HISTORY OF THE 351ST INFANTRY REGIMENT FOR THE MONTH OF
10 June 1944
Preparations for the inevitable 5th Army offensive to the North were continued by the 351st Infantry Regiment in its concentration area in the vicinity of Carinola, Italy. The extensive and rigorous training program for all troops was accelerated. Physical conditioning and realistic combat problems for all units up to include the battalion were stressed. Proposed plans were discussed by all leaders for an attack in a zone indicated by the Division Commander. The entire command's morale was high and all enthusiastically awaited the time for the offensive to be ordered.
The 3d Battalion, 351st Infantry still occupied front line positions near SAN LORENZO, Italy in the 350th Infantry sector. This battalion engaged in considerable patrol activity and mortar dueling; otherwise operations were of a static defensive character. On 3 May 1944, all troops of the Division not actually engaged in tactical operations were ordered to assemble to hear an address by LIEUTENANT GENERAL MARK W. CLARK, Commanding General, 5th Army. In a natural amphitheater near CARINOLA, Italy, on this warm afternoon, the troops of the Division awaited the arrival of their Army Commander. An honor guard of two platoons from Company "A" 351st Infantry, commanded by CAPTAIN JOHN C. REID, stood before the speakers stand. BRIGADIER GENERAL PAUL W. KENDALL, Assistant Division Commander, Acting Commander of Troops, and the 88th Division Staff, resplendent in their characteristic blue scarfs, also were before the platoon.
At 1330 hours the well-known "three-star" jeep of GENERAL CLARK drove into the amphitheater as the 5th Army band played the General's March.
MAJOR GENERAL SLOAN introduced General Clark and in his introductory remarks, praised the successful career of GENERAL CLARK, indicating his personal interest in the General's success because of having once been his tactics instructor at the Command and General Staff School.
Speaking in a natural, informal manner, GENERAL CLARK welcomed the 88th Division into the 5th Army and expressed his confidence of the combat ability of the Division. The operations of the 5th Army in Italy, all characterized by indescribable hardships imposed by the mountainous terrain, severe weather and insufficient troops were described by the General. A promise to the Division of an important role in an imminent offensive operations was made, a mission on which the General confidently believed this division would be successful.
The address was brief, yet eloquent. The quiet, powerful, ingratiating manner of the General filled all the soldiers seated this Italian hillside with confidence in the intelligence and leadership of their Army Commander.
GENERAL CLARK ended his address by calling attention to the gallant action of 2D LIEUTENANT JOHN T. LAMB, of Company "K”, 351st Infantry, in close combat with the enemy during the operations of this regiment in the vicinity of TUFO, Italy. In recognition of LT. LAMB'S heroism, the General awarded him the Distinguished Service Cross, the first award of this high decoration to any member of the 88th Infantry Division.
After all troops except the 351st Infantry had left the area, COLONEL ARTHUR S. CHAMPENY, Commanding Officer, 351st Infantry Regiment, addressed the regiment. The Regimental Commander praised the regiment for its excellent showing during the period in the Minturno sector and expressed confidence in the regiment to do outstanding work in the corning offensive.
A sandtable reproduction of the---MINTURNO-TUFO-SANTA MARIA INFANTE-PULCHERINI-MOUNT BRACCHI sector was prepared and studied by all officers of the command in preparation for the return of the regiment to this area.
The regiment received orders to relieve the 337th Infantry, less one battalion, 85th Infantry Division, from positions in the MINTURNO-TUFO sector under cover of darkness the nights of May 5-6 and May 6-7, 1944. Plans were immediately made for the relief.
COLONEL CHAMPENY and MAJOR HOBSON, S-3, attended a conference with the Commanding General at Division Headquarters concerning plans for future operations.
A conference of all battalion commanders and special unit commanders, 351st Infantry, the regimental staff MAJOR ROWELL Commanding Officer, 804 Tank Destroyer Battalion, LIEUTENANT COLONEL DAVIS, Commanding Officer 706th Tank Battalion, and MAJOR CHEEK, S-3, 760th Tank Battalion, was called at 1400 hours on 5 May 1944 by COLONEL ARTHUR S. CHAMPENY, the Commanding Officer, 351st Infantry, to outline and discuss plans for future operations.
May 5, 1944: Beginning at 2000 hours the night of May 5-6,the 1st Battalion, 351st Infantry, relieved the 2d Battalion, 337th Infantry;. Company "H”, 351st Infantry relieved Company "D" 337th Infantry, the Anti-Tank and Cannon companies, 351st Infantry relieved the same organizations of the 337th Infantry. The 3d Battalion, 351st Infantry, was relieved from front line positions in the 350th Infantry sector near SAN LORENZO by the 3d Battalion 349th Infantry, and moved into a dispersal area in the rear of that sector.
COLONEL CHAMPENY, MAJOR HOBSON, S-3, MAJOR SADLER, S-2, MAJOR FRANKEL, Regimental Surgeon, and CAPTAIN BLANCHE, Communications Officer moved forward to the quarry near MINTURNO to supervise the relief.
