3rd Battalion
272nd Infantry Regiment

Lt. Col. Edward Thompson
Battalion Commander

Maj. Blackburn Stephens
Exec Officer, 3rd Bn.
1L t. Donald J. Alderson S2 officer, 3rd Bn 1Lt Donald F Spry  S4 Officer 3rd Bn. Capt. George D. La Moree S3 Officer,  3rd Bn Capt John R Montgomery S1 Officer, 3rd Bn


      Now that we have made, and therefore are, a part of history, we cannot help but trace in retrospect the history of the 3rd Battalion from its early days on the Continent up to its final smashing climax and the end of the war with Germany.  Serious business.  It was and still is.  Being away from home and one’s loved ones is no fun, but we, as Americans, do have the happy faculty of being able to adjust ourselves and our thinking to any and all situations – good or bad as they may be.  Certainly, even as serious as the past months have been from an overall picture, there have been many moments of levity.  Laughs in the 3rd Battalion have been neither too few nor too far between.  It is the purpose here to present the inevitably histrionic side of the 3rd Battalion’s adventures in Europe.

     Our D-Day fell late in January 1945, off Le Havre, France.  Do not think that H-hour was not well sweated out.  How could it be helped, being packed in on that Channel crossing like sardines?  All right, the 3rd Battalion didn’t make the shore in the first wave, but it was made from an LST (Landing Ship Transport), and those duffle bags caused plenty of trouble getting up the beach. 

     The remark, “That truck ride,” will never refer to any but the one from Le Havre in open trucks.  “Standing room only” and “Destination unknown” are both understatements, although the application is sufficient.  If people scoff at your tale of standing on only one foot during an eight-hour ride at night in a blinding snowstorm while the convoy was lost, any doctor will admit it is possible if the near-corpse is frozen stiff. 

     Leaving the Château de Vallalet, an 18th-century edifice that had seen rough usage under the Boche occupation, and the surrounding area of Romescamp and Gaillefontaine, the Battalion squeezed into boxcars that jerked along for days.  No fiendish torture device could have left the Battalion’s body in worse shape.  At last, the arrival was made at port, and the historic events of the present 3rd Battalion began with a muddy boot, a sloppy tent, and the foreign sounds of “Oui, oui” and “Cidre.”  Known to the more erudite as Montigny-le-Franc, the Tent City was cussed up and down by all concerned, including the numerous replacements who formed the genuine fighting strength of the Battalion.  With the exception of one group of all-essentials, everyone had a few swallows of life in the raw.  The amphibious training here consisted of building piers, causeways and breakwaters in a futile effort to conquer the mud, so that the men still without overshoes wouldn’t have to swim through the chow line. 

     No one was angry to march away in the rain from that place, even though boxcarring again to Verviers presented itself.  From Laon to Reims, here and there through a million nameless burgs, K-rations and ten-in-one turned the nights into days and the days into sleepless nights again.  Comfort was a sideline, but the constant expectancy of something about to happen minimized reality into a shapeless pulp of sleep, cussing, joking, and horsing around in general.  On the French border, les Femmes Belgiques gave welcome by displaying their various wares.  As usual, American cigarettes and chocolate spoke their international language.  This was the Battalion’s last flick of a circular farce known as civilization for some time to come; little did anyone realize it.  Hope for a near peace was naturally in every human mind. 

     At the first bivouac in Belgium, it snowed and rained.  Doubtless the reason was that everyone who had a double-end shelter half was paired with someone who had a single-end one.  After a few days, however, the Battalion again moved to Losheimergraben where the perennial lucky star exerted itself – Corp Reserve, at least, was the lot.  Here, one day, all the ODs [Olive drabs], except the pair being worn, were turned in along with the multiplicity of other unnecessary equipment.  As fate would have it, some planes were having it out overhead; the awe-inspiring yammer of their guns echoed through the trees like nothing that had been heard before.  Men dove for holes, slit trenches, or anything that may have resembled cover.  The result: no casualties from the airplanes, but everyone had muddy Ods.  Lots of laughter is still to be heard among the CP (Command Post) personnel of M Company when they recall 1st Sgt Embree’s frantic efforts to pull a barracksbag over his head.  It was there that Bates of K Company made his flying leap into the dugout when we were attacked.  There were already six men jammed into the small space, but somehow, with the aid of that pungent fright, he managed to squeeze his large frame inside.  These incidents created a rare interest in dugouts and overhead shelters that  carried all the way to Witzenhausen.  At Losheimergraben, the Battalion also had its initiation to the art of sitting out artillery fire.  The pressing question was, “Are they coming in or going out?”  In addition, Jerry patrols were in the area.  S Sgt. Massa of King (K Company) fired at a member who had a wooden leg; the bullet didn’t even faze him. 

