The dates and location apply to the 47th AFA and to the Bn. Mn. Section
specifically; but a lot of other 5th Arm'd men made as many or more
TV reports on D-Day activities and events stirred old memories of
actions that our unit participated in during 1944-45.
By my count our outfit spent 288 days in a combat area, not all were
spent under fire, but most were in a location where somebody might
decide to take a shot at you. My count starts on
1944 and ends in my case near the
those days were likely to provide a normal man with a life long memory
of a stirring moment. All will remember the wild days of August '44;
also the gloom and terror of Hurtgen during December of that year.
It wasn't until I dug out my musty old copy of "Conquer, the Story of
Ninth Army" and began a rereading that I came to realize what our
division (with the help of 84th & 102nd Inf. Divs.) accomplished within
a 47 day period during the waning days of our war. Some of those deeds
The dates and distances that are used in this account may differ, in
some cases, from information shown in other records of the same actions
or events. Should you have a contrary opinion as to dates or deeds; well
and good, your facts may be as valid as ours!
I am lucky in that I got home with all the original route maps that I
used in the hundreds of miles that we traveled from the beach on our
three advances to the
Let us begin with the long days and nights we spent sitting out in the
open fields near Linnich waiting for the flooded Roer to recede. During
this period our division became part of XIII Corps & XIX Corps made up
the major elements of Ninth Army. This troop alignment was to remain
largely unchanged for the remaining days of combat.
Finally, on the night of Feb 22-23 our date with destiny arrived. Our
sister divisions suffered light casualties in crossing the Roer and made
good progress once across the river. 5th Arm'd followed on their heels,
operation Grenade was under way.
Feb 25 XIII Corps had a salient six miles wide and three and one half
miles deep and was well on the road to Eriklenz.
Feb 26 Rain, ground units had to go it alone without air cover.
Feb 28 After six days of steady progress our division had flanked
Munchen-Gladbach and was turning eastward toward
another seven miles to the log.
Mar 1 Spent in shifting forces, regrouping units in order to maintain
the pace of battle. Too many units were converging on the
Mar 2 XIII Corps moved into
Corps boundaries were changed; which shifted XIII Corps into a northward
thrust; this slowed our progress but made it possible for XIX Corps to
continue its drive down the west bank of the
Mar 3 Seizure of a
about at Uerdingen. XIII Corps using only 5th Arm'd and 84th Inf
Division added another 10 miles, ending in the Mors-Orsoy areas.
Mar 5 Operation Grenade (code name for these actions) essentially
complete. The west bank of the
downstream to Orsoy. The enemy blew four bridges below Duisberg on this
date. Six more days were needed to clean up by passed pockets of enemy.
Finally on March 11 (my 30th birthday) the last small force was cleared
Grenade ended for real. Fifty miles, 17 days and 7300 casualties for the
Ninth Army effort, not a happy thought, but fewer than expected.
At this point considerable confusion and disagreement arose as to the
who, where and when the
Ninth Army was under control of 21 Army Group i.e. General Bernard
Montgomery. It was his decision to give 2nd British Army the
crossing sites. He cut Ninth Army almost totally out of the crossing
picture, only one unit XVI Corps would be allowed to cross in the
Rheinberg area, and under British 2nd Army command. D-Day was set for
Mar 12-24 This was a period of watching waiting and moving around; in
what seemed at the time, to be endless circles. Actually our mission had
a purpose; that being to confuse the enemy and hold as many of them as
possible opposite our corps area. Historians credit us as being mostly
successful. Our battalion was in position in the area around Strumpf.
XIII Corps held this line on the
formed 15th Army under Lt.Gen. Gerow.
On Mar. 9, 1st Army took the bridge at Remagen which probably eased
enemy resistance in our crossing area, and boosted morale in general on
Mar 24 Between 0100 & 0200, this date, 2100 field pieces from the three
armies, fired 65,000 rounds across the
another 65,000 rounds were blasted away. XVI Corps crossed in its
assigned area followed by XIX Corps on Mar 27, each with moderate
casualties. XIII Corps began crossing at
I remember well the moment of my crossing. The time was well past
mid-afternoon; the screening smoke made it seem later and gave the whole
area a spooky look and feel. We crossed on a heavy pontoon (Treadway)
bridge, just down stream from a trestle type bridge that our engineers
were building. I was riding in a jeep, trailing a full track and being
followed closely by one of our tank recovery vehicles. Each full track
seemed to depress the pontoons several inches; it seemed like feet to
me, that left the jeep riding the crest of a wave all the way across. I
am not sure that we were maintaining proper convoy interval.
April 1 (Easter Sunday) This date First and Ninth Armies linked up at
the "Ruhr Pocket". This feat made it possible for Ninth Army to turn
XIII Corps loose for an all out run to the
Braunschweig and Magdeberg were the major cities in our path as well as
two or three sizable streams.
