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
27 July 1944
HISTORY - 358th Infantry
During the early morning hours patrols and observers heard motor movements on the island. One patrol saw two (2) Germans leave a house. Another patrol deliberately made a noise, but no one halted them. The 3rd Bn placed interdictory fire on the main island road, in the hope of blasting vehicles. Every indication pointed to a withdrawal. This information was phoned to G-2 and G-3.
At 0650, G-3 ordered that the 1st Bn be alerted. They were, upon order, to go onto the island. At 0705, combat patrols were ordered to go onto the island and check on anything there. The 2nd and 3rd Bns were to furnish these patrols and the patrols were to take plenty of automatic weapons.
It was now raining hard and visibility was practically nil. At 0720, Capt Widyett of the 315th Engrs, asked to have his Engrs assist in the river crossing. A Tank platoon was alerted to support the Bn crossing the river to the island.
At 0735, Col. McNary alerted the 3rd Bn. In the event that the island was to be occupied on short notice, the 3rd Bn would be the logical Bn to do it.
The 3rd Bn reported that there Germans in SEVES and that Co L, was firing on them and also sending patrols there to investigate.
Col. McNary now called the 2nd Bn and instructed them to route their vehicles through the present 3rd Bn area and that when they crossed the island they would "clean out" their zone. He then gave them their boundaries. He ordered that they send out patrols to definitely establish the fact that there were germans about.
At 0810, Lt. Col. Stilwell, G-3, reported a PW as stating the enemy had had orders to withdraw at 0100 that morning.
The 357th, in conjunction with the 359th Inf, would jump off at 0900. The 359th reported no enemy to their front and that they would attack at 0900. They were having difficulty, however, in erecting a bridge.
The Regt'l Motor Officer was instructed on how to coordinate with foot troops on the crossing.
One (1) minute before jump off time, 357th reported they still believed that the island was still occupied by the germans and they were definitely in front of 359. At 0908, Lt. Col. Bealke, 3rd Bn Comdr, reported enemy in front of Co I. They were receiving small arms fire from a group of houses. Patrol of Co L now moved out. The Regt'l OP reported they could see patrol and that there was no activity.
By 0920, the Engrs were ready to go. They were instructed to remain at the 3rd Bn CP (Fwd) and await orders to clear roads and trails of mines.
At 0930, OP reported Co L on Island and was now out of sight.
The 2nd Bn reported a casualty in a patrol due to a mine.
At 1008, Lt. Col. Bealke, 3rd Bn CO, reported a 3rd Bn patrol south of SEVES. Col. McNary asked the CG's permission to take the town. The CG agreed and the Colonel ordered a company of the 3rd Bn to move into SEVES, and also ordered that AT guns be emplaced there.
At 1012, Col. McNary left CP for 3rd Bn. Lt. Hollenbeck, Motor Officer, checked roads and crossing at CP. All troops were warned to stay out of houses because of the many booby-traps that were being discovered. At 1022, the 3rd Bn reached its first obj.
At 1030, the OP reported that Co I had begun to cross the stream and that there were some explosions in their immediate area. (It was thought to have been mines.)
Capt. Whittinghill, Hq Co CO, was ordered to reconnoiter for a new Regt'l CP. Engrs reported that the enemy has booby-trapped HG's and even their own dead. The 357th had jumped off on time and had advanced 100 yards and were hitting mines and booby-traps. The 358th patrols passed ST GERMAIN SUR SEVES and were pushing forward meeting opposition only in mines and booby-traps.
By 1100, 2nd Bn had cleared two points and were now beginning on a third. H Co reported that the Germans were now shelling the Island. Co I now had 2 plats and a MG section on the island. Col. Stanton, IG's officer representative, arrived and conferred with Lt. Col. Clarke.
At 1110, Col. McNary announced. "We have SEVES." The Colonel directed that all troops be again cautioned about mines.
Div was now notified of the 358th activities and "brought up to date on the situation".
At 1112, an AT platoon of the 3rd Bn entered SEVES. Lt. Col. Clarke arranged for Col. Stanton to go to the 1st Bn and interview individuals on Lt. Col. Seegar's surrender. Col. McNary directed that help be given the Engrs in the removal of mines.
