HISTORY OF THE 351ST INFANTRY REGIMENT FOR THE MONTH OF
9 April 1944
On March 1, 1944, the 351st Infantry Regiment, less the 2nd Battalion, was in a training bivouac area in and near the town of Faicchio, Italy, engaging in a rigorous training program in mountain tactics and physical conditioning. The 2nd Battalion of the 351st Infantry was actively engaged in combat on Hill #706, near Cairo, Italy, where it had occupied front line positions since February 27, 1944, as a separate Battalion attached to the 8th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Algerian Division of the French Expeditionary Corps.
The situation in this sector at this time was stabilized with patrol action and artillery dueling the principal forms of activity.
The Regimental Headquarters at Faicchio, Italy, received Field Order #5, Headquarters 88th Infantry Division on March 1, 1944, which ordered Combat Team #3, composed of the 351st Infantry, Company C, 313th Medical Battalion, and one Battery of the 439th AAA (AW) Battalion, to move on March 5, 1944, to a temporary bivouac area near Carinola, Italy, from which the Regiment would move into the front line positions now occupied by the 201st Guards Brigade of the 5th British Division. The sector of the 5th British Division extended from Castleforte West to the sea and was being taken over by the 88th Division.
Information was received from the 2nd Battalion that the Battalion would be relieved during the night from its positions near Cairo. Major David H. Sadler, S-2, was sent to Cairo to coordinate the motor movement of the Battalion back to the Faicchio bivouac area.
At Cairo artillery shelling was light during the day of March 1st. French officers from the relieving Battalion of the 8th Tunisian Regiment came forward to reconnoiter the 2nd Battalion sector and to coordinate plans for the relief with Lt. Col. Kendall, the Commanding Officer of the 2nd Battalion, 351st Infantry. Enemy artillery fire increased during the afternoon and was further intensified after sunset.
The relieving French troops crossed the flat valley from the detrucking point near San Michele to the foot of Hill #706, and at 1200 hours, began moving up the Hill led by guides from the 2nd Battalion. After a difficult climb in the darkness, the leading elements of the French Battalion reached the forward positions at 2130 hours and the withdrawal of the 2nd Battalion began. The 2nd Battalion withdrew down Hill #706 by platoons and crossed the "Pool Table" Valley under heavy enemy shelling to the entrucking point near San Michele. The relief was completed at 0430 hours on March 2nd, and the command of the sector passed to the French Battalion Commander. The 2nd Battalion entrucked at San Michele and moved to their original bivouac area near Faicchio, Italy, with the first vehicles of the convoy arriving at 1100 hours on March 2nd.
The tired and muddy soldiers of the 2nd Battalion were allowed to take showers and rest for the remainder of the day.
March 3, 1944. Colonel Champeny and Major Hobson, S-3, departed at 0800 hours for a conference with General Sloan at the Command Post of the 5th British Division near Carano, Italy. Mountain training continued for all units of the Regiment except the 2nd Battalion, which engaged in the care and cleaning of equipment and the salvaging of equipment that had been damaged at the front.
A meeting of all Battalion and Special Unit commanders was held at 1830 hours and the Regimental Commander issued orders for the movement of advance and quartering parties to Carinola, Italy.
March 4, 1944. Preparations for the movement of the Combat Team were begun. All tents were struck, barracks bags stored, and vehicles were combat-loaded. At 0730 hours Colonel Champeny and Major Hobson, S-3, departed for the forward command post of the 5th British Division to confer with Major General Sloan on the plans for the relief of the 201st Guards Brigade by this Regiment. Battalion Commanders accompanied by one staff officer left at 0800 hours and moved to traffic control point "Spurs" near Carano, Italy. Colonel Champeny and Major Hobson returned to TCP Spurs with Major General Sloan who addressed the Battalion Commanders concerning the plans for the relief. At the end of this conference, Colonel Champeny guided the Battalion Commanders to the Command Post of the 201st Guards Brigade near Minturno, Italy, from which place British Officer guides took these officers to the Battalions which they were to relieve.
An advance party of Company Commanders, platoon leaders, and platoon sergeants left at 1000 hours for Carinola, Italy, from which place they were to move forward under the cover of darkness to the Command Post of their respective battalions, to reconnoiter, make plans, and receive orders for the relief operation. The Combat Team #3 quartering party, commanded by Lt. Col. Drake, Regimental Executive Officer, and composed of one officer from each battalion, Special Company, and attached units, and one enlisted man from each line company, left at 1300 hours for Carinola, Italy, around which the Combat Team was to be bivouacked preparatory to effecting the relief of the 201st Guards Brigade.
March 5, 1944. At 0420 hours, Combat Team #3, 88th Infantry Division, began movement by motor convoy from Faicchio, Italy, through Piedmonte D'Alife and Caiazzo, Italy, thence over Highway #6 and Highway #7 into Carinola, Italy. The convoy closed on Carinola a t 1330 hours and temporary installations were prepared. Major Hobson, S-3, returned from the 201st Guards Command Post to the temporary Combat Team Command Post in Carinola to issue orders for heavy machine gun platoons of the 2nd and 3rd Battalions to effect the relief of Company C, 7th Cheshires from present positions under cover of darkness tonight. In compliance with this order, the 2nd and 3rd Battalion machine gun platoons departed by motor convoy for the front lines at 1800 hours.
The 1st Battalion, 351st Infantry, on orders from Headquarters 88th Infantry Division, was alerted for Division reserve and was instructed to be prepared to move out on short notice.
March 6, 1944. The relief by the heavy machine gun platoons of Hand M Companies during the night of March 5-6 was successfully completed. The remaining units of the Combat Team remained in the bivouac area at Carinola, Italy, throughout the day making necessary preparations for the impending relief operation. Counterattack plans for probable routes of an enemy attack in the Division sector were prepared by the 1st Battalion, 351st Infantry, and were submitted to Division Headquarters.
At 1900 hours, the movement of other organizations of the Regiment to relieve elements of the 201st Guards Brigade was begun. Company D relieved component Company C, 7th Cheshires and the Regimental Cannon Company relieved the 27th Anti-Tank Battery (British). The 1st, 2nd and 3rd Battalion Anti-Tank Platoons also moved forward into front line positions during the night. The relief operations by these units were completed without event.
March 7, 1944. During the night of March 7-8, the remaining units of Combat Team #3 moved from the Staging Area at Carinola, Italy, to front line positions. The troops were moved by truck to a point approximately five miles from the front lines and then, guided by one United States Army guide and one British guide for each platoon, marched to front line positions near Tufo and Minturno, Italy, and relieved the remaining elements of the 201st Guards Brigade. The 1st Battalion, 351st Infantry, relieved the 6th Battalion, Grenadier Guards; the 2nd Battalion, 351st Infantry, relieved the 3rd Battalion, Coldstream Guards; and the 3rd Battalion, 351st Infantry relieved the 2nd Battalion, Scots Guards. Company C, 313th Medical Battalion relieved the Advance Dressing Station, 5th Light Field Ambulance Unit (British). Company C, 313th Engineer Battalion, moved to an assigned area within the Regimental sector, West of Regimental Command Post. The Command of the Regimental sector remained with the Commander of the 201st Guards Brigade until the completion of the relief.
March 8, 1944. At 0210 hours on March 8, 1944, Colonel Champeny took command of the sector extending West from Minturno, Italy, to the Ausente Creek, from the Commanding Officer of the 201st Guards Brigade, the relief having been fully completed. The troops of the Regiment were disposed in positions along the forward slopes of the hills North of Minturno and Tefo, Italy. During the day only sniper posts, outposts, and observation posts were maintained; but during the hours of darkness, all front line positions were fully manned and the Regimental sector fully organized for defensive action. The troops who were not occupying forward positions during the day were able to rest in areas on the reverse slopes of the hills behind Minturno and Tufo.
For the first time since its activation, the 351st Infantry Regiment was now fully employed in front line positions and the mission for which all the officers and men of the Regiment had arduously trained was now at hand.
During the day of March 8th, all installations were improved and the dispositions of the Regiment were checked by the Regimental Commander. Mortar and cannon fires were registered. Both Major General Sloan, Division Commander, and Brigadier General Kendall, Assistant Division Commander, inspected the positions of the Regiment during the morning and plans for daylight and night patrolling were outlined. Colonel LaDue, Chief of Staff, of a United States Army Corps in England, with Major Walker, Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2, 88th Infantry Division, visited the Command Post at 1100 hours and were escorted to the front line positions by the Regimental S-2. During the night British Tank units were relieved by American Tank units. Artillery fire was placed along the entire Division front to dampen noise produced by tanks in this relief.
