Allied Action in Southern Holland
The 2nd Armored Division was commanded by General Brooks up until 12 Sept.1944, Gen. Ernest Harmon then became the new commanding general of the Division. The make up of the 2nd Armored Division at this time was as follows:
Command Combat "A" -Commanded by Col. John H. Collier. consisted of the following:
Task Force # 1: Which included 67th AR (less 1st & 2nd Bns., Rcn.Co. & Maint. Co) 3rd Bn. 41st AIR (less Co. "G"), 3rd Plat. Co. "B", 17th AR Engr. Bn., 1st Plat. Co. "B" 702nd TD Bn (SP). Task Force # 2: included 41st AIR (less 3rd Bn) (plus1 Co. each 1st & 2nd Bns.), 2nd Bn. 67th AR ( with Co. 41st AIR Atchd), 2nd Plat. Co. "B". 702nd TD (SP), Co. "C" Plat AR 17th Engr Bn. CC "B" Reserve:. Consisted of the following;: ;Hq. CC "B", 1st Bn. 67th AR, Co. "G" 41st AIR., Co. "B:"17 Arm'd. Engr. Bn., (less 2 Plats) , 702nd TD (SP) (less Co. "A" & 2 Plats. Co. "B"). Reconnaissance Co. 67th AR., Artillery: 78th Arm'd FA Bn., 92nd Armd FA Bn., Btry.. "A", 195th AAA, AW Bn. (SP). Trains: Co. "B" 48th Arm'd Med. Bn., "A" Trains, CC: "B".
67th Armored Regiment 2nd Armored Division: Holland action
HQ & HQ Company: (Colonel Paul A. Disney)
First Battalion: Tank Company’s: "A ", " B " & " C "
Second Battalion: Tank Company’s: " D ", " E " & "F "
Third Battalion: Tank Company’s: " G ", " H " & " I "
HQ & HQ Company: ( 15 - 20 September 1944 ) (Colonel Paul A. Disney)
Late in the evening of 15 September 1944 the company moved out following the Division Artillery and crossed the Albert Canal at Canne, Belgium, just east of the famous Fort Eben Emael, about midnight. Just beyond the Albert Canal they crossed from Belgium into Holland, adding another country to their growing list. Pulling off the road about one mile west of the city of Maastricht the Company waited until daylight and proceeded through that city crossing the Meuse on another pontoon bridge and set up the Regimental Command Post about 2 miles east of the river.( 16 Sept. ) The enemy was stiffening his resistance now, with his own country’s border at his back. The forward elements drove relentlessly ahead and the next day (17 Sept. ) the Company moved to Meerssen, a distance of about 7 miles. Just after dark 4 Germans were discovered near the Command Post by Staff Sergeant Riggs, when they attempted to run Riggs fired his tommy gun wounding one and taking the others prisoner. In the morning (18 Sept.) the Company moved to Sweikhuizen about 10 miles north where Captain William H. Schlifke joined the Headquarters taking over the duties of Graves Registration and Prisoners of War evacuation. The forward elements of the Regiment had crossed the German border, the first troops of the division reached German soil. Headquarters Company moved to Wintraak on the 19th and on the 20th after the Regiment had been relieved moved back to Klimmen, Holland, about 1 mile east of Valkenburg. They remained in this area until the 4th of October. The time was spent on maintenance and rehabilitation. The men had a chance to see movies, the first time most for most of them since leaving England. The kitchen, band, and supply section were brought up and " B " rations were issued the kitchen. Everyone had a chance to relax somewhat and enjoy a few comforts while they could for they knew full well the big task still lay ahead.
First Battalion: (9 - 20 September 1944) (Lieutenant Colonel Clifton B. Batchelder)
In the evening of 9 September 1944 the Battalion moved to an area near Neerveld, south of Herck La Ville. Outposts and patrols were maintained, but no enemy contact was established. The battalion remained in this bivouac until the 14th of September, when it moved to an area just southwest of the Albert Canal in the vicinity of Maastricht. On the 17th , the Battalion, still Division Reserve, crossed the canal and the river, moved through Maastricht to an area 3 miles north of the city. Here orders were received to attack along the Maastricht-Sittard highway to seize the railroad and the surrounding territory at the point where the highway crossed it just south of Sittard. As the attack jumped off, " D " Company under Captain Lester M. Rice deployed to the right of the road, with " H " Company under Lieutenant William H. Hough on the left. " A " company with the mortars and assaults was in support of both elements initially. While deploying, the tanks were attacked by enemy anti-tank guns. " D " and " H " Company lost each 3 tanks before the guns were silenced. While rounding up prisoners, Lieutenant Lee caught a German officer attempting to pull a palm pistol from his shoulder holster. Lee a giant of a man, picked him up and slammed him against the building beside he had lined up the prisoners, breaking his neck and back. Enemy artillery and mortar fire was extremely heavy; one shell burst close to Lee’s tank, wounding two of his crew and inflicting neck and thigh wounds on Lieutenant Lee. Despite his own painful wounds, he picked up his two wounded crew members and carried them down the road ¼ of a mile to the aid station. He then returned to his tank, but the Battalion Commander ordered him to permit himself to be evacuated. The attack continued against bitter opposition. An " A " Company tank was struck by a heavy artillery shell, wounding all of the crew. By nightfall, the objective was secured. In the morning (18 Sept.), the Battalion and attachments proceeded to push toward Sittard, white the objective of securing the high ground to the north of the town. Because of intensity of enemy artillery concentrations, it was decided to leave the rear command post north of Maastricht, and establish a forward command post of the command tank with advanced elements. Lieutenant Francis M. Wilson, in attempting to reach the forward command post , was killed by a German sniper, and his peep driver, Technician Fifth Grade Jesse Sykes, narrowly escaped as a group of enemy riflemen sent slugs whistling into the steering column, the radio, and one of the tires. An enemy plane attempting to strafe the Battalion came a little too low for safety, and was sent crashing in flames by the well-directed 50 caliber fire of the medium tankers. " A " Company’s light tanks with some of the infantry from " A " Company 41st Armored Infantry Regiment, succeeded in pushing their way into town, where they set up security for the night. The enemy had consolidated behind them, and the remainder of the battalion stayed just south of the town until the next day. During the night, one of the " A " Company tanks was knocked out by bazooka fire. Civilians reported that the enemy repaired the tank and drove it away. On 19 September the rest of the force continued into town , and after 12 hours of fighting in the streets succeeded in clearing it. In the meantime, Lieutenant Oliver A. Lewis led his platoon of " A " Company tanks in a dash over the German border to Tuddern, which, with the help of the infantry, they succeeded in capturing and outposting. During this action, Lieutenant Lewis flushed over 300 prisoners from the hedgerows on the outskirts of the town. On 20 September, the Battalion was relieved and moved south to an area 1 ½ miles northeast of Valkenburg, Holland, where it was attached to Combat Command " B ". Here a program of maintenance and rehabilitation was undertaken. Recreational facilities were limited to movies and an occasional camp show. The battalion intensified its training of personnel for the coming campaign to smash through the Siegfried Line into the heart of enemy’s territory.
