World War II Honor Roll

Leopold Renzi

Technician 5th Class, U.S. Army


B Troop 
117th Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron
102nd Cavalry Group

Entered the Service from: New Jersey
Died: September 3, 1944
Buried at: 
Awards: Purple Heart

TECHNICIAN FIFTH CLASS LEOPOLD RENZI was born around 1919 to Joseph and Edna Renzi. He grew up at 922 Howard Street in Camden NJ.  In 1930 the Renzi Family owned the home, and the family included Josephs older brother Fred Renzi, and an adult nephew, Leopold Pieri. The Renzi brothers had emigrated to America from Italy in 1929. Leopold Pieri was a recent arrival, having been born in Brazil and coming to the United States in 1929. All three men worked as construction laborers.

Known to family and friends as Leo, he was a graduate of the Holy Name Catholic School in the North Camden section of Camden. Prior to entering the Army, he had his own neon sign business in the 200 block of Larch Street in North Camden. Leo Renzi trained homing and racing pigeons, and was a member of the Racing Pigeon Club of New Jersey. Prior to going overseas, he had become engaged to Theresa McCready.

Leopold Renzi 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 Benjamin F. Pyle and Joseph Miller of Salem. All three were sent to the Cavalry Replacement Center at Fort Riley, Kansas. Benjamin F. Pyle 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, and Joseph Miller was sent to Troop A of the 102nd Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron. All three men were later killed in action.

The Monday, June 22, 1942 edition of the Camden NJ Courier-Post reported that Leo Renzi, then 22 years of age, was receiving basic training at the Cavalry Replacement Center at Fort Riley. 

Technician Fifth Class Leopold Renzi was killed in action on September 3rd, 1944 during the battle for Montreval, France. He was survived by his parents and fiance. Theresa McCready later married Jeremiah "Jerry"Kelly. Jerry Kelly's brother, Leo James Kelly, was also killed in action during trhe war. The Kelly family owned Kelly's Cafe at 69 State Street into the 1970s.

World War II History of the 117th Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron

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 
States. The Tank/Artillery Troop drew it's first Tanks; M5A1s weighing 25 tons and armed with a 37mm gun and two .30 caliber machine guns. Few of the Troopers had ever seen a tank. Fewer still ever sat in one. The artillery platoon of the Tank Troop was equipped with four 75mm French Howitzers mounted on half-tracks.

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 
combat experience gained in combat with the Africa Corp. The School was at Brasenow College, Oxford 
University. The Instructors were all combat experienced Officers of the British Eighth Army. 

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 
by the Luftwaffe, the Squadron was billeted, on January 10th, in the small town of Douera, about 18 miles south of Algiers. A.F.H.Q. was located in the St. George Hotel in Algiers. 

On arrival in Africa, the Squadron was composed of two Reconnaissance Troops (A & B), The Light 
Tank/Artillery Support Troop (F), Squadron Headquarters and the Medical Detachment. It's assigned 
mission was "Primary Combat Security Force" for Allied Force Headquarters". That entailed: 
24 hour Patrols, seven days a week, of a full reconnaissance platoon for a radius of 120 miles around the 
city of Algiers. Investigation of suspicious persons and or situations, checks for blackout violations, monitoring and reporting on radios suspected of transmitting information to the enemy and being alert for enemy parachutists or surprise moves by enemy agents. 

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 
by Sgt. Bill Bennert, (Service Troop), his assigned driver while in combat areas. That Special Security Platoon also provided escort for King George V, Winston Churchill, President Roosevelt, Chief of Staff General Marshall and many other dignitaries when they arrived at Maison Blanche Airport in the course of their visits to AFHQ. 

That Escort Service was also provided to U.S. Generals Bradley, Patton and Truscott as well as British 
Generals Alexander and Anderson throughout their travels in the combat zone.

On January 17th, the Squadron received it's first alert of enemy parachutists landing, in force, near 
Palestro, 25 miles southeast of Algiers. It responded, in force, and soon came into contact with the 
Germans. Three were captured by daylight, and two were killed. The balance simply disappeared into 
the foothills of the Atlas Mountains. It was the first real test of the Squadron's battle proficiency and every phase was executed with exceptional determination and purpose. 

