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Read Excerpts from American Iliad
Excerpt from “The Westwall: September to November 1944”
By this time, most of Aachen’s pre-war population had fled, and the Americans estimated that not over 15,000 to 20,000 civilians remained in the city. Defending forces in Aachen were estimated to be 3,000 to 4,000 strong. Foremost of the hill bastions around Aachen was Crucifix Hill, which dominated the approaches to the city. Nearly 800 feet in height, Crucifix Hill had been a battlefield during the religious wars that swept Europe some 500 years earlier, and during the Napoleonic era stones had been cut to build a huge, 60-foot high crucifix to mark the many lives lost on the hill, giving it its name. It was considered impregnable by the Germans; a massive pillbox system had been built up around its base as well as on adjacent hillsides, leading to the bald hilltop and the crucifix.
The Ravelsberg, a wooded hill also about 800 feet high, stood 1,500 yards to the northwest of Crucifix Hill. An important east-northwest road ran between the Ravelsberg and Crucifix Hill and was the main route of supply to the soon-to-be-besieged Aachen garrison.
The Ravelsberg was important for several reasons. If the enemy held it, the garrison of Aachen would continue to enjoy a secure line of communication. Excellent observation from the Ravelsberg enabled the enemy accurately to direct artillery into the flank and rear of positions held by the 16th Infantry Regiment to the south. As long as the defenders retained control of the Ravelsberg, they would be able to prevent any major attack on the city during daylight. Controlling the Ravelsberg was thus essential for the seizure of Aachen. Crucifix Hill had to be taken before the Ravelsberg could fall.
The 1st Infantry Division plan called for a two-phase attack. The first phase would focus on surrounding the city, which would entail the capture of Würselen to the north by the 30th Infantry Division and the seizure of the Ravelsberg by the 18th Infantry Regiment. When that was accomplished, a 24-hour surrender ultimatum would be delivered to the commander of the garrison, Oberst Gerhard Wilck.
If he failed to agree unconditionally, the second phase would commence. The 26th Infantry Regiment would launch an attack against the center of the city with the objective of destroying the German garrison. Medium bombers of the Ninth Air Force, as well as the massed fires of VII Corps artillery, would support the assault.
Colonel Smith’s plan called for the 2nd Battalion to attack at night through positions held by the 16th Infantry Regiment to seize the village of Verlautenheide to the east of the base of Crucifix Hill. The 2nd Battalion would then establish blocking positions to the north and farther east to blunt any potential German counterattack.
Once this was accomplished, the 1st Battalion would move up to Verlautenheide before swinging west to seize Crucifix Hill and cut the Aachen-Haaren Road. The 3rd Battalion would launch a supporting attack from nearby Eilendorf to seize Hill 192 northwest of Haaren, diverting attention from the Regiment’s main effort at Crucifix Hill.
Company B, 745th Tank Battalion, with 15 Sherman tanks, would be attached to the Regiment, along with a platoon of four tank destroyers from the 643rd Tank Destroyer Battalion. Company B, 1st Engineer Combat Battalion would furnish support as well. Company A, 87th Chemical Mortar Battalion would be in direct support with its 4.2-inch (107mm) heavy mortars, and other indirect fires for the attack would be provided by Cannon Company and the 105mm howitzers of the 32nd Field Artillery. Reinforcing fires were to be provided by the other battalions of DIVARTY and the 155 mm SP guns of Battery A, 957th FA Battalion of VII Corps.
Due to the relatively poor and unstable weather conditions, a date had not yet been set for the start. The mood of the officers and men of Combat Team 18 seemed pensive, and this was reflected by Captain McGregor when he wrote:
The men of the 1st Division faced the Aachen offensive with mixed feelings. In as much as the Division had achieved a series of outstanding successes along the historic path from Normandy to Aachen and the gates of Germany, they were battle veterans with a sense of destiny—a feeling that they were always selected for important tasks because they had always accomplished their mission. They knew that Aachen was heavily prized by both friend and foe. If captured, it would be the first German city to fall into Allied hands, and Hitler himself had ordered that it be defended to the last man. Thus, espirit de corps was excellent.
On the other hand, there were causes for personal misgivings concerning the forthcoming operation. The rapid dash across France and Belgium and the apparent destruction of the German Army in the west had raised the hopes of final victory and a sudden end to the war. These hopes had been shattered by the abrupt increase of resistance on German soil. The Siegfried defenses, although manned by troops with low morale and poor combat efficiency, were proving difficult to reduce and it was apparent the enemy intended to defend his homeland by waging a fierce war of attrition against the invader. Casualties were mounting, and morale, while good on the whole, was a factor that varied with the comparative success or failure of each day’s operation.”
