Like Combat Command "A", the story of CC "B" is the history of the 3rd Armored Division. Under Brigadier General Truman E. Boudinot, the volatile California horseman, tanker, and one-time army free balloon racer, Combat Command "B" fought many of the hardest and most successful actions ever engaged in by "Spearhead" forces. CC "B" totted up a record of successive victories throughout the entire western campaign. From Normandy to the Elbe, General Boudinot led this big, versatile command to final victory. It was no accident that CC "B" took the first German town to fall to an invader since Napoleonic days. These same dusty, triumphant tankers, infantrymen and engineers, along with their comrades of CC "A" and "Reserve", later led the American First Army into flaming Paderborn to encircle the vital Ruhr area of industrial Germany. During heavy action through the Normandy, northern France, Ardennes, Rhineland, and central Germany campaigns, this crack armored assault force ground ahead against all odds.
The composition of Combat Command "B" in Europe, normally included the 33rd Armored Regiment, less one battalion; the 391st 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 23rd 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, While this battle tested array often varied extra infantry units and other elements added as the situation demanded the original composition remained without radical change.
Working in close harmony with General Boudinot were his headquarters officer personnel; Lt. Colonel Wesley A. Sweat, executive officer, who was transferred to division forward echelon late in August, 1944, and replaced by Major Ralph M. Rogers. Major Rogers later became S-3 Air Officer. Lt. Colonel Robert D, Albro then assumed the duties of executive, an office he ably administered throughout the Ardennes and German campaigns. Major William A. Castille, S - 2, and Captain Robert W. Angel, S - 3, were also veterans of the entire European operations of Combat Command "B".
Originally, CC "B" was the 2nd Combat Command of the 3rd Armored Division when, back in early 1942, a streamlining of armored force organization disbanded the old separate brigade set-up in favor of a more modern, integrated system. Brigadier General Geoffrey Keyes was commanding then, and his staff included Lt. Colonel Julian H. George, 1st Lt. Melville I. Starke, and 1st Lt. John T. Wingard.
The modern combat command, which dominated armored warfare in the west, came into being during that summer of 1942. CC "B" was commanded by Brigadier General John J. Bohn, after General Keyes left the division and, indeed, throughout all of the command's training at the California Desert Center; Camp Pickett, Virginia; lndiantown Gap, Pennsylvania; and during the eight month sojourn in England, General Bohn commanded. He also led CC "B" into action in Normandy.
Combat Command "B" sailed for overseas service early in September 1943. Upon arrival in the United Kingdom, the headquarters, along with its primary combat force, the 33rd Armored Regiment, was billeted in Warminster, Wiltshire. Then, throughout the fall, winter and spring of 1943-44, the command maneuvered over chilly Salisbury Plain, engaged in numerous landing exercises along the British coast, and generally received a last minute review of training for the great crusade, which was to begin on June 6.
The wartime record of Combat Command "B" is indicative of its spirit in action. On the debit side, General Boudinot's command sustained more casualties than either "A" or "Reserve". It was this competitive drive which, in the opinion of many competent military observers, contributed much to the dogged stand at Mortain in early August 1944, when elite German panzer elements attempted to break through American lines to reach the sea at Avranches. Units of the 30th Infantry Division backed by General Boudinot's tanks, tank destroyers, and infantry stopped the enemy effort in its tracks. For this action, the elements of the 30th Infantry Division concerned later received a Distinguished Unit Citation.
After the highly successful summer campaign through France and Belgium, CC "B" elements were the first allied troops to enter Adolf Hitler's Third Reich in force, and the first to capture and occupy a German town, Roetgen, on September 12, 1944. Later, during the terrible Ardennes winter campaign, General Boudinot's tankers and other arms combined again with the 30th Infantry Division to create and then eliminate the "La Glei2e Pocket", an early victory for defending Americans. Here, the SS LEIBSTANDARTE ADOLF HITLER Panzer Division sustained heavy losses.
Beyond the Rhine, in the great, final offensive of 1945, Combat Command "B", battling heavy odds, as usual, smashed through to liberate the death camp. Slaves at Nordhausen after playing a great part in closing the important Ruhr, or as the First Army named it, "Rose Pocket."
When the 3rd Armored Division came out of the fighting lines shortly before the official declaration of Germany's surrender, CC "B" was the only "Spearhead" unit that could boast having bridged the Mulde River. The command, and all of its component units, had a habit of getting out front. They were there when the final whistle sounded.
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