Second Battalion: (14 - 18 September 1944) (Major James F. Hollingsworth)
On 14 September 1944, less the force that had been sent to the Third Battalion, 41st Armored Infantry Regiment, the Battalion moved at 07.00 hours and closed in another assembly area at 08.20 hours near Vlijtingen, where Company "F" and the light tank platoon joined the Battalion at 10.00 Hours. The were preparing to cross the Albert Canal; all that delayed them was the completion of the bridge at Canne. The bridge collapsed at 19.00 hours and the Battalion remained there all night. Company "G" of the 41st Armored Infantry Regiment joined them at the same time that the rest of the force rejoined. While waiting for the bridge to be put up again the Battalion remained in its present position until 20.00 hours at which time it moved through Kesselt and crossed the Albert Canal at Canne, continuing the march through Maastricht and across the Wilhelms Canal. At about 23.30 hours it crossed the Meuse River (Maas) and moved into an assembly area two miles east of Maastricht at 0200 hours on 16 September. Reports indicated that the enemy was in the immediate vicinity. Patrols were sent out and they returned about 07.00 hours with the information that the bridges were blown and that the Germans were entrenched in the area just north of these bridges. The force attempted to cross the stream at 08.00 hours with a platoon of infantry and a platoon of tanks, but the infantry was held up by heavy, mortar, artillery and small arms fire. The remainder of the infantry was brought up and they were supported by Company "F", the mortar and assault gun platoons, and the artillery. Company "E" and Company "B" remained in reserve. In spite of the heavy fire one platoon of infantry crossed the stream at 13.00 hours and another crossed at 14.00 hours. The engineer platoon began work on a treadway bridge, but the progress was slow because of the heavy incoming fire. A request for air support was fulfilled at 16.00 hours and they bombed and strafed till 18.00 hours. At 20.00 hours the bridge was completed, and the Battalion prepared to hold for the night, using Company "B" light tanks to protect the flanks and to reinforce the infantry and engineers. Prior to crossing the bridge the next morning (17 Sept.) patrols were sent out to determine the enemy's strength. They received heavy small arms fire. At 09.00 hours, watches having been set back one hour, two platoons of medium tanks were across and an attack was launched against the town of St. Gerlach which was captured by 12.00 hours, and the remainder of the Battalion was then brought across. Immediately it pushed toward an objective 1000 yards northeast of St. Gerlach. This was reached at 13.00 hours. It continued toward the second objective, 1000 yards north of objective 1. Company "F" passed through Company "E" which had led the attack to this time. The second objective was attained by Company "F". Patrols were sent out toward the third objective, but reported no contact. Very close air support, commencing at 11.00 hours and continuing through-out the afternoon, helped considerably. An enemy 75 mm anti-tank gun, in ambush, near the first objective scored a hit on the Battalion Commander's tank, causing slight damage and wounding one man. Company "E" destroyed this gun in short order. That night the Battalion set up on the three objectives, splitting its forces to hold them. The next day (18 Sept.) Company "E", reinforced with a platoon of infantry and a platoon of light tanks moved out and crossed the Line of Departure. Company "F", with two platoons of infantry, one platoon light tanks, and one platoon of engineers, followed. Com-pany " F " reached the first objective at 08.00 hours and continued toward objective 2. Light enemy resistance was encountered so Company "F" deployed and the engineers were brought up to repair the bridges in this area. A bridge was found intact and the second objective was gained by enveloping it from the left flank. At 15.00 hours the Battalion moved toward objective 3, and soon occupied it. There the Battalion consolidated and pushed on to objectives 4 and 5. The patrol to objective 4, reported no opposition, but did encounter some light resistance on 5, Wintraak; this opposition withdrew, and the position was taken and secured by 16.30 hours. Preparations were immediately made to attack the sixth objective which was a piece of high ground just to the north of Wintraak and inside the German border. The first platoon of Company "F" commanded by Lieutenant George Adler was the first element of the Battalion to enter German soil, and they quickly gained the high ground which was Objective 6. Thus, the Second Battalion, 67th Armored Regiment became the first unit of the Second Armored Division to enter, conquer and occupy German soil. Company "E" then passed through. Objective 6, led by Lieutenant Kiley who led the attack on Objective 7, the town of Wehr, Germany. Company "E" gained a high hill overlooking the town from the south and cut all roads leading into the town from the east, west and south. As dark-ness fell the Battalion consolidated its positions, again placing its forces in three objectives, 5, 6 and 7. Shortly after dark Lieutenant Colonel John D. Wynne, Battalion Commander, and Lieutenant George Hore, commanding Company "F", while on an inspection tour near the tank destroyer platoon, ran into a series of entrenchments still occupied by the enemy on Objective 6. A short fight at very close range soon ended with several German dead and 24 taken prisoner.
Third Battalion (15 - 20 September 1944) (Lieutenant Colonel Harry L. Hillyard)
On the 15th of September, the Battalion received orders that they, with the 3rd Battalion 41st Armored Infantry Regiment (less Company "G") attached would cross bridges over the Albert Canal and the Meuse River at Maastricht, Holland, and then would push on to the north along road to Sittard until contact was made with the enemy. When the contact was made the unit would coil for the night. Lt. Bobroff , 9th T. A. Force, Air Support Officer, reported with another officer, some enlisted men and a tank to replace W. O. Donald O. Manning who had been acting as Air Support Officer. The Battalion moved out after some delay and the Albert Canal was crossed at about 18.15 hours. The Battalion entered Holland, at 19.00 hours, and continued on thru the city of Maastricht. The streets were packed with the people, dressed in their finest clothes, who had come to bid them welcome to their city and country. The Albert Canal and the Meuse River were crossed on pontoon bridges that had been constructed the previous night and during the day. They continued on along the Maastricht-Sittard highway until the advanced elements were stopped by blown bridges and small arms fire along the Geul River. The Bat-talion coiled for the night and established the necessary blocks and out posts, along the three main river crossings. During the night, the 3rd platoon, Company "B", 17th Engineers, commanded by Lt. Reed, prepared a bridge for the battalion to make the river crossing, amid continual mortar and small arms fire. The bridge was not completed after another bridge was found to be intact a little farther upstream. The next morning (16 Sept.), the battalion was alerted to be prepared to move across the Geul River and support the Infantry companies, then push thru them and continue the attack thru Hoogveld, Holland, and take the high ground near Beek, Holland. At 1330, Company "I", 67th , Armored Regiment with the mortar platoon attached was ordered forward across the river. Company "G", 67th Armored Regiment was attached to the 1st Battalion, 41st Armored Infantry Regiment. Later Company "I" and the mortar platoon were instructed to push forward as quickly as possible and after passing thru the infantry, to secure the high ground at Kruisberg. The remainder of the battalion was ordered to move closer to the bridge and to cross as soon as space was available. After moving to the new area, the battalion halted temporarily, while Company "I" (less 1 platoon), plus the combat elements of the 41st Armored Infantry Regiment moved forward to secure their objective. The 3rd platoon, Co. "I", commanded by 1st Lt. Harry