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 
Reconnaissance (Mecz). The new structure included three Reconnaissance Troops (A, B & C), two 
Support Troops (E & F), Headquarters and the Medical Detachment. The nucleus of "C" Troop was formed from members of "A" & "B" Troops. 

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 
without incident. 

On it's return from Morocco, the Squadron was attached to the 85th Infantry Division and on 
February 6th arrived at Foret De La Malta, east of Oran, for Invasion Training. Waterproofing of vehicles, amphibious operations, range firing of all weapons and combat exercises involving a mock-up village were all a part of the final preparation for combat which was to follow shortly. 

In late April 1944, the 117th was attached to GeneralMark Clark's 5th Army and ordered to embark for 

MAY 1944 

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. 
Four JU88s attacked the convoy the second day out but the dive- bombing missed and three of the planes 
were shot down.

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 
Zecca. Piddington was then driven to the Squadron First Aid Station in his Command Jeep by his radio 
operator, T/4 Bill Coddington. On the way, the jeep capsized and rolled over twice killing Coddington 
instantly. The Captain received lacerations to his head and face and numerous other bruises to his 
already wounded body. 

(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 
primary opposing force. 

JUNE 1944 

(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 
reserve. "B" Troop continued to outpost Sermoneta and operates patrols on the high ground to the north. 
Contact was maintained on the left with elements of the 91st Recon. Squadron of IV Corps. No contact was reported. "C" Troop whose positions were unchanged from the day before assembled at the CP at 1300 hours to await assignment to move out on a new mission. "E Troop and "F" Company were in Reserve. No casualties were reported this date. 

Later that day, the 117th was reassigned from the IVth Corps to the IInd Corps and attached to the 
SSF (Special Service Forces). Our new mission working with SSF and the 752nd TD Battalion was to proceed to Highway #6 and try to cut off German forces still fighting delaying actions in the mountains. Our objective was the town of Collaffero.

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 
withdrew, set up observation posts and awaited further orders. Tech 5 Edward L. Curry and Pvt. Emery O. Nelson were slightly wounded due to accidental firing of weapons. "B" Troop moved out at 0430 hours and continued on to Collaferro. They ran into heavy Artillery Fire at 1530 hours, lost one bantam and incurred several casualties. At 2115 hours they were ordered toretire and "E" Troop was given a fire mission after which the town was occupied and one prisoner taken.Cpl. Joseph Finlay, PFC Opatz and Pvt. Dominguez had been wounded and PFC Craig was reported missing. 

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 
American 3rd Division. Both platoons were subjected to enemy artillery fire on several occasions and 
enemy aircraft strafed the road between Collaffero and Valmontone intermittently during the night. The 
Squadron CP was also subjected to small intermittent air raids throughout the night. "A" Troop took two 
Prisoners. Pvt. Devlin of "B" Troop was accidentally wounded by the firing of a Thompson SMG. Troop "C", assigned to HQ, 5th Army, was in the vicinity of Sermonetta. 

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 
Nugent, Lieutenants Carlile and Henry went on detached service as escorts for General Mark Clark. 
Elements of "E" Troop and "F" Company not attached to any of the Reconnaissance Troops remained in 
reserve. The Sqdn. CPmoved at 2145 hours.

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 
Valmontone where the battle had lasted three days before we entered what was left of that town of 10,000 

At this point, the 117th was maintaining contact with the American 3rd Division and the French 2nd 
Division, all with orders to fight our way into Rome at all costs. Late in the afternoon of June 4th, patrols of the 3rd Division reached the outskirts of Rome. On the morning of June 5th, all elements of the Squadron advanced northeast and had entered Rome by 1700 hours. 

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 
took fifteen. They consolidated their positions at 2200 hours and prepared to move out the next morning. At noon, the Squadron CP moved out of Rome en route to Highway #2. The rear echelon experienced 
an air raid during the night but incurred no casualties. 

