Sparks continued to Fleming’s men farther along the path. My moms’ older brother PFC Leonard F. Ordway Co. H 157 Infantry 45 Infantry Div. SS units were infamous for brutal treatment or execution of prisoners. The infantry continued forward until forced back. Equipment and fuel shortages were endemic to German units at this point in the war, but high esprit de corps and commitment made units like the 6th SS a force to be reckoned with. Overview: Still, the order stood, and Sparks began trying to relieve his surrounded men. In the afternoon several men evacuated earlier for exhaustion were reorganized and placed in the line to plug gaps. Sparks went on to rebuild the postwar Colorado National Guard and would eventually rise to command it. His .45 pistol had custom grips containing photos of either his wife Mary or a pinup girl, depending on which version of the story one believes. Company E, unaware its platoon was lost, assembled clerks and cooks for an attack that failed to make headway. of the 157th Infantry Regiment for the Sicilian Campaign. Artillery and armored assets were also given to the division. On January 14, the Americans were ready to start pushing back against the German onslaught. Turk was driving the jeep down a paved road covered in a few inches of fresh snow from the night before. With the wounded loaded, Sparks ordered the tanks back down the trail, both of them banging away with their machine guns. Those half dozen were from the German 476th Infantry Regiment, 256th Division. An argument ensued and the two never reconciled. Artillery fire was heavy, and soon two battalions of the 45th’s 180th Infantry had to fall back some 600 yards. Relieved that night, battalion commander Lt. Col. Lawrence Brown moved his men to Reipertswiller, where they collapsed into any space they could to sleep. Picking through the scattered equipment, they happened upon a working SCR-300 radio. Seventh Army. After going a few hundred yards, Sparks again came under fire, but aside from tearing up the external stowage on the second tank no serious damage was done. Then he found out the trapped Americans had surrendered. General Frederick, who once commanded the 1st Special Service Force, apparently thought a retreat would show weakness. After refitting in Denmark, the unit was earmarked for the Ardennes but was instead sent farther south for Operation Nordwind where it engaged the Americans in the Vosges. One of the battalion officers told O’Brien about Sparks leading the tanks on a rescue effort. After only 10 yards, he fell as bullets ripped through him. From 1963-1968, the 157th was based in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania. It was poor weather for a fight; snow was falling, wrapping the forest in its wintry embrace, muffling noise, and making it difficult to see. Enemy artillery fire was still heavy but the GIs kept moving. It was an experienced regiment in an experienced division and formed the core of a regimental combat team (RCT), a combined-arms unit with the infantry as its essential center with artillery, armor, and engineers supporting them, attached to the team as the need arose. After a few moments the SS men continued into the night. ... 157th Infantry Regiment 179th Infantry Regiment 180th Infantry Regiment Headquarters and … The regiment was first constituted in 1917 during World War I from the 1st Colorado Infantry Regiment. Regiment sent him 100 men from the headquarters and antitank companies as his reserve. The men taken prisoner at Reipertswiller would go to various POW camps to wait out the war’s end. With so many wounded men, the GIs needed help to get clear. Still, the 157th had the same problems as other RCTs in the winter of 1945. Bernard Fleming, whose men Sparks had rescued, felt the morale of the unit soar after hearing what their leader had done. This was most apparent in the infantry; all the 157th’s rifle companies were at two-thirds strength at most. This design is a unique way to remember which campaigns the Thunderbirds fought in during WWII. Within the wider story of that ill-fated offensive, there were many smaller stories of desperate combat; Nordwind had its own versions of St. Vith and Bastogne. Mann climbed out of the jeep and found a horrifying sight. 45thinfantry : 45th Infantry Division (Thunderbirds) This file is eight pages and 4.5 megabytes in size. Company G was reinforced by a platoon of men from Company E, who managed to get through to them. The deadly ambush had killed or captured all but two of the Americans. Arriving as a new lieutenant during training at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, he had spent the entire war with the 157th except for a short time while wounded. “Our commander had proved once again that he valued his soldiers’ lives and was willing to take large risks on their behalf.”