Return to the Fields
The following article is from Col. Glenn Callahan and is the result of years of visits to the 70th's former battlefields.

Original Article
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After-Action Report – 57 Years Later
The 70th Infantry Division & Operation Northwind
Actions in the vicinity of Philippsbourg, France
By LTC Glenn Callihan, USA

Dedication

With deep and abiding respect, admiration and gratitude for the men of the 274th, 275th & 276th Infantry Regiments…they are the only ones who know for sure.

Purpose:

Between January 2000 and June 2002, I spent countless days walking and searching the battlefields of Operation Northwind…mostly those around Philippsbourg, France. This report details for the veterans the current condition of their battlefields and company positions. In particular, this is about the items of war that I found all these years later still serving as reminders of the death struggle fought in those places.

I also write this report for the families and friends of the veterans. Generally, combat veterans do not speak in depth about their experiences. Some of it, they would prefer to forget. Some gets lost in the noise of their daily lives. Some just seems too trivial after years away from the Army. Mostly, however, I feel that veterans have difficulty relating experiences to those who have no basis for comparison. The civilian world, for example, has very few experiences that compare to being caught in an artillery barrage. Maybe this report will help some of you understand some of them just a little bit better.

I apologize for all of the personal thoughts that I have added to this narrative. If you would like to bypass those passages and get straight to my battlefield report, feel free to jump straight to page 4.

Who am I:

I am an officer in the US Army. I have served nearly 22 years on Active Duty; primarily with combat units. I served with an Armor Battalion of the 1st Armored Division in Operation Desert Storm and with a Special Operations unit in Somalia. All told, I have spent nearly two years in combat or in combat zones. The only reason that I relate this is so the veterans of the 70th Infantry Division know that, to some small extent; I have walked in their shoes and have some qualifications to speak about their experiences. I recently arrived at the Pentagon after three years in Stuttgart, Germany with HQs, US European Command. It was during that assignment I was able to spend so much time on your battlefields.

Introduction:

In January 1945, three Regiments of the 70th Infantry Division were thrust into combat in the midst of the worst winter Europe had seen in a half-century. These men had been rushed through training and arrived in France only a short time before being placed directly in harm’s way. The vast majority were not veterans.

The outcome of the war, seemingly all but won just a month before, was now in question. This was the situation when the first elements of the 275th Regiment moved north along the snow-covered road into Philippsbourg.

The history of the ensuing battles is well documented in books and other publications so I will not try to repeat it here. I first became interested in the 70th Infantry Division after reading a footnote in a manuscript prepared by LTC (R) Hugh Foster about the 157th Regiment of the 45th Division. In it, he referenced the plight of B/275 on Falkenberg hill. I pulled out my maps of the area, found a copy of "Ordeal in the Vosges" and was on my way.

Personal Thoughts:

I have always felt a connection with history through the items used by those who made that history. So it was a great opportunity for me to be stationed in Germany so close to the WWII battlefields in France. Most items left on the battlefield are picked up over the years by woodcutters, hikers or other relic hunters. The Low-Vosges Mountains where Operation Northwind took place, however, are very rugged and remote. The remains of foxholes dug almost 60 years before can still clearly be seen. Regardless, it took a lot of effort and often I found very little. The items that I did find, to many, are simply rusted junk. But each tells a tale…often tragic…always poignant. I think that you will see in my description that some of these items are quite dramatic.

The research required to find company positions and battle sites is more daunting than I originally imagined. I spent time at the Army library in Heidelberg, Germany and at the National Archives in Washington, DC. Many veterans sent me information and I purchased as many unit histories and WWII era maps as I could find. Sometimes it was as simple as reading about a unit being on a hill (by name) and then finding that hill on current maps. Most of the time, it was not that easy. I have even found an error or two in the histories that I hope to be able to correct for you here. I traveled to three hills around Philippsbourg that are not listed in any history. What I found on two of them may surprise you…and possibly explain actions that you may have wondered about for all these years.

