The History of the 168th Infantry Regiment
(From September 1, 1944 to September 30, 1944)
Text which has been significantly corrected in, or added to, this document is enclosed in [square brackets].
This narrative for this period, especially 21 through 30 September 1944, is often a a threading together of individual battalion and company reports; therefore you will see frequent repetition of content.
Page 10 of the original document is not available at this time.
Some pages of this document are of extremely poor quality, both in the source document and in the copy which we have. Any text which we could not read or cross-check with some level of certainty has been replaced by underscore ("_") characters.
[ 30 August 1944 ]
The month of September opened with the Regiment assembled in the vicinity of Gambassi (529431), where it had been since 24 August preparing to make the main effort for the Division in an attack to the north across the Arno River east of Florence. On 30 August a plan of attack was drawn up by which the Regiment, after relieving elements of the 1st British Infantry Division, was to attack to the north over high ground, seizing and holding a succession of dominating terrain features and continuing until it has occupied Hill 461 (827808), approximately eleven thousand yards north of the line of departure. This plan did not materialize since, after our troops were committed, the enemy withdrew and the British succeeded in occupying Hill 461. Despite the changed situation, the Regimental sector remained the same, and as the 1st British Infantry Division advanced, the Regiment followed preparatory to going into the attack.
[ 4-9 September 1944 ]
On the night of 4/5 September our Regiment moved to the vicinity of Galuzzo four to five kilometers south of Florence. From there on the night of 6/7 September it moved to an assembly area in the vicinity of Fiesole approximately four kilometers to the northeast of Florence. On the night of 8/9 September the three Battalions in the order 3rd, 2nd, and 1st moved to assembly areas in the vicinity of L'Ucellatoio (822772), closing in at 0030 hours 9 September.
[ 9 September 1944 ]
At 0050 hours 9 September the Regiment was ordered to start two patrols, limited to twenty-four men each, through the most advanced British outposts. The mission assigned these patrols at 0600 hours that morning was to contact the enemy and to reconnoiter a route of advance for the main body of the Regiment. In order to preserve secrecy on the presence of American troops in this area, radio silence was to be maintained by the patrols, and they were to report their progress by runner and maximum use of wire. At approximately 0330 hours it was learned that the British prior to that time had not been informed by higher headquarters of our orders to patrol through their outposts, and that they intended to send patrols into the same areas where our patrols were to go. At 0435 hours, when the plan was still not fully coordinated with the British, the 2nd and 3rd Battalions were ordered to hold their patrols in readiness, but not to dispatch them until they received further instructions.
After a night of delays and uncertainty, a patrol of twenty-three men from Company "K", led by 2nd Lieutenant Mark Santer, left the vicinity of L'Ucellatoio at 0730 hours. From a company of British Infantry at Ferraglia (826807) Lieutenant Sanger learned that the British claimed to have already patrolled to the outskirts of Vaglia (818832) making no contact with the enemy. Nevertheless, our patrol proceeded to Vaglia, where it captured one prisoner, then made the steep ascent of Poggio Cassaccia (807851), and crossed over Poggio Telvanera to Casa Maiano (798853), which it out-posted for the night.
The 2nd Battalion's patrol of twenty three men from Company "F", led by 2nd Lieutenant Richard J. Fasy, reached Paterno (803811) at approximately 1100 hours. Wire had been strung behind the patrol up to this point, but the wire peep could go no further than the edge of the town where a crater had been blown in the road.
From Paterno the patrol proceeded to Carreto Maggio (795818) and then over Poggio Cafaggio to Legri (772844). After finding the high ground to the northwest of Legri to be clear of the enemy, the patrol assembled in the town. Nothing was heard from this patrol or from Company "K"'s patrol until late afternoon. At 1330 hours, after Regimental staff officers and the 2nd Battalion Commander with his Company Commanders had reconnoitered for assembly areas, the Regimental Commander directed the 2nd Battalion to move to Carreto Maggio, the 3rd Battalion to follow the 2nd Battalion and assemble in the vicinity of Paterno, and the 1st Battalion to close into the 3rd Battalion's area at Paterno after the 3rd Battalion had moved on. While the Battalions were still on the move to these assembly points, Major Fred D. Clarke, the Regimental Operations Officer, and Lieutenant Colonel Joe L. Bourne, the 2nd Battalion Commander, rode over Poggio Cafaggio in a peep and contacted Company "F"'s patrol in Legri. They then returned to Cerreto Maggio, where they had telephone communication, and reported the results of the patrol to the Regimental Commander. Upon receiving this information Colonel Hine ordered the 2nd and 3rd Battalions to assemble behind Poggio delle Valli, preparatory to attacking at dawn. The 2nd Battalion closed into an assembly area in the vicinity of Salenzana (780856) at 2130 hours, followed by the 3rd Battalion which closed into Fisciano (858858) at 0130 hours. The 1st Battalion cleared its assembly area at Paterno at 0135 hours and at 0800 hours closed into the Fisciano area which had been vacated by the 3rd Battalion when it jumped off in the attack at 0530 hours.
The three Battalions, in their movement during the night to assembly areas behind Poggio delle Valli, had to traverse extremely rugged terrain. Since Route 65 on the right of the Regimental sector had been set aside for the use of the 91st Division, only ox-cart trails through the mountains, which were impassable for any vehicles except peeps, were available for the Battalions' use. On the following day the balance of the Regiment went around the mountains over a route which led northwest out of Florence through Settimello (734775) to La Chiusa (756810) and along the Marinella di Legri into the town of Legri.
Field Order Number 45, Headquarters 34th Division, of 1600 hours, 9 September, directed that the 133rd Infantry Regiment and the 168th Infantry Regiment attack abreast, to the north. The 133rd Regiment, was to take the high ground on the left of the Division sector, Mt. Maggiore and Mt. Pratacchio. The 168th Infantry was to attack over the eastern slopes of these mountains and through the hills below them. H-Hour was set for 0530 hours, at which time, in accordance with the Regimental attack plan, the 2nd and 3rd Battalions were to attack abreast, the 3rd Battalion on the right.
[ 10 September 1944 ]
At 0630 hours, 10 September, the 3rd Battalion crossed its line of departure at Fisciano Alto. Company "I", which was in the assault, passed over Poggio Fontanelle and took up positions on Hill 440 (776884). After this ground had been secured, Companies "I" and "L" attacked abreast, with Company "L" on the left, and at approximately 1100 hours occupied respectively Casa Nebbiacci (776893) and Casa Panche (770895), where Company "L" suffered four casualties from shell fire. From these positions patrols were dispatched by the Companies to Hills 396 (772907) and 388 (765906). The patrol from Company "I" made no contact with the enemy, and at 1700 hours the balance of the Company closed up to the patrol on Hill 396. At 1550 hours, as Company "L"'s patrol was approaching Hill 388, it received fire from two machine guns on Montebuiano (761909). The patrol was able to resume its advance after both machine guns were knocked out by mortar fire and by artillery fire from British 13th Artillery Brigade. At 2100 hours Company "L" occupied Hill 388, Company "K" took up position in the draw below Hill 404.
The 2nd Battalion, in the order Company "E", Headquarters, Company "F", Company "G", and Company "H", closed out of Salenzana at 0600 hours and marched in column up the road which skirts the base of Poggio Castellare (763860) on the west. Company "E" passed through Le Croci at approximately 1000 hours and, continuing to march up the road in column of twos, was subjected to heavy artillery fire on the side of the hill at 763885. After three men had been wounded the Company withdrew to a secure position (759877) on the reverse slope of the ridge to the west of Le Croci. The artillery fire continued after Company "E"'s withdrawal, the bulk of it falling in Le Croci. There, on the main street of the town Lieutenant Colonel Joe L. Bourne, the 2nd Battalion Commander, was seriously wounded by a shell fragment. Major Benjamin J. Butler, Regimental S-3, was given immediate command of the Battalion. When he assumed command at noon, Company "E" was on the reverse slop of the ridge to the west of Le Croci and Companies "F", "G", and "H" were assembled a short distance south of the town. Major Butler initiated reconnaissance for a covered route of approach over Poggio Castellare (751889) and through the ravines to the northeast of Le Croci. At 1500 hours a patrol from Company "E" reported from the crest of Poggio Castellare that the bare forward slopes of the hill offered no cover for the advance of the Battalion. Major Butler then ordered the patrol to proceed down the forward slopes to Casa Forno (757895), and at 1600 hours he started the balance of the Company after the patrol. At 1720 hours, after a covered route had been reconnoitered through the foothills to the northeast of Le Croci, Companies "G" and "F" attacked to the north mutually supporting one another as they advanced from terrain feature to terrain feature. Just before dark a patrol from Company "G" reached Hill 404 (761909), where it found the two machine guns which had been firing on Company "L" twisted by our artillery fire. Company "G" then closed up to its patrol on Hill 404, where it remained during the night. Company "F" took up position between Hills 396 and 388, and Company "E" assembled one thousand yards to the rear.
To the north the Regimental sector included two valleys separated by Poggio Manganaccia, a hill 1450 feet high. According to the plan of attack for 11 September the 1st Battalion was to relieve the 3rd Battalion before daylight, and at dawn attack to the north through the valley to the east of Poggio Manganaccia, with the mission of capturing Mt. Frassino (772995). The 2nd Battalion was to continue its attack at dawn abreast of the 1st Battalion with the objective of seizing and taking up a blocking position upon Poggio della Dogana (748968) and Poggio Pelato (753972), high points on the ridge extending northwest from the town on Montecuccoli. After these objectives had been taken, the Regiment was to be pinched out by the 133rd Infantry on the left and the 135th Infantry on the right. The boundary between the 1st and 2nd Battalions had been drawn through Poggio Manganaccia, so that both Battalions might take advantage of the high ground in their attack. In preparation for their attack the 2nd and 3rd Battalions were ordered late in the afternoon of 10 September to secure the Sieve River, so that the engineers might sweep the road net for mines up to the south bank of the river. They were further ordered to reconnoiter river crossings and to patrol to the north across the river.