The remaining organizations of the regiment, the 2d Battalion, and Regimental Headquarters Company, moved forward on the night of May 6-7. The Regimental Headquarters was established in the shell battered town of MINTURNO.
On the walls of the Regimental Commander's mess in a vacated building in MINTURNO were inscribed murals of a number of lifesize nude lovelies painted by various soldiers in this area. The daring murals so attracted MAJOR SOL I. FRNAKEL, Regimental Surgeon, (for years an inveterate "no-breakfast" eater), that he abandoned this life-long practice and regularly attended the breakfast meal.
The 3d Battalion, 351st Infantry, moved from the dispersal area in the 350th Infantry sector, to relieve the 1st Battalion, 337th Infantry from positions near MINTURNO.
May 7, 1944: The 351st Infantry was again occupying front line positions in the familiar MINTURNO-TUFO sector. During the morning, BRIGADIER GENERAL KENDALL visited the regimental sector and inspected the dispositions of the troops with COLONEL CHAMPENY. Five war correspondents, Mr. John McTigue, United Nations Radio; Mr. Graham Hovey, International News Service; Mr. Sid Feder, Associated Press; Mr. Larry Newman, International News Service; and Mr. Bill Hurst, International News Service, visited the Regimental Command Post, remained for lunch, and observed the enemy territory from the "Castle" observation post.
At 1945 hours a secret conference with the staff and battalion and special unit commanders was held pertaining to plans for the attack operation to be executed in a short time by the 5th Army. Tentative plans that had been outlined by the Division Commander were discussed and plans were made for the regimental attack.
May 8, 1944: A sandtable reproduction of the MINTURNO-TUFOSANTA MARIA-PULCHERINI-MOUNT BRACCHI area was made and all troops were given orientation lectures on the peculiarities of this terrain and the known enemy dispositions in this area. Tentative missions, objectives and boundaries were outlined.
During the night of May 7-8 the SAN VITO outpost manned by one platoon of the 1st Battalion engaged in a fire fight with an enemy patrol. One soldier of a machine gun section of Company "D", 351st Infantry in SAN VITO was captured by the enemy and another was killed.
In order to conceal the identity of this regiment and the fact that a relief of the 337th Infantry had been effected, which would offer possible indication of a proposed attack, the patrolling in the regimental sector was carried out by an attached company of the 337th Infantry and was limited to close-in ambush patrols. The capture of one soldier from this regiment was unfortunate, but it was hoped that no vital information would be revealed.
Two German deserters, both non-commissioned officers, wandered into the first battalion lines during the night. The organization of these prisoners had been previously identified and remained the same. Valuable information of enemy dispositions and morale was obtained.
At 0900 hours a conference was held at the 351st Infantry Command Post between officers of the 88th Infantry Division and the 85th Infantry Division, to coordinate the offensive operation, outline the plans of the two adjacent assault battalions and to establish a definite boundary between the 88th and the 85th Divisions. COLONEL CHAMPENY, LIEUTENANT COLONEL DAVIDSON, G-3, 88th Division; LIEUTENANT COLONEL OHME, G-3, 85th Division; COLONEL QUINN, G-2, 7th Army, a visitor; LIEUTENANT COLONEL KENDALL,
Commanding Officer, 2d Battalion, 351st Infantry; and LIEUTENANT COLONEL JACKSON, Commanding Officer, 1st Battalion, 338th Infantry, the adjacent battalion commanders; and the regimental staff, 351st Infantry attended the conference. The divisional boundary between the 1st Battalion, 338th Infantry and the 2d Battalion, 351st Infantry was established as a general line running parallel, 200 yards west of the MINTURNO-SANTA MARIA INFANTE road. The attack plans of the two adjacent battalions were outlined by the battalion commanders and the battalion boundaries on the successive objectives were established.
Three war correspondents, Mr. Graham Hovey, International News Service; Mr. Ed Johnson, "Chicago Sun"1. and Mr. Ed Morgan "Chicago Daily News" and BRIGADIER GENERAL KENDALL were guests of the Regimental Commander for supper, after which GENERAL KENDALL and COLONEL CHAMPENY conferred on tactical plans.
May 9, 1944: Field Order #6, Headquarters 88th infantry Division was received ordering the 88th Infantry Division into the attack at H hour on D day. The mission of the US II Corps was to attack west with divisions abreast; the 88th Division on the right the 85th Division on the left, to secure Ausonia defile and to cut the PICO-ITRI road in the vicinity of ITRI. The Corps artillery was to fire counter-battery and placed in direct support of the 88th Division, the 631st Field Artillery Battalion and the 6th Field Artillery Group.
The XII Tactical Air Command was to attack line of communications, supply, and artillery targets, to include gun areas in the vicinity of FORMIA and gun areas in the triangle SPIGNO-CORENO-MOUNT ROTUNDO. Fighter-bomber support would be furnished by this Air Command on call.
Attached to the 88th Division was the First Armored Group, less one battalion, the 804th Tank Destroyer Battalion, the 601st Field Artillery Battalion, the 91st Reconnaissance Squadron, and the 2nd Chemical Weapons Battalion.
