HISTORY OF THE 351ST INFANTRY REGIMENT FOR THE MONTH OF

April 1944

Submitted: 

5 May 1944

Attachments: 

          The first days of April, 1944, found the 351st infantry Regiment still occupying front line defensive positions on the forward slopes of the hill mass extending from the town of MINTURNO, ITALY, east to TUFO, ITALY, in the 88th Division sector of the U.S. II Corps. The operation continued to be of a stabilized character with patrolling as the principal form of activity. An average of six night patrols and three daylight patrols were being sent out during each twenty-four hour period. The patrols covered the valley to the north of Minturno and Tufo, patrolling North to the enemy held towns of SANTA MARIA INFANTE and PULCHERINI. Enemy patrolling was still infrequent. The German artillery continued to place harassing fire on both MINTURNO and TUFO and the rear areas of the Regimental sector. The improvement of defensive positions continued and, when practical, a training program was conducted for all troops not actively engaged in tactical operations. Machine gun crews, mortar crews and anti-tank gun crews especially benefitted from this training.

 

          April 1, 1944. On April 1, 1944, the three night patrols sent out on the night of March 31 - April 1, returned safely. The 2nd Battalion reconnaissance patrol led by 1ST LT. BERNARD P. SPICER had moved to REALI CREEK, reconnoitered a possible crossing of the creek and continued North towards PULCHERINI. The enemy was heard digging positions in the draw between PULCHERINI and MOUNT CERRETO. Enemy machine gun fire and machine pistol fire was heard from the nose of MOUNT CERRETO. The sound of what was believed to be an enemy mile train moving in the draw between PULCHERINI and MOUNT CERRETO was heard at 2230 hours. While returning from this mission, the patrol was subjected to enemy mortar fire on Hill 195 in front of the company "E'' positions. The patrol reported in at 0100 hours, April 1, 1944 having made no contact with the enemy.

 

          The 3rd Battalion night patrol moved North from the Battalion positions to a point at the bottom of the saddle between South Hill 104 and North Hill 104 arriving there at 2315 hours. The sound of digging was heard coming from the saddle. Using a small stream bed as cover, the patrol moved up and the scouts discovered an enemy listening post. The sound of coughing and talking was heard coming from the post and also from a nearby house. A group of fourteen men was seen moving across the skyline towards South Hill 104. The enemy talked freely making no attempts to conceal their movements. Having located this group of enemy the patrol leader moved the patrol back and called for fire on North Hill 104. Three hundred and eighty rounds of 81mm mortar fire, sixty rounds of Cannon company fire and approximately thirty-six rounds of artillery fire were adjusted by the patrol leader on the area known to be occupied by the enemy. At the termination of this barrage, the patrol moved forward listening for sound of enemy movements but heard none. The patrol returned to our lines without further incident arriving at 0300 hours.

 

          During the morning of April 1, 1944, sporadic artillery fire fell in TUFO and MINTURNO. Major V. W. HOBSON, S-3, made a study of the terrain features of MOUNT BRACCHI, MOUNT CERRI and MOUNT CERRETO and the towns of SANTA MARIA and PULCHERINI from low­flying artillery liaison plane of the 913th Field Artillery Battalion. At 1115 hours, MAJOR GENERAL SLOAN visited the Command Post, discussed recent patrol activities with the Regimental Commander, and directed the Regimental Commander to supervise the improvement of the sanitary standards of the special units attached to the division, located within the Regimental sector. Shortly after noon, information was received that Company ''C" had been subjected to a heavy artillery concentration. Technical Sergeant Cavanaugh, an observer from the 85th Division attached to this Regiment, had been killed. Another member of this observer group received light wounds.

 

          The bare look that nine houses in no man's land of this mountainous front recently acquired may be attributed to 1st LT. HENRY ASKIN, New Castle, Indiana, and five other infantrymen who went out in daylight on April 1, 1944, and knocked the windows and doors off. The mission, adjudged one of the most novel on this front in some time, was accomplished without mishap to any of the men although they were under observation most of the time. It was believed that the buildings were being used by Germans as observation posts at times. In order to discourage this, the doors and windows were taken off so that if and when the Germans used the houses, American observation posts would be able to spot them.

 

          Once they were fired on by a Nazi sniper, LT. ASKIN said, "But he was quite some distance away and his fire was ineffective." "We crawled down a ditch out of his range and waited for about 30 minutes before going on with our work."

 

          To get to one of the houses which they wrecked, they had to cross about 500 yards of open country. "There was no cover of any kind - no grass even," LT. ASKIN stated. "We radioed back for smoke and our mortars laid us a smoke screen," he said. They crossed under the smoke's protection.

 

          The houses were almost two miles in front of the main American lines and the mission took all day. The patrol left before dawn and did not get back to the lines until "after supper" the young officer revealed.

 

           "We put our mark on the house we wrecked,” he said. “We marked a large white “X” on them with chalk we carried along for that purpose.

 

          The troops located in MINTURNO were not disappointed, for the regular 1630 enemy artillery shelling of the town was punctuously on schedule. The men had learned to expect this routine barrage every day at this time and there were no casualties.

 

          The 3rd Battalion patrol from Company "L" was the only night patrol to actively engage the enemy in a fire fight. This patrol moved to the forward slopes of MOUNT GERRETO in the vicinity of a house at point (769984). The enemy could be heard talking and coughing. The patrol, because of the enemy's lack of alertness, was able to creep nearer to the positions. On a command from the patrol leader, hand grenades were thrown. Two machine guns then commenced firing on the patrol from the vicinity of the house and hand grenades were thrown at the patrol. The patrol threw hand grenades at the machine gun positions and opened fire on the enemy with all of their arms. Heavy fire was placed on the enemy positions for several minutes silencing two of the enemy machine pistols. After the patrol had withdrawn a short distance, a pre-arranged concentration from Cannon Company was called. This fire was believed to have been very effective for it was registered directly on the enemy positions in three minutes. Under the cover of this fire the patrol began to withdraw, twice calling for mortar fire to be placed on the enemy machine gun positions. As the patrol moved towards our lines, it was subjected to enemy artillery and mortar fire; however no casualties were suffered.

