1st Infantry Division (26-IR) (AAR) – July 1944 – Normandy – France

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In 1941, the 26-IR stood with its sister regiments and prepared for war in Europe. The regiment was assigned to the 1st Infantry Division for the duration of World War II. In World War II, the 26-IR led America’s first-ever amphibious assault in North Africa, fought at the Kasserine Pass, assaulted Sicily at the Amphibious Battle of Gela, invaded Normandy, conquered the first German city of the war at Aachen, vaulted the Rhine and attacked all the way to Czechoslovakia by war’s end. The regiment, commanded by Col John F. R. Seitz, conducted three amphibious assaults, and earned seven battle streamers, a Presidential Unit Citation, and five foreign awards.

After Action Report : 26-IR, 1-ID, July 1944, Normandy

July 1 1944 : Our position is still defensive. Artillery fire falls intermittently, however, not as heavily as several days ago.

At 0045, Item and King Cos have completed their exchange of position. At 0310, Lt Willis, 33-FAB, reported through the 6th British Queens Regiment from Le Mesnil. He says enemy in force has strong entrenchments, personnel and track vehicles. At 0715, Item Co dawn patrol reported mine fields at [728594] and wire at [730595]. At 1000, Blue 6 ordered two recon patrols to work south on trail from King Co to Le Mesnil. One patrol to work each side of the trail 100 yards width. At 1405, the patrol returned and reported receiving AT gun fire at [729593]. Received small arms fire from east. The patrol requested artillery fire on the area.

At 1300, Mike Co, 41-AIR visited S-6, reports Charlie Co of his unit now on our left and discussing better tying in of flanks. At 1420, Col Leonard was attached to the Battalion. Col Seitz gave orders for mortar fire to be increased to one unit of fire per day. Twenty four hour harassing fire to be coordinated with artillery through Lt Willis. At 1500, patrol laid on consisting of one Squad from King Co plus BAR (Browning Automatic Rifle) team (2 men), 2 intelligence men, 2 AP demolition men and Lt Sampson. Sound power phones and reel of wire to be taken. From 2235 to 2238, mortars to be fired and coordinated with artillery through Lt Willis. At 2251, first report from patrol. One man wounded from AP mine and one hit by small arms fire. At 2300, Col Seitz visited the battalion and gave orders for artillery and mortar fire to be placed on known targets once at 0400, once at 0440 and the last at 0500, to counteract possible enemy counterattack.

(070144) Weather : Light showers.
(070144) Casualties : 1 Malaria, 1 Ab Sck.
(070144) Visitors to Battalion : Col Moore, 41st Armored Infantry Regiment, at 0645. Lt Nichols and Capt Washburn, 745th Tank Battalion, 1040-1115. Capt Anderson, Medic 1st Engineer Combat Battalion at 1640.


July 2 1944 : Our situation continues as before.

At 0257, Lt Sampson’s patrol returned. Reported running into mine fields (AT & AP) and receiving machine gun fire from [729594]. Also receiving machine gun fire, believed to be American light, from [730595]. At 0940, S-6 called for detail of 1 Sgt and 2 EM equipped with sniper rifles to cover enemy mine field and deny anyone from laying mines. Detail to leave at 1100. At 1000, S-6 order half squad out to observe artillery fire. At 1230, Recon Group, follows sniper detail, consisting of 1 Sgt and 3 EM. Patrol went to [729594] Movement heard at approximately [727594]. Artillery fire is proving very effective. At 1515, King Co reports first artillery fire on mined area. At 2035, S-6 orders two patrols to leave King Co at 0500, 4 men with automatic rifles will cover squad going to [726593]. Artillery reports good results from 6 tanks at [704619] being used as artillery. Enemy observed leaving burning houses.

(070244) Weather : Clear (morning) but became cloudy and rain in the afternoon.
(070244) Casualties : 3 Malaria, 1 WIA.
(070244) Visitors : Lt Col Bryde, 33rd Gield Artillery Battalion, 1500-1525. Lt Col Southerland, Regiment S-5 1500-1525. Capt Barnett, 5th Field Artillery Battalion, 1520-1525. Capt Carney at 1830.


July 3 1944 : There is no change in our position and artillery exchange continues.