[ 11 September 1944 ]
In accordance with this plan, the 2nd Battalion dispatched patrols to Hills 337 (764914) and 396 (718910), which overlook the Sieve River, and the 3rd Battalion sent security patrols to Hills 301 (775920) and 313 (772914) to screen the engineers while they swept the road net in the vicinity of 774917 for mines. Patrols from the 3rd Battalion which crossed the river and the 2nd Battalion's patrols on the hills to the south of the river made no contact with the enemy, but reported hearing enemy activity to the north and west. At 0300 hours 11 September, patrols from Company "G" and Company "F" set out for Hills 302 (762936) and 312 (766929) respectively. At dawn the patrols reported that they were on their objectives, having met no resistance. Following these patrols, Company "G" advanced to Hill 345 (768928) and Company "F" moved on to Poggio Manganaccia, reaching the crest of the hill at 1045 hours. When the Companies had closed up [on] their patrols, fresh patrols were dispatched, from Company "G" to the village of Pulica (751934) and from Company "F" to Hills 441, a knob on the southern slopes of Poggio Manganaccia, and Casa al Poggio (752945). While it was advancing up the ridge line towards Casa al Poggio, the latter of Company "F"'s patrols received small-arms fire from an estimated number of fifteen Germans who were occupying its objective. Major Butler immediately ordered Company "G" to send a strong combat patrol reinforced by a section of machine guns to cut the enemy off. This the patrol failed to do, because the group making the frontal attack on the enemy opened fire before a second group could maneuver to the enemy's rear. But under the small-arms fire from Companies "F" and "G" the enemy fell back to the next ridge and fled along it to the town of Montecuccoli (738949). On the last leg of the pursuit elements of the 133rd Infantry, which were on the high ground to the left of the Regimental sector, added their fire to that of our patrols. By the time the enemy reached the cover of the town, Company "F" had elements at Casa al Poggio, at a point four hundred yards further down the ridge to the east, and at Hill 441. Company "G" then took up position on Hill 580 (747946), and Company "E" displaced forward to Hill 351 (756935). The Battalion occupied these positions at approximately 1530 hours and prepared to attack its final objective.
At 0605 hours the 1st Battalion completed the relief of the 3rd Battalion. Company "A" and Company "B" then initiated an attack on the village of Cavallina (782922). They advanced by bounds through the low hills southwest of the town, and at 0856 hours, after Company "A" had taken up a supporting position on the ridge to the northwest of Cavallina, Company "B" entered the town. The enemy was making full use of mines in covering his withdrawal. Company "D", in crossing the Sieve River had suffered five casualties from mines. Now Company "B", finding Cavallina to be heavily mined and booby-trapped, forced an Italian to guide them through the town. Barberino, the Battalion's next objective, lay two thousand yards to the north of Cavallina across an open valley which was commanded on the left by Poggio Manganaccia and on the right by high ground in the 91st Division sector. Rather than expose the entire Battalion on open terrain. Lieutenant Colonel John E. Golding, Battalion Commander, decided to move Companies "A" and "B" under cover of the ridge extending northwest from Hill 301 (775920) to positions on the eastern slopes of Poggio Manganaccia from which they could support Company "C"'s attack across the valley, if necessary. With Company "A" at S. Andrea (775935) and Company "B" at Croce del Galle (772931), a patrol from Company "C" set out for Barberino. On the outskirts of Cavallina the patrol drew artillery fire but suffered no casualties. At 1630 hours the patrol entered Barberino.
When the 3rd Platoon of Company "C" had cleared the center of Barberino, the 2nd Platoon, led by 2nd Lieutenant Joseph W. Leary, went to investigate a castle on a heavily wooded hill which over-looked the town on the northeast.
From the castle wall the platoon observed a group of Germans around _________ _____ in single file eight hundred yards to the north. The platoon opened fire on the enemy and received small arms fire in return from the front, from both flanks, and from the right rear, where the company had by-passed a group of enemy who were in dug-outs at the edge of the town. Captain David W. Beals, Company Commander, _____ the 1st and 3rd Platoon sent to the northern edge of the town to support the 2nd Platoon, and the 60mm mortars were set up behind the inside. In a fire fight which lasted for an hour-and-a-half before dark, the ___ Platoon ran dangerously low on ammunition. In this emergency 1st Ser- geant Jessie C. Pet___ set out for the castle in a peep loaded with ammunition. He drove over the mined road leading into Barbarino and had the peep man-hand- led past the blown-out bridge in the center of the town. Coming under machine gun fire on the northern edge of the town, he drove on at top speed up the wind- ing road to the castle. After the fire fight had subsided, Company "C" held on to this key feature to secure the exposed right flank. At 2400 hours a patrol went out five hundred yards to the north of the castle and returned after receiving machine gun fire from the vicinity of Terzalla (752956).
In the late afternoon it seemed doubtful whether the 1st Battalion could reach Mt. Frassino that night. Lieutenant Colonel Golding had planned to launch the attack on Mt. Frassino from Casino, a village on the main supply route. As soon as the battalion had secured Casino, he had planned to establish his Command Post there and to set up the 81mm mortars in a draw to the south of the village. Company "B", Company "A", and Company "C", in that order from left to right, were then to attack along three parallel ridges up to the objective. At 1700 hours the battalion was just beginning to close in on Casino: Company "C" was in the vicinity of Barberino, Company "B" was at Croce del Gallo, and Company "A" was moving from Ginepro (769940) to Molinuccio (771951). With the 1st Battalion thus disposed, Colonel Hine decided to commit the 3rd Battalion on the left of the 1st Battalion in the attack on Mt. Frassino. He set the boundary between the two battalions roughly along the 77.4 Easting and, having assigned Company "B" a new set of check points, ordered it to attack to the north immediately. He then ordered the 3rd Battalion, which was en route to an assembly area behind Poggio Manganaccia, to go into the attack.
At 1730 hours, the 2nd Battalion began preparation for the attack on Poggio della Dogana (746968) and Poggio Telato (756972). Mortars and artillery were registered in and the terrain reconnoitered for a suitable route of approach. It was evident to Major Butler that less time would be consumed in reaching the objective by moving along the top of the ridge than in crossing the numerous low ridges on the valley floor. For this reason he planned to secure the town of Montecuccoli (736949) and then to patrol up the ridge line to the objective.
After the plan had been coordinated with the 133rd Infantry which previous- ly had been mortaring Montecuccoli, a patrol from Company "G" entered the town at 1___ hours. Company "B" then moved up to Hill 588 and sent its 1st Platoon, under the command of 2nd Lieutenant Joseph C. Lassiter, to patrol up the ridge line to the objective. After contacting a heavy weapons company of the 133rd Infantry on Hill _47 (736955), Lieutenant Lassiter led the squad along the top of the ridge to Hill 635 (742576), which it out-posted for the night, and with- drew the other two squads to positions along the road. After the 1st Platoon had left the company positions, orders were received by the Battalion Commander
that two battalions of the 133rd Infantry Regiment would occupy the objective that night and that upon being relieved by the 133rd Infantry, the 2nd Battalion should withdraw. The relief was not effected until 0900 hours the following morning, so the Battalion remained in position throughout the night with the 1st Platoon of Company "E" on the ridge and the balance of the Company on Hill 580, with Company "G" at Casa al Poggio, and with Company "F" assembled in the vicinity of the houses at 756934, with the exception of one squad which remained as a security patrol on the forward slope of Poggio Manganaccia until Company "B" passed by it.
With the 2nd Battalion out-posting Objective Number 11, the 1st and 3rd Battalions continued their attack during the night on Mt. Frassino. Company "B", following the route set out for it by the Regimental Commander, passed Company "A" in the vicinity of Molinuccio and proceeded up the trail toward the village of Collina (772963). As the Company was approaching Collina, an estimated number of twelve Germans with rifles and automatic weapons opened fire on it from the church. Captain William H. Harris, commanding Company "B", then led his Company in a brilliantly executed attack on this strong point. Laying down heavy fire, the platoons advanced almost without interruption by fire and movement. 2nd Lieutenant Seymour Goldberg and two enlisted men maintained almost constant fire on the enemy with Browning Automatic Rifles. When one had expended his ammunition and dropped down to reload, the other two would continue firing. The company, suffering no casualties in the action, drove the enemy up the ridge line to the northwest. After clearing the houses at 770966, the Company continued the pursuit up the ridge until it reached the 97 Northing, where it received small-arms fire from an estimated number of thirty Germans, some of whom were on the ridge to the northwest and others to the east of the Company's position. After dark the fire fight ceased, and the Company withdrew to Collina to reorganize and replenish ammunition and established out-posts. Company "A" then joined Company "B" in Collina.
This fire fight in the vicinity of Collina delayed the advance of the 1st Battalion which, according to the Regimental plan of attack, was to advance to the next ridge to the east, thus opening the way for the 3rd Battalion to utilize the ridge going north from Collina.
In the meantime the 3rd Battalion closed into an assembly area behind Poggio Manganaccia at 1730 hours. Passing an I.P. in the village of Camoggiana (768933) at 1900 hours, the battalion attacked to the north through Ginepro (769940), Giratola (762950), and Valdibonella (763958), arriving in Collina at 2315 hours. Companies "K" and "I" continued the attack up the ridge and took up positions on each side of the road just below the 97 Northing, with Company "K" on the right. Company "L" assembled in Collina. Lieutenant Colonel Golding and Lieutenant Colonel Marcellus T. Wilson [3rd Battalion Commander] then coordinated their attack for 0200 hours, the 1st Battalion to swing to the ridge to the east and continue the attack to the north along parallel ridges as originally planned. In this attack Company "E" reached the village of Puliana and Company "A" advanced to a point approximately five hundred yards north of this position on the ridge to the east.
[ 12 September 1944 ]
At 0200 hours a patrol of six men from Company "L" went out on reconnaissance to Mt. Frassino. The patrol crossed the creek at 773984 and proceeded north to about the 98.5 Northing. From there the patrol could hear digging and pounding of stakes on the forward slopes of Mt. Frassino. Continuing its advance toward the objective, the patrol encountered an eight-man German patrol and, after exchanging fire with the enemy, withdrew.
When Company "L"'s patrol returned with the report of enemy activity on Mt. Frassino, it was almost daylight. An attack on Mt. Frassino was no longer feasible, since the enemy had the advantage of prepared positions protected by barbed wire, and since the terrain to the 3rd Battalion's front afforded little cover for an attack. Having decided not to attack Mt. Frassino in daylight, [Regimental commander] Colonel Hine planned an artillery "shoot" on the mountain and the approaches to it from the north. At 0720 hours the 175th Field Artillery Battalion fired approximately 150 rounds into the draws, villages, and trail junctions of the 7700, 7800, and 7801 grid squares, and at the same time Cannon Company fired 240 rounds on Mt. Frassino
The all-night attack by the 1st and 3rd Battalions left the right flank of the Regiment exposed when morning came, because the 91st Division on the right was not yet abreast of the Regiment. At dawn when Company "B" was moving from Collina to the next ridge to the east where it was to organize a defensive position with Company "A", it received small-arms fire from the east, but the bulk of the enemy fire during the day was concentrated on the 3rd Battalion. Small-arms, mortar, tank, artillery, and self-propelled artillery fire harassed the Battalion throughout the day. Most of the flat-trajectory fire came from the east. A tank was firing from a position a few hundred yards to the east of the town of Largnano (783982), and hostile infantry were firing small arms from buildings in the town.