May 10, 1944: MAJOR CHEEK, S-3, 760th Tank Battalion visited the Command Post and discussed attack plans for regimental zone of action. COLONEL CHAMPNEY, Regimental Commander visited all areas for final inspection and coordination with battalion commanders.
MAY 11, 1944: D DAY -It was officially announced this that 11 May 1944 was D DAY, and that H HOUR is 2300 HOURS. the long-awaited day for which we have been preparing for months. Morale and confidence were never higher. MAJOR JOHN. E. SLOAN, personally visited each company assuring of his interest in their welfare and expressing his confidence in their ability to accomplish the task ahead.
Officers and non-commissioned officers of the 1st Battalion visited the sandtable during the day and were oriented as to the terrain and situation by MAJOR BROWN, Battalion Commander. Mr. Faust, Harper's Magazine writer, who had been living with a platoon of "L" Company, visited the Command Post and was granted permission to accompany the assault platoon of "E" Company which would lead the attack. Enemy artillery concentrations were unusually heavy in MINTURNO, one round making a direct hit on the roof of the Command Post.
At 2300 hours, H HOUR, one of the greatest artillery barrages in history opened up, and continued with undiminished force for about one and one-half hours, then gradually decreased to a little more than usual intensity. Second Battalion jumped off from the Line of Departure with "E" Company, the leading company, on the right, "F" Company on the left, and "G" Company in reserve. Company "F" met first resistance receiving heavy machine gun fire from hill 130.
May 12, 1944: Company "F" overcame the resistance and continued their advance up the terrain feature known as the "tits", abreast of "E" Company. LIEUTENANT COLONEL KENDALL, Battalion Commander, with his command group followed "E" Company. CAPTAIN CARLSTONE, Commander of "E" Company, was wounded. "E" Company was then held up on the "spur". When LIEUTENANT COLONEL KENDALL'S radio was damaged by shell fire, he moved forward to determine the cause of the delay and assumed command of "E" Company when he learned that CAPTAIN CARLSTONE was a casualty. Finding that Company "E" was held up by two machine guns in pill boxes, he lead a platoon in an attack on one of the pill boxes. This machine gun was knocked out and LIEUTENATN COLONEL KENDALL then led the company to the right of the "tit" under heavy enemy mortar and machine gun fire. Coming up on the forward Slope of the "spur" the machine gun fire from both flanks and the front again stopped the company with a number of casualties. Deciding that the right machine gun located in a stone house was most effective, LIEUTENANT COLONEL KENDALL took a squad from the second platoon and advanced to silence the enemy gun. He first built up all the fire possible using his maximum fire power and firing the carbine, bazooka, BAR, and M-1 with anti-tank grenades himself. He then led the final assault on the building and as he pulled the pin on a hand grenade preparatory to throwing it, he was struck by machine gun fire from his left flank, mortally wounding him. Unable to throw the grenade, LIEUTENANT COLONEL KENDALL held it, and fell upon it, to prevent injury to his men. Thus died one of the finest officers of the United States Army.
Inspired by his sacrifice, Company "E" captured the "spur" and held it for several hours until reinforcements arrived, then pushed on into SANTA MARIA INFANTE, but were forced to fall back slightly by a strong counter-attack.
Company "F" forged ahead on the left and reached a position near Tame. Tanks brought up to knock-out the pill boxes were unable to get through because of mines and enemy self-propelled guns. MAJOR EDWIN L. SHULL, Executive Officer, 2d Battalion, assumed command when LIEUTANANT COLONEL KENDALL became a casualty. Third Battalion commanded by MAJOR CHARLES P. FURR was ordered at 0415 hours to move forward and pass through the 2d Battalion to keep the attack moving. Company "G" moved up the SANTA MARIA INFANTE-MINTURNO road, cleaning up machine gun nests in the rear of the two assault companies. 3d Battalion jumped off at 0730 hours in an attack on hill 172. They were held up temporarily at hill 103 by machine gun fire, but continued the advance. 3d Battalion Aid Station was shelled and CAPTAIN LEROY D. HARSHMAN, Battalion Surgeon was wounded. Prisoners taken were few. Nine reported.
May 13, 1944: Attempts to clear mines from the SANTA MARIA INFANTE road and get tanks forward were not successful. Two more tanks were knocked out by self-propelled guns near SANTA MARIA INFANTE. Company "F" was isolated by the German counter-attack which forced "E" Company to withdraw. The Battalion Adjutant, CAPTAIN GILMER H. HEITMAN, JR. went forward to attempt to improve the supply situation. Upon arriving at positions of Company "E" and" " 1 he found both companies disorganized, "E" Company having lost 1t s Company Commander, and "G" Company being wounded.
