Closing of the Aachen Gap
119th Co. F and 18th IR Co. K 1st ID
on Oct. 16th, 1944 16:15
From the 119th Official History Book:
Sergeant Karwel is listed as KIA in Workhorse of the Western Front.
Capt. Ed Arn (119th, Co. F) in his book, Arn's War, states that he sent out a patrol from his CP in the cellar of a unit that was part of what was once a modern housing development. It was under the leadership of S/Sgt. Frank Karwel. The patrol included: Corporal Holt, Pfc. Ray Messner, Pfc. Kurry, Pvt. Evan Whitis, Pfc. Jack Krashin (bazooka man) and Pfc. Edward Krauss. Krauss and Whitis shook hands with men of Co. K, 18th IR and brought back a 1st Division shoulder patch. Karwel was killed and Krashin wounded. "My little Fox Company had achieved a mission of historical importance, the closing of the Aachen Gap." Ed Arn still to that day had that 1st "Big Red" shoulder patch in his possession.
Map with Ravels Hill (Hill 231) position of 18th IR highlighted and Hill 194 position of Co. F.
THE FOLLOWING PHOTO DISPLAY COMES FROM TIM YPELAAR. WE RESEARCHED THE AACHEN GAP CLOSING AND HE WENT OUT AND TOOK THE FOLLOWING FANTASTIC PHOTOS. I ALSO HAD OBTAINED A LARGE AERIAL PHOTO OF THE AREA (taken in 1944) NORTH OF AACHEN FROM THE NATIONAL ARCHIVES IN COLLEGE PARK, MARYLAND. UNBELIEVABLY IT HAD THE ACTUAL MARKINGS OF THE CROSSING OF COMPANY F. THE AERIAL PHOTO APPEARS FIRST WITH TIM'S NUMBERED ARROWS INDICATING THE DIRECTION OF PHOTOS. PHOTOS Taken April, 2006.
1. Observation Post of Lt. Warne Parker of Co. E, 119th...to the best of my
2. Position of Co. A, 99th
Infantry Regiment which was attached to the 119th on Oct. 17th.
3. Hollow where Company A, 99th was
attacked on Oct. 18th.
From 119th Official History Book. (Remember to left click to enlarge)
4. Bullet holes still in houses
occupied by German troops can still be seen today on a road towards Hill 194.
5. Positions of Company F, Northeast
of Hill 194.
6. Hill 194 from the Northeast.
7. Path to Hill 194 (North Slope).
8. On top of Hill 194, view to the North.
9. Ravelsberg Hill (231) from Hill 194.
10. Point of highway crossing by Company F.
11. Site of a German bunker, outlined in gravel.
12. Main positions of 18th IR on Ravelsberg.
13. Ravelsberg Farm.
14. Area where Company K, 18th IR foxholes were.
15. Hill 194 from Ravelsberg, point of highway
crossing directly in front of the car. Foxholes of Co. K were in
16. Ravelsberg, overgrown area a huge bunker
17. Ravelsberg Bunker remains.
18. Ravelsberg from the Southwest.
19. Ravelsberg from the South.
20. Unknown object found on Ravelsberg while
Tim also took photos atop and around "Crucifix Hill" another major battle field of the Aachen Gap just to the east of Ravelsberg Hill:
Crucifix Hill looking west.
Pillbox remains on Crucifix Hill.
Foxhole on Crucifix Hill.
Cross up top Crucifix Hill.
North Slope of Crucifix Hill. Map of 18th IR.
Aerial Photo of Wurselen with markings.
Overlay of souther Wurselen on Oct. 15th.
G-2 Report for Oct. 11 stating various German units in contact.
G-2 Report for Oct. 12.
After Action Report of the Aachen Gap Closing of the 2nd Battalion, 119th Inf. Reg. PDF file.
Wurselen Map with coordinates clearly labeled.
John W. Kelly, Company “D”:
That evening “A” Company and the first platoon of “D” Company set up a
road block in the valley a short distance from the village. The Germans came
through in force and the casualties were heavy. Cpl. Milnor Olson was
wounded and later passed away. Private Andrew O. Muri was shot through the leg
by a sniper and Adolph O. Kvalvik received a shrapnel wound in the thigh.
Captain Franklin Ferriss, Army Historian:
The next day (17th Oct.) “A” Company of the 99th Infantry Battalion was
given the mission of establishing roadblocks on the Alsdorf-Aachen road,
approximately at the point where S/Sgt Chastain’s patrol had crossed. The
enemy, anticipating that we would make an effort to firmly secure this narrow
exit from the Aachen pocket, placed extremely heavy artillery and mortar fire
on “A” Company’s positions. At the same time, 40 to 50 hostile infantry,
supported by two tanks, attacked the two roadblocks set up by “A” Company
from the southwest. “A” Company found it impossible to hold its positions
under the combined direct an indirect fire and withdrew in disorder, having
suffered a great many casualties.
Charles Macdonald, The Siegfried Line:
…yet German attempts to reopen a route into Aachen would deny genuine adhesion
in the last link of the Aachen circle for several days. A company of the
separate 99th Infantry Battalion (attached to the 116th Infantry) discovered
this fact early when German forays during the night of 16 October seriously
contested a roadblock which the infantry company established across the
Periodic Report, 30th Infantry Division, Oct. 18, 1944
Later in the afternoon, however, he (the enemy) was able to eject the
of A Company 99th Infantry Battalion with a force estimated at 40 men and two
Heinz Günther Guderian, From Normandy to the Ruhr
The 99th Infantry Battalion was deployed as part of the 116th Infantry
opposite the left wing of the 116th Panzer Division, and tried to close
Würselen-Aachen road near Kaiserruh station.
After Action Report, 99th Infantry Battalion
On October 17th the battalion held present positions except for “A” Company
which at 1600 was counter-attacked and driven from their positions by
tanks and approximately 50 riflemen. “A” Company made several attempts to
outflank the enemy and finally got back into the battalion sector, reorganized
and at 2000 moved back into their positions.
Private Olen Palmer, 99th Infantry Battalion
I recall our company setting up road blocks and digging foxholes one evening,
and the next day we were surprised by incoming mortar shells from the Germans.
One of the men (might have been one of the original battalion members) took a
direct hit while he was taking cover in his foxhole. I recall the sergeant
covering the foxhole with a piece of tent or similar. Luckily for many of the
other men it had been drizzling all night so the ground was all muddy and
prevented much of the shrapnel from spreading all over.
The company was digged in on the side of a hill with a small cottage
Short after the bombardment we met down by the cottage which had a
running behind it. Suddenly one of the men spotted a Tiger tank coming towards
us and the we ran for it down the stream and into a wooded area. The
several rounds into the trees, knowing the tree burst could be lethal, but
luckily we had no additional casualties. We could however hear, while running
down the stream, the hissing of the hot pieces of shrapnel falling into the
119th Infantry Regiment Official History Book:
At 0900 of the 18th, the Third Panzer Division launched an attack against the
roadblocks held by “A” Company of the 99th Infantry Battalion, inflicting
heavy casualties. The attack was thrown back within 30 minutes with a loss of
three Mark VI Tanks. Two of them were knocked out by our TDs and the
third by a
bazooka from F Company. Company A of the 99th had been back 100 yards
Ragnar Abrahamson, 1st platoon, D Company, 99th Infantry Battalion
The next night we relocated and walked all nigh and then digged in.
Then in the
morning - with light - we got the chance to look around and there was this
88.-tank(!) up on the hill where we believed 1st Infantry Division should be.
Milnor Olson was on the radio and he was killed on the spot.