It had been planned that the 135th Infantry should relieve the 1st and 3rd Battalions at 0630 hours, 12 September, but while it was marching up to relieve the Battalions, the 135th Infantry was subjected to machine-gun, mortar, and artillery fire and was forced to fight its way up to our forward positions. The relief was delayed until this resistance could be overcome, and it was not completed until afternoon. The 1st Battalion was relieved at 1315 hours, and the Battalion closed into a bivouac area 774943 at 1800 hours. The Operations Officer of the 135th Infantry reported at 1400 hours that the ground in front of Company "K" had been secured. The 3rd Battalion could then have been withdrawn, but Lieutenant Colonel Wilson decided to withdraw the Battalion under the cover of darkness. At 2300 hours the Battalion closed into bivouac areas in the vicinity of Ginepro. The 2nd Battalion, after being relieved by the 133rd Infantry, had closed into bivouac area in the vicinity of Frassinetta (761926) at 1100 hours.
From September 9 to September 12 the Regiment advanced eighteen and one-half miles over mountainous terrain to within a few thousand yards of the Gothic Line. The advances were opposed by the ruggedness of the terrain, mining of roads, harassing our forward elements with light artillery and self-propelled artillery fire, and organized strong points. In the four-day period from September 9 to September 12 the Regiment had suffered only nine casualties, three of which were from artillery fire and six from mines. No casualties were suffered in encounters with enemy infantry. By advancing over covered routes the Regiment held its casualties to a minimum.
[ 13-15 September 1944 ]
After three days of rest during which the 135th Infantry Regiment and the 133rd Infantry Regiment had been heavily engaged in fighting through the outer defenses of the Gothic Line, the Regiment was ordered to move to assembly areas south of Mt. Frassino preparatory to passing between the 133rd Infantry and 135th Infantry in an attack on Mt. Tronale. In the Division plan of attack Objective "A" [Montepiano] was assigned to the 133rd Infantry and Objectives "B" and "C" to the 135th Infantry. The 168th Infantry was to be committed when the 135th Infantry had taken Objective "C", which would secure the right flank of the Regiment for an attack on Mt. Tronale from the southeast. The commitment of the Regiment did not depend upon the forward progress of the 133rd Infantry since it was believed that the enemy positions on Objective "A" would be untenable once Mt. Tronale had been taken.
[ 16 September 1944 ]
Beginning at 0530 hours 16 September the Battalions moved in the order 1st Battalion, 3rd Battalion, and 2nd Battalion to assembly areas at 768988, 764980, and 767976 respectively closing at 1215 hours. The approaches to these areas were under enemy observation from high ground to the northwest. During the day the enemy heavily shelled the 3rd Battalion area, killing one man of Company "K" and wounding seventeen. After dark Lieutenant Colonel Wilson decided to withdraw to a covered position in the vicinity of Collina [(770983)], into which the Battalion closed at 0100 hours 17 September.
[ 20 September 1944 ]
For five days after the Regiment was alerted for an attack on Mt. Tronale, the 135th Infantry and the 133rd Infantry continued to attack to the north, meeting strong resistance. On 20 September the 135th Infantry reported that it had two companies on Objective "C", one on Mt. Spicchio (777031) and one on Hill 868 (771030). The 168th Infantry was then ordered to attack the following morning. Inasmuch as the 133rd Infantry had not taken Objective "A", the Regiment's left flank would be exposed in the attack on Mt. Tronale. The left battalion of the 135th Infantry Regiment, which we were to relieve, was still at the foot of Objective "B", having been repulsed in its attacks up the steep slopes of Hill 977 [Poggio Giogana?] (758029).
[ 21 September 1944 ]
The Regimental attack plan of 20 September was premised on the belief that Hill 977 was the key to Mt. Tronale. The 2nd Battalion, after relieving the 1st Battalion of the 135th Infantry, on the ridge below Hill 977, was to attack the Hill at 0500 hours. Mt. Tronale was to be the 1st Battalion's objective, but due to uncertainty as to the exact location of the elements of the 135th Infantry which were reported to be on Objective "C", no definite route of attack for the Battalion was designated. Instead the boundary between the 1st and 2nd Battalions was so drawn that the Battalion had its choice of passing through the 135th Infantry on Hill 868, attacking across the valley in the 7602 grid square, or hugging the eastern slope of the ridge over which the 2nd Battalion would attack Hill 977. In mid-afternoon Colonel Hine favored the latter route of approach, since it would avoid the difficulty he anticipated in passing through the right battalion of the 135th Infantry in darkness when its position was not known, but this plan was discarded when the Regiment was ordered to make its main effort on the right. The 3rd Battalion, initially in Regimental reserve, was to be prepared to assist the 1st Battalion in the attack on Mt. Tronale, and once that Objective had been taken to continue the attack north to Mt. Coroncina.
At 0500 hours Company "E" jumped off in the attack from Hill 719, and at dawn the Company was on the lower slopes of the objective. The 3rd Platoon, which was in the lead, reached point 9_0 on the eastern slope of the hill without meeting any resistance. The 2nd Platoon then passed by the 3rd Platoon and engaged in a brief fire fight with enemy who were occupying a firing trench and a covered machine-gun nest on the crest of the hill. Three of the enemy were captured and one killed. After the 3rd Platoon had occupied the crest of the hill, the 2nd Platoon moved to Hill 958, and an out-post was established on the ridge between the two knolls. After Company "E" jumped off in the attack, Company "F" closed up to Hill 719, where it captured five Germans who evidently had infiltrated Company "E"'s positions in the night. When Company "E" reached Hill 977, Company "F" was ordered to close up to it. The enemy had begun sweeping the ridge from Hill 719 to Hill 920 (758028) with mortar fire, but by advancing over the precipitous eastern slope of the ridge, Company "F" avoided the impact area and at approximately 1000 hours reached Hill 850 (758025). In the meantime Company "G" had moved up to Hill 719.
The 1st Battalion, when dawn came, had not yet reached commanding ground. The Battalion had closed out of an assembly area on the southern slopes of Mt. Frassino (768988) at 0050, and because of extreme darkness had had difficulty in finding its way. At dawn Company "A", which was in the lead, was proceeding along the eastern slopes of Hill 782 (772022), when the 1st Platoon entered a minefield, where the Platoon Leader, 2nd Lieutenant Vincent P. Connors, and two enlisted men were wounded. After finding it impossible to climb the steep slopes directly above its position, the Company went back down the draw about eight hundred yards, and climbed the southeastern slope of Hill 725 (771018).
With the 1st Battalion advancing slowly up the ridge towards Objective "C", the Regiment was ordered at 1050 hours to cut the Montepiano-Castiglione road, over which the bulk of the enemy traffic could be expected to withdraw to the north. It was logical that this mission should be assigned to the 1st Battalion after it had taken Mt. Tronale, but since the Battalion was being retarded in its advance by the ruggedness of the terrain and the lack of a covered approach, Colonel Hine decided to start the 3rd Battalion toward Mt. Tronale and to use whichever Battalion that reached the ridge first to cut the Montepiano Road. Accordingly, at 1110 hours, he ordered the 3rd Battalion to follow the trail which the 2nd Battalion had taken to Hill 977 along the ridge to Rifiletti and then to attack Mt. Tronale.
By capturing Hill 977, the 2nd Battalion had breached the enemy line. In a radio message intercepted at 1230 hours an enemy company commander reported that his position had been by-passed by hostile troops, attacking with two battalions abreast, and that his company was suffering heavy casualties and was unable to block. The enemy reacted sharply to this precarious situation. During the afternoon the narrow hilltop from Hill 977 to Hill 958 was swept with mortar and artillery fire. Self-propelled artillery fired on the southern slopes of the hill from the east and west. On the reverse slope of the hill the enemy could be heard moving through the thick under-brush. Anticipating that this activity could culminate in a counter-attack, Major Butler prepared defensive mortar and artillery fires. At dusk enemy mortar and artillery fire ceased, and Company "E" braced itself for a counter-attack. An estimated number of fifty Germans supported by small-arms fire from both flanks and from a position to Company "E"'s left rear advanced through the thickets firing small arms and rifle grenades and throwing hand grenades. The 3rd Platoon on Hill 958 was overrun by the enemy and nine of the Platoon taken prisoner. The 2nd Platoon at the other end of the narrow hilltop, seeing enemy in the 3rd Platoon's position, and machine-gun tracers spattering against the Company command post on Hill 920, attempted to communicate with the 3rd Platoon and the Company command post by radio. Unable to reach either, and having had six of its men captured who were on an out-post, the Platoon withdrew rapidly, sliding down a steep, sandy slope. Before the counter-attack had begun, the 2nd and 3rd Platoons of Company "F" had set out from the vicinity of point 850 with the mission of occupying Hill 958. At Company "E"'s command post they learned that Company "E" had been counter-attacked and that it was not known whether the Company still held the hill. The 2nd and 3rd Platoons then attacked Hill 977, forcing the enemy to withdraw. Company "F" defended the entire hilltop, until Company "E", after having been reorganized, assumed responsibility for Hill 977.
In its attack up the ridge from Hill 725, the 1st Battalion was delayed by the lack of a covered approach. The enemy had cut the timber on the ridge, so that it afforded little concealment. He had destroyed the usefulness of the trail on the western slope of the ridge by mining it heavily and felling trees across it. He interdicted the draws on both sides of the ridge by continuous shell fire. At approximately 1300 hours the Battalion attempted to move down the western slope of the ridge to cut across the valley to Rifiletti (766033). No sooner did the forward elements start down the northern slope of Hill 725 than they drew artillery fire and machine-gun fire from the ridge to the northwest. At 1315 hours just as the Battalion was receiving this fire, the Regiment was instructed that an officer guide from Company "K" of the 135th Infantry Regiment, which was reported to be on Hill 768, was being sent to guide the 1st Battalion to his Company's positions. In accordance with these instructions, the Battalion changed its route of attack, moving now along the eastern slope of the ridge. As the troops moved forward, the ridge from their left front to Rifiletti to Hill 1105 (750045) was pounded by our supporting artillery. At 1645 hours Company "A" crossed the line of departure at Hill 749 (772026). While advancing from Hill 749 to Hill 868 the leading platoon encountered a group of enemy attempting to move a towed gun. A heavy fire fight ensued in which the enemy was driven back toward Rifiletti. The 2nd Platoon then by-passed Rifiletti and continued to Hill 896 [(763033)], where, upon hearing German voices in the woods, it deployed and captured five of the enemy. The 3rd Platoon was fired on in the outskirts of Rifiletti and spent the rest of the night at the edge of the town. In the meantime the remainder of the Battalion closed up on the ridge above Rifiletti.