In the beginning, I began each WWII battlefield trip alone. As I returned to the office on Monday and told stories about the battle that took place and what I found there, others would volunteer to accompany me. One of the first to come along was my boss in Stuttgart; an Air Force Colonel. Another Army Lieutenant Colonel and a Navy Commander often joined us. I frequently wondered what the veterans would have thought in January 1945 if they had known that 57 years later, three Colonels and a Navy Commander would be climbing over their hills and digging in and around their foxholes.

The next two paragraphs are for the friends and families of the veterans. The terrain where the fighting took place for the 70th Infantry Division in January 1945 is, for lack of a more descriptive word, merciless. It is steep, rocky and heavily forested. I would go out and walk those hills for a full day. I had slept in a nice bed the night before and I would again that night. I rarely went out in bad weather. I always woke up the next day extremely sore. I generally took a week between days out in that terrain. Now imagine doing that in sub-zero weather after having "slept" in a wet hole in the ground the night before, and the night before that, and the night before that, and….

Imagine doing that while carrying 60 pounds of equipment, while being shot at and having artillery explode all around you. Did I mention that your uniform is damp and that it is so cold that the ground is hard as a rock? I did go out once in January with the temperature hovering around 0. There were times that I could swear sparks came off the dirt when I tried to dig. It was impossible.

This next point, to me, is critical. Shooting at another human being is a very un-natural thing for most of us to do. This fact rarely comes out in the history books. The Army tries to take men and units that are new to combat and put them in a relatively quiet sector and "get them blooded." This is a process where they acclimate to combat while paired with a veteran unit in a non-critical area. The 70th Infantry Division did not have that luxury. Their performance was all the more remarkable considering that fact. If you’ve read "Ordeal in the Vosges," I would be willing to bet that for every description of a Trailblazer firing at a German soldier for the first time, that there is an untold story of the thoughts that went through his mind in the seconds before he pulled the trigger.

When I first began hunting for WWII relics in France, I had never heard of the 70th Division or of Operation Northwind. I didn’t know how an M1 Garand worked or what an M1 Carbine looked like. I had never seen a clip of M1 ammunition nor did the word bandolier mean anything to me. This despite the fact that I majored in history at the University of Richmond and considered myself especially well-versed in WWII history. Through this hobby, I have learned all about the things above and have shared them with anyone that will listen. I am specifically proud of taking my 19 year-old brother-in-law with me several times when he visited with us in Germany. He is very impressed and greatly respects the sacrifices made by his "Grandfathers" and has shared those experiences with others his age. All is not lost for the "younger generation."

Note: In the list of items found at each location, I generally do not mention finding bullets unless I found full clips or entire bandoliers. I routinely found a number of unfired US 30.06 bullets at most locations. German bullets were less abundant. Although the US M1 Garand cartridge and that of the German K98 are approximately the same size, it was always extremely easy to know immediately which one I had found. The German bullets were always badly rusted. The US bullets were always tarnished, but totally free from rust. I got the impression that I could dig up an M1 Garand projectile, wipe it off, and then stick it in a rifle and fire it. An acquaintance of mine said that he tried doing just that and that 6 out of 10 did still fire…after 57 years buried in the ground. Amazing!

It was also generally easy to determine the difference between a German and American foxhole. American holes tend to be smaller and shallower with larger number of artifacts nearby. I attribute this to the fact that the US soldier was generally on the attack and did not intend to stay in one place very long. Also, he had more abundant supply. I found a large number of bullets, clips and grenades by searching well down slope from US foxholes. My theory is that the Infantrymen would set up their grenades and ammunition along the lip of their foxholes. As the occupants would get out of the holes in the night for patrols, movement to a forward OP or to answer the call of nature, those items would sometimes get knocked into the snow and be forgotten. Over the years, they would slowly slide down the hill.

Disclaimer:

I will give a brief description about the sites that I visited and what I found there. I will also mention the unit that I associate with that site. I apologize profusely if I get it wrong or if your unit was there too. I’m going based on the research that I could find. In many instances, elements of the 36th Engineers took over positions around Philippsbourg from 70th Infantry Division units. Also, I realize that most companies gained attachments from Headquarters Company and the Heavy Weapons Company. No slight is intended at any time to any unit or individual.

