Notes: Assume information applies to entire 509th Parachute Infantry Battalion unless specific companies are identified. This timeline is incomplete.
14 Mar 1941 - Constituted in the Army of the United States as the 504th Parachute Battalion
05 Oct 1941 - Activated as 504th Parachute Battalion, Fort Benning, GA
05 Oct 1941 - 504th PB attached to the Provisional Parachute Group, Fort Benning, GA
17 Nov 1941 - 504th PB begins parachute training at The Parachute Scool as Class #9 at Fort Benning, GA
06 Dec 1941 - Captain Edson Raff is assigned to the 504th PB as Executive Officer
15 Dec 1941 - Was planned day for first qualification parachute jumps for Class #9 but was cancelled after the Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor. Transport aircraft were re-prioritized to other missions
25 Dec 1941 - 504th PB Christmas Dinner
26 Jan 1942 - 504th PB Class #9 completes first training jumps for graduation
30 Jan 1942 - War Department publishes reorganization of all parachute units
07 Feb 1942 - 504th PB Class #9 conducts graduation 'pinning' ceremony and are presented their parachutist badge
24 Feb 1942 - 504th PB reorganized and redesignated as 2nd Battalion, 503rd Parachute Infantry Regiment
05 Mar 1942 - Major Edson Raff takes command of 2nd Bn, 503rd PIR from Major Chase
21 Mar 1942 - 2nd Bn, 503rd PIR reorganized under the Airborne Command, Fort Benning, GA
29 Mar 1942 - 2nd Bn, 503rd PIR relocated to Fort Bragg, NC
20 May 1942 - War Department notifies 503rd Regimental Commander to select one battalion to sail for England on or about 04 Jun 1942. 2nd Bn 503rd PIR was selected
22 May 1942 - War Depatment publishes movement order AG 370.5 (5-21-42)NC-E-M directing shipment 4426
26 May 1942 - Airborne Command publishes Order 370.5 directing the transfer of 2nd Bn 503rd PIR from Fort Bragg, NC to Fort Dix, NJ for permanent change of station
26 May 1942 - (Day and month in question) E Company, 2nd Bn, 503rd PIR under command of 1st Lt William T. Berry conducts demonstration jump for Chief of Staff of the Army, General George C. Marshall and British Field Marshall Sir John Dill
26 May 1942 - Major Yardley,Executive Officer, 2nd Bn 503rd PIR departs for NY Port of Embarkation (POE) as advanced party to make arrangements for the arrivaal of the battalion
01 Jun 1942 - 1800 hrs - 2nd Bn 503rd PIR arrives at Fort Dix, NJ
03 Jun 1942 - 1015 hrs - 2nd Bn 503rd PIR depart Fort Dix, NJ for Cunard Line Docks
04 Jun 1942 - 0300 hrs - 2nd Bn 503rd PIR arrives at docks and is directed by Major Yardley to board the Queen Elizabeth
04 Jun 1942 - 1130 hrs - 2nd Bn 503rd PIR sails for England aboard the Queen Elizabeth
10 Jun 1942 - 2nd Bn 503rd PIR became first American Parachute Battalion to deploy to Europe arriving in Glasgow, Scotland. Is transported ashore by ferry in the river Clyde
10 Jun 1942 - 1550 hrs - Arrived at the rail station
10 Jun 1942 - 1750 hrs - Train departs south bound
10 Jun 1942 - 2100 hrs - Train pulls into Edinburgh for a two hour layover
11 Jun 1942 - 1430 hrs - Train arrives at Hungerford, Berkshire and the battalion is greeted by British Major General F.A.M. Browning then were trucked the two miles to Chilton Foliat
16 Jun 1942 - Major General F.A.M. Browning visits the battalion and addresses them
20 Jul 1942 - 2nd Bn 503rd PIR received orders to move out to the Combat Area at Mortehoe
29 Aug 1942 - Hold American and British wartime record for lowest mass parachute jump executed at 143 feet
02 Nov 1942 - Reorganized and redesignated as the 2nd Battalion, 509th Parachute Infantry Regiment while in England per AG 320.2 (11-3 42)
00 Nov 1942 - 509th Rear Detachment sets sail on the S.S. Uruguay to Oran, North Africa
07 Nov 42 - Saturday, 556 paratroopers prepare to board 39 C-47s at two airfields in the vicinity of Saint Eval and Predannack, England. The mission was to seize the airfields of Tafaraoui and La Senia, Algeria and hold until releived by reinforcements from the beachhead. Two plans were developed by General Mark Clark as a result of the uncertainty as to whether the Vichy French in North Africa would resist or welcome the invasion. Lt. Col. Edson Raff, Commander of the 2nd Bn 509th PIR and his staff listened for the message that would be transmitted from Gibraltar and relayed by the RAF. If they heard the message "Advance Alexis" then Plan "A" (War Plan) would be in effect, meaning that the Vichy French would resist. The 509th would take off at 5:00 pm, parachute just before dawn and capture the two airfields. If they heard the message "Advance Napoleon" then Plan "B" (Peace Plan) would be in effect, meaning that the Vichy French had agreed to not resist the invasion. The 509th would then take off at 9:00 pm and land at La Senia, Airfield and prepare for follow on missions into Tunisia. Lt. Col. Raff carries secret radio code words written on rice paper to be broadcast in order to relay their status BLACKBIRD - "paratroops have been dropped", DUCK - "paratroops have been dropped, cannot find airport". With planes already boarded and engines running, the message arrived "Advance Napoleon" (Plan "B" Peace Plan) at 4:15 pm. Aircraft shutdown, aircrews and paratroopers would now wait four hours. It 9:05 pm the first aircraft took off. Already a light fog had settled in from the coast. The pilots of the 60th Troop Carrier Group flew at night for 9 hours at 10,000 feet from Saint Eval and Predannack, England over neutral Spain and to Algeria, a distance of approximately 1600 miles. Problems experienced by the aircrews were limited maps (only flight leaders recieved copies), only four aircraft had navigation sets, and at the last minute additional planes and crew arrived at the departure airfields only a few hours prior to takeoff leaving the aircrews tired and only with only a general concept of the operation. To further compound the problem, isolated thunderstorms and a strong wind from the east were encountered along the route. As a result, some aircraft were scattered as much as 50 miles off course and the largest grouping of aircraft was now only three. Inside the aircraft the paratroopers were experiencing 20 to 30 degree temperatures, covered in blankets and snaking on extra rations trying to keep warm. Another complication arose when the H.M.S. Alynbank that had been tasked to position 35 miles off the coast of Oran, Algeria and broadcast a homing beacon on 440 kilocycles instead broadcast unheard on 460 kilocycles. As a result, aircraft had no way to make course corrections before arriving over the coast. A final navigation problem was encountered when OSS Agent Gordon H. Browne took two heavy suitcases with a EUREKA set inside out before midnight in the back of a French Ambulance to a deserted area near Tafaraoui AIrfield. Once in position he set up the nine foot antenna and began broadcasting at the designated time for Plan "A". Browne was unaware that the 509th had been notified to execute Plan "B".
08 Nov 42 - Participation credit begins for Algeria-French Morocco Campaign
08 Nov 42 - At 0500 the time had past for the 509th to arrive under Plan "A" so OSS Agent Gordon H. Brown disassembles the antenna and discards the EUREKA set in a cactus patch and activates the self destruct device. By 7:00 am the 39 aircraft of Operation Villain were beginning to arrive. One landed in Gibraltar, two landed at Fez in French Morocco and four others in neutral Spanish Morocco (aircrew and paratroopers were interned for three months). Three aircraft arrived at La Senia as planned under Plan "B" but encountered anti-aircraft fire. Colonel WIlliam C. Bentley Jr., Air Mission Commander for the operation, landed in a grain field and asked directions of some locals to determine if he was on the right continent. At 8:00 am Col. Bentley spotted little over a down C-47s grouped on the western edge of the Sebkra d'Oran dry lake bed. To the north was a column proceeding South toward the group of aircraft. Believing the armored column was the enemy. Col. Raff radioed to the other nine aircraft in formation to prepare to jump. Col. Raff jumped first and the rest followed. Col. Raff cracked a rib on the rocky soil and was coughing up blood. Once on the ground it was discovered that the column was part of the US 1st Armored Division that was the reinforcements from the beachhead to relieve the 509th. Col. Bentley flies his nine C-47s to the eastern edge of the Sebkra d'Oran near the airfields and is immediately captured by the French who take him to a prision at Fort St. Philippe. Maj. William P. Yarborough, Executive Officer, 2nd Bn 509th PIR, took a group of Soldiers east across the Sebkra d'Oran on foot for teh purpose of capturing the airfield at Tafaraoui. However it was soon discovered after a short distance that the dry surface cracked and gave way to a soft mud underneath making the trek an exhausting task. Maj. Yarborough redirected his men south to the edge of the Sebkra d'Oran dug in and called for three aircraft to siphon fuel from the others and pick them up. Once aboard the aircraft took off and flew just feet above the ground to avoid detection. Unfortunately, six French Dewoitines fighters strafe the C-47s. The C-47s quickly lower their landing gear and make a ruff landing at 130 mph. The fighters strafe the group three more times. Five Soldiers are killed (one is a copilot) and 15 are wounded.
08 November 1942 - First American paratroopers to conduct a combat parachute invasion, Oran, North Africa
08 November 1942 - The longest combat parachute operation of World War II from Lands End, England to Oran, North Africa a distance of 1600 miles
08 November 1942 - Lt. Dave Kunkle was the first American paratrooper killed in action on an Airborne Invasion.
08 November 1942 - First American paratrooper to receive the Distinguished Service Cross Capt. William P. Moir
08 November 1942 - First American paratroopers to earn the Combat Infantryman Badge awarded 10 April 1944
09 Nov 42 - Lt. Col. Raff and the men that remained with him were transported by truck and arrived at the airfield.
11 Nov 42 - Participation credit ends for Algeria-French Morocco Campaign
14 Nov 42 - Paratoopers jump from 33 C-47s and captures Tébessa airfield on the Tunisian border. Lt. Col. Raff loads up his Soldiers on charcoal burning green buses with MG mounted on top and proceds to Gafsa on the old roman roads.
15 Nov 42 - Air-Assualted Youks Les Bains, Tunisia, Operation TORCH
17 Nov 42 - Participation credit begins for Tunisia Campaign
00 December 1942 - First American unit to attack the German forces, Faid Pass, Tunisia
12 December 1942 - First American Paratrooper to be awarded the French Legion of Honor Col. Edson Raff
14 Dec 42 - AG 370.5/3 MGC reported in North Africa
20 Dec 1942 - 2100 hours. As originally planned 33 Paratroopers were to be dropped by the 60th TCG and guided by Lt. Col. Phil Cochran from three C-47s to destroy the El Djem Bridge in Tunisia.
FIELD ORDER 14 (this is only a summary of the order)
TASK ORGANIZATION: 1st Lt. John R. Martin and 21 men form the Assault/Security Team and 2nd Lt. Daniel DeLeo and 6 men form the Demolitions Team, one Radio Operator, one Medic, and two French NCOs to serve as guides and interpreters.
