* This article appeared in the Summer 2019 issue of WWII Quarterly.
On the third anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, men of the Powder Horn Regiment, the 100th Infantry Division’s 399th Infantry Regiment, were poised on the outskirts of the small Alsatian town of Lemberg in northeastern France. The 100th Division, part of General Alexander Patch’s 7th Army, was advancing through the Low Vosges Mountains towards German positions around the Maginot Line fortifications at Bitché. 
The soldiers of the 399th were the first of the 100th Infantry Division’s units to enter combat, and relieved elements of the battle weary 45th Infantry Division in the Vosges Mountains near St. Remy, France, a month earlier. In their first month of action, the 399th along with the rest of the 100th Division, successfully breached the German winter line near Raon l’Etape and the Meurthe River. The 1st battalion of the 399th would ultimately be awarded the Presidential Unit Citation for its part in the assault. The 1st battalion’s commander, class of 1937 West Point graduate Major Elery Zehner, had a reputation for aggressiveness and leading from the front. When the leading companies in the battalion’s first offensive action at St. Remy stalled under German artillery and machine gun fire, Zehner marched over 400 yards of open ground to personally lead the advance into the town. His actions that day would earn him the Distinguished Service Cross.  Zehner is also credited with originating a unique fashion trend in his battalion. Zehner wore a red scarf, a style that dozens if not hundreds of men his battalion would later emulate, and under Zehner’s leadership the 1st battalion became known as the “Red Raiders.” 
In early December the 399th doggedly pursued retreating German units its drive towards the fortress city of Bitché, ringed by Maginot Line fortifications and dominated by a citadel that was built by Louis XIV.  100th Division G-2 records show that as Major General Burress, the 100th Division’s commanding general, and Colonel Andrew Tychsen the commander of the 399th Infantry, discussed plans for attacking Lemberg, Burress remarked that while he did not want to be optimistic he thought the town was “pretty well cleared out.”  Tychsen’s reconnaissance told him of several German positions in the hills to the east of the town and when he informed Burress that the enemy was in Lemberg the night before the planned assault, Burress responded “We will shoot the hell out of them tonight and see if they are still there in the morning.” 
What Burress and Tychsen did not know was that their adversary, Major General Alfred Philippi the commander of the 361st Volks-Grenadier Division, a veteran of the Russian Front and recipient of the Knight’s Cross, correctly surmised that the American advance would proceed along the main road leading through Lemberg to Bitché and concentrated his forces there.  Philippi’s infantry units had been badly mauled in the preceding two months, and on the eve of the American attack on Lemberg he was forced to “comb out” his rear echelon in order to provide replacements for the 953rd Grenadier Regiment defending Lemberg. Still his units were grossly undermanned. For example, the 2nd battalion of the 953rd was only around 200 soldiers, not even a third of its table of organization strength.  Philippi’s preparations were extensive. He blew a road bridge in the path of the American advance, mined roads and the forests around them, and assembled five anti-tank guns and four anti-aircraft 20mm cannons. Philippi’s defense also included an anti-aircraft Flak battalion, equipped with mobile flakwagens mounting 20mm cannons. 
Tychsen’s plan was to use his 1st battalion to attack on his left flank, cutting the Enchenberg-Lemberg road before proceeding over railway tracks and into the wooded high ground to the north and west of the town while the 3rd battalion advanced on the right flank cutting the Lemberg-Mouterhouse road before seizing several hills which bordered the town to the east.  The attack was scheduled for 9:30 a.m. December 7, 1944 and would begin after a twenty-minute artillery barrage. 
The 1st battalion had drawn the tougher assignment. Its route of advance was largely over open ground and its attack would in broad daylight.  The 3rd battalion’s orders contained their own dangers. Tychsen had received reports that there was at least one pillbox and armor protecting the road and hills in the path of the 3rd battalion’s advance, and the steeply wooded hills would minimize or completely negate the amount of support the attached armored units could give to the attacking riflemen.  Also, intermittent rain and snow nullified any impact American air power could lend to the American troops. If the Germans in Lemberg were determined to defend the town, it would be largely on their terms.
