54th Signal Battalion, Harzé – Aywaille, December 1944

This is a really nice set of photos (Belgium – Battle of the Bulge), never published before, and sent to me from my friend Frank Warner in Pottstown, USA.


Belgian civilians in Aywaille, Belgium, watch the start of an air battle in late December 1944, just north of Harzé, Belgium. Cpl Ralph Salmon of the 54th Signal Battalion took the photograph.


Army Pfc Thomas E. Warner, 54th Signal Battalion, in a jeep during training at Camp McQuaide, California, in May 1942. Warner was from Easton, Pennsylvania.

Continue reading

561-FAB (History of the Unit)


Combat History – 561st Field Artillery Battalion
December 17 1944 : Defying the murky skies, the tiny liaison plane circled low as Lt David E. Runden dropped a note in the battalion area. German tanks are in Setz (Belgium), heading our way, the message read. The Battle of the Bulge was on! Marshalling his crack troops for a last, all-out offensive, Field Marshal Gerd von Rundstedt wheeled his Panzers west in a surprise move that was designed to split open the Allied forces, drive through to Liège and on to Antwerp. The 561st Field Artillery Battalion was backing up the 106th Infantry Division at the exact spot where von Rundstedt chose to break through the line. C Battery, dug in atop a hill, poured direct fire on German tanks in the valley below. Lower and lower the tubes were depressed. Gun crews were forced to dig away the earth so the tubes could be dropped even further down. Then came orders from Group to displace to the rear. Lt Col Robert C. White, battalion CO, told battery commanders to evacuate all guns, vehicles and personnel; to destroy all equipment that could not be pulled back in time. A Battery, with all of its vehicles at ordnance, was forced to leave all personal and organizational equipment behind. C Battery, which covered the withdrawal for the remainder of the battalion, found it necessary to destroy 3 guns. Not only did the battery keep the 155s blazing until the last possible moment, but it was hopeless to move the guns in the mud.


Continue reading

2-AD, Huy – Celles (12/44)


Operation, 2AD, Ardenne Offensive
– a Movement Dec 21 Roer River (GER)/Eastern Belgium
– b Battle of Humain and the Celles’ Pocket
– c Drive on Houffalize, 1A and 3A connection
Howard N. Bressler, Captain, Cavalry

The beginning of the Ardennes offensive on December 16 1944 found the 2nd Armored Division in defensive positions along the Roer River in the vicinity of Jülich – Düren. On December 20, the entire division had been relieved of responsibility for the Roer River defensive line by the 29th Infantry Division. By order of the Commanding General, Ninth Army (9A), the Division reverted to Army reserve where it could be readily available to oppose possible enemy attack in that area.

German captives walk past a disabled tank as they are led into captivity by U.S. troops, on January 25, 1945, north of Foy, Belgium, in the final days of the Battle of the Bulge. (AP Photo)

German captives walk past a disabled tank as they are led into captivity by US troops, on January 25, 1945, north of Foy, Belgium, in the final days of the Battle of the Bulge. (NARA – US Army – EUCMH, Illustration

Continue reading

Army Air Forces Fields & Bases Europa 1944-1945


After the landing in Normandy, followed by some weeks later with the landing in the Provence (South France), the US Army Air Force started to move ahead it’s Airfields to reduce the fly distances between the bombing targets assigned in France, Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany and the home’s Airfields in the UK. This started with the North part of France on Jun 7 1944 then in the South part when the troops landed on the beaches.


Continue reading

81st Chemical Mortar Battalion (Motorized) – ETO – 1944-1945

81-CMBTo give a thorough account of the accomplishments of the Eighty-First Chemical Mortar Battalion (81-CMB) would take thousands of pages.
To detail the heroic deeds and meritorious service of the gallant officers and men of the Eighty-First would also take more thousands of pages.
A booklet the size of this could be written about each enlisted man and each officer. It is believed the history is concise, yet shows the battalion to have lived up to its motto, “Equal To The Task.”

