Search

November 2014
M T W T F S S
27 28 29 30 31 1 2
3 4 5 6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13 14 15 16
17 18 19 20 21 22 23
24 25 26 27 28 29 30

US Army

C.C.B. 9th Armored Division, Battle of the Bulge

C.C.B. 9th Armored Division

Battle of the Bulge

16-25 December 1944

Author Unknow
 

This is a day by day narrative of the action of Combat Command "B", 9th Armored Division, in the St Vith, Belgium, sector during the period, 16 through 23 December 1944.  Combat Command "B" 9th Armored Division, was composed of the following units:

Headquarters and Headquarters Company;

14th Tank Battalion;

27th Armored Infantry Battalion;

16th Armored Field Artillery Battalion;

Troop "D", 89th Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron (Mechanized);

4th Platoon, Troop "E"

2nd Platoon, Company "F";

Company "B", 9th Armored Engineer Battalion;

Company "A", 811th Tank Destroyer Battalion (plus one Platoon Reconnaissance Company, 811th Tank Destroyer Battalion);

Battery "B", 482nd Antiaircraft Artillery Automatic Weapons Battalion (Self-Propelled);

Company "B", 2nd Armored Medical Battalion;

Company "C", 131st Armored Ordnance Maintenance Battalion;

Military Police Detachment, 9th Armored Division.

Ambulance Detachment, 581st Ambulance Company.

 
16 December 1944
Combat Command "B", 9th Armored Division (CCB, 9AD) was in an assembly position in the vicinity of Faymonville – Ligneuville, Belgium.  The Combat Command had been attached to the 2nd Infantry Division in order to participate in an attack on the Roer River Dams in the vicinity of Dreiborn, Germany.  At 1015 hours First Army released CCB, 9th Armored Division from its attachment to the 2nd Infantry Division and attached it to the U.S. Army VIII Corps, commanded by Major General Troy Middleton.

Photo: Brigadier William M. Hoge, Commander, CCB, 9th Armd Division.

General Middleton attached CCB, 9th Armored Division to the 106th Division located in the St Vith, Belgium, sector, but the Commanding General of the 106th Infantry Division could notmove CCB, 9th Armored Division without Corps approval.  The Commanding General, 106th Division did obtain the release of a Platoon of tank destroyers (Company "A", 811th TD) which was ordered to St Vith.B  rigadier William M. Hoge, Commander, CCB, 9th Armored Division, conferred with Commanding General, 106th Infantry Division in St Vith after dark and received orders to be prepared to attack toward Winterspelt.

 

17 December 1944
Combat Command "B", 9th Armored Division diverted to the Winterspelt area on the night of the 16th December, arrived in St Vith before dawn on the 17th, and received its final orders.  The 27th Armored Infantry Battalion was ordered to move at once to seize a series of hills near Winterspelt.  The 14th Tank Battalion would assemble west of the Our River and be prepared to attack as the situation developed.  A platoon of tank destroyers was sent east to Schoenberg to relieve the forward command post of the 106th Infantry Division.  A platoon of the Troop "D", 89th Reconnaissance, was sent to defend the road out of St Vith to the east, while a company of tanks and a platoon of tank destroyers were diverted to screen the entry into the area by the 7th Armored Division.
 
Word that Winterspelt was no longer in friendly hands reached CCB, 9th Armored Division just as the two leading rifle companies started moving to the Our River.  By 0930 one company was across the river and had run into German infantry dug in along the high ground overlooking the village of Elcherath, 1,500 yards from Steinebruck.  The 16th Armored Field Artillery Battalion was in position to give supporting fire to the attack toward Winterspelt. 
 
Two companies ("A" and "C") of the 27th Armored Infantry Battalion advanced to clear the hills flanking Elcherath while "B" Company moved along the main road.  This company suffered about 40 casualties until the 1st Platoon of “A” Company, 14th Tank Battalion, attacked the enemy inflicting heavy casualties and capturing 87 prisoners.  The platoon lost two tanks in the action.  One tank was later recovered by the 14th Tank Battalion Maintenance Section. 
 
