(Document Source: Report of Operations of the 509th Parachute Infantry Battalion, Office of the Battalion Commander, S-3 Journal, Period, November 10, 1943, December 13, 1943. Italy. HQs 509th Parachute Infantry Battalion, Office of the Battalion Commander, S-3 Journal/.
We departed from Naples at 1430 by truck convoy. We proceeded via Casserta, Calazzo, Avignans, Dragoni, to Macchia, attached to the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment and the unit arrived at Macchia on November 10 at 0100. We were sent into positions around the town of Macchia.
November 10 1943
After a recon by the Commanding Officer of the 504-PIR and the Commanding Officer of the 509-PIB, our operational areas were pointed out and boundaries set. Orders were changed. Attached to 1/45-ID in the vicinity of Venafro. We entrucked at 1700, proceeded to Venafro. Arrived at 1930. Bivouacked in olive grove near Venafro. Set up CP in building near the 45-ID’s water point.
November 11 1943
After a recon with the CO of the 1st Ranger Battalion and the CO of the 509-PIB issued verbal orders for the attack on Hill 1025, Monte Croce, Dog Co, 509-PIB will attack the right using the peak of Hill 1025 as a right boundary. Easy Co, 509-PIB will attack the left using the peak of Hill 970 as a left boundary. The Rangers held strong points on each of our flanks. One mortar battalion and artillery units in the vicinity of Venafro will furnish the supporting fire. Fox Co, 509-PIB will remain in support at the Line of Departure. HQs Co, 509-PIB will hold support around the battalion CP. At 1112, the 509-PIB launched the attack under ideal artillery support. The attack progressed very favorably. The rugged terrain slowed down the assaulting companies, but they adjusted quickly to the situation. The Machine Gun Platoon of Hqs Co was committed at 1300. They closed the gap which was developing in the center due to terrain features. An intense enemy artillery barrage developed as the companies neared their objectives while casualties occurred. At 1700, both companies reported that they had reached their objectives and were preparing the positions for defense. The Battalion CP and the support were advanced to a position from which an enemy attack could be met quickly. Enemy artillery became very active and subjected the entire battalion sector to an intense barrage. The enemy forces were so completely disorganized by the vigor of our assault that they failed to counter-attack. Enemy equipment was scattered along the ridge as the enemy attempted to escape.
November 11 1943
Three German prisoners were taken but they attempted to escape and were shot. Sixteen enemy dead were found. Our casualties for the day amounted to 9 killed and 49 wounded.
November 12 1943
The Companies consolidated their positions. The COs sent out patrols to Rangers on each flank. Intermittent enemy mortar and artillery fire.
November 13 1943
Fox Co relieved Easy Co on the left flank. Enemy artillery was active, and several patrols were fired upon by Dog Co.
November 14 1943
Dog Co was relieved by Easy Co. The LMG Platoon of HQ Co was attached to Easy Co. Dog Co returned to the bivouac area near Venafro.
November 15 1943
Dog Co took up positions in the valley between Pozzilli and Concacasale. One section of LMG was attached to Dog Co. The disposition of the troops at this time was as follows, Easy Co, plus 1 Platoon of Fox Co and 1 Section LMG occupied positions on our left flank; Dog Co occupied positions in the valley connecting our defense with the 157/45-ID whose CP was located in Venafro and Hqs Co defending the battalion CP.
November 16 1943
The Battalion CP moved to Pozzilli. Enemy artillery was active. Our artillery was very active. Venafro was shelled heavily by the enemy. No change in unit disposition.
November 17 1943
The 1 Platoon of Dog Co came to Pozzilli to dry out. A new pack train trail was started. Now using 25 mules from supply trains. Enemy and friendly air activity were renewed.
November 18 1943
Enemy patrols were active in the areas in front of Fox Co. Another enemy activity was static. Intermittent enemy mortar and artillery fire.
November 19 1943
Our patrols were active on the east side of Concacasale. The Mortar Platoon of HQs Co was set up for firing missions in the areas near Dog Co. The enemy artillery shelled Venafro and Pozzilli.
November 20 1943
Heavy fire came down on Dog Co’s position. Fox Co less 1 Platoon was moved from the hill to dry out.
