Belgium, Wednesday January 5 2016. Welcome to EUCMH (European Center of Military History). Please be patient because a lot of things are either happening or going to happen with the site.
The history of the German Luftwaffe in World War II has been examined by scores of authors and eyewitnesses. In the case of Kampfgeschwader 200 (KG 200), it is a different story, however. The real story of this special Luftwaffe unit has remained shrouded in mystery, and most members maintained their silence after the war. The commander of the unit, Col Werner Baumbach, a winner of the Knight’s Cross and a celebrated Junkers Ju-88 bomber pilot, did not even mention KG 200 in his memoirs. KG 200 was a unique unit which operated a wide variety of aircraft – from the Blohm und Voss Bv-222 Wiking (the largest flying boat of the era) to the Junkers 52, 90, 290 and 188, the Heinkel He-111, and even captured British and American aircraft such as the Consolidated B-24 Liberator and Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress.
During the month of February 1945, during one of the 741st Bomber Squadron mission against Vienna in Austria and just before reaching the target, a ‘phantom’ B-24 joined our formation. From our escort, one Red Tail P-51s of the Tuskegee Airmen came in and over the radio the German phantom pilot said he was from the 55th Wing and got lost. Unfortunately for the flying Krauts, the 55th Wing wasn’t flying that day and the plane had no tail markings. The fighter pilot squadron leader gave him some bursts from his guns and warned the phantom to turn back. He added, ‘You will be escorted.’ The German pilot replied that he could make it alone. The P-51 pilot said : ‘You are going to be escorted whether you want it or not. You’re going to have two men on your tail all the way back and don’t try to land in Yugoslavia.’ The phantom left with his escort and we heard nothing further from the event. (Erling Kindem)
Operations of the 24th Infantry Division in the invasion of Midanao (with Emphasis on G-1 Activities), Philippine Islands, April 17 – August 11 1945, (Personal Experience of a Division General Staff Officer), (Assistant Division G-1 and Subsequently Division G-1), Lt Col Robert J. Daniels
This personal experience monograph covers the operations of the 24th Infantry Division in the Invasion of Mindanao Island, Philippine Islands, during the period of 17 April 1945 to 11 August 1945 with particular emphasis being placed on the G-1 activities of the Division General Staff. The division operation, commencing with an amphibious assault developed initially into a highly mobile situation with later phases being involved with a hard slow-moving battle. A study of this operation is believed to be of special interest to military students as it affords an opportunity to study an independent infantry division action which was an infrequent situation in World War II.
Stationed at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, the 2nd Infantry Division was sent to maneuvers at Christine, Texas from Jan 3 to Jan 27 1940 then at Horton, Texas from Apr 26 to May 28 1940. In August 1940, (16 to 23), the 2nd Division was sent to Cravens, Louisiana, and from Jun 1 to Jun 14 1941, the Division participated in the VIII Corps, Brownwood, Maneuvers in Comanche, Texas. It was then sent to Mansfield, Louisiana, for the Louisiana Maneuvers of August and September 1941. On Jun 27 1942, the 2nd Division was sent back to Fort Sam, Houston for the VIII Corps Louisiana Maneuvers and was re-designated 2nd Infantry Division on Aug 1 1942. On Sep 22 1942 the 2nd moved to Camp McCoy, Wisconsin, then staged at Camp Shanks, New York, Oct 3 1943 until departed the New York POE, Oct 8 1943. The 2nd Infantry Division arrived in England on Oct 18 1943, landed in Normandy, France on Jun 7 1944, crossed into Belgium on Sept 29 1944 and finally into Germany on Oct 3 1944. After the Battle of the Bulge and the Germany Campaign, the 2nd entered Czechoslovakia May 4 1945 and after VE Day the Division returned to the New York POE on Jul 20 1945. It moved back to the US, Camp Swift, Texas, Jul 22 1945. A little while later, it moved to Camp Stoneman, California, Mar 28 1946 and arrived finally at Fort Lewis, Washington, on Apr 15 1946.
