July 1944

July 12, 1944

Command Post
1/2 M SE Fallot, France
122400 July 1944
Coord 518733, 1/25,000

Headquarters (Command Post), Headquarters Company, Company “A”, Reconnaissance Company departed from transit camp area D-3, at 0600 hours enroute to the front; halted 1/2 M E of Landes du Rosey, France until 0930 hours, when they departed and arrived at La Blaneriew 1/2 mile SE Fallot, France, at 1130 hours; the command post, headquarters Company, Reconnaissance Company and Medical Detachment, being established in that area

The situation at 0800 hours was that the 35th Infantry Division to whom the battalion was attached had been in combat since 8 July, and were awaiting the arrival of the battalion, whose services they desperately needed. The battalion was, upon its arrival upon the continent, detached from the Third U.S. Army and XV Corps and attached to the First U. S. Army XIX Corps and Second Tank Destroyer Group. The 29th Infantry Division was on the left flank and the 30th Infantry Division was on the right flank, all located in the hedgerow country North of St Lo, France, the battle for its capture had already begun on the 8th July.

The weather during the period was cloudy and cool during the first part of the day, but the sun came out during the afternoon, making visibility excellent for operations. The 320th Infantry attacked at 0800 hours to the South East, advancing about 300 yards through the hedgerows but a terrific artillery concentration laid down upon them at 1200 hours forced them to withdraw even beyond their original lines. Small enemy groups infiltrated through the lines during the artillery barrage and harassed the troops as they withdrew to, and beyond, their former positions. At 1400 hours another terrific artillery barrage was laid down by the enemy but the First Battalion of the 320th held their lines firmly.

The 137th Infantry attacking Southwest under extremely heavy artillery and mortar fire cleared the enemy out of St. Gilles.

The 216th Field Artillery Battalion was in direct support of the 320th Infantry, and the 219th Field Artillery battalion in support of the 137th Infantry.

35th Reconnaissance Troop maintained liaison with 29th and 30th Infantry Divisions on both flanks during the period.

The results for the days operations were the reduction of enemy resistence in and around coordinants 487702 and 483697, Map 1/50,000, St. Lo, Sheet 67/2. Enemy units in Division Sector are known to consist of the Lehr Division, comprising the 897th and 899the Infantry Regiments, in addition to various other elements, including parachute troops and some SS Troops, with defense in depth, dug-in and protected by hedgerows until it is almost necessary to flush each enemy soldier from his hiding place individually. Enemy prisoners captured form these positions say, and thought to be almost correct, that one of their infantry concealed in his dug-in camouflaged position in the hedgerows can defend his positions adequately against ten American Infantrymen.

Company “A” established its command post 3 miles SE of Fit, France, at coordinance 5122071640, Map 1/35,000 St Lo at 1530 hours and was attached to the 219th Field Artillery Battalion in support of the 137th Infantry. At 1700 hours Captain Goldheim, the company commander, accompanied by Major left the command post of the 219th Field Artillery on a foot reconnaissance of the sector for antitank positions and possible tank approaches which the enemy might use in an attack.

At about 1800 hours, when in the vicinity of Villiers-Fossard, the party came face to face with an enemy machine gun position just beyond

a curve in the road, which opened upon them. The other officers hit the ditch beside the road and made their way back to the rear and reported that they saw Captain Goldheim fall in the center of the road. A reconnaissance party was sent out to reconnoiter the area, but no evidence as to Captain Goldheim’s disappearance could be discovered, thereby through fate he was selected to become the first casualty in the 654th Tank Destroyer Battalion as the result of enemy action. First Lieutenant Eugene Martinez assumed command of the company on the same date.

Company “B” having been attached to the 161st Field Artillery Battalion, moved from the transit camp on the beached and established command post in the vicinity of Moon-Sur-Elle, and immediately began preparing positions to support the artillery in indirect fire missions on the enemy’s positions to the north of St Lo from positions 1 mile West of Moon-Sur-Elle at 1530 hours.

Company “C” departed from the transit camp area at 0530 hours on the morning of the 12th July, attached to the 127th Field Artillery Battalion, and established command post 1 mile NE of Fallot, France, coordinates 52007384, at 0930 hours, and immediately began to prepare positions for indirect fire missions against the enemy lines North of St Lo in support of the 127th Field Artillery Battalion.

After laying the battery, orienting line and briefing of guncrews Sergeant Lonzo P. Miller, of the 2d platoon and his Tank Destroyer crew consisting of Corporal George D. Babcock, Technician Fifth Grade Fred Cross, Technician Fifth Grave Albert A. Hernson and Private LeRoy M. Shivers, sent the first projectile ever hurled at the enemy by the 654th Tank Destroyer Battalion, screaming into his lines at 1200 hours, 12 July, 1944, with unknown results, immediately followed by ninety more rounds of high explosives from the entire company.

Company “C” was the only company within the battalion who had the opportunity of shelling the enemy during 12 July as there had been a delay in obtaining firing positions and reconnoitering possible enemy tank approached in the other companies. At 2200 hours 12 July, Company B was relieved from supporting 161st Field Artillery Battalion, and attached to 320th Infantry in a direct fore and assault mission.

Company “A” was relieved from supporting the 219th Field Artillery and placed in a direct fire and assault mission with the 137th Infantry.

July 13, 1944

Command Post
1/2 M SE Fallot, France
132400 July 1944
Coord 518733, 1/25,000 St Lo.

The 29th and 30th Infantry Divisions continued to attack southwest. The 320th Infantry attacked after a thirty minute artillery concentration but made only limited progress. The 320th Infantry attempted to regain contact with the 137th on their right supported by the 654th Tank Destroyer Battalion, but strong, desperate and fanatical resistance at coordinates 501695, Map, 1/25, 000, St Lo, prevented the tank destroyers and patrol from accomplishing their mission. One platoon of enemy soldiers appeared to the front of Companies K and L with their hands up shouting “Kamarad” while advancing toward their lines. When the enemy soldiers come into small arms range of the companies they fell to the ground and open fired on the platoons, forcing them to withdraw to their former positions.

The enemy also launched a desperate and determined counterattack against the 2d battalion of the 137th Infantry at coordinates 501695, with automatic weapons, but was broken up by accurate artillery fire.

Inspection and investigation of enemy fortifications at Chateau St Gillis reveal that they were constructed by Russian labor. The weather during the period was overcast with intermittent showers making visibility for observation extremely poor. The command posts of the Headquarters and Headquarters Company, Reconnaissance Company and Medical Detachment did not change during the period. The enemy is infiltrating into, and to the rear of our lines during the hours of darkness and harass areas with sniper fire. Several Men have been wounded and some killed as the result of this action. A few enemy artillery shells fell in the area during the night without causing casualties or damage. At 1500 hours two enemy planes flew through and started the area with machine gun fire but the battalion suffered no casualties, but, awakened the men to the fact that they were at the front whereby foxholes which had not been prepared were immediately started. Artillery fire from batteries located 200 yards to the east of the command post kept up a continual barrage throughout the night. One enemy plane, evidentially on reconnaissance flew over the area at 2300 hours, and was met with a half of bullets from every available gun.

The command post of company “A” remained 3 miles southeast of Fit, France, coordinates 512207164, Map 1/35,00 St Lo, during the period. The First Platoon, Company “A”, under First Lieut. Michael P. Elcano and Staff Sergeant Walter P. Moore, supporting the 2nd battalion, 137th Infantry, were the first members of the battalion to make physical contact with the enemy, as shown by Lieutenant Elcano’s report as follows:

“Having been placed in direct support of the 137th Infantry Regiment, the platoon was divided into two sections; The first section put the platoon under the command of Lieut. Elcano placed in support of the 3d battalion and the 2d section of the platoon under the command of Staff Sergeant Walter P. Moore, in support of the 2d battalion, 137ths Infantry.”

“The 1st section moved out to join the 3d battalion at 0745 hours while the artillery laid a concentration on every position form where they could have observation posts. One of the destroyers slipped off the road over an overpass and had to be pulled out, after which was accomplished the tank Destroyer section proceeded down the road to St. Gillis, where road blocks made it necessary to by-pass them through hedgerows, where contact was established with the battalion S-3 officer at 0815 hours, when the party proceeded to the battalion command post, by foot approximately 800 yards southwest of St. Gillis.” “The first assigned mission was the destruction of a group of houses in which the enemy had machine gun positions and which were holding up the advance of the battalion.” “The first tank destroyer section was sent up a lane opposite the 137th Infantry observation post over a road which did not have a hard top and was muddy with ditches horizontally across it and the only approach to where fire could be brought on the targets. After about 400 yards the first tank destroyer threw a track, and while it was being towed out of the road, the battalion S-3 informed me that the enemy machine guns in the houses had pinned the troops down by deadly and accurate fires, and they must be destroyed at all cost.” “The second destroyer while trying to pull the first one out of the road, threw a track as it attempted to back-up, due to the narrowness of the ravine. After setting up a ground defense, I proceeded to the 2d tank destroyer section to contact Sergeant Moore for help; meantime Corporal Rollins Nash, of the security section was sent back for the retriever at 0840 hours. In the meantime the second destroyer was brought up to support the 3d battalion.” “Sergeant Dewey E. Barrington’s tank in which commander, Staff Sergeant Moore was riding brought the houses with the enemy machine guns in them under fire from 300 yards range with high explosive shells and upon withdrawing from La Pte Ferne, bogged down to its belly in a marshy area. After firing on the houses and in the hedgerows surrounding La Pte Ferne, Sergeant Albert Schaeffer proceeded up the road about 600 yards in the direction of St. Gillis.” “An enemy artillery barrage was immediately laid upon the two disabled vehicles of the first section and the personnel took cover in the deep ravine. Private Willie Minor, assistant gunner on Sergeant Travis L. Beall’s destroyer, was wounded in the head by enemy artillery fire and was evacuated by litter-bearers, becoming the first casualty to be wounded by the enemy.” “The tracks broke on two of the destroyers, both of the First Section, were towed back to the vicinity of St. Gilles-La Pte Ferne at 1015 hours at which time both the First and Second Sections were attached to the 2d battalion, 137th Infantry, attacking on the left flank and also on the left side of the St. Gillis-La Pte Ferne Road.” “The 2d tank destroyer section under Staff Sergeant Walter P. Moore had not been committed to action as yet and were maneuvering about 400 yards in a northerly and southerly direction under intermittent enemy artillery fire.” “At 1115 hours the first section was directed to fire into the hedgerows about 40 yards to the front of the OPLR, SE of La Pte Ferne, in which the enemy had concealed machine gun positions and observations posts. Sergeant Frederick G. Easley’s destroyer moved into position in the northwest corner on the hedgerow and fired eight rounds of HE and about 500 rounds of .50 caliber machine gun fire into the enemy positions at which time the Infantry was advancing along the hedgerows.” “After saturating the hedgerows with HE and .50 caliber machine gun fire Sergeants Easley and Barrington withdrew to the vicinity of the St. Gillis-La Pte Ferne Road.” “At 1345 the platoon was ordered to fire into hedgerows and on houses located about 50 yards south of La Pte Ferne.” “Sergeant Schaffer and his destroyer crew consisting of himself of course, Corporal Hohl, gunner, Private Hood assistant gunner, Technician 5 Grade Earl Paul driver and Private Walter O. Moncier, assistant driver and radio operator fired 25 rounds of fuse delay shells into buildings and strong points in the designated area, which was about 50 yards south of La Pte Ferne.” “Sergeant Schaeffer withdrew his destroyer and Sergeant Easley with his crew consisting of himself, Corporal Roscoe F. Reeves, gunner, Private Claude F. Cornett, assistant gunner; Technician 5 Grade William C. Laughter, driver, and Private George P. Carey, assistant driver and radio operator, advanced on the target along the same road and fired 20 rounds of high explosive shells into the positions with unknown results.” “Upon attempting to withdraw from the position Sergeant Easley’s destroyer threw a track after slipping of the edges of the narrow road. The crew of the destroyer immediately dismounted and attempted to replace the throw track but were unsuccessful and it was necessary to obtain the assistance of Sergeant Barrington’s destroyer to pull the disabled destroyer out of the ditch before the track could be replaced. While the track was being replaced on the disabled destroyer the enemy opened upon the crew with an artillery barrage, but the crew disregarding all personal danger continued to work until the track was replaced on the destroyer.” “At 1730 hours Sergeant Bealle and his crew consisting of himself, Corporal Fred P. Adair, gunner; Technician 5 Grade Joe V. Perniciaro, driver; Private Willie C. Minor, assistant gunner; and Private Elton L. Kattner, assistant driver and radio operator to up a position directly west of La Pte Ferne, on the main highway, 20 rounds of high explosive, delay fuse, shells and about 100 rounds of .50 caliber machine gun fire were fried into strong points, hedgerows and houses, with undetermined results.” “The crew members of Sergeant Barrington’s destroyer consisted of Corporal George L. Lewis, gunner; Technician 5 Grade Willie C. Sykes, driver; Private Nathan E. Cox, assistant driver and Private Wylie C. Steele, assistant gunner.” “All missions accomplished and after expending 150 rounds of 3″ ammunition and 620 rounds of .50 caliber ammunition, the four destroyers withdrew to an assembly area 300 yards south of St. Gillis at 2100 hours. Sergeant Easley’s destroyer having a defective sprocket and drum was sent to the battalion motor maintenance for repair.” “Upon Private Minor becoming a casualty as the result of enemy fire Corporal Rollins Nash of the security section, 1st platoon replaced him as assistant gunner.”

The platoon accomplished assigned missions of destroying several houses in which the enemy had machine gun positions and observations posts the complete destruction of two enemy strong points in the La Pte Ferne Sector and firing air bursts of HE shells into enemy positions concealed in the hedgerows. The damage and casualties inflicted upon the enemy in this action was undeterminable but it is estimated that at least fifty enemy soldiers were killed and wounded and that eight or ten machine guns were destroyed. The only casualty suffered was Private Minor who was evacuated by the Medical Detachment. 137th Infantry, in an unconscious condition as the result of being wounded in the head by enemy artillery fire.

The 2d platoon of Company “A” under command of 2d Lieut. John J. Sherman and Staff Sergeant James D. Finger were supporting the 1st battalion 137th Infantry, in a direct assault mission. Over 100 rounds of high explosive shells were fired into enemy machine gun positions, strong points and observation posts with undeterminable results. But it is definitely known that eleven enemy soldiers were killed and five capture by the 2d platoon; the first prisoners of war to be captured by the unit. One destroyer bellied down in the mud and had to be temporarily abandoned due to intensive enemy artillery and mortar fire. Technician 5 Grade Leston E. Sweat, was injured in action when he caught his hand in the breech of the gun and was evacuated to the hospital.

The 3d platoon with positions in the vicinity of the company command post fired indirect fire in support of the 219th Field Artillery Battalion during the period and were credited with the blowing up of an enemy ammunition dump just north of St Lo. The 1st platoon, supporting the 2d battalion, 137th Infantry, advanced about 100 yards during the day; the 2d supporting the 3d battalion advances about 700 yards during the period against determined stiff enemy opposition.

The command post of Company “B” remained 1 mile SW Moon-Sur-Elle during the period, (coordinate 528726, Map 1/25,000). At 2230 hours the first tank destroyer platoon commanded by First Lieut. Scott P. Cooper and Staff Sergeant E. L. Smith reported to the commanding officer 320th Infantry, for an assault mission of supporting 18 men from Company “D”, 320th Infantry, to investigate a reported gap in the Division Lines, and to destroy any enemy found to be present in the sector, which was bounded by coordinates 501691-500681 west to 494685. The patrol supported by the 1st destroyer platoon moved toward the sector at about 1100 hours. At 1230 hours the first section of the destroyer platoon fired 7 rounds of high explosive shells into a barn at coordinates 502691, which contained enemy machine gun positions, snipers and observation post, with undeterminable results, but activity ceased after firing. At 1315 hours the leading elements of the patrol were completely pinned down due to the intensive and accurate machine gun fire from RJ 501688 which was protected with houses, hedgerows, and culverts. The patrol commander requested that the destroyers fire into the enemy positions with high explosive shells to clean out resistence, and the first destroyer section moved to within 100 yards of the enemy positions and fired 86 rounds of high explosive shells into the area. One enemy machine gun and its crew were blown into the air into bits by the third burst fired into the position, and it is believed that the enemy suffered severe casualties as the result of this action. Sergeant Alexander W. Wilson’s destroyer hit an enemy mine with blew the tracks, but the crew continued to fire into the enemy’s positions until the firing mechanism on the gun failed, at which time it had to be temporarily abandoned due to heavy enemy artillery and mortar fire. Sergeant Snyder retained his destroyer in its original position and continued to pump high explosive shells into the enemy positions, and remained there until the Infantry patrol had successfully withdrawn the crew of Sergeant Wilson’s destroyer had been rescued by his destroyer.

The first destroyer of the 2d section command by Sergeant Willie Shepperd, destroyed a house at coordinates 501591 which was being used as shelter by enemy snipers. All enemy soldiers in the house were killed. Small arms fire was detected in another building in the vicinity and the platoon security section under Sergeant Richard O. Walker, brought the building under small arms fire with .30 caliber machine guns and carbines. Seven enemy soldiers came screaming out of the building and fell to the ground head under a hail of bullets form the security section, not until however five rounds of APC and ten rounds of HE were fired into the building by the destroyer crew.

About 1340 hours the enemy laid a heavy concentration of artillery and mortar fire upon the platoon positions, and lacking Infantry to occupy the silenced strong points the platoon withdrew to friendly lines.

During this action Sergeant Wilson and Corporal C. R. Krejcarck, were seriously wounded and Privates William R. Coats and Francinsoo Serino, were slightly wounded, all being evacuated to hospital except Private Serino who was treated by local medical establishment, awarded the purple heart and returned to duty.

The 2d and 3d platoons supported the 161st Field Artillery in indirect fire missions during the period.

The command post for Company “C” remained 1 mile NE Fallot (Coordinates 5200-7384, Map, 1/25,000, St Lo), and all platoons supported the Field Artillery Battalion in indirect fire missions throughout the period with undeterminable results. The command post of the Reconnaissance Company remained 1/2 mile SE Fallot, during the period (coordinates 52010-73520, Map 1/25,000, St Lo).

