Study Title: Eindhoven Liberated by the Book

Subject: After comparing After Action Reports and historical literature about the Liberation of Eindhoven with the US Army's Field Manuals FM-31-50 and FM 7-40, Battledetective.com concludes that army regulations were followed almost to the letter.

Date: September 18th, 1944

Location: Eindhoven, Holland

 

Introduction:

Knowledge of detailed reports and eyewitness accounts of the liberation of Eindhoven will cause several moments of recognition when reading the U.S. Army guidelines. Reading the field manuals about the deployment of Infantry Regiments (FM 7-40) or combat in towns (FM-31-50) sometimes even makes the reader wonder which was first: the capture of Eindhoven after which experiences where used to write the rules, or the  field manuals that were used to make a plan of attack for Eindhoven. Knowing from chronology, of course, that the Field Manuals were there first, it is interesting to compare quotes from the official manual with sections from After Action Reports, history books and eye-witness accounts.

 

1) From: Field Manual FM-31-30: "74. MISCELLANEOUS, a. Looting. Built-up areas offer many opportunities for looting. The acquisition of loot is likely to lead to the discarding of equipment, with a resultant loss of efficiency. However well disciplined a unit may be, unless precautions are taken in advance, looting will begin on a small scale and tend to increase. It deteriorates the soldier, detracts from alertness, slows initiative, and may seriously interfere with the progress of the attack. All leaders must see that instructions against looting are obeyed, and that violations are promptly and properly punished."

 

Collecting Nazi souvenirs does not necessarily constitute looting, but the effects are comparable with those described above. Compare this with the photographs of troopers with Nazi souvenirs and also civilian items.

 



On a side note we must remark that looting by fighting men is from all nations and of all ages as these next images will demonstrate.
This image shows German soldiers during World War Two who have collected no less than seven American M1 30.06 caliber Garand rifles, an M1928 Tommy gun, an M1 Thompson Sub Machine Gun and two .30 caliber rifle ammunition belts.


This image shows the "Souvenir King" of World War One; or rather British-born Australian soldier John "Barney" Hines (18731958) known for looting from German soldiers. It is said that, after seeing this photo of Hines surrounded by German military materiel, the German Kaiser put a prize on Hines' head.

2) From: Field Manual FM-31-30: "74. MISCELLANEOUS, b Civilian control. The problems of controlling and administering the civilian inhabitants will nearly always arise, and may be complicated by a flow of refugees into built-up areas. The degree of assistance and cooperation that may be expected from the civilian inhabitants will a vary greatly. At one extreme is the full cooperation of inhabitants in friendly territory. In some enemy-occupied countries there will be both friendly and unfriendly elements. Within an enemy country itself, the population will inevitably be hostile and little in the way of cooperation may be expected, but maximum assistance should be obtained from any elements that are friendly. Spies and fifth columnists must be ceaselessly sought out and mercilessly dealt with. Arrangements are made for sudden unforeseen movement either into an area or out of it. Bombing tends to drive the inhabitants out of a town, while the ground action that follows on the outskirts will drive them in again.


Compare this with this account in "Hell's Highway" by George Koskimaki: "T/4 Donald G. Malarkey's recollection of the advance by the 2nd Battalion is as follows: "We came into the city from the northeast with scattered resistance but rounded up a lot of prisoners on tips from the Dutch people. In fact, at one time, we had so many men going after holed-up Germans that we had to stop following their leads."
T/5 Charlie McCallister had been relieved of the burden of carrying a heavy SCR-300 radio and was functioning as a rifleman. a Dutch civilian came out of a house as I was going by and motioned me to follow him inside. I did so, and he led me to the kitchen in the back of the house, and as I entered I was facing five German soldiers, but they had stacked their weapons against the wall and raised their hands and surrendered when I walked in. I liberated one pistol and told the Dutchman to get the rest of the arms for the resistance people and then marched the Germans out into the street where they were quickly taken over by some of the other Dutch resistance folks. I hope my prisoners survived because the Dutch were really mad."
 

