276th Infantry: Documents: Jan 45 AAR
The following report is on file in the National Archives. Any errors in spelling have been retained.

HEADQUARTERS 276th INFANTRY
APO 461                       U.S.ARMY

Subject: Narrative Report of 276th Infantry
31 January, 1945

To: Commanding General, Task Force Herren, APO 461, U.S. Army
Att: AG Historical Section

Having completed its combat training at Fort Leonard Wood Missouri, the 276th Infantry, Colonel A. C. Morgan commanding, departed by troop train 19 and 20 November 1944 for Camp Myles Standish, Massachusetts, clearing that post before midnight of 22 November 1944. On departure from Fort Leonard Wood the unit was at T/O strength.

The following two weeks spent at Camp Myles Standish were devoted to issue of articles of supply required for ETOUSA and to instruction in subjects pertaining to security and to conduct and safety measures aboard a troop transport.

Items of supply issued to the individual soldiers during the staging period included: One pair shoepacs, one pair combat boots, one lightweight standard gas mask, one sleeping big, two pairs ski masks and one wool knit sweater.

Eight hours of special instruction was given to the company orientation officers and noncommissioned assistants of the regiment.

On 5 December 1944 an advance party moved to Boston, Massachusetts, by rail and boarded the transport to prepare for the arrival of troops on the following day. The regiment moved by rail the morning of 6 December 1944 to Boston and immediately boarded ship. At 1630 an 6 December 1944 the transport lifted anchor and stood out from Boston harbor for the Atlantic passage. Training enroute included orientation, abandon ship drill and care and cleaning of equipment. The regiment was transported to Marseille, France, arriving in that port the morning of 15 December 1944. Immediately after noon unloading began, the troops being taken off in barges and set ashore at Callahan Beach. As they arrived, they were transported by truck to Delta Base CP No. 2, where a bivouac was established, the troops pitching pup tents in company street formation.

During the week of CP No. 2, the regiment was issued complete motorized equipment, 57-mm AT guns, 105-mm cannons and was brought up to T/E strength in all respects.

Orientation instruction was conducted by company at CP No. 2 to familiarize the men with the strategic situation an the Western Front. Troops were granted occasional passes for a few hours at a time (always daylight) in the city of Marseilles. V-Mail stationary was issued and a few consignments of mail from the States arrived and were distributed. The Retreat Ceremony was conducted nightly in the bivouac. Company officers stressed military courtesy and discipline in their instruction to the men during this period.

Weather during the stay in the Marseilles vicinity was rainy and cold and the bivouac area was muddy.

Movement of the 276th Infantry to the combat area began early in the morning of 23 December 1944. The few elements were transported in two troop trains, composed of French freight cars, which left before morning of 23 December 1944. The first was commanded by Major Theodore R. Mataxis and the second by Major Robert J. Natzel.

Each of these trains was unloaded at Brumath, France, and the troops marched to Bischwiller, Frame, where they were billeted in abandoned factories and public buildings.

Meanwhile the motorized elements of the Regiment began their northward movement from CP No. 2 at 0630 on 24 December 1944. The motor column bivouaced that night in St. Rambert, France, having covered 176 miles. The night of 25 December the bivouac was in Dijon, France, after 167 miles, and on 26 December 1944 the motor elements drove 145 miles, bivouacking in Baccarat, France.

The motor column cleared into its billeting areas in Bischwiller at 1630 am 27 December 1944, after a 113 mile drive the last day.

From 27 December 1944 to noon of 29 December, the 276th Infantry remained in Bischwiller in TF Herren reserve. During this period the Regimental strength was 152 officers, 5 warrant officers, and 2805 enlisted men. A total of 219 EM had been transferred as replacements to the 80th Infantry Division. The supply situation was: Rations, 3 days rations; ammunition, basic load; all unserviceable signal equipment was ordered to repair section by the Commanding General; gas and oil, 1 day supply.

At 1230 on 29 December the regiment began to move by motor and marching from Bischwiller to Soufflenheim in accordance with orders to relieve the 275th Infarrtry in defensive positions along the west bank of the Rhine River from Seltz to Roschwoog. Regimental CP was established at Soufflenheim. The lst battalion occupied the right half of the Regimental sector, the 2d Battalion the left half and the 3d Battalion in reserve. Our mission was to deny the area to the enemy. Later our right flank was extended to Fort Louis.

In general, the S-2 estimate of the situation was this: The enemy lacked sufficient strength to prevent accomplishing of our mission, but he would be able to maintain active patrolling and reconnaissance mission along the banks of the Rhine. He on also thought to be able to strafe and bomb our lines of communication and to drop saboteurs by parachute.