Finally, during the two years that I spent searching battlefields around Phillipsbourg, I found varied quantities of live ordnance to include German and American hand-grenades, mortar shells, anti-tank rifle grenades, rifle ammunition, etc. If I did not know how to defuse it, I reburied it and marked it for retrieval by the proper authorities so that it would not be a hazard to others. I prized finding US hand-grenades, however, and defused every one that I found and brought them home. I do not recommend that as a normal leisure activity, however.

In the following descriptions of items found, I am always referring to US items unless I specifically state that the item is German.

Locations:

After each location below, I will list the unit that I most closely associate with that site and a number. On page 17 and 18, I have detailed maps of the Philipsbourg area. On those maps, you will find that number and arrow marking the battle site or company location. I will then write a general description of the site, give my impressions and a list of the items found there.

If I don’t have too much to report, than I will just include a short paragraph.

Town of Phillipsbourg:

This town probably looks very similar now to the way it did in 1945. It is a very small town and I did not notice any apparent damage that remains from those days. I know that heavy fighting took place in those streets but I obviously did not do any searching in the town. The Maginot-line bunker at the base of the West Ridge is still there but is largely grown over.


Phillipsbourg from the South

West Ridge (Page 17, #1) – C/274, I/275, K/275:

General Description: This hill dominates the view of Philippsbourg from the west. There is a small cemetery and open field just to the south of this hill. There are a few foxholes near the extremely steep eastern end of this hill as it overlooks the town. I imagine this is where the heaviest fighting by C/274 took place. Further west, is a long gentle ridgeline that was occupied later by I/275 and K/275. There is a line of foxholes along this ridge that extended for about 100 meters. Most of the foxholes are on the rear slope while a few are along the forward slope. This area looks very peaceful and undisturbed today.

Impressions: None worth noting.

Items Found: Everything of note that I found here was in the area occupied by I/275 and K/275. They include a US gas mask just laying on the surface, a bandolier of M1 rifle ammunition along the ridge (all 6 clips), a brass US collar insignia, a bayonet (see picture) and a canteen cup. The cup had the name Dixon carved in the bottom.


West Ridge as seen from the Hill North of Phillipsbourg


Bayonet found on reverse slope of West Ridge (note foxhole in rear)

East Ridge (Page 17, #2)– C/275, A/274:

General Description: This hill looms directly over the town of Phillipsbourg. It gives excellent observation above the town and to the north as well. Both the southern and northern slopes are very steep, although the top is relatively large and flat.

Impressions: It was the attack made by A/274 that brought me here although I know that other units fought and took casualties on this hill. Along the northern side, I found a line of foxholes with supporting positions behind them running further up the top. It was very easy to imagine the men of A/274 shivering in these holes after the hard day that they had in taking this hill. The following day, they would have to attack across the wide open field in order to take their next objective…the "hill north of Phillipsbourg." It is easy to imagine their thoughts as they could plainly see the ground that they would attack across the next day. Many of them would not make it to that next hill…only a short distance away.

Items Found: I found one hand grenade that had rolled down slope from one of the foxholes along the steep northern slope. Further toward the top, I found a German canteen, a bandolier of M1 rifle ammunition and another grenade.


East Ridge as seen from Hill North of Phillipsbourg

Hill North of Phillipsbourg (Page 17, #3) – A/274:

General Description: This was one of my favorite hills. It commands a beautiful view to the south looking down on the town of Phillipsbourg and surrounding hills. It is extraordinarily steep if coming from the south (the direction that A/274 attacked). I always came up from the east or west. There is a line of about 10 foxholes that extends along the western crest. There are a few more scattered further east and probably some German holes just about 50 yards north of that.