 

          April 2, 1944. Information was received at 1100 hours from the Regimental Liaison Officer to Division, that Company "A", 760th Tank Battalion, attached to this Regiment, would be relieved during the night of April 3 - 4 by a company of the 755th Tank Battalion and that the 85th Infantry Division was now attached to the U. s. II Corps. During the morning the positions of the Regiment were inspected by the Regimental Commander. Three daylight patrols had been sent out during the early hours of the morning. LT. EUGENE LOPER with four men from Company "H" left at 0400 hours to investigate houses North of REALI CREEK and south of the town of PULCHERINI. No indications of recent enemy activity were found in any of the houses investigated. In one house one old German overcoat obviously there for some time, was found. The patrol saw hob-nailed snow tracks along the trails of REALI VALLEY .

 

          Another daylight patrol from Company “L” led by LT. WILLIAM G. KRAHN , moved to a position approximately three hundred yards South of PULCHERINI and established observation points in order to determine the strength of enemy positions in the vicinity of PULCHERINI . At daylight the enemy was observed moving from night positions to daylight positions on the reverse slope of North Hill 104 in a wooded and scrub growth point (798984). The locations of two enemy sniper posts on the West slope of MOUNT CERRETO were discovered. No other enemy movement was noticed during the day and the patrol returned to the lines at 1600 hours. Artillery and mortar fire was placed on the positions that this patrol located.

 

          During the afternoon two foreign correspondents from the United Press, Jim Roper and Chris Cunningham visited the command post. The correspondents discussed patrol actions with the Regimental Commander and were escorted forward to the Second Battalion observation post in TUFO to observe the enemy territory.

 

           Major HOBSON returned to the Command Post from a tour of the line positions and described an excellent artillery concentration that he had seen the 913th Field Artillery place on approximately fifty German troops observed marching along a mountain road in the vicinity of CORENO. This concentration had been adjusted personally by LT COL MILLER, Commanding Officer, 913th Field Artillery Battalion. Although the troops were located at near extreme range of the 105mm howitzers, this concentration was expertly adjusted and is believed to have produced many casualties. A short while after completion of fire mission, enemy litter bearers could be seen carrying away dead and wounded.

 

          LT PAUL LEHNER with twelve men of Company "A", LT JONES, Company “B" 313th Engineers and LT NEELY, Company "A", 760th Tank Battalion, formed a patrol to move along road from MINTURNO to SANTA MARIA to determine usability of road for tank action. The patrol departed at 2015 hours moving North to a suspected anti­personnel mine field at point (789975) which had been discovered by patrol of last evening. LT JONES probed this area and decided that it definitely contained anti-personnel mines. The patrol then moved to the road junction South of SANTA MARIA and began moving South on the road past Hill 146. LT JONES probed for mines as the patrol advanced. The patrol then left the road and searched houses for possible hidden enemy. Returning to the road, the patrol continued South. At point (781971) two enemy soldiers were seen and other soldiers were heard talking and moving about. The patrol immediately changed direction and followed the movements of the enemy in an attempt to intercept them. Three heads were seen silhouetted against the skyline and as the patrol advanced towards them, the enemy opened up on them with machine pistols. This fire was returned by rifle and hand grenades by the patrol. The enemy ceased firing and fled. The patrol then returned to the road and completed the reconnaissance entering the cemetery at the entrance to Company "C" area at 0625 hours. It was determined that the road between MINTURNO and SANTA MARIA road junction was suitable and safe for the use of tanks. It was necessary for the patrol to evacuate both LT JONES and LT NEELY who had been injured by the concussion of the hand grenades thrown by the enemy.

 

          The third patrol that crossed the valley during the night was led by LT MILTON SEARS with twelve men of Company “K”, their mission being to capture or kill any enemy in the vicinity of MOUNT CERRETO (the “Pimple”). As the patrol crossed the valley a heavy concentration was placed by our artillery on the objective. At the end of this concentration, the patrol moved to a point just south of MOUNT CERRETO. Here enemy were heard talking, coughing and making noise similar to that made by the driving of wooden stakes, apparently preparing positions on the forward slopes of MOUNT CERRETO, making no attempt to conceal this work. The patrol began a careful advance towards the noise, but the BAR man accidentally hit a shrub with his weapon causing a burst of approximately ten rounds which revealed the presence of the patrol. The entire patrol lay still for approximately twenty minutes with no sound from either side. After this wait, the patrol leader decided to withdraw down the slope and attempt to draw enemy fire in order to definitely locate the enemy positions. The men took cover in the ditch while the BAR man fired in the direction of the enemy troops. This fire was answered by fire of two enemy machine guns, wounding one member of the patrol. Because of the superior enemy fire-power, the patrol was forced to withdraw down the slope and return to our lines. The patrol leader reported that in his opinion, defensive positions along the West slope of North Hill 104 and the saddle between North and South Hill 104 were being improved by the enemy and were occupied by an estimated forty to fifty men.

 

          April 3, 1944. MAJOR RICHMOND Division Medical Inspector, with MAJOR FRANKEL, Regimental Surgeon, and LT COL DRAKE, Regimental Executive Officer, conducted a sanitary inspection of the Regimental area. MAJOR RICHMOND, in written report to Regimental Commander, stated that the entire area was in excellent condition. LT GILLEN, the Regimental Liaison Officer to Division arrived on his regular trip to the Command Post at 0930 hours. He reported that the 337th Infantry Regiment of the 85th Division had moved into a rear assembly area in the vicinity of CARINOLA indicating that the relief of this Regiment was imminent.

 

          Luncheon was livened by the presence of three British War Correspondents, CAPTAIN DENNIS HECK, British Public Relations Officer, Philip Ure of the London Times, and Aubrey Hammond of the Kimsley Newspaper, London, England, as well as LT COL KARRER, the Division Inspector General.

 

          Early in the afternoon, BRIGADIER GENERAL KENDALL, Assistant Division Commander, visited the Command Post to discuss the night patrol plans with COLONEL CHAMPENY.