Preparations made by the 1st Battalion staff took in planning the attack on Crucifix Hill reflected the wisdom gained over nearly two years of battle experience. While enlisted men got some rest after being relieved on 2 October by the 237th Engineer Combat Battalion, Captain McGregor joined Captain Murphy and Captain Henry Sawyer at the regimental command post where the S-3s coordinated their respective battalions’ actions. Afterward, McGregor returned to his battalion command post where he discussed the regimental plan with Lieutenant Colonel Learnard and the artillery liaison officer. The trio huddled together to study maps, aerial photographs, and overlays of German defensive positions on Crucifix Hill and in the surrounding area. Before bedding down that night, the officers made plans for a detailed reconnaissance the following day.
Lieutenant Colonel Learnard already had some second thoughts about the regimental plan and he voiced his objections directly to Colonel Smith as his men slept that night. The supporting VII Corps SP 155mm gun battery had been placed in defilade south of Eilendorf, some 3,300 yards from Crucifix Hill. Although the commander of the 957th FA expressed confidence that his guns would destroy many of the pillboxes during a nighttime preparatory barrage against Crucifix Hill, Learnard asserted that the 155s should instead be employed in direct fire during daylight hours. Colonel Smith thought otherwise, advising that if the guns were employed closer to the front they would be vulnerable. Learnard remained concerned, but he had no choice but to accept Smith’s refusal to change the regimental fire support plan that night.
The next morning, Captain McGregor and his operations sergeant joined with Learnard and the Company D commander, Captain Robert E. Bowers, to visually reconnoiter Verlautenheide and Crucifix Hill.
Verlautenheide, which was connected by a good road with Eilendorf, stood on the crest of a bare ridge. It ran approximately 1 ,000 yards to the west, rising gradually until it reached Crucifix Hill. Haaren, a small village just outside of Aachen, was located at the southwestern corner of this ridge, at the base of Crucifix Hill.
Now, for the first time, the observation party saw many large pillboxes that studded the crest and southern slopes of the hill; the firing ports in each overlooked the intended assault path. No mines were visible, but the Americans did notice that belts of barbed-wire entanglements protected communications trenches running from pillbox to pillbox.
Since patrols had not been able to infiltrate past the German outposts protecting the valley between Eilendorf and Crucifix Hill, little information was known about the enemy’s dispositions. Intelligence reports indicated that Replacement Battalion 453 occupied Verlautenheide itself and that a reinforced company of Grenadier Regiment 352 was manning the pillboxes on Crucifix Hill.
The reconnaissance party also saw that the enemy’s observation and fields of fire were excellent, and that there would be little cover or concealment when the assault began. Moreover, an approach route from Verlautenheide to Crucifix Hill also had no cover and the best approach to the hill appeared to be a road that curved out of the northeast end of Eilendorf. It offered some protection from direct fire for about half the distance to the hill.
When McGregor and Learnard returned to the battalion command post they arranged all pertinent maps, photographs, and overlays to facilitate discussion of their attack plans with every key officer.
Recognizing that Crucifix Hill would have to be taken with a deliberate and aggressive assault, a training program reorganized rifle platoons into assault teams. The 1st Battalion’s Ranger Platoon set up a training area as served as instructors. Dummy pillboxes were constructed by the Ammunition and Pioneer (A&P) Platoon; necessary weapons and demolitions were issued; and the men were soon armed with pole charges, satchel charges, bangalore torpedoes, and flame throwers for several practice attacks against the hastily-simulated German pillbox fortifications.
The next day, 4 October, saw further preparation—this time in the form of another reconnaissance of Crucifix Hill with all rifle company commanders, Lieutenant Colonel Learnard, McGregor, the battalion S-2, and communications officers. As commanders responsible for executing the attack were briefed on the overall regimental plan, terrain features were pointed out, and the best route of approach to Crucifix Hill was agreed upon. Noting that the rifle companies would move by truck to the village of Brand before making a foot march to a forward assembly area in Eilendorf, Lieutenant Colonel Learnard issued his operation order and directed each company commander to continue reconnoitering the objective area the next day. They would take with them all of their officers and noncoms, to include squad leaders.