3) From: Field Manual FM-31-30: "74. MISCELLANEOUS, c. Prisoners. The handling of prisoners of war is normal but should be prompt. Leading units must not permit an accumulation of prisoners to interfere with their progress.

 

...

 

4) From: Field Manual FM-31-30: "75. PLANS, a. Intelligence. Plans are based upon the best intelligence available. Suggested sources of information are-
(1) Standard travel publications such as guide books, road maps, city maps, industrial reports, newspapers, and magazines.

 

Compare this with the map that was issued to paratroopers of the 101st when they entered Eindhoven:

The samples of the 1944 map of Eindhoven were taken from the map that we obtained through curator McCabe of the Ohio University Library, Archives & Special Collections. The Ohio University's Library owns the research material of author Cornelius Ryan for his book A Bridge Too Far.

It is our theory that the 1944 map was made from an Eindhoven city map of the late 1920's. Through the Municipality of Eindhoven, Housing Department, we received a copy of a city map of 1926. We discovered some minor differences that leads us to believe the War Department used a map of 1927 or 1928. Of interest are the details the War Department's map makers have added on the army map. Some Dutch terminologies were translated and the strategic Philips factories were added.

The map that the paratroopers had, by the way, was obsolete by the time they entered Eindhoven. Eyewitness Jan van Hout, 15 at the time, had indicated German positions on the map to the paratroopers. To his amazement, streets in his own neighborhood Tivoli (built in the late 1920's and the 1930's) weren't on the map. It didn't keep the paratroopers from capturing Eindhoven, however.


5) From: Field Manual FM-31-30: "75. PLANS, a. Intelligence.

[...]

(2) Special summaries obtained through normal intelligence channels.
(3) Information from local inhabitants regarding hostile activities and dispositions and recent changes that have occurred in structures within the area of interest.
(4) Aerial reconnaissance, aerial photographs, and maps.
 

The planners of Operation Market Garden only had 10 days to prepare for the operation. But they could make use of the intelligence gathered for previous plans of the First Allied Airborne Army which were cancelled. Also the Allies had gathered intelligence on Holland on a regular basis in the pre-invasion period. An example is this aerial photograph of the city taken on the 21st of October 1943. It shows the main route of advance of the 506th Regiment on September 18th 1944:

(Note that this is a large sized document of approx. 34Mb)

 

6)  From: Field Manual FM-31-30: "78. PLANS FOR PHASE II: [a to..] b. The assignment of relatively narrow frontages to leading battalion (s). [...] d. If the operation entails a considerable advance, the regiment will usually be disposed initially in column of battalions."

 

Compare this with the Action Report of the 506th Regiment: "D-Day plus 1 18 September 1944
During the night orders were received from Division to pro-ceed on the original mission of Seizing EINDHOVEN at 1st light.[...] the regiment started its move to EINDHOVEN at 0600 in the order 3rd Bn, 2nd Bn, Regtl Hq and Hq Co, 1st Bn."

 

7) From: Field Manual FM-31-30: "78. PLANS FOR PHASE II: [a to..] e. A large portion of supporting weapons will ordinarily be attached to battalions. The determining factor in the decision will be whether control and close support can best be obtained by such attachment. Steps must be taken to insure that the attached weapons are provided with close-in infantry protection."

and

 "80. EMPLOYMENT OF SUPPORTING UNITS, a. Antitank and cannon weapons. Available antitank weapons are emplaced to cover streets from which mechanized counterattack appears probable. Some or all of the battalion antitank guns may be attached to leading rifle companies for direct-fire missions against fortified positions or buildings in addition to antitank missions. One or more platoons of the antitank company may be attached to battalions."