June 7th our forces continued their steady advance though impeded by several mine fields. The next 
objective being the town of Monterosi. "A" Troop advanced on the left boundary of II Corps in the 85th 
Division Sector. They called for artillery fire on an ATgun but it was moved before the fire could be brought to bear. The 1st and 3rd Platoons of "B" Troop moved up on Monterosi. 

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 
combat team of Infantry, Medium Tanks, Tank Destroyers and Engineers." A" Troop on the left flank ran 
into two fire fights and took seven prisoners. A third engagement produced six more prisoners but strong 
resistance prevented the patrols further advances to the north. Meanwhile, on the right flank of the 
Squadron sector, "B" Troop lost an armored car and a bantam to mines and the 2nd platoon was subjected to heavy artillery fire at the scene of those losses. 

The days casualties, all in "B" Troop, included Cpl.Freeman KIA, S/Sgt Corey, Tec 4 Etlinger and 
Tec 5 Gruskowsky lightly wounded in action; and Tec 5 Renzi, Tec 5 Stewart and Pvt. Ehrlich slightly injured in action.

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 
reconnoiter for the advance on Grosseto. 

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 
to the Squadron from various hospitals in Africa. There were no casualties incurred today. 
On the morning of 12th, the 1st Platoon of "A" Troop reinforced with three TD's and three medium 
tanks advanced along Highway #1 toward Bocca D'Albogna where they found six abandoned German 88mm S.P. guns. One had been destroyed, but the other five appeared to be in working condition. A fire- fight ensued and eight prisoners were taken. Meanwhile the balance of the troop, with a platoon of light tanks and a platoon of assault guns advanced northwest about eight km east of Highway #1 toward Grosetto. "B" Troop advanced north from Highway#1 toward Manciano.

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 
commenced too late to do much damage. One enemy armored car was destroyed at 1830 hours. A detail 
of men from Headquarters Troop buried two Germans that were found when the Sqdn forward CP moved into a bivouac area north of Orbetello. 

June 14th, Troop "A" continuing patrols along Highway 1 were unable to advance against determined 
enemy opposition. Elements of Troop "A" operating in this area were pinned down by continuous artillery and mortar fire. Other patrols of the Troop operating in the vicinity of Magliano also met strong enemy resistance. "B" Troop continued to advance northwest from Scansano. One patrol encountered an enemy  force of four enemy Mark IV tanks and several prime movers loaded with enemy infantry. A fired fight  ensued in which one Mark IV was destroyed and one Mark IV and several prime movers damaged. The  enemy suffered heavy personnel losses while our forces suffered no casualties and only one vehicle was  slightly damaged. Tec5 John T. Kopinsky of "B" Troop was the only casualty the Sqdn. during the day. A  total of thirty-nine prisoners were taken in the course of today's action. 

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. 

June 17 th "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 en route to rejoin the Squadron. No casualties were reported and no prisoners were taken today. 
June 18th,Troop "A" started it's new mission at 0500 hours. Two platoons reinforced with a platoon of light  tanks and a platoon of assault guns reconnoitered ahead of the 143rd and 361st Infantry Regiments. The  initial advance was limited due to enemy mines on the roads and the slippery condition of the bypasses. 

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 
Regiments. The roads continued to be heavily mined. Patrols entering Montorsavo encountered heavy 
artillery fire and with assistance from elements of the 517th Parachute Regiment reduced enemy opposition  and occupied the town. 

Patrols working north on Highway 1 became involved in fire fight. 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 
encountered small arms, machine gun and artillery fire on the eastern outskirts of town. They engaged in 
fire fights in this vicinity. Elements of the 517th Parachute Regiment were supporting our patrols in the 

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 
Infantry, met determined enemy artillery, mortar and small arms fire in the vicinity if Vincenzo. The intense  fire prevented more than a limited advance north along Highway 1 from Vincenzo. "E" Troops five assault  guns supported "C" Troop in the vicinity of Vincenzo. There were no casualties in these actions and two  prisoners were taken.

