COMBAT COMMAND A
The history of Combat Command 'A", Brigadier General Doyle 0. Hickey's crack armored assault force, is all interwoven with the saga of the 3rd Armored Division. CC "A" was the first division element to go into action during the European campaign, at Villiers Fossard, Normandy, on June 29, 1944. With those two other "Spearhead" battering rams, Combat Command "B" and Combat Command "Reserve", General Hickey's organization took the brunt of all 3rd Armored Division battle operations. His tankers were the point of the attack on innumerable occasions, They were in the forefront of the great Normandy breakthrough, led the First United States Army's history making drive across France and into Belgium. On September 12, 1944, CC "A" entered the Siegfried Line with CC "B", and later pushed first troops completely through this heavily defended area.
Returning to the Rhineland front, after the bitter Ardennes campaign, General Hickey's command led the First Army assault on Cologne. His tankers and infantrymen were the first Americans to ranch that long-besieged city.
In the final offensive to defeat Germany, Combat Command "A" played an equal part with "B" and "Reserve" in that magnificent drive which sealed the industrial Ruhr. Without a pause for rest or maintenance, the command turned eastward and continued the drive which halted, only on army order, at Dessau, during the last days of the European war.
The composition of Combat Command "A" in Europe normally consisted of the 32nd Armored Regiment, less one battalion; the 67th Armored Field Artillery Battalion; one battalion of the 36th Armored Infantry Regiment; one battery of the 486th Armored Anti-Aircraft Battalion; one company of the 2trd Armored Engineer Battalion; one company of the 703rd Tank Destroyer Battalion; one company of the 45th Armored Medical Battalion, and one company of the 3rd Armored Division Maintenance Battalion. Those division units which were not attached to combat commands "A" or "B" were part of Combat Command "Reserve," led in action by the commanding officer of the 36th Armored Infantry Regiment. The reserve force had, as its backbone, the infantry regimental headquarters, plus one battalion of blitz doughs. Naturally, all of these combat commands maintained a fluid composition. Thus, when the situation demanded, extra infantry, artillery, or other branches were added to bolster fire power and drive.
The staff of Combat Command "A" early achieved that fine balance which is essential to a smoothly operating unit. General Mickey, the cool, impersonal master of tank-infantry warfare, inspired confidence in his men. Lt. Colonel William G. Barnwefl, irascible, keen old-army soldier, allowed himself only an occasional catnap in lieu of sleep during the long rat races. He was the executive officer and S-3. Major Sherwood L. Adams, smoothly operating G-2, Major Stanley Hidalgo, S-3 Air, and Captain Dale D. Bunch, were old members of Combat Command "A".
CC 'A" was born early in 1942 when a reorganization of armored force abolished the old separate brigade system in favor of the more versatile combat command. Originally, "A" was the 1st Combat Command of the 3rd Armored Division, led by General Leroy H. Watson.
Combat Commend "A" trained, like other elements of the 3rd Armored Division, throughout the desert maneuvers: At Camp Pickett, Virginia; and Indlantown Gap, Pennsylvania, before sailing for England early in September 1943. Upon arrival in the British Isles, the headquarters was set up at Stockton House, near Codlord, Wiltshire. This was a base for operations, which extended over the downlands of Salisbury Plain, for beach landing exercises along the English coast, and special training of various kinds.
Combat Command "A" landed on Omaha Beach, Normandy, on June 24, 1944, and was committed to action five days later at Villiers Fossard. Although sustaining heavy casualties, the command drove through to reach its objective. Under the cool and expert leadership of General Mickey, CC "A" swiftly tightened into a veteran unit. Throughout the five campaigns of the 3rd Armored Division in Europe, Combat Command "A" thenceforth worked as a well-oiled and directed machine.
No history of General Hickey's command in action would be complete without mention of that colorful and efficient task' force led by Colonel L. L. Doan, commanding officer of the 32nd Armored Regiment. Colonel Doan, the tall, loose-jointed Texas polo player, led his men as though he knew that death was on a holiday. He waded the Seinne River in a hail of mortar and machine gun fire. He walked into blazing Fromentel with the infantry scouts. He was a typical front line commander who could get more drive out of his men than a baker's dozen of rear echelon martinets. Long before the war came to an end, Colonel Doan and his Task Force 'IC" had acquired an aura of legend. Usually at the point of the "Spearhead", Doan's exploits were woven into CC "A" history.
When Major General Maurice Rose was killed in action during the approach to Paderborn, General Hickey assumed command of the division. His old, elite Combat Command "A" went on to succeeding victories under the leadership of Colonel Doan. However, the war was close to an end, and troops of the "Spearhead" Division will always associate General Hickey with CC "A". Hickey was the command, and the command was Hickey—exemplified by that cool, precise strategy, the unhurried, thoughtful attitude that could suddenly produce a drive so electrifying that it left staff officers gaping in admiration while the enemy floundered to certain defeat. Combat Command "A" was a colorful organization, but it bad an approach to battle which may only be described as professional. Esprit de corps was there, and know-how in every branch of service. Hickey's men didn't guess that they were good: they knew damned well that they were!
Click Here for CCA Home page