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

Lone Sentry: Unit History: 102d thru Germany



Secure behind the barrier of the Roer river the enemy frantically continued to improve his defenses on the hills from Korrenzig to Boslar. Civilians were herded out to help dig anti-tank ditches and foxholes. His thinly spread troops enjoyed "rest periods" of three or four days away from the river bottom, "rest periods" during which minefields were laid and wire strung under the watchful eye of the SS. To the north 340th Volksgrenadier Division defended Brachelen, Hilfarth, and Randerath intent upon retaining at least a bridgehead west of the Roer. Although originally a slight threat, this Brachelen salient became more and more prominent in our defense plans as von Rundstedt plunged through the Ardennes. It was not improbable that the enemy might make a similar sudden thrust southwest through the Wurm corridor in an attempt to retake Geilenkirchen and possibly link-up with their southern salient. Such tactics would imperil the entire Allied front in Germany. To the Ozarks then fell the task of guarding this seemingly quiet yet potentially explosive gateway.
In the bitter cold and snow the 327th Engineer Battalion laid thousands of mines. Doughboys dug hundreds of foxholes in rocklike, frozen soil. Road blocks were established where sentries were fated to spend many a sleepless night in bitter cold and driving snow. 701st Tank Battalion and the 102d Reconnaissance Troop moved back and forth on the roads watching for enemy parachutists who never arrived. Tanks grumbled back and forth between Lindern, Prummern and Gereonsweiler in order to make sure that Jerry realized there were large numbers of allied armored vehicles in this front. Dummy tanks were set up in logical areas to deceive German commanders. Division Artillery fired thousands of rounds, and succeeded in puzzling the enemy by means of "silent periods" several hours long during which not a single shot was fired.
The German 59th Infantry Division finally moved in between the Roer and Wurm rivers. This was a good outfit, perhaps one of the few remaining topnotch Wehrmacht Divisions at that time. Their CG was Major General Poppe, sardonically named “Poppe, the Intrepid” by his men and officers because of a previous incident in his military career. At one time he had commanded a division in Grimea, a division which he abandoned in headlong personal justifyspacer
flight during the evacuation of those islands, leaving his men to drown or swim.
Now General Poppe was nervous. He had strict orders to divert as many Allied troops as possible from the Ardennes area. Accordingly he made a show of strength. His patrols were more aggressive, under pain of death for missions unaccomplished. Flare after flare illum-inated No Man's Land at night. German sentries were instructed to be more alert -- and to watch each other so that comrades would not desert. Propaganda was shelled over, broadcasts were beamed at front-line Ozarks. On Christmas Eve the Nazis broadcast Christmas carols. The Luftwaffe appeared in ever increasing numbers, dropping high explosive and anti-personnel bombs over rear areas. German artillery became more and more frantic -- remember the Puffen-dorf crossroads? And our MPs directing traffic with 150s bursting along the tree-lined road to Linnich? And the colored Signal troops of Ninth Army stringing wire across nearby beetfields, barely glancing over their shoulders as big ones tossed up frozen clods? Tank recovery crews dragging Shermans from the month-old battlefield? Our casualties were light, however, for our troops lived and worked in concrete-and-steel basements which the Germans, with gloomy forethought had long ago built into their schools and houses. But every night even the deepest basement reverberated as buzz-bombs clattered overhead, bound for England.
The Krauts were nervous, no doubt about it. Finally convinced that a major shift was under way Poppe sent a battalion of engineers and fusiliers to establish a road block on the Lindern-Linnich road: Emerging from Brachelen at dawn 30 December this raid ran squarely into wire defenses erected a few hours earlier. There under the watchful eyes of our forward observers, and barely within small arms range of Co A, 406th Infantry, the force was decimated by our division artillery. Out of an estimated 150 men, sixty-seven were killed, 34 were taken prisoner, and the 59th spent the entire day evacuating their wounded.
The Luftwaffe opened 1945 with a flourish. New Year's morning, clear and cloudless, saw FW 190s, Me 109s and JU 88s strafing our roads and bombing rear areas. No great damage was inflicted although, to the delight of our attached 94th Camouflage Battalion, several dummy anti-aircraft installations near Baesweiler justifyspacer

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


Web LoneSentry.com