Magazine article USA TODAY

Bravery at the Battle of the Bulge

Magazine article USA TODAY

Bravery at the Battle of the Bulge

Article excerpt

"Hosingen [Luxembourg] was the last town held by the 110th to surrender.... Out of 300 Americans, there had been just seven killed and 10 wounded, while inflicting an estimated 2,000 casualties on the Germans, including more than 300 killed."

HAVING TAKEN command of K Company, 110 Infantry Reserve on Nov. 8,1944, 1st Lt. Thomas J. Flynn was responsible for his company establishing the defensive perimeter around the town of Hosingen, Luxembourg, four miles from the German border. His officers immediately began to train replacement troops, as many had arrived with little combat experience. Flynn was concerned that daily supply runs only delivered one day's supply of ammunition for training.

Former company commander Capt. Frederick Feiker returned to duty on Dec. 6 and Flynn became his Executive Officer. Throughout December, K Company had increasing indications that something was developing on the east side of the Our River, as Adolf Hitler was preparing to send 250,000 troops through the Ardennes Forest, with 12,000 of his elite soldiers coming through the middle of the regiment along the Hosingen route. Hitler's plan was for Hosingen to be captured on day one so they could capture Bastogne by the end of day two on their way to the port of Antwerp.

On the evening of Dec. 15, K Company's southern outpost picked up the sound of motors coming from the direction of the Our River. As a precaution, Capt. Feiker ordered the company's mortars hauled to new positions, which would prove to be an important strategic move.

The Battle of the Bulge, Dec. 16, 1944: At 0530, the GIs in the outpost atop the water tower in the northeast comer of Hosingen had just called their commanding officer when they observed hundreds of "pinpoints of light" to the east. Seconds later, artillery shells exploded throughout the town and the surrounding area, severing all wire communications.

Every man in K and M Companies were sent to their defensive positions. M Company's 2nd Platoon and K Company's 3rd Platoon were defending a position at the Hosingen-Barriere intersection, 1.5 km farther south, while a squad from the 630th's 2nd Platoon were on Steinmauer Hill, 200 meters south of the village, leaving just 300 men in the town. Both locations now were cut off and on their own.

Priv. William Grade and 4th Platoon scrambled out of bed, grabbing their weapons as they ran out of the house. Their foxholes near 1st Platoon's northern outpost were not far away. Lt. Flynn jumped in a foxhole behind 1st Platoon machine gunners. The initial artillery barrage already had set five buildings on fire. "The town was pretty well lit up," illuminating the whole ridge top, Flynn recalled.

By the time the shelling ended 45 minutes later, two more buildings had caught fire and it was noted that artillery had fallen in each position where the company mortars had been located a few hours earlier, but no casualties had been suffered.

At daylight, Flynn ordered his men to open fire on the Germans crossing Skyline Drive. Sgt. James Arbella climbed the water tower and gave 4th Platoon mortar crews coordinates to targets. The combination of mortar shells, machine guns, and rifle fire shattered the German assault, resulting in scores of dead and wounded.

From the church steeple, Capt. William Jarrett provided Lt. James Morse's M Company 81 mm mortars coordinates of another assault from the south, temporarily halting their movement, but German troops had managed to enter the southern outskirts of Hosingen. Capt. Feiker called for artillery support, but Battery C, 109th Field Artillery Battalion, located directly to the west of the ridge, also was under attack. Maj. Harold Milton promised to send more troops with ammunition.

Gen. Norman Cota realized that the 110th was facing a massive German assault and that most of their frontline positions now were surrounded and cut off. Cota ordered 110th commanding officer Col. …

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