PRIVATE FIRST CLASS BENJAMIN FRANKLIN "FRANK" PYLE was born November 8, 1915 in Pennsylvania. The 1930 census shows him living with his parents, Benjamin F. and Johanna M. Pyle, at 8 White Horse Pike in Barrington, New Jersey. The family included brothers Edwin and Robert, and sisters Marie, Jennie, and Ellen. The elder Pyle worked as a house painter. By the time of the the 1940 Census, Mrs. Pyle had passed away. The family lived at 241 Van Horn Avenue in Clementon, New Jersey. On March 19, 1941 Benjamin F. Pyle's father died.
5'6" tall and 128 lbs., Benjamin F. Pyle had a grammar school and was single when he was drafted. Benjamin F. Pyle was inducted into the Army at Fort Dix, New Jersey on April 8, 1942. Along with a number of other men who were inducted that day, including Leopold Renzi, who lived a few blocks away on Howard Street in North Camden, and Joseph Miller of Salem, Benjamin F. Pyle was sent to the Cavalry Replacement Center at Fort Riley Kansas. He was assigned to Troop A of the 117th Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron, 102nd Cavalry Group. Leopold Renzi was assigned to Troop B of the same unit, Joseph Miller was sent to Troop A of the 102nd Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron. All three men were later killed in action.
Prior to leaving for the Army, Benjamin F. Pyle had lived at 320 Cole Street in Camden, New Jersey, a one-block street that lay between Linden Street and Pearl Street that was erased when Rutgers University expanded its campus in the 1960s.
Private First Class Pyle was killed in action on September 10, 1944. His body was brought back to the United States in the spring of 1948, and he was buried at Beverly National Cemetery on May 14, 1944.
The Regiment returned to it's concentrated training regimen until early July when it again received orders to prepare for staging to Fort Dix in early September from whence it was to ship out for overseas duty.
September 25th 1942 the Troops boarded the H.M.S. Dempo, A Dutch passenger liner under British Army control, and sailed October 1st for England in a 96 ship convoy, plus escort, which left the Dempo behind when it developed engine problems two hours out to sea. Repaired by it's Dutch Engineers within a few hours, the ship resumed the trip on it's own. It landed in Liverpool on October 7th after an essentially uneventful crossing.
Most of the Regiment was billeted in Fairford, a beautiful little village in the Cotswold area of England. Our quarters were on the 1000 acre Palmer Estate nearly adjacent to the Village Square. The officers were housed in the Manor House, the enlisted men in Quonset Huts.
Training schedules were quickly implemented to
maintain the high state of proficiency attained in the
They were capable of only a sixty-degree traverse.
The training then initiated for Officers at the Royal Armored Tactical School was all based upon actual
In December 1942, The 2nd Squadron of the 102nd underthe Command of Lt Col. Hodge was detached from the Regiment and assigned to the Security Command of A.F.H.Q. (Allied Force Headquarters)
Now stationed at Shrivingham Barracks, the Squadron commenced to drawits vehicles, weapons and other equipment. Scout Cars, Halftracks, Bantams, Radio equipment etc. were drawn throughout November and December and delivered to Glasgow for loading aboard ship.
The Squadron, by then alerted to sail from Glasgow, Scotland on December 24th, for a destination only later learned to be Algiers, did so aboard the H.M.S. Straithaird and landed at Algiers on the morning of January 3rd 1943. A little less than two months after the first Allied Forces had come ashore on November 8th, 1942.
After several days in the El Biar section of Algiers where we viewed the nightly bombing of the city
On arrival in Africa, the Squadron was composed of two Reconnaissance Troops (A & B), The Light
In addition, one Reconnaissance Troop was to be on full alert every twenty-four hours.
"F" Troop was assigned to patrol the two nearby airports, Blida and Maison Blanche
A reinforced platoon commanded by Lt. Padraig O'Dea was also assigned Special Security and Escort Duty
for the Advanced A.F.H.Q. CP in Constantine. Most of the Platoon was involved with escorting Gen.
Eisenhower when he went to the forward areas. While there, "Ike" traveled in a Scout Car driven
That Escort Service was also provided to U.S. Generals Bradley, Patton and Truscott as well as British
On January 17th, the Squadron received it's first alert of enemy parachutists landing, in force, near
The Operations Center constantly received reports of enemy parachute landings, which kept patrols busy tracking down every report. Most of these enemy troops were rounded up, but it is certain that some escaped and holed up in the area.
The Squadron also established schools to train units of the French Army in North Africa. Courses included training in Communications, Weapons, Tactical Employment and Maintenance.
November 30, 1943 the Squadron was reorganized and designated the 117th Cavalry Squadron
December 30, 1943 the Squadron received orders requiring a forced march of 1000 miles to Marrekech, French Morocco to provide security for Winston Churchill who was to confer there with General DeGaulle.
The Organization less the Tank Company left Douera at 1930 hours on December 30th. The advance party arrived in Marrekech after forty hours of continuous driving. Within 51 hours of departure, the entire convoy arrived in tact; a significant accomplishment that foretold the potential of the unit to sustain operating capacity in combat not-with-standing intensive demands.
Like other security details, the mission involved outposts in strategic areas of the city, mobile patrols, very
tight security on site and provision of a mobile reserve for emergencies. The mission was completed
On it's return from Morocco, the Squadron was attached to the 85th Infantry Division and on
In late April 1944, the 117th was attached to GeneralMark Clark's 5th Army and ordered to embark for
It took two days to load all vehicles, tanks and artillery on two Liberty Ships, the S.S. Grenville-Dodge and
the S.S. Horace Moody. Meanwhile, the personnel boarded the Troop Ship H.M.S. Strath-Naver and on
May 10th, we joined a convoy of about ninety ships for the 1174 nautical mile trip to Italy.
The convoy entered Naples Harbor and tied up to unload at 1400 hours on May 16th 1944.
At this point in time, the American troops were bogged down at the Rapido River. The invasion force on the Anzio Beachhead was locked in and, the Monastery at Cassino was stubbornly defended by the Germans, who held very commanding positions in the mountains.
It was not until the Allies decided to blast the Monastery that the offensive would again begin to move. The Air Force took care of that. It reduced the Monastery to rubble.
It was at this point that the 117th Cavalry Squadron was committed to action.
(The period from 05/22/44 through 05/31/44 chronicled below is taken from Harold Samsel's Book. We have no copies of Squadron Daily reports from the archives for the ten- day period from May 22nd through May 31st. - Pg 4A is a Map of Italy. Some key locations of the Campaign are circled.)
Moving into the line on May 22, the Squadron was assigned to relieve the 36th Division Recon. Squadron and set up a beach defense from the mouth of the Garigliano River to a point 12 miles to the south.
Two days later, attached to the IVth Corps, the 117th was moved into the area at Itri and Sperlonga about 100 miles south of Rome. It's new mission was to secure crossings of the Ameseno River and maintain contact with enemy forces. The major objective of the forces involved in this attack was the long-awaited linkup with the forces pushing out of the Anzio Beachhead.
The first enemy prisoner was captured early in the day, a Panzer Grenadier, the first of more than 10,000 prisoners the Squadron would capture in the next ten months.
On the 25th, the Squadron with the 2nd platoon of "A" Troop in the lead took Terracina, a heavily damaged town on the west coast of Italy and advanced aggressivelyto the north. It hit strong enemy resistance at the mountain town of Sezze. After two days of hard combat and casualties, including the first two killed in action, the town was overrun by our tanks.
(The next two paragraphs are personal comments about May 25th by "A" Troop's Captain Piddington)
"Prior to crossing the IP at 0300 hours, the troops were fed, eggs any way you like them, (If you can believe that), and I gathered my officers under a tree, away from the troops to talk over the forthcoming mission and relax a bit before we kicked off. In the still dark early hours, "A" Troop, with it's 2nd Platoon in the lead took Terracina and advanced aggressively north against sporadic small arms fire. Just south of the mountainous village of Sezza, near the Pontine Marshes, the 3rd Platoon was bogged at a bridge over a dry creek; a bridge they believed to be mined. I took a patrol forward to determine what was holding things up and to get them moving. While walking point with Maj. Bob McGarry we were hit with a heavy concentration of machine gun fire from the ridge beyond. Both McGarry and I were hit.