S. Woods, pushed up the Maastricht-Sittard highway, supported by one platoon of infantry and secured the objective. During the attack, 2nd Lt. Tom G. Katsilometes, platoon leader, Company " I ", 67th Armored Regiment, and two infantry officers were killed by artillery fire. During the day the attacking forces captured over one hundred prisoners and destroyed many others. The terrain was very unsuitable for tank warfare because of the impossibility of getting off the road. On the morning of the 17th of September, Company " G ", 67th Armored Regiment was attached to the 1st Battalion, 41st Armored Infantry Regiment for the coming operation. All company commanders reported to the Battalion Command Post for orders at 05.30 hours. At this time orders were issued for the assault force commanded by Lt. Col. Crowley, which consisted of " I " Company, 67th A.R., " H " Company 41st Inf. and the mortar platoons of the 3rd Bn. 67th A.R. and also of the 3rd Bn. 41st Inf., to press the attack along the axis to the objective No. 1 (620 580) and No. 2 (632 582) and be prepared to assist the 67th A. R. force in securing objective No. 3 at (650 585). Company " B " , 702nd T. D. Battalion (less one platoon) was ordered to follow the assault force. This organization would in turn be followed by the advance Command Post, engineer platoon, assault platoon, " C " Company, and " I " Company, 41st Infantry (less one platoon). The rear Command Post and trains were ordered to remain in their present area. The rear guard consisting of one platoon of " I " Company, 41st Infantry and the Assault platoon of the 3rd Battalion was also to remain in the present area. The platoon of " C " Company at the bridge was ordered to be attached, to " A " Company, 41st Infantry. At 10.05 hours, the Battalion was heavily engaged along the line of departure. Heavy fire was received from artillery and direct fire weapons in the north. As this fire was coming in on the left flank, it halted the advance of the Battalion. At this point word was received that the 1st Battalion, 67th A.R., would pass through the Battalion's position and, advance to the N.E. along the Maastricht-Sittard highway. This was accomplished about 13.30 hours. Heavy resistance was encountered by the 1st Bn, 67th A.R., but this action relieved the pressure on this Battalion and enabled them to advance and secure objective 1 at Ulestraten where elements of the 2nd Bn. were also encountered advancing to the north. The Battalion then proceeded to objective No. 2 and on to the town of Oensel which was secured and outposted by 19.30 hours. The results of the day's action were 3 enemy artillery pieces and 3 tanks destroyed; over 200 prisoners captured. Our losses were: one tank disabled, tank can be repaired. During the night Lt. Bert C. Holmes, Reconnaissance platoon leader, while on patrol with two of his 1/4 ton vehicles, ran into a friendly minefield. Lt. Holmes and six enlisted men were evacuated. One 1/4 ton vehicle was destroyed. S/Sgt. Pastierik took over command of the platoon. During the afternoon, an AP shell hit a 67th A. R. Service Company truck parked in the trains area. The shell hit a 75 mm. ammunition cluster, passed through the roof of the truck and on through the windshield into the ground about 10 feet in front of the truck. Personnel standing only three or four feet away were not injured. Lt. Koath A. Beichley, Mortar Platoon leader, was evacuated to the hospital. Staff Sergeant Capbell took over command of the platoon. During the night orders were received from the Division Reserve commander, At 15.10 hours, Lt. Col, Hillyard issued orders for movement of the Battalion to an assembly area in the vicinity of Beek. Upon arriving in this area the Battalion reverted to Combat Command " B " control and was designated as Combat Command " B " reserve. A meeting was held at 11.15 hours to brief organizational commanders. The Battalion again returned to control of the 41st Inf., with the 3rd platoon, " B " Company 17th Engineers and " I " Company 41st Infantry attached and with " G " Company still detached. The Battalion was ordered to move following the 1st Battalion, 41st Infantry, gain contact with this organization, move around it and take objective " A " (town of Limbricht) about 6 miles to the northeast. The order of march was: advance guard, one platoon, " I " Company, 67th , Armored Regiment plus one platoon " I " Company, 41st Infantry with Mortars prepared to protect and extend flanks. The rest of the column was made up of the command group, 17th Engineers platoon, " I " Company 67th Armored Regiment (less one platoon), one platoon " I " Company 41st Infantry, Trains, and infantry platoon as rear guard. Orders were received to move the Battalion forward and find routes to objective " A ". The Battalion moved to the line of departure at 14.00 hours. Commanders were again briefed on the ground and attack ordered to jump off at 16.15 hours. Infantry was dug-in along Berg-Voorstad road. The attack started as scheduled and proceeded without incident except for cleaning up infantry pockets to a point 1000 yards from Guttecoven. At this point orders were received to " cease forward advance and consolidate positions and clean out Krauts ". A force was sent to secure the towns of Limbricht, Einighausen and Guttecoven. The Command Post closed at 20.45 hours. An attempt was made to block road junction at Beukeboom but direct fire from heavy weapons held off the force. A listening post was established. Enemy mines were located at that point. The operations for the day were very successful. 400 enemy prisoners were taken. At least 75 were killed throughout the day. Orders were received at 06.30 hours that the Division would continue the attack to the north and east Combat Command " B " would advance with the 1st Battalion, 41st Infantry, advancing at 07.00 hours to clean out Sittard and continue the attack to the east. The Battalion was to hold the present position until relieved by the 82nd Reconnaissance Battalion. Upon release, the Battalion was to send patrols to Limbricht and Millen to secure Millen. At 11.45 hours the commanding officers were instructed that the 82nd Reconnaissance had taken over the battalion's positions and they could continue their advance to secure Millen. The Battalion was ordered to move into Germany at Millen with following order of march: Covering force, " C " Company (less two platoons), the advance guard made up of one platoon " I " Company, 67th Armored Regiment and one platoon " I " Company, 41st Infantry, the Mortar platoon, the Assault platoon and the Command Post group. The main body consisted of " I " Company, 67th Armored Regiment, " I " Company, 41st Infantry and trains. The rear guard would be the 1st platoon of " I " Company, 41st Infantry. By 12.00 hours, the platoon of " C " Company with the reconnaissance force was at a railroad underpass which was found to be blown. Enemy was spotted along the railroad and a few prisoners were taken. By 12.30 hours, another crossing of the railroad was located. This crossing was made through underpass, and the force continued across country to the site of a double bridge over a canal and stream. At this point Mortar and artillery fire was received. The first bridge was discovered intact but. blocked by logs. 2nd Lt. Peter Kostow dragged the logs away with his tank while under fire. The second bridge was blown so the platoon continued looking for a crossing. Heavy anti-tank fire eventually forced withdrawal, but not before it was determined that a crossing could not be made without the help of the Engineers. The Battalion Commander moved his advance Command Post to the underpass and received artillery fire in the area throughout the day. While the above moves were being made by the platoon of " C " Company, Lieutenant Hines, with a reconnaissance platoon of " C " Company, was sent to the forward Command Post. The platoon commanded by Lt. Delaney with the scout section of the Reconnaissance platoon and a platoon of infantry was sent to find a southern crossing to the objective. A crossing was found at Overhouen and the platoon crossed and proceeded north along the trail to Millen. The bridge just south of this town was found intact and the