[Lone Sentry] [Lone Sentry: www.lonesentry.com]

Lone Sentry: Unit History: 102d thru Germany



By the end of October 1944, Allied armies had driven the Germans from France and from a portion of the low countries, had penetrated Germany itself at several points and were de- veloping a full scale attack against the Siegfried Line. This vaunted defense had already been pierced at Aachen by our First Army but the front had subsequently stabilized. Plans were now afoot to punch the Siegfried Line at Geilenkirchen, fourteen miles north of Aachen. Ninth US Army was selected to do the job.
Having lost Aachen and having failed in launching a successful counteroffensive further north in the Meijel area, the German high command determined to sit the winter out, holding what was left by means of passive, stubborn defense. The consequent period of temporary stabilization was utilized by the Germans to complete a long desired substitution of infantry for armor in the line. As it later turned out von Rundstedt was even then assembling the force for his ill-fated winter Ardennes plunge. When the Ozark Division was committed in the Ninth Army sector the enemy was found to be making local readjustments in troop dispositions, harassing the front with propaganda and artillery barrages; and sending our patrols now and then to capture prisoners for intelligence purposes. And the Krauts were making the most of the opportunity to improve their ruptured positions, particularly to seal off the now exposed flank of the Wurm valley fortifications. Concrete emplacements were still being built. Extensive minefields were being laid. Supply and transportation lines were being reestablished. Forces were being reshuffled with SS troops interspersed here and there to stiffen morale. Artillery in large numbers and of large caliber were being brought up and disposed to meet the ever increasing threat of further Allied thrusts into Germany. Winter fogs and rain enabled the enemy to accomplish this reorganization and consolidation without fear of air observation or interference.
That part of the Siegfried Line which faced the Ozark Division consisted of the rear area pillboxes, with walls 8 to 10 feet thick, designed to withstand direct artillery fire and aerial bombardment. Several years of weathering had effectively camouflaged these forts, most of justifyspaver

Scrounging a roof for a foxhole
which were now grass grown and hidden by natural vegetation. Other pillboxes were built to look like outhouses, houses, barns, haystacks all of which harmonized with the natural landscape. Most of these structures contained only machine guns but a few housed anti-tank and other direct fire weapons. These strong points were further protected by belts of mines and wire, complicated mazes of trenches, foxholes and anti-tank ditches. Tanks, self propelled guns, and assault guns were dug in on reverse slopes in hull-down positions and hidden behind pillboxes.
Jutting out into the Ninth Army sector was an enemy salient fixed on the Geilenkirchen hub, a transportation and communications center with a population of 20,000. For some time Allies and Germans had been swapping punches in this sector but neither side was able to land a solid blow. Germans were just as determined to hold the town as the Allies were to take it. They were all set for a fight to the death.
Our initial mission was one of defense. Beginning on 3 November the Division sector extended from Kreuzrath through the little demolished dirty towns of Birgden, Hatterath, Gillrath, Teveren, Briel to Waurichen. Active defense measures included countless patrols to maintain relentless pressure along the entire front, combined with heavy artillery fire on enemy rear areas. Flanked by the 113th Cavalry Group on the left and 2d Armored Division on the right, our troops screened preparations for the attack on Geilenkirchen. The next two weeks saw considerable regrouping and shifting of lines as the Division sector was moved southeast.
[Scrounging a foxhole cover]

Copyright 2003-2004, LoneSentry.com. All Rights Reserved.


Web LoneSentry.com