Orders were received to hold all vehicular traffic to an absolute minimum, and to thin out the troops in front. line positions leaving only the men necessary to assure the fulfillment of the assigned defensive mission, while the remainder of the troops were used as reliefs.
The British Tank Company previously assigned to the sup port of Infantry Troops in this sector was relieved during the night and at 2240 hours Captain Copeland, the Commanding Officer of Company A, 760th Tank Battalion, reported to the Regimental Commander that the relief by his company had been completed and that he was now attached to support this Regiment.
During the night of March 8-9 six patrols were sent out by the Regiment to reconnoiter the valley North of Minturno and Tufo. A three man patrol of the Regimental Intelligence and Reconnaissance Platoon made the first contact with the enemy by a Regimental Patrol. First Lieutenant Robert C. Crawford became qualified to notch his rifle signifying one dead Nazi to his credit while on this patrol. Lieutenant Crawford was sent out with three enlisted men to reconnoiter a stream junction about 1300 yards in front of the main lines.
"We moved up to within 100 yards of the junction without event," the lieutenant said. "From there to the junction it was open country. I couldn't take the whole patrol across as it would increase the danger of our being spotted by German outposts. One man probably could make it safely".
Lieutenant Crawford himself crawled across the open stretch, charted the junction and vicinity in his mind, and started back.
"Reaching cover, I was proceeding cautiously down a narrow trail when I felt someone behind me".
"With my gun in my right hand and my knife in my left I whirled quickly just as a Nazi jumped for me," said Crawford. I dodged, but his knife nicked me in the arm. I knee’ d him, slashed him in the stomach and throat. All he did was grunt."
Lieutenant Crawford said it happened so quickly he has no recollection of changing the knife to his right hand or dropping the rifle.
"But when I finished, the knife was in my right hand and the gun on the ground, so that's apparently how it happened," he said.
Lieutenant Crawford, after searching the dead Nazi for papers and documents, returned to his men who were a short distance away, and they made their way back to the lines without further incident.
Other members of the patrol were unaware of the battle until the lieutenant told them.
During the night, the enemy intermittently shelled our positions, but no casualties were received.
March 9, 1944. Colonel Champeny inspected the front line positions during the morning and escorted Lieutenant General Sir R. L. McCreery, the Commanding General of the British X Corps in a tour of the Regimental positions. Work was continued during the day to improve outpost, sniper, and observation post installations and was interrupted occasionally by enemy shelling.
The Regiment dispatched during the night of March 9-10 a total of six patrols to reconnoiter the terrain North of Minturno and Tufo, and to capture prisoners. One patrol from the 2nd Battalion discovered enemy dugouts and emplacements that evidenced recent enemy occupation. All the patrols reported seeing the distant fire of enemy automatic weapons but no actual contact was made with the enemy.
March 10, 1944. In order to establish the identity of the opposing enemy forces now occupying this sector, Colonel Champeny ordered all Battalion Commanders to select personally the patrol leaders and the patrol members of all patrols. In order that potential prisoners would not be driven out of the valley to our front no artillery or mortar fire was to be placed on this area.
The Regimental Anti-Tank Company was engaged in the removal of enemy mine fields from rear areas in the Regimental sector and Captain Meeks, the Company Commander, reported that to date ninety-one German S mines had been removed.
A report was received that four Italian women escaped from German surveillance and entered our lines through the 1st Battalion. The women were questioned by the Regimental S-2 and evacuated to the Division Military Police.
The 2nd Battalion, 351st Infantry was commended by Brigadier General Kendall for having the best defensive area in the Division.
Two patrols were sent out by each Battalion on the night of March 10-11. A twelve man patrol from Company B contacted the enemy near Santa Maria. While moving down the Minturno Santa Maria Road to raid the enemy positions in Santa Maria the patrol contacted the enemy in positions on the side of a terraced hill south of the town. The enemy discovered the raiding party and opened fire on them with machine guns, machine pistols, and rifles. About fifteen hand grenades were thrown by the enemy at the patrol. The patrol returned the fire and believed that they knocked out one enemy machine gun with hand grenades. Because of the enemy's superior fire power, Second Lieutenant Robert P. Ellis, the patrol leader, ordered the patrol to withdraw. The patrol reported into our lines at 0100 hours without casualty and stated that four Germans were believed to have been killed or wounded. The other patrols of the Regiment completed their assigned reconnaissance missions without contacting the enemy.
March 11, 1944. The Regimental Commander visited all the front line positions of the Regiment during the morning, and Major David H. Sadler, Regimental S-2, with the Artillery Liaison Officer, Captain Corcoran, made his routine visit to each Battalion Headquarters to issue orders for the patrols of the next twenty-four hours and to arrange artillery fire for these patrols.
Information was received from the Regimental Liaison Officer with Division Headquarters, that a system of rotating Regimental reliefs using one Regiment of the 85th Infantry Division was being planned. Brigadier General Kurtz, the Commanding General of the 88th Division Artillery, visited the Regimental Command Post with Lt. Col. Miller, Commanding Officer of the 913th Field Artillery Battalion, to discuss plans for artillery fire in the Regimental sector.
At 1150 hours, the rotund Regimental Surgeon, Major Sol I. Frankel, a prominent St. Louis Surgeon and Politician, made his scheduled ascent from the Regimental Aid Station to the Command Post - just in time for "chow".
Arrangements were made with a 349th Infantry Liaison Officer to relieve one platoon of heavy machine guns of Company M, 349th Infantry from Positions on the right flank of the 3rd Battalion, 351st Infantry with a machine gun platoon of Company M, 351st Infantry.
Brigadier General Kendall visited the Command Post and stated that plans would be made for an intensification of patrol activity to create a diversion from the Cassino sector, where a large scale attack would soon be launched.
A combat patrol of one platoon of Company C led by Second Lieutenant Richard Wiggers on the night of March 11-12, moved North on the Minturno-Santa Maria Road; when about 800 yards from front line positions of the 1st Battalion an enemy force was encountered. The enemy were observed on the skyline digging emplacements. While planning an ambush the patrol was discovered and a fire fight ensued. The patrol received mortar and hand grenade fire from the enemy and returned the fire. The screams of enemy soldiers were heard and it was believed that several casualties were inflicted. When cross fire from two enemy machine guns and heavy enemy mortar fire was received that prevented the patrol from successfully firing on the enemy, the patrol withdrew. During the withdrawal Corporal Zuchowski was killed.
A patrol from Company A located and searched enemy dugouts, shelters, gun emplacements, and bunkers near Santa Maria. All these installations showed evidence of recent enemy occupation but no enemy was discovered. Enemy wire laid to these positions was cut. The efforts of the three other patrols went out by the Regiment to capture prisoners were unsuccessful.
March 12, 1944. Efforts to capture enemy prisoners were continued and two daylight patrols were sent out. Five enlisted men of Company G, led by Second Lieutenant Myrl J. Hodson, departed at 0500 hours to capture prisoners in the vicinity of Pulcherini.
Second Lieutenant Robert J. Murphy volunteered to lead a daylight patrol of six enlisted men from Company L, 351st Infantry, on the daylight mission to penetrate enemy lines to capture prisoners and to secure information concerning the identity, positions and intentions of the enemy troops. The patrol was a dangerous one in that the terrain to be crossed was under constant enemy observation. The patrol departed from position East of Tufo, Italy, at 1030 hours, moved North of Tufo to San Vito, believed to be enemy occupied. The buildings in San Vito were searched and finding no enemy, the patrol moved across the Reali Valley toward Mount Cerreto. By utilizing the slight cover available, the patrol crossed the valley and arrived at the foot of Mount Cerreta without being observed by the enemy. The patrol moved up the Southeast slope of the mountain searching each terrace for dugouts as it went. After searching many dugouts, the patrol came upon two German riflemen in a dugout asleep.
"Two of us climbed down into the hole. The noise we made apparently awakened them. Since we had our guns trained on them, all they could to was surrender," the lieutenant related.
"We had just begun searching the foxhole for papers that might be lying around when machine guns opened up on the remainder of the patrol, lying on the ground outside of the hole. They took cover the best they could and we sweated out the burst," he continued.
