The Champagne Campaign in the French Maritime Alps, Part 2
A brief summary of the “Champagne Campaign” was included in the November 2017 E-newsletter. The 100th/442nd was assigned to protect the right flank of the Sixth Army Group along the French-Italian border in the French Maritime Alps from November 1944 to March 1945. Despite the use of the term “champagne” and the liberty granted many of the men to Nice, Paris and other French towns and cities, there was still war at hand and daily patrols and fighting took place.
Excerpts from the Headquarters 442D Regimental Combat Team Monthly Historical Report for the month of January 1945 will serve to highlight some of what the men lived through during this “campaign”.
New Year’s Day 1945, the 100th conducted reconnaissance from Menton to Castillon, the 2nd Bn did the same from Castillon to Mount Grosso, the 522nd fired in support of the 2nd Bn and the 232nd Combat Engineers laid mines.
January 3, Able Co. and Fox Co. patrols went on reconnaissance and reported no enemy activity, 3rd Bn organized a reserve line from Roquebrune to Col de Braus, Antitank Co. was on guard duty on roads and at installations, 94 Italian refugees were apprehended and turned over to command in Nice, and new cold-climate sleeping bags were distributed to the companies.
January 10, the Regimental HQ and Medical Detachment moved location by 5 miles, 232nd assisted Easy, Fox and George Cos. with laying antipersonnel mines and double apron fences, and a ration of beer and candy was distributed to the companies.
January 15, a George Co. patrol departed for Olivetta at 1700 with the intention of capturing prisoners and engaged with enemy troops on the banks of the Bevera River. The patrol leader was hit and the radio was damaged and inoperable. The patrol withdrew and S Sgt Rocky Matayoshi went to retrieve his lieutenant and carried him back 300 yards under fire. The patrol then attempted to move location but encountered a mine field and also could not cross the Bevera River, so spent the night outside. The next day, five men who were headed to the patrol to evacuate the wounded lieutenant ran into a minefield and two were killed with the other three wounded.
January 21, all personnel were ordered to check and carry gas masks and protective equipment at all times, a Fox Co. patrol had spent the night in the field and returned at 1600 with no enemy contact, Mike Co. guards recaptured two German POWs that had escaped from Nice, the 522nd fired in support of the 100th.
January 30, a plaque from the 1st Bn, 141st Infantry Regiment (36th Infantry Division), the “Lost Battalion”, was received by 442nd HQ and the inscription on the plaque read, “To the 442d Infantry with deep sincerity and utmost appreciation for the gallant fight to effect our rescue after we had been isolated for seven days. Biffontaine, France, 24-30 October, 1944.”
This was also a period of rebuilding the strength of the 442nd. Ten officers and 369 enlisted men joined the 442nd as replacements during this one month alone, and these replacements brought the 442nd back to near full strength. The other side of this is that the replacements were needed because 442nd men had been killed or injured in combat during the previous months.
Reference: https://library.manoa.hawaii.edu/departments/archives/mss/aja/nara/1945-02-06_MonthlyReport.pdf (accessed 1.15.2018)