10 June

Capture

Writes MAJ Charles Ronan, the XO of 3/357 in the winter of 1948, remembering the moment his battalion entered combat:

The Regimental order was issued at 1200 hours, 9 June. The 3rd Battalion was to attack on the regimental right with the 2nd Battalion on the left. The boundary between battalions was the main highway running along the indicated route of advance….

The Battalion Commander, with his party, returned about 1700 hours and immediately issued his order. The Battalion order called for K and L Company to lead the assault. A platoon of heavy machine guns, from M Company, was assigned to each of the assault companies. The 81mm  platoon was initially to be in general support from a position west of the LA FIERE Bridge. The lead element of the Battalion was to cross the Battalion initial point at 0100 hours on 10 June. The Battalion command post was initially to be established near the railroad overpass
east of the LA FIERE Bridge and was to move forward on the Battalion Commander’s order. The Battalion Executive was to check all units at the initial point.

The Battalion area was broken up by innumerable hedgerows. The Battalion Commander directed that all Company commanders thoroughly orient unit guides before darkness so they would be familiar with their routes to the initial point. The Battalion Executive, prior to darkness, checked with each company as to guides and was informed that all were well oriented and there would be no trouble.

Confusion began when the Battalion moved forward. K Company crossed the initial point on schedule. L Company was not present. I Company was ordered to follow K Company. L Company arrived at the initial point as the last of I Company crossed. The unit guides had become lost in the maze of hedgerows and oriented themselves through the sound of the other elements marching down the road. No other difficulties were experienced at that time.

The sudden changing of the Division’s mission, resulted in a very serious handicap to subordinate units. There were insufficient maps for issue to all officers and key noncommissioned officers in the Battalion. The maps, which had been issued for the invasion and initial mission, did not cover the new area over which the Division was now to attack. What maps were issued were not of uniform scale. Certain roads did not appear on all maps. This later resulted in the 3rd Battalion and L Company following wrong roads in the vicinity of Amfreville.

Things become considerably more confused after 3/357 takes its first casualties from errant German fire landing near the causeway. Also, that the maps issued were not BIGOT level maps, thus they did not reflect the water obstacles and had limited information about the road net. Third battalion is held up for some hours while trying to bring its weapons company back in line, during which time the Germans mount a local counterattack straight down the Amfreville road. COL Ginder, the regimental commander then relieves 1st battalion on the left while withdrawing 3rd battalion to reorganize. Second battalion, after suffering extremely light casualties (in spite of the claims of its commander) and are placed in reserve. It is easier (somewhat) to follow Ronan’s account in visual form:

http://defling.com/documents_public/Approach%20March%20to%20Gourbesville%203.wmv

Approach March to Gourbesville 3

 

2 thoughts on “10 June”

    1. I’m glad you didn’t, either! Because if you had, chances are better than even we wouldn’t be chatting on the internet, now. MAJ Ronan’s account is a very sober one. He doesn’t not mentioned going through the positions of 82ABD where the dead were very, very much in evidence; the La Fière Causeway as their worst engagement of the war. The Ninetieth, like most US infantry divisions, had trained up to be mounted in trucks. And it had only arrived in England in early April, so it had had very little time to practice approach marches. The more I read about this phase of the Normandy campaign, the more impressed I am with the supposedly second-line 91 Luft. Throughout the area, they ran patrols in force, conducted supported counterattacks as well as night attacks. The cherry on top of all this is the regimental commander was utterly incompetent and, along with the division commander and another regimental CO, would be relieved in within a few hours.

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