July 14, 1944

Command Post
1/2 Mile SE Fallot, France
142400 July, 1944
Coord 518733, 1/25,000, St Lo.

The 137th Infantry attacked at 0800 hours, following a thirty minute artillery preparation upon enemy strong points, machine gun positions, observations posts and hedgerows. After hard fighting little progress was made during the period due to excellently dug-in camouflaged enemy positions, mine fields, road blocks, booby-traps, and road blocks at every approach to his positions. Tunnels are dug through hedgerow embankments by the enemy and are employed as firing positions upon advancing troops and when their positions are detected and before artillery or mortar fire can be placed upon them, they change to another position in another sector of the hedgerow. The Division captured a total of forty-nine prisoners during the days operations, mostly of Polish and Russian origin, who claim that they are being forced to fight for the enemy, but which is doubted by our Intelligence Section.

The Germans, just prior to invasion, moved all proallied French civilians to the interior of France, and the population in our sector, although French, look upon the American Army with coolness. Countless numbers of these French civilians, which as a matter of fact may be German soldiers in civilian clothing, have been caught spying and giving the enemy our positions. Orders have been issued to the affect that no civilian would be permitted in the area where a military establishment is installed, but it is hard to enforce due to the crowded conditions on the beach head. So much American equipment, and so many American soldiers are packed into such a small space, that the enemy can shell or bomb any area at will, without observation and cause casualties and loss of equipment.

The purely German prisoners captured, and that’s not too many to date, are typically Nazi; arrogant, sarcastic, sullen and insulting and firmly believe that Hitler will destroy the entire American Army on the beaches when he so elects; most prisoners however are of foreign extraction, mostly Russian and Polish.

Every patch of woods, every hedgerow, most all farm houses and other type of structure either natural or otherwise, is full of enemy snipers who have infiltrated through our lines during the hours of darkness, or, in civilian clothing, to pick off individual American soldiers when they are caught along; their main effort being made upon officers and noncommissioned officers, which has resulted in the prompt removal of all rank insignia from shoulder loops, helmets and sleeves. Their ideal effort is around a unit command post, where several high ranking officers and noncommissioned have been wounded, and some killed.

Every building from the front to the beaches have been totally destroyed by bombs or artillery fire. All roads are heavily mined with both antivehicular and antipersonnel mines. Booby-traps are everywhere hanging from trees and bushes, so that when a soldier walks through them and hits the limb, they fall to the ground and explode; abandon equipment is all mined, knowing and relishing the American soldiers desire for souvenirs, the enemy has over looked nothing to kill or wound one. Even the dead, both American and German, are booby-trapped by the enemy.

Thousands of new troops continue to pour into the sector, and the enemy loud speaker from his psychological warfare section, continues to announce the unit as it debarks along with the name of the unit commander. Who says the Germans don’t have an intelligence service?

A quick survey of the hedgerow battle field shows all the mute evidence of a hard struggle; both American and enemy dead litter the areas, and clothing and equipment from both armies are strewn around foxholes and hedgerows where it was abandoned or torn form the bodies of the soldiers.

The mission of the Division and the 654th Tank Destroyer Battalion is the capture of St Lo; three miles to the south of our present lines, which our artillery has, and continues to shell unceasingly day and night.

Due to the overcast skies, fog and intermittent showers, friendly air forces have been unable to give the foot troops any assistance, except for reconnaissance, and bombing and strafing on a small scale with undetermined results.

The enemy has every inch of this terrain surveyed and zeroed in with his artillery, with excellent observation posts on the high ground, and his artillery concentrations from time to time, is an extremely bad factor in the morale of the troops.

Hedgerows are zeroed in to such a degree that the enemy can place mortar fired upon our troops dug-in on the opposite side of the embankment from his front lines. Enemy artillery shells are about 1/10th duds which is attributed to forced labor who is manufactoring the ammunition, purposely making them defective, but it don’t stop the “whine” of the 88mms which all of us who were at St Lo shall always remember.

The command post of the battalion situated in a pasture in the vicinity of the 35th Infantry Division Command Post, was strafed by four enemy planes at 1500 hours. No personnel casualties resulted but a number of cattle grazing in the pasture were killed in the immediate vicinity. Two of the attacking planes were shot down the 448th Anti-Aircraft Battalion. One of the pilots was a Pole who had turned to Nazism. Immediately after the strafing the men further realizing that they were in war and at the front up against an enemy who meant business went to work remodeling foxholes. The Personnel Section in the rear echelon was also subjected to strafing, making them realize also that they were not immune from enemy attack.

Colonel Martz inspected all gun positions during the period and conducted a critique on yesterdays action with company commanders and platoon leaders.

The Command Post Co “A” remained 3 miles SE of Fit, France, (5122071640, 1/25,000) during the period. 2d Lieut. Bernard Kneer, assigned and joined company from Headquarters Company and assumed the duties of company executive officer, relieving 2d Lieut. Thurlow B. Smoot, who assumed command of the 3d platoon.

The 1st and 3rd platoons supported the 219th Field Artillery Battalion in indirect fire missions during the period; firing on enemy strong points, observation posts, ammunitions dumps, artillery batteries and troop concentration north of St. Lo. The 2d platoon in command of 2d Lieut. John J. Sherman and Staff Sergeant James D. Finger, continued to support the 3d battalion, 137th Infantry, in its attack along front generally 1 1/2 miles south of St. Gillis, firing into enemy strong points, hedgerows, buildings and mortar positions with undetermined results. At the close of the days operations it was estimated that the platoon killed or wounded at least fifty enemy soldiers, and captured five prisoners, all of Polish origin.

The platoon was highly commended for its combat efficiency by Colonel Sears, commanding officer, 137th Infantry.

The command post of Company “B” closed in the vicinity of Moon-Sur-Elle at 1630 hours and established 1mile NW of Les Doe Utils (52840-69820, 1/25,000) at 1730 hours, a distance of three miles, without encountering any enemy action.

The 1st and 3d platoons supported the 161st Field Artillery Battalion in indirect fire missions during the period; firing upon enemy strong points, observation posts, ammunition dumps, artillery positions and troop concentrations south of ST Lo, with undetermined results.

The 2d platoon in command of 1st Lieut. Scott P. Cooper and Staff Sergeant E. L. Smith, continued to support the 137th Infantry on assault mission; neutralizing enemy strong points, machine gun and mortar positions, and firing HE into enemy positions in the hedgerows. All positions and the command post under heavy enemy artillery fire throughout the period, and enemy planes attacked the command post at 2300 hours, dropping bombs and strafing the area with machine gun fire. No casualties were suffered and it gave the men an idea what to expect in the future, and no time was lost the following day in the preparation of adequate foxholes with cover.

The command post of Company “C” remained 1/4 mile SE of Fallot, France, (518733, 1/25,000) during the period, and all platoons supported the 127th Field Artillery Battalion in indirect fire missions on enemy strong points, convoys, supply depots, and ammunitions dumps, north and south of St. Lo.

The Reconnaissance Company and Medical Detachment command posts remained in the vicinity of the battalion command post during the period with no enemy contact other than artillery and strafing from the air. One cow was killed in Sergeant Jones kitchen area by enemy planes strafing the area at 1500 hours.

2d Lieut. Vernon E. Lucas was transferred from the company to Headquarters and Headquarters company and assumed the duties of Battalion Communications Officer, this date

July 15, 1944

Command Post
1/2 Mile SE Fallot, France
152400 July, 1944
Coord 518733, 1/25,000, St Lo.

The Division launched a vicious attack against the enemy lines at 0630 hours after thirty minutes artillery preparation. Enemy resistence is fierce. The 320th Infantry, after hand to hand fighting, gained only 200 yards and captured 33 prisoners, during the period.

The 137th Infantry after hard fighting all day gained only 200 yards and captured 15 prisoners, of all nationalities.

The 134th Infantry, supported by Co “B” the 654th Tank Destroyer Battalion, after hand to hand fighting captured Emilie and the lower slope of Hill 122, an advance of about 1 mile. An enemy counterattack is in preparation and is expected at any moment. The battle of hedgerows continues with ferocity; the enemy making us pay, with American blood, for every foot of ground we conquer.

Weather conditions adverse to operations prevailed throughou8t the period, limiting observations and restricting air activity. The positions of the command post, Headquarters and Reconnaissance Company and the Medical Detachment, did not change during the period; remaining 1/4 mile SE Fallot, France.

Captain James M. Boyd, Acting Battalion Executive Officer, was relieved from assignment with the unit and transferred to Headquarters, XIX Corps.

Violent artillery duels raged throughout the period, with thousands of shells being hurled into the enemys positions north, south, east, and west of St Lo, but he still fights on and on; giving ground only when he is routed out of his hedgerow position at the point of the bayonet.

Due to intensified enemy aerial activity the command post was dug-in and sandbagged. A few enemy artillery shells fell in the command post area during the night but no casualties resulted. 1st Lieut. Gomer D. Hughes, Liaison Officer with the 35th Infantry Division, was wounded in the right leg by an enemy sniper at 0539 hours in the vicinity of St Clair-Sur-Elle, when he was returning from visits to the various regimental command posts with Captain Allen, Division Antitank Officer.

The majority of the German forces, which makes them so fanatical are staying drunk. In every abandoned area hundreds of empty cognac, wine, champagne and cider bottles are found by American troops; too, most every soldier found dead, or who is captured had his canteen full of some type of intoxicant, but drunk or sober they are taking a heavy tool of American lives in this hedgerow country; they withdrew only when they are pried out of their hiding places at bayonet point, then some prefer to die rather than retreat or surrender.

First Lieut. George C. Little, 0-1821601, asgd and joined battalion, and was assigned to Company “B”, where he studied indirect fire principles. The command post of Company “A” remained 3 miles SE Fit, France, (5122071640, 1/25,000, St Lo), during the period.

The 1st and 2d platoons supported the 219th Field Artillery Battalion in indirect fire missions during the period; firing concentrations on enemy positions, supply installations, ammunition dumps, and targets of opportunity, destroying one enemy ammo dump. The 2d platoon supported the 3rd battalion, 137th Infantry, who were attacking and slowly advancing yard by yard, in the face of stiff enemy resistence; making little progress against the enemy during the days operation. Relieved at 1600 hours by 1st pl. The entire company was under heavy enemy artillery fire all during the period and the command post area was bombed and strafed at 2200 hours by enemy planes, but no casualties resulted due to the mens excellently dug-in positions.

Corporal Leo J. Hohl promoted to Sergeant; Private Elton Kattner to Corporal. The command post of Company “B” remained 1 mile NW of Les Dos Utiles (52840-69820, Map 1/25,000) during the period. One enemy tank reported at 51646666, at 1245 hours. The 1st and 3rd platoons supported the 161st Field Artillery Battalion in indirect fire missions with concentrations fired on enemy supply installations, ammunition dumps, strong points, lines of communications, observation posts and other front line positions, throughout the period.

The 2d platoon under 1st Lieut. David J. Thelen and Staff Sergeant Winston Spinks supported the 134th Infantry in their attack by placing fire into machine gun positions, strong points, observation posts, and automatic weapon positions, destroying at least three enemy machines guns with the crews.

All elements of the company were under heavy enemy artillery and mortar fire throughout the period but no casualties were sustained.

Enemy planes attack the command post area at 2300 hours, dropping flares, following by antipersonnel bombs and strafing. No casualties form this enemy action. The command post of Company “C” remained 1/4 miles SE Fallot, France (518733, 1/25,000), during the period.

1st and 3d platoons relieved from supporting 127th Field Artillery Battalion, and placed in direct support 320th Infantry, in assault mission. The 2d platoon remained in support of the 127th Field Artillery Battalion in indirect fire missions, firing concentrations on enemy strong points, supply installations,command posts, ammunition dumps and other targets of opportunity in and around St Lo. The entire company was under heavy enemy artillery fire all through the period and enemy planes attacked the command post at 2300 hours; dropping flares, bombs, then strafing the area with machine gun fire. NO casualties resulted from any of these enemy actions.

During the days operations the 1st and 2d platoons destroyed 21 enemy machines guns; killed 30 enemy soldiers and captured 9 prisoners and two automatic rifles. The command posts of the Reconnaissance Company and Medical Detachment did not change during the period; at 52010-73520, 1/2 mile SE of Fallot, France, with no enemy contact during the period except for enemy artillery and aerial attack.

The 1st reconnaissance platoon was attached to Company “A”; the 3d to Company “B” for the purpose of security and to make reconnaissance of front line enemy positions and to assist in preventing enemy infiltration into our lines during the hours of darkness.

The 2d reconnaissance platoon remained in the vicinity of the company command post on an alert status.

July 16, 1944

Command Post
1/2 Mile SE Fallot, France
162400 July, 1944
Coord 518733, 1/25,000, St Lo.

The 29th Infantry Division on our left flank and 30th Infantry Division on our right flank attacked at 0600 hours this morning to straighten their lines. The 1st Battalion, 320th Infantry, attacked at 0600 hours following a thirty minute artillery preparation, and after several hours of hard fighting against fierce enemy resistance, only minor gains were accomplished.

The 2d Battalion, 137th Infantry, attacked at 0600 hours, supported by 3d tank destroyer platoon from Company “A”, 654th Tank Destroyer Battalion, and after fierce fighting against desperate enemy resistence manage to gain about 600 yards during the day.

At 1100 hours the enemy launched a vicious counterattack against the 1st battalion, 134th Infantry, holding the northeast slope of hill 122, and were forced to withdraw about 100 yards, where the attack was beat off after hand to hand fighting developed and artillery support was committed, inflicting extremely heavy casualties upon the attacking enemy.

130 enemy prisoners of various nationalities were capture during the days of operations. The 60th Engineer Battalion (Combat) was called upon to remove enemy mine fields, and booby traps in the various division areas which has been taking a tool of casualties.

French civilians report that St Lo is completely undermined and time bombs already placed in important buildings, especially the telephone exchange building, which can and will be destroyed with the last Nazi is forced to retreat from the city. The 35th Infantry Division continued to attack southwest with objective as ST Lo. Right boundary of Divisions La Vire River; left boundary Highway #3.

Fierce fighting is raging from hedgerow to hedgerow, with severe casualties on both opponents; the advantage being with the enemy in his concealed positions and having adapted the methods of his ARYAN brother in arms in the south Pacific; The Jap.

Upon several occasions however our positions have been fired upon, or attacked from the air soon after French civilians were in the area, who brought the men wine, cognac or cider. Too, it is known that hundreds of enemy soldiers, in civilian clothing are working behind our lines posing as French civilians. The same old trick they played when they over run France in 1940, but not working as efficiently.

The weather, for a change has been fair warm with excellent visibility.

G-2, 35th Infantry Division reports that the enemy has mined the banks of the Vire River on our right flank and that five enemy tanks, type undetermined, had moved into an assembly area at coordinants 485674, Map 1/25,000, St Lo.

Seven enemy planes strafed the command post area at 1400 hours during the afternoon, but no casualties resulted; two ME 1092 were shot down by the 448th AA Battalion and crashed in a field just east of the command post.

The enemy is infiltrating into our lines during the hours of darkness, hiding out during the daylight hours and sniping, or marking our positions by shooting flares into the air at night, resulting in enemy artillery concentrations being accurately fired into our lines. This menace is causing considerable confusion and apprehension in our ranks.

The command post of Company “A” remained 3 miles SE of Fit, France (5122071640, 1/25,000), during the period.

The 1st and 2d platoons supported the 219th Field Artillery Battalion in indirect fire missions; firing upon enemy troop concentrations, reported tank assembly areas, strong points, ammunition dumps, supply installations and command posts, throughout the period. The 3d platoon in command of 2d Lieut. Thurlow B. Smoot and Staff Sergeant Jack P. Davis, was in direct support of the 2d Battalion, 37th Infantry during the period; firing into hedgerows, houses and other enemy points with undeterminable results. Twenty rounds of HE was fired into an enemy strong point at coordinants 494700, killing an undetermined number of enemy soldiers and capturing five one of which had his clothing blown off as the result of the exploding shells fired into his position by the tank destroyer platoon. Thirty-eight other German soldiers surrendered to the 2d Battalion, 137th Infantry, as a result of this action.

Sergeant Faban S. Clarks’ destroyer was put out of action by enemy mortar fire and Sergeant Clark seriously wounded and evacuated by members of the Medical Detachment, 137th Infantry Sergeant H.L. Denson’s destroyer overturned on a narrow road and had to be temporarily abandoned due to heavy enemy artillery and mortar fire being laid upon it, but was later retrieve.

Corporal Charles E. Branch and Private Lawson T. Green, crew members of the overturned destroyer were highly commended by Colonel Sears, the commanding officer of the 137th Infantry, for gallantry as a result of their calm, cool and heroic actions under a hall of enemy artillery from observed positions. Both men were later awarded the Bronze Star Medal for this action.

The platoon lost two destroyers during the days operations but both were later retrieved. The 1st Reconnaissance Platoon, commanded by 1st Lieut. Alexander H. Smith, Reconnaissance Company, who were attached to Company “A”, reconnoitered for antitank positions along stream from coordinants 480700 southeast of boundary of 137th Infantry.

July 17, 1944

Command Post
1/2 Mile SE Fallot, France
172400 July, 1944
Coord 518733, 1/25,000, St Lo.

The enemy continued to hold strong defensive positions in the center of the Division Sector, from which little success has been obtained in dislodging him from his dug-in positions in the hedgerows.

Prisoners have been captured from the 2d battalion, 943rd Infantry Regiment; 915th and 916th Infantry Regiments during the period, who stated that the elements of the 14th Para-troop Regiment are in an assembly area south of St Lo.

The enemy continued his hedgerow to hedgerow defense with stubborn resistence. Elements of the division were subjected to an extremely heavy artillery concentration at 0800 hours for one hour.

Prisoners state that the 897th Infantry Regiment is being withdrawn to the south of St. Lo, but report is questionable. Others state that artillery men are being employed as Infantrymen in the division sector.

The division and attached units captured a total of 86 prisoners during the period.

