Surrounded for 5 Days: The Hat Factory Battle
CPT Paul Dupuis was missing only one thing for a few days leave in Paris: transportation. Rumor had it Co. E of the 12th Infantry Regiment had an extra battery, located in a hat factory in downtown Echternach.  Just as Dupuis arrived, the German attack interrupted his plans for wine, women, and song. Thus begins the story of a hellish five days and four nights, culminating in surrender to a German officer and transport to a POW camp. "Do you have any Chesterfields?" asked the German officer in perfect English. When a GI offered a pack, he replied "Better keep them. You're going to need them where you're going."  
Front door of the Hat Factory, with the garage behind this building
Poor communications hampered the Hat Factory fight from the beginning. Three outlying squads missed the warning that the Germans were in town, and the CP lost its artillery radio contact on 17 Dec. On the 18th, a rescue party with two tanks arrived to take out Co. E but their orders remained "No retrograde movement". A day later the order to pull out was finally received - but four hours too late; the tanks from a second rescue attempt left empty. Two officers made a last-ditch jeep escape to seek "help and armor" from HQ but it was too dark for the tanks to negotiate the tight quarters. By the next day Co. E had more wounded men than they did ammo. The 115 men were now prisoners of war.
Side view. Entry to courtyard is to the left of the photo.
Co. E's motor pool was in the building on the right, with the hat factory just behind it. A courtyard joins the two in the rear. Up until recently, steel beams in the building still showed battle damage. The orange building housed a US hospital at one point.
Extensive shell damage remains readily visible on the hat factory building. Patched areas on the wall are obvious.
CPT Dupuis escaped for six days from Hammelburg camp but was recaptured and hadt a "really rough" time being marched across Germany. In 1985, the Luxembourg Military Museum and historian Fred Karen arranged a reconciliation meeting between CPT Dupuis and 212 Volks Grenadier Div. Officer Ernst Luettich. When asked how the meeting went, Fred Karen laughed and said "Great. I did the translating for both!"
Read the official Army history of the Echternach battle here
Co. E held the half-block to the left. Hat Factory is visible at end of alley
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