. The 2nd Battalion, 411th Infantry, 103rd Division was brought in to join in the relief effort. The rest of Company E couldn’t break through, however. As he lay there, Captain McGinnis was brought in, wounded by the heavy shellfire. The next morning, January 20, was cold, and before long, heavy snow began falling. Most of the fire came in low, below the level of the low-hanging branches, known as “grazing fire.” Several men were hit in the legs, likely the only part of them clearly visible to the enemy. 157th Infantry Regiment 179th Infantry Regiment 180th Infantry regiment Like the American units, the 6th SS had problems with the quality of its replacements and little time to properly rest and reconstitute. Originally a Colorado National Guard outfit, this long period of combat had changed the 157th. He recalled the punishing American artillery, which never seemed to cease. Yet, those who were there remember it vividly as a desperate struggle to stave off a German attack and rescue beleaguered comrades. Support units such as the 45th Signal Company also suffered casualties and required replacements to be reconstituted as did the combat units. Beyond sporadic machine-gun fire, the GIs had almost no contact with enemy infantry. A German ambush knocked it out and wounded three of the crew, who were captured. The remaining platoon leader withdrew his men and the tanks back toward the road to Reipertswiller. Other rifle companies would conduct feints to distract the Germans or fire their weapons to confuse them about the main effort. On Hill 420, Company G with its platoon from Company E now occupied positions just south of Company K. As the sun rose over the frozen landscape, German troops attacked from close range and achieved almost complete surprise. With this completed, all of the AARs - July 1943 thru May 1945 - of all three Infantry Regiments of the 45th Infantry Division are now available as pdfs. The 157th Infantry Regiment, one of the units that liberated the camp on April 29, 1945, initially mustered from the state of Colorado. Hiding, they watched it until an American soldier poked his head out from beneath it. The patrol returned to Company B just in time to man foxholes against a German attack from the northeast. Headquartered mostly in Oklahoma City, the guardsmen fought in both World War II and the Korean War. A newspaper article from 45th Division News, a publication for the U.S. Army's 45th Infantry Division of the 157th Infantry Regiment.The 45th Infantry Division was part of the Oklahoma Army National Guard, with its members fighting in World War II and the Korean War. Winter clothing was hard to obtain, siphoned off by rear-echelon troops before it could reach the front lines. This time he noticed they were moving diagonally from their previous line of attack. Voss couldn’t tell who had the upper hand in the deafening battle on the hilltop above, but he did know the enemy was determined. With a terrifying sound, a barrage of Nebelwerfer rockets crashed down in front of them. Sparks was thrown several yards away, flying through the air to land on pristine white snow nearby. He set to work translating the American transmissions. Get the best deals for 157th infantry regiment at That time was cut short when he went AWOL from the hospital to get back to his soldiers. Fortunately, German units were usually in no better condition. Suddenly a panzerfaust round came from somewhere. As the riflemen prepared, a platoon of 4.2-inch chemical mortars capable of firing smoke or explosive rounds set up in Reipertswiller. The 1st Battalion, 315th Infantry was the unit immediately to Sparks’s left flank; it was ordered to cease advancing and make ready to return to the 79th Infantry Division, its parent unit. Just over an hour later, as Company G was attacking to reach Company K’s left flank, a general German attack began along the entire local front line. The hills had commanding views and represented a solid position, but unfortunately the units on either flank of 3/157 had been unable to achieve their objectives and were far behind, leaving Sparks’s battalion dangerously exposed. The American attack jumped off at 8:30 am but immediately bogged down in the face of intense artillery fire. Arrival in the harsh terrain of the Vosges, coupled with the onset of a fierce winter, ended any thought of a lightning thrust into southern Germany. After dark, Voss and his machine-gun crew were reassigned to a different company and again sent up the hill. Whenever they pushed forward, it seemed only more artillery and mortar fire greeted them. Dismissing his injuries as minor, Sparks felt he had to return to his duties; he had to be with his men. A fireball! In late morning the battalion antitank platoon moved up the same route, accompanied by three M-8 armored cars. The men who fought there remember it. In the annals of military history magazines, this is one of those moments. Could they be rescued as