The 29th Infantry Division on the left flank of the Division reached the outskirts of St Lo during the period against stubborn and determined enemy resistence. The 30th Infantry division on the right flank of the Division continued to attack.

The 137th Infantry attacked at 0430 hours. At 0700 hours the 1st platoon of Company “A”, 654th Tank Destroyers, under 1st Lieut. Michael P. Elcono and Staff Sergeant Walter P. Moore, were in direct support of the 1st battalion and placed HE fire on village at coordinants 474865, which immediately fell. A number of prisoners were captured some killed by their own artillery who were at that shelling the abandoned village.

The 3d battalion, 137th Infantry, after hard bitter fighting all day advanced about 600 yards; the 2d battalion about 400 yards under heave concentrations of enemy artillery and mortar fire from vicinity of La Raoulerie (471679).

The 2d battalion, 137th Infantry, captured Gilliers-Fossard at 1145 hours and took up positions north of Emelie to cover and patrol of gap found in between sectors of the 134th and 320th Infantry Regiments.

The 134th Infantry attacked at 0430 hours. The 1st battalion was under heavy enemy artillery barrage and was unable to make any gains whatsoever; 2d battalion was held up in the vicinity of Les Romains until 2000 hours, when it managed to advance about 600 yards against stiff enemy resistence.

All artillery battalion laid concentrations upon the enemys counter attack on Hill 122 at 1100 hours.

During the days operations the second platoon destroyed 5 machine guns, 2 enemy strong points and a house with two machine gun positions therein.

The 1st section of the 1st platoon knocked out an undetermined number of enemy strong points at coordinants 476684 consisting of 6 machine gun positions, 2 mortars, 3 automatic rifles and captured 3 prisoners, one of which was an automatic machine piston gunner, after sustaining casualties of one enlisted man seriously wounded and two destroyers having to be abandoned, which were retrieved at a later date; one being hit on the hull on the right side evidently from a rifle grenade.

The position of the command post of Company “B” did not change the period; remaining 1 mile NW Les Doe Utils (52840-69820, Map 1/25,000) during the period.

1st and 3d platoons supported the 161st Field Artillery Battalion in indirect fire missions during the period; expending about 300 rounds of HE upon enemy supply and ammunition dumps; command post, artillery positions and troop concentrations, with undetermined results. The 2d platoon was in direct support of the 134th Infantry in attack, and in repulsing enemy counter attack against positions on the northern sloop of Hill 122 northeast of St Lo. The 2d platoon fired 40 rounds of HE into attacking enemy formations on Hill 122 killing and wounding an undetermined and materially assisting in repulsing the counterattack. The command post of Company “C” remained 1/4 mile SE Fallot, France (518733, 1/25,000), during the period.

The 1st and 2d platoons remained in direct support of the 320th Infantry in attack; firing into enemy hedgerow positions, observation posts, mortar positions, machine gun positions, and strafing enemy troops in foxholes with air bursts, all with undetermined results. Platoon in support of 1st battalion, 320th Infantry, advanced about 300 yards during the entire period due to stiff enemy resistance. 1st battalion was attacking west in the vicinity of coordinants 505683, Map 1/25,000, St Lo.

G3 Section, 35th Division, reported enemy tanks 400 yards south of Company “C”s positions at 1200 hours and reconnaissance patrols were immediately sent out to locate them but without results.

Company reconnoitered vicinity La Peterie (502698) to stream crossing (518695) for antitank positions. Reconnaissance platoon reconnoitered ridge in the vicinity of Les Malaeis to 1/2 miles north of La Nicollerie.

Third platoon supported the 127th Field Artillery Battalion in indirect fire missions during the period; firing about 300 rounds of HE shells into enemy positions in and around the town of St Lo.

All components of the battalion were under heavy enemy artillery fire throughout the period and were subjected to an enemy air attack at 2400 hours, without casualties however Staff Sergeant Alvis K. Maynard supply sergeant, Headquarters Company, wounded himself in the foot when his carbine was accidentally discharged while he was cleaning same. Sergeant Conrad LeBlanc assumed the duties of company supply sergeant.

The status of the Reconnaissance Company did not change during the period. It was alerted for “a sniper hunt” but was cancelled during the day.

The 35th Infantry Division Reconnaissance Company mopped snipers in the rear during the period, killing 14 and captured 12. Most all were in civilian clothing, hiding in trees, hedgerows, houses, cellars, wooded areas, and ditches. The 60th Engineer Battalion removed hundreds of enemy mine fields of all types from vicinities of our positions.

The 86 prisoners captured during the period represent most every nationality in Europe. They gave the same old story; “Forced to fight the Bosche”. Intelligent officials put little credit in their stories.

The weather during the period was bad for operations, being foggy and overcast during the morning but becoming clear during the afternoon.

There were no changes in the position of the Command Post, Headquarters Company and the Medical Detachment during the period. The area is infested with enemy snipers and “pot shots” have been taken at individual soldiers only fifty yards from the command post.

A few large caliber enemy artillery shells fell in the area of the command post during the early part of the evening without casualties. Enemy planes were over the area during the night dropping flares but no bombing or strafing were reported in the vicinity. The 448th AA Battalion gave them very warm reception and they had to withdraw to the south before they could due very much damage.

2d Lieut. Vernon E. Lucas assumed the duties of Battalion Communications Officer. 2d Lieut. Jack Marchick joined the battalion from Replacement Company and was assigned to the Headquarters Company where he assumed the duties of Transportation Officer.

Technician Sergeant John Trehubets was admitted to the hospital as the result of illness.

G-2 Section alerted all units of the Division to expect a mass bombing attack and directed that personnel prepare adequate foxholes in anticipation of this action on the part of the enemy.

Air Reconnaissance Patrols report an undetermined number of enemy tanks in the woods in the vicinity of coordinants 50246508, 1/25,000. All companies were alerted to this threat; enemy tanks all reported at coordinants 477678. The command post of Company “A” remained 3 miles SE of Fit, France, (5122071640) during the period.

At 0700 hours the 1st platoon under 1st Lieut. Michael P. Elcano and Staff Sergeant Walter P. Moore was placed in direct support of the 1st Battalion, 137th Infantry, who were attacking, and assaulted enemy strong points in the vicinity of coordinants 476684 Map, 1/25,000, St Jean De Daye, where it fired into hedgerows, buildings, culverts and mortar positions, ending up the days with an undetermined number of enemy soldiers killed, six machine gun and crews destroyed and two mortars with crew destroyed, two automatic rifleman killed and an enemy strong point neutralized. Three prisoners were captured; one without clothing, having been blown from his body by the concussion of HE sells fired into his position.

Staff Sergeant Moore was slightly wounded during these engagements but was treated by the Battalion Surgeon, awarded the purple heart and remained on a duty status.

The 2d and 3d platoons supported the 219th Field Artillery in indirect fire missions during the period; firing on the enemy strong points artillery positions, ammunition dumps and tank assembly areas, destroying one complete battery of 88mm guns at coordinants 47906201, five machine gun positions and two strong points and numerous buildings containing enemy machine gun and observation posts.

The Division antitank officer reports enemy tanks operating in the vicinity of the 1st platoons sector; platoon was alerted for this threat and the security section along with the 1st Reconnaissance Platoon, were sent out to reconnoiter the area and report any tanks immediately if found.

During the operations by the 1st platoon Sergeant Beal’s destroyer overturned at coordinants 477687, Map 1/25,000, when the right embankment of the narrow road gave away under the weight of the destroyer, landing upon its turret, and had to be abandoned due to intensive enemy artillery and mortar fire, but was retrieved two days later by the battalion motor maintenance section.

The first platoon in support of the 1st battalion, 137th Infantry, attacked with two destroyers in support, with positions in the vicinity of coordinants 483694, and two in reserve at coordinants 487702, Map 1/25,000, St Jean De Daye.

The command post of Company “B” remained 1 mile NW of Les Doe Utils, France. (52840-69820).

The 2d platoon remained in support of the 134th Infantry until they were relieved by the 3d platoon at 2300 hours. The 2d platoon remained in close support of the 134th Infantry throughout its attack; firing into enemy strong points, observation posts, dug-in automatic weapon positions and mortar positions, including a direct assault upon an enemy command post at coordinants 502684, killing the Battalion Commander with three other officers and capturing thirty prisoners, at 1815 hours.

The 1st and 3d platoons continued to support the 161st Field Artillery Battalion in indirect fire missions during the period; firing upon enemy installations and strong points in and around St Lo, including hedgerows and observation posts.

During the operational period the company was credited with the destruction of an enemy command post, killing six enemy soldiers, including a battalion commander, capturing 30 prisoners, destroying 7 machine gun positions and a bridge across a stream which the enemy was using to get ammunition and supplies to his front.

Pvt 1cl Francisco Serino was slightly wounded by enemy artillery fire was treated by the Battalion Surgeon, awarded the Oak-Leaf Cluster to his Purple Heart and returned to duty.

Corporal Edward J. Brannon appointed sergeant; Pvt 1cl Sam Bycheck and Frank A. Gallina appointed Corporals and Privates Francisco Serino and Dan J. Alexander, appointed Private First Class.

The command post of Company “C” closed 1/4 mile SE Fallot, France, and were established 500 yards NE of St Clair, France ( ) 1/25,000, St Jean De Daye, at 0815 hours, a distance of 4 miles. No enemy contact was made during the advance.

The 1st platoon was placed in antitank positions in support of the 320th Infantry but made no contact with the enemy during the period.

The 2d platoon supported the 127th Field Artillery Battalion in indirect fire mission throughout the period; firing upon enemy installations in the vicinity of St Lo, with undetermined results.

The 3d platoon was supporting the 320th Infantry in a direct assault mission in the vicinity of coordinants 519698, 1/25,000, firing into enemy strong points, artillery and mortar positions; troop concentrations areas and enemy positions in the hedgerows.

At 1900 hours, Sergeant Lonzo P. Miller’s destroyer with Corporal George D. Babcock, Tech 5 Grade Fred Cross, Tech 5 Grade Albert Herdon, as crew members ran into an enemy mine field, hitting a mine and damaging the destroyer to such a degree that it was necessary to have the company T-2(wrecker) pull the tank from its position in the mine field.

As the destroyer was being towed to the rear it struck another mine, killing Tech 5 Grade John S. Leuty, Jr., crew member of the T-2 seriously wounding 2d Lieut. Jeremirah D. O’Mera, the platoon leader of the 2d platoon.

Tech 5 Grade Leuty was the first man of the 654th Tank Destroyer Battalion to be killed as the result of enemy action.

The 3d Reconnaissance Platoon, attached to the company was relieved at 2321 hours, and reverted to company control. The command post of the Reconnaissance Company remained in the vicinity of the battalion command post, throughout the period.

One Reconnaissance Platoon attached to each gun company with the Pioneer Platoon on an alert status in the vicinity of the command post.

2d Lieut. Arthur W. LaFond, asgd to and joined the company, and assumed the duties of Company Executive Officers.

Company alerted for a “sniper hunting” detail with the 35th Infantry Division Reconnaissance Company, effective 18th July.

July 18, 1944

Command Post,
1/2 Mile SE Fallot, France
182400 July, 1944
Coord 518733, 1/25,000, St. Lo

The 134th Infantry attacked at 0600 hours against heavy enemy artillery and mortar fire, and against desperate resistence.

During the entire days operations they made slight gains of only 50-100 yards over infested areas of enemy mine fields and booby-traps.

The Division established a line generally along the north and north-west banks of the Vire River, and after hand to hand fighting, reached the outskirts of St Lo at 1500 hours.

A reconnaissance patrol under 1st Lieut. John F. Tracy, of Brooklyn, New York, entered St Lo proper, but were forced to withdraw under heavy enemy artillery, mortar and small arms fire.

The 29th Infantry Division on the left flank of the Division continued to attack, and seta Task Force into St Lo. The 30th Infantry Division on the right improved its defensive positions along the highway running west of the Vire River in the vicinity of Rampan.

The 137th Infantry attacked at 0630 hours and made slight gains, after which the remainder of the period was devoted to cleaning up scattered resistence in the hedgerows.

The 216th Field Artillery Battalion fired 20 rounds of propaganda literature into the enemy lines at 0800 hours.

Enemy snipers continue to infiltrate into our lines after the hours of darkness and are causing concern due to their firing on personnel in the rear of our lines during the hours of daylight, especially at dawn and dusk, and by marking various installations with flares when enemy artillery concentrations are placed upon them.

Several enemy snipers have been caught in civilian clothing hiding in trees, hedgerows, in culverts, etc. Some in uniform who snipe at individual soldiers until the barrels of their guns are redhot then shot “Kamarad”. It is a pity that the rules of the land warfare protect them.

The progress south from hedgerow to hedgerow is slow and bloody; hundreds of American bodies litter the battlefield where they were killed by accurate enemy mortar fire and small arms fire; some in their foxholes.

The battalion is becoming veterans very fast now, after having taken the best the enemy could offer from artillery, mortars, small-arms, air attacks and the ever present sniper. Enemy “burp-guns” don’t seem to worry the men any more; when one is heard they dive into the area searching for the “bloke”.

Major John H. Minton, Field Artillery, was assigned and joined the battalion and assumed the duties of Battalion Executive Officer.

Two enemy ME 109s strafed the battalion command post area at 1500 hours; one was shot down by the 448th AA Battalion. The rear echelons were also strafed.

The command post positions of Headquarters and Headquarters Company and Medical Detachment did not change during the period.

Routine duties were accomplished with a few rounds of artillery falling within the area during the night without casualties.

Sniper fire was heard 50 yards west of the command post at 1500 hours, but a thorough search of the area failed to produce results in finding the sniper.

A few French civilians still wander through the area offering the troops cider and wine; which they are forbidden to accept.

All civilians are suspected to being enemy agents and orders have been issued forbidding them around any military installation.

The command post of Company “A” remained 3 miles SE of Fit, France, 5122071640, 1/25,000 during the period; was subject to an aerial attack at 2300 hours and was under heavy enemy artillery fired during the afternoon, without casualties however.

The 1st and 2d supported the 127th Field Artillery Battalion in indirect fired missions throughout the period, firing 400 rounds of HE into enemy positions with special concentration placed upon tank concentrations, bridges, roads, ammunition dumps and supply points. One bridge was known to be destroyed at 492639, Map 1/25,000.

The 3d platoon supported the 1st battalion, 134th Infantry, in indirect assault mission with original positions in the vicinity of coordinates 181215, 1/25,000, St Lo, about 400 yards north of Hill 122, where fire was delivered upon enemy strong points, observation posts, hedgerows and machine gun positions. (Lt. McNaught, Co.)

The enemy had pinned the Infantry down in the vicinity of Emelie with heavy machine gun and mortar fire to such extent that they were unable to make any further gains, when the battalion commander directed that the destroyers assault the hedgerows on which the enemy was using as coverage with HE shells.

The destroyers without regard for their personal safety rolled up and down the hedgerows firing HE shells into the enemys position; some direct into foxholes full of enemy soldiers, after which they loaded mortar crews on the back of the destroyers and took them into enemy territory where they established and bean to rain havoc upon his positions.

Sniper fire was coming from foxholes in the vicinity of the 1st battalion command post; the battalion commander ordered them silences and the destroyers placed a round of HE into each foxhole from a range of ten yards, after which no further fire came form the foxholes, but, as they fired on foxhole after foxhole, screaming and shouting was heard and its occupants went into a panic.

Six dead snipers were dragged out of several foxholes later in the evening, but it is estimated that during the days operations at least 100 enemy soldiers were killed by the platoon along with about six machine guns and mortar positions, destroyed. The command post of Company “C” remained 500 yards NE of St Clair during the period under heavy enemy artillery fire throughout the period, followed by an aerial attack at 2300 hours; without casualties.

Enemy snipers reported in the vicinity of the command post at dusk dark.

Flares shot in the vicinity of destroyers positions about 1000 hours and was immediately followed by an artillery barrage without casualties however.

The 1st and 2d platoons supported the 127th Field Artillery Battalion in indirect fire missions through the period; firing 600 rounds into enemy positions in and around St Lo with undetermined results.

The 3d platoon in command of Staff Sergeant George B. Talley, supported the 320th Infantry in a direct assault mission; firing into enemy strong points, machine gun and mortar positions and air bursts upon attacking enemy troops, killing an undetermined number of enemy troops and destroying at least six machine guns and mortars. The command post of the Reconnaissance Company remained in the vicinity of the battalion command post during the period where it was attacked from the air at 1500 hours and a few heavy caliber artillery shells fell during the night.

At 0800 hours the company assigned the mission of assisting the 35th Division Reconnaissance Troop of clearing the woods of enemy snipers in the vicinity of Villiers-Fossard; just north of St Lo, but at 0930 hours the mission was cancelled and the company returned to the assembly area at 1000 hours, with casualties.

Private Henry F. Algarotti was admitted to the hospital due to illness during the period.

July 19, 1944

Command Post,
1/2 Mile SE Fallot, France
192400 July, 1944
Coord 518733

The Division made no contact with the enemy during the period, although the enemy harassed all forward elements with artillery and mortar fire; scattered 88mm artillery fire in the western sector of the Division Front.

Three enemy 109s flew over the command post area at 1500 hours toward the southeast strafing troops on the ground with a few resulting casualties.

French civilians report that the ice plant in St Lo is thoroughly mined and booby-trapped; that the enemy has mined and booby-trapped the woods at coordinates 508614, Map 1/25,000, St Jean De Daye and that German soldiers are roaming the countryside in search of civilian clothing; the purpose being only for two reasons; to escape or act as enemy agents behind our lines.

Tank tracks were observed to the south of St Lo but a thorough air reconnaissance failed to find any enemy tanks in the area, but show defense works on the high ground to the south and southeast of the city.

A captured enemy message indicated that the 2d battalion, 985th Infantry Regiment an element of the 275th Infantry Division is in the vicinity of Agneaux, (486627, 1/25,000, St Jean De Daye) on the Vire River.

Task Force “C” 29th Infantry Division, continued to occupy St Lo and the city was officially declared captured but stiff enemy resistance is being encountered in every building of the city with sniping from every possible position.

The 30th Infantry Division on the right of the Division Sector reverted to a defensive action.