 

          As usual only slight movement of individuals was noticed in the enemy lines from the Regimental observation posts and the German's ran true to form by shelling both MINTURNO and TUFO several times during the day. Between 1930 hours and 2400 hours harassing indirect machine gun fire was placed on the rear slopes of MOUNT CERRETO and Hills 146 and 153 by the heavy machine guns of the Regiment. During the night the relief of Company "A", 760th Tank Battalion by Company "A", 755th Tank Battalion was effected. CAPTAIN C. L. RICKS, the Commanding Officer of the relieving company reported to the Regimental Commander at 2230 hours that the relief had been completed.

 

          The night was unusually dark. At 1950 hours a seven man patrol of Company "B" led by LT ROBERT EVANS passed through the company "B" positions to reconnoiter possible enemy positions and to capture any enemy in the vicinity of SANTA MARIA. At the point where the patrol crossed REALI CREEK, the creek was found to have an average depth of two feet of running water. The patrol followed the creek and its tributaries to a point 300 yards South of SANTA MARIA without contact. The sound of enemy vehicles could be heard coming from the vicinity of SANTA MARIA. No further enemy activity was discovered. The patrol entered our lines at 0345 hours. The 2nd Battalion patrol led by LT JACK SPANGENBURG set up an ambush just South of PULCHERINI. While the patrol remained in this position, two other members of the patrol reconnoitered houses on the edge of PULCHERINI, but discovered no enemy. The patrol returned to our lines at 0730 hours, without having made contact. The forward slopes of MOUNT CERRETO were carefully searched by LT SAUTER'S company "L" patrol in an attempt to capture any enemy prisoners in positions on this hill. Just North of the town of SAN VITO, one member of the patrol accidentally stumbled against a trip wire setting off an enemy mine, but no casualties resulted. The attempts of the patrol to capture enemy were unsuccessful and the patrol returned through our lines at 0530 hours. During the night intermittent enemy artillery fire was received all along the line.

 

          April 4, 1944. LT COL DRAKE, Regimental Executive Officer departed for the Regimental rear area to supervise the preparation of the Regimental rest area in the vicinity of CARINOLA. At 1145 hours, LT COL DRAPER, Aide to General Clark, arrived at the Command Post and dined with the Regimental Commander.

 

          Six officers of the Regiment departed for six days of observation with a bomber command in SARDINIA. This observation period was part of a mutual exchange of officers between the Air Corps and the Infantry with the idea of furthering the understanding of the different, yet interdependent and important roles played by each arm in modern warfare.

 

          The routine of the day was only interrupted occasionally by mortar and artillery duels.

 

          During the early hours of the morning three daylight patrols were sent out by the Regiment. The four man 1st Battalion patrol led by LT HARRY BAUGHMAN had the mission to search the houses of SANTA MARIA. At 0520 hours, when the patrol was searching the first house, fire was received from enemy rifleman located on the East slope of Hill 150 The patrol then proceeded up the East slope of Hill 150 and searched out the houses on top of the hill. The patrol moved to the South slope of Hills 157-146 (the Spur) where an enemy soldier was seen standing by a dugout. The patrol BAR man fired on this soldier and he fell into the dugout. No other enemy was encountered by the patrol.

 

          At 1520 hours, artillery shells containing enemy propaganda leaflets fell on Hill 201 in the vicinity of the 2nd Battalion positions. These leaflets later proved to be a gracious invitation to spend the summer months in a restful and romantic German "Rest Camp".

 

          A dangerous mission was assigned to the 3rd Battalion night patrol led by LT JACK BROWN to reconnoiter the saddle between North Hill 104 and to capture enemy prisoners if possible. A silent sentinel with a trip wire stretching across the trail was discovered near the trail junction at point (809972). The patrol entered a house in the valley Southwest of Hill 104 from which Hills North 104 and South 104 and the saddle between them could be observed. Three men from the Battalion wire section had accompanied the patrol and wire was Laid as the patrol advanced to the house. An observation post with communications to the Battalion command Post was then established in the house. The only action observed during the night was an artillery concentration fired by our artillery on the saddle. On the following day, April 5th, at 1130 hours, LT BUSH, a mortar officer, began registering the 3rd Battalion's mortars on the saddle between North Hill 104 and South Hill 104. This concentration was continued at periodic intervals during the day in order to allow LT BROWN and his patrol to search North and South Hill 104. No enemy was found. At 2350 hours, LT BROWN cut the wire and moved the patrol back towards the Battalion lines.

 

          To proceed to the town of PULCHERINI and capture prisoners was the mission of the Company "E" night patrol, a four man patrol led by LT R. HINDSON. The patrol was to go into ambushed positions along the trail Southeast of PULCHERINI and prepare to remain in this position throughout the day. The patrol crossed REALI CREEK and while proceeding towards PULCHERINI, investigated twenty unoccupied enemy dugouts. The patrol reached the trail Southeast of PULCHERINI at 2230 hours. The patrol leader noticed two single strands of barbed wire across the path and as he was examining the wire a single shot caused the patrol to hit the ground. Two machine guns, about fifty yards North and West of the trail then opened fire on the patrol. This fire was increased by two more machine guns firing on the patrol from MOUNT CERRETO. This fire was directed down the ditches and crevices in the ground passing just over the heads of the patrol. Hand grenades were rolled down on the patrol from the bank on the East side of the trail. The patrol returned the fire with the BAR firing along the trail. Because of the heavy enemy firing the patrol was forced to return to our lines at 0130 hours on April 5th.

 

          No further patrolling was conducted during the night of April 4 - 5. The positions of all organizations remained unchanged. Intermittent enemy artillery fire was received at intervals during the day and was returned by our artillery.

 

          April 5, 1944. The Regimental Commander spent the morning inspecting the Battalion positions. BRIGADIER GENERAL KURTZ, the Division Artillery commander, arrived at the Regimental Command Post at 1000 hours with COLONEL SEXTON, the former secretary to the General staff of the war Department. COLONEL CHAMPENY returned to the command Post to meet these officers.