Company "E" had suffered heavy casualties and had approximately two platoons left. The morale of the men was high. In spite of the heavy casualties suffered, and order to attack at 1530 hours was received by radio at 1440 hours. Under these circumstances, CAPTAIN HEITMAN assumed command of Company "E", made the plan of attack and coordinated with the Commander of Company "G", 1ST LIEUTENANT THEODORE W. NOON, JR., who though wounded, insisted on remaining with his company for the attack. To complete coordination with the 85th Division, the attack was delayed until 1700 hours. At this time, CAPTAIN HEITMAN crawled forward with the first platoon of "E" Company and made an attack on two machine gun emplacements. Crawling under the final protective line of fire, he found two dead American soldiers and from grenade fragments lying near, determined the direction from which the grenades had come. All but two men were pinned down by the machine gun fire, so CAPTAIN HEITMAN crawled forward accompanied by only two men, and attacked the right machine gun nest. While he was still several yards away, a hand grenade was thrown from the first bunker. The grenade went off a few feet away but the three were not injured. CAPTAIN HEITMAN then sent the two enlisted men around to the flank of the pill boxes and waited for another hand grenade to be thrown. When the German soldier raised up to throw the grenade, CAPTAIN HEITMAN shot him through the head before he could throw. When the third grenade came he repeated the same procedure. A third German was killed in the same manner. At this time, grenades from a second pill box were thrown at CAPTAIN HEITMAN and his men. The second grenade from this pill box wounded all three of them. The action described had taken one and one half hours. CAPTAIN HEITMAN had discovered the location of three other machine gun emplacements and their range of fire, so he withdrew to secure aid for the wounded men and prepare for a night attack on the positions.
Frederick Faust, war correspondent for Harper's magazine, and better known under the pen name of Max Brand, as a fiction and movie writer was killed by shell fragments shortly after the attack started. Mr. Faust had obtained permission to accompany an assault platoon in the attack stating in his own words that "the first attack is the 'cream' and I wish to be a part of it."
Mr. Faust had been with the regiment a little less than three weeks, but had made many friends among both officers and enlisted men.
During daylight hours the Second Chemical Mortar Battalion kept smoke in front of PULCHERINI and MOUNT BRACCHI to hinder observation of enemy artillery. In spite of this, the shelling in MINTURNO was very heavy and accurate. No communication and no contact with Company "F" since 1730 previous day. COLONEL A. S. CHAMPENY, Regimental Commander ordered that a new Company "F" be formed from the remaining companies of the Second Battalion.
After having been held up by machine gun fires from our left flank on Hills 109 and 131 which were out of the Regimental zone, the Division boundary was moved so that Hill 109 would be included within Regimental Zone for the ensuing attack with the CO 338th Inf guaranteeing to Division Commanders of both 85th and 88th Divisions that he would reduce Hill 131. The first Battalion was then ordered to attack at 1600 hours. While making his recon the Bn commander was subjected to heavy artillery fire in which Capt Shoemaker, Company Commander, Co D, was killed. The Bn Commander of 1st Bn then became separated from his Bn as it had moved forward toward the line of departure while he was making the reconnaissance. He was personally conducted to his Bn by Regimental Commander who also directed the Bn to the Line of Departure remaining with them until the attack was launched at 2045 hours.
May 14, 1944: Early on the morning of 14 May 1944 the 1st Bn took Hill 109 after meeting considerable enemy resistance which included traversing an extensive mine field and repelling an enemy counterattack. Hill 131 which the 338 Inf had promised to capture had not been taken and in order to protect the flank of the Regiment the 1st Bn left the regimental zone and captured Hill 131. The 2nd Battalion moved on SANTA MARIA INFANTE from the right. The 3rd Battalion moved up the MINTURNO-SANTA MARIA INFAN road. The town was occupied by 1000 hours, with the Germans apparently retreating up the ANSONIA-SPIGNO road. The enemy had hardly cleared SANTA MARIA INFANTE when the engineers arrived in the town with bull-dozers and equipment and began clearing rubble from the streets. Having reached their first objective, the Regiment was given a new objective to the West, MOUNT ClVITA, and the 2nd Battalion was placed in the Division reserve, northwest of SANTA MARIA INFANTE. After reorganization and receiving rations and supplies, the 1st and 3rd Battalions jumped off at 1500 hours down the SPIGNO road, with the 1st Battalion leading. From 1500 hours to 1600 hours this road was heavily shelled, but the regiment moved on and took their objective at 2200 hours. Company “C” moved to the base of MOUNT CIVITA by riding on tanks which pushed ahead in the assault echelon. The 1st Battalion then took up positions on the forward and reverse slopes of MOUNT CIVITA.
Three enlisted men of Company "F" emerged from a culvert in the vicinity of TAME to solve the mystery of the men of Company “F” who advanced so rapidly in the initial attack that they were cut off from the remainder of the regiment. These men had taken up positions greatly in advance of regimental front lines and who had were able to hold out though surrounded for 30 hours. The Germans who had suffered many casualties in trying to rush the “F” Company position, finally resorted to an old ruse to capture the company. Several Germans advanced with hands in the air, yelling, “Kamerad”. As the men or company "F” arose to capture them, many other Germans closed in from the rear. A machine gunner of Company "H" took terrific toll before a German bullet ceased his firing. Among the group captured by the Germans was CAPTAIN CARL W. NELSON, Company Commander, LT. AUGUST J. KASPER, Battalion S-2, LT. JOHN M. WESTON, and LT. VERGA, platoon leaders, LT. STANLEY J. RYDZEWSKI, JR., Cannon Company Liaison Officer, and approximately fifty enlisted men. The three enlisted men who escaped, had "played dead" in their fox holes as the Germans marched away their comrades. Thus ended the fighting of a gallant, courageous company who fought so bravely against insurmountable odds.