Lieutenant Murphy then left the prisoners with the patrol and searched further up the slope finding additional dugouts without arousing the occupants. Lt. Murphy returned to the patrol and decided that due to the terrain to be crossed, it would be best to attempt to return to his own lines with the two prisoners. While going down the slope, enemy machine guns fired in the direction of the patrol, but by keeping under · cover and out of sight, the firing soon ceased. By continued use of cover and concealment, Lieutenant Murphy led his patrol and prisoners back across the valley without casualty, reporting back to the Command Post of the 3rd Battalion at 1500 hours. These two enemy prisoners were the first prisoners captured by any unit of this Division, and this, together with information brought back by Lieutenant Murphy, permitted the identification of enemy units on our front and gave indications of their strength, routes and methods of supply, and some possible future plans.
In recognition of the outstanding work performed by this patrol, the Regimental Commander recommended Lt. Murphy for a battlefield promotion to the grade of First Lieutenant and also recommended all members of the patrol to be decorated for their outstanding achievement.
The two German Prisoners captured by the patrol revealed no displeasure at having been captured. Both were Poles and very young. When interrogated, both of these soldiers talked freely giving information of their unit and installations. Because these two German soldiers were the first two prisoners to be captured by the 88th Division, the Regiment was congratulated by both General Sloan and General Kendall for their capture.
Harassing fire from our Artillery was placed on the enemy positions at periodic intervals and targets of opportunity were frequently engaged. One Artillery concentration, Number 119, was made famous during this operation by a daring enemy motorcycle messenger. The messenger periodically dashed down the side of a mountain in an enemy area across a portion of road that was under the full observation of our observation posts. The 913th Field Artillery Battalion, after unsuccessful attempts to stop this messenger, placed one gun to fire on this concentration at all times in the hope the messenger could be hit.
2nd Battalion snipers reported hearing a fire fight in the direction of Pulcherini. The G Company patrol had not reported in at 2200 hours and it was believed that this patrol, led by Second Lieutenant Hodson had engaged the enemy.
Patrols on the night of March 12-13 consisted of two patrols from the 1st Battalion, one patrol from the 2nd battalion, and one from the 3rd Battalion. The Company A patrol of Second Lieutenant Gerard Murray and twelve enlisted men departed at 2000 hours and moved up the Minturno-Santa Maria Road. While on the South slope of Hill #157, near Santa Maria, the patrol heard men walking on the road toward the town. The patrol moved nearer the road and the sound of enemy soldiers digging and talking was heard. An ambush was established along the road in an attempt to capture some of the German soldiers. The patrol waited approximately fifteen minutes and two enemy soldiers came down the road. They were momentarily startled. One of the enemy soldiers reached for his pistol and Private Foley shot him; the soldier crumpled up in the road. Private Bower then fired on the other German, who started to scream and fell to the road. The patrol moved along the road to the spot where the German soldiers had been fired upon but, though wounded, the soldiers had apparently crawled away.
A combat patrol from Company L, led by First Lieutenant John L. Dobak, with Sergeant Pkorsky, Sergeant McCraven, Corporal Zdanciewicz, Private Beckett, Private Bonosora, Private Blosser, Private Minick, Private Murphy, Private Self, Private Swan, Private Colbert, Private Lewis and Private Bagget (Aid Man) departed at 2000 hours. The patrol moved to the town of San Vito, crossed the valley, and then moved up the South slope of South Hill #104, the terrain feature known as the "Pimple". The patrol heard German soldiers talking at the crest of the hill and moved back in order to approach the positions of the enemy from a flank and one man, believed to be Corporal Zdanciewicz, stepped on an S mine. Lieutenant Dobak, Corporal Zdanciewicz, Private Murphy and Sergeant Pkorsky and Private Blosser were wounded when this mine exploded. Immediately after the explosion, two enemy machine guns obviously laid to cover the mine field began firing from two points about 150 yards away, pinning the patrol to the ground. Rifle grenades were fired at the machine gun positions and one was silenced. German mortar fire was then placed on the patrol forcing it to withdraw and to infiltrate to a predesignated rallying point in San Vito. Heavy enemy mortar fire continued to fall on the patrol as it withdrew. Sergeant McCraven, Private Swan, and Private Blosser, who was injured, moved toward the bridge and were joined by Private Beckett. Private Swan helped Private Blosser back to our lines to the Aid Station and the others awaited the return of the patrol at San Vito. At 0800 hours, Sergeant McCraven, with Beckett, Strozzi, Self and Lewis, after waiting at San Vito until daylight, returned to the Company K, Command Post. Lieutenant Dobak and six members of his patrol were missing.
Throughout the night the enemy fired numerous flares. Periodic enemy artillery shelling was received all along the Regimental front. All the patrols sent out had been alerted to look for the daylight patrol led by Lieutenant Hodson, but it was not seen.
March 13, 1944. Lieutenant General Jacob L. Devers, the Commanding General of the North African Theater of Operations, visited the Command Post in the morning and then escorted by Colonel Champeny, went forward to inspect the front line positions of the Regiment. Lieutenant General Sir R. L. McCreery, the Commanding General of the British X Corps, also visited the Regiment during the morning and commended the Regiment on the capture of the two German soldiers. Slight enemy activity was sighted from all OPs in the Regimental sector throughout the day. Groups of two and three enemy soldiers were seen moving in the vicinity of Mount Bracchi. Occasional enemy mortar and artillery shells were received throughout the area.
Of the four patrols that were dispatched by the Regiment during the night with missions to reconnoiter the valley to our front and to identify the opposing organizations through the capture of prisoners, only a patrol led by Second Lieutenant Thomas McGrann made contact with the enemy. This patrol encountered three enemy soldiers but, while attempting an encirclement to capture the soldiers, they escaped in the darkness.
March 14, 1944. A report was received at 0500 hours from the 3rd Battalion that Sergeant Pkorsky, a member of Lieutenant Dobak's patrol of March 12th and missing in action since that time, had crawled back into the lines with serious wounds in the stomach and legs. During the fire fight which had taken place with the enemy, Sergeant Pkorsky was wounded so that he was unable to walk. Although badly wounded, he crawled to safety in a draw, remaining there until daylight and then began crawling back to our lines. Sergeant Pkorsky knew nothing of the other missing members of the patrol because he had been wounded in the initial mine explosion and was unconscious for some time.
Colonel McBride, Chief of Staff, visited the Command Post to discuss plans for a reconnaissance in force to be employed in the event of an enemy withdrawal. The patrol for the reconnaissance would be dispatched immediately upon any indication of a German withdrawal. At 1300 hours, information was received from C-2 that the enemy might attempt a withdrawal of five to ten kilometers to the Adolf Hitler Line.
Captain Flanagan, Assistant AC of S, G-2, and Graham Hovey, International News Service Correspondent, visited the Command Post to get possible stories on the patrol action of Lieutenant Murphy and Lieutenant Crawford.
Colonel Champeny and Major Hobson returned from an inspection of the front line positions of 1st Battalion. One platoon of Company C is located in a cemetery near Minturno, 400 yards from the enemy lines. All men seemed unaffected by the macabre atmosphere of the graveyard and the proximity of so many corpses. The platoon Command Post is located in a musty, casket-filled burial vault and the mens' fox holes are dug about the cemetery. One Private's foxhole is so placed as to have a corpse’s feet protruding into his foxhole. A squad of the platoon became attached to one of the more prominent skeletons about the cemetery and affectionately named it "Ferdinand".
Artillery and mortar exchanges took place during the day but no casualties were suffered. At nightfall, patrols were again sent out to capture prisoners. Second Lieutenant Gifford Dunbar with twelve enlisted men of Company A passed through the 1st Battalion Outpost at 2000 hours and continued on across Reali Creek. While moving up Hill #130, the patrol was challenged by a German patrol of some twelve to fifteen men; and, immediately following the challenge, the Germans opened fire with automatic weapons. The patrol at once returned the fire with all their weapons. Private Turner fired his "Tommy Gun" at a German with a Zipper Pistol" and the man fell to the ground and did not move. During the fire fight, Lieutenant Dunbar was shot through the cheek. Private Bellesheim received wounds in the legs. The superior fire power of the enemy forced the patrol to withdraw back over hill. Upon the arrival of the patrol at our outpost, the Battalion Command Post was informed of this encounter and mortar fire was brought on the enemy positions. Successful reconnaissance missions were completed by the other two patrols sent out during the night.
