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71ème régiment d'infanterie américaine - 1944 Texte en langue anglaise


71st Infantry Regiment
Ed. Baton Rouge, 1946

The first companies of the Regiment entered combat on the twenty-third of October, 1944. They relieved elements of the 315th Infantry Regiment of the 79th Division east of Luneville, France, in the vicinity of Embermenil. The Regiment occupied dug-in positions in Le Remabois and in the eastern part of the Foret de Parroy. In the last week of October and the first weeks of November, with a series of night attacks, the First Battalion drove the Germans from their remaining strongholds in the forest. By continued and active patrolling, the Germans were kept from any effective offensive action in this part of the line.
One of the more daring patrols of this time was made on 31 October by four men from Company E: S/Sgt. R. B. Lawrence and Harold L. Hunt and Pfc. Collie R. Martin and John F. Larkin. These men volunteered to investigate a patch of woods that was suspected of concealing a mortar position. The patrol moved into the woods and, upon discovering more of the enemy than had been anticipated, withdrew and directed an artillery concentration on the area. They then moved into the woods a second time, discovering a machine gun emplacement and mopping it up. Proceeding farther they found a mortar position which they destroyed completely. Next they discovered an active observation dug-out and by moving within point-blank range opened fire and wiped out the position.
The patrol accomplished its mission so effectively that no further enemy activity originated from the wooded area. Pfc. Collie R. Martin was killed in the course of this patrolling action. All four of the men were awarded the Bronze Star Medal for their achievements.
Typical of the bravery of the Regimental Medical Detachment in this period was the action of Pfc. Daniel W. McCarty. On the 26 October, he left his sheltered position during an intense mortar and artillery barrage to go to the rescue of five wounded men. Administering medical aid to them while still under heavy fire, he prepared all the men for speedy evacuation. McCarty's action undoubtedly contributed to the saving of their lives. For his gallantry, McCarty was awarded the Silver Star and the Croix de Guerre.
These last weeks of October and first weeks of November are remembered as a long ordeal of foggy rain and soggy mud. As the days went on, the rain became more insistent, driving its wetness to the very skin of the soldier. The men wore wet clothing for days at a time. Fox-holes and gun positions were flooded and caved in again and again. The men found themselves living and fighting in a brown sea of oozing, sticky mud. Trench foot became a greater danger to the individual than enemy shrapnel. A hot meal served while in reserve was a greater treat for the front-line soldier than a dinner with music at the Waldorf would have been to the average citizen.
Neither the K-ration caramels nor a German broadcast could cheer the weary infantry. Company B reported that at 2215 on 1 November 1944, an enemy loudspeaker broadcast the following message: "Welcome, men of the Forty-fourth. War is Hell. Come over to our lines and get a hot meal." The Regiment made the war a little more hellish by replying with its mortars and calling down artillery fire.
On the 13 November 1944, the Regiment first took the offensive, launching an early morning attack in the Les Remabois Woods between Embermenil and Leintrey. It was a cold morning and the combination of the first snowfall of the season and the deep mud made battle conditions extremely difficult. The 71st Infantry, with the 114th Regiment on its right flank and the 324th Regiment on its left, began the first of a series of thrusts that resulted in the liberation of Sarrebourg, one of the major cities of Alsace.
The initial attack began at 0710, meeting stiff resistance almost immediately, with two battalions being stopped by constant artillery, mortar, and small arms fire. Company I pushed through, capturing Leintrey by 0930, the first of many villages and towns liberated by the Regiment, and went on to take Hill 310, its initial objective. In this engagement the company suffered 90 casualties in three hours. The rest of the day was spent by all battalions in consolidating the new positions, preparing for the expected counter-attack, and readying themselves for a new attack the next morning. The bitter cold continued, and cases of exposure and trench foot were numerous among all units. In many cases it was impossible to get adequate supplies through to all the men because of the constant shelling of positions by massed enemy artillery.
At 0700 the next day the attack was resumed, resulting in limited gains for all units, but •on the fifteenth of November the enemy lines were broken and the first German defensive positions overrun. The Second Battalion took up positions on the right flank of the Regiment with a view to establish contact with the 79th Division which had been recommitted to the line. In a short period of time enemy resistance ceased to be the bitter, effective machine it had been up to this point, and the towns of Amenoncourt, Autrepierre, Gondrexon, Repaix, and Igney fell to our troops in the following two days.
On the eighteenth, Company K was engaged in attacking, when the leading elements came under the heavy fire of German machine guns, which completely dominated the draw through which the company must move. The constant gunfire, by halting the advance of one company, had slowed the entire Third Battalion. Upon learning of the machine gun locations, Capt. Walter J. Reilly, commander of Company K, went forward to direct the attacks against them. He rallied his men and led them forward, firing his carbine from the hip as the group advanced. This action brought him under fire from one of the guns and he was seriously wounded. Despite this fact, Captain Reilly kept advancing, firing constantly until he was again hit, this time fatally. His action resulted in the destruction of the gun crews and enabled the Third Battalion to continue to advance to its objective with a minimum number of casualties. Captain Reilly's courage and complete disregard for his personal safety were inspirations to his men, and for this heroic action he was awarded posthumously the Distinguished Service Cross.