15 May 1944: At daylight on the morning 15 May 1944 the 1st Bn attacked and captured MOUNT PASSASERA North West of MT CIVITA, completely surprising and overrunning a German pack artillery battery capturing and killing approximately 100 Germans. Almost simultaneous with the launching of this attack MAJOR SADLER S-2 and CAPT (then 1st Lt) EDMONSON, Asst S-3, arrived after an all night climb up CIVITA with orders for the Regiment to continue attack to Northeast to cut off the withdrawal of Germans from SPIGNO. The 1st Bn accomplished this mission rapidly followed by 3rd Bn. A patrol made up of MAJ BROWN, CO 1st Bn, MAJ HOBSON S-3 and several riflemen moved into the town of SPIGNO being the first American troops to enter that ill-fated rubble of a city. Soon afterward the 1st Bn 350 Inf accompanied by BRIG GEN KENDALL entered the town of SPIGNO. The 351st Inf received orders personally from GEN KENDALL to relieve the 1st Bn 350 Inf within SPIGNO and protect the town from German counterattack. 3rd Bn 351st Inf accomplished the relief of 1st Bn 350 Inf at 1800 hours with the 1st Bn 351st Inf occupying defensive positions on high ground NW of SPIGNO. During this phase of operations, communications became a serious problem; wire could not be maintained because of continuous enemy artillery fire. The distance and numerous hill masses made radio communication uncertain. Regimental Communications Platoon had been working without rest since the attack started on the night of 11 May. During all this time, the Regimental Commander, COLONEL ARTHUR S. CHAMPENY, and his command group, MAJOR VICTOR W. HOBSON, S-3, CAPTAIN CORCORAN, Artillery Liaison Officer; and 1ST LT. CHARLES D. EDMONSON, Assistant S-3 accompanied the forward elements of every assault. Up to this point, the rear Regimental Command Post had remained in MINTURNO. Orders were received from GENERAL SLOAN for the Regiment to push forward as soon as possible for MT SAN ANGELO. Two loyal "paesons" were engaged as guides and the 3rd Bn moved out for MT SAN ANGELO over a rocky steep trail at 2230 hours followed by the 1st Bn. Orders were also received relieving the 2nd Bn from positions vic SANTA MARIA and PULCHERINI and placing them again under Regimental control. However, the 2nd Bn were unable to overtake the Regiment until 18 May.
May 16, 1944: On the morning of May 16, the Rear Regimental Command Post and the Regimental Aid Station moved to SPIGNO. LT NEAL J> PRICE, with a small medical detachment started over the moubntains with his medical equipment packed on mules to attempt to catch the troops. BRIGADIER GENERAL BROWN, Assistant Division Commander arrived at SPIGNO to remain with the Rear Regimental Command Post. LT THOMAS J. GILLEN, Regimental Liaison Officer, was sent forward on foot with a message for COLONEL CHAMPENY. There was still no communications by wire or radio with the Regimental Commander. CAPTAIN FREDERICK A. BLANC E, JR., Regimental Communications Officer, started over the mountains at 2200 hours to attempt to improve the communications. 3rd Bn reached the Regimental objective, MOUNT SAN ANGELO at 0800 hours. At 1200 hours, the Regimental Commander, COLONEL ARTHURS. CHAMPENY, arrived at 3rd Battalion Command Post and shortly received orders from Corps Commander by Radio designating MOUNT RUAZZO as their next objective. 3rd Bn was ordered to move out immediately followed by 1st Bn. At 1810 hours 3rd Bn arrived on MOUNT RUAZZO. Large numbers of Italians welcomed the troops and gave them the information that about 400 Germans had left the area the preceding night and that some of them were still on the reverse slope. LT. STANTON D. RICHART, 3rd Battalion I & R Platoon Leader, with 18 enlisted men went to investigate. He made contact with a group of approximately fifty Germans, killed 6, and caused the remainder to disperse in small groups, many of which were captured by the 1st Battalion the following day. The 1st Battalion following behind the 3rd, had moved on MOUNT MESOLE, cutting off the valleys and draws behind FORMIA, and reached their objective at 1930 hours.
May 17, 1944: The 601st Field Pack Artillery moved over the mountain trails in an attempt to reach the Regiment and give them artillery support. At 1300 hours the 3rd Battalion followed by the 1st Battalion moved out towards their next objective, MOUNT GRANDE, in the vicinity of ITRI. Before reaching this objective, the battalion encountered enemy resistance in the hills above ITRI valley. Fire from self-propelled guns, snipers, mortars and tanks was extremely heavy. Artillery support had not yet reached the regiment. Our casualties were high. In spite of their losses and the heavy resistance, the battalions attacked again at 2300 hours and after reaching the ITRI road were again stopped by German tanks. While on a reconnaissance during the day, LT. GEORGE D. SCHAFFER, 1st Battalion S-3 and LT JOHN F CURRY were captured by a group of one German officer and eighteen men. By convincing the Germans that they were surrounded by American Troop, the entire group was persuaded to surrender to the two American officers, who returned with them to the battalion command post.
