6 June 1944 HQ. enemy attempts to drive through their positions. By mid-December, American armies had reached the Roer River inside Germany and the West Wall along the Saar River in eastern France. Richardson vet served as a combat engineer in Battle of the Bulge. Both battalions found themselves fighting as infantry in a brave but ultimately futile attempt to stem the German offensive. The narrative on the 291st's actions in the Battle of the Bulge are particularly exciting to read as is the author's description of their building the first Allied bridge across the Rhine river. Having delayed the enemy advance for a day and allowed some more supplies to reach beleaguered Bastogne, the 158th retired to the west to establish still more barrier lines. The determination, devotion to duty, and unyielding fighting spirit 17 December 1944, at the beginning of the German Ardennes break-through, the It was also instrumental in building the first pontoon bridge across the Rhine at Remagen to take traffic pressure off the severely damaged Ludendorff Bridge before its tragic collapse. At Hotton they encountered another Ourthe River bridge, a class 70 timber span, defended by engineers from the 51st Combat Battalion. In spite of mines the 158th had hastily planted on the road in front of the bridge, the tanks seized it. August 1945. It is evident that the Infantry could not have succeeded without the support of the courageous and hardworking Combat Engineers. The 1104th had been activated in March 1943 and landed in Normandy on 11 June 1944. Office of History.] The difficult terrain ofthe region and the belief that the German army was near exhaustion had convinced the Allied commanders that the Ardennes sector was relatively safe. containing a powerful enemy force along a route of vital importance to the Allied This is the order of battle of German and Allied forces during the Battle of the Bulge â specifically, at a point near the end of the battle, which lasted from 16 December 1944 until 25 January 1945.. As with any large Army organization in extended combat, forces and their assignments shifted over the course of the battle. III, Bul. For its participation in this action, the 81st Engineer Combat Battalion received the Distinguished Unit Citation, which praised its “extraordinary heroism, gallantry, determination, and esprit de corps.”The capture of Colonel Riggs began an odyssey which eventually ended with his return to his battalion several months later. The 291st received a Presidential Citation for its "outstanding performance of duty in action" for holding a defensive position against a German offensive from 17 December to 26 December in the Ardennes during the Battle of the Bulge: As authorized by Executive Order No. By nightfall the situation seemed much improved-despite the increased pressure on â¦ The combat engineers in Scheidgen returned to Hill 313 and occupied it without a fight. In the meantime, engineers to the rear blocked roads using minefields, abatis, blown culverts, and felled trees. I have been looking for information concerning my father`s time in WW2 ETO. effort, are worthy of high praise. Last stop in Europe was Allendorf Austria. However, historians have recorded that many supporting troops became combat troops during the Battle of the Bulge. Services such as engineers, ordnance, signal and others were considered to be supports for the combat arms. A soldier from the 51st Engineer Combat Battalion checks a TNT charge during the Battle of the Bulge. The 51st Engineer Combat Battalion defended this bridge over the Ourthe River, Hotton, Belgium. His route took him near the town of Malmedy and toward the villages of Stavelot, Trois Ponts, and Huy on the Meuse. The report also directed our commanding officer to report to the G-3, 99th Infantry Division at once. Reinforced by the rest of the 158th under Lieutenant Colonel Sam Tabet, the engineers held open the road to Bastogne for a few hours and allowed supplies of fuel and ammunition to reach the town. He had said that he was in the 158th Combat Engineers Battalion with the 1st Army attached to 2nd Ranger Div.