Administrative reports at this time showed the following replacements needed: 2 officers, 237 enlisted men. Five casualties were evacuated in the 29-30 December 1944 period.

The supply situation showed 3 days rations, approximately one day's supply of ammunition and one day's supply of gas and oil.

From 29 December 1944 to 1 January 1945 the 276th Infantry held its defensive sector along the Rhine. Combat efficiency was reported as excellent.

On 1 January 1945 the regiment, now attached to the 79th Infantry Division, moved by motor and marching to Camp d'Oberhoffen, its defensive positions along the Rhine being taken over by the 274th Infantry. The mission of the 276th Infantry in its new location as VI Corps Reserve, and tactically involved only local security. The Regiment was ordered to remain assembled, prepared to move to the Mouterhouse area.

During afternoon of 2 January 1945 the Regiment began movement by motor to Zittersheim, France, to continue its VI Corps reserve mission by preparing, occupying and defending a position extending from Volksberg to Ingwiller, a distance of 11 miles. At this time the 276th Infantry, which had been attached to the 79th Division, was attached to the 45th Division. The new position was occupied during the late afternoon and night of 2 January 1945 with the 2d Battalion on the right extending from Ingwiller to Wimmenau inclusive, the 3d Battalion on the left extending from Volksberg to Wimmenau exlusive, and the lst Battalion in reserve south of Wingen.

Administrative reports now listed needed replacements as 2 officers and 232 enlisted men. Rations were sufficient for three days and oil and gas for one day. The ammunition report showed a shortage of hand grenades and efforts were being made by S-4 to fill this deficiency. There were no damaged vehicles and none on request.

The 276th Infantry, having occupied positions as shown on an overlay from the 45th Division, at once began to improve then and to install road blocks. One platoon of Company I was attached to the 190th Infantry and remained with the 190th Infantry all during the battle of Wingen.

The 2d Battalion at 0730 on 3 January 1945 reported to the Regimental CP at Zittersheim the loss of one Regimental Anti-Tank gun, attached, and part of Company E.

Two artillery shells burst in the 3d Battalion area during the morning and at 1010 that battalion reported 90 per cent of the civilian population was evacuating Rosteig, moving west on foot toward Volksburg. A column of French medium tanks and armored cars appeared at Volksburg at 1030 and the French captain in command conferred with the commanding officer of Company K to coordinate action. Later in the day the captain of French Armed Forces reported to the CP of the 276th Infantry for coordination.

At 1215 the 3d Battalion reported that Companies C and B of the 179th Infantry were withdrawing throuqh the first platoon of our Company I while Company A of the 179th was moving north around our left flank to counterattack.

The 1st Battalion, preparing positions to defend Wingen, was shelled and lost one man. This was reported at 1455. Shelling of the 3d Battalion CP at 1625 required moving the CP to a new position.

On 3 January S-2 estimated the enemy situation this way: Unit in contact is the 8th Company, 953rd Regiment, 359th Division, with reserves including elements of 953rd Regiment and the 12th S.S. Mountain Regiment reported at Equelshardt. There had been contact with small groups of the enemy in the vicinity of Wimmenau and artillery fire and patrolling in the Wingen area. We had killed a two man enemy patrol, and he had killed a man in one of our patrols. S-2 concluded that the enemy had very few supporting weapons to use in an attack, that he could continue active patrolling in this sector and that he might be able to bring up sufficient reinforcements to attack.

The weather during the regiment's period of operations in the Zittersheim area was cold with occasional snow flurries and there was a light mantle of snow on the ground.

The following morning (4 January 1945) at about 0530, the enemy attacked to the south, taking the town of Wingen. The attacking force was aggressive and well equipped with individual weapons, particularly automatic weapons, of which it had an excessive number. However, they had very little Supporting fire.

Regimental CP, having been notified at 1830 the night before (3 January 1945) that an enemy attack might be expected at Wimmenau and Kelsberg, had immediately notified all its units and had disposed troops on Corps order in anticipation of the blow. The 1st Battalion was moved  from Wingen to the vicinity of Wimmenaui with Company B north of the tracks at Wimmenau and Company C on the high ground north of the tracks.

First definite information that the enemy had struck in force came at 0510 4 January 1945 from Company B which was then engaging the enemy north and east of Wingen. At 0635 the lst Battalion reported that casualties were fifty per cent of all riflemen, but this was later amended to say that casualties were uncertain and could not be known definitely before daylight. Company A was sent to aid Company B and to comb the area for patrols. At 0750 approximtely 30 enemy were reported in Wingen. The I. and R. platoon was dispatched to Wingen at once to investigate.

