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BATTLE OF THE BULGE


bastogne44
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Warhorse6

Bastogne44;

 

These are amazing photos. I am the sitting Commander of the 1st Squadron, 14th Cavalry Regiment, the seat of the Regimental history and we carry the 18th Cavalry Squadron in our lineage and honors. These photos fill a gap in our knowledge of the details along the defensive lines of the Bulge near Manderfeld, Roth, Holzheim and later St Vithe, where the Group earned a Presidential Unit Citation for its actions.

 

As the seat of the Regimental History, we are sincerely interested in any other historical information you may have regarding the 14th Cavalry Group or its subordinates who were tasked beyond its control at the time.

 

-Warhorse 6

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  • 8 months later...
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  • 8 months later...

In response to post #37. My Father served in Captain Mitchell's Company "A" of the 526th Bn. I have also had the pleasure of speaking with Dr. Mitchell on four occasions(phone), as well as Sgt. Breuninger(1st Platoon Squad Leader, and Pfc. Rosario Scripilliti of Mesa Arizona.

I would like to emphasize that I find it quite disturbing that on all of the television documentaries here in the United States on the many cable networks, the "Engineers" are given all of the credit for hampering the advance of the 1st Panzer Division on the Northern Flank of the attack. This is a complete distortion of the facts. Yes, the engineers were heroes in the Battle of the Bulge, however the leadership in the region of Malmedy Stavelot, and Trois Point from December 17-19th were from Major Solis and Captain Mitchell of the 526th Bn. In many history books, Major Solis is criticized for not having the Engineers "blow the bridge" at Stavelot on the morning of the 18th. First of all, three of the four 57mm AT guns in Stavelot were from the 526th. There were three Sherman tanks that Captain Mitchell told me he gathered from different units that were retreating and ordered them to stay as part of this courageous stand of about two Companies against a Division! The other criticism of Major Solis is that he sent a couple of squads across the river to set up a roadblock across from Stavelot against the approaching German column. The reason for this decision is that he did not know that "B" Company had been annihilated and expected many of these men to be retreating across the bridge. As it is, according to the memoirs of Sankey, Katz, and Cordova, a handful of troops did in fact do just that and ran for their lives as the approached the bridge. It's easy to second guess Major Solis, but I argue that many if not most officers may have made the same decision under those circumstances. The half track and the gun they towed were knocked out by a mine and a round from the lead tank in Colonel Peiper's Coloumn. The battle of Stavelot began at around 4:30 am on the 18th of December 1944. Major Solis took charge of all the forces ,of an understrength "A" Company of the 526th, Engineers from the 291st, and a rag tag bunch of soldiers in the region from the 825th, 17th Airborne, 99th, and 30th Divisions. Major Solis had the 57mm Gun from the 825th along with one of their own, positioned facing the approach on the other side of the river. According to my conversation with Pfc. Rosario Scripilliti, "it was complete chaos and confusion....we had guys crossing the river, I was on a fifty and shot a couple of Krauts dressed like medics. It was crazy, everybody was all mixed up". This confusion he described was due to the fact that there were Americans and Germans on both sides of the river. Most eyewitnesses report that the two 57mm guns that Major Solis positioned along the river were able to take out the lead Panther tank and damage another tank that "was about fourth in the column". Captain Mitchell said that he tried to position the other two 57mm guns and the rifle squads in an effective manner using the layout of the town of Stavelot to their advantage. One gun was placed directly facing the bridge in the town square. The other was placed in a protected position on a side street facing the square which was manned by Sargent Carl Smith and Pfc. Roscoe Taylor. This second gun knocked out the first Panther tank which crossed the bridge and badly damaged the following Tiger tank which lost control and crashed into a residential building. Captain Mitchell ordered Lt. Pehovic to take his platoon into the hills above the town to fire down on the German with small arms and then return to Liege/Spa on foot. Lt Beardlsee's platoon was the unit across the bridge which was the first to make contact with the enemy. He was hysterical and was "screaming and crying" according to the memoir of Pfc. Rudy Mello. At this time around 11:00am it was apparent to Captain Mitchell that they could not hold the town much longer. just then Lt. James Evans showed up with a few men he put together from the rear. Captain Mitchell ordered Evans to take over from "Beardslee". Along with Lt Evans were, Sgt. Breuninger, Sgt. Heuer, Sgt. Tiedman, Pfc. Llloyd Fisher, Pfc. Scripilliti, Pfc. James Lego, Pfc. Rudy Mello, Pfc. Chacon, Pfc. Dale Nelson, and Pfc. Jack Ellerly. Major Solis ordered a complete evacuation of the town. Captain Mitchell ordered the men listed to cover the withdrawal. Pfc. Lego was the first to follow Sgt. Smith to the Spa Hwy. side of the town, they were too quick for the Tiger to get a bead on them but that was not the case for the next man, Pfc. Lloyd Fisher who was hit by the Tiger's machine gun. Sgt. Smith through Fisher into someone's front yard, but there was nothing he could do. Pfc. Fisher was KIA. During this intense "firefight" Pfc. Jack Ellerly was the next to fall victim to enemy small arms fire. Just then, the 88 on the Tiger took a shot at the 57mm gun in the town square, killing Lt Evans and Pfc. Dale Nelson. Both captain Mitchell and Sgt. Heuer were just a few yards away when this tragic loss took place. At this time, Pfc. James Lego was wounded in the shoulder and Sgt. Chris Breuninger helped him to evacuate. Captain Mitchell said, "it was a wonder the last of us got out, bullets were flying everywhere". A sniper, Pfc. Sam Bohn with Lt. Pehovic positioned in the woods above the town was able to hit four of the Tiger Tank crew members as they crashed into an apartment building. At this point around 11:30am, the Americans retreated in three directions for the sake of survival. Major Solis and Captain Mitchell drove on the Spa Hwy in a couple of jeeps which was the shortest route back to Liege and the Meuse River. Lt. Pehovic as ordered was headed to the rear on foot with his platoon and another Halftrack towing one of the remaining 57mm AT guns went in the opposite direction towards Trois Point.(a whole other story)