attack continued. A force of infantry just south of town was encountered dug-in. Fire was laid on them and they surrendered. The force continued through town and blocked all roads leading into town. Additional Germans were killed and captured. The Battalion Commander ordered the rest of the Battalion forward. Major Batchelder was bringing the remainder of the Battalion forward when he was pinned down by direct fire from a self propelled gun located on high ground. This fire was neutralized by one section of the 2nd platoon, Company " I ", 67th Armored Regiment which was holding the underpass and one section of the 1st platoon, Company " I ", 67th which was in the main body. These tanks continued to fire until the entire column passed. Captain Paul A. Bane was evacuated to the hospital during the day and Lt. Harry S. Wood assumed command of Company " I ", 67th Armored Regiment. The total number of prisoners captured was 70; the number killed was large but the exact number is unknown. During the day, Lt. Reed, with his Engineer platoon, was reattached to the Battalion. He contributed an alternate bridge just south of the bridge into Millen. During the night this platoon fired on an enemy patrol and captured one prisoner. Two other prisoners were captured at road blocks during the night and another German was killed. The line was held from Millen to contact point with the 82nd Reconnaissance. Reconnaissance patrols were made during the night to contact road blocks to the west of the Battalion Command Post location. Next morning at 07.00 hours, orders were received from higher headquarters that the Battalion would be relieved by the 744th Tank Battalion and upon its arrival the Battalion was to move to the Combat Command " R " assembly area 5 miles northeast of Maastricht, A meeting of commanding officers was held at the Battalion Command Post at 03.30 hours at which orders were issued for the march to the assembly area. The order of march as given was: Reconnaissance platoon, platoon from " I " Company, 41st Infantry, Battalion Headquarters and Headquarters Company, Engineer platoon, " I " Company, 67th , " I " Company, 41st , " C " Company, 67th , the Medical Detachment and Maintenance. The march was made by way of Millen, Sittard, Geleen, Beek, Oensel, and Hulsberg without incident. Upon arrival in assembly area, " G " Company returned to battalion control and the 17th Engineer platoon and " I " Company 41st Infantry were released to their organization. Two road blocks were established by " C " Company to the north.
Combat Command "B" Commanded by Brig. Gen. I. D. White.
Left Column (North): Consisting of the following, 2nd Bn.66th AR (with 1 Plat. Co. "A", 17th Arm'd Engr. Bn. & 1 Plat. Co. "A", 702nd TD Bn. (SP) (attached) Fwd. CP CC "A"., 14th Arm'd. FA. Bn., 3rd Bn. 116th Inf. Regt. (less Co. "I")., Co. "A", 702nd TD Bn. (SP) (less 2 Plats)., Co. "A", 17th Arm'd Engr. Bn. (less 2 Plats)., 82nd Reconnaissance. Bn.
Reconnaissance: Rcn. Co. 66th AR
Right Column (South): Consisting of the following , Hq. 66th AR, 1st Bn. 66th AR., Co. "I" 116th Inf. Regt. , 1 Plat.. Co. "A" , 702nd TD Bn. (SP)., 1 Plat. Co. "A" , 17th Arm'd. Engr. Bn.
CC"A" Control: Hq. CC "A" (less fwd. CP), Maint. Co. 66th AR, Col. "A" 48th Med. Bn.
The period we are zeroing in on is the entire 2nd Armored activities in the time between 15 Sept. 1944 and 19 Sept. 1944, this is our actual advance and spearhead into Holland.
We have outlined the progress of Co. A, 82nd Reconnaissance from 13 Sept. 1944 to 2 October 1944. (Other units will follow)
On 14 September 1944 We departed present location 1 mile N. of Gruitode and the company mission was to move south with "D" company attached, creating a diversion on the north flank of the company, clearing out Opglabbeek and Opoetern, cutting the road between those points and if possible cutting the main road running east and west between Asch and Willems canal. The Battalion Executive Officer Major Jack Gerard (AKA "The Mole") remained at the road block. The 1st and the 2nd platoons each with a tank platoon attached moved east through Neerglabeek, running into a road block approximately 1 kilometer east of that point. The 2nd platoon remained to reduce or bypass the road block and then move into Opoetern. The 1st platoon with attached tanks moved cross country through the forest and arrived in Opoetern. The 2nd platoon arrived at Opoetern first , having removed the road block which proved to be lightly defended by small arms fire. The 2nd Platoon with the tank platoon attached met resistance in the form of small arms fire at Opoetern. They inflicted probably a dozen casualties and took a few prisoners. The first platoon assisted in closing in on the town and taking some prisoners. At this point, artillery began to fall in the town and the platoon withdrew. The 1st platoon moved around the town to the right to continue its mission and to cut off the road leading into the town. In a large open lowland west of the town , the 1st platoon encountered the enemy dug in and well camouflaged fox holes. The enemy had a number of machines guns and bazookas and the personnel made of approximately one third paratroopers and the remainder air force, they fought quite well. Most of the men were killed in their holes by 75 mm WP smoke and hand grenades. There were 23 known to be killed and four wounded. 40 prisoners were taken in this locality. The tank platoon which had remained with the other tank platoon during this action, rejoined the 1st platoon and they consolidated their position to hold the town and the road net. Our 2nd platoon, and the attached tank platoon returned to Gruitrode. The 3rd platoon moved around the road block and into Opglabbeek, where they encountered a small enemy patrol which withdrew. The platoon moved east to Dorne. The 2nd platoon pushed through the forest to within 2 kilometers of the main highway running east from Asch. Here we dismounted and in a spread out formation, we cautiously proceeded to the highway on foot. Traveled five miles and arrived present location at Belgium, Map Hasselt sheet #47-52A7745 N of Dorne.
Discovering that the advance elements of CCA had already arrived there. The company assembled at Dorne for the night with the exception of the 1st platoon which remained at Opoetern . During the days operation Private 1st Class Jermiah Supple was seriously wounded in action and was evacuated. Weather cloudy and wet, morale excellent.
On 15 Sept 1944 We remained in the same location 1 mile N. of Dorne. The company mission was to locate the enemy west of the canal, establish outpost to keep the canal under observation, maintain contact with the British or the Princess Eugenia Regiment of the Dutch army attached to the British Army, and to patrol the area from the highway to the east out of Asch, the 1st British position which could usually be found around Bree about 18 kilometers to the north, The 2nd platoon maintained contact with the British and establish outposts near Oppites and in the woods near Waterloos. These outposts were frequently shelled and on three occasions our patrols encountered enemy patrols in the Waterloos and inflicted casualties The enemy could be observed across the canal near Tongerloo. The enemy destroyed by shell fire the church steeples in Oppites and in Waterloos which we had been using as outposts. The 3rd platoon was located down the road toward the canal near De Smets Berg. From an outpost there , the Germans could be seen on the west side of the canal near the blown bridge in considerable strength of at least 250 or more men. As the roads which might have been used to flank them were either mined or exposed to direct fire of artillery and 88 mm guns from across the canal and the terrain was not suitable for cross country movement, there was little that 3rd platoon could do. The enemy frequently fired his mortars and artillery at positions that he thought were being occupied. The enemy also fired air bursts over the platoon position with 88 mm guns. Later in the day this platoon engaged the enemy in a gun fight. Co. D had been attached and left the company that morning. Today we captured 20 German prisoners. Weather clear and warm, morale excellent. Remained 1 mile N. Of Dorne.
