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30th Cavalry Reconnaissance Troop (Mech) Timeline

Discussion in 'Western Europe 1943 - 1945' started by Slipdigit, Jun 11, 2014.

  1. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    I've been to several 30th ID reunions have talked with a good number of people who were children on this train. One man, who was five at the time, gave a great presentation at the 2014 reunion. His cousin, who was eleven, survived the ordeal, only to die of dysentery in hospital in Farsleben a few days later. He showed a photo of the the young girl made shortly before she died. She was a frail, little lady with wasted arms visible from under the bed linens.

    If you have read our book, this also around the time that Mr.Sanford's section happened upon the two dozen or so Jewish women who were slaves, hiding out in the school house.
     
  2. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    13 April 1945

    "1st Platoon still with the 117th Infantry on the Task Force [Task Force Harrison]. Tanks continued to lead the force and the platoon was assembled with the Regiment CP following them in the convoy to Angern Germany. Balance of the Troop with 120th Infantry on another task force. At 0545 this force started rolling again, Machine-gun and small arms fire were placed on the selected crossing of the Weser-Elbe Canal and the enemy guarding the bridge across the canal were killed or captured. Bridge remained intact. Task force then crossed the canal and proceeded to Doist where a barracks containing 28 German Officers was captured. This town was taken by complete surprise and surrendered without a fight. Task force moved on toward Bron Germany. In the woods two mile [sic] west of Born, an enemy strongpoint and supply depot were encountered. Here, dismounted enemy engaged the column in a fire fight, slightly wounding 2 or our men. 15 enemy vehicles were destroyed and all the enemy were killed or captured. Prisoners reported the town of Born as heavily guarded. This was checked and verified by reconnaissance. Born lay in a valley surrounded by woods and hills. From the crest of a hill, tanks fired from stationary positions, covering the attach on Born. The Troop deployed and opened fire with individual and vehicular weapons, advancing on to the edge of the town. Here they ceased fire, converging into column and moved into the town. The overwhelming consentration [sic] of fire power laid upon the town, caused the defenders to surrender without further fight. No casualties were sustained by our personnel in this action. The task force the proceeded against very light opposition to Barleben, its destination. The Troop was immediately given the mission of checking the Autobahn Highway to the east of that town. Four heavily defended strongpoints were encountered. The first strongpoint was reduced but the remainder were termed as "night infantry objectives", because of excellent enemy observation and terrain structure. Troop then received orders to assemble in Samswegen. During the days operation, 1100 prisoners of war were captured."

    Surprisingly, the Journal was rather succinct with its appraisal of the day's action which only merited four sentences.

    The wounded men were
    Sgt. Robert Butcher
    1Lt Thomas C. Harvey.

    Earning Silver Stars were:
    1Lt Thomas C. Harvey
    Capt. James Hume, Jr.

    Earning Bronze Star were:

    Sgt. Robert O. Butcher, T/5 Stanley J. Dzwilewski, T/5 Josiah N. Hall, T/5 Amos A. Hite, T/4 Rudolph Johnson, T/4 Dale W. Oakley, SSgt Homer D. Roberts, T/5 Paul C. Seiler, T/5 Noralf O. Swennes.

    As best I can tell, Butcher and Harvey were the last two men of the 30th Recon to be wounded during combat. See also post 286 below.

    This is also the last day any of the men earned medals for valor,

    These photos are courtesy of Laurie Davis. She is/was the niece of Lt. Thomas Harvey and she sent me these photos in 2009. I have since been unable to contact her via the email address she used to correspond with me.

    L-R Amos Hite, Thomas Harvey, Paul "Scurvy" Seiler, Rudolph "Pood" Johnson
    View attachment 22376
    L-R Robert "Bob" Martin, Thomas Harvey, Paul C. "Buck" Rogers, Arthur H. "Cookie" Cook, and "Siry"
    View attachment 22377
    L-R James Chester, Robert O. Butcher, Robert "Bob" Shea, Howard "Humpy" Simmons
    View attachment 22378
    Thomas Harvey, sitting in front passenger seat. Others unidentified at present.
    View attachment 22379
    Thomas Harvey standing in an M-8
    View attachment 22380
     
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  3. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    14 April 1945

    AAR:

    "At 1130 1st Platoon rejoined Troop at Samswegen. Troop given mission of clearing towns of Meseburg, Hillersleben, Wedringen, Neuhaldensleben, Neuenhofe, Colbitz and Linhorst. Platoons were unable to reach towns of Suplingen and Buhstringen due to all bridges crossing the canal being blown. At Hillersleben an ordinance depot, equivalent to the size of Aberdeen Proving Ground USA, was captured. At this enemy ordinance depot, 217 Germans were captured. The enemy had made attempts to destroy as much of the equipment there as possible; however, many valuable items of ordnance and signal equipment were not destroyed. 3rd Platoon after completing town-clearing mission was ordered to Neuhaldensleben, population of 15,000, to maintain order among the civilians and guard all captured material in that town."