At this time TF Herren notified the 276th Infantry that tanks would be attached, and that they would arrive within an hour and a half. A request from this regiment for artillery fire on Wingen was refused by G-3, 45th Division at 1000.

The 276th Infantry was ordered by the G-3, 45th Division, at 1027, to use at least one rifle company and Company B, 781st Tank Battalion, (less one platoon), to attack and restore the regiment's position north of Wingen. The town was to be bombed when our troops had left it.

Immediately the 3rd Battalion was ordered to have its reserve company, together with company I, launch a co-ordinated attack on Wingen from the west, generally astride the railroad. The 1st Battalion was to support this move by fire from the south and east to permit the attackers to clean out the town. One platoon of medium tanks was attached to the 3d Battalion units. The 3d Battalion companies were to reorganize after accomplishing their mission. Specifically, the lst Battalion was ordered to company C to the right of Company A astride the road and railroad tracks to prevent the enemy withdrawing to the east.

The 276th Regiment was notified at 1230 that the 2d Battalion, 274th Infantry, was to launch an attack northwest from Puberg to Wingen and would then take over the line from Rosteg, exclusive, to Volksburg, inclusive. The 3rd Battalion, 276th Infantry, would then consolidate its positions to the south and east.

The attack of the 3d Battalion from the west end of Wingem jumped off at 1330, and at 1720 the I. and R. platoon rported that the attack was moving forward with heavy mortar support down the valley and through the town. The attack was also supported by 10 tanks. The I. and R. platoon further reported that Company C was receiving automatic weapon fire from Wingen on its right flank.

At dark, S-2 reported that enemy units in contact were the 8th Co, 953rd Regiment, 361st Division; 506th SS Battalion, 12 SS Regiment; 6th SS Mountain Division, and the 506th Panzer grenadier Battalion. The only reserves listed were armored units north of our sector, all other enemy troops reported in the area having been committed. Enemy strength in contact was estimated at 200 men, with excessive amounts of automatic weapons, and the morale of the mountain division troops was said to be very high.

The attack of 4 January 1945 failed to accomplish its purpose and 0840 on 5 January 1945 the push was resumed on this plan:

Elements of the 3d battalion attacked from the west and Company C from the north, the remainder of the lst Battalion from the south, was to support the attack by fire. Company G of the 274th (attached) was to support the attack from the southwest. The attack was supported by a concentration of artillery fire on the hill northeast of Wingen by the 169th Field Artillery of the 45th Division. By means of heavy automatic fire and bazooka fire on tanks, the enemy held up this operation on all flanks.

A renewed attack by Compny C was launched by our forces at 1600 and this met with greater success, the troops of the 276th Infantry penetrating far into the town. However before mopping-up operations were well under way darkness descended and the operation was brought to a halt, except for active patrolling, all troops were ordered by Division to withdraw from the town.

During the two days of the attack, the enemy had taken some 150 of our men prisoner, including 15 wounded, and all of these were held in the Wingen schoolhouse. They were not fed and were used as litter-bearer details for the handling of enemy wounded.

On the evening of 5 January 1945, S-2 reported that enemy units in contact were the 1st and 3d Battalion of the 12th SS Regiment, 6th SS Mountai Division, and the 6th Company, Second Battalion, 331st Infantry. Reserves included a few units of depleted strength reported north of our present position, and a small amount of artillery and armor. In Wingen, the enemy casualties were heavy as a result of our artillery, machine-gun and tank fire.

Mopping up operations in Wingen were resumed on the morning of 6 January 1945 by our lst and 3d Battalions. The 2d Battalion, having been attached to the 313th Infantry, had been ordered to attack the strongly held town of Lichtenberg. This attack was successful. During this day's action the taking of the town was completed and practically all of the prisoners taken by the enemy were freed and restored to their own units. The enemy was cleared from our entire area by 7 January 1945 and the defensive line of the switch position that the 276th Infantry had occupied as division reserve was restored and strengthened. The regiment was warned to be ready to move to a new sector.