After viewing the landscape the next morning, one sergeant evidenced the value of Learnard’s thoroughness in preparing them for the attack when he wrote:
Every bit of enemy activity was noted and recorded; every pillbox closely watched; every likely approach studied; every last discernable fold in the ground was tucked away in our memories. Not deeming it sufficient to permit each man to rely on the evidence of his own eyes, we later critiqued the operation until we were certain that we were getting the best and fullest and most reliable information possible. The importance of the mission was drilled into us. No stone was left unturned to insure that this operation would be a complete success with the fewest possible casualties.24
A pilot from the Ninth Air Force reported to Learnard the next morning. His role as air liaison officer was to direct fighter -bombers during the attack.
McGregor returned to Eilendorf with the air liaison officer, and platoon leaders from the supporting tank company, tank destroyers, and the regimental anti-tank company. As the time for the attack now neared, McGregor made plans to return in the morning for a final observation, this time with the company commander who would lead the assault on Crucifix Hill.
Captain Bobbie Brown, now commander of Company C, was selected for this task. At 41 years of age, he was older than most captains in the Regiment, but this had not deterred his selection as a rifle company commander. He was a “Mustang,” an enlisted man who received a battlefield commission. His previous battalion commander, Lieutenant Colonel York, later recalled that decision, which was made prior to Normandy:
I had to choose between a group of very fine young officers with college educations, some at West Point. These officers were very capable men who had been with me through North Africa and Sicily. I finally made one of the toughest personal decisions of my life. I decided to give the company to Bobbie in spite of his limitations. Bobbie hadn’t completed one year of formal schooling, but the report noted that he had all the characteristics of an outstanding officer. He had an intense desire to kill Germans and was shrewd in figuring out ways to do it. He was an expert at ambushing, patrolling, and scouting techniques. He had a sense of timing that was unusual. He was a scrapper, and when it came to soldiering he was right there. He was absolutely fearless. 25
On 7 October McGregor and Captain Brown made one final reconnaissance of Crucifix Hill, and Brown later remembered that the reconnaissance took most of the day. He noticed that ditches and mines were the first barriers his company would have to cross, that the ditches were some twelve feet wide and about 75 yards in front of the “dragon’s teeth” (concrete antitank obstacles) that formed a 50-foot-deep belt at intervals along the base of the hill. Behind them, ditches and barriers gave way to a series of 50 pillboxes and emplacements. Pillboxes were about 90 feet in circumference and covered, except for their turrets, with brush and long grass. Captain Brown was unable to see beyond the crest of Crucifix Hill, however, which meant that he had little or no information about the hill’s reverse slope.
The weather during this entire period was harsh. Rain fell often and visibility during daylight was limited by low clouds and ground fog. The ground was damp and cold, making life uncomfortable. Tracked vehicles were limited to the road; otherwise they risked bogging down.
While artillery and fighter-bombers had been busily hitting targets of opportunity when weather permitted, current conditions made McGregor fear that there would be restrictions on fire support when the attack began. All of these factors weighed heavily on him that night when he returned from reconnoitering Crucifix Hill with Captain Brown, only to learn that the warning order had already come down from Regiment. The attack was on for the next morning, 8 October.
During this period, the 3rd Battalion was occupying positions at Eilendorf, under the nose of the enemy atop Crucifix Hill. The battalion, which was temporarily attached to the 16th Infantry Regiment, suffered constant shelling and mortar fire. Despite the deadly interruptions, the combat team’s soldiers continued refining their own plans for the supporting attack against Hill 192.
At the same time, 2nd Battalion patrols conducted daylight reconnaissance, using the 3rd Battalion perimeter as their departure point. Patrols had not been able to determine the enemy strength at Verlautenheide, which concerned Williamson because he feared the enemy might be capable of bringing up reinforcements undetected from east of the ridgeline. He knew his rifle companies would be attacking down another ridge to get to Verlautenheide, and that this area was constantly subjected to small arms, artillery, and mortar fire. The 2nd Battalion would have to storm huge concrete pillboxes that guarded the approaches to the ridge while simultaneously assaulting a fortified town. Once Verlautenheide fell, moreover, Williamson and his men would have to hold the town while being subjected to fire both from the front and from the direction of Aachen to the rear.
