Major Robert F. Burns
90th Division, U.S. Army
War Letters from Europe
Normandy to Germany
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July 9, 1944
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358th Infantry Typed History
July 9-July 31, 1944
22 July 1944
HISTORY - 358th Infantry
During the early morning hours Major Wallace requested the OP to locate the arty emplacements that had been harassing the Regiment, and, by sound and flash system, the OP reported several coordinates and azimuth during the night. The OP also reported many flares over the Island and the sound of much vehicular movement. The movement seemed to be going S and SE.
3d Bn reported that there were enemy flares in the vicinity of "L" Co. By 0318 the 2d Bn was "arriving" and had closed in by 0325. By 0400 the 3d Bn had been requested to send a patrol to the Island to the vicinity of the Chateau. This Bn reported that there was still considerable activity to the front of "L" Co.
At 0545 the 1st Bn was moving to the LD. The Sky was completely overcast. Visibility was poor. All units now coordinated their time. At 0555 the 2d Bn was moving to the LD.
At B-2 (0528) the artillery opened fire. When the preparation was over, the enemy shot several orange flares.
At 0630 the assault Bns moved. Lt. Col. Clarke, Reg'l CO was at the fwd OP. The tanks had, by 0655, been hit by mortar and artillery fire. General Landrum arrived at the CP. Lt. Col. Loomis notified the 3d Bn that the 1st and 2d Bns have crossed the LD on time. By 0700 the Cml Mortar Co. stated that they were ready to lay smoke on the high ground to provide cover for the bridge building team.
At 0712 the 1st Bn was held up by stiff enemy resistance, mostly MG's, but they were attempting a maneuver to by-pass the resistance.
Liaison officers with the 1st and 2d Bns reported at 0720 that no one yet was across the stream. The OP reported visibility zero, due to haze and smoke. 2d Bn, out of contact with fwd elements, was receiving heavy mortar fire.
At 0728 the 1st Bn had passed the resistance. The TD guns had gone fwd and were firing on selected targets. Co. "F" committed its reserve. They were receiving "everything the enemy had." They were 50 yards from the creek. By 0737 2d Bn reported two company commanders "out of action".
At 0755 there had been no stream crossing. The two Bns had been stopped. It was decided to have the artillery preparation again and to start again to cross the stream.
Several houses were strongholds, and the artillery was given their locations and directed to fire on them. The artillery prep. was set for 0840 to 0845. Units concerned were contacted and the new plans imparted.
At 0817 the 359th was requested by Major Wallace to give some assistance by firing on some targets on the 1st Bn's right flank. The Cub plane was sent up to locate artillery positions that were harassing and hampering the 2d Bn. The 357 was notified of the artillery prep to come and were invited to "join in". "F" Co. was still receiving heavy fire.
At 0840 the artillery again opened up, and finished at 0845. The range was now raised. An observer reported at 0848 that the 2d Bn had not moved under cover of the preparation.
At 0855 elements of "E" Co. had reached the stream. Lt. Col. Clarke was now "up front" with Lt. Col. Seegar., Co., 1st Bn. When Lt. Col. Clarke returned he stated they were continuously being shot at. At 0910 "G" Co. was committed to the left of "E" Co.
At 0925 Major Wallace informed the artillery that their fire landed just right. 2d Bn was using artillery to full advantage. By 0930 Lt. Col. Munson, artillery, stated that the enemy artillery was long range. At 0945 the Cml Mortar were ordered to fire more smoke. At 1000 "G" Co. replaced "E" Co. They were now near the river.
General Landrum, at 1010, notified Division of the long range artillery and ordered them to send up planes when the weather broke.
2d Bn now ran into more heavy mortar fire and also long range MG fire on its left flank. "F" Co., at the creek, was receiving heavy small arms fire and "G" Co. was receiving mortar fire.
General Landrum, at 1017, advised G-3 to get some air support to knock out the artillery.
Lt. Col. Clarke told Major Chandler, CO 2d Bn, to make sure that the men be told that if they reached the Island, enemy artillery fire would cease, because their own troops were there also.