November 21 1943
Fox relieved Dog. The Battalion CP Hqs Co Supply section moved back to Venafro and set up in the vicinity of the intersection of the roads. The Mortar Platoon moved to a position in the rear of Easy Co and set up for firing. An Observation Post was established and one concentration was registered. Fox Co withdrew under cover of the darkness and returned to Venafro. To date, the communication section has lade 25 miles of wire. 4 bundles containing LMGs and ammunition were dropped by Artillery Liaison Cub to the troop on Monte Croce.
November 22 1943
One Squad of Dog Co reinforced Easy Co’s right flank. Dog Co and Fox Co refitted and dried out equipment. Defensive positions were inspected by the CO and his Exec Officer, Dog Co, and Easy Co were alerted to support a Ranger attack. Enemy forces reported moving in Ranger position and our left flank, Hill 1053. They were reported moving in a skirmish line of approximately 40 men followed by a column. One plan was made for Fox Co to support the elements of the 1st Ranger Battalion in event of an enemy attack at dawn.
November 23 1943
Fox Co moved out at 0400 to support position in the rear of Easy Co’s defensive line. Support positions were reached at 0615. Heavy rain and fog prevailed at this time. At 0912, the enemy attacked the positions of the 1st Ranger Battalion on Hill 1053. They were beaten off by the Rangers aided by our mortars. The counter-attack followed after a short regrouping pause by the Germans, then they attempted to flank out our right but Fox Co was committed to meeting the attack. Fox Co rolled the enemy’s flank back and broke up the attack. An enemy minefield was encountered and caused several casualties. They slopped up a portion of the forward slope with bayonets and grenades, then withdrew to the Ranger’s positions. A patrol spotted carts in Concacasale. One Platoon of Fox Co was withdrawn and one Platoon of Dog Co was used as reinforcement on the Ranger’s left flank at Hill 1053. Artillery and mortar fire pounded Concacasale during the night. A few casualties resulted from this attack.
November 24 1943
Tokay 6 & 5 were recalled to Lightning for a conference. Venafro was shelled by the enemy. Two rounds bracketed the CP at about 1200. The enemy made another counter-attack but was repulsed. Dog Co used the same flanking play as Fox Co had used previously. The enemy had 9 killed and several wounded. We had one man wounded. Our lines shifted to the left and left an open flank to on right. One squad of Fox Co filled the gap. The Demolition Section moved to lay mines in the area in front of Easy Co’s position. The mortar fired intermittently during the night.
November 25 1944
The enemy attacked the Rangers and the positions of Dog Co at dawn using clouds as a screen. Support artillery was not used. They were thrown back. One hour later the enemy artillery opened up and another counter-attack followed. This attack was beaten off again. Several prisoners were taken. Gen Mark W. Clark (CG 5-A) visited the battalion CP and looked the situation over. He congratulated the battalion on the excellent job he had done and was doing now. He asked about our turkey dinner and etc. Our mortars, (81-MM), fired 10 rounds into the enemy positions. Tokay 6 & 5 returned from Naples. One minefield was laid in front of How Co’s positions by the Demolitions Section. Turkey dinner was sent to the men on the front lines. Our artillery fired intermittently during the night.
November 26 1943
Usual duties. Lt Katz took over S-3. S-3 returned to Naples to rig Cub for aerial delivery. Lt Katz went on patrol with Fisco, Brenner, Laudicina, Moffo, and Trahan. Heard the enemy digging and heard one screaming when one of our shells hit. Saw enemy activity in Concacasale. Received verbal commendations from Col Willam Darby, CO of the 1st Ranger Battalion, on giving a report. Capt Howland was notified of the appointment as S-3 on return to Venafro. T/4 O. H. Rundell showed up from the hospital in Africa. Enemy shelled our positions intermittently.
November 27 1943
Cpl Leone returned to Piscinola. Silver Star awards arrived yesterday for Lt Mc Carthy, Gunderson, Wilson, and Sgt Fontanesi. Patrol went up to Monte Croce and reported suspicious characters claiming to be from Concacasale. A possible enemy observer seems to be somewhere on this hill. The patrol was shelled accurately while on this hill. Found caves extending well into the hill. Fox’s positions were attacked by the enemy. 2 KIAs and 5 WIAs including Capt Boettner and Sgt Vittorio. Pvt Dial (reported MIA) was found in the 118 Hospital and was doing well. Green flares were fired by the enemy over Lt Shermans’ position. Pvt Simons wounded in action died in hospital.