Impressions: The holes here are deeper and bigger than I generally find. It looks like the soldiers of Alpha Company intended to stay awhile. I found a lot of shrapnel on this hill so it must have taken a pounding. The entire southern slope has been planted with new trees.

Items Found: I came back to this hill many times. I always got the sense that there was just a little more to find here. This position yielded 6 hand-grenades, a bandolier of M1 ammunition deep in a foxhole as well as several other clips and numerous loose bullets scattered throughout the area. I also found several 60mm mortar shells, an 81mm mortar shell and some anti-tank rocket grenades. About 50 feet down the northern slope (facing the German positions), I found a canteen that belonged to a very lucky…or unlucky US soldier. The canteen looks like it was hit by a German bullet fired from below. At the angle the bullet hit, it punctured the shoulder of the canteen and then smashed the mouth. I sincerely hope that the soldier survived what today we would call "a significant emotional event."


Ordnance found on the Hill North of Phillipsbourg

Hill 30 (Page 17, #7) – I/275:

The plight of I/275 on this hill was extensively reported by "Ordeal in the Vosges." This is one of the places where I discovered a small error in the history books. I went to the location shown in the book twice and had no luck whatsoever. There were no foxholes and all that I found was a partially exploded mortar round and a short belt of machine gun ammunition (strange as it was apparently US ammunition, blue tipped and used metal links vice the cloth links of the .30 caliber MG). I later discovered that Hill 30 is actually the hill just to the south of the one shown in Pence’s book. That hill has a large number of foxholes on it. Unfortunately, I did not find anything of interest at that location. I believe that someone else had thoroughly searched that location before I found it.

Falkenberg Hill (Page 17, #8)– B/275:

General Description: This is the hill that got me started. I probably spent 75 hours on this hill over two years. It is a huge, long rise and is dominated by rock formations that run the entire length along the top. In the summer, the trees and foliage are so thick that there is little observation to the roads below. It’s not much better in the winter. Almost everything that I found on this hill was along the southwest portion. The first time that I came to this position, I climbed up to the mid-point and then worked my way down to the southwest portion (not knowing exactly where to look initially). There is a flat section low on the hill that looked perfect for a position but we didn’t see anything….until my friend fell into a foxhole that was covered with leaves.

Impressions: This hill always puzzled me. It was a hard climb just to get to the lower parts of the hill. Once there, it is difficult to see the roads to the south or east that the hill theoretically controls. The southern side of the hill is almost too steep to climb. I’m betting that Captain Schmied would have complained long and loud about this position to "higher" if he had not been cut off and badly wounded before being able to do so. In my humble opinion, B/275 was put into as near an impossible a position as I’ve seen. Ordered to an exposed position far too large for a company to defend, out of radio contact with Battalion, immediately surrounded by a force attacking in great strength, ground too steep and hard to dig in properly, tree cover too thick for observation of the ground that they were ordered to control, out of contact with units on their flanks, no re-supply and no idea about the tactical situation.

Items Found: Most of the things that I found were within 200 yards (in all directions) of the position along the south-west nose of Falkenberg. I found approximately 20 foxholes laid out there. In that vicinity, I found four BAR magazines (three fully loaded and one with only two rounds left in it). I also found: a loaded M1 Carbine magazine, an M1 anti-tank rocket launcher adapter and sight, two US hand-grenades, several 60mm mortar shells, numerous bullets for the M1 Garand and several German bullets. Under the rock ledge along the ridge, I found approximately 100 US 30.06 bullets. I also found one US brass overcoat button and one US marksmanship badge with the rifle attachment. Further up the hill was another small foxhole position. All that I found there was a broken entrenching tool deep in a foxhole.


Ledges on Falkenberg where I found numerous M1 Bullets


Looking Up Toward B/275 Positions on Falkenberg

Hill SW of Falkenberg (Page 17, #9):

You’ll have to look on the map to see what I am talking about here. There is no mention of this hill in any history that I have read. But it sits square in the intersection of the road that runs east to Neunhoffen and north toward the Falkenstein ruins. Ray Broughton describes ambushing a German Company marching south along that road in "Ordeal in the Vosges." This hill was just too tempting to pass up so I checked it out on one of my last trips. There were a large number of foxholes on this hill, most at the top, overlooking that intersection. I wasn’t sure which side had occupied that position until I began finding a number of fired German cartridges outside several of those holes. If anyone remembers taking casualties in that area that is probably where the fire was coming from.