At 1020 General Landrum received a "promise" of air combat reconnaissance. "E" Co. reported 35 casualties, including their CO. "G" Co. was moving slowly. Gen. Landrum now advised artillery to consider their patterns of fire to see if they may have passed over some likely mortar positions. The artillery was also given permission to fire on the Chateau. The Bns now located enemy positions. Some they worked on themselves, and had artillery fire on others.
At 1055 the Reg'l CO suggested to 1st Bn CO that he rush small groups across the stream. "B" Co. was now up with "G" Co.
By 1101 an "I" Co. observer stated a part of "F" Co. was across the stream! Major Schultz, 2d Bn, stated he did not think there were many Germans on the Island. He added that "F" Co. was in buildings.
At 1215 1st Bn was "about ready" to cross the stream!
3d Bn now reported at 1245 that a great many shells were landing near their CP. They could only be coming from a battery of enemy artillery. By 1300 Lt. Col. Bealke reported that incoming shells causing casualties. 2d Bn CP was now under artillery fire and the OP was receiving mortar fire. 1st Bn was said (unconfirmed) to have advanced 100 yards. This advance should put them across the river.
Capt Steckla, Reg'l Comm. O., was ordered at 1325 to take a radio to the front lines to direct Cml Mortar fire. "C" Co. crossed the stream. "B" Co. also across and captured several PW's. General Landrum suggested that the artillery Cmdr was not pushing his observers enough.
At 1338 Major Chandler complained that he couldn't get his men forward. General Landrum discussed putting up bridges to get tanks on Island to support the Infantry. Capt. Midget, Engr. O., stated that tanks could cross without bridges.
A PW stated that there were three (3) Companies (90 men each) of the 6th Para. Reg't on the Island. At 1415 Lt. Col. Bealke reported that enemy artillery has 3d Bn pinned down. He suggested it would be easier to move at night. General Landrum ordered the laying of more smoke. At 1425 2d Bn was stopped. Corps now aided by furnishing counter-battery support. 2d Bn reported that heavy artillery fire completely disorganized three companies!
General Landrum again called Division concerning air observation. He stated he believed Germans were using church in St. Germain for their observation. He ordered more fire on the church.
At 1435 Major Chandler reported he was attempting to get "G" Co. across stream to join the 1st Bn. At 1453 the 1st Bn was still in same position. 3d Bn was still receiving heavy fire. Lt. Col. Bealke thought artillery fire coming from Periers.
General Devine, Artillery, was briefed at 1500 by Lt. Col. Clarke.
The Regimental Commander phoned the 2d Bn and asked if tanks could help "G" Co. cross the stream. Major Chandler was then ordered to get "E" and "G" Co's across the stream, with tanks, and get on the north flank of the island, on the left of the 1st Bn. The Bn CO stated he would use the route used by 1st Bn to cross. 357 reported no movement seen in the vicinity of the Chateau.
Lt. Col. Seegar reported he did not want to move tanks across until he had "more room". He stated that at present, 1550, he was "working on" some buildings that were giving him trouble. He was then notified of Major Chandler's plan of moving "E" and "G" Co's and tanks up behind 1st Bn and then to circle around to the east.
At 1600 correspondents from LIFE Magazine arrived at the CP and were briefed by Lt. Col. Clarke. They planned to visit the Bn CP's. Major Knouf, Reg'l S-4, arrived and reported on the ammunition situation.
At 1620 Lt. Col. Clarke notified 2d Bn that smoke was to be shot to blind enemy observers. "F" Co. was reported now to have but 50 men! They withdrew to allow tanks to work on buildings. Effect of tanks not great, however. At 1645 "A" Co. was across the stream, and "B" and "C" Co's were swinging east. The Regimental CP asked if they could see any elements of "E", "G" or "F" Co's. The answer was "no". At 1700, General Landrum, who now expected a counter-attack, ordered the artillery to be prepared to bring down heavy concentrations.
At 1700 Major Chandler reported that "G" Co. was "going across" and that he was going to take "E" Co. over.
G-2 reported that the enemy was withdrawing from the Island. A PW gave the location of some German CP's. Major Falvey passed this information along to the Division Artillery. At 1743 1st Bn was using TD's of two enemy tanks!
