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Hatten and Rittershoffen January 1945

Discussion in 'Western Europe 1943 - 1945' started by Kai-Petri, Dec 13, 2002.

  1. Alsa.se

    Alsa.se Member

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    Hello Natman,
    These are very interesting reports.
    For Sessenheim, why not ? This is part of operation Nordwind as Hatten-Rittershoffen. Actions are intertwined.
    Thank you for sharing these documents!

    regards,

    Eric
     
  2. TD-Tommy776

    TD-Tommy776 Man of Constant Sorrow

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    Sounds like another trip to Abilene is in your future, Steve. ;)
     
  3. rkline56

    rkline56 USS Oklahoma City CG5

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    Kai,
    All,

    I have just met a gentleman from 314th Regiment, G Company, 79th ID and he has a journal. He arrived in Europe after the invasion but in time for this campaign. I will be able to take pictures of his souvenirs and look at his "Journal". He flies Old Glory, The Lorraine Cross and the Regimental Flag in front of his home in Orange, CA each day. He does not drive much anymore so I may get the chance to drive him around some. We will definitely have some tea and beers. He lives a 2 minute walk from work.
     

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  4. rkline56

    rkline56 USS Oklahoma City CG5

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    http://digicom.bpl.lib.me.us/ww_reg_his/39/

    The full history of the 79th ID is a pdf download embedded in the above link.

    Apparently Mr. Davis was enroute to the 314th at the time of Hatten and Rittershoffen. He arrived in February of 1945 in time for the push to the Rhine at the Ruhr Pocket. He mentioned the factories and coal mines of Dortmund and the civilian bunkers. He helped some of the civilians out of these bunker - tunnels. He was on occupation duty in Dortmund for 12 months after the War. He also spent time in Sudetenland and Bavaria. He was on the line with the Russians at the point of our meeting with our Allies. His journal is very interesting. He mentioned that the Russians loved to fight among themselves and with Americans in boxing competition. There were a few tense stand offs and small arms fire exchanges across the lines. Usually after all the participants had a bit of captured schnapps or heife weiszen.
     

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  5. TD-Tommy776

    TD-Tommy776 Man of Constant Sorrow

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    Rick! What a great website!! Lots of unit histories including some I have been trying to find: 71st Infantry, 119th Infantry, 179th Infantry, 254th Infantry... the list goes on. I may be up all night downloading unit histories. :kbpeck:
     
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  6. rkline56

    rkline56 USS Oklahoma City CG5

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    So glad the site is of use to you Tommy. [​IMG]
     
  7. rkline56

    rkline56 USS Oklahoma City CG5

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    https://www.facebook.com/rick.kline.773/media_set?set=a.10200965692215956.1073741825.1575862213&type=1

    So one night in Germany near Dortmund. Paul and two buddies from G Company were out late in a jeep, headlight-less of course. When they rolled the vehicle into a 155 mm Howitzer or 12.8 cm PAK44 crater, nearly the size of a house. Paul was able to crawl out, helped out the second man and then they both got out the third. It took a while and he felt lucky that the German patrols had moved out of the area several days before or it could have been curtains for them.

    I hope you enjoy the photos in my attached album. I will put up more of his journal asap.

    Admins - If you want to drop these 79th posts into a new thread let me know. I put it here as a post script to the sacrifices the men of the 79th made after Hatten and on the way through the Ruhr Pocket.

    [sharedmedia=core:attachments:18915]
     
  8. davealex

    davealex New Member

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    I am new to this forum, but I thought some might be interested with my 93 year old father's first hand recollections of the Battle of Hatten & Rittershoffen. My father, Lt. Donald Alexander (later Captain, with two Bronze Stars) was with the 79th Infantry, 311th Field Artillery Battalion. He landed at Utah Beach on D-Day +4 with his command of a 105mm Howitzer Battery. They fought from Cherbourg to Germany with Hatten & Rittershoffen being near the end of their major engagements. It was indeed a very tough battle.
    This is what he has written in his personal memoirs:

