The Distinguished Unit Citation for

 

3d Battalion, 397th Infantry Regiment

 

is authorized by Department of the Army General Order 36-51

The 3d Battalion. 397th Infantry Regiment, is cited for outstanding and exceptional accomplishment in combat during the period 1 to 5 January 1945 in the Bitche sector, near Rimling, France. The 100th Division as assigned the mission of defending against an expected enemy attack in force, which had as its objective the capture of the Saverne Pass, a vital terrain feature in the Seventh Army front. The 3d Battalion, 397th Infantry Regiment occupied a defensive position on the left flank of the division. Suddenly, at midnight on New Year's Eve, the enemy (17th SS Panzer Grenadier Division) launched a heavy and fanatical attack, the main effort of which encompassed the 3d Battalion and units on its left. The unit on the left of the 3d Battalion was driven back during the course of the day some 5,000 yards. Because of the width of the front, reserves were not available to fill the gap. A platoon of the left company was overrun by the enemy tank-infantry assault, and the enemy infiltrated in force into Rimling, behind the lines of the 3d Battalion. Notwithstanding the exposed and tactically disadvantageous position in which the 3d Battalion found itself, it succeeded in restoring the lines and capturing or killing all of the infiltrating enemy. For five days, the 3d Battalion, in this exposed position, was subjected to repeated attacks from the front, flank, and rear by enemy tanks and infantry accompanied by mortar and artillery fire. Repeated attacks by troops of this division and the division on the left to reestablish the line and make contact with the left flank of the 3d Battalion failed. The 3d Battalion, nearly surrounded, still held on, despite heavy losses and a disadvantageous tactical situation which warranted withdrawal. Howeer, in doing so, it inflicted such heavy losses upon the enemy and impressed upon him so successfully the will of our troops to hold on, that further offensive action on this part of the front by the enemy was discontinued. The action of the 3d Battalion, therefore, played a decisive role in thwarting the enemy from attaining his vital objective of the Saverne Pass and enabled the division to hold its position without a serious change in dispositions. The extraordinary heroism, determination, esprit de corps, and effective fighting displayed by the 3d Battalion 397th Infantry Regiment, in successfully accomplishing this unusual and rugged task were an inspiration to other troops in the sector and reflect greatest credit on the Armed Forces of the United States. (General Orders 183, Headquarters, 100th Infantry Division, 27 June 1945)

 

Under the provisions of Department of Army General Order 33-57, participating elements of the following units are also recognized for their part in this action, and are authorized the same citation:

Forward Observer Group, 374th Field Artillery Battalion
Anti-Tank Company, 397th Infantry Regiment
Cannon Company, 397th Infantry Regiment
Service Company, 397th Infantry Regiment
325th Medical Battalion
3d Platoon, Company A, 23d Tank Battalion, 12th Armored Division

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