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
23 July 1944
HISTORY - 358th Infantry
Lt. Col. Clarke, Major Nichols and Major Wallace drew up plans for the coming battle. It was planned that the tanks rejoin the Infantry at daylight. The 2nd Bn was to be on the South of the creek and not extend across it.
Major Wallace called Lt. Col. Seegar at 0140 and informed him that tanks would be in his area at 0530. He was to take full advantage of any opportunities that might occur. He was given no definite attack orders.
Col. Clarke directed that the artillery put wires forward to their observers and to the Bn OP's and to maintain Ln with them.
At 0310, Lt. Col. Clarke phoned 2nd Bn. He directed that the elements of that Bn that was not across the stream to cross and hold. He was then informed as to their reorganization and re-supply. He then called Gen. Landrum and gave him the situation. He added that the firing had slackened considerably and there was now, more freedom of movement.
At 0430, the artillery submitted the fire plan. The weather report was also received. Fog, rain, and poor visibility for the coming day. At 0445, the 2nd Bn had not yet contacted the 1st Bn. Supply trucks were driven back by heavy artillery and mortar fire. Lt. Col. Loomis, however, was able to satisfactorily re-supply.
At 0525, Major Wallace phoned the situation to Division. At 0645, the 2nd Bn was still not across the stream.
At 0655, the Regt'l CO ordered the Staff of the 1st Bn across the stream, and to leave one man behind at the telephone to relay messages. He further directed that the 1st Bn attempt to salvage food and ammo that was lost en route to the Island.
Col. Clarke then ordered that the 1st and 2nd Bn staffs work together in collecting stragglers and to help in a general reorganization.
At 0810, Capt Stotler, 1st Bn S-3, reported stream too high to cross without swimming. Scenes of yesterday's crossing now neck deep. 1st Bn also had wounded men on the Island that must be evacuated. Capt. Stotler stated he was endeavoring to get the medics across to these men. Major Nichols informed 3rd Bn of this situation, and also about a mobile 88 on the Island.
By 0822, 2nd Bn was moving. It was now estimated that 500 men had been lost so far. At 0826, the Reg't was informed that it now had a bomb-strafing squadron on 30 minute call. The OP reported mortar fire. Capt. Stotler reported he was going to send litter bearers across stream. Major Knouf was affecting a "hand carry" across the stream for supplies.
When Gen. Landrum called at 0840, Lt. Col. Clarke gave him a review of happenings to the present time. He added that reconnaissance was being made to find suitable places to cross the stream. At 0900 Col. McNary arrived at the CP.
The plan now was to get the 2nd Bn across the stream and give our defense some additional depth.
Gen. Landrum arrived at the CP at 0907. At 0912, Co F was across the stream. 1st Bn was hit by enemy tanks. 2nd Bn was ordered to get all strength possible on the left and help the 1st Bn. 1st Bn now requested more bazookas. Col. McNary and Lt. Col. Clarke now left CP for the Regt'l OP.
At 0930, Lt. Col. Seegar reported mission of attacking tanks was apparently to "push us off the island". Lt. Col. Seegar requested at least two or three artillery batteries to fire. AT Co was notified to "get ready". A bazooka team was sent out via 3rd Bn.
At 0948, Lt. Col. Seegar stated he was getting hit hard and did not know if he could hold out any longer. He again called for artillery fire. Major Falvey contacted artillery and tried to get the artillery fire placed where the 1st Bn needed it the most.
The 1st Bn situation was reported to Division by Major Nichols. At 1000 hours Lt. Col. Clarke, from OP, said Artillery was landing on Germans. He added that he could see about 25 Americans with their hands above the heads! Co E reported about 30 casualties that cannot be evacuated. 2nd Bn now being attacked. 2 American tanks were demobilized. Lt. Col. Clarke called Gen. Landrum. He reported a reorganization with what troops were available. He reported that there were 50 of our men who surrendered to 1 German. He added that our men were now infiltrating back off the Island and it looked very much like a complete withdrawal.
Capt Danovsky, at 1030, called for arty fire on a spot that might help our troops.
At 1032, Gen Landrum ordered Div to inform Corps that there is a terrific counter-attack and that our men were surrendering. The General now ordered Capt. Caldecott, S-1, to get available personnel to form a "straggler line".
[Note: Line unreadable] ...CP. Men were still infiltrating back. Major LaForge now Comdg Bn. Lt. Col. Clarke ordered artillery fire all along the stream.
At 1045, it was reported that Lt. Col. Seegar never got off the Island and was taken prisoner. Major LaForge. however, got back across the river.
At 1100, Division was notified of the situation. By 1110, the "straggler line" was operating and Capt. Stotler was informed of the meeting point. The stragglers will be put in gap between 357th and the 358th. Food and water was ordered for them. Major Knouf was wounded on the Island and was being evacuated. Major Falvey left for the Aid Station to interview him. Capt. Olson was now the Regt'l S-4. Major Nichols now dispatched Lt. Martin, Service Co to QM to get every kind of clothing he could, to resupply the returning men from the Island.