The Division as a whole continued to improve its defensive positions. Several light enemy counterattacks from hedgerows were repulsed during the period with heavy losses inflicted upon attacking troops. Division is relieving the 29th Infantry Division in the St Lo Sector. A total of 46 prisoners, of mixed breeds were captured by all elements of the Division during the period.

All positions of the Division and attached units were severely bombed and strafed by about 100 enemy planes at 2300 hours with some casualties.

The First Edition of the “The Santa Fe”, Division Periodical was released to the members of the Division and attached unit this date.

The 320th Infantry was strafed by the Luftwaffa at 1500 hours while it was enroute to an assembly area with casualties.

The 134th Infantry made a reconnaissance of St Lo and established liaison with Task Force “C” of the 29th Infantry Division, who they will relieve after the hours of daylight. Generally, the Division movement to occupy defensive across Corps Zone; relieving the 29th Infantry Division from St Lo east coordinates 5664, 1/25,000, St Jean De Daye, line generally left boundary: South from La Hale (578692) to St Pierre-Le Semilly (562633). Right: River La Vire, 137th Infantry on the right; 134th in the center and 320th on the left boundary, placing the defensive line generally along the Vire River, St Lo and 562640, 1/25000.

Reconnaissance in the late part of the period established the fact that the enemy had withdrawn to the south of St Lo, and has been shelling the road to the north of the city. Command Post Group alerted for movement and instructions issued to the effect that new area is likely to be mined, booby-trapped and butterfly bombs dropped into it by enemy planes which attacked the entire front at 2300 hours.

When the enemy withdrew from St Lo during the day he left every possible hiding place to the north infested with snipers; in building, hedgerows, abandon foxholes, culverts, ditches and in trees where they have constructed sleeping quarters and observation posts. The city of St Lo is officially captured but hand to hand fighting still rages within it. The city itself is completely destroyed. All public buildings which might have been of any use to the American Army was thoroughly and systematically destroyed by the Bosche before his departure.

Under the city is a network of tunnels, bombs and shell proof, and in which the enemy was using as a hospital and various Headquarters; and which is being turned into an American hospital.

Enemy 88mm artillery shells are falling in the heart of the city from his positions to the south, but no casualties are being sustained because the entire city is deserted all that stands is mute evidence of death and destruction.

Bodies of enemy soldiers are laying road to the northern entrance to the city and have been and continue to be overrun by traffic of all types. Some are flattened and decomposed to such an extent that they resemble the remains of a dog or a cat ran over on a highway and have been subjected to traffic for days. A few French civilians bodies are also in the highway in the same condition.

Column after column of American troops and equipment continue to arrive in the vicinity of the front in preparation for the great task ahead.

Air activity and support has been restricted to the minimum due to weather conditions, which has been rainy with fog for the past several days.

The positions of the Command Post, Headquarters Company and Medical Detachment, did not change during the period.

The enemy attacked the area at 2300 hours with bombs and strafed the area with machine gun fire from the air but we suffered no casualties due to excellent dug-in positions and terrific anti-aircraft fire from the 448th Anti-aircraft battalion.

The Division and Battalion was relieved from attachment to the XIX Army Corps and First U.S. Army, and assigned to the VII Army Corps, and reverted to control of the Third U.S. Army, under Lieutenant General George Patton, Jr.

The Command Post of Company “A” remained 3 miles SE Fit, France, (51220-71640) during the period. It was under heavy enemy artillery fire during the day and heavy enemy air attack at 2300 hours, without casualties.

The 3d platoon relieved the 2d platoon in antitank positions in support of the 137th Infantry at coordinants 489693 at 0700 hours. Very little action being laid around positions during the day and an heavy aerial attack at 2300 hours; all without casualties.

The 2d platoon reverted to a reserve position for the remainder of the period and the first supported the 219th Field Artillery Battalion in in-direct fire mission on enemy targets south of St Lo. Corporal James A. Sebastian, injured and admitted to hospital.

The command post of Company “B” remained 1 mile NE Les Doe Utils, France, (52840-69820) during the period. It was under heavy artillery and mortar fire throughout the period and was attacked from the air by enemy planes at 2300 hours; without casualties.

The 1st platoon was in direct support of the 134th Infantry during the period, with little enemy action, other than artillery and mortar concentrations being laid around its positions and attacked from the air by enemy planes at 2300 hours. No casualties were suffered during the period.

The 2d and 3d platoons supported of the 161st Field Artillery Battalion in indirect fire missions upon enemy targets east and south of ST Lo, with undetermined results.

The command post of Company “C” remained 500 yards NE St Clair during the period. It was under heavy enemy artillery attack during the day and early part of the evening and was bombed and strafed by enemy planes at 2300 hours, without casualties.

The 1st and 2d platoons supported the 127th Field Artillery in indirect fire missions throughout the period, laying concentrations on enemy positions in St Lo, to the south and east of the city with unknown results.

The 3d platoon supported the 320th Infantry during the period in anti-tank positions with little enemy action other than artillery concentrations and aerial attack at 2300 hours without casualties.

Lieut. White asgd and joined company from Headquarters Company, and assumed the duties.

The command post of the Reconnaissance Company remained in the vicinity of the Battalion command post during the period and like the rest of battalion, was subjected to a heavy aerial attack at 2300 hours, without casualties.

The company departed from its command post at 0530 with the mission of assisting the 35th Division Reconnaissance Company in clearing the area between Moon-Sur-Elle and St Lo of enemy snipers who have infiltrated into our lines, or left back by the retreating enemy. Two suspects picked up on bicycles in civilian clothing, but were released after being questions by the Division G-2 Section.

Photos of American landing operations were picked up in an empty house SE of Villiers-Fossard but was not considered to be of any value to the enemy.

The results for the days operation resulted in questioning two suspects in civilian clothing and removing several mines and booby-traps in the area of operations. The company reverted to battalion control at 1545 hours.

At 2400 hours the commanding officer of the battalion issued the following Field Order:

Vicinity Moon-Sur-Elle, France
192400, 1944
FO #2
Maps: Sheets 34/16 NE, NW, SW, scale 1/25,000 France

1.a. The enemy has withdrawn to the S of the River La Vire. No contact
with him has been made since his withdrawal. He has also withdrawn to
positions south of St Lo and has been shelling St Lo and the main roads
to the north. Intensive enemy air activity over this area at 192300.
No casualties reported. All new areas are likely to be mined and booby-trapped;
also butterfly bombs may have been dropped by enemy planes attacking
at 2300 hours. All personnel will be alerted to these situations.

35th Infantry Division are increasing their front, taking over the 29th
Infantry Division Sector, which makes the 25th Inf Divs sector bounded on
the left generally south from La Hale (578691) to St Pierre-Le Semilly
(562633), with the right boundary the River La Vire.

137th Infantry Regt on the right; 134th Infantry Regt in the center
and 320th Infantry Regt on the left. For boundaries see overlay.

The 35th Inf. Div reinforced, will organize and defend the line Vire
River – St Lo and 562640 on 20 July 44, relieving 29th Inf Div to
daylight 20 July.

3. a. One pl of Co A will move to the area bounded by MLR and 137th
Inf E. boundary – RRL and W boundary will be RJ 473652 which is the E
edge of an orchard. This pl will estab AT pos in this area.

b. One pl of B Co will move to the area bounded by MLF and the type
3 road running through the Regimental sector as E boundary – RRL is
W boundary and the 134th Inf W boundary is the plat W boundary. This
pl will estab AT pos in this area and will contact Co C, 821st TD Bn on their
left flank.

c. The pl of the Rcn Co will attach one section to each A&B Cos for
purpose of clearing mines and booby-traps from the area.

d. A co less 1 will move to an indirect fire pos in the vicinity of
La Monblanche (500695). A Co will remain att to the 219th FA Bn.

e. B Co less 1 plat will move to a pos in the vic of the
161st FA Bn, generally E of Villiers-Fossard and 528676 and remain att
to the 161st FA Bn.

f. C Co in Bn Res will move to pos in the vic of Hill 108 (512678)
and remain att to the 216th FA Bn.

g. The CP, Hq and Rcn Cos and Med Det will remain in present pos
but prepared to move upon immediate notice.

h. Rcn will not be made of new areas during the hours of darkness.
A & B Cos be prep to move their two pls that are on secondary missions
to be primary mi positions from which the primary mission may
be accomp are of major importance. Each gun co will maintain an
enlisted liaison man at Divarty CP to which the company is attached.
(It is suggested that this man have a radio equipped jeep and
maintain radio contact with the company).
Movement will be completed by 201300 July 44.
All company commanders are directed to inform their personnel
as to the mission of the 113th Calvary.

4. a. Medical Aid men will move with companies.
b. Bn Aid Sta no change.
c. MM and Bn Supply no change.

5. a. Bn Radio net will remain open
b. Bn will maintain liaison with 821st TD Bn
c. Bn Cp no change

BERRY MARTZ
S-3

At 2400 hours, the following information relative to the crossing of the Vire River was released by the 35th Infantry Division:

The La Vire River from St Lo to La Meauffe averages about 100 feet in width, maximum depth of the river is about 10 feet, the average depth being five feet. It has been reported that the depth 60 feet below the bridge at Pont Hebert is only two feet. The speed of flow is less than three kilometers per hour. The bottom is lime salt.

Banks of the La Vire north of St Lo are moderate, varying form 12 percent to a maximum of 25 percent banks are slate covered with about three feet of firm, easily workable ground. Road approaches in section considered from St Lo to 473640 are steep on the east bank through the west bank in this area averages about 10 percent to 12 percent. North of 473640 both banks are moderate about 10 percent to 14 percent.

Between St Lo and La Meauffe there are three locks located at the following points: 484700 and 493634. South of St Lo are additional locks and two dams, however, there is no lake or reservoir which could be used by the enemy to flood the lower parts of the river. By opening all the locks and corresponding spillways openings of the river control system the river can be drained to about one foot depth in about 12 hours. The river is tidal about 1700 hours. It is unfordable for vehicles from St Lo to the sea.

The closing of the lock at 484700 and damming effect of the destroyed Font Heber Bridge has caused a rise in the river level to near maximum.

North of St Lo there are few positions which could offer serious obstacles to an assault crossing on Infantry. The road network on both sides is adequate to support such an operation, however heavy traffic would be mostly confined to the class 3 or 4 roads which are attainable from the river principally at the bride locations above.

July 20, 1944

Command Post,
1/2 Mile SE Fallot, France
202400 July, 1944
Coord 518733, 1/25,000.

134th Infantry occupied St Lo and relived Task Force “C” 115th Infantry, 29th Infantry Division; the entire 29th Infantry Division being relieved by the 35th Infantry Division.

The entire period was devoted to construction defensive positions in the newly acquired 29th Infantry Division Sector, and mopping up in St Lo, which the enemy is stubbornly resisting.

The city itself is completely destroyed, and the enemy is shelling the debris of the destroyed city from his positions to the south.

The Division G-2 Section reports a large concentration of enemy tanks south of St Lo, and artillery concentrations are being laid upon them by the Division Artillery. One enemy smoke shell fell in the area of the command post at 2250 hours and an enemy artillery barrage was anticipated but did not materialize.

The city of St Lo, rather the debris of the city was declared officially captured on the 19th, but enemy resistence in and around the city remains fierce. At this time we do have positions on the city itself, but every inch of ground has been and continues to be defended to death by the enemy.

The positions of the battalion command post, Headquarters Company, Reconnaissance Company and the Medical Detachment, did not change during the period.

Enemy planes flew over the area at 1500 hours and at 2200 hours but no bombing or strafing was reported.

The Command Post was again re-enforced with sandbags during the period due to increased enemy aerial activity and artillery concentrations in and around the area.

The weather throughout the period was rainy with considerable fog.

The Command Post of Company “A” closed 3 miles SE Fit, France, to the vicinity of La Preterie, France, (50066976, 1/25,000, St Jean De Deye), and received a light concentration of artillery fire immediately upon arrival at its new location (just a reminder by the enemy to let them know that they knew where they were).

The 2d Platoon attached to the 137th Infantry, and in antitank positions at coordinants 486676, was relieved by the 1st platoon at 1100 hours.

The 3d platoon supported the 219th Field Artillery in indirect fire positions throughout the period; firing upon enemy troops and armor concentrations south of St Lo, and upon supply and ammunition installations, with undetermined results.

One section of the Pioneer Platoon, Reconnaissance Company, attached to company for the purpose of clearing newly occupied areas of enemy mines and booby-traps.

The enemy launched two vicious counterattacks in the Pont Hebert Sector but both were beaten off by the 137th Infantry and the 1st and 2d platoons supporting the Regiment.

Private Cecil Walker, assistant gunner, 2d platoon, was slightly injured in action during enemy counterattack, but was treated and returned to a duty status.

At 1600 hours, the positions of the three platoons were: 1st 50126974, 2d 49786990 and 3d 50706976, Map 1/25,000, St Jean De Deye.

The command post of Company “B” closed in the vicinity of Les Doe Utils and established in the vicinity of Villiers-Fossard, France, (528677) at 1303 hours, without enemy contact during the advance, a distance of 1 1/2 miles.

The company was released from attachment with the 161st Field Artillery Battalion and placed in direct support of the 134th Infantry, with the 1st platoon under 1st Lieut. Scott P. Cooper and Staff Sergeant E.L. Smith, upon a special mission with gun positions in the city of St Lo.

The 2d platoon in command of 1st Lieut. Thelen and Staff Sergeant Winston Spinks, and the 3d platoon under 1st Lieut. David R. McNaught and Staff Sergeant Bill Brock, took up anti-tank positions north of St Lo, covering the three main roads leading into the town from the southeast, which were the main avenues of approach for enemy tanks.

Due to heavy enemy artillery and mortar fire coming from positions on high ground south and west of St Lo; the antitank guns of the 134th Infantry being unable to maintain positions in or around the town to cover these routes, making it imperative that the company maintain positions less than 500 yards from the enemys front lines.

Once the guns were placed in position in the town, it was impractical to move them without disclosing their location to enemy observers, thereby drawing artillery and mortar fire not only upon the gun positions but also on the foot troops in town.

Enemy planes bombed and strafed all positions during the hours of darkness but no casualties resulted.

The Command Post of Company “C” moved from the vicinity of St Clair, France, beginning at 1145 hours, and established at 51206785, Map 1/25,000, St Jean De Daye, at 1230 hours.

The company reverted to reserve position and placed in support of the 161st Field Artillery Battalion where all platoons fired indirect fire missions from the vicinity of coordinates 51006825 and 51156790, 1/25,000; laying concentration upon targets of opportunity and upon enemy supply and ammunition dumps south of St Lo, firing a total of 500 rounds during the period.

The company was bombed and strafed by the enemy at 2300 hours. Two 50 KG UXBs were dropped at 510682 and 511679, but no damage or casualties resulted.

One Pioneer Platoon from the Reconnaissance Company were attached to Companies “A” and “B” for the purpose of neutralizing enemy mines and booby-traps in their areas.

July 21, 1944

Command Post,
Villiers-Fossard, France
212400 July, 1944
Coord 524672, 1/25,000, St. Lo

The Division continued to improve its defensive positions during the period. Hand to hand fighting developed in St Lo between the enemy and the 134th Infantry. The enemy shelled the ruins of St Lo through the period, inflicting some casualties upon the 134th Infantry, who is occupying the city.

The 320th Infantry, occupying positions west of St Lo has been under continual enemy artillery, mortar and small arms fire throughout the period and the enemy launched a vicious counterattack against their lines at 1300 hours, which was repelled with heavy losses inflicted upon him.

The 113th Cavalry continued to clean rear areas of enemy snipers during the period.

The 2d Infantry Division is now occupying positions on the left flank of the division.

All positions were harassed during the area by enemy artillery and artillery fire, and by small enemy patrols.

Large cables were found in the area leading into St Lo.

The command Post Group, Headquarters Company and Medical Detachment closed their command posts 1/2 mile SE Fallot, France, at 1230 hours in the rain, and reestablished in the vicinity of Villiers-Fossard, France, (524672, 1/25,000), at 1402 hours, a distance of 5.7 miles. No enemy contact was encountered during the advance.

This position is located on the high ground just north of St Lo in the typical hedgerow country and the entire area is littered with both American and German equipment, however, excellent foxholes are available for the personnel, having been prepared by the enemy against artillery fire.

The enemy is located about 1000 yards to the front in the hedgerows and began shelling the area immediately upon our occupation.

The Command Post Headquarters is being established in a deep ravine, and the top sand bagged by the Pioneer Platoon of the Reconnaissance Company.

It is excellently situated and nothing but a direct hit would cause damage or casualties. 88mm shells are singing overhead, however, but they are landing to the rear of our area.

The entire area represents a mass of enemy mine fields, booby-traps, and duds, and it is dangerous to get off a road or trail. This is war in the raw!

The men are remodeling foxholes and some preparing new ones in fear of those abandon may have time bombs in them or be booby-trapped.

1st Lieut. Gomer D. Hughes, returned to duty from the hospital where he was hospitalized as the result of being wounded by an enemy sniper, and assumed his former duties as Battalion Liaison Officer with the 35h Infantry Division.

A few dead Germans are scattered over the area which we will have to bury, indicating that they were either snipers killed after the enemys retreat, or that he withdrew so rapidly he could not bury his dead, as that is one military custom of the enemy; the burying of his dead, generally well behind his lines.

Promptly at 1030 hours which is about dusk in this part of the world, “Bed check Charlie” (an enemy reconnaissance plane who comes over the area beach night at the same time) flew across the area at about 200 feet and was given his daily greetings; a hail of steel from the 448th AA Battalion and every available machine gun is in the area but as usual, he got away with it.

At 2300 hours our positions were attacked by enemy planes, who dropped bombs and strafed the area. No casualties were suffered by the battalion but several artillerymen to our rear were killed and wounded.

The command post of Company “A” remained in the vicinity of La Preterie, France, (50066976), during the period. It was under heavy enemy artillery fire during the period and was bombed and strafed at 2300 hours by enemy planes; without casualties.

The 2d platoon relieved the 1st platoon in antitank positions in support of the 137th Infantry at 0800 hours, at coordinates 494065990, 1/25,000, and was subjected to intermittent heavy concentrations of enemy mortar and artillery fire after the hours of darkness.