At 1125 Col. McNary stated that Gen. Landrum had ordered the Island be cleared of Germans. Troops would be kept assembled for a forward move. Both crossings at SEVES would be kept secured with more than one company of the 3rd Bn.
At 1130, a patrol was fired on by a captured american MG. Col. McNary ordered tanks to cross to the island and wait orders. 1st Bn was again alerted - this time to move without delay to an unknown (as yet) destination.
At 1143 Col. McNary phoned the 2nd Bn Comdr the following: Div directs that we (the 358th) commit as little as possible. 3rd Bn is placing two OPs and are mopping-up their end of the Island and securing bridges. 2nd Bn will mop up East end of Island with not more than one Co. Engineers will work south from SEVES across the island.
Patrols reported in and were being questioned by the Bn S-2's and their reports were turned into Major Falvey and thence to Division. The Tanks were organized in a firing position, but were ordered to fire only in the event of a counter-attack.
By 1300 the Regt'l CP was busy receiving and sending out information. Col. McNary and Major Wallace conferred on plans for a possible future movement.
At 1335, the Ass't Div Comdr, Gen. McLain, arrived and was given the present situation. The 4th AD was notified that the 358th Inf was on the island. The island held no more Germans. The 358th OP was on the lower edge of the island. There were snipers, however, still at large.
At 1357, Gen. Landrum directed that the Reg't be assembled, by Bn, (less troops needed to clean up island) and be prepared to make a forward move. All units were so informed. Lt. Isenberg (3rd Bn MTO) reported killed by a mine.
By 1515 mopping-up on the island was completed. Those units on the island were instructed they would be "picked-up" by their Bn's as they moved South.
The 357th and 359th Infantrys now reported considerable progress. Col. McNary issued the following order at 1535:
"The Regiment will move South of the Island of SEVES tonight - sometime after 2000 hours - and will remain in Div Res. One (1) Bn will be prepared for motorized movement. They will move on main road on our (358) boundary. The Bn will be plus one (1) Co Light Tanks, a FA Btry, a TD Platoon, a platoon of Engineers. The CG desires that the Bn take and block road on right boundary South of PERIERS. The 1st Bn will be the motorized Bn."
At 1550, Lt. Col. Loomis, CO 1st Bn, was notified that his Bn was the Task Force that would occupy PERIERS and block the main road to the South.
Units were now notified to be ready to move South at 2000 hours.
"Co I and AT Platoon cannot possibly clear their area of mines and booby-traps. They are too numerous. Most entrances to fields are booby-trapped, and the fields contain "mustard pots" mines, as well as other types. Island is definitely unsafe."
The 3rd Bn was then notified to concentrate on the roads, as the Div Obj was South of the Island. The Regt was to move in an area in the vicinity of GRUCHY. The 1st Bn would go with the Regiment to GRUCHY, but would remain alerted to go further.
At 1803, there were complications. The 359th Inf was also moving into GRUCHY, but would remain alerted to go further.
At 1837, Lt. Clark, Lo O, was sent to PERIERS to contact leading elements of the Recon Tp. He went to PERIERS, but passed the troop enroute. Hence, the 358th was the first to enter the city.
At 1845, the Quartering Party left for the new CP. At 1908, Capt Whittinghill reported that not only was the 359th setting-up at GRUCHY, but that Division was there also.
By 1910, the 359th had "hit" some tanks south of PERIERS. The 1st Bn submitted a defensive plan - to be executed on order.
At 1930, "1st Bn will not be motorized". It was understood that it might be later. The plan was now to move Special Units, then Bn foot troops, then Bn vehicles. All units were instructed. By 1950, Capt. Caldecott, Regt'l S-1, returned to CP and stated that areas were "all ready".
Major Wallace phoned all units and gave them the IP and the time of departure. At 2005, Major Nichols reported that the new area was receiving long range artillery fire. Major Wallace briefed Lt. Hollenbeck, Regt'l Motor Officer, on the movement, with the view that he could assist with the traffic problems. Div notified regiment that it (Div) would not move tonight. The CP now closed.
At 2308, the new CP opened in a field at GRUCHY.
Major Falvey, upon return from 83rd Div, explained that, due to heavy mortar fire, that Div was making slow progress. By 2400, 1st and 2nd Bns closed-in.
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