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 
Fifth Army Headquarters Dated 28 June 1944. Our Squadron was relieved from attachment to the 133rd 
Infantry and the 34th Division. Orders stated that we were to proceed to Naples and that we are reassigned  to VI Corps, Seventh Army. Captain Brown was sent to Naples to contact the Commanding General, VI corps for instructions. "B" Troop was relieved from attachment to Fifth Army. The day was spent by the  troops assembling and preparing for the movement to Naples. 

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.

JULY 1944 

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 
weapons. Movies were shown again this evening. 

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. 
PX rations were distributed including American beer, candy, Coca Cola and cookies. Movies were shown  again tonight. 

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 
athletics were the order of the day and the usual pass detail went to Naples was authorized. 

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. 
Repke and Tec4 Lagowski. 

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- 
needed replacement for the M8 75mm Howitzers with which we had been operating throughout the Italian  Campaign. Headquarters Troop moved from Teano to the vicinity of Pianura just northwest of Naples. 

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 
undoubtedly an invasion. The close of the month saw the Squadron decentralized and the line Troops 
under the control of the 3rd, 36th and 45th Divisions. The month has now ended and still the Squadron is in  doubt as to the place where it's next engagement is to take place. 

AUGUST 1944 

(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 
Divisions including two Panzer. One of those proved to be the 11th. Several of the XIXth's Divisions had 
been badly mauled in the Normandy area and had been sent south to refit. 

(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 
Command Ships for the invasion. 

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. 
Maxime at 1600 hours. The landing of Headquarters Troop was accomplished from an LCD which 
approached to within thirty feet of the shore and from there all personnel waded through the five foot deep  water to the beach. 

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. 

Troop "B" 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 
aggressive reconnaissance toward the Troop Rendezvous at Le Luc. 

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 
preparatory to embarking on another mission. It remained in the area all day performing maintenance on 
vehicles and weapons and obtaining a bit of rest. It was at Le Muy that "A" Troop made contact with the 
Paratroops who had landed before dawn on "D" day. 

The Squadron was assigned as the Reconnaissance element of a Provisional Armored Group to be 
commanded by Brigadier General F. B. Butler, and to be known as Task Force Butler. The Task Force is 
comprised of this Squadron, two Battalions of Infantry, one Company of Sherman Tanks, one Battalion of AFA, one Company of TDs plus elements of Combat Engineers, Medical Corps and MPs. (See Map Pg 15A - Area of Operations Aug 15, 1944 - Aug. 30th) 

(The book Riviera to the Rhine page 144 describes the Task force as composed of " a motorized 
infantry battalion, approximately thirty medium tanks, twelve tank destroyers, and the twelve self-propelled artillery pieces and the armored cars, light tanks and trucks of the Cavalry Squadron.) 

The mission assigned this force, as described in the Squadron Daily Reports, is to move forward 
aggressively to the area around Sisteron and thence: 

(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. 

(Col. Samsel, in his book, states the (B) option as: "Seize the high ground immediately south of Lyon 
astraddle the Rhone River) 

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. 
Cucozza LIA and Tec5 Bellou LWA. 

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 
casualties. A Brig. Gen. and several hundred troops were captured. "C" Troop is in reserve. "E" and "F" are  supporting the Recon. Troops. 

"B" Troop engaged approximately 300 lightly armed enemy infantry South of Digne. The enemy was 
reinforced with anti-tank weapons and "B" Troop was hard pressed until a Platoon of Tank Destroyers was  dispatched to their aid at 1200 hours. At 1600 hours, the enemy was sufficiently disorganized so that "B"  Troop was able to withdraw and leave the Maquis, who had been working with them to finish the skirmish.

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 
Drome, about 13 miles from the Rhone, late in the afternoon.  The battle was developing in an area that came to be known as the Montelimar Battle Square. Almost  twenty miles north of Montelimar, the town of Crest was at the corner of the square (or rectangle) which was bounded by the Drome River on the north, the Rhone River on the west, and the Rubion River on the  south. The sides of the area varied from nine to seventeen miles and encompassed about 250 Square  miles on ground that alternated between flat, open farmland to rugged wooded hills, which rose often  steeply to more than 1900 feet.

