Major Robert F. Burns
90th Division, U.S. Army
War Letters from Europe
Normandy to Germany
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358th Infantry Typed History
July 9-July 31, 1944
25 July 1944
HISTORY - 358th Infantry
During the night 3rd Bn reported much vehicular movements on the Island and construed it was troop movements. They furnished this location and direction of movement and had artillery fire on it. A cub plane was requested for an early reconnaissance of the designated areas to ascertain results of the shelling. Flares were reported over 3rd Bn positions. A german plane flew over the Regt'l CP for quite a while, looking, no doubt, for the artillery positions. The CP received a great deal of shell fire in its immediate vicinity. Some of the shells landed in the 1st Bn. Division was kept informed of all activities. The 3rd Bn was warned that a german plane had strafed in the 359th and 357th sectors.
Cannon Co reported that a plane flew over them at 0245 and then rifle fire was heard. Suggested paratrooper landing. Major Falvey discounted this, however, but warned the Bns.
3rd Bn reported captured PW. They were instructed to send him along as soon as possible.
The enemy shot propaganda leaflets over the front lines. 3rd Bn stated more Germans "were going to surrender."
1st Bn reported 5 casualties as a result of shelling. Capt. Beville claimed over 100 shells had landed - some with delayed fuses.
The German prisoners, now at the PW cage, wanted to return to their lines (with an American soldier) for five more Germans who wanted to surrender! The request was turned down!.
At 0500, the weather report was received - low clouds, and thunder showers.
At PW from the Island stated that Germans had been instructed not to fire across stream but to wait until troops were crossing. He claimed they had plenty of ammunition and excellent food.
Arty fire was called for by 3rd Bn at 0650 on Island road running North and South. Vehicles running on that road reported to be personnel carriers. 3rd Bn also reported that they had laid mortar fire on a group of Germans who were digging in in an orchard and had driven them off. A patrol was now out.
At 0820, the Reg't was informed as to D Day and H Hour. 3rd Bn was notified of a bombing mission on a town near PERIERS. Major Falvey made plans to "broadcast" to the Island tonight. Replacements were reported as being frightened when they reached their units. Col. McNary questioned the training they were getting at the rear echelon.
At 1112, the Cannon Co forward observer "picked up" a concentration of enemy soldiers and asked permission to fire on them. Col. McNary stated that any concentration of enemy troops or vehicles should draw immediate fire.
The Regt'l Comdr left the CP for the 3rd Bn to help with the coming plans. Line company officers, at the CP, discussed the great harm that rumors were causing. Lt. Anderson, Co F, cited a case where Americans surrendered to the enemy when the Germans yelled in English "88's and mortars". Co I reported five artillery shells landed in their area, coming from due south.
At 1145 G-1 checked with Lt. Col. Clarke on the officers who had been captured. The relief for the 2nd and 3rd Bns to be effective at 1500. Major Nichols notified the units concerned.
By 1200, the 3rd Bn claimed they believed the artillery guns firing on them had been located and that they were going to take the "proper steps". The 3rd Bn also reports that mortar fire was now falling on their CP. The cannon company counter-battery fire landed in the vicinity of the Regt'l CP. Major Wallace took steps to rectify this.
At 1210, Major Wallace notified the Bns that each company should have at least one ground signal projector. At 1235, Lt. Donohue returned from the 359th and stated that the 359th 2nd Bn expected to close in their assembly area at 1630. The 3rd Bn would be close behind. Written orders were to be issued during the afternoon.
At 1237, Col. Davenport, Div Surgeon, and the Division Psychiatrist arrived at the CP and discussed the types of cases they were receiving.
At 1250, Lt. Col. Clarke ordered that during Reserve Period, 1st and 2nd Bn and Spec Units would get hot meals (breakfast and supper at least) and that plans for kitchens for the 3rd Bn would be announced later.
At 1325, patrols reported that germans were wearing american field jackets and helmets. Major Wallace returned from 359th with information on their attack plans and where and when they wanted the 358th supporting fires. Lt. Col. Stilwell, G-3, phoned that the Reconnaissance Mortars could be used to support the 2nd Bn and to shell the Chateau St Germain. He also stated that the responsibility for the present area passed to the 358th Inf at 1600.
At this time Lt. Dengler, IPW Officer, was ordered to Division for a few days and M/Sgt Midener, his Ass't, was put in charge of the PW Cage.
At 1430, the following message was received:
By 1450, the 1st Bn had closed in its area. Gen. Devine (Arty) at the CP, discussed artillery part of tomorrow's attack. The use of flares at night was discussed and Capt Steckla, Regt'l Comm O, was questioned as to the amount and type of flares available. Col. McNary stated he would initiate patrols when attack begins.
All units, local and adjacent, were contacted regarding patrolling, of any unit, during the night.
At 1545, the clearing station inaugurated a new set-up to determine extent of "battle fatigue". It was now planned to send patrols tonight to the vic of where our troops crossed the stream, and to the buildings near there. They were to check on the alertness, activity, and presence of the enemy. These patrols would be officer-led. All members of the patrols would be thoroughly informed of the mission and oriented on photo maps.
Major Falvey, at 1630, conferred with the Bn S-2's on the forthcoming patrols. The patrols would be allowed to be 4-1/2 hours gone from their area. Major Falvey also announced that he would "broadcast" to the Island tonight. 3rd Bn was almost completely closed-in. AT defense plans for the Regt'l sector was submitted.
At 1730, a Press representative of the Scripps-Howard papers arrived at the CP.
At 1800, the 357th had passed through. The relief was now completed.
Col. McNary now called for Spec Unit Comdrs. 1815 and the 3rd Bn was closed in.
The Colonel spoke to the Spec Unit CO's about the new set-up for "fatigue cases". Legitimate cases would be tagged and sent back to the rear.
At 1845, the artillery "was working on" an AT gun that was firing on I Co. 2nd Bn reported mortar fire. Enemy planes, 3, flew over the area on recon. Major Falvey now stated the "broadcast" would be at 2030. At 1910, L Co's front line received mortar fire. A smoke screen was to be laid over the island to allow the enemy to escape from their lines into ours.
At 1930, G-3 was informed of the activities and plans of the Reg't and also that there was small arms fire on the Eastern end of the Island. At 1956, Major Falvey and Sgt. Midener left to put on the broadcast from 3rd Bn's front. 2nd Bn was directed to establish a forward CP.
Plans and positions were now received from Bns and adjacent units. The broadcast was held up by a shelling of the selected area. The arty was informed that their fire was falling short of a designated area.
Track vehicles and regular vehicles were heard on the Island. The arty was informed. And so the 358th Inf with plans nearly complete for the coming day, bid farewell to an eventful day.
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