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US Army

The 2nd Battalion, 517th Parachute Infantry Regiment,


The 2nd Battalion, 517th Parachute Infantry Regiment, and the Bulge.
Interview with:
Major David H. Armstrong, executive officer
And Lieutenant W. G. Irwin, S-3.
Lieutenant Colonel Richard J Seitz is Commander.
L to R =Major David Armstrong, Ex Of - Lt Col Richard J Seitz, Commander and Tom Cross  (Photo Website 517th PIR)
By Captain Robert C. Healey

Information & History Service

NARA documents (1945)

The 2nd Battalion was in regimental rest area at Soissons (France) when the breakthrough came.  All weapons were taken from the Battalion and given to the 82nd Airborne Division.  On December 18, 1944, regiment was alerted to move on two hours notice.  On the afternoon of the 21st the still-weaponless Battalion was ordered to move with regiment to Namur (Belgium).  New weapons were issued at 2025 hours and the Battalion entrucked at 2130 hours, riding all night and all day to one-half mile south of Aywaille.  The 517th Regimental Combat Team was attached to the 30th Division on the 23rd December.  In accordance with 30th Division orders the Regimental Combat Team moved by truck 50 miles to an assembly area two miles east of Xhoffraix.  The next day, the 24th, the companies left the area and set up defensive positions in the vicinity of Chodes.  Christmas Day they moved another 50 miles to Ferrieres and set up further defensive positions.  During this time and through the next six days there was no contact with the enemy.  On the 28th December the 2nd Battalion entrucked after dark for a forward assembly area one and one-half miles north of Manhay, where it bivouacked for the next three days.  New Year's several rounds of heavy artillery fire fell in the vicinity of the Battalion CP.  There was one direct hit on the CP, killing one and wounded eight.  That night the 2nd Battalion entrucked again for another forward assembly area one and one-half miles northwest of Haute Bodeux.
For the attack – coordinated attack – which started at dawn January 3, 1945, the Battalion was operating on the extreme left flank of the 82nd Airborne Division, which had the mission of clearing the right bank of the Salm River and occupying the high ground along the river.  The 30th Infantry Division on the left flank was to keep pace along the left bank.  Battalion objectives were Trois-Ponts (that part of the town lying along the right flank of the river) and the high ground at Mont de Fosse.  Companies "D" and "E" were abreast for the attack, Company "D" moving in the left to Trois-Ponts, Company "E" on the right to Mont de Fosse.  Company "F" was in reserve.  The two companies met stiff resistance on the outskirts of Trois-Ponts.  The enemy had good observation from across the river and from Mont de Fosse.  Company "E" called for artillery support but could get only a battery – three rounds.  Company "F" was committed at 0930 hours.  It started to move around left behind Company "D" but was pulled back at 1430 hours to set up defensive positions along the road into Trois-Ponts covering Company "E" which was in difficulty from heavy mortar and machine guns fire from the high ground at Mont de Fosse.  Company "D" took Trois-Ponts during the afternoon with losses of 12 enlisted men and two officers killed in action and 88 enlisted men and five officers wounded.  It was relieved by a company from the 3rd Battalion.
During the night Company "E" withdrew under the cover of Company "F" and took up Company "F"s positions on the road.  Company "F" reassembled and went on a wide sweep around the right flank and took the high ground at (666966), thus outflanking the troublesome resistance on Mont de Fosse.  Companies "E" and "D" followed, at daybreak.Company "E" moved in on Mont de Fosse, capturing 137 prisoners with little resistance and moved into Trois-Ponts to relieve the 3rd Battalion's company.
For the next three days the positions were consolidated.  There was much sniper fire in the area and the enemy still had plenty of good observation for fire from across the river.  On the 4th January Company "F" lost six men and one officer killed.  Company "E" took over cleaning out the town on the 5th January and lost two men by sniper fire.  Companies "D" and "F" were in defensive positions north of Bergeval.  Company "E" lost an officer killed by a sniper in Trois-Ponts.
On the 11th January 1945 the Battalion entrucked at 2230 hours and role all night to one mile west of Stavelot.  The next day it was attached to the 7th Armored Division and bivouacked at Neuville.
From the 13th to 18th January, Battalion was on 1-hour alert to pass through 1st Division on attack plan which had to be called off because of foul weather.
On the 19th January trucked to Walk.  The companies went into a forward assembly area north of Am Kreuz (864982).  On the 20th command post was set up at Deidenberg (865955).  Company "F" sent out a night patrol to reconnoiter the wood "Auf der Hard", south of Deidenberg.
For this position the Battalion was working with the CCA of the 7th Armored Division and had Company "B" of 17th Armored Infantry under Lieutenant Hardin to form Task Force Seitz.  On the right flank CCB was to take Born and on the left the 1st Division would take Ambleve and work down toward Wallerode (880900).  From a line of departure at Deidenberg Task Force Seitz would clear out woods at An der Hand and continue down to clear out resistance in the In der Eidt woods.  Companies "D" and "E" led off the assault with Company "F" in reserve.  They meet intense artillery and nebelwerfer fire throughout the attacks.I  t was snowing and the weather was wretched.  Resistance from enemy infantry was moderate.  They were on their first objective setting up defensive positions by nightfall with loss of six men killed and 30 wounded.  There, they were relieved by the 508th Parachute Regiment and prepared to continue the Battalion attack to the south and southwest.  Pushing out at midnight they secured the edge of the In der Eidt woods.

The Armored Infantry support was called into play for the continuation of the attack.  Early in the morning orders came to move down through the woods and attack Hunnange (845899).  One company was to mount on medium tanks, the next on half-tracks.  Mounting was to be in position.

At 0900 hours the 23rd January they started moving through the woods.  There was no bridge over the railroad running into St Vith.  The half-tracks couldn't get across the railroad and the infantry had to continue afoot.  The tanks, however, got over.  They reached the edge of the woods on the southwest.  On their right flank Nieder Emmels (839908) which had been reported as taken by 30th Division still showed signs of resistance and four assault guns and 100 prisoners were cleaned out.  Task Force Wimple (CCA 7th Armored) was supposed to have taken high ground to south of Hunnange, but two assault guns remained in the town.  By 2100 hours defensive positions had been set up around Nieder Emmels and Hunnange.
The morning of the 25th January 1945, Battalion received orders to move to assembly area northeast corner of In der Eidt.  The 106th Infantry (424th Regiment) was jumping off from the Auf der Hand woods at 0705 hours to take Medell (883923) while Task Forces Griffith and Rhea took Wallerode.  When both were taken – schedule called for 1000 hours – Battalion to take high ground between them.  The Battalion jumped off at 1000 hours, was held up for a time by machine guns and small arms fire but was on the objective at 1130 hours.  The 106th (424th Regiment) on the left and Task Forces Rhea and Griffith were contacted on the right.  Defensive positions set up.  Relieved on the 26th January by the 424th Regiment and withdrawn to Stavelot.

Source:Combat Interview from NARA: National Archives = 1945


By Captain Robert C. HEALEY

517th Parachute Infantry



Battle of the Bulge,