EQUIPMENT: Each equipment bundle (woven baskets) would contain one musette bag with canteen, 12 anti-tank mines, M1903 rifle with grenade launcher, 4 anti-tank rifle grenades. 20 bags at 25 lbs each of demo.
ENEMY SITUATION: 30 miles north of the objective were small detachments of poorly trained and equipped Italians.
FRIENDLY SITUATION: 60 miles west of objective (90 miles overland) was the nearest Allied forces.
ACTIONS ON THE OBJECTIVE: Plan A called for demo team "Two men to top - two at abutment and two at pier. Two men on bottom to take care of pier. The charges on top will be exploded simultaneously with the larger one at the bottom of the pier." Plan B in case only 15 minutes time was available the demo team would arrange demo "to twist the first span of the rests"
EXFILTRATION PLAN: Team would move to a pre designated location to be picked up by aircraft.
COMMUNICATIONS PLAN: Radioman would have radio communications to coordinate pick up. If no radio operable, white stars on red panels would be laid out in predetermined patterns to communicate messages. Four star panels in line - Mission Accomplished.
INTELLIGENCE PLAN: Only enemy officers will be captured, collect all documents, all telephone and telegraph lines are to be cut, conduct other guerrilla type operations of diversion and disruption.
MEDICAL PLAN: If wounded must be left behind ensure well identified to be found by friendly or enemy troops.
TRANSPORTATION PLAN: Three C-47s commanded by Lt. Col. Phil Cochren
Plan changed. Drop was rescheduled for 24 Dec and the exfiltration plan by air was cancelled. The new plan would call for exfiltration by foot to a French outpost for transport by truck back.
24 Dec 1942 - Drop rescheduled for 26 Dec
26 Dec 1942 - The following personnel rose early, drew parachutes and equipment and recieved final briefing. They boarded trucks and moved 10 miles to the airport. Air Corps served breakfast. Then they boarded the aircraft for departure.
1. 2nd Lt. Dan DeLeo - Demolitions Team Leader - proficient in Italian - Escaped (became Mission Commander after removal of 1st Lt. Martin)
2. S/Sgt. Manuel Serrano - NCOIC - Captured
3. Sgt. John Betters - Security Sgt. - proficient in Arabic - Esacped
4. Sgt. James W. Collins - Demo Sgt. - Captured (Replaced Cpl. Lloyd Bjelland)
5. Pfc. Hartwell R. Harris - Captured
6. T-5 Kieth 'Doc' Argraves - Medic - Captured
7. Pvt. Roland Rondeau - proficient in French - Escaped
8. Pvt. Frank Romero - Escaped
9. Pvt. Michael P. Underhill - Captured and Escaped
10. Pvt. Charles Doyle - Captured and Escaped
11. Pvt. Clarence A. Howard - Captured
12. Pfc. Leonard S. Caruso - Captured
13. Pvt. James L. Rogers - Captured
14. Pvt. Warren H. Decker - Captured
15. Pvt. Alcus Stokes - Captured
16. Frank Stiburek
17. UKN - Captured
18. UKN - Captured
19. UKN - Captured
20. UKN - Captured
21. UKN - Captured
22. UKN - Captured
23. UKN - Captured
24. UKN - Captured
30. 1st Sgt. Jean Guilhenjoven - Free French Paratrooper - Escaped
31. Cpl. Paul Vullierme - Free French Paratrooper - Escaped
1st Lt. John R. Martin - Removed from the mission by Maj. Yardley wanting to limt the number that might be lost
Cpl. Lloyd Bjelland - (removed by Maj. Yardley as not critical to the mission)
Ellis Bishop - Radio Operator (was removed from the mission by Maj. Yardley who determined that a radio would not be critial to the mission since there would be no exfiltration by air)
The first leg of the flight went to Tebessa for a brief stop. The next leg of the flight went to Thelepte where they met up with Col. Raff their former commander who provided tents and got briefed up on the mission. Once Col. Raff found that there was no plan to exfiltrate by air he attempted to delay the mission until coordination could be made but was unable to delay any further.
26 Dec 1942 - 2300 hrs. Three C-47s depart from Tebessa. Two aircraft carrying paratroopers and one carrying equipment bundles. Travelling at 50 to 100 feet. They ran into flak in the vicinity of Godsin. After passing between two German airfields they climbed to 400 feet which would be the jump altitude. The aircraft continued to El Djem, circled twice then proceded north parallel and just east of the railroad track. As they approached the DZ, Sgt. Collins looked out and saw convoys passing and attempting to shoot at the aircraft. Argraves seeing lights passing by the aircraft he asked, "Are those tracer bullets?" Sgt. Collins replied "Yes and I can reach right out and touch them."
26 Dec 1942 - Approx 2400 hrs. DeLeos Paratroopers bailed out on what they believed to be the DZ on the west side of the tracks and one mile north of the bridge. As they were burying their chutes, five Arabs arrived. Lt. DeLeo attempted to buy the Arabs silence by giving them the silk parachutes, they wandered off into the night. The paratroops finished assembling and discovered that one paratrooper was missing and one basket was missing. Two scouts Stiburek and Serrano were sent eastward to find the tracks, they returned in an hour and a half and lead DeLeos Paratroopers east to the rail. They soon came across an Arab with a donkey and cart and put them to work transporting some of the equipment. After an hour and a half they observed a train. There was some debate between the two French guides as to whether to proceed north or south, DeLeo had to decide, if they had landed on the correct DZ the plan was to go one mile south to get to the bridge, DeLeo led them south. Decker and Stokes were now lead Scouts with half of the paratroopers on each side of the tracks. DeLeos Paratroopers approached an olive grove and took a break. There they let the Arab and donkey go. Decker and Stokes continued south to see if they could determine the location of the bridge. Decker and Stokes turned around and went back north to locate DeLeo but avoided the olive grove and missed finding him and continued north from the olive grove thinking that the DeLeo and the rest of the paratroopers had already set out to the north to find the bridge. DeLeo and the rest of the paratroopers actually set off to the south thinking that the scouts were still scouting to the south. DeLeo could not find either the scouts or the bridge to the south so he turned his paratroopers back to the north but left his five Demo team members to rest in place with their heavy loads until the bridge could be found. The sky began to lighten as they approached the olive grove. In the distance DeLeo could now see several Arabs along the road on the east side of the olive grove. He decided to head true north knowing that the tracks would curve back to him on the north side of the olive grove. Now about halfway back to where they first approched the tracks a one car train with about 50 Germans was heading south. DeLeos paratroopers opened fire without effect, the train continued on. Soon after a section car moved north on the track with Germans who began to fire on the paratroopers. DeLeos Paratroopers returned fire and drove the Germans off. They now approached a small building along the tracks and held up there. Soon the Demo team who had begun north and took another break in the olive grove, were again on the move when 400 approaching Arabs encouraged them to set out again to the north and join up with DeLeo at the small building. Germans began showing up in the distance by truck intent on encircling the paratroopers. DeLeos Paratroopers evaluated what they could destroy with the time they had left. They set out the TNT to destroy the small building, two sections of track, three telephone poles, and a rail switch. A smalll cut in which the rail passed through provided the cover they needed to work. When they blew the TNT a section of track almost hit DeLeo. DeLeos Paratroopers now set out heading west, Germans were closing in on their flanks and rear. In an irrigation ditch the paratroopers assessed the situation and decided to break up into smaller groups. The 5 man demo team struck out on their own. Collins and Caruso headed for a ravine. DeLeo, Betters, Rondeau, Romero, Guilhenjoven and Vullierme set out together. Rogers and Harris set out together. Underhill and two others set out together. Argraves and Stokes stayed together. The rest also boke up into small groups.
Collins and Caruso continued in the ravine only to spot Germans approaching. Both ducked into a small crevice, unfortunately one of the 15 Germans happened to look back and spot Collins. The German fired once and grazed Collins cheek. Both came out of their hiding, Collins with white scarf in one hand and his carbine in the other. Collins asked Caruso "What are they jabbering about?" The Germans fired again into the hole and Collins realizing he still had his carbine in hand dropped it.
Rogers and Harris head for a draw to hide out until night. Harris describes what happened, "Down in that draw it sounded like a thousand men shouting all around us. I sneaked up over the draw to look around. All of a sudden, I heard a burst of machine gun fire at my back. How they kept from hitting me I'll never know. I looked over my shoulder and there stood three big Germans with machine pistols pointed right at my back. They had already captured Rogers. I couldn't let loose of my gun. I just stood there frozen and never did drop my gun. The Germans moved in on me with a good 50 Arabs with them. They turned loose about 20 of the Arabs on me at one time. There were at least 10 on my back trying to bing me down, and I never went off my feet. They stripped me of all of my weapons, but I still had not given up. A German sergeant started shooting his machine pistol at the Arabs feet, trying to break them up and back them off away from me. They by now had everything my gun, pistol, hand grenades, trench knife, escape kit, canteen. It was the most helpless feeling experienced in my life. The few of us who were captured at that particular place were taken to the German commander. He stamped his foot and asked, "Vat you vant in Afrika?" We told him we were there for the same reason he was - to fight a war"
Argraves and Stokes set out together from the olive grove. Argraves was already wounded by shrapnel. They made it all the way to the highway when a shot rang out and hit Stokes in the hand, dropping his weapon. With nothing else to do they stood up and raised their hands. Several Germans searched them taking Argraves watch, medical kit, $150 US dollars and 9,000 Francs and then took them over to the German officer who spoke very good English. The German Officer said, "You are very good Soldiers. You are hard fighting men. We caught you and we earned it. You are not a disgrace to your country. But you have no chance. America has no chance in this war, and will soon find out." Addressing Stokes, he asked "What are you in Afrika for?" Stokes replied, "What are you here for?" German Officer replied, "We are here to drive you Americans out." Stoke responded, "Well, we are here to drive you Germans out and we are doing it." They were then marched about two miles to a truck, there were now a total of 17 captured paratroopers. The truck took them to Sousse where they were put under guard in a storage building on the dock. During the day American aircraft bombed the dock and the ships in the harbor. Seven enemy ships were sunk and the large doors were blown off the hinges but no one was hurt. The next day they went by truck to Tunis and were kept in a shoolhouse for four days. There they were questioned. The Germans also brought in a radio and asked "You boys would like to talk to your folks in America wouldn't you?" "We will send your message by radio and your folks will get it." One of the paratroopers requested, "Let us look at your machine." They were taken out to the yard to examine it. They took a quick look and walked away. The Germans asked, "Don't you want to talk?" The paratroopers replied, "No, we know about that machine and we don't want any part of it." The paratroopers recognized it as a recorder and had been briefed that Germans would record your words and change them around to create propoganda messages to use against the Americans. Later they were put to work with other American, British and Australian prisoners at the Tunis airport. Eventually they were put aboard three Italian destroyers (two of which were sunk by the British) bound for Sicily where they would be moved from POW Camp to POW Camp for the rest of the war.
