F Company, Guebling, November 17, 1945
The men of F Company, 2nd battalion of the 101st Infantry, 26th Yankee Division entered combat on November 8 outside the town of Moyenvic, France. The company fought an intense battle over the next three days to capture and clear Hill 310. From there they fought to capture Haraucourt-sur-Seille and Marsal to the northeast, continuing on to Wuisse near the north-south Lidrequin – Dieuze road in the Koecking forest
The eastern edge of Koecking forest descends on a winding corkscrew road over a railroad embankment, the Dordal creek, on to the village of Guébling. Just to the east lies another village, Bourgaltroff, a short walk from Bedestroff, the next village to the east.
Combat Command B of the 4th Armored division had launched an attack towards Guébling on November 13. Heavy combat with the 11th Panzer division disabled several enemy tanks where the road crossed the railroad and creek. The 4th held Guébling for two days, yet was forced to withdraw when artillery emplacements trained on them could not be neutralized.
When the 4th Armored division withdrew the Germans turned their disabled tanks into pillboxes. and further strengthened their hold on Guébling. Machine gun emplacements were dug into the railroad itself providing deadly raking fire down the tracks. 500 yards to the northeast German artillery and mortar placements were shielded by the slag piles of a granite quarry.
The second and third battalions of the 101st launched another attack on Guébling the morning of November 17.
Intense artillery fire on the German position preceded the attack. The 2nd battalion Company F was positioned to the right of the road to Guébling. F company’s commander, Captain Gazinski was wounded on hill 310 and was now under the leadership of replacement commander Lt. Michael Calpin. This was Lt. Calpin’s first engagement.
At 8 that morning, they attacked across the creek and railroad embankment, skirted the village to a knob just to the south under heavy artillery and machine gun fire as they continued on towards Benestroff.
PFC Harvey Jefferbaum (Company F) recalls that morning
I was a second gunner in a mortar squad in Company F. The first gunner was Bobby Schmalts from Canton, Ohio, we had three ammo bearers. One bearer, Bob Wescott from Bluehill Maine, was a very sweet kid. He was killed the morning of the 16th of November. My squad leader was a French Canadian from Maine, Sgt. Ted Peters, regular army and a wonderful, wonderful person. He engendered confidence. When we marched, everybody wanted to walk behind Peters, because his pace was so regular and even it made it easier for everybody behind him. He was that kind of a guy.
We were going like a bat out of hell, under artillery all the way We suffered a great many casualties. I was knocked on my ass by artillery—the same artillery that killed Bob Wescott. When I woke up, everybody was gone, and I was pretty much alone out there in the field scared to death.
I did my best to started walking in the same direction I had been walking. When I caught up with the guys, were pinned down near a farm house on a little bit of a knob, a hill. They were digging in, and Ted Peters was digging his hole alone. He beckoned me to come over and join him, and I did.
We were pinned down by what we thought were two 88 mm guns coming out of each end of the farmhouse. We started to dig in and hold and a couple hours later the two guns moved out and that's when we realized they were on tiger tanks. The tanks started to pull up to our holes and blast away.
At that point, Lt. Calpin figured there's no point in dying and he waved his white handkerchief and we surrendered. When this happened, Peters said; “We're going to die here, I'm not surrendering.” He changed his mind, thank God, because God knows what would've happened otherwise.
We had many casualties that day, but the whole company was taken, or what was left of us, about 100 men.
We found out that there were three more tanks behind the house in addition to the two that pinned us down. Apparently, a German spotter saw us going up a line between two German armored divisions and they sent five tanks over to get us, and they did.
Before we climbed out of our holes we made our weapons unusable. I removed the firing pin from my pistol and my mortar and buried them in the mud. Every time you dug a hole in France it filled with water so we could just stomp the firing pins into the mud and that was it.
The major in charge said to Calpin—I heard this—he says, “For you the war is over.” We had a few wounded and tour captors allowed us to take window frames and doors off the farmhouse and use them as litters. They marched us for three days before turning us over to the German field military police, the Feldgendarmerie, in the university town of Sarre-Union.
Three pages of soldiers missing in action near Guebling, France. Harvey Jefferbaum
The following account and photograph are from THE LORRAINE CAMPAIGN, Cole, Hugh M. (1950), Washington D.C.: Center of Military History, United States Army, CMH Pub 7–6–1 PP 452-3
The 26th Division Attack at the Dieuze–Bénestroff Line
While the body of the 2d Battalion fought at Guébling, F Company, commanded by a replacement officer in his first battle, had circled the town and forged far ahead of the other companies. About noon the battalion lost radio contact with F Company, after a last report that the company was being hit by flanking fire. The 2d Battalion was unable to shake itself free in Guébling until 1630; then the 1st Battalion took over the fight and the 2d launched an attack to reach the area where the lost company had been last reported. This attack reached the edge of Bourgaltroff early in the evening but F Company was not heard from again, although an artillery plane reported American troops being marched to the rear of the German lines.
A subsequent investigation, cited in the 101st Infantry Journal, reported eight dead on F Company's last position. Apparently, the company had taken cover in some farm buildings, had been blasted out by direct artillery fire at very close range, and then had surrendered en masse.