On the 16th of September 1944 remained in same bivouac area, the mission was the same as the previous day. We are running short of fuel, experiencing delays because of the long supply lines to get all supplies to us. . As no artillery or infantry was available, the three assault guns we had were put in a battery. The assault were directed from outpost about 1000 yards west of Opoeteren and from the outpost in the church steeple and from the outpost near De Smets Berg these guns harassed the main group of the enemy about 1000 yards southeast of De Smets Berg. They also fired on the foot bridges over the canal, on the ferry and at any targets of opportunity seen by the outposts. The number of casualties inflicted was unknown. No weather report today, but morale reported excellent.
On the 17 September 1944 the following men came into "A" Company, Pvt. Clayton Loehn, Pvt. Lawrence Tipsword, Pvt. Edwin Newby, Pvt. William Polk, Pvt. Enamuel Lichtenstein, Pvt. Charles Resetar, Pvt. William J. Russell, Pvt. Frederick G. Medel, Pvt. Earl Newcomb, Pvt. Donald Litz. I would become good friends with two of these men, Litz and Medel and in the coming days would share with them many combat experiences. and 18 September the company mission was the same as on 16 September, and was deployed the same way . 14 replacements joined the company in September, 1944. On 19 Sept 1944 departed this area at 0730B north of Dorne. the company moved with the 3rd Battalion, 66 Armored Regiment which had also remained west of the canal when CCA and the 82nd Armored Reconnaissance Battalion moved east. When the company moved out at 0730, we moved on to Maastricht, crossed the Meuse river at that point. Then north to Beek where the company went into bivouac. The company was in reserve the remainder of the day with the exception of the 3rd platoon which moved out at approximately 1900B to guard an underpass one mile north of Sittard. The company traveled 30 miles and arrived at new location at Belgium map 1/50/000 Sittard #48 #638681 1 mile NW of Beek, Weather clear and warm, morale excellent.
On the 20 September 1944 departed area NW of Beek, the 3rd platoon was relieved at 0800B by the 113th Cavalry and returned to the company command post at Beek. The company moved out at 1030B for an assembly area near Klimmen. After traveling a distance of 10 miles the company closed in an assembly area at about 1130B. In the evening the company was placed on alert status to move with the least delay with a tank destroyer platoon attached to meet the enemy and stop him until the 67th Armored Regiment could move up, deploy and take over the defense. A liaison officer was required at the CP of 3rd Battalion, 67th Armored Regiment at night and radio communications maintained. All routes leading to possible points of attack were reconnoitered. 2nd Lt. Roy Cole came into the company this date Arrived at new location 1/50,000.Aachen sheet # 702555 1 mile NE of Klimmen.
On 21 September 1944, the status of the company was the same as on the 20th except the company was placed under the direct control of the HQ. 67th Armored Regiment instead of the 3rd battalion, 67th Armored Regiment. From the 21 through the Sept 30th 1944 the company was on alerted status, however company participated in maintenance and rehabilitation The weather started to get cold and damp during this period, remained same location. Weather clear and warm, morale excellent. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, October 1944 remained still at Holland sheet # 1/50, 000 Aachen, Germany, sheet: #57, #702555, 1 mile NE of Klimmen cleaning equipment and arms weather cloudy and wet morale excellent. 2 October 1944, weather cloudy and cold, morale excellent..
Operation of Task Force " Stokes ", 15-16 September 1944:
By the evening of 15 Sept. 1944 the XIX Corps had established a bridgehead on the east bank of the Meuse River in the vicinity of Maastricht ( Holland ). Both the 30th Inf. Div. and CC"A" of the 2nd AD. had moved into the bridgehead ;and were ready to advance east. The 30th Div. had the mission of giving flank protection to the VII Corps, whose attack in the vicinity of Aachen constituted the current main effort of FUSA. The 2nd Armored mission was to protect the area west of the Vaart Canal and CC "B" had begun to advance in zone east of the Meuse River. Between the Vaart Canal and the Meuse River, however lay a narrow corridor, extending halfway across the XIX Corps front and completely in enemy hands. Obviously, this had to be cleared out before the 2nd AD, could with safety continue its advance east of the Meuse. XIX Corps FO # 24 of Map. #152340 Sept. 44 ordered the 2nd AD to clear the enemy from this corridor. At 16 0500 Sept. 44 the mission was turned over to Lt. Col.Wm. M. Stokes, Jr., then commanding the North Force of CC "A", 2 AD. At the time its force had the mission of securing the XIX Corps boundary on the north and the Div. front along Vaart Canal. It consisted of the following HQ., 66 AR, --3rd Bn, 66th AR--99th Infantry Battalion ( Norwegians )--65th FA, Bn. ---Platoon of Co. A, 17th Eng. --Detachment of Co. A, 48th Med. Bn. To help Col. Stokes with his additional assignment, he was given 82nd Reconnaissance Bn. and Co B, 17 Armored Engr Bn. Task Force "Stokes," as the combined force was called, completely cleared this critical corridor on 16, 17, and 18 September. During this 3-day period it caused 918 enemy casualties and suffered only 93 casualties itself. The success of the operation was due to sound planning, good field tactics, unusually fine cooperation between tanks and infantry. Both tank and infantry commanders agreed on this point.
Col Stokes turned over the82d Rcn Bn and Co. B, 17 Armored Engr Bn. Task Force "Stokes," as the combined force was called, 82d Rcn Bn, one platoon of Co G, 66 A.R., and one platoon of Co A, 99th Inf. Bn the security mission along the XIX Corps’ north boundary and the Vaart canal. The rest of TF Stokes was ordered into assembly areas.
The first pre-requisite was a complete reconnaissance of the Vaart Canal for possible crossing sites. Most of it had already been reconnoitered. The job was completed on the morning of 16 September. It showed that between Maastricht and the north boundary of the Corps there were two bridges left. A wooden one at Smeermaas (immediately north of Maastricht) was capable of supporting tanks. The other one at Neerharen had been partially wrecked by the enemy. Infantry in a single file could get across it, but major repairs would be necessary if vehicles were to use it. Col. Stokes felt that although he could put tanks across the Smeermaas bridge and thus give the infantry some support from the very beginning, he could not depend on this bridge for his MRS. Its wooden construction made it very vulnerable to destruction either by bombs or demolition charges. Furthermore, it was in the middle of a closely built up town and hence, in Col Stokes’ opinion, presented an easy mark for saboteurs. The repair of the bridge at Neerharen would have been very hazardous in view of enemy’s ability to observe all movement in its vicinity from the high ground east of the Meuse River. Col Stokes concluded that he would have to install a bridge for his MRS either at Reckheim or further north. He considered three possible plans of action: (1) bridge canal at Reckheim and work north up the corridor; (2) bridge canal in vic of Lanklaer and advance south to Maastricht; (3) bridge canal in the center of the corridor and work part of his TF north and part south. Col Stokes chose the first alternative because (1) it meant that he would have friendly troops in his rear instead of hostile forces in unknown strength; (2) he could bring small force up from Smeermaas to establish a bridgehead east of the canal for the crossing of the bulk of the infantry at Neerharen, and the enlarged force could make a bridgehead in vicinity of Reckheim large enough for a tank Bn to maneuver in; (3) a crossing at the center of the corridor would have forced him to fight two ways at the same time, permitted the enemy to bring tanks and AT weapons within close range of the crossing site (note narrowness of corridor at this point).
