Soon after the Arnaville action, 2d Lt. F. M. Ludden, of the 3d Information and Historical Service, conducted a series of combat interviews with the battle participants. One such interview was contributed by Capt. Harry A. Morris. These combat interviews, together with preliminary narratives written by Lieutenant Ludden, make up the basic material from which "River Crossing at Arnaville" was constructed. The interviews are with eleven officers and enlisted men of the 10th and 11th Infantry Regiments and with unnamed soldiers of the 735th Tank Battalion and the 1103d Engineer Combat Group. The same file contains also a particularly valuable preliminary narrative entitled Engineer Operations at Arnaville, a narrative by Lt. Col. Levin B. Cottingham entitled Employment of a Smoke Generator Company in an Assault Crossing of the Moselle River, and preliminary notes by Lieutenant Ludden on the Arnaville crossing.
The 10th and 11th Infantry preserved not only their regimental journals but several battalion journals, containing messages and orders. The 5th Division G-3 Journal includes occasional transcripts of telephone conversations which reveal the tense atmosphere that sometimes prevailed. The After Action Reports, compiled at the close of the month, are susceptible, as are most such reports, to error and the palliative powers of hindsight. A notable exception is the After Action Report of the 551st Engineer Heavy Ponton Battalion, which gives detailed and apparently reliable information on bridge construction. After Action Reports, unit journals, and journal files of all units involved, from battalion through corps, were examined. All such unit records, as well as the combat interviews, are in possession of the Historical Records Section, Office of the Adjutant General. Company morning reports, which usually contain little information that is not more readily available elsewhere, were examined to determine the casualties in the Dornot battle. Photostatic copies of these are filed with the Office of the Chief of Military History (formerly the Historical Division, Special Staff, U. S. Army).
A preliminary study by Dr. Paul W. Pritchard for the Historical Section, Office of the Chief of the Chemical Corps, was the basic document for constructing the story of the 84th Chemical (Smoke Generator) Company. This study is generally excellent, despite a slight tendency to overemphasize the importance of the screening operations. Another valuable source on this subject is an article by Colonel Cottingham, entitled "Smoke Over the Moselle" and published in The Infantry Journal.
Primary source for air material was the Operations File of the XIX Tactical Air Command. Air records are in the Historical Archives, Historical Division, Air University Library, Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama.
A number of published unit histories exist but have been used in this study only as secondary sources. These histories,
apparently prepared from Lieutenant Ludden's combat interviews and from unit records, are unofficial and have a tendency to color the action, at times to the point of error in basic fact. The Third U. S. Army After Action Report, a work about which such criticism is not applicable, is useful for background information.
Because the combat interviews and unit records left a number of major gaps in details of the action, the author conducted several postwar interviews and extensive correspondence with surviving participants. The information thus elicited proved valuable, especially in presenting the confused command picture in the vicinity of Dornot on 7-8 September. In no instance, however, has the historian accepted postwar material as refutation of any fact which can be established from contemporary records. These letters and interviews have been filed with the OCMH.
Sources for German material were postwar manuscripts prepared by captured German officers; letters, orders, and reports found in an annex to the KTB (War Diary) of Army Group G; and a detailed account of the Dornot action found in war diary pages constituting part of a miscellaneous file of the 2d Battalion, 37th SS Panzer Grenadier Regiment. The postwar manuscripts, prepared under the direction of the Historical Section, U. S. Forces, ETO, and depending almost entirely on the unaided memories of their writers, add immeasurably to knowledge of the enemy operations. MS # B-042 (Krause), of particular value in preparing this study, is detailed and apparently accurate and unbiased. The annexes to the KTB of Army Group G are at a level of command too high to be of much value in a small unit account such as this, but in some instances they were the only German documentary source available. Because few enemy records at a small unit level survived the war, the war diary pages of the 2d Battalion, 37th SS Panzer Grenadier Regiment, constitute an almost unique source. This source was used extensively to provide an enemy account of the Dornot action which is admittedly out of focus with the level of narration of the enemy story in the Arnaville battle, but its intrinsic interest and value were considered sufficient to warrant such irregularity. German manuscripts are to be found in the OCMH files, and official German records are in the German Military Documents Section, Departmental Records Branch, Office of the Adjutant General. Additional material on the enemy side was obtained from G-2 Journals and files of the 5th Infantry and 7th Armored Divisions. Prisoner of war reports, when checked against enemy materials, proved generally accurate.