The 3d platoon remained in reserve during the period accomplishing 1st echelon motor maintenance.

The command post of Company “B” remained in the vicinity of Villiers-Fossard, France(528677), during the period, and was subjected to intermittent concentrations of enemy artillery fire and attacked from the air at 0230 hours; all without casualties. All platoons remained in positions in support of the 134th Infantry throughout the period under continuous, heavy enemy artillery and mortar barrages, from enemy positions south of St Lo.

The 2d platoon under 1st Lieut. David J. Thelen, and Staff Sergeant Winston Spinks, relieved Lieut. McNaughts 1st platoon in St Lo at 1115 hours, under intensive enemy artillery fire; the 1st platoon taking the 2d platoon’s position at the northern outskirts of the city.

At 1300 hours, the enemy laid down a terrific artillery barrage upon the 2d platoons position in the city, and at 1315 hours, an 88mm shell ricocheted off the pavement and scored a direct hit under Sergeant Bruce L. Foster’s destroyer, instantly killing 1st Lieut. Thelen and 2d Lieut. Maurice P. Alger, Jr., the company execute officer and seriously wounding Sergeant Foster.

Prior to being relieved by the 2d platoon, the 1st platoon under Lieut. McNaught and Sergeant Smith assaulted an enemy strong point in the city killing and undetermined of enemy soldiers, destroyed several machine gun positions and utterly routed the enemy out of that sector of the town.

The 3d platoon under Lieut. McNaught and Staff Sergeant Brock maintained their anti-tank positions to the north of the city throughout the period under heavy enemy artillery and mortar fire.

The Division Commander, 35th Infantry Division, authorized the withdrawal of the platoon in St Lo to a sager locality, but after consultation with the commanding officer, 3d battalion, 134th Infantry, Captain George A. Stevens, elected to keep the platoon in town as the destroyers were covering a sector of his front that was impossible for any elements of his Infantry units to cover without sustaining several casualties.

All elements of the company were under continuous enemy artillery, mortar and small arms fire, and were attacked from the air by enemy planes after the hours of darkness. The shelling was so severe that the men were forced to live inside their destroyers 24 hours of each day, which were heavily sandbagged on the front, sides and over the top to prevent fragments of shells penetrating into the turret.

All remaining partly destroyed buildings in the vicinity of the platoons positions were further pulverized by enemy artillery and mortar fire, and at the last, the destroyers were surrounded by piles of debris, which had to be cleared before they could be moved from their positions.

There was no change in the positions of Company “C” during the period. All platoons supported the 216th Field Artillery Battalion in indirect fire missions on enemy targets to the east, west, and south of St Lo. The company was subjected to two enemy artillery concentrations during the period and was attacked from the air by enemy planes, during the hours of darkness; all without casualties. One prisoner captured in vic-Cp.

The company post of the Reconnaissance Company remained 1/4 miles SE Fallot, France, where it was subjected to an enemy aerial attack at 2401 hours and again at 0145 hours, both without suffering casualties. Both attacks were of 35 minutes duration during which several 50KG bombs were dropped and the area thoroughly machine gunned, after it was alighted by flares dropped by leading elements of the enemy aerial formation. The Pioneer Platoon cleared mines and booby-traps in various battalion areas during the period, and checked the battalion command post for UXBs, mines and booby-traps, after which it reverted to company control at 1800 hours. Pvt 1cl George L. Hatey, admitted to hospital due to illness.

July 22, 1944

Command Post,
Villiers-Fossard,
222400 July, 1944
Coord 524672, 1/25,000.

The enemy harassed our front line units, and rear areas, with both medium and light artillery and mortar fire throughout the period; inflicting casualties.

The enemy continues strong counter-patrol activities during the period.

It is believed that due to the accuracy, some artillery fire is being directed by German agents left in the rear areas by the retreating enemy, or through infiltration to the rear of our lines after the hours of darkness. It is known that enemy agents posing as French refugees are in the rear of our lines.

Shoulder patches worn by troops in the forward areas will not be photographed by amateur photographers, and all personnel are forbidden to disclose their present or former geographical locations to any one; by that is meant their location when in the United Kingdom or since being on the continent.

The enemys 8th and 5th Paratroop Regiments have been identified by the 2d Division, on our left flank who reports that the personnel of these regiments are pure German, and are excellently seasoned troops and purely Nazi-bred.

The 30th Infantry Division on our right flank and the 2d Infantry on our left flank continued to occupy and defend their sectors during the period with little activity.

The 29th Infantry Division was placed in Corps Reserve upon being relieved by the 35th Infantry Division the 20th July, 1944.

All positions in St Lo were under continual artillery barrage during the period.

The Division continued to defend sector during the period under heavy concentration of enemy artillery and mortar fire and determined, fanatical counterattacks, with a view of recapturing St Lo, but each attempt has been thrown back and heavy losses inflicted upon him upon each attempt.

The 35th Division Reconnaissance Company, assisted by the Reconnaissance Company, 654th Tank Destroyer Battalion, continued to round up snipers in the rear areas.

The positions of the command post, Headquarters Company and Medical Detachment did not change during the period.

The command post was further re-enforced after an enemy artillery concentration fell in the rear in the vicinity of a battery of “Long-Tom” artillery, killing a member of the personnel.

The men have become accustom to the “whine” of the 88’s, but due respect for them, and realize their capabilities.

All men now have excellent foxholes and nothing but a direct hit from artillery or large caliber aerial bomb would cause casualties.

Instructions were issued regarding telephone conversations; warning all concerned that the enemy may be tapped-in and listening in to the conversations, and security in this respect may be observed.

“Bed-Check Charlie” was over the area at 2230 hours dropping flares and machine gunning the area. He was greeted with the routine reception; a hail of steel from every thing that would shoot, but as usual he made his getaway.

It did get so hot for him however that he was forced to cut-loose his spare gas cans, one of which landed directly in a foxhole where two soldiers had taken cover in an adjacent unit, breaking his leg in three places. No casualties were suffered by our unit.

The command post of Company “A” did not change during the period; remaining in the vicinity of La Preterie(506976).

Private Karl E. Rice, 3d platoon, captured one enemy prisoner at coordinates 4985 at 2019 hours; suspected of being a sniper.

The 3d platoon relieved the 1st platoon in antitank positions at coordinates 49406590, in support of the 137th Infantry with little enemy activity other than artillery and mortar fire, and being attacked from the air by the enemy after hours of darkness.

The 2d platoon maintained positions in the vicinity of the company command post under artillery and mortar fire, and aerial attack during the night; with casualties.

The command post of Company “B” remained in the vicinity of Villiers-Fossard, France, (528677), during the period under artillery fire and aerial attack during the hours of darkness.

The company remained in support of the 134th Infantry during the period with positions in St Lo and on the northern outskirts of the city. All elements of the company were under intensive enemy artillery and mortar fire throughout the period and aerial attack at 2300 hours, without casualties.

The 3d platoon relieved the 2d platoon in town of St Lo at 2100 hours under a heavy enemy artillery and mortar barrage, without casualties. The 2d platoon taking over positions formerly occupied by the 3d platoon.

The 1st platoon remained in anti-tank positions in the northern outskirts of the town throughout the period under continual enemy artillery and mortar fire, and aerial attack after the hours of darkness; all without casualties.

The command post of Company “C” did not change during the period; remaining in the vicinity of coordinants 51206785, 1/25,000, in a reserve position and supporting the 216th Field Artillery Battalion in indirect fire missions with targets in and south of St Lo; firing a total of 405 rounds during the period.

All elements of the company were under intermittent artillery fire during the period and were attacked from the air by enemy planes during the night. No casualties were suffered during the period.

The command post of the Reconnaissance Company, having remained 1/4 mile SE Fallot, France, (520735, 1/25,000), closed in that area at 0930 hours and established in the vicinity of Villiers-Fossard, France, (525672, 1/25,000) just north of St Lo, at 1030 hours, a distance of 5.7 miles without contact during the advance.

It has been determined that the enemy is using M1 rifles, captured from Americans, on our front.

The weather during the period was rainy, with fog; reducing visibility to about zero.

The Pioneer Platoon continued to dig-in the command posts of the battalion and the Division Artillery during the day; using over 2000 sandbags.

At 2000 hours, a detail consisting of Staff Sergeant Ross G. Norris, Staff Sergeant Raymond R. Wilson, Staff Sergeant Jolly White, Pvt1cl Boyd Driggers, Pvt1cl Travis O. Fowler, Pvt1cl Walter Sidorek, Privates William Cockfield, Italo W. Gatto, Mack H. Leggett, all of Reconnaissance Company, and Pvt1cl Joseph Talon, Headquarters Company, all volunteers, under the direction of the battalion commander, Lieut-Colonel William V. Martz, extricated the bodies of Lieutenants Thelan and Alger, under an intensive enemy barrage of artillery and mortar fire, where they had been lying for two days, after being killed at 1315 hours, 21 July.

Not only was the mission a hazardous undertaking, but it was necessary to carry the bodies on litters, by hand for over a mile through ravines, ditches, hedgerows and through areas which was infested with enemy snipers, during which every step of the road was under one of the severest barrages laid down by the enemy in this sector.

No casualties were suffered by the detail and its mission accomplished and Colonel Martz personally commended each individual of the party and recommended each for the Bronze Star Medal, which was at a later date awarded.

July 23, 1944

Command Post,
Villiers-Fossard, France
232400 July, 1944
Coord 524672, 1/25,000, St. Lo

The 320th Infantry maintained contact with the 2d Infantry Division on the left flank throughout the period. The Division continued to hold secure, improve and defend all sectors during the period.

One Russian, in civilian clothing, turned himself into the Military Police at the Division command post, saying that he was forced to fight in the German Army, and had escaped to our lines by taking the clothing from the body of a dead French civilian. He reported excessive drunkenness in the German Army, both among its officers and as well as enlisted personnel, and that women, some of which were French, are acting as agents for the enemy.

The enemy continued to subject the ruins of St Lo to a continuous artillery and mortar barrage, without a pause throughout the day and night.

113th Cavalry and Reconnaissance Company, 654th Tank Destroyer Battalion continued to mop-up snipers in the rear who have infiltrated through our lines, during the hours of darkness, or dressed in civilian clothes.

It is believed that some elements of the 8th Paratroop Regiment are located in the Division Sector.

About ten enemy planes flew over the area at 2050 hours, but did not drop any bombs or strafe the area. Mission unknown, evidently on reconnaissance.

Artillery of all calibers fell in our forward and rear areas throughout the period, causing damage and casualties.

An enemy patrol consisting of seven (7) enlisted men was contacted at coord 517626, at 2000 hours, where a fight ensued with unknown results.

Seven Russian prisoners captured during the period in civilian clothing who had escaped from the German Army (they say!).

It is believed that a small patrol assisted by the use of smoke, attempted a river crossing in the vicinity of 545657, during the period, but were repulsed.

Numerous gas alarms have spread through the division sector, the will not be used to give a gas alarm.

The positions of the command post, Headquarters Company and Medical Detachment, did not change during the period.

The command post area was subjected to one the fiercest enemy aerial attacks at 0145 hours until 0200 hours, that it has ever withstood. Excellent foxholes paid dividends when about 25 enemy planes swooped down out of the overcast skies dropping flares at 0145, followed by heavy caliber bombs, and hundreds of antipersonnel bombs, after which the area was thoroughly machine gunned for one half hour.

The 1000 KG (1 ton) bomb was dropped in the Reconnaissance Company’s area, landing between the tents occupied by Sergeant Rasberry (etc), hitting the root of a tree stopped the bulk of the concussion, and damaging a jeep parked in the vicinity. One KG (100 pound) bomb landed 100 feet from the foxhole occupied by Captain John W. Carson, Battalion Adjutant, and 1st Lieut. John W. Zack, Battalion Intelligence Officer.

No casualties resulted from this action in the battalion, but several men were killed and wounded in an artillery unit just to our rear.

The aerial attack on this night seemed to be general. All rear echelon installations were bombed and machine gunned with heavy casualties.

Immediately following the aerial attack the enemy started pumping heavy artillery into the area which continued to daylight, but his fire being observed was not so effective and no casualties were sustained in this action.

At daylight the men were up working on their foxholes; Jerry had taught them a lesson which they had not heretofore realized and they were taking heed to that lesson too.

The sniper situation is generally increasing in gravity; at this time it is necessary to send two people upon missions so that one can protect the other, especially during the hours of darkness.

Additional sandbags were used to re-enforce the command post and all foxholes following the enemy attack during the night.

The enemy has not failed to realize, and take advantage of the fact, the woods and hedgerows are so full of American troops and equipment that an attack upon any sector will cause casualties and damage to equipment.

Staff Sergeant Boone Ayres, following the attack, moved his kitchen into a ravine back into the woods in such a position that only a direct hit would put it out of operation. Strict 50 yard intervals between men in the chow line is being enforced. The battle of St Lo ranges on from house to house; basement to basement, hedgerow to hedgerow; foxhole to foxhole to foxhole, in the slow drizzling rain. American troops are in the debris of St Lo but its former location is still being contested by the enemy in a fanatical manner; the pure Nazis choosing to die before they will retreat.

Duds mines booby-traps, and all kinds of other devices which could be used to cause casualties are being removed form the area. Numerous bodies, both American and German within the area have been booby-trapped by the desperately retreating enemy. The bodies of Lieutenants Thelen and Alger were turned over the 608th Graves Registration Company for burial.

The command post of Company “A” remained in the vicinity of La Preterie, France, (50066976, 1/25,000), where all elements were subjected to a heavy enemy aerial attack at 0145 hours, followed by intensive artillery and mortar fire; both without suffering casualties due to the efficient manner in which the men had prepared their foxholes.

The 1st platoon relieved the 3d platoon in its antitank positions northwest of ST Lo, France, (494659, 1/25,000), at 0700 hours. The platoon having been under continual enemy artillery and mortar fire throughout the period, and under heavy enemy aerial attack for one hour beginning at 0145 hours; all without casualties.

The 2d platoon remained in support on the 219th Field Artillery in indirect fire missions upon enemy installations during the period, supported by the 1st platoon upon their relief from antitank positions in support of the 137th Infantry at 0800 hours.

All elements of the company were subjected to intensive artillery and mortar fire throughout the day and a terrific aerial assault at 0145 hours; all without casualties. The position of the command post of Company “B” bid not change during the period. All elements of the company were under intensive artillery and mortar fire and a vicious aerial attack at 0145 hours, during the period.

All platoons in their positions in, and north of St Lo were subjected to a continual artillery and mortar fire barrage to such an extent that no crew could get out of his destroyer at any time.

During the aerial attack upon the command post Sergeant Henry J. Patrick’s shelter half was blown from over his foxhole and riddled with bomb fragments, but he himself escaped injury.

The company remained in direct support of the 134th Infantry throughout the period with antitank positions in St Lo and on the northern outskirts of the city, all positions under a continual enemy artillery and mortar barrage.

The 3d platoon under 1st Lieut. David R. McNaught and Staff Sergeant Winston Spinks, relieved the 2d platoon, with positions in the town of St Lo, under heavy enemy artillery and mortar fire. It being impossible to move the destroyers due to enemy artillery fire, just the crews were replaced and the destroyers of the 2d platoon left in position.

Two enemy prisoners were captured by the 3d platoon in St Lo during the afternoon. Private Thomas C. Stoddard, Security Section, 3d Platoon, was injured when he dove headfirst into a foxhole when he heard an 88 mm whistling; fragments from the burst ripping Lieut McNaught’s combat suit (close eh Mc!)

The 2d platoon upon being relieved in St Lo withdrew (the crew only) and took over destroyers of the 3d platoon, in antitank positions with the 1st platoon on the northern approaches of the city, where both platoons were subjected to continuous shellfire from enemy artillery and mortar positions to the south and southwest of the city, and were subjected to a terrific aerial attack about midnight; however no casualties were suffered throughout the ordeal.

The morale of the men, having been under continuous enemy fire since 20 July, began to break and very little sleep had been obtained by all members of the company since that date. Shelling was so intense during this period that it was necessary for the men to live absolutely in their destroyers; cook, eat and what little sleep they did get had to be gotten inside their destroyers under a hail of enemy steel.

So bad were the conditions as the result of intensive enemy fire that it was necessary for the men in destroyers to use “C” Ration cans for defecation and urinating purposes.

It was suggested that the company be relieved and replaced by “A” or “C” Company but due to the proximity of the enemy, who was firing upon everything that moved it was impossible to get another company into their positions, or to withdraw them without suffering heavy casualties so it was decided to postpone their relief in hopes that conditions would soon be better or the situation at least temporarily relieved.

There was no change in Company “C” positions during the period. It remained in reserve supporting the 216th Field Artillery Battalion in indirect fire missions upon enemy installations and concentrations to the south and southwest of the city of St Lo. The company received several heavy concentrations of 88mm artillery fire during the day and was attacked from the air at 0145 hours; all without casualties.

The command post of the Reconnaissance Company remained in the vicinity of the battalion command post and elements of the company continued to assist the 113th Cavalry in mopping up the sniper menace and removing booby-traps and mines of all description left by the retreating enemy.

One sniper in civilian clothes was captured and several killed during the day’s operations. The company was subjected to a terrific aerial attack at 0145 hours for a period of thirty minutes.

One 1000 (1 ton) bomb was dropped in the area, uprooting a large tree, which it struck about 50 feet from tents occupied by sergeant.

July 24, 1944

Command Post,
Villiers-Fossard, France
242400 July, 1944
Coord 524672, 1/25,000

The Division maintained contact with the enemy and continued to improve and defend its sector against violent enemy counterattacks and artillery concentrations.

Enemy’s 6th Company, 914th Infantry Regiment, 382d Division was identified on the Division’s sector during the period.

Prisoners confirm the report that Paratroops wore in assembly areas East of the St Lo Torigni-Sur-Vire Highway.

The enemy continues to harass forward elements with heavy artillery concentrations including the town of St Lo, which is reduce to shambles.

