Division Trains, the last unit to pass through the only available highway into Brittany at Avranches, found the triple 7s exceptionally lucky numbers to have around. German bombers made an all-out effort on the moon-bathed night of Aug. 1 to bomb a critical bridge. At the peak of the assault, with 500-pounders striking within 200 yards of the objective, Trains units successfully ran the gauntlet of the attack.

Super Sixth Poised for Kayo!

UG. 2 marked the first time the division engaged the enemy entrenched in fortified positions. CC B hit the foe in force east of Dinan, which constituted part of the St. Malo defensive works manned by 20,000 Germans. To reduce the fortress would cause several days' delay, so CC B was ordered to break contact and sideslip the town. Despite the active day, the division suffered light casualties, advanced 26 miles, captured 150 prisoners, left the strong Dinan defenders feeling as ignored as a boxer with no opponent but his shadow.

"These maps are too small. Give me a map large enough so that I won't run off it today." Gen. Grow's statement was prompted by the speed of the advance which had put maps on the critical supplies list. Columns raced across sections of maps almost before navigators could fix them to boards.

"You're doing pretty good, Bob!" Gen. Patton told Gen. Grow at the division CP near Merdrignac, Aug. 4. With the sun blazing down on the dusty bivouac area, Gen. Patton then presented him with a Bronze Star for meritorious achievement, the first battlefield decoration received by Super Sixth.

The Division Commander learned definitely that the 6th was to make the run for Brest without any direct infantry support. The 4th Armd. Div. was on the left (southern) flank with the mission of taking Lorient and Rennes. Gen. Grow realized the Germans in that sector were a ragged, disorganized army with disrupted communications. To give them any quarter was to invite them to dig in on the 6th's march into Brittany.
[6th Armored: Halftrack Advances in France]

CC A and Reserve Command hacked away at Huelgoat, the next enemy strongpoint. Reserve Command ran into enemy forces at Poullaquen and after a two hour fight smashed the Germans back into Huelgoat. CC A captured the town after sharp encounters. The enemy withdrew to the Morlaix defenses.

The first posthumous DSC was earned by 2nd Lt. James L. Durden, Mt. Vernon, Ga., reconnaissance platoon leader with the 15th Tank Bn. in the Huelgoat action. Lt. Durden was greatly responsible for the success of the attack when he went forward on foot to clear a mine field and direct tank drivers along a safe path.

During this same two day period, the division advanced 47 miles, killed or wounded an undetermined number of the enemy, destroyed seven big guns and three vehicles.

HE ninth and tenth days saw Super Sixth advance 80 miles, draw up before the outskirts of Brest, after Lesneven, Plouvien and Bourg Blanc were cleared. CC B encountered considerable artillery, mortar and machine gun fire just south of Bourg Blanc until a large OP and AA warning system were destroyed.

That final day's operation set the stage for a concerted attack on the Nazi stronghold.

But first, on Aug. 8, Gen. Grow issued an ultimatum to the German Commander of Brest. Delivered by Lt. Col. Ernest W. Mitchell, Arlington, Mass., and M/Sgt. Alex Castle, New York City, an interpreter, the ultimatum read:

1. The United States Army, Naval and Air Forces troops are in a position to destroy the garrison of Brest.

2. This memorandum constitutes an opportunity for you to surrender in the face of these overwhelming forces to representatives of the United States government and avoid the unnecessary sacrifice of lives.

3. I shall be very glad to receive your formal surrender and make the detailed arrangements any time prior to 1500 this date. The officer who brings this memorandum will be glad to guide you and necessary members of your staff, not exceeding six, to my headquarters.

But history already has recorded how the Germans rejected the ultimatum, blew the docks sky-high and caused the city to be shattered by Allied ground, air and naval forces before surrendering to VIII Corps.

"Brassiere Boys" Make Good

HE planned attack on Brest momentarily was postponed. Artillery from the fortress pounded elements of CC A while the 266th German Div., attempting to break into the city, struck the division's rear. The 6th executed an about-face and attacked.