(?) Engineers from the 291st demolished a bridge near Habiemont, Belgium, on â¦ Here we are the 300 th Combat Engineers still attached to the First Army under General Bradley and there was nowhere to go. lt caught fire and its 105-mm. resistance. Headquarters First United States Lately, I have been researching his involvements during WW2, but have been unable to find any information/mention of the 158 CEB. Department of the Army Field Manual No. Thank you for posting this article. An unidentified soldier volunteered to flush out this tank and crossed the bridge with a bazooka and two rounds of ammunition. The citation reads as The best general account of engineers in the Battle of the Bulge is the chapter on the Ardennes in Alfred Beck, et al., The Corps of Engineers: The War Against Germany, United States Army in World War II (VVashington, DC: Center of Military History, 1985).For a more detailed history of the battle, see Hugh M. Cole, The Ardennes: Battle of the Bulge, United States Army in World War II (Washington, DC: Office of the Chief of Military History, 1965).Janice Holt Giles’ lively story of the 291st Engineer Combat Battalion’s exploits, The Damned Engineers, was originally published in 1970 and reprinted by the Office of History, Office of the Chief of Engineers, in 1985.The same office resurrected an account of another battalion’s activities, written shortly after the events, from the files of the National Archives and published it in 1988 as Holding the Line: The 51st Engineer Combat Battalion and the Battle of the Bulge, December 1944-January 1945. By Bill McCalpin. On After the breakout, Allied armies raced across France, liberated Paris, and headed toward the German frontier. Colonel Riggs ordered his men to break up in small groups and attempt to escape to the rear. equipped German army was overwhelmed. 291st Engineer Combat Battalion was assigned the mission of establishing and For the first few days, the engineers’ major problems were caused by the flow of American stragglers streaming to the rear and groups of German soldiers disguised as Americans. 2 January 1945 Twelfth Army Group -- Situation as of 261200 July 1945. Although the river separating Trois Ponts from the German column was shallow enough for infantry to ford, it was an effective barrier to tanks. Battle of the Bulge The 254th/107th Engineers fight as infantry (Editorâs note: This article was written by the late BG (ret) Leonard C. Ward describing what the 254th /107th Engineer Battalion engineers experienced at the beginning of the Battle of the Bulge after â¦ Burke, James (299th Engineer Combat Battalion) Funf Mann: A book by James Burke of the 299th Engineer Combat Battalion, an account of his squad's action during the Bulge and subsequent ordeal as prisoners of war. Unsure of his target in the gloom, Private Bernard Michin waited until a German tank was only 10 yards away before firing his bazooka. Private Michin, who regained his sight several hours later, received the Distinguished Service Cross for his bravery under fire.During the evening of the 19th and the morning of the 20th, the 101st Airborne Division, which had rushed to the defense of Bastogne, relieved the 158th and the 35th ECBs.German panzers and troops continued to push west and north of Bastogne, eventually surrounding the American defenders in the town. as public evidence of deserved honor and distinction. As the American front in the Ardennes collapsed, General Dwight D. Eisenhower and his subordinates redeployed their forces as quickly as they could to meet the German attack; but while these troops were moving into position, the American commanders had to rely on rear area troops already in the Ardennes. Corps of Engineers. In addition, the heavy demand for American troops in some sectors had forced Allied commanders to lightly man other portions of the front.After months of retreat, Hitler decided on a bold gamble to regain the initiative in the west. Alerted the previous evening to help defend the bridge, a platoon of the 158th arrived as German troops seized it. After the breakout, Allied armies raced across France, liberated Paris, and headed toward the German frontier. Next he was assigned to the 1104th Engineer Combat Group in time to participate in the Battle of the Bulge (although he would later state that he was not at the center of the most heated action). Reinforced by some tanks from the 7th Armored Division, elements of the two engineer battalions under Colonel Riggs held their position against determined German attacks until 21 December. Theater of Operations, is confirmed under the provisions of section IV, Circular Late one night, the Polish underground discovered him, and he joined a Russian tank unit when it captured the Polish village where the underground had taken him. As they advanced, U.S. Army engineers who had been engaged in road maintenance and sawmilling suddenly found themselves manning roadblocks, mining bridges, and preparing defensive positions in an effort to stop the powerful German armored columns.A few examples will show how these engineers imposed critical delays on an offensive whose only hope for success lay in crossing the Meuse quickly.Lieutenant Colonel Joachim Peiper, a Nazi SS officer, led one of the armored columns