Civilians who have lived in the underground tunnels in St Lo for weeks are gradually being evacuated by the Civil Intelligence Corps; some of them blind as a result of their plight; some wounded, some crazy, some shell-shocked, some raving maniacs and some half starved to death.

Enemy prisoners state that they were informed, via the grapevine, of the attempt upon Hitler’s life on 21 July, in the form of a note passed from person to person, stating that bombs had been dropped on him while enroute to the Western Front. The following day another grapevine paper was circulated containing extracts from Hitler’s speech in which he said that the attempt upon his life had failed, since it was God’s Will that he should continue the fight against the Allies and Jewery.

At 1300 hours friendly anti-radar was dropped from our planes to hinder German radar machines; evidently planning a gigantic air assault on the enemy’s positions, but which has not as yet materialized.

At 1500 hours the Division Intelligence Officer issued the following instructions to all units; Be on the lookout for enemy troops infiltrating through our lines equipped with signal flares. If a flare of any description is observed, it must be reported AT ONCE, giving the directions as to which it was fired. It has been definitely determined that enemy troops are infiltrating through our lines equipped with flares, marking artillery and other positions, which are immediately subjected to heavy enemy artillery concentrations. This must end at once.

The positions of the command post, Headquarters Company, Medical Detachment and the Reconnaissance Company did not change during the period.

“Bed Check Charlie” visited the area promptly at 2230 hours, dropping flares and loosing his machine-gun upon the area without results, however.

At 0345 hours, the area was subjected to another violent air attack by about fifteen enemy planes; who dropped bombs, flares and machine gunned the area for about thirty minutes. No casualties resulted due to excellently dug-in positions.

The 448th AA Battalion destroyed three of the attacking planes during the attack Casualties were inflicted upon an artillery unit to our rear during the attack.

Weather conditions have no bearing upon the air activity of the enemy. In fact he generally chooses dark, rainy nights or days for attack, thereby assuring himself to be free from encountering American planes as he is well aware of the fact that our men and planes don’t fly in adverse weather conditions unless it is an existing emergency. Attacks during the past two nights have been made in the rain.

The command post of “A” Company remained in the vicinity of La Preterie, France, (50066976, 1/25,000) during the period, under intermittent enemy artillery fire and aerial attack at 0345 hours; all without casualties.

The 2d platoon relieved the 1st platoon in anti-tank positions at coordinants 495658, 1/25,000, at 0800 hours, when the 1st platoon reverted to a reserve position for the remainder of the period.

The 3d platoon, in support of the 219th Field Artillery, fired indirect fire missions throughout the period; laying concentrations upon enemy targets to the south and southwest of St Lo with undetermined results.All elements of the company were under intermittent enemy artillery concentration during the period and was subjected to an aerial attack by about 25 enemy planes at 0345 hours; all without casualties.

The command post of Company “B” remained unchanged during the period. All platoons were under heavy accurate enemy artillery and mortar fire throughout the period, and was subjected to air attack at 0345 hours without casualties.

Company remained in direct support of the 134th Infantry, with one platoon occupying positions in St Lo and the other two with positions in the northern approaches to the city, all under continual, heavy artillery and mortar fire throughout the period.

At 0800 hours when breakfast was being served to 1st platoon “B”, whose positions were at coordinants 1/25,000, St Lo protected by an embankment which was considered “dead space”, but under enemy observation from positions about 300 yards to the southeast, he fired an air burst concentration, thought to be from a six barrel Rocker Projector (NEBEL- WERFER), of 150 mm caliber, into the position and caused one of the worst disasters suffered by the battalion to date; killing Staff Sergeant E.L. Smith, the Platoon Sergeant; Sergeant Ottmar M. Zaenglein; Corporal Sam Bycheck; Tech 5 Grade Andrew R. Fraley; Pvt1cl John W. Freeman and Privates McRae Davis, Hans Shwert and Eugene C. Farrell, Company Aid Man, and seriously wounding 1st Lieut. Scott P. Cooper, the Platoon Leader; Sergeant Richard O. Walker; Corporals Frank Gallina, Stanley Residlo, Tech 5 Grades Raymond Bechtold, Michael Strenchock, Privates First Class Fred J. Baushke, Matthew Bletch and Private Patrick Casella.

Staff Sergeant John D. Kieth, company mess sergeant who was serving chow to the platoon, heard the shells screaming and dove head first into a foxhole, receiving a superficial flesh wound by shrapnel fragments, but saving his life.

One destroyer was slightly damaged and one jeep destroyed as a result of this action. The news of this disaster spread rapidly within the battalion, which was a shock to each and every man and its effects could be noted upon the faces of the personnel.

At 2400 hours the 2d platoon relieved the 1st platoon of its positions where it had been almost completely annihilated during the morning; leaving the 3d platoon in St Lo under heavy artillery and mortar fire without relief.

During the period a fragment from an enemy HE airburst struck the grenade compartment in Sergeant Robert M. Culberson’s destroyer, exploding two grenades in the turret and seriously wounding Sergeant Culberson who was evacuated after the hours of darkness.

After being subjected to continuous enemy shell fire since the 20th of July, without sleep, hot food, having to live in their destroyers, wet and cold and in continual fear of being killed, together will be the loss of nine men killed and twelve wounded during the day, the company was in a complete state of demoralization.

Colonel Martz visited the positions during the day and reported that he saw for himself grown men crying from fear, completely demoralized and of no value in a combat mission, and directed that the entire company be relieved by Company “C” and placed in reserve until such time as they could rest, reorganize and recuperate from their losses and ordeals; but, such relief could not be accomplished for at least twenty tour hours due to the tactical situation.

The bodies of the dead could not be immediately recovered as the enemy was laying concentration after concentration upon the area, and with perfect observation from high ground to the southeast of the position, could observe every move, which would draw artillery fire.

The wounded were evacuated by members of the platoon under heavy enemy barrage, but without further casualties.

The command post of Company “C” closed at coordinants 51206785, 1/25,000, at 2100 hours and established 2 miles NW Villiers-Fossard, France, (5155-6945, 1/25,000 St Lo ) a distance of 2 miles. No enemy contact during the advance.

The company remained in reserve during the period supporting the 216th Field Artillery Battalion in indirect fire missions south and southwest of St Lo; concentrations being laid on enemy supply and ammunition dumps; troop concentrations and strong points. Intermittent artillery fire fell in the area during the night and the area was strafed by “Bed Check Charlie” at 2300 hours, without casualties.

The command post of the Reconnaissance Company remained in the vicinity of the command post during the period, where it was subjected to aerial attack and intermittent artillery fire without casualties.

The Pioneer Platoon continued to re-enforce the Division Artillery and Battalion Command Posts during the period. Increased friendly air activity is being noted over the front. Radar strips to interfere with enemy radar machines were dropped along the front during the afternoon, but rain and fog soon thereafter prevented the planned air strike.

The Battle of St. Lo. has, and continues, to cost America a terrific price in American lives and blood. Hundreds of American bodies are strewn over the battlefield in such positions as to where they cannot be recovered due to enemy observation. The city of St. Lo. is reduced to ashes. All that is left of the city of which once had a population of 11,000 persons, is a pile of smoldering debris. The battle for St. Lo. which will go down in history as one of the fiercest battles in which American troops have ever participated.

Every type of enemy treachery has been employed; including the use of captured American ambulances of transporting ammunition; misuse of the white flag and posing as French refugees. All of which have been detected by our Intelligence Staff.

July 25, 1944

Command Post,
Villiers-Fossard, France
252400 July, 1944
Coord 524672, 1/25,000

The 30th Division on our right flank attacked following the saturation bombing of the enemy’s lines at 1100 hours. The 2d Infantry on left flank continued to defend its sector. The enemy shelled St. Lo. and positions occupied by the 134th Infantry throughout the day and night.

The 137th Infantry practiced Infantry Tank Team Assault for the second day. The Division Artillery fired interdiction and neutralization fires in support of the 30th Infantry Division attack beginning at 1000 hours. In general the Division continued hold, secure and improve its positions in, and around St. Lo. during the period.

Snipers continue to infiltrate through our lines and fire at individual soldiers from positions in the ruins of St Lo.; several officers and noncommissioned officers have been killed as a result of this type of action. The enemy launched two desperate counterattacks with a view of capturing St. Lo, but has been repulsed upon each attempt and heavy casualties inflicted upon him.

The enemy is evidentially preparing to withdraw to the East banks of the Vire River, as some artillery positions have already been located along that sector. Warning issued to all units to be on the alert for a mass bombing attack after darkness in reprisal for the American attack upon his lines, beginning at 1000 hours this date. Bombing did not materialize. The general enemy situation during the period was: The enemy continued to dig in his positions south of St. Lo. Three prisoners were captured from the Panzer Lehr Division during the period.

A decrease was noted in enemy artillery fire during the past 24 hours, but he continued to harass forward areas with intermittent concentrations with resulting casualties. Only one enemy plane flew over the area at 0115 but dropped no bombs or flares. The enemy employed smoke and flares in our forward areas during the hours of darkness, and his Infantry continued small arms fire and counter-patrol activities during the period.

An extract from Battle Order Number 11, from German General Headquarters on the Western Front, states that all fighter and reconnaissance planes in Normandy Sector, will wear a black and white spiral, painted on their spinners, effective 20 July, 1944. The positions of the command post, Headquarters Company and Medical Detachment did not change during the period.

Enemy artillery fire, 88mm, fell around the command post area throughout the period, and the area was subjected to another bombing and strafing by enemy planes at 2300 hours, led by “Bed Check Charlie”, without casualties.

The ex-city of St. Lo. has been officially captured but the enemy continues to defend every building, every street and every hedgerow with desperation. The weather today, for a change, was partly clear but a considerable haze hung over the skies, when at 1030 hours a formation of P-47’s swooped over our sector flying in the direction of the enemy’s front lines, turning slightly west to the Division’s boundary line with the 30th Infantry Division and dropped smoke bombs. About ten minutes later a formation of heavy bombers appeared above the area dropping anti-radar strips to interfere with enemy radar machines. Thousand of anti-radar strips were dropped in the area which floated in the air for about one hour.

At 1045 hours the earth began to vibrate and as every soldier on the front came from his foxhole to see what was going on, the entire Northwest was black with formations of American heavy bombers; hundreds upon hundreds. The men leaped from trenches, gun positions, foxholes and from any other positions in which they were to witness one of the greatest mass bombings ever laid down upon an enemy’s front line positions.

The first formation of bombers was met with a terrific anti-aircraft barrage and one B-17 (Flying Fortress) was seen to burst into flames and head toward the ground; evidently taking all its crew down with it. The second wave of attackers met less anti-aircraft fire, but one plane was hit and burst into flames; thought to be a P-47 escort. The pilot attempted to get out of the burning wreckage as it plunged to the earth but his parachute opened and caught on the tail assembly and he crashed to his death behind the enemy’s lines.

The third wave met little, if any anti-aircraft fire, but one Liberator was hit and fell behind the enemy’s lines; the crew bailing out of the burning plane. After that no further enemy fire was encountered and the bombers bombed at will without interference.

For one hour and fifteen minutes ton after ton of bombs were placed upon the enemy’s positions. The day had arrived when Jerry was about to be on his way back to the Fatherland; not as a hero, which he has so long been accustom, but as a beaten, battered and terrific disorganized mob; running screaming and begging for his life.

An occasional burst from our “Long Tom Batteries” in our rear would burst forth and mark an area to be bombed with a smoke shell.

After one hour and fifteen minutes of bombing, the enemy’s front had been pounded into pulverization by 3000 Fortresses, Liberators, P-47’s and P51’s; on a three mile front and to a depth of fourteen miles, dropping well over 3000 tons of bombs upon the helpless and terrified enemy. A 100 pound bomb was planted upon his front lines every nine square yards on a three mile front.

The artillery from the rear of our positions laid fire on enemy anti-craft batteries when they opened up first and continued throughout the bombing to mark targets on the various parts of the front for bombing.

Every American soldier who stood out in the open for once, most of them without their weapons, felt proud of his American ancestry as he realized that the enemy was now, even tho late, was getting a dose of what Mr. Roosevelt promised him back in 1942, when at that time Adolf the Great laughed about his dream.

When the last plane cleared the area, which was of P-47s and P-51s who have to have a little fun by remaining back and strafing the area for about twenty minutes, the 30th Infantry Division on our right flank attacked.

Upon approaching the enemy lines, his soldiers who had escaped death or injury, as a result of the bombing, were hysterical; some raving maniacs; some with blood streaming from their ears, noses and mouths; some crying like children, dazed, trembling and begging for mercy.

In all history it is doubtful that there has ever been such an action with such amazing results. The fear of the Almighty God was thrown into the “Supermen” who survived this massacre and hundreds of them followed our men begging to be taken prisoner.

The enemy in the St Lo Sector were so terrified by the mass bombing of their lines until they became completely disorganized and disregarding military traditions of their Army started their flight southward individually and by groups; some by whole companies.

General George Patton, Jr., (“Old Blood and Guts”) with his powerful Third U.S. Army on the continent broke through the gap which was bombed and headed toward Avanches with little opposition from a disorganized, confused, terrified German Army.

The battle for St Lo was officially concluded on the 19 July, but it was not until the 25th of July did the enemy realize that the entire German Army was in the first stages of complete annihilation.

Enemy prisoners who survived the mass bombing shivered and screamed in their cages, well secured in American hands, upon the approach of an American plane.

They had seen the proud Luffwaffa in its days of glory and achievements, but never had any of them realized such a catastrophe could ever happen to the Wermatch.

Prisoners were in a terrified and dazed condition for days after their captured, trying to realize, and some refusing to believe that such a thing could happen to the German Army.

Just prior to the air strike a few enemy artillery shells fell within the area, but after the attack all was silent on the enemy’s front, except for the clatter of rifle and machine gun fire from our attacking troops.

The Divisions Artillery Liaison Planes (“Grandma”), made a thorough reconnaissance of the bombed area and reported that nothing was moving in the area; all that was visible was battered and torn bodies and equipment.

Lieut-General Leslie McNair, Commanding General of the U.S. Army Ground Forces, who was a spectator at the front was accidentally killed during the attack when a bomb fell short of its target.

During the attack not an enemy’s plane was encountered. After the anti-aircraft batteries were silenced, the enemy offered no further resistence to the attackers.

The morale and spirit of the men in the front lines were excellent; realizing that the great day had at last arrived and that those of we who were to survive would soon be on the road home, via Paris and Berlin.

General Patton attacked in the torn gap with a Tank Infantry Team; Infantry riding on the back of the tanks and rolled through without very much opposition and headed south; he himself, pearl-handled pistols, field glasses and all, at the head of the attack.

Rumors run high all over the front and soldiers gathered in little groups to express their personal ideas about the operation.

The command post of Company “A” remained in the vicinity of La Preterie, France, (50066976, 1/25,000) during the period.

At 0040 hours they reported four yellow flares were fired about 1000 yards southeast of the 3d platoons positions, but no artillery concentration has resulted.

The 1st and 2d platoons supported the 219th Field Artillery Battalion in indirect fire missions during the period; firing 176 rounds upon enemy targets to the south and southwest of St Lo, with undetermined results.

The destroyers of the 3d platoon are now camouflaged by new painting. It relieved the 2d platoon in anti-tank positions at coordinants 495658, 1/25,000, St Lo, during the period; in support of the 137th Infantry. Platoon received some intermittent artillery during the hours of darkness but without casualties.

The command post of Company “B” remained in the vicinity of Villiers-Fossard under intermittent enemy artillery fire, and was strafed by one enemy plane at 2300 hours. No casualties resulted in these actions.

The bodies of members of the 1st platoon who were killed at 0800 hours 24 July have not been recovered yet due to heavy artillery and mortar fire in the area.

The crews of the 3d platoon took over the destroyers in St Lo from the 2d platoon at 2130 hours under heavy enemy artillery and mortar fire; it yet being impossible to move the destroyers from their original positions.

The 3d Battalion, 134th Infantry, was relieved in St Lo, and its positions took by the 2d Battalion, commanded by Lieut-Colonel Thompson, who requested that the guns remain in position, which was agreed to by Captain George A. Stevens, the company commander.

The 1st and 2d platoons maintained their anti-tank positions in the northern outskirts of the city under heavy enemy artillery and mortar fire from the south and southeast of the city.

Tech 5 Grade Eugene A. Bordelon, Private Ralph E. Osborn and Private George Stobmal were transferred to the company form Company “B”, during the period.

The status of Company “C’ did not change during the period; remaining in reserve and supporting the 216th Field Artillery Battalion in indirect fire missions.

Tech 5 Grade Stephen L. Schauer and Pvt1cl Horace A. Brown, transferred to Company “A”; Tech 5 Grade Eugene A. Bordelon, Privates Ralph E. Osborn and George Stachmal, Jr.; transferred to Company “B”; Privates Myron L. Mason and Dante L. Stabile duty to hospital due to illness.

The command post of the Reconnaissance Company remained in the vicinity of the Battalion command post during the period under intermittent artillery fire, and enemy strafing from the air at 2300 hours; all without casualties.

One section of the Pioneer platoon cleared mines from roads north of St Lo in Company “C” ‘s area in anticipation of that company relieving Company “B” in St Lo during the night.

Staff Sergeant Ross G. Norris was admitted to hospital as the result of illness.

Orders were issued this date by the 35th Infantry Division, to the effect that no individual, under any circumstances, would accept a drink of wine, cider, cognac or any other kind of alcoholic beverage from a French civilian.

July 26, 1944

Command Post,
Villiers-Fossard, France
262400 July, 1944
Coord 524672, 1/25,000.

30th Infantry Division continued to attack to our right flank. The 2d Infantry Division to our left flank attacked at 0600 hours in overcast weather, which cleared up during the afternoon.

The Division artillery laid concentrations in the “Goose-Neck” of the River Vire, west of St Lo, and on the high ground south of St Lo, with undetermined results.

The 35th Reconnaissance Troop continued to hunt snipers who had infiltrated through our lines during the night, with good results.

The enemy launched a counterattack in an effort to recapture St Lo for the 10th consecutive time since the 19th, but was repulsed with heavy losses.

Division artillery is now laying concentrations upon the enemy’s positions south of St Lo and along the west banks of the Vire River.