Compare this with this account in "Hell's Highway" by George Koskimaki: "Sgt. Jack MacLean of the Anti-tank platoon wrote: "Company "I" started the assault down the left side of the road going toward Eindhoven and ran into some 88s that were mobile. We again heard  "Bazookas up front!"[...] We ran into a couple machine gun emplacements and a couple riflemen. We fired e few rounds and were able to catch one 88 backing into an alley. We put three rounds into it, destroying it and killing the crew."

 

8) From: Field Manual FM-31-30: "78. PLANS FOR PHASE II: [a to..] f. Reserves will ordinarily have little opportunity to maneuver within the regimental zone of action. Their primary missions will be to repel counterattacks and to mop up hostile resistance which has been bypassed by forward elements. They may also be used to maneuver through the zone of an adjacent unit which has advanced more rapidly, for the purpose of striking in flank resistance which is holding up the attack of the regiment."

 

Compare this with the Action Report of the 506th Regiment: "The 3rd Bn proceeded down the main road overcoming scattered resistance on the way. This movement proceeded orderly and rapidly to WOENSEL on the outskirts of EINDHOVEN where the 3rd Bn was held up by small arms and dual purpose gun fire at 0900. The attack seemed to bog down, so at 1000 the 2nd Bn was committed with the mission of moving around the 3rd Bn's left flank and into EINDHOVEN with the 3rd Bn."

 

9) From: Field Manual FM-31-30: "78. PLANS FOR PHASE II: [a to..] l.l. The infantry regimental commander must take special steps to maintain communication with subordinate adjacent units. Although the commander will usually be close in rear of the attacking units, he must rely to a considerable extent on liaison officers to keep him informed and maintain lateral communication. These liaison officers will be fairly close to their own units as far as actual distance goes, but may have difficulty in communicating due to dead spaces in radio and severed wire lines. They must therefore be accompanied by a sufficient number of messengers to transmit their reports and information."

 

Compare this with these pictures. The first one shows Colonel Sink, Regimental Commanding Officer in his temporary Command Post on Vlokhovense Weg. This picture was taken at approximately1000 on September 18th 1944. Shortly after this picture was taken, the two German 88mm guns on Woenselse Straat were taken out and in photo 2 we see  the Colonel marching towards the center of Eindhoven on Frankrijk Straat, following the assault troops into town. On the third picture we see Major Oliver Horton of 3rd Bn/506 and Captain Harwick of "H"Co./506 walking into the center of Eindhoven. The Company Commander followed by the Battalion Commander by just a step.

 

10) From: Field Manual FM-31-30: "79. PLAN OF ATTACK, a. Formation [...]:(2) When the width of the battalion zone exceeds two blocks, two rifle companies are usually assigned to the attacking echelon."

 

Compare this with the report Col. S.L.A.Marshall and Capt. John G. Westover wrote about the capture of Eindhoven: "The hour was 0730 and 3rd Battalion crossed the LD at Bokt with "H" and "I" astride the road and "G" and "HQ" going straight down the road. The country was flat and even and the two companies which were covering the regimental front were able to cover the fields and ditches at almost a marching pace."

 

11) From: Field Manual FM-31-50: "89. CONDUCT OF ATTACK [a to..] f. Cover must be selected in advance. It is too late to select cover when being fired upon. Hug walls and move rapidly from cover to cover. Quickly roll over roof tops and walls. Do not go over them upright. (See fig. 22.)

Compare this with this account in "Hell's Highway" by George Koskimaki: In another area, Sgt. Charles Jacobs jumped up, rolled over a brick fence, surprised three Germans moving to an 88 gun position, and took them prisoners. Other Germans disabled that second gun."

 

The individual must be trained to fire around the right-hand side of cover from the right shoulder and around the left-hand side from the left shoulder, as he exposes less of the body in that way. (See fig. 23.)