racing toward the Meuse. By the evening of 18 December, the small American force at Trois Ponts had come under the command of Major Robert B. Yates, executive officer of the 51st Combat Battalion, who had come to the village expecting to attend a daily staff meeting. This was before they went to France: https://www.backtonormandy.org/the-history/engineers/engineer-combat/support8772.html, They left at 23 March 1944, Arrived in England on 4 April 1944, entered France ETO 1 August 1944. This is the order of battle of German and Allied forces during the Battle of the Bulge â specifically, at a point near the end of the battle, which lasted from 16 December 1944 until 25 January 1945.. As with any large Army organization in extended combat, forces and their assignments shifted over the course of the battle. Obersturmbannführer (Lieutenant Colonel) Joachim Peiper was in command of Kampfgruppe Peiper of the 1st SS Panzer Division (Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler) during the Battle of the Bulge. After some time with the unit, Colonel Riggs joined a number of former Allied prisoners of war on a train to Odessa.From there, he went by ship to Istanbul and Port Said in Egypt, where he reported to American authorities. Engineers (Builders and Fighters) in the Battle of the Bulge Hits: 43340 Although D-day gave the western Allies a beachhead in northern France, it took them almost two months of bitter fighting to break out of the Normandy hedgerows. Repeated attacks were made by It was one or the other. While another detachment of the 291st wired one bridge south of the village, Company C, reinforced by an antitank gun and a squad of armored infantry, prepared its defenses. Date of situation printed on each sheet, e.g. By the time he he felt comfortable enough to relay his stories, he was unfortunately beginning to forget some details. Howard C. Speck ( d. 2011 ). Unfortunately, my father passed in 2011, and I have always been disappointed in myself for not taking some time to sit down with him to hear his experiences. On his way back to the unit, Riggs stopped in Paris for a debriefing and made his first contact with his unit when he ran into some engineers from the 81st in a bar. The link has information about copies available for purchase. 11, WD, 1942), citation of According to War Department General Order 114, December 7, 1945 there were approximately 2,000 units that received the Ardennes Credit, (The Battle of the Bulge). Those Damned Engineers! An American tank destroyer, which had slipped off the road and into the river a few days earlier, provided the artillery. The 291st Engineer Combat Battalion was one of the most decorated engineer combat battalions of the United States Army during World War II, playing notable roles both in the Battle of Bulge and the Rhine crossing at Remagen. Combat engineer battalions also fielded defensive .30 cal. Army, 18 February 1945, as approved by the Commanding General, European officers and men of the 291st Engineer Combat Battalion stubbornly resisted all They prevailed upon the crew to join in their defense of the bridge. Its organic engineer combat battalion, the 81st, had begun road repair and snow removal in the division’s sector. antitank gun, but Private Lee Ishmael of the 51st volunteered to man the weapon. instance, were thrown back with heavy losses by the resolute and determined He had always been very reluctant to share his wartime experiences with us as we were growing up to protect us from the atrocities he had witnessed ( perhaps the worst of which was as a liberator of Dachau Concentration Camp ). On December 15th, just prior to the onset of hostile action, the 1278th was attached to the 1128th Engineer Combat Group, which was located in the vicinity of Habay-la-Vieille, Belgium, and consisted of the 1278th, 158th, and 299th Engineer Combat Battalions, the 467th Engineer Maintenance Company, and the 626th Engineer Light Equipment Company. Though greatly outnumbered https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/291st_Engineer_Combat_Battalion_(United_States) KVK: 78264294, Goudplevierstraat 34 8043JH Zwolle, NETHERLANDS, You are now being logged in using your Facebook credentials, Engineers (Builders and Fighters) in the Battle of the Bulge, This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site, https://www.backtonormandy.org/the-history/engineers/engineer-combat/support8772.html. ARMY HISTORY THE PROFESSIONAL BULLETIN OF ARMY HISTORY PB-20-94-5 (No. By noon, the engineers and tank destroyers forced the enemy to withdraw. As he rolled into a ditch, he heard machine gun fire close by. The 291st Engineer Combat Battalion was one of the most decorated engineering groups of the United States Army during World War II. 34. Reprinted with permission of the general editor, Dr. Barry W. Fowle. Central Europe/Rhineland/Germany - (Battle of Bulge links below) Operation Northwind The Rhine River Crossings - mentions the 540th Combat Engineers Ardennes/Alsace - The US Army Campaigns of WWII The Rhineland Central Europe. I have been looking for information concerning my father`s time in WW2 ETO. 9396 (sec. By the next evening, the small American force was surrounded and running low on ammunition. A company of armored infantry eventually reinforced the engineer roadblock, but this small American force was no match for the German panzers. 