The decision to employ tanks in attacking up the corridor was based on the following considerations: (1) tanks were available; (2) speedy accomplishment of the mission was essential; (3) the enemy had had sufficient time to prepare hasty field positions; (4) the enemy was believed to be holding the corridor in considerable strength, with 500 troops reported to have crossed on to the corridor at Boorsheim on 13 Sept and 500 SS troops reported to have recently reinforced the Meeswyck area. No information on the presence or absence of AT weapons was available, with the exception that reconnaissance had failed to disclose any enemy in the narrow part of the corridor at Smeermaas and for 1km north thereof. North of this point the enemy’s defenses were unknown except for dug-in MG positions on the reverse slope of the east bank of the canal all the way to Lanklaer. Since the corridor varied from 30 to 250 meters wide for another two kms, it was obviously unwise to send any large tank force across the wooden bridge at Smeermaas.
As a result of this decision, Col. Stokes felt there were two distinct phases to the reduction of the corridor: (1) the establishment of a bridgehead across Reckheim, which would have to be an infantry job primarily, and (2) the attack north of Lanklaer. The latter would have to move fast to prevent hostile reinforcements coming onto the corridor, particularly at the narrow neck in the center; hence, it would have to be primarily a tank attack. Following this reasoning, the tanks taking part in the attack on the 16 and 17 of Sept were attached to the 99th Inf Bn; whereas on 18 Sept most of the 99th Inf Bn (Companies A and C) were attached to the 3d Bn, 66 A. R.. As it turned out, this made little difference in the way in which the chain of command actually operated. During the first two days of the operation Col. Stokes sent most of his communications to Maj Harold D. Hansen, CO of 99th Inf Bn, through Lt Henry W. Johnson, CO of Co H, 66 A. R. Lt Johnson relates that Maj Hansen was dismounted after the first 15 minutes; that he did not see him again during the operation; that his (Johnson’s ) orders came from Col Stokes; and that in practice he communicated directly with his platoon leaders and they in turn with the infantry platoon leaders. On this point Major Hansen said that communications were very difficult throughout the operation and that messengers had to be used much of time. But he emphasized that Col Stokes "did not try to run the infantry. He is a tanker. He asked for my recommendations on the use of the infantry."
About 161700 September the 2d platoon (5 M-4’s) of Company H, 66 A. R. , the 2d platoon ( 5 M-5’s) of Company B, 66 A. R., and all of Company C, 99th Inf. Bn, crossed the Vaart Canal on the wooden bridge at Smeermaas. Captain Herbert C. Merlin, CO of Company C, had made no specific arrangements with the tank platoon leaders regarding tank-infantry tactics. The 99th Inf. Bn had worked with the 3/66f AR for or three days prior to this operation, and it was mutually understood that the infantry would be assigned to work with specific tanks. This was done. About 5 doughboys were assigned to each light tank and about 8 to each medium. The spearhead of TF"S" moved north in column, led by the light tanks. It met an outpost screen about one km north of the bridge but progressed almost to the bridge at Neerharen before meeting any resistance of consequence. More hostile force had concentrated in some woods. To clean it out, the tanks deployed, the lights mixed with the mediums, and the infantry dismounted. While the infantry protected the tanks from possible bazooka fire, the tanks took care of any hostile automatic fire that opened up. Resistance soon faded, but rear guards enabled a lot of Germans to get away. Near the Neerharen bridge the enemy occupied a pillbox. The tanks plastered it with 75 mm fire. This kept the defenders from manning their weapons and stunned them. After that the infantry had little trouble in capturing most of the occupants and killing a few who still showed signs of resisting. When the spearhead force had secured the east side of the Canal at this point, the rest of the 99th Inf Bn (-1 platoon of company A), then assembled vicinity Neerharen, prepared to cross over. At this point the infantry was subjected to a 20 minutes concentration of hostile artillery, estimated to have been at least one battery of medium artillery. From the high ground east of the Meuse River the enemy had direct observation. To avoid bringing down a concentration on the bridge itself, it was necessary to rush the troops across a few at the time. The situation required leadership. For example, the 1st platoon of B Company was pinned down after suffering 4 casualties. T/Sgt Roland I. Asleson, the platoon leader, demonstrated outstanding leadership in rallying his platoon and getting them across the bridge.
It was now about 1900. Major Hansen realized that the important thing was to get his force north out of the narrowest part of the corridor before dark. Fortunately, no AT weapons were encountered, only some foxholes along the east bank of the Canal, which were facing west. The tanks rolled up and pasted these positions with 75mm and MG fire. When they lifted their fire, the infantry advanced and took TF Stokes’ first large bunch of PWs. The CO of B Co, Lt Gunderson, was injured late in the day and had to be evacuated. Lt Murton Swenson became the company commander. By 2100 the troops had advanced into the broad part of the corridor and secured an outpost line stretching across it. The tanks were deployed inside the bivouac areas of the companies they work with (see attached overlay for positions).
The next morning Major Hansen attacked at 0530 with company C on the left and company B on the right. Company A was kept in reserve, as it was short one platoon that was guarding the west bank of the Vaart Canal. The tank-infantry teams consisted of about one squad to a tank. Just as the troops were preparing to attack, the enemy opened up with fire from a stone wall or dike that ran at an angle across the corridor. This caused some delay, but then a mist developed, and under its cover the tanks followed by the infantry, advanced right up to the wall, receiving only inaccurate, sporadic fire. The enemy had fled. The tanks now turn left and go west nearly to the Canal in order to get around the wall. The infantry swung right and advanced northeast with troops on both sides of the wall. When they reached a woods in the vicinity of the road to Reckheim, they waited for the tanks to rejoin them, as Major Hansen felt that a combined tank-infantry attack on the woods would be the cheapest way to reduce them. The tanks arrived after about an hour and the woods were overrun without difficulty.
There were three main fights on 17 September: at Uykhoven, Boorsheim, and Cothem. At Uykhoven TF Stokes hit its really stubborn resistance, which came from young GAF troops. Presumably by friendly artillery. All of the enemy’s prepared positions faced west. Our tanks and infantry flanked these positions by attacking from the south and overwhelmed the defenders by volume of their firepower. A considerable quantity of material was captured at Uykhoven.
