4th Cavalry Regiment
The 4th Cavalry Regiment was reorganized as a Horse-Mechanized Corps Reconnaissance Regiment. The 1st Squadron retained their horses and the 2nd Squadron was mechanized.
By 1942 the Army decided that the corps reconnaissance regiments should be completely mechanized. The 1st Squadron turned in its horses at Fort Robinson, Nebraska in the spring of 1942 and became mechanized.
In January 1943 the Regiment left Fort Meade for the last time for the Mohave Desert to prepare for the North African campaign. But the regiment’s orders were changed. Instead, the 4th was sent to England to serve as the reconnaissance regiment for the VII Corps.
Arriving on 15 December 1943 the 4th was encamped in the town of Singleton, West Sussex near the English southern coast. Immediately upon arrival the 4th Cavalry Regiment was re-designated and reorganized as the 4th Cavalry Group, Mechanized.
The 1st Squadron was reorganized and re-designated as the 4th Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron, Mechanized and the 2nd Squadron was reorganized and re-designated as the 24th Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron, Mechanized.
In preparation for the Normandy invasion
The 4th Cavalry Regiment was assigned a critical role in the amphibious assault of the VII Corps onto Utah Beach.
Aerial reconnaissance showed German fortifications on the St. Marcouf Islands 6000 yards off Utah Beach. These fortifications could pose a serious threat to the Utah Beach landings.
The 4th Cavalry was assigned the mission of neutralizing them prior to the landing. The 4th also had the mission of getting troops ashore on D-Day to link up with the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions to give them armor support.
At 0430 Hours 6 June 1944, elements of *Troop A, 4th Squadron and *Troop B, 24th Squadron landed on the St. Marcoufs.
Corporal Harvey S. Olsen and Private Thomas C. Killeran of Troop A. Sergeant John S. Zanders and Corporal Melvin F. Kinzie of *Troop B. Each armed only with a knife, swam ashore to mark the beaches for the landing crafts.
They became the first seaborne American soldiers to land on French soil on D-Day.
As the troops dashed from their landing craft they were met with silence
The Germans had evacuated the islands but they did leave them heavily mined. Meanwhile, one platoon of Troop B, 4th Squadron got ashore at Utah Beach and liked up with the 82nd Airborne.
On 7 June the platoon surprised a German column and in a mechanized cavalry charge hit the column. Routing it with a loss of some 200 casualties. Heavy seas prevented Troop C from linking up with the 101st until 8 June.
As the American forces swung into the Cherbourg peninsula. The 4th Cavalry Group’s two squadrons performed flank protection for the 4th and 9th Infantry Divisions.
In the Cape de la Hague area
The 4th Squadron fighting dismounted seized all its objectives in five days of bloody fighting capturing over 600 prisoners.
Both the 4th and 24th Cavalry Squadrons were awarded the French Croix De Guerre with Silver Star for their gallantry on the Cherbourg peninsula.
After breaking out of the Normandy hedgerows at St Lo in July 1944. The VII Corps attacked east toward Paris In the dash across France. The 4th Cavalry Group assumed traditional cavalry missions of flank screening and protection of lines of communications for the VII Corps.
Paris was liberated on 24 August
As the 4th Cavalry Group by-passed the city crossing the Seine River on 25 August and the Marne River on 31 August. And the VII Corps prepared to enter Belgium it attached the 759th Light Tank Battalion to the 4th Cavalry Group. To support the Group’s protection of the VII Corp’s right flank and rear. Also attached shortly thereafter were the 635th Tank Destroyer Battalion (Self-Propelled) and the 87th Armored Field Artillery Battalion.
Along with the two reconnaissance squadrons the attachments gave The 4th Cavalry Regiment the strength of a light armored brigade as it crossed into Germany on 14 September and penetrated the Siegfried Line. By late November the 4th Cavalry Group had moved with the VII Corps into the Hurtgen Forest meeting stiff German resistance.
While the attention of the world was focused on the early stages of what would become known as the Battle of the Bulge. Some of the fiercest fighting of the war erupted to the north. On the 19th, 20th and 21st of December in the VII Corps sector on the edges of the Hurtgen Forest along with the approaches to the Roer River. It was here that the 4th Cavalry Group was given the mission to seize the heavily fortified town of Bogheim and the high ground to its southeast.
On the 19th under a ground fog
*Troops of The 4th Cavalry Regiment got into the town undetected and engaged the Germans. Two other troops coming up in support were caught in the open as the fog lifted and took heavy casualties. The two troops already in the town successfully drove out the Germans by the afternoon. But all four *troop commanders had either been killed or wounded and over one-fourth of the enlisted personnel had also become casualties.
The next morning the 4th Squadron charged dismounted across two hundred yards of open terrain to seize the high ground overlooking the town. In the battle for Bogheim. The 4th Squadron destroyed two battle groups of the 947th German Infantry and a company of the 6th Parachute Regiment. For its magnificent bravery at Bogheim the 4th Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron was awarded a Presidential Unit Citation.
As the German Ardennes offensive pushed westward
The VII Corps was shifted south into Belgium to blunt its advance. By 23 December the 4th Cavalry Group was in contact with advancing German forces.
On 24 December the 4th Cavalry Group was attached to the 2nd Armored Division and ordered to defend the key road junction of Humain to prevent the Germans from driving a wedge between the 2nd Armored and the 84th Infantry Divisions. The 4th Squadron was screening to the west between Combat Commands A and B of the 2nd Armored Division, leaving the 24th Squadron to defend Humain. By midnight Troop A, 24th Squadron had taken Humain.
But by early Christmas morning, Troop A was forced out of the town by a strong Attempts to retake the town by the lightly armored 24th Squadron made little progress against the heavy German armor. Nevertheless, by 26 December the 2nd Armored Division along with the 24th Squadron had repelled the German attack in the Humain sector and significantly contributed to ending the German attempts to continue their westward advance across the Meuse River toward Antwerp. But by early Christmas morning,
21 April the 4th Cavalry Group had accomplished its mission. From there the 4th Cavalry Group went on to conduct mopping-up operations along the Elbe River and had reached the city of Leipzig when hostilities ended on 8 May 1945.
*A troop is a military sub-subunit, originally a small formation of cavalry, subordinate to a squadron. In many armies, a troop is an equivalent element to the infantry section or platoon. … A related sense of the term “troops” refers to members of the military collectively, as in “the troops“; see Troop(disambiguation).
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