In the course of the operations at Wingen, the regimental and battalion communications platoons of the 276th Infantry overcame the loss of their principal wire lines with the loss of Wingen, and maintained uninterrupted service throughout the battle. Wires from all battalions, going to the CP it Zittersheim, had been channelized through the town of Wingen. When that point was taken by the enemy it was necessary to lay wire back through Le Petite Pierre and then north to CP's it Wimmenau and Rosteg. This involved 12 miles of wire on each line. A total of 250 miles of wire was laid by the regiment during the Wingen action. Tanks and artillery fire destroyed wire constantly, necessitating 24-hour duty by the wire crews. In addition, 150 messages a day were transmitted by radio.

The tide of battle put the routes of communication in the hands of the enemy an several occasians, and an example of the hazards of carrying messages was the case of  one mounted messenger who counted 10 bullet holes in his 1/4-T vehicle following a dispatch trip.

On 8 January 1945 the 276th Infantry (minus 2d Battalion attached to 313th Infantry) moved from the vicinity of Zittersheim and Wingen to Mulhausen. At this new CP plans for an attack to be executed at 0700 the following day were prepared pursuat to orders from the 45th Division. On arrival of the regiment at  Mulhausen the 2d Battalion, now at Offwiller, vas released from attachment to the 313th Infantry and was included in the attack plans.

As of this date, replacements required for the regiment are listed at six officers and 21 enlisted men. There were 25 evacuations during the period covered in the report. Rations for three days and gas and oil for one day were on hand. There had been no ammunition expenditures listed for the period. The regiment was short four 1/4-T vehicles, 31 1 1/2-T, one 2 1/2-T, and six 1/4-T trailers.

The attack to be launched at 0700 9 January 1945 had as its objective the taking of four hills in the area southwest of Barenthal. Prior to the action, S-2 listed the enemy units in contact as 1st Batalion, 952nd Regiment, 361st Division, and 2d Battalion, 476th regiment, 256th Division. No reserves had been located. The enemy's activity consisted of defensive action in the regimental zone to include artillery fire through out the area. Strength of the enemy it Obermuhlthal was estimated at one battilion of approximately 100 men. Morale of  enemy troops was reported generally low.

S-2 concluded that the enemy had three capabilities: To reinforce present positions and defend; to reinforce present positions with sufficient force to attack; to fight a delaying action on successive positions.

The 1st and 2d Battalions jumped off at 0700 and the 3d Battalion at 0715, all advancing without opposition until about 1030. At that time Company C received sniper fire from Obermuhlthal, a town in the area of the 275th Infantry. Meanwhile, the 2d Battalion contacted the enemy in its sector.

Informed that fire from Obermuhlthal was hampering attainment of the 1st Battalion's mission, G-3 said that the 275th Infantry on the right would aid in taking that towm. On our left was the 313th Infantry.

At 1146 Company A took its first objective and Company C took temperary control of Obermuhlthal, while the other units continued to advance without resistance. However, Company A was ordered to hold up its progress at this point because of the slow advance of the 2d Battalion due to terrain, and the impracticability of by-passing Obermuhlthal.

Co C was hit by a counterattack at 1410 and at the same time Company B was subjected to heavy artillery fire. A request was again sent to the Commanding General, 45th Division, to have the 2d Battalion, 275th Infantry, aid the lst Battalion, 276th Infantry, by taking over Obermuhlthal.

The lst Battalion had the situation under control at 1530, but at 1555 a small arms and artillery attack was made on its CP. This was repulsed. The 2d Battalion was under machine-gun fire and artillery fire was landing on the 3d Battalion. At 1700 the lst Battalion reported Obermuhlthal cleared. S-3 of the 275th Infantry had refused presissim to register artillery fire north and northwest of Obermuhlthal because of danger to his troops. As of 1800 plans were being made to defend the ground held. There was active patrolling by our units and the enemy during the night.

S-3 conclusions of the day's action was that the 276th Infantry had accomplished the initial phase of its mission, but that better results would have been obtained if it had not been necessary to turn aside from our mission on the right flank.

At dawn of 10 January 1945 the attack was resumed with the 2d Battalion on the left, lst Battalion on the right and 3d Battalion in reserve position on its original objective. The regiment continued to purh forward through out the day, after front lines were straightened for easier contact between units.

On this day S-2 reported that enemy units in contact were 2d Battalion, 477th Regiment, 257th Division and 1st and 2d Battalions, 952d Regiment, 38lst Division. No reserves had been located. Enemy strength was reported as greatly reduced and battalions operating with 60 to 200 men, some with only one officer. Morale of all Volkssturm Guards was found to be exceedingly low, but SS units had the same high morale and fighting spirit as previously. More enemy field artillery was being encountered.

