After the reorganization of the Fourth armored Division from a “heavy” armored division into the more standard armored division, regiments became battalions and some units in the Fourth Armored even were reformed.

This was the case with the 84th Armored Reconnaissance Battalion which was reorganized and renamed into the 25th (Armored) Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron. This unit would play a major role in the combat history of the Fourth Armored Division; outposting, screening flanks, reconnaissance missions and the like. Elements of this aggressive unit would often find themselves behind enemy lines and at the very tip of armored spear.

On December 16, 1944, the Germans launched their Ardennes Offensive, commonly known as the Battle of the Bulge. Since this offensive became a real threat to Allied lines and operations, General George S. Patton was ordered to turn his US Third Army to the north and counter this offensive. One of the primary objectives would be Bastogne.

The three combat commands of the Fourth Armored Division (CCA, CCB and CCR) would move alongside each other through the Belgian province of Luxembourg and part of the Grand-Duchy of Luxembourg.

Here follows a day by day account of the advance of the 25th Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron (25th CavRecon);

December 20, 1944

The 25th CavRecon (minus A and B Troop) arrived in Vance in the early evening. C and D Troops established a screen from Habay-la-Neuve to Arlon later that evening. D Troop was then assigned to move further up north from Arlon to an outpost position roughly between Bonnert and Tontelange. A Troop screened the assembly area of CCA east of Metzert. B Troop – attached to CCB – assembled near Vaux-lez-Rosières but was then ordered to Behême and patrolled the roads from Habay-la-Neuve to Léglise.

December 21, 1944

D Troop assembled near Gennevaux, while C Troop prepared to move to Fauvillers via Anlier.

This was to protect the flank of Combat Command B (CCB) which would be moving out the next day.

December 22, 1944


D Troop moved from Gennevaux to Fauvillers.

There, it cut off to the northwest and took Witry. One platoon took up position south of Winville.

Later that day, D Troop established a screen from Witry north to northeast of Volaiville and was halted by the blown bridge there.

Late evening, this unit captured an 11-man patrol of 8. Kompanie/Fallschirmjäger Regiment 15 (5. Fallschirmjäger Division).

C Troop at Anlier with outpost near Burnon where they killed a 5-man German patrol (most likely also of the 5.Fallschirmjäger Division). Later that day, they moved to assemble in Burnon and would move towards Chaumont where they were halted by enemy activity.

25th CavRecon’s CP was set up at the crossroads west of Fauvillers (current N848 – N825).

3rd Platoon from A Troop moved north from Metzert. At Bigonville, they clashed with enemy elements and picked up stragglers from the 28th Infantry Division. Other elements of A Troop were clashing with the enemy near Warnach, killing/wounding about 40 and capturing a truck. The Cavalrymen suffered 1 killed, 2 wounded and 2 battle fatigue cases.

 

Photo: US Army Signal Corps 335398.

B Troop was halted at Hotte by a blown bridge south of Burnon. Under enemy fire, they screened the construction of a Treadway bridge.

E Troop fired on enemy concentrations in the Remoiville – Nives area, killing/wounding 40 enemy soldiers and knocking out an AT-gun and a truck.

Captured enemy troops revealed that the 25th CavRecon was up against elements of Fallschirmjäger Regiment 14, Fallschirm-Sturmgeschütz-Brigade IX and the 408. Volks-Artillerie-Korps.

December 23, 1944

 

B Troop, with 1st Platoon in the lead, moved out of Hotte and advanced on Chaumont. Their progress slowed down by enemy gunfire and panzerfaust fire resulting in casualties and the loss of a Jeep. A Stuart light tank of the 25th CavRecon and 3 Sherman tanks of the 8th Tank Battalion were added to the force. 400 Meters southwest of Chaumont, the light tank and a Jeep were lost to AT-fire (at the now famous Beech Tree). The tank commander, 2nd Lt. James E. Bennett, was killed in this engagement.

Meanwhile Combat Command B was in the fight for its life in Chaumont. A heavy German counterattack pushed the battle group out of the village, inflicting heavy losses.

B Troop formed an outpost line protecting CCB’s north flank during the night of December 23-24, 1944.

Staff Sergeant Arthur B. Gallo lost his life on this day (buried at the Luxembourg American Military Cemetery; G-9-11).

