Stand where they fought tour - The Battle in the Vosges 1944
#1

Hi all

 

well it's time to share with you another story of one of mine Stand where they fought tours. This time I can show you some photos of a Battle only a few know of - The Battle of Bruyere and the rescue of the lost Battalion in October 1944.

 

On the tracks of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team

 

The 100th Infantry Battalion and the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, units of the US Army made up of Americans of Japanese ancestry. This is the story of their part in the Battle of Bruyères and Biffontaine as well as the their successful rescue of the "Lost Batallion" (1st Battalion of the 141st "Alamo" Regiment, 36th Texas-Division). The 442nd RCT lost more than 800 troops while rescuing 211 men behind enemy lines.

 

Those battles is also the climax of the Nisei’s battle against suspicion, intolerance, and a hatred that was conceived in some dark corner of the American mind and born in the flames that swept Pearl Harbor.

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#2

Nestled in the beautiful valley. on the western edge of the Vosges. lies the small town of Bruyères. Roman relics found nearby date its origin to the 4th century A.D. Two centuries later, Ambron, son of Clodion-the-Long-Haired, built a castle of one of the four surrounding hills. In October 1944 a new chapter was to be added to the history of Bruyères, one written with the blood of Americans, Frenchmen and German locked in fierce and brutal combat on those four hills and the mountains streching east toward St. Dié. The town of Bruyères and points south of it were defended by the 716th Infantrydivision, commanded by 52 year old artillery officer Generalleutnant Wilhelm Richter.

On the American side, the attack was led by the 36th Texas Division. On September 29 1944, anticipaiting the American assault, the Germans blew up the railroad tunnel on the Bruyères-Épinal line ans set the station on fire.On the same day American artillery shells started to fall on the town and the sourrounding hills-the first of thirty thousand.

 

On October 15 1944 the assault beagn. Spearheading the drive was the 442nd Rgt Combat Team, led by fifty year old Charls Wilbur Pence. At 0800 hours, Lt. Col. Gordon Singles's 100th Btl as well as Lt. Col. James Hanley's 2nd Btln crossed the line of departure. The 3rd then closed in reserve behind the 100th. The 522nd Field Art Btl was in direct support, and the 232nd Combat Engineer Comp played its usual role, lifting mines and reducing blocks so supplies could move. The attack launched on October 15 1944 progressed slowly all that day and the next, consisting of a yard by yard advance in the face of a determined enemy.

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#3

In front of them , like forbidding sentries rising a thousand feet from the valley floor, stood 4 strategic hills named A, B, C and D. The 100th Battalion's onjective on the far left was Hill a (Buemont), while Hill B (le Chàteau) half a mile south was the goal of the 2nd Battalion. The first enemy's encountered by the Nisei soldiers were Russians in German uniforms, who offered little resistance. Far more difficult was the situation for the men of the 100th Battalion who faced the SS-Polizei Rgt 19.

 

The attack companies encountered minefields, roadblocks and machine-gun fires from the SS-Polizei Rgt 19, Grenadier Rgt 736 and 223 as well as from the Festungs-MG Btl 49. Unlike Italy where the resistance had been fierce, in the Vosges Mountains the fighting would be brutal. Heavy mortar and artillery shells burst in the trees overhead, raining steel on the doughboys below who could find few ways to protect themselves from the vicious tree bursts

The aerial photo shows Bruyère and the sourrounding Hills A, B, C and D.

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#4

Fighting for hill "A" and "B"

 

The 100th Btl attacked hill "A", the 2nd Btl attacked hill "B", but aftera day of severe fighting, the Nisei gained barely five hundred yards by the end of October 15.

On the morning of the October 16 , the 100th Btl, attacking on the left, had presumably cleared a roadblock. After the battalion had passed on, a few enemy diehards cut loose a blast of small arms fire on the engineer party that came forward to remove it causing five casualties. The engineers withdrew to cover, reorganized, and promptly launched an attack on the defenders, driving them out. They then proceeded with the day's work of blasting out the tangle of logs, wire, and mines that made the road impassable. This was indeed, a new and more devastating war than any of the US troops had previously experienced.

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#5

The view shows the starting point of where the 100th Btl attacked Bruyeres. The phot was taken on Hill 555.

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#6

This is the monumet in honor of the brave soldiers who fought here and it stands on Hill 555

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#7

Close up of the plate.

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#8

As Companies E and F fought teir way toward Hill B, Capt. Pershing Nakada's engineers treid desperately to clear the roadblocks and mines ahead. But when the two attack companies reached open ground, they were again pinned down by murderous fire from Hill 555 and Hill B. The sam was a fact for the 100th Battaltion on the left. After Companies A and C cleard their sector around Hill 555, they were stopped short at the open valley known as Basse de l'Âne (Donkey Flats). The photo shows Hill 555.

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#9

It was to be an all-day effort, through cold rain and relentless German pounding, before Company F finally took Hill 555 withs its commanding view of Bruyeres and the surrounding hills. But as an evening mist began to cloak Donkey Flats, the Germans launched a counterattack. It was still raining at dawn, 17 October, as General Dalquist urged his 143rd Regiment, to take Champ le Duc, defended by the Grenadier Regiment 736.

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#10

Once again, the Americans were welcomed by an artillery barrage - fifty well placed shells and concentrated machinegun and sniper fire from the stone houses (see photo). A second German counterattack hit the 100th Battaltion just as its forward platoons were jumping off. The Nisei eventuelly turned the tide, but as soon as the lead elements reached Donkey Flats, they fell victim to a German hell fire from Hills A and B and once again the stone houses.

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