 

          LT R. HINDSON, company "E", led a five man reconnaissance patrol with a mission to proceed in daylight to an ambushed position southeast of PULCHERINI. The progress of the patrol could be observed from the 2nd Battalion observation post until a fog settled in the valley concealing the movements of the patrol. At 1130 hours, 2nd Battalion snipers reported the sound of a fire fight coming from the direction of PULCHERINI. A few minutes later the snipers reported from their advanced positions that one man, an American soldier, was coming towards REALI CREEK, apparently wounded. The Company "G" medical aid man and a litter team was sent forward by the Battalion Surgeon to administer first aid to the wounded soldier upon his arrival. The wounded man was discovered to be Private First Class Freeman of Company "E" (getaway man of this patrol) who had been shot through the stomach. Freeman reported that the patrol had crossed three rows of concertina wire in the vicinity of PULCHERINI. After passing the third roll of wire, heavy enemy shell fire was placed on the patrol, and Private First Class Freeman reported that ''it appeared that the patrol was within the enemy lines". The fire fight continued for about thirty minutes. During this battle the patrol sergeant was killed and LT HINDSON, the patrol leader was shot in the head. During this action Private First Class Freeman was wounded and since the patrol had apparently become involved in a very critical action, Private First Class Freemen began to move towards our lines. Freeman said, "I saw one German jump out of a fox hole and I shot him with my rifle. I think I killed him." Private First Class Freeman was able to get back to the Battalion sniper post where he was given first aid and evacuated. After the firing had ceased, the observation posts and the sniper posts of the 2d Battalion, reported seeing twenty Germans walking around in the vicinity of the location of the fire fight. The snipers reported seeing two or three men walking with their hands up apparently members of the patrol which had been captured. Four enemy earring litters were observed walking up the trail towards PULCHERINI. LT HINDSON and four members of the patrol did not return and Private First Class Freeman remained the sole survivor.

 

          During the early hours of the morning, LT HARRY BAUGHMAN with six men of Company "D" passed through the 1st Battalion lines and moved to Hill 150 with a mission to capture enemy prisoners. Approaching Hill 150 from the North, the patrol called for prearranged mortar fire on Hill 146 and on the reverse slope of Hill 150. The patrol worked South up the slopes of Hill 150 towards the houses at the crest. As they advanced, LT BAUGHMAN shot an enemy soldier observed moving towards a fox hole thirty yards away. Another man observed crawling towards an emplacement to the left of the patrol was immediately shot by the BAR man. An enemy soldier attempting to get into a machine gun position was also shot with M-1 by another patrol member. At this time enemy machine guns opened fire on the patrol and glimpses of enemy soldiers endeavoring to encircle the patrol were seen. Enemy mortar fire was placed on the patrol and the patrol withdrew down the hill. As the patrol returned towards our lines, dugouts along the route were investigated. No casualties resulted from this patrol action.

 

          LT COL WOODS of the G-3 section, 5th Army, visited the Command  Post with CAPTAIN HARRIS of the 88th Division G-3 Office a d went forward to MINTURNO to study the terrain to our front.

 

          Two night patrols were sent out by the 1st Battalion on the night of April 5 - 6.

 

          April 6, 1944. MAJOR WALKER, the Division G-2, accompanied MAJOR SADLER, the Regimental S-2, as he briefed the patrols of each Battalion from observation posts along the front for tonight’s patrol missions. Samples of German propaganda leaflets fired into our lines were forwarded to the Regimental Command Post. The most impressive of these was a picture of a ship at sea with sea gulls soaring above it and the caption: "Complimentary Return Ticket, Europe to America via Germany. Name of ship: The S.S. Lucky Bird. Time of Departure: As soon as the American people will demand it. Destination: Home, Sweet Home.'' On the back of the sheet was printed: "Sally, the radio girl from station “Jerries Front" invites you for a free return trip to America via Germany. Sally says you can live in Peace and Comfort at one of the camps operated under the auspices of the International Red Cross. She thinks you ought to take along a woolen blanket, some underwear, and an extra pair of pants. Don't hesitate to make good use of this offer while there is a chance." In spite of this delightful enticement, the troops of the Regiment remained unconvinced with no customers for Sally's romantic cruise.

 

          LT JACK PANICK with five men and an SCR 536 radio for communication had departed shortly after midnight on April 6 with the mission of searching out dugouts and houses between REALI CREEK and PULCHERINI, in an effort to capture prisoners. No enemy was discovered so the patrol established an observation post in a house South of PULCHERINI and after remaining in observation throughout the day returned to our lines without contacting the enemy. During the afternoon of April 6th, MAJOR GENERAL SLOAN and the Assistant Division Commander of the 85th Division, visited the Command Post and were escorted to observation posts in TUFO by the Regimental Commander.

 

          On the night of April 6 - 7, two ambush patrols were sent out from the 1st Battalion. These patrols remained in ambush in the vicinity of SANTA MARIA but made no contact with the enemy.

 

          One patrol of the 2d Battalion saw a four man enemy patrol in the vicinity of SAN VITO, but were unable to overtake the patrol and ambush it. Although successful reconnaissance missions were completed, no enemy was encountered by any other patrols sent out by the Regiment.

 

          April 7, 1944. During the heavy shelling on the morning of April 7th, LT COL WOOD of the G-3 section, 5th Army, was seriously wounded by enemy shell fire in MINTURNO. Throughout the day the intermittent shelling of MINTURNO continued and was one of the heaviest artillery concentrations placed in any portion of the Regimental sector since the Regiment came into the line. A similar concentration, approximately eighty rounds, was registered in on the 3d Battalion area. None of the daylight patrols made contact with the enemy. The conviction of LT COL KENDALL, Commanding Officer, 2d Battalion, 351st Infantry, that his Command Post was the safest in the Regiment was rudely shattered when a Jerry shell struck the side of the Command Post building in TUFO. Several members of the Battalion Headquarters Company were injured but the Battalion Commander and his staff suffered only a slight decrease in their morale. CAPTAIN F. W. CARMON, JR., Company Commander of Company "G", received a severe wound in the hand while setting out a silent sentry flare in his Company area and was evacuated.