We managed to work our way to cover from where we were able to bring assault gun fire to bear on the ridge. In addition, we called up a Platoon of "F" Company tanks which then overran the enemy positions."
(It is of interest that while this was going on, General Keyes had visited the "A" Troop CP and inquired as to the whereabouts of the Troop Commander. Sgt. Bryant Casterline answered that he was up front with the lead Platoon to which the General replied "Good" and left.)
Col. Hodge relieved Captain Piddington because of his wounds and replaced him with Captain Mario
(Relative to the above mission, the Squadron Daily Report for the day indicates that two were killed in the above action. Captain Piddington says it was instead two wounded as just related. He also adds for the record that: " Major Robert F. McGarry was one of the most courageous, outstanding officers he has known in and outside of the U.S. Army".)
(We return again to events as related in Col. Samsel's Book)
In the meantime, Lt. Padraig O'Dea led his "B" Troop Platoon through the flooded Pontine Marshes to the Anzio Beachhead where he presented a letter from the Lt. Gen. Geoffrey Keyes, CO of the 2nd Corps to Lt. General Lucian K. Truscott CO of the 6th Corp whose forces had been besieged there since January 22nd.
The Recon Troops continued to probe enemy lines and skirmishes occurred more frequently. On May 28th, "A" Troop ran into very heavy resistance and was forced to relinquish some earlier gains.
Meanwhile "B" Troop cleared the two small towns of Sermoneta and Bassiano while "C" Troop, attached to the 36th Division occupied Norma.
Forward patrolling and lateral contact with American Divisions and units of the RBC (Royal British Corps) occupied the final days of May for the entire Squadron.
The final drive on Rome took place in the early days of June. The Herman Goering Division was the
(The following actions beginning on 06/01/44 are as recorded in official Squadron Daily Reports)
On June 1, 1944, "A" Troop with a platoon of assault guns and a platoon of light tanks attached was in
Later that day, the 117th was reassigned from the IVth Corps to the IInd Corps and attached to the
At 0330 hours on June 2nd, "A" Troop moved out and pushed toward Artena, They made no contact with
the enemy but encountered light artillery and mortar fire as they proceeded along Highway #6. They
On June 2nd, "C" Troop was assigned as security for the 5th Army Command Post.
June 3rd, at 1000 hours, Troops "A" & "B" received missions to screen the 2nd Corps right flank and rear.
"Two platoons of "A" Troop experienced intermittent heavy artillery fire while operating to the north and
ortheast making contact with elements of the French 2nd Infantry Division. Finally, at 2130 hours "A"
Troop was ordered to outpost a line along Highway #6 from Collaffero eastward. "Two platoons of "B"
Troop operating from Collaffero and Valmontone to the north, northeast and northwest made contact with
the French 3rd Infantry Division.The platoon advancing to the northwest contacted elements of the
June 4th, Troops "A" and "B" spent the day out-posting and patrolling Highway #6 between Collaffero and Valmontone. No enemy contact was reported although "A" Troop underwent a bomb attack at 0200 hours.
"C" Troop was now operating security outposts and patrols for 5th Army HQ Command Post. Captain
At 2315 hours, while proceeding north, the column was strafed by enemy planes. There were no casualties and no prisoners were taken that day.
The Squadron was approaching the outskirts of Rome. The last town before the Eternal City was
At this point, the 117th was maintaining contact with the American 3rd Division and the French 2nd
June 5, 1944 at 0330 hours, "A" Troop arrived in the assembly area of Salone Vecchio after being strafed by enemy planes. At 0800 hours, the CP was subjected to an artillery barrage in which one man was killed and one wounded. At 1100 hours, "A" Troop was ordered to move toward Rome in support of "B" Troop, which had moved through the city and was operating northeast of the Rome where they were in contact with the enemy and the 3rd platoon had captured 14 prisoners. Cpl. Kuntz of "B" Troop was wounded in action at 2010 hours and Pvt. Allard of "C" Troop was slightly wounded in a Motorcycle accident.
Other casualties for the day were Tec 5 Thomas G. Hennessy of "A" Troop killed by artillery fire and Tec 4 Jurgens also of "A" Troop wounded by artillery.
The Squadron CP moved into the city at 1900 hours and set up an operations office in an apartment house.
The civilian population turned out in force to greet their liberators with great emotion and enthusiasm. The highways leading into their city were littered with wrecked German Tiger tanks and motor vehicles of every type, but with the exception of a few buildings on the outskirts, Rome had been spared the ravages of war.
That same day while, "A" & "B" Troops were operating north of Rome, "C" Troop was detailed to escort General Mark Clark into Rome and provide security for 5th Army HQ.
In Twelve days, the Squadron had advanced nearly 100 miles against strong enemy resistance. There was cause for pride in the performance of all elements. The fighting had, however, taken it's toll. There were more than 100 casualties including 10 KIA. No one had been captured, and we had taken more than 200 prisoners.
On June 6th, north of Rome, "B" Troop with "A" Troop in close support continued north in advance of the
85th Division. Subjected to enemy artillery fire most of the afternoon, they directed return fire destroying
two enemy gasoline dumps, and two tanks. "A" Troop took five prisoners and "B" Troop
June 7th our forces continued their steady advance though impeded by several mine fields. The next
The 1st Platoon entered the town from the south on the main highway where one bantam hit a mine killing one man and wounding two others. The 3rd Platoon tooksix prisoners and was relieved at 1600 by the second platoon who took two more.
The casualties for the day were "B" Troopers PFC Chance KIA and Pvts. Icke and Sager lightly wounded.
On June 8th, "A" and "B" Troops continued reconnaissance in advance of the "Howze Task Force", A
The day’s casualties, all in "B" Troop, included Cpl.Freeman KIA, S/Sgt Corey, Tec 4 Etlinger and
June 9th, "A" and "B" Troops continued the advance on the left flank of the Squadron sector.
Elements of "A" Troop reached Viterbo by 1130 hours without meeting any enemy resistance. One platoon entered Vitorchiano but was driven out by a determined counter attack. Reinforced with light tanks, they re-entered the town and drove the enemy out. Meanwhile forward elements of "B" Troop reached the vicinity of Vallerano but their progress was slowed by British troops in the area who had been granted priority on the roads.
The Squadron Command Post had moved up to Ronciglione where, the headquarters of the German High Command had been located. Several days before, their HQ building had been hit during an allied air raid killing all who were there including several high ranking officers. Our tanks had spearheaded the attack on Ronciglione which we had entered to the cheers and greetings of the inhabitants who had taken numerous prisoners and whose bayonets had inflicted their own form offinal retribution. There were no casualties in today's actions.
On June 10th, the Squadron CP moved up to Viterbo. On orders from II Corps, "A" & "B" Troops were
assembled and the Squadron moved to Tarquinia assigned to the 36th Division. We prepared to
On June 11th with "A" Troop in reserve, "B" Troop with a platoon of light tanks and a platoon of assault
guns moved out at 0730 hours. The third platoon engaged in a fire- fight with some German Horse Cavalry
at 2245 hours and took some prisoners with their mounts. The prisoners were sent back and the horses
held in a coral until they could later be turned over to the Division CO for his Pack unit. "B" Troopers, Capt.
Shenk, S/Sgt. Burkart, Cpl. Youngblood, Tec 5 Harmon and Tec5 Leavitt returned
Leading elements entered the town at 1010 hours meeting light and scattered resistance throughout the
Several fire fights occurred during the day in which a total of fifty-three enemy prisoners were taken. One bantam was destroyed by anti-tank fire. There were three serious casualties. "B" Troop then advanced northwest toward Grosetto on the right of "A" Troop trying to contact the 91st Recon, which was reported to be in the vicinity.
"B" Troop casualties today included Sgt Willis Losey and Pvt Henry Young seriously wounded by shrapnel and Tec5 Orville T. Sensibaugh who received machine pistol wounds in the left leg and both arms. Tec4 Joseph Santoro of "E" Troop was also injured. A total of 93 prisoners were taken during the day.