The 266th ran head-on into the 86th Recon as well as other covering units as it threatened to over-run the PW enclosure (with General Spang as the choice prize) and Div. Hq. The Germans completely surrounded the division. Towering hedgerows prevented identification of friendly or enemy forces. Small arms fire spattered over the bivouacs.

But the battle was really one-sided. CC B, smacking the center, soon made the Germans lose interest in finding an avenue of escape into Brest. When smoke of the eight hour battle lifted, the scoreboard read: 230 Germans killed, 70 wounded, 800 captured. More than 200 vehicles and 20 anti-tank guns were captured or destroyed.

LOUVIEN, which was to be known as the "massacred" town of Brittany, had to be retaken by CC A. The Germans reentered the town after the 6th passed through and blazed fire down streets and into homes, killing many civilians. Planes supported CC A tanks and infantry in ridding the town of the German plague for the last time.
[6th Armored: Silver Star, Welcome in France]

Reserve Command sharpened its sights on the left flank. Encountering a heavy weapons company, doughs of the 50th Inf. killed 19, captured 47, destroyed one 88mm, six mortars, four machine guns, several vehicles.

Contributing to the success of combat troops was Trains Command, truck companies, medics and ordnance personnel who performed their duties in superior style. At no time during the long and arduous fighting march did any unit find itself unable to move for lack of supplies, equipment or maintenance. Trains units assumed a definite combat complexion by taking more than 1000 prisoners.

Some runs made by supply trains totalled 400 miles round trip, many times through towns and country reoccupied by Germans. Tank and other combat units protected the long line of communications and local installations.

[Route of the 6th Armored Division]

A serious problem developed when Nazi paratroops attempted to destroy the division gas dump near Poullaquen. Only a small portion of the supply was burned before band members, appropriately named the "Attackers" and led by "Music Maestro" Carroll W. Thompson, Enid, Okla., left to guard the dump, drove them off.
[6th Armored: Cold Kraut, Belgium]

The 76th Medical Bn., under Lt. Col. James W. Branch, Hope, Ark., the 128th Ordnance Maintenance Bn., commanded by Lt. Col. Raymond B. Graeves, Jr., Silver Spring, Md., and the MP platoon all encountered evacuation troubles because of distances and German reoccupation. Wounded and prisoners had to be transported deep into the peninsula for lack of close-up support. Disabled vehicles were towed until they could be repaired or evacuated.

RISONERS were being delivered to division cages in wholesale lots. On Aug. 10, 919 were bagged; next day, 828; another 439 on Aug. 12. Without a shot fired, 350 prisoners were taken from coastal artillery strongholds. Surrender arrangements were effected by Sgt. Alexander Baiter, Pittsburgh, CC A interpreter, along with Capt. Allen Scullen, Boston, Recon CO, 603rd TD Bn.

On Aug. 12, infantry troops of the 50th and the 1st Bn. of the 28th Inf., 8th Div., attached to the 6th, pushed within 200 yards of the Gouesnou-Guipavas highway, the closest point to Brest yet reached. This was the last day on which the division operated with all units intact for more than six weeks. While a task force was left to contain Brest, the remainder of the division whipped 100 miles east to the Lorient area, relieving elements of the 4th Armd. Div.

With a force of 4000, CC A bottled up 40,000 Germans in Fortress Brest. For this effectively carried-out mission, they were dubbed the "Brassiere Boys."

The month-long Lorient mission was used in giving personnel experience in patrolling, handling booby traps and forward observation. Veterans were born overnight. They had to learn fast. They were facing an experienced foe who knew all the tricks.

"I know of no other new division that has accomplished the things we have done in so short a period," Gen. Grow said in praise of his men and officers.