well? Privacy statement, cookies, disclaimer and copyright, Belgium (1830-present, Constitutional Monarchy), Canada (1931-present, Constitutional Monarchy), Privacy statement, cookies, disclaimer and copyright, 157th Infantry Regiment, 45th Infantry Division "Thunderbird", U.S. Army. “Inexplicably, the German troops did not fire at me during this recovery operation, although I was an easy target,” Sparks later wrote. - Thunderbirds of Oklahoma's famous 45th Infantry Division flexed their military muscles before 2,100 proud visitors Saturday morning. The Civil War Archive section, 157th Regiment Infantry, (accessed 26 October 2012). tells you more! The 6th SS Gebirgs (Mountain) Division had formed in 1940 to guard the border between newly conquered Norway and the Soviet Union. Up the trail, Sparks stood in the hatch of the leading tank, urging its driver forward. Times when the very landscape appears to shift. Voss later wrote, “There was no honor to be won by firing upon this death-defying act of comradeship.”. Without warning an explosion tossed the jeep violently; they had struck a mine. Do you want to create your own battlefield tour to sights of wars from the past? Our first Virtual Coffee & Conversation spotlights Colorado’s 157th Infantry Regiment. Still, they held out, refusing to give in and praying for their fellow Thunderbirds to reach them. As he began pulling off Neff’s boots to look at his injuries, another soldier, Private Lawrence Mathiason, volunteered to go. The core of the 157th, including much of its leadership, were those who managed to survive Sicily, Salerno, and Anzio before invading France. O’Brien chose to let the matter pass and allowed Sparks to continue. 157th New York Infantry Regiment. They were successful and spent January 12 defending the two hills from attacks by SS men supported by artillery. Only two soldiers made it back to the 157th’s lines: Pfc. The 157th Field Artillery Regiment is a United States Army Regimental System field artillery parent regiment of the United States Army National Guard, represented in the Colorado Army National Guard by the 3rd Battalion, 157th Field Artillery Regiment, part of the 169th Field Artillery Brigade at Colorado Springs. Just after midday the SS sent a group to the surrounded GIs under a flag of truce. A tearful Sparks told Frederick if he had to do it over, “I’d go against your orders and pull the battalion out while I could.” It was enough to make the general lose his temper and Sparks fired back. He quickly returned to the front lines despite the harrowing artillery. Possibly in the 45th museum? World War II Combat History of the 157th Infantry Regiment. All rights reserved. As his squad advanced through the trees machine-gun fire tore into them. This decision likely saved many Norwegians but left the division on its journey to a fateful clash with the 157th. Things became worse when one tank slid into a ditch and flipped over. XHTML: You can use these tags:
. Desperately hungry, the SS men searched Company G’s lost positions for food. The trail steepened, making it hard to gain traction. Their company commander, Standartenführer (Colonel) Helmut Raithel, took it back to a nearby command post. His 3rd Battalion, 157th Infantry Regiment, 45th Infantry Division, known as the “Thunderbirds,” had been fighting since coming ashore at Sicily in July 1943. We had no way of evacuating the wounded, much less the dead, until night.” GIs searched the enemy corpses and found papers showing them to be from the 12th Company, 11th Regiment, Nord Division. The attack order stood; however, the regiment would resume moving forward in the morning. The fight took place in icy, hilly terrain near a small French town, and the battle, known only to a relative few, has since been known as the Battle of Reipertswiller. Thunderbird Veteran research Facebook. One such involved the encirclement and destruction of an American infantry battalion during five days of combat so intense that even veterans of Anzio were shocked by its ferocity. The unit that the 157th would face at Reipertswiller had likewise traveled a long way to arrive in the Vosges Mountains in January. Items feature the 45th Infantry Division's well known Thunderbird patch, as well as regiment and battalion crests. The Americans were given until 5 pm to surrender or they would be smashed. The young interpreter was lucky. Nearby were groups spanning the state, from Fruita to Burlington, Brush to Craig. Thanks, this is such a long shot. Several times he halted so he could get out on foot and scout the route before remounting to continue. Some donated books containing valuable information regarding individuals and unit histories may also be part of this collection. The surviving 157th men took a vote. More tanks came up and blasted away with cannon and machine guns to no avail. 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