A little after 1500 hours, General Hoge ordered the 27th Infantry Battalion to halt and dig in.  He then ordered the 14th Tank Battalion less its detachments to attack and take Winterspelt.  The line of departure for attack was to be the high ground south of Steinebruck.  This attack was cancelled at 1523 hours because the Assistant Division Commander of the 106th Infantry Division arrived at General Hoge’s command post with word from the Commanding General of the 106th Infantry Division that “Hoge might attack if he wished but that CCB, 9th Armored Division must withdraw behind the Our River that night”.  General Hoge ordered the Infantry to dig in and wait for nightfall, and ordered the 14th Tank Battalion back to its assembly area. 
 
During the night of 17-18 December, CCB, 9th Armored Division made a successful withdrawal back across the Our River and took up defensive positions. 
 
In the meantime, the support trains from CCB, 9th Armored Division which were in the Faymonville-Ligneuville sector were hit by Kampfgruppe Peiper of the 1st SS Panzer Division commanded by Colonel Joachim Peiper.  Captain Seymour Green, the Supply Officer of the 27th Armored Infantry Battalion, who was acting as CCB Trains Commander, was captured along with many trucks from his unit and from the 16th Armored Field Artillery.  However, the trucks of the 14th Tank Battalion happened to be in a more favorable position when Peiper’s column hit Ligneuville. 
 
 At about 1430 hours, warning reached Service Company, 14th Tank Battalion Command Post, by foot messenger, that enemy columns were two to three kilometers from Ligneuville and approaching from the north and east.  Small arms firing immediately followed by larger caliber tank weapons occurred within ten minutes after the warning was received.  The 14th Tank Battalion Maintenance Section was working on a 105mm assault gun an M4 tank chassis and an M4A3 medium tank with a 76mm gun in the area.  While the assault gun was immobilized, the tank from “A” Company, 14th Tank Battalion, had needed only minor repairs and was mobile.  The “A” Company tank crew undertook the mission of taking the head of Peiper’s column under fire, disabling several armored vehicles and allowing Service Company to withdraw and remain operational.

 

As Service Company withdraw from the area, Staff Sergeant Lincoln Abraham, Mess Sergeant of “B” Company, 14th Tank Battalion, was observed firing the .50 caliber machine gun from the rear deck of the disabled 105mm assault gun, reinforcing the tank fire of “A” Company’s tank.  Sergeant Abraham was killed in this action.  Several other members of the 14th Tank Battalion’s trains were captured in this action. Staff Sergeant George E. Clevenger, Supply Sergeant of “B” Company, was captured and wounded in the Malmedy Massacre.  He played dead for nearly four hours before escaping.  Several days later, he rejoined the 14th Tank Battalion’s Command Post in the vicinity of St. Vith.

 

Photo at left: S/Sergeant Lincoln Abraham, massacred by SS Troop at Ligneuville

In summation, on the 17th of December, Combat Command “B”, 9th Armored Division, stopped German attacks on St. Vith from the south and east, screened the entry of the 7th Armored Division troops into St. Vith, and delayed the attack of elements of the 1st Panzer Division on Ligneuville.
 
18 December 1944 
Combat Command “B”, 9th Armored Division, continued to hold positions in the vicinity of Steinebruck.  This force consisting of two companies of Infantry (“B” and “C”/27), a company of medium tanks (“B”/14), a company of light tanks (“D”/14), and Troop “D”, 89th Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron, with attached platoons from Troop “E” and Company “F”, was deployed over a front of 4,000 yards.  The 16th Armored Field Artillery provided continuous artillery support to this force.  The all important bridge at Steinebruck which had been left standing because of possible use was blown at 1200 hours by a platoon of Company “B”, 9th Armored Engineer Battalion. 
 