When the 1st Battalion had resumed its advance in late afternoon, it had been given the mission of cutting the Montepiano-Castiglione road and ordered to continue the attack throughout the night. Accordingly, an attack in a column of companies in the order Company "B", Company "C", and Company "A", which would by-pass Rifiletti to the north was now planned for 2300 hours. The 2nd Platoon of Company "B", led by 2nd Lieutenant Bernard A. Baron, initiated a reconnaissance to Hill 1021 (763038) at 2300 hours. North of Rifiletti the Platoon was ...
[Page 10 of the original report is not available at this time.]
... meantime, Company "C" had passed by Company "B" and was continuing the attack up the ridge.
[ 22 September 1944 ]
The mission of the 3rd Battalion on 22 September was to follow the 1st Battalion on to Mt. Tronale and to launch an attack from there on Mt. Coroncina. Company "I", which was the assault company, jumped off from the vicinity of point 7_0 at 0630 hours and at approximately 0940 hours reached Hill 1021. From the crest of the hill the Company could observe no troops of the 1st Battalion. A patrol with the mission of contacting the 1st Battalion was sent up the ridge line to Hill 1102 (75_042), where it received sniper fire and withdrew. Companies "L" and "K", in the meantime, closed in on the southern slopes of Hill 1021.
The 3rd Battalion spent the day on Hill 1021 waiting for the 1st Battalion to clear its positions. Because of the fact that movement over Mt. Tronale was restricted to a single trail by the narrowness of the ridge and the impenetrable jungle-like growth which covered it, the 3rd Battalion could not move to the vicinity of Hill 1134, from which it was to launch the attack on Mt. Coroncina, without blocking the advance of the 1st Battalion. The day was not without benefit for the 3rd Battalion, however. From an observation post on Hill 1021 the terrain over which the Battalion would attack Mt. Coroncina was studied and fire directed on to targets of opportunity. From here during the day the time-on-target bombardments were directed on enemy on Hill 1061 (744035) and in the vicinity of point 894 (787036), and concentrations were fired on a group of enemy in Tavianella. The 175th and 185th Field Artillery Battalions, Cannon Company, the 81mm mortars, and Company "M"'s machine guns, which had been set up on the ridge, all fired on the latter target. During lulls in the firing small groups of Germans seeking cover in the draw behind Hill 1069 (765058) walked out of town carrying white flags. Fire was withheld when the flags were [seen to be] marked with the red cross. At 1800 hours the Germans were observed organizing for a counter-attack at Tronale (763043), but before they could form for the attack, they were dispersed by machine-gun and artillery fire.
During the hours of daylight the 2nd Battalion remained on Hill 977. The top of the hill was still being swept by mortar fire, but the self-propelled artillery, which had been firing on the southern slopes of the hill the previous day had ceased, as well as the small-arms fire from the left rear. Companies "E" and "F" engaged in several fire fights during the day in attempting to clear the enemy out of the dense thickets on the reverse slope of the hill. While Company "F" was preparing to make one such attempt in mid-afternoon, the enemy, under the cover of small-arms fire and heavy rifle-grenade fire, attacked the Company's position. During this counter-attack 2nd Lieutenant Richard J. Fasy, Platoon Leader of the 3rd Platoon, threw fifty hand grenades. After the enemy had been driven back into the thickets, a self-propelled gun fired twenty rounds into the Battalion's position from the vicinity of Mulinacchio (743035). The 175th Field Artillery Battalion fired a battalion ten rounds of counter-battery fire on the town and other concentrations on Risubbiani (737037) and the road between the two towns. The fire evidently missed its mark, for the self-propelled gun opened fire again a short time later at closer range, probably from La Marzolina (749032), inflicting ten casualties on Company "F". The Company's total casualties for the day were 4 killed and 14 wounded.
At the close of the day the Regimental boundary was changed so as to exclude Hill 977. This change and the two-fold advantage of allowing the 133rd Infantry to launch an attack on Objective "A" from Hill 977, and of disengaging the 2nd Battalion so that it might be committed if necessary, in support of the 3rd Battalion's attack on Mt. Coroncina. The 133rd Infantry completed the relief of the Battalion at 1930 hours, and at 2030 hours the Battalion closed into the village of Rifiletti.
After the action in which Company "B" participated early in the morning, the 1st Battalion met no further resistance during the day. Company "C", which was leading the Battalion, passed through the 3rd Battalion on Hill 1021 in mid-afternoon. By 2100 hours Company "C" had dug in in the vicinity of Hill 1061 (744046), and Company "A" was closed into a position between Hill 1061 and Hill 1134. Company "B" closed in behind Company "A" sometime after midnight.
[ 23 September 1944 ]
On the following morning just as it was beginning to get light, two men of Company "C", who were digging a double fox hole on Hill 1061, heard two individuals walking toward them in the half-darkness speaking in German. One of the men fired his pistol from the holster at the Germans, and they fled. A fire fight soon developed in which both Company "C" and Company "A" became involved. A prisoner captured during the action reported that he was one of a group of fifty engineers, artillerymen, and anti-aircraft personnel, which, with no knowledge of our presence on the hill, had been sent to dig in on the hill and hold. The group had begun to dig between Company "C" and Company "A" was its presence was detected. After the first confused firing, the Germans withdrew, reorganized, and attacked in force. A section of Company "D"'s machine guns attached to Company "C" fired on them effectively at close range. Two of the machine gunners were killed in close-in fighting along with three men of Company "C". Company "C"'s total casualties in the action were three men killed and six wounded. It was estimated that fifteen German dead were left on the hill.
When this counter-attack had been beaten off, the 1st Battalion resumed its advance with the mission of cutting the Montepiano-Castiglione road. A short distance down the ridge line Company "C", which was in the lead, captured thirteen prisoners with an 80mm mortar, who had become separated from their company. At 1445 hours Company "C" reached point 894 and dug in in that vicinity in a position from which it could control the road below by fire. Companies "A" and "B" took up position on Hill 1061. When these positions had been organized, the Battalion sent patrols to Montepiano, Hill 795 [(752046)], and to Faggiarello (763043). The patrol that went into Montepiano found that a battalion [1st] of the 133rd Infantry had already established a command post there. The other two patrols reported negatively.
Attacking over Mt. Tronale presented the 1st Battalion with difficult problems of supply and communication. Rations, ammunition, and wire had to be carried across the mountain on one narrow trail cut through the undergrowth. On the night of 22-23 September rations and ammunition were taken by peep to Rifiletti, and from there on up the ridge by mule pack. The loads on the pack animals continually had to be shifted from side to side as they were knocked off balance by the branch of a tree or bush. Communication was perhaps even a knottier problem than supply. Initially the Companies laid combat wire along the trail by hand. This line stayed in during the daytime, but at night, when the mule train passed by, it was broken in numerous places. On the night of 23-24 September an attempt was made to replace the combat wire with 110 wire. 1st Lieutenant _ode S. McWhirter, Battalion Communications Officer, set out from the rear command post at La Buta (77__10) with a party of six wiremen and six mules packing WR 110 wire. The party laid the wire by mule up to Hill 1134, but the mules could go no further through the dense under growth. Leaving the mules tethered at Hill 1134, the party laid the wire from there to Hill 1061 by hand. There they spliced the 110 wire to the combat wire which had already been laid, establishing communication with Company "B", Company "C", and the Battalion forward command post. The party then returned to La Buta. By the time it reached the rear command post, the line which it had laid was already out.
H-hour for the 3rd Battalion's attack on Mt. Coroncina had been set for 0530 hours, but at daylight Company "K" was beginning to move toward Hill 1104, from which it was to send out patrols to reconnoiter for a covered route of approach to the objective. In mid-morning, with the Battalion stretched out along the top of the ridge from Hill 1104 to Hill 1027, ready to go into the attack, a patrol from Company "K" reported that there was a covered approach to the base of Mt. Tronale, but that beyond that point the assault companies would be attacking across open fields. The plan of attack was then changed. At 1300 hours from Hill 1021, Companies "K" and "L would attack to the north abreast with the objective of capturing Hill 1069 (765056). Company "I" was to support the attack by fire from Hill 1021.
Combat patrols from Companies "L" and "K" met their first resistance from Hill 964 (765047) late in the afternoon. Company "L" received machine-gun and rifle fire and was unable to advance. The 2nd Platoon of Company "K", while crossing an open field, drew machine-gun fire from the hill. The squad which was in the lead ran forward to take cover in a house, while the remainder of the Platoon was pinned down in the field outside. By its sudden entry into the house the squad took five Germans by surprise. Progressively the squad's position became worse. Its dash for cover had not been observed by the rest of the Company, and now friendly machine-gun and rifle bullets were being fired through the window. One man who attempted to signal to the Company with a mirror that friendly troops were in the house had the mirror shot out of his hand. Though Company "L" was unaware of the squad's plight, the enemy evidently was not. He mortared the house and then fired into it with a flak gun, setting it on fire. With friendly and enemy machine-gun fire making it impossible for the squad to set foot outside the house, it attempted to break a hole through a wall on the second floor in order to get into the room where the fire was and extinguish it. When this expedient failed, the squad forced its five German captives to assist in keeping the fire out of the part of the house in which it was trapped. The squad finally rejoined the Company at about 0200 hours after the enemy had withdrawn. The burning house did not only cause discomfort to a squad of Company "K", but after dark it lit up the entire valley, delaying the 3rd Battalion's attack for several hours. Finally, after the house had burned down and rations had been distributed, Companies "L" and "K" resumed the attack on Hill 1069, with Company "L" in the lead. At approximately 0430 hours Company "L" reach the crest of the hill, after having captured a number of prisoners on the forward slope. By daylight the two Companies had organized the defense of the hill, with Company "L" on the right.
If the 3rd Battalion encountered resistance in its attack on Hill 1069, it had been planned that the 2nd Battalion could be committed on its left in an attack on Hills 1163 (757064) and 1168 (752068). At 1700 hours, after the advance of Companies "L" and "K" had been stopped by small arms fire from Hill 964, the 2nd Battalion was ordered to attack. The plan of attack involved a delicate maneuver. The Battalion was to cut across the path of advance of the 3rd Battalion after Companies "L" and "K" had cleared Tronale. At 1700 hours the Battalion moved to an assembly area south of Tronale and waited for the appointed time.
