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Stories

32nd Armored Infantry Regiment

32nd Armored Infantry Regiment

 
“Victory Or Death,” the motto of the 32nd Armored Regiment, served as an inspirational order to this first of the 3rd Armored Division’s two great battering rams.Commanded by Colonel Leander L. Doan, the 32nd contributed much to the powerhouse drive of the “Spearhead” Division through Europe.

Allied Counter Offensive 3-6 January 1945

On 3 January 1945, VII Corps started a new offensive to the southeast with the 2nd and 3rd Armored Divisions abreast followed by the 84th and 83rd Infantry Division.  The objective of this attack was to drive rapidly to the southeast, with the armor leading, seize Houffalize and its vital road net; and join up with the Third Army coming up from the south, thereby pocketing elements of the German Army that had penetrated further to the west before they could be withdrawn.
 
In the zone of the 3rd Armored, the attack was made with Combat Commands “A” and “B” abreast.  Combat Command “B” was on the right (west) of the zone.  Each Combat Command moved out to the attack in two Task Force columns: 
 

“Combat Command “A” (Brig Gen. Hickey)

TF “Doan”

HQ 32nd Armored Regiment

2nd Bn., 32nd Armored Regiment

3rd Bn., 36th Armored Infantry Regiment

1st Plat., “A” Co., 23rd Armored Engineer Bn.

1st Plat., “A” Co., 703rd Tank Destroyer Bn.

54th Armored Field Artillery Bn.
 
TF “Richardson”

3rd Bn., 32nd Armored Regiment

2nd Bn., 330th Infantry Regiment

2nd Plat., ”A” Co., 23rd Armored Engineer Bn.

2nd Plat., “A” Co., 703rd Tank Destroyer Bn.

67th Armored Field Artillery Bn.
 
“Combat Command “B” (Brig Gen. Boudinot)

TF “Mc George”

HQ 33rd Armored Regiment

1st Bn., 33rd Armored Regiment (-3rd Plat., Co “A”)

2nd Bn., 36th Armored Infantry Regiment

2nd Bn., Co “D”, 23rd Armored Engineer Bn.

3rd Plat., Reconnaissance. Co., 33rd Armored Regiment

83rd Armored Field Artillery Bn.
 
TF “Lovelady”

2nd Bn., 33rd Armored Regiment (-3rd Plat., Co “B”)

3rd Bn., 330th Infantry Regiment

1st Plat., “D” Co., 23rd Armored Engineer Bn.

1st Plat., “B” Co., 703rd Tank Destroyer Bn.

2nd Plat., Reconnaissance. Co., 33rd Armored Regiment

1st Plat., AT Co., 36th Armored Infantry Regiment

391st Armored Field Artillery Bn.
 
In addition to the organic elements of the Division, the strength was bolstered by the attachment of the 330th Infantry Regiment, 83rd Division, and three artillery battalions the 83rd Armored, 991st (SP 155 Guns), and the 183rd (155 Hows).  Each Combat Command had two battalions of infantry and two battalions of artillery in direct support.  If a penetration could be effected quickly it was felt that the forces were in sufficient (as printed)
 
The plan for the day of 15 January called for Task Force “Orr” and Task Force “Miller” (Combat Command “A”) to take over Baclain and Montleban; Task Force “Kane” to pass through Yeomans and take the high ground south of Brisy; Task Force “Welborn” (formerly Task Force “Walker”) to attack through Sterpigny, thence to Retigny, allowing Lovelady to come into Cherain under reduced pressure.  However Task Force “Kane” was able to advance only a short distance and Task Force “Welborn” got only into the western edge of Sterpigny.  Task Force “Lovelady” attempted to advance Cherain.  Again they ran into mines in a defile.Anti-tank guns caught the vehicles in column, and at 1530 they had no medium task left.
 
Adding fuel to a fire that was already hot enough, an enemy column moved into Sterpigny to reinforce the garrison there whereupon Task Force “Richardson” from Combat Command “A” was attached to Combat Command “B” and committed to the Sterpigny fight, but the situation remained virtually static.  Only the western edge of the town was taken.
 
Task Force “Lovelady” was relieved in place by Task Force “Bailey” (a company of medium tanks and a company of infantry from Combat Command “A” area to refit and reorganize.
 
When Welborn and Richardson continued the attack on Sterpigny on 18 January another enemy column attempting to enter the town from the east was dispersed by artillery.  Anti-tank and small arms fire started coming into the town from the woods to the northeast which was thought to be clear.  The town itself was secured, but direct fire continued to come in.
 
