The Stars and Stripes (Mediterranean), 8 Feb 1945:
Allies Spring First Push In Three Months ...
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Allies Spring First Push In Three Months
Yanks Advance East Of Highway 65
by Sgt. Jack Foisie, Staff Correspondent
WITH THE 5TH ARMY, Feb. 5 (Delayed) - The first Allied attack since the bogging down of the Gothic Line offensive three months ago jumped off at 1500 hours this afternoon and is still in progress tonight.
American troops [now known to be the 2nd Battalion, 133rd Infantry Regiment] east of Highway 65 have gained ground but the German resistance is as bitter and determined as ever, silencing all wishful thoughts that Field Marshal Albert Kesselring's forces are pulling out of Italy. The battle is being fought deep in the Apennines southeast of Bologna, in bitter cold and sometimes in deep snow. It is a battlefield isolated and almost inaccessible. From the peaks surrounding the northern end of the valley, the heavy cannonading and shrill chatter of small arms echoes and re-echoes to disturb the mountain fastness.
The first hint of an ensuing conflict could be seen shortly before noon when smoke appeared over German positions. A cold wind carried the white, clammy vapor southward until the valley was choked.
Except for this enemy screening move - all was quite at 1459 hours today. The mountains were quiet and cold. In a camouflaged dugout atop one of the highest American-help peaks, Lt. William A. Taylor stood ready with his glasses. Sgt. Arthur Tegtmeier of Sumner, Iowa, was standing by to relay his observations by radio.
At 1500, the whole American line suddenly belched forth with sound - and with fire. Heavy and light artillery, infantry cannons, tanks, mortars and concentrated heavy machine guns all went into action. The bellow of the guns was thunderous and yet the soft whistle of the shells passing overhead, German-bound, remained distinct and sweetly soothing. One could almost hear the deafening crunch of them landing on the enemy-held mountain mass of Hill 363.
Couldn't Hear Crunch
Actually, you couldn't hear the crunch, but the sight of the stuff landing on the enemy was a picture that talked. For Lt. Taylor it was especially pleasing, for his former company - the one with whom for six months he had fought and sometime led on just such attacks as this one - was out in front again.
"That ought to get Kesselring out of bed," Taylor said grimly as he saw the top of the mountain dusted off by a salvo.
Out in front of the OP several thousand yards away, Lt. Taylor's former company jumped off with the first sound of the artillery. For this attack was not to receive a preparatory "softening up" barrage. This was to be a surprise attack and the artillery was to keep just ahead of the infantry.
Until 1515 hours the valley and the mountains were filled with the echo of the firing. (It was to remain filled with smoke all afternoon). Then slowly the artillery decreased, but only slightly, as the missions turned from barrage to harassing and directed fire.
Hill 363, enemy-held, was no longer serene. Angry puffs of gray disturbed its white blanket - those were the heavy high-explosive shells landing, designed to knock out the mountain defenders. Occasionally, one could see a spray of red sparks and then a billow of white - those were the white phosphorus shells, designed to drive the defenders out of their foxholes. Above the mountain, dark, angry splotches appeared in the molten sky - those were airbursts to reach the men caught out of their holes.
After a while, with keen glasses and providing the smoke had momentarily cleared away, one could see the biggest divots in the world, deep, dark holes in the snowy cover of Hill 363. Those were the shell craters.
By this time the lead was not just going out. The Krauts had reacted quickly; almost automatically they had thrown back a protective wall of mortar fire. One could hear the crunch, and know that somewhere out in front, men were going through that mortar hail - and hell.
Now It Starts
Now the Hun counter-barrage was starting and the crunch of those incoming bricks was far more fearful, for a few were close. The divots now could be easily seen without glasses - in the hill behind the OP.
Everyone now knew that the Germans were still holding their Italian line, and that they still fought hard.
With the coming of darkness, artillery "flash" observers, Cpl. Bernard Fallon of Fall River, Mass., and Pvt. David Peek of Louisville, Ky., took over the OP. Lt. Taylor, Sgt. Tegtmeier and two other members of the OP group, Pfc. John E. Mulligan of Revena, N.Y., and Pfc. Compton C. Pagkenham of Vancouver, B.C., made their way back down off the hill
In the hills to the north of the valley the battle went on.
Fire Plenty Heavy
How heavy was the fire support in today's battle? Well, in just over two hours a tank called "Chief" fired more than 200 rounds, or an average of better than a shell per minute, according to tank chief Sgt. Max Eschler of Montpelier, Idaho. Other members of the crew are Cpl. Andrew Kmetz of Hempstead, N.Y.; T-5 Clarence Moore of St. Joseph, Mo., and Pfc. Stephen Toth of Greenburg, Pa. And this tank was just one of many firing.
Krauts Stubbornly Resist 5th's Apennine Attack
ADVANCED ALLIED FORCE HEADQUARTERS, Feb. 7 - Jumping off after a sharp artillery preparation, Allied troops on the 5th Army right flank gained up to five and six hundred yards against enemy artillery, machine gun and mortar fire in what was officially described as the early stages of a "limited objective" attack launched Monday afternoon.
Fighting continued yesterday and Allied troops were reported to be holding all positions won against stiff opposition. The enemy reacted with violent artillery fire, especially around Livergnano and other sections of Highway 65 where more than 400 rounds of artillery and 200 rounds of mortar fire fell within a two hour and 40 minute period.
The strength and exact location of the Allied assault has not been officially disclosed.
On other sectors of the front enemy patrols, apparently trying to probe Allied positions for intelligence purposes, were beaten off.
In the Serchio Valley, 5th Army troops continued to make limited advances against light opposition occupying two more places east of the Serchio River.
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