The (Bastogne to) Alsace Campaign, France
January 15 – January 27, 1945 (Bastogne to the Alsace)
January 27 – February 25, 1945 (the Alsace Campaign)
A lot of gratitude towards WW2 D Battery Mr.
Ken HESLER for research and writing.
From Bastogne to the Alsace.
The 463rd Parachute Field Artillery Battalion left its Hemroulle station January 15, 1945, and moved about four miles to near Foy following the infantry advance to the northeast.
As the 327th Glider Infantry Regiment, supported by the 463rd, continued to advance despite enemy counterattacks and infiltrations, the battalion moved forward. On the 16th, a battalion pilot, 1st Lt. George W. Schoeneck of Arkansas, and his air observer, 2nd Lt. Jack S. Terry of Georgia, were KIA during an air operation seeking enemy targets. According to George Koskimaki’s “Battered Bastards of Bastogne,” “...their plane ran into the path of a friendly artillery shell....”
The 463rd’s Bastogne campaign came to a close when it was
relieved near Sibret on the 17th by the 11th Armored Division. It
then traveled on the following day in two separate groups to
Lineville and Wideűmont, Belgium, in preparation for the movement of
the 101st to the Seventh Army front in Alsace where the Germans had
counter-attacked to cutoff the city of Strasbourg.
The main body of the 101st began its move to Alsace January 20.
As told in "Rendezvous With Destiny":
Many 463rd troops rode in the 10-ton vehicles with truck beds covered with straw and tarpaulin stretched flat overhead for protection from the elements, with room only to sit or lie down.
“The trip was to be long — about thirty-six hours — and the weather as cold and miserable as any encountered during the fighting . . . All the way to Alsace the roads were slippery and dangerous, and falling snow kept speeds down. The men settled down in the trucks, bundled as well as they could, and saw the Bastogne countryside fall behind.” (“Rendezvous With Destiny,” p. 665.) The battalion’s first stop was Lixheim, France.
“On the 24th both the 463rd and the 377th Parachute Field
Artillery Battalions dragged their guns into position near Saint-Louis-lčs-Bitche only to drag them back again later in the day... The
artillerymen were not too pleased at having to haul their guns up
two hills where it took two jeeps to move one 75mm howitzer, dig
them in in the frozen ground, and then get the ‘close station,
march’ order.” (“Rendezvous With Destiny,” p. 669.)
After a brief stay in Lixheim, the battalion went into position in Keffendorf, France January 27, in the vicinity of Haguenau.
Historical Narrative for the Alsace Campaign
On 1 February 1945 the 463rd Parachute Field Artillery Battalion with its command post in the town of Keffendorf, France (9500-2221 from sheet 38/14, Haguenau) and occupying the position as indicated on overlay "A", was firing in support of the 327th Glider Infantry Regiment operating in the Neubourg (9590-2675 sheet 38/14 Haguenau) sector of France with the front lines generally along the Moder River.
Also on 1 February 1945 the 79th Division staged a limited attack and being called upon to assist in the support of this mission this battalion fired preparation fires from 2020 hour to 2345 hour. This organization continued its normal firing, consisting of numerous harassing, intradictory and targets of opportunity missions.
In addition to the normal observation posts, on 10 February 1945 the battalion established a battalion observation post for the purpose of directing the fire of a reinforcing medium artillery battalion. From the observation post established, excellent observation on enemy rear areas was available. Through this observation post it was possible to bring medium artillery fire to bear on the enemy's supply installations and denied him the use of the vital supply road nets.
Due to the maneuver of friendly infantry, and in order to deliver supporting fire for the 327th Glider infantry Regiment, a displacement was necessary and after reconnaissance on 11 February 1945 this battalion executed its displacement, closing into its new position at 2000 hour 12 February 1945 with the Battalion command post established in the town of Winterhouse, France (9755-2160 sheet 38/14 Haguenau).
Operation in the supported Infantry's sector was normal until 14 February 1945 when the enemy struck with an attack from 2000 hours to 2215 hours. During this attack prearranged defensive fires were brought to bear on the enemy, counter preparation missions fired and the attack was successfully repelled.
The enemy again at about 2200 hour 18 February 1945 staged an attack, this time only of approximate patrol strength. This patrol action was accompanied by a fire demonstration but the complete enemy effort was counteracted by effective fires of this battalion, reinforced by Division Artillery, the 242nd Field Artillery Battalion and VI Corps counterbattery. The apparent results of this fire was that the enemy machine guns, mortars and rocket projectors were effectively silenced and an ammunition dump was set afire and continued to burn and explode for several hours.
This battalion remained in the same location and continued its fire in support of the 327th Glider Infantry Regiment until officially relieved by the 36th Division Artillery at 2000 hour 25 February 1945.
Ken Hesler : "A scene in the Fire Direction Center in Alsace (Winterhouse).
In the photo, I am
the third from the left.
although they all look familiar.
They are from the other batteries.
The photographs below are from the Alsace section of "Epic of the 101st Airborne," a picture book produced and distributed by the Division at war's end."
Ken Hesler: "I cannot identify
any unit associated with this gun section,
As to the building in the two photos below, I have always thought but cannot confirm
that it is either the same or looks exactly like the quarters
in which I stayed when assigned to Fire Direction Center at Winterhouse."
Ken Hesler: "My living area was on the second floor at right (two-pane window)
directly over what was a battery or battalion office below.
I never went there, only going back and forth to the FDC located in a nearby school building."
The page caption for the two photos of the same building is as follows:
"The charming half-timbered homes and the comparative quiet of the Alsace-Lorraine countryside
was welcome after the vicious Belgium campaign.
For the first time in over a month most of the troops were quartered indoors,
and when the division finally settled into defensive positions in Haguenau on the Moder River,
even many of the men on the line had shelter."