(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 
destroyed the Radio Tower at which point the Town's entire Garrison took off for the hills where they 
surrendered in large numbers. 

(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, 
one of the town's Gendarmes. The surrender involved some 1500 troops.) 

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 
regrouped south of the Rubion River, advanced nine miles east and swung north, advancing on Puy St. 
Martin and Marsanne, behind Butlers defenses. 

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 
developed in "B" Troop's left flank through which the enemy infiltrated. The terrain was of such nature that  mechanization could not cover it properly with the result that the enemy secured positions between "B"  Troop and the 141st Infantry. Two Mark VI Tanks and one self-propelled gun penetrated "B "Troops flank  for a distance of three km at approximately 1700 hours. These vehicles were destroyed and their crews  captured by 1830 hours. While this was going on, a force of enemy Infantry had started up the river- bed,  but were repulsed by a Company of the 141st Infantry. By nightfall, the situation was very tense and the  positions of friendly and enemy troops was very difficult to ascertain. 

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 
Apres, reporting on their arrival to the CG 45th division. Troop "B" which was still attached to the 141st 
Infantry and was continuing the action in the vicinityof Montelimar was ordered to move up and take the 
area previously occupied by "A" Troop. "C" Troop, "E" Troop, Company "F" and the Heavy Weapons 
Company, 141st Infantry, continued to hold the northern flank. 

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 St. Martin. 
In the evening, "C" Troop was assigned to push aggressive but limited reconnaissance north approximately  ten miles. The balance of the Squadron remained in Reserve with orders to perform maintenance and rest. 

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. 
The plan of the previous night was cancelled and the Squadron was alerted for a move. At 0400 hours, the  Squadron was informed that the operational instructions issued by the 36th Division the previous day are  known to be in enemy hands. With those instructions in their hands, the enemy knew the strength, 
composition and disposition of all the Allied forces in the area. During the morning, the enemy launched a  limited counter-attack east of Montelimar and by1500 hours they had penetrated 2500 yards toward 
Manasse. On the north the enemy launched a limited counter-attack at 1400 hours along the north and 
south banks of the Drome, capturing Grane and Allex. Reports of the battle were extremely confused as it  see- sawed back and forth, but by dark it was settled that the north bank from Allex west and the south bank  from Grane was in enemy hands. 

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 
supported with three of them. Company "F" was attached to Task Force Adams and was in the assembly 
area at 023-660. 

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, 
(south of the Drome River not sure if there is a town named Drome). They were somewhere east of Loriol,  possibly between Loriol and Grane.) They were replaced by elements of "C" Troop. "E" Troop's guns were  trained along the Route National and in support of the TFB (Task Force Butler) columns moving up from La  Coucourd as well as the 157th Infantry which was moving west on Livron from Crest. "B" Troop took up  defensive positions along the mouth of the gap at 990-700 and was supported by three of "E" Troops M7s.

The "B" Troop sector was quiet but the 3 guns under Lt. Foley inflicted a great deal of damage on the 
enemy convoys advancing along the Route National. These guns knocked out at least 40 vehicles and tied  up the traffic along the road. Lt. Egbert's 4 guns from"E" Troop concentrated on the bridges and fords north  of Loriol across the Drome effectively cutting the enemy's line of communications. There were no casualties  on this date.

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 
Company, two light tanks, two medium tanks and one platoon of Infantry was covering the area at the 
entrance to the gap from 74 Grid south to the 71st grid and extending patrols west 1500 yards. 

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 
inestimable number of enemy personnel killed, and over a hundred vehicles and guns blocked along the 
road by their own destroyed materiel.

Casualties this date were: Tec5 Sellmer and Pvt. Morgan LWA; S/Sgt. Prettyman, Pfc. Santell and Pvt. 
Moore LIA. It was also ascertained today that Pvt. Flournoy who had been reported MIA on the 24th of this  month had been KIA. 