    Journal added this: "At 2000 the 1st Section of the 2nd Platoon was sent to reinforce the guards at Hillersleben to guard the captured equipment there. 362 prisoners were captured during the day. Troop C.P. at Samawegen."

    Mr. Sanford was also posted as a guard at Hillersleben and he saw a large portion of the arms and equipment there.
     
  4. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    15 April 1945

    AAR:

    "2nd Platoon continued guarding ordnance depot at Hillersleben. 3rd Platoon continued guarding and patrolling Neuhaldensleben. At 1300 1st Platoon was ordered to patrol road and woods north of Neuhaldensleben. On this patrol 10 prisoners were captured. AT 2000 1st Platoon moved to Neuhaldensleben to reinforce 3rd Platoon. 29 prisoners were captured in around this town."

    Journal:

    "The 2nd Platoon at Hillersleben guarding captured equipment there. The 3rd Platoon still in Neuhaldensleben maintaining order and guarding equipment. At 1200 the 1st Platoon received mission of clearing woods of enemy at 501200 to 490200 to 509232, 550219 to Neunhofe. 38 prisoners were captured during the day."
     
  5. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    For supplemental info, there are some brief remarks in "Curlew" (1st Battalion, 117th) that at about this point 12/13 April (ish) it was noted that the Germans began defending outside/ahead of the towns encountered, rather than inside them.

    One can only speculate that a new German commander was being encountered, at least in the path of the 117th. Or, perhaps the same one organizing the defenses over the last weeks was tired of watching these small German cities be destroyed. They'd approach a town to find a strong point ahead of them. Sometimes they'd get stiff resistance, and sometimes only taken resistance and then a surrender. Then, most of the time, they'd enter the town itself without resistance.

    It's also interesting that Jeff relates the "Night Infantry Objectives" in his 13 April entry. The various regimental histories note that a lot of night training was done in the brief late winter lull before the drive into Germany. Old Hickory became very expert at night attacks and used them extensively through the entire drive into Germany. These worked very well and they were often able to defeat much larger German forces with few casualties to themselves. I don't recall where I read it, but a German summary of American infantry derides them as being on a "schedule" and therefore very predictable - the American fights until 1800, then digs in, etc. I don't know what was happening in other divisions, but the 30th was using all kinds of bold new tactics and these night assaults, almost like guerrilla attacks, were one of them.
     
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  6. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    16 April 1945

    "At 0015 a patrol was sent to Meseberg to check report of German soldiers in that town. Patrol captured four prisoners. At 1000 Troop received mission of relieving elements of the 120th Infantry in Glindenberg and elements of the 117th Infantry in Heinrichsberg. Troop was also ordered to contact 35th Division on the left in the vicinity of Loitsche and the 120th on the right vicinity of point 697095. Patrols were run between these extreme points. 2nd Platoon outposted town of GLindenberg with strongpoints and outposts. Enemy artillery fell on one outpost wounding one man. Two prisoners were captured at Neuhaldensleben."

    Journal:

    "At 1000 the troop received mission of relieving elements of 120th Inf at Glendenberg and elements fo the 117th Inf at Heinrshcberg [sic]. Mission also included contacting the 35th Div on the the left and 120th on the right vicinity of 697095 and patrol between the extreme points. The platoons moved into position under cover of darkness. Troop C.P. moved to 695122."

    If you have read the book, Mr. Sanford believes the artillery "on one outpost" refers to his group that had decided not to stay at a gated house, but instead moved about 100 yds away to an apple orchard. Uncharacteristically, they did not dig foxholes. Later on, artillery hit the area, heavily damaging the house. His halftrack received the only significant damage it sustained during the war when shrapnel punched a roughly 2 inch hole in the floorboard of the vehicle, just behind the front seats. He remembered one man being slightly wounded but did not think he even went to an aid station.
     
  7. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    17 April 1945

    AAR:

    "No change in situation. One prisoner captured at Samswegen at 0900."

    Journal:

    "At 1700 the first platoon sent a patrol to 505172 and contact [sic] a patrol from I Co. of the 35th Dvi [sic] and made arrangements to contact them again at 2100."
     
  8. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    18 April 1945

    "No change in situation. 5 prisoners were captured at Glindenberg at 2200. All 5 were deserters and stated they had been stationed in Berlin Germany."

    Journal:

    "The 1st Platoon continued its patrols and the town of Glindenberg is being outposted."

    This marks the end of mobile combat operations for the 30th Reconnaissance Troop (Mech) and I think for the 30th Infantry Division as a whole.
     
