Chapter 22: Into The Alps

(ARSIE-BORGO, pp. 70-71)


Several changes of orders came down on the morning of 30 April before the 351st at last knifed into the mountains. Moving along Highway 47 in column of battalions, First, Second, Third, the doughboys marched between Alpine peaks as high and rugged as any they had yet seen. An occasional sniper fired a few shots and then surrendered, but for the most part the advance continued rapidly all afternoon and through the night. Morning of 1May found the regiment at the town of CISMON, where a lateral road joins Highway 47. The Ranger Platoon, mounted on tanks, moved north along a parallel valley on the right flank and struck a German supply column at ARSIE, killing eighteen enemy soldiers and wounding forty in an hour of stiff, aggressive fighting, while a task force from Company E hit the same force of Germans from the west. By the time ARSIE was completely mopped up, the enemy had suffered seventy-five killed and over sixty captured.


While this action took place on the right flank, the First Battalion continued to drive up Highway 47 toward TRENTO, the regimental objective. Light resistance was overcome before the First Battalion took BORGO and waited for the column to catch up. It was here in BORGO that the regiment received its first artillery fire in several days. Since the fire seemed to be coming from the vicinity of a town called RONCEGNO, five hundred rounds of counterbattery fire were placed on reverse slopes in the neighborhood of that town. Plans were made for the immediate resumption of the advance, and Company B moved out on the morning of 2 May 1945 and into the final fighting of the war.

Third Battalion "Queens of Battle" leaving Bassano and the Po Valley.

After advancing several kilometers beyond BORGO, the leading squad of Company B received intense machine gun fire from German paratroopers entrenched along the highway. In an hour and a half of maneuver and fighting, five courageous men gave their lives while even at that moment messengers were bringing forward the orders to cease firing. Because of the wide dispersion of the Fifth Army during the final days of fighting and suspicion of German motives in sending messengers to the Regimental Commander, orders to break through to TRENTO were carried out to the letter. Fighting continued throughout the afternoon, with Anti-Tank Company gunners knocking out a German self-propelled gun, while riflemen and bazookamen of Company B hacked away at German forces in the BRENTA VALLEY. When it finally reached the front lines at 2204 hours, 2 May 1945 the order to cease firing could be interpreted literally by the fighting men of the 351st Infantry, for they were driving the Germans northward with the same magnificent spirit that had carried them all the way from bloody Cassino. Veteran riflemen kept alert all night in their foxholes, so accustomed were they to the danger and uncertainty of combat.


For two days the regiment remained in position while negotiations for the unconditional surrender of the I Fallschirmkorps were in progress. General Heidrich, Corps Commander of the 1st Parachute Corps, paid a worthy compliment to the 88th Division and the 351st Infantry when he stated that nowhere in this war had his unit met tougher resistance or such a fighting spirit. At long last the Spearhead Regiment brought to its knees the same German units who bad captured Company G and part of Company

F at VEDRIANO during the Gothic posh. In evening this score, many men and officers of the Second Battalion took great satisfaction.

 

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