Apr 2 We crossed Dortmund-Ems canal and turned east cross country,
reaching Versmold and cutting the autobahn near Bielfield. The town of
Apr 3 5th Arm'd reached the
up for several days. Our battery was billeted in the little
Apr 4 Ninth Army reverted to 12 Army Group and the command of Gen
Bradley. 102nd Inf Div rejoined XIII Corps bringing it back to a three
Apr 5-7 XIII Corps (84 Inf & 5th Arm'd) forced a crossing on the
and consolidated a firm hold on the east side.
Apr 8 5th Arm'd crossed the Weser at Hamelin, the town of
fame, after a 15 mile run we bivouacked in the Springe-Pattensen area.
The next morning some high velocity guns to our north created a lot of
static for a period of time.
April 9-10 We wound up the days with another impressive set of mileage
figures reaching Miene about 5-6 miles north of Braunschweig.
fell to 84th Inf Div. When the column stopped that night I was blocked
in, on a tight street, in the little village Didderse. I hadn't slept in
a real bed for quite a spell; so I decided I would break the pattern.
Next morning when I woke up I found that I was an unwelcomed guest in
somebodys farm house. While inspecting the premises I opened a cupboard
and discovered an unopened one liter jar of homemade strawberry
The maintenance crew was unanimous in their opinion that the delicacy
improved their 10 in 1's.
April 11 5th Arm'd reached Ehra after another 20 miles of all out
April 12 CCA reached Tangermunde after a 50 mile run. Most of us
remember the "skeet shoot" on enemy planes taking off the local
airfield. This is also where I first learned of the death of President
Using the route maps mentioned at the outset of this tale; I have taken
dividers and stepped off the mileage covered during this drive. From
crow would fly it would be a lesser distance; on the ground, tis all
I am willing to admit that the events recorded were in no way compare
That fact alone made each of these days memorable and valuable. None of
us knew what lay around the bend or at the next crossroad. That fact
kept the adrenalin flowing. Who the hell wants to get shot up in the
final days of the war?
We still had some excitement coming during the last weeks of conflict.
There was dead area between US Ninth and British Second Army that held
enemy troops that were causing trouble; cutting communication lines,
shooting up thin skin vehicles, that sort of thing.
We were ordered to make two pushes into the area; the first one swung us
around in a big loop that wound up going eastward and winding up on the
The last drive against the remnant enemy forces took us northward toward
Dannenburg and Hitzaker where we joined up with British forces.
The Brits lost a scout car to one of our tanks when it wandered into our
area on April 22.
The 29th Inf Div relieved CCA at Hitzaker on April 24, it was all over
but we did not get official cease fire until VE-Day on May 8.
My battery was billeted in the
that date. Occupation duty was next on our list.
Howard & Carol Clark
Sent F. A maps from the war: Phone: "Every time an old person dies, a
library burns down."
"I found a faint carbon copy of this article in my mother's papers.
Thought it may be of interest to you and others. We all appreciate the
hard work and dedication you have for the Association and the Victory
EXTRACT FROM THE NEW YORK TIMES, Oct 3, 1944
With the First Army in Germany, September 30, 1944
General Hodges took security wraps off another of his divisions today
and disclosed for publication that the 5th Armored Division (Victory
Division) was one of the ace outfits which stormed across France after
the American break-through near St. Lo. This division entering combat
for the first time in drive across
spectacular operations and helped make a lot of tank history.
In the first 20 days of combat the 5th drove 400 miles to
and was one of the divisions which swept south from Countances and then
hooked north from LeMans to set the Falaise-Argentan trap which gave von
Kluge's 7th Army such a terrific mauling. Military men will be charting
that armored campaign for years. Fifth Armored Division started it
operations from an assembly area in
August 1, 1944. Tanks plunged through St. Lo gap and roared south to
drive deep into enemy-held territory. Division proudly boasted that this
operation was the first time a full American Armored Division had been
used in exploitation mission behind enemy lines.
To accomplish this mission the division thrust 150 miles south, then
continued 100 miles to LeMans, then turned and drove 50 miles north to
Argentan. Tanks of the Fifth were first into both LeMans and Argentan
and were the first Army astride the main highway to
Argentan and Gace, the Fifth had one of the toughest battles of the
drive. They fought Germans for three days as pincers of a trap closing
in on the seventh army struggling to escape to the east. Then the Armor
wheeled and pushed on to the
2800 Germans killed and 4300 prisoners of war, with its own casualties
Across the Seine, the Victory Division kept wheeling to the east, and
fought its way into
the Prince of Luxembourg rode with the division commander, Major
General Lunsford E. Oliver. Luxembourgers gave the tank men a rousing
welcome along with the armored infantry and quickly recognized the
Prince of the Grand Duchy. They stormed his jeep and carried him on
their shoulders through the street.