22, WD, 1943), All images, stories and logos are copyrighted to their respective owners. and constantly subjected to heavy enemy artillery, mortar, and small-arms fire, the Get this from a library! , 291st engineers disarm a booby-trapped SturmgeschÃ¼tz III during the Battle of the Bulge, The Ludendorff Bridge before its collapse into the Rhine, Sign erected by 291st declaring their bridge the first over the Rhine at Remagen. The ruses apparently worked, because the Germans never launched a determined attack on the village.On 20 December, the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 82d Airborne Division, which was trying to block the German penetrations, learned of the small force holding Trois Ponts. The combat engineer battalion deployed about two miles east of St. Vith along the outer edge of a pine forest fringing the ridge mask over which climbs the road from Schönberg. If any content is not allowed to be published here, please contact the webmaster and the content will be removed. displayed by the personnel of the 291st Engineer Combat Battalion, in delaying and On the morning of the 19th, German tanks attacked an engineer roadblock in the darkness. The Battle of the Bulge is considered one of the bloodiest battles of World War II. JUST TO THE south of the Elsenborn Ridge we left Obersturmbannführer Jochen Peiper camped just outside Stavelot on the night of 17â18 December.A town of about 5,000, Stavelot, like Malmedy and St Vith, had religious roots. In early December 1944, five American divisions and a cavalry group held the 85-mile-long Ardennes front. Army. He ordered his engineers to set up roadblocks and defensive positions around the town. These units vary in size from a small number of people up to and including an Army Group. On the morning of 17 December, as German troops were cutting off and surrounding the regiments of the 106th, the division commander ordered Lieutenant Colonel Thomas J.Riggs, Jr., the commander of the 81st, to establish defensive positions east of the important crossroads at St. Vith. These included the deployment and operation of assault boats and the construction of various pontoon bridges, including M1 treadways, and modular steel truss Bailey bridges. 254th Engineer Combat Battalion In December 1944, the German offensive in the Ardennes known as the Battle of the Bulge came as a rude awakening to the American forces who believed the war to be all but won. At 0700, the Germans began shelling Hotton, and German tanks pushed past a small 3d Armored Division force on the far side of the river. When he learned on 17 December of the German breakthrough, the commander of the 1111th Group sent Lieutenant Colonel David E. Pergrin, the 27-year-old commander of the 291st, to Malmedy to organize its defense.Although most of the American troops in the area were fleeing toward the rear, Colonel Pergrin decided to hold his position in spite of the panic and confusion. 1:41 PM on Dec 11, 2014 CST. A makeshift force of engineers and others under the commander of Company B, Captain Preston Hodges, held the Hotton bridge. Holding the Line: The 51st Engineer Combat Battalion and the Battle of the Bulge Dec, 1944 to Jan, 1945 [Ken Hechler, Barry W. Fowle] on Amazon.com. During that afternoon, a heavy German assault, led by tanks and accompanied by intense artillery, rocket, and mortar fire, overran the exhausted American defenders. This article is the first mention that I have found so far. After Company C had been ordered to Trois Ponts, the rest of the battalion under the command ofLieutenant Colonel Harvey Fraser established barrier lines in the area of Rochefort, Marche, Hotton, and from there a few miles f&her north. round wedged between the turret and the hull, and as the smoke cleared, the 51st saw the German crew abandoning the tank. He escaped from the camp and headed for the Russian lines, surviving on snow and sugar beets. Each quadrangle sheet shows the position of the 12th Army Group and adjacent Allied Forces and of the German