John T. Mulder was from Coos County, Oregon. He became a Second Lieutenant in the 102nd Infantry Division, 405th Infantry Regiment, 1st Battalion, Company B (Commander of the Company’s Mortar Section). 2nd Lt. Mulder went overseas to participate in the battle for Germany.
Attack by Company B, 405th Infantry, 102nd Division, 22-23 November 1944
By Lt. George Schroeder, Company Exective Officer
Rain fell almost daily during mid November of 1944. The rain turned the ground around the Americans lines west and south of Beeck (Germany) into a quagmire which stalled vehicles and in which men sank to their ankles. It was raining and cold on the morning of 22 November, when Company B, 405th lnfantry Regiment (IR), started an attack to capture the high ground 500 yards to the east and north of the town.
The 405th IR, attached at the time to the 84th Infantry Division for operational purposes, had the mission of moving north, by-passing Beeck on its east, and capturing the high ground north of the city. The attack was to be spearheaded by 1st Battalion and Company B was placed on the battalion's left flank. The 2nd Battalion was on the left, attacking directly toward Beeck.
Company B moved up to its line of departure, approximately 1,500 yards north of Apweiler, on the night of 21 November, and at 1000 Hours the following morning the attack was launched. The first and second platoons and the machine gun section were attacking echelons, and company headquarters, the mortar section (commanded by 2nd Lt. John Mulder), and the third platoon were to follow in support.
Battleroute of the 102nd Infantry Division
The men slipped forward over the muddy, bare terrain for about 400 yards before they were fired upon. Then two German machine guns opened up and the company's progress was stopped. It was then that most of the men discovered that their mud-covered weapons would not function. Some rifles would fire once and stop, and not even a kick would move the operating rod handle. It was estimated later that only about one weapon in four remained in working order.
The men remained pinned down for about an hour until a company of tanks arrived in support. The machine gun to the north was quickly put out of action, but the one to the east continued to fire, preventing the attack from going forward. 2nd Lt. John T. Mulder, mortar section commander, who was in a forward position, tried to order mortar fire on the remaining German machine gun, but found that the tanks had run over and cut the telephone wire to his section. 2nd Lt. Mulder decided that the only course was to run back approximately a 100 yards to one of the tanks and direct its fire.
2nd Lt. John Mulder reached the tank safely, but still there was no fire placed on the machine gun, so Lt. George Schroeder, Company Exective Officer, who had gone up to the attacking echelon to determine the situation, also ran back to the tank. He found 2nd Lt. Mulder arguing with the tank crew, who refused to fire on the machine gun.
The 3rd Battalion was attacking on the right, and the tankmen said they were afraid the gun might be a friendly one, even though Schroeder and Mulder told them that the 3rd Battalion had not advanced that far and pointed out the even more obvious fact that the machine gun was firing on Company B. Schroeder finally gave up and hunted up another tank nearby with more success. The tank fired three rounds and put the machine gun out of business.
This enabled the company to advance once more toward the objective. Rain and poor visibility cloaked them to some extent and there were only scattered shots as they moved north. As they crossed the small stream running south from Beeck, some of the men tried to clean their weapons by dipping them completely in the water. However most of those in the company fell down at least once climbing the hill running from the stream to the bluff just southeast of Beeck. After a few yards the weapons were once more mud covered.
The bluff was reached without incident. The company made contact with Company C on its right and the companies entered a trench which they found running in an irregular horseshoe around the southern, western, and northern slopes of the bluff. There they found a deserted trench. The company moved to the southern portion of the trench and organized a defensive position. The remainder of the day and night passed quietly.
The Regiment ordered the 1st Battalion, with Company B still on the left, to attack 23 November at 0715 Hours to capture the original objective. At 0715 Hours, just as a 10-minute artillery barrage struck the ground north of Beeck, Company B started out of its trench in a manner reminiscent of WWI "over the top" days. The men jogged forward on the double down the slope into a hollow extending east of the town, and met a scattering of automatic weapons and small arms fire from the north and further to the east. The light machine gun section was left behind because its weapons were so muddy they would not fire. 2nd Lt. John Mulder’s mortar section remained in support on the reverse slope of the hill.
The objective area was defended by German infantry and tanks. Soon Company B was ordered to dig in and organize a perimeter defense of the position until support to deal with the tanks could be brought up.
A company of tank destroyers, which was to have supported the attack, had failed to put in an appearance and the men heard later that they had been stopped by the mud. In addition, the company was now alone since contact with Company C on the right had been lost after the latter had been held up by enemy fire from the east a short distance from the morning's line of departure.
While the men dug themselves in and made efforts to clean their arms, runners were sent back to notify the battalion commander of the situation. The company then settled down to await developments. There was little sign of enemy activity, although four rounds of artillery fire landed in the company's area about 0830 Hours. Shortly after 0900 Hours, Company A, which had come forward by the covered route afforded by the creek bed and ravine behind the position now held by Company B, moved into line on the right of the latter company. Meanwhile, the mortar section, now under S/Sgt. Gerald Prasse, moved forward into the company’s defensive position.
Probably, 2nd Lt. John T. Mulder got missing in action sometime during these fightings around Beeck (Germany) and was determined to be dead under Public Law 490 (FOD: finding of death) on November 25, 1944.
Awards: Bronze Star, Purple Heart
Tablets of the Missing at Netherlands American Cemetery
The adoptant of 2nd Lt. John T. Mulder ’s grave, Hans Mulder, is searching for more information about John T. Mulder. Every kind of information is more than welcome. You can contact Hans Mulder at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Combat information from: