314th Infantry Regiment: February 1945

On 1 February, a newly trained and outfitted 2nd BN arrived to make up the Regimental reserve. The 79th Division was holding VI Corps front, the 314th's sector assignment was southwest of Haguenau, including Bischwiller. All of the units were depleted and exhausted - the veterans needing rest, and more training for the replacements. Division orders were sent of an "identification of the enemy force" which opposed the 314th presently. The objective was Taubenhof Farm, one-half mile west of Camp d'Oberhoffen - right across the river from Kaltenhaus.

German POWs in the vicinity of Bischwiller, Alsace
German POWs in the vicinity of Bischwiller, Alsace

Warmer temperatures was melting the snow, causing the Moder River to rise fast, so small boats had to be used to cross the 1st BN patrols. At 0130, 2 February, the returning patrols reported enemy located at and around the Farm location. An attack patrol had almost captured two Germans soldiers, but in the firefight they evaded, and the enemy was alerted to the patrol's presence. They retreated without identifying the enemy element, and further patrols were stalled due to daybreak. Patrol actions took place over the next several days, and the enemy was finally determined by papers found on a dead German soldier.

All in all, the forces faced by the 79th Division in the battles taking place in the Alsace included: the 25th Panzer Division, the 25th Panzergrenadier, 21st Panzer Division, 553rd, 4th, and 405th Infantry Divisions, the 7th Parachute Division, and the 10th S.S. Division - plus the 256th and 361st Volksgrenadier Divisions.

Orders arrived for relief of the 314th from the line on 5 February. It was also alerted for a move to Pont-a-Mousson, France, but before the move across the Rhine to spearhead the 9th Army's movement - and after 87 days of combat - the unit was due a rest and training period.

They cleared the Haguenau area, and moved out on 7 February to towns along the Moselle River - Regimental CP at Jezainviller, 1st BN at Pompey, 2nd BN at Belleville, and 3rd located at Dieulouard. The units trained, rested - complete with passes to Paris, and USO shows - until 14 February, 1945.

Belgium and the Roer River

At midnight, 14 February, the 79th Division transferred over to XIV Corps, 9th U.S. Army. The Division had been assigned to four different armies at this point: twice each in the First and Third Army, once in the Seventh, and now the Ninth Army. The Division was moved by rail to Tongres, Belgium. On arrival, they were moved by motorized columns to billet areas; 1st and 2nd BN's in Diepenbeek, 3rd in Rombershoven, and Regimental CP at Ridderborn par Cortessem. Although the 79th was in Corps reserve, the 314th Regiment was issued an independent mission: recon the area to relieve the 137th Infantry, 35th Division. The 314th was to participate in the 9th Army move across the Roer River.

On 22 February, all units of the Regiment moved into position relieving the 137th - 1st BN near Heinsberg, 2nd BN around Lieck, and 3rd in the Kirchoven area. A night attack was planned to take the regimental front to the west bank of the Roer River. The 1st BN attacked at 2400, and caught the enemy by surprise. Resistance was minimal, small arms and smaller patrols. By 0630, 23 February, all of the 1st BN objectives were met: they held the west bank of the Roer River, from Roerhof to Hochbruck - and netted 36 POWs. 2nd and 3rd BN's jumped off at 0330, and F/Co took a hard hit from mines around the perimeter of Kempen. After carefully maneuvering in the dark, Kempen was secured and the mines disabled by 2130, 23 February. 3rd BN met with resistance of small arms fire as well, but by nightfall had secured a line through Karkien and Hingen. The next push was postponed due to rain and flooding.

Crossing the Roer River
Crossing the Roer River

At 0600, 26 February, 2nd BN began crossing the Roer with a volley of gunfire from the enemy. German artillery fell throughout the Regimental sector. The 35th Division began forging the river, and the Germans were pulling out in retreat. XIV Corps orders placed the Regiment holding positions until the 35th had secured the section of the east bank of the Roer. 1st BN sent two platoons to Orsbeck to act as a security force for an engineers corps. They were constructing a bridge from Orsbeck to Roerhof.

On 28 February, the 314th assembled in Heinsberg for redeployment to rejoin the 79th Division. The battalions arrived at their billets by 1600. For two days, the troops rested in Heinsberg, and on 3 March, moved out to rejoin its Division, now located near München-Gladbach.

This historical outline is compiled from research material provided by personal accounts, unit diaries, online sources, "The Complete History of World War Two" edited by Francis T. Miller (1948) and the 314th Infantry Association's "Through Combat." A special thanks to J.W. Campbell and Dwight Pruitt. 17 September 2003. Lori Cutshall.