HISTORY OF THE 351ST INFANTRY REGIMENT FOR THE MONTH OF
8 March 1945
At the beginning of February, the regiment was occupying the positions astride Highway 65. Monte Adone, with an elevation of 655 meters, faced the left sector which was occupied by the 1st Battalion. This feature dominated the entire Regimental sector and provided the enemy with observation along Highway 65 as far back as Monghidoro, 14 kilometers behind the line.
Several enemy mine fields were located. Some platoon positions were within rifle grenade range of the enemy, and, daylight movement even from hole to hole was under observation over most of the front. Smoke between Livergnano and Predosa was continued with one or two interruptions, and daylight movement on roads was forbidden.
Due to our constant raiding of his positions, the enemy was extremely alert and constantly mortared any observed or suspected movement. The cracking of a twig was enough to start flares across the front and draw small arms fire.
Enemy artillery decreased in some cases, as few as ten rounds per day falling on us. German patrols were infrequent and not very aggressive, although our own patrolling remained constantly aggressive. Artillery, Cannon Company and mortar harassing fires were limited by low ammunition allotments, and an attempt was made to substitute this lack by the provisional .50 caliber machine gun battery firing 20,000 rounds per day and scout cars of the Reconnaissance Troops firing 37mm High Explosive ammunition.
The month opened auspiciously with a 1st Battalion patrol led by Lieutenant Wheeler of Company A capturing a PW whose identification revealed the relief of the German 4th Paratroop Division and established the 157th Mountain Infantry, 65th Infantry Division boundary.
One member of the patrol who had his foot blown off by a Schu mine was lost during the fight, but, rather than be captured, crawled a thousand yards or more, swam the ice cold Savenna River which was in flood at the time, and called for help just outside our outpost line. He was decorated with the Silver Star for his action.
The 2d Battalion, as Regimental Reserve, occupied positions near La Guarda. Some training in map reading, mechanical training in weapons, and gun drill was conducted and the switch line maintained and strengthened.
Construction of the defense line proved valuable in the education of officers and non-commissioned officers in that it added much to their knowledge of methods of organizing terrain.
On the second of February, Co G relieved a company of the 349th Infantry joining the left regimental boundary. Company G was attached to the 1st Battalion and our sector was extended eight hundred yards to the left.
The morning of 12 February, Colonel Arthur S. Champeny passed command of the Regiment to Lieutenant Colonel Franklin P. Miller. Colonel Champeny had commanded the 351st Infantry since its early days at Camp Gruber and had led it through a year of combat. Lieutenant Colonel Miller was by no means a stranger, having served as Regimental Executive Officer for a short time and having commanded the combat team artillery, the 913th Field Artillery Battalion, since the summer of 1942. Under him, the 913th Field Artillery Battalion achieved the name of being one of the most aggressive artillery units in the Fifth Army. Thus Colonel Miller was known by reputation if not personally by all the officers of the regiment.
On the night of 13/14 February the Germans hurt us severely by capturing a large standing patrol at Barchetta. A relieving patrol led by Lieutenant Cowan on the night of the 12 engaged in a fire fight while attempting to reach the Barchetta patrol led by Lieutenant Jackson. Only Lieutenant Cowan and three men reached their destination, the rest of the patrol became scattered and filtered back into our lines. Since daylight movement would only have brought down a shower of enemy mortars, it was decided to wait until the next night and send a rescue patrol early enough to go and return under cover of darkness.
At 0800 one man ran the gauntlet of German fire and returned with the news that he had seen sixteen Germans on his way back and that Lieutenants Jackson and Cowan with fifteen men, one of whom was slightly wounded, were all gathered in a small house. At 0840 a fire fight broke out at Barchetta.
At dusk the Ranger Platoon went to the rescue, reaching their destination by 2000 hours. They found nothing. A deserter entered our lines on 18 February and said that the Americans were all in a house at which the Germans fired Panzer-Fausts, causing the Americans to surrender. The Germans later shot propaganda which discussed the incident. (See penultimate page S-2 Section).
On February 14th, Lieutenant Colonel Paul P. George, 513th Bomb Squadron, 376 Bomb Group, 15th Air Force, joined the regiment for a brief stay as an observer. He was well liked and his departure was regretted by everyone.
On the night of 13/14 February, the 2d Battalion, less Company G, relieved the 3d Battalion, less Company L, and on the night of the 19/20 the regiment was relieved and went into Division Reserve. The 3d Battalion remained in La Guard attached to the 350th Infantry as reserve.
The 1st Battalion Command Post was in Bibulano with all companies in the general area. The 2d Battalion Command Post was placed in Trassasso with the companies disposed north and south of the Command Post along the east side of the Monzuno ridge.
Major Byron, Regimental Surgeon, former New York State gynecologist, continued his anti-trench foot campaign with marked success. We continued to remain low in self-inflicted wounds and non-battle casualties.
On the 26th of February the regiment was told that it would relieve the 135th Infantry and be attached to the First Armored Division. Colonel Miller and staff called at the First Armored Command Post that day and obtained details of the relief.
In the meantime the battalions of the regiment continued to maintain and improve the switch line. A training program consisting of squad and platoon problems, security training, physical conditioning, weapons training, night raids, military courtesy and discipline, clock system of adjusting artillery fire, compass work, and map reading was pressed vigorously.
The melting of the snow and warmer weather greatly improved living conditions during the latter two thirds of the month. The men's spirits seemed to improve with the weather, and the physical conditioning after a long, almost uninterrupted period of lying in a defensive position with consistently bad weather, was welcome. We look forward confidently to the successful close of the Italian Campaign.
F. P. MILLER,
Lt. Col., F. A.