(European Theater of Operations – Bastogne – BELGIUM – December 1944)

4th Armored Division tanks deploy on the road to Bastogne … December 1944

"… we broke thru ! "

Dawn of December 26, 1944, right after a cold Christmas, our unit was only three miles from Bastogne
… I mounted my CO’s personal tank (Lt Col Creighton W. ABRAMS Jr) for a very ‘special’ mission ! It had been decided that a special team, mainly consisting of C Company, 37th Tank Battalion, under temporary command of its XO, Capt William A. DWIGHT (S-3) would take a secondary road, leading from Clochimont thru Assenois to Bastogne, in order to break the siege of that town and to contact the surrounded American defenders . This kind of surprise attack was to take place in enemy-held territory ! Acting as point vehicle, I would lead with ‘Cobra King’ (mount of Lt Col C.W. Abrams) followed by another 7 tanks, half-tracks, and some other extra vehicles . My personal crew consisted of Pvt Hubert SMITH (driver) – Cpl Milton DICKERMAN (gunner) – Pvt Harold HAFNER (bow gunner) – Pvt James G. MURPHY (loader), and myself as commander, we were all battle veterans … We moved full speed, firing straight ahead, with the other tanks firing left and right . We weren’t supposed to stop on the way either . As soon as we cleared the first little town, I called for artillery support (4 artillery battalions were available) on Assenois, that is, ahead of the convoy – our column entered the place still under friendly fire, such was our speed and progress ! After clearing Assenois, we ran into more enemy resistance, and mopping up was required with help of our half-trackborne C Company, 53d Armored Infantry Battalion . We then came across a large pillbox, which we at once destroyed . There certainly was a lot of confusion, since the Germans hadn’t expected us to break thru via this secondary road, nevertheless enemy fire was considerable, and we lost 4 Shermans on the way .

picture of
Lt Col Creighton W. Abrams, Jr
(CO 37th Tk Bn)

taken during the Battle of the Bulge -
December 1944

As my tank cleared the following woods, we came upon an open field with colored canopies (from previous supply drops), I reckoned we were now approaching friendly lines . Our column subsequently slowed down, on the look out for friendlies, and we seemed to recognize a number of foxholes with helmeted figures . Taking no chances, I called out to them, shouting to come out to us, indicating we were part of the 4th Armored Division ! After several calls, an officer emerged with a smile, and said; “I’m Lt. Webster, 326th Airborne Engineers, glad to see you guys !” It was 1650, December 26, the 4th Armored Division, had broken thru enemy lines, and reached its objective - the siege of Bastogne was over … although the fighting wasn’t yet …
(Charles P. BOGGESS, 1st Lt, C Co, 37th Tk Bn, 4th Armd Div, USA, ……….., recollections)

pictures taken in 1984 - 40th Anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge
Click images to enlarge

I met Lieutenant Boggess, for the first (and only) time during the ceremonies celebrating the “40th Anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge”, the place was Bastogne, and the ‘special’ ceremony was held at Assenois . There was a kind of re-enactment at the Belgian pillbox (part of former Belgian Army defense positions built in 1935), where the ‘historic breakthrough’ took place, and Charles P. BOGGESS Jr was rapidly put on top of a Sherman tank (belonging to the Brussels Tank Museum) for a series of pictures and interviews – it was Saturday, December 15, 1984, and the time was 1515 . I had ample time to discuss the dramatic events of December 44, and the role played by this soft-spoken Veteran . Charles BOGGESS was a bit overcome by the demand for autographs, the numerous interviews, and the picture sessions organized by the international press and TV crews, but he obliged … nevertheless . In the end, as he told me, he certainly enjoyed the part at Assenois … sitting and having a ride in a genuine M4 Sherman tank . I was never to see him again, for he passed away on April 27, 1985We will never forget these heroes …

1st Lt. Charles P. BOGGESS Jr. in the M4 Sherman (Brussels Tank Museum), during the Assenois ceremony …

FIRST tank in Bastogne – “Cobra King” (M4A3E2 Jumbo)
Click image to enlarge

Booklet of the G.I. Stories of the Ground,
Air and Service Forces in the E.T.O. - 1945
Click image to enlarge

PILLBOX at Assenois – part of defenses built by the Belgian Army in 1935
Click image to enlarge

March 28, 1945“ … For extraordinary tactical accomplishment from December 22 through December 27 “ , the Fourth Armored Division was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation , the second time in US Army history, that a complete Division has so been recognized . (the first unit to be awarded these special Battle Honors, was the 101st Airborne Division, on March 15, 1945)

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Notes :


Activated at Pine Camp, New York April 15 1941, and moved to Cp. Forrest, Tennessee October 2, 1942 for participation in the I Corps Tennessee Maneuvers . The Division then transferred to Cp. Young, California November 17, 1942 where it participated in the Desert Training Center No. 1 California Maneuvers . The 4th Armored Division then went to Cp. Bowie, Texas June 13, 1943 . It finally staged at Cp. Myles Standish, Massachusetts December 20, 1943 until it departed with destination overseas from Boston P/E December 29 of the same year . The Breakthrough Division arrived in England January 11, 1944 and subsequently landed in France July 13 via Utah Beach . First combat took place July 17 . In response to the German counter-offensive in the Bulge, Belgium, the Division moved some 150 miles to assemble in the Arlon-Luxembourg area December 20, 1944 . Elements pushed thru Assenois to reach the besieged 101st Airborne Division in Bastogne December 26; and also helped open the critical Arlon-Bastogne highway December 29 . It later crossed into Luxembourg February 9, established new bridgeheads, and finally entered Germany March 9, 1945 .
Ohrdruf KZ was liberated April 4, discovering and illustrating the horrors of the nazi Concentration Camps . The 4th Armd Div moved into Czechoslovakia, and was at Pisek, when the war ended on May 7, 1945 . After security, occupation, and Military Government duties in Germany, the 4th Armored Division was redesignated 1st Constabulary Brigade May 1, 1946 …

crew of M4A1 tank of the 4th Armored Division add foliage to their vehicle,
in order to improve its camouflage ...
winter of 1944
Click image to enlarge

Commanders : MG Henry W. Baird (Apr 41), MG John S. Wood (May 42), MG Hugh J. Gaffey (Dec 44), MG William M. Hoge (Mar 45) and BG Bruce L. Clark (Jun 45) .
Organization : 8th Tk Bn, 35th Tk Bn, 37th Tk Bn, 10th Armd Inf Bn, 51st Armd Inf Bn, 53rd Armd Inf Bn, 25th Cav Rcn Sqdn, Mecz, 22nd Armd Fld Arty Bn, 66th Armd Fld Arty Bn, 94th Armd Fld Arty Bn, 24th Armd Engr Bn, 46th Armd Med Bn, MP Pltn, 126th Armd Ord Maint Bn, 144th Armd Sig Co, 18th Armd QM Bn, CCA, CCB, CCR attached units .
Campaigns : Normandy – Northern France – Rhineland – Ardennes-Alsace – Central Europe .