Angelsberg (Page 17, #10) – A/275, C/275:

I only went to this hill once. It is literally "in the middle of nowhere" and is very difficult to reach. I drove on a wood-cutters trail from Dambach as far as I could and then walked the rest of the way. Once I got to the eastern base of the hill, it was a straight climb to the top. Extremely steep. Unfortunately just like Hill 30, someone had obviously been searching there before. Angelsberg is actually made up of two hilltops with a small saddle in-between. I hit the smaller, northern hill first. There were a few foxholes there but I found very little. The taller, southern crest had numerous foxholes on it. Someone had dug up bazooka rounds (only ones that I ever saw) plus other ordnance and left it there (we reburied them and marked it). Also found the bottom half to a mess kit and some bullets but that was about it. No real impression from this hill. Anybody who had to climb up to that hill in the winter has my respect.

Stengelhald (Page 17, #5) – B/274:

General Description: This is another remote hill and it probably looks a little different today than it did then. The southern half of the hill is fully overgrown with second-growth trees and brush. It looks like there was a fire here and the ground is very hard. Also, someone has bulldozed a small field right where I suspect a number of US foxholes existed. The second-growth forest continues to the top where it then abruptly becomes a nice normal wooded area again. There is a wood-cutters trail that traverses the summit in a oval shape.

Impressions: This hill is one of the biggest reasons that I am writing this report. If you know a veteran from B/274 (or any other company) that fought on this hill, give him a BIG hug. The reports that I read indicate that this hill was heavily fought over. For most of the fighting, the Germans were on the top of the hill and B/274 was on the southern slope below them… a very bad position for an Infantryman to be in. There were also reports of the fighting being hand to hand. I think that I can verify this. I found more items scattered together on this hill than anywhere else. Generally, it looked like the US foxholes were on the southern side of the wood-cutters trail and the German holes just above it. In some places, these holes are only about 20 yards apart. I found US bullets right next to German bullets…US grenades just a few feet from German grenades. I also found equipment (helmets and canteens) with bullet holes through them. It’s hard to describe adequately but I get the very real sense that a vicious fight took place here. This hill looks as much like a WWI battlefield as I can imagine.

Items Found: Numerous clips and bullets, both US and German. Eleven US hand grenades (see picture), several German Egg hand-grenades. US anti-tank rocket grenades and several 60mm mortar shells. An anti-tank rocket launcher adapter for the M1, several German gas mask canisters, half of a German helmet and a full German helmet. A US M3 fighting knife. Right next to the hole that I found the German helmet in, I found a German canteen. It was in great shape and still had a thin wood covering. It had a bullet hole straight through the neck.


Some of the items found on Stengelhald (in one small area)

Hill NW of Phillipsbourg (Page 17, #6) Hausberg:

I believe that L/275 was on this hill for one night early in the battle. I did not see any other reference to this position. It is directly west of "the hill north of Phillipsbourg" and commands an excellent view of the northern half of town as well as the road to Bitche. This hill has a series of foxholes along the southern nose looking directly down onto Phillipsbourg. There were some entrenchments behind this. I did not see any other obvious foxholes. This hill must have been hit heavily with artillery as it appeared to have numerous shell-holes all over the top. All that I found here was part of a German ammunition pouch and some fired German cartridges. The Germans were obviously using this position for observation into the town.