Underhill armed with a damaged M-1 (missing front sight) sixty rounds and four grenades and two others armed only with .45s made their way out of the German encirclement. Later while on a slight hill, a platoon of Italians approached their position. Underhill held them off as the other two made their escape. Two hours later Underhill still holding off the Italians made his own escape under cover of darkness and eventually caught up with the other two. At dawn, the three paratroopers taked it over and the other two decided they would surrender rather than risk starving to death or being killed by the Arabs. Underhill chose to continue west alone. The next afternoon, as he was crossing an open area another Italian patrol of 10 men approached his position by truck. Hoping to avoid detection, he dropped flat on the ground. Unfortunately the truck stopped about several hundred yards away. When the Italians got about 75 yards away he jumped up and threw a grenade killing two and wounding others. The Italians quickly withdrew firing sporatically loaded the truck and left in the same direction it came. Underhill hiked for another four to five days passing in vicinity of Fondouk eventually arriving in Haadjeb el Aioun. There French troops notified the American officer, Capt. Roworth of his arrival and he took him by jeep to Ferianna.
DeLeo, Betters, Rondeau, Romero, Guilhenjoven and Vullierme moved out from the ditch to an olive grove where they parted company with the last few paratroopers who wanted to set out on their own. DeLeos group quickly headed southwest and escaped the German encirclement. They approached a road and began to parallel it when a lone truck approached. They jumped onto the road and the lone truck driver came to a halt. Deleo and Vullierme hopped into the cab and the rest climbed in the back. Deleo placed a .45 to the drivers head and in Italian told him that if he did as he was told he would not be hurt. To further disguise themselves, they used white parachute cloth wrap there heads like an Arab. Along the way, they passed several German Troops without detection. Hoping to avoid further groups of Germans, DeLeo finally had the Italian driver take a side road which finally ended with the truck stuck in a ditch. Faced with setting out on foot again, Betters recommended killing the Italian rather than having him give away their position to the Germans. DeLeo over rode the decision and instead gave the Italian 500 francs as hush money and to cover the damage to the truck. The Italian driver thought the amount was too generous and finally agreed to 300 francs. As they proceded west, they could not avoid contact with the Arabs. They would tell the Arabs that they were Germans who got seperated from their unit. In one instance the cover story did not work. As they were passing out cigarettes, one Arab asked for a light in German. Since none of them knew German they did not respond to the request. The Arabs shouted "they are not Germans they are Americans" DeLeo and his men quickly drew their guns and took the Shiek hostage and took off into the night. Later they released the Shiek to return home. At another point they travelled by cart into the mountains of Pichon. The next morning a P-38 appeared overhead and was about to strafe them when they pulled out a star panel to signal that they were friendly. The P-38 pilot pulled out and headed east looking for other targets of opportunity. They finally came across a French wheat farmer who told them of a French outpost and offered to take them there by cart. As they approached the outpost, sentries called out from the hills that they were in a minefield. With hand signals they were directed to safety. From the French outpost the French took them to Fondouk and a message was sent forward to Col. Raff at Feriana. Col. Raff sent a truck for them. After getting a good meal and briefing Col. Raff they were sent to Thelepte Airfield to join up with other 509ers who were stationed there. Finally they were flown back to Maison Blanche and trucked to Maison Carree. In all, DeLeos group had traveled an estimated 120 miles in two weeks, 50 miles by truck.
15 Jan 43 - GO #3 dated 11 Jan 43 is rescinded an Battalion is assigned to Fifth Army per GO #6 from HQ Fifth Army, APO #464, dated 15 Jan 43
01 Mar 43 - Deleted from assignment to Fifth Army and reassigned to the Allied Force per 3d Ind. from HQ Fifth Army, APO #464 (AG 322.1)
01 May 1943 - First American paratrooper to have a training facility named in his honor Pvt. Tom Mackall
13 May 43 - Participation credit ends for Tunisia Campaign
06 June 1943 - Awarded the red beret by Major General Sir Frederick A.M. Browning, Commander 1st British Airborne who made the 509th PIB "Honorary Red Devils"
09 Jul 43 - Attached to 82nd Airborne Division at Oujda, French Morocco for Operation HUSKY the invasion of Sicily however 2nd Bn 509th PIR was designated division reserve and did not participate in the invasion. (Field Order #1 of Force 343 (Seventh Army) "(b) 2nd Battalion, 509th Parachute Infantry, remain in North Africa, in Force 343 reserve, available for drop missions as directed.")
23 Aug 43 - Field Order directed the 2nd Bn 509th PIR to be prapared to conduct a drop mission on one of the following areas: Nocera, Sarno, Minturno, Battapaglia. These areas are along the coast anywhere from on the Salerno Beachhead to 60 miles north. The 82nd Airborne Division was concurently planning an drop mission on the Volturno River, Operation GIANT I. These drop missions were never executed.
28 Aug 43 - 509th Pathfinders along with 504th and 505th Pathfinders move just outside of Enfidaville, Tunisia to test Eureka Set, Aldis Lamps, Krypton Lights, and 5G Becon. Sixteen C-47s equipped with Rebecca Sets participate. Eurekas were picked up about 20 miles out, 5G was susceptable to jamming and was not as effective, Aldis and Krypton Lights were seen 25 miles out.
30 Aug 43 - Second Pathfinder test was conducted
02 Sep 43 - 82nd Airborne Division was notified that Operation GIANT I was cancelled and recieved verbal orders to begin planning for Operation GIANT II the invasion of Rome scheduled for the night of 08 Sep 43. This plan was hastily developed and included an Air-landing at three airfields north and east of Rome and an amphibious landing east of Rome to reinforce and resupply the invasion.
05 Sep 43 - Moved from Kairouan, North Africa to Sicily by air.
05 Sep 43 - Fifth Army directed that 2nd Bn 509th PIR be prepared to conduct drop mission on order at Eboli, Avellino, Benevento
08 Sep 43 - Operation GIANT II was postponed 24 hours. Notification was made only five minutes before the first planes were to take off.
09 Sep 43 - Operation GIANT II was scrubbed only minutes before takeoff.
09 Sep 43 - Participation credit begins for Naples-Foggia Campaign
09 Sep 43 - Scout Company, 2nd Bn 509th PIR conducted Amphibious Assault on the Island Venetone to capture a radar site for the invasion of Salerno. Three officers and forty-eight enlisted men reported to the Naval Station in Sicily and were put up in a quonset hut for the night. The next moring the officers Capt. Alwyn A. Engleman, 1st Lt. Wilbur B. McClintock and 1st Lt. Kenneth R. Shaker reported to the briefing. Before them, were maps and blackboard showing the Island of Ventotene and estimates of enemy strength. The naval officer in charge was Lieutenant Douglas Fairbanks Jr, Commander of the top secret naval unit known as Beach Jumper Unit 1 (BJU-1). Lt. Fairbanks briefed that the objective was a German Radar Station that scanned the ocean to the North and South along the Italian coast. It was estimated that there were only a few Germans, about two to three hundred carabinieri (Italian National Police Force) and several political prisoners. It was unknown if the carabinieri would resist or surrender. The political prisoners were to be released. Lt. Fairbanks concluded, "Are there any questions". Capt. Engleman softly questioned, "Any artillery?". "Yes there are some coastal guns, but if they use them we'll get them with our naval guns." Capt. Engleman replied, "Oh! Yes, I see. Well, I hope the Italians don't do anything bad. I mean I hope they don't shoot at us." Jokingly, the naval officer replied, "Don't your men want a fight?" Captain replied, "It isn't that, we've been a long time in the desert, my men are pretty trigger happy. They might be very rough if anybody shoots at them." As they concluded the meeting the Navy officers invited the paratroop officers to the Navy Officers Mess for lunch. Capt. Engleman declined, "If you'll excuse us, I think we'll get back to the men, They'll want to know what we're going to do. I'll just take this map along and explain it to them... You see, they'll want to know. The three officers went back across the street to the quonset hut and briefed the men.
The naval task force assembled at a remote location in the Mediterrianean at dusk. The convoy spread out and moved slowly northward in order to arrive at Ventetone at moonset (0057). BJU-1 employed ASR boats specially configured with equipment that increased the radar signature in order to appear as a much larger naval force and landing party. To the east Army Air Force bombers were pounding the enemy defenses on the Italian mainland in preparation for the invasion at Salerno. Once in position around the island, an ASR boat equipped with a loadspeaker moved forward to about 500 yards and began broadcasting into the towm "Italians! You must now surrender. We have come in force. Your German ally has deserted you. You have fifteen minutes to surrender. Display three white lights for surrender. At the end of fifteen minutes we will open fire. This will be repeated once more." With the destroyers guns at the ready, the naval officers looked out intently into the darkness waiting for a response. At 14 minutes, three white rockets went up from the town. Moments after the first volley disappeared, three more white rockets went up. At the Captains command the naval guns held their fire. The Naval Task Force (TF) Commander with helmet and tommy gun announced to his staff, "I'll go in and take the surrender." then called the names of five men to accompany him. To Captian Engleman he directed, "The paratroopers are to come in as soon as you can get them in the landing boat." He then turned to his Executive Officer and ordered the whaleboat to be lowered. As the whale boat reached deck level five officers, armed with tommy guns and two drums of ammo each, boarded. Once in the water the Coxswain and Engineer cast off and motored to shore. As they approached, the TF Commander told his men, "We've got to get in and disarm them before they change their minds. Can't tell what they'll do if we give them time. Don't take any chances, open fire if anyone shows the slightest sign of resisting."
It was discovered that the German Force at the radar station numbered 87 men heavily armed with machine guns. Ammo and provisions were stored to last six weeks.
9 Sep 1943 - 19 Oct 1943 HQ FIFTH ARMY, GENERAL ORDER NUMBER 31, DATED : 28 Feb 1944
Pvt. Leonard A. Armstrong
Pfc. David W. Ayres
Cpl. Clarence E. Babbitt
Pfc. Charles M. Cann
Cpl. James Cunningham
Pfc. Myles W. Darling
Cpl. Cecil P. Dawson
Sgt. Francis A. Dean
Pfc. Amos H. Dunlap
Pvt. Lewie H. Edkard
Capt. Alwyn A. Engleman
Pfc. Amarante Garcia
Pfc. John S. Gerk
Pvt. Lloyd E. Graber
Pfc. Ralph H. Hall
T/4 George L. Houston
Cpl. Robert L. Howard
T/5 Earl F. Judd
Pvt. Joseph Kubic
Pfc. Robert J. Maille
Pvt. John G. Manifis
Sgt. Tony J. Manzella
Pfc. John H. Matthews
Cpl. Milton E. McCaig
1st Lt. Wilbur B. McClintock
Pfc. Marion A. McGee
Pfc. FloydL. Moody
Pfc. Robert S. Moran
1st Sgt. Mike O'Brien
Sgt. Andrew P. Omasta
Pfc. Stanley E. Palaha
Pvt. Albert Paparella
Pfc. Alfred L. Paul
Sgt. Frank Pflugler
Sgt. Edwin Platt
SSgt. Harold D. Ramey
Pfc. Rudolph C. Rich
Pfc. John C. Robinson
Sgt. Carl E. Salisbury
Pfc. Phillip E. Scott
Pfc. Phenis C. Settlemyre
1st Lt. Kenneth R. Shaker
SSgt. Jesse A. Silva
Pfc. Robert B. Stapleton
Pfc. Tom W. Stevens
Pfc. William A. Tippins
Pvt. Dolphus R. Walker (Doc)
T/4 Robert A. Warner
Pfc. Samuel Waters Jr.