December 24, 1944

E Troop fired on enemy activity in the Sûre – Nives –Cobreville – Remoiville area, inflicting casualties.

C Troop (less one platoon) moved to join CCR at Molinfaing (just north of the current E411 highway). They were to be relieved by F Troop the next day.

A Troop (with CCA) screened the combat command from Holtz to Ober-Kolpach and Strainchamps to Martelange.

Elements of 8th Tank Battalion relieved B Troop which took up position in the vicinity of the Lambaichenet Woods. There, they were harassed by fire from Fallschirmjäger which had penetrated into these woods again after being chased out on December 23. Troop commander Captain Fred Sklar decided to move into the woods together with two of his men. After an exchange of gunfire, Captain Sklar was wounded and captured. The two men with him escaped capture and returned to their unit. Two platoons of B Troop assisted by a company of the 10th Armored Infantry Battalion and a platoon of light tanks of D Company, 8th Tank Battalion then moved back into these woods, trying to rescue Captain Sklar (Capt. Sklar would die the next day, cause not yet clear). Despite chasing the enemy back out of the woods and inflicting casualties and damage, this force did not manage to rescue the officer (only his helmet was found with blood and a bullet hole).

2nd Platoon of B Troop remained on outpost duty during the night of December 24-25, 1944. They received heavy artillery fire.

Meanwhile, 3rd Platoon of B Troop outposting the roads 1,5 kms north of Remoiville managed to destroy 2 German trucks.

 

 

 

Private Walter H. Center, Jr (C Troop) was killed in action on this day (buried at the Luxembourg American Military Cemetery; B-8-29).

December 25, 1944

In the early morning, C Troop (which had been relieved by F Troop) moved to Moulinfaing and was then directed to screen the flank of 4th Armored’s CCR which took then to Nives, Remoiville and Remichampagne (these villages being captured by CCR in the process). In several engagements, C Troop managed to destroy 2 German halftracks, an ammunition truck and captured one German prisoner. Another proof of their aggressive nature.

The 25th CavRecon also sent out patrols to establish contact with CCR elements and clean out any remaining German troops in the area, resulting in the capture of 26 prisoners in the Nives area.

December 26, 1944

 

F Troop was holding position at Bois du Beulet (roughly southeast of Chaumont) with outposts northeast of Hotte and northeast of Burnon. C Troop had an outpost east of the Lambaichenet Woods near Hollange.

1st Platoon of A Troop was engaged in combat in the village of Gremelange on the border with Luxembourg and north of this village. They succeeded in pushing the enemy troops across the Sûre River and inflicted casualties; killing 9 and wounding 14 in total.

Meanwhile, 2nd Platoon of A Troop (attached to Delk Oden’s 35th Tank Battalion) screened Warnach and the area north of this village.

The 25th CavRecon’s command post relocated to Radelange.

December 26 was also the day that Combat Command R (37th Tank and 53rd Armored Infantry Battalion) broke through the German encirclement of Bastogne, just north of Assenois.

December 27, 1944

 

A Troop’s command post moved to Strainchamps. It’s 1st Platoon had outposts in Sure, Tintange and near Honville, the latter coming under heavy artillery fire causing it to relocate 200 meters. 2nd Platoon screened Sûre – Livarchamps – Tintange in cooperation with the 80th Division’s 318th Infantry Regiment. Near Warnach, they received some heavy artillery fire, knocking out one of their M8 armored cars. 3rd Platoon managed to recapture two M8 armored cars (captured by the Fallschirmjägers from the 28th Infantry Division in Luxembourg) north of Hollange (along the Sûre river).

B Troop moved into Chaumont and set up outposts along the road and high ground between Chaumont and Grandru.

D Troop’s outpost west of Hollange was relieved by F Troop and joined the protective screen (roughly between Burnon and Hompré) of Combat Command B’s main supply line.  It’s command post was in Remoiville, probably in the “château” where previously the command post of Fallschirmjäger Regiment 14 was located.

F Troop had its command post in Burnon.

December 28, 1944

The Squadron’s command post moved from Winville to Remoiville.
A Troop kept screening and outposting the N4 road from near Hollange to about 4 miles from Bastogne, meanwhile it’s command post relocated from Strainchamps to Hollange itself. Outposts set up at Sûre, Tintange, Salvacourt and less than a mile northwest of Sainlez. 1st Platoon lost an M8 armored car due to artillery fire in Tintange, but managed to hold its position and captured 14 prisoners of the 5. Fallschirmjäger Division throughout the day.