On the 13th, "A" Troop continued it's advance northwest on Highway #1 toward Magliano supported by
medium tanks, TD's and infantry. Strong enemy resistance was encountered and a fire- fight ensued at 1920 hours. "B" Troop continued to advance west fromManciano toward Magliano and Scansano. They encountered 200 enemy Cavalrymen with horses in a stream bed. Artillery fire was requested, but
June 14th, Troop "A" continuing patrols along Highway 1 were unable to advance against determined
On the 15tth, patrols of "A" Troop continued their advance north and northwest toward Grosseto received enemy machine gun and mortar fire on the way. Intermittent artillery fire was encountered as they approached the outskirts of Grosseto. One patrol entered the town at 2015 hours and found no enemy. "B" Troop, advancing northwest from Scansano encountered heavy enemy machine gun, mortar and artillery fire which held up the advance. Our assault guns concentrated their fire on the enemy positions, probably destroying one enemy machine gun, but due to the heavy concentration of enemy fire, our patrols were unable to advance until dark. A total of fifty-one prisoners were taken during the day's action. Cpl Pasquale A. Goldonato of "E" Troop received multiple lacerations and abrasions of his right arm.
The next day, June 16th, Troop "A" was still operating patrols north and northwest from Grosseto while "B" Troop was ordered to the vicinity of Pancole. Demolished bridges and road craters limited the progress of "A" Troop's patrols. The enemy was still shelling the roads leading to Grosseto. At 2100 hours, "A" Troop was ordered to assemble and prepare to move to a new area. There were no casualties suffered in today's actions.
"A" Troop prepared for a new mission, which was to start at 0400 hours. Captain Shenk resumed command of "B" Troop which was assigned to HQ 5th Army, relieving "C" Troop which was reported enroute to rejoin the Squadron. No casualties were reported and no prisoners were taken today.
Heavy enemy artillery and mortar fire pinned down our patrols. Troop "C" arrived and assembled in the vicinity of Squadron HQ. Sgt Domando and Tec5 Cohen of "A" Troop were battle casualties today and two enemy prisoners were taken.
June 19th 1944 - Troop "A" continued reconnaissance in advance of the 361st and 143rd Infantry
Patrols working north on Highway 1 became involved in firefight. Ten enemy were known to be killed, one enemy machine gun and one anti-tank gun were destroyed. One of our armored cars and one bantam hit mines. Eight prisoners were taken. 117th casualties included one enlisted man, Pvt Taylor, KIA and three enlisted men wounded.
The 20th of June, Troop "A" contacted elements of TFR operating in the vicinity. A patrol working northeast removed enemy mines and was subjected to heavy artillery fire along the route. One light tank hit a mine and heavy artillery and mortar fire registered on the patrol. Troop "C" in their first action on this front received heavy artillery fire and determined resistance, which slowed their advance. Patrols contacted elements of the 517th Parachute Regiment at 2100 hrs.
Casualties were quite heavy today. Six of our men were wounded in action. Nine infantrymen attached to the troop were wounded by artillery fire and five "E" Troopers, attached to "C" Troop, were injured when their half- track hit a large shell crater in the road. Two prisoners were taken.
(The next three paragraphs are comments from Harold Samsel's Book)
By the 20th of June, the Squadron, continuing the attack along the coastal highway had advanced over 210 miles in 37 days of continuous engagement. To date, that was the greatest advance of the American Army in WWII.
A captured German document stated that "The 117th Cavalry Squadron was the equivalent of two German Panzer Divisions". While that may have been an excuse to their high command for their inability to halt recent advances, we had, indeed, been an effective force.
We had captured more than 800 prisoners and inflicted untold numbers of casualties on the stubbornly resisting enemy. Our casualties at that point were 14 dead and 106 wounded.
(The following are again based upon the Squadron Daily Reports)
The next day, June 21st, "A" Troop and two platoons of light tanks and assault guns were held in reserve while patrols from "C" Troop advanced northwest and west from Monte Pascali. They encountered enemy anti-tank fire and destroyed the 75mm anti-tank gun. One of our assault guns was destroyed in this vicinity.
Several small groups of enemy infantry were encountered in this area. Another patrol advancing west along Highway 1 from Monte Pascali came under heavy artillery fire along the road.
Thirteen prisoners were taken in the day's action.Pvt Fritz of "E" Troop was seriously wounded and Pvt. Dole also an "E" trooper was lightly wounded by enemy artillery fire.
June 22nd,"A" Troop was still in reserve along with the 3rd platoon of "C" Troop. "C" Troop's 1st Platoon moved out at dawn to the north and west along Highway 1 but were held up by artillery fire and demolished bridges. The 2nd Platoon moved north and west but was halted by artillery fire and Tiger tanks ahead of them. Attempts to move forward were stopped by artillery and small arms fire. At 2100 hours, both platoons withdrew and consolidated their positions. There were no casualties in today's action and two prisoners were taken.
June 23rd, "A" Troop back on the line advanced west of Highway 1 toward Fallonica where they
Troop "C" patrols advanced on Fallonica from the east and south. Friendly artillery fire fell on our advanced elements about two kilometers south of the town. Advancing northward, the 3rd platoon ran into anti-tank and small arms fire. One armored car, hit by an anti-tank gun, was completely destroyed by fire.
The 1st Platoon made a reconnaissance from Route 1 to the high ground paralleling the highway. They moved through small trails in the area until they reached the southern outskirts of Fallonica where they engaged in a small arms firefight. When they entered the town, they found it unoccupied and were ordered to assist the 3rd platoon who were engaged with the enemy at the northern edge of town. We lost one enlisted man and one officer and two enlisted men were wounded in these actions. S/Sgt Kostbar KIA and one officer and two enlisted men wounded. Three prisoners were taken.
On June 24th, the 2nd and 3rd Platoons of "A" Troop advanced northwest on Highway 1 from Fallonica towards Suvereto in front of the 142nd Infantry and the 517th Parachute Regiments. The 1st Platoon was held in reserve. Patrols met small arms, light mortar and anti-tank fire northwest of Fallonica which retarded their movement.
One patrol operating toward Suvereto secured a bridge and waited for the 142nd and the 517th to secure the high ground in the vicinity of the town. "C" Troop was in reserve awaiting a new mission. Today we took nine prisoners and incurred no casualties.
On the 25th of June, the Squadron was relieved from assignment to the 36th Division and after a few hours rest, was assigned to the 34th Division. We are to reconnoiter routes and roads in front of the 133rd Infantry Regiment. One platoon of Troop "A" proceeded northwest toward Suvereto in advance of the 142nd Infantry and the 517th Pcht. Regiment. Heavy artillery fire and the presence of several enemy tanks in the vicinity prevented the platoon from advancing. Troop "C" advanced ahead of the 133rd Infantry northwest of Highway 1, toward Vincenzo, encountering enemy artillery fire. There were no casualties for the day and we took three prisoners.
June 26, 1944, with "A" Troop in reserve, Troop "C" patrols, spearheading the advance of the 133rd
Headquarter Troop's 2nd Lt. Carroll was killed by shrapnel near the town of Campiglia-Marittima while on liaison duty with the 133rd Infantry. Tec5 John J. Hill was seriously wounded and PFC Alonzo E. Whitlock was lightly wounded while traveling in the same bantam.
On the 27th, the Germans are putting up stiff resistance employing self-propelled guns as artillery and antitank guns, which limits the advance of our patrols. Troop "A" is still in reserve. "C" Troop sent out patrols at dawn. They arrived at Vincenzo but, at this point were held up by enemy artillery and anti-tank fire. They were unable to proceed further. The 2nd Platoon engaged in a fire fight all morning and finally succeeded in driving the enemy from their positions. They attempted to reconnoiter to the northeast, but found the terrain impassable. The Troop consolidated it's positions to await further orders. Seventeen prisoners were taken and there were no casualties today.
On the 28th, "C" Troop continued to spearhead the advance of the 133rd Regiment but was slowed down by blown bridges. Five" E" Troop assault guns continued to support the "C" Troop patrols and were used on several occasions to fire on targets north and northeast of Vincenzo. At 2100 hours, the 2nd platoon was ordered to guide a supply train of the 442nd Infantry to their battalion in the hills. They searched the entire night for the battalion to no avail.
The 3rd Platoon moved out at dawn, through Vincenzo and north on Route 1 where they ran into enemy artillery, mortar, anti-tank and small armsfire and were pinned down for four hours.
Finally, a tank destroyer battalion moved in and silenced the enemy artillery. We took seventeen prisoners during the days fighting. There were no casualties among Squadron personnel today.