HERE were many heroes in every outfit. Pvt. Johnny Iolonardi, 50th Inf., Bronx, N.Y., exposed himself to enemy fire to throw a grenade into a machine gun nest and get 12 Germans. Pvt. Ray Williams, 69th Tanks, Collingswood N.J., returned a grenade the enemy had tossed into his tank, then continued the attack. Pvt. Arlie A. Moody, 231st FA, Bear Creek, N.C., grabbed a bazooka when ambushed and became a doughboy long enough to destroy an anti-tank gun.

Lt. Donald C. Peake, 128th FA, New Milford, N.J., beat off 100 Germans by firing his carbine, then calling for artillery fire on his own OP. Pfc C.F.B. Warner, 15th Tanks, Alliance, Ohio, destroyed an 88mm gun and crew with a grenade. Lt. Darwin D. Rounds, artillery liaison pilot, Robbins Dale, Minn., deliberately flew low to draw enemy fire so artillery could neutralize positions. Sgt. Max B. Hansen, 86th Cav., Portland, Ore., carried his wounded platoon leader to safety when time bombs exploded near them on a bridge.

Bonjour, Brooklyn! Hello, France!

O closed the division's campaign in Brittany, where the Super Sixth found gratitude of a newly-liberated people; where "des oeufs" became a pup tent word; where people outdid Hollywood versions of showering speeding columns with flowers, food, vin rouge.

While in the Lorris area, CC B performed a historically significant mission when reconnaissance patrols were sent out to represent Gen. Patton's Third Army in making contact with Gen. Patch's Seventh Army coming up from the south.

To a platoon from Troop B, 86th Cav., under 2nd Lt. Vernon Hill, Clinton, Okla., fell the honors. The link-up was established with the Second Dragoons, 2nd French Armd. Div., at Autun, near Dijon, Sept. 12, when Cpl. Carl Newman, Brooklyn M-8 radio operator, shook hands with Jean Quignon of Montgeron, France.

Before the division assembled in the Seille River area, CC B, attached to the 35th Div., already had written the first chapter of that campaign with an effectively executed attack near Manhoue, Armaucourt and Lanfroicourt, Sept. 22. So outwitted were the Germans by Col. Read's skillful planning that they lost 250 dead and 413 prisoners in the one-day attack.
[6th Armored: Directions]

Most of the damage was inflicted on the 1000 Germans defending Armaucourt. The town was contested only until Capt. Walter G. "Snuffy" Smith, Ada, Okla., with his 69th Light Tank Co., supported by TDs, delivered a "one-two" punch. TDs stood back and blasted away with delayed-fuse shells at buildings. When Germans sprang out to escape, Co. D mowed them down with machine gun fire from light tanks. They killed 182 and captured 310. The knockout plan was the brainchild of Lt. Col. Ralph H. McKee, Shawnee, Okla., CC B executive officer.

A key man in the attack was S/Sgt. George D. Vinyard, 69th Tanker from Rock Island, Okla., whose bold action from his light tank's turret knocked out seven bazooka teams and accounted for 26 more Germans.

The remainder of the division closed near Nancy, Oct. 1, and went into action again as a concerted unit. CC A and Reserve Command coordinated an attack that ended a German counter-threat to cut off the XII Corps bridgehead across the Seille River near the Gremecey Forest.

CC A, commanded by Col. Hanson, attacked north of the forest through the 35th Inf. Div. at 0620. Despite heavy enemy resistance by artillery, infantry and mines, the high-ground objective belonged to the 6th three hours later.

Reserve Command, under Lt. Col. Harris, swung east, north of Chambrey in the face of severe artillery and small arms fire. After gaining its first objective, the task force continued mopping up to aid the 35th Div. establish a main line of resistance.

Putting the tank-infantry team across the goal in this action were veterans like 2nd Lt. Harry C. Linebaugh, Schenectady, N.Y.; S/Sgt. Malcom Helton, Natchez, Ala.; and Sgt. James W. Abbott, Eubank, Ky., who dismounted under heavy mortar and small arms fire to clear and mark a path through a minefield for tanks. After the platoon leader had been hit, T/Sgt. John A. Petrick, Chicago, organized his 9th Inf. platoon and led them in seizing an objective.