     On moving into positions opposite the Siegfried Line, the Battalion climbed the muddiest, steepest and longest hills in our history.  The going was so rough that walking on knees was nothing unusual.  Even though there was a possibility that the shoulders were mined, everyone had to stop for occasional breaks on the way up.  The entire Battalion started off in regular formation, but within an hour each company was spread over at least 800 yards.  In another month, though, the troops were to wish that they could have gotten that much dispersion. 

    At Kamberg, the Battalion received its first real baptism of fire, with no wish remaining for further communion.  The troops were told what to expect and what to look for by the group being relieved.  They gave constructive and helpful advice.  This in itself gave everyone a feeling of confidence; the men were getting first-hand information from the boys who knew. 

     The first day there, a patrol of Lt’s Cox and Young, Sgt Johnson, Pfc's Hagquist, Fulcher, and Schellman of King were pinned down by mortar and 88 fire.  Two days later, 2nd Lt Entzminger, leading his 1st Platoon patrol, was caught in the crossfire of two pillboxes.  The Lieutenant observed the enemy position 200 yards to his immediate front and, upon ordering his patrol to withdraw to safety, he remained in a forward, exposed position, calling for and adjusting artillery fire upon the enemy pillboxes.  Although subject to danger from friendly artillery as well as enemy small-arms fire, he remained in the position until after the supporting artillery barrage was lifted.  Immediately after the barrage, while shifting his position, he was mortally wounded by enemy small-arms fire.  Two others were wounded, and several men of the Platoon distinguished themselves by their efficient and courageous leadership. 

      Immediately afterwards, 1st Lt Coppock was ordered to take out a Battle Patrol of four enlisted men to determine the strength of the enemy in the immediate front of his position from which artillery, Nebelwerfer and intense machine-gun fire were being received across the entire Regimental front.  Lt Coppock pursued his task with such vigor and disregard for danger that, during the night, he succeeded in penetrating 1,200 yards from the Siegfried defenses into the enemy position.  Having collected the information he sought, he then led his patrol safely back with vital information necessary for military operations.  As a result of 1st Lt Coppock’s action and report, a decision was reached in higher headquarters that greatly accelerated the advance of our troops through this sector. 

     Upon moving on line, March 3, 1945, the 3rd Platoon of Item (I) Company was given the mission of occupying two forward houses, the main purpose of which was to function as an observation post.  All movements to and from the houses had to be made during darkness, as both houses were under direct observation of enemy pillboxes about 800 yards to the front. 

     The houses were reached and occupied with a minimum of activity.  The men did not have to wait long to find out they were in a hot spot.  An automatic weapon broke the dead silence of the night with its staccato bark.  Following close on the heels of the first burst came the explosion of heavy mortar shells.  Then, as if adding insult to injury, the pillboxes opened up with a few rounds from the 88s.  That night – the first in combat for the majority of the Battalion – was the most nerve-wracking of the entire combat experience.  Actually, the heavy firing lasted only a short time, but hours seemed to flit away until the night resumed its natural stillness. 

     The I Company outpost, being the nearest to the enemy and the logical jumping-off point for many patrols, was an excellent position from which to observe and pass on information of the enemy’s movements.  The outpost kept in contact with Battalion CP, Item CP, and the patrols.  Observers there had a blow-by-blow description of our men venturing into enemy territory for the first time.  The calm, precise messages sent back by these patrols assured all that the outfit was to be a successful one. 

     Many enemy patrols were reported in the area, but were not seen until the second day at Kamberg.  There, suddenly, advancing towards the outpost about 200 yards away, was a Jerry patrol.  After being reported to Battalion, mortar fire was laid down in the vicinity.  It turned out to be a very unsuccessful patrol for Jerry. 

     Third night at Kamberg was the busiest for the outpost.  At about 2130, the King (K) Patrol returned, bearing two casualties.  About midnight, the demolitions patrol of T Sgt Farley came by the OP (Operations Post) for last-minute instructions before jumping off on their attempt to blow up the pillboxes.  The patrol soon left and returned about 0300 with their mission accomplished.  The outpost had front-row seats for this exhibition, and can testify that those boys did a good job. 