November 28 1943
Brought in a prisoner by Fox Co. A 30-year-old Austrian named Alois Koninger. He talked readily and said he was from Co 4, 71.Panzergrenadier-Regiment, 29.Panzergrenadier-Division. Said many of his men are tired of war and would desert if not for the officers. The prisoner was interrogated through Pfc Bickle and turned over to the 157/45-ID IPW Team. One late afternoon air raid (Bed Check Charlie). On Patrol was sent up in the mountains to remove the Italian civilians. Found 1 man and 2 women who came from Concacasale. One of these women came from Providence, Rhode Island. She said she was very very sorry that she had left back for Italy. She left the USA 14 years ago. Intermittent shell fire from the Germans today.
November 29 1943
Two German soldiers, both Luxemburgers, were captured at 0300. Both talked readily but knew little. The body of Pvt Sexton – AWOL from Airborne Training Center in Oujda – came down. Someone had stolen the boots from the body. On Map 1/25.000 and sheet 161 III SW we located a German Radio Station at 001216 and on sheet 161 IV SW a CP in a house at 998229.
(Msg from Cpl Bath ‘Ranger’ Platoon, Battalion HQ, 157/45-ID). The telephone line remained on all day.
November 30 1943
Received a Photographer from Associated Press who arrived to make a documentary picture. A counter-attack by the enemy. Heavy barrage. 1 killed (Vallauhi) and 3 wounded. Col Yarborough went to see Gen Clark (5-A). 3 delivery units dropped containing ammunition and water were received.
December 1 1943
Jerry shelled our positions on the hill while a few rounds went into Venafro. Dog Co took up Easy Co’s positions. 2 drops were made from Cub. The AP Photographer took pictures of Dog Co’s position in the mountain.
December 2 1943
Checked positions on Monte Croce. Gathered enemy equipment. Mortar has fired 2500 rounds to date. Intermittent fire on targets area during the night. Routine duties. Enemy inactive. Fox Co withdrew to the bivouac area. Our aircraft bombed and strafed Monte Cassino.
December 3 1943
The enemy was still inactive except for patrols during the late afternoon, our patrols were active. Our minefield was completed. Aircraft were active again today.
December 4 1943
Slight enemy artillery activity. More friendly air activity around. The enemy tried to attack the Ranger positions in the late afternoon, but they lost 6 men.
December 5 1943
Easy Co relieved Charlie Co of the Rangers. Fox Co alerted – contemplated enemy attack. Rain hampered air activity.
December 6 1943
Usual duties. Patrol activity (S-2) activity around the Ranger’s left flank. Light shells from in the vicinity northeast of Concacasale. American aircraft were active again today.
December 7 1943
Unit on our right gained Hill 769. Usual camp duties. Improved our defensive positions, and cleared the field of fire. Established a Bn CP on 1083. Issued defensive order.
December 8 1943
Patrols active. Units on right were pushed off Hill 769 but regained it in the late afternoon. Approx 8 rounds of enemy mortar shells landed near Easy Co. Activity on our left.
December 9 1943
Activity on our left flank, 143-IR. 504-PIR in the vicinity of San Pietro and Hill 1205 which was taken by 180th Inf. 3rd Ranger took Hill 950 after 2 unsuccessful attacks. Our line was quiet. Our mortars fired on concentrations. Total rounds fired to date 5800.
December 10 1943
Continuing to improve our positions. The enemy is inactive except for some occasional artillery fire.
December 11 1943
143-IR bogged down on the road to San Pietro. Hill 1205 and Hill 950 are occupied by 504-PIR. Enemy planes bombed Ceppagna, with some casualties. Maj Morrow, Fisco, Nunn, Thahan, and Capt Howland went on patrol and captured 2 prisoners. They were sleeping in an MG nest.
December 12 1943
Usual duties in the morning. Made preparations to be relieved.
Decemner 13 1943
The battalion was relieved and went to the bottom of the hill. The total amount of mortar ammunition fired to date, is 8860. Departed for Naples, moved out 0830 in truck convoy, arrived 1030, strength 122 men and 9 officers.
(Photos courtesy of Jim T. Bromley)