Hitler Loses 80 Towns

HE next "Sunday-punch" was launched a week later in a two-day assault that straightened the line of the corps salient in the Letricourt area.

CC B jumped off in heavy fog at 0615 and swept through Moivron, Jeandelincourt, Arraye-Et-Han and Ajoncourt in a brilliantly executed attack that bewildered the Germans. Task Force Wall captured Moivron by 0800; Task Force LaGrew surrounded Jeandelincourt by 1100 and took the town several hours later following an action called the "Turkey Shoot;" Task Force under Lt. Col. Bedford H. Forrest, Saluda, S.C., swarmed into Ajoncourt at 1400, after taking control of Arraye-Et-Han. The 80th and 35th Inf. Divs., on both flanks, occupied these towns on the heels of the swift 6th.

CC A picked up the baton the next day with assault forces splitting three ways. Task Forces under Col. Davall, Lt. Col. Lewis E. McCorison, Marshfield Wis., and Lt. Col. Thomas B. Godfrey, Louisville, Ky., cleared woods and consolidated high ground positions south of Letricourt. The division's mission was complete. During the Seille River campaign from Sept. 17 to Nov. 7, the 6th killed an estimated 1500, destroyed 500 guns and vehicles.

From OPs, these unit operations looked like well-executed sand-table maneuvers taking place at Ft. Knox, Ky. which, on Feb. 15, 1942, had been the birthplace of the Super Sixth. But the "picture" was stern reality to fighters like T/Sgt. George Donald, 44th Inf., Philadelphia; T/Sgt. William Z. Fralish, 15th Tanker, Ariton, Ala., and Cpl. Myron H. Berger, 50th Inf., Springfield, Ill.

Although twice wounded in the same attack and his platoon leader killed, Donald rallied his platoon, led them forward, summoned TDs for cover while the men took new positions.

A maintenance sergeant, Fralish organized his crews and blasted Germans from foxholes with grenades so tanks could be evacuated from a stream crossing.

Critically wounded, Berger, still under enemy fire, warned his squad of snipers, located positions and continued firing until he died.

Super Sixth never was stronger than when it launched the Saar River campaign. It had lost valuable men in hard fighting, but experience had created battle-wise veterans.
[6th Armored: German Soldiers Surrender]

These time-tested troops still had to rely on all the skill and cunning they had absorbed to crack stubborn German defenses. Mud, rain, knowledge of the Lorraine area and limited air support because of weather—all were the enemy's aids.

The Saar was reached in 26 days after the 6th had captured 80 towns and villages spreading over 400 square miles. The push was bitterly contested. But now the enemy had his back to the wall. It meant the fight would be waged on the Fatherland. When the last square foot of France in the division zone was cleared Dec. 5, the count showed 1216 Nazis prisoners, 202 guns and 143 vehicles captured or destroyed, 73 of which were tanks or self-propelled assault guns.

Passing through the 80th Div., which had established bridgeheads at Nomeny and Port-sur-Seille, Nov. 10, CC A, now under Col. John L. Hines, Jr., White Sulphur Springs, W.Va., smacked the enemy first. Luppy and Secourt fell in quick dashes. CC B sliced through and took Buchy and Beux, despite determined enemy resistance, knee-deep mud and difficult terrain. Enemy dead offered mute testimony to the effectiveness of corps and division artillery, the latter under Col. Lowell M. Riley, Jacksonville, Fla.

Knifing Toward Berlin

HE toughest action in the division's combat history was crowded into the next four days when vital bridgeheads were established and enlarged over the French Nied River.

CC A successfully forced the bridgehead at Han-sur-Nied by capturing the bridge before Germans could destroy it. CC B duplicated the achievement on its sector to the north near Sanry.

