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 "Your magnificent performance, your first battle, has materially shortened the road that leads to Victory."

General Harry L. Twaddle, commander of the 95th Infantry Division

Northern France    Rhineland    Ardennes-Alsace    Central Europe









  The Battles

  The bridgehead at Uckange

  The Chateau Brieux

  The liberation of Woippy

  The Bridge of the Savage

  The South-Western Forts of Metz

  The newspapers of the battle for Metz

The South-Western Forts of Metz
Date : From 19 to 23 November, 1944
Location of the action : South-West of Metz, France
Unit in the area : 379th Inf. Reg.

The Ninety-fifth Infantry Division History book.

  The 379th Infantry Regiment, at the southern extremity of the Division sector, was not in a position to take part in the Moselle crossing, and the evening of November 18 Colonel Chapman had been instructed to mop up the area around his supply route and to establish contact with the 378th Infantry Regiment. 

The morning of November 19, the 1st Battalion 379th Infantry Regiment was in Moulins-lès-Metz and the 3rd Battalion was in Scy-Chazelles; the 2nd Battalion moved down from the high ground east of Fort Jeanne d'Arc to Maison Neuve. While all three battalion were mopping up in their areas, a detachment of 30 men accompanied by two tank destroyers moved out to make contact with the 378th Infantry Regiment; by 1100 contact between the two regiments had been established at Longeville-les-Metz. During the afternoon, the 379th Infantry Regiment continued to clean out resistance in the regimental sector. Particular emphasis was placed on the towns to the southwest; Ars-sur-Moselle was taken by the 2nd Battalion, and Fort Driant was now completely surrounded.

Meanwhile, the 378th Infantry Regiment had been attacking Fort Plappeville and the two small forts between it and Fort St Quentin. In the morning of November 19, the 378th Infantry Regiment requested and obtained a boundary change giving them St Quentin as well. However, all the forts continued to resist, and in the afternoon the 378th Infantry Regiment requested that it be permitted to withdraw from them and to turn over to the 379th Infantry Regiment. On November 19 the 379th Infantry Regiment was too heavily engaged in its mopping up operation to undertake this additional mission, but in the evening General Faith directed Colonel Chapman to take over the containing of St Quentin, by 1000 November 20. It was estimated that a force of battalion strength would be necessary to neutralize and contain Fort St Quentin. During the morning of November 20, Operations Instructions No.7 wastly increased the mission to the 379th Infantry Regiment. Not later than 0730 November 21, the regiment was to launch an attack and successively capture and mop up Fort Plappeville, two bunkers between Forts Plappeville and St Quentin, Fort St Quentin, Fort Jeanne d'Arc, seven bunkers between Fort Jeanne d'Arc and Fort Driant, and Fort Driant. The maximum use of supporting fires was to be made in order to effect capture or surrender. However, the operations instructions were explicit on one point : "No fortification will be assaulted in the face of heavy enemy fire or enemy fire that will result in excessive casualties".

In accord with these directives, the 3rd Battalion 379th Infantry Regiment relieved the 378th Infantry Regiment at Fort St Quentin by 0730 November 20, and elements of the 1st Battalion relieved the same regiment et Fort Plappeville early November 21. At 0730 November 21 the 1st Battalion launched the attack ordered by the operation instructions and made an attempt to reduce Fort Plappeville. However, since artillery proved ineffective against the garrison holding out underground and since Division had forbidden direct assault against heavy enemy fire, Fort Plappeville continued to resist. As the other forts in the regimental zone were in an equally strong position, the 379th Infantry Regiment could do no more than to reduce all opposition outside the forts, which it quickly accomplished, and to contain the garrisons while other means of eliminating the forts were tried.

Prisoners of war taken from the fortifications were agreed that artillery was of little use against them, but several had suggested that aerial bombing might be more effective. An air mission was arranged for Fort Plappeville November 21, and the Division was told that a squadron of fighter bombers carrying 1000 pound bombs would be employed. Accordingly, the 379th Infantry Regiment withdrew its troops from within the barbed wire entanglements around the fort at 1400. However, the mission did not materialize and at 1700 the troops were returned to their original positions.

Propaganda broadcasts were also used against the three main forts, Plappeville, St Quentin and Jeanne d'Arc. At Fort Plappeville the German commander was willing to meet regimental representatives and conferred with the regimental intelligence officer and a member of the Interrogation of Prisoners of War Team. Nevertheless, the commander, a German field artillery colonel, refused to surrender until his food and ammunition were exhausted or until he were driven out by force; the one result of the conference was the arrangement of a truce for the evacuation of casualties.

Late November 21, the 379th Infantry Regiment received warning orders of its impeding relief by elements of the 5th Infantry Division; the regiment was to maintain supporting fires, but it was to keep its infantry unentangled. The regiment's outlying forces were withdrawn as quickly as practicable. Elements of Companies C and D left Forts Jussy Nord and Jussy Sud early November 22 and moved to the vicinity of Peltre, about four miles south-east of Metz. At 1000 November 23 the relief was initiated, and at 1700 command passed to the commanding officer of the 2nd Infantry Regiment. Finally, just after midnight November 23, the last detachments of the 379th Infantry Regiment were withdrawn from Moscow Farm, St Hubert's Farm, the bunker south of Fort de Guise, and Fort de Guise.

The 379th Infantry Regiment turned over to the 5th Infantry Division seven forts which it had been containing. Six of the forts eventually capitulated to the 5th Infantry Division. The seventh, Fort Jeanne d'Arc, surrendered to Task Force Pickett, which later relieved the 5th Infantry Division in that sector. The following list contains the names of the forts, the size of the garrisons as estimated by the 379th Infantry Regiment November 21 and the dates the forts finally fell :


Fort Plappeville : 200 men – December 7

Fort St Quentin : 600 men – December 6

Fort Jeanne d’Arc : 500 men – December 9

Fort Driant : 700 men – December 8

Fort Bois de la Dame : 100 men – November 26

Fort Marival : 50 men – November 26

Fort St Hubert : 50 menNovember 26


On the left : Fort Jeanne d'Arc was the last one to surrender, On December . It was the strongest fort in the region, and was able to hold out so long because it had been provided with fresh supplies just before the campaign started. This fort wasn't taken by the 95th Infantry Division, as the 26th Infantry Division was in the line at this time.

My special thanks to MG Archer. Info from Ninety-fifth Infantry Division History book.