June 29th, Captain Omer Brown arrived at Squadron Headquarters at 0500 hours with a message from
On June 30, 1944 at 0300 hours, the troops left bivouac and started, by convoy, for Naples. All tracked vehicles were to proceed to the port of Civitavecchia, load on LSTs, and proceed to Naples by water.
Captain Brauchli was put in charge of this convoy. "B" Troop joined the motor convoy in Tarquinia. The Squadron made bivouac for the night in a grove five miles west of Sermonetta.
On July 1, 1944 the Squadron consisted of three Reconnaissance Troops (A, B, & C), an Assault Troop (E), a Support Troop (Company F), a Medical Detachment and a Headquarters - Headquarter and Service Troops.
The final leg of the road-march was undertaken when the Squadron moved out of bivouac 5 miles west of Sermoneta at 0800 hours and proceeded south. The column moved south until 1330 hours, when it was met by Captain Omer F. Brown who directed it to the bivouac area assigned by G-3, VI Corps. That area is a large Olive Grove 2 miles southwest of the small town of Teono, and approximately 47 miles north of Naples. The Squadron traveled 77 miles today.
The trip just completed covered a distance of 269 miles and was accomplished with only one accident. Cpl. Hegler, Headquarters Troop, was injured and hospitalized when his motorcycle overturned and threw him into a ditch at Grossetto.
The Squadron CP was set in order and operating at 1500 hours.
July 2, 1944 - Today is Sunday. All men were given the opportunity to attend Divine Services. The Catholic men were given the opportunity to go to confession and to attend Mass at 1600 hours. General Services were conducted for men of other faiths at 1800 hours. Both services were conducted in the Headquarters Troop Area.
Motor Maintenance occupied the time of all the men while they were not attending Divine Services.
July 3rd the entire day was spent on motor maintenance. Troop and Squadron Motor Officers supervised the effort and the 87th Ordnance Company inspected the vehicles. Troop "E" & "Company "F "were at sea en route to join the Squadron in this area. The Squadron Special Services Officer arranged for movies in the Squadron area tonight.
Motor Maintenance continued on July 4th. We were still working to bring the vehicles up to pre- campaign standards of efficiency. The tracked vehicles arrived in the area this evening, transported from the vicinity of Rome by LST. Movies were shown inthe Headquarters area again this evening.
July 5th the Ordinance personnel completed their inspection of all vehicles and personal and vehicular
Motor maintenance continued on July 6th in preparation for a showdown inspection tomorrow. After four days of work, all vehicles and arms are beginning to attain the Squadron standards of the past.
Captain Levy conducted a Dental Inspection of all personnel today and mapped out a great deal of work for himself.
S/Sgt Ellison, "A" Troop, S/Sgt Bertoldi, "B" Troop and Sgt D'Annunzio of Troop "E" were appointed 2nd Lieutenants effective June 30th in a US Army letter dated June 28, 1944. Lt. Col. Hodge presented the men with their insignia and notice of appointment. 1st Lt Bush was assigned as CO of Company "F" and relieved of assignment as Assistant S-2.
July 7th a showdown inspection of the personnel, vehicular and organizational equipment was begun today by all troops. Equipment lost and damaged while in combat will be replaced. Enlisted men were given their first passes. Ten percent of the Squadron was permitted to go to Naples for an eight-hour pass.
An informal discussion, "Battle Experiences" for Platoon Leaders and Platoon Sergeants was held today.
July 8, 1944 - The showdown inspection was completed today. Ten percent of the Squadron was permitted to go to Naples on pass. Pass trucks made stops at Casserta, and one truck went to Pompeii Movies were held again this evening.
July 9th - All personnel were given the opportunity to go to Divine Services today. Rest and organized
Nine of the Squadron Officers were given passes to visit Rome for four days. An abandoned villa at Formia has been located and is being converted into a rest camp for enlisted men.
July 10 1944 - Squadron Officers and Enlisted men were paid today. A program of one hour cross- country marches was initiated to be conducted each day. An inter-troop soft ball league was formed and movies were on again tonight. Passes to Naples continued.
July 11, 12 & 13th - Drills and routines followed the usual pattern and on the 12th, an Operations Task Force was set up in the Blockhouse at Naples for the forthcoming "Operation
Anvil". Lt. Col. Hodge and Captain Omer Brown activated the Headquarters and were joined on the 13th by Captain Wood, Sgt.
On July 14th, the Squadron conducted a Retreat Formation today, the first since it's arrival in Italy. The one-hour march, Pass Detail and Softball activities continued as usual.
July 15th - In preparation for the forthcoming tactical operation, the Assault Troop and Tank Company Platoons were attached to the three Reconnaissance Troops. The 1st Platoons of "E" & "F" were attached to "A" Troop: the 2nd Platoons of "E" & "F" and the HQ Platoon of "E" Troop were attached to "B" Troop and the 3rd Platoons of "E" & "F" were attached to "C" Troop. Routine training continued.
On the 16th of July, Divine services were held and Pass Details went to Naples Casserta and Pompeii. The Rest Camp for Enlisted men was opened at Formia and the first details went there today.
July 17, 1944 "B" Troop with it's attached Assault Gun and Tank Platoons was attached to the 45th Division for the forthcoming operation and moved from it's bivouac near Teano to the 45th Division area.
The forward echelon of Squadron Headquarters moved to Staging Area #4 near Naples. These men will waterproof vehicles and prepare to load them aboard ship for movement to the next theater. Lt Ward is in charge of the Headquarters Troop Detail.
On July 18th, “E" Troop received new guns. The M7Self-propelled 105mm Howitzers were a much-
Captain Brown was recalled from Task Force Operations and placed in command of "E" Troop. The Squadron received a Letter of commendation from Major General Fred L. Walker, CO of the 36th Infantry Division in recognition for outstanding performance of the Squadron while attached to the 36th Division. (See Attachment “G")
The first decoration to be awarded to the Squadron was received by Cpl. Smutney, Troop "B" for "Gallantry in Action". Cpl. Smutney received the Silver Star for voluntarily accepting a difficult mission at Terrecina, Italy and completing the mission in an exemplary manner with complete disregard for his own safety.
July 19, 1944 - Headquarters Troop has now settled down to routine administrative details. Troops "A" & "C" continue preparations for the forthcoming movement and operation. Troop "B", attached to the 45th Division is completing it's preparationsunder supervision of the Division HQ.
On the 20th of July, The forward echelon loaded their vehicles aboard the "Roger Williams" at Naples. "A" Troop with attached elements of "E" and "F" reported to the 36th Division for training and the upcoming operation.
21st & 22nd of July 1944 - Routine preparations for the operation continued and on the 22nd, "C" Troop with it's attached elements moved to the 3rd division area for training. The "Roger Williams" with the vehicles of the forward echelon aboard moved out into the Bay of Naples to await the formation of the convoy.
July 23rd - Pvt. Taylor, formerly of Troop "A", was awarded the Bronze Star for "Heroism in Action" north of Grossetto, Italy. Pvt. Taylor gave his life in the action for which he was awarded the decoration. This was the first Bronze Star awarded to any member of the Squadron. The VIth Corps patch has been issued to all personnel. The troops are now occupied with training for the forthcoming operation.
24th to the 29th of July 1944 - The Squadron has been decentralized and the Troops now operate under the direction and guidance of the Divisions to which they are attached. The Squadron continues to maintain a Command Staff at Headquarters, VI Corps. This staff consists of: Captain John M. Brown, (replaced Capt. Omer F. Brown); Captain Wood; Captain Piddington; Sgt. Repke and Tec4 Lagowski. At this Headquarters all decisions, plans and future operations are coordinated to assure the maximum efficiency in the forthcoming operation.
(Note: In late July, Captain Piddington returned from the hospital and was assigned to a small group in Sqdn. HQ under Captain J. M. (Newt) Brown to work on the Squadron's role in the Plan for the Southern France Invasion.)
The balance of the Squadron Headquarters and HQ Troop continues to bivouac in the vicinity if Pianura, Italy performing last minute maintenance and supplying needs of the Troops.