Compare this with this account in "Rendez-vous with Destiny" by Leonard Rapport& Arthur Northwood: "At the same time, the grenadier with the 2d squad, Smith, fired from a position on Woenselsche Straat only seventy-five yards from the gun. To keep under cover he had to fire from his left shoulder. But his second round was a direct hit."

He avoids, if possible, firing over the top of cover unless the firer's silhouette will blend with his background.

[...]

 

12) From: Field Manual FM-31-50: "89. CONDUCT OF ATTACK [a to..] l. Entrance through the upper part of a building is better if it is possible, because it is much easier to work down than up. (See fig. 25.) Also, when the enemy is forced down to the ground level he may be tempted to withdraw from the building and expose himself to the fire covering units or machine guns."

Compare this with "A"-Co./ 506th's actions in Eindhoven in: "The Road to Arnhem" by Donald R. Burgett: "We entered a large, tall building and began a systematic search of rooms and offices, floor by floor. We went up the stairs slowly, craning our necks to look up. It was a dangerous position. If there was anyone on the stairs and landings above they could shoot downward or drop grenades. Where do you hide from a grenade on a stairway? [...]

   We finally made it to the top and went to the windows to survey the city around us. While there we discussed which of the surrounding buildings to search next, and then the next, and so on, working our way back toward the area where the rest of our regiment was.

   While we were talking, Speer laughingly looked back to see if we were watching and then made a big show of pushing a button alongside the elevator door. There came an immediate rumbling, grinding noise of protest from somewhere deep inside the walls. A few moments later a light came on and we all trained our weapons on the door as Speer cautiously opened it. There stood an empty elevator, waiting our use. The electricity was still on in the city. The elevators worked. We stood there dumbfounded, looking first at each other, then at the elevator. Someone said, "Why not?" With a rush we all piled in and someone pushed the button for the first floor.

   As we neared the first floor I remember thinking that it didn't seem like such a good idea after all. Anyone standing outside in the lobby could see that the elevator was coming down and would be waiting. We, on the other hand, could not see if there were any Germans waiting for us with their weapons at the ready. We all raised our weapons to our shoulders and waited. Finally, the door slid open. The lobby was empty. It was suddenly a great idea again.

   We ran to each building in turn. If it had an elevator, we would take it to the top floor then search the building from top to bottom. We would cautiously get out on the top floor and begin our descent, room by room, office by office, floor by floor, all the way to the basement if the building had one. It was a hell of a lot easier than walking up all those stairs. Building by building we made our way back, arriving at our company command post (CP) a lot earlier than expected. Lieutenant Muir asked if we had covered all the buildings. [...]   We told him that the electricity was still on - something none of us had thought of - and that we had taken the elevators to the top floor of each building and searched on the way down. He just shook his head and smiled."

 

13) From: Field Manual FM-31-50: "89. CONDUCT OF ATTACK [a to..] j. House-to-house fighting lends itself to surprise situations. The object is not only to avoid being surprised but to surprise and annihilate the enemy. Every effort is made to create and take advantage of diversions which temporarily distract the enemy's attention [...]

and

p. If there is reason to believe that an armed enemy occupies a room, it is suicidal to rush into that room without first killing or disabling him. It is much safer to breach a small opening and toss a grenade inside. In entering a room believed to be occupied by the enemy, the attackers must work in pairs, using the "buddy" system, with each man alternately covering his buddy's movements. In this system, one man throws the grenade into the room. The other rushes in immediately after the explosion[...]."

 

Compare this with this account in "Hell's Highway" by George Koskimaki: "PFC Joseph Harris of "H " Company recalled a buddy who was great in house-to-house fighting. Harris wrote: "We had a little fellow we called "Tarky", the best little house-to-house fighter you ever saw a great little scout, too. He had a dummy grenade and he'd throw the grenade in the window and he'd follow it. He cleaned those places out in a hurry and Sergeant (Frank J.) Padisak would say,"Wherever I go, Tarky, you follow me. You're the man I want with me in this house-to-house business."

 

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