Companies "K" and "L" cleared Tronale a short time after dark, but the 2nd Battalion's attack was delayed for several hours while the burning house in the 3rd Battalion's sector lit up the approaches to Mt. Coroncina. At approximately 2300 hours, after the fire had burned down, the 2nd Platoon of Company "G" set out for Tavianella. As the platoon was approaching the town from the south, the enemy opened fire on it with rifle grenades, machine guns, machine pistols, and a flak gun. The 1st Platoon was then committed on the right to attack the town from the northeast. The Platoon maneuvered into position to attack, but on the outskirts of the town received heavy fire. After the two Platoons had expended their bazooka ammunition and most of their small-arms ammunition, Major Butler ordered them to withdraw to a covered position five hundred yards south of Tavianella, so that the town might be shelled. A heavy "shoot" was then prepared. The 185th Field Artillery and Cannon Company registered on the target with phosphorus shells. Then while the 155mm howitzers fired fuse delay into the town, the 75mm howitzers fired fuse quick, and Companies "D" and "H" thickened the concentration with mortar fire. When the shells stopped falling, the Germans withdrew to the woods northeast of the town. Cannon Company and the mortars fired on them as they withdrew and continued to fire harassing missions on the woods. After the enemy had withdrawn from the town, Company "G" moved into it, the assault platoon entering the town at 0300 hours. Having cleared Tavianella, Company "G" proceeded up the forward slopes of Mt. Coroncina followed closely by Company "F", and took Hill 1163 without resistance. Company "F" cutting to the left of Company "G", reached Hill 1168 at first light. Company "E" took up position in a draw below Hill 1168 (749062) and established a road block at 753058.
In the 2nd Battalion's attack on Mt. Coroncina communications were handled in an expeditious manner. During the afternoon WR 110 wire was laid to within 200 yards of Tronale by peep. Then in the attack at 2300 hours the wire peep followed right behind the assault company, passing through Tavianella and on up the trail to Hill 1168.
At 2115 hours the 1st Battalion, which had been almost continually on the move since the night of 20 September, was ordered to attack to the north astride the Montepiano-Castiglione road not later than 0330 hours the following morning. The Division order for the attack was as follows: the 133rd Infantry Regiment was out-posting the Montepiano-Castiglione road up to the 058 Northing. During the night the 34th Reconnaissance Troop would pass through the most advanced out-post of the 133rd Infantry Regiment and proceed northward on the road until it met strong resistance. The 1st Battalion would then pass through the 34th Reconnaissance Troop and continue the attack to the north with one company on each side of the road.
[ 24 September 1944 ]
At daylight the 1st Battalion, under the cover of a dense fog, moved down the western nose of Mt. Tronale and assembled in the town of Montepiano. There Lieutenant Colonel Golding found that Montepiano would be his line of departure, since the 34th Reconnaissance Troop had been unable to advance beyond a blown-out bridge on the northern edge of the town. At 0830 hours Companies "A" and "B" jumped off in the attack, advancing astride the road in column with Company "B" in the lead. When the advance elements reached a curve in the road approximately one thousand yards north of Montepiano, machine guns to the front and on the high ground on both flanks opened fire cutting off the 1st and 2nd Platoons of Company "B" from the rest of the Company. 2nd Lieutenant Lawrence A. Gaffney, Company Commander, crawling on his stomach for three hundred yards, reconnoitered a route of withdrawal. He crawled back to the Platoon positions and had sent a few men over the escape route when it was cut off by mortar and artillery fire. Lieutenant Gaffney then led the 1st and 2nd Platoons in a dash for cover to houses several hundred yards up the road. The 1st Platoon took cover in a house at 729056 and the 2nd Platoon in a house at 729058. Cut off from the Company and from each other, the Platoons came under heavy small-arms, mortar, rifle-grenade, artillery, and self-propelled artillery fire. During the afternoon the 2nd Platoon infiltrated back to the 1st Platoon's positions.
When the machine guns opened fire on Company "B", Company "A" moved down into the draw at 731053, where it received small-arms and heavy artillery fire. The Company then fought its way to positions in the weeds at point 703 (732054) and held there for the rest of the day exchanging small-arms fire with the enemy.
Montepiano and the road leading north out of the town were heavily shelled by artillery throughout the day. Between 0800 hours and 1100 hours one-hundred-and-ten rounds fell in the town itself. Under this continuous fire the maintenance of communication lines was extremely difficult. The lines from the Company command posts to Battalion headquarters were knocked out occasionally, but the Battalion was out of communication with the Regimental command post for almost the entire day. In lieu of the long, circuitous route over Mt. Tronale, which could no longer be maintained, a line had been laid from the 1st Battalion command post to the command post of the 1st Battalion, 133rd Infantry, in Montepiano which had a line into a Division switchboard in the town, but this chain of communication was broken when the switchboard was destroyed by shell fire.
It would seem that the 1st Battalion could have made substantial gains in its attack to the north only if the enemy had chosen to relinquish the high ground to the west of the Montepiano-Castiglione road. Because of the fact that the road was the boundary between the II Corps and the IV Corps, and the adjacent troops of the IV Corps [6th South African Armoured Division] were not abreast of the 1st Battalion, the Battalion's left flank was exposed, and the enemy, unopposed to the west of the road, could hold the high ground if he so desired. At first it had seemed as though the enemy might fall back without fighting a delaying action. At 0830 hours 23 September there was clear indication that he was making a large-scale withdrawal. Aerial observation posts reported at that time that a continuous line of vehicles was rounding a bend in the road a mile north of Montepiano (725065) and that vehicles were crossing a bridge at the southern edge of Castiglione (727098) at the rate of one every five minutes. The plight of the enemy on that date was suggested by his commitment of the 334th Replacement Battalion, which he attached piecemeal to various units to bolster their strength in the line. But on the following day it soon appeared that the enemy's plan of withdrawal was not one which we could easily exploit. He was disengaging his troops on the east of our sector and pivoting toward the Montepiano road which he evidently intended to hold open as an avenue of withdrawal. Thus, in attacking up the road the 1st Battalion met strong resistance. The key positions in the enemy's defense of the road seemed to be Hill 1027 (738067), from which the Battalion received heavy small-arms fire, and Hill 1037 (732076), where the Germans were known to have had observers and infantry in prepared positions. While the enemy was defending his axis of withdrawal in strength, inflicting eleven casualties on Company "B" and five on Company "A" in heavy fighting, on the east of the Regimental sector he was disengaging his troops from in front of the 3rd Battalion, which was on Hill 1069, and from in front of Company "G" on Hill 1163. The timing of the enemy's withdrawal on the right is indicated by the report of a civilian in mid-afternoon that four-hundred Germans were passing through Baragazza (760084). On the basis of this report three regiments of medium artillery fired three rounds per gun on the town and on trails leading from it to the north. Though the enemy was withdrawing from the eastern end on Mt. Coroncina, Company "F"'s occupation of Hill 1168 was too great a threat to his defense of the road and to the eventual success of his withdrawal to go unchallenged. From Hill 1168 the 2nd Battalion could launch an attack on the rear of the enemy's positions on Hill 1027 and, when the visibility cleared, would have the observation from Hill 1168 for fifteen thousand meters to the north on the road net over which the enemy would have to withdraw. Particularly because of the threat to his rear, it was important to the enemy to contain the 2nd Battalion until he could withdraw his troops from Hill 1027. For this purpose he organized a counter-attacking force of artillerymen and service troops of the 755th and 756th Infantry Regiments, including bicyclists and muleskinners, and threw it against Company "F"'s positions.
Company "F" reached the crest of Hill 1168 at first light. A dense fog had settled on the mountain-top. Captain Frank M. Cockett, Company Commander, ordered the 1st Platoon to out-post the company position. Unable to see more than ten feet through the fog, the Platoon was proceeding cautiously through the thick under-brush which covered the mountain-top when it encountered a German artillery observer accompanied by two enlisted men. The observer immediately opened fire with his machine pistol, covering his own withdrawal and that of one of the enlisted men, but the other was captured along with a field telephone. The loss of this phone later proved to be critical for the Germans when they were shelled by their own artillery and, having no communications, were unable to stop the fire. Before the Platoon had had time to organize a position following this incident, the enemy had set up a machine gun and opened fire, forcing the Platoon to withdraw a short distance and dig in. No position was secure on the hill that day. With the limited visibility, the enemy could infiltrate through the thick undergrowth to within a few feet of a position before being detected. One German walked within ten feet of a position before he was observed and fired upon. The enemy persisted in his attempts to infiltrate the Company's position throughout the day. A prisoner reported that the men of his group wanter to surrender but that their officer had threatened to shoot anyone of them who made the attempt. Whatever the truth of this report, the Germans continued to run toward the Company's position with their hands up, some with the hope of being captured, and others only to drop and fire.
Throughout the day of 24 September Major Butler inspected the terrain for the purpose of improving the Battalion's position. The Battalion was holding on to the thousand yard front in thick under-brush, with enemy on three sides of it. In the afternoon Major Butler planned an attack on the rear of the Germans who were resisting the 1st Battalion from Hill 1027, but the attack could not be made because of poor visibility. Not least of the difficulties in reorganizing the Battalion's positions was orienting them, because in the dense fog the contours of Mt. Coroncina were not visible. Hill 1168 was the only ground that could be definitely located on the map, and its location was established by the Italian triangulation point at the crest of the Hill. Despite this difficulty and the danger of being shot by friendly troops while moving through the under-brush, the defense of Mt. Coroncina was reorganized before nightfall. Company "E", less one platoon, which was left to man the road block at 753058, took up positions along the trail between Hills 1168 and 1163. The 3rd Battalion, coordinating its defense with the 2nd Battalion, moved Company "K" to Hill 1163, Company "I" to a reserve position behind Company "K", and Company "L" further down the northern slope of Hill 1069 in the vicinity of Casa Spazzavento (772063). Both Battalions registered in their defensive artillery fires before dark. Each man in the 2nd Battalion was given ten hand grenades, shown the positions of the men who were on each side of him, and ordered to shoot at anything that moved.
During the morning of 24 September, because of the disposition of the Battalions and of pressure exerted by higher headquarters to continue the advance of the Regiment to the north, it was apparent that clarification of the missions of the Regiment were in order. The 1st Battalion, which had virtually been taken from Regimental control, was hopelessly nullified on the left, since, in any case, no control of the road leading north from Montepiano could be gained or maintained so long as it was on the exposed flank and the enemy was in possession of the high ground immediately to the west. Furthermore, this Battalion was beyond supporting distance of the Regiment, while its long circuitous wire lines could not be maintained in operating condition. Nor did the 2nd Battalion have possession of Mt. Coroncina, since although it occupied this feature, the enemy had troops on three sides of it. To leave this high ground and continue to the north would be to relinquish control of the key to further advance and, at the same time, leave a further obstacle in the path of the 1st Battalion. After pointing out these conditions to higher headquarters, the Regimental commander was directed to detach the 1st Battalion to Division control and to clear Mt. Coroncina of the enemy before undertaking further advance to the north.