The S-1 report showed that replacements needed by the 276th Infantry now stood at nine officers and 203 enlisted mn. For the period 7, 8, 9 and 10 January 1945 there had been 91 casualties evacuated. There were rations sufficient for three days, ammunition for 1-1/2 days and gas and oil for 2 days.

The Regimental CP moved to Offwiller 10 January 1945.

The attack entered its third successive day at daylight of 11 January 1945 with the battle order remaining: 2d Battalion left; lst Battalion right; 3d Battalion reserve. Heavy enemy artillery, mortar and SA fire was encountered throughout the day.

The lst Battalion attacked and captured Hill 403, but was stopped by heavy artillery fire on reaching the crest of Hill 358. Later this hill was taken at heavy costs to the battalion. The 2d Battalion was pinned down by heavy enemy small arms and automatic fire and unable to advance but later was instructed to move forward in small groups and infiltrate past Hill 403. The 3d Battalion was committed to the 1st Battalion sector, with the 1st Battalion reverting to regimental reserve.

The 3d Battalion attack was halted at 1845, but the 2d Battalion contnued to advance and at 0300 12 Januaryy 1945 captured Hill 415. At this point it dug in and there was active patrolling by both battalions during the night.

The fourth day of the attack began at 0900 12 January 1945 with the 2d Battalion on the left, 3d Battalion on the right. Although the 2d Battalion was pimed down by heavy enemy small arms fire, the 3d Battalion MM pushed forward and sent Company L (reserve) to close the gap between battalions and aid the 2d Battalion. During this day only slight progress was made by the regiment as a whole, due to heavy enemy artillery and small arms fire.

Late in the day, 12 January 1945, a warning order was received that this regiment was to relieve units of the 157th Infantry and 36th Engineers on 13 January 1945.

The S-1 report of 12 January  showed five killed and 75 wounded with 82 casualties being evacuated. Replacements needed were listed as nine officers and 288 enlisted men. The supplyy situation was normal.

The regiment moved its CP to Woerth, France, 13 January 1945 with lst Battalion relieving the 3d Battalion, 157th Infantry; 2d Battalion relieving the 3d Battalion, 157th lnfintry; 2d Battalion relieving the lst Battalion 315th Infantry (attached to 157th Infantry) and the 3d Battalion relieving the the 1st Battalion 36th Engineers.

In the new position the 276th Infantry's left flank was at Jaegarthal and its right Lembach. Its mission was to deny the area to the enemy.

At 1357 14 January 1945 the regiment was warned by TF HERREN to be ready to be relieved by units of the 103rd Division, the relief to be completed by 1800 January 1945.

An advance party left the regimental CP at 1820 14 January 1945 with destination the vicinity of Farebersviller.

Relief of the 276th Infantry by the 410th began 15 January and was completed at 1510 16 January 1945. At 1500 16 January 1945 first elements of the regiment left for the vicinity of Farebersviller to relieve the 411th Infantry. The new regimental CP was established at Farebersviller. Movement to the new positions continued throughout the night.

The mission of the 276th, on relieving the 411th (and some elements of the 106th Cavalry), was to deny the enemy the area occupied in defensive positions extending from Emmersweiler on the left to Buschbach on the right. The 2d Battalion occupied the right half of the sector, the 3rd Battalion the left half and the 1st Battalion was in reserve. At the time these positions were occupied the enemy strength in this immediate area was estimated at three companies with a total of 350 to 400 men. The situation along the front was generally static and it was believed the enemy probably knew our general location, since he had been in this vicinity for at least a month. It was the S-2 conclusion that the enemy would continue to defend and improve his present positions until he had massed sufficient reserves to launch a co-ordinated attack. Active patrolling and harrassing missions were anticipated.

The S-1 report of 17 January showed that needed replacements were eight officers and 327 enlisted men. Supplies were normal

The two weeks following occupation of the new positions were devoted to improvement of the defensive works and to aggressive patrolling. Complete plans were prepared for defense, for counterattack and for withdrawal under various conditions. In the meantime, TF HERREN, which had been operating under the XXI Corps, was placed under the XV Corps at 1100 25 January 1945.

S-2 subsequently reported that the enemy was dug in strongly and was continuing to improve his position. Deliberate defenses in the vicinity of Saarbrucken were reported. The enemy, meanwhile, devoted his efforts chiefly to patrolling and harrassing actions.

Operations in the Farebersviller area were conducted under the handicap of a heavy stand of snow, icy roads and extremely cold weather.

/s/a A.C. Morgan

A.C. Morgan /s/ DCR
Colonel, 276th Inf
Commanding


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