Cpl. Henry E. Wilbur
Sgt. Curtis E. Zimmerman
The three officers and forty-eight enlisted men, named above, of the Parachute Scout Company, *** (2nd) Battalion, *** (509th) Parachute Infantry Regiment are commended for outstanding services performed against the enemy during the period 9 September 1943 to 19 October 1943. On *** September this group was given the mission of occupying the island of ****, approximately eighteen miles from the Italian mainland. Landing on the island's beaches, the small force learned through native intelligence that ninety-five German soldiers occupied strongly fortified positions on the island. By clever deception they led the Germans to believe the island was occupied by six hundred Americans, and then made a daring capture of the entire enemy contingent. Sometimes together, and at other times acting in small, scattered groups, this force subsequently occupied three more islands in an equally daring and skillfull manner. During these actions, this group captured 113 German soldiers and three officers, and suffered only one slight casualty. The notable results obtained by this unit are testimony of the skill, daring and resourcefulness of each individual soldier who participated in these actions.
13 Sep 43 - 82nd Airborne Division recieves orders from General Mark Clark to have the 504th RCT to perform a drop mission on the Salerno Beachhead south of the Sele River on the night of 13 Sep 43, 505th RCT would perform a drop mission on the same location on the night of 14 Sep 43 to shore up the beachhead defenses. The 2nd Bn 509th PIR with 1st Platoon, C Company, 307th Airborne Engineers would conduct a drop mission 20 miles behind enemy lines on the mountain villiage of Avellino, Italy on the night of 14 Sep 43, Operation GIANT III.
14 Sep 43 - Air-Assualted Avellino, Italy (Sorrento Mountains), Operation GIANT III to disrupt enemy communications and to delay a German Infantry Regiment from reinforcing the enemy counterattack against the 5th Armys landing at Salerno. The mission was considered a Suicide Mission and the 2nd Bn 509th PIR with 1st Platoon, C Company, 307th Airborne Engineers spent about three weeks behind enemy lines. Forty planes with 640 paratroopers conducted the drop mission. Suprisingly three weeks later about 510 paratroopers had returned to friendly lines.
14 September 1943 - Conducted the first American Pathfinder operation behind enemy lines at Avellino, Italy
30 Sep 43 - Paratroopers of the 509th PIR begin to return to friendly lines after the 34th Infantry Division captures Avellino, Italy
19 Nov 43 - 2nd Bn 509th PIR attached to 5th Army HQ. 82nd Airborne Division sails for Northern Ireland
10 December 1943 - Reorganized and redesignated as the 509th Parachute Infantry Battalion, Venefro, Italy. Unit will continue to be organized under T/O 7-35 (2-17 42)
19 Jan 44 - At 0900 Boarded the ship Winchester Castle as a part of B Company with 8 officers and 115 enlisted men. The 509th PIB was attached to the 6615st Ranger Force under Col. William Darby.
21 Jan 44 - Participation credit ends for Naples-Foggia Campaign
22 Jan 44 - Attached to 6615th Ranger Force
22 Jan 44 - Amphibious Assault on Anzio, Italy, Operation SHINGLE
22 January 1944 - First Army paratroopers to spearhead an amphibious invasion, Anzio, Italy
22 Jan 44 - At 0300 hours t he 509th PIB landed at Beach X-RAY YELLOW and worked with the other ranger battalions to capture the port facilities and costal artillery batteries in and around the town of Anzio, Italy
27 Jan 44 - B and C Company were ordered to take a road junction near Padiglione, Italy. There were two fatalities Lt Grabow and Kautz. The wounded were Corporal Burl E. Bolesta, Private First Class Reuschling, Pfc. On Chow, Pfc. Clyde Helton, Private James A. Knopp, Pvt. Bill E. Konig, Pvt. Ernest K. Gibson.
30 Jan 44 - 6615th Ranger Force destroyed at Cisterna di Littoria, Italy
06 February 1944 - First American unit to be awarded a foreign badge during World War II the 3rd Zouave badge
08 February 1944 - First American paratrooper to receive the Medal of Honor Cpl. Paul Huff
29 Jun 44 - Cited for outstanding performance of duty in action on 29 Feb 44 in Italy - per WD GO #53
15 Jul 44 - Organized under the 1st Airborne Task Force (Provisional Seventh Army Airborne Division) code name: RUGBY FORCE
- Pathfinders designated and attached to the Provisional Pathfinder Detachment, 1st Airborne Task Force
- 509th Parachute Combat Team organized comprised of the 509th PIB, 463rd Pcht. Field Artillery Battalion and 1st Plt., 596th Pcht. Combat Engineer Company in preparation for Operation Anvil-Dragoon
15 Aug 44 - Fourteen Paratroopers of the 509th Pathfinder Team in a C-47 departed Marcigliana Airfield, Italy at 0100 for Drop Zone 'C' 2 miles southeast of LeMuy. Planes encountered 1/2 mile visibility and fog over the French coast resulting in a misdrop of the Pathfinders in vicinity of Belluny, France in the mountain forest area soutwest of Grasse. This was 16 miles from their intended DZ.
15 Aug 44 - Air-Assualted Southern France, Operation ANVIL-DRAGOON. Around 01:00, 1200 paratroopers of the 509th PCT loaded onto 90 C-47s divided evenly into two serials and located at two seperate airfields departed Folonica, Italy and Grosseto, Italy. HHC and A CO 509th PIB and HHB and A Battery 463rd PFAB and 1st Plt, 596th PCEC formed serial #1 (45 C-47s) which departed Folonica, Italy. B and C Company, 509th PIB and B and C Battery, 463rd PFAB formed serial #2 (45 C-47s) which departed Grosseto, Italy. At 04:15, the 509th PCT was to land on Drop Zone 'C' 2 miles southeast of LeMuy, France to seize high ground overlooking the town, destroy communications and secure the secondary road leading to St. Maxime. Serial #1 dropped at 04:21 within a mile of the intended DZ without the aid of the Pathfinders. By 07:00 Serial #1 had assembled on their Battalion Commander. 463rd recovered and assembled three of the 75 mm PAK howitzers and trained them on LeMuy. 22 rounds were fired against enemy positions still occupying the town. Serial #2 misdropped in the vicinity of Saint Tropez
15 Aug 44 - Participation credit begins for Southern France Campaign
24 Aug 44 - Occupied Cannes without opposition followed by the 551st PIB. Linked up with the 1st Secial Service Force
29 Aug 44 - Crossed the Var River and drove through Nice
30 Aug 44 - Entered Beaulieu without opposition
02 Sep 44 - Cleared area vicinity La Turbia
08 Sep 44 - Pushed through Menton to Italian Border assigned defensive positions in the Maritime Alps along the Franco-Italian border
14 Sep 44 - Participation credit ends for Southern France Campaign
01 Nov 44 - Relieved from assignment to 5th Army and assigned to ETO effective 01 Nov 44 - per AG 370.5/530 C-O from HQ NATO, USA, APO 534 dated 29 Oct 44
22 Nov 44 - Relieved from assignment to Sixth Army Group and assigned to XVIII Corps (Airborne) effective 22 Nov 44 - per HQ, ETO, APO 887 dated 4 Dec 44
Orders to proceed by truck and rail to Villers-Cotterets, France northeast of Paris. Lt. Orval Webb, convoy commander and Maj. Tomasik, train commander.
22 Nov 44 - 509th PIB Attached to 101st Airborne Division
28 Nov 44 - 101st Airborne Division (with 509th PIB attached) withdrew to France for rehabilitation
Doc Alden rejoins the 509th PIB as a result trading surgeons
01 Dec 44 - 509th PIB Will be disbanded at the earliest practicable date at ETO. Personnel rendered surplus by this action will be absorbed within the replacement system and reflected in future requisitions - per AG 322 (29 Nov 44) OB-I-GNGCT-M dated 01 Dec 44
14 Dec 44 - 509th PIB Received battle participation awards for Algeria-French Morocco, Tunisia, Naples-Foggia, Rome-Arno, Southern France, Rhineland, Central Europe - per GO #53 HQ 101st Airborne Division, APO 472 dated 14 Dec 44
16 Dec 44 - Participation credit begins for Ardennes-Alsace Campaign. Germans begin counter attack in Operation HERBSTNEBEL (Autumn Fog)
17 Dec 44 - 101st Airborne Division (with 509th PIB attached) released from reserve to move to the Ardennes to counter the German offensive
18 Dec 44 - 101st Airborne Division entered Belgium
18 Dec 44 - 509th PIB Detached from 101st Airborne Division
21 Dec 44 - Shortly before midnight, Major Edmund J. Tomasik, Commander 509th PIB, answers phone call from SHAEF HQ in Versailles, France and recieves orders to move out immediately, caller said, "We are sending trucks to for your battalion in one hour, be prepared to move out for the Ardennes with your entire force at that time." Major Tomasik then called over to Epernay where Captain Ernest T. "Bud" Seigel, Commander A Company, was billeted. Captain Siegel had already been alerted by SHAEF HQ . Soldiers were awaken and ready to depart when the trucks arrived. Lt. Dan DeLeo and Doc Alden depart for Manhay, Belgium as advance party. Several stops were made on the way to Bastogne. At one checkpoint orders changed and the 509th was ordered to proceed to Manhay, Belgium.
22 Dec 44 - 0645 hrs the 509th PIB (690 Troopers) moved out for Manhay, Belgium.
22 Dec 44 - Lt. Dan DeLeo and Doc Alden arrives in Manhay, Belgium as advance party and reports to General Rose, CG 3rd Armored Division. BN Assembly Area is established in Manhay. On the way into town they drive over two enemy parachutes. They captured a female spy who had parachuted in the night before.
22 Dec 44 - Lt. Dan DeLeo drives to XVIII Airborne Corps HQ to obtain maps, encounters German patrol and is seriously wounded.
22 Dec 44 - Major Tomasik reports to General Rose and is directed that A, B, C, Companies of the 509th PIB are task organized under Task Forces of the 3rd Armored Division. BN CP and BN Aid Station (small but sturdy house) are to be established in Erezee, Belgium.
23 Dec 44 - Lt Dan DeLeo while seriously wounded is picked up by a friendly Infantry patrol.
23 Dec 44 - One platoon of A Co 509th PIB (not sure which platoon this was) clears enemy from high ground southwest of Soy, Belgium and holds against several counter attacks.
23 Dec 44 - B Company 509th PIB sends out patrols to Faozel and Hormont.
23 Dec 44 - C Co 509th PIB loads onto trucks and moves out south along Route 15 to the strategic crossroads (crossroad if in German hands would allow them to attack North and West) at (576853) Baraque de Fraiture, Belgium to meet the 2nd SS Panzer moving north toward Liege, Belgium. At what became known as Parker Crossroads, Maj. Arthur Parker an artillery officer who had arrived on 19 December with three 105 mm howitzers with orders to establish a roadblock to protect the supply route to St. Vith. Maj. Parker collected stragglers coming from St. Vith and had been reinforced with 11 tanks from 3rd Armored Division. Maj. Parker was seriously wounded on the 22nd and command was passed to Maj. Elliott Goldstein, 589th Artillery when the 58th Panzer Korps attacked the crossroads multiple times. Maj. Goldsteins Force had exhausted much of its manpower and ammunition when C Co 509th PIB arrived.