Early in the morning, General Hoge was called to the 106th Infantry Division Headquarters.  He was told of a threat developing from the north and northeast of St. Vith.  At 0930 hours General Hoge ordered Lieutenant Colonel Leonard E. Engeman, Commanding Officer, 14th Tank Battalion, to contain this treat. 
 
A task force consisting of Companies “A” and “C”, 14th Tank Battalion, the Battalion’s Reconnaissance Platoon, Company “A”(-) of 811th Tank Destroyer Battalion, and two sections “B”/482AAA, led by Company “C”, met the enemy about 1,000 yards northeast of St. Vith . 
 
“A” Company passed trough “C” Company and continued the attack until 1700 hours.  In this action the 14th Tank lost one tank while destroying seven enemy armored vehicles.  This force was relieved by infantry and armored units from the 7th Armored Division at 1700 hours.  The force then returned to the 14th Tank Battalion assembly area southeast of St. Vith. 
 
All elements of CCB, 9th Armored Division were fully committed during this period. Casualties in manpower and equipment while substantial did not permit the enemy to close in the vital road center at St. Vith.  By the end of the day the CCB, 9th Armored Division position at the Our was considered to be no longer tenable.  General Hoge conferred with General Jones (Commanding General, 106th Division) and they decided to withdraw from the river to the northwest on slightly higher ground. 
 
19 December 1944 
During the night of 18-19 December, CCB, 9th Armored Division issued orders that the Combat Command would defend St.Vith from its present position against attack from the south.  During the night the sound of enemy vehicles to the south of the Combat Command was audible to the troops in the line. 
 
The 27th Armored Infantry and troops of the 89th Reconnaissance were dug in with two medium tank companies (“B” and “C”, 14th Tank Battalion) plus the light tank company (“D”,14th Tank Battalion) manning the front line.  “A” Company, 14th Tank, was the reserve.  By 1000 hours reports were received of enemy tanks in Lommersweiler, and enemy artillery fire was falling on most of the positions.  At 1008, “B” Company, 14th Tank, knocked out an enemy tank to its front.  Artillery, high velocity gun, and mortar fire being received along all CCB, 9th Armored Division positions.  Medium artillery fire began to fall on “B” Company, 14th Tank Battalion position from 1540 -1605 hours.  This fire then shifted to 14th Tank Battalion Command Post.  At 1635 hours, enemy infantry began an assault against “D”, 14th Tank Battalion's position.  “C” Company, 14th Tank Battalion, supported by mortar fire from the battalion’s mortar platoon, successfully counterattacked this formation. 
 
During the day enemy attacks were repulsed and enemy armored vehicles destroyed.  Despite substantial casualties, he was still prevented from capturing St. Vith.  General Hoge, CCB, 9th Armored Division, and General Clarke, CCB, 7th Armored Division, agreed that in the event CCB, 7th Armored Division had to withdraw to the west of St. Vith, CCB, 9th Armored Division would be isolated to the east because of a railroad embankment, and its only route of withdrawal would be trough St. Vith.  To prevent entanglement of the two units, it was decided that CCB, 9th Armored Division would withdraw to the railroad during the night of 19-20 December.  This move was accomplished by 2045 hours. 
 
20 December 
On the morning of 20 December, the Americans defending St. Vith held the easternmost position of any organized nature in the Central Sector of the Ardennes battleground.  CCB,9th Armored Division, was deployed along a defensive line that joined the right flank of CCB, 7th Armored Division, at the west edge of St. Vith.  This line curved back to the southwest where the right flank of CCB, 9th Armored Division met the left flank of the 424th Infantry Regiment near the town of Grufflange.  The 27th Armored Battalion was deployed in the center with the 14th Tank Battalion’s Medium Tank Companies at either flank. 
 