In Summary, the beginning of the month of July found the Squadron en route from the front lines to a rest area to the south. Soon after reaching the Naples area, passes were given daily to officers and enlisted men and all personnel were given many opportunities to rest and relax after the strain of the past
The latter part of the month saw the Squadron in preparation for what is to be a sea movement and
(We have no record of Squadron Daily reports from 08/01/44 through 08/09/44. The following few comments are from Harold Samsel's book about the planned invasion of Southern France)
In general, the plan called for Corps to invade with the 36th Division on the right flank, over the beaches of St. Raphael; the 45th Division to land in the center at St. Maxime and the 3rd Division to land on the left Flank, hitting the beaches in the vicinity of St. Tropez. The plan also called for dropping a provisional Airborne Division in the vicinity of Le Muy at 0400 hours of "D" Day. There was to be an early link-up between the beach assault force and the airborne.
The 6th Corps plan differed from the Normandy invasion in that it called for Reconnaissance Units to land with the first Infantry to go ashore and to move out as a screening force for the infantry as soon as possible.
Defense of the area was the responsibility of the German XIXth Army, which was thought to have 12
(Squadron activity from Daily Reports resumes with August 9, 1944)
On August 9th, Lt. Col. Hodge and CWO Fort boarded the naval Transport Barnett. It was one of two
On August 10th, "A" Troop was loaded aboard the USS Achernar (AKA 53) at Naples. Now all personnel less the rear echelon have been loaded aboard ships for the movement.
(Note: For some reason, the Daily Reports do not detail the loading of "B" and "C" Troops. B" &"C" Troop Recon. Platoons were loaded on LCTs - Landing Craft Tank.)
August 11th - All troops are aboard ship awaiting formation of the convoy.
August 12th - All troops are aboard ship following the usual shipboard routine of life- boat drill, air raid alerts and orientation lectures.
August 13th - Today marked the formation of the convoy that was to attack southern France. The ships on which "A" Troop was loaded put to sea at 1230 hours. Troop "B's" joined the convoy at 1930 hours. Troop "C's" joined at 2015 hours and the Headquarters Troop ship joined at 1830 hours. Troop "E", Company "F" and Medical Personnel are attached to the Reconnaissance Troops.
August 14th - All Troops were briefed on their respective missions by the officers aboard their ships. French currency was issued and all last minute details cleared up. The particulars of the invasion were announced, D Day is the 15th of August and H Hour is 0800 hours. The convoy moved through the Straits between Corsica and Sardinia. There was no enemy activity, air or sea.
(Note: Twenty-four hours before the invasion, Captain Zecca, CO of "A" Troop became ill with malaria and was hospitalized. Captain Piddington was reassigned to lead his former Troop "A" in the invasion.)
(Note: There is another inconsistency in the Daily Reports - They omit the landing of the "B" And "C" Troop Recon. Platoons on the beaches of Corsica near Ajacio, on the 14th, to pick up supplies. The men had time for a swim before reloading and proceeding, with the main convoy, to the invasion beaches.)
August 15th -The convoy arrived off the coast of southern France at approximately 0400 hours. The naval escort vessels and supporting aircraft opened hostilities at dawn with a tremendously heavy bombardment.
The Squadron personnel awaited orders to go ashore. At 0815, word was received that the initial assault was successful and that the first wave was pushing inland against light opposition. (See Map of Landing Beaches Pg 14 A.)
The entire Squadron landed in France on D-Day. Headquarters and Service Troops landed near St.
Troop "A" and attached elements landed on Green Beach at1630 hours near Frags (in the vicinity of St. Raphael.)
(Correction: Captain Tom Piddington, CO of"A" Troop tells us that landing took place at 1000
The Troop then assembled, de-waterproofed and bivouacked in the vicinity of Frags. Captain Piddington also advises that the Train Element of "A" Troop led by Lt Mark Quesenbury landed ahead of schedule before the infantry, in error, and sought cover immediately in the vicinity of Frejus. They were fortunate to incur no casualties.
3rd Platoon (Typo? Probably 1st Platoon, - see last sentence) landed on Yellow Beach at 0925 and began aggressive reconnaissance toward Le Luc. Troop "B" Train Element landed at Yellow Beach at 1200 hours and proceeded toward the Troop CP at Plan de la Tout. Headquarters Platoon and attached personnel landed at 1630 hours. The 2nd and 3rd Platoons landed at 1330 hours and conducted
The 2nd and 3rd Platoons of "C" Troop landed from LCTsat 0945 near Cogolin (vicinity of St. Tropez) and proceeded on aggressive reconnaissance toward Cogolin. The balance of the Troop landed at 1430 and proceeded to Cogolin where the troop assembled. "E" Troop, Company "F" and Medical personnel landed with the troops to which they were assigned. Casualties for the day were: Cpl. Hobby KIA, Capt. Shenk SWA, Pvt Deutcher LWA and Cpl Thompson LIA.
August 16th All Troops conducted aggressive reconnaissance northward. Troop "A", working with the 36th division on the right flank of the Seventh army pushed ahead determinedly against stiffening opposition. Pvt. Merritt was KIA in this sector.
Troop "B", operating with the 45th Division, pushed ahead in the central sector of the Seventh Army line. "C" Troop, operating with the 3rd division on the left flank of the seventh army pushed aggressively northward. Resistance in this sector was exceptionally strong. Tec5 Carroll was LIA in this sector. One armored car and one 1/2 ton truck were lost in this action.
Troop "E", Company "F" and Medical units attached to the Recon Troops continued in support of them. Headquarters Troop remained in bivouac near St. Maxime.
Casualties for the day were: Sgt. Velinsky LWA,Tec5 Donnabedian LWA and Pvt Trosclair LWA. There were none killed, seriously wounded or missing in action.
17, August 1944 - The entire Squadron assembled in the vicinity of Le Muy, France to reorganize
The Squadron was assigned as the Reconnaissance element of a Provisional Armored Group to be
(The book Riviera to the
Rhine page 144 describes the Task force as composed of " a motorized
The mission assigned this force, as described in the Squadron Daily Reports, is to move forward
(A) To seize and hold high ground north of Grenoble.
(B) Push forward and seize the high ground to the West and seize the high ground on the east bank of the Rhone River, or:
(C) Move to the west and seize the high ground on the east bank of the Rhone between Montelimar and Livron.
Samsel, in his book, states the (B) option as: "Seize the high ground immediately south of Lyon
The purpose of these three movements is to sever the main lines of communication to the German forces along the Riviera.
The casualties for this day were: Tec5 Carroll and Pvt. Merritt KIA (both reported on the 16th), Sgt.
August 18th - The Squadron moved outof bivouac at Le Muy at 0500 hours to initiate and spearhead the drive to the north by the Butler Task Force. The Squadron moved out in column with Troop "C" in the lead.
When the column reached Draguignan, the Squadron tookup a three Troop front and moved aggressively on Riez with "A" Troop on the left flank, "B" Troop in the center and "C" Troop on the right flank.
The Squadron leading the Task force was disposed thusly: "A" Troop on the left flank; "B" Troop in the center; "C" Troop on the right flank. "A" Troop met only slight resistance; “B" Troop met no resistance; "C" Troop met heavy resistance at a point three miles north of Draguignan.
When "C" Troop encountered stiff resistance three miles north of Draguignan an aggressive action and fire fight resulted. Finally, "C" Troop's 3rd Platoon flanked the enemy position and the battle was over.
In this action, Troop "C" captured Lt. General Ferdinand Von Neuling, Commanding General of the enemy Corps occupying this area. A short time later the General's entire staff was taken prisoner.
That night, the Squadron bivouacked at Riez. "A" & "B" Troops outposted the high ground ten miles to the north of the Squadron position. Casualties for the day were; PFC Ifill and Pvt Spicer both LWA
(The details of the capture of Lt General Von Neuling and his Staff by the editor of this historical record)
As part of the flanking move by "C" Troop's 3rd Platoon, I, with one section of my Platoon, had reached the grid coordinates which were my objective and was awaiting a new mission while holding a small "T" intersection. While watching for any sign of the enemy, three German officers appeared in the fields, on the high ground, across from the intersection and walked toward our position carrying a white flag. They told me that they represented a General who wished to surrender to the officer in charge - which they would take that officer to him. There was no officer present, but because all was quiet and no action, whatever, had taken place at this location, I agreed to call for an officer to accept a formal surrender. Lt. Joseph Syms responded to the call shortly and with the German escort, the Lt and I with several of my men were led to a cave on the high ground where Lt. Syms accepted the General's pistol and the surrender of Lt. General Ferdinand von Neuling, Commander of the German 62nd Corps and his entire Staff. Along with the prisoners, we also took over the General's copious liquor supply and several staff limousines.