Major Zehner, leading the 1st battalion commenced his attack at 9:00 a.m., thirty minutes before the planned start time.  For troops in the 1st battalion, disaster struck immediately. Instead of the roaring artillery barrage that the soldiers had been expecting Raymond Howarth, a mortarman in B Company recalled that the “rolling barrage, to me, seemed to consist of just a few artillery rounds placed haphazardly.”  The soldiers in Howarth’s B Company, which would be advancing over barren farm fields questioned the intelligence of their orders. Automatic Rifleman Manson Donaghey recalled that the enlisted men around him thought the idea of crossing open fields in daylight was crazy, and that “before we stepped into that field the guys were all looking at each other thinking ‘We can’t go out there across that open field’ the dumbest Private there knew that was a stupid plan.”  Rifleman Carl Fleck told his sergeant that “the whole deal of advancing in skirmish lines over open ground sounded as foolhardy as Pickett’s charge in Gettysburg.”  Even the company commander, West Point graduate Captain Altus E. Prince may have been critical of the proposed plan of attack. He is alleged to have told his First Sergeant that “nothing in training would justify sending our company across that open ground.”  When B Company began its attack, leaving the protective cover of a tree line, the Germans waited until the leading platoons advanced approximately 200 yards and crossed the Enchenberg-Lemberg road before unleashing a fusillade of small arms and artillery fire. The soldiers already across the road were helplessly exposed to German fire, and casualties began to mount. Ray Howarth saw a man decapitated by a 20mm cannon shell and “could see men being hit all around me, and everyone seemed to be screaming”.  Those who could desperately tried to escape the maelstrom by running back over the road and taking cover in a shallow drainage ditch that provided some protection from small arms fire. Even there safety was not guaranteed. As Manson Donaghey laid in ditch beside the Enchenberg-Lemberg road the two soldiers on one side of him were wounded, and Private First Class Daniel Hale, Donaghey’s ammunition bearer, who was laying on the other side a mere six feet away was struck by fragments from a tree burst that killed him instantly.  While most soldiers did their best to dig into the frozen ground for protection, others aggressively engaged German gunners. Sergeant Charles Adamcek’s squad set up their light machine gun in the open and, despite being seriously wounded, Adamcek directed their fire which knocked out a German flakwagen.  Ray Howarth ordered his squad to set up their 60mm mortar with the sight upside down, so they could manipulate it from the prone position, and to use the crack of his ass as an ad hoc aiming stake. His squad immediately placed a 20mm cannon under fire and destroyed it on their second round, and then Howarth systematically aligned himself with other targets as his squad rapidly fired their mortar. He believed that their continued firing knocked out a flak wagon, two German machine gun positions, and reduced the amount of fire direct at his company.  Another B Company soldier, Private First Class Dick Jones, ran “with bullets whizzing by like a swarm of hornets” back across the Enchenberg-Lemberg road where his platoon and the company commander, Captain Prince were pinned down and strung field phone wire that allowed Prince to regain contact with battalion headquarters and arrange for supporting artillery fire. 
C Company, which had been advancing on the right flank of B Company was hit with the same barrage of fire as it moved into the open fields around Lemberg. Walter Bauer recalled that “you couldn’t do anything. You just had to lie there and take it and try to shrivel up and crawl into the earth when each shell whistled in.”  Charlie Company also hit back. Private First Class Richard Jackson displayed incredible bravery by leaving his sheltered position in the woods near the line of departure, and without orders led his squad into the open fields where it could fire its 60mm mortar at German positions. Despite the unrelenting German artillery and mortar fire, Jackson coolly operated his weapon and dropped mortar shells onto a German position firing at B Company.  Jackson’s fire also allowed two of C Company’s platoons to advance, and GIs led by Sergeant Frank Rubino and Private First Class Donald Taylor managed to capture two 20mm guns that were battering their sister companies before being forced to retreat. 
Meanwhile on the battalion’s left flank A Company, which was largely shielded from German observation by trees nevertheless began to suffer casualties. They had walked into the minefields set by Philippi’s Volksgrenadiers in the days preceding the attack. Frank Gurley, a rifleman in A Company, remarked “the ones who didn’t step on a mine got shrapnel” because the Germans had “laid traps and zeroed in with artillery and took a worse toll than a stubborn line of defense ever could have.”  David Parr, a radio operator who had been loaned to A Company from the 1st battalion Headquarters confessed that “I was never more scared in my life.” Under constant shellfire Parr recalled that the noise was so great that “you could shriek your prayers and no one would hear you” and that “it was impossible to find a place to hide. The forest floor was all roots and stones. No place to dig in."  Gurley and his buddy tried to dig a foxhole but it quickly flooded, he concluded that “the joint was a reservoir covered with dirt and trees.” Instead he built his foxhole vertically, using logs to assemble a rickety log cabin and philosophized that “its value against incoming stuff was dubious but a sense of security is more important than security.” 