At 2215 hours, the 2nd Battalion moved to Brand, where men detrucked before continuing on foot to a forward assembly area, arriving an hour before midnight. The battle for Crucifix Hill began at 0300 hours when artillery fire crashed into Verlautenheide and the ridge itself. An hour later, Williamson’s men jumped off with Company E, now being commanded by Captain Hershel T. Coffman, on the left flank and Company F assaulting to the right, while Company G initially remained in reserve. Company H mortars remained behind the line of departure to support the attack, while a platoon of heavy machine gunners each accompanied the assaulting rifle companies. Surprisingly, there was little activity in response to the American advance until a sergeant in Company F yelled too loudly at a straggling soldier. The startled defenders then quickly filled the night sky with parachute flares.
Fortunately, a low-hanging blanket of fog prevented the Germans from seeing the Americans well, and this cover permitted the rifle companies to keep moving with a minimum casualties. Visibility started improving at 0700 hours, just as the lead elements of Company E entered Verlautenheide.
The Germans then unleashed a scathing artillery and mortar attack in reaction, but they were too late to prevent the Americans from gaining a foothold in the village. Company G hurriedly moved up from reserve and its men soon were involved in house-to-house fighting—fighting that was destined to continue for several hours.
Artillery, panzerfausts, mines, and poor road conditions took a devastating toll on the Shermans of Company B, 745th Tank Battalion as they tried to support the attack. One tank got stuck in the mud before leaving Eilendorf and another was knocked out by artillery fire near the railway overpass north of town. A third Sherman hit a mine, blocking the road to Verlautenheide, halting the advance. A panzerfaust fired from a house along the same road knocked out one of the stalled tanks. This left one operational Sherman, which pulled off the road into an orchard and waited until mines on the roadway were cleared, four hours later.
A similar fate crippled the second platoon of tanks. One Sherman fell out with mechanical problems just outside of Eilendorf, while another was put out of action by a mine. The three remaining tanks then waited for an hour just south of Verlautenheide as mines were cleared. Tank commander Sergeant Earl R. Jacobsen remembered the event vividly, later writing, “We experienced the worst artillery fire I have ever seen. The tanks had scarcely an opportunity to return fire. They couldn’t move.”26
Despite this, by 1200 hours the 2nd Battalion reported Verlautenheide in its hands; the town was finally cleared of enemy stragglers by 1600 hours. Coffman’s men had also reduced a number of pillboxes behind the town by this time, after coming at them from the rear with satchel and pole charges. The enemy had suffered heavy casualties, and 61 were captured. Williamson lost 5 men killed, 74 wounded, and 9 missing. Incoming enemy artillery was so heavy during the day that it was impossible to evacuate the wounded until nightfall.
Earlier that morning, Colonel Smith ordered Learnard to launch his attack on Crucifix Hill. Learnard had protested, requesting that the operation be delayed until Verlautenheide was cleared, but Smith insisted that the attack start. Given the uncertainty of the situation, Learnard then decided to lead the attack personally. His command group took off across the open stretch toward Verlautenheide, running a gauntlet of artillery fire before safely reaching the village. Several homes were found to be still sheltering Germans, but they were soon cleared out and the battalion staff settled into their new forward command post in a cellar.
Learnard called Colonel Smith to report the situation, and he then arranged for smoke shells to be fired on either side of the approach to Verlautenheide while his rifle companies advanced. Ominously, the telephone line to the Regimental CP went out after that report.
Major Robert E. Green, the 1st Battalion Executive Officer, had moved the rifle companies to an assembly area near his command post south of Verlautenheide. At 1000 hours Learnard radioed Green and told him to start infiltrating forward to the line of departure, one company at a time. Artillery smoke shells were laid as requested, but the smoke quickly dissipated in the strong wind.