     In addition, Item Company is justly proud of its Aid Men.  Their deeds shine brightly through the darkness as memories take the place of battle life.  One day, as mortar shells were coming in pretty thick, Jenkins of Item was wounded.  Out there could be seen the figure of a man running swiftly and without hesitation – Mike DiCubellis.  A medic was needed, and mortar fire or not, Mike was going to where he was needed.  In just a moment he had reached the fallen Doughboy.  Working feverishly in a field where individual movement meant danger, the Medic never flinched, seemingly not realizing that death flew through the air with each burst.  After the engagement, he remarked, “Didn’t have time to dig in.  The guy was hurt bad; had to work fast.” 

     The Communications Section must be praised especially for its fine job at Kamberg.  Although harried by mortar fire day and night, the lines between the rear and forward CPs and each line company were in service at all times.  The whole week at Kamberg was, as one man put it, a thin solution of night.  We were like owls, having eyes only for darkness. 

     Leapfrogging nimbly over the last perimeter of the Siegfried line, the Battalion took Dahlem, our first town, in a walk – literally – and what a walk.  The troops were loaded down like a convoy of one-man bands.  Mind you, at that time, it was mostly GI equipment, not boodle! 

     Leaving Waldorf, the Battalion went on First Army Security Guard al the way to Stolberg and Aachen, big cities wrecked by American bombing.  This meant working with engineer guards with white SGs on their helmets.  This was the Battalion’s chance to get in on some of the luxuries of rear echelon – beer, movies, showers.  That good deal was over in five days, and the Battalion crossed the Rhine in trucks on the 28th of March. 

     Arriving in the ancient town of Arzbach near the Lahn River late at night, the Battalion settled down for a few days with little action except intensive patrolling of the area.  For the next week, the Battalion moved by vehicle or foot from town to town, trying to catch up with the Krauts.  Leaving the town of Dehrn, which is memorable for the 100 slave workers who were living in a lice-infested seven-room house, the troops rode the TDs (Tank Destroyers) and other vehicles 100 miles to Lohne without incident.  The second day at Lohne, the order came for a march to Altenstadt and surrounding villages, a 10-mile jaunt with full field and boodle.  Everyone soon swore off, “No more loot.”  

     An early call the following morning started the Battalion on its unforgettable 28-mile march to Kassel, even though aching and blistered feet characterized the day.  The men made it, however, and pulled into Bettenhausen on the outskirts of Kassel.  Nevertheless, boodling that night took sheer guts.  The troops had not been so exhausted since the aftermath of forced marches at Camp Shelby. 

     The next day, relieving the 80th Division, the 2nd Platoon of Love (L Company) led as the point of a Regimental attack.  The Battalion pulled up east of Kassel near Uschlag, taking over German flack huts with a country manor house for Headquarters for the night.  Next day, April 7, the Battalion hiked and rode to Hubenrode, where the 2nd Platoon of Love took off with the Battalion’s Battle Patrol on TDs to clear the next town. 

     As luck would have it, the TDs took the wrong road, even though the right one appeared not to have been used for years.  In the meantime, 1st Lt Alderson, Blue 2, and a patrol for the Battalion I & R Section – S Sgt Fox and Pfc’s Solheim, Plan and Manning – followed the TDs in a jeep toward the objective.  Arriving at the crossroads, the I & R Patrol took the correct road, thus placing them in a position much nearer the town.  Stopping about halfway down the valley, the patrol got out of the jeep to observe through field glasses.  Immediately, they were fired upon by enemy small arms.  The volley was so intense that the Patrol could not regain the jeep.  The men had to crawl through a muddy ditch for 1,000 yards until they were out of observation.  The Patrol then started back up the hill, only to meet the TDs and troops who had now realized their mistake and returned to the correct path. 

     The Battle Patrol, again under the leadership of 1st Lt Coppock, took off on foot as the point to determine the strength of the enemy defending the town.  After carefully groping its way into the quickly darkening streets, the Battle Patrol soon reported back to Lt McDonald of the 2nd Platoon of Love that the town was deserted of enemy troops.  The entire group moved in.  Everything was quiet, no shots fired; the civilians, unaware of the movement, were still asleep. 