During the interrogations prior to the Nuremburg Trials, Waffen SS Colonel Peiper stated that the actions of the 526th delayed his "spearhead" by at least 20 hours.

It is my hope that the 526th Bn. will in the future get their just recognition for the following;

1) The surprisingly strong resistance at Stavelot from Co. "A" of the 526th along with Engineers from the 291st.

2)The decision made by Major Solis to stop during their retreat at the fuel depot, to destroy the fuel. This denied the Germans the much needed Gas that they were depending on to reach Antwerp.

3) The resulting inferno(manned by Sgt. "Wimpy" Cordova, Pfc. Harlan Baker, Belgian Lt. Albert Detroz, Sgt. Jack Mocnick, Pfc. John Sankey, and Pfc. Soloman Katz) forced the remaining SS Column to struggle up the narrow Highway only to have the lead halftrack met by a wall of fire and a bazooka round. The following fourteen tanks( from original eighteen in Pieper's group before Stavelot) were forced to awkwardly turn around and change their plans for a longer rout through Trois Point for the Meuse River.

 

The decisive actions and decisions made by both Major Solis and Captain Mitchell under the worst of circumstances deserve much more recognition both in our modern documentaries as well as the history books. It is undeniable that approximately 170 soldiers changed the course of history on that fateful morning of December 18th 1944.

 

Three of the men from the Battle, 2nd Jack Mocnick, 3rd Chris Breuninger, far right Harlan Baker

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  • 2 weeks later...

DirtyRob, thanks for the great post about the 526th AIB. I too feel that much of important action on the Northern shoulder of the bulge has been under-appreciated. If you have not yet read "The Damned Engineers" by Giles I think you'd enjoy it. The book covers the action of the engineers in the Malmedy - Stavelot - Trois Ponts area well and the spoiling of the initial attack on Stavelot; great book.

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Thanks, Grunt Doc. They have a Doc on that on the new American Hero's Channel. My issue is that the 526th were the ones that destroyed the fuel depot, but up one heck of a firefight(along with the engineers) in Stavelot and manned the "road block" at Trois Point and there is not as much as a mention of them. Once in a while you hear, a group of Armored Infantry commanded by Major Solis, and that's it.

Thanks for caring. It was my Father's outfit.

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  • 2 months later...

DirtyRob,

 

I saw your picture of the boys from A company resting, and just for the record, Harlan Baker is on the far left, not the far right. I should know, he is my Grandfather.

 

The other middle three guys seem to be in the right order. I have plenty of pictures of these guys that I have inherited. Just an FYI.

 

Paul

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  • 4 years later...

post-255592-0-98739200-1569078478_thumb.jpgpost-255592-0-15354800-1569078491_thumb.jpg

hello
thank you all for your comments
hey silvanous :thumbsup:
a discovery of 2 weeks, a kit bag with name, number and color code
Unfortunately, the GI was found in march 1945 KIA
charles marshall
110th Regiment: 28th Infantry Division

Charles E. Marshall

ID: 20306126
Entered the Service From: Pennsylvania
Rank: Staff Sergeant

Service: U.S. Army, 110th Infantry Regiment, 28th Infantry Division

Died: Sunday, March 04, 1945
Buried at: Netherlands American Cemetery
Location: Margraten, Netherlands
Plot: E Row: 19 Grave: 23

Awards: Bronze Star, Purple Heart with Oak Leaf Cluster



attachicon.gifPhoto_5078.jpg

 

Charles was my mother's boyfriend when he went missing in action in Dec 1944. His soldier friend told my mother that he was sitting by a tree when a bomb dropped and he was never seen again. I am posting his picture and the inscription that was on the back, I would like him to be remembered as more than just a bag. So sad that he was gone so young.

 

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