23 Dec 44 - GERMANS - the 7th SS Panzer Kompanie (had Panzer IV's) was attached to II "Der Fuehrer" and an assault gun company to III "Der Fuehrer", and given the task of seizing the important crossroads at Baraque de Fraiture. - "The Story of Das Reich Panzers" by Miles Krogfus, AFV News, January 1987
23 Dec 44 - As the C Co 509th PIB Commander Lt. Nick Martinez and the 1st Sgt approached the crossroads they began receiving fire at 400 yards.
23 Dec 44 - "1135 hours. Remainder of 2nd Platoon with Co. Hq. moved forward to support Lt. Martinez and establish CP near road junction." - C Co Journal
23 Dec 44 - "1st platoon under Staff Sergeant William F. Withem moved to position on E side of woods at road junction." - C Co Journal
23 Dec 44 - Bob Halvorson, 2nd Plt. C Co 509th PIB recalls " The Krauts opened up on us before we got to the crossroads. We had to cross an open field before we could get to the building where these guys were holed up. The Krauts were shooting into the field. We finally got in amongst the buildings."
23 Dec 44 - 2nd Platoon C Co established CP in stone house southwest of Parker Crossroads.
23 Dec 44 - Lt. Chandler, 3rd Platoon Leader C Co moved toward Route 15 with the mission to drive the enemy back from attempting to encircle the main line of defense. 3rd Platoon moved toward the woods bordering the highway firing as they advanced. The enemy returned fire. Sheldon Schoodmaker was one of the machine gunners laying fire, firing from the hip as he advanced. 3rd Platoon also received support from a light tank. 3rd Platoon C Co emerged from the woods and crossed the road.
23 Dec 44 - 1st Plt. C Co 509th PIB was in reserve.
23 Dec 44 - On the opposite flank, C Co 509th PIB learned that the roadblack was being overrun. C Co 509th PIB quickly recrossed the road, one was killed and another wounded.
23 Dec 44 - Lt. Chandler, 3rd Platoon Leader C Co directed fire down the road to prevent its use by the enemy.
23 Dec 44 - "1600 hrs. Heavy artillery barrage on all positions with concentration on Co. CP lasting until 1630 hrs. Lt. Rose wounded during barrage with several other men." - C Co Journal
23 Dec 44 - GERMANS - 1620 hrs. Ostuf. Gresiak in Panzer Tank #701 led eight Panzer IV's north to the crossroads just after 1620, they fought a platoon of Shermans from the U.S. 3rd Armored Division, knocking out 2 Shermans and losing 2 Panzers IV's to the Shermans and 2 more Panzer IV's to a 105 mm howitzer. - "The Story of Das Reich Panzers" by Miles Krogfus, AFV News, January 1987
23 Dec 44 - "1630 Hrs. Counterattack by estimated enemy battalion started, supported by MG and artillery fire, lasting until 1730 hrs. All fire on Co. CP ceased at 1730 hrs. Contact between CP and 1st and 3rd Platoons lost." - C Co Journal
23 Dec 44 - GERMANS - 1800 hrs. Some of the Panzers then approached from the east, finished off the Shermans, and overran the the crossroads by 1800. Ostuf. Gesiak's company claimed a total of 17 armor kills for the day. - "The Story of Das Reich Panzers" by Miles Krogfus, AFV News, January 1987
23 Dec 44 - The enemy began a counterattack after night fall north along Route 15 with at least one tiger tank firing at point blank range. By this time other units had already pulled out and C Co 509th PIB found themselves alone and low on ammo so they began pulling back along Route 15 toward Manhay, Belgium.
23 Dec 44 - "1830 Hrs. Platoons set up local defense for antitank gun 800 yds. W of road junction to defend against tank moving W." - C Co Journal
23 Dec 44 - " 1840 hrs. AT gun knocked out. Platoons withdrew under fire from tank. 14 men MIA. Total losses: 2 killed, 4 wounded, 43 MIA." - C Co Journal
23 Dec 44 - Pfc. Arnold E. Johnson, C Co 509th PIB KIA
Major Olin F. Brewster recounts the events at Parker Crossroads and the formation of Brewster Task Force, "The roadblock up at the Crossroads was being badly mauled and Lt. Col. Richardson sent me up there to see what the situation was. When I got up there in the late afternoon I found that the Crossroads had been completely wiped out. A few of the men were trying to hold the line. One of them was Lt. Robert Bryan of I Company, 32nd. I talked with him and he told me he had lost all five of his tanks when the Crossroad was overrun. When I called Lt. Col. Richardson and told him that the Crossroads had been overrun, He called A Company of the 509 Paratroop Regiment that had been attached to the 3 AD, and also the remainder of tanks of H Company, 3rd Battalion, 32nd Regiment, which was six M-4 Shermans. When I got back to Manhay, Lt. Col. Richardson had assembled them and told us our orders were to retake the Crossroads. "
23 Dec 44 - The other two platoons from A Co 509th PIB with additional attachment from HQ 509th PIB departs at 1615 and arrives at 1745 in Manhay, Belgium where they report to Lt. Col. Walter B. Richardson, Commander, 1st Bn. 32nd Armored Infantry Regiment, Task Force Y, Combat Command A, 3rd Armored Division who attaches them to Major Olin F. Brewsters Task Force which included 2nd Section Light Machine Gun Platoon HQ 509th PIB, six M4 Sherman Tanks, one M5 Stuart (which returned to Manhay shortly after starting out), two half tracks, supply trucks and 509th trucks. The Brewster Task Force was sent reinforce C CO 509th PIB who was conducting a stubborn delaying action on the N15 south of Manhay, Belgium.
Major Brewster continues, "We moved out of the Manhay area shortly after dark, and by the way the sunset in December at Manhay just after 4:00 PM. After arriving at the Belle Haie crossroads our lead tank got hit by enemy fire but we were able to repair it and get it back into operation. After moving I decided we could not advance and got permission from Richardson to set up a defensive position in the vicinity of Belle Haie."
23 Dec 44 - 1920 hours the lead M4 Sherman tank in the Brewster Task Force was hit by an antitank grenade. Paratroopers dismounted and sceened forward of the tanks as they advanced however dense forests slowed the advance.
23 Dec 44 - 1950 hours A Co 509th PIB reported five unidentified vehicles and sent out a reconnaissance.
23 Dec 44 - 2030 hours Scouts of A Co 509th PIB reported no enemy observed. Brewster Task Force proceded to checkpoint 5 and A Co 509th PIB supported by two M4 Sherman tanks was sent 500 yards forward to checkpoint 6 (Belle Haie which is 4 miles south of Manhay) where they set up security, laid anti tank mines and sent a patrol to attempt to locate enemy positions.
23 Dec 44 - 2230 hours A Co 509th PIB patrol returns and reports German Tank 300 yards ahead. A Co 509th PIB platoons are deployed 1st on the left (East), 2nd on the right (West) and 3rd in reserve around A Co, 509th CP and tanks. With Parker crossroads in German hands Belle Haie was the next best place to stop German advance north to Liege. (Note: A Co 509th PIB only took two platoons, the LMG platoon and an attachment from HQ 509th PIB so likely the LMG Plt and HQ attachment were called 3rd Plt.)
Major Brewster describes the next days events, "We had no problems the rest of the night of the 23rd, but early in the morning of the 24th. The Germans made a move to come through our position. We had what was considered the poorest location in the world for an armored unit. We were just about on the bottom of a steep hill, but with a cut in the road and the forest on each side, the enemy was channeled down the road, and we were able to stop any advance they tried to make. That morning I did get one Air Force strike of P47s over the Crossroads area, and apparently they did quite a bit of damage."
Major Brewster describes the results of their roadblock, "They ran quite a few reconnaissance vehicles toward us and with the position we had our tanks set up in with the cut in the road we piled up quite a few German vehicles. A German POW reported that the air strike knocked out nine German tanks at the Crossroad, so we knew the Air Force did some damage as we could see smoke coming from the top of the hill."
24 Dec 44 - 1st Justin McCarthy is temporarily in Command of B Company
24 Dec 44 - "At 0010 remainder of B Co moved to Soy. Also at 0010 hours all remaining personnel of the Battalion were equipped as riflemen and committed. This included all service sections and the remainder of C Co. This force consisted of approximately 90 men who furnished security for an artillery unit at Briscol (0.5 North of Sadzot)." - HQ 509th PIB Journal
24 Dec 44 - 3rd Platoon led by Sgt Harry R Spoeneman followed by the rest of B company cross the Soy-Hotton road to the south and begin to move west paralleling the road proceeding toward Hotton. Units of the 517th also move west on the north sid of the road toward Hotton.
24 Dec 44 - B Co 509th after clearing enemy along Soy Hotton road returns to Soy where they repel more enemy attacks. Pvt. George L. Bills is killed in action and 18 german prisoners are captured.
24 Dec 44 - "Dec 24 0020 hrs Tank reports that tread is knocked off and it is under fire of SA (Small Arms), rifle grenades, and that there are two American vehicles with the enemy. Another tank is sent after the first one along with 12 man patrol." - A Co Journal
24 Dec 44 - "0045 hrs. Second tank reports hitting teller mine. Our patrol dispersed the enemy inf., capturing one, killing and wounding several." - A Co Journal
24 Dec 44 - "0110 hrs. Third tank sent down to pull out the wrecked armor. Patrol remains for protection. Enemy activity heard in woods to our front. Enemy tank heard in distance." - A Co Journal
24 Dec 44 - "0145 hrs. Third tank returns pulling one tank, A Co jeep and trailer, and 2-ton truck. Capt. Siegel came up to Task Force Y CP where he remained until noon. He and his driver, Henry Eliszewski had been ambushed and captured by the Germans. Although both men were wounded they managed to escape." - A Co Journal
Lt. Shore with the G Co 517th PIB had been dispatched to find what had happen to a unit in vicinity of Parker Crossroads ran into the 509th and an old friend Lt. Frank Souto. Lt. Shore recalls the following about the 509th "We were fed and spent the night and part of the next morning with the 509th. WIth daylight a German light tank or weapons carrier came down the road (north) toward us and stopped about 300 yards ahead of us. A 509th three man .50 MG squad, emplaced across the road. opened fire. The German vehicle returned the fire and for a while the two units fired continuously. I saw a trooper calmly hop out in the middle of the road and empty his rifle into the tank, then just as calmly return to his position. It took a lot of guts to do it, but he stopped the tank long enough." "A US backup tank opened up and soon put the enemy vehicle on fire. An enemy tank sent a shot toward our own tank and before long many tanks on both sides were firing away. The battle developed into a full scale tank encounter, with the CP right in the middle. The CP drew no fire because Lt. Livingston kept everybody from firing. The enemy tanks were too far away to shoot at with bazookas they had."