March 15, 1944. General Kendall visited the Command Post with the information that an attack on Cassino had been launched by New Zealand and Indian troops at 0830 hours. The General directed that each of our Battalions send out combat patrols not to exceed twenty men to engage the enemy and fight all night, returning by daylight, and that plans would be made for a reconnaissance in force using the 2nd Battalion, 351st Infantry, whose sector would be taken over by the 1st and 3rd Battalions. The increased patrol activity was to create a diversion from the Cassino attack.
Orders were received that all radio nets would now be opened to be used only in case of an emergency. At 1203 hours, Colonel Harmony, Commanding Officer 141st Infantry, escorted by Lt. Col. LaMotte, Assistant Chief of Staff, G-1, 85th Infantry Division, arrived at the Command Post. The officers of the 36th Division were to observe operations for several days. Colonel Harmony remained at the Regimental Command Post while Lt. Col. Johnson went to the 2nd Battalion to observe.
At 1430 hours, the Regimental Sergeant Major, Master Sergeant John F. McGrath, reported an atmospheric disturbance visible over the hill just North of the Command Post. An investigation showed large liquid-like waves moving across the sky at a high elevation, a sight never observed before by anyone present. Lt. Col. Wilder, Division Chemical Officer visited the Command Post at 1525 hours with reference to the atmospheric disturbance and offered the explanation that the phenomenon was caused by the heavy bombing at Cassino.
A daylight patrol from the 3rd Battalion, led by First Lieutenant Phillip J. Miller, left at 1100 hours to reconnoiter the valley to the front of the Battalion positions and the town of Pulcherini. Houses and vacated German dugouts were investigated but none revealed traces of recent occupancy. The town of Pulcherini was observed from a ridge about four hundred yards away, but no enemy activity was seen. The patrol remained in a house at the base of Hill #201 until morning and then returned to the Battalion Area.
Eight combat patrols were out on the night of-March 15-16 as ordered by Brigadier General Kendall, to create a diversion from action in the Cassino sector. Since the night was extremely dark, white phosphorous shells were fired periodically by the artillery on predesignated points to guide the patrols to their objective. All the patrols sent out during the night engaged the enemy in fire fights.
The combat patrol led by Second Lieutenant Robert J. Murphy to the vicinity of the terrain feature known as the "Pimple", a small hill Southeast of Mount Bracchi, did not contact the enemy and upon orders from 3rd Battalion Headquarters, transmitted by telephone, the patrol withdrew to Reali Creek and fired on the West slopes of the "Pimple" in an attempt to draw fire. This fire was returned by two enemy machine guns and the patrol leader adjusted 81mm mortar fire on the positions silencing the enemy fire. Artillery fire was adjusted on Hill #151 on machine gun positions from which fire was also being received. A patrol from Company K, led by First Lieutenant Milton L. Sears, experienced similar activity. Wire was laid as the patrol advanced. The patrol fired on Hill #151 and machine gun fire was received from the crest of Mount Cerretto. Artillery fire and mortar fire was adjusted by Lieutenant Sears on the locations of all enemy gun emplacements from which fire was coming. The patrol disengaged at 0400 hours, March 16 and returned; the enemy fire having been silenced. One man of the patrol was wounded by enemy machine gun fire.
March 16, 1944. Colonel Champeny, Colonel Harmony, and Major Sadler, S-2, spent the morning inspecting the front line positions and interrogating the patrol leaders of last night's patrols. Artillery fire was received in Minturno.
Lieutenant Gillen, Liaison Officer to Division Headquarters, reported to Regimental Headquarters at 1030 hours with Operations Memoranda #11 and #12, Headquarters 88th Infantry Division, Memorandum #11 (designated at Plan "A") alerted elements of the Division to be prepared for the contingency for an enemy withdrawal to prepared positions further to his rear, and alerted these elements for movement from present positions to the West toward Formia in order to maintain contact with the enemy. The 2nd Battalion, 351st Infantry would be attached to the 350th Infantry on order and would seize hold Castelloromato and the hill mass adjacent thereto in order to protect the right flank of the advance of other elements of the Division West along Highway #7. From Castellromato, the Battalion would be prepared to continue forward to a newly assigned objective. In conjunction with Plan “A”, Operations Memorandum #1, Headquarters 351st Infantry, issued alerting the 2nd Battalion, 351st Infantry for possible relief by components of the 1st and 3rd Battalions, 351st Infantry (See Annex #8) and to carry out the missions and assigned it by the Commanding General, 88th Infantry Division.
Operations Memorandum #12, Headquarters 88th Infantry Division, outlined Plan "B", and orders were issued by commanding Officer, 351st Infantry in Operations Memorandum #1, headquarters 351st Infantry (See Annex #9) that this Regiment, with attachments, would be prepared to execute on short notice, a reconnaissance in force within its sector. The reconnaissance force consisting of 2nd Battalion, 351st Infantry supported by the 913th Field Artillery Battalion, Cannon Company, 351st Infantry, 1st Platoon, Company C, 313th Engineers and Company A, 760th Tank Battalion (less one platoon) was assigned a mission of determining whether the enemy is withdrawing his strength, dispositions, extent of organization, of ground, and information of terrain, routes, and obstacles. Upon receipt of warning orders, the 2nd Battalion, 351st Infantry, would be relieved from present positions by components of the 1st and 3rd Battalions and would move into reserve area (see overlay Annex #8). At H hour on D day, the 2nd Battalion would seize Santa Maria Infante and be prepared to hold Santa Maria, to meet an enemy counterattack or, on order from this Headquarters, to withdraw to a reserve position. Fire support for the attack would come from the 913th Field Artillery Battalion, Cannon Company, and the 81mm mortars of the 1st Battalion. The gapping of minefields and clearing of obstacles for routes of communication would be accomplished by 1st Platoon, Company C, 313th Engineers Company A, 760th Tank Battalion (less one platoon) would support the attack by fire and movement along Minturno-Santa Maria Road.
Operations Memorandum #13, Headquarters 88th Infantry Division outlined Plan “C” and orders were issued to the elements of this Combat Team in accordance with this directive in Operations Memorandum #1 (See Annex #8), Headquarters 351st Infantry. Plan "C" was based on the possibility of an enemy withdrawal to the North along the Valley of the Ausente River, holding present front line positions with a small covering force. Combat Team #3, the 351st Infantry with one Battalion 350th Infantry, Company A, 760th Tank Battalion, less one platoon, and one squadron of the 50th Reconnaissance Troops (British) attached, was alerted for movement to the North in order to attain critical terrain features. The Regimental mission would be to attack taking the intermediate objectives of Santa Maria Infante, the high ground in the vicinity of Bulgerini and be prepared to continue North to obtain objectives, Mount Bracchi, Mount Cerri, and to facilitate movement of the remainder of the Division North toward the Liri River Valley.
During the afternoon intermittent artillery shelling was received in Minturno and Tufo. After darkness, four patrols were sent out by the Regiment. The 2nd Battalion patrol of twenty enlisted men and one civilian guide, led by First Lieutenant James G. McMahon, Company E, 351st Infantry, was ordered to go to the town of Pulcherini and to capture prisoners for the identification of opposing units. Moving along the West side of Hill #201, and up Reali Creek, the patrol was barraged heavily by enemy mortar fire.
Lieutenant McMahon, Sergeant LeBeau and the civilian guide were wounded. Sergeant Latanzy assumed command of the patrol and continued on the mission but no enemy was contacted.
The casualties of the patrol were evacuated to the Battalion Aid Station. Upon arrival at the Aid Station, Lieutenant McMahon, a member of this Regiment for some time, was dead.
None of the other three patrols out during the night made contact with the enemy.
March 17, 1944. Occasional mortar and artillery exchanges took place during the morning. For troops who were not actively engaged in manning observation posts, sniper posts, outposts, or weapons firing missions, training programs were conducted in defense against gas warfare and the technique of fire of crew-served weapons. Orders were received directing that no combat patrols were to be sent out without the authorization of the Division Commander. Patrol missions would be principally those of reconnaissance and ambush.
At 0230 hours, 17 March 1944, First Lieutenant John M. Weston, accompanied by one sergeant and three privates, left his Company area on a patrol which had the mission of investigating all dugouts, foxholes, and houses North of the Reali Creek to the Southern edge of Bulgarini. He was to continue until he had captured a prisoner and then return. He was to proceed to the Southern bank of the Reali Creek under cover of darkness and not cross the creek until 0930 hours.
