After Action Report – June 1944
Summary of Operations, Phase #1, Landing Operations 6 June
A. Phase # 1
1. The 115th Infantry Regiment (29th Infantry Division) landed at 1025, with the 1st Battalion and the 2nd Battalion abreast on Fox Green, about 1000 yards east of that part of the beach on which it was intended to land. The 2nd Battalion on the right crossed the beach and started up the cliff, making slow progress due to mines. The progress of the 1st Battalion on the left was faster. It pushed inland between La Fraisnaie, Les Fossés Taillis and Saint-Laurent-sur-Mer, reaching there about dark. This battalion was subjected to heavy fire from snipers and mortar fire throughout the night. Col Richard C. Blatt became fatally wounded by mortar fire. The 2nd Battalion attempted to capture Saint-Laurent, but was unsuccessful. It then moved to the south of the town, into the woods, about one-half mile to the west. Regimental Headquarters landed with the leading battalions, and remained on the beach under artillery fire until 1600. At 1630, Hqs moved the CP inland to a trail east of Saint-Laurent.
2. Advance inland from Beach to Inundated Area : During the night Jun 6/7, the 3rd Battalion moved to the outskirts of Saint-Laurent. At daybreak they attacked the town and by mid-morning had secured it. They then pushed toward Louvières. The 2nd Battalion was held in the woods all through the day. The 1st Battalion moved to the woods about 1200 yards to the west of Saint-Laurent. During the morning the CP moved into Saint-Laurent amidst severe sniper fire. In the afternoon it was moved further forward, to the rear of the 2nd Battalion. The 3rd Battalion was held up in front of Louvières. In the later afternoon, although the battalions were widely separated, the attack was continued in the direction of Longueville. The 2nd Battalion was the only battalion that succeeded in moving forward and the attack continued until 0300. 2/115 was in the stream valley northwest of Montigny and the attack was halted there daylight. The attack was then resumed, with the 1/115 and 2/115 generally abreast.
Longueville was captured at 0900 by the 2-115, which assumed a defensive position west of the town. The 1-115 moved forward and assumed the defensive to the east of the town because Trévières had not been captured. Early in the morning, 3-115 had begun moving to a defensive position west of Formigny to protect the left flank of the Division. Later, they were moved to a defensive position west of Deux-Jumeaux, arriving there at 1800. The Regimental CP, which had followed 2-115, was established in Longueville
B. Phase # 2
1. Crossing Inundated Area
During the night Jun 8/9, 3-115, followed by the 2-115, moved to the vicinity of Canchy, and started across the inundated area. The crossing was completed with the assistance of the Engineers. 2-115 moved to the vicinity of the Bois de Calette, 3-115 to the vicinity of Colombières, and the 1-115 to the vicinity of Bricqueville. At noon, 2-115 and 3-115 were ordered to continue their movement to the south. 3-115 moved against little enemy resistance, except for snipers. In the early afternoon, the 2-115 encountered stubborn resistance at Vouilly. Late in the afternoon, this resistance was overcome and the battalion continued to move southward. The movement continued until dark, when the battalion assumed a defensive position about a mile southwest of La Folie. During the night Jun 9/10, 2-115 was attacked by the Germans, suffered considerable losses, and was disorganized. Throughout the period Jun 8-9, the 1-115 remained in a defensive position at Bricqueville, where it suffered almost continuous attack from the Germans from the vicinity of Trévières. As the other two battalions had moved miles south of the Germans at Trévières, 1-115 had the mission of protecting the left rear of the regiment.
2. 2/115 Incident
At approximately 2045, Jun 10, a closing force of German Armor and Infantry which had been by-passed and cut off to our rear and columns to the surprise of both units. Opening fire with their MG’s, mortars, 75’s and 88’s a heavy and confused action occurred in the dark with severe losses on both sides. Two enemy tanks were knocked out, plus a 150-MM field piece. 2-115 was left in a dispersed and disorganized state and control was not regained until after daylight. 2-115 CO, Col William E. Warfield was found dead, believed to have been killed at approximately 0300. Replacements were received and the remainder of 2-115 were reorganized under command of Col Arthur T. Sheppe.