 

          April 8, 1944. At 1000 hours on the morning of April 8, 1944, LT COL HARTELL, an observer from an Airborne Division not yet overseas and a West Point classmate of LT COL KENDALL's, reported to the Regimental Command Post, and went forward to TUFO to remain with the 2d Battalion for several days. Three daylight patrols were sent out before daylight on April 8th. The 2d Battalion Patrol remained in observation in a house near PULCHERINI through the day but reported only seeing four enemy soldiers on the North edge of PULCHERINI carrying what appeared to be ammunition boxes or rations.

 

          LT VAIL and four men of Company "K" engaged in an active fire fight in the saddle between North Hill 104 and Hill 104 behind the enemy lines. The patrol had been sent to investigate a group of houses deep in German held territory. “We were preparing to go into one of the houses at dawn when a Nazi machine gun fired on me,” LT VAIL related. “The shots were high.  

 

          "We took up firing positions and were holding about even for about an hour. Then four more machine guns which were deployed on the side of the hill took up the fight.”

 

          "Five riflemen against the same number of machine guns is no fight - so we withdrew," he related. During the bitterly fought engagement, one American was killed.

 

          The patrol then withdrew out of range of the German small arms and automatic fire and radioed for artillery fire on the enemy positions. “The Nazis got the same idea and ordered mortar and artillery fire on us; we couldn’t move,” he stated. The patrol was pinned down in the creek bed for eight hours before they were able to effect a withdrawal under a smoke screen laid down by American artillery for that purpose, it was related.

 

          At 1700 hours, a loud explosion was heard at the Regimental Command Post and after investigation is was learned that while the Regimental Anti-Tank mine platoon was instructing men of the 337th Field Artillery Battalion in the use of the Mine Detector, one of these men had detonated a German S-mine. LT BOWLBY, the Regimental Anti-Tank mine platoon leader, the officer supervising this instruction, was killed and three men of the 337th Field Artillery Battalion were seriously wounded.

 

          During dinner, eight Italian 77mm shells exploded in the command Post area. When COLONEL CHAMPNEY and the staff returned to the Command Post dugout from the mess it was discovered that the dugout had received a direct hit making a large hole in the top of the dugout. LT DARLING, Assistant Regimental Communications Officer, and Master Sergeant Chester A. Post, Operations Sergeant, were inside the dugout when this shell hit but neither was injured. Fortunately, the Regimental Commander was at the mess and not at his desk, for a large beam from the ceiling of the dugout had fallen and smashed through his desk.

 

          At 1800 hours a report was received that twenty-one German tanks were seen moving into position Northwest of Mount Bracchi. These tanks were immediately engaged by the artillery of the Division. Company “A”, 755th Tank Battalion supporting the 351st Infantry, was alerted along with the Regimental Anti-Tank Company. All Battalions were warned to have their troops especially alert for a possible tank attack during the night.

 

          Of the eight patrols sent out on the night of April 8-9, only the patrol of LT ROBERT EVANS made contact with the enemy and engaged in a fire fight. In the vicinity of Hill 146, the patrol encountered an enemy position and after several exchanges of fire the enemy withdrew. The patrol investigated the enemy position but were unable to find any soldiers. They returned to our lines at 0600 hours. The other patrols set up ambushes but did not capture any enemy.

 

          April 9, 1044. The Regiment spent Easter Sunday still occupying positions in the MINTURNO-TUFO area. Religious services were held for all troops during the day. The news that had been awaited by all, arrived at 1050 hours when Operations Instructions Number 26, Headquarters 88th Infantry Division arrived giving the order for the relief of this Regiment by the 337th Infantry on the nights of April 12-13 and April 13-14.

 

          Considerable controversy arose over the report of enemy tanks in the vicinity of MOUNT BRACCHI that was received yesterday. The observation post of the 403rd Field Artillery Battalion had originally reported seeing these enemy tanks. The Field Artillery observer reported that the still could see tanks on the slopes of MOUNT BRACCHI. LT LAUGHLIN and LT CASPER were sent out to this observation post to check this report. These officers reported that objects could be seen that closely resembled tanks but that they could not be clearly distinguished because of the mist and the distance.

 

          A meeting of all S-3's was held at 1500 hours and plans for the relief were outlined. Three daylight patrols were sent out into the valley. Houses, dugouts and vacated enemy positions were investigated. No enemy was contacted. The I & R platoon sent out a three man reconnaissance patrol at 2000 hours with LT ROBERT C. CRAWFORD as its leader. As the patrol investigated an anti­tank ditch along the AUSENTE VALLEY, it was fired on by an enemy machine gun. The patrol continued up the ditch and when about seventy-five yards from the Northwest end of the ditch a tank was seen parked some distance ahead. The tank was identified to be a German Mark IV. The patrol remained in observation for some time. There were evidently no mines in front of the ditch on the West side of the river. The ground in the vicinity of the ditch was very soft. There was an improved road running Northeast along the Western edge of the valley which the patrol leader believed would furnish a road of approach to our present positions for the German tanks. The patrol returned to our lines at 0330 hours.

 

          LT WILLIAM HOFFMAN's night patrol observed two enemy in an emplacement on Hill 146. The patrol was discovered by the Germans and an exchange of hand grenades took place between the two forces. Enemy machine gun fire forced the patrol to withdraw. Pre-arranged fire was then called for and adjusted by the patrol leader on the emplacement. Of the six other patrols none contacted the enemy.

 

          April 10, 1944. The positions of the Regiment remained unchanged. Artillery and mortar duels took place between the opposing forces during the day. Although three daylight patrols remained in the valley throughout the day, no contact was made with the enemy but successful reconnaissance missions were accomplished. LT CRAWFORD, with three men of the I & R platoon left the Regimental Command Post at 1930 hours to knock out the Mark IV tank which they had discovered in the tank ditch in the AUSENTE VALLEY. The patrol moved East to the AUSENTE CREEK and then North along the creek bed to a point one hundred yards South of the Anti-tank ditch. As they advanced on the tank they were fired upon by a machine gun located at the West end of the anti-tank ditch which forced them to take cover and remain concealed for approximately twenty minutes. The tank occupied the same position that it had occupied the night before. The patrol carefully moved West along an irrigation ditch to a point approximately sixty yards from the tank and forty yards from the machine gun position. Upon signal from the patrol leader, two men of the patrol each fired a rifle grenade, one at the tank and the other at the machine gun nest. Simultaneously the patrol leader and the other patrol member threw hand grenades at the machine gun positions. The rifle grenade fired at the tank struck the turret of the tank at the point where the gun joins the turret probably causing considerable damage. The grenade fired at the machine gun fell short by approximately five yards and as a result the machine gun opened up on the patrol. Due to the heavy machine gun fire, the patrol withdrew down the irrigation ditch to the AUSENTE RIVER and then back into our lines. The Jerries were forced to spend another restless night for six of the night patrols from this Regiment ranged into enemy territory seeking to locate German positions and capture the occupants. Valuable information concerning the terrain was reported but no engagements with the enemy occurred. During the night Company "A", 755th Tank Battalion was relieved by Company "A", 760th Tank Battalion.