Hill southwest of Phillipsbourg (Page 17, #9):

This is the last hill that was not mentioned in the book but I may have found something significant here. This hill looks down upon the southern half of town, the road leading into town and the open field that A/274 had to cross in their attack on the East Ridge. I only checked it out as I thought maybe some US unit might have put an OP up there. I did find one or two foxholes but to my surprise they looked German. In further checking out the area, I only found one thing…..seven German K98 stripper clips…with fired cartridges inserted back into them. This is the only time that I ever found anything like this. I hope that I am wrong but the most plausible explanation that I can find for this is that a German sniper got into this position and used this method as a way of keeping track of the number of casualties that he caused.

Lindenkopf (Page 18, # 13) L/275:

General Description: This was one of my favorite hills. I came back to this position again and again; probably spending 20 hours here in all. Lindenkopf is due west of Phillipsbourg, not too hard to get to and not too steep…but still out of the way and commands a good position between two small valleys. This was the only place that I ever searched that looked like no one had been there since January 1945. There was heavy leaf cover on the ground and many of the items that I found were either just barely under the surface or literally right on top of the ground; only concealed by the leaves. The positions were exactly as Richard Becker described them in "Ordeal in the Vosges." There were foxholes on the crest, the flanks, the northern nose and behind the hill.

Impressions: It is easy to get the sense that this was a forward position, but not under direct assault. The profusion of relics (grenades, clips, bullets, etc) indicates that this was a place where the men were constantly on alert and had their weapons close at hand. Richard Becker describes seeing German patrols on both flanks and then alerting the soldiers behind the hill to capture them. I did find a number of German items scattered around the hill, many just outside of US foxholes…indicating that the soldiers were either searching German prisoners here or examining things taken from German elsewhere.

Items found: I only found three bayonets in the two years that I spent searching WWII battlefields; two of them were on Lindenkopf. A friend of mine and I first went to this hill just as it was getting late in the evening. We climbed up the southern side and as I crested the top, I found a bayonet just laying on the surface (incredible).

I found a few clips of M1 ammunition further away but we had to leave after just 30 minutes. Before we left, my friend found a hand-grenade laying on the surface (also incredible). By the time of my last visit, I had found 13 hand-grenades, two bayonets, around 12 clips of M1 ammunition as well as hundreds of loose 30.06 bullets and M1 carbine bullets, two German Potato Masher grenades, one German Egg grenade, several 60mm mortar shells and 10 anti-tank rifle grenades. Outside of one foxhole, I found a loaded German G43 rifle magazine (10 rounds), leather bayonet frog and scabbard and a leather ammunition pouch. Perhaps most interestingly, outside of the same hole, I found a pair of wire rim eyeglasses. I assume that all of these items were thrown away after searching a German prisoner. Two other items found elsewhere on Lindenkopf include a US overcoat (the cloth was rotted but I did take the brass buttons) and a round US Infantry collar insignia a short distance away.


One of many clips of M1 Ammunition as I found it on Lindenkopf

Hill west of Lindenkopf (Page 18, #12) - E/275, F/275:

This hill is just 200 meters west of Lindenkopf and just east of Baerenthal. It was occupied at different times by both of the companies listed above. I believe that this was the position occupied by F/275 on January 7, 1945 during Father McPhelin’s foxhole visits described in "Ordeal in the Vosges." This hill is entirely second-growth forest now. The trees are so close together that walking and searching this site was extremely difficult. I could only find five foxholes on the reverse slope of this hill. I searched several times but could not find any holes on the forward slope. In one foxhole, I found a canteen with the cap screwed on. Believe it or not, it was still half-full of water. In the same hole was a bandolier of M1 ammunition. There were scattered bullets around many of the holes and I also found a few fired .50 caliber shells (I assume from US aircraft that were flying overhead to strafe German positions). A US mess-kit fork was the only other find on this hill.

Schwarzenberg (Page 18, #11) – A/275, C/275, G/275:

Given the intense action that took place on this hill, I hoped to find a large number of artifacts. Unfortunately I hardly found any. I believe that this hill (and the two hills just to the west that were the ultimate objective of the attack) had previously been extensively searched. I only visited here once. I found quite a few foxholes along the western edge of this hill; none on the northern hill to the west and a few German holes on the southern hill to the west (Huttenberg – Hill 364). There were also foxholes on the crest of Schwarzenberg. This hill is very rocky and looked like there had been a fire there years before. The trees were very close together and ragged. I sincerely wish that I had a better report considering all of the Americans that gave their lives on this hill. Maybe one day, another 70th Infantry Division benefactor will try again.