24 Dec 44 - 0500 hours, One company of the 509th PIB (probably B Co) arrived in Hotton. The company tried to go east and clear out the houses at the east edge of town, which were still held by the enemy. However, that day the paratroopers did not get out of the town.
24 Dec 44 - "0834 hrs. One enemy tank advanced 200 yds. of CP. Knocked out by our tank." - A Co Journal
24 Dec 44 - "0930 hrs. One enemy tank came down by the knocked out tank. Another one went off into the woods. Enemy inf. attacked in force under heavy fire. Our tanks and SA stopped the inf. with heavy losses and knocked out another tank which burned. Pfc. Jewell Bethel killed. One MG section man wounded." - A Co Journal
24 Dec 44 - "1000 hrs. Enemy attack slowed down due to tank MG and our MG fire" - A Co Journal
24 Dec 44 - 1000 hours more enemy tanks were pushing north, Major Brewster called back to Lt. Col. Richardson in Manhay, "Rich, P-47's are buzzing us. They can do much more." Lt. Col. Richardson relayed to the AAF and the P-47's made the strike.
Lt Shore of G Co 517th PIR describes the strike "When it was decided that all of the enemy tanks were committed, our side called on the P-47's. We all dashed for the cellar. It was explained to me that the Air Corps could hit us as well as the Krauts. But they did a good job, didn't come anywhere near us. We left to return the Headquarters (18th AB Corps) but I took away a lasting memory of this company of 509ers and the tremendous job they were doing."
Major Brewster recounts the arrival of C Co 289th RCT, 75th ID, "In the afternoon of the 24th, I was sent a company of men from the 289th. Infantry Regiment of the 75th. Infantry Division. The Company Commander brought his company up and after I briefed him and gave him orders, He assured me he took no prisoners. He took off across open field that was white as snow. They never made it to the line of departure. I found out later, that was their first day in combat and had never heard a gun fired in anger. If I had known at the time, that the company had not seen combat, I would have given them more instruction and leadership."
24 Dec 44 - 1500 3rd AD sends C Co 289th RCT, 75th ID to conduct an attack in sector south from checkpoint 6.
A Co 509th PIB journal describes what happened with this unit that arrived in their sector. "1530 hrs. Much SA fire."
24 Dec 44 - "1600 hrs. Right flank C Co. 289th doing well. Left pinned down." - A Co Journal
24 Dec 44 - "1700 hrs. blooded ...Company (C Co 289th RCT) withdraws to A Co (509th PIB) positions ... after suffering heavy losses ...into our defensive setup. General strengthening of our positions." - A Co Journal
(Historical Note: Field Marshal Montgomery had been placed in command of the American First and Ninth Armies in the Northern sector. He was concerned with the 82nd Airborne Divisions bulge in their lines and ordered General Ridgeway, commander XVIII Airborne Corps to withdraw units to the road running from Trois Ponts to Manhay. At 1330 General Ridgeway ordered Division commanders to withdraw to the road by nightfall on the 24th. Most US Commanders were upset with this order)
Major Brewster describes the confusion that began to take place as a result of the decision to withdraw to the Trois Ponts to Manhay road, "The instructions had been coming throughout the day we were going to be relieved and change of orders to withdraw from our roadblock later on in the day of the 24th. Later on in the evening I got orders that there had been some change in orders and I was to hold the roadblock at Belle Haie until further notice.
Major Brewster continues, "I had reported about dark that the enemy had bypassed me on my right flank to the town of Odeine and was crossing the crossroads ¾ mile to my rear but I had nothing to protect that crossroad. History will show that the 2nd. SS Panzer Division that I had been holding up with my small Task Force over 24 hours had gotten to my rear and moved into the Manhay area while the seventh and ninth Armored Divisions and the 82nd. Airborne Division was reorganizing a new defensive line and history will show that it was nothing but chaos and confusion took place in the Manhay and Grandmeil area that night of the 24th and the morning of the 25th. Later I got a report that we would hold at all cost. Sometime after midnight I got orders to get out if you can, but don't come straight back to Manhay, try going to Malempre, which I did. "
24 Dec 44 - Brewster Task Force remains in position to protect the withdraw of other units toward Manhay. German Commander Generalleutnant Lammerding advanced his panzers at night fall which to their fortune coincided with the planned allied withdraw. Brewster Task Force was bypassed after being held up for 24 hours. Generalleutnant Lammerding also placed a captured American Sherman Tank in the lead adding to the confusion of other units in charge of road blocks south of town. Manhay was captured by the Germans but instead of heading north to Liege to exploit their success they headed west toward Grandmenil, Erezee, Soy and Hotton to assist German forces on their left flank in breaking through.
24 Dec 44 - "2000 hrs. Word to move back on a minutes notice." - A Co Journal
24 Dec 44 - Capt Doc Alden and driver in an Ambulance arrive at Belle Haie Crosswroads. Enemy mortar fire starts as they arrive. Enemy fire lifts and a German command car, arriving at the crossroads is fired upon by another paratrooper who kills the driver and Doc Alden kills the SS Colonel with his Thompson. Doc then loads up five or six stretcher cases and directs the ambulance driver to return to Manhay or if necessary Erezee. Doc Alden stays behind for about an hour and seeing things are quiet decides to walk back to Manhay.
24 Dec 44 - "2130 hrs. Capt. Alden came in from Manhay. Took out some stretcher cases. Mostly C Co. 289th. How Doc got there and then got out, is a big mystery, but that's Doc Alden for you." - A Co Journal
24 Dec 44 - "2200 hrs. Enemy SA on flank. Patrol sent out to keep rear clear."- A Co Journal
24 Dec 44 - Cpl. Travis J. Russell 509th PIB killed in action
24 Dec 44 - GERMANS -
2200 hrs. US 7th Armored Division tanks and other vehicles were retreating NW of B. de Fraiture to Manhay crossroads. 4th SS Panzer Kompanie, Hscha. Franz Frauscher in Panther #431 and another Panther from his platoon slipped unnoticed into the American column using the cover of darkness. On the ascending S curve of Highway N15 just south of town, the Panthers swung out of line and shot up the column and some partially dug-in Shermans, scattering the American armor in confusion. Nine Shermans were destroyed. -
"The Story of Das Reich Panzers" by Miles Krogfus, AFV News, January 1987
24 Dec 44 - Doc Alden arrives in Manhay after making the lonely trek from the Belle Haie Crossroads. As he reaches the first building he hears tanks approaching at high speed. Closer they are seen to be American. Moments later a German 88mm gun fires and explodes among the American Tanks heading north out of town to take up positions north of Manhay. A tank battle erupted in town. Doc Alden made his way out of town to the west toward Erezee. At Grandmenil he caught a ride the rest of the way to Erezee arriving about 2345.
(Historical Note: The 2nd SS Panzer takes Manhay and begins its move west but is stopped by a lone Soldier from the 75th Infantry Division who had never fired a shot in anger. As tanks approached his outpost 200 yards west on Manhay he fires a bazooka at tracks of the lead tank which comes to a stop sideways across the road. Unable to bypass, the 2nd SS Panzer Division column returns to Manhay to prevent being caught in the open. Later eight field artillery battalions fire on Manhay forcing the Germans to withdrawl. Manhay is once again in American control.)
25 Dec 44 - "0020 hrs. Enemy tank came down road and due to outpost of C Co 289th RCT not being in position was able to shell the second platoon CP, wounding seven men." - A Co Journal
25 Dec 44 - "0050 hrs. Patrol of 8 men from third platoon A Co 509th sent down to investigate enemy SA on our right." - A Co Journal
25 Dec 44 - "0130 hrs. Patrol returned and reported enemy on both flanks and in rear. No action to front." - A Co Journal
25 Dec 44 - "0200 hrs. Enemy working in on all sides and rear. German motorcyclist killed outside our CP." - A Co Journal
Major Brewster briefly describes the withdraw, "When I pulled out on the morning of the 25th. I started out with six tanks, and when I turned east to go to Malempre, I had my lead tank knocked out by a enemy tank judging from the projectile. Then the enemy armor moved in behind me and got my two rears tanks, which left me with three medium tanks at my disposal. The road was blocked in the front and the rear and the terrain was not suitable for cross-country maneuver. So it was agreed wisely that we should destroy the three remaining tanks, one 2 1/2 ton, two 3/4 ton trucks and the troops walked out on foot safely. I did not make it to Malempre but chose to come out on foot with the Colonel's permission. I went out on foot and got all the troops out of there and ended up in Bra early Christmas morning of the 25th. I made contact with the Regimental Task Force of the 82nd. Airborne Division there."
25 Dec 44 - "0400 hrs. A Co, minus one platoon held position across road until 0400 hrs when their positions became untenable as a result of an enemy mechanized flanking action that overran Manhay. Given the order to withdraw toward northeast, mounted tanks under Major Brewster and proceeded to Malempre. Ordered to get out the best way we can. We were told not to return to checkpoint 1 (Manhay). We were to head N then E. Four Germans killed 30 yards from our CP. They are trying to close in." - A Co Journal
25 Dec 44 - "0415 hrs. Moving out. Inf. on both sides of column. Being shelled by air bursts and HE. No casualties." - A Co Journal
25 Dec 44 - "0500 hrs. Enemy roadblock at the town of Malempre. We are trying to break thru with Inf. and tank." - A Co Journal
25 Dec 44 - "0530 hrs. Have decided for A Co. (509th) and C Co. (289th) to try to bypass town. Tanks are going to try to smash thru." - A Co Journal
25 Dec 44 - "0600 hrs. We are bypassing town. Tanks are still fighting. Pfc. Russell P. Cook voluteered to stay with wounded. Three more men joined the six already on the truck." - A Co Journal
"Major Brewster ordered the force to proceed by foot across country to our lines. It was necessary to abandon 5 tanks, 1 half track, 1 two ton truck and 1 jeep, including six wounded men loaded on the truck who were litter cases. Co. proceeded to friendly lines vicinity Bra with one PW." - HQ 509th PIB Journal
The wounded left on the trucks were: Clyde D. Baker (A Co), Glenford Brown, Robert E. Grover, WIlliam J. Hiller, Felix B. Marsh, Roman L. Miewiengbwski, Joseph C. Mangialomini (A Co), Teddy M. Abrams, Albert Castro, Paul L. Burns, Eugene C. Jordan. Pfc. Russell P. Cook (A Co) stayed behind to tend to them.
25 Dec 44 - Pfc. Eugene C. Jordan died of wounds
25 Dec 44 - "B Co and one platoon of A Co launched, with other friendly units, attack to restore road from town of Soy to Hotton. Misson accomplished. B Co set up defense to S and W of Soy." - HQ 509th PIB Journal
25 Dec 44 - 0930, the 509th PIB (Probably B Co) arrived from the east, making contact with the company in the town of Hotton.
25 Dec 44 - Reminants of two platoons from A Comapny, 2nd Section HQ LMG Platoon and an attachment of HQ 509th returns to Erezee, Belgium and Battalion control. 1st Lt Hoyt Livingston is put in change of A Co after Capt Bud Seigel was wounded.
25 Dec 44 - B Company and one platoon from A Company 509th PIB return from Soy, Belgium to Erezee, Belgium and return to Battalion control.