When Green started out on the expanse of the bare approach to Verlautenheide, the 1st Battalion’s rifle companies sustained heavy casualties from the almost constant enemy artillery fire. “Casualties were high in all companies,” one officer wrote. “This was despite our extreme caution; despite the use we made of all possible cover and concealment; despite the perfect dispersion. In spots where Jerry could not directly observe us, he had previously registered his supporting fires. We had to move in single file. It was a slow, tortuous move.”27
Company A, now commanded by Captain Scott-Smith, was hit the hardest and he lost almost an entire platoon. It was necessary for his company to reorganize, as the evolving plan called for his men to protect the rear and flank of Company C when it assaulted Crucifix Hill. By now Brown’s rifle platoons were busily huddling over their situation maps in the cellars of the houses in Verlautenheide and hurriedly studying the pillbox locations on Crucifix Hill one last time. The company Executive Officer, Lieutenant Clement Van Wagoner, had the company well organized, allowing Brown to make last-minute adjustments as needed. “I had my artillery and 81mm mortar observers get on a housetop where they could observe the objective area,” Brown wrote later. “I had also placed the heavy machine guns on other housetops so they could have a good field of fire. I then put out a covering force and had all the platoon leaders join their platoons to await my return from my ground reconnaissance.”28
Captain Brown took his radio and headed off westward to observe the situation on Crucifix Hill, but when he got about 400 yards away from Verlautenheide, rifles and machine guns opened fire and the enemy began dropping mortar rounds near him. “I hit the ground and crawled in the direction of the small arms fire and again several bursts from machine guns came in my direction,” Brown recalled. “I then withdrew to a small cemetery where I had my covering force. One of them opened fire, and three enemy put their hands up and surrendered. I took the prisoners back to my command post, where I discovered the Ranger Platoon also had 22 others in a cellar.”
Brown then assembled his platoon leaders and gave them the final attack plan. The 1st Platoon would move along the trail leading up the right side of Crucifix Hill, reducing each pillbox they encountered along the way. The 2nd Platoon would attack on the left slope of the hill with the same mission. The attached battalion Ranger Platoon would act primarily as security against a German counterattack on the company’s left flank, so they were assigned only one pillbox to capture. the company’s 60mm mortars would go into position west of Verlautenheide, then move forward with the attached heavy machine guns from Company D. The 81mm mortar and artillery observers were to follow the two assault platoons. All three rifle platoons had a radio, and Brown carried an extra set (belonging to the Ranger Platoon) so he would have two ways to communicate with his executive officer, Lieutenant Van Wagoner. “I then checked to see that everyone knew the signals to lift fires, or to call for fire. Final watches were set, and the time was 1140 hours,” Brown recalled later. “All of the platoon leaders were then directed to return to their men and give them these instructions.”29
“Half in jest,but with butterflies in our stomachs, we christened the coming operation either ‘Operation Massacre’ or ‘Operation Decimation,’ one of Brown’s officers wrote. “It was thoroughly obvious to us that the job ahead was to be a rough one.”30 Captain Brown by then had returned to the battalion command post with Lieutenant Van Wagoner and his communications sergeant to find that there was a final message from Regiment. The message read, “You will neutralize and destroy all enemy activity on Crucifix Hill. You will then organize and prepare a permanent defense on the hill and be ready to repulse any and all counterattacks.”31 The time of the attack was set for 1330 hours. Completely satisfied with Brown’s preparations when he reviewed them with him, Lieutenant Colonel Learnard only wished him good luck. Brown then returned to his command post in a nearby cellar to inform his men of the time of the attack.
Brown was relying heavily on air support to cover his advance to Crucifix Hill, but when the tanks of the 745th were stalled earlier that morning, the air liaison officer who was in a VHF-radio equipped Sherman never made it forward in time for his assault. Unknown to Captain Brown, he would now only have air support offered by two pre-arranged flights of P-47s when his attack started. By this time, the opening rounds of the scheduled artillery barrage were already falling on Crucifix Hill, and Brown was moving his men up to their attack positions on the line of departure. Company C attacked at exactly 1330.
Immediately, things began to go wrong.
An enemy forward observer on the southern slope of Crucifix Hill brought down a tremendous barrage on Brown’s men, inflicting numerous casualties before they could get close to their assigned pillboxes. Within minutes, the Ranger Platoon also found itself under heavy fire from two strong points. Through this, Brown was still able to lead his command group to the base of the hill where he, his radio operator, and his runner quickly jumped over an embankment. A call came in on the SCR-536 radio saying that Lieutenant Joseph W. Cambron, the battalion Ranger Platoon leader, had been wounded, followed moments later by another call indicating that both of his assault platoons were pinned down and could not move. Preparatory fires and air strikes having been ineffectual, his radio operator then yelled, “Jesus, the air force and the artillery didn’t do a goddamned thing to those pillboxes, did they. What the hell happens now?” Brown, taking in the totality of the situation, simply responded with, “I guess I’ll have to take them myself.”32
The opened mouth radio operator then uttered an incredulous “Sir?” as if to question Brown’s sanity. The determined captain, though, studying a dark pillbox to his front, responded flatly with, “What we’ll need is a couple of pole charges. And throw in some satchel charges, too.” A nearby sergeant then nodded and said, “Guess the only way to do it is to send up some engineers, eh, Captain?”