At 0300, two patrols from How Co left. S/Sgt Solarski with 8 men and Pfc Merritt with 3 men (BAR team) proceeded across road, with mission of drawing fire. Two groups deployed on west side of the trail running south to Le Mesnil. They located an enemy machine gun at [728759] and one at [726559]. They heard noise of stakes being pounded in at [726559] to [728594]. At 0430, Patrols returned. Blue 6 instructed King 5 to lay on Recon at 0945 in readiness for patrol to capture prisoners. At 1830, Patrol ordered to leave and get mines. Patrol to return at 0230.

(070344) Weather : Generally cloudy with light showers most of the day.
(070344) Casualties : 3 Abs Sck.
(070344) Visitors : Col Seitz and Col Bryde, 33rd Field Artillery Battalion, 1945-2005.

July 4 1944 : The fireworks here consisted of artillery burst however we are sending Jerry considerable more than we are receiving. Activity is confined to patrols.

At 0105, King 6 reports friendly artillery falling at [728592], Delta, Premium, and Princess Red were all checked but source still undiscovered. At 0230, Lt Vadaszy in charge of King Co patrol to [726593] reports reaching point at [727593] where he located mines. Mortar Barrage failed to neutralize the enemy. He returned to communication line. Patrol was sent back by King 6, reached point at [727593] and received small arms fire. At 0310, the patrol returned without reaching or accomplishing their mission. Lt Kuhin, Charlie Co 745-TB visited CP, says his platoon will work with our battalion when regiment assigns tanks to us. At 1150, Dextrous 6 called for 15 round per tube on selected targets at 1200. At 1900, patrol #1 ordered from King Co will consist of 6 BAR men, 6 rifleman and 2 NCO’s. They will leave at 2340 for point at [724594], to fire on enemy at [725951] for 10 minutes. Artillery will belayed on target from 2340 to 2354. Patrol is to return 0030. Patrol #2 ordered to leave King Co at 0245 to go to [725591]. Patrol includes 1 squad from How Co, 1 BAR team with 2 tommy guns (Thompson M-1). Lt Allen with 4 AP men, and 1 intelligence man. Mission is to get prisoner. One BAR team to cover squad from [729595] patrol to return at 0515. At 2030, Col Southerland called says limit on mortar ammunition is lifted but 1/3 unit per day remains on all other ammunition. At 2400, Report from patrol #1, King Co says, patrol received fire from at least 5 machine guns and some mortar fire. Company position received mortar and artillery fire. They had no casualties. We were notified today that our Battalion is to trade positions 1st battalion tomorrow.

(070444) Weather : Raining in morning, clearing about noon time.
(070444) Casualties : 3 Malaria, and 3 Abs Sck.
(070444) Visitors : Co Seitz, Maj Rippert, Capt Kelly all of Regiment.

July 5 1944 : The battalion is preparing to move to 1st Battalion positions tonight.

At 0200, Artillery fire was tripled to help King Co patrol however the patrol under Lt Vadaszy failed. At 0312, King 6 reports enemy patrol moving toward their left flank. At 1900, Battalion began moving. At 2255, Hq Co and Mike Co are in position. At 2400, Patrol of King Co returned with the report of knocking our one machine gun. Four men were sent out to investigate.

(070544) Weather : Clear.
(070544) Casualties : 1 Wounded, 1 Abs Sck.
(070544) Visitors : Maj Hafermaltz, Col Gara, Col Seitz.

July 6 1944 : We spent the day getting settled in our new location. The men are digging in and renovating shallow trenches used by 1st Battalion.

At 0150, AT platoon completed move. At 0226, Love Co completed move. At 0630, we heard Jerry fire 12 rounds from Nebelwerfer. At 0655, 3 more Nebelwerfer from our right flank. At 0755, Maj Rippert call, said dismounted men will be attached to our Battalion. They will make 2 daylight and 2 night patrols with us. Heavy traffic report on main road from Jurques at 746249 was registered in on by 155-MM gun battery. Dextrous 3 reports camouflage of area in good shape. Our area was checked from air by Piper Cubs. He also notified us that Cubs would be over area during the night endeavoring to locate the enemy artillery.

(070644) Weather : clear, sunny and warm.
(070644) Casualties : 2 Malaria, 2 WIA.
(070644) Visitors : Col Seitz at the new CP.

July 7 1944 : Men continue to improve our position. King Co is now in their new location.

At 0130, Enemy planes bombed town of Caumont-l’Eventé this morning leaving fire burning in the ruin houses of a large part of the town. At 1000, enemy artillery knocked out our radio jeep, killed one man and wounded three others, one of the wounded was a man attached from 33-FAB.