 

          April 11, 1944. MAJOR GENERAL SLOAN visited the Command Post during the morning to discuss the relief plans for the Regiment with the Regimental Commander, after which he went forward for an inspection of the front line positions. It had been previously reported that Allied dive bombers would bomb an ammunition dump South of Spigno today and at 0900 hours the planes passed over our lines on their mission. As the planes returned across our lines a few minutes later, it was seen that none had been lost in this action. Plans had been made in conjunction with this bombing mission for the artillery to fire green smoke shells on the target as the planes approached. If the planes accidentally bombed our positions the front line troops were to set off yellow flares.

 

          A message from the Chief of Staff authorized the removal of the restrictions regarding the size and missions of patrols for the night patrols of tonight. The unconfirmed report of enemy tanks was an indication of a possible change in the opposing forces, so large combat patrols were authorized in an attempt to establish the enemy unit identity. BRIGADIER GENERAL KENDALL arrived at the Command Post during the afternoon and discussed the plans for the large combat patrols being sent out.

 

          The advance party of the 337th Infantry arrived at 2200 hours. The party was composed of the Regimental Commander and Staff; the Battalion Commanders and staffs; all platoon leaders; platoon sergeants and one member of the crew of each crew served weapon. During the night, Company "B", 313th Engineers was relieved by Company "A", 310th Engineers.

 

          As previously planned, two large patrols were sent out on the night of April 11 - 12. One patrol led by LT MICHAEL HONNAS has LT THOMAS McGRANN as the assistant patrol leader, with LT HASOWAY, 913th Field Artillery observer and thirty-three enlisted men. The patrol moved out at 2015 hours to REALI CREEK and then to the spur on Hills 157 - 146. The patrol was organized into five groups. LT HONNAS with five men and LT McGRANN with four men comprised a reconnaissance group which searched houses and gullies as the patrol advanced. The remainder of the patrol was sub-divided into three groups of eight men each. The reconnaissance group moved approximately thirty yards in advance of the body of the patrol. When the reconnaissance group was investigating two houses, a German machine gun opened up on the patrol followed by enemy hand grenades. Shortly thereafter, an enemy mortar placed fire on the patrol. The patrol had apparently been discovered by the enemy listening posts. The heavy enemy fire caused the patrol to become disorganized, pinning it to the ground. Members of the patrol gradually moved free of the fire and maneuvered into positions from which they fired on the enemy with rifles, tommy guns and hand grenades. Individuals of the patrol, because of the severe enemy fire began to infiltrate back to the patrol rallying point. Because of the unusual darkness of the night the complete reorganization of the patrol was not completed and the patrol returned to our lines by small groups. As a result of this patrol action, LT HONNAS was wounded and never returned to our lines. The members of the patrol believed that he had been killed during the initial skirmish.

 

          The other large patrol sent out by the Regiment was led by LT GEORGE GESSO. This patrol moved towards MOUNT CERRETO investigating houses as it advanced. The patrol moved up in the saddle between North and South Hill 104. Three enemy were seen walking past and shortly thereafter, a group of twenty-three men was counted by the patrol leader. LT GESSO's plan was to tackle a lone sentry and drag him back. As two men were infiltrating to get close to one of the sentinels, the patrol was discovered and machine gun fire and hand grenades were brought upon the patrol. While LT GESSO was issuing orders for a flanking maneuver by one element of his patrol, an enemy hand grenade was thrown, striking LT GESSO on the chin and bouncing off. Fortunately, LT GESSO received only a slight indentation on his chin and other members of the patrol were not wounded by the exploding grenade.

 

          April 12, 1944. A radio message from the Battalion Commander directed LT GESSO and two squads of the patrol to return to our lines and LT STANTON RICHART, 3rd Battalion S-2, who had accompanied the patrol was directed to assume command of the third squad and remain in ambush in the scrub brush on the Northwest slope of Hill 104 through the day. At approximately 1300 hours, the patrol leader was ordered by radio message from the Battalion Commander to move behind an artillery barrage to the top of South Hill 104 in an effort to capture some German prisoners. The patrol crawled up the slope of South Hill 104 to within fifty yards of the trail which runs North from the top of the hill. An artillery concentration was then directed by the patrol leader on the crest of the hill one hundred yards to the patrols front. The patrol then raced for a building believed occupied by the enemy under the protection of the falling American shells. Sergeant Cox remarked to the patrol leader that he smelled a rankish tobacco and upon closer observation, spotted a dugout about fifty yards away where two Nazi soldiers were calmly smoking cigarettes. The patrol crawled forward to investigate. "A couple of us stuck our guns in and motioned for them to come out with their hands up. One came out quite willingly," LT RICHART said, "but the other was a little reluctant about the whole deal."

 

          "The other one who had come out stood there and pleaded for the other one to come out also. Finally, he did, but just about that time, Germans on another section of the hill opened rifle fire on us," he said.

 

          The patrol took the best cover afforded, keeping the prisoners under guard, and a little while later crawled into a stream which led back to American lines about two miles away.

 

          While in the stream, the patrol was subjected to heavy German artillery and mortar fire and was pinned down several hours before it could start back to the American lines, LT RICHART related, but the patrol returned to our lines with the prisoners.