     Twenty minutes after the 2nd Platoon moved into the center of town, the supporting TDs rolled in.  A large barnyard had been selected for their assembly area.  As the Platoon was standing in the shelter of a building waiting for its billets to be vacated, a terrific explosion shook the entire town.  The concussion sent many sprawling in every direction. 

     “Medic, Medic!” and the 2nd Platoon Medic, Doc Watson, was on the job with the wounded.  Checking up, it was revealed that one of the TDs had fired a 76-mm shell less than a foot over the GIs’ heads.  One man was seriously burned from the muzzle blast, and another suffered severe bruises. 

     Guards were posted, and tired Doughboys went to bed.  Another engagement and another “Hell, that was close!” 

     The following morning, the entire Battalion moved up to take over the bridgehead made on the Werra River by the 1st Battalion.  Here, under the heaviest artillery that the Battalion was ever to experience, the Headquarters took adequate shelter in the cellar of a large building that grew into the side of the cliff opposite the bridge.  True, the place was crowded, stuff, and dank; yet no one noticed, intent as they were with expectancy of another shell.  Round after round came in.  The Battalion was pinned town and for a short time couldn’t move.  Hq Co (Headquarters Company) lost five men in the fracas – two dead, three wounded.  In M Company, Lt Sodorff was wounded, and four vehicles were put out of action. 

     Many GIs from the line companies sought protection from the artillery fire in a large factory used as a storage house for strawberry jam and preserves.  In the short period of respite between the rounds coming in, many jars of jam were polished off, proving that even 88s couldn’t dull a healthy GI appetite.  Fortunately, the warehouse was never hit; the men managed to have jam on their flapjacks and bread for weeks. 

     In the atmosphere of the cellar at the bridgehead, the men of Hq Co discovered their most sensational haul, a huge cache of champagne and some other incidental wines which nobody even bothered to touch.  In the rear of the cellar, cases were stacked to the rock ceiling.  This was very unfortunate for the officers, since they were all assembled up forward, pursuing the necessary business of the plans for battle.  For the EM (enlisted men), however, with time on their hands and trying to forget the grim proceedings outside that had already wrought casualties, this was exactly what was ordered.  The first attempt at the cases revealed only glassware, but the second brought to light the now-familiar, silver-capped bottles wrapped in straw coverings.  

     For five hours, Hq Co sat there and drank the luscious beverage.  Bottle after bottle was downed, ever tippler secure in the knowledge that Col Buie himself was directing operations vi a line that had been laid by the 3rd Battalion’s on-the-ball wire team, 1st Lt Martin and T-5 Ellis.  All the instructions sent and received that day had to go over that telephone.  It was a vital line. 

     The enemy guns were finally silenced.  A flush of the town’s civilians, among whom were enemy artillery observers, effected the action.  All was clear; the Battalion swept forward.  However, the treasure of champagne was scarcely touched.  In keeping with the Army cry for less wastage in any category, cases were dragged out and lifted into trucks, jeeps, TDs and Recon (Reconnaissance) Cars.  The Engineers who had been working on the bridge got a well-deserved share, as did those from all the attached units.  People ran in and out with bottles bulging under combat jackets.  The celebrated reply was made to an officer’s inquiry as to what all this stuff was.  “Oh, sir, just grenades!” 

     Message Center Rear was the last element of the Battalion to leave the vicinity of the bridgehead.  Sgt Kline, T-5’s Hartshone and Bertrand, Pfc Napier, and Pvt McClone struggled and heaved to lift a case onto their trailer.  The load was not a light one.  Scarcely had they succeeded when a lone Jerry plane zoomed over and began to strafe.  The boys dove back into the cellar, wondering if a burst of fire would ruin all their efforts and completely wreck their morale as well.  However, Ack-Ack fire drove off the attack, and the jeep set out for the forward CP.  By this time, dusk had fallen, and the going was tough, since of course no lights were permitted.  The champagne, bouncing around the top of the trailer, was almost lost on a particularly rough stretch of road, but happily it saw fit not to slide off.  By this time, the boys were in the mood to let it lay once it fell.  Pitch dark when the CP was reached, the case was set down in the hall, and the next morning the wine was passed out. 

     For two days, Communications, along with the rest of the company who had brought their own, had the stuff for breakfast, dinner and supper.  At times, it was a rather strange combination with plebian K-rations. 

     Incidentally, all this could have been one reason that the Jerry counter-attack failed that night. 