units for each day from D-Day (6 June 1944) thru 26 July 1945. Riggs was eligible for medical leave in the States, but he insisted on rejoining his old unit, now in Western France. The rapid pace of the advance placed a severe strain on Allied logistics, which, along with bad weather and stiffening German resistance, slowed the offensive. Behind the 81st was the 168th Engineer Combat Battalion (ECB), a corps unit, which had been operating sawmills and quarries. The German panzer columns that broke through the engineer defenses on the upper reaches of the Ourthe River drove north and west farther into the American rear area. If the offensive succeeded, it would split the British and American armies and, Hitler hoped, force the British out of the war Before daybreak on 16 December 1944, the German army launched its last desperate offensive, completely surprising the American divisions in the Ardennes. The battalion set up essential roadblocks and prepared hasty defenses. Shortly thereafter, numerically superior enemy infantry and armored columns *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. The Germans marched their prisoners over 100 miles on foot to a railhead. machine gun squads, anti-tank rocket and grenade launchers, and were required to fight as infantry when needed. The Battle of the Bulge demonstrated that engineer initiative and training in defensive operations could make a major contribution to the outcome of an important campaign. 333, War Department, 1943, in the name of the President, of the United States The delays that engineers helped to impose gave the Americans and British time to bring in reinforcements and seal off the German penetrations.  These spanned such diverse activities as construction, demolition, sanitation, map production, minefield clearing, and unit intelligence. Peiper’s column pushed through the village, and its lead tanks turned westward toward Trois Ponts.Shortly before the Germans broke though the roadblock at Stavelot, Captain Sam Scheuber’s Company C of the 51st Engineer Combat Battalion had taken up position in Trois Ponts. Also included are units of the 8th and 9th Army Air Forces. gun and Sergeant Kenneth Kelly attacked it with a bazooka. The engineers put chains on their single 4-ton truck and drove it back and forth through the village to create the impression that there were tanks in Trois Ponts. Port & harbor maintenance and rehabilitation, including beachheads: Laying roads and unloading/loading supplies, vehicles & personnel from transport and cargo ships, Establishing/maintaining supply and ammunition dumps, Building barracks, depots, and similar structures, Rescue & road patrols, bridge and road reconnaissance, This page was last edited on 23 August 2019, at 19:49. Between these two fronts lay the Ardennes, a hilly, densely forested area of Belgium. Before he could complete his degree in psychology from Brooklyn College, Brooks was drafted into the Army to fight during World War II. When the regiment moved into the village during that afternoon, Major Yates greeted its commander with, “Say, I’ll bet you fellows are glad we’re here!” American troops finally stopped and destroyed Peiper’s armored column a few days later; they had received invaluable assistance from the engineers who had delayed the Germans and forced them into costly detours.Farther south, engineers were also caught up in the massive German attack. On the 20th, however, the forward positions of the 51st along the Our-the toward La Roche came under German attack, and by early morning on the next day, enemy armor reached Hotton. FUSAG -- Situation 1200 hrs. He threw a grenade at the sound, which ceased, and struggled back to his platoon. From the railhead, Riggs went to a prisoner of war camp northwest of Warsaw. Many of these were corps and army engineer battalions, scattered throughout the area in company, platoon, and even squadsized groups. manning roadblocks south and east of Malmedy, and with the defense of the It was their first news of him since St. Vith.Other divisional and nondivisional engineer units found themselves in situations similar to the 81st during the first few days of the German offensive. follows: The 291st Engineer Combat Battalion is cited for outstanding performance of Peiper did not attack Malmedy, but headed instead toward Stavelot where Colonel Pergrin had sent another detachment of the 291st. A detachment of German tanks headed down the river looking for another bridge, while other tanks and infantry remained behind, across the river from the village. and .50 cal. Equipped with some mines and a bazooka, the detachment delayed the column for a few hours. Fearing that the Germans would discover the weakness of his force, Major Yates tried to deceive the enemy.During the night, the six trucks of the engineer company repeatedly drove into Trois Ponts with their lights on and drove out with the lights off, simulating the arrival of reinforcements. Of the three army engineer battalions in the VIII Corps zone under the 1128th Engineer Group, one, the 299th Engineer Combat Battalion, already was in â¦ Holding the line : the 51st Engineer Combat Battalion and the Battle of the Bulge, December 1944-January 1945. 