Starting at daylight, units of CCB, 9th Armored Division came under constant artillery fire and probing attacks along portions of its front.  Troop “D” of the 89th Reconnaissance Battalion and the Reconnaissance of the 14th Tank Battalion were on patrol to close gaps that existed.  Company “D”, 14th Tank, was repelling attacks along its front all day.  It lost two tanks, one to bazooka fire and one to antitank fire.  Because of the nature of the terrain and cover, the Commanding Officer of the 14th Tank Battalion sent Captain Frank Simons.  Headquarters Company with 16 cooks, clerks and mechanics, to aid “D” Company against enemy infiltrating bazooka teams. 
 
At about 1630 an enemy force estimated at two reinforced infantry companies attacked west from Niedengen.  The Germans advanced across an open field in close formation.  Forward artillery observers with the 27th Armored Infantry called for time fire, and two sections of “B” Company of the 482nd AAA Battalion opened up with their quadruple mounted .50 caliber machine guns.  This fire, combined with that of “A” an “C” Companies of the 27th Armored Infantry, caused very heavy casualties, and toward dark the enemy withdrew. 
 
The only reserves available to the Combat Command at this time were two medium tank platoons, plus some self-propelled antiaircraft weapons.  Even these units were committed periodically to stabilize portions of the line from time to time. 
 
The enemy was still denied access to St. Vith from the south and southeast. 
 
21 December 1944 
The first enemy attack on the 21st was launched at 0530 hours against “D” Company, 14th Tank, the 27th Armored Infantry Battalion, Troop “D” 89th Reconnaissance Battalion, and Company “C”, 14th Tank Battalion. 
 
All attacks were repelled.  Subsequent attacks were made against the Infantry, Reconnaissance, and Tank positions at 1115 hours, 1210 hours and 1600 hours.  Company “A”, 14th Tank Battalion, in support of the 27th Armored Infantry Battalion, was also ordered to support the 424th Infantry of the 106th Infantry Division and in addition to cover the withdrawal of the 27th Armored Infantry halftracks.  Company “B”, 14th Tank Battalion, established a roadblock at Bauvenn and was ordered to, contact units of the 7th Armored Division which were falling back from St. Vith. 
 
During this every active day a strong defense stopped enemy attacks from the south and southeast and CCB, 9AD’s defensive position was kept intact. 
 
22 December 1944 
At 0030 hours, General Hoge arrived at the Command Post of the 14th Tank Battalion.  His position at Neubruck had been shelled by medium artillery.  Direct hits had been made, killing and wounding several personnel in his headquarters.  General Hoge remained at the 14th Tank Command Post until his new headquarters was established at Maldingen. 
 
Under orders from General Hoge, Company “A”, 14th Tank Battalion, continued its support of the 27th Armored Infantry in the vicinity of Bauvenn and with Company “B”, 27th Armored Infantry, organized a defensive position along the high ground there.  Starting at 0500, this area came under intense small arms and artillery fire.  The Infantry fell back on Neubruck where the Command Post of the 27th Armored Infantry was located.  This left the Tank Company isolated.  At 0930 at 27th Infantry Command Post at Neubruck reported that they were surrounded and being attacked.  By 1130 hours “A” Company, 14th Tank, had fought its way to Neubruck where it was joined by the 1st Platoon of “B” Company, 14th Tank.  Plans were made to recapture the 27th Infantry Command Post. 
 
The attack was launched by the 1st Platoon of “B” Company, 14th Tank Battalion, with a group of some 20 infantryman commanded by the S-2 of the Armored Infantry, and the enemy surrendered at about 1500 hours. 
 
At 1330 hours Company “B”, 14th Tank, repelled a strong enemy attack.  At 1700 hours “K” and “L” Companies, 424th Infantry Regiment, 106th Infantry Division, were moved to support the positions of “B” and “C” Companies, 14th Tank Battalion.  Company “D”, 14th Tank, patrolled south of Grufflange toward Thommen.  A platoon from “B” Company, 14th Tank, and a platoon from “A” Company, 811th Tank Destroyer Battalion, were attached to “D” Company, 14th, for additional support.  Throughout the night, “D” Company, 14th, with attached units, was in constant contact with the enemy.  Grufflange was under enemy artillery fire all during the night of 22-23 December. 
 