[ 25 September 1944 ]
An extensive program of harassing artillery fire was planned for the night of 24/25 September in support of the 1st Battalion. The bulk of the fire was placed on the high ground to the west of the Montepiano-Castiglione road, in the IV Corps sector, in an effort to break the enemy resistance on the Regiment's exposed left flank. Until 0500 hours harassing missions were fired on trail junctions, possible observation posts, and known positions on the reverse slopes of Mt. Casciaio (741061), the forward slopes of Hill 1037 [(742078)], and the valley between the two mountains. At 2340 and 2400 hours time-on-target bombardments of a battalion ten rounds and a battalion six rounds respectively were fired on Bagucci (731078) and Rasora [(732069)] which were probably assembly points. In the twenty-four hour period beginning at 1800 hours 24 September, the 175th Field Artillery expended 2325 rounds, and the 17th Brigade [Royal Artillery], 625 rounds, most of which were fired as part of this program of harassing fire.
After making but very limited advance to the north astride the Montepiano road, with no hope of retaining control of this road, the Division Commander released the 1st Battalion to Regimental control at 1245 hours, 25 September, when it was placed in Regimental reserve with plans to move to the vicinity of Tavianella the following day after being relieved in place by the 91st Reconnaissance Squadron.
[Note: the 91st Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron (Mechanized) was an independent organization of battalion size, 743 men, assigned to the Fifth Army. It is not clear here whether it was attached to II Corps or 34th Infantry Division at this time. The 91st Cavalry Reconnaissance Troop (Mechanized) was a different unit, of company size, organic to the 91st Infantry Division.]
During the night of 24-25 September the 2nd Battalion weathered out a violent storm on Mt. Coroncina, but as far as enemy activity was concerned, had a quiet night. At daylight patrols were sent to investigate Hill 1027 and to contact the 1st Battalion on the road leading to the west out of Tavianella. At approximately 0830 hours a patrol from Company "E" contacted the 1st Battalion at 738061. By 0915 hours patrols had found Hill 1027 to be clear of the enemy, and the Battalion then attacked down the northern slope of Hill 1168 in a column of companies in the order Company "F", Company "G", and Company "E". A combat patrol from Company "F" crossed the road at the foot of Hill 1168 at point 692 (755095). Proceeding across an open field beyond the road, the patrol drew small-arms fire from the town of Monte (757088) and from Baragazza (759084) which Company "I" was then attacking. Under this fire the patrol withdrew. Late in the afternoon it was decided that the Battalion would take up position for the night south of the road and attack Poggio Castello at dawn. Company "F" out-posted the cemetery at 755084, and Company "G" took up position around the houses at 747077.
At approximately 0800 hours the 3rd Battalion initiated its attack down the northern slopes of Mt. Coroncina. Company "I" proceeded down Hill 1168 to the town of Pignoli (758075), while Company "K" advanced over Poggio di Sandro and Hill 907 (763072) to the town of Valli (759071). The Companies closed into these towns at approximately 1130 hours and dispatched patrols to Baragazza and Serraglio, which reached their objectives in the late afternoon. After dark Companies "I" and "K" closed on their patrols and occupied Baragazza and Serraglio for the night. Before midnight a patrol from Company "K" crossed the Gambellata River, making no contact with the enemy.
At noon on 25 September the fog lifted, and the 175th Field Artillery Battalion and 17th Brigade began firing on targets of opportunity. In mid-afternoon sixty Germans were observed from the Regimental observation post on Hill 1168 moving down the escarpment above the Gambellata River (765095) One battery of the 17th Brigade and two batteries of the 175th Field Artillery fired on this target with excellent effect. At 1650 hours three regiments and two battalions of artillery fired a time-on-target concentration on the town of Casa di Landino after a patrol from the 2nd Battalion reported the presence of a tank and enemy personnel in the town.
Measured in map distance the Regimental gains on 26 September appear insignificant, but while the Regiment was making an advance of two thousand yards, artillery fire was laying the groundwork for the rapid advance of the next three days. From Hill 1168 observation could be had on the road net for a distance of approximately nine miles to the north. Throughout the day motorcycles, ambulances, trucks loaded with troops, and dismounted troops were observed moving mostly in a southerly [(?)] direction on the road between Sodi (744106) and Cavanicce (740005), Piano del Voglio (774128) and Bruscoli (790098), and between Sparvo (759145) and Cavanicce. Though the results of much of this fire could not be determined, heavy casualties were undoubtedly inflicted upon the enemy, as evidenced by heavy ambulance traffic and subsequent prisoner-of-war reports. [Hand-written notes at this point cannot be deciphered.]
On the afternoon of 25 September enemy artillery to the northwest in the IV Corps sector became active. During the night Baragazza and Serraglio were heavily shelled, one-hundred-and-fifty rounds landing in Serraglio prior to 0040. Harassing fire continued to fall in the 3rd Battalion sector on the following day. The fire was observed to be coming from the vicinity of Creda (741152), Casoni (748176), and Lagaro (746182). The latter two batteries were out of reach of our artillery, and it was requested that air missions be flown against them. The battery firing from the vicinity of Creda was temporarily silenced by the 17th Brigade (British).
[ 26 September 1944 ]
An attack by the 2nd and 3rd Battalions was planned for 0530 hours 26 September with the objective of seizing Poggio Castello (754090) and Poggio [Sospara] (765097). The assault companies were to jump off before dawn, so that they might cross the open fields between the road at the base of Mt. Coroncina and the objectives under cover of darkness. It was not expected that the enemy would defend Poggio Castello in strength, since its bare, rocky slopes were scarcely defensible.
Company "E" jumped off in the attack on Poggio Castello at 0530 hours. In the town of Monte at the foot of the objective the Company took five prisoners. At 0730 hours the crest of the hill was occupied by a platoon of Company "E", but small-arms fire was still being received from a house at the western end of the hill (759095). A small force of enemy held on there until it was dispersed by 50 calibre machine-gun fire from Mt. Coroncina. Company "F" entered the town of Casa di Landino at 1700 hours, meeting no resistance. After dark Company "G" closed into the town of Monte, and Company "E" organized a defense of Poggio Castello.
Company "I", with the mission of capturing Piaggia (774094), jumped off in the attack from Baragazza at 0630 hours. The 3rd Platoon, which was in the assault, crossed the Gambellata River and was climbing the escarpment above it, when the balance of the Company, which was then in the vicinity of Hill 626 (764096), received machine-gun fire from il Monte (781095), a hill in the 135th Infantry sector, and from the next hill to the west of it, which forced the Company to disperse. The fire from il Monte was especially troublesome, since the hill lay in a two thousand yard gap between the 3rd Battalion and the nearest elements of the 135th Infantry to its right. Fire continued to received from there until late in the day when the position was reduced by artillery fire. At the same time that the machine guns opened fire on Company "I", the enemy began a systematic harassment of the group of houses (763984), where the Battalion command post and Company "I"'s command post were located, with self-propelled artillery fire. With the rest of Company "I" under heavy machine-gun and self-propelled artillery fire, the 3rd Platoon continued its attack up the bluff above the Gambellata River unopposed. When it reached the top of the bluff, two squads remained in supporting positions along the trail while the third squad attacked a house in the middle of an open field. A short time after the squad had entered the house, two Germans walked across the field toward it. The squad opened fire killing one of the Germans and wounding a second. After this incident 1st Lieutenant William H. Burk, Commander of Company "I", anticipated a counter-attack. He ordered the 3rd Platoon to consolidate in the house and started the 2nd Platoon up the trail to support the 3rd Platoon. The artillery registered in on the town of Piaggia and began firing on the ridge above the town, while the mortars registered in on the draw to the left of the 3rd Platoon's position. Not long after these preparations had been completed, the enemy counter-attacked. In attacking across the open field the enemy suffered heavy losses. Eight Germans were killed in the field around the house by small-arms fire, and ten more were killed in an adjacent corn field by our artillery. The mortars accounted for two Germans who were manning a machine gun at the head of the draw. After the counter-attack had been repelled with heavy losses to the enemy, the Battalion organized a line for the night extending from Hill 729 (772096) to Hill 676 (765097), with Company "I" on the right and Company "L" on the left. Company "K" remained in Serraglio in reserve.
The 91st Reconnaissance Squadron completed the relief of the 1st Battalion on Hill 1027 at 0830 hours 26 September, and at 1300 hours the Battalion closed into an assembly area in the vicinity of Tavianella.
On the morning of 26 September the Regiment was informed that the Division axis of supply had been shifted to the road leading to the northwest out of Futa Pass, and that since all of the Division's Engineers were working on the new supply route, that the road from Montepiano to Tavianella could not be opened. Denied the use of this road by demolitions and with felled trees blocking the lateral road from the main axis of supply to Serraglio, the Regiment was faced with a difficult problem of supply. Rations and ammunition for the 2nd and 3rd Battalion were being carried over the ridge east of Mt. Tronale to Tavianella by peep. From there on the night of 25 September they were packed down the slopes of Mt. Coroncina by mule. On the following night the 3rd Battalion's supplies were again packed down Mt. Coroncina by mule to Serraglio, and from there the men of Company "K" carried them by hand across the Gambellata River and up the steep escarpment to Companies "I" and "L". The 2nd Battalion's problem of supply for that night had been eased by the efforts of the Battalion's Ammunition and Pioneer Platoon, commanded by 2nd Lieutenant Owen S. King. Lieutenant King on 25 September had undertaken to improve a trail which encircled the western slope on Mt. Coroncina, though the project had been declared to be unfeasible by the engineers. By working throughout the night blasting rock, widening shoulders, and straightening turns the Platoon had this trail open for us by 1-1/2 ton trucks on the following day. Thus on the night of 26 September the 2nd Battalion's rations could be taken to the village of Monte by peep.
Field Order Number 5, 168th Infantry, of 25 September provided that the Regiment should attack to the north with two battalions abreast as far as the 14 Northing. For this attack the Setta River was the Regimental boundary on the left as well as the boundary between the II Corps and the IV Corps, whose troops in the adjacent sector never did come abreast of our left battalion, leaving the left flank of the Regiment exposed during the entire operation. The right boundary of the Regiment had been so drawn that in the Division's attack to the north, the 135th Infantry would be riding the ridge over Mt. Bastione (812113), while the 168th Infantry would be attacking over the western slopes of the ridge. On the morning of 27 September there was no immediate threat to either of the Regiment's flanks. The 91st Reconnaissance Squadron was securing the left flank, having contacted Company "F" in Casa di Landino during the night. The gap on the right between Company "I" of the 168th Infantry and Company "K" of the 135th Infantry, which had permitted the enemy to fire into the flank of the 3rd Battalion on the previous day, was no longer a threat because of the advance of the 135th Infantry. The timing of the attack, however, was determined not as much by considerations of flank security as by the openness of the terrain to the Regiment's front. Rather than expose two battalions to observation and artillery fire in a daylight attack over open, cultivated ground, Colonel Hine planned to patrol to the north during the hours of daylight and to attack after dark.