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.


From the 1st of August 1944 to the 15th, the Squadron prepared for the Invasion of Southern France. 
On the 15th of the month the Squadron participated in the Invasion. Following the initial blow struck to the enemy forces along the Riviera, the Squadron pushed inland. Each of the three Reconnaissance Troops,  C, B, and A with Tank and Assault Guns attached conducted aggressive action in front of the 3rd, 45th, and  36th divisions respectively.. The attack on the southern coast had been so swift and effective that the  Wehrmacht was thrown completely off balance and withdrew in disorder. The Allied forces pursued them  northward relentlessly. 

On the 17th of August, Task Force Butler was organized with this Squadron as a nucleus. Constantly 
jabbing at the enemy forces, the Task Force raced northward with it's objective, the cutting off of the enemy  forces that were attempting to escape from the south of France. So rapidly did they advance that the  problem of supply was one of the main concerns of the Squadron. The only rations that it was possible to  obtain at this time were Ks, Cs and Ten-in-ones. Trips over a hundred miles to bring up gas, oil,  ammunition and rations were not uncommon. Vehicles were repaired on the road; at times under fire.

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. 
Charles J. Hodge was in the field in France. At this time, the Squadron was attempting to penetrate the 
enemy's right flank and was encountering strong resistance. The enemy forces seemed determined that 
their main axis of escape from Lyon north into Germany should not be penetrated. (see Map Pg 22A for 
Area of Operations from Sept 1, 1944 - Sept. 7th.) 

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 
conducting aggressive reconnaissance to ascertain what routes were available for a proposed attack on 
Bourg by the 45th Division. Troop "C" , on the left met stubborn resistance at Meximieux and was halted,  but Troop "B " moved north very rapidly against little or no resistance. Troop "A" rejoined the Squadron and  was ordered north to support Troop "B". 

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. 
Hodge to get it from the 45 th Division which gave him a Battalion of Infantry and returned C Troop for that attack  which was set for 1600 hours. By 1300 hours the gravity of the situation had intensified to such an extent  that the Troops were prepared to withdraw upon an moments notice from the Commanding Officer. At 1430  hours, they found themselves cut off by enemy infantry, AT guns, self-propelled guns and a great number  of Mark VI tanks. When news of this was radioed to the Squadron Commander, Company "F" Tanks were  committed to the battle. The forces within the town also launched an attack to coincide with the tank  commitment ; but both attacks were futile, although the forces fought with extreme aggressiveness and  determination. 

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 
impossible to withdraw under any circumstances because of the great number of wounded personnel. This  was the last message from Montrevel. 

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 
Company F. Troop "A" lost 2 Officers and 10 enlisted men. 20 Quarter ton 4x4s, 15 Armored cars and 2 
light tanks were lost. 

What was left of A and B Troops were reorganized into a Provisional A Troop, and the Squadron 
assembled in the area west of Marboz for the night. 

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 3 rd , 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 
consisting of two Armored Cars, three 1/4 ton trucks and one half-track. One Platoon of infantry was 
attached to each Reconnaissance Detail. These provisional Reconnaissance Platoons were to move north 
from the vicinity of Marboz and reconnoiter west about three km from the main axis of advance along Route  National 83. The mission to whom the Squadron was assigned was to cover the left flank of the 3rd division  as it advanced north of Besancon. Light enemy resistance was encountered and bynightfall, the Squadron  was at a point approximately 10km Southeast of Dole. 

More information relative to the Montrevel encounter was gathered today. It was ascertained that Pvt. 
Kusina of Medical Detachment and Pvt. C. Fisher of "F" Company were seriously wounded and that the 
following were lightly wounded: Lt. Lee, Pvts. Benjamin and Purdom of "A" Troop; Tec5 Calabrese, Elliott,  Halgren, and Kielty; PFCs Craig and Homrich and Pvt. Black of "B" Troop.

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. 

Leopold Renzi is fondly remembered by his neighbor, Maryanne Kohm Mingle, who helped create this page