Upon arriving at the creek at 0430 hours, Lieutenant Weston used his men to set up a small defensive position along the creek while he reconnoitered up and down the creek looking for the best means to cross and at the same time searching for enemy listening posts.
At 0930 hours, the patrol crossed the creek and began a systematic search up the Southern slope of the hill to Bulgarini. Finding nothing, Lieutenant Weston led his men into the outskirts of the town, though he knew that the town was occupied by Germans, and that he must be under observation. Just at this time, three German riflemen fired at the patrol from foxhole positions about seventy-five yards to the left. The first volley felled the sergeant who was at the head and right of the patrol. The rest of the patrol immediately hit the ground, using slight depressions for cover. Lieutenant Weston, after locating the Germans, motioned two of his men to work around to the left under cover in an attempt at encirclement. He then fired several bursts at the Germans with a Thompson Submachine Gun, while the Germans returned the fire. Suddenly, one of the Germans jumped up and made a rush to the rear. Lieutenant Weston wounded this man with a burst from his Submachine Gun, but he escaped over an embankment into a deep draw. Private Lynch, a member of the patrol, killed one of the Germans with a shot from his M-1 rifle.
Lieutenant Weston, realizing then that the other man might attempt to escape in the same manner as the first, or be shot, and knowing that his mission was to capture a prisoner, jumped up and rushed the German's position, firing short bursts with his Submachine gun to prevent the enemy rifleman from taking deliberate aim. Although the German kept firing, Lieutenant Weston rushed fearlessly into the fire until the German surrendered when he was about ten yards away.
After securing the prisoner and turning him over to two members of the patrol, Lieutenant Weston went back to the fallen sergeant and found him dead. He then came down to the patrol, who were in a covered draw, and all started back. As they reached an open space, they sighted three Germans above and behind them. The last man of the patrol opened fire and the Germans stopped. The patrol returned at 1130 hours.
The outposts of the 2nd Battalion reported that Lieutenant Weston's 2nd Battalion patrol had passed through the outpost line at 1130 hours with a prisoner of war. The prisoner was immediately evacuated to the Regimental Command Post where he was interrogated by Major David H. Sadler, Regimental S-2. Interrogation revealed that the German soldier was a member of the 1st Company, 274th Infantry, a unit previously identified as opposing the 2nd Battalion, 351st Infantry. The prisoner stated that the German outpost line was only lightly manned during daylight hours but that at night all troops were alerted and in position. It was also reported by the German soldier that he had seen three American prisoners four or five days ago. In view of the location where this man was captured, these American soldiers could have been the members of the 2nd Battalion patrol led by Lieutenant Hodson that had been missing in action for several days.
Major General Keyes, the Commanding General of the United States II Corps, visited the Command Post at 1250 hours and was escorted by Colonel Champeny on a tour of the front line positions. General Keyes expressed satisfaction with the dispositions of the Regiment.
March 18, 1944. The Regimental Surgeon evacuated a very old Italian man and woman, the last two inhabitants of San Vito, a small town located in no-man's land. Both were gradually starving to death and medical evacuation was necessary.
At 1000 hours, the Commanding Officer of the 50th Royal Tank Regiment (British) with his three squadron leaders, reported to the Command Post for a discussion of Plan "C", Headquarters 88th Infantry Division, in which one squadron of the 50th Royal Tank Regiment is attached to this Regiment. In the event of a withdrawal of the enemy to the North along the Ausente River, this combat team would move North, take the town of Pulcherini and Mount Cerreta, and be prepared to continue on to take Mount Bracchi and Mount Cerri. The 50th Royal Tank Regiment Commanding Officer recommended that his tanks could be best employed by attacking North along the valley on the East side of Ausente Creek. With Colonel Champeny and Lt. Col. Miller, the Commanding Officer of the 50th Royal Tank Regiment went forward to observe the sector from the 2nd Battalion Observation Post #1.
1st Lieutenant Jasper Parks and Private 1st Class Hopkins were manning a sniper and observation post approximately sixteen hundred yards North of the front lines near Tufo, Italy. At 0925 hours faint calls for help were heard coming from the direction of Hill #104, which lies about thirteen hundred yards directly in front of the sniper post. Lieutenant Parks knew that six members of a patrol which had gone on a mission into that territory five days previously had not returned, so he at once considered the possibility that the calls might be coming from surviving members of that patrol, and also that they might be bait for an ambush by the enemy based on their knowledge of the same incident. The latter possibility was given weight by the fact that our patrols had searched that hill for missing men previously and by the fact that though the sniper post had been operated in the same position for several days, no calls had been heard before. However, a light breeze was blowing toward him from Hill #104 and Lieutenant Parks decided this circumstance might make it possible to hear the calls on that day which could not have been heard otherwise.
Permission was granted Lieutenant Parks and Staff Sergeant Trapp to investigate these cries. The two men moved from the position of the sniper post across the valley to Hill #104.
Reaching the first house on Hill #104, Lieutenant Parks searched the house while Staff Sergeant Trapp covered him, and found nothing. After searching the second house farther up the hill, they heard another call which seemed to come from the right side of the hill. Moving in that direction, they found two more houses and searched them in the same manner. In the second one they found two badly wounded soldiers, missing members of Lieutenant Dobak's patrol of March 12, who had been without food or water for five days.
Both men were suffering from wounds and severe exhaustion. Lieutenant Parks remained with the men to guard them and aid them while Staff Sergeant Trapp returned to our lines for litter teams. As Staff Sergeant Trapp started back, he came on a minefield-located on the right side of the house and a machine gun began firing in the direction of the minefield from a range of about six hundred yards. However, only intermittent bursts continued and Staff Sergeant Trapp made his way back to our lines and returned with two litter teams and the Battalion Surgeon.
After making the men as comfortable as possible, the Surgeon placed them on the litters. Lieutenant Parks and Staff Sergeant Trapp proceeded the litter teams by about two hundred yards acting as guides. The return trip was made without incident.
Major Sadler, S-2, went to the 3rd Battalion Aid Station to question Private Murphy and Corporal Zdanciewicz, the two wounded men from Lieutenant Dobak's patrol. It was learned that the two men had been badly wounded in the legs during the fire fight that their patrol had engaged in on the night of March 12-13 and that they had crawled into a nearby house where they remained subsisting on wine until their cries for help were heard and the litter patrol came to their rescue. The men reported that Lieutenant Dobak had sustained serious wounds in the legs also and had remained with them until March 15th but during that night had left the house with a bucket to find water for the wounded men. He had never returned from this mission. The wounded men were immediately evacuated for further medical treatment.
Only one of the five night patrols on the night of March 18-19 reported an engagement with the enemy. At a road from South of Santa Maria Infante, at 2240 hours, the eight man Company B patrol, led by First Lieutenant Howard F. Steinfeld, became involved in a fire fight with a German patrol of un known size. German machine gun, carbine, pistol, and grenade fire was received. The fire was returned by the patrol and the enemy force withdrew leaving no casualties although it was believed that casualties were inflicted because of the screams heard from the direction of the enemy patrol. The other patrols carried out reconnaissance and ambush missions but reported no contact with the enemy.
March 19, 1944. The Company Commander, Company L, requested permission to send out a patrol to search for Lieutenant Dobak and the three men lost from his Company since March 12. In view of the information given by the two rescued members of Lieutenant Dobak's patrol, it was hoped that some of these men were still aiive. The patrol moved to the terrain feature known as the "Pimple” or South Hill #104 and there in a minefield found the bodies of First Lieutenant Dobak, Private Minick, Private Bonosaro, and Private 1st Class Albert, all dead. Lieutenant Dobak had been shot in the head with a rifle bullet, his death probably having occurred while he was searching for water several days before, for a bullet-riddled water bucket was still clutched in his hand. The three enlisted men's bodies lay in a minefield and all had been killed by exploding mines. The discovery of these four bodies completed the accounting of the fifteen man patrol that had departed from Company L on March 12th. Of this patrol, four men were killed and four wounded.
Colonel Champeny attended a conference with the Division Commander at 0915 hours at the 350th Infantry Command Post. The Commanding General stated that all patrol members would be informed that the information of the enemy procured by them is of definite value to us and when applicable, will be used to our benefit; that counterbattery fire will be stressed and all Infantrymen will be informed that each time the Germans fire artillery at us, retaliation fires will be placed on him at a ratio of at least 5 to 1, and that no combat patrols will be dispatched, except on approval of the Commanding General.