[ 27 September 1944 ]
The visibility was good on the morning of 27 September, and the supporting artillery fired on a number of targets of opportunity, though enemy activity had decreased materially since the previous day. At 0835 hours eight trucks loaded with personnel were observed moving south through the town of Creda, and 17 Germans were counted in the streets of the town. The 175th Field Artillery Battalion fired on this target with good effect and after the mission had been completed followed it at 0910 hours with a time-on-target concentration on the town.
In the mid-morning of 27 September the plan of attack was changed when the Commanding General, upon the basis of the fact that both the 168th Infantry and the 135th Infantry had lost contact with the enemy, ordered the Regiment to attack with two Battalions abreast at 1200 hours. A short time after receiving this order the Regiment was notified that on the following day two hundred fighter-bombers would fly one thousand sorties in support of its attack, and that under this air cover it was to advance from Objectives "5" and "6", which were between the 12 and 13 Northings, to the 18 Northing. At 1020 hours, after he had been informed of this plan, Colonel Hine ordered the 2nd and 3rd Battalions to attack immediately and instructed them that they should reach Objectives "5" and "6" during the night, so that they might be in position to advance under the aerial cover planned for the next day.
The main body of the 3rd Battalion could not advance until after dark, because the open terrain to the Battalion's front was under enemy observation and artillery fire. Companies "I" and "L" remained on the bluff above the Gambellata River during the day, and Company "K" closed up behind them. In the morning patrols were sent from Companies "I" and "L" to La Ca (778108), l'Olmeta (768108), and Campoduro (774108). Company "I" out-posted La Ca in the early afternoon and sent its 1st Platoon to establish contact with the 135th Infantry on the right. At approximately 1500 hours the Platoon contacted the 135th Infantry at Casa Bruciata (791105). While returning to La Ca, the Platoon was pinned down in an open field by machine-gun fire from Hills 953 (792108) and 989 (788109) and was unable to move until the 135th Infantry placed artillery fire on the enemy positions. With the exception of this brief action in the 135th Infantry sector, the 3rd Battalion's patrols had no contact with the enemy. Shortly before dusk Lieutenant Colonel Wilson started Company "I" for La Ca. As the Company was approaching the town, it was subjected to heavy self-propelled artillery fire. After the shelling had subsided, the Company took up position with two platoons in the vicinity of point 735 (780107) and one in La Ca. Companies "L" and "K" continued the attack throughout the night, and at dawn Company "K" was on the outskirts of Campoduro, and Company "L", having passed through the town, was en route to the high ground east of the road.
The 2nd Battalion initiated its attack in the early afternoon with two companies abreast. Company "F" was ordered to attack over the trail just to the west of the Sette River, since it was the only potential supply route for the Battalion which might allow the passage of vehicles. Following this trail to the north from Casa di Landino, Company "F" met no resistance and closed into the village of Badia Nuova at approximately 1500 hours. Since the escarpment rising out of the Gambellata River was a sheer cliff within the 2nd Battalion's sector, the only possible route of advance for the rest of the Battalion lay through the deep defile at the junction of the Sette and Gambellata Rivers. In order to safeguard his assault company from ambush while it was passing through this defile, Major Butler ordered that a screening force of one platoon be sent to Hill 538 (762103). This platoon, which was dispatched from Company "G", encountered no resistance, so the balance of the Company, followed by Company "E" proceeded along the streambed at the bottom of the gorge and up through the wooded slopes of Hill 538, reaching the crest of the hill at approximately 1500 hours. Company "G" continued the attack, passing through point 575 (768104) and l'Olmeta and at approximately 2100 hours reached Hill 699 (772112). There the Company was engaged by a force of enemy which was fighting a delaying action from the village of la Calcinara (775114). Grenades and small-arms fire were exchanged, enemy mortars swept Hill 699, and two tanks which were on the road approximately five-hundred yards to the north fired into the Company's position. A two-hundred round concentration which the 175th Field Artillery Battalion fired at 2330 hours silenced the enemy small-arms and tank fire, but Company "G" continued to receive mortar fire throughout the night. After this fire had ceased, Companies "F" and "G" organized a line, with Company "F"'s position extending from Hill 540 (763113) through Hill 594 (766112) and Company "G"'s position from Hill 699 to Hill 594. [Hand-written notes at this point cannot be deciphered.]
The 1st Battalion, still in Regimental reserve, left the vicinity of Tavianella at 0325 hours and closed into an assembly area in the vicinity of Serraglio (765078) at 0545 hours. Late in the afternoon the Battalion crossed the Gambellata River and at 1700 hours occupied positions which the 3rd Battalion had vacated on the bluff above the river.
On the afternoon of 27 September when the final plans were being made for coordinating the aerial support planned for the next day with ground movements, it began to rain. The rain continued to fall until noon of 29 September. Aircraft were grounded during this period, but under the cover of fog and rain the Regiment advanced rapidly to the north.
[ 28 September 1944 ]
At 0500 hours 28 September the 2nd Battalion initiated its advances with patrols to la Calcinara (775118) and point 603 (769115). At 0800 hours Company "G" closed into a position along the trail between la Calcinara and Casa de Morelli (775118) from which it could protect the right flank of the Battalion. Company "F" then advanced rapidly along the trail which passes through point 603 and Ranuzzi (771122) and reached Piano del Voglio (773128) at approximately 100 hours. By 1300 hours Companies "E" and "F" had organized defense of Piano del Voglio and patrols had been sent up to the high ground to the east of the town.
The plan of attack for 28 and 29 September was formulated in mid-morning when the information was received that the Regiment would be relieved on the following day after it had taken Objective "A", which lay between the 13 and 14 Northings within easy patrolling distance of the forward elements of the 2nd Battalion which were then in Piano del Voglio. Colonel Hine instructed the 2nd and 3rd Battalion Commanders that when they had reached Objectives "5" and "6", that they should stop for the night and patrol to the north. He then ordered the 1st Battalion to move to an assembly area behind the 2nd and 3rd Battalions, preparatory to passing through the 2nd Battalion at dawn the following morning. In accordance with these instructions, the 1st Battalion moved to an assembly area in the vicinity of 772122, closing in at 1900 hours.
The 3rd Battalion, advancing in the order Company "K", Company "L", and Company "I", met no resistance during the day, though Company "I" suffered six casualties early in the morning when it entered a mine field in the vicinity of point 847 (780110). The leading elements of Company "K" passed through Casa dei Santoni (787121) after dark, and, after crossing two streams, out-posted the Rio del Voglio with platoons at 792129 and 794129.
In the attack north from the Gambellata River to Objectives "5" and "6", supply and communications were perhaps the most critical phases of the operation. On 29 September the engineers opened the lateral road from the main supply route to Serraglio, but beyond the Gambellata River, rations, ammunition, and wire had to be packed by mule. On the night of 27 September rations for the 2nd Battalion were carried on mule back from the town of Monte, through the steep gorge at the junction of the Gambellata and Setta Rivers, and up the slopes of Hill 538. Wire was carried by mule pack along the same route, and in a driving rain the line was laid in a stream bed at the bottom of the gorge. The 3rd Battalion's route of supply and communication was even more difficult than that of the 2nd Battalion. Both rations and wire had to be packed by mule across the Gambellata River and up the steep escarpment above it. On 28 September the main supply route, which ran well to the east through the sector of the 135th Infantry, was opened as far as Bruscoli, and the 1st and 3rd Battalions began supplying over it. In the heavy rain on 28 September the 1st Battalion's mule train was moved all the way from Montepiano to a mule park in the vicinity of 808066. After this long, hard trek the Italian mule skinners were exhausted, and it was only after the threatening and cajoling of 1st Lieutenant Peter J. Kish, Battalion Supply Officer, that the loaded their mules and went on through the dark, rainy night. 1st Lieutenant Charles M. Adams had a similar difficulty in moving his supply train from Serraglio to the new mule park, and it was almost morning before he could find enough mules to carry the rations. But despite the difficulties of weather and terrain, the troops were regularly supplied. Communications, on the other hand, were disrupted for a time On the night of 28 September the line which the 2nd Battalion had laid in the bed of the Setta River was broken, and since the river, swollen with the heavy rains, had risen over the wire, it could not be repaired. The 2nd Battalion was out of communication with the Regimental command post until another line could be laid on the following day. On 29 September the Regimental command post was virtually out of communication with the Battalions until it moved in the early afternoon from Sant.o di Boccadirio (767065) to la Ca.
During this period from 27 to 29 September, in which the Regiment advanced an air-line distance of seven-and-one-half miles, over fifty-five miles of wire were laid. This gives an indication of the circuitous routes traveled by the Battalions, necessitated by the tactical requirements, the ruggedness of the terrain, and the lack of roads.
At 1500 hours 28 September, two hours after the 2nd Battalion had closed into Piano del Voglio, a platoon from Company "E" was dispatched with instructions to investigate the towns of Faldo (78_138) and Borgo (782145) and to out-post the farthest point that it reached. The platoon out-posted to the town of Borgo at 17_0 hours and reported that it could observe no enemy activity in Montefredente, a town five-hundred yards down the slope of the hill to the northwest. At 1740 hours Colonel Hine ordered the 1st Battalion to relieve the 2nd Battalion. Company "B", under the command of 1st Lieutenant Stanley J. Bernstein, set out for Borgo at 2300 hours. After experiencing great difficulty in fording the Rio del Voglio which, with the continuous rains, had become a raging torrent, the Company relieved Company "E"'s out-post in Borgo at 0100 hours 29 September and organized a defense of the town. Company "B" was to be reinforced by Company "C" at 0400 hours, but Company "C", delayed by the difficulty of crossing the Rio del Voglio, did not close into Borgo until 0930 hours. Battalion headquarters and Company "A", which were following Company "C", closed into the town of Faldo at 1050 hours.
[ 29 September 1944 ]
At 0800 hours, when the 3rd Battalion's patrols were already on Objective "A" [?M. del Cucchi?], where, according to plan, the Regiment was to be relieved during the day, Colonel Hine received the order that instead the Regiment would continue the attack to the north. Further orders were received during the morning and the Division's plan for the Regiment more completely formulated. The 3rd Battalion during the day was to patrol to the 18 Northing and to close the Battalion up to the patrols. In the Battalion's advance the plan was to clear the town of Fornelli, so that the 133rd Infantry might assemble there the following day, prior to relieving the right battalion of the Regiment on 1 October. The 1st Battalion, on the left, was to be relieved by the 91st Reconnaissance Squadron as soon as it had secured the road junction at 781192.
