106th Cavalry Group
Normandy // Northern France // Ardennes // Alsace Rhineland // Central Europe
Commander: Vennard Wilson, COL, CAV
The 106th Cavalry Group (Mecz), under the command of Colonel Vennard Wilson, Cavalry, with its 106th and 121st Cavalry Squadrons, sailed for France 27 June 1944. The group entered combat under VIII Corps on July 2, 1944 (D plus 26). Its baptism of fire came in Normandy with a mission of mopping up enemy forces that had been cut off during the drive of the VIII Corps down the Normandy Peninsula. The next mission was an offensive mission which led from Normandy to Rennes. The VIII Corps turned right at this point and headed for Brest. The group then joined the XV Corps and raced to Le Mans on another offensive mission in front of the Corps. The next mission was that of screening the flanks of the XV Corps as it turned north to close the Falaise pocket. This mission succeeded in screening the flank of the corps against enemy forces trying desperately to escape the giant pincher movement of the Allied armies.
When the Falaise pocket was closed, the group again raced to the front and led the XV Corps on toward Paris, passing through Alencon, Sarthe, Nogent, Dreux, and Mantes Gassiscourt. In one of the swiftest advances of the war, another extensive screening mission took the group to the right flank of Third Army along a 90-mile front which stretched from Auxerre to Gondricourt, France.
One of the most interesting operations of the War concerned the 106th Group and came after the armies finished regrouping forces and after the capture of Paris. The group led the XV Corps in a lightning thrust Joinville on the Marne, to Charmes on the Moselle. In this operation the group located and contained the German 16th Infantry Division while infantry elements of the XV rolled in on all available transportation to take over the enemy contacts and destroy the enemy.
A reconnaissance in advance of the corps east from the Moselle in the Baccarat-Luneville area was the next assignment. The group led the corps in the attack into the flank of an enemy force which was attacking the flank of the American corps on the left. The group sideslipped to the north of Luneville and went into the Fortet de Parroy which turned out to be one of the toughest campaigns of war for the group. Here, for 2 months in disagreeable weather and extensive minefields the Group dismounted and fought alongside the 79t and 44th Infantry Divisions and on the left flank of the XV Corps. The mission of maintaining contact with Third Army troops on the north was a difficult one because of the thinly scattered forces. On several occasions the group helped break up an attack by the enemy into the flank of the corps to the north by its anti-tank support.
The XV Corps, in spite of the unfavorable weather, began rolling again in November, launching an attack aimed at Strassbourg on the Rhine through Saarburg and Saverne Gap. When the Infantry elements succeeded in breaking the enemy line, the 106th Group slipped through the gap to take up a position screening the left flank of the corps northwest of Saarburg as the corps turned east through the Vosges Mountains to capture Strassbourg on the Rhine.
On thanksgiving night, 1944, the group was forced to execute a delaying action against the elite 130th Panzer Division which launched a coordinated attack aimed to cut the main supply lines of the corps to troops east of the Vosges and to recapture Savern which could seal off Allied forces east of the mountains in the Strassbourg area. The brilliant action by the 106th Group gave the corps commander time to shift his forces to meet this armor threat to his flank.
The March offensive again gave the group an offensive mission in advance of XV Corps through the Siegfried Line near Saarbrucken, across the Rhine, to Ashaffenburg (on the Main river), Bad-Orb, Bamburg, Nurnburg, across the Danube to Munich, where the group accepted the surrender of the 9th Hungarian Division. The advance continued to Salzburg where the garrison surrendered.
This article is extracted from a supplemental student text (undated) written for the US Army Armor School by LTC (Ret) James W. Cooke
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