(070744) Weather : clear, warm and sunny.
(070744) Casualties : none
(070744) Visitors : Gen Wyman, Col Seitz.

July 8 1944 : There is little activity other than the exchange of artillery fire. The men are digging in the transportation we have with us and making general improvements in the area.

At 0330, Col Pace of the Artillery called information gathered from PW, Prisoner states his Battalion located 300 yard east of La Lande-sur-Drôme preparing for small daylight attack. Nothing developed of this report yet. At 2345, enemy troop convoy coming into Briquessard was shelled by our artillery.

(070844) Weather : cloudy, several showers.
(070844) Casualties : 3 Abs Sck.
(070844) Visitors : none.

July 9 1944 : At 0045, it is still quiet except for the exchange of artillery and a bit of sniper fire heard. Love Co runner reported their outpost pinned down by machine gun fire and tanks were heard to Love Co front.

At 0150, outpost returned but they were sent back and instructed to knock out enemy machine gun if necessary. At 1145, Col Seitz arrived in Battalion area. At 1330, Col Seitz presented Purple Hearts to ten EM of the Battalion who were recently wounded in action.

(070944) Weather : overcast with light showers.
(070944) Casualties : 3 Abs Sck and 1 WIA.
(070944) Visitors : none.

July 10 1944 : Our activity is still limited to patrols and exchange of artillery. Patrol left Item Co consisting of Sgt Turtura, Pfc Pisnok and Pfc Norman all of Item Co. Also, Pfc Newman and Pvt Foski of 2nd Recon and went to a point at [726059]. Heard voices at [726059]. They then went to [724559], when they heard voices and vehicles motors in orchard at [724759]. At [723558] patrol discovered wire in the road and mine field they also heard the click of a machine gun bolt and voices in the corner of the field. To the south east they were able to see a blue light burning in a house and heard vehicles in an orchard at [724558]. A 77-MM fired from [722558] to the northeast. Patrol returned.

At 1615, a Recon patrol was laid on to leave Item Co under Lt Matthews at 1700. Mission : to get a prisoner and obtain identification of unit to our front.

(071044) Weather : raining and cloudy all day.
(071044) Casualties : 1 WIA.
(071044) Visitors : Maj Rainey our former Battalion Surgeon, Col Seitz.

July 11 1944 : The Engineers with the details from the battalion are laying barbed wire in the front of King Co. The men are working hard at night on this detail meanwhile they received fire from the enemy occasionally.

At 0110, Patrol of Item Co returned. Heard voices at [716638] believed to be from Charlie Co.
At 1510, a combat patrol was laid on. Lt Eggebrecht and one squad to go to a point at [724588].
There mission was to knock out an enemy machine gun, capture a prisoner and get identification of the unit to our front.

(071144) Weather : rainy, it is very muddy underfoot.
(071144) Casualties : 3 Abs Sck, 1 nervous exhaustion, 4 WIA, and 1 self inflicted wound, Capt Chaplin received a mine shell fragment wound in the leg however not badly enough to require leaving his company.
(071144) Visitors : Col Seitz, Maj Hafermaltz

July 12 1944 : Charlie Co of the Engineer rendered invaluable service in the preparation of defensive position and installation. Details of men from the battalion working with the Engineer have laid mines from [723859] to [72***] and from [724259] to [725259].

At 0330, Patrol returned. They observed wires at [719658] and found them in a mine fields at [723958]. One man lost his leg and another was slightly wounded by AP mines. Men found barbed wire at the following points [720058] and at [724759]. These are connected by a trip wire.
At 2100, Sgt Lamphear of Love Co reported enemy 81-MM (8-CM) mortar. This was registered in on effective results. They scored a direct hit and several on the bracket.

(071244) Weather : cloudy.
(071244) Casualties : 4 WIA and 2 malaria.

July 13 1944 : During the early morning patrols from Item Co reported considerable pounding in vicinity of 713558. This was also reported to white Battalion and we were informed by them that these noises are generally followed by heavy artillery barrage.

At 0330, our artillery laid harassing fire on this area. At 1200, Maj Rippert called the Battalion. He informed us that we were being relieved by the 3/11-IR. Our line companies are to begin their move at 0130 July 14. At 2030, Hq Co began march. At 2130, we arrived at assembly point approximately 2½ miles from our old position to await relief of the rest of the Battalion.

(071344) Weather : very rainy.
(071344) Casualties : 2 malaria, 8 WIA and one KIA.


