Tuesday, December 16, 2014

At 5:30 AM, December 16th, 1944 Leo Grad Jack Hogan Fired Back at the Wermacht

When Jack Hogan was drafted into the Army during World War II he said he knew it was his duty to serve. "It was a normal thing," said Hogan, 84, of Chicago's Ashburn community. "When I was drafted in 1943 the wars had started." The 19-year-old was assigned to the 755th Field Artillery Battalion, Headquarters Battery. His battalion fought* in the Battle of the Bulge, the largest battle fought by Americans in World War II at Bastogne, Belgium. "We were completely surrounded," he said. "We were running out of food and ammunition. I think we were down to one pancake a day. We had no air support because of the weather." He said on a clear day they finally got some relief. …Stephanie Gerhing - Southtown Star April 26, 2009
VIII Corps' artillery and trains assembled outside Sibret, Kampfgruppe Kunkel turned north in the late morning toward Senonchamps, a village of some importance since it controlled the secondary road leading onto the Marche-Bastogne highway. The immediate prize before Kunkel, but probably unknown to him, was the American artillery groupment consisting of the 755th and 969th Field Artillery Battalions, emplaced with their 155-mm. howitzers near Villeroux, a crossroads some 2,500 yards south of Senonchamps.
At Senonchamps the 420th Armored Field Artillery Battalion under Colonel Browne was busily engaged in firing against the enemy east and north of Bastogne, but Browne had been able to take some steps to secure his gun positions with a scratch force of infantry and light tanks raised by CCB. Around Villeroux, however, all was confusion and no single officer seemed to be responsible for defense of this sector. As Kunkel sped north from Sibret toward Villeroux he met the 771st Field Artillery Battalion, which abandoned its guns and fled. About this time Team Pyle (a detachment formed from the remnants of CCR and numbering fourteen tanks and a couple of hundred stray riflemen) came south on the Neufchateau road. Kunkel hit the point of this force east of Villeroux and drove the Americans back in the direction of Senonchamps.
The brief respite given the Villeroux defenders by this encounter enabled the two medium howitzer battalions to "march order" their batteries and head for Senonchamps. German infantry in half-tracks closed on Villeroux before the last howitzers could displace, but visibility by this time had dwindled to a couple of hundred yards and Battery A of the 755th alongside the headquarters battery of the 969th laid down a hail of machine gun fire which momentarily halted the enemy. This small rear guard force itself was saved by the appearance of two American tanks that casually wandered into the fight and out again. Only one howitzer was lost during the displacement to Senonchamps, and it was disabled by a mortar shell.
At the edge of Senonchamps Team Pyle made a stand, for the German drive threatened to strike the 420th Armored Field Artillery Battalion (Team Browne) and the two battalions of 155'S from the rear. When the enemy infantry formed to join their tanks in an assault on the village they came directly under the eyes of Battery B of the 796th Antiaircraft Artillery Battalion, whose .50-caliber "meat choppers" quickly ended this threat. Kunkel decided to delay an attempt for conclusion until the morrow.

* 10th Armored Division "Tiger" Combat Command B Commander Col William L Roberts - divided in three teams :
- Team Maj William R Desobry
- Team LtCol Henry T Cherry
- Team LtCol James O'Hara

101st Airborne Division "Screaming Eagles" MajGen Maxwell Taylor - Acting Commander until december 27, 1944
BrGen Anthony C Mc Auliffe

- 501st 502nd and 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment
- 327th Glider Infantry Regiment (1-401st attached)
- 326th Airborne Engineer Battalion
- 377th 463rd Parachute Field Artillery Battalion
- 321st 907th Glider Field Artillery Battalion
- 81st Airborne Anti-Aircraft Battalion

- 705th Tank Destroyer Battalion Commanding Officer LtCol Clifford D Templeton
- 755th 333rd 775th 969th Field Artillery Battalions

1019 Officers
14167 NCO'S & EM

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