Lt. Daniel L. Nutter, Waukesha, Wis., and T/5 Charles Cunningham, Columbus, O., both of the 25th Armd. Engr. Bn., raced across the Han-sur-Nied bridge in the first tank and cut wires leading to demolitions. Lt. Nutter was killed after completing his task.

Tanks of the 68th rumbling across the span were commanded by 1st Lt. Vernon L. Edwards, Collinsville, Ill., who braved artillery fire, tank and flak guns to help save the bridge by neutralizing two rocket-launcher teams with his machine gun. He was killed by a sniper, leaving the responsibility of tank defense to S/Sgt. Everett H. Tourjee, Catskill, N.Y.

Germans used every conceivable weapon to rain hellish fire on the bridge, inflicting heavy casualties on the 80th Inf. Div. and 9th Inf. Bn. After smoke was laid to screen operations, Col. Hines, son of the former U.S. Army Chief of Staff, went forward and organized GIs for the hazardous crossing.

Elements of CC B had two bridges blown almost in their faces before 1st Lt. Frederick E. Titterington, Glen Falls, N.Y., 25th Engr., discovered the span near Sanry intact. With Sgt. Ray McCrary, Ft. Smith, Ark.; T/5 Francis A. Bolton, Philadelphia and T/5 Paul K. Smith, Monroe, Tenn., protecting him as he drove a half-track to test the bridge's surface, Titterington rode halfway across, then dismounted. Reaching Into the swollen river, he cut the lead wires. The bridge was saved.

Lt. Col. Donald G. Williams, Kansas City, Mo., Div. Engr., rushed tanks to exploit the bridgehead. By nightfall, elements were across and in one of the hottest artillery spots in the Metz area. For their action, Hines, Nutter, Titterington, Edwards and Cunningham were awarded the DSC.

Another DSC was won by Capt. Clarence E. Prenevost, Red Lake Falls, Minn., commander of Co. B, 15th Tank Bn., who was shot through the chest while leading his dismounted tankers to clear a minefield. Knocked off his feet, he resumed leadership, ordered wounded evacuated and briefed platoon leaders before allowing himself to be evacuated.

RIDGEHEADS at Baudrecourt and Remilly were established later, and Herny, Vatimont and Arraincourt were taken in rough action. Forces under Col. Davall found out just how persistent Germans could be about losing a town, Nov. 14.
[6th Armored: Engineers Build Bridge]

Tank-infantry forces had taken Landroff after much resistance. That night Nazis counter-attacked four times. The final attack, made in battalion strength, succeeded in getting Krauts into the town, and the ensuing hand-to-hand battle lasted until daylight.

ONFUSION in the darkness made effective use of weapons difficult. The defenders fought bare-handed, commanded by Maj. (then Capt.) Daniel E. Smith, Memphis, Tex., 68th Tanker, who received a DSC for this engagement. By morning the situation was under control.

This was the action anywhere along the Nied River. It meant men like Cpl. Robert R. Newman, 69th Tanker, Waterfall, Pa., who destroyed four bazooka teams with his tank machine gun, extinguished a turret fire, evacuated wounded, then pumped more lead into the enemy.

T/5 Roberto M. Martinez, 76th Medics, Brownsville, Tex., saved three seriously wounded men and five other casualties by evacuating them from a burning ammunition truck just before it exploded.

Second Lt. Edward B. Ledford, 212th FA, Lomax, Ill., when a fellow officer was mortally wounded, advanced to reach a radio, directed fire that silenced enemy guns.

S/Sgt. Walter R. Fick, Vergas, Minn., and Pvt. Clarence M. Smith, Pasadena, Calif., of the 603rd TD, knocked out a mortar crew with carbines, captured 37 prisoners.