      Blasting themselves away from the bridgehead with the aid of tanks, the first town, Eichenberg, was taken in the steady stride of Love (L) Company; King was left to mop up.  Again Love strode off as point, and the second town, Hebenhausen, was  taken in the same manner, leaving I Company for the cleaning up this time.  For the third time, Love, under command of Capt Benard, continued on to the third and last objective for the day in 3, 1, 2, 4 platoon formation.  The Company was subjected to Tiger tank fire from Hebenhausen to the objective, Nieder-Gandern, at the same time bypassing the town of Berge.  Under the constant 88 fire, the company took the objective, pushing straight through the town to an anemic creek called the Leine River.  Here, Love Company deployed in defensive positions, and the Battalion Headquarters set up in the home of a Baroness who made the caustic remark, “I don’t mind turning my home over to Americans; I know they’re gentlemen.” 

     The retreating Tiger tanks at this stage – being well hidden in the next town a short distance away – concentrated their fire on Love Company as it was digging in.  The 2nd Platoon sustained two casualties. KIA were Sgt. William C. Shwartz, Assistant squad leader and Pfc. Strawder H. Tifton, rifleman.  Also, KIA that night, or the next morning,  were Pfc. Roger E. Washburn, Rifleman, and Pvt. Marshall D. Hooie, bazooka man, 4 Love Company KIAs in a short period. T Sgt Phillips, being on the alert, directed Aid man Doc Watson to the injured men.  Lt McDonald, in the meantime, in disregard to the 88 fire, was endeavoring to get our artillery directed on the enemy.  A period of time after this, a German ambulance was spotted, coming from the town occupied by the Tiger tanks and bearing the white flag of surrender.  In reaching our lines, it was immediately taken over to evacuate our wounded.  1st Lt Daniels of Hq Co, on calling for volunteers, was quickly answered by T Sgt Young, S Sgt Starley, Pfc Alfred, and Pfc Trujillo who, acting as litter bearers, crossed to the field under fire and evacuated the wounded.  The success of this operation was credited wholly to the 2nd Platoon runner and messenger, Pfc Andras, who, seeing the opportunity, acted quickly and took off under heavy fire to intercept the ambulance across the bridge at the Co CP, from whence he returned with the litter bearer team to the injured men. 

     Later that night, S Sgt Corley halted an unidentified vehicle, which was an enemy tank carrying foot troops.  He called for the tank to halt and was fired upon at a range of about 10 feet.  In spite of this fire, S Sgt Corley stood his ground and returned fire, causing the tank to halt and wheel.  The Sergeant then directed the fire of his squad upon the tank and the foot troops who were trying to get off the tank.  In the ensuing firefight, six Germans were killed, two were wounded and six others were taken prisoner.  The enemy later attacked with two tanks, one armored personnel carrier and about 20 troops mounted on bicycles.  S Sgt Corley’s squad opened fire and in the ensuing fight, 18 Germans were killed and 19 taken prisoner.  S Sgt Corley must be commended for his brilliant leadership, and the spirit and manner in which all of L Company executed their duty was exemplified by the entire success of this whole operation.  

     Early the next morning, the Battalion bypassed all the dead Krauts who had counterattacked during the night.  King Company led over a circuitous route, through the woods and onto the road.  One sniper was flushed out by the lead squad under S Sgt Smith, Sgt Jonassen and Pfc Tarkington, and in the second town, 21 men were captured and 10 wounded or killed.  The light machine gun section of the 4th Platoon of King accounted for one man.  Along the way, M Company caught a group of the Boches running up a hill.  The HMGs (Heavy Machine Guns) gave ‘em the hot foot, and the Company proceeded unmolested, leaving behind over a dozen dead Krauts.  That night was spent in almost forgotten comfort, complete with soft beds and electric lights in Heiligenstadt. 

     A few days later, as the leaking element, Mike (M) Company ran into trouble on the outskirts of Bad Kösen when the vehicles were fired upon.  The heavy weapons task force went into action and, without benefit of riflemen, but assisted by a Tank Platoon from the adjacent Third Army unit, proceeded to knock out all opposition.  The HMGs, the Mortars, and the FA (Field Artillery) tore up two hills, burned a few buildings, captured some prisoners.  The best job of the day, however, was the destruction of a particularly menacing roadblock.  Expertly done in a minimum time and with maximum effect, it was blown by Tec 5 Hutchison and a few of the other men from the A & P[?] Platoon from Headquarters Company.  All in all, the Battalion earned the rest it had that night in Naumburg and the surrounding area. 