John E. Millett, Jr. 47 AFA
Box 33 [Add]
"Lt. John R. Ryan B-47 AFA was killed in
together and our wives lived together in the States.
Cpl Dziergowski A-47 AFA was killed in
on the list in the last 5th Armored NEWS.
T. K. Brown HQ-47 AFA was killed in
Pilot, was killed but I cannot remember when."
Sent clipping of Robert Ryan's KIA notice:
Robert Ryan Is Killed in Action
Cedar Rapids News--
Lt. Robert Ryan of
received from the war department Wednesday. His wife and baby reside
with his parents, Mr. and Mrs. John B. Ryan, at
Ryan is employed in The Gazette circulation department.
A native of
high School. He entered service in October, 1941, and received his
commission from the field artillery school at
1943. He went overseas a year ago and had been serving in the area east
47th Field Artillery Battalion
September 1988 NEWS
JOHN BOX [Bryan, TX](Sv-47 AFA)
"REPORT ON EUROPE TRIP"
During the month of May I had the good fortune of being able to retrace
the route of the 47th Arm'd F.A. Bn. thru England, France, Luxembourg,
Belgium, Holland and Germany. The event was doubly pleasurable because I
was in the company of my good friend and old comrade in arms BILL FORAN
and our wives: Roberne and Evelyn.
We picked up our route in
spent a couple of nites in the same hotel,
I had been billeted in on 3 day pass to
that was of memorable interest was at Perham Down Camp; our first post
Barracks, now occupied by 22 Royal Engr. Regt. We were able to look in
on our old quarters and had a most pleasant visit with the CO, his
adjutant and junior officers.
Enroute to H.M.S. Raleigh we drove thru the
Tilshead). The area is still very active as a training site with range
flags flying on practically every
active and modern training base for the Royal Navy. We were allowed to
stroll thru the area and take photos, but were not nearly so warmly
received as at Perham Down.
While in the
forces trained for D-Day; and where in late April 1944 troops involved
in those training exercises lost about 750 men when German E-Boats
attacked the LST convoy taking part in the exercise.
We crossed the channel (
at St. Saveur le Vicomte. We spent some time on the beaches,
du Hoc and
leaves a deep emotional impression, at least on me. We made side trips
to St. Lo and thru the "Cobra" bombing area and returned to the
Battalion route at Periers.
I was able to bring home all of the maps I used from the beaches to our
occupation area in the Kassel-Witzenhausen area. Naturally there have
been tremendous changes made during the last 45 years, so the country
side was changed a lot, but having the old maps made it possible for us
to pin-point important sites within a few hundred yards (or feet in some
The cities and towns that we remembered as rubble and ruin: Coutances,
Avranches, Fourgeres, Chateau de Gontier, Lemans, Dreux Argentan, etc.,
are now rebuilt and thriving.
We spent a couple of days in
We did not make the run north of
Malmedy Massacre Memorial
We crossed the Muese at
towers at Junglinster are still there. Wallendorf is now a quiet and
quite pretty little German border village. The
is also still picture post card beautiful.
Clervaux North up "Skyline-Drive" thru the
(Consthum, St. Vith, Malmedy, Eupen, Rotgen). The big farmhouse in
Rotgen that served as Bn. HQ. for the 47th on the PM of Nov. 2, when it
was attack by the P-38s, no longer stands.
Near Stolzembourg, 1st entry of
Further, most of the
area and water reservoir. To reach our battery positions in the
Klienhau area one must travel southeast out of Zwiefal for several miles
to pick up the "Ridge Road" where Hurtgen, Vossenack, Klienhau, Gey,
Strass, Brandenburg and Bergstein still stand; rebuilt and prosperous.
We were able to get photos of the firing battery and Bn. HQ. positions
in the area just west of Klienhau.
We crossed the Roer at Linnich after having a good look around in the
Welz area and moved northward thru the Rhineland to the Gen. Patton
Grave Luxembourg Military Cemetery
We had to abandon some of the actual combat route after we passed
Braunschweig and followed it to the "Iron Curtain" just east of Brome.
That stopped us short of the
the occupation villages near Witzenhausen on the
The trip fulfilled a 40 year yearning that we have had; and further, it
answered a number of questions, thoughts that have been with me since
'44. When I last saw western Europe it was dreary, demolished,
devastated and in some areas, desolate. Now one must look hard to find
scars of 1940 events.
CLERVAUX Villages, towns,
the every outward appearance G. I. of peace, prosperity and progress.
Further, 40 years later everywhere we went, we were treated with
kindness and consideration. All of this left a very good taste in our