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June 44 - 116th Reg., L Co.
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29TH DIVISION - WWII DOCUMENTS
116th Reg., 3rd Bn., L Co. - Group Critique Notes - June 1944

Page 1

Team N° 3 on the extreme left (N° 7 was with it) worked its way in through the obstacles, and the coxswain was able to take the boat right into the beach. The group drew fire as soon as the ramp was dropped. S/Sgt James K. Desper was hit and killed. (He is listed as MIA. The men saw him pitch frd and go under the ramp. He was never found again.) The boat had stopped at a sand bar and the shallow water was covered in a few seconds by those who took off for the beach. The mortar squad set up on the bar with the intention of firing on the hill, but the men found they couldn’t clear the sight of the waterproofing, so after a few minutes, they went on over the beach. One mortar shell had hit the ramp at the landing and Desper probably got it that time. The enemy mg fire, however, seemed to be pitching wild. Most of the boat team, and that of N° 7 got on up to the sea wall without great difficulty, a few of the men had sought cover along the water’s edge. The larger group walked on, and then began crawling as the fire thickened, and gradually worked their way into and around a shell crater. At that point, sniper fire from the roof of a bldg on the beach pinned them. Pvt Shroudy had been dropped by a bullet just before reaching the hole ; it came directly at his heart but was stopped and deflected by a half-crown piece in his pocket. Half of the half-crown entered his body just above the heart and the other remained in his pocket. He  was still conscious and he gave Sgt Ralph Coffman his grenades and launcher and said : "Go get ‘em." Coffman noted he was bleeding badly, so he put a bandage on him and then went on. Pfc Pearl M. Robertson had been the first man to hit the beach from his team. Captain Charles W. East, figuring he had spotted one of the mgs that was bothering the boat team, yelled to Robertson (who was a radio man) to go for cross the sand. Robertson walked up to the wall, sat down, raised his rifle and prepared to fire. A sniper shot him through the head and he spun around like a chicken and dropped in front of the other men. (The men of "L" who witnessed this said that the boy’s calm courage in trying to carry out the order was one of the bravest things they saw during the day and that he deserved decoration.) These were the principle incidents in getting boat team# 3 up the shell hole area where it drew rifle fire. Davies (a 17 year oldster) got out of the shell hole and moved slightly rising ground. From that point, he saw the sniper working from the top of the bldg on the beach. He fired three rounds with his .03 rifle, and saw him fall from the roof at the third round. He then started on with the idea of getting to the foot of the hill, but hearing a yell from Sgt Albert Shrift, he turned and saw that the latter had hung up on a beach obstacle, his assault jacket being caught. Davies went back over the beach and cut him loose. The BT moved on to the wall. There, the men came under irregular mortar fire. Sgt Jake Ashby came up to the group then and suggested that they all test their weapons before going on. Not more that 3 or 4 would fire and they started to clean them. While this work was going on, Lieutenant James R. Meyers sent Davies back for his bangalore, which he had dropped on the beach edge. He brought it back and blew the wire which lay ahead of the boat team. After the hole was blown, Captain East decided not to use the gap. He knew the Co should be somewhat farther to the right and decided to displace in that direction. However, before moving any real distance, he came to a draw which looked like a convenient route up the hill, and he started the two boat teams up the way, Davies with his .03 and Pfc Charles Lawrence with a BAR covering the rear of the party. Four men were hit by mines during the uphill movement. The party moved over the crest and into a wheat field and David was sent on to scout it out. On the far side, he came to a German dugout. He had lost his grenades but had a ½ lb of TNT with a primer. He tossed this in the entrance. When the explosion occurred, he drew fire from both flanks. So he dropped and crawled on back through the wheat… 200 yards. While he had been frd, two other boat teams, one from the Company and the other from Battalion Headquarters, had joined the group. They were getting mg fire. With mortar and auto fire, they proceeded to neutralize two enemy mg positions. Then they pushed on toward the reorganization area.

Boat team N° 6 landed in waist-high water. There was no fire of any kind on them as the ramp went down. (This is true of the two other boat teams near them.) Some of the men ran across the beach. The more heavily loaded dit it walking. Still, they did not draw fire. At the sea wall they drew AT fire from a pillbox 400 yards to the left. White set up one mg on top of the sea wall and opened fire. That drew mg fire from to the right of the AT position. White shifted his fire to the mg post, and silenced it; meanwhile men of the boat were blowing a triple concertina ahead of them with bangalores. The enemy mg fire picked up again as the cutting was completed and so the boat team infiltrated through the wire one man at a time. The fire kept up but no one was hit. Come to the road, they were again under fire from the AT gun, which they thought they had silenced, and one man was hit. The boat team then went frd one man at a time around the side and corner of a long brick wall, from where they could swing right and into a draw, which was their route up the hill. Come to the top, Lieutenant Clarence E. Marshburn started leading the boat team across an open field. Eight got across, then one man was blown up, and the others realized that the field was mined. This split the boat team. Captain Archibald Sproul of Headquarters told the others to follow White and go around the field, so White attacked his party to Sproul’s and they went on to the assembly area, without further incident.

These are typical experiences of the boat teams and provide a general outline of early movements of the Company. The reorganization was done just to the NW of St Laurent.

(See the overlay) The Company was then not far from its objective --- les Moulins, a fortified point covering one of the exits. Five Boat team were in this first assembly, N°s 3 and 7 being still well over on the left and continuing to advance in the direction of the other five. After the Company --- less two boat teams --- had reorganized, it moved a short distance southward to a Battalion assembly area, at which point the two missing boat teams caught up with them. The Company as a whole then retraced its steps a short distance, to attack on the left of the road with N° 6 advancing on the right of it. The road, as they moved toward the village, was under heavy automatic fire crossing from both flanks. Casualties mounted as they came nearer to the position and the attack proceeded uncertainly, due largely to the fact that the Company could not tell the source of the enemy fire. "The men became confused from the whizzing of the bullets. The stuff was whipping low around us. We were so intent on keeping out of the way of it that we forgot to listen for sound." (White) The Company came under check before gaining the village, immobilized by the fire and by uncertainly as to the enemy location. From the ground then held, "L" was not in position to deliver a counter bullet fire, but replied --- ineffectively, it seemed to the men --- with mortars and bazookas.

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