B Troop kept its positions in the Chaumont – Grandru area.


C Troop remained with Combat Command R and screened its left flank roughly from Vaux-Lez-Rosières to Rosière-la-Petite (along the current N85 Neufchâteau – Bastogne).


D Troop’s command post remained in Remichampagne, sent two platoons into Hompré and a section into Salvacourt, another platoon in or near Bois du Harjé and another section on the southern edge of the same woods. The outpost halfway between Chaumont and the N4 was relieved by a platoon F Troop coming from a position northeast of Burnon.


F Troop’s command post was in Remoiville where also E Troop and 3rd Platoon of C Company, 704th Tank Destroyer Battalion were located. It was not unusual that the M18s of the 704th TD operated together with the Cavalrymen. F Troop also had a platoon on the eastern edge of the Lambaichenet Woods.

December 29, 1944

A Troop’s command post remained in Hollange. 1st Platoon was ordered from the vicinity of Tintange to a position less than a mile south of Salvacourt. At Salvacourt itself, 3rd Platoon captured three enemy trucks and two prisoners of war. Meanwhile, 2nd Platoon knocked out one German 75 mm self-propelled gun (probably a Sturmgeschütz III of Fallschirm-Sturmgeschütz-Brigade XI) and an 88 mm ground mount near Sainlez.

B Troop moved to Assenois; it’s mission to screen Marvie to the N4 west of Lutrebois. German artillery fire hampered their movements, a sign that they were under enemy observation.

C Troop remained with Combat Command R and kept screening their left flank.

D Troop moved to Hompré (secured by F Troop), established outposts at Salvacourt, north of this village, halfway between Salvacourt and the N4 and another outpost in or near Bois de Harjé. The Cavalrymen took one soldier of Fallschirm-Panzerjäger-Abteilung 5 and three of Fallschirmjäger Regiment 14 prisoner.

December 30, 1944

 

On this day, elements of the 1. SS Panzer Division and the 167. Volksgrenadier Division tried to cut the Bastogne corridor From the Lutrebois area towards Assenois.

A and B Troop’s positions remained unchanged.

C Troop was ordered by Combat Command R to take over the three southernmost outposts of D Troop.

D Troop at Sainlez was reinforced by a platoon of F Troop (which was located north of Remoifosse and was ordered to withdraw). Outposts were established in Bois du Vicaire (north of the Losange castle), south of Losange, halfway between Losange and Villers-la-Bonne-Eau, southwest of Villers-la-Bonne-Eau, northeast of Livarchamps, east of Honville, southeast of Honville (Bois de Tantimont), north of Tintange (also Bois de Tantimont) and Tintange itself (near the cemetery).

(Click on the photos below to enlarge.)

F Troop on its turn had outposts north of Remoifosse (till withdrawn and attached to D Troop) and along the N4 (near Malmaison, in the Bois de Vicaire probably).

(Click on the photos below to enlarge.)

This all to screen the eastern flank of Combat Command A while heavy fighting erupted between the 35th Infantry Division, 4th Armored’s CCA and the German 1. SS Panzer and 167. Volksgrenadier Divisions. The corridor came close to being cut off again, but the Germans ended up being thrown back with heavy losses.


Heavy snow and freezing temperatures hampered the movement of both sides.

December 31, 1944

All positions maintained by the units in the 25th CavRecon.

There was no or minor enemy activity but icy roads and heavy snow hampered movement, especially of the vehicles.

January 1, 1945


The 25th CavRecon command post remained stationed in Hompré.


A Troop, which was in position in the Tintange area, was ordered to establish new positions going southeast of the Losange castle to roughly west of Villers-la-Bonne-Eau. But before positions could be taken, 2nd Battalion of the 137th Infantry Regiment (35th Infantry Division) had moved in. A Troop then assembled in Hollange and Salvacourt.

(Click on the photos below to enlarge.)

D Troop on its turn coordinated with this 2nd Battalion and took up outposts in the vicinity of Losange and its castle, Villers-la-Bonne-Eau and Livarchamps.

(Click on the photos below to enlarge.)

F Troop remained where it was positioned before.