The rest of Company H, 66 A. R. , and its CO, Lt Johnson, now joined the task force, having crossed the canal at Smeermaas about 1000. Their arrival was tremendous help. The two infantry company commanders were enable to assign all their men to specific tanks, whereas previously there had not been enough tanks to go around. Their arrival also made possible a well-conceived maneuver whereby Boorsheim, Cothem, and the "neck" of the corridor were secured simultaneously. B Company (-1 platoon) of the 99th Inf Bn, and a platoon of H Company, 66 A. R., were sent to Cothem. C Company 99th Inf Bn, and H Company (-1 platoon), 66 A. R., helf positions east of Boorsheim, while the platoon of light tanks and the remaining rifle platoon of B Company started to clean Boorsheim. When the two towns were about half cleaned out, C Company, 99th Inf Bn, and H Company (-), 66 A. R., hit straight for the corridor’s "neck" (just east of Mechelen) and secured it with little difficulty. Control of this neck by the hostile forces that might have retreated to it from Boorsheim would have held up our advance and cost us dearly to force a passageway. About 100 PWs were taken in Boorsheim and about 150 at Cothem. Cothem was the harder fight, as there were more troops there and they were protected by fires from across the bend in the Meuse River. A few did escape in boats across the Meuse, but most fought as long as they could and then surrendered. Prisoners were still being gathered in from this area the next morning.
During this time the 246 Engr C Bn. having floated sections of a heavy pontoon bridge down the Canal as far as possible on the night of 16 - 17 September, went to work as soon as the bridgehead east of Reckheim was secured. They moved the section into place and completed the bridge by 1330, approximately three hours after the securing of the bridgehead. The rest of the 3d Bn, 66 A. R., then proceeded across the bridge.
While Boorsheim and Cothem were being cleaned out, C Company of the 99th Inf Bn and H Company (-) of 66 A. R. secured a line south of the dike that goes across the corridor at Vucht. Company A was brought up to tie in on the right of C for the night. Company H, 66 A. R., bivouacked in the vic, as did Company G, which had crossed the tread way bridge at Reckheim about 1600, along with the rest of 3/66 A. R. B Company (99 Inf. ) and the light tanks out posted critical areas at the "neck" and south thereof that night and the next day (see attached overlay). The narrowness of the corridor made this a necessary precaution against a hostile attempt to interfere with the line of communications and/or the new bridge at Reckheim. B company was given the assignment because, according to Major Hansen, it had taken quite a few casualties in the hard fighting from Daeluykhoven trough Cothem, while Company A was fresh. Company A, however, was short one rifle platoon, and Lt Swenson of B Company speaks of only 16 casualties in his company during the operation.
On the third day of the operation, 18 September, Companies A and C of 20 M-4’s took up positions northeast of the towns, five M-4’s approached the towns from the south and shot up everything in sight. The infantry - Company C and the platoon from Company A - then cleaned out most of the area. The infantry were unable to clean out the town completely in the time allotted to do this job. Col Stokes was pressing his subordinate commanders to get to Lanklaer, and the infantry were called away before they could finish the job.* Belgian resistance groups gathered close to 100 additional PWs from the vic of Eysden after T. F Stokes had gone on to Lanklaer. Some of the hostile defenders were paratroopers. They retreated to the north, only to encounter fire from the 20 tanks waiting for them. On the northern outskirts of Eysden they put up a stubborn fight. They could not escape. They would not surrender. Most of them were killed in their holes.
The rifle platoon of Company A now rejoined Major Zeien’s force, though not the eight tanks of G Company. This gave Zeien five M-4’s and about 65 infantrymen (both Company G and Company A were under T/O strength). Major Zeien put all the riflemen on the tanks - it came to about eight on each tank - and set out to reduce about seven square Kms on the east side of the corridor. Fortunately, resistance turned out to be extremely light until the force approached Stockheim. There the infantry dismounted and Major Zeien’s force collaborated with Major O’Farrell’s force in reducing the strongest resistance encountered during the entire three-day operation.
Major O’Farrell’s force had advanced north from Eysden astride the Eysden-Lanklaer road. One platoon of tanks and a platoon of infantry worked on the west side of the road, and the balance was in two columns east of the road. No resistance was met until the force drew near Lanklaer. There, approximately 300 yards south of the Lankaer-Stockheim road, the enemy had recently dug a line of trenches. They were the first hostile positions encountered which faced south. Though expertly camouflaged, they were not completely finished.
* Capt Donald E. Svarstad, CO of A company, says that the reason C Company suffered heavier casualties than A Company on 18 Sep (approximately 40 against 12) was that Major O’ Farrell’s tanks were in such a hurry to get on that they left the infantry behind in places. The mopping up by Major Zeien’s force was slower, but more thorough and caused less casualties.
The positions were supported by two SP 88’s close to the road. These were the first AT weapons encountered by TF Stokes. While the bilk of Major O’ Farrell’s group was getting into position to attack the enemy line, the left column tried to outflank the enemy on the west. No satisfactory route of attack could be found, so the column retraced its steps and started to cross the road separating it from the rest of the group. As it did so, it came into the field of fire of a 47mm AT gun at the main intersection in Lanklaer. At a range of about 800 meters, the AT gun was knocked out by 75mm fire, and the column proceeded safely across the road.
At about the same time other tanks of Company H, 66 A R, spotted the two SP 88’s and went after them. One of the two had not yet gotten into position and was an easy mark. The other for some reason did not get off a round before it, too was put out of action. This left the Germans manning the trenches without any AT protection except for three direct fire guns, of approximately 75 mm caliber, which were "dug in" (i.e., firing in stationary positions) about on km northeast of Lanklaer. These were well hidden by a grove of trees, and either for this reason or because it was raining, or both, neither the artillery FO nor the AOP could spot the guns. Fortunately, however, most of the rounds from these guns detonated on striking tree branches, and the shots that did come through were wild. Company H did not have one casualty from this fire, and one of the three guns was eventually knocked out somehow.
Major Zeien’s force arrived about 1615 - approximately 45 minutes after Major O’Farrell had reached the vicinity. The two forces attacked the enemy dug-in positions in their respective sectors, the tanks spearheading the attack. The German troops were from the 22d Flieger Regt. Most of them were young and fought to the bitter end. In many cases they remained in their trenches even after the tanks came right up to them, and it was sometimes necessary to get them out by WP grenades and by pistol fire from tank turrets. During this action on 18 September Lt George Heald, a platoon leader of Company A, 99th Inf. Bn, accounted for four bazooka men, thus saving the tank with which his platoon was working. Four of the platoon members, however, were wounded by a fifth German. Lt Heald was in a position to get this man also, but his carbine jammed.
After the trenches were captured, the tanks crossed the Lankaer-Stockheim road and Major O’Farrell’s tanks fanned west to cut off any enemy retreating from Lankaer, while his infantry and a few tanks went into town from the south and east. Major Zeien’s force went clockwise around Stockheim, setting up road blocks at every road leading out of town (see attached overlay for routes of advance). Then a small force went into town and found it virtually deserted. Lanklaer did not fall so easily. Additional paratroopers were there, and both in and on the western outskirts of the town they fought stubbornly until they were killed. By 1730 all resistance had ceased and the line Lanklaer-Stockheim secured.