By noon it was clear that the 1st battalion’s attack had failed. Major General Burress spoke by radio with Colonel Tychsen early in the afternoon and told him that he was concerned by the 399th’s the lack of progress. Tychsen, either because he was unaware of how badly the attack was floundering, or to downplay the situation, told him that there were not “too many casualties” and that he already was formulating a plan for a renewed assault in the morning. 
In the fields around Lemberg, and in the town of St. Louis les Bitché casualties were being collected, the outlook was not as optimistic. The wounded were not only exposed to German fire, but also a steady freezing rain. There was a shortage of stretcher bearers, and the wounded were sometimes left unattended for hours.  Leon Wiskup, a machine gunner in A Company was wounded by a landmine that almost severed his foot shortly after the attack began. After being treated by one of his company’s medics he was left wedged against a tree on the side of a hill and drifted in and out of consciousness for hours. As night fell, “I was freezing and the morphine was wearing off. I said ‘Nobody’s going to hear me. I’m not going to cry or anything like that. I’m just going to die silently. Nobody’s going to hear me complain.’” Then he heard footsteps in the snow, and an American voice swearing, fortunately a stretcher party had been nearby as Wiskup regained consciousness. He cried out “I’m over here! I’m over here!” and the stretcher bearers carried him to their jeep.  Because of their exposed position, most of the soldiers in B Company could not withdrawal until after dark. When they tried to get up and run back to the protection of the woods they struggled to stand because their legs were numb from cold. Roy Gray made his way to safety by “half crawling and stumbling, ramming my M-1 [rifle] in the mud, all I saw was [sic] dead bodies”.  The B Company history states that the company’s retreat was “a sorry spectacle, the living carrying the half dead, the lesser wounded struggling back with their more sorely wounded comrades, others dragging themselves out by sheer willpower, the dazed and half crazed stumbling ahead of them leaving this hellish place. Prayers of thanks mingled with curses of hate.”  B Company’s total casualties for the day were 17 dead and 34 wounded, but in testament to the horrors these men witnessed 12 men were evacuated for exposure, shell shock, or nervous conditions. In C Company Walter Bauer had been sent to the battalion aid station after watching men blown apart by cannon shells and retreating to the wood line, but when Bauer got to the aid station and saw “all the guys from Charlie Company torn up and bloody, I figured there was nothing the matter with me” and returned to the line to find his platoon was down to only eight men, the equivalent of an under-strength squad. 
As units tried to reorganize and assess their losses more than one soldier believed that their companies had been annihilated and one company suffered a profoundly tragic loss.  Chester Fraley of A Company, who had transferred from the 398th Infantry Regiment shortly before the division embarked for France to serve alongside his twin brother Lester in combat, searched the battlefield for Lester from whom he had become separated during the day.  Their comrade Robert Hogberg, heard Chester Fraley “calling for his brother Lester who had been killed in the area. His plaintive call was chilling and very sad, I’ll never forget it.”  All night the Germans continued to fire on the 1st battalion’s positions, the regimental operations report notes “there was precious little rest for the 1st battallionites that night." 
The Battle for the Hills
On the right flank of the American attack, the 3rd battalion of the 399th was also running into stiff German resistance and was unable to relieve pressure on the 1st battalion by outflanking Lemberg from the east. The attacking American companies were repeatedly pinned down in the ravines and on the hills that lay in the path of their advance. Even after calling in several tremendous artillery barrages they were only able to make minimal advances. One of the attacking companies had 70 casualties. 
As darkness fell it was clear to Colonel Tychsen and the rest of the 399th regimental staff that the attacking companies had lost contact with their adjacent units and were in danger if firing on each other in the darkness. Also, Tychsen’s headquarters building was being targeted by German artillery observers. The German fire was so accurate that one shell, mercifully a dud, landed just outside the front door. 