     The town of Naumburg was quiet.  The troops had wonderful billets and plenty of wine and food for everyone.  By the usual organic methods, the troops then moved to Kottochau, where the advance was held up three days, clearing the final path to Leipzig. 

     It was while in the vicinity of Theissen that an incident occurred which the Battle Patrol will never forget.  It was that day when the angels sang and little devils stoked their fires a little too soon.  Civilian reports reached Headquarters that a huge flack position on the outskirts of Theissen, a town not yet cleared, was being held by a handful of Germans.  So few Krauts were there, it was reported, that a squad could easily occupy the position.  The 3rd Battalion Battle Patrol was detailed to find out exactly what the hill had. 

     Upon gained an auxiliary position 1,000 yards from the hill, plans were being made within the Patrol for advancing up to the flack guns.  Suddenly, however, seven prisoners started streaming out from a nearby village which had not been occupied.  As one of them spoke English, he was immediately interrogated.  It was learned that not a handful but the remains of three batteries of Krauts were intent upon a defense-to-the-last of their position.  This was reported, and the Patrol was ordered back to the CP.  Five minutes later – had not the additional information been learned – the Patrol would have started its attack up the hill.  Next morning, the tanks rolled up the streets of Theissen.  The Doughs of Item and Love Companies piled on, few of them knowing exactly what was up. Unknown to the Infantry, the boys of the 880 FA just over the hill were getting their orders too.  The tanks, with passengers, rumbled through the chilly morning. 

     Captains Sewell and Benard issued the orders for the attack formation.  They moved out to the edge of town to wait.  Then they saw the objective: a large scattering of low buildings and gun emplacements on top of the barren hill, only 600 yards to the front.  Their job was to take and destroy it. 

     It was easy to ascertain what the position held.  Dual-purpose 88s, and about 36 in all. 

     The boys eyed it with curiosity.  There were certainly Krauts in there somewhere, although they could not be seen.  The troops got off a good start, crouched behind the tanks, one attacking squad behind each tank.  There were 10 tanks in all, five for Item and five for Love, who now took up the right flank.  It was quiet for a minute or two, but the artillery soon cut loose.  The first shell landed to the left, the second to the right, and the third right on the target.  The FA men outdid themselves.  Buildings flew apart.  Guns shook on their platforms.  Ammunition dumps blew sky-high.  The Doughs could hear the swoosh of their own heavy mortars as they went into action behind them. 

     There were five TDs deployed on the right flank, giving flanking fire, something that everyone appreciated.  The troops moved up behind the tanks to about 200 yards from the first building.  Our tanks gave the Jerries hell-at-close-quarters.  The order to move forward came over the 300 radio, and two platoons fanned out from behind the tanks, which looked like a sea wave rolling towards a rocky shore.  If the Doughs did not know what a Dual Purpose 88 was before, they learned that morning.  A fast-firing Jerry machine gun opened up on the right, but it was quickly dispensed with, as was some sporadic sniper fire.  Fire-from-the-hip-and-keep-firing was the order of the day.  The men knew they had to keep the Krauts down.  As the first row of buildings was hit, all was quiet.  However, two Jerries were picked off while the BAR[?] men put a new ventilating system in the shacks and barracks, just to make sure. 

     One platoon sergeant yelled into a hole: “Deutscher komm heraus!”  A Kraut started out and was followed by 54 more and two female nurses.  More came – plenty more.  Some wounded, a few killed, and the rest scared and shocked from surprise.  However, the troops moved steadily through, pausing only momentarily to detail one or two men to take the prisoners out of the way. 

      All the forward elements moved through the camp and set up a perimeter defense on the far side.  By this time, the tanks had moved in closer and added a bulwark to the outside defense.  Then the men walked back over the rubble and debris that once had been a solid fortification.  The final tally brought the number of PWs (Prisoners of War) to 249.  Little was left to do but go back to the billets, leaving a medic or two to take care of the Kraut wounded.  Our Dogfaces boarded the tanks and took off for chow. 

     Prior to the attack of Leipzig, supplies were moved up.  A great deal of gasoline, some food, but very little mail.  The Division’s attack on Germany’s fifth largest city began. 

