At midnight of New Years' eve, the traditional time for celebration, the Germans launched their attack south of Bitche. The 141st Infantry was dispatched to that era, with tile 143d Infantry following on January 3d, as soon as transports were available, in a blinding snow-storm without maps, specific mission, or knowledge of the area. So tense was the situation, Army specified that only one RCT would be committed at a tine. Therefore, the 143d Infantry rotated time in the line near Lemburg with the two sister regiments. So touchy was the situation that a limited attack by two companies of the 142d Infantry on January 8th required prior approval of Army Headquarters.

Then began a distasteful job to the 143d—making switch positions and delaying positions in which to retire if the German attack swung to the southwest. However, the German attack never developed. The enemy did, however, hack away in the Strasburg area by ferrying a large force of Germans across the Rhine River about 10 miles north of Strasburg at Gambsheim. The 12th Armored Division attempted to dislodge this threat to Strasburg, as did the 79th Infantry, but were thrown back with considerable losses. To bolster this situation, the Regiment was committed to relieve the elements of the 12th Armored Division in the Weyersheim area. Happening on the stage at the right time again, the 143d Infantry averted a clean breakthrough of a major counterattack by the enemy by stopping them and rallied the 12th Armored Division elements. A defense line was established and the 143d dug in, knowing that the heavy snow and low clouds were concealing a build-up of Germans for a counterattack.

On the 20th, the attack came. Concentrated in the 2d Battalion's area, the German infantry attack, supported by tanks, approached Herrlisheim. The 2d Battalion met the enemy attack head on with an attack of their own. In the fighting that lasted throughout the afternoon, they killed 83 of the enemy and captured 176—some of the best German troops, the 10th SS Panzer Division. Acknowledging their Colonel's part in the battle, men of the 2d Battalion have since called the scene of this victory, "Bowden' s Woods," in honor of their commander

This seemed to break the back of the enemy's offense in the area. However Mother Nature set in with heavy snowfalls—and the snow averaged 12 inches on the ground—it was cold and miserable out there patrolling the canals and woods. Novel searchlight defense was introduced—Artificial Moonlight—made by searchlights reflecting their lights off the low clouds. It meant warfare on a 24-hour basis and the game was not called because of darkness.

In a week, sweeping Russian gains on the Eastern Front caused the Germans to withhold further offensive operations in Alsace. By the end of the month (January, 1944), enemy initiative died out. The Germans had been prevented from making any inroads on the territory taken over and held by the 143d Infantry. Soon Tedoschi would feel the sting of more 143d Infantry attacks!


redline.gif (912 bytes)

Copyright © 1957, 2000
All Rights Reserved
Email comments to: Texas Military Forces Museum