30. superseding Executive Order No. Snaking their way along the twisted Ardennes road network, the German battle groups were bent on reaching the Meuse River with the least possible delay. shells exploded at irregular intervals throughout the night. The explosion which knocked out the tank blinded him. As a combat engineer battalion the 291st was capable of providing a wide variety of combat support services essential to sustaining operating forces in the theater of war. The 300 th Combat Engineers Company A, Company B, Company C and it was their job blow up or to build bridges. Indeed, the Battle of the Bulge was an important turning point in the war in the Alliesâ favor, but it was not without its cost. Battle of the Bulge, also called Battle of the Ardennes, (December 16, 1944âJanuary 16, 1945), the last major German offensive on the Western Front during World War IIâan unsuccessful attempt to push the Allies back from German home territory. Holding the Line: The 51st Engineer Combat Battalion and the Battle of the Bulge Dec, 1944 to Jan, 1945 By evening, German tanks closed the road again and attacked the bridge at Ortheuville. On 17 December, the VIII Corps commander ordered his 44th Engineer Combat Battalion under Lieutenant Colonel Clarion J. Kjeldseth to drop its road maintenance, sawmilling, and quarrying operations and help defend the town of Wiltz in Luxembourg. When Peiper’s tanks came into view, the engineers blew up the main bridge leading into the village. US Army Battle of the Bulge 17 December 1944 to 5 January 1945 1st Army: Lt. General Courtney H. Hodges 526th Armored Infantry Battalion 99th Infantry Battalion 61st Engineer Battalion 158th Engineer Battalion 299th Engineer Battalion 300th Engineer Battalion 1278th Engineer Battalion Troop B, 125th Cavarly Reconnaissance Squadron During World War II, U.S. Army combat engineers were at the spearhead of fighting in all theaters, whether the battlefield was North Africaâs desert sands, Normandyâs fire-swept Omaha Beach, the Ardennesâ snowclad forest, or the Pacificâs jungle-covered islands. A few small affrays occurred in the Osweiler-Dickweiler sector, but that was all. duty in action against the enemy from 17 to 26 December 1944, in Belgium. (7) By the evening of 16 December, it was clear that the German attack was an offensive on a grand scale from Monschau in â¦ These German penetrations threatened an American Bailey bridge over the Ourthe River at Ortheuville on the main supply route to Bastogne. More reluctant was the crew of a .37-mm. One of the new divisions there was the 106th Infantry, which had relieved the 2d Infantry Division starting on 10 December. the following unit in General Orders, No. The 51st Engineer Combat Battalion continued to man roadblocks and hold bridges in the area until 3 January.Throughout the Ardennes, divisional, corps, and army engineer units on the front lines and in rear areas participated valiantly in a sometimes desperate attempt to stem the tide of the unexpected German counteroffensive. The Germans captured most of the survivors, including Colonel Riggs. The author was Ken Hechler, and Barry W Fowle added a prologue and epilogue. When two more tanks approached the American positions, the 7th Armored tank knocked one of them out and the other slipped behind some buildings near the bridge. They brought the first news of the Malmedy massacre in which Peiper’s troops murdered at least 86 captured American soldiers. 9075 (sec. 291st Engineers during the Battle of the Bulge SSG Abdel D. Phipps This essay illustrates and identifies the contributions made by Engineers during the Battle of the Bulge. The same was true for administration personnel including those in combat arms units. After a day of hard fighting, the Germans broke through the American front, surrounding most of an infantry division, seizing key crossroads, and advancing their spearheads toward the Meuse River, creating the projection that gave the battle its name. enemy armor and infantry on roadblocks and defensive positions and, in each The Germans had attacked France through this supposedly impassable region in 1940. 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