At 1400 hours a message was received that there had been an explosion of powder at the Cannon Company in which two men were killed and several others wounded. The Regimental Executive Officer, Lt. Col. James H. Drake, after investigation, reported that a fire had occurred in a gun emplacement causing powder bags to explode. Efforts were made by two men at the gun pit to remove a blazing camouflage net, but they abandoned the task and took cover away from the pit to avoid the explosion which they knew the terrific heat on ammunition stored there would cause. T/4 Carlton Williams, Private 1st Class Floyd Marshall, Private Max Cohen, and Private Lawrence Schiavoni of Cannon Company and Private Leo Harrell of Company B, saw the fire and realizing that damage would be caused to the Howitzer and ammunition in the pit, ran to the pit and without thought of their own safety, began to throw dirt and sandbags on the fire. In spite of the terrific heat and the imminent danger of an explosion, these men remained and fought the fire. Second Lieutenant Roland A. Darsee, with some other men, came to the aid of these men, but just at this time an explosion occurred killing Sergeant Williams and Private Cohen and wounding the other three men. All the men were recommended for the Soldiers Medal for their heroic efforts to extinguish this fire at risk of their own lives.
March 20, 1944. Three daylight patrols went out; one, a reconnaissance patrol to reconnoiter the East slopes of Mount Bracchi, if possible; one, to patrol to San Vito; and the other to patrol along the Minturno-Santa Maria Road. All patrols reported seeing vacated enemy emplacements, but no enemy was contacted and all patrols returned without casualties Lieutenant McSwain's daylight patrol observed an artillery barrage placed by our artillery on the forward slopes of Mount Cerreto and reported hearing the screams of wounded men.
At 1420 hours, Brigadier General Stack and Lt. Col. Sladen, Assistant Division Commander and Assistant Chief of Staff, G-3 of the 36th Division, visited the Command Post after observing from Observation Posts in Minturno and Tufo.
Of the four night patrols sent out by the Regiment, none reported any contact with the enemy except the 3rd Battalion patrol led by Lieutenant Murphy, which claimed to have been followed by a three man German patrol. Lieutenant Murphy fired a clip of "Tommy Gun" ammunition at the three men and believed that he had killed all three. A daylight patrol sent to search for the bodies the following day discovered the body of a large, black Italian cow badly riddled with bullets and the myth of the three German soldiers was exploded.
March 21, 1944. First Lieutenant Howard F. Moore led a daylight reconnaissance patrol to Pulcherini. The patrol observed the town from a vantage point near Reali Creek, but were unable to enter town because of enemy machine gun fire. Enemy activity was observed on a ridge near Santa Maria and a volunteer patrol was called to investigate the enemy positions. Second Lieutenant Emmet B. Lyle and five men from Company A volunteered for this patrol although Santa Maria was known to be held by the Germans in considerable strength and the intervening ground was low and open to observation.
When the patrol had advanced about 1500 yards into enemy territory, two enemy soldiers were seen and a third soldier was heard so the patrol withdrew a short distance to plan an attack on the house. Two men of the patrol covered the rear of the house and one covered the left flank while Lieutenant Lyle and Private 1st Class Noble advanced toward the door. Men were heard talking in German inside and laughing. Private First Class Noble and Lieutenant Lyle threw hand grenades into the door and then opened fire with their "Tommy Guns" before the grenades exploded. The German soldiers inside the house screamed and attempted to get out. They crowded the doorway firing their weapons toward Lieutenant Lyle and Private 1st Class Noble. Three soldiers ran out of the rear entrance and one was killed by rifle fire. The attention of other enemy troops in this area had been attracted and machine guns opened fire on the patrol. Taking cover quickly and returning the fire, Lieutenant Lyle and his patrol were soon in the midst of a fire fight with an enemy outpost of approximately fifteen men. When Lieutenant Lyle saw the strength of the enemy and their superior fire power, he ordered the patrol to withdraw so as to enable our artillery and mortars to fire on the enemy positions. Private Hall, though exposed to enemy fire, and without orders from the patrol leader, remained in position covering the withdrawal of the patrol by firing rapidly. This fire attracted the enemy's attention and enabled the patrol to withdraw safely. Private Hall was seen hit by the enemy fire and thought dead, so the patrol returned to our lines through continuous enemy harassing mortar fire.
An observer in the 1st Battalion Observation Post in the meantime, had seen the patrol member that was left behind crawl into some bushes following one of the mortar barrages on the German positions, thus establishing that this man was wounded, not killed. This fact was reported to the Regimental Commander and a patrol was ordered to go out in the afternoon to rescue the wounded soldier. Upon hearing that Private Hall, the man missing from his patrol, was still alive, Lieutenant Lyle requested permission from his Battalion Commander to lead the rescue patrol. The rescue patrol departed in the afternoon and searched the ground previously crossed by the morning patrol while the Germans continued to fire harassing mortar fire in the valley. The wounded man was found about eight hundred yards from the spot where the morning fire had occurred and he was immediately carried back to the Battalion Aid Station, given emergency treatment, and hospitalized.
The Intelligence and Reconnaissance Platoon departed on a daylight patrol along Ausente Creek at 0430 hours on March 21st, and reported having located a German self-propelled gun, a minefield, and enemy soldiers digging individual emplacements. The 913th Field Artillery Battalion with the British Medium Artillery fired on the position of the self-propelled gun.
March 22, 1944. During the morning, intermittent artillery was received throughout the Regimental sector. General Kendall visited the Command Post at 1030 hours to discuss patrol plans with the S-2 and to learn the details of Lieutenant Lyle's patrol of March 21st, with which he expressed much satisfaction.
At 1300 hours a German fighter plane, identified as an ME 109, flew low over the road in rear of the Regimental Command Post. Reports from the 913th Field Artillery Battalion stated that the plane had strafed one of the gun batteries west of the Regimental Command Post. This was the first enemy aircraft observed by our troops since arrival overseas. The plane moved in so quickly and at such low altitude that our, Anti-Aircraft gunners were able to fire only a few bursts at the fleeting target.
A plan for the use of three tanks or tank destroyers to destroy houses along the Minturno-Santa Maria Road by direct fire from partial defilade positions in the Company G area was discussed with Lt. Col. Davidson, Assistant Chief of Staff, G-3. The houses to be destroyed were known to be occupied by German troops and employed as OPs on our lines. In the plan, worked out with the Commanding Officer, Company A, 760th Tank Battalion, the three self-propelled guns would move into position at dusk and open fire at daybreak on these targets. The plan, after study by the Commanding General, was disapproved for the time being with the possibility of approval on a later date.
March 23, 1944. Three daylight patrols departed at 0430 hours. Two reconnaissance patrols from the 1st Battalion saw Germans in prepared positions near Santa Maria and were fired upon by enemy mortar fire. First Lieutenant John W. Buxick, Jr., with four men from Company H, took reconnaissance patrol to the vicinity of Hill #104 South (the "Pimple"). The patrol remained in a house to observe throughout the day. No activity was noticed in the town of Pulcherini, but several enemy soldiers were seen on Mount Bracchi and German artillery, mortar and anti-aircraft fire was heard from positions in the rear of Mount Bracchi.
At 1630 hours, Brigadier Davis, Assistant AC of S, G-3, AFHQ, with Major Beggs, Assistant AC of S, G-3, 88th Infantry Division, visited the Command Post and were escorted to Observation Post #1, 2nd Battalion, where they observed the terrain along the Ausente Valley and were met by the Regimental Commander.
March 24, 1944. Early in the morning of March 24th, a daylight patrol was sent from Company A, led by Second Lieutenant Gerard F. Murray, to make an investigation of suspected enemy positions on Hills #157 and #146 and, if possible, to feign the enemy into disclosing his positions.
To cover the patrol on their dangerous mission, and to take instant advantage of any disclosure which the enemy might be tempted to make, Major Edwin L. Shull, Commanding Officer, 1st Battalion, 351st Infantry, had alerted his 81mm mortar and 4.2 chemical mortars to fire on order at any targets which might appear in the vicinity of Hills #157 and #146, and he personally manned the OP to observe the progress of the patrol.