Bobbie Brown shot back with, “No, I wouldn’t ask a man to commit suicide. I told you I’d do it myself. ” Lieutenant Charles Marvain, the 2nd Platoon leader, had managed to work his way forward by this time and he quickly threw a satchel charge, which was loaded with 60 quarter-pound blocks of TNT and had a three-second fuse, over a bank to him.
Brown said later:
I picked the charge up and crawled to the pillbox, then I ran up to the aperture. At the time an enemy rifleman opened the door and started out. However, when he saw me, he dashed back inside. I jumped at the door and tried to slam it shut; however the excited German had left his rifle in the doorway. I opened the door at the same time I pulled the fuse on my charge and tossed it inside the bunker, slammed the door, and jumped back over the embankment as the pillbox and its occupants were blown up.33
Brown then rushed back to his men and arrived just as another radio report came from the Ranger Platoon saying that Lieutenant Cambron had been hit a second time, but that the platoon had destroyed its assigned pillbox. “But my assault platoons were still pinned down, and we were receiving both artillery and mortar fire,” Brown remembered after acknowledging this report. “So my runners and I picked up more pole charges and satchel charges so we could move to another pillbox. Then we fired a yellow smoke grenade on the south side of the pillbox we wanted in order to signal the 155mm in Eilendorf to lift its fire so we could make our assault.” Armed with two explosive charges and again alone, Captain Brown took a wide, circuitous path up the 100 feet that brought him behind this pillbox, crawling most of the way. As he worked his way closer, machine-gun fire started spraying the ground nearby, but he stayed on his belly and dragged himself under the trajectory of the enemy’s guns.
He could not get close to the rear door this time, and so before the Germans could emerge from the pillbox he braced the pole charge against the front aperture, pulled the fuse, and then dove into a nearby crater. Seconds later the pole charge exploded thunderously, stunning the occupants of the pillbox. Brown took immediate advantage of this and charged the aperture once more, this time lobbing a satchel charge into the opening where it exploded, sending smoke and flames rushing from the pillbox’s vents.
This time when he returned to the base of the hill, Captain Brown was told that Lieutenant Cambron of the Ranger Platoon had been hit for a third time and had been killed.34Cambron’s platoon sergeant, now in charge of the platoon, had also reported that they could not move because of the intense small arms and artillery fire to their front.
By this time, one of the squad leaders from Brown’s nearby 2nd Platoon had also been hit, and the remainder of the squad had joined him. The sergeant now in command of the squad reported that he was prepared to launch an immediate assault, prompting Captain Brown to plan yet another coordinated attack against more of the enemy fortifications.
“The squad had a flamethrower, so I assigned them to a third pillbox, and with the help of a good rifleman to keep the aperture closed a fourth pillbox was soon neutralized,” Brown remembered. “This relieved the pressure on both assault platoons.” During this action, Brown attacked another pillbox by himself, one of the largest on the summit of Crucifix Hill. It had a steel door in the rear that was facing another thick block that Captain Brown determined was most likely the entrance to an underground ammunition bunker. He watched as a German soldier came out of the pillbox, and then made his way down into this bunker. When the German emerged with his arms loaded with shells, Brown sneaked up on him just as he re-entered the rear of the massive pillbox. He then cagily waited until the stocky German put down his ammo to close the door before dropping a lit satchel charge inside the box at the man’s feet.
Brown then slammed the door in the German’s stunned face and ran like hell as a tremendous explosion rocked the summit of Crucifix Hill. This time he was wounded, once on the wrist and once on the chin. As he went back down to find his men Brown remembered, “I saw three pillboxes go out at one time from actions of the assault platoons, so I sent my runner back to give Lieutenant Van Wagoner an oral order to move up all the remaining detachments and the support platoon to one of the destroyed fortifications, then for him to proceed to the battalion command post to let the battalion commander know the situation.” Nearby a sergeant exclaimed, “You did it, sir. That finished ’em for good. The hill is ours.” Captain Brown’s modest reply was simply, “Good, it was the only job they expected us to do.”35
The 18th Infantry Regiment in World War II
by Robert Baumer and Mark Reardon
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Soldiers currently assigned to the 1st Battalion, 18th Infantry Regiment and all members of the 18th Infantry Regiment Association and their families may purchase this book for $19.95, plus shipping.