Jack W. Lipphardt
Lt Col, CWS

I. Activation and Basic Training
The story of the 81-CMB does not start back in the trusty annals of early American history. Insofar as antiquity and tradition are concerned, it is conspicuously new, but the few years since its activation have been packed with accomplishment, heroism, and battle experience in keeping with the highest traditions of any unit in the United States Army. The 81st was formed when the country was faced with the necessity of creating a highly trained, efficient army in a minimum of time.


Continue reading

99 Rcn (99-ID) December 16 1944

On Nov 10, 1944, the 99th Rcn Troop (99th Infantry Division) through intermittent rain and snow moved 40 miles to the south and east on slippery surfaced roads from St Jean Sart (Aubel) to Elsenborn. From there, the 3rd Plat moved to Kalterherberg, dug in on a hill, and created that now famous thing The Hole, two machine gun emplacements dug in and under enemy fire, here for the next month. To be exact, until Dec 11, as they held out there on a defensive line as reserves. In this month much was learned both by the men at Elsenborn and those at Kalterherberg. At Elsenborn every day at least two members of each platoon, making a 10 man total, accompanied the 395th Infantry Regiment patrols into the Siegfried Line. The experience was invaluable. On one occasion one of these patrols was to seize a Siegfried pillbox knocked out by a rocket round fired by their patrol. This gave promise of bigger things yet to come. The 2nd Plat, while digging in additional defensive positions at Kalterherberg for the reserve line of the 3rd Platoon, received eight rounds of Jerry mortar fire coming in as also did the 3rd. It was then the Troop as a unit received its baptism of fire. It was on Nov 15. On the lighter side of things, although the drama of the movies was missing and the Reconners were coming one by one to admit Gen Sherman’s dictum on war, with the added qualification frozen hell, Roberts and Birdsong got themselves into the movies during a patrol, on which a cameraman came along and kept them candid company, thus even the glamorous had become the same hell to live with and the disillusionment of a frozen life became complete.


Continue reading

Fort de Breendonk, German Atrocities in Belgium (WW-2)


Official File – Brig Gen R. MCCLure, Chief PWD SHAEF (Main) (For Mr. C. D. Jackson)
From : Brigadier A. C. Neville, BGS (P&W), Main HQ, 21st Army Group
Report on Atrocities committed by the Germans against the Civilian Population in Belgium


This report was originally published in December 1944 by Headquarters 21st Army Group under the tittle of “Report on German Atrocities”. It has now been decided to publish that part of the original report which deal with atrocities committed by the Germans against the civilian population in Belgium. Since the original report was published certain additional information regarding German atrocities against the civilian population has become available and has been included in this edition.

The following abbreviations occur in the report :

SS – Schutz Staffel (Originally mean bodyguards, now signifies Nazi Party troops)
SD – Sicherheitsdienst (German Security Service)
SP – Sicherheitspolizei (German Security Police)
GFP – Geheime Feldpolizei (German Field Police)
VNV – Vlaamish Nationaal Verbond (Belgian (Vlaamishe) pro-German movement)
MNB – Mouvement National Belge (Belgian Resistance Movement)

Continue reading

3-AD France – Belgium – Roetgen (Germany) Jul-Dec 1944

St Jean-de-Daye-07-26-1944

The 3rd Armored Division moved from Somerset through Southampton and Weymouth and debarked across Omaha Beach. After collecting itself and organizing into combat commands, it attacked to seize Villiers-Fossard. Villiers-Fossard, strongly defended by the Germans in thick hedgerow terrain, formed a salient into American lines threatening progress towards Saint-Lô. On Jun 29, CCA, reinforced by elements of the 29th Infantry Division, attacked to reduce this salient. The enemy had zeroed artillery in on road intersections and covered gaps in the hedgerows with machine-guns and anti-tank weapons. The Americans did not yet have many dozer tanks, and had not yet fully integrated infantry and armor. They did have infantry and artillery tightly integrated, however, and improvised squad tactics to move forward in the compartmented terrain. By Jun 30 Villiers-Fossard had fallen, and the American tankers hurriedly absorbed lessons learned.

Continue reading