May 18, 1944: The heavy shelling continued and the battalions were forced to set up on MOUNT PERETTA and reorganize. Heavy shelling continued all day from German artillery, mortars and tanks. Machine gun an snipers were very effective. Supplies had not reached the regiment and ammunition, rations and water were very low. One artillery shell hit the 1st Battalion command post killing two radio operators, Corporal Metzker, and Private Cook, and injuring a third, Private Yusz. LT. JOHN F. CURRY also suffered a slight wound in the shoulder. At 1700 hours, salvation came in the form of 240mm fire from II Corps Artillery. This fire effectively silenced the tanks. The 601st Pack Artillery arrived and set up in position to support the regiment.
MAJOR SOL I. FRANKEL, Regimental Surgeon suffered a heart attack and was evacuated when he started over the mountains with a pack train with the Regimental Aid Station. CAPTAIN CECIL COHEN, Regimental Dental Surgeon took charge of the Regimental Aid Station and continued with the train.
BRIG GEN KENDALL arrived at Advance Regtl CP followed by 350th Inf. After making rcn and estimate of situation, GENERAL KENDALL ordered the Regiment to attack at daybreak. The 3rd Bn, making the main attack, would advance from present positions, cut the PICO-ITRI road, and continue the attack to seize that position of MONTE GRANDE within its zone. 1st Bn would move North around MASS ARCIGLIANO so as to reach Highway 82 at daybreak, continue the attack to seize that part of MONTE GRANDE within its zone. 2nd Bn was to follow the 1st Bn. Two Bns 350th Inf would move forward and occupy present positions of 1st and 3rd Bns, 351st Inf, as soon as vacated.
May 19, 1944: At 0200 hours the 1st Bn moved around MASS ARCIGLIANO reaching Highway 82 at daybreak as scheduled. After crossing the Highway to begin the ascent of MONTE GRANDE, Company B, the leading company, engaged a machine gun nest killing 8 Germans, capturing two and wounding one. The 1st Bn then occupied positions on that part of MONTE GRANDE within its zone.
The 3rd Bn jumped off at 0500 hours and crossed Highway 82 at daybreak with only slight resistance. That part of MONTE GRANDE within Bn sector was occupied promptly.
At 0910 LT. RICHART and the I & R platoon entered ITRI. The patrol captured 19 Germans and killed 6 more. The Corps objective as announced in initial attack order had been reached. LT. RICHART'S patrol were the first American soldiers in ITRI.
May 20, 1944: The Regiment was placed in Division reserve and promptly began to reorganize. The pack trains which had been coming across the mountains with rations and ammunition began to catch up with the regiment. At 1400 hours a message was received from GENERAL SLOAN, Commanding General, 88th Infantry Division, assigning the Regiment a new objective, MOUNT PASSAGNANO, with the additional mission of cutting the road in the vicinity of the MT CANACCAVIA and mopping up the Germans from that point of road back of FONDI. The regiment moved out in columns of battalions, 1st Battalion leading with 2nd Chemical Battalion and the 601st Field Pack Artillery Battalion attached. Company “C” in the assault echelon was engaged by the enemy, but successfully knocked out several machine guns and mortars and the battalion by-passed the point and continued on with the mission.
May 21, 1944: on the morning of 21 May 1944, Regimental Headquarters Company received its first baptism of fire from strafing by an enemy fighter plane.
In moving on MOUNT VALLONA, in the vicinity of FONDI, early in the morning, the 1st Battalion met heavy machine gun, mortar, and sniper fire. MAJOR HAROLD MAC V. BROWN, the Battalion Commander, was killed by a sniper. Until the Battalion Executive officer, CAPTAIN TREVOR E. WILLIAMS, could reach the head of the column, LIEUTENANT SCHAFFER, Battalion S-3 took command of the Battalion. In an earlier attack, LT. SCHAFFER had been wounded by a rifle bullet passing through his helmet and grazing his skull, rendering him unconscious. While lying unconscious, he was stripped of all his equipment by German soldiers who thought him dead. LT. SCHAFFER regained consciousness while the Germans were searching him, but gave no sign. He waited until the Germans had left, then got up and rejoined the battalion. It was at this time he found that MAJOR BROWN had been killed, and took command of the Battalion and continued on with the battalion's mission, refusing to seek medical aid until the objective was reached and the battalion took hills 486, 536, and 461, and organized positions on the latter. The 3rd Battalion arrived on MOUNT PASSIGNANO, the regimental objective, at 0600 hours and received heavy shelling from the enemy. MAJOR FURR, Battalion Commander, and about ten enlisted men were injured. Later in the day, MAJOR MAVRAKOS, Battalion Executive Officer was also injured. Both MAJOR FURR and MAJOR MAVRAKOS, refused evacuation. At 0750 hours the battalion moved to assist the 349th Infantry in the attack on the hills overlooking FONDI. However, when they arrived at the base of their mountain objective, they found it already occupied by the 349th Infantry. The battalion got orders to remain in the vicinity in an assembly area to await orders. COLONEL ARTHURS. CHAMPENY, Regimental Commander, accompanied by MAJOR SADLER s-2· and MAJOR HOBSON, S-3, arrived at 3rd battalion Command Post at 1300 hours to orient the Battalion and Company Commanders on their next mission. COLONEL CHAMPENY ordered MAJOR FURR to the hospital for treatment of his wounds. At 1820 hours the battalion received orders to organize positions on MOUNT CHIAVINO. After taking it's objective, MOUNT PASSIGNANO, the regiment was moved into an assembly area and was placed in Divisional reserve with 3rd Battalion occupying MOUNT CHIAVINO. The Regimental Command Post (rear) move from ITRI to the vicinity of FONDI.