January 2, 1945

Released from Combat Command R, C Troop was ordered to establish an outpost line from Livarchamps to Tintange to Warnach. The 25th CavRecon still held the eastern flank of the 4th Armored Division.

Having set up outposts in the woods east and southeast of Honville, the wooded area north of Tintange and the eastern edge of Warnach, C Troop also established contact with D Troop in the Hompré area.

The rest of 25th CavRecon maintained former positions.

Sainlez and Hompré were under sporadic mortar and artillery fire.

January 3, 1945


A Troop relieved C Troop at or near the positions set up on the previous day.

C Troop on its turn was to assemble in Honville and Hollange and made liaison with Combat Command B.

B Troop assembled in the Assenois area as it was detached from CCB.

Again Sainlez and Hompré were subjected to light artillery fire.

January 4, 1945


B Troop, with its command post in Assenois set up positions along the N4 road from Remoifosse to the intersection of the N4 and the N30 further up north.

Contact was made with the 6th Armored Division in Marvie. Marvie received enemy artillery fire as well as (again) Sainlez and Hompré.

January 5 – 8, 1945


No major changes in positions. D Troop was attached to Combat Command A but did not change position and late in the evening of the same day (January 8), B Troop moved to an assembly area two miles north of Assenois. German artillery remained active during this period.

January 9, 1945

On this day, the 25th CavRecon received orders to protect the flanks of CCA and CCB during their assault towards Bourcy on January 10, 1945.

This later changed to protecting the southern and southeastern flank of CCA only. 

To prepare for this mission, both A and F Troop were ordered to move to an assembly area southeast of Bastogne (the area of Mont). 

B Troop and the rest of the 25th CavRecon were to follow as soon as practical (movement and road conditions permitting).


C Troop was to prepare for attack between CCB and the 101st Airborne Division maintaining contact with the latter.


D Troop, earlier attached to CCA, moved from Sainlez to the vicinity of Mont (roughly east of Bastogne).

January 10, 1945


Combat Command A and Combat Command B of the 4th Armored Division prepared to move in tandem towards their objective; Bourcy (northeast of Bastogne). C Troop of the 25th CavRecon maintained contact with the 101st Airborne Division.

A and F Troop moved to the assembly area (of CCA) southwest of Mont.

C Troop started a dismounted assault north, along the railroad which was the boundary between CCB and the 101st Airborne. Against bitter enemy resistance, they advanced 1100 yards, taking 11 prisoners and killing 4, taking 6 wounded and a jeep and armored car destroyed in the process.

D Troop patrolled the gap between the two combat commands (CCA and CCB) which were encountering heavy resistance (mainly mortar, artillery and machinegun fire), maintaining liaison between the combat commands and Task Force Young and Task Force Oden. No casualties suffered.

Later that day, the assault was suddenly called off. The two combat commands (A and B) were to be relieved by units of the 6th Armored Division.

At 1315 hours, A and F Troop were ordered not to move further north and to remain in position. Next orders came at 1500 hours to move A Troop back to Tintange and F Troop back to Hompré.

At 1600 hours, C Troop was to break off the attack and move to an assembly area two miles north of Assenois.

D Troop on its turn was to break off the attack as well and move back to Remoifosse at 1700 hours.

January 11, 1945


After being ordered to remove all patches and unit markings on vehicles, the units of the 4th Armored Division (including the 25th CavRecon) moved to a new location south of Luxembourg.

They were placed in strategic reserve in anticipation of a German counterattack south of “The Bulge”.

January 14, 1945


The 25th Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron moved to a new assembly area selected to the west of the Thionville-Luxembourg highway.


This would end their participation in countering the German offensive in the Ardennes, and the rest of the month of January was spent in relatively calm.

The Squadron first moved to the south of Luxembourg (roughly Mersch area to Dippach – Bertrange) and later mainly patrolled along the Luxembourg-German border or outposted behind the lines of the infantry units in the area of Diekirch (January 29 – 31, 1945).

But more (brutal) fighting would await them …

Sources:

  • After action reports 25th Cavalry Rennaissance Squadron.
  • After action report 4th Armored Division
  • Google Street View
  • Various internet sites

Thanks to:

  • Bill Adams (documents)
  • Ivan Steenkiste (photos)
  • Ronald Stassen (maps)
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