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Audie L. Murphy Memorial Website Logo This image is copyrighted  2010, by D. Phillips. All rights reserved. Used by written permission.
Congressional Record documentation researched and provided by Mr. Dave Phillips.
Washington, D.C.
Thursday, December 1, 2011

67th Anniversary of the Colmar Pocket
Read by the Honorable Geoff Davis
Proceedings and Debates of the 112th Congress, First Session
House of Representatives
U.S. Congress seal.

Mr. DAVIS of Kentucky. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in recognition of the upcoming 67th anniversary of the Battle of Colmar Pocket.

The Battle of the Colmar Pocket was fought between January 22 and February 9, 1945, to liberate the last major French city occupied by the German Army. The ferocious preliminary fighting which formed the Colmar Pocket began after the arrival of U.S. 7th Army and 1st French Army forces at Strasbourg, north of Colmar, on November 23rd and Mulhouse, south of Colmar on November 25th, 1944. These Armies, under command of the 6th Army Group under Lieutenant General Jacob L. Devers, had fought their way through the Vosges Mountains to reach these cities beginning in mid-September, and were the first military force in history to successfully do so.

The Honorable Geoff Davis, Representative, 4th Congressional District of Kentucky.

The 1st French Army, commanded by General Jean de Lattre de Tassigny, had the mission to clear the Pocket and liberate Colmar, destroying the German forces in the Pocket or driving their remainder across the Rhine. Initially, the 36th Infantry Division, under Major General John Dahlquist, arrived at Selestat on December 4, 1944, fixing the northern shoulder of the Pocket. Under French command, the 36th Infantry Division fought its way south to the vicinity of Kaysersberg, Ostheim, Mittelwihr, and Bennwihr, in frigid winter weather, where the division fought off fanatical German counterattacks launched in support of the German Ardennes Offensive, the Battle of the Bulge. In mid-December this stalwart division was withdrawn from the Colmar sector to rest and refurbish after its long, debilitating campaign through the Vosges. For the fighting to collapse the Pocket, two 36th Infantry Division soldiers received the Medal of Honor, Sergeant Ellis R. Weicht and T/SGT Bernard P. Bell.

Congressional Record Entry
December 01, 2011
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Major General Iron Mike O'Daniel's 3rd Infantry Division then under acting Division Commander Brigadier General Robert N. Young, which had also fought its way as part of 7th Army through the Vosges Mountains to Strasbourg, was attached to II Corps of the 1st French Army under Major General Aime de Goislard de Monsabert, and in mid-December continued the fight to collapse the northern section of the Pocket, seizing Kaysersberg, Sigolsheim, Mittelwihr, and Bennwihr and the dominating high ground of Hill 355 above Sigolsheim and Hill 216 outside Bennwihr in the final two weeks of December 1944. For their intrepid and gallant actions in the fighting between December 15 and January 21, 1945, the following 3td Infantry Division soldiers were awarded the Medal of Honor: 1LT Charles P. Murray, Jr.; 1LT Eli Whitely; LTC Keith L. Ware; T/SGT Gus Kefurt; and T/SGT Russell Dunham.

As this difficult fighting was taking place, other 1st French Army units were pressing remaining German units in the Vosges Mountains at the westernmost extent of the Pocket, as well as in the south near Mulhouse. The tough fighting and harsh winter weather had greatly worn down the French, and it was determined further U.S. reinforcement was needed to enable our valiant allies to finally collapse the Pocket. The first to arrive were the soldiers of Major General Norman D. Cota's 28th Infantry Division, which had fought hard in the Bulge. They arrived on January 19th, taking over the 3rd Infantry Division's sector in the Kaysersberg valley.

On January 22nd, the 3rd Infantry Division, now under MG O'Daniel, with attached 254th Infantry Regiment of the 63rd Infantry Division and reinforced by a combat command of the 5th French Armored Division, launched the II Corps main effort to breach enemy defenses protecting the Colmar Canal and to isolate Colmar from the Rhine River by seizing the bridge at Neuf-Brisach. January 22nd found then Lieutenant Colonel Lloyd B. Ramsey from Somerset, Kentucky, in command of the 3rd Battalion, 7th Infantry. He had commanded the battalion since taking command in the Anzio beach head in February 1944, and had commanded it for Operation Dragoon, the invasion of Southern France, the Southern France campaign, and through the Vosges. Leading his battalion across the ill River, through minefields against dug-in enemy machine gun positions south of the village of Guemar in a night attack, Ramsey showed outstanding leadership and gallantry which led to the award of the Silver Star. Despite being wounded by enemy shell fragments, he ensured his battalion continued advancing in the face of stubborn resistance, breaking through the enemy positions and enabling the rest of the division to drive south.

Ramsey would continue his sterling combat service and go on to achieve the rank of Major General, and commanded the AMERICAL Division in Vietnam from 1969 until 1970. He was severely injured in a helicopter crash in Vietnam and eventually was forced to retire for medical reasons in 1974. MG Ramsey is a proud son of Kentucky, and a member of the University of Kentucky Hall of Fame.

The 3rd Infantry Division's dogged attack and imaginative scheme of maneuver enabled it to reach and cross the Colmar Canal the night of January 29-30 after a week of very heavy fighting. This combat included a serious incident at the bridge across 111 at the Maison Rouge where the failure of the bridge resulted in isolated battalions of the 30th and 15th Infantry Regiments defending unsupported against severe enemy armored counterattacks. For actions during January 22nd through the 26th, two Medals of Honor would be awarded to 3rd Infantry Division soldiers, PFC Jose F. Valdez and 2LT Audie L. Murphy.

The XXI Corps, commanded by Major General Frank W. Milburn, took command of the 3rd Infantry Division, the 28th Infantry Division, the 75th Infantry Division commanded by Major General Roy E. Porter, the 5th French Armored Division, and the 12th Armored Division commanded by Major General Roderick C. Allen at the end of January and continued the attack which succeeded in the 3rd Infantry Division's seizure of NeufBrisach. The 75th Infantry Division attacked and protected the 3rd Infantry Division's west flank. The 28th Infantry Division launched its attack from the Kaysersberg valley and cleared the suburbs of Colmar, enabling units of the French 5th Armored Division to enter the city on February 2nd. Immediately thereafter, the 12th Armored Division was committed for a drive south and on February 5th, met French elements advancing north at Rouffach. French forces completed the cleansing of the Pocket and destruction of the enemy's final bridge across the Rhine at Chalampe on 9 February 9th, 1945. For this final phase of the fight, one more Medal of Honor was awarded to the 3rd Infantry Division's T/5 Forrest E. Peden.

The Battle of the Colmar Pocket, overshadowed by the Battle of the Bulge to the north, saw some of the bitterest fighting of the war and resulted in the award of the Presidential Unit Citation to the entire 3rd Infantry Division with its attachments, as well as the award of the fourrage`re of the Croix de Guerre embroidered Colmar. The 109th Infantry Regiment of the 28th Infantry Division was also awarded the fourragere.

Mr. Speaker, I ask the House to join me in congratulating and thanking the surviving veterans of the Battle of the Colmar Pocket on the upcoming 67th anniversary of this battle which liberated Colmar and cleared the Germans from southern Alsace. I especially would like to express my thanks and admiration to Major General Ramsey for his outstanding combat leadership at Colmar and throughout his illustrious military career.

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