Task Force “Hogan” was ordered to send a force into Cherain the morning.  He was able to get only infantry into the town because of a blown bridge between Vaux and Cherain.  This force met little resistance.  Having fought stubbornly for days, the enemy then withdrew.  Task Force “Bailey” was sent into the town to relieve Task Force “Hogan’s” infantry and secure the town to allow Hogan to assemble his whole force in Vaux for an attack on Brisy in conjunction with Task Force “Kane”.
 
Task Force “Kane’s” attack toward Brisy was stopped cold by heavy fire of all types.  When Task Force “Hogan” got their infantry back out of Cherain they attacked toward Brisy to assist Task Force “Kane,” but were also stopped after very short advance.  Task Force “Yeomans” secured Sommerain, forcing the enemy to withdraw south.
 
By 17 January, Task Force “Hogan” was reduced to twelve medium and ten light tanks.  The Infantry Battalion (1st Bn., 330th Infantry Regiment) was down to one hundred and twenty-five riflemen.  Task Force “Kane” had eleven medium and seventeen light tanks left.  The infantry strength, including Battalion Headquarters Company, was three hundred and eleven.  Both of these task forces held their positions as did Task Force “Yeomans” in Sommerain.  Task Force “Richardson” continued operations over in Sterpigny.
 
Task Force “Welborn” attacked Cherain to secure the first hill to the southeast there, a distance of about one thousand yards.  On the first attack elements of the force succeeded in reaching the objective, but were forced to withdraw.  The second attack carried to the hill and Task Force Welborn held there.  Elements of the 4th Cavalry Group took over the sector from Vaux west to the division boundary on 18 January relieving Yeomans, Kane, and Hogan.
 
On 18 January, Task Force “Richardson” continued to attack to secure the east edge of the woods east of Sterpigny.  When they secured this objective line Combat Command “A” in two task forces, Task Force “Doan” and Task Force “Lovelady”, assembled in the vicinity of Sterpigny preparatory to continuing division’s attack south.  It was planned that Doan should seize Rettigny, Renglez and the high ridge south of these town while Lovelady screened his advance and protected his left flank along the wooded ridge southeast of Sterpigny.  Task Force “Kane” of Combat Command “R”, was to attack south from Cherain and take Brisy and the dominating hill to the south thereof.  Richardson secured his objective and the scheduled attack moved rapidly against very light resistance.  Both objectives were taken on the afternoon of 19 January.  The next day the division started moving northwest to rest areas centering around Barvaux and Durbuy.
 
The portion of the German salient west of Houffalize had been liquidated, but the enemy had conducted an efficient withdrawal.  The effort had cost him heavily but he had succeeded in withdrawing a very large part of his forces not expanded in the fifteen days of bold offensive fighting in December and the stubborn rear-guard actions of 3-16 January.  In rare cases was he forced to give ground where the loss would seriously endanger the extrication of his carefully hoarded armor without inflicting severe losses on the attacking force.
 
During a rest period there is plenty of work to do.  The “rest” means that you are not in contact with the enemy.  New reinforcements have to be fitted into their places and given additional training.  New equipment has to be tested, and there is maintenance work in whatever quantity time permits.It is a time of rest, though.  The Tension of battle is gone.  There is time for a few movies and recreational convoys to nearby cities, and there is time to count the score.  The decisive fighting in the Ardennes salient lasted from 16 December 1944 to 16 January 1945.
 
For this period there are two sets of concrete figures that can be juggled at will to propagandize either our cause of the German.  They are the losses of men and material on each side.  A third item for speculation: “what did Von Rundstedt’s gamble gain or lose?” does not concern us directly in this outline.  Taken separately loss figures may be used to prove almost anything.  Together they serve only to emphasize that it was a hard fight.Here they are.
 
During the period 16 December to 16 January, the 3rd Armored Division suffered 1,473 battle casualties, of this number 21 officers and 166 enlisted men were killed in action.  The rest were wounded or missing.
 
Battle losses in vehicles were as follows:

125 Medium Tanks

38 Light Tanks

6 Artillery Pieces

158 Others Vehicle

 

A carefully prepared day to day estimate of losses inflicted on the enemy for this period total up to:

 

1705 estimated killed

545 estimated wounded

2510 Prisoners

 

The estimated vehicular casualties inflicted counting only those known to have benn destroyed are:

98 Tanks

20 SP Guns

76 Motor Transport

23 AT or AA Guns

8 Artillery pieces
 
Source: Battle of the Bulge August 2005
 

Sgt Oda "Chuck" MILLER

"E" Company

32nd Armored Regiment,

3rd Armored Division

Campaigns

Battle of the Bulge,

Belgium