At 1200, 1st Bn reported they had less than 100 men, and possibly 50 stragglers.
The Regt was informed that 40 to 50 90th Div men who had previously been wounded, were to be sent back sometime today - most of the NCO's.
At 1230, Major LaForge reported Lt. Col. Seegar still missing and that the Bn had now 17 officers and 315 enlisted men. Major Wallace now ordered rations be cooked for the men from the 1st Bn.
By 1240, the 3rd Bn reported that they had evacuated all men down to the creek, and claimed that those across creek could only be evacuated if some sort of truce was called.
357th was ordered to extend its line to the right and to tie in closely with 358th 3rd Bn left, and to relieve the remaining elements of the 2nd and 3rd Bns on line.
At 1310, Lt. Hougen left, and was ordered to make reconnaissance for spots to put 1st and 2nd Bns. Division reported a bombing mission to be at 1440. Lt. Col. Clarke ordered 2nd Bn AT guns to set up along the trail 1st Bn used yesterday.
At 1430 came news of heroism. Chaplain's Esser and Stohler, under the Geneva Flags, advanced out into "no man's land" followed by aid men. A German officer came forward to meet them. Between them, they arranged a truce so that the wounded and dead could be picked up. During this truce, the Germans returned some wounded americans.
The two Chaplains and the Medics who accompanied them, demonstrated once again, the "Stuff the 358 is made of".
All units were notified of the bombing mission be this afternoon - 1330, 1440 and 1500.
At 1455, Major Nichols informed Division that contact on the right was okay. There was a 100-yards wide gap but a squad was patrolling it.
At 1505, Major LaForge was reported to be building up a reserve "X" Co. 1st and 2nd Bns were ordered to furnish a guide so that Capt Shipe could show them their respective assembly area.
The plan was to withdraw 1 Bn at a time. The 1st Bn, 357th would replace them. At 1620, Col. McNary assumed command of the Reg't, Lt. Col. Clarke, Ex O.
Colonel McNary directed AT Co to continue AT defense and to support 1st Bn 357 which relieved the 358th.
At 1645 3rd Bn was ordered to extend its line to cover trail-road junction with AT guns. At 1722, Col. McNary praised Lt. Balser, AT Co, for his wonderful work in assisting the reorganization. He then commended (Lt. Paulson) for his courage and willingness in leading aid men back across the stream when he himself was exhausted.
By 1725, Lt. Col. Clarke reported that the front lines were cleared of wounded and dead, and that re-supplying and reclothing was now in process.
The following information was received from two aid men and 1 wounded man, concerning the battle on the Island of Seves: "Crossed line and started East. The front lines were approximately 150 yards East of town. Capt Moore of Co B was in charge. The enemy put down a terrific artillery barrage and followed it up with an assault of tanks and troops on foot. They literally caught our men in their fox holes. The American troops withdrew about 500 yards. The Germans threw hand grenades in house that held our troops. Capt Moore and Lt. Spayde organized and tied in for the night. One tank attacked from one direction and two tanks from another direction. Some of the American troops wanted to surrender. Others told they they would shoot them if the did! A rumor started that we would withdraw to the creek. Some men did. At 1000 this morning, Col. Seegar, who was surrounded, issued the order to "cease firing". Major Knouf then ordered about 50 men to infiltrate back across the stream. He was hit in an attempt to make an escape back from the island.
An aid man pulled him back to the North side of the creek, but due to persistent fire was unable to evacuate him. Major Knouf was only 30 yards from Lt. Col. Seegar when he surrendered. Co F was with the 1st Bn. (Due to the nature of Major Knouf's wounds, he was not questioned on the details of the surrender. Sgt. Robt. L. Teaslie was with Lt. Col. Seegar when he gave the order to "cease firing". The Sgt. was wounded and evacuated.
At 1822, Chaplain Stohler reported that the German Officer (of the truce) stated he had captured 200 of our men, 11 officers (one a Lt. Col.). Division ordered a meeting of Regimental Commanders at Div CP at 2000.
Due to the capture of so many men, an alternate SOI (Signal Operations Instr) was put into use. It had been reported that along with the capture of the men several of our radios had been taken by the Germans.
Colonel McNary directed that adjacent units be informed that some of the 358 men, who were not wounded, might be "roaming about the island".
At 1934, General Landrum, CG 90th Div, was given the latest situation and informed on the closing-in of the Bns for the night.
Overlays were now received of all battalions. At 2115, Lt. Col. Clarke called a meeting of all battalion commanders and special unit commanders. At 2130, enemy fire was falling in OP area.
At 2315, Capt Olson left the CP with orders to procure all the bazookas he could get.
At 2325, Major Lytle arrived and was introduced by Capt Caldecott and briefed by Major Wallace.
At 2355, Co "A" Cml Mortars reported mortar and artillery fire in their area.
And so the clock and time proclaimed a day's end - but a day that showed to all, that the 358 could take it. Only by overwhelming odds could sit them back a foot-and they met those odds today.
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