The Red Bulletin • May 19,1945, June 30, 1945:

Jaybirds ... New Facts ...
(History revisited)

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The Red Bulletin • Vol. 1, No. 9 • May 19, 1945 • pp. 1,4


Nine days after our forces broke from their Apennines positions to decisively crush all remaining resistance in Italy, the 133rd Infantry Regiment was dashing in a northerly direction toward Piacenza to cut off a probable German escape route over the Po River.

Advancing along parallel highways, the three battalions of the regiment moved swiftly, encountering only slight, passive resistence en-route. The Third "Liberator" Battalion, operating on the regiment's left flank, was the first to reach its objective, though the Second Battalion finished a close second. Only the First "Iron-Man" Battalion, operating on the right flank, encountered anything resembling organized resistance. And that came in the form of delating action from what seemed to be the rear guard of a Nazi column beating a hasty retreat to the Po River.

Seek Assistance

Shortly after midnight, however, Second Battalion headquarters reported that an enemy column - believed to be the same which resisted troops of the First Battalion - had cut the highway connecting its forward and rear command post groups. Immediate assistance was sought to combat the large enemy forces.

At that moment was born Task Force J (for Jaybird). Commanded by Captain William Dubinsky of Charleroi, Pennsylvania, regimental transportation officer, a force of 121 men was quickly assembled from non-combatant units. Typists, clerks, cooks, bakers, drivers, mechanics and the like were alerted and issued weapons and ammunition.

It was a strange and nerve-testing assignment for the Jaybirds, 90 per cent of whom had never before participated in actual combat. It was Capt. Dubinsky's first combat command, though he had seen seven months of service with the 34th Division.

Enemy Disorganized

At 5 a.m. the Jaybirds rode to an assembly area, then, with the advance party perched on tanks and the remainder on trucks, rolled into Cortemaggiore, site of the Second Battalion's rear command post. Here the enemy, already engaged in battle by battalion headquarters company, was in a state of disorganization and groping for another escape route.

After a brief skirmish in Cortemaggiore, during which time seven prisoners were corraled, the Jaybirds turned north again to the village of [S. Pietro in Cerro] to continue their pursuit of the Krauts. As the 'Birds advanced along the road leading to the village, they found it and the surrounding fields strewn with enemy dead and numerous destroyed and abandoned vehicles and guns.

Taking a page from the manual, Capt. Dubinsky split his forces, then ordered them to draw a tight ring around the town and move in. The trapped Nazi force made a brief stand but soon capitulated to the trigger-happy street fighting 'Birds.

444 Germans Surrender

Four hundred and forty-four Germans surrendered, including a colonel (regimental commander) and his 11 staff officers.

It was the largest single prisoner haul in the 133rd Infantry's long combat career, topping the previous high of 133.

The Red Bulletin • Vol. 1, No. 14 • June 30, 1945 • pp. 1,4


At 2030, the night of April 26th, the 2nd Battalion pushed off toward the Po. Its objective was Montecelli, and the route ran through the towns of Cortemaggiori and San Pietro [in Cerro].

Minus Comapny E, which had been sent with the 34th Recon to clear some houses to the east, the battalion moved out. Cortemaggiori was reached at 2330 and the houses cleared. With Company F in the lead, the battalion moved out in the direction of San Pietro. For almost three hours they slogged through a driving rainstorm, and at 0300 entered the outskirts of the town.

After a brief firefight, in which F Company captured a German officer and 49 men, the battalion prepared to push off to its next objective. By that time E Company had completed its mission, and joined the rest of the battalion. But the move was cancelled by an urgent call from the battalion rear, located in Cortemaggiore.

A large force of Germans was passing through that town, heading for San Pietro along the same road the battalion had taken. This was the last message received over the phone. The Germans found the wires and cut them. All four companies immediately moved into battle positions extending along the road for a distance of one half mile south of the town. The three 57mm guns, and the heavy machine guns, were set up in the center of the town to cover the road. The ambush was prepared, and the 2nd Battalion waited for the Krauts to walk into the trap.

They didn't have long to wait. At 0530 the Jerries came marching down the road in a column of twos. The Americans let them get to within 30 yards of the center of town. Then all hell broke loose.

The first hail of fire littered the road with dead and wounded Krauts. Above the din of battle could be heard shouts of "Kamerad", mingled with the moans and screams of the wounded. Many gave up, but others quickly reorganized in the ditches and began to fire back. German 75s at the rear of the long column began lobbing shells into the town.

The battle raged for several hours. At one time a force of 300 Germans counter-attacked Company E, but intense mortar fire from H Company routed them. Gradually the resistance weakened and died out.

As the battle drew to a close, the taskforce sent by the Regimental Commander arrived. By then, the few remaining Krauts were waving white flags; and the task force found it unnecessary to fire a single shot as they helped to round up the isolated and beaten survivors of the German column.

When the prisoners were counted, it was found that the 2nd Battalion had taken 459 Jerries in this bitter action. 75 others lay dead along the road, and huge quantities of equipment, mules, horses and weapons had fallen into our hands.

The prisoners were then taken over by task forces so as to allow the 2nd Bn. to complete its mission to Montecelli.

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