Pushing on under close support from both our tanks and air corps, the village of Foulcrey was entered by troops of the First Battalion while it was still afire from effects of our dive-bombing during the day. The next day Ibigny fell-one more step on the road to the objective, Sarrebourg. From Ibigny the Third Battalion riding atop tanks, and the First Battalion mounted on trucks were set out immediately, while the Second Battalion remained in town in immediate reserve to exploit a breakthrough or to aid in crushing any counter-attack. It was here that contact with the 79th Division was finally established. The other two battalions worked their way through St. Georges in the early afternoon and broke out toward Landange, two miles distant. It was at this intersection that the Third Battalion with tanks turned east and south toward Lorquin instead of continuing to the northeast to Neufmoulins. Near Lorquin the Third Battalion encountered a strong enemy force and engaged them all night while the First Battalion held up in the outskirts of Neufmoulins and established security outposts for the remainder of the night.
Lieuts. Luke LeBlond and Donald-Moon of Company A and a platoon of men went out at 0500 as a combat patrol to enter enemy territory and, if possible, to secure and hold a bridge across the Marne Canal. After meeting resistance in the town of Xouaxange, the patrol captured the bridge with enemy demolition charges intact. The patrol had made its way to a point two and one-half miles into enemy-held territory and reached the bridge at 0645. While preparing hasty positions for the light machine guns that were covering the operation, the party was approached in the darkness by a group of men. At a distance of two yards, Lieutenant Moon recognized them as German soldiers and opened fire immediately, killing an officer, a staff sergeant and a private as they attempted to escape. Four prisoners were taken from this action and were employed to disarm the explosive charges placed beneath the bridge by the enemy. Soon Allied troops and tanks were streaming across the canal to Be bing, where the French Second Armored Division, which had joined the drive, turned to the southwest to link with the 324th Regiment then on the left flank.
While the Regiment was covering the remaining few kilometers, a motorized reconnaisance patrol, under the leadership of lst Lieut. Lyle Hoyt, of the Regimental I and R Platoon and another patrol
led by 1st Lieut. Francis Howland and Sgt. Arnold Millner of Company B were sent ahead to scout the immediate vicinity of Sarrebourg. They met resistance in the outskirts and were pinned down by heavy and accurate small arms fire, which wounded Lieut. Howland fatally, and seriously wounded Lieut. Hoyt. Hoyt made his escape while Sgt. Millner, also wounded, and the others were captured. Millner was taken to a private home and his wounds were treated by German aid men. Immediately after their departure he was hidden by the family in the cellar potato bin and was not discovered by the returning Germans. The other captives, Sgt. John M. Higgins, Cpl. Robert Levy. and Pfc. Sam H. Bruesch, members of the Regimental I and R Platoon, and Sj Sgt. Albert Chickie of Company B were forced to walk the entire distance from Sarrebourg to Strasbourg barefoot. Upon arrival they were interned in the city jail. For two days, until troops of our division arrived, all communications from Strasbourg were destroyed and all enemy runners were captured by members of the French Forces of the Interior. Consequently, the enemy was in doubt as to our positions and did not know the city of Sarrebourg had fallen.
Meanwhile, on the afternoon of the twentieth, the First and Third Battalions were deployed to the northwest of the city, where they succeeded in capturing the commanding high ground. Then troops of the First Battalion, working with the French tankers, drove into Sarrebourg proper without meeting the strong resistance that had been expected. For three days no artillery support had been possible because the foot troops had outdistanced all units of artillery. The large percentage of heavy fire-power had been delivered by the 81mm. mortar platoon of Company D. The order was given at 1700 to move the remaining companies of the Regiment into the city and its capture was nearly complete by nightfall. The following day was spent in clearing buildings of snipers and rounding up prisoners of war.
When Sarrebourg had been cleared and secured, the Regiment was order ed to continue its advance. By the twenty-third of November the major part of the Regiment was in Goerlingen: and defensive positions had been organized. The next day the second platoon of Anti-tank Company was fired on by enemy artillery and lost one 57mm. gun, a ton-and-a-half truck, and a quarter-ton truck.
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