C. Phase # 3
1. Elle River Crossing
The regiment remained in defensive positions, and patrolled across the Elle River. During Jun 12, the patrols could not cross the river because of heavy fire from the banks. In the afternoon, the regiment was warned that it would be required to attack across the river the next morning. At 0245, orders were received for an attack at 0500. 1-115 and 3-115 attacked the river line abreast and 1-115 on the right. During the preparatory fires German artillery fired into the troops forming the line of departure causing several casualties. This delayed the attack. At 0800, the attack jumped off. 1-115 was unsuccessful in crossing and moved south to the vicinity of Les Fresnes, where it was surrounded by the Germans. They fought in position until they were almost out of ammunition, at which time element fought their way out and returned to a position north of the river. During the afternoon the relief of 3-115 was attempted by sending a detachment of tanks across the river at Moulin L’Evèque. While a platoon from George Co and a detachment of Able Co 121-ECB successfully removed the minefields from the bridge, the attack was repulsed by German SP guns on the south of the river late in the afternoon, after heavy artillery preparation, the 1-115 renewed its attack, which was again repulsed. The 116-IR, at dark, forced a crossing.
2. Advance from Elle River to defensive position
At 0600, Jun 13, 3-115 recrossed the Elle River against light opposition consisting mostly of artillery and mortar fire. They advanced to position northwest of Couvains and were attached to the 116-IR. The 1-115 remained in a defensive position and the 2-115 moved to the defensive line north of the river previously held by the 3-115. The Regiment less the 3-115 went into Division reserve. This position was maintained until the afternoon of Jun 16, when the 2-115 moved against a strong point of enemy resistance 300 yards north of Pignolet and west of Sainte-Clair-sur-l’Elle. It cleared out this resistance and remained there in a position (defensive) overnight. 3-115 reverted to Regimental control and remained in position. During night the 1-115 moved north through Sainte-Clair-sur-l’Elle toward Les Foulons against slight resistance and occupied a position 200 yards east of Les Foulons. It remained here in position until next morning. The Regimental CP followed behind to a position 700 yards northeast of Les Foulons where it closed in at 0400.
The next morning, 2-115 was moved southeast to Couvains and attached to the 116-IR. The following afternoon 1-115 and 2-115 moved southeast towards Couvains and then west to the Bois de Bretel. The Regimental CP followed. 1-115 was committed south of the woods during the afternoon, and encountered heavy resistance. 3-115 was also committed to the left of 1-115 and it did not advance against heavy resistance. 1-115 and 3-115 remained there overnight in defensive positions. 2-115 was detached from the 116-IR, returned under Regimental control, and relieved the 2-116 on the morning of Jun 19, taking over positions north of La Fossadière. Early that morning, 3-115 moved to defensive position in vicinity of Segueville. 1-115 set up defensive positions at the Bois de Bretel. The Regimental CP, originally at le Bois de Bretel, moved to rear of the 2-115.
D. Phase # 4
1. Active defense north of St Lo
From June 20 to June 30 the 115-IR was in active defense. There was effected a consolidation of our forces during which time replacements came to the 115-IR. There was active night patrolling, and considerable information of value was obtained concerning strength and disposition of enemy forces north of St Lo.
2. 3rd Armored Division attack through our positions
Infantry and tank elements of 3rd Armored Division attacked through our positions at 0900, Jun 29, to seize high ground running east and west about 400 yards south of La Forge. The Battalions remained in position and were subjected to intense artillery and mortar fire. The following day the 1-115 and the 3-115 moved into positions of the 36th Armired Infantry Battalion (3-AD), who withdrew through our lines.
Forces Engaged (from beach defenses to the inundated areas)
Phase # 1
The Regiment started to engage the enemy immediately behind the beach line defenses and identified units of the :
Labor Battalion (Russian and Italian) 352.G-D
Phase # 2
Crossing of inundated area was strongly opposed by German defense at eastern end, at Colombières and at the Bois de Calette at south of causeway :
Phase # 3
The approach to, and the crossing of the Elle River was opposed by units of 3 battalions of the 30.Schnelle-Brigade, units of the 352.G-D and an unknown SP gun unit. Documents indicated that parts of the 5.Fallschirmjäger-Regiment were in these defensive positions.