At about 0645 hours, the patrol received fire from a German machine gun in a house on Hill #146 and shortly there after another machine gun began firing at them from Hill #157. The patrol opened fire on the house and believed they killed one enemy soldier through the window of the house. At the same time, enemy mortars began firing on the patrol from positions farther North. After receiving more machine gun and mortar fire, the patrol was forced to withdraw. In the meantime, German artillery and mortars had begun a very heavy and sustained barrage on the exposed OP where Major Shull was acting as observer. Colonel Champeny, Regimental Commander, was present in the OP at this time and, with Major Shull, was personally supervising the artillery and mortar fires being placed to cover the withdrawal. In spite of the terrific shelling received by the OP, Colonel Champeny and Major Shull remained in this exposed position and directed the adjustment of artillery and mortar fires on the two enemy machine gun nests that were endangering the patrol. This fire was so effective that the patrol was able to withdraw under a curtain of fire without casualty.
The 2nd Battalion patrol, led by First Lieutenant Harold Mcswain, observed German soldiers moving about an enemy pillbox on Hill #104. The patrol endeavored to approach the pillbox but was discovered by the Germans, who opened fire on them with machine guns. The fire was returned, but the firepower of the enemy strongpoint forced the patrol to withdraw. While moving back across Reali Creek, the patrol underwent heavy enemy mortar shelling. The patrol reached our line without casualty, however.
At 1000 hours, the information was received that Lieutenant General Mark W. Clark, the Commanding General of the 5th Army, was on his way to visit the Regimental Command Post. Colonel Champeny arrived at the Command Post from the 1st Battalion Observation Post shortly thereafter with Lieutenant General Sir B. L. McCreary, the Commanding General of the British X Corps. General McCreary went forward to the 2nd Battalion Observation Post to observe the enemy territory.
At 1115 hours, Lieutenant General Clark, escorted by Major General Sloan, the Commanding General of the 88th Infantry Division, arrived at the Command Post, discussed the dispositions of the Regiment, and went forward to look at the Ausente Valley from the 2nd Battalion Observation Post.
A nine man night patrol, led by Second Lieutenant William Hoffman of Company C, moved down the Minturno-Santa Maria Road at 2015 hours to the slopes of Hill #146. On Hill #146 the patrol, while investigating a house, was discovered and fired upon by enemy machine guns and hand grenades. The fire was returned by the patrol. Four of the patrol members were wounded and several of the enemy were believed to have been killed or wounded. The patrol then withdrew to a draw and returned to our lines. Five other patrols returned from their missions without contacting the enemy.
March 25, 1944. The Commanding Officer, 3rd Battalion, 350th Infantry, reported to the Command Post for instructions regarding the attachment of his Battalion under operations Plan "C", Headquarters 88th Infantry Division and was oriented by Major Hobson, Regimental S-3. At 1035 hours, Lieutenant Gillen, Regimental Liaison Officer, arrived at the Command Post with the information that a Chemical Company with smoke generators would move into position tonight and would smoke the Minturno bridge replacing smoke pots now used by Division Chemical Warfare Officer.
Brigadier General Kendall arrived at the Command Post at 1500 hours to discuss the utilization of the attached Tank Company. The Regiment was instructed to check that at night all tanks are in position, bore sighted, and ready to fire. Instructions were also given to include a representative of the Tank Company and of the Engineer Company on our patrols to reconnoiter and road net to the front.
At 1900 hours information was received that the 1st Battalion Anti-Tank Platoon had brought in a German prisoner. The prisoner, a deserter, had been picked up by one of the Anti-Tank gun crews early in the morning. The crew, unable to move back from their position during daylight hours, kept the prisoner throughout the day and evacuated him after dark. The prisoner, upon interrogation by Major Sadler, S-2, proved to be the German Army counterpart of the traditional United States Army "Bolo". He had arrived with his full field kit and miscellaneous souvenirs, apparently prepared for a long and comfortable stay. The identification of the opposing units was again verified, but no new information of value was revealed by this prisoner.
Each Battalion sent out one night patrol during the night. The patrols reported considerable enemy flare activity and distant machine gun firing. All reconnaissance missions were successfully completed and no contact was made with the enemy. During the night, the 83rd 4.2 Chemical Mortar Battalion moved into positions in rear of the 3rd Battalion and prepared to fire in support of this Regiment and the 349th Infantry on our right.
March 26, 1944. A daylight patrol led by First Lieutenant William L. Lester, composed of ten enlisted men, one aid man, and a radio operator with an SCR 536, departed at 0200, March 26, to proceed to a house near Santa Maria which was thought to be an enemy machine gun position and to ambush the position. Five Germans were seen coming out of a house near Santa Maria and the patrol leader placed the patrol covering the house. The patrol fired two Anti-Tank rifle grenades at the house. The patrol BAR man, Private Steubel, then went toward the house to throw a hand grenade in the window. He noticed a German in a hole near the house and fired his pistol at him. Thinking he had killed the German, he continued to the door of the house, but the German whom he thought dead shot him in the back with a burst of machine pistol fire. German machine guns opened up on the patrol from other houses. As the patrol was withdrawing, a German soldier was seen in the window of a house and was fired upon by the three men covering the withdrawal. The soldier clasped his head and dropped to the floor. Four more Germans were seen leaving the house and were fired upon by the patrol. One of the soldiers fell and did not move. German mortar fire started to fall at this point and followed the patrol back up Hill #201. Two members of the patrol were wounded and one killed.
First Lieutenant Harold McSwain, with seven snipers, one wireman, and one mortar squad from Company E, had been placed on the northwest slope of Hill #201 to support Lieutenant Lester's patrol action with sniper and mortar fire. Upon the withdrawal of Lieutenant Lester's patrol after the fire fight, the Commanding Officer, 2nd Battalion, directed Lieutenant McSwain to take his patrol and investigate the houses where the fire fight had taken place. Snipers then went into the houses but found no Germans. The body of Private Steubel was found. While withdrawing back across the valley to Hill 1201, a heavy artillery barrage was registered on the patrol wounding three men, one of whom later died in the Aid Station.
At 1830 hours, the 2nd Battalion Outpost picked up ten Italian civilians who had come from the direction of Pulcherini. The Italians were evacuated to the Battalion Command Post, where they were interrogated by Major David H. Sadler, Regimental S-2. Information of a previously undiscovered minefield and a verification of a previously reported German position was learned. The prisoners were evacuated to the Military Police stockade.
All of the three night patrols of the night of March 26-27 made contact with the enemy. One patrol from each Battalion was dispatched. The 2nd Battalion patrol, led by Lieutenant Nicholson, accidentally set off a land mine in the vicinity of Pulcherini, after which the Germans fired flares, two machine guns, and hand grenades on the patrol. Lieutenant Alonso's 3rd Battalion patrol in the vicinity of Mount Cerreto or North Hill #104, observed a group of enemy soldiers estimated at approximately forty men moving from South Hill #104 toward North Hill #104. Lieutenant Alonso called for pre-arranged mortar fire by means of wire communication that had been laid as the patrol advanced. Hand grenades and small arms fire were placed on the German troops. Two Germans were believed to be either injured or killed. All patrols returnee without suffering casualties.
March 27, 1944. First Lieutenant Robert C. Crawford, with the Intelligence and Reconnaissance Platoon, moved to San Vito and set up an ambush patrol. A patrol of this type was maintained at all times in the vicinity of San Vito. During the night of March 26-27, a German patrol fell into the ambush set by the Intelligence and Reconnaissance Platoon but escaped, killing one member of the Platoon, Private Lennerville, and wounding another, Sergeant Little.
Colonel Champeny spent the morning checking the front line positions of the three Battalions. At 1430 hours, Genera Kendall visited the Command Post and commended the Regiment on its aggressive patrolling. The 1st Battalion, in the Minturno area, received a heavy enemy artillery shelling, and one member of the Battalion was killed during the afternoon.
March 28, 1944. Major General Sloan, Commanding General, 88th Infantry Division, arrived at the Command Post at 0945 hours, discussed recent patrol actions with the S-3, commended the Regiment on its aggressive and successful patrolling, and went to the Observation Post of the 2nd Battalion in Tufo to confer with Colonel Champeny. Lt. Col. Crawford, the newly assigned Commanding Officer of the 349th Infantry, and Lt. Col. Powers, the Commanding Officer of the 337th Field Artillery Battalion, arrived at the Command Post at the same time and accompanied General Sloan to Tufo to meet Colonel Champeny.
