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HEADQUARTERS, 508TH PARACHUTE INFANTRY
APO #230, U. S. ARMY

7 December 1944

57 DAYS IN HOLLAND AND GERMANY
WITH THE
508TH PARACHUTE INFANTRY
_________________________________
 

C. - 3rd Battalion: 17 September to 24 September 1944

The 3rd Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry, commanded by Lt. Colonel Louis G. Mendez, Jr., landed several hundred yards southeast of DZ "T", assembled quickly, and occupied its initial objective, the high ground in the general area BERG EN DAL-UBBERGEN-BEEK at 1830 hour, without serious resistance. The success of all operations in the NIJMEGEN area depended to a great extent upon the retention of this high ground by the 3rd Battalion.

Late in the afternoon of 17 September, Company G seized HILL 64 (732616). At midnight the company attacked to seize the NIJMEGEN highway bridge, advancing to a point within 400 yards of the bridge by the next morning. Due to a heavy enemy attack on the southern perimeter of the Regimental area at WYLER, and to a serious threat at BEEK, Company G had to be moved to the high ground north of BERG EN DAL, before it seized the bridge.

The situation demanded that the enemy be denied the use of the NIJMEGEN WYLER road (Highway K). By the afternoon of the 19th, road blocks had been established at the main intersection in BERG EN DAL and on Highway K at BEEK. Company D, 307 Engineer Battalion and four 57mm AT guns were placed at the roadblock in BEEK and two at the block in BERG EN DAL.

Throughout the 19th much enemy movement had been observed in the area behind BEEK, and the general opinion was that an attack was imminent. As the enemy would concentrate his activity at a particular place, apparently massing for an effort, our artillery would force him to disperse.

On 20 September, the Germans began to systematically shell the positions in BEEK and BERG EN DAL, causing some casualties. In the late afternoon an attack by enemy armor and infantry developed at BEEK. The platoon road block was overrun and the enemy advanced almost to BERG EN DAL. Company H counterattacked, and reestablished the BEEK position at 2140 hour, after a bitter fight.

The enemy wanted BEEK, and to get it they threw in an immediate counterattack in greater strength than before. By dawn a portion of Company H was completely surrounded. The 3rd Battalion launched a full scale attack, one platoon of Company G attacking from the northwest, while Company F attacked from the southeast. What remained of Company H made the frontal assault. The initial attack made very little progress. Losses to both sides were very heavy. The enemy came forward in another attack, attempting to press his temporary advantage by pushing southwest from BEEK to towards BERG EN DAL and southeast towards WYLER. This effort met with no success. In the early afternoon the 3rd Bn renewed the attack with a ferocity which sustained Lt. General Dempsey's reference to the 82nd Airborne Division as "The finest fighting division in the world." By 1815 hours BEEK was ours, and from this time on no live Germans, except prisoners, were in the town again.

On the 22nd September orders were issued for the 3rd Battalion to attack and clear the enemy from the eastern portion of the CIRCUL VAN DE COIJ and establish the MLR along the new line SMOREN HOOK-QUER DAM-DAM ERLEKON.

Company I, supported by a troop of tanks from the Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry, initiated a reconnaissance in force and reached WERCHEREN by 1610 hours. At the south end of WERCHEREN LAKE Company I encountered enemy estimated at two companies in well dug-in positions, supported by AT guns and artillery. Company I was unable to advance through or around this enemy position, and at 1800 hours, after suffering moderate casualties, returned to the hills overlooking BEEK. Preparations were initiated for an attack to be launched the next day.

At 0430 hours, 23 September, the 3rd Battalion moved out to a rendezvous near POLDER. The attack began at 0710 hours, with companies echeloned to the left rear, in order from right to left, Company G, Company H, Company I. A troop of tanks was attached to each company.

On the north flank, Company I overcame enemy resistance easily, and reached the objective in the ERLEKOM brick kilns at 0830 hours. Company H reached its objective at HILL 9.2 (774624) with no resistance being encountered. Company G ran into the center of enemy resistance and reached its objective (THORENSCHE MOLEN) at 0815 hours after a fierce fight. The enemy counterattack caught Company G in the midst of reorganization and resupply and forced it back six hundred yards to the WERCHEREN LAKE.

In the afternoon (23 September) Company G attacked and regained the THORENSCHE MOLEN position. The enemy concentrated artillery fire on the company position and engaged our forces with small arms, mortars and automatic weapons. It was decided to move Company G to the vicinity of WERCHEREN LAKE and organize that ground for defense. By nightfall Company G was in position and firmly established.

At 2100 hours the enemy launched a coordinated attack on Companies G and I, which was repulsed after heavy fighting. In the course of the battle Company I damaged a PzKw tank.

On the morning of the 24th September Company G made its third attack on THORENSCHE MOLEN and for the third time drove the enemy from the position. The enemy resumed their bombardment of the dikes, and it was decided that the mounting casualty rate did not warrant retention of the tactically valueless position. On Regimental order Company G returned to the WERCHEREN LAKE positions and organized the MLR at that point.

On the evening of the 24th September the 3rd Battalion was relieved by the 3rd Battalion, 504 Parachute Infantry.

In eight days of fighting the 3rd Bn had attacked six times, had withstood five enemy attacks, and had driven the Germans from twelve thousand square meters of GERMANY and HOLLAND. In these actions the 3rd Battalion lost 40 killed, 120 wounded, and 36 missing in action. 146 German prisoners were taken and an estimated 100 enemy were killed.

D. - General:

At 1600 hours, 24 September, 504 Parachute Infantry began relief of the regiment in the entire sector. By 2345 hours the relief had been completed and all units of the regiment went into Division Reserve.

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