During the night of December 7th Colonel Tychsen retooled his original plan to capture Lemberg, and called upon his 2nd battalion, which had been in reserve, to move astride the 3rd battalion and attempt a wider flanking assault of the hills stalling their advance and hopefully force the Germans to retreat out of the town.  In the midst of the planning, Major Zehner strode over the unexploded German artillery shell outside and into Tychsen’s headquarters, and offered to continue his attack straight into Lemberg itself with some armor from the 781st Tank Battalion he had located. Tychsen, aware that Zehner’s rifle companies had been hit hard that day, and with tears in his eyes, replied gratefully, “Would you?” 
As dawn broke on December 8th it became apparent that the 1st battalion was unable to immediately renew its attack. Frank Gurley remembered that as men from A Company streamed back into St. Louis les Bitché that morning that “everyone looked like they had just gone thru [sic] a ringer.”  During the day the 1st battalion remained in positions in and around St. Louis les Bitché. To one B Company survivor it looked as though the company had lost a third of its men.  C Company which had only lost one man killed in action had 27 men wounded.  In A Company one platoon was down to 14 men, less than a quarter of its strength, and the prevailing opinion was that their company would not be committed again for another few days.  As they dried their clothes and gorged themselves on C rations the order came to “Get your stuff on, we’ve got to take Lemberg.”  The attack launched by the 2nd battalion had succeeded in capturing a number of hills outside of the town and elements of the 3rd battalion were able to enter the outskirts of Lemberg.  The weary 1st battalion was needed to help secure the southern reaches of the town.
Around 5:00 p.m. Sherman medium tanks from the untested 781st Tank Battalion were rushed forward under a protective smoke screen, and despite having two tanks immediately disabled by mines, pushed into town supported by the remnants of A and C Companies and fired point blank into at any house German soldiers fired from.  As night fell on December 8th the 1st battalion had a foothold in the town, but cohesion between its weakened companies had all but disintegrated. In the dark, with the only light provided from burning houses, the companies could not coordinate their positions. Frank Gurley from A Company heard someone approaching, and assumed it was a soldier from C Company that was supposed to be nearby, “I helpfully yelled ‘Who is it? The only answer I got was one word – ‘Vas?’ and even I know enough Deutsch to know that to be Kraut lyrics. I shut up.”  C Company mortarman Richard Jackson, experiencing urban combat for the first time recalled that “to move into the blackness of cellars was scary, on top of that the Lemberg residents were happy to hear GI voices and they grabbed us in thanks” as the soldiers tried to search their homes for Germans.  After clearing a few houses the men bedded down for the night, exhausted from their two-day ordeal.
Outside of town, the 2nd battalion was bearing the brunt of a fierce counterattack spearheaded by Philippi’s flakwagens. In the pre-dawn hours of December 9th German troops attacked F Company’s positions near a railroad cut east of the town. Screaming “Pigs give up or die!” German soldiers rushed the company’s positions.  F Company soldier Hal Bingham recalled that “those that could, ran from the deadly fire . . . we had been exposed to the intense cold most of the night in our holes. Our limbs were numb, but we made them work like they had never worked before.” When F Company returned to their original positions on December 10th they found the bodies of some of their men lying side by side, all with bullet holes in their heads and their arms tied behind them.  One of the executed was a close friend of Hal Bingham, and after seeing his dead buddy Bingham “cried like a baby between hurling profanity at the Krauts. . . I learned to ‘hate’ from that experience.” 
By the morning of December 9th Colonel Tychsen was fully aware of how badly his troops had suffered in taking Lemberg. Major General Burress was ready to move fresh troops from the 398th Infantry into the town if necessary, but although Tychsen confessed that A, B, and I companies were each “down to the size of a good-sized platoon” he was confident that “we will have this place today."  He pushed his weakened 1st battalion, supported by Sherman tanks from the 781st Tank Battalion who continued to fire point blank into enemy-held houses, to push through the remainder of the town. As the American soldiers reached the outskirts of Lemberg the enthusiastic tankers charged on and annihilated a German column that included three flakwagens, two 75mm field pieces, and two howitzers.  Tychsen’s predication was correct, by 11:45 p.m. on December 9th Major Zehner radioed that Lemberg was completely occupied, except for snipers “here and there.” 