A series of articles, laying out the true events behind the creation of : The Best Kept Secret Of World War Two. In December 1945, when it became known that Gen George S. Patton had told his staff he was quitting the Army so he could speak freely and after New Years 1946 he was going to tell the American public the truth about what those who were attempting to destroy him had done. He was positive, once that truth was known, he could live freely and it was their careers that would be destroyed. A series of day by day articles beginning on Nov 9 2015, which is the 71st anniversary of the crash of the Lady Jeannette, B-17G, SN : 42-97904 (November 9 1944). I will describe the shooting down and the crash of two American bombers in France. One was the Lady Jeannette, the other, a top secret B-24J which was flying a top secret night mission while attached to the top secret 100th Group Royal Air Force. The B-24J also crashed in France, early on the morning of Nov 10 1944, 138 miles from the crash site of the Lady Jeannette.
Crew Members #42-97904
2/Lt Joseph F. Harms, Bombardier, 729-BS/452-BG/8-AAF (Heavy), New York, USA
Air Medal, Purple Heart
T/Sgt Russell W. Gustafson, Flight Engineer, 729-BS/452-BG/8-AAF (Heavy), New York, USA
Air Medal, Purple Heart
1/Lt Daniel J. Gott, Pilot, 729-BS/452-BG/8-AAF (Heavy), Oklahoma, USA
Medal of Honor, Air Medal, Purple Heart
2/Lt William E. Metzger Jr, Copilot, 729-BS/452-BG/8-AAF (Heavy), Ohio, USA
Air Medal, Purple Heart, Medal of Honor
2/Lt John A. Harland, Navigator, 729-BS/452-BG/8-AAF (Heavy), Illinois, USA
Air Medal, Purple Heart
T/Sgt Robert A. Dunlap, Radio Operator, 729-BS/452-BG/8-AAF, (Heavy), California, USA
Air Medal with 2 Oak Leaf Clusters, Purple Heart
S/Sgt James O. Fross, Belly Gunner, 729-BS/452-BG/8-AAF (Heavy), Texas, USA
Air Medal, Purple Heart
S/Sgt William R. Robbins, Gunner, 729-BS/452-BG/8-AAF (Heavy), Massachusetts, USA
S/Sgt Herman B. Krimminger, Tail Gunner, 729-BS/452-BG/8-AAF (Heavy), NC, USA
Air Medal, Purple Heart
After Action Report
E Company (Period Dec 1944 – Jan 1945)
December 17 1944
At 2300, Battalion and Separate Unit Commanders were notified that this Regiment would be prepared for truck movement to combat at 181400A.
The History of the 628th Tank Destroyer Battalion in Training and Combat, Prepared by and for the Men who saw Action with the Battalion in France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Holland and Germany.
Headquarters – 628th Tank Destroyer Battalion – APO No 758 US Army – 9 May, 1945
To all the Members of the Battalion
As I write this little message to you, my comrades of the 628th, the war in Europe has just ended; and in my heart there is both joy and sadness. There is great joy for those of you who have gotten through this hell, sound of mind and body; but there is a deep sadness for our men and officers who have fallen. In all humility, I salute our lads who are no longer with us. In all instances they died willingly as do men for a cause that is just and right : and they died bravely as can only an American soldier. We, their buddies who served by their side shall always remember them with a sweet reverence which can be felt only by comrades in arms. It is my earnest prayer that the peace, for which the Conference at San Francisco strives, will be so lasting and honest, that none of our splendid men shall have died in vain. And I salute, too, those of you who have gone through the many strenuous months of combat with this Battalion. The amazing amount of enemy material and men which you blasted out of the war is but a tribute to your courage and skill at arms. The break-through in Normandy, the Falaise Gap, the Eure and Seine Pockets, the Compeigne Forest, Sedan, Wallendorg and the Huertgen Forest till the Ardennes Battle, the Rhineland, Germany’s Heart and then the crashing offensive to the very banks of the Elbe River, all these duel countless minor battles and campaigns you can, in the years to come remember with a quiet pride. Whether it is your destiny soon to return to civilian life, or to help finish off our one remaining enemy, the Jap, I wish you luck and Godspeed. Believe me, it has been a grand privilege and an honor to have commanded such a fine Battalion in combat. Again, I salute you all, and I shall never forget you.
William J. Gallagher
Lt Col, F. A.