Lt Col Stokes, Major O’ Farrell, Major Hansen, and all of the tank and infantry company commanders involved in operation of TF Stokes are in agreement that the use of armor was the key factor in speed with which the mission was accomplished and the disproportionate number of casualties suffered by the enemy. Lt col Stokes says, "The enemy was very much surprised at our use of tanks. When the attack began in the late afternoon of 16 September, he had no AT weapons in the corridor. Not until the end of the third day - around Lanklaer - did we hit anything bigger than a bazooka."
Major O’ Farrell said: "The infantry took a good many casualties (see tabulation below). But by themselves the doughboys would have a terrible time. The krauts had a hell of a lot of automatic fire and the defense was extremely stubborn."
Major Hansen emphasized the fast advance which the presence of the tanks made possible. The Germans, he felt had no time to prepare their defenses. "They had plenty of ammunition - they were burning piles of it as we came up to Uykhoven - but they had no heavy weapons in the corridor. Those at Lanklaer had been brought down from Maseyck to stop us. Then, too, our tankers were good. For example, when someone pointed out the AT guns at Lanklaer, they went right out after them and knocked them out. We picked up 75 or 80 prisoners afterwards in the rear areas. They said, "We can’t fight tanks." I am sure that is what scared them. It was a tougher fight than Elbeuf for us, but without the tanks it would have taken a long time to clean that corridor. . . . The tanks are only afraid of places like buildings and hedges where bazooka men can hide without being seen. If the tanks are working with infantry who are not afraid to stay up with the tanks, the combination can’t be beat. Of course, the infantry think tanks should always go ahead and often have to be booted."
Tank-infantry teamwork. The tank commanders and infantry commanders interviewed tended to emphasize the work of their respective arms. There was no basic conflict, however, as to what generally happened: Each group of infantry followed wherever its assigned tank went; except that the tanks got stuck at a stream or dike, Major Hansen would order the infantry advance without the tanks to a designated objective. In other words, the infantry advanced and cleaned out objectives in the immediate wake of the tanks.
Casualty Figures. The report submitted to the C. G., 2d Armored Division by Capt. G. A. Barron, Jr., S-1 of the 66th Armored Regiment, gives the following casualty figures of T.F. Stokes:
The foregoing account is based entirely on the official report of the operation submitted to the C.G., 2d Armored Division, on 26 September 1944, and on Captain Ferris’ interviews with the following officers:
Name / Position / When Interviewed
Lt Col Wn M. Stokes Jr./ CO, 66th Armored Regt / 1 Oct 44
Major Hugh R. O’Farrell / CO, 3d Bn, 66th A R / 24 Sept 44
Major Henry Zeien / Ex. Off., 3d Bn 66th A R / 24 Sept 44
Lt Henry W. Johnson / CO, Company H, 66th A R / 1 Oct 44
Lt Jos. S. Roberts / CO, Company G, 66th A R / 1 Oct 44
Major Harold D. Hansen / CO, 99th Inf Bn / 27 Sept 44
Capt Donald E. Svarstad / CO, Company A, 99th Inf Bn / 28 Sept 44
Capt Hertbert C Melin / CO, Company C, 99th Inf Bn / 28 Sept 44
Lt Murton Swenson / CO, Company B, 99th Inf Bn / 28 Sept 44
Further details on time, place and units can be secured from the daily report of operations which the 3d Bn, 66th A R, submits to regimental Headquarters also see After Action material of the 99th Inf Bn.
FRANKLIN FERRISS, Captain, A U S
702ND TANK DESTROYER BATTALION
(Part of After Action Report, September 1944 ) 14 Sept -16, 1944:
Company “A” , 702nd Tank Destroyer Battalion, attached to CC ”A” moved across Albert Canal to assist in mopping-up operations North of the canal from the 14 to the 16 Sept 1944. Seventy-two prisoners were taken by Company “A” on the 15 Sept 1944 in the vicinity of Lanaeken, Belgium (K585565) Company “C” remained in the vicinity of Herck La Ville, Belgium (K195635) during this period protecting supply routes of the Division and prepared to move to the assistance of either combat command on order. Battalion less companies “A” and “C” moved to the vicinity of Maastricht, Holland (K560520) on the 16 Sept 1944. Company “B” was placed on secondary mission of indirect fire on targets across the Maas river in support of the Division artillery from 161400 to 170900 Sept 1944. Company “A”, attached to CC “A” , crossed the Maas river into Holland 15 Sept 1944, in two columns. Company “A” less two platoons (1st platoon attached 2nd Bn 66th Armd Regt, 2nd platoon attached to 2nd Bn 41st Infantry) placed indirect fire mission 16 to 17 September inclusive, in the vicinity of Sibbe, Holland (K657503) under control of the 14th FA Battalion.
September 17, 1944:
Two platoons Company “A” moved on Valkenburg, Holland (K659535) in support of CC “A” on September 17, 1944. Company “A” minus two platoons placed on road blocks on road fork north of Valkenburg 17 and 18 September during which operation Capt Mauro, Company Commander was seriously injured in a mine field. On the afternoon of Sept 17 Company “B” by direct fire, destroyed one Mk IV tank, four 88mm guns, one SP gun, and captured one officer and twelve enlisted men. One M-10 Tank Destroyer temporarily out of action due hit by enemy artillery shell. At 170900 Company “B” was relieved of secondary mission by Company “C” and rejoined 67th Armd Regt. Company “C” returned to Battalion control on 16th September in the vicinity of Maastricht , Holland (K560520) and were placed on indirect fire mission 17 Sept to reinforce fires of CC “B” artillery. Company “C” remained on indirect fire mission until 180900 September.
September 18 - 20, 1944:
Battalion less Company “A” moved to vicinity of Geleen, Holland (K667661) 18 September assisting in advance of CC “B” , by protection of flanks and securing of crossing over obstacles. The Battalion less companies “A” and “C” moved to the vicinity of Zwelkhuizen, Holland (K679635). Company “C” attached to 113th Cavalry 19 September 1944 and remained in the vicinity of Geleen, Holland (K667661). Company “B” during advance into Germany destroyed by direct fire two machine gun positions and killed approximately sixty enemy. Twenty-seven prisoners were taken. Company “A” under control of CC “A” moved in three columns on the 19 September 1944 into Germany at Niederbusch (K869658) attacking and securing the objective of the Gangelt-Geilenkirchen road. One Platoon attached 1st Battalion 66th Armd Regt; one Platoon attached 2nd Battalion 66th Armd Regt and 3rd Platoon attached 2nd Battalion 41st Infantry. One SP gun was destroyed by 2nd Platoon, Company “A” during the attack. Two M-10 Tank Destroyers were destroyed by an enemy Mk IV tank during the attack at Gillrath, Germany (K835662).
This page will continue with the combat activities of other units of the 2nd Armored engaged in the Holland operation, if you have anything to add to this subject just forward to us. If you live in Holland and know of any 2nd Armored activity during the period of time between 14-20 Sept 1944 and wish to forward the information to us, please do so.