    Battle of Hatten & Rittershoffen
    The Division went into a rest period in Luneville, France for the first time since arriving on the beaches. It was a case of getting cleaned up, finally sleeping in beds, and assigning and training replacements for all of our personnel losses in combat. The rest period was for 16 days and ended as orders came through to begin the race to the Rhine River.
    The Division was assigned the task of forcing a passage through the Vosges Mountains and driving the enemy out of Alsace. We drove through the Saverne Gap, on to Hagenau, Hatten, Rittershofen, and finally the Rhine River and Germany. The Ardennes offensive required us to withdraw all along the southern front and for the first time we found ourselves in retreat as part of the Task Force Wahl. An overwhelming German Force hit us as they mounted a counter attack at Hatten and Rittershoffen. One will have to read the History of the Division to fully understand the complexity of the situation in the area of Hatten and Rittershoffen. It was a little confusing. It was also one of the most harrowing combat experiences of the war for me. It was as demoralizing an experience as our efforts in our capture of Cherbourg following the landing at Utah Beach in Normandy.
    Task Force Wahl consisted of our 311th Field Artillery Battalion (my Battalion), the 310th Field Artillery Battalion, the Third Battalion of the 313th & Second and Third Battalions 315th Infantry Regiments of the 79th Infantry Division, the 222d Regiment of the 42nd Infantry Division, Combat Command A of the 14th Armored Division and the 827th Tank Destroyer Battalion.
    I remember many of these events as though they took place only a short time ago. I only want to mention one incident that occurred as we arrived in Hatten. Our first duty was to establish an observation post to determine German Troop activity in the area. We could also give artillery support to the Infantry in the event of an enemy attack. The logical place to establish the OP was the church steeple near the center of the village. Lt. Larry Maroon and I hauled a BC (Battery Commanders) Scope (This is an instrument that resembles a pair of field glasses, but has the ability to look over the top of an object without being noticed) up to the top of the church. This required climbing two flights of wooden stairs that looked straight down into the pews far below. We set up the scope and had a very wide view of the area for many miles around. We had established radio contact with our Fire Direction center. I was talking directly with Captain Jack Tilton, Battalion S-3, one of my buddies. We would eventually have contact with Jack and the Battalion by phone once the Battalion Communication crews brought up wire lines. It was amazing how rapidly this could be accomplished with our wonderful Communication Section, although we had communications by radio and that was all that mattered.
    Suddenly, Larry and I spotted, several Mark IV Tiger Panzer Tanks coming from the river along with many infantrymen on foot and wearing white camouflage snowsuits. Larry and I both started firing our Battalion guns, but those tanks and infantrymen just kept coming. I told Larry we should evacuate the church before the tanks started leveling it. We knew they would be taking out the church because it was a perfect location for observation. We scurried down both sets of stairs with the equipment and prayed the Germans wouldn’t shoot at the steeple before we made it down to the ground. We were very lucky because they immediately started shelling the church. About the 3rd round took out the steeple. By the time we reached the ground, Lt. Col. Van Arsdale, our Battalion Commander arrived on the scene, along with the 311th FA Charlie Battery Commander, Captain Leo Stacer. He was a replacement officer (He replaced Bob Laben).
    This enemy force finally overran the town. Larry and I instructed Jack to keep firing in the same location. This is all covered in the Division history. We pulled back to the outskirts of town. This Charlie Battery Commander later asked me to write a letter recommending Lt. Col. Van Arsdale for the Silver Star, for his action that day. I never did because he did nothing heroic accept drive his vehicle to the church and leave. Van Arsdale later did get a Silver Star, so I supposed someone wrote a letter. Larry and I pulled back and continued to fire our artillery at the advancing German force. The rest of the operation one can read in the book.


     
  9. rkline56

    rkline56 USS Oklahoma City CG5

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    Great information davealex,

    Send your father my best regards for his service in this heck of a battle. I hope he had the upgraded boot packs that got there so late. I think the guys were taking them from the Germans at first.
     
  10. gtblackwell

    gtblackwell Well-Known Member Patron  

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    Though I have written about this before this post makes it relevant again. If one drives through that area today, Lorraine and Alsace you can see many small stone churches , dating a few hundred years back to Gothic times, that show massive repair and complete rebuilding of their steeples. quite a few have modern architectural designed roofs and towers atop the old spires. All a result of the shelling described above and from both sides..
     
  11. TD-Tommy776

    TD-Tommy776 Man of Constant Sorrow

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    Excellent contribution, davealex. Please be sure to "check in" at the New Recruits section so the other Forum members can give you a proper welcome. Also, I hope you and your father will be willing to share more with us regarding his service during WWIi. As Rick said, please offer him our heartfelt appreciation for his service as well as our regards.
     
  12. mhudelson

    mhudelson New Member

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    Hi,

    I'm new to this forum, but registered after doing a search for Task Force Hudelson. Col. Hudelson was my grandfather. I have his papers and mementos from WWII, including his letters to his sister regarding the fighting in the Vosges Mountains, Army reports, etc. I'll transcribe some of those letters and post them up here (somewhere?).

    Great to be in touch with people interested in this part of WWII.

    Thanks,

    Mark
     
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  13. gtblackwell

    gtblackwell Well-Known Member Patron  

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    Mark, good to see you here and look forward to your letters from your grandfather. A rare treat.

    Gaines
     
  14. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    I'm also looking forward to them. As the saying goes "information not shared is lost." Out of salutes right now but when I get one your in line for it mhudelson.
     
  15. TD-Tommy776

    TD-Tommy776 Man of Constant Sorrow

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    Hi, Mark. I also look forward to what you have to share from your grandfathers records. I suggest that you start a thread in the aptly named "What Granddad did in the War" section. :)
     
  16. Alsa.se

    Alsa.se Member

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    Hi,
    Very happy to read you here, Mark.
    Hoping to read other contributions about your grandfather.
    Thank you for sharing with us.

    Eric
     
  17. Alsa.se

    Alsa.se Member

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    Hi,

    Sorry for the delay in response ...
    Davealex, thank you for this contribution.
    About the event which was held in Hatten, while your father was in the steeple of the church, my mom was in the cellar of his house, a few meters away ...
    Can you tell me in which book its history is written?

    Regards,

    Eric
     
  18. Skipper

    Skipper Kommodore

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    small world isn't it? This is the marvel of internet. Thanks for keeping this fascinating thread alive. :poppy:
     
  19. Alsa.se

    Alsa.se Member

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    You're right, Skipper.
    I hope that this topic will develop further. In twelve months we will celebrate the 70th anniversary of the first liberation of Hatten-Rittershoffen (December 13, 1944), followed by a long period of waiting and fighting between December 1944 and March 18, 1945 (final liberation of both villages).
     
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  20. davealex

    davealex New Member

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    To Eric,

    I am not 100% sure about which book my father, Donald Alexander, was referencing. I believe it was “The Cross Of Lorraine, A Combat History Of The 79th Infantry Division (Divisional Series)”. This can be sometimes purchased from Amazon.com.


    Also, I do have a book called “The Other Battle of the Bulge – Operation Northwind” by Charles Whiting (1990). It has a pretty good discussion of the fighting in and around Hatten and Rittershoffen – see Chapter Four.


    It would be very interesting if you could share any recollections or history of your mother’s experience around the Battle of Hatten and Rittershoffen. I am assuming she was a civilian that just happened to get caught in one of the most harrowing battles of WWII. She would have a most interesting perspective. I hope this is something you could share.


    Dave A.
     

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