Mr. Sulzberger, War Correspondent of the New York Times, accompanied Lieutenant Gillen, Regimental Liaison Officer, to the Regimental Command Post and then went forward to the 2nd Battalion Command Post to get some stories on yesterday's patrol action. Later in the day, another well-known News Correspondent and radio commentator, Eric Sevareid, was brought to the Command Post by Major Walker, Assistant Chief of Staff G-2, and went forward to talk with the front line troops.
At 1700 hours, smoke was seen rising from an area in the 350th Infantry sector. Information received later stated that whit phosphorous chemical shells had been ignited by a haystack fire which had been caused by enemy shelling, but that only a small quantity of this ammunition was destroyed.
Colonel Champeny, Major Hobson, Lt. Col. Kendall, and Major Furr departed at 1000 hours to visit the standing patrol permanently maintained in "no man's land" in the small town of San Vito by the Intelligence and Reconnaissance Platoon. After directing some changes in the dispositions of the platoon, the party returned to our lines.
Neither the 1st Battalion nor the 2nd Battalion night patrols encountered the enemy; however, a thirteen man patrol equipped with an SCR 300 radio and led by Lieutenant Jasper Parks, while crossing the Ausente River was fired on by two enemy machine guns. The patrol did not return the fire, since the enemy positions were estimated to be some six hundred to eight hundred yards away. Enemy mortar shelling was also received at this point. No contact with the enemy was made.
March 29, 1944. A daylight patrol from Company A with an officer from Company A, 760th Tank Battalion and Company B, 313th Engineer Battalion reconnoitered the Ausente Valley in order to make recommendations for the employment of tanks and for any necessary engineering work in the Ausente Valley. The patrol returned at 1000 hours and the findings of the Tank officer and the Engineer officer were submitted to the S-3 and forwarded to Division Headquarters.
Information was received that the Corps command had been transferred from the British X Corps to the United States II Corps. At 1630 hours Colonel Lynch, Commanding Officer, 350th Infantry, and Lt. Col. Brady, Commanding Officer, 339th Infantry, visited the Command Post and discussed the relief of the 350th Infantry by the 339th Infantry. At 2000 hours an observer group of thirty five officers and thirty eight non-commissioned officers from the 337th Infantry Regiment, 85th Infantry Division arrived to observe operations with this Regiment for a short time.
A fourteen man reconnaissance patrol from Company C, while reconnoitering Hills #146 and #150, was able to locate two enemy mortar positions from which fire was being placed at a close range on the patrol. Lieutenant Howard Steinfeld with three men from Company B departed at 0425 hours, March 30, 1944, to reconnoiter reported enemy positions near Santa Maria. The patrol was fired on by enemy snipers in the vicinity of Santa Maria and Private Osborne was killed. Smoke grenades were thrown towards the house in which the enemy was located, the patrol withdrew, and artillery fire was adjusted on the enemy positions from the 1st Battalion Observation Post. Neither of the other two patrols sent out during the night contacted the enemy.
On March 30, 1944, Second Lieutenant John T. Lamb led a patrol of five enlisted men into enemy territory on aver dangerous mission. The patrol was armed with four M-1 rifles, one Browning Automatic Rifle, and Lieutenant Lamb carried a carbine. Two members of the patrol carried SCR 536 radios as a means of communication with their own lines for the purpose of directing adjustment of cannon and mortar fire if suitable targets were discovered. The mission of the patrol was to search Hills South #104 and North #104 and the area between them for enemy installations and to search numerous buildings situated in that area. Since this area was about 2500 yards in front of friendly lines and enemy activity had been previously encountered there, the mission was considered very perilous in daylight hours.
The patrol left its own lines at about 0330 hours and proceeded to Hill #104. As they neared their objective, und cover of darkness, Lieutenant Lamb heard noises and as the patrol continued up the slope it was challenged by a German sentry. When no reply was given, the sentry threw a grenade which exploded in the midst of the patrol, two members receiving wounds. The explosion brought rifle and machine gun fire on the patrol and one bullet wounded Lieutenant Lamb.
Lieutenant Lamb withdrew his patrol a short distance, and called for cannon and mortar fire by use of the SCR 536 radio. Fire was adjusted on the enemy effectively and after a time the firing ceased.
Although Lieutenant Lamb was wounded; he reorganized his patrol and continued on his mission by changing his route. As the patrol moved around to the western slope of the "pimple" at about 0800 hours they approached a house which appeared to have been converted into a fortified position by means of earth reinforcements, loopholes out in the walls for firing, and a dugout constructed underneath the building, approached to search the building. Sounds of movement within the building indicated that it was occupied, and as Lieutenant, Lamb approached, a German sentry appeared at a window of the house. Seeing Lieutenant Lamb, the soldier jumped out of the window on him. The impact knocked Lieutenant Lamb's carbine out of his hands. The German then tried to get away, but Lieutenant Lamb grabbed his carbine and shot him. He fell only a few feet away. This alerted the enemy inside the building and Private 1st Class Krouse, who spoke German, called them to come out and surrender. However, a grenade tossed from a doorway was the answer to the challenge, and Lieutenant Lamb and his men threw five grenades inside in return.
Groans were heard, and as Germans attempted to leave the house they were shot by members of the patrol. In spite of the sniper and machine gun fire from Hill North #104, Lieutenant Lamb and Sergeant Parr rushed an entrance to the house. They met two Germans coming out whom they shot and killed. At this time Sergeant Parr was shot by a sniper from another house on the right and fell to the ground. Lieutenant Lamb exposing himself to the fire of the sniper, pulled Sergeant Parr into the house. Having been shot through the spine Sergeant Parr died a few minutes later. A member of the patrol outside the house saw the sniper and killed him.
Four Germans attempted to leave the house to rush to a machine gun emplacement in rear of the building and were killed by Lieutenant Lamb and the patrol.
As the German fire grew much heavier, Lieutenant Lamb left the house and rejoined the patrol. He then moved them a short distance down the slope and called for artillery, cannon and mortar fire on the German positions by SCR 536 radio. He then had the patrol destroy the radio to prevent capture.
With this fire harassing the Germans, Lieutenant Lamb ordered the remaining members of his patrol to infiltrate back to San Vito, a distance of about one thousand yards. With utter disregard for his own safety, he remained in position and covered by fire the withdrawal of his men to safety. He rejoined his patrol in San Vito.
All members of the patrol had been wounded, yet so inspired had they been by Lieutenant Lamb's dynamic and courageous leadership that no man had any thought but to kill Germans. In this action, they had encountered an enemy force three times their own size, killed at least seven and wounded more.
At 1630 hours, information was received from Headquarters 3rd Battalion that a Czech deserter had come into the lines through Company K. The deserter could understand Polish, so a Polish interpreter accompanied him when he was evacuated to the Regimental Command Post for interrogation by Major Sadler, S-2. This man had been a member of a Czech Labor Battalion working on German installations thirty or forty miles North West of this location.
March 31, 1944. During the day occasional artillery shelling was received in the Regimental positions. Because of a heavy fog, local security in front of Hill #201 was strengthened and outposts were moved further out.
Brigadier General Seibert, Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2, 1st Army Group, London, visited the Command Post and was escorted by Colonel Champeny to Observation Posts in Tufo.
Lieutenant Lamb, leader of a successful 3rd Battalion patrol on March 30, was ordered to Naples for a radio broadcast.
At 1930 hours, a small enemy patrol infiltrated the sniper outposts on the forward slopes of Hill #201. The patrol was engaged in a fire fight by outposts of Company E and one platoon of Company E, led by Second Lieutenant Wadopian, was sent out to capture the patrol. However, the patrol escaped and Lieutenant Wadopian was slightly wounded by an exploding mine.
A 1st Battalion night patrol, led by Lieutenant Ellis, Company B, took with it Lieutenant K. E. Klein, Company A, 760th Tank Battalion and Lieutenant R. G. Webber, Company C, 313th Engineer Battalion. The patrol was to reconnoiter the Santa Maria Road and to determine its usability by tanks. The Engineer and the Tank Officers reported the road in good condition, apparently not mined, and usable for tanks. The other patrols sent out on the night of March 31st made no contact with the enemy.
The 351st Infantry Regiment occupied front line positions in the center sector of the 88th Infantry Division from March 8th until the end of the month. The operations during this period were defensive in character and aggressive patrolling was carried on by the Regiment during both hours of daylight and darkness. Intermittent enemy mortar and artillery shelling was received daily throughout the Regimental sector. The majority of the battle casualties of the Regiment during the month were the result of artillery fire and the others the result of patrol actions.
Colonel, 351st Infantry