Phase # 4
The following units were identified from the Elle River to Jul 1 :
II.Bn, 943.G-R, 353.Infanteri Division
353.Pio-Bn, 353.I-R, 353.I-D
9.Regt, 3rd Fallschirmjaëger-Division
513., 517., 518.Bns, 30.Schnelle-Brigade
B. Number of Casualties
Number of Prisoners of War evacuated to Jul 1 : Enlisted : 191; Officers : 2; Total : 193. Total number of enemy dead buried to Jul 1 : Appr : 10. It is assumed that at least an equal number were evacuated by the enemy due to relatively slowness of advance until the middle of July the evacuation of enemy wounded and dead by the enemy was excellent.
Important Captures – None. The highest ranking captive taken by this unit was the rank of Captain.
IV Awards and Decorations
1. Number of awards by type of for action during June :
Silver Star Medals : 3
Bronze Star Medals : 12
Purple Heart Medals : 61
2. Special mention of outstanding incidents in each type.
Silver Star Medal
Lt Roger E. Watson, 0466065, Medical Corps, US Army, for gallantry in action in Normandy, France. During the entire period of June 6 1944 to June 15 1944, Lt Watson’s untiring efforts with his unit in immediate contact with the enemy exhibited outstanding judgment as a soldier and a surgeon. It was largely because of his excellent supervision and instructions to others in tactical situations while under enemy fire that he could leave our own forces three times to render medical aid to wounded French civilians. On one occasion eight Germans surrounded the house in which Lt Watson was attending a wounded French child. Because of his coolness and dignity of bearing, the enemy withdrew and permitted him to complete his work and return to our lines. His courage, skill, and ability reflect great credit upon himself and the Military Service. Entered Military Service from Pennsylvania.
Lt Arthur C. Chadwick, Jr., 01300274, Infantry, US Army, for gallantry in action in Normandy, France. On June 12 1944, Lt Chadwick’s platoon was attacking a strongly fortified enemy position. The resistance was such that it became necessary to withdraw. During this action, Lt Chadwick was wounded, and refusing to be evacuated he participated in another attack on the same strong point. Although his group was held up by machine gun fire. After receiving orders to withdraw, he remained until all the wounded were carried to safety. However, upon reorganization he learned that one casualty was not accounted for, and without hesitation, he returned to the exposed area and evacuated the remaining man. Lt Chadwick’s unselfish actions show a deep regard for his men, and reflect great credit upon himself and the military service. Entered Military Service from New Hampshire.
Pfc Robert M. Moore, 20340558, Infantry, US Army, for gallantry in action in Normandy, France. On June 10 1944, Pfc Moore saw a German tank escorting several American prisoners to the enemy lines. Boldly confronting the tank, with complete disregard for his own safety, he directed the prisoners to disperse, and fired an antitank grenade at the tank. The tank returned the fire, but was compelled to withdraw when friendly support arrived. The courage displayed by Pfc Moore, in the face of overwhelming odds, reflects great credit upon himself and the Military Service. Entered Military Service from Maryland.
Changes in Regimental Staff and Battalion CO’s
Col Eugene N. Slappey, 05136 relieved as Regimental CO, 1540, Jun 13 and replaced by Col Godwin Ordway Jr., 016208. Capt George M. Nevius, 0406384, relieved as Regimental S-3, 1600, Jun 14 1944 and replaced by Capt Albert G. Warfield, 0409305. Col Richard C. Blatt, 019277 – KIA Jun 6. Maj James S. Morris, 0309173 took over command until 0800, Jun 14 at which time he was relieved and replaced by Maj Glover S. Johns Jr., 0307139, as CO 1/115. Col William E. Warfield, 0258123, CO 2/115, KIA, 0300, Jun 10 and was replaced by Col Arthur T. Sheppe, 0256110 who was relieved by Maj Maurice G. Clift, 0354335 at 1400, Jun 23. Maj Victor P. Gillespie, 02456110, CO 3/115 relieved 1830, Jun 9 by Capt Grat B. Mankins, 0407499 who was relieved (upon his own request) at 0930, Jun 17 by Maj Charles A. Custer, 0277290 who was relieved at 1500, Jun 23 by Col Arthur T. Steppe, 0256110
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(NB : Published for Good – March 2019)