The map below comes from Donald Taggart's book THE HISTORY OF THE 3RD INFANTRY DIVISION IN WORLD WAR II (no longer in print). The map was drawn as an attempt to illustrate the movements and general unit locations of the 3rd Infantry Division while also showing the shape of the Holtzwihr woods on the dates of January 29-30 1945. The year of the map is wrong and is a publisher error. In fact, it should be remembered that in January 1944 the 3rd Infantry Division was fighting in Italy and not in France.
|Third Infantry Division battle map of the Colmar Region|
The map provides historical, tactical, and topographical information to the time frame of the Colmar Pocket battle and indicates the the positions of seven combat units, three of which were divisional in size. The divisional boundary indicates that the 28th Division was located to the west of the 3rd Infantry Division. This boundary ran north to south along the Ill River just east of Houssen, France. In the center, the 3rd Infantry Division's area is found and extends to a boundary running north and south through Jebsheim, France. Protecting the 3rd Infantry Division's right flank was the 3rd IDMI (French Division).
Inside the 3rd Infantry Division's sector were four infantry regiments consisting of several infantry battalions each. These regiments are indicated by the box-like symbols with the diagonal lines inside which symbolically represent crossed infantrymen's rifles. This box also has three verticle hash marks above it which indicates a regimental sized unit.
The main effort of the crossing operation was conducted by the 7th and 15th Infantry Regiments with the 30th and 254th Infantry Regiment supporting the main effort. The 7th Regiment's sector was on the west side of the 3rd Infantry Division's area and the 15th (Audie Murphy's Regiment) was to the east. The forward edge of the battle area is located along the north side of the Colmar Canal and is indicated by the heavy line accentuated with regularly placed vertical hash marks.
The 254th Infantry Regiment was probably supporting the 15th Infantry Regiment during the 15th's attempt to cross the canal. The 254th would have supported the operation with indirect artillery fire and possibly mortar and small arms fire. If so, the 254th's mission would have included providing protection to the southeastern edge of the division sector and preventing a Nazi attempt to counter-attack friendly forces on the southeastern side.
As the 15th Infantry Regiment crossed the canal, the 254th more than likely moved out and crossed the canal behind the 15th. The 15th's initial objective after crossing the canal appears to be seizing the town of Muntzenheim with a follow on objective of Fortschwihr.
The 30th Infantry Regiment appears to have similar supporting missions to the 7th Infantry Regiment on the southwestern side of the division's area of operation. After the initial crossing, it appears the 7th Infantry Regiment's objectives were to fan southwest to the town of Bischwihr and then to Wihr-En-Plaine.
It's important to remember that just three days prior to this operation, the 15th Infantry Regiment was located in the woods north of Holtzwihr where Audie Murphy earned the Medal of Honor. Days later this would become the 7th Infantry Regiment's sector. This means that within three days the location of the regiments had changed substantially and that the movement of the divisional units were fluid and rapidly changing on a day-to-day basis.