May 22, 1944: Supplies were brought up and distributed to the battalions. For the previous nine days, the troops had been supplied with rations, ammunition, signal equipment and all other supplies and replacements by mule trains of Italian packers over the mountain trails. In the afternoon, the Regimental command Post moved to a position northwest of MOUNT PASSIGNANO, still in the vicinity of FONDI. At 2245 hours an order was received from the Commanding General of the 88th Division to move the 1st Battalion to MONSICARDI to relieve a battalion of the 349th Infantry.
May 23, 1944: The 2d Battalion was assigned to the Division reserve and followed the 350th Inf northwest to MOUNT ALTO. The 3d Battalion remained on MOUNT CHIAVINO throughout the day and night. The 1st Battalion remained on MONSICARDI suffering two casualties from artillery fire. At 0800 hours the Regimental Commander, COLONEL ARTHUR S. CHAMPENY and the forward command group moved into the mountains and established a forward command post on the reverse slopes of MONSICARDI.
May 24, 1944: At 0300 hours, the area of the Regimental Headquarters Company received an air raid by approximately 8 German bombers. No casualties were sustained, though two vehicles were damaged in the Regimental Motor Pool, and an ammunition dump at FONDI was hit. MAJOR GENERAL JOHN E. SLOAN visited the Rear Regimental Command Post and informed LIEUTENANT COLONEL JAMES H. DRAKE, of the Division Directive to seize the line of the AMASENO river. The morale of the troops had been very high, but was improved even more by the news that ANZIO BEACHHEAD forces had cut highway 7 on both sides of CISTERNA in a new offensive.
The 1st Battalion moved from MONSICARDI to MOUNT PIZZUTO at 0800 hours to continue protection of the right flank of II Corps. 2d and 3d Battalions remained in position. MAJOR JOHN A. MAVRAKOS Executive Officer, 3d Battalion was hospitalized as a result of a leg injury. MAJOR FURR, Battalion Commander rejoined the 3d Battalion. The 1st Battalion maintained contact from MOUNT PIZZUTO with the French forces on our right by a series of connecting patrols.
25 May 1944: 1st Battalion continued the defense of MOUNT PIZZUTO and maintained contact with the French. At 1630 hours, the battalion received orders to move to a reserve assembly position near SAN BIAGIO where the 3d Battalion had already moved earlier in the day. The move was made by trucks. The 3d Battalion became a part of II Corps reserve. The Regimental Command Post moved to SAN BIAGIO and opened at 2100 hours.
26 May 1944: On the morning of 26 May 1944, 1st and 3d Battalions had hot meals, clean clothes and many of the men were able to bathe for the first time since the attack started. One of the most welcome surprises of the day occurred when the Red Cross girls of the 88th Division appeared at noon with cookies. At 1500 hours, the 3d Battalion moved into an assembly area in the vicinity of area PRIVERNO. The 1st Battalion moved to the same area at 1700 hours. The Regimental Command Post moved to a new location near PRIVERNO and occupied a large stone dugout in a mountainside until the next day.
27 May 1944: The 2d Battalion rejoined the regiment at 0400 At 0600 hours the 3d Battalion received orders to move to MOUNT ST ANGELO to relieve the 338th Infantry. The 1st Battalion moved to MOUNT PISTERNO and the 2d Battalion to MOUNT NERO, completing the relief of the 85th Division. The Regimental Command Post moved to the vicinity of SEZZE. Continued good news from beach head forces. CORI and the air base at LITTORIA were taken.
28 May 1944: MAJOR GENERAL JOHN E. SLOAN, 88th Division Commander, visited the Regimental Command Post and conferred with COLONEL CHAMPENY on immediate future plans. The 88th Division has been placed under IV Corps, command by MAJOR GENERAL CRITTENBERGER. The 85th Division and US II Corps have been relieved from this sector. The 1st and 2d Battalions remained in position and the 3d Battalion moved from MOUNT SAN ANGELO to an assembly area near the 1st Battalion. The regiment was ordered to outpost MOUNT ACQUAPIZZA, MOUNT DEL CERRO and MOUNT DELLA BUFALA. The 602nd Field Artillery was reattached to the regiment. At 2310 hours orders were received to move 2d Battalion from SEZZE to MOUNT CARMELINO and sweep the area between these two positions. The 3d Battalion moved to SEZZE.