General d. Panzertruppe Hasso-Eccard Freiherr von Manteuffel has agreed at several joint press conferences that for the German counter-offensive of the month of December 1944 in Belgium and Luxembourg, to be successful at least three things had to happen :
(a) the German attack had to be a surprise (b) the weather to be such as to prevent strikes by allied aircraft on the German columns coming through the Ardennes (c) the progress of the German main effort through and beyond St Vith must be rapid and not delayed. Requirements a. and b. were met. Requirement c. was not met because of the defensive and delaying action of Brig Gen Robert W. Hasbrouck’s Luky Seventh, the 7th Armored Division and the attached troops in the St Vith area from December 17 to December 23 1944. His timetable called for the capture of St Vith by 1800 hours on December 17. He did not capture it until the night of December 21 and did not control the St Vith area until December 23 when CCB withdrew on order. On December 22 1964, at a press conference in Watertown, New York, Gen von Manteuffel stated : on the evening of December 24 1944 I recommended to Hitler’s Adjutant that the German Army give up the attack and return to the West Wall. The reason for this recommendation was due to the time lost by his 5. Panzer-Army in the St Vith area. Hitler did not accept von Manteuffel’s recommendation.
644th Tank Destroyer Battalion
Operations in the Ardennes
The 644th Tank Destroyer Battalion (SP)(Self Propelled) commanded by Lt Col Ephriam F. Gaham, sailed from the USA on January 2 1944, on board of the HMT Aquitania. The battalion landed in northern Ireland on January 13 and there continued its training with emphasis placed on indirect fire. The 644-TDB left the USA equipped with the 3 inch (76.2-MM) motor gun carriage, M-10, the vehicle it retained throughout its operations in Europe. On May 10 the battalion moved to Hungerford, England, where, along with more training, preparations were made for the move to the Normandy Peninsula. On July 11, the major part of the battalion moved across the English Channel while the remainder of the unit, under the control of its executive officer, Maj Edward R. Garton, landed also on Utah Beach one day later. On July 15, the 644-TDB was attached to the 8th Infantry Division and although elements of the battalion were from time to time attached to other divisions, the battalion itself remained so attached until early December 1944.
This booklet recounts briefly the highlights of the 99th Infantry Division in combat. Our division has established an enviable record as a fighting team and has taught the German to fear the wearer of the Checkerboard. All of us – officers and men of the 99th Division – can be proud of our record. To be a member of the 99th Division is an honor. Towards our comrades who have been left on the fields of battle, we feel most gratefully humble. Their sacrifice shall be our ever constant inspiration to do our job. Now, Right, and with Steadfast Determination.
Walter E. Lauer
Major General, Commanding
Liège by Christmas, Bruxelles by New Year’s” was Field Marshal Gerd von Rundstedt’s promise to his soldiers. But his operation backfired. The Battle Babies, the men of the 99th Infantry Division know why. For two days, December 16 and December 17 1944, soldiers of the 99th Infantry stood alone at a very hot corner of the Battle of the Bulge. The Division was in position along the International Highway, B-265, facing Schleiden, Oberhausen, Hellenthal, Undenbreth, Scheid, Losheim, Hallschlag in Germany closing all the roads to Lanzerath, Losheimergraben, Hunningen, Murringen, Bullingen, Wirtzfeld, Krinkelt, Rocherath, Elsenborn in Belgium. While the German’s best troops lowered the boom against their thinly-held line. The Division was spread over a 20-mile front and without reserves. The green troops of Gen Lauer’s 99th Infantry Division mixed with Gen Robertson’s 2nd Infantry Division having on their left Gen Craig’s 9th Infantry Division, on their right Gen Jones’ 106th Infantry Division. Together they fought with the major part of SS-Oberstgruppenführer Josef Sepp Dietrich’s 6.SS-Panzer-Army. His army included the 1.-SS-Panzer Division, 3.-Fallschirmjäger Division, 12.-Volksgrenadier Division, 12.-SS-Panzer Division, 246.-Volksgrenadier Division, 277.-Infantry Division, 326.-Volksgrenadier Division and supporting units. This display of power called for a show of guts to face it, much less.
The History of the 99th Infantry Division
This book has been compiled from official and unofficial sources to afford men who have been in combat with the 393rd Infantry a review of the Regiment’s action in the European Theater of Operations. With emphasis placed on the unit rather than individual action, the book has omitted stories of personal heroism. Names of men in pictures have been purposely omitted. To each man. who fought with the 393rd Infantry belongs credit for the hard-fought battle. To him belongs also the privilege of relating his deeds. Some five thousand men participated with the regiment in combat – to each this book is the background of his own fight. Effort has been made to show action of every section that comprises an infantry regiment in combat. A sincere endeavor was made to encompass all who played a part in building a fighting team. If you are able to recall some of the joy and hell you experienced with the regiment, the 393rd Infantry in Review is a success.