By 1810, "F" Co. was reported (unconfirmed) across the stream. Lt. Col. Clarke ordered that the bridge be secured so that supplies could be brought out. He also ordered that wire be layed across the stream. At 1830 3d Bn was still being shelled and tanks were remaining fast.
At General Landrum's direction, Lt. Col. Clarke ordered Bns to get stragglers together at a point in the rear end and then send them to their respective units. At 1838 Division was furnished an overlay giving the disposition of the 358 troops. Lt. Col. Loomis now assumed command of the 2d Bn, relieving Major Chandler. By 1853 "E" Co. and all of "G" Co was across the stream. The situation was now that all, or parts of all, companies were on the Island. "E" Co. was N-S along the trail about 200 yards, "G" Co. on the left and "E" Co. on the right. "F" Co. was being resupplied with ammunition. Lt. Col. Seegar was ordered to lay wire to where his troops were. "E" Co. was now tied in with "A" Co.
At 1925 two Bns (less 1 rifle Co.) were attempting to swing around and take the bridge out in reverse. They would block approaches to the eastern road and box-in anything that tried to reach the road. Mines were to be layed on approaches by AT Co. At 1940 3d Bn reported that Germans had "shot" propaganda at them. At 1945 1st Bn received a counter-attack! 2d Bn was informed and instructed to give aid. The 357th was also notified and they promised to "lay" mortar on the road. The enemy was using time fire.
Now a further complication - "E" Co. was NOT across the stream! 2d Bn was now receiving heavy mortar fire. The 357 was laying long range machine gun fire on the road area. The Division arty was shooting all over the enemy held part of the Island. "C" Co. CP was now surrounded! (as of 1945)
At 2025 Lt. Col. Clarke ordered the reserve tank platoon committed. "E" Co. was now in contact with "G" Co. and the 1st Bn. The Germans were reported to be digging-in near the Chateau. Major Wallace informed the artillery of this and requested fire. Major Falvey reported that green grease paint was now available to paint our troops faces.
At 2105 the S-3, 3d Bn, reported that a patrol had been sent to the bridge, but every time it moved it received small arms fire from buildings. 2d Bn reported that the leader of the tanks be contacted and ordered to report to him.
At 2113 the Regimental OP reported "things quieting down a bit". The tank leader reported to the Regimental Commander and stated he was ordered back by Major Schultz to refuel and rearm. He added his tanks had fired 100 rounds of ammunition in support of the 2d Bn. "E" Co. requested artillery fire. 1st Bn reported that our artillery fire was landing too close to the Bn.
Two 358th Infantry Men, who had been captured, escaped and were now at the 1st Bn CP. At 2140 G-3 requested that he get troops "spotted" before dark so he could plan artillery fire. At 2115 Major Falvey was informed by 1st Bn that five tanks had crossed the stream.
At 2200 Capt Steckla went aloft in the Cub plane in an attempt to contact companies by radio. Lt. Col. Seegar stated one AT gun got across but he thought it was now lost. Lt. Col. Loomis, CO 2d Bn, was ordered to consolidate and to rally everything he had.
By 2230 the 2d Platoon of tanks had crossed the stream and were promptly surrounded. They were in radio contact, and were told to "stay put" and not to withdraw. There were now 2 platoons of tanks on the Island.
At 2300 Lt. Col. Loomis reported no small arms fire for thirty minutes, but he was receiving spasmodic artillery and mortar fire. He was now attempting to get the balance of his battalion across the stream.
The artillery was given specific points to zero in on and to fire on them on call. At 2330 Division was again given the front line positions. The artillery was now working on a defensive fire plan.
At 2326 2d Bn reported some tanks. At 2330, Lt. Col. Clarke to Lt. Col. Seegar: "Get two wires in to OP. Get up with your troops. Get actual trace of front lines." From Lt. Col. Clarke to Lt. Col Loomis: "continue getting across. Tie-in with 1st Bn. Dig in. Rations, etc, on the way. Get wires in. You personally get troops organized."
At 2345 the 3d Bn was still rounding up stragglers of the 1st and 2d Bns.
At 2400 defense was all "buttoned up."
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