(The liquor cache filled the back half of one of the limos.)
We return now to the Squadron Daily Reports
August 19, 1944 -Troop "A" engaged in a fire- fight for the possession of an enemy held bridge near les Mees. With the aid of the attached Tank Platoon from Company "F", the bridge was taken. The Troop then pushed on to Chateau- Arnoux. This position was held by a force of 180 Germans including 3 officers. After a short sharp engagement, the entire garrison was taken prisoner.
Troop "B" assaulted and took the town of Digne. They engaged in several fire- fights but suffered no
"B" Troop engaged approximately 300 lightly armed enemy infantry South of Digne. The enemy was
The Troop then headed to the Squadron bivouac area at Sisteron. S/Sgt. Fisher was LWA in today's action. The Squadron has received more and more cooperation from the Maquis who seem to be better organized than was evident during our first contacts.
"Riviera to the Rhine" (pgs 144 -147) paints the Big Picture as follows for the period form August 19th - 22nd.
On the 19th, with the Butler Task Force well on the way north, General Patch instructed General Truscott to direct one Infantry Division to drive north on
Grenoble. Truscott instructed General Dahlquist, CO of the 36th Division, to be prepared to have his unit execute that order the next day. He then radioed Butler to hold at Sisteron but continue patrols to the west to determine practicability of seizing the high ground north of
Montelimar. Meanwhile, Truscott expected at least one Regiment of the 36th to be at Sisteron on the afternoon of the 20th. Butler, whose radio communications with Corps had become intermittent, never received that message. He was still operating on instructions from the night of the 19th/20th that left his mission unchanged. He warned of shortages of fuel and supplies and the need for instructions relative to
directing his main effort north toward Grenoble or west toward Montelimar. His artillery observation planes had reported strong German forces at Grenoble and
at Gap and he was uneasy about remaining stationary at Sisteron, deep in enemy territory. He therefore decided to establish a strong outpost at Croix Haute Pass about forty miles north on the main highway to Grenoble and
to dispatch a force to Gap. At this point, Butler sent his operations officer to Corps HQ for more guidance.
On the morning of the 20th, having no directions to the contrary, Butler sent reinforced Cavalry Troops to Croix Haute and to Gap. That evening, Butler, when meeting with the Assistant Divisional Commander of the 36th, was informed by Gen. Stack that the Division was displacing north to Grenoble.
Stack had with him an advanced echelon of HQ and a Regimental Task Force built on two Battalions of the 143rd Infantry. The 3rd Battalion had been assigned to Butler. The balance of the Division was to follow the next morning - the 21st. A shortage of fuel, transport and supplies was delaying the 36th Division's movement.
Meanwhile, unknown to Stack and Dahlquist, Truscott had again met with Patch around noon of the 20th and Patch had agreed with Truscott's plan of action, but the failure of Truscott's instructions to reach Butler, meant that Task Force troops were widely dispersed before the orders were received to seize the high ground north of Montelimar.
It was at this point that Truscott became more certain of German intentions south of the Durance River and of his ability to reinforce Butler if necessary. Now, at 2045 hours on August 20th, he radioed specific instructions to Butler directing him to move to Montelimar at dawn with all possible speed. He was to seize the town and block the German routes of withdrawal. The 36th division would follow the Task force ASAP.
Truscott then sent Lt. Col. Conway of his G-3 Section with more specific written instructions, instructing Butler to seize the high ground immediately north of Montelimar before dark that day, but not the city itself.
For reinforcement, two battalions of Corps Artillery were on the way but only a single Regimental Combat Team from the 36th would support the effort. The rest of the Division would follow later. The only trouble was that Dahlquist had not been informed of the switch from Grenoble to Montelimar. As for Butler, at daybreak on the 21st, he regrouped the bulk of his force at Apres.
Leaving a small force at the Pass, and larger one at Gap, he moved westward arriving at Crest, on the
(As pointed out in the above paragraphs, on the 20th, General Butler had decided to send forces to Croix Haute Pass and Gap to deal with strong German forces reported to be in Grenoble and Gap.)
We return now to the events as covered by the Squadron Daily Reports.
August 20, 1944 - The Squadron conducted limited Reconnaissance northeast and northwest of Sisteron while awaiting orders for a new objective.
Troop "A" proceeded eastward to the town of Gap and was to continue north from there but ran into a heavy enemy force in the town. Supported by Troop "E", a Platoon of Tanks from Company "F", and a large number of Maquis who had been recruited en route, the Troop took up positions on the high ground 3 miles to the west of Gap. Captain Omer Brown, commanding "E" Troop, entered the town under a flag of truce to negotiate for the surrender of the town and the Garrison. The Officer commanding the German Troops refused to surrender and gave as his reason that the Maquis would kill his men as they surrendered.
Captain Brown told the German thatthey would have to surrender or the town would be bombed by a force of 60 Flying Fortresses at 1700 hours and that the town would be shelled immediately. The enemy chose to fight.
Captain Brown returned to his Troop and ordered his Assault Guns to open fire on the town. They
(Captain Piddington's account statesthat the German garrison decided to surrender after the shelling and asked for a guarantee that they not be taken into captivity by the Maquis. He obliged. They offered their surrender in a note that said " Yes". That note, was hand delivered to the Captain by Pierre Verne,
At 2000 hours, Troop "A" received word that a force of 1500 Germans was moving from the northeast toward Gap. Captain Piddington elected to hold the Town. "E" Troop laid it's guns in position to cover all the main routes of approach to the Town. The enemy force bivouacked about 18km from town and both forces waited each other out throughout the night.
Casualties for the day were: Tec5 McKeel, Tec5 Castle and Pvt. Benjiman all LIA. Sgt. Velinsky died of wounds received on the 16th of August 1944.
21, August 1944 - Early in the morning, Captain Piddington dispatched a Reconnaissance Platoon to Col Bayard about 8 miles north of Gap. In order to reach Gap, the enemy would have to pass this point and a reception was prepared for them. Patrols were posted on the flanks and "E" Troop moved up a draw to within 2000 yards of Col Bayard. At 1000 hours, Major McNeil arrived with Task Force M consisting of: one Company of TDs; two Platoons of Sherman Tanks plus the four Sherman Tanks that had been attached to "A" Troop. The enemy was reported to be at Ronditte, a town one km to the north. One of the tanks fired four rounds into the town and the Germans retreated without firing a shot.
Approximately 300 of the enemy left the main body of those retreating and took to the woods. They were routed out by the Maquis with the support of four Sherman Tanks. At 1400 hours, "A" & "E" Troops returned with their supporting elements to the Task Force.
At 1400 hours on the 21st, "C" & "B" Troops were ordered to seize and hold the high ground on the east side of the Rhone between Montelimar and Livron. The mission was accomplished by 1900 hours. "C" Troop assisted by a Platoon from "B" Troop sighted and destroyed an enemy convoy which was moving north along the highway on the west bank of the Rhone. The column was destroyed with a loss to the enemy of 40 trucks. There were no casualties on this date.
(Riviera to the Rhine (pg 147) makes the point thaton the 21st, General Truscott placed the Butler Task Force under the command of General Dahlquist, CO of the 36th Division.)
August 22, 1944 - "C" Troop with elements of Troop "E" and Company "F" attached and reinforced with a Platoon of Tank Destroyers and a Company of Infantry, Protected the northern flank of the Squadron.
Troop "B" , attached to the 2nd Battalion, 141st Infantry, was holding the southwest corner of the Squadron Front. Troop "A" , now badly needed at Montelimar, had been recalled from Gap. At 1030 hours an enemy column moving north along the Rhone, swung east at Montelimar and tried to penetrate "A" Troop's position but was routed and partiallydestroyed by Troop "A" which at this time was reinforced with six Sherman tanks and a section of Tank Destroyers. This situation was finally closed late in the afternoon. At 1500 hours, the 3rd Platoon of Troop "A" was surrounded one half mile west of Cleon. The platoon was able to extricate itself, and after disabling its weapons, radios and vehicles, took to the hills on foot. Heavy artillery fire directed by air liaison was responsible for breaking up and routing the column after it had been turned from the Squadron position by fire- fights. At nightfall the Platoon, which had gone into the hills, was still out of contact. There were no casualties on this date.
