Chapter 12: Power Drive Through Left Tackle

(MOUNT CODRONCO, p. 42)


Still striking heavy blows at the enemy, the 351st Infantry beat off heavy counterattacks for five days on CAPELLO, while the Third Battalion jumped off from its holding positions on MAGNOLIA toward Mount CODRONCO, a key bastion in the German defense system. Companies I and K suffered heavy casualties and won many decorations in carving out a foothold on a ridgeline leading toward CODRONOO in heavy fighting on the 1st and 2nd of October. There were men who seized German machine guns by the barrel and wrested them from the gunners, and there was Lieutenant Charles W. Pierce (then Sergeant), who won a Distinguished Service Cross in capturing two machine guns and a house full of Germans while on patrol. Major Harold B. Ayres, commanding the Third Battalion, committed Company L, his reserve, in a flanking attack across wild and rugged terrain to get behind the enemy. Led by Captain Albert F. Reinwart, the doughboys of Company L infiltrated their way through the German lines until they were formed at the base of the highest knob. Then, with perfect fire support from their own light machine gun, a rifle platoon led by Lieutenant Perry J. Cheeney launched a savage bayonet assault, complete with shouting and shooting from the hip, to overwhelm the German resistance. Prom a captured German observation post well in rear of the enemy defending the ridge line, devastating fire of the 913th Field Artillery was adjusted on the Germans, first as they massed to counterattack and again as they grouped to withdraw. The capture of Mount CODRONCO by the Third Battalion put the 351st Infantry well ahead of the 349th on its left, the British on its right, and opened the route to GESSO and the SAN CLEMENTE VALLEY.


Relieved from their positions on CAPELLO, the First and Second Battalions joined the Third in the drive across the hills to GESSO, a little mountain town to which the German High Command attached the utmost importance. Thickly-sown minefields and numerous machine guns and even flame throwers guarded every approach to the town. This was to be no easy nut to crack.

From: 351st Infantry Regimental Information and Education Office (1945). History of the 351st Regiment, World War II.