25 Dec 44 - Reminants of C Company from Parker Crossroads returns to Erezee and Battalion control. Lt. Harry Pritchett takes command of C Company
25 Dec 44 - C Company 509th PIB is sent to a hill near the town of Clerheid, Belgium and set up defensive perimeter along with 2nd Platoon B Company 290th Infantry 75th Infantry Division. After arriving in town 17 M4 Sherman tanks arrive and two tanks are attached to C Co 509th PIB.
26 Dec 44 - "1000 hrs. Pvt. Hosking wounded in the left hand and leg by accidental discharge of .45 pistol." - B Co Journal
26 Dec 44 - Doc Alden is tending his wounded in the Battalion Aid Station in the town of Erezee, Belgium when he notices an American half track driving up the road. Doc Alden looks back and notices the distinctive coal bucket helmets of Germans sticking up. He calls to his Medics to grab their weapons and they head out into the street to attack the 14 SS Grenadiers as they pile out of the half track. Most were killed and a few were captured. One of the medics fired a bazooka into the half track to ensure it could not escape. About 20 minutes later Doc Alden hears a tank coming up the same road. This time it was an American Sherman Tank with occupants unknown. Doc Alden agains calls on his Medics to grab their weapons and take up positions in the street. The Medic with the bazooka fires a round into the track causing the tank to spin and come to a halt. Slowly the hatch opens and out come Americans of the 3rd Armored Division. The tankers were hot but calmed down a bit when they heard about the SS ruse that took place only moments before. Again Doc Alden and his medics returned to their aid station only to be interrupted with heavy bursts of fire on the south side of Erezee. Doc and the Medics once again grabbed their weapons and moved to the sound of the fire. An SS Company was attacking and a fierce fire fight erupted. Major Tomasik dispatched several platoons and the SS Company was quickly driven off to the south. The platoons of the 509th continued the pursuit of the SS for about a mile. Doc Alden moved forward with them to provide aid to the wounded if necessary. The SS finally halted and took up defensive positions. Another fierce firefight took place in the woods between the platoons of the 509th and what they later discovered to be elements of the 12 SS (Hitler Jugend) Division. Doc Alden returned fire with his Thompson from behind a tree at enemy less than 50 yards to his front. As the 509th pushed forward the enemy line broke, six wounded SS lying in the snow. The 509ers and pressed past them about 40 yards when two grenades thrown by some of the wounded exploded behind them. The 509ers returned to them and killed them where they laid. When the fighting subsided Doc Alden returned to his Battalion Aid Station.
26 Dec 44 - With all companies under the 509th control. The 509th PIB is designated as 3rd Armored Divisions mobile reserve. Major Tomasik is told by General Rose not to commit his forces under any circumstances without his permission.
28 Dec 44 - 0130 hrs 1st and 2nd Battalions of the 25th SS Panzer Grenadier Regiment attack Sadzot, Belgium which was occupied by B Company 87th Mortar Battalion armed with 4.2 inch mortars. 1st and 2nd Battalions of the 289th Infantry 75th Division was suppose to be in position in the woods farther south of Sadzot.
28 Dec 44 - At 0130 hrs Doc Alden is awaken by heavy fighting, once outside he saw about a mile to the southeast the town of Sadzot, Belgium buildings burning illuminating the night sky and heard heavy machine gun fire and explosions.
28 Dec 44 - William DeChastain, Leon Mimms, and several other 509ers were manning the roadblock at the intersection of Erezee - Grandmanil - Sadzot.
28 Dec 44 - Major Tomasik also awakes to the fighting and contacts 1st Lt Justin McCarthy who is positioned closer to the fighting. Realizing the despirate situation and threat he attempts to contact General Rose. Unable to make contact, Major Tomasik risking courtmartial decides to commit the 509th PIB to the fight to prevent the 25th SS Grenadiers from gaining control of the Erezee - Manhay road. Major Tomasik directs A Company to attack south on the west side of town, C Company to attack south on the east side of town and B Company would be in reserve but would proceed South down the road to Sadzot. HQ platoons were attached to the companies for the attack. Tank Destroyers also joins in the attack.
28 Dec 44 - "0230 hrs. Company alerted. Much small arms fire around the town of Sadzot. There are three houses afire in the town." - A Co Journal
28 Dec 44 - "0300 hrs. The 509th Prcht Inf Bn was given the order to move out to stop enemy thrust through the MLR (Main Line of Resistance)." - 509th S3 report
28 Dec 44 - "0335 Hours A Company skirted Sadzot to the right with the intention of linking up with C Company which in the meantime attacked toward Sadzot to the left, with one platoon of B Co. in reserve." - 509th S3 report
28 Dec 44 - "0400 hours one platoon of three light tanks was in support of this force" - 509th S3 report
28 Dec 44 - "0400 hrs. We have just been told that we will move out at 0435 hrs. to try to flank the town from the south. C Co. will come in from the north. The SCR 300 will be used for communications." - A Co Journal
28 Dec 44 - Pfc. Dick Fisco, Scout Platoon, HQ 509th PIB is attached to C Co. Recalls ammo is collected and redistributed leaving him 70 rds of ammo for his Thompson and having given up six 30 round magazines. Capt. Jessie Walls, C Co Commander directs Pfc Fisco to be lead scout for his comapny. Pfc. Fisco guides company down hill and across Erezee - Manhay road where B Co was taking up positions in the ditch as the Co in reserve. He noted there were two tank destroyers and 5 light tanks in support. Coming across a light tank that had been disabled in initial fighting, Pfc. Fisco climbs on and fires the remaining ammo in the machine gun mounted on top. As he moved forward again he found a hand sticking out of the ground, it was Soldier from B Co 87th Mortar Bn and next to him another who had hidden as their position was overrun.
28 Dec 44 - "0437 hours report recieved that A Company was making enemy contact." - 509th S3 report
28 Dec 44 - "0500 hours C Co. and A Co. had joined forces and were ingaged in intensive firefight. After gaining positions south of Sadzot, the Bn. then cleared the town fighting house to house and continued holding positions south of Sadzot until the end of the 28th. The number of PW's totaled 49 and the number of known enemy dead 289." - 509th S3 report
28 Dec 44 - "0545 hrs. Being fired on by enemy MG on the outskirts of Sadzot. First Platoon returning fire and have forced enemy to fall back with their MG." - A Co Journal
28 Dec 44 - "0630 hrs. Have made contact with TDs to our left. C Co. reports that they are in a draw just north of the town." - C Co Journal
28 Dec 44 - Pfc. Fisco reached a position where a shallow gulley runs along a narrow trail. Capt. Walls called to Fisco, "Fisco, I'm making you Sergeant as of today. Take us in." C Co was on Fiscos right at this point and directed C Co to shift to his left. As he approached the woods, four M5 light tanks arrived, he directed two of them to Capt. Walls and told the other two to bound forward in front and push through the woods. Sgt. Fisco recalls at this point seeing the C Co Platoon Sergeant, S/Sgt. William F. 'Bill' Withem killed instantly about 75 feet to his left. Later one of the light tanks comes to a stop on a slight hill, driver raises hatch and is killed instantly. The Germans begin a counterattack, Sgt. Fisco unloads one clip and moves right to a new postion while reloading and feels something hit him in the elbow. Lt. Viteritto, from behind him, "Fisco, you're hit" he answered, " I know. In the left elbow." Another 509er helped him back and met a medic Harold Austin who was not far behind. The Medic got him some morphine and took him back to the Battalion Aid Station. The bullet had traveled about 8 inches along his arm to the elbow.
28 Dec 44 - "0700 hrs. Making plans to assault Sadzot. Moving our 2nd Pl. up on the west side of town so they can give supporting fire on the attack. 3 Pl. protecting our rear. 1st Pl. to make the attack with two TDs. Lt Jack Darden to be in charge of the assault." - A Co Journal
28 Dec 44 - "0815 hrs. TDs moving into town followed by 1st Pl. Enemy have guns set up at every house. Much small arms fire." - A Co Journal
28 Dec 44 - 0830 hrs. TDs are firing into every house and the 1st Pl. are mopping up. Enemy putting up stiff resistance, but TDs are too much for them." - A Co Journal
28 Dec 44 - "0930 hrs. Town just about cleared. Have taken about 35 PWs. Have killed at least 60 enemy. Our casualties were: Sgt. Steve D. Justice and Pfc. Carroll E. Herndon, KIA; Pvt. Henry W. Wampler, Percy J. Webre, Tony D. Baltazar, David G. Ayers, WIA." - A Co Journal
28 Dec 44 - "1000 hrs. Setting a defense up on outskirts of town. C Company moving up on left flank of town to take up positions." - A Co Journal
28 Dec 44 - "1200 hrs. Receiving heavy shelling from enemy." - A Co Journal
"Results of our operations: Prevented enemy counterattack in strength estimated to be two battalions from gaining road, and held positions south of Sadzot, sending 'mopping up' patrols into area west of our positions." - 509th S3 report
28 Dec 44 - "1500 hrs. Alerted to move forward to clear woods south and west of town. The plan is to try to close the gap that exists in the line between to battalions just south of us." - A Co Journal
(Historical note: The two battalions south of Sadzot are the 1st and 2nd Battalions of the 289th Infantry 75th Infantry Division)
28 Dec 44 - "1800 hrs. Plans have been changed. We will jump off in the morning at 0800 hrs. accompanied by C Co. and one Pl. of B Co. Another Inf. Battalion (2nd Battalion 112th Infantry) will try to fill the gap tonight. Enemy still shelling our positions. Setting up a very tight defense for the night. More tanks have been brought up." - A Co Journal
28 Dec 44 - S/Sgt. William F. Withem, 1st Platoon Leader, C Company, 509th PIB killed in action
29 Dec 44 - "Thinking the gap was effectively closed, General Hickey ordered the 509th to attack southeast from Sadzot with the trail toward La Foss as a right boundary. This attack began early on the morning of 29 December supported by some light tanks of Richardson's force." - 3rd Armored report
29 Dec 44 - Two platoons from B Co and demolitions platoon from HQ arrive in trucks and occupy positions A Co and C Co vacated in their move southeast.
29 Dec 44 - 0845 hrs. A Co and C Co with two light tanks having moved south begins to swing east.
29 Dec 44 - 0915 hrs. A Co and C Co with two light tanks encounter enemy fire. In addition to the small arms and machine gun fire, the Germans were hitting them with screaming meemies (rocket artillery)
29 Dec 44 - "0915 hrs. We were being shelled by heavy stuff. The shells are breaking in the trees. Staff Sergeant Stanley F. Howaniak and Pfc. French C. McClung wounded. We are bringing the tanks up. Tanks are having trouble getting through trees. Enemy still shelling us and casualties mounting." - A Co Journal
29 Dec 44 - Tank finally makes it into position and rakes enemy positions with .50 cal fire.
29 Dec 44 - "1130 hrs. Enemy throwing a counterattack and we are forced to fall back about 150 yards to better defensive position. Have formed a line and laying down very strong small arms fire. Enemy halted. - A Co Journal
29 Dec 44 - "1500 hrs. One of our light tanks knocked out. Enemy have broken and fallen back." - A Co Journal
29 Dec 44 - "1700 hrs. Plans are to comb the woods tonight using A Co, C Co and one platoon of B Co. Other troops are to be on our right. We are to move south and east until we hit friendly troops 2500 yards forward. Have left Sadzot heading south. We have been stopped by Baker. Still waiting to go forward. Most of the men haven't eaten anything since yesterday. Moving forward again.