It was during this period that we first encountered the 11th Panzer Division which was protecting the east flank of the retreating German 19th army as it made its way north in valley along the Rhone River.
(Riviera to the Rhine tells of the above German action and adds that the main force of the enemy then
They took Puy, cutting the American supply line toCrest and Sisteron and endangering Butler's CP which was in Marsanne. By chance, the "A" Troop column returning from Gap ran into this developing situation.
The Troop had just turned south from Crest when they came in behind the German column. The Troop Commander, (Captain Piddington), realizing the implications of the German advance, organized a tank infantry attack into Puy. (The infantry were Stack's 36th Division forces, who, as luck would have it, were just returning from Croix Haute Pass.) While Sherman tank fire blocked roads leading from Puy to Marsanne, the unit from Gap cleared Puy that evening destroying ten German vehicles, but suffering no casualties.)
Now back to Squadron Daily Reports
August 23, 1944 - Troop "C" with elements of Troop "E" and Company "F" attached and reinforced with a platoon of Tank Destroyers and a Company of Infantry, protected the northern flank. Troop "B", which was attached to the 2nd Battalion, 141st Infantry, was holding the southwest corner of the Squadron front. Troop "A" with a Company of medium tanks and two tank destroyers supported by several hundred Maquis, covered the left or southern flank and the southeasternfront. At approximately 0900 hours, a hostile column following the same route as on the day before, penetrated "A" Troop's position but was turned and practically destroyed by 1400 hours. The isolated and lost platoon of the night previous arrived, less its vehicles, in the CP at 1700 hours.
Troop "B" plus about 300 Maquis covered the left flank ofthe 141st Infantry in a drive on Montelimar. The attack commenced at 1600 hours and met stiff resistance about one km northeast of town. A gap
Casualties for the day were: Tec5 Kuberski LWA, Pfc. Ellison, Pfc. Morgan and Pvt. Holloway MIA.
August 24, 1944 - "A" Troop with all attachments was ordered to assemble and move to the vicinity of
At approximately 0900 hours, the situation in the "B" Troop area was such that the Squadron Commander issued orders to "A" Troop to hold their position because he did not feel that "B" Troop should move out of the fight they were engaged in. The situation in the "B" Troop area continued to be active until 1300 hours when the CG VIth Corps ordered "A" Troop to Aspres. "B" Troop relieved "A" Troop, which then made the move.
At 1600 hours, Task Force Butler was reformed with the same order of Battle as before, less Troop "A". The task force was to be held in Division Reserve, assembled in the vicinity of Puy
Tec 4 Squire was the only casualty on this day.
25 August 1944 - At about 0100 hours, G-2 TFB advised the Squadron CO that the enemy was massing south of Montelimar with the obvious intention of launching a strong counter-attack at dawn.
It is obvious that the enemy's objective in this sudden flurry of fighting is merely to escape. The enemy units participating are varied.
Captain Omer F. Brown was killed in action this date. (He was killed at Grane.)
August 26, 1944 - At dawn the Squadron was disposed as follows: Troop "B" was out-posting the high ground south of Drome. (South of the Drome River.) Troop "C" in a southwesterly direction to Blancham thence due west along the 71st Grid to connect with "B" Troop.
"B" Troop was supported with 4 M7 SP 105mm Assault Guns from "E" Troop and "C " Troop was
Activity along the Squadron front was negligible. At 2100 hours, "B" Troop supported by Troop "E" was massed at the mouth of the gap at 990-800. "F" Company reverted to Squadron control and was ordered to assemble in the same area and in support of Troop "B". This force was to hold the right flank of TFB as it moved north from Loriol to la Coucourd, (the area where hill 300 was located), and to put direct fire on the enemy Troops that TFB pushed ahead of them.
Casualties this day were PFC Sellers LIA.
27 August 1944 - At 0800 hour B Troop moved out of it's area along the high ground south of Drome,
The "B" Troop sector was
quiet but the 3 guns under Lt. Foley inflicted a great deal of damage on the
August 28 1944 - The Squadron held their positions and at0900 hours the dispositions were: Troop "A" still attached to the 36th Division in the vicinity of Briancon conducting routine and uneventful reconnaissance; Troop "B" guarding the gap at 980-700 north to the grids 978-720; Troop "C" supporting Task Force Wilbur along the south bank of the Drome River in the vicinity of Grane; Troop "E" in position at 980-705, covering the area from Loriol south to grids 950-700; Company "F" was held in support of the operation.
Company "F' was ordered to support an attack on Loriol by the 143rd Infantry. "B" &"C" Troops were to cover the left flank and rear respectively of this attack.
Lt Fitz-Randolph (Commanding Headquarters Troop) with a provisional Troop consisting of one AT
During the day, the enemy moved a great deal of transport from the south along the route covered by "E" Troops guns. Included in the convoys was a large number of truck drawn 88mm guns, Howitzers, horse drawn artillery and Infantry in trucks, wagons, on horses and on foot. After the traffic along the route ceased, a conservative estimate of the carnage was 50 vehicles and guns completely destroyed, an
Casualties this date were: Tec5 Sellmer and Pvt. Morgan LWA; S/Sgt. Prettyman, Pfc. Santell and Pvt.
August 29, 1944 - By noon today, elements of the 157th Infantry entered the town of Loriol and the escape route of the German Army from southern France was severed. Troop "E" continued their devastating fire on the enemy columns approaching and trying to clear the main route to Loriol.
With Loriol in Allied hands, the troops posted strong guards to intercept enemy stragglers who having lost their motor equipment were seeking safety in the hills.
Casualties this day, were: Pvt. Stone LWA and Pvt. Brunner and Pvt. McKenzie MIA.
30 August 1944 - At 0230 hours the Squadron commander was informed that the mission of Task Force Butler was completed and that the 117th Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron (Mecz) was relieved and ordered to report to Corps Headquarters for further orders. The Squadron was assembled and ordered to move to the Gas dump at Puy St. Martin. From there it is to move by M/T via Crest, Die, Aspres, and Grenoble to Moirans. The order of march was "C" Troop, "B" Troop, Headquarters Troop, Company "F" and "E" Troop. Troop "C" left Puy St. Martin at 0800 hours and the other Troops followed at half hour intervals.
Troop ""C" arrived at Moirans at 1540 hours followed at half hour intervals by the "B" and Headquarters Troops. "E" and Company "F" gassed their vehicles and remained in the vicinity of Aspres all night. The entire trip was made without noteworthy incident. The total distance traveled was 140 miles. The Squadron is now on the right flank of the retreating enemy forces.
Casualties for this day were: Cpl Chaklos and Pvt Waremburg MIA.
August 31, - Troop "C" was ordered to the vicinity of Meximieux, 20 miles northeast of Lyon. It left the Squadron at 0900. "B" Troop left the assembly area at 0930 hours and proceeded to the vicinity of Amberieu, approximately 30 miles northeast of Lyon. The Troop is to be on the left flank of "C" Troop in this operation. Troops "B" and "C' are to spearhead the attack of the 45th Division toward the northwest. Troop "C" is directly leading the 179th Infantry. Both Troops encountered lightenemy patrols in their assigned areas. Troop "E" and "F" Company are to remain in the vicinity of Lagnieu with Squadron Headquarters. Troop "A", which has been operating in the vicinity of the Italian border, is expected to return to Squadron control.
From reports garnered from civilians and Maquis it was determined that the enemy is protecting his main line of escape with strong patrols and seems determined to prevent the Allied forces from cutting his line of escape. This presages stronger and more bitter fighting for the Squadron.
Troop "C advanced toward Chalamont screening the movements of the 179th Infantry. At Chalamont the 1st Platoon was engaged in a fire- fight from which they were forced to withdraw leaving one bantam in the hands of the enemy. During the fight, seven Troop "C" men were separated from their Platoon and made their separate ways back to the Troop CP. There were no casualties on this date.
SUMMARY - AUGUST 1944
From the 1st of August 1944 to the 15th, the Squadron prepared for the Invasion of Southern France.