Ernest W. Fritz
United States Army – 1945
On the fateful day of December 7, 1941, the 99th Infantry Division was a Reserve Unit, a paper division. It has never been called into active service, but with lightning speed plans were made for activation. A tar-paper camp in Mississippi was planned and designated as its post. Maj Gen Thompson Lawrence was assigned as Commanding General. The vast machinery was begun to form a fighting team of 15,000 men. Gen Lawrence said in his activation day speech :
The history of the 99th Infantry Division will be written by you. The greatest responsibility of your life is the preparation and the fight of this division against the enemy’.
The Huertgen Forest – Description
Known as the Huertgenwald to the Germans and to the Huertgen Forest to the Allies this area was one of the largest wooded tracts in Germany. It is located on the Belgian – German border and was part of the northern portion of the Ardennes region of Belgium, Luxembourg and the Eifel region of Germany. It is about 35 kilometers (23 miles) in length located between the southern part of Aachen – Brand in the north to the northern part of Simmerath – Monschau to the south. In wide, the area is about 40 kilometers (27 miles) from Roetgen, along the Belgian – German border in the west to Kreuzau – Düren in the east.
Operational Performance of the US 28th Infantry Division (Keystone) September to December 1944 is a thesis presented to the Faculty of the US Army Command and General Staff College in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree Master of Military Art and Science by Jeffrey P. Holt, Major, USA. BS, University of South Alabama, 1982.
This study analyzes the operational performance of the 28th Infantry Division during a period of high intensity combat in the European Theater of Operations. The focus is on the difficulties the division experienced within its subordinate infantry units. Infantrymen, though comprising less than 40 percent of the division’s total strength, absorbed almost 90 percent of all casualties. The high casualty rate within infantry units severely curtailed the operational performance of the division. The difficulties the 28th experienced were commonplace in the European theater. Compounding the problem was the inadequate number of divisions in the US Army force structure. This inadequacy forced divisions to remain in combat for excessive durations, greatly increasing battle and non battle casualties. The army’s personnel system further contributed to the problems infantry divisions experienced within their infantry units. It failed to provide sufficient numbers of infantry replacements in a timely manner and there was widespread dissatisfaction with the quality of infantry replacements. This study shows that the US Army failed to realize both the importance of infantry units to the war effort and the severity of combat on the modem battlefield. The result was an infantry force structure poorly designed to accomplish its wartime mission.
The preparations for the Allied invasion of Normandy were unprecedented in scale and complexity. In addition to accumulating hundreds of thousands of soldiers and millions of tons of material in Britain, the Allies gathered hundreds of specialized landing craft in ports across southern England. These would play a critical role in delivering the Allied assault troops to the French beaches. Given the presumed difficulties in seizing French harbors from their German garrisons, the Allies designed and built huge metal and concrete artificial harbors – Mulberries – for tow to the Normandy beaches. Once the American and Commonwealth assault troops had secured beachheads in France, the mulberries would make unloading cargo ships easier and faster than carrying supplies over the beach.
Appledore Ebb, Dwight C. Shepler, #134, Watercolor, Feb 1944, 88-199-EG
The twenty-one foot tide of North Devon withdrew toward the Irish Sea, leaving the confluence of the Taw-and-Torridge a Y-shaped trickle in the flat sands. This was significant, for these tidal and beach conditions approximated those in Normandy where the allied invasion force would land in action. LCTs (Landing Craft Tank) and coasters, which would play a part in the invasion, were left high and “dried out” by the ebb. Beyond the lighthouse in the distance lay the dunes and surf-swept beaches of the US Army Assault Training Center at Woolacombe. Here a series of small boat crews from the Advance Amphibious Training Base at Appledore-Instow practiced assaults with successive divisions of infantry troops amidst realistic gunfire and bombardment. The principal objective was the long flat beach of Woolacombe, and the “hedgehogs” of its hinterland, a reasonable facsimile of a “certain” piece of the coast of Europe. Time would tell where and when the actual invasion landscape would be encountered.