29 May 1944: At 0910 hours BRIGADIER GENERAL KENDALL, Assistant Division Commander visited the Regimental Command Post and outlined tentative plans and operations for the Regiment. The 2d Battalion moved from the vicinity of SEZZE along the SEZZEBASSIANO-NORMA highway to CANTOCCHI, sending out patrols to mop up enemy stragglers and snipers along the road to the northeast. Their mission was to make contact and find out where the enemy was located, but not to become seriously involved. The 1st Battalion followed the 2d to the vicinity of BASSIANO out posted the high ground in the vicinity and sent out patrols. Two patrols from “B” Company both met determined enemy resistance on MOUNT TERENTILE and were forced to withdraw. Each patrol consisted of ten enlisted men and one officer. Two patrols from "C" Company were unable to reach their objectives because of rifle and automatic weapons fire as well grenades. Two men were wounded, one by small arms fire and one by a concussion grenade. At least two enemy were killed by BAR fire. The patrols withdrew carrying the wounded men.
The Regimental Command Post moved to BASSIANO at 1900 hours. Three prisoners of war were brought in by the Regimental I & R platoon. LT EARL F. FRANDSEN, 2d Battalion S-3, reported to Regimental Command Post at 2030 hours with LT. WRIGHT who brought in seven prisoners of war taken on hill 1064.
30 May 1944: Th 3rd Battalion moved into their new area near BASSIANO at 0700 hours. The Regimental I & R platoon was given the mission of contacting the French and establishing OP's for observation on German routes of withdrawal. Company "A" sent out two ten men patrols. One led by LT. PAUL CURLBETSON was ordered to attempt to get observation from the west on the CARPINETO-ROMANO road, search the immediate high ground and kill or capture Germans. The patrol approached their objective and occupied it without enemy resistance. Observation on the CARPINETO-ROMANO road was difficult due to haze. The patrol returned at daylight. A 3d patrol from Company "B" consisting of ten men led by LT. ROBERT P. ELLIS, left at 1600 hours, following the route to CASTA DELLA SOMBELLE via PALOMBARA. The patrol reached MOUNT GORGOGLIONE from the south without incident and found prepared enemy positions on both the north and south slopes unoccupied. They proceeded northeast to MOUNT PALOMBARA and found unoccupied positions on the south slope. The patrol then moved north towards the final objective. At 2100 hours, on moving up the south slope of MOUNT CASTA DELLA SOMBELLE three enemy were observed by the patrol. Upon discovery, the enemy jumped into concealed positions. LT. ELLIS sent three men, one a German speaking soldier, around the left, flanking the position. The soldier ordered the Germans to come out and surrender. The Germans agreed to do so, then suddenly opened fire with machine guns, killing one of the American soldiers. The remaining two returned the fire. The patrol leader sent his sergeant and four men to the right in an attempt to out-flank the position from that direction, and took the remaining two men up to where his men were fighting. Another machine gun and two rifles opened fire on the patrol. At the same time, the sergeant reported that a machine gun had outflanked him on the right. A concussion grenade was thrown at the sergeant and four men from above. The patrol at this time was returning the fire with unknown results. Fearing that he might be surrounded, the patrol leader withdrew the patrol to the west, and attempted to by-pass the strong points to the north. However, the patrol was again caught in cross fire from two more machine guns from above. All machine guns seemed to be protected by riflemen. Five machine guns widely dispersed, blocked the patrol’s advance, so that they remained in position, attempting to locate the enemy positions exactly and withdrew just before dawn without further casualties.
At 2200 hours the regiment was alerted for a motorized move. Battalions and special units were notified and transportation officers ordered to meet Captain RIGA, Regimental Transportation Officer at 0100 hours, 31 May 1944.
31 May 1944: LIEUTENATN ROBERT E. BOWKER, Former A & P platoon leader of the 3d Battalion, officially reported for duty as SSO Athletic and Recreation Officer, Trial Judge Advocate, Awards and Decorations Officer and Assistant S-1. At 1230 hours Combat Team 3 was relieved by the French units and moved from BASSIANO Italy to an assembly area near TRE CONCELLI, Italy, formerly a part of the ANZIO BEACHHEAD. The Division was committed to Army reserve and again became a part of the II Corps. Hardly had the Regiment closed in the new area before a message was received from G-3, 88th Division alerting Combat Team 3, for movement at 2400 hours, pending approval of the Movement Control Officer. A Liaison Officer was sent to Division Headquarters for instructions concerning the route and destination. A quartering party led by LIEUTENANT COLONEL JAMES H. DRAKE, Regimental Executive Officer, was alerted to move to a new area as soon as the Division Order was received.
Thus ends the narrative of a month in which a relatively untried regiment in twenty days of fighting against the hitherto impregnable German Gustav Line, crushed that line and turned the German retreat into a rout, an accomplishment which deserved and received the highest commendations.
The men and officers of the 351st Infantry now have a new pride in their organization, a new sense of accomplishment, and a spirit second to none in the United States Army.
ARTHUR S. CHAMPENY
Colonel, 351st Infantry,