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  9. mcoffee

    mcoffee Son-of-a-Gun(ner)

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    A salute for this thread and for your dedication in preserving the legacy of Mr. Sanford and the other veterans of the 30th Reconnaissance Troop.
     
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  10. Ruud

    Ruud Member

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    Well done Jeff !
    I hope i can continue my thread about 30th Old Hickory for quite some time too.
     
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  11. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    Thanks guys. There is still more in the AAR and unit history to add.

    They will be going home and I'll add that information from the AAR and/or Unit History as those dates arrive.
     
  12. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    19 April 1945

    AAR:

    2nd and 3rd Platoons to Heinrichsburg, continuing patrols and guard. During the night those two platoons operated outposts along river Elbe from point 741170 to 730150 (Magdeburg) At daybreak the platoons reassembled in Heinrichsburg. 1st Platoon at Loitsche. During the night 1st Platoon ran mounted patrols from Loitsche to Heinrichsburg to point 718152 and back to Loitsche. Patrols were continuous."

    Journal:

    Troop continued on same mission. During daylight hours outposts are set up at 731155, 732154, 734156, 733157, 734150. During hours of darkness positions were dug in along the dikes from 730150 to 742169. Troop C.P. at Glendenberg."

    Mr. Sanford mentions serving on these outposts. He said very little was going on and he never saw Germans on the far bank.
     
  13. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    20 April 1945

    AAR:

    "No Change."

    Journal:

    "At 2000 the troop was relieved from this mission by K Co. 120th Inf."
     
  14. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    21 Apr 1945

    AAR:

    "At 0800 the entire Troop moved to Oschersleben, arriving at 1000, for the purpose of occupying and patroling [sic] assigned area in conjunction with the I Co. 120th Inf. This area includes towns east and west of 40NS grid lines and to take over the factories in this area, and to guard and maintain order among the civilians and displaced personnel."

    The factory that Mr. Sanford was detailed to guard was a chocolate factory and it is mentioned in the book.
     
  15. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    22 April 1945

    AAR:

    "Troop continued mission of patrolling 100 square miles of occupied territory. At 1500 1st Platoon sent to vicinty of 380940 to completely check woods for Germans reported there. 3 German officials were captured in Eggenstedt. T 2200 a check was made an report rendered on all hospitals, displaced persons other than German nationals, and concentration camps with size and capacity of same, in the area patrolled by the Troop. 2 prisoners were captured at Oschersleben at 2000."
     
  16. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    23 April 1945

    AAR:

    "Troop continued patrolling area. at 1300 3rd Platoon established three roadblocks in their area to keep all civilians refugees from moving into Oschersleben. 4 prisoners were picked up during the day."

    Mr. Sanford participated in manning these roadblocks. He said he had a difficult time stopping the civilians because they had no where to go.
     
  17. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    24 Apr 1945

    AAR:

    "Patrolling area continued. 9 prisoners were picked up at 1430 at Alikerndorf Germany.".
     
  18. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    25 Apr 1945 to 30 Apr 1945

    AAR:

    "Area continued being patrolled. Troop working with Military Government, keeping order among civilians, checking and disposing of displaced persons, collecting weapons, and keeping all allied personnel not on official business, out of the the area."

    This is the last entry in the After Action Report for 30th Reconnaissance Troop (Mechanized).
    It was signed by
    James Hume, Jr.
    Captain, Cavalry
    Commanding

    The Journal entries had already ended about a week before.

    I will be adding additional dates to this thread as the unit works it way back to the English Channel and ultimately to the United States.
     
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  19. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    13 May 1945

    The Red Army arrived in Magdeburg on May 5th and the 30th ID remained in the town for several days thereafter. Sometime between the 10th and 12th, as Mr. Sanford remembers, the Troop moved to the village of Klein Oscherleben, roughly SE of Magdeburg, where they would remain for a week or so. patrolling the area and keeping the peace.

    I asked Mr. Sanford if they celebrated the end of the war on May 8. He said no, that it was more of a relief that it was over and they had made it. A few days later, he and few men went to a party hosted by a Russian unit. He said they (the Russians) got very drunk and started firing weapons into the air, which concerned him and his men. The first opportunity they found, the 30th Recon men left and went back to their unit.

    Mr. Sanford and some his men went eye-ball to eye-ball with some Russians soldiers after they found a German family that had hidden food on their property. The Russians had lined the Germans as though they were going to shoot them. Mr. Sanford and some others got between the Russians and the German family and the situation got tense as both sides were armed. There were words passed, but the Germans were not killed, although the food was taken. Mr. Marion said he would not have been surprised if the family was killed after the US soldiers left.
     
  20. Ruud

    Ruud Member

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