July 14 1944 : At 0730, our line companies moved out under the cover of darkness followed by Hq Co. We traveled about twenty-five miles to an area near Mestry. Most of the day has been spent setting up camp and generally cleaning up. Col Seitz visited our new area about noon time today.
(071444) Weather : warm and sunny.
(071444) Casualties : 2 sick to hosp.

July 15 1944 : Battalion is pretty well settled in their new location. The men spend the day taking showers, doing laundry and general details around the camp.
(071544) Weather : clear and warm.
(071544) Casualties : 3 malaria and 2 abs sck.

July 16 1944 : We enjoyed a late chow this morning having hot cakes for breakfast. Both Protestant and Catholic services were held in our area.
(071644) Weather : damp and chilly.
(071644) Casualties : 3 men sent to the hosp with 1 abs sick.

July 17 1944 : We spend this morning on a hike which lasted approximately 3-H. This afternoon was pay day. The first since a partial pay May 27.
(071744) Weather : Good.
(071744) Casualties : 2 malaria, 1 self inflicted wound and 2 abs sick.
(071744) Visitors : Capt Kelly, Regiment and Col Seitz from 1600 to 1700.

July 18 1944 : Today has been spent doing routine drill and usual camp duties. At 1400, Capt Uffner and Lt Tenenbaum reported into Battalion from the 41st replacement Battalion.
(071844) Weather : warm and sunny.
(071844) Casualties : 2 malaria and 1 absent sick.

July 19 1944 : Men spent the morning hiking. The afternoon has been devoted to routine camp duties. Col Learnard visited the CP.
(071844) Weather : sky has been cloudy and overcast all day however no rain so far.
(071844) Casualties : none.

July 20 1944 : Men doing regular camp duties. At 1000, Movement orders received. Advance detail consisting of one officer and one NCO left at 1000. At 1300, there was a meeting of all company commanders at the Battalion CP. At 1600, Chaplain Flynn came down to hold mass in the Battalion area. Regiment notified us that the Red Cross would be down at 1600 to serve donuts & coffee. At 1800, Col Seitz visited the Battalion. At 2145, the afternoon was spent at Battalion Motor Pool. At 2330, we moved out. Men bedded down for the evening.
(072044) Weather : rained all the time.
(072044) Casualties : 2 malaria and 2 abs sick.
(072044) Visitors : Chaplain Flynn, Col Seitz.

July 21 1944 : Men had hot chow for breakfast and were allowed to pitch tents. Day was spent camouflaging tents and digging slit trenches. 14 men returned from the hosp today.
(072144) Weather : rain.
(072144) Casualties : 1 malaria.
(072144) Visitors : Col Seitz and Col Sutherland.

July 22 1944 : Men had routine camp duties. Twenty-one men returning from the hosp. At 1900, there was a meeting of all the company commanders at the Battalion.
(072244) Casualties : 6 malaria and one abs sick.
(072244) Visitors : Capt Clisson and Capt Murphy.

July 23 1944 : The day was spent doing regular camp duties. Church services were held in the Battalion area.
(072344) Weather : fair today.
(072344) Casualties : none.
(072344) Visitors : Maj Hafermaltz.

July 24 1944 : Men doing regular camp duties.
(072444) Weather : nice for a change.
(072444) Casualties : 1 malaria, 1 abs sck.
(072444) Visitors : Gen Wyman, Col Sutherland, Capt Kohout, Maj Hafermaltz, Lt Reuben.

July 25 1944 : Regular routine camp duties. At 1000, one of the greatest air-armadas ever seen in France passed on its way to a bombing mission. At 1900, mass was held in the Battalion area.
(072544) Weather : fair.
(072544) Casualties : 2 malaria and 1 abs sick.

July 26 1944 : The day has been quiet. Except for the rumble of artillery up ahead and planes overhead, the war seems distant.
(072644) Weather : cooler today though still sunny and bright.
(072644) Casualties : 2 malaria and 2 abs sick.
(072644) Visitor : Maj Hafermaltz.

July 27 1944 : The morning was rainy and the skies cloudy and overcast. The men spent the day doing necessary details in preparation for a move.

At 1600, the Regiment notified us to be ready to move out at 1900. At 1700, Capt Washburn of the 745th Tank Battalion with a company of tanks was attached to our Battalion. At 2000, we left our area near Saint-Jean-de-Daye and traveled approximately 12 miles by convoy to an assembly area near La Duquerie. At 2130, we arrived and were met here by Col Seitz. The men dug in and bedded down for the night.