The enemy continued to subject the smoldering ruins of St Lo to unmerciful shelling; day and night.

The entire Division front was attacked by enemy planes during the hours of darkness, with resulting casualties.

The enemy’s 8th regiment, 3rd Paratroop Division, consisting of 1900 men and officers, was identified on the Divisions front when three prisoners form this unit were captured during the period, who stated that this regiment replaced the 9th Paratroop Regiment on the 15th of July, 1944.

The enemy continued to harass our font lines with rifle and machine-gun fire; employing a minimum of artillery.

The 30th Infantry Division, supported by tanks continued to pour through the gap bombed by the air strike the 25th; heading toward Avanches on the western coast of France. General Patton’s ultimate objective, evidently is the cutting off of the Breast Peninsula.

There was no change in the positions of the command post, Headquarters Company, Medical Detachment and Reconnaissance Company during the period; remaining in the vicinity of Villiers-Fossard.

The area was subjected to a terrific enemy aerial attack at 0200 hours; the enemy dropping flares following by bombs, most anti-personnel bombs weighing about two pounds, then methodically machine-gunned the area for fifteen minutes; all without causing casualties (but plenty of sweating).

Colonel Martz, the battalion commander, personally inspected all gun positions of the unit during the day and ordered that Company “B” be relieved from the front lines at once.

There has been little activity since the air strike; evidently the enemy is preparing to withdraw his demoralized army to the south and east.

An occasional 88mm shell lands to our rear and once in a while a rifle report from a sniper hidden in the hedgerows.

There was no change in the position of the command post of Company “A” remaining in the vicinity of La Preterie, France, where it received intermittent rounds of enemy artillery fire and an enemy aerial attack during the night; without casualties.

The 3d platoon continued to maintain anti-tank positions in support of the 137th Infantry at coordinants 495659, 1/25,000, St Jean De Daye, receiving intermittent artillery and mortar fire throughout the period and suffering an aerial attack at 2300 hours without casualties.

The 1st and 2d platoons continued to support the 219th Field Artillery Battalion in indirect fire missions throughout the period.

Company “B” moved from 1 mile NE Villiers-Fossard to 1 mile NW Villiers-Fossard, France coordinants, 1/25,000, St Jean De Daye.

All elements of the company was relieved of their missions at the front at 1700 hours by Company “C” and the tired, sleepy, shell-wracked men withdrew to the rear to rest, reorganize and recuperate from their ordeal during the past five days, and to support the 161st Field Artillery Battalion in indirect fire missions.

Private 1cl Claude L. Wright, was wounded by enemy mortar fire, treated by the unit surgeon, awarded the Purple Heart and returned to duty.

The accomplishments, bravery, devotion to duty, and determination on the part of the men of Company “B” during the battle for St Lo, the Commanding Officer of the Battalion, Lieut-Colonel William V. Martz, thought it so outstanding as to initiate the following recommendation for citation of the company to the Commanding General, 35th Infantry Division, to which the battalion is attached:

HEADQUARTERS 654TH TANK DESTROYER BATTALION,
Office of the Commanding Officer

APO #403, U.S. Army,
28 July, 1944

SUBJECT: Request for Unit Citation, Company “B”, 654th Tank Destroyer
Battalion.

TO: Commanding General, 35th Infantry Division, APO #35, U.S. Army
(Thur: Commanding General, 35th Division Artillery)

1. It is requested that Company “B”, 654th Tank Destroyer Battalion
awarded a unit citation in compliance with Section IV, War Department
Circular #333, 22 December, 1943.

2. It is believed that Company “B” distinguished itself in battle by
extraordinary heroism, exhibited such gallantry, determination, and spirit
de corps in overcoming an unusually difficult condition as to set it
apart and above other units participating in the same engagement.

3. The narrative concerning this engagement is as follows: On 20
July, 1944, at 1400 hours Company “B” put one platoon of tank destroyers
in position covering a completely unguarded road entering the town of St
Lo, France. The remainder of the company was placed in antitank positions
close behind St Lo. The company stayed in antitank defense of St Lo until
about 1800 hours, 26 July, 1944. The guns in St Lo were so located that
they were not able to be moved without disclosing their position to the
enemy less than 500 yards distant. This position was under accurate
machine gun, mortar and artillery fire continuously for the entire six day
period. Platoons were rotated daily on this forward position. Changes were
made at night. This change necessitated a dismounted advance of approximately
one mile over a route that was continually under enemy mortar and
artillery fire. Entire vehicle crews remained continuously and constantly
on the alert during their 24 hour period on duty on the forward positions.
When they were relieved it was still necessary for at least half of each
gun crew to remain constantly on the alert at the antitank positions
north of St Lo. On 21 July, 1944, the Division Commander, 35th Infantry
Division authorized the withdrawal of the guns in St Lo to a safer locality.
However, the company commander, Company “B”, 654th Tank Destroyer Battalion,
elected to remain in position in St Lo after a consultation with the
battalion commander, 3rd battalion, 134th Infantry Regiment, who informed
him that the guns were of inestimable value to him since they were in a
position, and covering a sector of his front that it was impossible for
any of his infantry units to cover without severe casualties. On 25 July,
1944, when the 2d battalion, 134th Infantry took over the Infantry positions
in St Lo, Lieut-Colonel Thompson, commanding, again requested that
the guns remain in position and gave the same reasons as the commanding
officer, 3d battalion, 134th Infantry. Company “B” remained in this
hazardous and dangerous position until it was possible to relieve them by
Company “C”, 654th Tank Destroyer Battalion, who occupied the position for
only two days. During the time that Company “B” occupied this important
position in St Lo they were never more than 500 yards away from enemy
installations. There was no infantry close enough to give them necessary
security in case of a German attack. They had the enemy under constant
observation and gave the infantry much valuable information of his movements.
They were responsible for the location of an enemy observation
post which was destroyed by Company “C” by direct fire with HE shell
on 27 July, 1944, when the 35th Infantry Division attack to the south commenced.
It was impossible to fire at this command post prior to the attack for reasons
of premature disclosure of the position. Infantry mortar fire, though
accurate, failed to destroy this command post. During the occupancy of
these forward gun positions in St Lo the enemy fired mortar and artillery
accurately, since it was the most prominent road junction in St Lo, at an
almost continuous rate. Buildings in the vicinity of the gun positions were
demolished, and offered no protection to the crews. The position was strafed
by enemy air on two occasions. One shell burst destroyed the tube of one gun.
The gun was replaced under fire. Another shell burst threw fragments inside
the crew compartment exploding two hand grenades on impact. One crew member
was wounded as a result of this explosion. Additional casualties during
the six days of operation included two officers killed, and one sergeant
wounded. It is firmly believed that the entire company performed a
hazardous mission, beyond the call of duty, exhibiting such gallantry and
espirit de corps in its performance as to distinguish itself by conspicuous
battle action of a character that merit the award to an individual of
the Distinguished Service Cross.

4. A suggest citation is as follows:
“For contributing to the defense of St Lo from July 20 to July 26,
1944 with antitank and personnel security, covering a portion of
the city that infantry was unable to secure, and from a position
in front of friendly infantry, and not more than 500 yards distant
from enemy installations. Under continious mortar and artillery
fire the company manned these hazardous positions constantly
showing extraordinary heroism, and exhibiting such gallantry,
and esprit de corps as to set them apart and above other units
participating in the same operation”.

5. The recommending officer daily visited this position and certifies
to the authenticity of the continious enemy fire, and to the morale, gallantry,
and esprit de corps of the entire unit.

s/W.V. MARTZ
t/W.V. MARTZ,
Lieut-Colonel, 654th Tank Destroyer Battalion,
Commanding.

For reasons which are obvious, the recommendation was never followed through, and the company after all this heroic action, not only did not receive the citation, but not a word of recognition from higher echelons.

The command post of Company “C” closed in the vicinity of Villiers-Fossard at 1600 hours and established at LaKepas, France, at 1650 hours, a distance of 2 1/2 miles.

The company took over all positions occupied by Company “B” beginning at 1700 hours under a heavy artillery barrage without casualties. The 3d platoon in command of 1st Lieut. Manning Taylor and Staff Sergeant George B. Talley, took positions in St Lo; the 1st and 3d platoons under 2d Lieut. Joe M. Arnold and Staff Sergeant Cleo Conner and Staff Sergeant William A. Lands in command of the 2d platoon, took up antitank positions on the northern approaches to the city of St Lo under heavy artillery and mortar. The command post of the Reconnaissance Company in the vicinity of the Battalion Command Post during the period under intermittent artillery fire and an attack led by “Bed Check Charlie” at 2300 hours without casualties. The Pioneer Platoon recovered mine fields in the road for Company “C” enroute to relieve Company “B” in St Lo.

July 27, 1944

Command Post,
Villiers-Fossard, France
272400 July, 1944
Coord 524672, 1/25,000.

30th Infantry Division on our right flank and 2d Infantry Division on our left flank continued to advance in overcast and intermittent weather.

Division continued to defend sector until 1450 hours and attacked at 1500 hours after a ten minute artillery preparation, 134th Infantry advancing along highway south of St Lo to 481619; at which point the attack changed to the southeast.

2d battalion, 134th Infantry attacked at 1800 hours in the vicinity of road leading east from St Lo and reached positions as shown on overlay.

320th Infantry attacked at 1500 hours and reached its objective at 2000 hours against heavy enemy resistence.

Division Artillery laid a ten minute concentration from seven batteries along the general area of the high ground south of St Lo; this concentration being re-enforced by twelve battalions of Corps Artillery.

One company, 654th Tank Destroyer Battalion, relieved the 821st Tank Destroyer Battalion and took up antitank positions in the 320th Infantry zone. The remainder of the 654th Tank Destroyer Battalion supported the division in attack in St Lo sector at 1500 hours.

Air strikes on five strong points south and southeast of St Lo were effectively carried out without loss.

The 35th Reconnaissance Troops patrolled the banks of the Vire River during the period in anticipation of making a crossing.

The 60th Engineer Battalion (Combat), removed hundreds of mines and booby-traps in the area of advance and demolished road blocks and removed debris from the roads and streets of St Lo so that the advancing troops could loose no time in following up the enemy’s withdrawal to the south and southeast of the town.

The Division and all attached units, including the 654th Tank Destroyer Battalion was relieved from assignment with the XIX Corps and assigned to the V Corps.

The 6th Company, 985th Infantry Regiment was identified in division sector when 25 prisoners were captured from this unit, who stated that it was located east of the Vire River.

The enemy continued to attempt to defend his positions but there was a decreased amount of artillery fire from his positions during the period; possibly indicating a withdrawal, which was verified by prisoners, who stated that both artillery and infantry began to withdraw prior to 1200 hours this date.

Two enemy FW 1902 and one ME 109 bombed and strafed the command posts area of the division at 2250 hours, causing some casualties.

A spare gas can was dropped by one of the attacking planes when he was hit by AA fire caused a casualty at cood 493663, Map, 1/25,000.

Numerous strong points continue to offer fierce resistence south and southeast of St Lo but air strikes are being laid upon them as they are located with effective results; mortar and machine gun fire from these positions harassed our forward elements during the period with moderately accurate fire.

There was no change in the positions occupied by the command post group, Headquarters Company and Medical Detachment during the period.

The weather during the period was overcast with fog and intermittent showers, limiting visibility and restricting operations..

The area was systematically strafed by enemy planes at 2230 hours without casualties; one 50 KG (100 pound) bomb fell in the reconnaissance company’s area with damage only to a rocket launcher.

A few enemy 88mm shells fell to the rear of the command post during the 1st evening and night; without casualties.

Major John J. Minton, Battalion Executive Officer, was slightly wounded in St Lo at 1600 hours, while inspecting gun positions, by enemy artillery fire.

“Bed Check Charlie” paid is nightly visit to the area at 2230 hours, dropping flares and strafing the area, without resulting casualties.

The break through in the bombed gap is widening and General Patton is racing southwest with three strong armored columns toward the Breast Peninsula.

At 0200 hours tow AB-70-D1 (container for 50 SDL Bombs) fell near the command post.

Due East one 250 KG (500 pounds) bomb fell in the Reconnaissance Company’s area without casualties. Also at the same hour, the G-2 of the Division warned all elements of the Division to expect a paratroop attack in the Division Sector.

The command post of Company “A” closed in the vicinity of La Preterie, France, and established in the vicinity of coordinates 52646641, Map, 1/25,000, St Jean De Daye, at 1830 hours with enemy contact. The command post was under intermittent artillery fire throughout the period and was bombed and strafed by enemy planes at 0200 hours without casualties.

The 1st and 2d platoons remained in direct support of the 137th Infantry in assault mission the 3d platoon on indirect fire mission with 219th Field Artillery Battalion during the period; laying concentrations upon enemy strong points and installations south and southeast of St Lo, firing 360 rounds during the period.

Company “A” took over and relieved the 821st Tank Destroyer Battalion of antitank positions in the Eastern Sector of the Divisions Front.

Pvt1cl Earl E. Rice, admitted to hospital during the period due to illness.

The command post of Company “B” remained 1 mile NW Villiers-Fossard where the company went into reserve after being relieved of positions in St Lo, where it supported the 161st Field Artillery Battalion in indirect fire missions during the period; firing HE concentrations upon targets of opportunity to the south of St Lo.

The entire area was bombed and strafed at 0200 hours by enemy planes without casualties.

The command post of Company “C” remained in the vicinity of LaKepas, France during the period, where it was subjected to intermittent enemy artillery fire and attacked by enemy planes at 0200 hours during the night; all without casualties.

All platoons are, and have been throughout the period, in antitank positions. The 1st platoon one mile north St Lo; the 2d 1 1/2 miles north St Lo and the 3d platoon in St Lo. All positions were subjected to intensive enemy artillery and mortar fire throughout the period and was attacked from the air at 0200 hours; all without casualties.

The 3d platoon with positions in St Lo supported the attack of the 134th Infantry at 1515 hours, destroying an enemy strong point at coordinates 50356310; one enemy machine gun, one mortar, one antitank gun and killing an undetermined number of enemy Infantry; expanding 74 rounds of 3″ HE, and 8 rounds of HE Block Buster ammunition.

At about 1730 hours, Sergeant Smallwood’s destroyer in position, located an enemy 75mm antitank gun just off the highway south of St Lo at coordinates 513006200, where he and his crew pumped four rounds of HE into the position, killing a number of the gun crew and the others abandon the position terrified.

Sergeant Claude N. Sims and Private Myron L. Mason were admitted to hospital during the period due to illness.

The Reconnaissance Company established in the vicinity of the battalion command post did not change its status during the period. One reconnaissance platoon attached to each gun company; 1st reconnaissance platoon and 1 section of the Pioneer Platoon attached to Company “A” and the 2d Reconnaissance Platoon and 1 section of the Pioneer Section attached to Company “C”.

Headquarters Platoon and other elements of the company were subjected to a terrific enemy air attack at 0200 hours. One 250 KG (500 pounds) bomb falling in the area in the vicinity of foxholes occupied by Sergeant Rasberry (etc); with the only damage resulting from its explosion was that of a jeep parked nearby, and a rocket launcher in the jeep.

July 28, 1944

Command Post,
Villiers-Fossard, France
282400 July, 1944
Coord 524672, 1/25,000.

The 29th Infantry Division, Motorized, moved through Division Sector to attack as part of XIX Corps. The 2d Infantry Division continued to attack on our left; 30th Infantry Division on right flank held its forward positions and protected bridges across the Vire River.

The 320th Infantry attacked at 1000 hours but fierce and stubborn enemy resistence limited gains to a few meters.

At 2130 hours as the 3d battalion was advancing, Company “K” and “L” captured a German Parachutist on patrol who revealed that the remainder of his company, consisting of 150 men were in a defilade in a stream bed only 75 yards away.

“K” Company halted, deployed, sent out scouts who verified this report.

Soon after the position was revealed, and amid shouts of “SIEG HEIL” and “HEIL HITLER” the parachutists stormed forward from the ravine enmasse recoiling form “K” Company’s point blank fire with heavy casualties.

Some time later a group of the parachutists numbering about fifteen or twenty men, attempting to encircle the right flank of Company “K” were met by close range fire form Company “I” coming up from the rear. Further “Sieg Heils”, were heard but no attack followed. Forty five Germans were killed and thirty captured uninjured; of the latter twenty escaped when the enemy attacked the position immediately upon their capture, from the air with twenty five planes.

The 134th Infantry attacked at 1000 hours and reached their objective at 2100 hours, at which time strong outpost patrols were sent into the town of Conde-Sur-Vire, against strong enemy resistence.

The 448th AA Battalion shot down one enemy plane attacking the area at 2245 hours. The 60th Engineer Battalion ( C ) continued to clear enemy mine fields and road blocks during the period.

The Division advanced about 4000 meters during the day’s operations.

The enemy continues to shell St Lo, rather the ruins, and all surrounding areas with heavy caliber artillery from his positions along the South and East banks of the Vire River, but a general withdrawal is evidence to a possible defense line West of Paris.

He has no organized front line in the Division Sector at the present and it is evident that he has withdrawn the bulk of his forces to the south and east, leaving small covering forces at strategically located positions armed with automatic weapons.

There was only moderate artillery fire in the sector during the period.

In the left sector of the front prisoners were captured from Headquarters Company, 8th Parachute Regiment, and from the 2d battalion, 8th Parachute Regiment.

In the center of the sector and on the western flank prisoners were captured form the 6th Company, 985th Infantry, and 2d Battalion 897th Infantry, 1st Battalion 897th and 2d Battalion 899th Infantry Regiment; Fuz Battalion 352d Infantry Division, 2d Battalion 916th Infantry, and Regimental Headquarters, 915th Infantry Regiments.

The 2d Parachute Grenadier Regiment has been reported in the vicinity of 5052.

Between the hours of 0150 and 0225 approximately 20 enemy planes made three heavy raids on the command post area, dropping flares, bombs and strafing. One of these raids were made in the vicinity of the Clearing Station, 110th Medical Battalion.

At 2330 two planes were over the area and dropped one bomb in the area of the 137th Infantry command post without casualties.

The Division and attached units captured a total of 60 prisoners during the period.

