254th Infantry Regiment- Page 6
Combat Infantryman and Combat Medic Badges
THE BATTLE OF JEBSHEIM(CONTINUED FROM PAGE 5)

It was just getting dark on the evening of 26 January when the Third Battalion moved out of Riedwihr. I Company was in the lead as the
troops crossed the little stream just east of Riedwihr. this unit's mission was to clear the patch of woods just north of the
Riedwihr-Jebsheim road. L company was to turn off the road to the south and clear the upper half of the forest which lay on that side; K
Company was to keep to the right of L and sweep the southern half of the woods. I company sent its three rifle platoons forward at
1700, two platoons abreast, one to the rear. The two leading platoons came under mortar and small arms fire, but were able to reach the
eastern edge of the woods. The reserve element was fired on and pinned down by a well emplaced machine gun at the stream junction to
the north. Two squads sent to silence the gun were unable to close in on the weapon, but is was finally eliminated by mortar fire.
Defensive positions were then placed along the east edge of the woods and the company remained here that night. The attack by L
Company began at 2100. Meeting little resistance, the company turned south off the road, then pushed eastward, intending to advance to
the east edge of the forest. However, a large clearing in the center of the woods was mistaken, in the darkness, for the fields beyond.
When the company arrived at this clearing it went into defensive positions. K Company had jumped off and pushed due south through
the western portion of the forest. The advance was successful until the company was within a short distance of the clearing. At this point
K Company encoutered heavy fire from the southern edge of the woods, mostly consisting of high velocity, flat trajectory fire. Unable to
proceed the company fell back to Riedwihr, leaving one platoon in defense postions at the point of farthest advance.  

Meanwhile, the attack on Jebsheim had started at about the same time that the Third Battalion moved out. The objective remained the
same--the northern half of the town to the Second Battalion and the southern half of the town to the First Battalion. F Company passed
through and led G Company, which was to protect the left flank. E company remained as battalion reserve in the defensive positions
occupied the night before by one of its platoons. C Company, with A Company following, launched the First Battalion's attack. B
Company, initally to rear of the other companies was to stand by until they had cleared, then strike the southern part of the town.
Companies C and F waded through the deep snow toward the bunkers which had turned them back the previous night. Moving along
the northwest road toward the junction at the western approach to the town, the battalions again met a furious hail of fire about five
hundred yards from the defending emplacements. This was of the same pattern as that received the night before--88mm fire from three
directions, automatic weapons from the bunkers, and small arms from dug in positions around the pillboxes. Slowly they moved forward,
inching their way through the snow and attempted to reduce the fortifications with well-aimed bazooka fire. This proved successful with
all but one of the bunkers, whose two foot thick walls merely ricocheted the rockets into the air. As a last resort, the tank destroyers
were brought up, braving the dangerous 88's east of the town, and fired point blank through the thick walls of the bunker and rendered
possible its capture by F Company men. (
See Photos below)

At this point A Company and C Company, greatly understrength from the battles of the last four days, joined with F Company for the
final push into town. At 2400 we saw one of the most awe-inspiring scenes most of us can recall, as eight battalions of artillery laid a
concentration into Jebsheim which lasted for fifteen minutes. As we watched it seemed as if the village, laying peacefully asleep one
moment, became nothing but a massive sheet of flame the next. By 0100 27 January, F Company and the remnants of the First Battalion
were on the northwest street of the town. Three hours later Jebsheim was clear to the upper square. In this engagement, which was
extremely bitter while it lasted, G company worked parallel to F Company along the northwest street. The now exhausted men of F
Company organized defensive positions in houses while G Company set up an arc facing north toward Grussenheim. Since little activity
was observed in the southern part of the town, we believed that Jebsheim was clear except for snipers. G Company that afternoon,
therefor, began the task of clearing the north-south street. the unit soon discovered that our surmise had been far from right. After in
intense battle which lasted all that day, G company finally fought its way down to the lower square. The fighting was of the most severe
type possible- house to house, floor to floor, room to room. Before the company had time to prepare proper defense at the lower
square, a strong counterattack developed from the enemy position, and the depleted unit was driven back through sheer weight of
numbers and fire power. The counterattack was finally repulsed at the upper square.  

The following morning, 28 January, the French desired to pass through the town, but failed in their attempt to break the German lines. E
Company then resumed the attack at 1400 to reduce resistance in the southern end of Jebsheim. Gaining impetus as the drive progressed
smoothly and swiftly, the company was across the intesection and about five houses down on the left side of the street an hour later. 115
prisoners had been taken at the cost of 26 killed or wounded. At about 1700 the enemy launched another desperate counterattack, and
as the company was slowly forced to give ground, G company was commited to aid them. Together the two units repulsed that attack
and made plans to continue the advance at 0400 on the 29th of January. Just before the companies began their attack, three Germans
entered our lines and asked E Company to surrender, saying "We know you have only a company here and we have a battalion." The
men of E company opened fire in answer and began the last most bitter fight for the possession of Jebsheim.  

The enemy was being supplied and reinforced by the road leading north into Jebsheim from Muntzenheim. To cut this road and to
provide a base of fire for I Company striking Jebsheim from the south, the Third Battalion left its position in the Bois de Jebsheim at 1130
that day. Leaving K Company in reserve, I and L Company moved out along the road. Arriving at the bridge over the small creek,
Company L turned south along the west bank to provide a base of fire for I Company, which was to move southeast, by-passing the tip
of Jebsheim and turning sharply north strike the enemy in the vineyards just east of the German-occupied houses. Heavy fire from these
houses caused a change in I Company's operation; a flank attack was decided upon. Accordingly the unit moved in by the road leading
west from the southern end of the town. A French tank encountered on the outskirts was persuaded to assist them and the newly formed
tank-infantry team attacked enemy strongpoints on the west side of the north-south street. At the time of the Third Battalion's arrival, the
fight between the Second Battalion and the enemy in his remaining houses was particularly violent. Compressing the Germans into these
few houses below the southern square had necessitated the commitment of the remaining elements of the First Battalion as well as the
reserve company of the Second Battalion. From the houses, from the bunkers, and from the foxholes in the vine-yards southeast of the
steet crossing, the enemy resisted fiercely with automatic weapons while 88mm guns poured fire on the attackers. The impact of I
Company coupled with the blows being delivered by the Second Battalion, broke the German's desire to resist further. At about 1630,
they began to march out of their foxholes, first in small groups of five and ten, then in large groups to surrender. The total was about 450,
most of whom were members of the 136th Mountain Regiment.  
Jebsheim, itself, was now taken. The cost had been high, with the regiment losing sixty-six killed in action. But we felt that the cost was
worth the price we had paid for it. According to statements of prisoners of war, the town had been used as a corps headquarters. It was
not until later that we learned that the Third Division had not expected us to be able to capture this stronghold. the question as to why our
determination was so strong, our fighting so fierce in taking this town was probably best answered by one PFC. who said, "If you think I
was going to stay out in some damn foxhole full of snow while the Krauts were living in nice warm cellars, you're crazy!"  
254th Infantry Regimental Crest
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