At 0500 hours patrols were sent from Companies "L" and "K" to Objective "A", Company "L"'s [patrol] to Hill 1036 (797138) and Company "K"'s [patrol] to point 907 [(791137)]. When shortly after 0800 hours the Battalion was ordered to continue the attack to the north, the 3rd Platoon of Company "L" led the Company to Casa Tana (802151), capturing four prisoners en route. When the Company had been consolidated at Casa Tana, the 3rd Platoon pushed on through Madonna dei Fornelli to Fornelli, which it reached at 1650 hours. In Fornelli the Platoon found three companies of the 135th Infantry Regiment. The town had been heavily shelled before the Platoon arrived, and the enemy was still firing machine pistols into the northern edge of the town. A short distance from Fornelli the Platoon surprised twelve Germans and captured five of them. In the meantime Company "K" attacked over Poggio di Rosa, reaching point 828 (791154) on the western slope of the mountain at 1550 hours. From here the 3rd Platoon was sent into the town of Qualto. From Qualto and from the vicinity of point 828 the Company observed enemy activity to the north and west. The 3rd Platoon in Qualto watched a convoy of enemy vehicles proceeding north out of S. Benedetto, but since the Company was out of communication with Battalion headquarters, artillery fire could not be called for.
At 1400 hours the 1st Battalion was ordered to capture the town of Montefredente by 0530 hours the following morning. Montefredente lay only five hundred yards down the hillside from Borgo, but since there were no covered approaches to the town from the south, no attempt had yet been made to reach it. At 1630 hours the 1st Platoon of Company "C", led by 2nd Lieutenant Anthony Lombardy, set out down the hillside to reconnoiter the town. Leaving the main body of the Platoon in a covered position behind the graveyard at the northern edge of the town, Lieutenant Lombardy attempted to enter the town with five men. Before they could reach the cover of a building, the enemy opened fire on them with machine guns, rifle grenades and 50mm mortars, killing Lieutenant Lombardy and wounding two enlisted men. The rest of the Platoon then engaged in a fire fight with the enemy from positions behind the graveyard, until after dark, when, having expended all of its ammunition, it withdrew. As the Platoon was climbing back up the hill to Borgo, the enemy shot up two flares and counter-attacked in the strength of thirty-five to forty men. Under cover of machine-gun fire, this force attacked up the hill towards Company "B"'s and Company "C"'s position. Company "B" and Company "C" allowed the enemy to come within one-hundred yards of their position before opening fire with their rifles, Browning Automatic Rifles, and nine machine guns. At the same time they called for artillery fire on Montefredente and on the hillside down which the enemy would have to withdraw. In the darkness the results of this fire could not be determined. After the counter-attack had been repulsed, the 1st Battalion consolidated its position and prepared to continue the attack at dawn.
Shortly after the 1st Battalion was counter-attacked at Borgo, the enemy climbed up through the draws below Qualto and attacked the 3rd Platoon of Company "K" from both flanks. In a fire fight that lasted for half an hour, the Platoon inflicted eight known casualties upon the enemy and forced him to withdraw. The 3rd Platoon then joined the rest of the Company at Casa Brane (787152), where the Company organized an all-around defense for the night. Company "L" spent the night in Fornelli, while Company "I" out-posted the high ground north of Madonna dei Fornelli up to the 17 Northing.
[ 30 September 1944 ]
Late in the afternoon of 29 September the plan was formulated for the Regiment's attack on a sixty-five-hundred meter front at 0530 hours the following morning. On the left the 1st Battalion was to initiate the attack for the Division north through the Sambro River Valley. The Battalion was to attack to the north at 0530 hours along the ridge which commanded the valley on the west, with the objective of taking Hill 747, the capture of which would give the Battalion control of the lateral road to the Sette River valley which left the Sambro River valley at 781192. When this lateral road had been secured, the Battalion was to be relieved by the 91st Reconnaissance Squadron. Mt. del Galletto, which overlooks the Sambro valley from the east, was to be the objective of the 2nd Battalion. The 3rd Battalion had been ordered earlier in the day to out-post the southern slopes of Mt. del Galletto north of Fornelli and Madonna dei Fornelli that night, securing a line of departure for the 2nd Battalion on Mt. del Galletto at 0530 hours the following morning. When Mt. del Galletto had been taken, the 133rd Infantry Regiment, on 1 October, was to pass through the 2nd Battalion and continue the attack to the north, while the 2nd Battalion pivoted and attacked down the western nose of Mt. del Galletto in support of the 1st Battalion. The town of S. Benedetto was to be by-passed in the attack, though the 3rd Battalion, in reserve initially in the vicinity of Fornelli, could be committed in an attack on the town if necessary.
The 2nd Battalion cleared its assembly area in the vicinity of Piano del Voglio at 0100 hours 30 September and after a comparatively easy road march closed into Fornelli and Madonna dei Fornelli at 0445 hours. At 0530 hours the Battalion attacked with Company "E" on the right, "G" on the left, and "F" in reserve in Madonna dei Fornelli. Company "E" jumped off from Madonna dei Fornelli and followed a trail northeast to point  (814167), The 3rd Platoon which was in the lead proceeded to Hill 836 (817169), where, at approximately 0800 hours it was stopped by small-arms and 50mm mortar fire. The 2nd Platoon was then sent to the support of the 3rd Platoon, and the 1st Platoon was started for the town of Zaccanesca (821167), which it took without opposition. The 2nd and 3rd Platoons made several attempts to maneuver around to the right, but each time they were forced back by heavy small-arms fire from the houses and the cemetery in Cedrecchia (813179) and mortar fire from the draw beyond the town. Company "H" and the 175th Field Artillery fired on those positions, but still the Company was unable to advance.
Company "G", attacking a thousand yards to the left of Company "E", also encountered stern resistance. The Company jumped off from Fornelli at 0530 hours and advanced to the vicinity of the houses at 806171. From there a patrol of twelve men, led by Sergeant Theodore R. Waechter, was sent to investigate the village of Casigno [(806174)] and Casa Labrone (810175). The patrol was guided by an Italian who had vouchsafed the information that the enemy had laid no mines on Mt. del Galletto. The patrol found Casigno to be clear of the enemy and was proceeding along the trail to Casa Labrone when it entered a picket mine field, in which the Italian guide and a man from Company "G" were both killed. Continuing up the trail past the mine field, the patrol engaged in a fire fight with enemy in Casa Labrone and, after expending all of its ammunition, withdrew. The Company then took up position with one platoon in Casigno, a platoon in the house at point 835 (809172), and a platoon in the houses at 806171. At 1545 hours a platoon of tank destroyers fired in support of Company "G" from positions on Hill 990 (803143). The tank destroyers put effective fire on Casa Labrone and the enemy positions on Hill 900 (809175), from which Company "G" had been receiving fire.
With Companies "E" and "G" facing a strong enemy main line of resistance, Major Butler decided in mid-afternoon to prepare for a probable counter-attack at dusk. By 1730 hours he had organized the Battalion into an all-around defense, and had registered in defensive artillery fires. Company "G" had a platoon at Casigno, a platoon at point 835 (809172), and a platoon along the trail between these two points. Company "E" placed a platoon on Hill 836, a platoon between points 785 (815167) and 742 (817165), and squads at the house at point 801 (814168), and at the trail junctions at 811168 and 813170. Company "F" occupied Madonna dei Fornelli and manned road blocks on the roads leading into the town. The enemy counter-attacked at dusk as had been expected. He laid down a heavy base of fire with mortars and machine guns, but made little attempt to move forward. At approximately 1845 hours the Battalion requested that the artillery lay down all defensive fires but, when the first volley landed in Company "G"'s area ordered that they be lifted. During the counter-attack a heavy-caliber shell, probably 170mm, hit the 2nd Battalion's command post. The shell burst after breaking through the roof and the top story, and shrapnel pierced the three floors below, wounding Operations Officer Captain Francis J. Kenyon, Intelligence Officer 1st Lieutenant Harold O. Bishop, the Artillery Liaison Officer, the Operations Sergeant, and the Battalion Wire Chief, who were all on the first floor. After the counter-attack had been neutralized, the Battalion spent a quiet night.
The 1st Battalion initiated its attack to the north before dawn. At 0430 hours Company "C" moved to Hill 750 [(786153)] without resistance. A platoon from Company "A" entered Montefredente at 0830 hours and found that it had been evacuted by the enemy during the night. Within three-quarters of an hour, the balance of the Company closed into the town. Company "B" then passed over Hill 693 (778149) en route to point 726 (778159). A patrol of eight men from the 1st Platoon led by Tech Sergeant J. T. Childress took the lead. While this patrol was observing enemy further up the ridge, it received small-arms fire from a house to its immediate front in the vicinity of Hill 684 (776155). The balance of the 1st Platoon and the 2nd Platoon then joined with the patrol in an attack on this enemy out-post. With small-arms and bazooka fire they drove the enemy out of the house, but they then received machine-gun and machine-pistol fire from a second house nearby, which they were unable to reduce. Throughout this action the enemy had been attempting to reinforce his out-posts in the two houses, but was prevented from doing so by supporting fire from Company "K", which was in position at Casa Brane. Five men of Company "B" were wounded in the action. At 1400 hours the two Platoons pulled back to Hill 864 (778152), so that the enemy position might be shelled. At 1715 hours, after this artillery preparation, Company "B" attacked the strong point again, but before it had advanced a hundred yards, was stopped by low aerial bursts from a self-propelled gun. After this attack had failed, the Battalion consolidated its position for the night, with Company "A" on Hill 864, Company "B" in position from the top of the ridge above point 664 down to the road, where it established a road block, and Company "C" on Hill 750.
The 3rd Battalion attempted to infiltrate to Qualto during the day, but when the leading elements drew direct self-propelled artillery fire while crossing the northern slopes of Poggio di Rosa, the move was postponed until after dark. The Battalion then closed into Qualto at 2100 hours.
By the close of the day the strategy in the enemy's movements of the past three days had become evident. On September 26 and 27 he had fought a minor delaying action, first on the bluff above the Gambellata River and then at la Calcinara, where his infantry had been supported by tanks. In the heavy rain of 28 September he had disengaged his troops who had been fighting the delaying action and had allowed then to fall back through a prepared line held in strength, which extended approximately along the 18 Northing. The organization of this line within the 2nd Battalion's sector can be roughly described from the Battalion's observation and experience during the day. The enemy was occupying la Piazza (831168), the cemetery at 822172, the houses and cemetery at Cedrecchia (813179), Casa Labrone (810175), a dugout and other prepared positions on Hill 900 (809178), the trail junction at 801177, and the houses at point 760 (801178). The organization of the enemy main line of resistance to the west of Mt. del Galletto did not become evident until the following day, but the 1st Battalion had already drawn fire from the enemy strong point on Hill 789 (775185), and it was clear that the Battalion's advance along the ridge leading to the north from Montefredente would be strongly contested.