The Lost Battalion (also known as the Texas Battalion) was a battalion made up of 275 soldiers from Texas. They were members of the 1st Battalion, 141st Regiment, 36th Infantry Division. They were trapped on a steep ridge in the forest east of Biffontaine. They were cut off from the rest of their regiment, and surrounded by Germans. With little rest and recuperation from a previous battle, the 100th Battalion and the 442nd Regimental Combat Team were given the assignment to go rescue the Texas soldiers from the Germans.
The 442nd/100th fought very hard and lost a lot of their men. Sadaichi Kubota, a 442nd veteran, said, "The battle to rescue the Lost Battalion had been one of the most dangerous battles that we in the 442nd/100th had fought in. The Nisei soldiers had little communication lines, food supplies, water and protection. Air drops were attempted, but the food and ammunition got caught on trees or fell out of reach.
Picture by Lt. Col. Randy Palkin
The Battle of the Lost Battalion happened in the Vosges Mountains. The Lost Battalion didn't realize that they had marched six miles behind enemy lines and were surrounded by the Germans. They then radioed the U.S. Army for help. The 100th/442nd were called and ordered to rescue them. In their battle, the Nisei soldiers experienced fear, cold, and lack of sleep. This placed enormous stress on the soldiers. They went through countless hours in fox holes. They could hear the horrific cries from their wounded friends. One soldier recalled, "Guys were shot up and we could hear them in the forest crying out for their mothers. . . Even the Germans, I could hear them crying in the darkness."
Surrounded by enemy fire and mines, the troops advanced tree to tree toward the Texas Battalion. In one incident, they encountered a German force of about 100 men. The soldiers of I and K Company charged with their fixed bayonets. It was a suicide charge, with little chance of their survival.
The 100th/442nd had been fighting for five days and two of the days they did not even know that they were fighting to rescue anyone. Their officers just gave them the commands and they just did what they were told. The Germans had never seen such determination and courage from a fighting team, than what they saw from the 442nd Regimental Combat Team.
This is a pixilation of the Battle of the Lost Battalion when the American soldiers were surrounded by the Germans. A pixilation can be made by using a video camera. It was made by using just an ordinary hill and plastic army men. You move the army men just a little bit at a time.
Sadao Hikida, a Nisei soldier
shared some of his experiences in the battle to rescue the
Lost Battalion. He explained, "We had to continuously fight
hard, as we climbed up and down the wooded hills, crossed
open terrain and dodged artillery shells. Finally, we were
pulled back for rest at Belmont. Our rest was cut short when
orders were received to attempt the rescue of the 1st
Battalion, 141st Infantry, a Texas unit. They were trapped
and surrounded by the Germans in the forest about two miles
east of Biffontaine. On October 27th, the 3rd and 100th
Battalions pushed forward through the rain and mud in
Lt. Col. James Hanley, Commander of the Second Battalion of the 442d, hand-drawn map. Outlines objective and route of attack.
After the fifth day of heavy artillery gunfire, the Germans finally surrendered. The 442nd/100th had lost about 800 men. There were about 275 men from the Lost Battalion at the very beginning of the battle. They rescued 214 of them. As one soldier from the 442nd said,"We rescued the Lost Battalion but the guys on the line knew it could have been us instead of them." The Battle of the Lost Battalion was the 442nd Regimental Combat Team's most well known battle.