Lost Battalion (Europe, World War II)

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Lost Battalion
SC 196053-S - Tired frontline infantrymen from a battalion cut off by the Germans for six days in the Belmont sector, France.jpg
Members of 1st Battalion after their rescue. (October 31, 1944)
Date24–30 October 1944
Result American victory
 United States  Germany
Commanders and leaders

John Dahlquist
Marty Higgins (141st)

Charles Pence (442nd)
Walter Rolin
Units involved

36th Infantry Division

442nd Infantry Regiment

743rd Tank Battalion
83rd Chemical Battalion

3rd Chemical Battalion

244th Infantry Division

  • 933rd Grenadier Regiment

716th Infantry Division

  • 736th Grenadier Regiment

202nd Mountain Battalion

198th Fusilier Battalion

141st Regiment
275 soldiers

442nd Regiment
2,943 soldiers
Casualties and losses

141st Regiment
64 killed/wounded/missing and captured

442nd Regiment
800 casualties

"The Lost Battalion" refers to the 1st Battalion, 141st Infantry (36th Infantry Division, originally Texas National Guard), which was surrounded by German forces in the Vosges Mountains on 24 October 1944.[1]


Against the advice of his senior officers, Maj. General John E. Dahlquist committed the "Texas Battalion" to an engagement. The battalion was cut off by the Germans, and attempts by the 141st Infantry's other two battalions to extricate it failed.[2] The 405th Fighter Squadron of the 371st Fighter Group airdropped supplies to the 275 trapped soldiers, but conditions on the ground quickly deteriorated as the Germans continued to repel American attempts to reach the trapped unit.[3]

The final rescue attempt was made by the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, a segregated unit composed of Nisei (second-generation Japanese Americans). The 442nd had been given a period of rest after heavy fighting to liberate Bruyères and Biffontaine, but General Dahlquist called them back early to relieve the beleaguered 2nd and 3rd Battalions of the 36th. In five days of battle, from 26 to 30 October 1944, the 442nd broke through German defenses and rescued 211 men.[3] The 442nd suffered over 800 casualties.[4] I Company went in with 185 men; 8 came out unhurt. K Company engaged the enemy with 186 men; 169 were wounded or killed. Additionally, the commander sent a patrol of 50–55 men to find a way to attack a German road block by the rear and try to liberate the remainder of the trapped men. Only five returned to the "Lost Battalion" perimeter; 42 were taken prisoner and were sent to Stalag VII-A in Moosburg, Bavaria, where they remained until the POW camp was liberated on 29 April 1945.

The 442nd is the most decorated unit in U.S. military history for its size and length of service, with its component 100th Infantry Battalion earning the nickname "The Purple Heart Battalion" due to the number injured in combat.


U.S. Army veterans from the 141st Infantry Regiment and the 442nd Regimental Combat Team stand during the 65th anniversary tribute dinner for the veterans of the Rescue of the Lost Battalion in Houston, Texas (November 2009).

In 1962, Texas Governor John Connally made the veterans of the 442nd "honorary Texans" for their role in the rescue of the Lost Battalion.[3] Due to the discrimination of that era, three members of the 442nd, Barney Hajiro, James Okubo, and George Sakato, were originally awarded lesser military medals for their participation in the rescue, later upgraded to the Medal of Honor in 2000, Okubo posthumously.[5] A special law was passed in 2010 awarding members of the unit, and those of the Military Intelligence Service, the Congressional Gold Medal, for which a ceremony was held at the Emancipation Hall of the U.S. Capitol in October 2011, followed by local ceremonies in California, Hawaii, and other states from which unit members had been unable to travel to Washington, D.C.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Video: Armistice Day In France Etc. (1944). Universal Newsreel. 1944. Retrieved 21 February 2012.
  2. ^ Williams, Rudi. "The 'Go For Broke' Regiment Lives Duty, Honor, Country Archived 14 July 2012 at the Wayback Machine" (25 May 2000), American Forces Press Service. Retrieved 21 November 2014.
  3. ^ a b c Grubb, Abbie Salyers. "Rescue of the Lost Battalion". Densho Encyclopedia. Retrieved 21 November 2014.
  4. ^ Tanaka, Chester, Go For Broke: A Pictorial History of the Japanese American 100th Infantry Battalion and the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, (Novato: Presidio, 1997), p 99.
  5. ^ Kakesako, Greg K. "Today, an old wrong is righted as 22 Asian-American heroes are awarded the nation's highest honor for bravery in battle" (21 June 2000), Honolulu Star-Bulletin. Retrieved 21 November 2014.

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