The division assisted in taking Bertring, Gros-Tenquin, Hellimer, Diffembach, Fremestroff, Hemering, Leyviller and St. Jean Rohrbach within the next eight days, but there was no letup in the Nazis' tenacity. The 9th Inf., under Col. Britton, did a superior job in cleaning the woods of Krauts north of Leyviller.
[6th Armored: Ammunition Supply]

The division outpost line extended through Puttelange and Henriville when Remering, Morsbronn, Hilsprich, Barst-Marienthal, Cappel, Hoste-Bas and Hoste-Haut fell. Capture of that area prepared the way for the final ten miles between Henriville and the Saar River.

CC A with task forces under Lt. Col. Charles E. Brown, Tacoma, Wash., 44th Inf., and Col. Wall, 50th Inf., advanced to positions overlooking the Saar, giving GIs their first view of Germany.

More heroic acts came to light. First Sgt. George P. Rimmer, 50th Inf., Cincinnati, ordered his platoon to lay low when artillery zeroed in, rescued four wounded men from drowning in the water where they were lying. Pvt. Thomas E. Clark, 15th Tanker medic, Silver City, N.C., braved withering fire in crossing a bridge five times to evacuate wounded. Driving to an aid station, his ambulance struck a mine. Clark was killed, the wounded were saved.

S/Sgt. Irvin C. Shoemaker, 86th Recon, Hyde Park, Pa., ran 75 yards under heavy shelling, evacuated a wounded GI, carried him 50 yards on his back to safety, then returned to lead his platoon in crushing a counter-attack.

T/Sgt. Frederick L. Thek, 9th Inf., Greentown, Pa., and his eight-man squad held a shallow bridgehead across the Nied for 12 hours against overwhelming odds until reinforced.

HE 128th FA was the first division unit to fire into Germany. The 86th Recon. commanded by Maj. Harry C. Brindle, Huntington, W.Va., not only was the first unit to move into the Vaterland but also had the unusual experience of patrolling in Germany to observe the enemy in France.

There was much more than appeared on the record. Never to be forgotten, for instance, was the day in the Han-Sur-Nied area when the 603rd TD Bn., commanded by Lt. Col. Clarence D. McCurry, Memphis, Tenn., ran into enemy tanks. The platoon of 1st Lt. Edward Snyder, Bentleville, Pa., kayoed ten and touched off a battalion spree that boosted the total to over 30 in two weeks.

Artillery enjoyed praise from its severest critics—doughfeet and tankers. Col. Riley's battalions, the 128th of Lt. Col. Thomas R. Bruce, Mexico, Mo.; the 212th of Lt. Col. Phillip H. Pope, Washington, D.C.; and the 231st of Lt. Col. Thomas M. Crawford, Salisbury, N.C., who replaced Lt. Col. Robert S. Perkins, Maryville, Mo., injured on the Brest run.

Playing a major role in the success of every attack was the 146th Armd. Signal Co., which strung an average of 350 miles of wire a month and maintained a high standard of communications in all signal channels under difficult tactical and climatic conditions.

O describe the division's operations adequately would necessitate telling the story of every man who participated in the powerful Super Sixth thrusts. It is the story of every team, from division to squads, fulfilling missions because of ability, fortitude and will.
[6th Armored: Tank Advance]

The roll call of the gallant is long. It must be or the Super Sixth never could have carved out its remarkable record. When the division passed its third anniversary on Feb. 15, 1945 in its sixth month of combat, 141 men had received Silver Stars; 737, Bronze Stars; 15, direct battlefield commissions. Three had earned an oak leaf cluster to their Silver Stars: Capt. George W. Fry, 44th Inf., Columbus, Ga.; T/Sgt. John A. LaQuinta, 44th Inf., McKees Rock, Pa.; Lt. Peake, 128th FA.

The road had been long with many obstacles. But in every case pitfalls like the meeting engagements of Brittany, battles around Nancy, mud of the Saar, and cold and snow of Bastogne were overcome.

During all this concentrated action, one common thread ran through the variety of missions: complete success. Success that helped open a liberation path from Brest to Bastogne on a road aimed for Berlin!

[6th Armored: Inside Rear Cover, The Team]
[6th Armored: Rear Cover, Brittany Was Like This]

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