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Battle of Hatten-Rittershoffen: American unit and personal citations

CITATION: Presidential Unit Citation

The Third Battalion, 313th Infantry Regiment, is cited for the extraordinary heroism and outstanding performance of duty exhibited during the period from 31 December 1944 to 21 January 1945 in the vicinity of Oberroedern, Alsace, France.

 

This unusual fighting battalion, which had for days held a sector of regimental frontage, was faced again and again by determined enemy troops and armored vehicles but utterly refused to yield ground, holding against almost overwhelming odds with a tenacity possessed only by the most courageous. Although depleted heavily in effective strength, the intrepid infantrymen of the Third Battalion met the onslaught of the enemy and repelled each assault with heavy losses to the attackers. When the main effort of the German attack was launched against the sector defended by the Third Battalion, the Battalion not only held the onslaught but by sheer determination and dominant fighting spirit virtually destroyed the infantry element of the 21st Panzer Division. Headquarters personnel, cooks and other men normally found in the rear areas, worked feverishly and without rest to improve the defensive positions, laying additional wire entanglements and hasty minefields. Finally, the enemy, discouraged by the losses sustained in the Third Battalion area, shifted his main effort and succeeded in penetrating the positions of an adjacent unit. Despite an increased frontage, repeated enemy attempts to widen the shoulder of the salient were smashed by the Third Battalion without allowing the slightest penetration. By holding its positions, the battalion limited the enemy's penetration in the adjacent sector to a narrow corridor and denied the enemy the terrain necessary for manoeuvre in order successfully to exploit the penetration, thereby preventing a major breakthrough. Had the enemy succeeded in effecting the breakthrough, repeatedly attempted in spite of prohibitive losses, it is almost a certainty that a major withdrawal would have been necessitated. The courage and fighting determination of the officers and men of the Third Battalion, 313rd Infantry Regiment, reflect the finest traditions of the Army of the United States.

CITATION: Presidential Unit Citation

Awarded to the 1st Platoon, A Company, 48th Tank Battalion for outstanding performance of duty in action on the 9th of January 1945 near Hatten.

 

Assigned to the mission of repulsing an enemy attack, the 1st Platoon, consisting of four medium tanks, moved rapidly and decisively to support of friendly infantry already partially overrun by enemy armor. Displaying great skill and superior marksmanship, the platoon engaged sixteen Mark IV tanks in a deadly firefight, and without loss of men or equipment, destroyed six enemy tanks and forced the remainder to flee.

CITATION: Presidential Unit Citation

Awarded to Troop C and 3rd Platoon, Troop E, 94th Armored Reconnaissance in support of activities on the 9th of January 1945 of the 1st Platoon, A Company, 48th Tank Battalion (described above):

 

For the outstanding performance of duty in action on January 9, 1945 in the vicinity of Hatten and Rittershoffen, France. Troop C, 94th Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron Mechanized, together with the 3rd Platoon, Troop E, 94th Mechanized, operating under Taskforce Wahl had been assigned the mission of maintaining an observation screen to detect enemy armored penetrations through the main line of resistance of the Task Force. From well-established observation posts, Troop C and 3rd Platoon, Troop E, supplied higher commanders with rapid, accurate information of the attack on Hatten by an estimated three armored infantry battalions of a Panzer Grenadier Division. As the overwhelming enemy attack overran two of the observation posts, their locations were displaced to effective positions, without interrupting the flow of information.

 

In the early afternoon of the same day a tank battalion of a panzer Grenadier Division attempted a double envelopment of the town of Hatten, with a force of fifteen Mark IV tanks followed by a company of mounted infantry on the South flank. Troop C and 3rd Platoon, Troop E, made prompt and detailed reports in a manner which enabled reserves to be so effectively committed as to decisively defeat and repel the enemy attack. Information furnished directly from the observation posts caused tank and assault gun fire to be directed at the south enemy tank force with the resultant destruction of seven Mark IV tanks and one self-propelled gun.

 

The outstanding performance of the officers and men of these units under exceptionally difficult and hazardous conditions reflect  great credit upon all concerned and are in the high traditions of the military service.