After Action Reports and Interviews
53rd Arm'd Eng. Bn. - Unit History - January 1945
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On 1 January, Company 'C' departed for D-14, Weymouth, England from Tidworth Barracks, Tidworth, Hants, England to act as an advance party for units of the division arriving for embarkation for the Continent. The remainder of thebattalion completed preparations for moving to the embarkation point.

The battalion less Company 'C' departed from Tidworth Barracks at 0400 hours, 5 January for D-14, Weymouth, England, arriving at the destination at 1530 hours. After vehicles were lined up in "passenger list" order, the battalion moved to the Port of Weymouth and loaded on three (3) LST's at 0900 hours. After a smooth crossing, the battalion arrived at LeHavre, France at 0930, 7 January, debarked, formed into convoy order, and departed from LeHavre, at 1100 hours. At 1600 hours the battalion arrived at Chateau de Montpicon, Hougliville, France where it remained billeted until 9 January. On 9 January at 1345 hours, the battalion departed for the vicinity of Reims, France The roads were covered with several inches of snow. On 10 January at 1330 hours, the battalion bivouacked approximately twelve (12) miles Southeast of Reims and one and one-half (1-1/2) miles Northwest of Mourmelon Remaining in the bivouac area until 12 January, maintenance of vehicles, tools and weapons was accomplished. At 0530, 12 January the battalion left the bivouac area for Lesmenils, France (u803382). Again the column was held up by tanks and artillery traveling on roads covered with ice and snow.

At 0130 hours, 13 January the battalion occupied billets at Lesmenils, France. For the remainder of the month, the battalion was engaged in normal engineer and administrative duties.

Reconnaissance was continuous. Engineer information on roads, bridges, and minefields was obtained through reconnaissance and through reports from higher headquarters and adjacent units including Seventh Army, XX Corps, 10th Armored division and 9th Armored Division. From information obtained, maps were printed by the S-2 Section and distributed to the units of the division.

During this period, the S-2 Section obtained, segregated and distributed the map issue to the division.

Snow camouflage material was obtained and distributed to the units of the division. A Demonstration was held to instruct all units in the snow camouflaging of vehicles and CP tents. This camouflage project was completed.

Training was continuous. The training consisted of practical work in the following: construction and repair of bridges; construction of by-passes; clearing of minefields; destruction of a German pillbox; repair of roads; including removal of snow and ice; operation of water points; and firing of weapons.

The S-4 obtained engineer supplies for division units and supplies for the battalion. Engineer supplies issued to the division included explosives, and snow camouflage material. Emergency rations were issued to all personal of the battalion. The first partial issue of shoe- pacs was received and issued to the personnal who habitually work outside, placing emphasis on the men in the squads. Issue of knee boots to all personnal was completed.

Armored cabs for the D-6 bulldozers were obtained and installed by the Maintenance Section. "A"-frames were constructed for each platoon 2-1/2 ton tool truck.

Early the morning of the 27th the battalion received a message from division headquarters to alert a billeting party. A billeting party moved out at 0400 hours and the battalion loaded all equipment in preparation to move. At 1030 hours instructions were received that plans had been changed and the division would not move. Equipment was unloaded and operations continued.

The S-3 Section conducted experiments using prima cord, attached to rockets as a means of clearing foot paths thru mined areas. Due to a number of casualties in non-engineer units from German mines, the S-3 Section began to publish a daily 'Engineer Information Bulletin" to inform the units of the danger of attempting to remove or handle any mines.

At 1630 hours Company 'A' commanded by Captain James G. Gettings, Jr. received word that it was to move North with Combat Command 'A'. The company crossed the IP at 2130 hours. 18 Jan.

The company arrived at KOENIGSMACHER, FRANCE (P945896) at 0400 hours, where it remained until 0800 hours. A billeting party was sent ahead to obtain billets at METRICH (p956902). The company arrived at MERICH at 1300 hours. A liaison officer was dispatched to Combat Command Headquarters. The Company Commander visited the 319th Engineer Battalion (94th Inf Div), the 1139 Engineer Combat Group, and the 135 Engineer Combat Battalion to obtain engineer information on roads, bridges, and minefields, both friendly and enemy.

The Reconnaissance Section attached from Headquarters Company and the company officers accomplished road, bridge, and minefield reconnaissance to the front. From the information obtained, a large sand table of the area was constructed which was used for briefing unit commanders on their mission. At 1800 hours, 24 January, the company less the supply and mess sections moved forward to BESCH (L012019).

The first platoon moved forward with elements of the Combat Command to NENNIG (L022043). This platoon assisted tank elements through two road blocks consisting of a knocked out German tank and a hasty German mine field. During this work, three casualties were suffered, all due to shrapnel

T/5 George E. Schongar, 32852388
Pfc Bernarad P. Zawisza 31327776
Pfc Richard A. Sieling 15341647

The remaining two platoons left BESCH and arrived at NENNIG for billeting. The third platoon was sent to construct a 24 foot span of Treadway Bridge across an anti-tank ditch East of WEIS (L026049) to cross tanks to flank and assist in taking the town of SINZ (L057045). The work was started at 2300 Hours, 25 January 1945.

Considerable difficulty in constructing the Treadway Bridge was encountered due to "lips" on both sides of the anti-tank ditch being frozen solid. It became necessary to use TNT to remove the lip to construct abutments for the Treadway. At 0500, hours, 26 January 1945, the bridge was completed. Guides were posted at critical points along the route of approach, and tanks crossed the completed bridge at 0900 hours. Continuous maintenance was required, including the hauling and placing of rock along both approaches to the bridge. One casualty was suffered from artillery fire, T/4 Edward P. Sherel, 33592317, who later died of wounds.

During the morning of 27 January 1945, the Combat Command was pulled out of action and Company 'A' returned to LESMENILS at 1700 hours.

The following changes took place in the Battalion during the month of January:

Capt. Homer Eddy to Company Commander, Hq. Co. from Battalion Maintenance Officer.

Captain Edward J. Bielecki to Reconnaissance Officer from Company Commander, Hq. Co.

1st Lt. Henry Womastek to Battalion Maintenance Officer from Reconnaissance Officer.

The battalion strength on January 1st, 1945 was: 34 Officers, 3 Warrant Officers and 639 Enlisted men, while on 31 January 1945 the strength was 34 Officers, 3 Warrant Officers and 615 Enlisted men.