Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Between the Lines: Bill in Combat April 10-15, 1945

Higher echelon, having interrogated a few of the youths captured at Heilbronn decides that a general counter-attack is to be launched against the city on April 10 or 11. Consequently, Able Company makes adjustments. The Second Platoon outposts its apartments and picks out supplementary positions along the railroad tracks, the First spreads thinner and forms strong points, the Third fortifies the left flank, and the mortars and artillery zeroes in fire to the front. Typically reliable, G-2 makes a wrong guess and on the twelfth of April, after the Second Battalion takes its positions, Able occupies Heilbronn garrison jointly with Baker. The edge of town is in the rear now, and in front are hills and woods, and Crailsheim. The 10th Armored is reported to be having trouble in Crailsheim and the 44th is sent in to relieve them. In addition, the 100th breaks out eastward in an attempt to relieve pressure.

Before dawn on April 14, Charlie and Able jump off into the woods that straddle the hilly roadbed toward Crailsheim. It is a very rainy day, there are a number of enemy automatic weapons, and the woods are large. The attack progresses to the crest of the hill. Tanks arrive to cover the road, Charlie contacts Able by patrol and the positions are consolidated. Then direct fire is taken from enemy 88’s and orders come through to withdraw.

Unknown to the First Battalion, the 10th Armored pulls back from Crailsheim, the 397th moves around in front blocking any eastward attack and the French head south towards Stuttgart after failing to cross the Neckar River. As a result, the direction of attack moves southward. Following the retaking of Crailsheim by the 44th the left flank begins to move. Pressure on the right flank needs to be relieved, for the drive on the southern redoubt has begun. A large crescent shaped woods spreads along the hill crest from south of Heilbronn at Flein eastward to Untergruppenbach. It is the task of A and C Companies to clear these woods. Charlie remains in positions vacated by Able which in turn withdraws to the town of Flein where Baker Company has forced a toehold in the edge of the woods.

The next morning, April 15, Able Company jumps off through Baker and, straddling the crest of the ridge, heads for contact with Charlie coming around from the other side. Considerable 88 fire is encountered and a heavily defended road block slows progress. TD’s artillery and 81 mm. mortars help somewhat and the drive continues. Baker Co. and the tanks come up to help with the defense. The first night spent in the woods since Briedenbach is survived without bedrolls or hot chow.

No comments:

Post a Comment

If you receive an error message when posting a comment or preview please hit "Post Comment" or "Preview" a second time and it should go through.--Greg