There was a general air attack in the Division sector from 2230 hours until 2230 hours with casualties inflicted upon various organizations.

There were no changes in the positions of the command post group, Headquarters Company and the Medical Detachment during the period; remaining established in vicinity of Villiers-Fossard, France.

The command post area was subjected to an enemy aerial attack from 2215 to 2330 hours, which was preceded by a visit by “Bed Check Charlie” who was marking the target; without casualties.

The enemy continues to shell the ruins of St Lo; several rounds of 88mm landing in the area during the period but without casualties.

The weather remains overcast, cold with intermittent showers, with consider ground fog.

The sniper situation has been somewhat relieved during the past few days and the infiltration tactics of the enemy is being relieved with more patrols and casualties.

The enemy is evidently in full retreat to the south and southeast but he continues to fire artillery shells into St Lo and surrounding areas, causing damage and casualties.

Technical Sergeant John Trehubets returned to duty from hospital and assumed the duties of Battalion Supply Sergeant. Private Raymond Edens assigned and joined the Medical Detachment from the Repl. Co.

The command post of Company “A” remained unchanged during the period. It was subjected to an intensive enemy air attack for thirty five minutes, commencing at 2300 hours, the enemy dropping flares, antipersonnel bombs and strafing the area. There were no casualties as a result of this action, but a fragment from one of the bombs hit the walls of First Sergeant Barnausky’s foxhole.

1st Lieut. Boyd N. Healey attached to company for duty this date.

The 1st platoon remained in antitank positions in the vicinity of coordinants 56046471, Map 1/25,000, Balleroy, under intermittent artillery fire, and aerial attack at 2300 hours; all without casualties.

The 2d platoon remained in antitank positions in the vicinity of coordinants 52146390, Map 1/25,000, St Lo, under intermittent artillery and mortar fire during the period and was subjected to an enemy aerial attack at 2300 hours; without casualties.

The 3d platoon in antitank positions in vicinity of coordinants 53616420, Map 1/25,000, St Lo under artillery and mortar fire and enemy attack at 2300 hours, without suffering any casualties.

Corporal Elton L. Kattner admitted to hospital due to illness.

The command post of Company “B” remained unchanged during the period. The company remained in battalion reserve, attached to the 161st Field Artillery Battalion, where it supported that unit in indirect fire missions upon enemy installations south and southeast of St Lo. Like all the rest of the battalion all elements of the company were subject to a vicious enemy air attack beginning at 2215 hours, without casualties.

Captain George A. Stevens, company commander admitted to hospital due to illness, 1st Lieut. Manning Taylor attached to, and assumed command of the company during the temporary absence of Captain Stevens.

Privates First Class Charles A. Hill, Myron F. Kramer, Raymond C. Winberry and Ed Werner and Privates Oscar J. Hickey and Roman G. Grzywacz, assigned to and joined company from replacement company.

The positions of Company “C” did not change during the period; the 1st and 3d platoons in antitank positions north of St Lo and the 3rd platoon in assault mission with the 134th Infantry, firing into enemy strong points and pockets of resistence, killing and wounding an undetermined number of the enemy during the period; the exact results unknown.

All elements of the company were under intermittent enemy artillery fire during the period and were subjected to an enemy aerial attack at 2300 hours; no casualties were suffered as the result of all enemy actions during the period.

French girls, who have been living in the foxholes and underground tunnels with German soldiers are being continuously rounded up and turned over to the French authorities.

There are also many girls of Polish and Russian descent, who have lived with German soldiers, being taken into custody.

The command post of the Reconnaissance Company remained at Villiers-Fossard in the vicinity of the battalion command post during the period; where it was subjected to intermittent enemy artillery fire and a heavy air assault beginning at 2215 hours. No casualties were suffered during the period.

1st and 2d Reconnaissance Platoons and one section of the Pioneer Platoon attached to Companies “A” and “C” during the period.

3d Reconnaissance Platoon preparing to make reconnaissance for new battalion command post location south of St Lo.

Contact has been lost with three men from the 2d Recn Platoon, attached to Company “C” who were sent on liaison mission to 134th Infantry Command Post at 1530 hours.

July 29, 1944

Command Post,
1 M SE St Lo, France,
292400 July, 1944
Coord 513622, Map 1/25,000 St Lo.

The 2d Infantry Division on our left and the 30th Infantry Division on our right flight continued to advance.

The 320th Infantry attacked at 0630 hours and reached its objective at 1330 hours, and sent patrols into LaChapelie. The 1st battalion began attacking toward its new objective at 1700 hours. At 2000 hours a group of forty or fifty German soldiers held up the battalion in the vicinity of LeHamel with automatic weapons.

The 134th Infantry attacked at 0800 hours and reached its objective at 1830 hours.

The Division Artillery placed South of St Lo in support of the attack.

The 60th Engineer Battalion ( C ) continued to clear mines and booby-traps from the areas occupied by friendly troops.

The Division advanced over 4000 meters during the period against strong enemy resistence.

The Vth Corps reports that both units on our flanks are meeting stiff enemy resistence. Especially from a line north and parallel to Highway no. 3.

The enemy’s 8th and 15th Parachute Regiments and the 352nd Fus Battalion were identified on the Divisions front during the period.

The enemy continued to withdraw to the south and southeast, leaving behind only those soldiers who were out of contact with their units.

The command post areas of several units in the area were bombed and strafed by enemy planes between 2240 and 2305, resulting in some casualties and damage. St Lo was also bombed. 59 prisoners were captured during the day’s operations.

G-2 Division reported that the 2d Panzer Regiment in vicinity of 515505 and 24th Panzer Artillery in vicinity of 520540 at 1527 hours. Two enemy tanks reported entering Conde-Sur-Vire at 1800 hours, at 1925 hours, the 2d Panzer Regiment was reported in the vicinity of Le Mesnil and Bosqoatin.

One enemy battery of Field Artillery also reported vicinity of 533527,

The battalion command post, Headquarters and Reconnaissance Companies and Medical Detachment closed their command posts at Villiers-Fossard, France, (524692, St Lo, 1/25,000) at 1145 hours and established 1 mile SE St Lo, France, 513622, 1/25,000 St Lo, at 1308 hours, a distance of 3 1/2 miles, without enemy interference during the advance.

In passing through the deserted city of St Lo the men realized the death and destruction which had been rained upon the city by both American and German guns. A few shells continue to fall in the city from the enemy’s positions to the south and southeast; but, there is one thing sure; he cannot cause any further damage to the smoldering ruins of the town.

The bodies of American, German and French civilian dead litter the fields and roadsides; some having lay there for several days or even several weeks.

The command post was established in the basement of a once beautiful chateau, which the enemy had been using as a barracks and hospital, but which was completely destroyed except for the cellar which was bomb-proof.

Some twenty five or thirty dead animals were found in the stalls of the barn and had to be disposed of before the command post could be established.

About 25 yards to the rear of the chateau, in a ravine containing stagnated water, an offensive odor was found to exist, and upon examination it was found to be full of dead enemy soldiers who had evidentially died in their first aid and dressing station in the chateau and they had no time to dispose of them and threw them in the water and camouflaged them with a little earth and vegetation.

Light artillery began to fall in the area immediately but Jerry was overshooting his target and no casualties were suffered.

Adequate foxholes were immediately prepared, some men digging in five feet in the ground. All abandoned enemy foxholes contained empty whiskey bottles and women’s wearing apparel. Evidentially the enemy travels like gypsies but as his retreat gains momentum, he gradually discards a certain amount of his loot at each place he temporarily stops. Ten of the men established their quarters in a culvert under the highway which was bomb and shell proof in every detail.

Promptly at 2000 hours, “Bed Check Charlie” led his squadron to the area and began to systematically bomb and strafe the area for a period of thirty minutes; with casualties. He returned at 0500 hours in the morning to repeat the job, without interference from the AA Battalion who had orders not to fire on any plane unless attacked.

Several bombs fell in the area occupied by Headquarters Company without causing casualties.

The prisoner of war enclosure, located 100 yards southeast of the command post, just north of a strong point where the bodies of one Infantry Platoon still lay, is full of prisoners. One who seemed rather intelligent and who could speak English told us that no doubt Germany had lost the war, but that Hitler had a secret weapon which he would use as a last resort which would destroy thousands of lives, although he thought it would have no effect upon the war effort.

Some of the bastards are arrogant, sarcastic, and mean looking.

The platoon of Infantry across the street is a gruesome sight to behold. I believe, even tho as hard as it might be, that every American should have to look at this sight. American soldiers a complete platoon of them slaughtered as they attacked the enemy pill box. Some fell to their knees and are still knelling with their heads down as if in prayer. Some are blown apart into hundreds of pieces; some are in the prone position as if firing; some are sitting. The body of their platoon sergeant is covered with an enemy bedsack and body trapped. To the entrance sits a light reconnaissance tank hit by an enemy 75mm gun burned to a charred mass of steel and the bodies of three American soldiers on it; that is what’s left. Just above the tank is an enemy SP 75mm gun, the barrel still hot where they slaughtered the first three tanks as they came around the curve. The shoulders of the road and all roads are sewn with mines. The Engineers removed one Teller Mine which the whole command post group luckily drove over without hitting it. The surrounding woods are a torn mass of fragments as the result of our artillery fire.

The enemy had well dug in positions and excellently camouflaged and nothing less than a direct hit would effect him physically.

The countryside as a whole is in a silence, burned, tangled and mutilated bodies of both American and enemy soldiers litter the field of battle.

Intermittent artillery fire fell in the area throughout the period without causing casualties.

The command post of Company “A” closed at coordinants 52646641 and established at coordinants 54636448, Map 1/25,000, St Lo, where it was under sporadic artillery fire during the period and aerial attack at 2240 hours; all without casualties.

1st and 2d platoons in antitank positions in the vic of Bouligny; 3d pl in antitank position at 537543, Map 1/25,000, St Lo.

The company had no enemy contact during the period other than artillery, mortar fire and aerial attack at 2240 hours; all without suffering any casualties.

The command post of Company “B” moved from vic Villiers-Fossard, at 0600 hours and established S of Luzerne, France, at 0830, a distance of two miles, without enemy interference, where it was bombed and strafed by enemy planes for thirty minutes beginning at 2240 hours; without suffering any casualties.

Company remained attached to 161st Field Artillery Battalion in a reserve status in indirect fire mission during the period; expending 209 rounds of HE under enemy concentrations, installations, and strong points south of St Lo.

Sergeant Joseph F. Staniorski admitted to hospital due to illness.

Company “C” closed its command post in the vicinity of LaKepas, France, and established at Brepeuf, France at 1500 hours, a distance of 8 miles without enemy contact.

Command post was heavily bombed and strafed from the air beginning at 2240 hours for thirty minutes without suffering any casualties.

Company remained in direct support of the 134th Infantry during the period. Captured one enemy 75mm, long barrel, towed gun vicinity of coordinants 51326220, by 3d platoon; killing an undetermined number of enemy soldiers in the same action.

The Reconnaissance Company with all platoons and pioneer platoon attached to gun companies closed their command post vicinity of Villiers-Fossard and established 1 mile SE St Lo at 1045 hours without enemy contact.

1 Section of 3d Reconnaissance Platoon attached to Company “B” and 1 section attached to 448th AA Battalion.

Private Homer R. Pope admitted to hospital due to illness.

Destroyers have been in the progress of moving forward throughout the period but has been slow to Teller mines not having been removed from roads and shoulders.

July 30, 1944

Command Post,
1 M SE St Lo, France,
302400 July, 1944
Coord 513622, Map 1/25,000 St Lo.

2d Infantry Division on our left and 30th Infantry Division on right flank continued to attack.

Weather: Overcast in morning; clear in the afternoon.

320th Infantry attacked at 0900 hours after artillery preparation but made little progress during the period due to fierce enemy artillery, mortar and machine gun fire.

134th Infantry attacked at 0900 hours after artillery barrage, against fierce enemy resistence and well observed artillery fire, resulting in little if any progress being made during the period.

Battery “B” 116th AAA (90mm)_ attached to 654th Tank Destroyer Battalion to support in antitank defense of division sector, and moved into position at 1200 hours.

Air strike was made on Torigni-Sur-Vire at 1745 hours with excellent results.

Task Force “S” activated with Company “C”, 654th Tank Destroyer Battalion as a component.

The enemy continued to shell the ruined city of St Lo and all roads leading into and out of the town.

Enemy planes bombed and strafed positions in the division sector during the night causing damage and casualties.

Enemy has withdrawn his artillery to the East banks of the Vire River.

St Lo is still full of enemy snipers, left by the retreating enemy, and some infiltrating into the town since its capture.

Several French, Russian, and Polish prostitutes have been picked up by the Intelligence Section who have been acting as enemy agents since the departure of their “boy friends”, the Bosche. They were turned over to the French authorities for trial.

Elements of enemy 3d battalion, 8th Parachute Regiment have been identified, and in contact with units of the division.

Enemy harassed forward elements with artillery from self-propelled guns during the period; especially after the hours of darkness when observation of his positions could not be ascertained.

Twelve enemy planes came into the area between 0052 and 0524 hours, bombed St Lo and strafed front line positions, causing casualties among ground personnel. At 1730 hours two ME 109s flew over the area to the southwest. No bombing or strafing reported.

Ten prisoners were captured by the division and attached units during the period; one of whom stated that the Germans habitually use Red Cross Flags on supply vehicles.

Torigni-Sur-Vire is reported to be crowded with enemy soldiers according to the FFI. Air strike delivered at 1745 hours to disperse them was effective.

There was not change in the positions of the command post group, Headquarters Company or the Medical Detachment during the period.

Enemy artillery continues to fall in the area, and the command post in the basement of the chateau, has been reinforced sandbags.

The area was subject to a light enemy aerial attack at 2300 hours without casualties.

Foxholes were reinforced during the period due to the increase of enemy artillery falling in the area, and persistence aerial attacks.

Battery “B”, 116th AAA Battalion attached to battalion to assist in antitank defenses and took up positions at 1200 hours.

Major John H. Minton, hospitalized due to being slightly wounded in St Lo on 27 July, 1944, returned to duty, and assumed the duties of Battalion Executive Officer.

G-3 reports that enemy gun firing into our positions from coordinants 532532. Friendly air reconnaissance patrols reports a large enemy tank concentration 20 miles south of St Lo. Movement not ascertained. Also enemy tanks reported at coordinants 610410 at 1430 hours; estimated to be 12 in number.

Enemy’s 2d Panzer Regiment is located on west bank of the Vire river.

The command post of Company “A” closed at coordinants 52646641 at 0900 hours and established at coordinants 559597, 1/25,000, where it was subjected to an enemy aerial attack beginning at 0510 hours until 0530 hours; without suffering casualties.

The 1st and 2d platoons maintained antitank positions at coordinants 561952, 1/25,000 during the period and the 3d platoon in support of the 161st Field Artillery Battalion in indirect fire missions upon the enemy’s retreating columns and supply points.

1st and 2d platoons remained in direct support of the 320th Infantry during the period under enemy artillery and mortar fire and air attack at 0510 hours; all without suffering any casualties.

One enemy 50 KG bomb was dropped at 55995970 during air attack which was either a time bomb and has not exploded or a dud. Reported to bomb disposal section for action.

One enemy paratrooper either dropped from attacking planes, or on sniper mission was killed in the area of the command post during the early morning air attack.

All platoons started moving to assembly areas at 1641 hours in preparation to joining Task Force “S”. Assembly area vicinity of 561592, 1/25,000.

2d Lieut. Smoot was admitted to hospital due to illness during the period, and 2d Lieut. Kneer assumed command of the 3d Platoon.

Company “B” moved from vicinity of LaLuzerne, France, at 0800 hours and established its command post 1 mile south of St Lo at 1000 hours, where it supported the 161st Field Artillery Battalion in indirect fire mission upon retreating enemy columns and supply installations throughout the period.

1st Lieut. Taylor, detached service Company “C”, relieved. Sergeant Joseph F. Staniorski was admitted to hospital due to illness. Captain Ruggles L. Baker asgd to company and assumed command.

At 2320 hours the company started relieving Company “C”, in support 134th Infantry; 1st platoon taking up positions along highway 2; 1st section vicinity of 529593, 2d section 534529, 1/25,000.

All elements of the company were under heavy enemy air attack at 0510 hours without suffering casualties.

There was no change in the position of company “C”s command post. All elements of the company were under heavy enemy artillery fire during the period and air attack at 0510 hours; all without casualties.

1st Lieut. Manning Taylor, detached service, Company “B”, returned to duty and assumed command of his former platoon.

Pvt1 Dante L. Stabile was admitted to hospital during the period due to illness.

All platoons were relived of antitank positions and are in assembly area prior to joining Task Force “S” for special mission.

The command post of the Reconnaissance Company did not change during the period. All platoons attached to gun companies and Battery “B”, 116th AAA Battalion. 1st Rcn Pl and 1st Sec Pi Pl atchd to Co “A”. 1st Sec. 3d Rcn Pl atchd to Co “B”. 2d Rcn Pl and 2d Sec Pi Pl atchd to Co “C”. 2 Sec 3d Rcn Pl atchd to Btry “B”, 116th AAA Battalion.

Private Wiley Mullins was admitted to hospital due to illness during the period.

Batter “B”, 116th AAA Battalion consisting of four 90mm guns and four .50 caliber quadruple mounts in position as shown on overlay.

Companies “A” and “C” assigned to special Task Force “S” are in reserve awaiting orders from the 35th Infantry Division.

July 31, 1944

Command Post,
1 Mile SE St Lo, France,
312400 July, 1944
Coord 513622, Map 1/25,000

2d Infantry Division on our left flank and 30th Infantry on our right flank continued to attack throughout the period.

Division attacked at 0800 hours behind a smoke screen laid by the 81st Chemical Battalion, against light enemy resistence, to line St Amanis (586574, 1/50,000) and La Detourne (557551, 1/50,000).

134th Infantry attacked behind smoke screen at 0815 hours and reached objective at 1600 west of Torigni-Sur-Vire, where it dug in and sent strong patrols into the town. Town occupied by 134th Infantry at 1300 hours. OP established south of the town and regiment advanced on to La Pane.