29 Dec 44 - "1800 hrs. the Bn. after clearing area south of Sadzot, moved Co. A and Co. C to new positions , with one Co. of 83rd Recon. Bn. on left. An attack was launched to the east so that the area was cleared of enemy troops by 0100 hours. The total enemy casualties is estimated to be 289 (killed) for the period. - 509th Bn daily report
29 Dec 44 - Pvt. Gaines L. Morgan 509th PIB killed in action
30 Dec 44 - "0100 hrs. Have reached large clearing and no enemy sighted as yet. Have sent patrols out to the south and west. Patrols in and report is negative. Observe red tracers being fired into the air forward of us. Baker radios for us to turn east for 800 yards as we will hit a road. Have hit road and are on our way in. Have reached our old bivouac area. First hot food in two days. Moving into buildings in the town of Erezee. Have sent 15 men to the hospital today with frost bitten feet. Men are in poor condition." - A Co Journal
30 Dec 44 - B Co and HQ Demolitions Platoon remain in defensive positions south of Sadzot.
30 Dec 44 - "2322 hrs. Total casualties; 1 enlisted man frozen feet; 1 enlisted man concussion; 1 enlisted man KIA." - A Co Journal
30 Dec 44 - Pvt. John E. Roediger Jr. 509th PIB killed in action
31 Dec 44 - Pfc. John M. Van Ess Jr 509th PIB killed in action
31 Dec 44 - Pvt. Percy J. Webre A Co 509th PIB killed in action
02 Jan 45 - Reports that combat strength has been reduced to 62 percent. (690 men when they left France, now combat strength approximately 427 men). B Co and HQ Demolitions Platoon are relieved from positions south of Sadzot by the 389th RCT. 509th movesby truck to Kin to rest, re-arm and reorganize arriving at 1200 hours. A Co recieves 17 replacements other companies recieve similar numbers. These were men from the 551st and other units returning from the hospital.
04 Jan 45 - Transported by truck to Lorce and trains to work with the 14th Armored Battalion, 9th Armored Division
04 Jan 45 - Sgt. Robert M. Thompson 509th PIB killed in action
05 Jan 45 - Participation credit ends for Ardennes-Alsace Campaign
06 Jan 45 - Reported located in Belgium per Change #2 to MDS #13, HQ ETO, APO 887 dated 06 Jan 45
07 Jan 45 - 509th PIB is recommended for Unit Citation by XVIII Corps (Airborne) for actions 22 - 30 Dec 44
11 Jan 45 - Plans changed and 509th PIB is detached from duty with 9th Armored Division and is held in Corps Reserve
12 Jan 45 - 509th PIB attached to Combat Command B, 7th Armored Division and prepare to move to Spa, Belgium
13 Jan 45 - 1230 hrs. A Co and 1st Section, LMG platoon arrive in Spa, Belgium. Other companies arrive on their own schedule.
14 Jan 45 - A CO and B CO of the 509th PIB were combined with B CO 31st Tank Bn and B CO 48th Armored Infantry Bn and A CO 33rd Engineer Bn to form what was called Task Force B. in the vicinity of Spa, Belgium. C Co 509th PIB is attached to Task Force C. Force reserve would be Demolitions Platoon 509th PIB, a squad of engineers and a Tank platoon. Units prepare for attack south on Born and St. Vith
14 Jan 45 - "Summary of Enemy Situation: At present the enemy is resisting the advance to the south by the 30th and 1st Inf. Divisions with the 82nd Volksgrenadier Division and the 3rd Parachute Division. The defense to date has been of moderate intensitiy with one strong counteattack at Thirimont in which the 2nd Bn. 9th Regt. assisting it. The presence of the 1st SS or 12th SS Panzer Division in the St. Vith area leads to the conclusion that the enemy may best defend by the use of his armored forces to mount strong counterattacks in Battalion or Regimental strength supported by tanks. It is not likely that the enemy will give up so important a communications center as St. Vith without offering stiff resistance ececuted chiefly by counterattacks with SS Panzer troops." - 509th Bn S2 report
15 Jan 45 - 1330 hrs. 1st Lt. Jack Darden of A Co with two enlisted men conduct Leaders Recon to look at the proposed attack area around Born, Belgium.
19 Jan 45 - moved to the assembly area A Co at Kaiserbaracke and B Co at Wolfsbusch.
20 Jan 45 - A Company sends out a patrol that locates enemy platoon establishing positions on high ground on opposite side of creek.
20 Jan 45 - A CO and B CO passed through the 1st Inf Div front line at H-Hour and objective was to seize the high ground west of Born, Belgium. B CO assembled (modern term would be objective rally point) at Wolfsbusch for final prep to attack the high ground southwest of Born, Belgium.
1100 hours A Co halted by antitank and sniper fire from the south and southeast.
1200 hours B CO halted when three enemy anti-tank guns knocked out two of their medium tanks. Three were killed and nine wounded from the three enemy antitank guns and enemy mortar fire.
20 Jan 45 - 1300, 509th mortar teams (81 mm) set up within 2800 yards of Born and began to provide supporting fire. Nebelwerfers land near Battalion CP. Two other medium tanks supporting B CO moved out on the left flank to engage the antitank guns. B COs 1st platoon, HQ and one medium tank moved out on the road.
20 Jan 45 - A CO with three medium tanks moved out on the right flank of B CO and advanced toward Born.
20 Jan 45 - 1655 hours B CO reported advancing against light resistance. five minutes later B CO reported meeting stiff resistance. Enemy antitank fire knocked out lead medium tank with B CO. B CO Commander Capt. Winship was seriously wounded along with another Sgt. Doc Carlos Alden attended to both of them. Lt. McCarthy took over command of the company.
20 Jan 45 - 1840 hours B CO had taken 29 prisoners. While Doc Alden was treating Capt. Winship and the Sgt. a German Tiger tank came out of the woods and the crew captured Doc Alden and the wounded. B CO and the rest of the 509th as a part of Task Force B withdrew from the attack on Born, Belgium as a result of the new presence of three German Tiger tanks and increased enemy troops giving up the three buildings it had captured in town. They re-established a defensive line and three US tank destroyers were called up to support their position against the enemy tiger tanks.
20 Jan 45 - 2300 hrs. 20 artillery battalions began a barrage on German positions to break up any German assault.
20 Jan 45 - 2345 hours A CO advanced on the right, B CO was in the center and B CO of the 48th Inf Bn was on the left in the advance to Born. Both A CO and B CO occupied several buildings in Born, Belgium sometime in the early hours on the 21st of Jan 1945.
20 Jan 45 - Pvt. Philip K. Nachefski B Co 509th PIB killed in action
20 Jan 45 - Pvt. Edward Kalinowski 509th PIB killed in action
20 Jan 45 - Cpl. James R. Knopp 509th PIB killed in action
20 Jan 45 - Pfc. George F. Ruder Jr. 509th PIB killed in action
20 Jan 45 - Pfc. Steve Shaposka 509th PIB killed in action
21 Jan 45 - Pvt. Andrew F. Lijewski Jr. 509th PIB killed in action
24 Jan 45 - Reported located in France per Change #6 to MDS #14, HQ ETO, APO 887 dated 24 Jan 45
24 Jan 45 - 509th PIB reports combat strength at 120 men
25 Jan 45 - Reported located in Belgium per Change #7 to MDS #14, HQ ETO, APO 887 dated 25 Jan 45
25 Jan 45 - A Co reports 45 men, B Co reports 3 officers and 8 enlisted (additional personnel were assigned from HQ to B Co bring its strength to 5 officers and 20 enlisted), C Co reports 30 men.
26 Jan 45 - HQ reports 15 officers and 103 enlisted, A Co reports 5 officers and 30 enlisted, B Co reports 2 officers and 7 enlisted, C Co reports 2 officers and 19 enlisted. - Bn S2 Journal
27 Jan 45 - B Co reports 2 officers and 9 enlisted
28 Jan 45 - 509th PIB with a reporting strength of only 45 men was ordered to attack and secure high ground in vicinity of St. Vith. Maj. Tomasik was in command. Battalion HQ consisted of about 10 men and the other 35 men were under the command of Lt. Ken Shaker. From the house in the wooded area Maj. Tomasik and Lt. Shaker reviewed the map showing the hill down the road from their position. After moving a short distance down the road Lt. Shaker moved off the road to the right to avoid detection and proceeded to parallel the road. They soon came to a fire trail, after the lead scout crossed the road a shell landed between the scout and the main body of the patrol. The rest of the patrol quickly crossed the road by low crawling to avoid detection. Once across, they turned left and came to the edge of a clearing where they were able to observe the hill they were suppose to attack. The hill had a grouping of trees at the top with clear fields down the slope covered with heavy snow. From this position it would have been impossible to conduct a successful attack. Lt. Shaker and another Soldier went off to the right to determine if there was another approach that afforded more cover. About six hundred yards they saw off to the right a valley with four or five american tanks and men. Further ahead Lt. Shaker found a covered approach and returned to the patrol. Lt. Shaker sent one Sgt. and four other men to patrol up the covered route and see if anything was on the top of the hill. The five man patrol made it up most of the way when they encountered a German machine gun position. After an exchange of fire several Germans retreated and one surrendered. Unfortunately, radioman Ed Wojick was killed. The German prisioner was brought to Lt. Shaker and they attempted to get the German to tell how many were on the hill. He refursed to talk. The German prisoner was take to the battalion command post where an interrogation team questioned the prisoner. Finally the prisoner told them that there was a 160 man company. Word finally got back to Lt. Shaker around 1600, who had been delaying the attack, to return to the battalion command post the attack had been called off. The remnants of the 509th PIB, now 44 men, loaded on trucks and moved out to Trois-Ponts, Belgium.
28 Jan 45 - A Co journal reports strength as 15 men and other companies totaling 20 men.
Lt. Morton Katz notes "After this last action, seven officers and 48 men came down the hill on 28 January 1945. All others were either dead or hospitalized."
29 Jan 45 - 509th PIB is at Trois Ponts, Belgium to rest and re-organize.
04 Feb 45 - 2nd Lt. Le Roy C. Manley 509th PIB killed in action
01 Mar 45 - Disbanded - per Radio from HQ ETO, Paris, France dated 03 Mar 45
20 Mar 45 - XVIII Corps (Airborne) General Orders 20 March 1945 Number 22 awards Unit Citation for action between period 22 - 30 December 1944
12 May 1947 - Reconstituted in the Regular Army as the 509th Parachute Infantry Battalion
01 April 1963 - Reorganized and redesignated as the 509th Infantry, a parent regiment under the Combat Arms Regimental System
16 January 1986 - Withdrawn from the Combat Arms Regimental System and reorganized under the United States Army Regimental System
02 October 1988 - Transferred to the United States Army Training and Doctrine Command
31 May 1993 - Withdrawn from the United States Army Training and Doctrine Command
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