On the 17th of August, Task Force Butler was organized with this Squadron
as a nucleus. Constantly
Vehicles were given first echelon maintenance during lulls and rest was forgotten or taken wherever and whenever the Troops halted.
Although the Reconnaissance Troops bore the brunt of the fighting, the Support and Assault Troops were always on hand to supply the extra punch needed in a tough situation. The teamwork displayed by the troops when they were called upon for a concerted action was of such high degree that the enemy armored formations broke before them.
On September 1, 1944, the 117th Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron (Mecz), commanded by Lt. Col.
The Squadron consists of three Reconnaissance Troops (A, B & C), an Assault Gun Troop (E), a Support Troop (Company F), a Medical Detachment and a Headquarters, Headquarters and Service Troop.
Troop "A" has been operating with the Task Force Bilbo in the vicinity of the Italian border and is expected to rejoin the Squadron on the 2nd.. The balance of the Squadron was operating with the 45th Infantry Division. The strength of the Squadron this date is 46 Officers, 1 Warrant Officer and 680 Enlisted men.
1 September 1944 - Troop "A" was reported to be in the act of moving to rejoin the Squadron. Troop "B" reinforced with one Platoon of "F'' Company Tanks screened the advance of the 180th Infantry north from Amberieu and Bessey. Light resistance was encountered but the Troop pushed ahead and reached a point 10km northeast of Bourg. At this point, "B" Troop halted and covered elements of the 180th Infantry as they crossed the bridge at 343-245. "C" Troop encountered strong opposition at Meximieux and withdrew southeast to establish strong defensive positions. Eight enemy tanks attacked "C" Troop's positions but were repulsed. Troop "E' and "F" Company were in reserve.
2 September 1944 - The Squadron continued its mission to the northwest. "B" and "C" Troops were
At 1700 hours, Troop "B" was ordered to set up roadblocks along the highway leading north from Bourg through Montrevel and Marboz.
(To be more specific, the orders issued by General Truscott, VIth Corps Commander, were to "Seize and Hold" the village of Montrevel. "B" Troop continued north in order to accomplish this before morning. The Squadron Commander and Executive Officer (Maj. Robert F. J. McGarry) joined A and B Troops at Marboz.
Major McGarry was placed in command of the two Reconnaissance Troops that were already present at Marboz and of Troop "E" and Company "F" which were en-route to join A & B Troops. At midnight the forces were deployed south of Montrevel awaiting the coming morning when they were to attack the town.
September 3, 1944 - On this date, Troop "A" was ordered to follow Troop "B" in close support to establish road-blocks on the main highway leading northeast out of Montrevel. At 0700 hours Troop "B" after overcoming small arms and machine gun fire, occupied the town. Troop "B" set up local security and Part of Troop "A", which had followed "B" into the town, provided security for the bridge leading east out of Montrevel. The Troops engaged in separate fighting against Mark VI tanks and enemy infantry. By 1000 hours the situation had become so grave that the Commanding Officer of Troop "B" , Captain Wood, informed the Squadron Commander that he would have to abandon the town if reinforcements did not arrive. Captain Wood was told that reinforcements would be forthcoming. Meanwhile, dismounted patrols were detailed to find an escape route northeast of town.
At that point, General Carlton of VIth Corps, when asked for assistance for a counter-attack, told Col.
Throughout the day the forces within the town were defenders in name only. Again and again the troops launched attacks against the greatly superior armor and numerical superiority of the enemy as they awaited the promised assistance. These forays kept the enemy off balance and in the dark as to the strength of the defenders. Unfortunately, their promised assistance never came. At 1555 hours, General Carlton, VIth Corps Chief of Staff, ordered the counter-attack cancelled.
At 1630 hours, Captain Wood called the Squadron Commander by radio and told him that it would be
The aggressive tactics and personal bravery of the Troops within the town were of such a high degree that the enemy commander expressed considerable amazement that the force, which had opposed him, was so small numerically and so lacking in armor.
Our losses, though a great deal smaller than the enemy's, were very great. The losses in men and materiel were: All "B" Troop personnel less five men, who were either MIA, LWA, SWA plus three KIA.
Those KIA included Sgt Barsby, Cpl L. Stewart and
Tec5 Renzi all of "B" Troop and S/Sgt Lawson of
What was left of A and B Troops were reorganized into a Provisional A Troop, and the Squadron
A volunteer patrol was formed to enter the enemy held town of Montrevel to ascertain the results of the battle. The patrol left the Squadron CP at dusk and entered the town by midnight.
September 4, 1944 - The patrol, which entered Montrevel after dark on September 3rd, returned at 0600 hours and reported. The enemy had complete control of the town but they were preparing to leave. This patrol had conducted a noteworthy foray and the information which they garnered was of great value.
Troop "C" and the remains of Troops "A" & "B" were formed into six Reconnaissance Details each
More information relative to the Montrevel encounter was gathered today. It was ascertained that Pvt.
From reports which came in throughout the day, it was made known that: (a) the battle losses had not been as bad as was previously reported; (b) Troop "B" and one Platoon of Troop "A" had lost all of their vehicles; (c) of the 31 men known to have been wounded, the enemy left 12 of the more serious cases in care of Captain Van Ark and the Medical Detachment enlisted man.
During the day's action Cpl Chacklos and Pvt. Waremburg did not return from a patrol and were reported MIA.
5, September 1944 - The six Provisional Reconnaissance Platoons patrolled on a line from Poligny to
In the course of their reconnaissance the Troops ascertained that all bridges over the Doubs had been
(Note: by the patrol leader - It had been a 4 man bridge reconnaissance patrol from the 3rd Platoon. Joe, had not been selected to participate, he asked to do so and insisted on going with the Platoon Sergeant.)
Because of the valuable assistance that the Squadron is receiving
from the FFI (French Forces of the
Captain Wood, Lt. Lutye, 1st Sgt. Grant and Pvt. Coe who had been captured at Montrevel, escaped and returned to the Squadron this date. The vehicles which were transporting these men to prison camp were shelled by American artillery and in the resultant confusion, Captain Wood and the others gained the cover of the woods. After the artillery had ceased firing and the vehicles had left, they made their way back by various means.
(Note: There is no entry in this file of Daily Reports for the 6th of September.)
September 7, 1944 - The Squadron is now assembled in the vicinity of Arbois, France and the plans for reorganization of the Squadron are being completed. Men and materiel are being transferred to Troops "B" & "A" to bring them nearly to strength and a Platoon of infantry, (to be transported in 6x6s), has been added to each of the three Reconnaissance Troops.
The Squadron continues to protect the left flank of V1th Corps, but did not engage the enemy.
Lt. General Lucian K. Truscott, Commanding VI Corps, presented the following men with the Bronze Star Medal at Epinal, France, on this date: 1st Lt. Lutye, Troop B For heroic achievement in action. 2nd Lt. Bertoldi, Troop C " " " " " S/Sgt. Fisher, Company F " " " " " S/Sgt. Franklin, Troop E " " " " " S/Sgt. Prettyman , Troop C " " " " " Cpl Wilson, Troop C " " " " " Tec5 DiSalvatore, Troop C For meritorious service. Tec5 Sensibuagh, Troop B For heroic achievement in action. PFC Young, Troop B For meritorious service. PVT Bluedog, Troop C For heroic achievement in action. Tec5 William A. Carroll, Troop C who was also to receive a Bronze Star Medal for heroism in Italy was killed in action and the decoration was forwarded to his next of kin.
8, September 1944 - On this date the Squadron was assigned a new mission; we are to advance north and northwest toward the River Saone. The Troops assembled in the vicinity of Ornans with instructions to cross the bridge at 660-43-. The troops crossed the bridge without incident and assembled east of it to
September 9, 1944 - Troops "A" and "C" continue to patrol west and northwest from Besancon toward the River Saone. Troop "B" was in Squadron Reserve. Troop "A", was supported by a Platoon of Assault Guns from Troop "E" and the balance of Troop "E" and Company "F" were held in reserve. (See Map pg 25A- Area of operations Sept 9,1944 - Nov 27.)
The enemy is employing strong delaying tactics and the greater part of our offensive is entrusted to the artillery and air force, which is attempting to disrupt the German retreat. There were no casualties this date.
(There are no Daily Reports in this file for the 10th, 11th and 12th of September).
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