     The 3rd Battalion swung to the south, bypassing Leipzig and, after two days, pushed into the city from the east.  The Battalion moved into its sector and promptly cleared it of all opposition, snipers and possible soldiers in civilian clothing.  Then, the troops were themselves at home for a couple of days and managed to eat an enormous quantity of wonderful fresh eggs that were found in a Wehrmacht warehouse. 

     The Battle of Leipzig offered to the mortar men of Company M a chance to engage the Kraut in hand-to-hand combat.  Acting upon information received from an ally, a combat patrol was formed within the company of volunteers, consisting of two Officers and 21 EM.  Starting at 0100, April 19th, and armed mostly with pistols and carbines, they stormed an enemy garrison not knowing what was in store for them.  Taking full advantage of the inky darkness, they were able to liquidate several guards before the alarm was given.  At this point, the Krauts in it, taken mainly by surprise, quickly surrendered.  A German Major was told that 10 times as many men as were actually present, had the place surrounded.  Impressed by this, he agreed to guide the men around to the other barracks and to try to persuade the rest to surrender.  

     While this was going on, many more of the guards were being disarmed by force.  After approximately 140 soldiers had been captured, the Commandant’s house was approached by eight men and the German Major.  The other members of the patrol were busily engaged in flushing out other buildings and guarding the prisoners.  When the Major called out to the guards at the Commandant’s house, all hell broke loose, with automatic and small-arms fire coming from the windows and doorways. 

     During the fierce fight that followed, Lt Raque accounted for one at a maximum range of two inches when he met a Kraut face-to-face while creeping around a hedge.  After this final resistance was overcome, a count showed 187 prisoners taken, with several dead, against the American loss of one Officer’s big toe.  Another fight occurred when the MPs (Military Police) objected to accepting the prisoners, ranging in rank up to a Colonel, in varying stages of undress.  Again the patrol won.  As an aftermath, 10 more volunteers went back at 0900 the same morning and bagged 47 more Krauts.  

     On the evening of April 18th in Leipzig, two squads were given one of those “beats-me-what-the-deal-is” details.  The men, Sgts Plasky and Barnes, and Pvts Feinberg, Clews, Meijicke, Hedges, Dunkin, Shanor, Juarez, Ruane and Miller, reached a group of buildings that were housing thousands of slave laborers.  The task before the squads was the Army nemesis, guard duty.  They no sooner passed through the gate when girls, girls and girls swarmed about them, showering them with kisses.  Needless to say, the men were well pleased as they set up a walking patrol for the night. 

     The activities were climaxed the next morning when a feminine voice was heard rendering some smooth English. The voice belonged to a gal from Boston named the Countess de Maduit, the former Roberta Lorrie of Boston.  She could not believe the Yanks were there until a few cuss words cinched the fact.  The perfect portrait of an overjoyed woman, even though she bore the scars of an unforgettable past, she showed the Love Company the concentration camp.  Tears rolled down the cheeks of the men as they were shown the sea of people subjected to the barbarous treatment.  The worst came when they saw what remained of a building the SS had burned to the ground.  To keep the record of the Krauts straight, they had crowded some 200 patients into it before igniting the fireworks.  The sight was not a pleasant one.  The troops realized that the enemy was all and more than anyone had ever imagined.    

     After our Division’s juncture with the Russians, the Battalion moved to Eilenburg and Sprotta, the latter of which was a farm town whose wide main street was hardly large enough to accommodate all the Krauts who were straggling in to give themselves up.  The Battalion left only when the Russian Army was moved in to relieve it. 

     Under the experienced command of Lt Col Edward J. Thompson, the 3rd Battalion of the “Battle Axe Regiment” had proven itself well in combat.  Over hill, trails, and to the magnificent woods that spelled digging, smoky fires, makeshift shelters and excitement, the 3rd Battalion has caught in its wake of fire, memories that surround themselves with flesh and blood, with hope and sorrow, and with laughs and experience.  During that time, a Battalion changed from a carefree, bivouac-inured herd to a confident, battle-tried team of fighting men.  Only one medium can effect the change; only one process can bring about the metamorphosis.  That one process is war.  The actual struggle of meat and bone remains, as through the centuries, the unique method of shaping troops from the whims and idiosyncrasies of rear echelon to the positive qualities need to fight a battle.  The way has been hard; it could have been harder.  A spirited Battalion now exists that will function well under any conditions.


Typed from "History of 272 Infantry Regiment"
July 15, 2003 by Editor Amy Rose