Hill west of Untermuehlthal (not shown):

I actually went to this hill by accident. I made an error transposing locations from the map in "Ordeal in the Vosges" to my new French map. So there is actually nothing indicating what unit was up there but somebody definitely was. The entire crest was ringed with foxholes. It is a beautiful location, very high but not too bad of a climb. Here I found two hand-grenades, an M1 grenade launcher adapter, a number of M1 Garand clips and loose 30.06 bullets. I also found several M1 Garand clips of tracer ammunition. It was all outside of one hole. This was the only red-tipped ammunition that I ever found.


M1 Grenade Launcher Adapter

Hill 403 (Page 18, #14) - A/276:

The next two hills are well outside of Phillipsbourg and I found them through research other than "Ordeal in the Vosges." I got a copy of the 276th Infantry Regiment Operations report for this period from the National Archives but it was almost impossible to follow the attack on this position from reading it. Other units were probably involved in either attacking or occupying this hill and I apologize for not knowing them all. This area is about as remote as you can get. To get to this hill, I had to drive on a one lane Park road for about two miles and then walk a hiker’s path for about 20 minutes. The southern half of this hill is totally grown over by extremely tall, thick weeds but the crest and northern half are in pretty good shape and have a number of foxholes. I found three hand-grenades, some clips of ammunition and loose bullets and the top to a first-aid kit here. I also found some German MP44 bullets.

Hill 358.1 (Page 18, #15) - 1/276:

General Description: This hill is long and narrow. It is really more of a northern extension to Hill 403 than a separate terrain feature. It slopes downward from Hill 403 for about 600 meters and ends at the crest with a commanding 180 degree view of the woods below. There are many downed trees all over this position and there is a small fenced off tree farm between this hill and Hill 403. The terrain to the west (heading toward Hill 415) drops off sharply and there are a number of foxholes in this area. The eastern side has a gentler slope.

Impressions: A battle was fought for and on this hill. I sincerely wish that I could do the veterans who fought here the justice that they deserve. If I fail to impress upon you the severity of what must have happened on this hill, then it is entirely my fault…not that of the soldiers of the 1st Battalion, 276th Infantry Regiment who fought here. I found a large variety of German and American items on this hill. As stated earlier, German soldiers rarely left anything behind unless it was taken from them by force. A lot of force must have been used on this position. The only thing that I can do is to describe some of the things that I found here and let those relics speak for themselves.

Items Found: It took many trips to this hill to find all of the items that I am about to describe. At the widest, highest part (southern most area) I found a German MP44 magazine (fully loaded), US M1 ammunition (clips and loose) and a German MG 42 machine gun barrel. There are many US foxholes in this area. Coming north a little further, I found several US hand-grenades, clips of ammunition and the bolt to a German K98 rifle. A little to the east on the military crest of the hill was a mound of small boulders. In that area was a German helmet and another MG 42 machine gun barrel. Further north, I found a US canteen that was made in 1918. This is a different type then used during WWII so I can only assume that it was used by an "old soldier." Nearby was a US mess-kit spoon.

Further to the north, as the hill begins to narrow and come to the end, I found two US M1 Garand rifles. They were about 50 meters apart. I have to take a moment to discuss the significance of this. Most items that I found over the years are things that can easily get lost in the heat of battle. A rifle, however, is something that an Infantryman never, ever lets out of his grasp. It is the reason that he is at that spot in a dark, snow-covered French forest in the first place. He does not let go of it unless something very unpleasant has happened to him. The original owners of both these rifles were killed, wounded or captured in those positions. The first rifle is badly damaged with the entire slide connecting to the bolt ripped off (probably by artillery fire). The bolt is closed, indicating that a bullet is still in the chamber. The wood is all gone but I found the butt plate in place, about a foot away. The second rifle is totally intact with a full clip still in place. The butt plate, also a foot away still has about six inches of wood on it. I am proud to say that both rifles are back where they belong (in the United States), have been cleaned of rust (see pictures) and will soon be put in a display case where everyone who sees them will learn about the 70th Infantry Division.

