Monday, November 27, 2017

5th Infantry Division World War II Combat Narrative

Peter Charles Dagutis was born on 10 March 1918. He was my husband's father and we lost him in 1991. He lived in Detroit as a young man and was engaged to be married. Then, his life was interrupted by the military draft enacted under the Selective Service and Training Act of 1940. He was drafted on 7 April 1941 and did not return home from Europe until 18 June 1945. He served as part of the 5th Infantry Division, more specifically with Company H, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Regiment, 5th Division, Third Army.[1]

This combat narrative was written by Army historians after the World War II and is part of the official history of the U.S. Army.


The division arrived at Utah Beach France 11 July 1944 and assumed defensive positions from 1st Infantry Division near Caumont 13 July 1944. On 26 July 1944 it attacked to take Vidouville and made a limited advance to Torigny-sur-Vire-Caumont Road, after which it was reassembled 1 August 1944. On 8 August 1944 the division opened its offensive toward Nantes, taking Angers 10 August 1944, and with the assistance of 7th Armored Division, captured Chartes 18 August 1944. Speeding easter the division crossed the Seine at Montereau 24 August 1944 and took Rheims 30 August 1944 and established a bridgehead across the Meuse at Verdun at month's end. The division began the battle for Metz 7 September 1944 as the 2nd Infantry was stopped in the Amanviller-Verneville area and the 11th Infantry pushed up the Meuse heights near Dornot. The 2nd Infantry continued to batter the city's outer fortifications, and on 8 September 1944 the division gained a precarious bridgehead over the Moselle which immediately came under heavy shell fire and continuous counter attack. The 2nd Infantry made repeated frontal assaults as engineers bridge the river for tanks on 12 September 1944. But the Arnaville bridgehead effort was hampered by German shelling or the deep mud and ammunition shortages. The 10th Infantry and 11th Infantry regrouped inside the perimeter and defended it against a strong German attack 17 September 1944.

Soldiers of the 5th and 95th infantry divisions in Metz; photograph courtesy
of the Center for Military History

The division attacked Fort Driant commencing 27 September 1944, which guarded the northern approaches to Metz. The 11th Infantry forced its way into the bastion's outer edges 3 October 1944, but the Germans counterattacked from the tunnels after dar. The division committed itself entirely into this battle in very costly combat, but by 12 October 1944, attempts to seize the fort were given up, and the division withdrew to rest. On 12 November 1944 the division returned to the assault and was counterattacked at once as it entered the bridgehead of 6th Armored Division. Over the next few days the 2nd Infantry took Ancerville; the 10 Infantry reduced Fort Aisne, BOies de l'Hospital, Marly, and Fort Queuleu; and the the 11th Infantry pushed into Metz itself, the division encircling the town completed the following day. Rear-guard opposition inside Metz had been mopped up by 22 November 1944, but the division kept infantry to contain the forts there while it relieved the 95th Infantry division and attacked cross the Nied 25 November 1944. The Ste. Quentin fortifications surrendered to the division on 6 December 1944 as it was pulled back to assembly areas.

Belgium and Luxembourg

On 16 December 1944, the German Ardennes counteroffensive began, and the division relieved the 95th Infantry Division at Saarlautern bridgehead, attacking out of it 18 December 1944. After slow progress, Waldbilling and Haller fell 25 December 1944. Throughout January the division continued to reduce the southern flank of the German drive in conjunction with 4th Infantry Division. On 4 February 1945 it was relieved in line by 6th Cavalry Group and took up new positions.

5th Infantry Division medics during the Battle of the Bulge; photograph
courtesy of the Center of Military History


It attacked across the Sauer River near Echternach 7 February 1945 despite strong currents and German shelling which prevented bridging. It expanded this bridgehead to the West Wall LIne by 10 February 1945 and by 19 February 1945 cleared up to the west bank of the Pruem RIver. After regrouping, the 2nd Infantry and 10th Infantry crossed the Pruem near Peffingen during the night of 24-25 February 1945. The 11th Infantry cut the Bitburg-Trier Highway on 27 February 1945 and cleared to the west bank of the Kyll by the following day. The division opened its attack to establish the Kyll bridgehead between Erdorf and Philippsheim on 2 March 1945. Progress was rapid as the division leapfrogged elements past numerous towns and reached the Moselle 10 March 1945. The 2nd Infantry and 11 Infantry crossed the rivier 14 March 1945 after divisional regroupment and seize Treis, Lutz and Eveshausen.

5th Infantry Division crossing the Sauer River; photograph courtesy of Center
for Military History

Working closely with the 4th Armored Division, the division reached the Rhine with the 11 Infantry at Oppenheim and Nierstein on 21 March 1945. The next day the regiment crossed the river with little difficulty. On 26 March 1945 the 10th Infantry captured the Rhine-Main airport as the division reached Frankfurt-am-Main. On 4 April 1945 it completed clearing the city and secured it until 9 April 1945 when it closed into the Olsenburg area. The 10 Infantry attacked to take Arnsberg while the 2nd Infantry reached the Ruhr River 12 April 1945. The 11th Infantry rejoined the division from Frankfurt on 14 April 1945, and the division then occupied Westphalian regions south of the Ruhr until relieved by the 75th Infantry Division on 24 April 1945.

Czechoslovakia and Austria

On 1 May 1945 the division advanced across the Czechoslovaian border and into Austria behind armored units. On 5 May 1945 the division attacked across the Tepla River and followed the 4th Armored Division through the Regen and Freyung passes as the hostilities brought its offensive to a halt.

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