 

          LT HUGH DONNELLY and a patrol of Company "H" departed during the early hours of the morning on April 12th. The patrol was to remain in ambush in an irrigation ditch in the valley until 1000 hours and then move towards PULCHERINI to reconnoiter enemy positions and capture prisoners. As planned, the patrol moved West from the irrigation ditch at 1000 hours towards PULCHERINI. A machine gun position was located in a dugout on the Southwest outskirts of PULCHERINI. The location of this machine gun nest was reported by SCR 300 radio to the Battalion Command Post and a concentration by Cannon Company was placed on the installation. The patrol then moved forward at the cessation of fire to endeavor to capture a prisoner. The patrol was divided into two groups which encircled the machine gun position from two different directions, LT DONNELLY led his patrol across two strips of barbed wire pointing out a trip wire to a potato masher grenade. At this point, two enemy machine guns began firing; one from the previous location and one from a house about seventy yards to the West. LT DONNELLY was hit by machine gun fire, groaned loudly and fell to the ground. The radio on the back of the radio operator was hit by machine gun fire, put out of commission, and abandoned. Sergeant Orloff moved back to the stream junction to wait for the stragglers of the patrol and found only the radio operator. These two men waited for some time for the rest of the patrol to return but the other members had probably been captured, so they returned to our lines without them.

 

          COLONEL CHAMPENY received a telephone message from GENERAL SLOAN congratulating LT RICHART for his capture of the two prisoners. This capture had established the enemy identification which had been the direct mission from II Corps for all patrols during the night. At 2200 hours the relief of certain elements of this Regiment by the corresponding organizations of the 337th Infantry Regiment was begun.

 

          Being four thousand miles or so from home changes of the value of worldly goods, according to Staff Sergeant Theodore Basta, Company "D". That's why he and two infantryman pals recently dipped water out of a well for three hours to recover a fountain pen.

 

          "The pen was in my shirt pocket when I went to the well for water. When I got back it was gone," Private Cliff Leberg related.

 

           "There was only one thing to do," Sergeant Basta declared, "bail the water out."

 

          The first thirty buckets took the well down about four inches. "But after putting forth that much effort we couldn’t quit.” Sergeant Basta said. The well was deep and the men worked three hours lowering fifteen feet of water.

 

          Private Leberg was then lowered into the well to get his pen.

 

          In addition to the pen, he also found various pots, pans, a bucket and other articles valuable to frontline infantrymen.

 

          Sergeant Thomas R. Plemmons is a member of the Cannon Company whose members have solved the problem of being confined to a small area for weeks at a time.

 

           They have established their own "rest camp" and a "USO" which may boast of being the closest organization of their kind to the frontlines. They are in the frontlines, and, if they were any closer, the patrons would be Germans.

 

          Unlike their brother infantrymen in rifle platoons, who go on patrols and really see the country, the cannoneers are forced to stay near the guns. They are on a twenty-four hour alert. Thus there is a great need for diversion, Plemmons explained.

 

          The "USO" was established first. "We found an old house in pretty good condition and cleaned it up. We found furniture and put the finishing touches to the club," Plemmons related. All the boys pooled their entertainment equipment such as cards, games, and reading material and a frontline "USO" was born.

 

          When not on duty at the guns, the boys spend most of their leisure time at the club and a good card game is usually in progress. The boys make coffee from army rations and a "spot of coffee" in the afternoon is usually the day's highlight.

 

          The rest camp, several hundred yards from the "USO", affords a twenty-four hour rest for two men each day. They get to go back to the rest camp, another building the boys took over and furnished, about once a week on a rotation system they devised.

 

          April 13, 1944. At 0232 hours, April 13, 1944, the relief of the 2d Battalion, Anti-Tank Company, Cannon Company and Companies "D" and "M" of the 351st Infantry was completed by the same components of the 337th Infantry. The advance detachments of the remainder of the 337th Infantry arrived in position during the night, The 913th Field Artillery Battalion, Company "C", 310th Medical Battalion and Company "A", 310th Engineer Battalion, remained in the positions they now occupied, in support of the 337th Infantry.

 

          The information was received from Division Headquarters that this Regiment would send out no more patrols and the responsibility for patrolling in this sector would be taken over by the 337th Infantry.

 

          Both GENERAL KENDALL, Assistant Division Commander 88th Infantry Division and BRIGADIER GENERAL MALLET, Division Artillery commander, 85th Division, visited the Command Post during the morning and conferred with COLONEL CHAMPENY. In the afternoon information was transmitted to the Regiment by liaison officer that the command of the center sector now occupied by this Regiment would pass to the 85th Division at the completion of the relief of this Regiment on the night of April 13 - 14.

 

          At 1525 hours, GENERAL SLOAN visited the Command Post and commended the Regiment for its outstanding patrolling during the period the Regiment was in the line. GENERAL SLOAN’s characteristic and much sought after rating "Max'' was given to the Regimental history that had been submitted for the month of March.

 

          LT COL BURTON, Commanding Officer of the 328th Field Artillery Battalion of the 85th Division, visited the Command Post and discussed with COLONEL CHAMPENY and LT COL MILLER the coordination of artillery defensive fires for this sector. The 328th Field Artillery Battalion was now in position at the base of the hill just South of the Command Post and was taking over the direct support artillery fire of this sector from the 913th Field Artillery Battalion which was assuming the general support mission.

 

          The presence of these field artillery pieces firing directly over the Regimental Aid Station was a great source of consternation to MAJOR SOL I. FRANKEL, Regimental Surgeon, and served to strengthen his conviction that the time had come for the Regiment, and especially the Medical Detachment, to be relieved. The rotund Major complained that the sleepless nights caused by the booming artillery had greatly impaired his efficiency and, worst of all, was on the verge of destroying his appetite.

 

          At 1700 hours, CAPTAIN BROWN, Regimental Adjutant, with the Sergeant Major and the Operations Sergeant, moved to the new Regimental Command Post in the rest area at CARINOLA to prepare the Command Post for its official opening at the completion of the relief of the Regiment tonight. During the night, the remaining units of the 351st Infantry, the 1st Battalion and 3d Battalion, less their heavy weapons companies, and the Regimental Headquarters Company were relieved.