(072744) Weather : cleared this afternoon and it was warm.
(072744) Casualties : none.

July 28 1944 : At 0430, chow was served this morning due to orders from Regiment for Battalion to be ready to move on 30 minutes notice after 0530. At 0945, Capt Kelley visited CP. We now have the 3rd Platoon of the 635th Tank Destroyer Battalion attached to our Battalion. At 1210, we left La Duquerie. Convoy was led by Item Co followed by King, Mike, Love, and Hq Co. At 1345, we traveled 8 miles to an area where we de-trucked.

From this point on we moved forward by foot approximately one mile to a position 1000 yds north of Savigny [317757]. Item Co encountered slight resistance en route and one of our tanks was knocked out by enemy fire. Companies sit up on line with Item Co to our left, Love Co in front and King Co to our right. At 1530, Artillery OP reported enemy tanks at [314515]. Type and number tanks unknown due to lack of observation. Enemy forces to our front consist of one battalion of Fallschirmjaeger and a motor pool company serving them with supplies. We have captured 18 prisoners, 4 of one SS Artillery Regiment, 3 of the 3.Co 945.IR 353.ID, seven of the 6.Fallschirmjäger-Regiment and 4 of the motor pool company.

At 2105, Maj Carvey our former executive officer visited our CP. At 2320, King Co patrol to [305565] returned. They exchanged small arms fire with enemy at [305575]. We were informed today that Capt Hughes is now a Major. The weather has been nice except for a light rain about noon time. Casualties for the day were 9 men wounded, 2 of the men attached to us from the 745-TB were KIA and 1 wounded.

July 29 1944 : At 0150, Maj Rippert notified our Battalion that White Battalion was attacking this morning. Col Daniels desired a close tie in with Love Co and our mortars. At 0340, Lt Baker reported his patrol found nothing at point [314565] where enemy tanks had been reported. He believed that the enemy had withdrawn to a road junction at [312566]. Patrols that were sent out by Blue 6 from Love and King Co’s at 1015 were unable to contact enemy. At 1830, we were alerted to move. At 2210, our convoy left the area near Savigny. At 0015, after traveling approximately 17 miles we arrived at an assembly area near La Doublière where we bedded down for the night waiting orders to move into the attack in the morning. The weather continues warm with very light showers during the day. Casualties for the day were 3 WIA and 1 Off abs sck.

July 30 1944 : At 0930, we left assembly area near La Doublière by foot led by Love Co with Item, King, Mike, Co’s and Hq Co following. Our mission is to secure the high ground in the vicinity of a stream crossing at [359424] for the VIII Corps. Love Co moved forward and took the area on the west side of the crossing. Item & King Co’s supported by Mike & Hq Co moved on along the main road and attacked on the stream bed and a portion of the main road along the west slope where they met stiff resistance from artillery, mortars, and small arms fire.

The area was full of snipers that continued to harass our troops as they moved. Our fighter planes strafed and bombed ahead of us hoping to break down the enemy’s resistance. At 1600, Item & King Co’s reached their objective. At 1800, positions of Item & King Co’s along the ridge were fairly secured. At 1805, Love Co was ordered to disengage themselves on the west side of the river and rejoin the Battalion in the vicinity of La Fouber-Dière to secure the rear of our Battalion position. At 1900, the Battalion CP & Hq Co arrived at new position near Tour Deval les Bois. At 2230, they arrived in this position. Artillery was still falling on our positions. The Battalion took 32 prisoners during the day. They were members of the 275.ID and Arty and the 945.GR. The weather is still nice except for very light showers in the morning. Casualties for the day were 39 WIA, 1 abs sck and 8 men KIA.

July 31 1944 : 0130, Item Co was contacted this morning by Red Battalion. They are on our right flank. We took two more prisoner of the 943.GR this morning. At 1600, we were alerted to move and loaded on trucks at 1725. The kitchens brought hot chow for supper. The men bedded down to try to get a little sleep before moving out. Casualties for the day : None. It has been warm and sunny.

Note : Photos unsorted used for illustration.

For all purposes :
European Center of Military History
Gunter ‘Doc Snafu’ Gillot
rue des Thiers 8
Francorchamps 4970
Belgium
Email : gunter [at] eucmh.be





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(NB : Published for Good – March 2019)

 

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