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US Army

22 – 23 December 1944, Rochefort, Belgium

 

 22 – 23 December 1944, Rochefort, Belgium

 
If the division was out on a limb, those two battalions went out on the branches.  The Reconnaissance areas were so large that each battalion had to split up into companies which operated more or less independently and at least one company had to split up into more or less independent platoons. 
 
As for the 3rd Battalion, 335th Infantry Regiment, Company “I” managed to get to Rochefort on the afternoon of December 22.  Company “L” was supposed to go to Hargimont but it ran into heavy resistance at Marloie was cut off by enemy forces between Marloie and Rochefort.  The 2nd Armored Division was coming down towards Rochefort but, for a day.  The 3rd Battalion, 335th Infantry Regiment, was all we had in the way of the 2nd SS Panzer Division which was racing to a collision with our 2nd Armored Division. 
 
Company “K” was out on the leaves of the furthest branch.  As the 1st and 2nd Platoons were moving from Tellin to Grupont, just as they passed the village of Bure in between, the leading jeep was fired on.  A civilian volunteered the information that there were nine Germans and a half-track in Grupont.  The 1st Platoon went off to Grupont.  A German tank rumbled into Bure from Grupont and fired point-blank at the temporary Command Post.  At one point, the company commander, Lieutenant Leonard R. Carpenter, found himself entirely alone in a house in Bure.  When three SS men came in to search the premises, he dove into a potato bin in the cellar, grimly holding on to a 300 radio.  After the SS men left empty-handed, he worked on the radio and broke into a conversation which hinted that his two platoons were still in Tellin.  With the help of a Belgian civilian – civilians practically saved the company – he found a backwoods trail to Tellin. 
 
At eight-thirty that night, December 23, Company “K” was ordered to return to Rochefort.  There was no way of relaying the information to the 1st Platoon which had gone off to Grupont.  The rest tumbled into 2½ ton trucks and started back.  Outside Rochefort, they found it healthier to proceed on foot.  The town was receiving a terrific shelling.  In Rochefort, the action was pell-mell.  The enemy had infiltrated in force and held most of the houses.  Company “K” moved into a large hotel with Company “I”.  Throughout the night, German 88’s, machine guns and burp guns whistled and rattled all over town.  We had two 57mm, anti-tank guns and two heavy machine guns in front of the hotel.  The next morning, December 24, a German tank came down the street and fired ^point-blank at the hotel, knocking out several jeeps.  A tree burst of 88’s landed in the middle of the crews of the anti-tank guns.  By nine-thirty, the battalion was ordered to leave Rochefort but only Company “M” and battalion headquarters were able to entruck. 
 
Our men in the hotel decided to make a break for it.  To cover their movement, they hurled smoke grenades into the middle of the street, blinding a German tank which was waiting for them.  They started out the door in a dead run and headed for the railroad tracks to the north of Rochefort.  A thousand yards down the tracks, they came to a wooded area.  There Lieutenant Carpenter found he had two thirds of Company “K”, half of Company “I” and a few men from every unit that had ever been in the vicinity. 
 
Company “M” and battalion headquarters reached Givet at one o’clock in the morning, December 25, From Givet, the trucks went back and luckily found Lieutenant Carpenter men on the road.  The remainder of Company “I” run into elements of the 2nd Armored Division north of Jemelle and came back directly to Marche.  Company “K”s 1st Platoon stumbled across some engineers at Chanly who brought them in trucks to Givert.  Company “L” was relieved at Marloie the same day.  Those who made the trip from Givet to Marche were constantly receiving reports that Marche had been taken by the enemy.  As a result, they went as far north as St Trond in a big circle.  They travelled about 125 miles in 36 hours instead of one-fifth the time and distance by a direct route.  The whole battalion was back in Marche by noon, December 26. 
 
Source: From Reed Carpenter, the son of 1st Lt Leonard R. Carpenter, December 2018

By Lt Leonard R CARPENTER

3rd Battalion

335th Infantry Regiment

84th Infantry Division

Campaigns

Battle of the Bulge,

Belgium