Moving toward the crest of the hill, I found a foxhole that contained twenty-five 60mm mortar shells. In the vicinity were a few more mortar shells, some anti-tank rifle grenades and two US hand-grenades. About 25 meters west on the slope of the hill was a German K98 rifle with several stripper clips of unfired bullets nearby. The bolt of this rifle was fully open and to the rear…indicating that the German soldier was either trying to reload or holding the rifle up to indicate to a Trailblazer that his rifle was not loaded.

In other areas of this hill, I found another German helmet, a pair of US wire-cutters and more rifle ammunition. I also found a German canteen. One side is completely ripped open, probably by a glancing shot from an M1 rifle.


German K98 Rifle found on Hill 358.1


US M1 Garand found on Hill 358.1 (Note damage to slide)


US M1 Garand found on Hill 358.1 (Note clip still in place)


US M1 Garand – Closer View of clip still in place

Closing Thoughts

I visited several other hills in the area, but either I didn’t find much on those sites or they left no specific impression on me. If you would like to ask me any questions about sites or things that I found, I would be glad to answer as best I can. I apologize for not having more photographs. I intended to take more at each site that I visited but somehow they always just turned out looking like pictures of trees rather than giving the impression of the actual site. I am still in the process of cleaning the things that I found, but if you would like to see a picture of any particular item that I haven’t included in this report, just let me know.

In December 2001 and January 2002, I made several battlefield visits on days that I probably should have stayed at home. On those days the snowfall was very heavy and the roads were treacherous. I specifically remember visiting Falkenberg (B/275) and Hill 358.1 (1/276). The hills seemed different with seven inches of snow blanketing the ground. I found some interesting items on both days and felt a special kinship with my WWII forbearers who had walked the same snow covered ground 57 years earlier. In the end, I was glad that I had not stayed at home. During the trying days of January 1945 and the months that followed, I imagine that many of you wish that you had stayed at home as well. I know that, just like me, those were fleeting thoughts and that, in the end, you were glad that you came and did what had to be done. Speaking for all Americans and many others around the world who now enjoy the fruits of what you accomplished, I’m glad that you did too.

If you would like to contact me for any reason, you can reach me at:

Glenn Callihan
5800 Pearson Lane
Alexandria, VA 22304
Home E-mail: majgmc@yahoo.com

Special Thanks:

Donald Pence – Co-author "Ordeal in the Vosges"
Eugene Peterson – Co-author "Ordeal in the Vosges"
Bill Schmeid – MAJ, Commander, B/275 – Combat Infantryman
Ray Broughton – 1LT, Platoon Leader, B/275 – Combat Infantryman
Sam Higgins – SGT, BAR-man, C/275 – Combat Infantryman
Hugh Foster – Retired LTC, Vietnam Veteran, WIA, 45th Division Historian
Lise Pommois – Wonderful French historian who will outlive us all
Bob Bivins – Col, USAF, Boss…Friend…great digging partner
Dan Currie – Commander, USN, Friend…Excellent "eyeballer"
Jim Jackson – LTC, USA, Friend, Digging partner…can’t be trusted with live ordnance
Kit Bonn – Retired LTC, Author/Publisher. Excellent history of 276th led me to Hill 358.1

Maps


1--West Ridge 2--East Ridge 3--Hill North of P’bourg 4—Hill S/W of P’bourg 5—Stengelhald


6—Hausberg 7--Hill 30 8--Falkenberg 9--Hill S/W of Falkenberg 10—Angelsberg


11—Schwarzenberg 12—Hill west of Lindenkopf 13—Lindenkopf


14—Hill 403 15—Hill 358.1

Related Items:

History || Honor Roll