CCB, 9th Armored Division's units, under great pressure along their entire front, gave ground grudgingly.  They continued to delay the enemy, and along with units from the 7th Armored Division, the 112th Infantry of he 28th Infantry Division, and the 424th Infantry of the 106th Infantry Division, denied the Germans the use of the road net at St. Vith. 
 
23 December 1944 
From the period 0001 to 0400 hours, Company “D”, 14th, and attached units continued to patrol in Grufflange and toward Thommen. 
 
Beginning at 0130 hours, the enemy attacked the 27th Armored Infantry Battalion’s position at Neubruck. “A” Company 14th Tank, covered the Infantry’s withdrawal toward Grufflange.  The tanks had difficulty in utilizing their weapons because of their inability to distinguish friend from foe in the dark and because of the close contact. 
 
At 0530 hours, orders were issued for the withdrawal of CCB, 9AD.  The route of withdrawal was Maldingen – Beho – Salmchateau – Lierneux – Manhay –Malempre. 
 
Company “A”, 14th Tank Battalion, was ordered to cover the Combat Command’s withdrawal, which started at 0630 hours.  All units were withdrawn without incident except Company “A”, 14th Tank, which encountered four enemy antitank guns covering the Grufflange - Maldingen road.  At 1000 hours, during the ensuing fire fight, the antitank guns were destroyed but two of Company “A’s” tanks were lost.  The company recovered three U.S. vehicles which had been manned by German personnel and in addition knocked out three enemy command vehicles. 
 
CCB, 9th Armored Division was ordered by the Commanding General of XVIII Corps (Airborne) to assemble as a mobile reserve around Malempre, east of Manhay road, and to back up the American blocking position just north of the Baraque de Fraiture. 
 
CCB, 9th Armored Division broke contact with the enemy in the St. Vith salient and made a daylight withdrawal to blocking positions set up by the XVIII Airborne Corps. 
 
24 December 1944 
On orders from the Assistant Division Commander of the 82nd Airborne Division, “C” Company, 14th Tank Battalion, had been sent to Manhay to establish a roadblock.  These orders and the dispatch of “C” Company were at 2200 hours on the 23rd of December.  “C” Company maintained this roadblock until 1800 hours on the 24th of December.  During this period, they lost four M4A -3 medium tanks to enemy action. 
 
The 82nd Airborne asked for another Medium Tank Company at 1030 hours.  Company “A” of the 14th Tank Battalion was attached to a company of the 325th Infantry, 82nd Airborne Division.  The mission was to recapture the town of Regne, which was accomplished by 1430 hours.  Company “A” lost three medium tanks and knocked out five German tanks during this action. 
 
CCB, 9th Armored Division was ordered into XVIII Corps (Airborne) reserve at 1610 hours.  After two moves, it closed into an assembly area north of Werbomont at 0530 hours on the 25th of December 1944. 
 
CCB, 9th Armored Division defended a roadblock at Manhay and supported troops from the 82nd Airborne Division in a successful counterattack on Regne, Belgium.  The Combat Command closed into its assembly at 0530 hours on the 25th of December after being in continuous combat with the enemy from 0700 hours the 17th of December trough 1430 hours the 24th December, 1944. 
 
Conclusion: 
Combat Command “B”, 9th Armored Division, made a major contribution to the defense of St. Vith, Belgium, during the ARDENNES - Battle of the Bulge during World War II in Europe, 17-23 December 1944. 
 
Source: US Army Armored School

US ARMY ARMORED SCHOOL

 

Combat Command "B"

9th Armored Division

Campaign

Battle of the Bulge,

Belgium