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9-11 June 1944 - Aure Valley

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That battalion had a hard day's work. After crossing the Aure Valley, it turned west toward Calette Wood, from which enemy harassing fire was holding up the bridging work at the causeway. En route, the battalion met considerable opposition near Vouilly, from riflemen and bicycle troops armed with machine pistols. Only scattered resistance was met at Calette Wood which had received two concentrations of fire from the division artillery. The battalion spent three hours in beating the thick brush for snipers, and cleared out the woods enough so that the bridges could be completed. About 1900 the 2d Battalion returned to Vouilly, where enemy snipers were still active, and started south for its next objective, le Carrefour, six miles south. A wrong turn took the unit off the route and added three miles to the march. It was 0230 before the exhausted troops reached their objective and began to move off the road for a brief rest.

The night was overcast and very dark, making it difficult to reconnoiter the ground for temporary defensive positions. The two leading companies were ordered to take positions to the east and west sides of a large orchard, and it was planned for Company E and Headquarters Company to complete a perimeter defense. These units were still halted on the road, waiting to move into the held, when officers standing near the rear of the column (where two quarter-ton trucks had just brought up some rations from Bricqueville) heard a slight noise of traffic about 40 yards north. They believed it was the 3d Battalion coming up. Almost immediately a column of enemy infantry, with some type of armored vehicles in it, appeared around a bend in the road and a machine-pistol was fired. When U. S. troops fired a few shots in return, they heard uproar of voices and the sound of many vehicles shifting gears. The enemy immediately swept the road with machine-gun fire and then sent armored vehicles down it, firing 88-mm guns into the hedgerows and adjacent fields. Company E scattered off the road into the fields; the companies already in the orchard were caught completely by surprise and had no chance to organize for effective defense. Most of the men had thrown themselves on the ground and had gone to sleep as they dropped; wakened by artillery and machine-gun fire at point-blank range, they were confused and stupefied. First efforts at resistance only gave away their positions to the German guns, and some groups were caught in wild rifle fire from friendly units. Heavy weapons were not in position to be used. The battalion commander was killed, control was never established, and men began to drift out of the orchard in all directions. In a short time the battalion was dispersed into scattered groups, making their way back north and west through the night. Losses were 11 officers and 139 enlisted men.

It was afterwards estimated that the 2d Battalion had been hit by a German column retreating from the Aure Valley and bent on escape to the south. By all evidence, the encounter was a surprise for the Germans as well, but circumstances favored the enemy. In march formation, with armored vehicles leading (probably about eight self-propelled 88-mm guns), they were able to use the heavy and demoralizing fire of these guns in the first, decisive minutes. The Germans suffered casualties, and two armored vehicles were knocked out by bazookas.

Fortunately, the enemy had no resources on this front to take advantage of his local success. On 10 June, the 2d Battalion was reorganized, received 110 replacements, and moved back into line in the afternoon. No enemy resistance was met, and the 115th Regiment [29th Division] reached its final objectives during the afternoon: the 2d Battalion near Ste-Marguerite-d'Elle; the 3d east of it along the river; and the 1st at Epinay-Tesson. That night, the 2d Battalion outposts were attacked by small German forces which crossed the Elle River, and skirmishing lasted all night.

To the west of the 115th, the 175th Regiment Regiment [29th Division] had secured the corps' flank along the Vire River. After Isigny was taken on the morning of 9 June, the regiment turned south toward the objective area, Lison-la Fotelaie, moving in column of battalions, with the 747th Tank Battalion attached. Resistance was met south of la Hérennerie, where elements of the 352d Divisional Artillery, acting as infantry, were swept aside with an estimated loss of 125 killed. Forward elements of the armored units reached Lison at noon but were temporarily checked by artillery fire. Although Lison was then bombed and strafed by Allied planes, an enemy force of about company strength delayed the advance for a few hours. Both Lison and la Fotelaie were occupied by night fall.

West of Isigny, Company K had been sent toward the bridge over the Vire River at Auville-sur-le-Vey, with orders to seize the crossing as a means for contact with VII Corps. The bridge had been burned, and the enemy held machine-gun emplacements on the other bank. On the morning of 10 June intense mortar and machine-gun fire stopped the first effort to cross the stream. Company K was reinforced by a platoon of tanks, a platoon of Company E, and the 29th Reconnaissance Squadron. At 1800, under covering fire of the mortars and automatic weapons of the 29th Reconnaissance Squadron, the reinforced company forded the 40-foot stream at low tide and advanced into Auville-sur-le-Vey, which it held that night to cover bridging operations by Company C of the 254th Engineer Combat Battalion. Company K suffered about a dozen casualties in the crossing. Despite vigorous German resistance 500 yards to the west, a patrol of the 29th Reconnaissance Squadron made first contact with patrols of the 101st Airborne Division that afternoon (1500) near Catz. The 101st was still fighting toward Carentan from the north but had put small forces across the Douve Estuary east of Carentan. On 11 June, the situation on this flank was strengthened by the arrival of a battalion of armored infantry from Combat Command A of the 2d Armored Division, which took over the bridgehead west of the Vire.
The 116th Regiment[29th Division], with the Ranger Force attached, engaged in mopping up operations between Grandcamp and Isigny on 9 June, overcoming final enemy opposition at Maisy and Gefosse-Fontenay; thereafter, it went into division reserve, moving south of the Aure on the afternoon of 11 June.

The 116th Regiment [29th Division], with the Ranger Force attached, engaged in mopping up operations between Grandcamp and Isigny on 9 June, overcoming final enemy opposition at Maisy and Gefosse-Fontenay; thereafter, it went into division reserve, moving south of the Aure on the afternoon of 11 June.

(Extracts from Omaha Beachhead (6 June-13 June 1944) - American Forces in Action Series - Historical Division - War Department - 20 September 1945)