As the 1st battalion was withdrawn from Lemberg and placed in reserve at St. Louis de Bitché the soldiers marched over the first day’s battlefield. Frank Gurley recalled that “we saw the vast field of craters we had crossed two days before and couldn’t believe we had actually done it.”  The attack on Lemberg had been a success, but at a terrible and unsustainable cost. The first day of the attack on Lemberg was the bloodiest day of the war for the Red Raiders and the brutality of the fighting overshadowed either side’s strategy. The Germans defending the town had shown that when possible they could check the American advance for days at a time with relative ease, and to an American survivor of the attack on Lemberg the battle showed that not even the 1st battalion’s courageous leader Major Zehner could “turn a clever enemy ambush into a glorious 1st [battalion] victory.” 
 Keith E. Bonn, When the Odds Were Even, (New York: Presidio Press, 1994), 146.
 Robert Stegmaier and Franklin Gurley. "The 100’s Most Decorated: Elery M. Zehner." The George C. Marshall Foundation. Accessed November 10, 2018. https://www.marshallfoundation.org/100th-infantry/wp-content/uploads/sites/27/2014/06/Stegmaier_The_100s_Most_Decorated.pdf
 The Story of the Century, (Orientation Section, Information and Education Division, ETOUSA, 1945), 23.
 100th Infantry Division G-2 & G-3 Journal, 6 December 1944, 2045h.
 Bonn, When the Odds Were Even, 152; Alfred Philippi, 361st Volksgrenadier Division (31 August – 16 December 1944), MS. B-626, USAREUR Series, 1947, P. 61
 Ibid.; Under the Volks-Grenadier table of organization, a standard battalion (of which there were two in each infantry regiment) would be 708 men. TM-E 30-451 Handbook on German Military Forces, March 15, 1945. Accessed November 10, 2018. https://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/Germany/HB/HB-2.html.
 Ibid.; Operations Reports, 399th Infantry Regiment, 100th Division, 1 November 1944 – 30 April 1945.
 399th Regimental Combat Team Operations Instructions No. 17, 6 December 1944; Carl Fleck, Carl Fleck’s Diary, 2nd Platoon, Company B, 399th Infantry, 100th Division, (N.p. : N.p.), 24; Donald A. Waxman, George R. Widmaier, and Wallace E. Balliet. A History of Company C 399th Infantry, (N.p. : 1945), 13; Operations Reports, 399th Infantry Regiment, 100th Division, 1 November 1944 – 30 April 1945.
 399th Regimental Combat Team Operations Instructions No. 17, 6 December 1944.
 Even Maj. Gen. Burress was worried about the 1st battalion’s route of attack. Shortly after the attack began he confided to Assistant Division Commander, Brigadier General Maurice Miller, that he was “worried about [Maj.] Zehner crossing open ground.” 100th Infantry Division G-2 & G-3 Journal, 7 December 1944, 0945h.
 100th Infantry Division G-2 & G-3 Journal, 6 December 1944, 1700h.
 100th Infantry Division G-2 & G-3 Journal, 7 December 1944, 0845h; Fleck, Carl Fleck’s Diary, 24; Waxman, A History of Company C, 14.
 Raymond S. Howarth, Memoirs, (N.p. : N.p.), 15.
 Interview of Manson Donaghey, September 21, 2015; Interview of Manson Donaghey, November 8, 2014.
 Fleck, Carl Fleck’s Diary, 24.
 Stegmaier, "The 100’s Most Decorated: Elery M. Zehner."
 Howarth, Memoir, 15.
 Manson Donaghey Letter. May 25, 1945. 5; Interview of Manson Donaghey, September 21, 2015.
 Franklin Gurley, ed. 399th in Action: With the 100th Infantry Division, (Stuttgart: Stuttgarter Vereinsbuchdruckerei, 1945), 59; General Orders of the 100th Infantry Division No. 95, May 5, 1945.
 Howarth, Memoir, 15.
 Fleck, Carl Fleck’s Diary, 26.
 Waxman, A History of Company C, 14.
 General Orders of the 100th Infantry Division No. 95, May 5, 1945.
 Gurley, 399th in Action, 59; General Orders of the 100th Infantry Division No. 226.