 

          April 14, 1944. The entire Regiment was now concentrated in a bivouac area in the vicinity of CARINOLA, with the Regimental Command Post established in the town.

 

          April 15, 1944. An extensive training program for all troops was at once outlined and begun. Platoon, Company and Battalion problems were planned. During the day, all troops engaged in the care and cleaning of their equipment and in taking showers.

 

          On April 16th and 17th, all troops concentrated on training in chemical warfare mountain climbing and malaria control. The 57mm Anti-Tank guns were fired. Instruction in the nomenclature, functioning and the range firing of the Thompson Sub-machine gun was also carried out.

 

          BRIGADIER GENERAL STEWART and LT COL T. J. WELLS, friends of COLONAL CHAMPENY visited the Command Post in CARINOLA and had dinner at the Regimental Commander's mess.

 

          On April 18, 1944, the rigorous training schedule was continued COLONEL ADRAIN BRYAN, formerly the Inspector General of the 88th Division, and now the Inspector General of United States II Corps, visited the Command Post and had luncheon with the Regimental Commander.

 

          The Regimental Commander convened all officers of the Regiment on the morning of April 19th at the outdoor theater for a critique of the recent front line operations of the Regiment and a discussion of the AFHQ pamphlet "Lessons From The Italian Campaign". Many valuable and instructive points were brought out by COLONEL CHAMPENY in this lecture.

 

          Many enjoyable recreational activities were made available to the troops while in this area. USO shows and nightly movies were presented. Half of the men of the Regiment enjoyed the pleasure of seeing Irving Berlin and his much traveled Army Show "This Is The Army", at an old Opera House at SANTA MARIA, ITALY. The men of the Regiment, during this training period, were granted special one day NAPLES passes and approximately one-third of the men of the Regiment were sent for a four day period at an enlisted man's rest camp at CASERTA, ITALY.

 

          At 1800 hours April 19th, MAJOR R. A. CHEEK, S-3 of the 760th Tank Battalion delivered a lecture on Infantry-Tank cooperation to the Regimental Staff and the Battalion commanders and their staffs. From April 19th until the end of the month some interesting problems were conducted by the Regiment to enhance the confidence of all troops in the power of the Infantry-Tank attack team and to further the understanding Commanders and their staffs in the employment of the tanks with the infantry. Battalion problems using one platoon of medium tanks and one platoon of light tanks were conducted and each Battalion worked the problem with quite successful results. This had been the first opportunity for the troops to work with the tanks and the potentialities and limitations of the tank were more clearly understood by all of the command after these problems.

 

          The Gulf of Gaeta provided an excellent range for the 57mm anti-tank guns, during this period; a novel system of targets was used. Meteorological baloons inflated with hydrogen were fastened to blocks of wood and then cast out to sea above the to sea above the firing positions of the gun. The prevailing winds would blow the balloons along the water in front of the anti-tank guns. The anti-tank guns were then fired on the balloons and much excellent gunnery practice was attained. All bazooka and anti-tank grenadiers fired their weapons during this training period at an old German tank destroyer vehicle.

 

          All rifle platoons of the Regiment executed a realistic problem in the attack of fortified position. A fortified area with three mock pill boxes was prepared at the base of a mountain. Approximately one hundred yards above the pill boxes on the side of the mountain, sand-bagged dugouts for machine guns were prepared. As the rifle platoons, employing flame throwers and pole charges in their attack on the pill boxes, moved across the low ground, the machine guns fired live ammunition over the heads of the troops whenever they provided a suitable target. Artillery fire was simulated by the exploding of dynamite charges. The use of overhead machine gun fire and the simulation of battle noises greatly increased the realism of the problem and valuable experience in the employment of pole charges and flame throwers was gained.

 

          During the inactive period at the front lines, the high standard of physical condition of this Regiment had of necessity decreased. In order to keep the troops in rugged physical condition, all troops of the Regiment engaged in a four hour mountain climb each day.

 

          On April 22nd, MAJOR WALKER, Assistant Chief of Staff, G-s, visited the Command Post with a news correspondent from Harper's magazine, a Mr. Faust, who planned to remain with the Regiment for about two months to write a story based on the history of a rifle platoon. COLONEL CHAMPENY outlined the past history of the Regiment for Mr. Faust and plans were made for him to accompany the 3d Battalion forward into the line.

 

          On April 25th, three officers and eight enlisted men of the regiment attended a 5th Army Flame Throwers school and returned to conduct training for the other troops of the Regiment in this weapon.

 

          During the period from April 24th, when the 3d Battalion occupied front line positions in the vicinity of SAN LORENZO, until the end of the month, routine patrolling was carried on by the Battalion. No prisoners were captured and no patrols engaged in fire fights with the enemy. On April 27th the cannon of an abandoned German tank that was located about a thousand yards from the lines was destroyed by a patrol which placed dynamite charges in the bore of the weapon. Although the tank had been abandoned, the cannon was still in working condition and it was feared that a German patrol might reoccupy the vehicle and fire the weapon at our lines. For this reason a patrol was given the mission of destroying the piece. Rear area training for the 3d Battalion was limited because of the observation that the enemy had on all the positions of the Battalion from MOUNT DAMIANO. The troops were forced to remain in defilade during the ours of the daylight.

 

          Back in the vicinity of CARINOLA the remainder of the Regiment continued its training program.

 

          Thirty-two enlisted men and four officers of the Regiment went to a Fifth Army school in Scouting and Patrolling. These officers and men were upon their return to form a special battalion patrolling section for each Battalion. Three expert riflemen from each rifle company were sent to a school conducted by the Fifth Army for snipers.

 

          At the end of this month the principle lesson learned from operations was that of aggressive patrolling. Most of the patrols of the Regiment had successfully completed the missions assigned them and a marked improvement in the aggressiveness, determination and efficiency of all patrols could be seen. In addition to the training program being carried on by the Regiment, preparations were constantly being made for the return of the Regiment to the lines. Plans for future operations were discussed and terrain studies of the ground occupied by the enemy were carried out by all commanders.

 

         

 

          ARTHURS. CHAMPENY

          Colonel, 351st Infantry

          Commanding.

© 2020  351INF.COM  All Rights Reserved