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Murder at Cowan Creek

The 507th Parachute Infantry 17th Airborne Division was knee deep in Bastogne by January 17, 1945.  The regiment relived the 193rd Glider Infantry that day setting up the C.P. 1 Ĺ miles East of Houffalize when they arrived.

Patrolling was the name of the game over the next few days.  January 19th was no different for Company B of the 507th Parachute Infantry.  That changed though as 5 soldiers from Company B went missing in action (along with a Headquarters and Headquarters Company soldier vanished as well). 

Company Bís patrol crossed Cowan Creek and went up to a ridge east of the creek.  There were 7 soldiers on this patrol.  As they walked across the ridgeline Staff Sergeant Schwartz kept reminding them to spread out further.  Staff Sergeant Schwartz was on the far right of the group.

A few minutes later a Germany Machinegun opened up for just a second or two.  Schwartz looked to his left and saw that all of his men were down.  He went from body to body and they were all dead on that ridge.  Sergeant Schwartz worked his way down the hill and across the creek back to Company Bís position.

The next day the 507th went across the creek again, up the hill and ended up taking Cowan, Vissoule and Alhoumont.  The 6 soldiers killed the day before were taken to the Foy Temporary Cemetery.

The names and records for Company B 507th Parachute Infantry for this article who were killed and the only survivor January 19, 1945 are below.  Just click on their names to read their records and photos.  They have their Morning Reports, Medical Reports and the Map.

The Lone Survivor
Staff Sergeant Edward J. Schwartz 36152479 Operation Sergeant

Killed in Action January 19, 1945

Staff Sergeant Louis C. Hall Jr 18133936 Squad Leader Company B

Sergeant Charles C. Peckham 32281987 Radio Operator Company B

Sergeant Vernon W. Rogers 18108151 Communication Sergeant Company B

Sergeant Reino Wilson 6947906 Assistant Squad Leader Company B

Private Clyde A. Sartor 20463316 Rifleman Company B

Private William H. Pritchard 16063911 Runner Headquarters and Headquarters Company

The Map with the O highlighted in red has the area where the men were patrolling that fateful day.

There is an issue concerning Sergeant Vernon W. Rogers Find A Grave.  The narrative isnít correct.                                   

_________________________________

Sources:

507th Parachute Infantry After Action Report for Bastogne, Page 3.
507th Parachute Infantry Morning Reports
Hospital Admission Card Data Files
Interviews with Staff Sergeant Schwartz

 

Brian N. Siddall
March 2, 2023


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