 Franklin Gurley. A Company Scout, (N.p. : N.p.), 124.
 David Parr, Memoirs, (N.p. : N.p.), 3-4.
 Gurley, A Company Scout, 122.
 100th Infantry Division G-2 & G-3 Journal, 7 December 1944, 1340h.
 Gurley, A Company Scout, 123; Gurley, 399th in Action, 60.
 Interview of Leon A. Wiskup by Nancy Dahl, June 24, 2011. P.43-45.
 B Company, 399th Infantry Newsletter, Issue 24, 3.
 Mark Megna, B Co, 399th Inf. France and Germany. N.p. : N.p., 1945), 17.
 Waxman, A History of Company C, 16.
 Roy Gray, The War as I Remember It, (Gray’s Printing House, 1996), 11; Waxman, A History of Company C, 14-16.
 Gurley, Franklin L. Into the Mountains Dark: A WWII Odyssey from Harvard Crimson to Infantry Blue. Bedford, PA: Aberjona Press, 2000. P. 237.
 Robert A. Hogberg, Military Service Memories of Robert A. Hogberg ASN 16175039, (N.p. : N.p.), 23.
 Operations Reports, 399th Infantry Regiment, 100th Division, 1 November 1944 – 30 April 1945.
 Gurley, In Action with the 399th, 60.
 Edward Abramson, "Interesting Letter." 100th Infantry Division Assoc. News, Holiday Issue 1986, 9.
 Michael A. Bass, ed. The Story of the Century. The Story of the 100th Infantry Division, (New York: Century Association, 1946), 77.
 Stegmaier, "The 100’s Most Decorated: Elery M. Zehner."
 Gurley, A Company Scout, 125.
 Howarth, Memoir, 16.
 Waxman, A History of Company C, 16.
 Gurley, A Company Scout, 125; The Morning Reports, typically used to determine a unit’s strength, may not be reliable sources for determining how many soldiers were present for the attack on December 8, 1944. It is possible that in all companies there were soldiers who intentionally or unintentionally were not present when the companies began their renewed assault on Lemberg. Even on December 7th there appears to have been concern among some officers that soldiers were malingering. Adam Breuer of L Company was stopped by a pistol wielding officer at 3rd Battalion Headquarters who accused Breuer and the other wounded soldiers with him of desertion. Eventually the officer was subdued and the soldiers allowed to proceed to the battalion aid station, but the episode shows that desertion may have played a part in why the attacking first battalion companies apparently particularly small on December 8. George F. Tyson and Robert V. Hamer. Company L Goes to War, (Bedford, PA: Aegis Consulting Group, 2004), 36-37.
 Gurley, A Company Scout, 125.
 Bass, Story of the Century, 77-78.
 John T. Mitzel, Duty before Self: The Story of the 781st Tank Battalion in World War II, (Atglen, PA: Schiffer Publishing, 2013), 81; Gurley, 399th in Action, 61.
 Gurley, A Company Scout, 126.
 Phone Interview of Richard Jackson, October 25, 2018.
 Hal Bingham, Son of Bitche, (N.p. : N.p., 1998), 79.
 Ibid., 80; It is possible that the execution of the American prisoners was done as retribution. F Company had ambushed two German soldiers the day before, one had been wounded and was pleading “comrade, comrade” but was silenced by Bingham’s platoon leader Lt. Emery. That incident may not have been isolated. Another F Company soldier, Frank Branco, recalled that “the urge to ‘get even’ was running high” and that he questioned whether the German prisoners he saw being escorted to the rear were not killed. When a captured German Captain was questioned about the executed American soldiers Col. Tychsen reported that he said simply “We have good soldiers and bad.” Bingham, Son of Bitche, 78; Frank Branco, G.I., (N.p. : N.p.), 17; and 100th Infantry Division G-2 & G-3 Journal, 10 December 1944, 1120h.
 100th Infantry Division G-2 & G-3 Journal, 9 December 1944, 0825h.
 Mitzel, Duty before Self, 82.
 100th Infantry Division G-3 Telephone Message from Major Zehner to Major Aber. 9 December 1944, 2345h.
 Gurley, A Company Scout, 130.
 Letter of Franklin Gurley to Robert Stegmaier, dated August 17, 1989.