ETO in Early October 1944

What was going on in the European Theater of Operations during the first part of October, 1944? Sometimes it’s interesting to look at what was happening in different places at the same time. In early October the European front stretched from the Netherlands/Belgian/German border in the north to the French/German border near Metz further south.

On October 2 the 30th Infantry Division launched a full-scale attack on the Siegfried Line east of Maastricht, The Netherlands. The Germans had retreated from France, Belgium and the southern part of the Netherlands to make a stand at the long string of reinforced pillboxes and tank traps along their western border. Edward Arn, in his book “Arn’s War,” describes the grisly death of his commander, Captain Melvin Riesch, that day during the attack on Rimburg Castle which caused Arn’s elevation to commander of Fox Company, 119th Infantry Regiment. Fox Company, along with the rest of the 30th Infantry division would go on to attack the German City of Aachen from the north flanked by the 29th Division and the 2nd Armored Division. The 1st and 9th Infantry Divisions attacked Aachen from the south. The city surrendered on October 16 , 1944 and was the first major German city to fall to the Allies.

On October 3rd, Lieutenant Charles McDonald crossed the German border and joined his new command, Company I of the 23rd Infantry Division in the Schnee-Eifel forest east of St. Vith, Belgium. McDonald wrote of his baptism by fire during the next few weeks in his classic memoir “Company Commander.” His account of the desperate fighting along that portion of the Siegfried line and his shockingly rapid introduction to life in combat as a Company Commander provides such a vivid picture that you feel you are there with him.

From September 10 through October 15, 1944, the 276th Armored Field Artillery, which included my father-in-law, was supporting the 2nd “Free” French Armored Division. They took positions near the Foret du Parroy, east of Nancy, France, on September 23 and remained in that position until October 15 providing supporting fire for the French Division as well as the nearby 79th Infantry Division. The 4th Armored Division was also in this area near Nancy. All were part of General George Patton’s command.

Back behind the lines, PFC Mollie Weinstein, had settled into her quarters in a hotel in newly-liberated Paris. The WAC provided clerical support for the Army and in her free time explored the famous city. Her memoir, “Mollie’s War,” includes letters she wrote home describing her experiences including meeting GI’s who’d landed on D-Day at a USO provided entertainment event and the plight of civilians in liberated Paris. Although news reports predicted the war would be over by Christmas, Mollie joked that she wouldn’t be home until 1946. The WAC’s instincts were right. It was November, 1945, before Mollie was shipped back to the states.

In early October,1944, the news from Europe sounded good to the folks back home. Paris and most of France had been liberated. The Siegfried Line had been breached and the city of Aachen taken. Although the port of Antwerp had fallen to the Allies in September, fortifications along the estuary leading to the sea blocked the port until November. Supplies were still being unloaded on the Normandy beaches and trucked across France by the Red Ball Express. Shortages slowed the Allies advance as the Germans fought to defend their borders. The war in Europe would go on for another seven months.

 

3 thoughts on “ETO in Early October 1944

  1. Hello Barbara. Thank you for the research and history regarding the ETO in early October 1944. I have been trying to piece together the events, missions or operations between August to October 1944. You see, my grandfather was KIA on Oct 4, 1944. My mom was 3 yrs old. I’d love to give her his story…his sacrifice. Sadly, she is not very healthy. Would you happen to have any information about Company G? My Grandfather’s name is Fred Holdsworth from Iowa.

    I get Arn’s book if he has anything.
    Thank you kindly,

    Kevin

    1. Kevin, Thanks for visiting my website and for your comment. I am recovering from surgery so I am unable to do any research right now. You said your grandfather was in Company G. Do you know the Regiment or Division? The more information you have about him will lead you to even more. Oftentimes the gravestone will give the Division, Regiment and company. You can use the website Findagrave.com to locate his grave if need be. I’ll try to get back with you when I am feeling better.

    2. Kevin, I finally got a chance to do some research on your grandfather. Beginning on October 2, 1944, the 30th Division began its assault on the Siegfried Line near Maastrich, The Netherlands. I highly recommend the book “Work Horse of the Western Front, The Story of the 30th Infantry Division” by Robert L Hewitt. Hewitt gives detailed descriptions of the daily combat as well as the bigger picture. In the back it has a listing of the KIA and MIA where I found your grandfather’s name and his regiment, the 119th. Since he was in Company G he would have been in the 2nd Battalion. Another resource I have is a book of maps called “U.S. Army Atlas of the European Theater in World War II.” In the Oct. 2 assault the 119th 2nd Battalion’s objective was Rimburg and the Rimburg Castle. (see pg 125) In the next few days they progressed further into Germany. Since this assault on the Siegried Line lasted from Oct. 2 to Oct 7, it is likely that your grandfather was killed during this battle. I hope this information helps in telling your grandfather’s story.

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